Katsuki panted heavily as he finished another rep. His muscles ached and his black tank top was drenched in sweat at this point, but that wasn’t about to stop him. Unlike many other teens his age, he wasn’t holed up at the arcade or attending parties every day of summer break. He needed to keep his mind and body at peak performance. He couldn’t slow down now; not with senior year set to start in a few short weeks.
Katsuki looked up from the bench, dropping the weights to the ground with a noise that echoed around the empty gym. He scowled in irritation as a man in his late thirties approached him. The teen recognized him as the owner once he moved further into view. No one else would really be there around this time besides the old man.
The owner had the unmistakable air of someone resigned to their lot in life. Premature wrinkles lined his skin, setting his lips into a constant frown. Rumor had it that the man had been signed to a major baseball team on the other side of the country and was about to make it big. This was all before he wrapped his car around a tree after a night filled with underage drinking. Even if the cops hadn’t placed him under arrest an hour or so later, the injuries he sustained were more than enough to kill his fledgling dream before it even had the chance to leave the nest.
Katsuki normally didn’t set much stock to idle chatter, but the vicious scars lining the man’s arm spoke to some kind of story. Of what, the blond didn’t know or care. He just needed a reliable place to workout during the summer months.
And the man provided that with this small gym. His displeasure with life was reflected in the sparse, vacant walls that surrounded the workout equipment. No decorations hung there, just blank canvases of nothing. They were painted the same solid, melancholy gray of an overcast sky. At least the old man kept it clean and organized. It certainly wasn’t anything special, but being the only gym in town brought him enough business to stay afloat.
Katsuki still had at least another three rounds to complete and this man was interrupting him for who knows what reason. The only other time they talked was when the high schooler had first started his membership. And that was just to ask what hours the gym was open.
“What?” Katsuki grunted as he picked up his towel, wiping the moisture off his face.
“It’s your mom. She’s on the phone.”
Katsuki paused for a moment, waiting for the man to elaborate. Instead, he was met with silence and a disinterested expression from the other. Huffing, the blond stood up, throwing the towel to the ground in the process. The older man appeared irritated by the action, but said nothing.
The teen walked over to the counter stuck in the back corner of the room. A plain white phone sat atop the surface. He picked up the device and pressed it to his ear, careful not to twist the cord around too much.
“Hello?” Katsuki said into the mouthpiece with an impatient edge to his voice.
“Katsuki, you need to come home right now.” His mother answered.
Katsuki? He thought to himself. She hardly ever called him by his first name. Usually, it was just some iteration of brat. Or delinquent.
“I’m not done yet here.”
“Just listen to me and come home. It’s about your cousin.” Her voice broke a bit at the end.
The inflection in her statement immediately set him on edge. There was an underlying strain there as if she was on the precipice of crying. His mother was one of the strongest people he knew and rarely shed a tear. He had only heard her voice like this twice before in his entire life. Neither occurrence had been for good news.
The first time was back in third grade when his German Shepherd had run away, never to be seen again. Apparently, the dog had managed to dig a hole under the fence surrounding their backyard at some point in the day and bolted headfirst into the nearby woods. Katsuki was certain that his dog was just hoping to find a few squirrels to chase, not to leave their family.
They spent hours that night searching for the animal and handing out flyers to anyone they encountered. They admitted defeat a few weeks later when all of their efforts failed to yield any results. No one had seen or heard anything about his canine. His mother insisted on buying the boy a new pet, but he had staunchly refused.
In the end, she brought home a small, sickly Tabby she had found in an abandoned box by the grocery store. Katsuki disliked the creature from the very first moment he had laid eyes on it. No other animal could hope to replace his trusted dog. And honestly? The feeling seemed to be mutual.
The discolored feline had a penchant for sending Katsuki’s stuff crashing to the floor at all hours of the day or night. No matter how much his mother insisted these were accidents, Katsuki knew better. There was just no way that furry bastard managed to knock over only his belongings.
The second time his mother used that voice happened approximately two years later when the woman had sat him down in the kitchen with a warm, fragrant cup of tea. She then proceeded to tell him that his grandfather had been in an accident. His grandfather had survived the ordeal, fortunately, but he could still remember the worried look in her eyes, the tense anxiety of not knowing what would happen. It wasn’t hard to associate that tone of voice with dread after that.
Whatever had her upset this time was bound to be similarly unpleasant. And worse still, it involved his cousin. One of the few people he could actually tolerate.
“Can’t you tell me now?” The teen pressed.
“Katsuki Bakugou, you need to come home now . I promise I’ll explain everything when you get here.”
“Alright, I’m leaving now.” Katsuki sighed.
The blond set the phone back on the receiver and walked back to his bench.
Katsuki scooped up his towel and water bottle from the ground then placed them in his bag before storming outside without a word to the owner. It would be stranger if he were to say any sort of goodbye or explanation for his departure. His crimson eyes blinked furiously in an effort to adjust to the brightness outside. He had forgotten to sling on his Ray Bans in his hurry to leave. He dug around in his bag until he located the sunglasses and perched the frames on his face.
His onyx black Shelby Mustang was parked close to the front. The sleek, shiny surface of the car gleamed brightly underneath the summery sky, aided by the wax he had applied to the panels just this morning.
His hand gripped around the silver handle. The metal was hot against his skin, but he ignored the burning sensation. He wrenched the door open before throwing his bag in the backseat. It landed softly against the leathery interior. He sat down and fished his keys from his pant pocket before slamming the solid steel door shut.
Katsuki turned the key in the ignition switch, sending a spark of electricity to the starter. The engine revved to life with a deafening roar. The metal frame of the vehicle vibrated from the sheer force of it. He backed out of the space with the briefest check of his surroundings. Having impossibly keen senses certainly had its advantages.
He fell into a familiar pattern without conscious thought, driving practically on autopilot. He took this route so often that the path was ingrained in his mind. His hand reached automatically towards the blinker, indicating his intention to turn left at the light, as he reached Pinewood Avenue.
Katsuki peered around the mostly deserted intersection as he waited for a tiny, elderly woman to cross the street so he could proceed. A short distance away a woman pushing a stroller ambled by on the sidewalk, a small child trailing behind her. Some of the storefronts nearby were advertising their back to school sales with brightly colored signs. Others were already covered with Halloween decorations, as if there wasn’t over an entire month separating them from the holiday.
The bank loomed most of all in this area of town, towering from the northeast corner. It was one of the oldest structures in the entire state, founded by some of the earlier settlers of this area. This section of the country never experienced brutalized terror like the kind found in the Wild Wild West, but they had their fair share of armed robberies and more recently, bomb threats. Remarkably enough, the building remained, even after the big banks started moving into the area. The corporate financial institutions hadn’t counted in the “support local business” mentality that ran deep within the community. They closed shop less than nine months later with no plans to return.
Eventually, the road cleared and Katsuki made his way to the town’s main thoroughfare - Maple Street. The street had started out as just a residential avenue. But over the years it became a small, open highway that spanned the entire length of the small city and connected it to the larger, neighboring ones in the state.
Katsuki’s foot found the accelerator again, pressing down on it insistently. The pistons pumped furiously to keep up with the blond’s desire for high velocity. His eyes glanced at the sign adorned with a black number “55” in large, blocky lettering as he raced down the highway. He applied more force with his foot. Obeying the speed limit had never been a concern before, why start now?
The scenery lining Maple Street passed by his window quickly, a blur of greens and browns. The trees had not started abandoning their leaves just yet, still retaining a vibrant, summertime glow. The season had been the warmest on record in the past half century, according to the town’s meticulous documents. There were no signs that the heat wave would break anytime soon either.
Citizens had already started one of their favorite small town pastimes - guessing when the first snowfall would land, based strictly on how summer progressed. With the temperature still this hot in August, the consensus was a vicious winter that would arrive sometime in January. Katsuki would prefer if it decided not to arrive at all. There was just something he enjoyed about the scorching warmth.
The blond reached his house less than twenty minutes later and pulled into the spacious driveway, parking next to his dad’s silver BMW. He walked over the perfectly manicured lawn, not bothering to use the tiled walkway his parents had added last year. His motivation to speak to his mother overrode any concern he had at being caught trampling over the grass.
Not bothering to announce his presence, he swung the front door open. He blinked in surprise at what he found waiting for him inside. A short distance away, there was an unlikely group sitting in his living room.
Whatever conversation they were having died mid sentence, his mom quieting when she noticed Katsuki’s presence. His mother was seated on the couch closest to the door. Two of his classmates sat directly across from the woman, each with an anxious expression steeped into their faces.
Jade eyes met his first. Some of the tension lessened from the other teen’s face as he saw Katsuki. A wobbly smile stretched across freckled skin. The hot tempered male arched an eyebrow in acknowledgement, taking in his tan shorts and loose fitting t-shirt.
The second classmate turned his direction next. Her golden eyes barely seemed to register the newly added person. She was dressed in a loose fitting shirt and shorts, all in bright, bold colors. It looked like a box of Crayola crayons had exploded all over her outfit. Her and Eijirou were truly a match made in fashion disaster heaven.
“Old hag.” Katsuki greeted his mom with uncertainty as he walked into the space.
“Please take a seat.” She replied, shoulders hunched slightly with tension.
“Hey, Kacchan.” The other male said as the blond took the unoccupied spot on the right side of the couch.
Sitting down next to Izuku briefly chiseled away his focus from the situation with his cousin. Even after all the progress they had made over recent years, it was still somewhat awkward being this close to the nerd. He wasn’t sure if it was lingering friction from their past or his own inconvenient feelings for the smaller male.
During normal circumstances, like when they all got together to hang out, Katsuki made sure to maintain a comfortable distance apart. It wasn’t always this way though.
The two had been inseparable at one point in time but that all changed when Izuku moved to another area of town. Distance had an incredible power to strain even the best relationships and theirs was no exception. Years passed by without any meaningful interaction between them. They saw each other from time to time in passing, make no mistake. Their town was far too small for that not to happen. But neither seemed to know what to say to the other. Or in Katsuki’s case he didn’t want to say anything.
Izuku had always been a distraction - chasing after him, slowing him down. No matter how much Katsuki pushed him away, the green haired boy stuck to him like glue and eventually the pair became unlikely friends. The smaller male was the only one crazy enough to keep up with his wild antics.
He never would have voluntarily severed ties with his childhood accomplice but that decision was made for them before they even completed elementary school. Katsuki had come from school one day, excited to play with his persistent friend and was informed that the Midoriyas were moving soon. Both their mothers swore that they would still each other just as often, but the blond saw through that in an instant.
Katsuki could still remember the day Izuku moved from their neighborhood for good. A bright, red moving truck was parked outside as the Midoriya home was gradually emptied of all its contents. His parents had volunteered to help and their combined efforts made quick work of the task. The boys were banished to the backyard as the adults toiled away and the pair would take turns peeking inside the house to watch the progress. The walls were oddly vacant, leaving no evidence of the happiness and creativity that had once adorned them. It was like the first ten years of Izuku’s life had been nothing more than an illusion, vanishing overnight.
Izuku’s bottom lip had trembled as tears fell down his round face in a steady stream. The blond remained stoic during almost the entire upheaval. But when the smaller boy wrapped his arms tightly around him as they said their goodbyes, Katsuki returned the hug cautiously with a whispered, “Don’t cry, stupid Deku.”
“Grown up stuff.” was the same, tired response he received whenever he asked either of his parents why Deku had to move away, why Mr. Midoriya had left his family. It was a frustrating loop.
It wasn’t until after the chaos of middle school had passed that he really saw Izuku again. The nerd had somehow managed to land a full scholarship to arguably the most prestigious, private high school in the entire country, UA High. Both boys had set their sights on the distinguished campus from an early age.
Katsuki attending had always been a guarantee in his mind, never a doubt once. Katsuki was the best and he wouldn’t settle for anything less in a school. It was all just a matter of time for him.
But Izuku attending? The blond wouldn’t have taken that bet. He knew what was left of the Midoriya family didn’t have the financial means to cover the hefty tuition fees. Bills like rent and electricity took precedence.
Katsuki had walked into class that very first day, eyes firmly fixed on the great destiny stretched out before him. His new classmates were already chatting away mindlessly amongst themselves before he had even taken his seat. A few of the extras even had the nerve to try talking to him. He wasn’t there to make friends so he ignored them all with the exception of his cousin. His cousin didn’t actually count since he had been forced into hanging out with the idiot for years at that point.
And then Katsuki saw someone he couldn’t just ignore when the doors to the classroom flew open. His vision was suddenly clouded by familiar freckles and overpowering green. His childhood friend stood there in the doorway with an oversized backpack and bright red sneakers. Izuku was a lot taller than he remembered, maybe just a few inches short of his own height now. But that same bright smile still lit up the room, even though the younger male was clearly nervous.
Katsuki would later learn he wasn’t the only one who felt this way when he discovered that his cousin and Izuku had started dating during sophomore year. Their break up the following year in junior year had been amicable. They promised to stay friends and they had stuck to that so far. But that didn’t explain why the nerd was seated in his living room for a meeting about his cousin.
“Aizawa is on his way over right now to talk to you three.” His mother’s voice broke the silence.
“I thought this was about Eij.” Mina’s worried voice cut in.
“It is, dear.” Mitsuki replied gently. “Eijirou has… been missing for the last few days. His parents haven’t heard from him and Aizawa was hoping that he might have mentioned something to one of you, since you’re all so close to him.”
There it was. What had his mom on edge. Eijirou was a damn adult and could leave for days, if he really wanted. But there was not a chance in hell that the redhead wouldn’t check in with his family or his girlfriend for that long. If no one had heard from him for that length of time, it was a genuine concern.
A loud knock on the door interrupted them.
“Right on time.” his mother announced, standing up from her spot.
Mitsuki opened the door. A man with long, dark hair flowing to his shoulders and a tired expression walked into the house. He was dressed in a deep navy blue police uniform. It was still weird for the teens to see the man outside of a school setting, since the teacher only worked for the department part time. He was usually only called in for the more serious cases. She beckoned him into the living room.
“Thanks for letting me stop by, Mrs. Bakugou.” Aizawa told her, choosing to remain standing.
“Oh, no, thank you for looking into this.” the woman replied sincerely. “We’re all so worried. His parents haven’t heard from him in days. They haven’t seen him in almost a week now. It’s just so - so unlike Eijirou.”
The man pulled out a notepad and pen from his breast pocket. He clicked it once and started flipping through the pages. He turned to the teens expectantly.
“And what about you?” Aizawa’s black eyes bored into Katsuki’s. “When was the last time you saw him?”
“About two weeks ago. A group of us met up at Lover’s Leap.”
Aizawa arched an eyebrow in askance. The blond scowled in return and pointed in Mina’s direction.
“It’s her favorite place and it was Eijirou’s turn to pick the spot for our next outing.”
“I see.” the policeman turned to the girl. “When is the last time you saw Kirishima?”
“The same time as Katsuki, but we talk every single day. I talked to him on Saturday.”
“What did you two talk about?”
“We talked about our plans for the winter formal, my outfit for the first day of school. Just normal stuff. He didn’t mention he was leaving town or staying somewhere else. Nothing like that.”
“How about you, Midoriya?”
“I saw him last Thursday. We meet up once a week. We went to the mall this time, looked at some clothes together.”
“I didn’t know that.” Mina said in a small voice.
“So you saw him last.” Aizawa said to Izuku. “Did he seem upset about anything? Bothered by something?”
The green haired teen bristled in irritation. “He seemed fine. His normal, cheery self.”
“Did he talk about any problems with school? Relationship problems?”
“No, nothing. I told you - he seemed fine.”
“You two used to date, right?”
Izuku’s eyebrows scrunched together in confusion before he answered. “Yes, we broke up last year.”
“Eijirou did mention that he needed to pick up something for his car. A new alternator maybe? He didn’t say which store he was going to, but there are only two places in town that sell auto parts.”
The fatigued man scribbled something down onto his notepad. Most of the small page was already covered with various notes. How many people had Aizawa already spoken to so far? How much time had he wasted with this type of pointless questions, instead of actually looking for his cousin?
“Does any of this have a fucking point?” Katsuki snapped. “My cousin has clearly been kidnapped or something. Why are you interrogating Deku? You think he hurt Eijirou?”
“We’re not treating this as anything more than a missing person’s case at this time. We don’t have any reason to believe foul play was involved at this time.”
“Then what’s with the interrogation, hah?”
“Katsuki, calm down.” his mother warned. “Mr. Aizawa is just trying to help.”
“Doesn’t seem like it. He should be out there looking for Eijirou, not questioning us about his emotional state.”
“Teenagers.” Aizawa said, exasperated. “I’m going to continue investigating this. You and the boy’s parents will be the first to know if I find something. Thank you again for your time.”
Mitsuki nodded her head in understanding. Katsuki clenched his fists tightly and bit the inside of his cheek so he didn’t shout at the retreating figure.
“I’ll see you all in class soon.” Aizawa said in goodbye. Izuku and Mina nodded their head glumly. The hot headed blond just continued to seethe and glared at the older man. The door had barely shut before Katsuki spoke again.
“What a damn waste of time.”
“Katsuki!” his mother admonished him.
“It’s true.” Katsuki shrugged. “They don’t know shit and they’re wasting time interviewing people about Eijirou’s emotional well being.”
“I think Kacchan’s right. It doesn’t seem like they have much to go on right now.”
Katsuki’s scowl deepened in an effort to stifle the warmth growing in his chest. He knew from experience that when it came to his childhood friend it wouldn’t take much for the feeling to metastasize and spread to every fiber of his being.
“We should stop by Gran Torino’s Hot Rod shop. It could be a lead.” The blond replied.
“No, you should just let the police do their jobs. You’ll just get in the way and I forbid it.” Mitsuki interjected sternly, before turning to the two guests. “I can’t stop either of you from getting you involved, but I strongly suggest you stay out of it as well.”
The woman’s hard stare locked onto each of the high schoolers. Izuku made a noncommittal noise in response. Katsuki knew that the years of their mischief together had toughened up the nerd. It would take a lot more than a warning glare from his mom to dissuade the younger teen. The blond didn’t bother trying to hide the smirk stretching across his face.
“I should really get going. Before my mom starts worrying.” Izuku told the group, standing up and heading towards the door.
“You’ll let us know if you hear from Eij?” Mina asked. Katsuki and her also stood up and followed the green haired teen. Mitsuki stayed in the living room, deep in thought.
“Of course.” He assured her.
Izuku hugged the pink haired girl, saying something to her as they broke apart. She nodded her head in response to whatever it was that he said. The greenette glanced back at his childhood friend one last time as if he were about to speak. His mouth opened and closed lamely a few times before he thought better of it. He paused in the doorway with a small smile directed at Katsuki. The blond’s frown lifted slightly and he cursed himself.
“Do you need a ride home?” Katsuki called out, surprising even himself.
“Oh, thank you, but my mom’s already waiting for me outside.”
Katsuki looked around Izuku’s broad shoulders and sure enough, Inko’s old model Chevrolet Caprice Station Wagon was parked in idle next to the curb. The woman waved at him in greeting when they made eye contact.
“I’ll see you at school.” Izuku added.
Mina lingered near the door.
“Where do you think he is? Do you think he’s okay wherever he is?” She questioned.
Katsuki admittedly wasn’t the best with emotions, but even he could tell his classmate was upset. He had known her since freshman year and the worried expression on her face was a far cry from her usual, upbeat attitude.
“I’m not sure where he is, but they’ll find him. Or we will.” The blond promised.
Mina hesitated for a moment before hugging the temperamental teen. “Thank you.”
She ducked out the front door with a wave, looking slightly encouraged.
The last few remaining weeks of summer break sped by them. Katsuki stuck to his routine as much as he could - eat, exercise, sleep, repeat. Days melted away mindlessly. But nothing could distract him from the hard reality that Eijirou had yet to resurface and the police investigation hadn’t turned up anything helpful.
All too soon, Katsuki stood outside his house dressed in his impeccably clean and ironed uniform, blazer draped over his right arm. The balmy temperatures had finally relented and a cool breeze teased the imminent arrival of autumn. His mother and his aunt stood next to one another, each with a camera in hand. The blond did his best not to grimace too much as they snapped a picture of him. Mitsuki’s Nikon FA clicked noisily as she took a few more. The sound was almost loud enough to cover the choked sobs from his aunt. Mitsuki noticed and dragged an arm around her sister. The taller woman pulled her in for a tight hug, tears now falling in earnest from blood red eyes.
Katsuki’s face twisted deeply at the sight. Eijirou should have been there, standing next to him. The redhead was supposed to be there with their family, excited and ready to leave for the first day of school. Probably making some ridiculous face as his mom captured the moment on film, later to be filed away into a scrapbook. Instead, the blond stood alone next to his car as their mothers cried openly. Their annual tradition since middle school marred by his cousin’s mysterious disappearance.
Several weeks had passed and still - no one was closer to finding Eijirou.