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The Ticking Time Bomb

Chapter Text

“Come!”

Bakugo doesn’t think.

He flies.

As he rocketed through the air, howling winds tangling his hair, Shigaraki’s scream of fury at his back and blood roaring in his ears, Bakugo has only eyes for the mismatched mass of bodies held together by fear and determination reaching for him, calling him amongst crackle of green lighting, a shark-toothed grin and a desperate cry. As he reaches his classmates in the sky, he’s too busy joining hands with a redhead to look back at his captors watching his ascension.

Because of that, he does not see.

He does not see All for One’s face, impassive and unmoving behind the black mask as he watched Bakugo get away. He does not see the villain roll his shoulders, he does not hear the low, satisfied hum coming from the man’s lips, as if happy with a task well done. He does not see All for One turn away to face All Might, ignoring as his League of Villains scrambled all around him to try and get the blond back in their grasp.

(He does not see, and everyone pays the price for it.)

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The moment one Bakugo Katsuki touches the ground, he regrets ever taking Kirishima’s hand. If he had the ability to rewind time, he’d just go back to the battlefield and face Shigaraki and his gang of knuckleheads again.

Anything was better than this.

“Holy shit. Holy shit.”

“Kirishima language.” Iida wheezes somewhere on their right like a dying animal. The class representative was starting to look a little too pale, edging towards green. Katsuki sure as fuck hopes he’s not going to throw up, because he’s pretty sure he hadn’t drunk or eaten anything in the past three days and the smell of vomit wasn’t going to help his case.

The redhead was having none of Iida’s reprimand, practically bouncing up and down against Katsuki whom, no matter how much he fought, couldn’t get him to fuck off.

“We did it!” His classmate shrieked, smile wide enough that it revealed all of his sharp, triangular teeth. Fucking hell, didn’t he know what personal space meant?! He was practically screeching right into Katsuki’s ear. “Holy crap we did it!”

Katsuki snarls, shoving a hand into the other’s face.

“Get off, dipshit!” Kirishima only laughs harder and clutches him tighter, hardened skin brushing off weak explosions and Katsuki can only begrudgingly accept that yep, this was his fucking life now, he might as well just lay down and accept the fact he was going to die with a red-haired leech dangling off his shoulders.

It’s not all that bad, a small part of him wonders as Kirishima continues to attempt manslaughter via asphyxiation.

It’s almost comforting to go through Kirishima’s particular brand of torture but like fuck he was going to admit it. He’d rather jump off a bridge than to believe that so that tiny, minuscule warm thought is promptly banished, thrown over a wall and into the dark pit that was the farthest corners of his mind.

After three days spent chained up like a rabid animal, half-conscious and with Mr.Handsy talking his ear off about joining them while simultaneously whining to his master about his lack of progress, it felt good to see familiar faces. He’s somewhat thankful that he spent a sizable chunk of it asleep, his loud snarling and bitching having driven them into leaving him the hell alone.

So overall, being free and able to snark at some familiar faces felt good.

Even if fucking Deku was part of the package.

At least he looked less like shit, Katsuki mutters internally. The other boy seemed a lot better, his arms bandaged but no longer bloody and mangled nearly beyond recognition.

“We need to get out of here.” Deku exclaims in front of them. His eyes are wide and just the slightest bit bloodshot. His breathing was hard and loud; Bakugo tracks the way his shoulders move up and down with each inhale.

As if sensing his gaze, Deku turns his head towards him. Their eyes meet, the shorter boy’s softening into something less panicked and more relieved.

Between the two of them, there’s things that need to be said, Katsuki realizes darkly. A lot of things. Things Katsuki didn’t really want to touch on, wants instead to keep locked shut in a corner of his mind -things that after tonight, after the training camp, had inevitably surfaced.

But that, thankfully, would be for later.

They still had to make it back home.


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All Might wins.

To Katsuki, who watched a frail, emaciated man stand over the faceless villain, skeletal fist raises in the air, it is a loss.

There’s a hole in his stomach, a trench that digs deeper and deeper in his gut as the realization that this was the end of All Might spears him right in the gut, cleaves him open and leaves him numb and raw and as if he was slowly being crushed.

Not even the roaring cheer of the crowd changes this. Their cries and applause around him do nothing to lessen the weight in Katsuki’s chest -the understanding, the horror at the fact that this was his fault could not be washed away.

Deku’s shaky, hiccuped sobs by his side only make it more painful.

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All Might is dead.


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Screams.

Yelling.

Sirens.

People cheer and cry and he can only stand there and take it. Watch as the world around him is torn apart and stitched back together again.

“Kacchan, the police’s this way…”

He goes, docile.


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I killed him.

It's my fault.


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Later, after he’s escorted into a police station, reunited with his parents and sent off home, Katsuki stumbles into his room, bleary-eyed and exhausted. The old hag escorts him all the way there -he can feel her eyes on his back, watching him silently. Hands tucked at her sides but twitching in a aborted attempt to reach forward.

Guarding him.

The fact she, a civilian, is doing that should make his skin crawl, but he’s too worn down to protest. Too tired to cuss her off, to have another of those shouting matches that made the roof rattle over their heads.

Just the thought made him nauseous, and it's not because of his wounded pride.

“Goodnight, brat.” She tells him from the door, her voice softer than he’s used to. Not exhausted, just soft. It’s almost alien to Katsuki, who is used to her biting remarks and sharp words.

He merely hums in response, sharing her weariness. “G’night, old hag.”

And with that, he’s alone.

And with that, the weight comes crashing down on his shoulders, harder than ever before.

The light is shut off, the only light filtering into the room coming from the cars passing by the bedroom window. His phone is left on his nightstand; Katsuki doesn’t even bother turning it on, too tired to deal with what likely was a flood of messages from his classmates. Mainly Kirishima, Kaminari, Ashido and Sero.

Fuck, he was not looking forward to coming back to class. He knows what to expect. The stares, the whispers, the attempts at watching over him like he was a child and not-

Shushing those thoughts away, he mechanically dumps his clothes on the floor, puts on a shirt and boxers and flops onto the bed, heaving the thick comforter over his head.

Immediately, he feels too hot. Too restricted.

The feeling tugs at something in his head, making his fingers twitch restlessly under the covers.

Grumbling, Katsuki kicks the comforter off himself and lays there with only a thin sheet over his body. There’s a faint pressure in his belly, something that has nothing to do with his empty stomach.

The weight of his own failure pinned him to the bed more effectively than the villains’ chains had kept him bound to that chair. And damn, didn’t that comparison remind him of how much shit had occured in the last three days. The camp, the capture, the chains, Shigaraki, All for One, All Might.

If only he’d been stronger, if he had been smarter, he wouldn’t have gotten caught. The heroes wouldn’t have had to come save him.

It was his fault Kamino happened.

His fault that All Might was nothing but a skeleton -a ghost of his former self. Dead and gone with only a weak, fragile man left in his wake. That all those people died when All for One faced the Number One Hero and tore most of Kamino down in their fight. That the world lost their greatest hero, their first line of defence.

It was all his fault.

Katsuki squeezes his eyes and tries to sleep.

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By doing so, he does not see the shadows twisting against the walls as he falls into a restless sleep, swaying to the rhythm of his breathing.

Chapter Text

Hands. Pushing down, crushing him. 

“Hold him down!” 

“Fuck off!” 

Something hard presses against his back -a chair, hard and cold like ice that bit down on his exposed skin as he’s pushed into it.

he can’t breathe he can’t breathe someone please-

He wakes to cold sweat dripping down his back and a chest that feels too tight. 

Something awful twisted in his gut and a sleep-heavy Katsuki could only roll to his side, curl up pitifully into a tight ball and groan pathetically into the soft sheets, unable to do anything but ride out the muted waves of nausea.

Time passed by. 

He's not aware of their passage, barely able to silence himself by biting his lower lip enough to bruise and squeezing his eyes shut, focusing on his breathing as the uncomfortable, tight feeling faded away on its own. The process is painfully slow, and he can only clutch his belly and lay there in a pathetic heap of sweat and trembling limbs.

Freed from the pain his body slackened, relaxing into the bed sheets. Katsuki takes a full breath. Then another. His frazzled mind worked slowly to figure out what just transpired.

What the fuck was that?

Was he sick?

Had to be because of the League bullshit, he thinks sourly. His stomach must be messed up from the lack of food. They hadn’t fed him during the entirety of his stay, his body’s internal clock must have gotten all messed up because of their less than stellar guest service.

...fucking great. 

Just the kind of crap Katsuki needed atop of the already revolting shit pile. 

Groaning, he rolls over and buries his head into his pillow. For once, he allowed himself to rest past his usual waking hour.

He had two days off before classes started up again.

He could fucking afford to sleep in for a little bit. At this point, he fucking deserved it.

 

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“You look tired, brat.”

His response comes almost like a reflex. “Morning to you too, old hag.”

“Hmph.” The small huff is the only response his mother deigns him with as she turned back to the stove. A pot of vegetable soup simmers gently on the oven under her sharp surveillance. “Sit down, kid. I'll have a plate out for you in a second.”

Katsuki is silent, focusing instead eyeing the soup on the stove. The kitchen air is thick with the smell of broth and vegetables. His insides squirm uncomfortably at this. He gauges this sensation versus the small amount of hunger his stomach was complaining about.

Finally, he decides throwing up whatever he’s able to swallow down would be unproductive. And unsightly.  And a few more things he didn’t want to get into.

“I’m not hungry.” The response came after a few beats of silence.

Mitsuki pauses, then turns to look at him. Katsuki fights the urge to look down at his feet, something he hadn’t done since he barely reached her hip. Her gaze is softer than he's used to. More gentle. Pitying.

(squirm squirm squirm like a nest of snakes were living in his guts-)

God damn it, what was wrong with him?

“Katsuki.” He hates how soft her voice is, like he's four again and stuck home with a cold. “The police told me you haven't eaten since the camp. You need to eat.”

He just stares in response.

“They had a doctor call. Told me to make you something light to begin with.” Silence. “It's alright if you don't finish your bowl, I just need you to eat.” A small smile slips onto her face, encouraging. Like he’s a child who needed comforting after falling and scraping their knee. It’s wrong. Feels wrong. She’s not one to smile like that to him. “Can you do that for me?”

The snakes falter, settling into a pile. Katsuki quietly stews in place.

Inevitably, he can only sit down on one of the counter stools and crosses his arms, looking at her expectantly. 

His mother makes a soft noise and turns back to the stove. She’s quieter than usual, quieter than Katsuki ever saw her be. 

It’s unsettling.

Just like him,Mitsuki was normally really loud, always taking up space and demanding more. So seeing her so subdued gave him even more incentive to keep his mouth shut and his head down. The usual remarks and grumbled comments he would make when it was her turn to cook were nowhere to be found. 

He’s just too worn to deal with her shit. Thankfully, he doesn’t get called out on it.

Instead, his mother stirs the soup and tells him in that unnaturally collected tone; “Your teachers are stopping by tomorrow.” She informs him, tapping the stirring spoon gently against the side of the container to get rid of the excess soup clinging to it before setting it aside. “Something about added security to the campus. They're building dorms for the students.”

Dorms? Somehow, the idea doesn’t surprise him.

“Hm.”

She tilts her head, just enough for their eyes to cross. “You’re going to be on your best behavior, right brat?” His mother chides him. The soup starts bubbling, so she picks up her spoon and stirs some bit more to check if its warm enough.

Katsuki eyes a passing bird through the kitchen window. He swallows as he feels words squirm their way up his throat, heavy and choking:

“...which teachers are coming over?” 

Despite the resistance, his voice comes out surprisingly leveled and calm. Still, the hand stirring the soup falters.

“Eraserhead and All Might are coming.” Mitsuki says it in a way that Katsuki doesn’t miss the silent are you alright with that?

“...hm.”

His mother, upon seeing his less than enthusiastic response, returns to the soup instead of trying to coax more from him, less he blow up from the constant pressing. As they wait for the food to warm up Katsuki crosses his arms and sets his head on his forearms, eyes sliding shut to catch a minute amount of rest.

Though he would never voice it out loud, even on his deathbed, he’s grateful for this moment of quiet. 

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A day later, he meets again the man he killed.

All Might seems even thinner and frailer in person. The videos circulating online -that Katsuki definitively did not sit and watch on loop- couldn't compare to seeing the real thing in the flesh....and sitting across from the man in his living room, Katsuki had plenty of time to examine All Might’s shadow.

The hollow, sunken eye sockets. The dry, downed hair that was more of a pale blond than the vibrant gold he remembered. The thin, wiry frame that seemed to oscillate side to side like a creaking, ancient tree even when standing still. There's no trace of the tall, boisterous hero Katsuki had faced for his final exam. None of his spark, none of the smile. Even his hair seemed duller, the gold locks faded to a tired blond color in this form.

There’s not much he can say. Just keeping himself from openly staring required a conscious effort, so he tucks his hands into his pockets and tries to stay out of the way. His parents, thankfully, do most of the talking.

It’s a small mercy.

What is not, is the fact he shoved into the couch and stuck between the two of them. 

Nor what bullshit his mother started sprouting in from of his teachers. 

He shouldn't have expected anything else, really, but he still quietly stews in his seat between his parents as Mitsuki pats his head like he’s some sort of pet and regales Aizawa and All Might in some colorful language about how the extras early in his life propped him up on a pedestal and how that's why her shitty parenting skills failed her and blah blah blah if he could be anywhere else he would-

His teachers seem slightly horrified by their family dynamic. Katsuki’s only glad he can’t see their expressions from how his gaze is locked on the ground in front of him. That, regrettably, doesn’t save him from having to sit through the rambling.

“...see, the thing is, my son is pretty fearless and tends to be good at everything he tries, so people fawned over him regardless if he deserved it or not.” Mitsuki speaks over his head, and Katsuki glares at her from the corner of his eyes because like fuck it was his fault the extras were so pathetic they hanged off him like opportunistic leeches. “This gave him a big head.”

He bristles as her words, but again doesn’t speak up, only looking ate her. His mother’s eyes away from him to look at his teachers. Katsuki follows her gaze, but keeps his eyes low enough so he doesn’t have to look at All Might or Eraserhead’s faces.

“Regardless of what people say, Yuuei’s been good to him from the start. I trust you to guide him along and help him become a good, strong hero.” His mother pauses, taking a breath.

It’s his father, to Katsuki’s surprise, who picks up the ball afterwards:

“We saw the conference. It only confirmed that Katsuki was being watched and cared for at your school, so we have no issue with the dorms.” His father swallows, ever emotional. God, if he starts crying Katsuki was going to stand up and walk out. He already looked enough of a kicked dog as it was. “You brought my son back safe and sound, so it all worked out in the end, didn’t it?”

Katsuki soldiers through his father’s speech, keeping his expression composed and blank. He thinks he hears All Might cough discreetly, but he tries to ignore it.

The meeting ends shortly after that. 

His parents bid the teachers goodbye and let them out the door. Katsuki stands in the shadow of his home, watching the two men amble towards the work car. All Might was adjusting his brace; Aizawa was ahead, already about to climb on the car.

In this split second, both he and All Might are virtually alone. It’s just enough time for...

In that moment, he feels the urge to go after All Might and ask. Let loose the questions that had been festering inside him, bring everything out into the light and settle some of the chaos in his head.

(Maybe if he did, his stomach would stop hurting.)

Ask what was going on with him and Deku, if their Quirks were really one and the same and if all of that had something to do with the Kamino Villain-

‘Have you come to kill me a second time, All Might?’

The snakes squirm again, a coiled mass in his guts that twist with revolution.  It’s painful, almost.

...no, it definitely is.

A low, steady burn that has him clenching his jaw in stoic defiance.

“Bakugo?”

He blinks. All Might had halted, having felt the weight of his stare on his back. Emaciated form tall yet hunched as he waited for Katsuki to say something, the silence stretching between the two of them like a chasm that just kept growing no matter how much Katsuki wished he could soldier through the odd ball lodged in his throat and speak.

 It’s something he eventually does, when his body settled and all he could feel was a heavy lethargic feeling and a familiar prickling at the back of his throat he doesn't like.

“Nevermind.” He murmurs, voice low.

He can see the confusion in the man’s dark, hollowed eyes at his words. Refusing to let the man he’d looked up to for so long to see how much his appearance was bothering him, Katsuki spins on his heels and walks back inside without another word. 

He can feel All Might’s gaze on his back; the sorrow and the pity digging into his spine and crawling through flesh and nerves to reach his brain where it settles there as a prickly, ugly mass of feelings.

Katsuki doesn't dare look back.

Instead, he walks inside. Past his parents, past the living room. Ignores their questioning call of his name as he goes up the stairs and a right turn to reach the room across his bedroom.

He makes it to the bathroom just in time to close the door stealthily behind him, flop to the ground in front of the toilet and proceed to empty in it the meager amount of soup he'd managed to keep down since yesterday. It feels utterly vile on his tongue, a burn that bubbles out of his throat and scorched everything in its path.

When he’s done hacking out a lung and a half into the toilet, he sits back on his heels and rests his head against the toilet’s rim. God, the aftertaste was horrendous.

Fucking League. 

Fucking Shigaraki. 

Fucking stupid body that can’t even fucking work right-

The door behind him opens. Katsuki stills as he hears the familiar click of his mother’s heels echoed against the tile.

“Katsuki?”

-guilt pain there was so much more I could have done he’s not fine-

He blinks. 

As fast as that strange, wandering, illogical thought strayed in, it was gone, like the afterimage of a flash of light. 

Then there’s a hand on his shoulder and it’s quickly forgotten. Over the thick smell of vomit, he catches a whiff of his mother’s perfume. Her voice is quiet as she speaks up behind him:

“Katsuki-” 

“I'm f-fine.” He tries to growl, but it only sounds pathetic to his ears. There’s nothing menacing or composed about how the bathroom smelled acidic or the way his hands were trembling on the edge of the toilets. “...just, just...fuck off. I’m fine.”

It didn’t even sound like a lie to his own ears.

It was just sad.

He was fucking sad. Pathetic.

(Useless.)

With that, he pulls himself up and passes by her. He doesn’t look at his mother, feeling her hand slide off his shoulder as he stood up and walked away. She said nothing, so he quietly makes his way to his room and locks the door shut behind him.

This time, his mother doesn't try to go after him.

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...looking back, Katsuki really should have questioned it more.

Chapter Text

It's laughable, how the world keeps spinning afterwards.

He arrives to the dorms alongside the others, slipping in at the last moment to avoid meaningless conversation he doesn’t have the time or energy for. They’re all clustered around the entrance to their dorms, anxiously fidgeting and looking at their feet. 

Katsuki almost doesn’t blame them for acting like kicked puppies. Aizawa’s glare truly was something to fear. Stoic, impenetrable like a castle, it was impossible to know what the man was thinking.

He knows however that there was no reason for him to be wary of his teacher. In fact, as Aizawa’s gaze slowly glided over the assembled teenagers, the scarlet eyes completely ghost over him like he’s not even there.

Katsuki feels his own eyes narrow at this.

“You’re all here.”

There's a long pregnant pause where none of the students speak up. Shame permeates through the air as all of them refuse to look at their teacher in the eyes.

Even if Aizawa’s ire wasn't directed at him, Katsuki feels his body make an aborted attempt at fidgeting that he quickly kills before it becomes noticeable.

“Yaoyorozu.”

Ponytail flinches. 

There’s a prickly tingle in Katsuki’s sides as their teacher says this, an odd reaction the explosive blond is too tired to dwell on and just files it as Exhibit 10 in Shit That Was Wrong With Him.

No one dares to talk as Aizawa turns his eyes to a familiar group of students. “Midoriya, Iida. Todoroki. Kirishima” The teacher continues in that flat, dead tone the man had learned to wield like a weapon.

The cogs in Katsuki’s brain turn quickly at this. He’s starting to get a feeling about what was going on and what Aizawa was honing in on -and he doesn’t like it one bit.

“You directly defied school rules and Hero laws and went after Bakugo in Kamino.”

Katsuki fights the urge to bite his lower lip. There’s a snarl building up in his throat, but no sound ever breaches his lips, locked down and restrained by exhaustion, shame  and a general growing impatience to see this over with.

Fuck the lot of them, it’s their fault anyways. They’re the ones that poked their heads into what was decidingly not their business -they could reap what they sowed. Katsuki never asked for them to come. He’d even told Deku not to follow with the last rasping breath of air he had left in his lungs as Dabi dragged him through the swirling black of Kurogiri’s portal.

He would have gotten out on his own at Kamino.

He would have.

Could have flown away, could have blasted the villains back. He could have done it.

Images flare to life in front of his eyes. Blue hair, tightness around his neck, the bite of cold metal against his wrists, All Might thrown back like a ragdoll and he was just in the way-

Don’t think about it, Katsuki reprimands himself.

He keeps his face impassive, but after a moment he gives up and bites the inside of his lower lip just enough to feel the flare of pain from there outshine the one in his abdomen.

“...by doing so, you put yourselves at risk of being injured or ending up like Bakugo. There was a million ways your plan could have gone wrong,” As he says this, Aizawa’s eyes laser focuses on a certain green haired brat.

From his position at the back of the pack of students Katsuki can’t see what Deku’s face looks like, but the slumping shoulders and the sudden ducking his head like a cowed puppy told enough of what he would find if he cared enough to. Katsuki would bet his left foot that the nerd made that plan. He was certain of it.

Only Deku would do something this crazy and somehow not get his ass killed.

His arms though, Katsuki suddenly thinks as he notes the bandages peeking out from Deku’s sleeves. Those are another story. Not one that Katsuki cared to look at deeper though -he got the basic gist of it.

Idiot Deku.

“By the lack of surprise, I can surmise all of you were in on this plan.” Aizawa’s droning voice startles him out of his revery. “Frankly, I should expel everyone here except for Bakugo, Jiro and Hagakure.

The students shift again, this time even more uneasily. Someone lets out a stifled whimper. Katsuki is usually shit at social cues -or rather, he generally does not care- but he can taste the tension in the air, the apprehension of his fellow classmates as Aizawa prepares to deal his next blow.

“Because of All Might’s retirement however, this will not happen. Consider yourself lucky.”

Just like that, the tension snaps.

Shoulders drop and exhales of relief are let out. Kaminari looks like he's about to deflate like a balloon. Kirishima slumps and Iida looks like he's a hair's breadth from falling over or bursting into tears, the crybaby. Even the normally impassive fucker Todoroki looked stiffer than a surfboard, only the movement of his chest betraying the fact he wasn't, in fact, a walking discount Pinocchio that Endeavor had somehow breathe life into.

Wasn’t that a funny thought.

“For now,” Aizawa begins once more, and every student stands in attention. Katsuki thinks he hears Kirishima gulp. “...I’m just glad that we were able to bring Class 1-A back together again.”

This time, Eraserhead’s eyes land on him. There’s little doubt at whom he was staring at, and the class around the blond shifts, uncertain.

Katsuki feels odd, being at the center of attention. It’s a cold, creeping feeling that unfurls from his guts and crawls up his spine like the sea’s tide returning to a shoreline.

They’re all staring.

The snakes squirm, pressing against his stomach. The nausea is there, but faint. He flares his nostrils as he exhales to mask the pain.

I have to get out of here, a small, vulnerable part of him musters, and Katsuki found himself agreeing. Fuck their staring like he was some sort of circus animal.

With nothing else to say, Aizawa’s already turning around and walking into the door; seeing this opportunity Katsuki follows, briskly moving forward while stomping his feet.

The crowd of students part easily, sensing the dark aura hovering around him like a cloak. He doesn’t meet any of their stares, refusing to look anywhere else but his teacher’s back and the door of the dorms.

Nevertheless, he can still feel Deku’s eyes as they seemed to linger on him. From a young age he’s always known when the dumbass was staring at him; by now, it had become second nature, a sixth sense that ingrained itself into Katsuki’s psyche against his own will because if anything, the green haired fucker was a stubborn asshole.

Even though he’s not looking at the nerd, he can feel those big green orbs staring right at him, dark and wondering. Trying to dissect him down to his base components in a vain attempt to figure out what he was thinking.

It feels more unsettling than it should be.

He wants to grimace and turn away, or maybe even walk up to the nerd and punch him for making him feel like this, but the lethargity he’s been carrying since Kamino keeps his anger down and chained, too cold and heavy to let it bubble over and burst through like it normally would.

What the hell would reacting even amount to? He had other shit to do than get inevitably getting yelled at by Aizawa and given extra assignments on hero relations and the importance of teamwork and such other fucking bullshit he didn’t want to even think of.

And so, he keeps walking all the way to his assigned room, locks the door behind him, and promptly collapses on the bed, completely ignoring the boxes and his suitcase that the movers had brought earlier in the day and he hadn't had the time to unpack.

Facedown, nose mushed into the mattress, Katsuki takes a moment to think about this development.

On one hand, getting out of the old hag’s house was a good thing. There’s only so much pity party he can handle within the span of a week. While he was going to miss his home, living in the dorms cut down travel time considerably, which also cut down the time he spent shoved in a small train cart where strangers side eyed him when they thought he wasn’t looking.

...honestly, all and all the dorms were the best fucking thing ever.

Then Katsuki hears laughter through the walls, quickly followed by footsteps as what seemed like a group of elephants trampled across the floor.

A hiss leaves him through gritted teeth as irritation flares low in his belly, curling unpleasantly within his guts at the unmistakable, utterly grating sound of girls giggling. He rolls over to his side, curling up and drawing his knees to his chest. A part of him wants to grab his pillow and stuff it over his head to block out the chatter from the common room, but he doesn't allow it on sheer principle. 

He's being too much of a basic bitch as it was.

The dorms were supposed to be the start of something new. Maybe something better. Katsuki wasn’t optimistic, but he was a realist. Things could only look up after hitting rock bottom, right? At least that was what logic dictated.

(It was kind of pathetic, that this was what his fucking life was reduced to.)

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too hot too cold where was he 

tight arms can't move a chair 

camp?

he can't think his thoughts stray in the breeze and there is nothing to hold on to-

there's a hand on his chest and everything 

scarred, inhuman face and pearly white teeth.

“Be grateful, Katsuki.”

He wakes up covered in sweat, bed sheets a pile on the floor. The sky was still dark outside his window.

What was that? 

He tries to recall his dream, but the details slip between his fingers like water leaving him grasping at nothing and with a big headache for his troubles. Katsuki can only lay there, staring at the ceiling, an almost familiar lurching nausea squirming in his guts as he ponders the strange feelings that were left over from his nightmare.

Because it was a nightmare.

(...what else could it be?)

Groaning, he crawls out of bed. His feet dig into the bed sheets accumulated on the floor and he grumbles, sitting back down on the bed and reaching to pick them up-

He blinks.

There’s a big tear on one of them. Katsuki frowns, turning it over to get a better look. The tear is large, spanning horizontally across the sheet and big enough for him to crawl through. 

Mitsuki was probably going to chew him out if he told her. Motherfuck, how did he cause this? Did he tear it up during his sleep?

At least it’s a clean cut, he grumbles in his head as he stretches it out in its entirety, examining the damage closely. Good thing I know how to use a fucking needle, I can probably stitch it up.

Like hell Katsuki was going to sleep after this, especially with how filthy the accumulated sweat felt on his body. It stuck to his sleeping clothes like a second skin. Muttering under his breath, he throws the torn bed sheets back on the bed and goes for his closet. 

Might as well start the day early.

.

 

.

 

.

As it turns out, crawling down the stairs and going to the kitchen doesn't grant him any kindness as upon entering the room, he's greeted by the worst sight of them all -a dozen faces turning upon hearing the sound of the door opening.

Expressions light up upon seeing him, others have a weird face wobble, torn between greeting Katsuki like proper etiquette would require them to but then remembering who exactly they were about to try and be polite to. So in the end, the blond gets several mumbled hellos and how are you doing.

They look like they don't know what to say or where to look.

Good, Katsuki thinks as he beelines for the kitchen counter. The less they bothered him, the better. They’re still looking at him like he’s an odd duck, but at least his classmates are wise enough to stay silent.

...not.

“Bakugo!” Kirishima’s obnoxiously loud voice pierces through the thick black cloud swirling around inside his brain like a spear. Katsuki fights back the wince. He can taste the looming headache threatening to bloom into existence. “Heya man, good morning!”

“Hm.”

The redhead falters from where he’s standing by the kitchen counter, but then smiles lopsidedly. Determined fucker. “Want some eggs? Sato’s just done making the last omelet, but I’m sure he can-”

“I’m good.”

Silence.

Uncomfortable silence.

(His empty stomach lurches. Snakes twist in their sleep, an uneasy feeling.)

Katsuki ignores further whispers and staring as he goes for the one thing that attracts his attention -the shiny new coffee machine on the counter.

As a rule, he fucking hates coffee. It dehydrated him easily and given the fact his Quirk relied on his sweat, Katsuki could count on one hand how many times he’d taken the horrible drink. Today however, he looks at the coffee machine with a bit of quiet hope.

Caffeine was supposed to perk you up, right?

The coffee machine pings loudly, the beep enough to make his lips twitch with the urge to snarl. Stewing quietly, Katsuki takes the cup out of the machine -it’s warm, but not too hot against his heat-resistant skin- and for a moment he stares down at the brown, near black goop inside the black cup.

It’s as appealing as a rotten apple.

He hears Kirishima speak up again, a desperate attempt at quelling the uneasiness of the room.

“Here, let me get you the milk-”

Katsuki tosses his head back and drinks the coffee in four, large gulps.

Silence.

Katsuki swipes his tongue over his lips, forcing his facial expression to remain neutral at the horrible taste. The coffee settles uneasily in his stomach, warm and heavy -but his insides aren’t twisting with the urge to regurgitate this shitty breakfast so Katsuki takes it as a win.

Turning around, he bypasses a frozen Kirishima, goes to the sink and washes his cup. Then he sets it to dry on the side and stalks out of the kitchen.

No one’s talking yet. There’s more than one set of wide eyes following him.

Gulp gulp, motherfuker , Katsuki thinks and it's a silly, utterly stupid thought likely born out of sleep deprivation and the newly added dose of caffeine in his system, but it gives him the power to ignore the stares and stomp out of the room.

None of his classmates call out after him. 

No one follows him.

(He's alone.)

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

All Might is dead. 

Katsuki sees Yagi Toshinori stand in front of the Heroics class, looming despite his slumped posture and unsteady figure as Aizawa begins talking about the upcoming Provisional Exam. 

Life goes on.

Chapter Text

Aizawa lays everything out bare for them, their teacher never failing to not mince his words.

“We have ten days until the Provisional Exams. After that, the next semester will begin.” The underground hero continues, unperturbed by the nervous glances students exchange. “We won’t be the only ones taking it. There will be multiple schools attending as well.”

“Other schools?” Someone mutters to Katsuki’s right, but he doesn’t tilt his head to look at them. 

He stares right past Aizawa’s head and at the board on the wall, silent and only half paying attention at his teacher’s words, merely filtering what he was saying and classifying the important parts.

At one point Midnight, Cementos and Ectoplasm come in. They drone on about fighting techniques and ultimate moves, a concept Katsuki had long become familiar with. Howitzer Impact qualified so technically he already had one.

Unlike most of his classmates, he’d practice his Quirk long before he’d come to Yuuei -almost from the first spark of nitroglycerin that ignited in his hands in kindergarten. 

That didn’t stop you from being taken though, did it?

His stomach does an odd flip flop motion. He has to bite his lower lip to keep his focus away from his body’s innability at keeping itself the fuck together like it should.

Stop it, you fuck.

“-you’ll be working with us to be in tip top shape for the Exam.” Midnight’s sly voice echoed through the room. She has her hands on her broad hips and a confidant, reassuring smirk on her lips as she winks to her audience. 

The excitement and apprehension amongst the students is palpable. Mineta is probably salivating somewhere in the class. Katsuki is nonplussed.

The board makes for a nice, boring thing to look at.

“We’ll be working alongside you closely to make sure you are ready for the exam.” Aizawa speaks up as he surveys them one last time, eyes sharp and mouth hidden behind his scarf.

None of the students spoke. Some were almost shaking with excitement, fidgeting with the urge to speak up and cheer at the knowledge they were reaching a hallmark for their careers as Pro-Heroes. Others were more nervous, and even more were silent, grasping easily the importance of what they were about to undertake.

“Dismissed.”

Katsuki’s the first one out the door.

.

 

.

 

.

He’s the first one out of the changing room too.

It doesn’t take him long to slam his case down, get changed, stuff his things in his locker and walk out just as the first of his male classmates enters. As he leaves, he stubbornly refuses to look at Deku, who was changing next to the door with suspiciously slow movements.

Whether it was because of a calculated scheme from the nerd or simple coincidence, he did not care. 

He has bigger things to worry about.

Still, he can't deny he puts on his hero costume for the first time in a few weeks, Katsuki finds himself able to breathe more easily. The suit fits him perfectly; the gauntlets are nice and heavy on his arms, the weight centering him. Combat boots that could break bone support him as he follows the other students to Gym Gamma.

He doesn’t feel safer, per say - why the fuck would he think that? - but he feels more like...himself.

And he'll prove it at the Provincial Exams.

.

 

.

 

.

As it turns out, the world is not done fucking him right over.

Training is rough. His explosions felt...weaker, somehow. Dimmer. They didn't pack the same punch as usual, and it takes more effort than Katsuki likes to produce enough nitroglycerin to create them. He struggles sometimes to stay in the air as he practices a new aerial move.

The dehydration must play part of it, Katsuki thinks sourly. Had to be.

Fucking Shigaraki.

Fucking League.

The rage mounts within him, overwhelming and dark and so angry.

With a roar he dives down like a falcon, the explosion he lets out instantly destroying Ectoplasm’ clone before the Pro-Hero can dodge the massive blast radius. Concrete chunks fall to the ground around Katsuki as he lands, heaving, teeth clenched and arms twitching in a familiar manner that has that dark cloud of anger burning higher.

Annoyed, he turns to the real Ectoplasm and snarls out. “Oi! Ectoplasm! Your clone died! Give me another!”

Katsuki’s shout echoed through the sprawling gym, startling more than one of his classmates. He thinks he sees Sero jump up and trip on a stray piece of tape he’d laid out between two pillars at the sound of his voice, but it’s hard to focus when there’s blood roaring in his ears and pathetic sense of frustration surging through him the longer he is standing still.

At the call of his hero name, Ectoplasm turns away from where he was standing by Aizawa to look at him. His dark, almost alien face made it impossible to judge what the man was thinking; his narrowed pale eyes however told Katsuki that there was at least a hint of disapproval at his rude interruption.

Ha, joke’s on him because its not like Katsuki gave a fuck about his opinion.

“Well?!” Katsuki adds in an exasperated yell when Ectoplasm fails to respond or spawn a new clone in that moment. What was taking the man so long?

Ectoplasm is too far away to say anything without shouting too. Instead of responding however the Pro-Hero unhinges his jaws and spits out a glob of luminous vapor that twist and swirls as it rises from the ground. Within a fraction of a second there’s a new clone standing by its creator. It stays there for a moment, before slowly making its way to Katsuki’s platform -dodging the wayward students running around like children on a sugar high.

One of Katsuki’s classmates wasn’t moving, though.

Deku was looking at him from the ground, squinting. He’s far from the only one, but the quiet, soft intensity of those green eyes send something cold and sharp down Katsuki’s spine. Why wasn’t he doing anything? Shouldn’t he be busy putting that oh so mysterious Quirk of his to use?

It’s then that Katsuki spots a familiar tuff of golden blond hair making its way into the gym. It’s wilder than he’s used to, but undeniably unmistakable.

‘Have you come to kill me a second time, All Might?’

Snarling, he turns around and stomps away. Ignoring the weight of his classmates’ eyes, the blond rolls his shoulders and gets back into it.

.

 

.

 

.

They all settle into dorm life with the grace of a bird learning to fly for the first time. 

Right off the bat Katsuki knows it’s going to be hell, and less than two days into this it’s all but confirmed.

Kaminari is fucking loud at night, he discovers with the slightest bit of horror. Kirishima randomly works out in his room so loudly he can hear him wailing on his training equipment through the walls. Dark Shadow is an absolute monster and if Katsuki could he would shove that little shit demonic thing into the nearest box and throw the whole cage into the ocean, Tokoyami included.

Yayorozou fucking eats the entire kitchen during the afternoon and continued to eat like she was a vacuum cleaner. After dinner Iida put the dishes in ‘alphabetical order’, whatever the fuck that means. Shouto filled his assigned cabinet with soba and when Katsuki overheard Jirou ask how he bought so much of one kind of food, the fucker has the gall to shrug.

Of course he would though, with daddy dearest footing the bill.

The thought made him reflectively curse said Pro-Hero inside his head. Fuck Endeavor, he thinks as he stares up at the ceiling of his dark room.

It’s 11 pm, and he’s not asleep yet.

Try as he might, he has no idea why he’s still awake. Time was ticking, the sky was as dark as it could be, but still Katsuki found himself staring emptily at the ceiling of his new bedroom, utterly unable but very much willing to close his eyes and go the fuck to sleep already.

His stomach churns.

Oh hell no, he thinks, more to his stomach than himself. You better fucking not, you little shit.

Thankfully it soon settles, but Katsuki isn't satisfied. He'd been feeling too much of it constantly. The nausea came and went with the regularity of a stray cat, returning at the least opportune moments and disappearing before he can even process what was happening.

It's annoying. 

Annoying and debilitating and pathetic .

He was better than this. Or at least, he was supposed to. Instead, here he was laying on his bed, quietly contemplating the fastest way to known oneself out because like fuck his body was going to let him sleep in such a condition.

Groaning, he finally admits that maybe he should do something. Grab some tea, go out on a run, something to get rid of that horrible prickling under his skin. It’s concentrated mostly on his face for some reason, digging around the corner of his left eye like a nasty bruise. Had Kirishima grazed him there during their spar during class?

Katsuki can’t remember. 

Fuck, he doesn’t have the strength to remember.

Just fuck me, he thinks, glaring up at the ceiling. If you’re so dead set on fucking me sideways with a rusty knife, universe, might as well get it done with.

Of course, the universe doesn’t answer. It’s probably busy fucking someone else’s day.

...bastard.

Angrily, the blond rolls over and half flops off his bed, pathetically picking himself up with limbs that feel like they were filled with lead. He stumbles towards his door, reaching out for the doorknob.

Maybe if he went to the kitchen and grabbed a-

“-out don't get to talk.”

His hand halts over the doorknob. Every part of Katsuki’s body freezes at the low, hard voice.

That voice - Todoroki?

Just as he thinks he's hallucinated it, he hears the low, familiar voice through the closed door:

“No, I won't mind my tone at all.” A pause. “Get over it. I don't answer to you anymore.”

Who was he talking to? Katsuki feels himself sink down to the floor. The half and half bastard was just loud enough for him to hear -not like he wants to hear this. Fuck no.

That doesn’t stop him from getting curious, though.

Is it Endeavor?

“You don't get to talk.” Todoroki hisses into the phone. More shuffling. He’s farther away now. “I’m not under your thumb anymore. Back off.”

(The snakes convulse, bright and dark and angry.)

Katsuki slams a hand over his mouth as another wave of something washes over him. It’s dark, bitter and ugly, nausea coiling in his guts alongside it in an extremely familiar way. His body jolts, something crawling up his throat that he only barely manages to force down.

What wasn’t familiar however was the way the skin around his left eye startled prickling, a phantom sensation that had him squirming unpleasantly in place, 

In that moment, Katsuki wants to scream.

...how was he going to stay atop of the class with his body deciding it wanted to fuck with him?

.

 

.

 

.

 

“The students are well, are they not?”

Toshinori says nothing at first, busy gulping down a mouthful of tea. “Y-yeah. It could be better, but they seem to be adjusting to the dorms wonderfully.” He can’t help but smile softly. “Its the best we can hope for.”

Nedzu hums thoughtfully. ‘They’re adapting remarkably well, given the circumstances.”

“For the most part, yes.”

“...how is Mr.Bakugo?”

“He’s...alright.” There’s a pause in which Toshinori takes too long to answer. “Recovering. He’s more quiet than he should be, but I think he’ll settle with time.”

The words taste bitter on his tongue, but he still finds it within himself to push them out.

Nedzu tilts his head, gazing at him over his own tea cup. The principal’s tail was a rigid thing behind the Pro-Hero, betraying a darker mood than Toshinori would have hoped.

“Time?” The mouse-like creature purses his lip, black eyes flicking down to his cup. “-well, I guess us hoping he came out of Kamino unscathed was unrealistic. Children are easily shocked.” The principal takes a sip, the sound far too loud in the still room. “I’ll have Aizawa sneak in some mention of therapy, but we both know Bakugo is too stubborn for that.”

Another sip. Toshinori feels his shoulders slump further.

“I guess we’ll have to have patience.” Nedzu pauses. “And faith. In ourselves and our students.”

Toshinori makes a mild grimace.

Try as he might, he can’t shake off the image of Bakugo standing in the doorway of his home, dark circles around shadowed red eyes and looking like he wanted to talk but something was holding him back. He’d looked so small, then. So unlike the boy Toshinori had come to know and admire. 

This is my fault, he thinks. As his teacher, I am responsible for him. It is my responsibility to guide and protect this boy.

In that moment, he thinks of Midoriya.

Strong, resourceful, reckless Midoriya. Toshinori already had words with his successor about his actions at Kamino and now, well, he hoped it would stick. Especially given he couldn’t truly protect the boy anymore. He would have to provide guidance in other ways from now on.

While Midoriya was important as his successor though, Toshinori refused to neglect his other students. Every last one of them needed his guidance, his advice, his experience -those were the only things he could provide from now on, and like hell Toshinori wasn't going to give it his best to ensure his students graduated and became successful, well rounded individuals.

-and that included Bakugo.

Reclusive, quiet Bakugo, so unlike anything he was used from the blond. If anything, Bakugo was usually bright and loud. Like a literal explosion, Toshinori thinks with a mental chuckle.

And yet now, things were different.

It’s just shock, he told himself after that first meeting since Kamino. He needs time to settle.

But then class rolled around and that faded aura still hung around Bakugo like a shroud. The boy still barely looked at anyone and he was quiet. Too quiet. Would shock lack this long? 

Maybe Bakugo was more sensitive than he’d previously expected his student to be. 

Maybe Kamino had left more of an impact than he’d hoped.

….for some reason, this brings to mind the memory of Shigaraki’s warped smile, greasy locks and yellow teeth. Toshinori shudders.

 

.

 

.

 

.

Aizawa was about to slide into his bed early -a rare, precious opportunity that should never be ignored- when his phone rings.

His shoulders slump and a disgruntled huff leaves his lips. It was nearly eight in the afternoon, who on earth was calling at this hour?

Nevertheless, he takes the phone off the nightstand despite his irritation and faint urge to toss it out the window. It was an unknown number. He all but stabs his finger into the accept button.

“Yes?”

There’s a lapse of silence.

“...hello? Is...is this Eraserhead I’m talking to?”

Male, not someone Aizawa recognized. Dissatisfied, the teacher glared up at the ceiling. If this was an emergency that cut into his sleep he swore-

“Yes, you are talking to him. What do you want?” At this ungodly hour? Aizawa bites back the last part  by channeling years’ worth of working with rowdy, accident-prone children. “It’s late.”

“A-and I apologize for that!” The voice stammered, nervous. “I just -you’re the homeroom teacher for Class 1-A, right? I wish to talk to you in person.”

Aizawa feels himself frown. “Why? If you are a member of the press, then no and I'd like to know how you got your hands on-”

“My name is Hanazawa Mikio. I was Bakugo Katsuki and Midoriya Izuku’s homeroom teacher in middle school. I think there are some things you might need to know.”

Aizawa’s heart skips a beat.

He jolts up on his bed, sitting up and staring at the ground as he pressed the phone closer to his ear. For some reason every part of his body was suddenly awake and attentive, pulled taunt like the string of a bow.

What would this man possibly want?

Gritting his teeth, Aizawa speaks authoritatively in a voice he only used while working as a Pro-Hero:

“Tomorrow. Five o'clock. Go to the Yuuei main entrance and ask for my name. Don’t be late.”

Chapter Text

The third day is marginally better. Classes pick up again, and Katsuki drags his sorry carcass to each everyone of them in time. 

Anything solid is ignored in the morning. He grabs a coffee early before anyone else gets to the kitchen, drinks it quickly, then does his morning run. If he feels the urge to throw up, he forces it down, crushing it through sheer willpower until only a faint sense of nausea is left.

He sits his ass through Aizawa’s lectures and takes notes on everything, because like hell he was going to lose his rank in the class to a lack of sleep. Fuck, Ponytail should watch out, because Katsuki was coming her spot next exam season.

After the shitshow of the summer camp, he wasn’t going to allow himself anything less than perfection.

.

 

.

 

.

 

“Fuck you.” Katsuki gurgles pathetically. “Fucking fuck you.”

The toilet remains silent. Clearly, the porcelain god is having none of his shit today.

Katsuki had to shove his head back into it to keep himself from staining his clothes. He tries to keep his mind empty and distracted as his pathetic breakfast comes back up. Apparently coffee wasn’t meant to be ingested alone in the morning when you were doing a lot of physical activity. And it didn’t agree with him in general. Figures. Fucking figures. What a genius he’d been. 

Never fucking again.

When he pulls back to sit on his heels, the acrid aftertaste of coffee burns at his tongue. Katsuki winces, left hand reaching up to massage his throat. 

Fuck, shit couldn’t get worse, could it?

The clatter of the bathroom door opening has him freezing in place. Footsteps followed as someone walked into the bathroom and passed through the stalls. Any moment now he would be seen.

Katsuki tenses up. Crap, if it was an extra he could spook them off, why the fuck didn’t he close the door to his stall-

“Kacchan?” 

You’ve gotta be shitting me.

The soft, questioning voice was unmistakable. He doesn’t turn around, glaring at the toilet with utter revulsion. Shame burns at him as he hisses out:

 “Kind of busy here.” Katsuki finds himself grumbling, fighting another bout of nausea. Thankfully his stomach was now utterly empty, so he doesn’t have to worry about putting himself through more humiliation than he already was in. “Fuck off.” He adds as an afterthought,

“Busy.” Deku says flatly.

Somehow, the green haired brat sounded both bemused, dubious and worried. What a delightful combination that Katsuki did not want directed at him.

“Yes.” 

“Kacchan.” 

It’s the slight exhausted tint to the other teen’s sigh that does Katsuki in. 

Snarling, he swallows down excess saliva from throwing up and then stands up abruptly, stoically ignoring the slight headrush he feels at the sudden movement. Turning around, he glares at the nerd.

“What of it, eh? The fuck do you want? Do your shit and leave, Deku.”

The idiot flinched slightly as the furious snarl, but he doesn’t shy away as much as Katsuki wished he did. Deku was doing so less and less -the spine he’d lacked during the entirety of their childhood was finally starting to show, and it was only a matter of time before he stopped putting up with Katsuki’s bullshit entirely.

Whoohoo, look how much the fucking nerd grew.

He had to wonder when the nerd would stop trailing after him. Probably fucking never, at least until Katsuki did something drastic. And wasn’t that a fucking thought.

“I don’t want to go to the bathroom!” Deku exclaims in response to his growled command, stumbling over his words -probably realizing how utterly fucking hilarious and pathetic they sounded. Ha. Ha. See, Katsuki was laughing. On the inside. Maybe. “I just - I saw you leave the gym.”

So he followed him?

Great. He’s stalking me again.

“What do you want.” This time, Katsuki doesn’t hide his exhaustion. He’d long crossed the line of fucks to give.

Katsuki narrows his eyes. Deku falters, shoulders slumping slightly.

“I wanted to see where you were going. You weren’t heading for the Support building so…” Katsuki’s glare deepen and Deku bites his lower lip, cutting himself off. “-I just want to know -are you okay, Kacchan?”

Katsuki feels the sneer on his face falter.

Are you okay?

...no, he’s not. 

He’s smart enough to know that.

But it's not like he would admit it. Especially not to Deku. Or anyone else, for that matter. It’s enough that his parents noted that something was off. Katsuki could deal with a bout of sickness on his own.

“What’s it up to you?” Katsuki ends up hissing out.

“You’re crankier than normal, but you’re shouting less.” Deku immediately replies, brows furrowing that certain way Katsuki just knows a verbal diarrhea was incoming. “You’re also hanging out with Kirishima less. You barely left your room since we got to the dorms unless it was to train. And I-I don’t think I’ve seen you use the kitchen yet, apart from making yourself coffee.” Deku suddenly pauses, eyebrows crinkling further. “Kacchan, you hate coffee.”

Somehow it’s that last part that has Katsuki clenching his fists, an urge to leave rising within his core at this almost accusation. God, he almost wishes he hadn’t left the gauntlets by the door. He really, really wanted to threaten Deku with them. Maybe that’ll get the nerd to fucking leg it and leave him alone.

But things don’t work like that anymore, do they? A tiny voice whispers, sneering. He’s not going to put up with your shit anymore.

“I can drink whatever the fuck I like, nerd. And since when did you think that?”

“Tsubasa offered you some, once.” Deku replies quickly. “You went on a rant about it. Plus, it affects your Quirk. Coffee causes dehydration.”

Katsuki can’t reply. The silence feels suffocating.

“So that’s that, eh?” He mutters.

“Kacchan, if you need help Recovery Girl can take a look.” Deku starts in that familiar, whimpy fucking way that makes Katsuki’s blood boil.

He’s fucking done with Deku crap. Hell, he’s been done years ago but somehow the little shit stuck to his side like fucking glue, always nearby, always worrying, always fucking worrying if he could just wrap his hands around that stupid fucking neck we could finally shut him up

Katsuki blinks.

What the fuck.

What the fuck was that.

“I deal with my shit and you deal with yours, got it?” His mouth almost moves on his own, the tone oddly calm compaired to how every nerve in his body was hitting the let’s get the fuck out alarm. “I’m sure you have a lot to do.”

He walks forward before Deku can interrupt him, brushing past the slightly shorter boy hard enough to make him stumble. The nerd’s back hits one of the stalls in a way that reminds him far too much of how often he’d shoved Deku around in middle school.

Simpler times.

Deku reaches out with a hand, a glint of determination in his eyes. “Kacchan wait-”

Fuck it. 

Nuclear option.

“-wouldn’t want to disappoint All Might, would you?” Katsuki sneers. Ugly, bitter satisfaction rises up within him at the way the other boy freezes mid stride, hand half-risen from his side to reach for him. Deku’s wide, surprised and slightly guilty eyes told enough.

Fucking gotcha.

He hadn’t forgotten what Deku had blurted out that second day of school. 

‘My Quirk was given to me by somebody else!’

It was hard not to after Kamino.  The mere name popping up in his head immediately had his blood turning cold. Black mask. Dark suit. Large, scarred hands. 

A toothy smile hidden between a contraption of metal and tubes. 

‘Have you come to kill me a second time, All Might?’

Katsuki’s memory jumps forward. Black tendrils with glowing red inlines, slicing through the air and reaching Kurogiri’s prone form. Digging in, searching.

‘Forceful Quirk Activation!’

His chest hurt. He feels a pressure there, faint but present. It has him clenching his abdominal muscles and exhales slowly. He closes his eyes.

(It almost feels like little needles stabbing into his skin.)

“....Kacchan? You’re spacing out.”

Katsuki’s eyes snap open to meet green.  Deku’s there -like he always was. He looks only a smidge less guilty now, the surprise of Katsuki’s declaration having faded. The expression of concern on his face was starting to become too familiar for his taste.

Katsuki feels something within him harden at the sight.

He didn’t have time to waste on this crap. The teachers were probably wondering where they fuck they were. The Provincial Exam date was getting closer and closer and it wasn’t waiting for anyone.

He’ll get his licence then and fucking show everyone there was nothing to speculate about -that he was still the fucking best.

(If so, why did that feel like a lie?)

“I don’t have time for this.” Katsuki ends up muttering.

With nothing more to say, he picks up the gauntlets left by the door and walks out. Deku doesn’t follow him.

The last glimpse of the other boy that Katsuki catches is of Deku standing slumped against the stall he’d shoved him against looking at him not with fear or worry but with dark, speculative eyes, like he’s some sort of puzzle the boy was determined to figure out.

(The snakes hiss.)

.

 

.

 

.

Aizawa finds Hanazawa standing by the Yuuei gates at five in the afternoon to the dot. 

“Welcome.” He tells the man stoically when he takes him past the great steel doors and into the main building of the campus. “Give your bag here,” Aizawa points to one of the small sentries inside. 

“W-why for?” Hanazawa murmured, staring at the robot warily. Like he was expecting it to snap at him. He’d forgotten how unused civilians are to Yuuei’s mechanical staff. Aizawa barely fights back the urge to roll his eyes. 

“It’s a scanner drone. It will check to make sure there is nothing harmful amongst your things or on you.” He explains, pausing to narrow his eyes at Hanazawa slow shuffling towards the robot. “Hurry up. I have a patrol tonight.”

“Right! I apologize.”

After that, it doesn’t take long. The scanner drone’s light flickers over Hanazawa’s tall, lanky frame, then turns to the bag. 

It then beeps cheerfully, too loudly for Aizawa’s taste.

“All good, Eraserhead!” 

Aizawa quickly steers them to the second floor. As they walked down the hallway to Aizawa’s office, he couldn’t help but find that the middle school teacher looked horribly out of place with his hunched shoulders, nervous eyes, soft blazer and fidgeting stature. It contrasted with his own swift gate and the tall, wide halls of Yuuei.

Nobody stood in their way during their journey, which Aizawa was grateful for. He’d already notified Nedzu about this visit as per regulation, but he’d rather have few people know about this unless it became worthwhile.

...which he had the strangest gut feeling it would be.

Still, if they could not accidentally run into Bakugo or Midoriya, that would be great.  At this moment they should be in gym Gamma with Cementoss, Midnight and All Might, but Aizawa couldn’t expect them to keep the students in that building. Given how the first years were running back and forth between the training buildings and the Support Department wing, there was a chance it might happen. 

Small, but possible.

This thankfully didn’t come to be, as he reached the teachers’ lounge without further problem. Aizawa opened the door, made sure none of his fellow teachers were inside and nodded for Hanazawa to walk in, which the middle school teacher did very quickly.

“Now that we are here.” Aizawa sits down on one of the couches, spine ramrod straight. Hanazawa sits in the one opposite of him, bag on his lap and feet drawn in like a turtle retracted into its shell. “What is important enough to call me at 8 in the afternoon?”

Hanazawa had at least the manners to duck his head, sheepish as he speaks:

“I apologize for that,” He fiddles with his bag, fingers clenching on the leather. “But, huh, I had a bit of an epiphany and after reaching out to the police, I got your contact and thought it would be best if I spoke to you directly.”

Aizawa fights off the urge to raise a brow at the sudden cascade of words, each ringing more and more alarms inside his head. Epiphany? Police?

His gut feeling was right.

“You spoke with the Musustafu police?”

Hanazawa nods, the bright yellow hair on his head that was disturbingly similar to Hizashi bobbing with the movement. “Yes. I contacted them yesterday morning, and I was directed to a detective called Naomasa? After I spoke with him, he told me to contact you and forwarded me your information.”

Aizawa tenses. Naomasa, All Might’s police contact and head of the League investigation, had forwarded him? This had to be pertinent, then.

“Why me?”

Hanazawa looked down at the ground. His mouth opened, closed, and opened again. Aizawa could see the conflict in the way he sat there, tense and uncomfortable.

“I had a while to think about this.” The middle school teacher began, voice soft. “At first I dismissed it -after the lunacy of the Festival, I thought it would just a normal thing. But then I started having doubts when it was the only time it happened.” 

A pause.

“Then Kamino happened.” Hanazawa softly continues. “I couldn’t ignore it anymore.”

Without any further word, the man reaches for his bag and starts shuffling around.

“I was approached by someone two weeks after the Festival. His name was Uramoto Jiro. He introduced himself as a reporter for the Musutafu Hero Daily. He asked about Bakugo.”

Aizawa’s stomach lurches.

“I didn’t think much of it at first.” Hanazawa shuffles his feet, further retreating into himself. His hands are still in his bag, but he’s not moving them. The guilt was oozing off the man. “There were some reporters that approached staff members at Aldera after the Festival, so I answered what I could. He then went on his day.”

A pause.

“Then the Summer Camp Incident happened. The media was in chaos. And...a-and I felt something. Like I was missing something important. So I reached out to the Musustafu Daily.” Hanazawa swallows, then exhales.“T-they told me that there were no Uramoto Jiro working there.”

He then pulls out his hands from the bag.

A bird flies by the lounge’s window, it’s shadow slicing through the room and across Hanazawa’s neck. No one speaks. Silenced, Aizawa lets the the man stay silent, his gaze shifting to the object the teacher was offering him.

“I saw the reports after Kamino, and well…”

It’s a small picture.

He takes it, stomach dropping at what he finds. A man with a scruffy blond hair, a dark stubble, eyebags and most importantly a long, straight scar on his forehead. The Pro-Hero recognized the man immediately.

“Jin Budaigawara.” Aizawa finds himself saying without willing to. He flicks his gaze up to look at Hanazawa. “Twice.”

Hanazawa nods. “He’s the man that approached me.”

“What did he ask you.” Aizawa’s voice was harsher and blunter than he’d like, but at this point every nerve in his body was screaming at him. This was not something that he was expecting.

The League had done some sort of background check on Bakugo. They’d gone above and beyond -Aizawa had thought they had used the Festival as justification to take his student and try to sway him to their side...something that thankfully, clashed with Bakugo’s sheer stubbornness.

This meant something more intricate.

There was something else to this, he was certain. Possibilities zipped by Aizawa’s head, one faster than the other, and he has to restrain himself from calling Nedzu right away.

Hanazawa bites his lower lip. “That’s the thing that has me confused.”

Aizawa feels himself freeze. 

“As in?”

“Well,” Hanazawa takes a breath, brows furrowing. “...strangely enough, he was more adamant to talk about Bakugo and Midoriya’s relationship rather than Bakugo himself.”

.

 

.

 

.

“You know the drill, All Might.”

He nods, eyeing the massive metal door in front of him. “Yes. Will the security of the cell be ensured?

The head guard bobs his head. “Yes sir. We will be able to see you, but we won’t hear anything.” Toshinori watches as the man reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small, smooth disk with a clicker button on it. He extends his arm in offering and Toshinori can only grab it with a murmured thank you. “Here’s the panic button. Hit that and a drug in the villain’s packet will be instantly administered. We will be alerted automatically. The guards are on standby; it’s all ready to go.”

Toshinori looks down at the tiny button in his hand. It almost seemed to glare at him.

That’s right. He needed to be careful now. He was the one that needed protecting from now on.

...it was such an odd thing.

But it was his new reality.

“Ready?” The head guard’s voice dragged him out of his thoughts. Toshinori looks up and gives the man a ghost of his heroic smile, but it feels too bitter.

“Yes, thank you.”

He’s guided to place his hand of the scanner by the gate. Immediately, the door in front of him slides open with a hiss. Toshinori steps through, mindful of his cape. It feels odd, wearing it now with this thin, emaciated body, but he finds it fitting.

There was something funny about showing up to meet his nemesis while wearing his old suit. A final middle finger, sort to speak.

It was like Gran Torino said -All Might was still alive. He may not be a Pro-Hero anymore, but Toshinori liked to think he was still a hero. That he was still useful.

The room inside is cold and bare save a single chair and the big, wide glass splitting the chamber in half. On the other side of the reinforced glass sat a figure dressed in white and bound to an upright stretcher. 

There’s a pole on wheels next to him, with a single Iv bag hanging from one of it’s hooks, connected to the captured criminal. A softly buzzing machine was on the man’s left and was feeding the criminal clean oxygen through a breathing mask.

At his arrival the man’s scarred, eyeless, noseless face twists grotesquely as lips move to form a polite smile. Toshinori already feels a burst of anger and cold fury rise up in him at the sight.

“All Might.” His title is spoken politely, like they were two old colleagues meeting again.

It was revolting. He couldn’t let his anger show, though. It would only further feed the monster and like hell he was giving the man such satisfaction.

“All for One.” Toshinori replies, trying to hide the hostility in his voice but failing at it, if the slight widening of those thin, cracked lips was anything to go by.

“It sure took you a long time to come visit, Yagi Toshinori.” The monster on the other side of the glass uttered, sounding almost hurt. “I was starting to get worried that you’d forgotten about me.”

I’ll love it if it was that easy, Toshinori thinks sourly.

“We met a few days ago.” He instead retorts evenly. “I hardly think that’s a long time.”

There’s a soft, chuckle. It’s ear-grating.

“Maybe.” All for One tuts softly. “How’s that successor of yours, All Might? I’m curious to know about him.”

Toshinori feels his eyes widen. Midoriya?

No.

Like hell he was going to let All for One know anything about his student. “You know nothing of him, at it will stay that way.” Toshinori tells him sharply.

“I know you have no control of him, and that’s enough for me.” All for One replies without missing a beat. “I also know he’s a reckless child, too enamored by the ideals of heroism and nobility to realize how real life work.” He pauses theatrically. “You know how long those lasts out there in the streets.”

Toshinori bristles at the implied threat.

“You dare-”

“I dare what, exactly?” All for One interrupts in a light, unbothered tone. “As far as I see I am here, in Tartarus. I cannot dare something I can’t do. I’d hate to be labelled a liar.” A beat passes. Toshinori silently boils as the other man takes his time. “But you know that already, don’t you?”

“You are a liar.” Toshinori snaps back, voice rising. “You are a cheat, a thief and a murderer too.”

“Now you are just hurting my feelings.” All for One replies, sounding almost hurt. “I wonder what your student would think.”

“Don’t bring him up again.”

The criminal’s response was immediate and nonchalant. “Why not? As my future nemesis, he’s as important as you are in this conversation.”

Toshinori feels something snap in himself. Some distant part of him knew that he shouldn’t be getting this riddled up, but All for One just knew what buttons to press and the words just came flowing out:

“Midoriya will become the next Symbol of Peace.” Toshinori tells him, eyes narrowed and voice hard as his mind goes back to Midoriya’s reckless rescue at Kamino. So much courage, such bravery, if only the boy would be just a bit more careful… . “He will become great while you rot in here for the rest of your miserable life. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

All for One doesn’t press, so Toshinori finds himself baring his teeth and telling him smugly:

“I’m going back to my school.” He states, turning up his nose at the scarred, inhuman criminal on the other side of the glass.  “To my student, who is safe and flourishing.”

All for One merely hums, the tone calm and uncaring like they were having a quaint little discussion . Toshinori takes it as if the man has nothing else to add, so he gets up and starts walking away.

He shouldn’t have lost his temper like that. The cell might be secure, but still, it was foolish of him to speak of Midoriya. He should know better. 

He was better than this; to fall to such a trick was pathetic of him.

All for One always had a knack for sinking under his opponent’s skin. Even in the middle of a fight he wou-

“Is he, though?”

Toshinori freezes, hand over the scanner.

 Slowly, he turns his upper body to look back at his nemesis. All for One is smiling, looking too calm and too happy for someone who was bound and loaded up on Quirk suppressant drugs.

“Is he safe?” The man continues, his twisted, gnarled face tilting to the side as much as he could given the binds. 

The smile continues to grow on those parched lips -and the worst part? Toshinori knows that smile. He knows it very well; had seen it numerous times in his nightmares.

It’s the same smile the man had given him before he’d torn a hole in his gut.

Toshinori’s stomach drops. Spinning around he leaves the room without any further word, All for One’s laughter following on his heels, clinging to his shadow.