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Know the Difference

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Katsuki’s world ended, not with a bang, but with the arrival of a plain-looking man wearing a trenchcoat.

“Bakugou-san? I’m Detective Tsukauchi. I’m afraid I need to speak to your family about a matter of some importance. Would it be possible for me to come in?”

Katsuki caught the man watching him carefully as he entered. The boy glared, as if daring him to make a comment; the detective just raised his eyebrows before following directions into the living room. Katsuki found himself sandwiched between his parents, his father looking concerned but trying to hide it, his mother’s hand clenched in a warning fist.

There would probably be screaming tonight.

“It’s been brought to my attention,” the detective said somberly, “that lately Bakugou-kun has been making some poor decisions in regards to how he’s been using his Quirk and treating his classmates at school.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Katsuki snapped.

The man explained. He listed incident after incident, telling Katsuki’s parents all of the people he had interviewed. Katsuki clenched his fists, vibrating with suppressed rage. This was definitely Deku’s fault. The nerd had probably gone crying to someone and gotten this whole thing blown way out of proportion. He hadn’t even hurt Deku that badly—a few bruises and burns, sure, but Katsuki had gotten far worse trying to master his Quirk so he could become a hero.

Because he was going to be one, unlike some useless, Quirkless crybaby. 

“At the moment, we’re not going to press formal charges. Quirks, especially powerful ones like Bakugou-kun’s, can be difficult to control. However, we are going to require he wear Quirk monitoring equipment for a time and attend additional counseling sessions. And some community service wouldn’t go amiss.”

Counseling? Ugh, there was nothing wrong with him , unlike other people Katsuki could mention. 

Charges, though… Katsuki wasn’t dumb. He knew that if he got charged with something like this, no heroics school would want him. His hands clenched tighter, fingernails cutting into his palms. Fine. He’d do the stupid sessions. He’d hated Quirk guidance, but it’d probably be the same sort of thing: someone with a spiel he’d have to listen to for a few meetings and nod at the right places, and then it’d be over.

His mother pursed her lips. “We understand, Detective. I apologize for not raising Katsuki with proper discipline. This is entirely our fault.”

“It’s a complicated world, Bakugou-san.” Tsukauchi removed a piece of paper from an inner pocket in his coat. “Children born with powers like these sometimes need a little extra help to make sure they’re on the right path. These are some Quirk counselors and therapists I’ve seen have some success on that front in the past. I’m sure Katsuki-kun will be able to overcome this.”

“Thank you for your faith in our son,” Katsuki’s father said, bowing as he rose to escort the detective to the door. “I assume that you’ll be in touch?”

The moment the door shut behind the detective, Katsuki’s mother whirled to glare at her son, hands on her hips. “I cannot believe you did something like this! Especially to poor Izukkun , of all people! You could ruin your future with this shit, what the fuck did you think you were doing? Oh wait, what am I saying, you didn’t think at all. You never do—”

And there was the yelling. As expected.

Some things never changed.


The Quirk counselor that Katsuki ended up going to turned out to be convinced that Katsuki had just “lost his way.” She went on and on about how he needed to use his Quirk for “the good of all” rather than personal gain. She fully approved of his desire to be a hero, citing it a good use for such a destructive Quirk, and promised to get him some time in a secure location so he could better learn to control his Quirk “so things like this don’t happen again.”

In other words, she was an idealistic idiot. Katsuki didn’t need her approval, or her help.

Still, he would take what he could get. Right now he was only allowed to utilize his Quirk under her supervision. Having the monitor bracelets off even for just those half-hour stretches made him feel a lot better.

His first meeting with his therapist, on the other hand, went a lot differently. Once the man had given his name, Sasaki Hikaru, he’d said nothing, only sitting quietly, his hands folded, gray eyes watching Katsuki’s every move. The boy fought to keep his temper, feeling like his every action was being watched, weighed, and catalogued.

He hated it.

After a good ten minutes of silence (though it felt more like an hour), he finally exploded. “Well? Aren’t you going to get started?”

The man raised his eyebrows. “Started with what?”

“Your whole… spiel,” Katsuki said, shrugging. “Whatever it is I have to listen to.”

“On the contrary, Bakugou-kun, I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts than giving you any sort of ‘spiel.’ This is about you, not about me.”

Katsuki blinked. He hadn’t expected that . “So… what, I’m just supposed to talk about anything? And then you’ll tell the police I’m fine and get them off my back?”

“I’ll be asking questions from time to time and giving you some things to think about,” Sasaki said. “There will be various exercises I’d like you to try, as well as things to watch or read to expose you to different viewpoints about various issues. At the heart of it, though, this is about your own progress. How much will come of it entirely depends on you.” 

Katsuki snorted. “I don’t have any choice in this. I don’t wanna be here.”

“Of course you have a choice,” Sasaki corrected. “You can do the bare minimum until our mandatory sessions run out, and you’ll walk out my door no different from how you walked in.” His piercing eyes bored into Katsuki’s. “Or you can choose to learn, reflect, and become a better person for it. No one is born knowing everything, and no one is born perfect.”

“I’m not broken ,” Katsuki snapped, feeling his hands get sweaty as his emotions got the better of him. He wasn’t. There wasn’t anything wrong with him. He was fine .

“I never said you were,” said Sasaki as he leaned back in his chair, crossing his right leg over his left, “but you’re only ten, Bakugou-kun. There’s a lot about our society that you don’t know yet, but you can widen your viewpoint if you so choose. It won’t be easy, but you don’t strike me as the type to step away from a challenge.”

“Why am I even here then?” he demanded, frustrated. “Just to get some… weird education?”

“You are here because there is a non-zero possibility that you could become a villain, and a greater chance that you could continue to use your Quirk to hurt others, given your past behavior.”

Sasaki said that as calmly as if he were discussing the weather, and that made Katsuki even more incensed. “I would never become a villain!” he shouted. “I’m gonna be a hero, the best ever, even better than All Might!”

“What’s the difference between a hero and a villain, then?” the man asked, seemingly unimpressed by Katsuki’s declaration of his dream, much to his disgruntlement.

He scoffed. “The heroes are the good guys, obviously.”

“‘Good’ is a relative term,” Sasaki countered. “There are many people in history who we think of as ‘good’ who did terrible things, some of which were even considered problems while they were still alive.

“Heroes and villains are a great deal more alike than most realize. Both use their Quirks freely. Both tend to be brilliant strategists or powerful fighters. Most have a driving cause of some sort. So, what makes a villain different from a hero?”

Katsuki tried several times to come up with an answer that would satisfy the man, but every single one of them ended up being shot down. He left the appointment seething with frustration.

He hated this.


The question nagged at Katsuki for days. It haunted him on the way to school, during his lessons, during the tense family dinners that he endured every night.

What was the difference? What was the right answer, the one that he needed to get that jerk off this stupid topic?

It wasn’t until he chased off some idiots at school harassing a girl with a fish Quirk that he felt like he might have something that would shut Sasaki up. He walked into his next session with his head held high, a triumphant grin on his lips. “Heroes make people feel safe, not like villains,” he declared immediately. “They save people.”

Sasaki nodded, looking pleased. “That is indeed one of the major differences between heroes and villains, and part of the reason why vigilantes are classified differently, but sometimes those distinctions can be a little blurry.”

Katsuki relaxed. Finally . Hopefully that would be the end of that crap.

“Now, there are other things I’d like us to cover at some point, but first I’d like to ask if there’s anything you want to talk about.”

Katsuki considered it for a moment. He really didn’t want another one of those questions to answer; the last one had been really annoying. Maybe if he came up with a really good question Sasaki would talk more and he could just pretend to listen…

“I can’t use my Quirk right now,” he said slowly, after a few moments of thought, “and it really sucks. I feel… weird.” He hated admitting that, but therapy was supposed to be all about this feelings garbage, right? “Why can’t we use our Quirks freely?” 

In school they’d been taught that the laws restricting Quirk usage were from back when Quirks had first come about and fewer people had had them. That seemed pretty stupid to Katsuki, considering that these days it was only useless people like Deku who didn’t have something , even if most people’s Quirks were boring compared to his.

“An excellent question, but one with a very complicated answer. Every country handles the issue of Quirk usage differently, but even within a single nation there can be disagreement; there have been a number of Japanese writers who have argued for people to be able to use their Quirks freely, for example.” Sasaki paused for a moment, thinking. “Let’s start by talking about how Quirks are governed in some other countries, and some of the events in Japan’s past that influenced the laws we have today…” 

Katsuki didn’t get his wish, not exactly. Sasaki talked for a good long while, yes, but he asked Katsuki a lot of questions to make sure he was listening, and he sent him home with some videos to watch and three questions to answer.

Therapy, he decided, sucked. 


Katsuki’s mandatory community service was at the local Second Harvest. Some days he headed there on his own, checking in with the site organizer to log his hours before taking on whatever task they wanted him to do that day. When he could, he preferred to organize the pantry, since it was quiet and no one bothered him. If his dad accompanied him, he was sometimes allowed to help out with food preparation. 

Occasionally he was stuck handing out actual meals, which he hated. There were always yappy kids and adults who either wanted to ask him a lot of annoying questions or thank him for the “generous donation” of his time. He’d learned to just shrug it off, since apparently “making a scene” meant he’d have to do more of this stupid stuff.

Sometimes dealing with these things was just… awkward, too. Some of the kids were clearly wearing secondhand, if not thirdhand, clothes, things that didn’t fit them quite right. Some of the parents, especially mothers, had signs of bruises on their wrists or cheeks. It left him feeling… unsettled. 

“Well, that’s another two hours this week! You won’t be here too much longer, Bakugou-kun.” The person in charge of the center today was Itou, a tiny woman clearly old enough to be his grandmother—if not older. Despite her age, she was pretty quick on her feet and didn’t take any crap from anyone, staff or visitor.

Katsuki kind of liked that.

He shrugged. “I’ve got better things to do with my time, that’s for sure.”

“Doesn’t seem like it’s done your attitude any favors, but labor doesn’t fix all flaws by a long shot.” Itou shrugged. “—Oh dear, now there’s one that’s going to give a mother gray hairs. Poor thing.”

Katsuki glanced over to see a kid scratching long silver nails down the side of a table. Her mother was already there, catching her hand and shaking her head sharply. Katsuki couldn’t hear what she was saying over the noise in the serving room, but he could imagine the lecture.

“Honestly, I think meta— ‘scuse me, Quirks are the worst thing that ever happened to our society. Things were much calmer and more fair before.” Itou shook her head, a look of pity on her face. “I can’t help but feel sorry for anyone with a Quirk.”

Katsuki gave her an incredulous look. “Anyone with a Quirk? You don’t have one?”

Itou snorted. “Don’t act so surprised! In my generation only about half of us did. They were just starting to get more common, and you could see how badly it started changing people. And the more powerful the Quirk, the worse it is. Nowadays it’s like a child’s destiny is determined from the moment their Quirk manifests.” She shook her head. “Used to be folks chose what they wanted for themselves, but now it’s all ‘well how will you be able to use your Quirk for this?’ or ‘but my Quirk isn’t strong enough for that.’ Damn shame, really.”

Katsuki just stared at her as if she were speaking another language. “You... think it’s better to be Quirkless?” he finally asked, utterly bewildered.

“Absolutely!” She gestured towards him. “Why, just look at you, boy. I bet your Quirk’s something destructive, right?”

He bristled. “Explosion is—”

“Ah, see? You’re just proving my point.” Itou nodded sagely. “Your Quirk makes it so you have trouble controlling your temper or your behavior—not your fault, of course, it’s the influence of the Quirk—but just imagine what you could accomplish if you didn’t have it riding you. You’d be free to do whatever you wanted.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “I reckon they picked some destructive career out for you already, eh?”

Katsuki clenched his fists, his face heating. He opened his mouth to yell—only to see Itou shake her head, pity in her eyes and a knowing expression on her face that made him want to scream even more.

But he would not give her the satisfaction. 

“I’m gonna be a hero,” he managed through gritted teeth. “A hero even greater than All Might.”

“Well, that is something that would put a Quirk like yours to decent use, I suppose.” She squinted at him thoughtfully. “Though I wonder if you’ve ever even thought about pursuing a career not determined by your Quirk, hm?”

Katsuki… honestly couldn’t say he had. For almost as long as he could remember, people had praised him for his Quirk and told him he’d become a great hero with it someday, and he’d never questioned it. It really pissed him off to prove her right, though, so he struggled to come up with a snappy response—something, anything, that would let him deny it… but the words wouldn’t come.

Itou sighed. “Honestly, I don’t know what this world’s comin’ to,” she murmured, more to herself than Katsuki. “They’re getting stronger and stronger—won't be long till people start destroying themselves or each other through sheer accident, mark my words.” 

A call from the kitchen grabbed Itou’s attention, finally freeing Katsuki to get the hell out of there. He ground his teeth, the Quirk monitoring bands on his wrists the only thing keeping him from letting off an explosion. He needed to do something , though, or else—

Dammit , he didn’t want her to be right! He wouldn’t explode! His Quirk didn’t make him who he was! He shaped his Quirk; it didn’t shape him!

Katsuki managed to make it to a park before he started running as fast as he could. He couldn’t get away, of course, but he could just pretend, just for a little while, that he could. 

He got home late that night.


Katsuki returned to Sasaki’s office for his next appointment in a foul mood.

He hadn’t been able to get Itou’s words out of his mind. He was sure they were wrong—and yet… His entire world had been turned over by Detective Tsukauchi. It wasn’t just these dumb therapy sessions or the community service. People had started treating him differently at school, and the teachers were stricter with him, too.

He didn’t want it to happen again.

“Good afternoon, Bakugou-kun. Did you have anything you wanted to talk about today?”

Katsuki hesitated for a moment. On the one hand, he really couldn’t stop thinking about it. He had talked about Itou’s words with a few of his acquaintances at school, and they’d all brushed it off. At the time it had made him feel better, but…

Well, why not? Better to talk about this than whatever else Sasaki had up his sleeve. 

“When I was doing community service the other day, someone said something weird.” He glared at an inoffensive spot in the carpet. “She said she felt… sorry for people with Quirks, which is just crazy . She talked about it like Quirks change you, make you do stuff.”

“Hmm.” Sasaki’s expression was unreadable. “You’re wondering if she’s right?”

“My Quirk doesn’t control me!” Katsuki snapped. “I control it!”

Sasaki folded his hands. “Despite all the research that has been done on Quirks, what we know about them is vastly outweighed by what we don’t. None of the research into how Quirks affect people has been conclusive, but the general scientific consensus is that there is some connection between a person’s nature and how their Quirk manifests. You struggle with controlling your anger.” It was a statement, not a question. “It’s quite likely that you will always have times where your temper gets the better of you. Whether that’s a natural tendency that’s reflected in your Quirk or something that your Quirk brings out in you is something we don’t know.”

Katsuki gripped the armrests of his chair with white-knuckled hands. “I don’t want to be controlled by my Quirk.”

“As well you shouldn’t,” Sasaki replied. “However, there is always something you can do: If you find yourself in a situation where you’re getting to the point of losing your temper, remove yourself from it. We can also work on healthy ways to burn off that energy safely. In fact, I can think of one you might even enjoy—I’ll talk to your parents about it.”

Katsuki gave him a dubious look. “It’s not going to be more volunteer work, is it?”

“No. As long as your parents agree, I think you’ll even find it useful for hero work.”

Katsuki scowled. “You say that about everything we do.”

“All learning has the potential to be useful someday,” said Sasaki matter-of-factly. “For someone like a hero, who will encounter many different people over the course of their life, it’s even more important to have a well-rounded education. You never know when your knowledge might resonate with a villain, convincing them to surrender, or help reassure someone you’re rescuing.”

Katsuki thought there was no way he was going to capture villains by letting them surrender , but he kept that to himself. 

“Actually, while we’re at it, let’s start a new exercise.” Sasaki ignored Katsuki’s groan. “One of the most important things for predicting someone’s behavior, whether they be villain or victim, is being able to place yourself in their shoes. So let’s pretend you’re this volunteer. Why would she say what she said?”

“Because she’s jealous, obviously! She doesn’t have a Quirk, so she’s mad other people do.”

“That’s certainly possible,” Sasaki allowed, “but what else? People can say the same things as others, but for completely different reasons.”

Now Katsuki was stumped. He thought about it, fingers tracing the armrests of his chair. “Um… maybe she knew someone whose Quirk messed them up?”

“A good guess. When people are hurt, they try to find ways to rationalize that hurt. Especially if the person who hurt them is someone they care about, they may try to find another source to place the blame on rather than accept that the person hurt them intentionally. Can you think of another motivation?” 

“Not really,” Katsuki grumbled.

“That’s fine; it was a good start.” Sasaki straightened. “During the week, I want you to write down some things you see and try to list as many reasons as you can think of why someone might have behaved the way they did. It doesn’t have to be anything big or important; I just want you to practice seeing other points of view. If you can find out why they actually did what they did after you guess, that’s even better, but don’t force it.”

“You want me to go around asking people why they’re doing what they’re doing?” Katsuki huffed. “I’m not a stalker.”

“Here’s an example,” Sasaki continued, ignoring the bait. “Let’s say you see someone buy an All Might figure in the store. They are wearing other hero merch, so you suspect it’s for them, but then you overhear them say something about how it’s a gift for their son. Does that make sense?”

“That sounds pretty impossible.” Katsuki sighed. “But I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ever ask, Bakugou-kun. This isn’t easy, but you’re making a good effort. You’ve made more progress than you realize.” Sasaki rose to his feet. “We only have a few minutes left, so let’s go talk to your father about that outlet for your anger, shall we?” 

Katsuki followed him, feeling disgruntled. He never knew if he could trust compliments, but he wanted to believe Sasaki. He had never sugarcoated anything, as far as Katsuki could tell, and he’d always been truthful… but it was hard to believe.

It’d sure be nice if someone out there actually meant what they said. 


Sasaki’s suggestion was boxing.

Katsuki looked around as his father talked with the studio owner. She was a petite woman, but her arms were strong, far more muscular than Katsuki would’ve expected. He could see a number of people, mostly women, working out at punching bags or moving through combinations together. 

“Well, let’s see who Sasaki sent me this time.” The brunette looked Katsuki up and down. “So, Bakugou-kun, your father says you want to be a hero.” 

Katsuki nodded. 

“Sasaki said you needed focus and discipline, and you’ll get it here, but no going into the ring until I decide you’re ready. It’ll be a lotta boring conditioning to start with, but you’ll need it to build up your body. Aside from that, you gotta keep up with your sessions and whatever homework Sasaki gives you, too—and don’t think you can hide it if you don’t. My Quirk’s a lie-detecting one. Give me less than the truth and I’ll kick you out so fast you’ll skid on the street.”

Having to do more of those dumb exercises wasn’t what Katsuki would call a fun time, but he was learning—and it’d be worth it if he could start training properly. This would put him way ahead of the other kids at U.A.! “Got it.”

“I’m Shibata Yuuko. Call me Shibata or Sensei, whichever. I’m not much of one for formality.” She straightened. “So. Let’s see how you do with some basic moves.”

Katsuki left an hour later, feeling exhausted but pleased. He could definitely see this helping his hero career, and honestly it had felt good to just let loose on a punching bag. It was sure better than trying to train on his own in the park. 

“I’ll get dinner started, Katsuki,” his father said as they removed their shoes in the genkan at home. “Do you have any homework?”

“I finished it already.” Katsuki hesitated, noting the silence of the house. “...where’s Mom?”

“She’s at her first appointment with her own therapist.”

What ?” Katsuki yelped. Why on earth was his mom doing therapy? It wasn’t like she had gotten in trouble with the police. Her Quirk wasn’t any good for anything except making soap, and she hadn’t washed his mouth out with it in years, not since the time he’d bitten her for trying.

His father smiled, but it seemed sad. “Your mother has always struggled with dealing with people. She’s realized that she has some issues she needs to tackle, so… she’s trying to do what she can.”

Katsuki couldn’t believe it. The idea of his mother in therapy was just plain weird . Who knew, though? Maybe it would help. Katsuki felt like he was doing better at controlling his temper lately, at least—and no matter what Itou had said, he’d definitely gotten that from his mom, even if her Quirk wouldn’t imply that at all. 

“I think you’ve impressed her with how hard you’ve been working. You’re tackling your problems head on, not flinching away… and she’s been avoiding hers for a long time.” His father’s smile took on a bit of an ironic edge. “She might also have said something about how ‘I’m not gonna let my own son beat me at this thing.’”

Katsuki snorted. “Now that actually sounds like her.”


“We’ve talked a lot about what will help you be a good hero, but we haven’t actually discussed why you want to be a hero,” Sasaki said, engrossed with his stupid notepad. “So, why did you decide you want to become a hero?”

“I want to be the best, the strongest!”  Sasaki raised an eyebrow, and Katsuki bit back a curse. That was definitely the “you’re getting homework” look. He knew he had to come up with a better reason… but it had to be true. Sasaki had an infuriating way of knowing when it wasn’t. “And, I mean, it’d be nice to be rich and famous. But saving people is good too,” he added. “The one time I helped a kid deal with bullies felt… nice, I guess.”

Sasaki made a thoughtful humming noise. “That’s all true. And a lot of kids want to be heroes for fame or fortune. Most of them don’t make it very far because they underestimate the amount of work it takes, but let’s back up for a moment. The first thought you had was you want to be ‘the best.’ The best what?”

Katsuki blinked at him. “You know, the best!”

“The best rescuer? The best fighter? The best at capturing villains?”

“All of those, obviously! I’m gonna be number one, even better than All Might!”

“That still doesn’t answer the question, Bakugou-kun,” said Sasaki patiently. “There are many ways you can rate heroes. There’s nothing wrong with being competitive; I’m just not sure that a vague goal like being ‘the best’ will carry you through a demanding career like heroics.” 

“Of course it will!” Katsuki set his jaw stubbornly. “There’s nothing better than being the best!”

“Then why not be the best piano player, or the best ice cream maker, or the best sushi chef?”

“None of those things matter !” Katsuki snapped his mouth shut, closed his eyes, and took several deep breaths. 

Sasaki watched him carefully, not speaking again until Katsuki had managed to calm himself. “I know they may not matter very much to you, but they matter to others, and each has their place in society. Heroes may be our new movie stars, but despite how they’re portrayed they aren’t the end-all and be-all of our world. They’d be lost without the help of their support crews, medical professionals, and police, for a start.”

“I just feel like… it would make me happy,” Katsuki finally said. “Is that enough?”

“The problem is that we often think things will make us happy, and then they disappoint us,” Sasaki said gently. “I hope being a hero does make you happy—people should enjoy their jobs—but I think it would be a good idea to see if there is more to your desire to be a hero than just wanting to prove yourself.”

Katsuki sighed. “Homework?”

Sasaki looked amused. “Homework.”


Time melted away. Katsuki finished his required Quirk counseling, and then, shortly before his twelfth birthday, he handed in his last volunteer hours. Leaving them behind freed up time in his schedule, but it also left him feeling unsettled by the change in routine for a while.

Boxing started taking up a lot more of his time. It was a better outlet for him than wandering the parks or hanging out with the group of boys he used to lead around school, jumping on anyone who annoyed him to keep them in line.

Though they had gone their own ways when Katsuki had been called to account. Seemed like they didn’t want to be associated with someone who’d gotten caught. 

The day of his final scheduled therapy appointment was abysmally bad. There were times he deeply resented everything that had happened to him because stupid Deku had opened his stupid mouth and tattled rather than deal with his problems himself, and today was definitely one of them. On top of that, he’d had a test at school that he’d struggled with, the weather was lousy, and he’d another shouting match with his mother on the way out the door to Sasaki’s office. 

“Good afternoon, Bakugou-kun.” Sasaki folded his hands. “It seems like you’ve had a rough day.”

“Nothin’ special,” Katsuki grumbled as he threw himself into his chair. “So, what do we talk about today? Since this’ll be the last one.”

He was not going to miss the man’s “homework,” that was for sure.

“Well, there’s nothing I need to say to you specifically at the moment. Why don’t you just talk about your day? Maybe getting it out of your system will help.” 

And so Katsuki did, just letting loose. He was done with Sasaki—he didn’t need to hold back anymore. He ranted about school, about not having any companions to speak of, about his fight with his mother, about how much resented Deku for getting him in trouble. Sasaki just listened, his hands folded. Not once did he interject or give Katsuki a disapproving look.

“—and it’s just not fair !” Katsuki was definitely yelling now. “I don’t know why I’m like this! I know it’s not how my mom wants me to be! Sometimes it’s not even how I want to be! But this is how I am!”

“You’re right.”

Katsuki stared at his therapist in shock. Had he just… agreed with him? 

“Life isn’t fair,” Sasaki said bluntly. “People are given different things and expected to make it work, but no one tells you what the rules are or even what all your pieces mean. Refusing to play by the rules—or trying to not play at all—means you automatically lose. That’s why I’ve been trying to teach you the rules: so you can win.”

Wait.

What?

Katsuki thought back over the sessions they’d had over the past several months, and little by little, the picture Sasaki had painted grew clear. Yeah, he was giving him tools: helping him see other people’s perceptions, giving him insights into how things worked so he could manage his temper.

But Katsuki had never really… thought of it, that way.

“...Is that your Quirk?” he asked grudgingly. “You know what people need to hear?”

Sasaki shook his head. “No. My Quirk… is not particularly reliable. Every so often I get a flash of a potential future a person might have, a possible end result of the path they are currently on. It’s not especially useful most of the time.” His lips quirked a bit. “Generally I use body language and experience to figure out how I can help people.”

“...have you seen that? For me?”

“I did, once.” Sasaki’s face grew somber. “Right now, from what I can tell, you’re between paths, Bakugou-kun. You could backslide and become exactly the type of person you were before… but you could also become something quite different. I’m hoping that your time here will have helped you.”

“What did you see?” Katsuki demanded.

“I don’t think you’re ready to hear that, just yet.”

He bristled. “It’s my future, though!”

“And it’s my Quirk,” Sasaki replied smoothly. “No one is required to use their Quirk for others.” 

Katsuki glared… but if he was honest, it wasn’t one of his best. He was worn out from his earlier rant. “Is this some kind of trick to make me keep coming here?”

“No. It’s my professional opinion that you are not ready for to know what my Quirk showed me. Sometimes our futures are not what we expect, and sometimes they are everything we think we desire—and not satisfying at all.”

Katsuki mulled over that for a moment. “In your… professional opinion.” He swallowed hard, fighting to get the words out. “Do I need to… keep coming?”

Sasaki was quiet for a long moment. “I think you could benefit from doing so. The tension between you and your mother, for one, is an issue that won’t be going away any time soon. If nothing else, you may find this office a safe space where you can get away. I think—well, I hope—that I would be able to help you get your feet more firmly on a more fulfilling path, but in the end, it’s really up to you.”

The young boy sat, thinking for a long moment, then got to his feet, heading to the waiting room. His father looked up from his phone as he approached. “Already done, Katsuki?”

“No. I…” Katsuki took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “I think… I wanna keep coming. Can we schedule another appointment?”

His father gave him a brilliant smile. “Of course we can.”