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Growing Together, Apart

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“Deku?” The name’s out of his mouth before Katsuki can even register if calling out to his ex is something he wants to do in that moment. Meeting in front of a random food truck in the park sweaty from his nightly run isn't exactly the kind of reunion he’d been picturing when Kirishima convinced him to reach out in the near future.

The regret is intense and immediate when he sees broad shoulders stiffen and dark green curls bounce as Izuku’s head snapped around to stare at him. (What was left of green curls, that is; the undercut looks good, Katsuki thinks. Really fucking good.)

“Kacchan.”

Too late to run away now.

They stare at each other for a long moment, unmoving, before the figure standing beside Izuku clears their throat lightly. Katsuki tries not to throw up on the spot as he belatedly registers a mop of red and white hair.

“I’ll go order,” Shouto murmurs to Izuku and places a quick kiss on his cheek. He nods politely to Katsuki and proceeds in line toward the truck’s counter as Izuku croaks out a “thanks” after him.

“S-so! How, um… how have you been?” Izuku asks after a moment of awkward staring and shuffling on both their parts.

“Fucking peachy,” Katsuki replies gruffly, but winces as he sees Izuku’s feeble smile falter. He’s quiet for half a second before he sighs and rubs a hand across the back of his neck. “I’m fine. ...Good, honestly,” he amends. “You remember Kirishima?” Deku blushes and nods quickly, and yeah, that’s fair, given the last and only time they’d met, Katsuki had been using the redhead’s lap as a chair.

“We’ve been hanging out. He’s been helping me… work through some stuff.”

Deku goes for his usual cheerful smile, but something about it doesn’t quite meet his eyes. “That’s great! I’m glad to hear it, Kacchan.” The enthusiasm in his voice seems genuine enough, and isn’t that just like him, Katsuki thinks, to be happy for his sorry ass despite everything.

“Thanks. You?” he asks, even though he already knows the answer.

Like clockwork, Izuku spares a glance in Shouto’s direction, and Katsuki tries not to die and fade away into nothingness as he registers the immediate softening of Izuku’s expression.

“Um… I’m good. I’ve, ah, well…” He fidgets with a loose string on the sleeve of his oversized sweatshirt. It’s not one Katsuki recognizes, but it looks old and worn and well loved. He hopes Izuku is well loved, too.

“You and half-and-half get together then?” he asks, to spare them both from Deku’s fumbling.

“...Yeah, we did. Um, about three weeks ago.”

Katsuki’s honestly a little surprised. It’s been over four months since he and Izuku broke up. Some small part of him was oddly satisfied by this little revelation, that Izuku hadn’t immediately hooked up with someone else. He’d waited, like he needed time after their break up, too.

“Cool. ...Happy for you,” he says, and he tries to say it with as little snark in his voice as possible. He mostly means it.

Deku gives him a small, almost shy smile. “Thanks, Kacchan.”

They fall silent again, and Katsuki wracks his brain for something to say, feeling like an idiot. There’s so much unsaid between them, so much he’s been playing over and over again in his head, and now he’s finally here, standing right in front of Izuku, and he’s coming up blank.

Izuku flashes him another small, sheepish grin as he glances again at the truck (and the person waiting for him).

“Well… I guess I better get back to-”

“I miss you,” Katsuki blurts, louder than he intends, but fuck it if he’s gonna get embarrassed about it now.

Izuku’s brows knit together in a way Katsuki knows means he feels guilty, and he can see the sadness shining in green eyes as Izuku opens his mouth to reply. “Kacchan, I-”

“No, wait, just. Fucking stop talking for a minute, okay?” he pleads (god, he hates that). Izuku bites his lip like he’s contemplating whether hearing Katsuki out is a good idea or not, but hesitantly he nods.

Katsuki takes a breath and lets it out in a shaky whoosh. “I get it, alright? Why we had to break up. We… weren’t good for each other. Fuck, we weren’t good to each other, half the time. So, I get it. We needed time apart, like to really be apart, and figure shit out. And I’m trying, okay? Really fucking hard. To give you space and to figure out my own shit and all that.” Katsuki pauses. He’s been staring at a point on Izuku’s chest, because it’s hard enough to get all this out without making eye contact. But the next part, he wants Deku to know he means it. Needs him to know, to feel it.

He lifts his eyes and sees wide eyes locked on his, even though he tries to keep his expression neutral. Katsuki fights off a smile. The nerd’s eyes always gave away exactly how he was feeling, no matter how hard he tried to play off his own emotions.

Red and green eyes locked on each other, Katsuki continues.

“I miss you. I’m not saying that to make you feel guilty or trapped or whatever. I just do. It’s been months, and I don’t feel that… I dunno, knee-jerk… pain or what the fuck ever anymore, but it’s like… Whenever something good or bad or just fucking anything happens, the first thing I want to do is tell you about it. You were my best friend for years-” (he leaves out the “only”; Deku already knows that anyway) “-and now we’re not even talking anymore and I hate it.

“And if that’s better for you, or if you need more time or something, then fine. I’ll deal with it. If you’re with half-and-half now and you’re happy, then fucking great. I’m not trying to fuck that up. But even if we’re not together, I still want you in my life. I think about you all the fucking time, Deku. I don’t want you to just disappear. If we need to figure out boundaries or-or- Shit, Deku, are you fucking crying?”

There’s a distinct wobble to Izuku’s lower lip, and he squeaks out a “no!” at the same time the first tears spill over. Katsuki curses quietly, fingers fidgeting with the urge to reach out.

“Fuckin’- I’m sorry, alright? Just forget it. I’ll fuck off. I didn’t mean to make you fuckin’ cry-”

“No!” Deku nearly shouts and Katsuki trails off, wide eyed as his mouth snaps shut.

Izuku wipes furiously at his eyes and shakes his head. “I- You don’t need to... to apologize, K-Kacchan. I just- I’m just-” he takes in a shaky breath as he gives Katsuki a wet, wobbly smile. “I miss you too,” he manages to choke out before the first sob shakes through him.

Instinctively, Katsuki reaches out this time, and Izuku easily lets himself be wrapped up in his arms, hugging him back just as tightly. Katsuki immediately burrows his face in the crook of Izuku’s neck, unable to stop himself in the moment. Izuku only squeezes him tighter (did his arms get even bigger over the last couple months?). “I miss you so fucking much, you stupid nerd,” he whispers hoarsely, shutting his eyes tightly against the sting of tears. He smiles unsteadily as his fingers brush the back of Deku’s neck. “And I like your hair,” he whispers against freckled skin.

Izuku laughs, and god, Katsuki’s missed that sound, that feeling.

They stay like that for a few moments, until finally, gingerly, Izuku extracts himself from Katsuki’s arms. He doesn’t move far though, and his hands fall to grab Katsuki’s loosely.

They both take a steadying breath, and even though Izuku’s still teary eyed (but, to be fair, when is he not, the fucking crybaby), he’s smiling. Not the guilt-ridden, sorrowful facsimile of one, but a real, too-bright-for-this-world Deku patented grin.

Something shifts and settles in Katsuki’s chest, and he can’t help responding with a toothy, lopsided grin of his own.

This - them - happy and together, he’s been missing this for what feels like forever. He’d do anything, and he really means anything, to keep this feeling, to be able to witness Deku smiling and know he had even a small part to play in that happiness. The details could be worked out later, but this… this was right.

“You two finish making up yet?” a monotone voice chimes in, and the pair whip around in unison to see Shouto standing there passively, munching on a basket of fries.

Katsuki feels the urge to snap rise up like a pissed off viper before his brain catches up with what half-and-half said, and instead, he just blinks, peering back at Deku who’s still wiping away tears.

Blushing and smiling softly, he nods at his - Katsuki still feels like gagging - boyfriend. “More or less,” he says and gives Katsuki’s hand a squeeze. And, oh right, they’re still holding hands.

Yeah, Katsuki thinks as he listens to Shouto hum contentedly before telling them he’ll find a table and to hurry up, the details can come later.