Katsuki’s day started out as total garbage. He woke up to a text saying his boyfriend was skipping the second fucking day of school and it got worse when he showed up to campus only to find out that the Nerd had the right idea when he immediately got a microphone shoved in his face.
Nothing improved from there. Eraserhead made them pick a class president and everyone voted for themselves except one person, apparently, because the Ponytail girl won with two lonely little votes and picked Four Eyes as her VP since there was no runner up and he was so painfully fuckin’ keen for bureaucratic authority.
Then, during lunch (which sucked because, again, no Izuku and he got mobbed by the three kids who’d been watching him on day one) an intruder alarm went off. At first they thought it was the press, but those guys had taken off about an hour after class started because someone leaked a picture of All Might that was exciting for some reason. The whole student body all ended up locked down in the cafeteria while their teachers combed the campus for the intruder.
They didn’t find the guy, but Power Loader found evidence that someone had accessed the servers where they kept lesson plans and the facilities schedule. Now the whole school was shut down for the next few days while Nedzu decided whether they had a student trying to cheat in their classes absurdly early in the year or if some external person was trying to predict where the students would be at a certain time.
It was a shitty, upsetting day made all the shittier and more upsetting by the fact that 1. His boyfriend was absent and 2. Shitty Hair, Jugs, Soy Sauce, and Dunce Face were trying to walk with him to the station.
“...all I’m saying is I don’t get why I’m ‘Jugs’.” Jugs was saying as they walked. “I mean, I’m not mad about it. They are pretty nice, but have you SEEN Yaomomo’s rack? Or Asui’s? Or Uraraka’s? There’s serious competition in our class for best cleavage and that’s just the girls. What about Horns? Or Pinky?”
“Pretty sure Yaomomo’s rack is getting too much attention already.” Shitty Hair pointed out and that was honestly the reason why Katsuki had avoided that nickname for her even though it was a pretty obvious trait. The pink girl had the aura of someone who either wouldn’t care or would find it hilarious. Ponytail was made of shier stuff and she was already getting eyeballs where she clearly didn’t want any so Katsuki wasn’t about to throw fuel on that fire.
Usually he didn’t give a shit about other people’s problems, but Grapenuts’ behavior was bothering even him. He’d worked hard and against the strong headwind of Noodleneck and Fingers’ constant bad decisions in order to keep his nose clean so as not to jeopardize his entry into UA. Then he got there and there’s this obnoxious horndog straight out of a D-List 90’s anime hanging out in the top class. It was a fuckin’ insult.
“Oh, that’s true.” Pinky -he quietly made the change because it was probably easier to say that in a crowd and it had just occurred to him that Izuku was going to make the Not Mad Just Disappointed face if Katsuki ever used that nickname anywhere he could hear it- allowed. “Where was Midoriya today?”
“I heard some kids had to skip because of the press gauntlet.” Dunce Face’s voice was a little garbled because he was playing on his phone while charging it with a cord hanging out the corner of his mouth. “Usually the reporters aren’t allowed near the entrance because of all the legacy students and stuff. Was that what happened?”
“It’s none of your business what happened.” Katsuki growled because he didn’t know and hated not knowing.
“Woah.” Shitty Hair had been walking a little ahead of them and stopped. “I think I found what got the media to run off this morning.” He showed them an article on his phone.
It had a picture front and center of All Might. It had been taken at night so the resolution kinda sucked, but you could see what you needed to. He was in civilian clothes, which was no big deal. People had caught pictures of him before out of uniform, but this time he had a woman with him and that hadn’t happened before in Katsuki’s memory.
She was soft-looking, kinda heavy, and was facing away from the camera. He still knew that silhouette. He knew that green hair even though it was down. For that matter, he knew that ugly pair of khaki cargo pants All Might was wearing. He recognized those clunky ass boots and that old-man polo shirt with the teeny tiny embroidered alligator on the left chest. Worst of all, he recognized the navy circus tent of a t-shirt the woman was drowning in despite the fact that it did nothing to conceal...
“Oh, wow.” Dunce Face squinted at the screen already leering at where the ginormous collar slipped over her shoulder. “She’s totally not wearing a bra.”
“Geddit, sensei!” Pinky giggled.
He kept his shit together until he was on the train and well off the idiot squad’s radar. Only then did he get his phone out to text the little rat he’d been dating.
Lord Explosion Murder: Wanna fucking explain this?
He attached a (slightly better, but still upsetting) picture he found on the internet. Apparently a few people had gotten pics last night.
“Yeah, no shit.” He growled to himself.
Lord Explosion Murder: You gonna pretend you didn’t know? Is that what’s happening here?
To give him credit, he didn’t lie about it or pretend he didn’t know what Katsuki was talking about.
Nerd: I wasn’t allowed to talk about it.
Katsuki hissed air out through his teeth and only just managed to not explode his phone. Like that made a fucking difference?
He managed to stay mad for like a whole minute before Izuku followed up with a reply that felt like being drenched in cold water.
Nerd: You saw how bad it got
Katsuki ignored the way his hands suddenly wanted to shake and had to look away despite the fact that they weren’t even face to face.
The thing was, he had.
It had honestly been freaking him out for a while.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like Skeletor. He was an okay guy when he wasn’t making Katsuki do burpees or taking pictures on his phone while Katsuki was flat on the floor after a conditioning session that made him think fondly of the days when Auntie had been the one in charge of the warehouse.
It was that he could see the little hearts and stars growing in the eyes of his aunt and his boyfriend the longer that walking cadaver hung around. Auntie, in particular, was in denial. She was still doing that thing she did when old dudes started paying her too much attention and deliberately making herself unattractive by doubling down on her frumpy sweatshirts with the cavity inducing cartoon animals on them and her lumpy cardigans --only she wasn’t paying close enough attention to notice it wasn’t working this time.
Not that she was putting as much effort into it as she could. Auntie Inko had once aged seemingly twenty years overnight just by messing with her makeup and combing her hair flat when their fourth grade math teacher, a seedy chronic bachelor, decided she looked like good material for Wife #3.
Katsuki knew what her A-Game looked like and she was not bringing it so he could only conclude that it was subconscious self-sabotage.
Skeletor was clearly dying, but he was going to take some hearts with him when he went and Katsuki resented the shit out of that because he was going to be the one left picking up the pieces.
Only he didn’t die. He rallied in a seemingly impossible comeback and started to look like an actual person that might stick around in a more permanent way. That was sort of ok. He liked how the old man was around Auntie. If she was going to keep anyone around it might as well be someone who liked her dumb pug shirts and peter pan collared blouses. That was frankly all Katsuki felt like he could ask for in a future uncle.
Moreover Katsuki had, for a brief moment, thought that the old man was going to do the impossible and unseat All Might in the Nerd’s hierarchy of affections.
Not so much, it turned out.
Lord Explosion Murder: What the FUCK did THAT to HIM
Given how absolutely frail Yagi -Katsuki hated that he could effortlessly remember the asshole’s name- had started out and the terrifying amounts of blood he used to cough up, Katsuki could maybe sort of understand why Izuku would have hidden the fact that fucking All Might was recuperating on his couch. They’d been so painfully vulnerable to villain attack Katsuki didn’t even want to say it out loud after the fact.
Any villain showing up at Auntie’s house was probably going to get a nastier surprise than they’d been counting on, but they’d have come loaded for All Might. She was a tougher nut than Katsuki had ever anticipated until he got into the ring with her and was summarily tossed right back out, but All Might operated on a different level. He could change the weather by punching it for fuck’s sake.
Nerd: I don’t actually know.
Nerd: You wanna talk about this on text or in person?
Stupid question. Of course it was going to be in person.
Lord Explosion Murder: In person. I am headed straight for your fucking house and then we are going to have some WORDS.
Nerd: We’re at his house.
Lord Explosion Murder: what
His eyes widened as he realized what that meant.
Oh fuck, Auntie was dating All Might and they were at the level of sleepovers where you brought your kid. Life was never going to be the same. No wonder Izuku hadn’t been at school. He’d gotten treed by fucking reporters first thing in the morning.
Nerd: He and mom were up to something last night. They showed up at 4 am with this robot gun dog.
Lord Explosion Murder: WHAT
Nerd: They already named it Basil
An insane tic started up under his eye. What the ever loving shit had been going on over there?
Lord Explosion Murder: FUCKING WHAT
Nerd: I’m sharing my location. I’ll meet you in the elevator in the parking garage.
Nerd: Plz come soon I’m starting to freak out
Katsuki found, through no small level of effort, the hidden freight elevator in the bottom level of one of the tallest high rises in downtown Musutafu. It slid open as he approached to reveal his own personal headache crouched on the floor of the carriage, well and truly past ‘freaked out’ and into ‘vacant eyed twitching’ territory.
He still couldn’t utilize much of their ‘bond’ thing beyond telling where Izuku was, but he could kind of feel the buzz of anxiety rolling off his boyfriend. It felt like it had been cooking for a while too.
“Alright, loser, I’m here.” He sighed and went to crouch in front of Izuku as the elevator door rolled shut behind them. Honestly, he was surprised this hadn’t happened before considering All Might was living in his house for several months. Maybe it had and he’d only missed it or Izuku had managed to repress it until his mom’s relationship suddenly got too real to be ignored. The adults in his life sure kept him busy enough to pull that off.
Katsuki selfishly felt a lot better when Izuku went in for the hug and tucked his head under Katsuki’s chin. He didn’t often initiate contact and that bugged Katsuki for a bit until some random startled him one day and he nearly put them through a wall. That had reminded him that he kinda hated being touched without his permission.
He’d pictured doing the same to his boyfriend and afterwards resigned himself to being the one who started the touching. The alternative was nauseating.
The brain stuff had bridged that gap a little. Izuku pinged him regularly through the day; little ‘I’m here’s and bursts of affection and gentle wordless reminders that punching people didn’t solve problems even though it felt it should. Katsuki was to the point where even going without that was intolerable.
This was better though and did a lot to dissipate the head full of steam he’d been working on since 8 AM.
He could put up with a lot if he was still the nerd’s preferred safe spot. If All Might ever unseated him from that throne then he’d fucking riot.
“I’m sorry I kept it quiet.” Izuku snuffled as he pulled back.
“We’ll talk about that shit later.” Katsuki grumbled. “Now explain the fuckin’ gun dog.”
“What?” Izuku wiped at his eye with a sleeve pulled over the heel of his hand. “Oh, Basil. Okay. Miss Liberty, can you take us to see Basil?” He addressed the ceiling and a woman’s sweet voice answered him from the ceiling.
“Sure thing, sugar.” She cooed.
“Oh!” Izuku’s ear turned red. “Sorry, Kacchan. Miss Liberty is the AI who runs All… Tosh… um, the house. Miss Liberty, this is my boyfriend, Bakugo Katsuki.”
“It’s my pleasure, sweetheart.”
All right. Okay. That… happened.
“Yeah, okay, hi?” Katsuki squinted at the ceiling. He’d never had a conversation with an AI that didn’t feel like talking to a decision tree. In theory he knew there were ones with enough processing power to be truly emotive, but they tended to operate at speeds that made human conversation agonizingly slow to them so the super-intelligent ones tended to hand communications off to a chat bot no more sophisticated than their narrowly intelligent siblings.
“Hi there, cutie pie.” She chuckled as the elevator began to rise. It was slow at first but smoothly picked up speed. “I can read your face like a book. Yes, I really am synthetic. I can split my attention and this part clocks a little closer to human cognitive speed for interaction purposes. Oh, we’re arriving!”
The elevator opened onto a largely empty floor that seemed to be partly storage. There were some ugly ass stacked furniture in one corner that looked like it had been rejected from a preschool -plastic, bright colors- but there were also a bunch of robots around; a metal android type, two little guys who looked like garbage cans on tank treads, and what had to be the gun dog. It was fuckin’ enormous, big enough to ride and then some, and its entire head was made of guns; thin barrels that clustered together to taper into something like a snout.
That wasn’t what demanded Katsuki’s attention though.
All Might was over by the robot gun dog. Some godawful American country song was playing on the speakers overhead while All Might and the fucking robot danced along --if you could even call it that. All Might was sort of shuffling along with his elbows pulled in as he shook his fists every so often while the dog pranced with its two front feet and periodically shook its head to the beat.
The Current #1 Hero froze, wide eyed and sweating, the second he realized he had an audience.
They all stared at each other while the gun dog dropped down to its feet again and nudged All Might like it couldn’t figure out why they weren’t playing anymore.
Izuku slowly reached past Katsuki to press a button on the elevator and the doors slid shut between them. It spat them out in a palatial apartment two more floors up. Katsuki numbly let Izuku haul him out of the carriage, through an elegant and comfortable looking hallway decorated in black and white prints of foreign cities, past his startled mother who was starting dinner in a kitchen the Hag would kill a man for, and into a little media room or whatever that (most critically) had a door that Izuku could close behind them.
“I fucking refuse!” He seethed the second they were alone. “That is not All Might!”
“It, um, it is.” Izuku started to twiddle his index fingers. “He’s different off camera.”
“That asshole made dad jokes at me for ten minutes yesterday while making me hold a plank!”
Katsuki’s entire being rejected the idea that ‘I was wondering why this frisbee was getting bigger and bigger, then it hit me’ or ‘Inko-san told me to stop acting like a flamingo, so I had to put my foot down’ had ever come out the mouth of the #1 Top Global Hero.
Izuku cringed -probably at the memory because he’d been stuck in a plank too- and shook his head. “No, that’s him. He’s just… like that.”
The door burst open and All Might skidded inside. “AHAHAHA! YOUNG BAKUGO, WHAT A SUR…”
Katsuki nailed him in the face with the nearest thing to hand, which turned out to be a cushion from the little sofa.
All Might caught it before it hit the ground. “I’ll go.” He said, slowly setting the cushion down and backing out. He closed the door for a whole second before cracking it open again to add, “Inko-san would like you to know you can stay for dinner.” He shut it again real fast when Katsuki turned and snarled. “Leaving!”
Izuku went over to the sofa and stuffed his head under the remaining throw pillow. Katsuki grabbed the one on the floor and joined him because that looked like it was the only sane response left.
They were quiet for a while. Katsuki tried to process it and eventually it did start to fit. He’d never quite figured out why All Might was around when they’d gotten attacked.
Frankly he’d kind of been distracted by almost dying, but also the cognitive dissonance of being saved by his weedy, mumbly little best friend who had -after clobbering the guy with his loaded backpack- jumped into the fray, grabbed the villain by one eyeball, planted his feet between Katsuki’s shoulder blades and used every last centimeter of his height to drag the villain’s central bits away from Katsuki’s face.
It had worked to get Katsuki’s face free for a few, precious seconds of air. Then the waves of slime had surged back up around him until Izuku snarled -in a tone Katsuki would never forget- “LET HIM GO.”
Katsuki had kind of known that Deku’s brain stuff had been getting stronger over the years. He even knew there was an element of mind control to it. He’d just forgotten what Deku was capable of. When they were six, Deku made him, Fingers, and Wings go sit in the corner when they’d made Noodleneck cry during a game of Heroes and Villain that got out of control.
That had been the first time Katsuki’s runaway enthusiasm had gone dark on him. He was mad about it until he was literally forced to sit under the slide for fifteen minutes and ‘think about what he’d done.’ Even a six year old knew what was Hero behavior and what was Villain behavior. He’d been sick to his stomach and quiet by the time Deku’s mind control cut them loose. Wings and Fingers didn’t seem to notice anything had happened and went right back to what they’d been doing, but Katsuki’s heart wasn’t in it after that.
He was going to be a hero. He believed that on the most fundamental level and everyone he knew agreed. Then why had beating up a kid who couldn’t fight back feel so right in the moment?
They’d walked home holding hands after. They were young enough that even Katsuki didn’t think it was weird and he’d been left feeling adrift; betrayed by his own brain, not sure of anything anymore, and desperately in need of some comfort that didn’t come with a side of shouting.
It was the reason he wasn’t mad about the idea of Deku applying to UA even after he’d been bragging in front of the class. They were extras so he didn’t really give a shit if he looked like a hypocrite in front of them. By that point Deku had gotten so precise and delicate that Katsuki had forgotten there was a brute force option.
The Slime Villain changed that and Katsuki wasn’t prepared for how that had ended up making him feel. There was a lot of stuff Deku could have done over the years that he chose not to even though there’d been more than a few times when Katsuki had been within centimeters of trying to break his face. The worst thing he’d ever done was remind Katsuki not to be an asshole in a way that didn’t humiliate him in front of their classmates.
Garbage Breath had already been in the process of dropping Katsuki when All Might jumped in to Smash the guy into his individual particles and two sad little eyeballs connected by a tiny lump of brain matter that the police took away in a cat carrier.
Katsuki took a look at the overwhelmed shape of the little secret badass next to him and gave up being mad. Izuku had been dealing with all this weird shit longer than he had and deserved the sympathy.
He lifted the edge of the cushion to reveal one watery green eye. “Hey, nerd.” He said, grinning nastily. “I got a thousand yen that says you end up with a stepdad before next year.”
“No bet.” Izuku sat up and wiped his eyes. He echoed Katsuki’s smile. “He asked her this morning. She said yes.”
That… wasn’t actually a surprise when Katsuki really considered it. Yagi had just come through the mother of all health scares, Auntie was objectively awesome or terrifying depending on who you were or what mood she was in, they were both old, they didn’t have years to fart around over it, and Yagi was basically Izuku’s dad already just going by their dynamic. Why wouldn’t they have sealed the deal?
“I didn’t hear that.” Katsuki shook his head when Izuku glared. “No. No fucking way did I hear about Auntie getting engaged before the Hag did. You hear me? Tell me again later when it’s safe.”
Izuku nodded like ‘yeah, fair.’ “They don’t have a ring yet.” He lifted Katsuki’s arm by the wrist and wriggled under it with a determined expression that dared him to make something out of it. That was something Katsuki felt like he could get used to.
So far their relationship had felt a lot like shielding a fire while trying to warm himself in front of it at the same time. Katsuki hadn’t realized how often rando strangers or even people they knew tried to tear his man down until he was watching for it and discovered it was fuckin’ everywhere.
Izuku’s constant stream of nerd exposition had been Katsuki’s lifeline in the days immediately following the attack. When he was alone something in his brain had magnified every unknown noise into an impending attack, a home intruder, or something worse even when he knew it was just the house settling or whatever. Being out in public wasn’t much better. He suddenly had zero tolerance for people moving in his peripheral vision or whispering around him.
Izuku -still Deku in those days- drowned that shit right out and it felt like he could get back to normal for a little while just so long as the Nerd could keep up his irritable screed about how Braveowl telegraphed his high kicks too much. It was hard to tell when he’d stopped wanting the crutch and started just enjoying hearing Deku speak. It started to feel special; like something only he got to have and Katsuki liked that feeling a lot.
Nine times out of ten, though, Deku’d get interrupted by a passing classmate or a complete stranger saying some passive-aggressive shit that made him clam up for the rest of the afternoon no matter what Katsuki tried.
Shit was infuriating and made worse by the realization that this had been going on for years and he just hadn’t bothered to notice.
Katsuki squinted around the room they were in. He’d assumed it was a sitting area or some shit, but it was on the small side for that and there weren’t any decorations like the rest of the apartment, which had been staged to within an inch of its life near as Katsuki could tell. Then he noticed a little study area and --was that a loft? Was there a bed up there? “Hey, nerd, what is this place?”
“Oh!” Izuku turned bright fucking red and at once Katsuki knew what the answer was going to be. “This is gonna be my room… here.”
Katsuki got up and turned around, really looking at the place with that statement in mind. Someone had tried to furnish the place while leaving as much room for customization as they could. The furniture was chosen to be comfortable and go together in a neutral sort of way. None of it screamed Izuku to him, but once they slapped up some giant All Might posters then they’d be in the business.
“Study group is at your place from now on, nerd.” Katsuki said as he bid a sad farewell to all the rich kid jokes he’d been planning to make at Four Eyes’ expense. He’d have to come up with something else. The Nerd would take that shit personally even if he tried not to.
“Well, yeah.” Izuku perked up at some thought. “You haven’t seen the gym yet!”
Katsuki frowned. “The what?”
All Might’s penthouse took up three whole fucking floors and the second one had been split onto guest rooms and a gym that was practically an amusement park. He’d thought the warehouse was beyond imagination, but it looked like All Might had taken a picture of that then gave it to a professional with a budget.
Katsuki would have been jealous, except he could have seen Yagi’s agenda from space.
“You know, in Beauty and the Beast she got a library.” He told the Nerd as they kicked off their shoes to go jump on the overhead ropes course.
“He could have stopped at the kitchen. I don’t think she’s even been down here yet.” Izuku agreed who, as usual, got him right away. Katsuki’s leftover aggravation melted away leaving only pleased anticipation of getting onto that little fuckin’ climbing wall over there.