“Piece of shit!” His wrench bounced off the engine with a metallic clang, ricocheting back to hit the wall with a dull thud before falling to the ground heavily.
Sakura whimpered, her tail tucking as she scuttled to the opposite side of the hangar, eyes wide.
“Shit, I’m sorry baby.” Katsuki whispered, wiping his hands off on his jeans. “C’mere.” His tongue clicked on the roof of his mouth as he advanced on her slowly, watching her head lift, ears perk. “That’s right. You’re such a sweet baby. I’m just an asshole, you’re such a good girl, aren’t you?”
He didn’t smile exactly when her pink and black spotted tongue darted out to taste the oil and grease on his hands, but it was damn close. His other hand moved to pet her soft black fur as he whispered his sweet nothings, sitting and pulling her into his lap.
“You’re the only bitch in this town who is worth a damn.” He buried his head in her neck, ignoring the way she nibbled at his scalp like he was a puppy in need of grooming, probably making his bed head a million times worse. “What a good girl. And I go and scare you like that. Like a fucking asshole. God.” A weight at his back and heavy breathing alerted him to Aki - back dew claws digging into the base of his spine like the mutt was threatening to climb his shoulders. “Oi, oi, oi. Chill, mutt. I’ve got enough to worry about with this goddamned hunk of junk.” Fingers tightened into the black fur. “I’m not a goddamned engineer, fucks sake.” His chest felt congested again, heavy, weighted. “Fucks…” Face buried in the dark fur as Aki’s tongue laved at his ear and hair, sloppy and slimy. “Good mutts.” Katsuki gruffed, choking on a laugh.
“Aww, you out here bonding with my dogs again?” Mina’s smile was audible.
“I hate you.” He growled, not moving away from them, shooting a glare up through the swirl of fur.
“You want to hate me,” Mina clarified, “but you just can’t seem to get there.” She whistled, both dogs vanished in a hurried scratch and patter of paws. “So how’s the-”
A vicious snarl stopped the words. “I need a break.” He stood, wiping himself off. “I’m done for the day.”
“Alright.” She nodded. “Well Denki’s got lunch starting over at the cafe.”
That made Katsuki pause. “Lunch? I thought they were a-”
“It’s a new thing they’re trying out since the village has received some tourism since your stunt down in the city.” A hip cocked, a brow raised. “Auntie is doing tours to the shrines again, we’re offering packed lunches and seeing a small boost in business. Everyone wants to meet the local hero with the foul mouth.”
“Ah.” The catch. “So your job is to get me in town so people can see me and get pictures.”
She shrugged, “Something like that.”
“Fuck.” Katsuki wanted to vomit.
He had come here to avoid people.
“But,” Mina stood, adjusting her too tight shorts and strappy crop top that revealed a belly ring Katsuki wasn’t sure was real or fake. “Y’know, with the town being more alive this year maybe there’s something more it can offer you too.”
He snorted, “What the fuck ever. But I guess I owe the Kirishima’s too, don’t I?”
Mina hesitated, scratching at the magenta ink swirling over the stretch marks around her toned abs, “I mean…”
“Of course I do.” Katsuki snarled, striding towards his truck, tossing his tools in the bed. “Because everyone owes them a debt. This is so fucked. Like some kind of twisted relationship I had no say in entering.”
Before Mina could respond he climbed into his truck and slammed the door closed, ignoring the heat and too aware she was standing there with her arms crossed, dogs wandering off - bored to be waiting.
He could win this battle of wills. Katsuki was the most stubborn man he’d ever met. His eyes trailed to the way the trees swayed ever so slightly in the early summer breeze. God it probably felt amazing. He started his car, aware the air conditioning was shot to hell but maybe the fan would offer some relief.
When the acid winds of Satan's butt hole came blasting out he relented.
“Fine, Jesus fucking fine!” Katsuki stumbled out of the vehicle. “Mina, I need the part I ordered before Yagi went to the hospital the other week.” He draped across the side of the bed, wiping the sweat from the back of his neck with his tank top, aware of the way she watched his muscular arms move. “Do you know if it came in yet?”
Even if they weren’t into one another it was nice to be appreciated on a purely shallow level sometimes.
“I don’t know that, no. But you’re in luck.” She preened. “Yagi’s shop boy arrived in town two days ago.”
Katsuki froze, standing slowly, hands gripping the metal of the bed. “He. What?!” His tone was sharp enough to make her flinch.
“I don’t know why you’re so-”
“I’m waiting on that fucking part, you fucking moron!” He hit the side of his vehicle with a sharp smack, regretting it but not showing how it stung his palm. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Mina pranced around to the side of the vehicle, her dogs yapping over one another as they raced to the gates. She turned on a heel, sakura blossoms on her thigh flashing in the sunlight.
“No, stay.” Her palm extended, both dogs plopped to the ground, Aki whined as he lay, rolling to his back. “Oh you. You little shit.”
“You’ve got to be firm.” Katsuki mocked over his shoulder as he moved down the path, knowing full well Mina’s heart was breaking at leaving her fur babies behind.
“I know!” She moaned. “I just hate leaving them behind.”
“So who is this shop kid?” Katsuki didn’t want to admit he was curious.
“Ahhh.” Her grin kicked up as she matched his pace, an elbow did too - right into Katsuki’s exposed ribs. “Intrigued?”
“Fucking yes?” He snapped, moving away. “If he’s going to be-” manhandling my package- Fuck I can’t say that. His hand waved vaguely, “You know, this plane is an antique. The parts are expensive. I can’t just let some slope-headed knuckle dragger be tossing my shit around like it’s last week's mammoth kill.”
Mina snorted, “Going hard on that neanderthal, unevolved theory huh? Well don’t worry he’s my cousin-”
“Well now I know I’m fucked.”
“Hey! And,” she emphasized throwing her arms out as they rounded a corner to head down to the lake, shoes crunching on the asphalt, “he’s a college student. I told you this when you moved here-”
“Like I would give enough of a shit to remember.” Katsuki rolled his eyes.
“He’s actually really smart.” Mina continued, ignoring Katsuki’s jab. “He’s on the… I don’t know, what’s it called? The honor roll? The smart good grades thing-”
“The Dean’s List?” Katsuki sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Something I’m sure you’d never see.”
“Oi.” She smacked his bicep quick. “You never know, we are related.”
“So how did he get to college and you didn’t?” Katsuki frowned, looking out as the lake came into view. “Why is that a recurring theme around here?”
“I didn’t want to go.” Mina shrugged. “I never liked school, it didn’t suit me. I was more into other things. I can dance better than anyone else, I can run faster than almost everyone here. I’ve got more… I don’t know, body intelligence?”
He frowned, nodding slowly. “Yeah, maybe better kinetically. Athletically you’re more adept. I bet if you’d been sent to a dance academy you’d be in a ballet or on a hip hop crew. I’ve seen your moves you’re not-” He felt her beaming grin. “I mean you aren’t complete shit is all. I’ve seen Denki try to keep up, he looks like garbage in comparison.”
“Aww,” Katsuki was mortified to see her blushing, “that’s such high praise coming from you!”
“I barely said two positive nice words in sequence.”
“Yeah,” they stepped up onto the deck as she held open the shop door. “But it’s you, and you’re a jackass. So it’s honestly the nicest thing you could have said.”
“That’s so fucking insulting.” Katsuki moved on instinct to the counter, fingers tapping on the wood as they waited.
“Uh…” Mina hopped up, peering over. “He’s not back here.” She shrugged, jumping back down. “I’m gunna check the back? Maybe he’s doing inventory?”
“Yeah, you do that. I need my fucking parts. It should just be a box about this big-” he held out his hands to demonstrate, “but kinda heavy. It’s just a-” A loud crash interrupted and Katsuki’s heart sank. “If that’s my part I’ll murder your cousin.”
“J-just stay here, I’ll go check. Why don’t you practice some breathing like Ochako told you?”
Katsuki took a breath to start yelling when Mina ran off, so he waited. And waited. Idly he began perusing the shelves. He had to admit new kid worked quick; the place was fully stocked, waxed, dusted, swept. It even smelled like polish, a happy change to dust and mothballs. A cacophony of noise and voices moved past him to the front, though Katsuki couldn’t be bothered to follow them back to the counter now that he was in the bait and refrigerated section.
“I’ll be damned.” He opened one of the doors to the freezers across the way.
Even the ice cream had been restocked and faced. There were only four flavor selections, but they were fully stocked for purchase. Even the lights had been replaced that buzzed and flickered like some b-list slasher film. Katsuki leaned back, poking his head behind the coolers and snorting. Air fresheners plugged in hissed all at once adding a timed blast of sakura breeze to cover the scent of worms and bait and old freon.
“Hey!” A cheery male voice boomed back across the shop. “You shouldn’t be messing around back there-”
And Katsuki’s awe stopped.
And for a second his vision split, his head fogged, his hearing faded out because No, it couldn't be.
Heavy feet lifted and fell, each step an impossible task through an unfamiliar college dorm, through a tangle of bedding, to untwine from limbs that weren’t his own, to be rescued again and again from the corpse at the bottom of an ocean with a gentle touch and phrase.
“Hey-” Mina’s voice was yards, miles, mountains, depths away. Echoed and distant. “Hey Katsuki, a-are you okay?”
He could see her worried expression but it didn’t register. It didn’t click. Everything felt disconnected from reality as his eyes shifted to the man behind the counter. He didn’t know what he’d been expecting, a full grown man hadn’t been it though. Some scrawny teen or pimply early twenty-something.
He wasn’t sure why. He knew Mina’s cousin had been in his mid-twenties. He’d known the man was in college and not some hormonal teenager fresh from graduation. But that had been Katsuki’s mental image.
Not a lumbering giant. Not black hair he’d seen too often. Not a thick body he’d seen and been trapped inside of from peripheral glances down during dreams. The face was new. The face was nice- Katsuki shook his head, not nice. He glared at similar red eyes, just a shade brighter than his own; warmer... he shook his head hard as he snapped back to himself.
“The fuck you lookin' at, Country Bumpkin motherfucker?” He smacked his knuckles across the counter. “That better not have been my goddamned gear you were making scrap out of in the back.”
“Ah, no!” The lughead fucking beamed when he smiled, “That was just me, sorry about that. I heard the bell go off at the door and tried to hurry up front with a pile of stock all around the ladder and… well-”
“He’s just too meaty for his own good.” Mina rolled her eyes.”You doing okay there, Blatsy? You seemed a little-”
“I’m fucking peachy.” Katsuki snapped. “Why don’t you ask Shitty Hair here-”
“Hey~” A hand moved to the black hair, tied with with little wispy baby locks sticking up in front, “It’s not that bad. Not worse than yours, that’s for fucking sure. God you’re meaner than I thought you’d be after-”
The blond did a double take. “‘After’? After what, pray tell?”
“Ah… Mina?” Frantic eyes screamed for help, but Katsuki kind of liked being able to be mean.
It was a release he hadn’t been able to experience in a while, it was cathartic, it was fun. And the large man in front of him, panicked and out of his depth, made him feel so in control of an out of control situation.
This was the guy he’d been dreaming about. The same Goddamned human. Black hair, voice, tanned skin. Katsuki would bet his teeth he had a girlfriend back at college, wherever that was, who was named Pony that he didn’t like fucking nearly as much as he should.
“Who are you?” Katsuki whispered the words.
Fuck he hadn’t meant to, God he hadn’t meant to. They came out charged, full of something other than bored nonchalance. Those large eyes met his and Katsuki could see, for the first time, a large scar that cut into the flesh of his eyelid, nicking into his brow. The exchange was confused, emotional.
He recognizes me too. And that was terrifying. Katsuki had to step back.
“I told you.” Mina’s head tilted, butting into their stare off. “He’s my cousin, Eijirou.”
“Your cousin.” Katsuki rocked back on his heels. “From the Kirishima side?”
“No!” Eijirou rushed to answer, stumbling into the counter to cut Mina off, “No. That’s why I work over the summers to-to help pay for college.”
“Do you owe them too?” Katsuki spit the words like venom.
The large man looked down at his shoes, the beaming face clouded over into something terrifying and dark. “Doesn’t everyone?”
“Do you want help carrying it?”
Katsuki growled low in his throat, hoisting the box to his other shoulder. “Fuck off, Extra.”
“I mean, it’s not that I don’t think you can it’s just the size of it is awkward and it’s like… my job? I am technically supposed to be delivering that.” Eijirou paused for a moment, bending at the waist, getting uncomfortably close to Katsuki. “You’re obviously ripped bro. God, what’s your workout routine?” Eijirou kept up easy with his long strides.
Katsuki hated him for it. “Go die.”
Mina laughed, “He’s not one for polite conversation.”
“That’s fine.” Eijirou twirled the pink haired woman. “This is fun enough, meeting someone new. It’s so rare in this town! I’m all pumped up from it.”
“Couldn’t fucking tell.” Katsuki grunted, gently setting the box down beside the old plane, nudging Aki out of the way with a boot. “Simple minds, easily entertained.”
Eijirou tsked, crouching down to watch Katsuki pry the box open, “I’m not simple. I could ah-” The words died as his gaze clashed with the venomous glare.
“Sure you aren’t simple.” Katsuki sneered, grunted as the wood split from the massive shipping staples and nails. “And I’m a fairy princess.”
“Ah, fuck me.” Eijirou rubbed a hand over his face. “You really are cantankerous. Hey,” Katsuki paused long enough to watch his new admirer scan their surroundings for Mina.
Katsuki couldn’t help but look up, catching her walking off behind the hangars.
“Hey,” Eijirou repeated, catching Katsuki’s attention again, “tell me if I’m crazy or not but… I’ve dreamed about you. Like, I’m pretty fucking sure… Your house is the one at the base of the mountain right?”
“The fuck?!” The crow bar missed, slipping forward and nailing the plane, denting a panel on the body. “What the fuck is your problem you air headed shit-for-brains?!”
“I-I just said-”
“Oh fuuuck.” The word oozed out on a breath of exasperation. “I heard you, you massive shit stain.” Red faced, Katsuki turned away, stomping towards Mina.
“Wait!” Eijirou stood, a mess of arms over feet, “Wait, where are you going? I want to figure this out, cuz, like, what if that’s not a coincidence? What if-?”
“Shut-” Katsuki turned sharp on a heel, squaring up best he could to the larger man. It didn’t matter the top of his head only came to the bridge of Eijirou’s nose. “Up.” He growled. To Katsuki’s relief Eijirou complied. “I’m going to get your goddamned cousin to monitor your ass while I work on my plane you-you-YOU!”
Pathetic! Katsuki fumed. So angry I can’t even fucking get out a fucking decent fucking insult. God fucking FUCK!
But it had been different. It had been different. Somehow it was crawling beneath his skin; the perversion of knowing and being known so intimately by someone who didn’t know him. Even the halfwits he’d been around for a third of a year didn’t know him so intimately.
Katsuki snuck a glance to the lumbering giant behind him, dragging his feet through the hangars and across the tarmac. How much did he see?
The private moments in the shower where Katsuki had sobbed his broken heart out? Laying in the hallways talking to Jin?
Katsuki halted for half a step. God had Eijirou seen Jin?
The thought stabbed through him, straight from head to toe like a chill even in the budding summer heat.
It was different. He told himself, justifying even as his mind flicked back to the intimate moments of Eijirou with Pony; the touches and whispers and painful emotions.
It had been different when he had been the one having the dreams. It had been different when he had been the only one watching. It had been different, a secret, something that could be forgotten and die with him. But when the shoe was on the other foot- What had been seen? What had he accidentally revealed, what had he been unable to hide, to-?
A hand grabbed his shoulder, stopped him dead in his tracks.
“Katsuki, please.” Eijirou’s voice was deep and calm.
God he wanted it to be anything but.
“Your plane is a fucking mess.” So are you. Katsuki could hear the unspoken words. “Let me help. I took two semesters for credit back in America.”
Katsuki turned on a heel, unable to hide his shock. Maybe the lughead wasn’t completely useless, and maybe Katsuki respected him a little more for it. “America?”
“I know Mina told you.” It was the idiots turn to be smug and he wore it well for being so damn cheery, “What was that you were saying about simple minds? By the way,” his eyes crinkled in a kind smile, “the name is Eijirou. Stop being a dick and calling me all those derogatory things or I’ll start returning the favor, Blasty.” He cracked the knuckles on a hand nervously. “Just because I’m nice doesn’t mean you can be a jackass.”
Katsuki smacked his hand away. “Okay, Eijirou.” Red eyes narrowed in challenge. “You can help, but only because it’s a fucking test, not because I don’t know what I’m doing-”
“Yeah.” Eijirou snorted. “Fuckin’ sure.”
“Don’t get in my way, asshat.” Katsuki shouldered past, letting the taller man follow him - pissed that he was taller because fuck who wants to have to look up into another persons eyes to bark orders?
Katsuki sighed as he picked the crowbar back up, only to have it snatched promptly away.
“I can do this faster.” Eijirou promised. “Watch.”
With a quick press down the lid popped clean off the box; staples, nails and all. Eijirou offered the crowbar back, very proud of himself.
“If you had a goddamned tail it’d be wagging.”
His head tilted, the short ponytail flipped to the side. “Yeah, I’ve been told.”
“Knock it the fuck off. Don’t you have a fucking shop to get back to?.”
“Yeah!” Eijirou stood back, taking in all the parts. “I do, but… I mean.” Arms spread wide, “… jeez, did you really have to dismantle it like this?”
“Yeah, yeah. Fuck off dipshit.”