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Bakugo didn't intend to go to the party..or at least that's what he told himself. It was like a class reunion of sorts. All of 1A meeting up and partying together, a few more people than just them, the other hero class they rivaled as well. As soon as Kirishima had brought it up to him Bakugo knew he would be attending. Not to mention he couldn't say no when Shouto asked so kindly for his friend to be there. Just because he had calmed down over the years didn't mean he was entirely soft. It was just for them, no one else, or so he told himself.

Bakugo had gotten very close to both of them over time. After all when he and Deku fell apart they were there for him. In ways he never could have expected. Kirishima was the one who brought him to his first hero therapy session, Shouto took him out to dinner countless times when he didn't want to eat alone again. They were good to him and helped him grow as a person, he'd show up just for their request alone.

The party was loud and fun and he was already a few drinks in, having been there for a while. Stopping and talking to everyone, he was laughing and enjoying himself. It had been a minute since he could just relax with no cares in the world. Not to mention seeing all his old buddies was nice. Sure he saw them doing hero work but it wasn't the same. Mina hugged him for what felt like 20 minutes even though they had seen each other just last week. Ochako looked cute as ever in her new dress that Tsuyu had helped her pick out. Jirou and Momo showed him pictures of their new house. Sero had brought his signature bud, things were good.

He had been headed around the hallway corner to find Kaminari when those green eyes met his own and Bakugo froze dead in his tracks. There before him stood the green, curly haired man. Freckles and scars painting his skin oh so beautifully. He was a bit taller than Bakugo, lean muscle pressing against the fabric of his shirt. Thighs as thick as always leading up to an ass still as round as he remembered. That short unruly hair had been left unattended and long. Tied into a messy bun on top of his head, Bakugo wondered the last time Deku had gotten it cut. How short was it when Bakugo saw him last?

He hadn't seen Deku outside work or hero events since they broke up five years ago. His body didn't know what it wanted to do. Beg? Cry? Yell? Fuck?. His stomach twisted and he was sure if he wasn't so pridefully vain he might have puked then and there. Deku didn't smile at first, his gaze was cold and crushing. Bakugo couldn't breathe. Stricken to stone where he stood by those emerald eyes. But after a few moments Deku gave the faintest, most fragile grin, just for a split second. But Bakugo caught it. All the breath rushed back into his lungs and he felt light headed. The smile had been tender and soft and his eyes sparkled. It was genuine and honest. No matter how small it was, it was real. The smile he gave Bakugo was still real.

....

It was 5 years ago when it all fell apart, they were in their early twenties and on top of the world. Coming off a fresh defeat of the league, everything felt possible. Anything was in their grasp. They were unstoppable. Reckless and dumb and in love, so fucking in love. Bakugo had been planning to propose before everything happened. He bought the perfect ring, diamond and emerald, matching Izuku's hair and eyes. But he had lost his chance when things fell apart. He still had the velvet box, soft and sleek, collecting dust in his bedside drawer. He couldn't bring himself to get rid of it, maybe a part of him hoped one day he could use it. A stupid thought, but a thought that won out in the end.

Izuku's mother had been kidnapped by villains. He worked so tirelessly to find her. They knew exactly how to get to Deku, requesting he come alone. No one thought it was a good idea but Deku did it without hesitation. No questions asked. He had to save her. He was ambushed by swarms of villains, outnumbered beyond belief. He fought for hours before any of the other heroes even knew where he was. Only finding his location by the sudden destruction quaking through a specific part of the city. Destruction that could only be caused by someone as strong as Deku going all out.

By the time help arrived Deku was bloody and raw, but near victorious. He hadn't killed any villains, no matter how much he wanted to for what they had done. Bakugo was on the scene as soon as he heard the news, fighting the scattered villains spared from Dekus rampage for his mother. He only had Deku on his mind, had to find him, make sure he was okay. Blasting through anything that came into his way before finally stumbling upon his goal.

Bakugo had never seen someone in so much pain before, let alone Deku of all people. The man who broke his bones regularly when they were teenagers, watched his friends, his heroes die. Never had he look more agonized than he did now. Bakugo's heart shattered at the sight. Deku was sobbing holding onto his mothers lifeless body, or what was left of it. She had been dead for so little time it was obvious. Deku had barely missed saving her, most likely by mere minutes maybe even seconds. Her skin was still warm and her blood was still bright. Had she died in her sons arms? Did she die alone? Judging by her mangled appearance god knows how long she suffered. Her face was almost destroyed beyond recognition. Bakugo barely recognized Inko's crumpled body.

Deku clutched her close, it was impossible to tell how many wounds he sustained from the sheer amount of blood on him. His own, his mothers, the villains', who truly knew. Bakugo approached and before he could even attempt at comfort green eyes lifted to him, so utterly devastated. That freckled face had never held so much sorrow. Bakugo would never forget the way those words were uttered in the most painful sob he'd ever heard.

"I let her die"

He couldn't get Deku to let go of her body. Even as other heroes began to arrive, having finished clearing out the scraps Deku left behind. When the media began to show up Bakugo intentionally let off heavy blasts. Smoke filled the air, surrounding them in a thick cloud to prevent cameras from seeing Deku in such a horrid state. He had never looked as small as he did now, curled around his mothers dead body.

Eventually Deku released her. Not on purpose, he was losing a lot of blood and Bakugo finally managed to pry him away so he could be taken to a hospital. The way Deku limply clung to him, he felt that chest heave against his back with each wail of pain. Hot tears soaked through his shirt, coating his shoulder. Deku didn't stop crying. The only response he received to any given question was a slurred-

"I'm so sorry"

Bakugo didn't find out until later that Deku had been sent videos of them torturing his mother. Deku didn't tell him, most likely not wanting to put him through the pain. Not wanting the person he loved to suffer like he had to. Bakugo had never felt more like an asshole than after he found that out. All those nights yelling at Deku to sleep, to eat, stop thinking the worst. Confidently saying everything would be okay, they wouldn't hurt her if they were trying to bargain, they would find her soon, if Deku collapsed from exhaustion what use was he to her then?

He had been so ignorant and cold without realizing. Telling Deku to stop crying, everything would be alright. Saying they would go out and have a big family dinner when this was all said and done. Getting annoyed when Deku sobbed even more after that statement. He had wondered why even after the comfort Deku seemed to cry more, sob louder. Bakugo had told him he had always been a crybaby.

Had he known he would have never said the things he did. But then again he had always been good at hurting Deku without realizing.

Deku became noticeably clingier to him, paranoid and worried about everything. Especially anything involving Bakugo.
It was endearing at first, but over time the fearful obsessiveness began to choke him. He could handle himself and didn't need deku shadowing him, with him constantly. He was a pro hero, strong and durable and Deku's over-protection had sparked too many fights between them. They fought about danger, about counseling, about possessiveness. Bakugo wanted Deku to see a grief specialist. He refused. No matter how many times he asked Deku wouldn't.

One fight was the breaking point. He wished he could take it back, he wanted to take all of it back, change it, never utter those words. If only he could prevent himself from ruining everything. Just have been a bit more patient with Deku. Given him more time. But he was never very patient to begin with, especially when he was younger. Deku had pushed at him after a rather stressful day. Upset at his bruised and bandaged body, calling him reckless, he needed to be careful.
Deku couldn't always be there to save him what if something happened? What if Deku couldn't get there in time? What if-

"Go to therapy for fucks sake Deku! How many times do I have to ask? Do you want me to beg?!"

"N-no I just don't have time-"

"The fuck you don't?! You need to talk to someone to stop this bullshit, you can't save everyone Deku. You need to deal with your fucking feelings."

"I can't save everyone if I'm wasting time complaining about my life!! What if someone needs me? What if someone gets hurt while I'm talking about my dumb problems?"

"Theres so many other heroes, you're not the only one! Me for instance I don't need you around to save me all the time. I can handle myself, don't you dare look down on me. You're smothering me for fucks sake."

"I'm not- I would never. I know you're capable. I know, I just get scared of what could happen! What if you were caught off guard, defenseless or-or outnumbered and you didn't have backup nearby. Someone could hurt you really bad or worse-"

"I'm not your fucking mother Deku!!"

Everything went silent. His ears were ringing and all he could hear was his own breathing. It took a few seconds for his words to catch up with his mind. Red eyes slowly widening at the realization of what he had said. He didn't mean it. He hadn't meant to say it. His throat was dry. He couldn't breathe.

Deku was stunned, bright eyes wide in shock and what looked like horror. All those memories he had forcefully forgotten, choked down inside himself were ripped out. His face twisted slowly, mask crumbling. Splinters and shards cracked across the porcelain facade he had built himself over these past few months. His ultimate failure now exposed as whatever remained of his composure crumbled. Tears came quickly to his eyes and he hunched forward, shaking and whimpering. Big teardrops slid down his face, leaving bright red streaks over his freckles. Bakugo reached out but Deku shrank away from his grasp. His shoulders shook from softly crying before his sobs shifted to a chuckle of disbelief and dismay. He rubbed his face roughly with his palms in a desperate attempt to make it stop. Make everything stop.

"You're such an asshole Katsuki"

Those words stung far deeper than Bakugo ever imagined they could. Deku had said that phrase countless times, sometimes serious, sometimes not, but never like this. Never had he felt as though someone stabbed him in the gut and was forcefully removing his organs.

Things weren't the same after that. Deku grew more and more distant. He occupied himself with work, busy with being the best. Which he had been for a while. There was no contest, no need to try so hard. Bakugo had tried to apologize countless times but they all came up short. Something about the way Deku just smiled. It didn't touch his eyes, they always remained distant and vague. The longer time went on the less vibrant that green was, the more dull they seemed to become.

"I know kacchan..its okay." He would blankly respond.

It didn't make Bakugo feel better in the slightest. That wound he made inside himself still bled every time Deku said his name. He couldn't get it to heal.

After a few weeks Deku confronted him, he had known this was coming, he wasn't an idiot. He knew it was bound to happen but that didn't make it hurt less or stop him from begging. And god did he beg. But in the end it didn't matter. He knew the result would be the same, no matter how futilely he tried to change it. Deku left anyway. He would never step foot in the apartment again. He didn't even bother taking most of his stuff. Bakugo couldn't bring himself to get rid of any of it. He wanted to break it, to smash it like his heart had been. Eventually he settled for stuffing it all into storage. Todoroki and Kirishima helped him move it.

Bakugo didn't realize how hard he was taking the breakup until he saw Deku on the news, being interviewed about their relationship. It wasn't a secret they had loved each-other and now of course everyone took notice of their separation, their lack of interaction and team ups. Bakugo had been with friends when the interview came on, Kaminari tried to change it, knowing the effect it would have but Bakugo told him if he touched the channel he would die. So silence befell the room as everyone's eyes focused on the bright screen. On that bright smile.

Deku was grinning happily as he spoke to the man interviewing him. No one had seen how broken he was inside, maybe a few close friends but even Deku fooled them most of the time. They saw his gentle smile, soft laugh, playful demeanor and always positive attitude. Deku was the ultimate ray of sunshine and he knew it, he had to keep that appearance up. After all what use was a beacon of light to shine in the darkness if the light had gone out? So of course Deku kept the happy go lucky persona while he died on the inside. Shouldering the pain and burden was something he had always been good at, smiling through his body breaking and his heart shattering.

"So you and Ground Zero are no longer an item?"

"That's right."

"Mind if we asked what happened?"

"Oh nothing bad, he was a perfect boyfriend, really the best partner anyone could ask for. It wasn't him so much as it was me."

"Oh, does the number one hero have some hangups?"

Deku laughed and Bakugo's hair prickled on the back of his neck. Deku may be smiling casually, rubbing the back of his head in the usual awkwardly endearing way but the laughs and smiles never touched his eyes. Hardened emerald gemstones clustered in unbreakable crystal.

"I do unfortunately, I got too obsessed with work, I couldn't spend time like he deserved, I was blowing him off all the time. I decided I needed to work on myself before anything else. I can't be a good boyfriend in my current state."

Bakugo nearly blew up the TV. All of those lies. Deku pretending he was the cause, the cataylist to it all, sure he had some input into the meltdown but he acted like Bakugo had been perfect and supportive, not impatient and irrational. It made his blood boil.

They worked together a few times as heroes but it was nothing substantial. Bakugo still remembered how horrid it felt to have Deku only refer to him as Ground Zero, or worse "Bakugo" when they were out of hero gear. He had sobbed to Todoroki and Kirishima about it the first time it happened, breaking down afterwords like a stupid teenager.

Everyone thought Deku's absence was from hero work. Minus Todorki, but that's only because he saw first hand what Bakugo was going through. Bakugo knew better, he knew Deku wasn't distant from all his formerly close knit friends over being the best hero. Being busy saving the world. Holding everything on his back and waiting for the pressure to crush him. He had separated to protect them. In Deku's mind if you were close to him you mine as well be dead already. Deku had let his mother die and if anyone was close to him, hero or not, they could be exploited. But if he kept everyone at arms length, distant, with no obvious ties to anyone they would be less likely to be targeted. If he was always busy people wouldn't get hurt as much. His fellow heroes could live easier, happier and safer.

Bakugo hated it. Deku had resigned himself to becoming a savior and nothing more, nothing for himself but pain and loneliness, empty praise and false idealization. He still went home alone and probably cried himself to sleep for all the times he had to smile in front of others.

That's why when Bakugo saw him at the house party, he was surprised. It was Kaminari and Shinsou's home, a reunion for their high-school of sorts. Many big heroes were here tonight, one would think this meant open rule to villains outside but that was not the case at all. Patrols were doubled by the other heroes. No one was worried about such a large concentration here and Bakugo had wondered why at first, it would be stupid to storm a place crawling with pros but at the same time a perfect moment to strike with them all unsuspecting, some of them surely even inebriated. Then he saw why. Deku was here. Deku never killed villains but after his mother, the dangerous ones may be captured alive but they would be lucky if they could ever walk again. No villain, or group of them, in their right mind would attack this place.

....

They ended up on the porch alone, smoking and drinking. Bakugo didn't know how he managed to convince Deku to come with him, or if he had just silently followed Deku like a dog. Frankly he couldn't remember, but honestly he didn't care. For once the green eyed man didn't shove him away or force him to go and for that he was thankful. Bakugo wanted to ask why Deku agreed to come to this in the first place. He hadn't been to any events in years, even missed weddings. Kaminari had been weepy and Shinsou disappointed. Deku broke the silence. As if he knew, he probably did, even after all this time he could read Bakugo like an open book.

"Ochako begged me to be here. Said she would never talk to me again if I didn't come. I debated taking her up on that offer. But she started crying. I couldn't stand to see her cry... I hate when I make people cry..practically had a gun to my head."

Deku chuckled, but it was low and soft. His bubbly personality had waned with just the two of them present and Bakugo couldn't tell if he felt relief or guilt about that. Was Deku comfortable enough to show him his true self? Or was it the opposite? Was it that he hated Bakugo so much there was no point to even pretend and play nice.

Bakugo took a long hit of the joint, inhaling and offering it to Deku. He stared for a moment, his head didn't move, merely glanced down before accepting and reaching a hand out. Bakugo restrained a shudder when their fingers brushed, just a second and it was gone. Red eyes peered over trying to hide the obvious fixation but to no avail. He watched as Deku inhaled, deep down into his lungs, eyes focused ahead sharp and stony. His body was relaxed more now but muscles still remained tight and on edge. The hit was long as if Deku felt nothing at all from the drug seeping into him. Hot smoke was exhaled slowly, smoothly, seemingly unfazed entirely by the contents of the rolled paper between his fingers.

"Do you hate me?"

Bakugo hadn't meant to say that. It was the weed and the alcohol clouding his head. He cursed himself but couldn't say he entirely regretted his inner curiosities enacting without permission. Deku didn't even look at him, though he did hesitate. Brows flinching just slightly as if truly weighing his options.

"No."

"Do you still love me?"

"No."

There was no hesitation behind the second no. He expected that. But it didn't hurt any less to hear. It had been years after all and the way things ended between them...of course that was his response.

"I'll go-"

"You don't have to" Deku commented lightly. His eyes seemed to brighten for just a moment as he took another slow drag. Bakugo watched that muscled chest rise and fall as Deku exhaled the thick smoke.

"Do you know what a personal affirmation is?" Deku questioned gently before lifting a beer to his lips.

Bakugo stared quietly at the near apathetic expression those freckled cheeks held, he didn't need to answer, Deku continued on.

"They are statements people repeat over and over to themselves with the hope of believing them."

He said nothing in response but his gut tightened, his head felt lighter and he knew it was from more than alcohol or drugs.

"How often do you have to do it?" Bakugo questioned quietly, red eyes never moving off of the man besides him.

"Daily, multiple times usually."

Deku passed the blunt back to him, this time their fingers lingered together a bit longer and Bakugo couldn't control the tremble that flickered through his hand.

"Sometimes you have to do that in order to move forward. To get better. If something keeps making you look back you can't stop or you'll just rot."

Deku was exposing his true feelings. In a way that didn't break the castle walls he had surrounded himself with. In a way that didn't require him to outwardly admit when he had been denying for so long. He could have left it at no, but surely after seeing Bakugo's hurt expression Deku felt guilty and wanted to give any form of relief he was able.

"So you needed to move on?"

"I couldn't stay in the past, powerless, if I wanted to keep my loved ones safe."

"You've never been powerless.."

It was silent between them before Bakugo felt a boldness rise up in his chest. A burn sparking through his body and igniting his words aflame.

"I miss you Izuku."

He received no response. His red eyes searched for something, anything to indicate his words had registered with the other.

Izuku turned to look at him, the electric green glint in his eyes present once more and the soft smile, pained and worn on his face was more than any answer Katsuki could have hoped for.