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Can't Let Go (Not That I Want To)

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There was no one else he could ask about this that knew shit about being married. He sure as hell wasn't going to ask his mom - she'd cackle and brag so much she'd give the damn thing away. Couldn't ask his dad either since he'd tell mom. Anyway, they'd been a weird case and he wasn't going to strong arm anybody into being with him. As if.

Out of all of his old teachers, the only ones he knew for sure who were married were Aizawa and Yamada and he wasn't going to ask them either. He could already feel a headache forming from how loud Yamada would scream and he didn't feel like getting caught in that shitty capture weapon and thrown out on his ass.

Katsuki glared at his reflection in the train window and adjusted his flu mask so it covered his nose better. He glared at the cashier at the bakery from behind his sunglasses and managed not to snap at the kids taking up most of the sidewalk. This wasn't like him anymore. Sure, he still could be an angry bastard and knew he had a lot more work to put in on that but he just couldn't settle today. Like he was pent up and couldn't let out any explosions to relieve the pressure.

This was all Eijirou’s fucking fault.

Walking up the stairwell barely gave his legs a workout now but it was better than waiting for the elevator. He hadn’t been to this place in nearly twenty years but he still remembered the way. Up three floors then down the open air hallway to the fourth door that looked like any other. The outdoor mat was still the same after all this time though All Might’s face was faded and worn down from the many feet that had crossed the threshold.

It was then that Katsuki got the nasty realization that who he was looking for might not be home. Sure it was his day off but that didn’t mean shit. Pros schedules barely ever aligned with each other, much less with that of civilians with regular hours. There was no way he’d checked beforehand either as then the word would get out and he didn’t want nosy Deku spamming him with questions.

Fuck it. He was already here, he was going to knock. If no one answered by the time he counted to twenty, he was gone. The fact that he was counting faster than he might normally meant nothing just like how he only dented the box in his hands a little when the door opened.

“Ah, Katsuki?” Inko looked up at him, eyes wide in surprise and God, he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d seen her up close. “It’s been awhile! Please come in.”

Mumbling something that could vaguely be considered a, “Thank you,” Katsuki stepped into the apartment and tugged his boots off with one hand. “Here.” The box was offered and he took off his jacket when Inko accepted it. “It’s cake. Since I didn’t say I’d be coming over or whatever.”

“My, thank you.” Inko was quiet for a moment then as she looked from him to the box, expression unreadable. A little smile came to her face and she said, “I’ll make us some tea,” before going down the hall and out of sight.

Shoving his sunglasses, mask, and phone into the pockets, he hung up his jacket and closed his eyes for a moment. Villains weren’t too much of a problem for him now. He was #3, he could handle it. No, what was making him feel like he’d rather get all his teeth yanked out one by one was the fact that he was in Deku’s old apartment while Deku’s mom made them tea so he could talk about something stupid. But he was Bakugou Katsuki. If he was going to do something, he was going to do it perfectly and nobody would be able to say anything against that.

Katsuki took a deep breath through his nose and counted down from ten – first in Japanese and then in English just to try and center his mind. It was a technique his shrink from UA had recommended and he’d scoffed at the first time she’d wanted him to try it. When he’d stopped dismissing everything out of hand and started taking it seriously, he found that it did help. It was helping now if only a little bit. That was enough.

Rubbing his hands against the legs of his pants until they stopped burning, he entered the kitchen. Inko had already opened the box and cut two slices of cake to put on plates. The electric kettle was boiling and it was the same cheerful yellow from his memories. “Would you mind setting out two cups, please?” Inko requested as she pulled out the tea. “Do you remember where they are?”

The question was delicate but it just reminded him even further of how long it had been since he’d been here. Everything used to be out of reach but now he was eye level with the mugs when he opened the cabinet. “Yeah, I remember.” Katsuki’s lips twisted when he saw the many hero mugs and he took a breath through his nose as he tried to decide. “These are…new.”

Inko hummed curiously and came closer. The brush of their arms together almost burned but he worked at not flinching away. It was fine, everything was fine. Keep it together! “Izuku loves all his friends,” she said, her face soft and smiling as she looked at the figures of 1-A on display across the mugs surfaces. “I needed more after he started inviting them over.”

Grunting wordlessly, Katsuki grabbed down a yellow mug with a black electric bolt motif and one that was half red and white and put them on the table. He looked hard at his slice of cake after sitting and tried to keep it from forming into a glare as Inko prepared the tea in both their mugs and poured in the water. The hum of the refrigerator and the sound of a TV playing in the apartment next door were blaring and drowning out any rational thought. This was a stupid idea. Why was he wasting his precious day off here when he could be at home where he could breathe and make himself coffee and watch his own TV or play video games and not feel like he was going to be sick all over the scrubbed wood-

“Katsuki?”

Head snapping up, he found Inko gazing at him with such concern and looked down again as he breathed his way through it. His palms were pressed flat to the table and she had one of her hands on top of his. They were so much smaller than his now. Had they really been big enough once to cover his own as she walked him and Deku down the streets? “I’m fine,” he mumbled out but didn’t move to stop her as she stood up and came closer.

Her hand moved from his to his forehead and then stroked through his hair. Closing his eyes, he let himself lean into the gentle touch and didn’t resist as she brought his cheek to rest against her shoulder. Inko was far more fragile than he was now but he still felt like a snot nosed kid that she scooped up when he scrapped his knee and held until the tears stopped. Eyes burning, he screwed them up tighter as her arms moved around him to keep him close.

“I’m okay, Auntie,” he said after a small eternity had passed and it was true. Katsuki’s shoulders were slumped and his hands were dry. His back was starting to protest being hunched like this but he still didn’t try to fight the embrace. “I’m better now.”

Murmuring her agreement, Katsuki felt one of her hands leave him and knew she was wiping at her face. Inko’s tears had never made him want to rage and storm like Deku’s had even though it was almost always for other people that they cried. Maybe it had just been easier for him to see that on her face than his. “I know you are. You’re trying so hard.” Her hand came to cup the back of his head and rubbed there slowly. “I’m so proud of you, Katsuki.” As if that wouldn’t make his chest tight and the burning come back to his eyes.

Carefully, he did nudge her away after another few moments and sat up straight again as she moved back to her seat. Both of their faces were dry as they sipped their tea and Inko took a bite of cake. She smiled again at the taste and he had to look down again instead of at her. The sun came out when she smiled too but it was never too much or blinding. Just enough to help everything grow. “This tastes wonderful. Thank you.”

Katsuki wasn’t sure what or if he said anything to that and so just nodded and took a bite of his own. It was good. Sero and Ashido had gotten one from the same bakery to congratulate him on starting his own agency a few years ago. The whole class had somehow managed to come and it had taken his new staff at least a couple weeks to eat the leftovers.

Sidetracked. Letting his shoulders go back, he looked at Inko to find her already watching him. That only caused him to freeze for a few seconds before he pushed himself to plow ahead. “How did your husband propose to you?”

They weren’t still together. They hadn’t been since Deku was at least eight and there was no sign of him returning. The money still came in the mail for child support from what he’d overheard his parents say but Inko and her husband had gone their separate ways. He wasn’t sure if she’d ever regretted any part of it but the vindictive side of Katsuki hoped that Midoriya Hisashi regretted leaving his family every day for the rest of his life. Served the bastard right.

Inko’s face was surprised then thoughtful as she wrapped her hands around her mug. “It was very quiet,” she recalled, her tone soft but not melancholic. She was merely remembering, nothing more. “We went to a show then had dinner. We went for a walk along Dagobah afterwards – this was before it got so dirty – and he asked me before we left. I said yes.”

“What did he say exactly?” Katsuki wasn’t a wheedling or whiny person and he definitely wasn’t acting that way right now. “Did he do anything?” Specifics were what mattered. Making it have an impact mattered.

A smile was slowly forming on Inko’s face and he hated how much his ears were burning at seeing the knowingness of it all. It wasn’t fair how easily he could still be read. “I can’t remember exactly. He knelt down and asked me if I would marry him. It was so long ago now but I do remember being very happy.” Her smile changed into understanding as she put her hand on his wrist. “What was important was that he made it for me. I wouldn’t have enjoyed fireworks or screaming from on top of a mountain. What he did was perfect for who I was then. He knew me well enough and that’s what made it special.”

He wasn’t scared and he’d never say he was under threat of death but Katsuki was still the one to reach out to take her hand when she started to pull it away. “He’s already too good,” he muttered and his brow furrowed in frustration. “I could ask him with a sticky note and he’d go goofy and stupid.” His eyebrows lowered further when she laughed but she did squeeze his hand. “Don’t tell the old lady about this. Or anybody.”

“Of course not,” Inko promised as she stroked her thumb over his. “I’m sure it’ll be the most wonderful proposal.”

Grunting, he used his other hand to get another bite of cake. Katsuki was feeling hungrier all of the sudden and knew it had to do with finally talking about this whole stupid situation. Stupid body. Traitor. “Thanks, Auntie.” He gestured around them and she beamed. Finally he felt his own crooked smile come out too.

“Of course, Katsuki. Of course.”

- - -

It was only after he’d left and was heading towards the station that he thought to check his phone. Drained was the word he was looking for but he should at least see if anything important had come up. There were notifications of emails that he swiped away with hardly any attention, notifications from Twitter telling him Ingenium and Tentacole were hosting some joint event, and a new article talking about how Uravity had wrecked the shit out of a villain gang in Suzuka. He bookmarked that one to read later and swiped to his messages.

private chat with redriot

ei: thanks for the lunch today babe!!! everyone at work was jealous ♥♥♥

ei: [Image: Ejirou’s bento box is open showing white rice with some sesame seeds on top, grilled fish, and a salad with both small tomatoes and carrots shaped like stars. A hand that is not Eijirou’s is in the frame reaching out to try and steal part of it.]

ei: enjoy your day off!! i know ur already up and out but take a nap or something! u deserve it!!

ei: lucky break!!! i’m patrolling all afternoon. why didn’t sensei say how much paperwork is involved in heroing?? (/ToT)/ ~┻┻

ei: i’m free!! are u home? xx

ei: GUESS WHO I RAN INTO!!!!!

ei: [Image: The side of Eijirou’s grinning face is in the foreground. In the background stand Ashido, Kaminari, and Sero. Ashido and Kaminari are dabbing in opposite directions and Sero stands in the center with his arms in the air and his face stony. All three of them are wearing sunglasses despite the fact that it’s dusk and they all have sweatshirts pulled over their hero costumes.]

ei: they invited me to the ramen place near home!! have u had dinner yet?

ei: come eat with us!!! ♥♥♥

Katsuki was glad he had his flu mask back on but he couldn’t stop a snort leaving him at the last picture. They were so stupid. All of them were. Checking the time stamps on the messages and letting warmth spread through his chest, he realized they’d been sent just ten minutes ago. That was more than enough time to take a train and get there.

Katsuki: fucking idiots

Katsuki: omw. you can start without me

ei: no way!! see u soon!!! xxxxxxx

Rolling his eyes with no heat behind the action, he boarded a train and barely noticed the journey. The restaurant was three blocks from the station and his and Eijirou’s apartment was barely a block away from that. It wasn’t like they ate out very often but it was nice every now and then to indulge. The staff didn’t ask any questions and most of the patrons generally left them alone too so it was as ideal as they could expect with them being pros.

Katsuki crossed the street and could see the four of them huddled in a window booth. Ashido and Kaminari were chatting enthusiastically about something while Eijirou turned to speak with the server. Sero was looking at his phone but glanced up and grinned. He turned and poked at Eijirou to get his attention before he was pointing out the window when the other man turned. Immediately Eijirou’s face was lit up and he was waving excitedly which prompted the other two to start waving and beckoning to him as well. He almost thought about speeding past but stepped inside.

“Welcome!”

“Oh my God what took you so long? We’ve been starving to death!” Kaminari complained and slumped over the table.

Sero gave him a light chop on his back for that and laughed. “Kirishima said we had to wait until you got here. I thought it was gonna be for another twenty at least.”

“Um, have you met Bakugou? As soon as Kiri even mentions wanting something he gets it.” Ashido gave him a grin and wiggled her eyebrows until Katsuki sat on the bench and forced her and Eijirou to shift over. “You’re squishing me!”

“You’ll live,” Katsuki said and his shoulder bumped up against Eijirou’s who bumped back with that same, bright grin. “What?”

“Nothing.” Eijirou said even as he stayed leaning a bit on him. “Just was thinking about how much I wanted to see you then suddenly you were here.”

“Gross.” Taking off his mask, Katsuki gave their three friends the finger when they started cooing and giving them knowing looks. Shoving it into his pocket, he landed his hand on Eijirou’s who immediately laced their fingers together. “You invited me. No shit I’m gonna show up.”

His hand was textured by lines and scars but somehow still warm. Maybe one day their hands would grow smaller and the lines would be so much deeper but that didn’t scare him. They hadn’t ever really let go from all those years ago when Eijirou had rescued him from Kamino. Katsuki would do everything to make sure they never would.