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And Like A River, Blood Flows

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Izuku Midoriya is tired.

It's not a rare state for him to be in. Ever since making the top ten in the hero rankings, he's barely had any time to himself, let alone time to rest. His phone rings off the hook with distress calls left and right, almost every hour of every day filled with a new case, but despite the stress of it all Midoriya wouldn't change a thing in his life. It might be long and tedious work, but it was rewarding, knowing he's keeping people safe every day. After all, his dream has always been to rescue people with a smile on his face, and he'll be damned if he lets a little sleep deprivation get in his way.

Presently he stumbles to his apartment, struggling to keep his eyes open as he slowly walks up the steps to his door. He hears hushed, excited whispering from somewhere down the street, and turns with a frown because who is up at this time of night? It's almost midnight.

His roaming gaze falls upon a small group of girls around his age, trying (and failing) to act as though they weren't watching him intently. It's likely they were going out for some late night fun, and happened to see Midoriya in his hero costume and recognized him. Midoriya sighs inwardly, planting a smile on his face as he fumbles for his keys with one hand and waves at them with his other.

"Stay safe!" He calls out to them once he finally manages to get his door open, quickly stepping inside and giving one more wave. Then he's in, the door closed and the apartment blissfully dark and quiet around him. He exhales heavily through his nose, forehead pressed against the door as he takes a moment to just breathe. He was finally home, away from the craziness of his job and alone with himself for tonight.

And tomorrow, Midoriya realizes suddenly. He's free tonight and tomorrow - he'd almost forgotten that he'd been instructed to take the day off by the agency. It'll be his first day off in...God, Midoriya can't even remember.

After a couple of minutes he finally pulls himself away from the door, resisting the temptation to go straight to his bed and collapse and forcing himself to shower first.

Shower, then eat, then sleep, he recites mentally, grimacing at his appearance when he stops in front of a mirror. He looks banged up and bruised, all evidence of a hard day's work. Perhaps it was a good thing that it's so late out, he muses to himself as he prepares his shower; because if people saw me in this state they'd probably be more scared than relieved. The fact that he looks so exhausted doesn't help his cause much, either - the severely dark eyebags heavily contrast his pale skin, to the point where he looks more like a zombie than a person. Or maybe a vampire. 

After an admittedly refreshing shower and a hastily thrown together meal, Midoriya finds himself relaxing into his couch as the T.V. plays quietly in the background, not quite finding the energy to stand up and make his way to bed. He watches the news with lidded eyes, the newsman going on about a villain attack happening not too far from where Midoriya lives. It spikes his interest a little; enough, at least, to get Midoriya to sit up  and rub at his eyes as he tries paying more attention.

"...with a decent amount of damage sustained to the surrounding area," the newsman is saying, standing some distance away from a burning building with the sound of sirens blaring in the background. "It's unclear how many villains there are, but we do know that Pro Heroes Red Riot and Dynamight were the first to arrive on the scene and have apprehended three villains so far. Uravity and Shoto are reported to be on their way. As to whether or not there will be other Pro Heroes joining the fight is unclear, but with the way  it's going right now it's looking like it may be needed -"

Almost instantly after hearing that Midoriya has his phone in his hands, bouncing his knee up and down as he hastily dials his agency. I need to charge this thing, he thinks absently while he waits impatiently. The secretary picks up on the second ring, and Midoriya wastes no time on formalities.

"Hi, should I be coming into work?" He asks immediately, before realizing he hasn't even given his name. 

"Sorry, it's Deku here, and I was just wondering if I'm needed because I'm watching the news and -" 

"We're aware of the situation. If you're needed, they will call you," the secretary says in a professional voice. Then, in a softer and more knowing tone she adds, "Take your time off. The other Pro's have this one." 

Before he can get a word in otherwise, the line goes dead. 

With a frustrated sigh he tosses his phone to the side, standing up and pacing the room with nervous energy. He is so used to being a part of the action, practically living in the fights, the rescuing, the dreaded paperwork that follows every incident... he's used to doing something, not sitting idly by and watching.

Unable to listen any further, he grabs the remote and shuts the T.V. off, trying to figure out what to do. He's supposed to stay home, but that doesn't stop his mind from wandering to the possibility of just - getting out there and helping. Besides, what's the worst that could happen if he joined the fight - he'd get a stern talking to? Be forced to do paperwork duty for a couple of days?

Or maybe, Midoriya realizes with dread, he'd be suspended for some time. God, what if he gets fired?  What would he do then? Was missing one fight really worth risking his entire career, a career that holds so many more rescues and smiles and hope? 

Midoriya slowly takes a seat back on the couch, his recent revelation haunting his mind. "Staying home it is," he says aloud, settling back with a small sigh. He doesn't like it, but he supposes he really doesn't have much of a choice in the matter.

He turns the T.V. back on, switching to some sort of baking channel to try and distract himself. It doesn't help much, but it's better than moping with his thoughts all night. 

It doesn't take long before his exhaustion catches up with him, and despite his stress he finally falls asleep.

 


 

It's a loud banging noise that abruptly brings Midoriya back to the land of the living, startling him enough to send him jumping off his couch as he almost unconsciously activates One for All. He breathes heavily, disoriented and confused as he looks around his apartment for the source of the sound.

The T. V. is off by now, having shut down after Midoriya's inactivity in his sleep. Everything else in his apartment looks normal; at least, as close to normal as he can tell as he peers through the darkness surrounding him. It's as he's contemplating turning on the light that there's another banging sound, this time coming clearly from his front door. 

He rushes to turn the light on, checking the clock as he cautiously approaches the door and - who is up at 1:53 in the morning? He thinks to himself, apprehensive and bewildered. 

Cautiously he peers through the peephole, hand braced against the door just in case. Squinting, he struggles to see exactly what's outside - there's definitely something, but it's hard to tell with how dark it is. Midoriya bites his lip as he fights internally as to whether or not he should turn on the door light - once it's on, whoever is there will be fully aware that Midoriya knows they're there, and that may not be the best thing. But at the same time, would hiding behind his door pretending to be blissfully unaware of it really help anything? He's a Pro Hero, after all. He shouldn't be afraid of someone banging on his door in the early hours of the morning. 

"Deku," comes a muffled, raspy voice, and Midoriya's brain screeches to a halt. 

"Kacchan?" He asks in shock, because he'd recognize that voice anywhere, but why was he here?!

"Are you going to open the fucking door?" Kacchan asks in what is likely meant to be irritation, but something sounds... wrong. Perhaps it's the way Kacchan's breath hitches when he speaks, or how Midoriya can hear what sounds like wheezing through the door. No, something is definitely wrong, and Midoriya rushes to unlock his door and see for himself.

As soon as he opens the door he almost falls backwards, caught off guard as Kacchan practically falls into him. He manages to steady the both of them, hands gripping Kacchan's sides to try and hold him upright, but Kacchan weakly swats at his hands in an attempt to get him to let go.

"Get off," he mutters, swaying on his feet, and Midoriya's quick to let him go, albeit cautiously. It's only then that he realizes his hands are covered in blood. 

"What happened?" He asks, mortified as he steps back to take a better look at Kacchan. His heart sinks to his stomach as he's greeted to a sight of blood, the red liquid seemingly everywhere on Kacchan's body. 

"What happened?" He repeats, horrified, and Kacchan sways, a bloody hand reaching out and grasping the door for support. 

"Fucking... stupid villain," he curses shakily. "I was fighting one and didn't notice the other until he was on me."

He spits the words out like they physically pain him, which they likely do, considering Kacchan's pride. To admit to a mishap like this must take a lot out of him. 

"Why didn't you go to the hospital?" Midoriya asks in shock, still trying to process the situation. "You need help!"

"It's not a big deal, " Kacchan hisses, his fingers tightening in their hold on the door. Midoriya tries to ignore how the streaks of red glisten brightly against the white paint. "I don't need a hospital."

"Then why are you here?" Midoriya demands. "If it isn't a big deal, what brought you here?"

Kacchan coughs into his free hand, and it comes away bloody. He grimaces at the sight before pressing his hand tightly across his stomach, trying to slow the bleeding, and as Midoriya watches he thinks he might be sick.

"You were the closest around," Kacchan manages, his breathing more labored than before.  "Figured I'd stop by just for some bandages and stuff. I don't need a... fuckin' hospital..."

As he talks, he looks progressively worse and worse, his eyes struggling to stay focused and his body sagging against the door. Midoriya reaches again for him, but Kacchan waves his hand dismissively.

"It's fine," he says, breathless and dangerously close to passing out.

Midoriya is frozen, gaping at the man currently leaning against the doorway to his apartment for support, watching as blood practically gushes down his hero costume, dripping onto the floor, staining his rug, and it's 2 in the morning -

"No!" Midoriya cries, fists clenching tightly and body trembling with emotion. "No, this is not fine! Kacchan, you need serious help!" 

" 'M not goin' to the hos'ptal," Kacchan repeats weakly. "Looks worse than it is."

"Looks worse than it - Kacchan, you're bleeding everywhere!" Midoriya almost shouts at him. "I need to get you to the hospital."

Kacchan looks at him in a daze, red eyes dull and hazy. He's getting paler by the second, and blood continues to gush from his wounds and splatter onto the ground.

Midoriya turns to reach for his phone when his wrist is suddenly snatched back, held in a surprisingly tight grip.

"Don't," Kacchan slurs, almost sounding delirious. A desperate look crosses his face. "Don't call. I'll... I'll go afterwards. Jus' need some bandages..." 

His grip goes slack as his eyes roll in the back of his head, and suddenly Kacchan's falling, and Midoriya is reacting on instinct as he lurches forward and catches him under his arms, holding him in a sort of hugging position. 

"Kacchan?" He asks frantically, tightening his hold as the two slide to the ground. Kacchan's head falls limply against his chest, mouth slack and breathing strained.

"Damn it," Midoriya whispers, fear overtaking him as he sits on the floor, cradling his childhood friend's bloody, listless body against his own. "What am I supposed to do?"

The obvious thing to do is call an ambulance. The tricky part is that Kacchan looks bad, to the point where Midoriya honestly doesn't know if he'd make it in time to the hospital. It's hard to tell just how injured he is, but the copious amount of blood he's losing sort of speaks for itself.

Why didn't Kacchan just call for help? Or better yet, why didn't he get immediate help from the paramedics that are always on scene after villain attacks? How did he manage to avoid them and just - walk away? No one would've let him go if they'd seen him like this.

Midoriya snaps himself back to the present, a resolved expression crossing his face as he carefully shifts Kacchan to a laying position. The questions can wait for later, he thinks to himself as he stands up. Right now Kacchan needs help. 

He rummages through his bathroom and grabs a towel, quickly making his way back to Kacchan's side and applying pressure to what looked like the worst of his wounds, his stomach. After a minute or so he turns and grabs his phone with one hand, dialing shakily as he tries to ignore the blood he's smearing on his screen. 

"119, what's your emergency?" A woman answers, and Midoriya tries to keep his voice steady as he speaks. 

"This is Pro Hero Deku. I have a very injured hero in my apartment that needs immediate attention." 

"Are you in any current danger?" The operator asks, rapidly clicking away at her keyboard as she talks.

"No, he's - we're not in danger, we're in my apartment," Midoriya says, his anxiety climbing as he presses the already bloodied towel harder against Kacchan's stomach. 

"Can you give me your location?" She asks, and Midoriya is just starting to give his address when, to his alarm, his phone vibrates and shuts off. He pulls it away from his ear and stares at the black screen in muted horror, his heart pounding in his ears as he realizes that his phone just died. He was in the middle of giving his address when his phone decided that then was the perfect time to shut down. Perfect. Now the operator won't know where to go.

It's his fault, he knows it. He should of charged it sooner, back when he first noticed that it was low. He curses, running his free hand through his hair and only afterword remembering that he has blood on both of his hands. 

"Shit!" He yells into the quiet apartment, vision blurring with tears as drops his useless phone to the floor, choosing to use both unsteady hands to try and stem the bleeding. Kacchan barely reacts to the added pressure, twitching slightly with a slight grimace before falling still again. 

"Oh, Kacchan," He whispers, tears falling freely now. "What are we going to do?"

Midoriya feels useless. Completely and utterly useless. Just another Deku move, to not know what to do in this type of situation, isn't it? He thinks bitterly as blood pools between his fingers, the towel now beyond soaked. He needs to grab another one but feels frozen to the spot, scared to leave Kacchan and come back to find him... 

Midoriya pushes the thought out of his mind. No. It's not going to happen.

It's as he begins to stand that his hand is suddenly grasped in another's, and he looks down in shock to see Kacchan blinking blearily up at him, blood trailing from his lips to his chin.

"...Nerd," Kacchan breathes with some difficulty, grip loose around Midoriya's hand. "Ever'thing...'s'okay."

"Kacchan," Midoriya sniffs, struggling to maintain his composure. "Everything is not okay. You're - you're really hurt." He wipes at his eyes furiously with his sleeve before attempting again to stand up, but Kacchan tightens his hold.

"I messed up," He admits, and Midoriya wonders now if he's the one who's dying, because it's almost impossible to get Kacchan to admit messing up anything. 

I should've got help," He continues breathlessly, coughing up more blood. "But I was far away an'...I didn' think it was too serious. Thought I could handle it on my own." 

"You should have," Midoriya says strongly, despite his shaky hands and skyrocketing heartrate. "Yes, you should have called for help. You should have used your c-"

And it's then that Midoriya almost loses it, because why didn't he think of this before?

"Kacchan, do you have your comms?" He asks desperately, already reaching out to search. 

"No...I lost 'em in the fight," he wheezes. "Phone 's broken, too." He looks uncomfortably pale, paler than before, to the point where Midoriya swears he can see veins. "But it's okay."

"Kacchan, it's not," Midoriya snaps, the stress of the night finally catching up to him. "It's not okay in the slightest. You should've got help, you know better than this, but your goddamned pride always has to get in the way of things, huh? My stupid phone died and I couldn't even tell the operator where we are. You're bleeding everywhere and I don't have the proper supplies to help you because your wounds are beyond the help of a basic med kit, which is what I'm going to need to use to try and keep you alive if I even have one. There is literally nothing - nothing - okay about this! Nothing!"

Midoriya is breathing heavily now, and he yanks his hand from Kacchan's as he stands. "I'll be right back," he mutters, struggling to stay calm as he turns around. "I need to find supplies."

"Izuku." Kacchan says weakly, and Midoriya freezes. When he doesn't say anything else Midoriya slowly turns back to face him. 

"You're... you're right," he says. He's loosely holding his hands against his stomach, his breathing erratic and uneven. "About everything." 

Midoriya's stomach drops. "Kacchan, why are you -?"

"I should've..." His eyes are glazed over, lids fluttering as he tries to keep them open. "Should've told them... told you..."

"It's okay, Kacchan," Midoriya tries soothing him, uncomfortable with where the conversation was going. Kacchan wasn't ever this agreeable. 

"Shit," Kacchan says suddenly, and Midoriya realizes with a start that he's crying. "There's so much I need to... I want to..."

Midoriya reaches out and palms his forehead, and to his dismay - but not his surprise - Kacchan's burning up. He's delirious, he realizes in the next instant, and suddenly this conversation makes much more sense.

And the situation is suddenly ten times more dire. 

"It'll be okay, Kacchan," Midoriya repeats, gently threading his fingers through the red, wet strands of normally spiky blond hair. He undoubtedly has a concussion, amongst his God knows how many injuries he had.  "You'll be fine. I'm sorry for what I said. I'm just a little scared, but it'll be okay."

"... Things I need'a say to you... To all of 'em..." Kacchan continues, words slurring and tears continuing to stream down his bloody face. Midoriya wonders if he even knows he's crying. 

" And you will, " Midoriya tries to console him, kneeling back down to take his hand and squeeze it reassuringly. "You will, Kacchan." 

"Don'... Have the time," he wheezes, now breathing faster than he did before, practically gulping for air. His eyes are unfocused, flicking around his surroundings rapidly as he struggles to say what he wants to say. "I don' feel so good," he slurs, and Midoriya is crying with him now. 

"I know," he says, voice unsteady as he uselessly gives another hold against Kacchan's stomach. "But you'll be alright. I'm just going to find something else to help you and everything will be okay. Just hold on for me." 

" 'M tired," Kacchan sighs, eyes already beginning to close, and Midoriya applies more pressure to his wound. He tries not to linger on the fact that Kacchan doesn't even respond to the pain that would surely give him. 

" No, you've got to stay awake, Kacchan, " He says desperately. "Please, you can't fall asleep." 

Kacchan just grunts in response, eyes still struggling to stay open. 

" 'Zuku," he finally pants after a moment. "Are you there?" 

And that's when Midoriya officially loses it. 

"Yes," he sobs, pressing harder still into Kacchan's bloody mess of a stomach. "Yes, I'm still here." 

"I think I'm dying," Kacchan chokes out through the blood in his throat. 

"You're gonna be fine," Midoriya says in a horribly shaky voice. The words are a lie, and they sound like one, too. Because Kacchan is very much not fine, and if he doesn't get help now then Midoriya really doesn't know if he's going to make it. 

And that's the reality of the situation that Midoriya is trying so damn hard not to believe. Kacchan has always been a strong presence in his life, has always seemed so sturdy, larger than life, invincible, and now he's bleeding to death on the floor of Midoriya's apartment, delirious from his wounds and fighting to remain conscious. 

"Am I dying?" Kacchan asks, eyes barely open now, and Midoriya struggles to speak for a moment. 

"I think you are," he finally whispers, unable to lie anymore. He chokes back a sob as Kacchan looks at him with dazed eyes, nodding once and setting his jaw despite his delirium.

"Tell 'em.. Tell' em I'm sorry," he says haltingly. "For ever'thing. An'..." he swallows thickly, a single tear tracking down his face. "I'm sorry for putting you through ever'thing I've put you through." 

"Kacchan, you don't need to apologize for anything," Midoriya says, voice wobbly and thick with tears. "And besides, you've apologized before, remember? You know I forgive you."

"I'm cold," Kacchan says in response, and indeed, he's trembling like a leaf. 

"I know," Midoriya chokes out. "I'll - I'll get you a blanket, okay? To help you stay warm." 

"Where am I?" He asks breathlessly, and Midoriya closes his eyes for a moment and tries to steady his breathing as he panics yet again. 

"You're in my apartment, Kacchan," he speaks softly, taking Kacchan's cold hand in his. "And you're with me, Deku. Remember?" 

"Why?" Kacchan slurs, eyes closing yet again, and Midoriya reaches forward to tap his cheek, desperate to keep him awake. 

"Please, Kacchan, you need to keep your eyes open," he begs. "Think of your mom and dad. Think of all of your friends. Think of me, dammit, think of something, but don't close your eyes." 

"I..." Kacchan begins, but he falls into a coughing fit, blood spraying as he struggles to breathe. 

"Shit," Midoriya curses, briefly debating if it is a good idea to lift him into a sitting position before throwing caution to the wind and helping Kacchan into a half upright position, leaning him against himself as he fights to breathe. 

"You're okay, you're okay," Midoriya says like a mantra, the words sounding empty to his own ears. 

Finally the coughing stops, and Kacchan gulps for air as tries to regain a normal breathing rhythm, but he's struggling to do so. The amount of blood trailing from his mouth to chin and down his neck is horrifying. 

" 'M sorry," he says again, and then he goes limp in Midoriya's arms. 

'"Kacchan?!" Midoriya cries, shaking the man - no, the boy, because he's only 19 and he's just starting his career as a Pro, just starting at life, he shouldn't be here, on his floor, in a position like this - 

"Kacchan, you need to wake up!" Midoriya yells. "Please!" 

Kacchan's head lolls against him as Midoriya shakes him, body still and unresponsive as Midoriya sobs. 

"Come on, don't do this, you can't do this, you're Katsuki Bakugou, remember? You're supposed to be the best, right? So fight this, come on, get up already and win this!" 

When he doesn't get a response, Midoriya screams, a gut-wrenching sound that echoes in the room. He's cradling Kacchan in his arms, sitting on the floor with blood everywhere, and he's starting to hyperventilate because he's failed, he's failed at doing what a hero should do and that's saving people, keeping them safe and helping keep them alive, and Kacchan is just slipping from his grasp, his breathing undoubtedly going to stop any second now - 

But it hasn't yet, a voice pipes up in Midoriya's head, and it's true - although it was very off rhythm and ten times worse than before, Kacchan was still breathing, and Midoriya steels himself because he can't be mourning when there isn't someone to mourn for. Not yet. Because Kacchan is still alive, and Midoriya needs to do his best to keep him that way. 

He rushes to the bathroom and searches through the drawers, desperate to find something to help, and ends up with one singular roll of bandages. He collects three more towels and runs back to Kacchan's side, dropping to his knees as he pulls back Kacchan's hero costume to get an actual look at his stomach injury. 

It's ugly. Worse than Midoriya thought it was, which is saying something because he already had a pretty decent idea of how bad it could be. The gaping wound spreads from one end of his abdomen to the other, a ragged, horribly deep cut that keeps oozing a steady stream of blood. 

Midoriya's presses his lips together, grinding his teeth as he looks at it. A roll of bandages weren't going to help this. Not by a long shot. 

So he makes use of the towels, managing to use one as a makeshift tourniquet around Kacchan's abdomen and using another to wrap around his head. The third he uses to apply more pressure against the already bleeding-through towel he'd tied around Kacchan's abdomen, pushing steadily as he yet again pondered as to what he should do. It wasn't like he could yell for help - his neighbors were gone for the week, so it'd be no use. He had no other way to call anyone, his cell phone being the only device he had. He has nothing. 

Midoriya bites his lip, trying hard not to cry again. He can't do this forever - towels weren't going to save Kacchan's life. He's not even sure if they're making any difference at all, but it's the best he can do right now. 

He needs to help Kacchan - he refuses to let him die like this. But at the same time, what is he going to do? What can he do? 

And then he hears it.

It's distant, but it's there, and Midoriya leaps to his feet and runs to his door because that's no doubt in his mind that that's what he thinks it is. 

Sirens.