For what seemed like the first time in his life, Katsuki had no idea where he was headed; what direction to turn so he could end up in a location at least slightly different than his current one or what was to come around the corner for him to stumble over next.
Well - excusing the obvious drivers stopping by him to offer a ride every twenty minutes or so; rambling on about how it wasn’t safe for a guy like himself to be in the middle of nowhere with little to no supplies. Katsuki wasn’t stupid. Excusing the angry phone calls no doubt blowing up his phone, thats battery had died long before he had reached this part of wherever the hell he was.
But that much was obvious.
What he had no clue about was why his feet refused to stop moving, dragging against the hot dirt along the side of the road lazily and throbbing from what had to be hours of walking. He had thought about taking a break, but couldn’t bring himself to pause for more than a second, concerned that his legs would snap from the sudden lack of movement or he would forget the now mind numbing pattern of placing one foot in front of the other.
There was no map for him to follow, neither physical nor digital due to his phone’s current uselessness. It was shattered, having been dropped or rather thrown at walls and floors more times than he could be fucked to count. His mother scolded him for it - when didn't she? Reminding him to put the case on each time she set eyes on the thing, but maybe Katsuki liked it that way. The phone was scorching hot in his hand due to hours of being under the Sun, which had since began to set, his grip firm around it as if he could charge the battery from sheer force and strength.
Street signs were usually Katsuki’s best friend in these situations, but the words all melted and mixed together to form nonsense, nonsense and nothing else. They may as well have been in an entirely different language, because they couldn’t have meant less to him.
It was nearing the end of July, and Katsuki couldn’t recall a single Summer he’d spent like this, hopelessly wandering along the side of the road and desperate for it to just give in under him and swallow him whole. His lungs breathed in air too unfamiliar and heavy, practically crying in protest as he proceeded to take two steps forward at a time.
The road he had to have been wandering on for hours now was bland, cracked and dry and in need of serious repair. There were mountains upon mountains of land on either side of the road, dried out and the last thing anyone would want to buy if they had the money to buy land in the first place. Barbed wire fences lined the path he swayed on, separated by poles of old worn down wood. Katsuki didn’t stop to explore, because there was nothing to look at, just dull and utterly dead grass that he kicked at when it popped up in his way.
It was obvious there sat a town up ahead, but it may as well have been the size of a dust particle, doing nothing to ease the pain in his calves or wipe away the sweat on his upper lip.
He didn’t want to be anywhere near where he was, but his brain wasn’t able to yearn for any other destination than nowhere. He didn’t want to go home, he didn’t want to go anywhere. Too many people crammed into one space despite being worlds apart, too many knowing and concerned looks waiting for him back home. The thought made his stomach churn; or maybe he was just hungry.
His back was covered in sweat, but he refused to risk peeling off his shirt and attracting any horny hookers or kidnappers like moths to a flame.
The backpack that Katsuki had shoved any and all miscellaneous objects that could be used for general survival in knocked repeatedly against his ass each time he took a step, and he willed himself to stay calm and not just toss it to the side along with all the dead grass and dirt.
He was beyond tired, sleep deprived due to effortlessly staying up for days upon days before leaving. It hadn’t taken long to pack what could be useful for however long he would be gone though.
He went hiking a fuckton, some of his earliest memories spent proudly marching under the silhouetted leaves of trees that had once seemed taller than skyscrapers with his Dad. Katsuki could practically grab his bag and go, though he regretted not packing more water.
Katsuki had taken the train at first, when the sun was still high in the sky and people still hung around on the streets they’d spent their whole lives clinging to. He had gotten off at the very last stop before catching another train, and tried his best not to suffocate while pressed to so many strangers sides, fronts, and backs in the latter half of July; sweat already trickling down his neck despite the subtle cool breeze of the air conditioning installed inside. Fucking useless.
And after, when his legs were still relatively full of energy and his mind was still the opposite, there was not a lack of cars that slowed to his speed while questioning him as if it was their business.
“Where are you headed?”
“What’s a guy like you doing all alone out here?”
“Can I help you out man?”
Katsuki didn’t hesitate in the slightest before rejecting the extras, too off put by the idea of getting into a strangers car with no control of the outcome to even momentarily consider it. He was already on the verge of falling asleep or passing out if he stopped moving for even a second, and combined with how numb and rusty his body felt, did not make him entirely capable of taking on a middle aged man built like a tank if he tried anything funny. That wouldn’t stop him from trying, but even Katsuki knew his very difficult to reach limits.
If he did get in, then the “It sure is risky to get in a stranger's car…” would come, the “Sorry, just going to take a short cut.” ’ not too far behind. Then, before he could so much as lift a hand, he would be dead. No fucking thank you.
One of them had been a nice looking old lady, her car clean and her tone soft and gentle, and Katsuki could lie and say that her offer wasn’t slightly tempting, but he was anything but a liar. After split second hesitation, Katsuki told her to fuck off, to shove her offer right up her wealthy ass and get lost. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with women that smelled of dust and stale candy at the moment, wasn’t sure if he ever would be.
One car in particular stayed in his mind though, catching his eye even from beyond the horizon and sticking out like a sore thumb in comparison to the other cars he’d seen pass him occasionally. It had been a bright tacky orange, covered in stickers and rust and was obviously handed down by someone, weather damage having faded the color in some of the stickers and the head of the car after no doubt decades of use.
Katsuki scowled upon its arrival, not bothering to hold back his fiery glare once the driver slowly rolled down his window to peer up at him through a pair of ugly ass shades. Even from outside the car, Katsuki could hear how blaringly loud the music had been, and he couldn’t have been more pissed off. The radio had been turned down since the window had opened, but the soft upbeat song was enough to turn Katsuki’s headache into a migraine.
“Sup dude!” The driver called out to him, his voice nasally and tone cheerful. Katsuki hadn’t stopped walking, and didn’t plan on it anytime soon, so the car rolled quietly at his pace. “Are you-”
“Don’t waste your fucking time, I’m not getting in your shitty car.” He huffed, tugging on his backpack straps stubbornly.
The driver raised an eyebrow, his smile faltering slightly before he spoke up again. “It’s really no problem man, I promise. You just look worn out and honestly we’re kinda concerned.” He insisted, removing one hand off the wheel to push his shades into his hair lazily.
He was lanky, wearing a loose fitting sleeveless shirt that suited the heat much more than the all black outfit Katsuki was wearing. His black straggly hair was loosely tied in a poor excuse of a pony tail to presumably keep the Summer heat off of his neck, and his eyes were focused on Katsuki - concern gracing his features true to his words.
“Piss off! I don’t need any fucking sympathy!” Katsuki snapped his head to look at the man. From somewhere inside the car, there was a snort, and the man turned to smack at the offender in a split second, not wasting anymore time before gazing back at Katsuki once more. Katsuki gazed right back.
It was hard to see anything inside of the car, but he could spot the guy in the passenger seat as clear as day, his obnoxiously bright yellow hair with some shitty black smudge sticking out oddly. Katsuki’s frown did not let up - no matter how tempting it was to laugh in the Pikachu lookalike’s face at his appearance that practically screamed ‘attention whore’.
If he wouldn’t get in a car with an old lady who looked like he could flick her on the forehead and she would die from pure shock there was no reason for him to get in a car full of twinks that looked to be around his age, so he didn’t.
He had just met eyes with some spikey haired asshole in the backseat when the driver spoke again, turning up the music halfway through his sentence and unintentionally cutting himself off.
“Suit yourself, dude!”
And then he was gone.
They were gone.
Katsuki came across a 7/11.
It was practically run down, small and shitty and suitable for the area that would never get any business, just wandering idiots such as himself and hurried families stopping for gas during their roadtrip to who knows where. The gas prices that were usually displayed on an alarm clock look-alike screen were dead out of power, and Katsuki’s eyes strained to see if there was even a worker inside.
The occasional car that passed him every half an hour had ceased to be, the distant roar of an engine replaced by dull quiet only broken by cicada’s repetitive songs and the crunch of stones and dead grass under Katsuki’s boots.
The broken down edge of the road that crumbled into dirt and land had now shifted into a curb with weeds growing through the cracks in the concrete, desperate for anything to cling onto so that they could sprout in the dire July weather conditions.
The once lifeless and utterly empty grassland now had trees blanketing it’s surface, the only shade to be offered in the bleak area that Katsuki refused to indulge in. It was getting late anyway.
Katsuki huffed in relief that some sort of civilization seemed to be closer than he thought. He dragged his feet along the ground persistently, the sooner he got under air conditioning the better.
It was still shitty, a shitty little store for a shitty little town. Katsuki’s legs throbbed in pain, and his feet had gone numb long ago.
The store sat on the side of the road as a gift from the gods that with aching limbs and a killer migraine Katsuki was almost tempted to thank them for. Almost.
Though he wasn’t sure he was that far gone yet.
He still didn’t know why exactly he had left that morning, his fingertips just an inch off of reaching a suitable answer that didn’t make him look like some infuriating mix of a coward and an asshole. Tucking the need for reasoning away in the back of his mind seemed to be the best option, at least temporarily.
Before pulling open the heavy glass door that was covered in obnoxious posters and advertisements, he wiped his hands on his baggy pants, stuffing his phone into his pocket hurriedly.
The air that radiated throughout the space was heavenly, sending a shiver down his spine and practically freezing the sweat on the back of his neck in place.
The aisles were stocked with snacks, the most colour shoved into a single place that Katsuki had seen in hours, a vast difference compared to the bland yellows and browns of the land outside.
The worker behind the register didn’t even gaze in his direction, too busy on her phone to pay him any mind. Good. He didn’t need anymore judgmental looks or confusion and concern expressed in lingering stares that day.
Katsuki stumbled his way through the convenience store, his backpack weighing down his shoulders and tugging at his skin like sandpaper. Still, he kept it on his back.
The blonde stared at his own reflection in the ice cream freezer for what had to be at least five minutes; debating whether to simply stick his head inside or just climb on in, fall into a coma to be woken up in another life time that didn’t involve him reaching at straws for some kind of entertainment and satisfaction.
His hair was stuck to his forehead with sweat, so he shoved a hand through it and huffed, wondering why he had even walked in when he had little to no money in his possessions.
The phone in his pocket felt as if it weighed a ton, and he snatched it out, the shattered screen reflecting his own image at him in a way that distorted his features. Katsuki gripped it tighter, willing himself to not throw it down and risk it falling to pieces that it was already so close to becoming.
Disturbing Katsuki’s train of thought, the door to the convenience store swung right open, multiple voices entering the space and bouncing off of the walls as soon as it did.
Katsuki had to do a double take, because one; for being in the middle of goddamn nowhere, this 7/11 sure did get a lot of business. First him, now a whole ass group of people? Damn, the cashier was going to be rolling in bills.
And two; at least one of those voices sounded familiar, and Katsuki wasn’t fucking dumb and didn’t have short term memory loss, he knew exactly where he recognised it from.
He stuffed his phone back into his pocket, hunching up his shoulders and stalking up the aisle, fully prepared to leave without interacting with the idiots.
“Hey, aren’t you the guy who was on the side of the road?”
Katsuki snapped his attention to the boy he recognised from the passenger seat of the last car that had offered to drive him standing at the other end of the aisle.
The idiot was practically in all denim, his cuffed jeans adorned in miscellaneous patches and random rips matching the denim of his jacket that looked to be a size too big for his twink-like figure. He looked like a boy band rip-off, and it pissed Katsuki off.
“Fuck off.” He snarled.
The guy didn’t fuck off, choosing to ignore his vulgar remark as he slowly made his way closer to Katsuki, his worn out mustard converse sliding against the clean floor with little hesitation.
“How the hell did you manage to beat us here?!” The blonde questioned, his lips pulled into a confused pout as if Katsuki had personally offended him. The guy was shorter than he had appeared in the car, and upon closer inspection, the black streak in his hair was, in fact, a lightning bolt. Or at least a college students shitty DIY attempt at a lightning bolt. At a second thought, shitty didn’t quite cut it.
Katsuki was about to explode at the Pikachu-lookalike for attempting to get into a strangers’ business before a redhead with comically unnatural spiked hair interrupted, placing his hand on the bottle blonde’s shoulder with a mischievous smile.
“Probably because you wanted to get out of the car and look for rocks again, dude.” He pointed out, his smile unfaltering even as the blonde snapped his head and tried to glare at his friend, appearing more constipated than anything.
“Hey! You wanted to as well!”
“Well... yeah I guess you’re right-”
Katsuki had already had enough of listening to the conversation, so he simply turned on his heels and left the aisle, but not before the two had noticed his absence and called after him.
“Hey, you’re just gonna ignore me?? I offered you a ride y’know!” The blonde protested, even though he was very much not the one who had offered him a ride, and even if he had been, Katsuki still wouldn’t have given him the time of day.
Due to the commotion, the cashier now had her eyes on the three, an eyebrow quirked in disapproval.
“And?! That doesn’t mean I owe you a fucking conversation, dumbass!”
The blonde struggled to find a response to that, because they both knew Katsuki was right, of course he fucking was. He stood, sputtering over his next words and repeatedly opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water.
All the haziness in Katsuki’s vision and his throbbing head had seemingly healed in an instant, washed out the second the strangers had set foot in his personal space.
“Y’know I haven’t even known you that long, so it’s pretty amazing that I can already tell your personality is less impressive than crap steeped in sewage.” The blonde retorted, his eyes closed and his shoulder lifted in a casual half shrug.
Katsuki’s blood boiled at the smug tone in the strangers voice, the satisfied smirk that enveloped his face at finally finding something to say. What kind of shitty vocabulary was that?
Fuck his bruised knuckles, fuck his aching limbs and inability to move. Katsuki had no problem punching a stranger, and especially not one that deserved it.
His patience had already snapped as fast as their two other friends made their way over to peer at the commotion.
“The hell did you just say? I’ll fucking kill you!” Katsuki practically screamed, everything that he had heard all day seeming like absolutely nothing in comparison to his volume.
He’d had years of practice, perfecting his pitch so that it wouldn’t pick up and make him sound pathetic, killing his throat for the simple satisfaction of standing on equal grounds as his mother. She could scream, yell at him for hours, but so could he.
And after, when he had expected the strangers to wither away and flee back into their car like desperate bugs running from the rain, they stayed. The smug expression on the blonde’s face remained, the only hint of concern in his features being a twitch in his eyebrow and a bead of sweat on his forehead.
The eyes of the redhead behind him had gone round though, before his eyebrows knitted together when he caught Katsuki’s gaze.
“Dude that’s not cool, you can’t just threaten people like that.”
Their two other friends had made their way to the register, paying for their gas and snacks while watching for Katsuki’s next movement along with the cashier. He felt like an animal in a goddamn cage, his movements being furiously scrutinized by each and every individual in the store.
It was quiet. The subtle hum of the air conditioning and slurpee machines filled silence that had been so crudely interrupted not even 30 seconds earlier, and Katsuki didn’t know how to feel, what to say, if he should breathe or not.
He couldn’t break anything, because he couldn’t pay for any damage repairs with the piece of gum in his pack pocket and an out of battery cell phone that had been shattered to hell and back.
He couldn’t punch the guy in the face, because no matter how satisfying the thought was, his knuckles were already bruised, and his movements would be as slow as a goddamn snail due to the heat that had once smothered his body and burnt his shoulders all the way to his fingers.
Not to mention that the guy was built , and Katsuki couldn’t tell if the muscles were just for show or not, but refused to risk his pride when it would hardly be a fair fight.
“Fuck. Off.” Katsuki settled for.
He tried not to think about how much he sounded like his highschool self, how all the therapy he had gone through for months seemed to be for nothing; because there he was, in the middle of nowhere, hardly able to move, getting into arguments with strangers that he should’ve just taken the chance to walk away from at first glance.
And then he left.
Or he tried to.
For the life of him, Katsuki couldn’t figure out these people, why they were so adamant on ruining his day more than the fact that it was July already had. The redheads hand gripped his wrist, and Katsuki didn’t hesitate before snatching it back and scowling at him.
“Where are you headed?” The man asked, despite Katsuki’s obvious desire to leave without another word and his vulgar display from earlier where he literally threatened to kill the guys friend.
Katsuki shrugged, his eyes narrowed downcast on the floor.
The man hummed, and it was still unsettling how eerily quiet it was despite six people being crammed in the same small store.
Realistically, Katsuki didn’t have anywhere to go, no destination in mind that he could use to his advantage. He was tired, mentally and physically, and just couldn’t process how of all times, after getting into a petty argument, the man still insisted on helping him.
It was nearing the end of July, he was lost, and he had never felt more stupid in his life.
So he followed the man outside, the others not too far behind.