At that moment, there were no thoughts in Bakugou Katsuki’s head. His body…
Just moved on its own.
He was stuck watching Deku fight for justice and his life. He makes plans with Todoroki and the other pros and then he’s in the air with both Todorokis. Endeavor grabs Shigaraki while he’s distracted and just explodes and…
The plan failed.
The plan failed and Enji was out of commission and now Deku was the one distracted as Shigiraki was left still standing, ready to strike despite being burnt to a crisp. He shouldn’t be standing.
One moment, Kastuki watches in panicked horror as Shiguraki moves to strike Deku with his new All for One abilities and the next moment, his body moves and all he sees is Deku’s surprised and horrified face— something closer to Deku’s normal expressions he’s seen in this entire fight— and all he feels is pain.
But he knows that this wasn’t just from instincts or the need to win.
It had to do with him realizing and accepting his insecurities and working to get past them.
It had to do with therapy he chose to take for his anger issues.
It had to do with his guilt and regrets for being a self centered asshole his whole life.
It had to do with his realization of what it means to be a true honest to god hero.
It had to do with Deku.
Just like everything in his life, it had to do with the stupid nerd Deku and him butting into his life. A life for the first time in it where he couldn’t imagine it without said nerd. They finally started to work out their emotions and relationship and form it into something less toxic and more…
And as the black tendrils from Shigiraki retract back to the villain and he feels he feels his momentum give to gravity, Katsuki remembers once again his last conversation with All Might. Sitting there as they watched Deku and their fellow classmates train.
He remembers finally admitting in words that he had in fact bullied Deku and how it stemmed from his own jealousy he couldn’t understand. How he was now unintentionally looking out for the nerd, the same nerd that irritated him beyond belief because of his own insecurities yet stuck by his side no matter how many times he beat him down because he was jealous—
And he remembers what All Might said to him.
“That’s your way of trying to atone… Right?”
Ah, he thought as he felt his body begin to fall away from Deku, maybe it’s atonement . He feels his vision blurr but calls out weakly, “Don’t go playing hero... by yourself.”
He falls faster but stops when feeling something grips onto his leg. Absentmindedly as he feels his consciousness start to fade, he feels a familiar fluctuation of temperatures and a familiar voice scream out for Deku and notes he was caught by Todoroki and he will probably need to find a way to thank him while keeping up his uncaring persona for his totally not friend.
Katsuki fades and he dreams.
He dreams about the time he slept over at Deku’s house. How they made a pillow fort and how Deku whispers to see his quirk again even though their parents kept telling both of them that the blonde needs to be around an adult when he used his quirk seeing as he only had it for only two weeks.
The older of the two lights up his right palm and tiny sparks pop and the younger giggles quietly in glee. He was only able to keep the sparks up for a few seconds and they were only strong and loud enough to maybe light a candle, but to the two of them, stuck in their quiet little world under their pillow fort in Deku’s room in the dim light— it was like watching fireworks at the festivals they would go to with their moms.
It was breathtaking.
Once the sparks were over, they huddled closer and giggled even more. Eventually, they calmed down from their excitement and Deku leaned in even closer. The green-haired child grabs his blonde friend’s hand that was just sparking moments before and sighs wistfully.
“Kacchan’s gonna be the greatest hero ever.”
Katsuki feels something almost like a tightening in his chest but it's not painful or discomforting. In fact, it feels soft despite the tightness and comforting. The blonde leans in and presses his forehead to Deku’s, “ We’ll be the greatest heroes ever.”
The other huffs softly in amusement, both unaware of the diagnosis Deku was going to get in just a few months and the years of strain in their relationship.
For now though, they cuddle together as they talk of everything and anything before falling asleep in one another’s arms.
The soft and warm blankets shield them from the rest of the world— ready to break them.
When Katsuki comes to, it’s to drops of hot tears falling onto his cheeks.
He slowly and sluggishly opens his eyes with much effort and his sight is filled with the faces of a concerned Todoroki and a tear stained Deku. The blonde sees them both lean closer once they realize he was lucid again. He notes that they’re both holding him in their arms— gently, on the ground. In rubble that used to be buildings and homes. Todoroki to his right and Deku to his left.
His thoughts are slow and before he can think of what to say, Deku beats him to it.
“Kacchan you stupid idiotic asshole!” The shorter boy exclaims as his tears continue rolling down his cheeks, “What the hell were you thinking!”
The explosive boy didn’t even need to think of a response when he already knew the answer.
He sees the way those green eyes widen and hears the hitching of a breath. He then thinks back to that day and the words the other spoke to him.
Katsuki goes to move his arm— slowly and shakily— and brings his hand up to cup Deku’s bloodstained face.
“You just… looked like… you needed saving…”
He feels the hold Todoroki had on him tightened as Deku’s slackened. The green haired boy’s face is slack in realization of his injured friend’s words before it crumbles. He leans into Katsuki’s hand and wails out in despair.
Todoroki brings one of his arms and reaches across Katsuki’s limp form and holds both the blonde and freckled boy close.
“Bakugou, medical help is on the way. We need you to stay awake.” The dual haired boy shifts to look around to see in the distance pros and medics hurry over. He pulls his hand back away from Deku to get a more secure hold on the explosive boy.
Katsuki doesn't know why, or maybe he does, but he brings his other, unoccupied hand and reaches to the elemental users' open one.
Both pause and look over at Katsuki in surprise. He’s never called anyone by their given name before.
He continues, “I know I’m not good at this…” A small cough of blood, “But I just need you… to know… I consider you my good friend...”
“What are you…” Todoroki seems confused but Deku knows exactly what Katsuki is implying. He moves to grip the hand resting on his face in panic.
“Kacchan stop it! You’re not dying!”
Deku’s tears never stopped but they were picking up speed now, “You’ll have plenty of time once you get better to tell Todoroki-kun everything you want to tell him! Stop acting like this will be your only chance-”
The blonde shifts his attention back to Deku. He feels himself slipping again and he knows this might be the only time he can say what he needs to say.
“I’m… so sorry… for the shit I put you through…”
“Kacchan please…” The shorter boy whispered in desperation but Katsuki’s eyelids were growing heavier by the second.
“I’m sorry… for being an asshole…”
Katsuki gently leads Deku’s head down closer to him until their foreheads meet once again.
“ Izuku … I’m… so sorry… for everything I’ve done…”
There’s a whimper from in front of him and a choked sob to his right as he feels his eyelids finally close.
“Oh, Katsuki…” The sensation of the other cradling the back of his head to hold him close and Shoto’s hand resting right alongside Izuku’s makes Katsuki feel light as he falls deeper into unconsciousness, “I forgave you a long time ago. ”
There’s muffled commotion but he’s just too tired to care. He finally said what he needed to say and now he can let go with no more regrets. Numbly, he can feel himself being lifted and rushed before being placed somewhere softer and but the hold on both his hands never let go as he was loaded into an ambulance. His two friends promise he’ll be alright despite their tears and sobs.
Maybe this was his atonement All Might was talking about.
Or maybe this was his own self inflicted retribution.
For he was a sinner in need of retribution the world had to offer.