By the time Bakugou Katsuki was in middle school, he was pretty damn sure of what he was going to do.
He was a boy with a super strong quirk, everyone said that. He was going to be the best Pro Hero out there, and make even All Might acknowledge his presence–even better, he would surpass him, make All Might look up to him.
Everyone agreed with him on the fact that he was naturally gifted, his quirk was strong, his grades were high. Even the teachers couldn’t tell him off, because they were scared of how great he was.
Yes, Bakugou Katsuki was a powerful teen, and would grow out to be a great man.
Like All Might.
The first time he was ever proven wrong he was both too young and too old.
He was thirteen.
It was a whole two years before Deku got his cheat quirk.
Katsuki was coming back from cram school, tired and annoyed and ready to go home and sleep. He decided to stop by the public park to buy himself a Pocari; the day had been annoying and humid and he deserved it.
Just as he was reaching the vending machine, some skinny douchebag completely and utterly ignored him, cutting in front of him to buy something for himself.
And Katsuki had had an annoying day, it was hot and annoying, his palms were extra sweaty, and how fucking dare this teen just ignore him?
So Katsuki did the next best thing. He ducked under his arm and neatly shoved him aside. That would teach him.
The taller teen stumbled away without a word, not even trying to put up a fight even as he glared at him. Katsuki sneered back at him, and the skinny douchebag just sighed and looked away. A weakling in quirk and soul, probably.
So he got his Pocari and left.
He was drinking and heading home when he felt watched. He turned around, sneering. It was a couple of high school students grinning and elbowing each other as they looked at him.
Did they think he was funny?
He gave them a once over.
They looked like fucking losers, teens clearly older than him loitering around instead of doing anything productive. He didn’t get what they were laughing about though.
Was it the uniform?
Katsuki hoped it was. He loved to bait deadweights into thinking they could make fun of him. They looked so relaxed, did they seriously think Katsuki wouldn’t take offense? Wouldn’t fight back?
Or did they seriously think they could defeat him? Hilarious really.
The young prodigy circled back to them, hearing their laughter tinging with nervousness as he approached.
“The fuck do you want?” One of them asked, dumb enough to try and intimidate him with his size and muscles. Katsuki didn’t deign that with a response.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Katsuki could see someone else aiming a punch at the back of his head.
Katsuki waited until they were standing at just the right place for him to duck under their weak-ass fist. He turned and screamed murder at them while jumping like a rabid cat.
It was so easy it was laughable.
The way their cocky exterior broke away to uncertain fear as they saw his quirk.
A quirk fit for the strongest man.
A quirk whose mere sight evoked respect.
He got in a punch, an elbow to the gut and an explosion on the hand that dared grab him before the fighting ended.
They cowered now, now that they had seen his quirk. Now that they knew he was stronger, like everyone said.
The teen under him whimpered as Katsuki raised an explosion-ready fist to punch him across the face again.
What an idiot.
As if Katsuki would use his precious quirk to get in trouble.
But before he could land the hit, his vision was covered in blue.
Fire, his body warned him, making a cold sweat break out on his forehead, the stench of nitroglycerin doing nothing to soothe the spike in adrenaline.
A fire intense enough to burn through his quirk-tough skin-
He jumped to his feet, eyes wide, feeling shame creep up on him at his show of weakness.
Only dumbasses jumped away like that after all.
The whimpering idiot and his lackeys didn’t care about any mysterious fire as they picked themselves up and ran away.
Bakugou ignored them, too busy trying to pinpoint the source of the…
A teen, not much older than the high school idiots that tried to mess with him, stood at a distance. He was vaguely familiar and Katsuki suddenly realized it was the same douchebag that had cut in line. Hand raised, holding a bright ball of blue fire in his palm.
A vibrant blue that reflected itself off his incandescent eyes.
Eyes so filled with rage that Katsuki nearly didn’t notice his appearance.
Haggard, clothes torn and dirty like a homeless bum. And with long, gnarly patches of skin, testament of a great pain, scattered throughout his body.
“Were you having fun?” He said, and even his voice sounded damaged, in pain, pain, pain.
That fire, capable of burning through the entire world, woke up in Katsuki a primal sense of fear.
And he hated feeling fear.
He widened his stance, and ground his teeth together, hands sparkling with nitroglycerin. “The fuck’s your problem?!”
He was the strongest.
He would be the strongest Hero.
His quirk was-
The strange teen sighed, as if somehow Katsuki wasn’t even worth his words.
Bastard, bastard, bastard. He would see, he would show him that his own quirk was stronger and he would pay.
Katsuki charged at him.
He tried not faltering when the other teen began running towards him as well, steps light and face that of disinterest.
In five seconds flat, he was on his back, staring up at the sky.
“Grow the fuck up.” The older teen said, pressing an uncomfortably hot hand around his neck, fingers tightening just enough to be a threat. “There’s enough playground bullies with quirks around.”
“Get. The fuck. Off. Me.” Katsuki growled, trying to grab his arm, then having to try not to howl in pain. Was he made of fire?!
“Oh?” The asshole said, a blank smirk crawling up his face. “Why should I? Because you asked so nicely? Because you apologized to the people you were beating up?”
“Because I fucking said so.”
This only made the fingers dig into his skin, beginning to sear through his skin.
That stupid smirk just widened. “Why should I listen? You didn’t stop when those other guys begged you.”
“Those idiots are weak little quirk wimps-!” His breath hitched, as the fire got more and more intense, but-
It didn’t burn.
“People,” the stranger began, eyes blazing like cold infernos. “Are not their quirks.”
“What’s your fucking problem,” Katsuki wheezed, making up for his lack of breath with the fury burning in his chest. “What do you fucking care? Didn’t- didn’t care I pushed you, so why…”
“I care because someone’s acting like a fucking villain. Suddenly you care about what I have to say, now that I showed you my quirk, eh?”
“Not… a villain…” Katsuki snarled, starting to see black spots in his vision. “Will be a… will be a hero, you fucker.”
“You want to be a hero, boy?” The older teen sneered. “Learn not to abuse your fucking quirk, you asshole.”
No, he wasn’t a villain.
He was going to be a great hero.
He was going to surpass All Might and… and…
The pressure let up, Katsuki just laid there, gasping at the clear blue sky.
“You have a good quirk, dumbass. Learn to fucking use it.”
When Katsuki gathered enough energy to remember to be mad about someone looking down on him, the stranger was long gone.
It shouldn’t have had this much effect on his life, Katsuki thought. A stranger taking the piss on him, should have just made him angry and forgotten about it.
But that little encounter had changed so much.
It had stopped his fist before hitting Deku for the last time.
It had made him look in the mirror, really look, and see a bully and a tyrant and decided to change all on his own accord.
Because Bakugou Katsuki was not a villain.
He was a powerful teen, with a powerful quirk and he would be a Hero All Might would be proud of.
A Hero he would be proud of.
(And a petty part of him, that still remembered those burning fingers around his neck, thought he would be a Hero good enough to have the moral high ground when he found that nasty fire-breather again.)
Bakugou Katsuki was sixteen, a Pro Hero in training, and had just been kidnapped.
It was okay, he told himself, as his senses began to fade, as the camp disappeared before his very eyes, that shitty nerd reaching out to him with a broken body and he’d sooner die than let that sack of broken bones hurt himself further to try and save him-
He didn’t need rescuing-!
He was the strongest.
He had the strongest quirk, he was going to be the strongest hero.
He was going to save himself and protect his idiots.
He was going to protect his idiots.
He would make them proud.
He would make All Might proud.
(A seed of fear clung to his lungs, and refused to let go as darkness claimed him.)
Shigaraki was pacing.
He was pacing and scratching his throat raw, as he mumbled like the creep that he was.
He’d been doing that for the better part of Katsuki's capture.
He’d scratched his skin bloody as his lackeys tried first wooing Katsuki, then threatening him with pain and fear, trying to make him toss his ideals aside and become a villain.
He’d spat on their faces each and every time.
“I’m not like you,” he had sneered, bound hands flickering with sparks. “I’m not a fucking villain. I’ll never be one of you.”
They had beaten him for it.
They had tossed him into a cell, bloody and beaten and sent a sentry to keep him in check.
Katsuki knew him. He had known him ever since they had first locked eyes all those months ago, during the USJ attack.
“You’re a fucking hypocrite, you know that?” He had spat at him, uncaring that the villain –Dabi, he was called– probably didn’t remember him. “Fucking loser.”
Dabi didn’t acknowledge him, but there was something about him that bespoke of a futile anger.
He didn’t answer as he turned around and left, but the slump of his shoulders was answer enough.
Dabi was watching over him when the breakout happened.
Or was supposed to be watching over him.
It probably wasn’t in his job description to whisper that his friends were here to get him, as he melted the lock on his door away.
Katsuki wanted to point out how fucking stupid that was, how easily he would give himself away to his fellow villains, but then Eijirou and Deku were dashing up to him.
Eijirou was at the lead, and Katsuki wasn’t fast enough to tell them that Dabi would probably not hurt them. Eijirou lunged after the fire villain, which left Deku to rip the door out of its hinges and lunge for him.
He snapped Katsuki’s binds with ease and offered him a hand to stand.
Now, in another lifetime, Bakugou Katsuki would have been outraged, furious even, at being offered help.
In another lifetime, his pride would have forced his friends into an even more dangerous situation, and almost cost them all their lives.
But Katsuki had been stopped before he reached that point.
He had been forced to grow, forced to face his own actions and reevaluate his life at a much younger age.
And so, Katsuki reached out a hand and pulled himself up with his help.
Deku didn’t smirk, or say anything snide or irritatingly sappy. He just nodded firmly and guided him away, keeping an eye out in case Katsuki stumbled.
Eijirou soon joined them looking relatively unharmed, and they were about to leave when Katsuki looked back.
Dabi was lying in a pile of rubble, lacerations covering his dry, scarred skin, and those sunken blue eyes looked at them with the sort of resignation of someone long dead.
(Despite everything, Katsuki noticed there were no scorch marks anywhere.)
Katsuki stopped on his tracks and turned to him. With his heart beating in his ears and muffling out his friends’ protests, he dashed towards the startled villain and tugged him up.
“You’re coming with us, you fucker!” He screamed in his face, snorting at his wide-eyed stare.
Dabi opened his mouth to complain as if this were the time, idiot. Katsuki resolutely ignored him as he pulled him along, slinging him over a shoulder, when he proved to be too slow. He wasn’t exactly light, but compared to the weight of his gauntlets on his hands every single waking moment, this wasn’t that hard.
Dabi called him all sorts of names, screaming and flailing, fear lacing his every protest. Deku and Eijirou shot him bewildered expressions, but decided against commenting.
They just continued to run beside him, sneaking their way out of the belly of the villain’s lair.
(Their steps mingled together, and Katsuki couldn’t help but think that he was glad he wasn’t alone.)
Once they were out, Katsuki dropped his protesting cargo and bent over, wheezing and spent and nearly falling over with exhaustion.
“You came,” He muttered, turning red in the face because that hadn’t been what he had meant to say.
Deku just grinned like the fucking saint that he was. “Sorry for the delay, Kacchan!”
Eijirou then gently punched his shoulder and thankfully saved them from the awkwardness. “Glad to have you back, bro!”
Katsuki smirked, tired and relieved as the rest of his friends flocked around them. “Couldn’t let the villains keep the future number one hero.”
“Did they hit you that hard? Because Midoriya was right beside us,” Todoroki fucking Shouto snarked back, and the room grew silent with tension.
The tied villain on the floor froze, as he stared at Todoroki. “Shouto…?” He mumbled, and while Katsuki wasn’t fully aware what new clusterfuck the Todoroki family was going to bring, he was suddenly very glad that he had rescued him kicking and screaming and all.
Todoroki was frowning, confused and scared as dawning realization stole the color from his face. “Touya-nii?”
Katsuki stared all-sufferingly to the sky. Of course they were fucking brothers.
“Not like I want to hear your fucking melodrama,” he drawled, breaking some of the tension and giving Todoroki – Todoroki squared?– time to recompose themselves and remember they were not alone. “But we kinda broke curfew, and the police is already searching for us, so maybe save that for later.”
“Right,” Dabi said with a choked up voice. He turned to Katsuki, “Glad to see that I was wrong about you.”
You weren’t wrong, Katsuki wanted to tell him, as they all boarded the train back, hoping they wouldn’t get recognized. You weren’t wrong, that’s why I decided to change.
But that was too sentimental, too vulnerable.
That was too Izuku, and nothing of Katsuki.
So instead he said, “You fucking bet you are. Saved your fucking villain ass because I’m the best hero out there.”
Dabi snorted, as he slumped against the curved wall of the train, Iida began gesticulating wildly about improper language and what-the-fuck-ever and Eijirou smacked the back of his head while Izuku sighed into his hands.
The doors of the train closed, and it took them away.
A bunch of tired and exhausted miscreants, and two siblings with enough Trauma to write the fucking Lord of the Rings.
(Or a bunch of future Pro Heroes, and Pro Hero Ground Zero’s first saved victim.)
(Not that Touya would ever admit to it, under pain of death.)
(At least not in public.)