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The clock strikes noon when he's finally allowed to leave, with the nervous buzz of his quirk gnawing at the back of his mind and his last phone call with his mother not doing much to console his feverish thinking. The world outside is dull, chilly, and quiet. It makes keeping the steady thrum of Null Eater harder to keep in check, but Midoriya Izuku isn't nine anymore. He can feel his quirk sitting complacently in his palms. He hopes it stays that way.

A black van honks impatiently as he makes his way in, and his thinking slows as the quirk restraining interior of the vehicle surrounds him in numbness. The familiar face of the driver offers the boy a warm smile as they drive off.

Back home, Izuku dares to think.

Izuku's twelve now, but the number has lost its meaning to him around the same time he forgot the taste of his mother's soba.

"You alright back there, kiddo?" The driver, Yosef, has known him for three years. Since the first drive to the prison (where a nine year old Izuku had passed out from crying so hard) to this final, lonely drive home. Each one has been filled with small talk, trying to coax out a response. Even now, the words came slow and heavy off his tongue.

"Yeah," He murmurs numbly. "I miss mom."

"I bet. Don't worry, Miss Midoriya's been telling me the same thing every time she comes to see you."

The world outside is a familiar blur. The steady buzz inside him has become even more familiar.

The two hour drive leaves Izuku drowning in questions that no twelve year old could answer.

Does she still love me? It must be hard to love someone like me. Did I hurt her? Who else did I hurt? I could never be a hero. All might's quirk never did anything but help people.

Null Eater rumbles quietly in his head. Izuku closes his eyes and pretends to sleep.

****

Bakugou Katsuki slams him up against the hallway wall. He's angry. Izuku can feel the heat in his palms and the worry in his eyes.

"You're gone for three fucking years, and you don't fucking tell me!! And you show up in class like it's nothing, calling me Kacchan like it's nothing! What the FUCK is wrong with you, 'zuku?!" His voice is hoarse, but Izuku can still hear the worry. He musters the energy to smile.

"...you shouldn't swear, Kacch-Katsuki. And...it was a family emergency...my dad-uh...he came back," The lie falls from his lips like a reflex. It's vague but seems sensitive enough to prevent further questioning. But Izuku quickly remembers Bakugou Katsuki is one blunt bastard and that the other boy knows his tells like the back of his hand.

"...you don't trust me anymore? Izuku, I made a fucking promise. I wouldn't-....I won't hurt you anymore. Goddamn it, just tell me!" There's frustration in the way his smoking fists tighten around Izuku's collar, in the way his eyes lose their anger and become a mix of desperation and as much betrayal as a twelve year old can muster.

"Don't s-swear," Izuku finds himself looking away again, guilt knotting in his stomach and his own frustration beginning to cloud his vision in the form of tears. "I just...I-..."

And Izuku doesn't have the heart in him to say how much he misses him. He misses the warmth from his hands, the quiet traces of worry in his insults, the over protective haze that had Katsuki scaring away any other kids who got near. He longs to tell him. He's already choking on the words.

"...sorry. I-uh...," And Katsuki, that big dumb bastard, pulls him into a hug and tucks Izuku under his chin. It's painfully familiar.

"I miss you."

They both murmur it at the same time. Izuku quietly giggles and slips his arms around the taller boy's neck.

(the words come out eventually, the entire story of the last three years.)

(katsuki holds him just a bit tighter.)