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He’s looking through a screen. He’s there, but he’s not. He’s walking, but he’s not commanding his body to do so.

What?

It’s cold, Katsuki thought. It doesn’t matter. It’s gonna take more than some dumb river to take me down!

What is this?

“Kacchan!”

He met gazes with his friends on the log.

“Hey, are you okay?”

“He’s fine! Kacchan’s really strong!”

Katsuki grinned. He was really strong, wasn’t he?

“Hurry and get back up here!”

He shook his hair out and grinned. “‘Kay, no problem!”

He braced himself, getting ready to stand, when--

Deku?

“Are you alright?” Deku was there, above him, hand outstretched. “Can you stand?”

His shadow covered Katsuki’s face when he leaned closer. His eyes were wide and round from when Katsuki sat. He looked concerned, almost as if--Is he..?--almost as if he pitied him. Is he looking down on me? Deku, pity him? Deku,the least amazing, quirkless, loser?

“It would’ve been bad if you hit your head,” Deku said. He leaned closer, hand still outstretched. Don’t look at me with that face!

Ah, I see. Just a dumb memory.

He shook his head.There’s no way Deku could look down on him. He was the best and the strongest and Deku had nothing. That’s why he was a Deku. Katsuki grinned, taking a hold of the hand offered to him. He looked up, ready to get up again and save the day from the villains--

Deku was still looking. I said don’t look at me like that!

“Kacchan?”

Katsuki saw red.

“K-Kacc--ow!”

He felt Deku’s hold loosening, felt the tug on his arm. He grinned.

“K-Kacc--! Let go! You’re hurting--Kacchan!”

Katsuki squeezed harder, some sick pleasure brewing at Deku’s cries, growing louder and more anguished by the minute. Do you see now, Deku?

Wait, what?

He slowly stood, using the momentum of his movement to reverse their positions. Looking through his hair, Katsuki met eyes with Deku. The latter’s eyes were wet with tears. Deku opened his mouth but the only sounds that came out were muffled whimpers. Do you see the difference between us now, Deku?

That’s not my voice. That’s not my fucking voice.

Katsuki applied more pressure to his grip. Deku screamed. He only squeezed harder.

“Oh? What’s this?” he inquired, voice sweet as honey. “Cat got your tongue? Or maybe your hand?”

Hey! What the hell? Katsuki told his body to stop, but it would not listen.

Katsuki bent to Deku’s level, pulling him so they were chest to chest, his mouth by Deku’s ear. “Do you see? You need to be strong if you want to be a hero. You’re useless. You’ll never have what it takes.”

“K-Kacchan?” Deku whispered. Katsuki leaned back, taking in his petrified expression. He was paralyzed in shock? Fear? Katsuki didn’t care.

Those words aren’t mine. Those thoughts aren’t mine, dammit!

What’s this? “Oh?” He brought his other hand to Deku’s face, thumb brushing at the sensitive skin under his eyelids. “What’s this? You stopped crying.” Deku looked taken aback by his soft tone and gentle touch. A ghost of a smile passed over his face and he looked hopeful for half a second. “Boo. That’s no fun.”

He continued the gentle motion of his thumb on Deku’s face. What a helpless face. He’s so innocent. I want to ruin him.

Who the hell are you!? That’s not me! I wouldn’t think like that!

“Are you sure?”

Katsuki suddenly became aware of the presence behind him, as well as the arms laid across his shoulders and the knees under his armpits. He whipped his head around, coming face to face with the splitting image of him from the past.

  “What the hell--”

“I’ll ask you again. Are you sure?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

The arm draped around his left shoulder reached up, a little hand grabbing his chin. His head was forced to face the front. There, the image of the dream was projected on the wall.

“You say you wouldn’t think that way, but that’s a lie, right?”

“Wh--”

“You know you wanted to make him cry that day. Cause he defied you, right? It’s okay, I wanted to kill him too,” Young Katsuki said.

“Don’t fuck with me! I don’t know what kind of fucking game--” he began, but was cut off.

“Ah, geez. This is what I hate about grown ups, they never admit what they feel.” Young Katsuki sighed. “Look.”

Katsuki was slapped with enough force to turn his head, making him spit blood on the floor. He looked at his younger counterpart in shock. The grip on his chin returned, ten times stronger than before.

How the hell is he so strong?

“You say you wouldn’t do that? You don’t want that?” Young Katsuki snickered. “Liar.”

Katsuki couldn’t speak. He stood, petrified and at the mercy of his younger self.

“You wanna know how I know? Guess!”

Katsuki stood silent.

“You’re no fun,” he pouted. Young Katsuki leaned into his ear. “I know because I’m you. That,” he said, jerking his head in the direction of the projection. “Is you. You say you wouldn’t? You are."

“Shut the hell up,” Katsuki growled. “I’m nothing like you.”

Young Katsuki pulled back and laughed. “That’s a good one! Ah, but you’re rethinking it now, right?”

Katsuki’s eyes widened.

“Yay! I got it right!” he said. He smiled, but his aura screamed of murderous intent. “Did you really think I wouldn’t be able to tell? Did you forget already? Idiot.”

He slapped Katsuki upside the head, hard enough to send his head flying back.

Goddamn it! Why am I letting this brat kick my ass? Why can’t I move!?

Young Katsuki grinned again. “I’m you, remember? But I’m better! I can admit all the stuff you can’t so it’s fine!”

Katsuki opened his mouth to respond, but his head was forced to the projection again.

“Oh! It’s my favorite part!” Young Katsuki exclaimed. He pulled himself up, so that he was sitting on Katsuki, with his legs resting on his shoulders. “Look at us being awesome!”

 

“Your tears were so pretty,” Katsuki said, running his thumb gently against Deku’s lower lashes. The idiot was blushing, much to Katsuki’s endless amusement. He was always so nervous. He leaned into Deku’s personal space; their noses were almost touching. He could feel Deku’s shaky breaths, but they weren’t from nerves. They weren’t from fear. Unacceptable.

“Hey, Deku?” Katsuki asked, innocence on his tongue.

“Kacchan?”

“Could you cry for me again?” Katsuki asked, fingers brushing over Deku’s eyebrows, and trailing back down to their place at Deku’s cheek. He looked confused.

“W-what?” Deku asked, leaning ever so slightly away from Katsuki. He cocked his head to the side. “Cry?”

“Yea. Your tears were so pretty. Can I have them back?”

“I don’t und--”

Katsuki buried his fingers in Deku’s cheek, nails piercing the flesh and drawing blood. At the same time, he activated his quirk in the hand holding Deku’s. Deku’s works were choked off with a scream, tears springing to his eyes and falling down his cheeks.

Katsuki hardened his grip once again, laughing at the sound of the bones in Deku’s hand shattering. More tears came out. Deku bit his lip to hold in his screams, but he wasn’t quite successful.

So pretty …

Katsuki grinned.

 

“No way,” Katsuki murmured, falling to his knees. Young Bakugou tugged on his hair.

“Hey! Isn’t that the best part? It goes crack! and shhhh~ when he starts crying! Deku’s such a loser!” he laughed, bouncing up and down on Katsuki’s shoulders.

‘What the fuck!? What the hell is wrong with you!?” Katsuki questioned, trying to buck his younger self off. The legs on his shoulders crossed across his neck, cutting off his air supply.

“Hmm. Just ask yourself! I told you, I’m you!” There was a pause. “Well, sorta. I guess I’m your heart? The dark side? Your sub-continent? Sub-connis? That word.”

“I t-told you, I’m nothing like that!” he gritted out, trying to suck air into his lungs.

“Oh, I forgot,” Young Katsuki said, unwrapping his legs from around Katsuki’s throat. Immediately, he was thrown into a coughing fit, to which Young Katsuki responded by  hitting him in the back hard enough to make him expel more blood.

“Get it together! If you can’t handle that, we can’t make it to the top.”

“There..” Katsuki started, wheezing. “There is no ‘we’. I will make it to the top. Then I’ll kick your sorry ass straight back to hell.”

“Ah?”

“You’re a fucking sociopath! You just broke his hand for no reason! All I did was slap it away!”

“Hmm? But,” Young Bakugou hummed. Katsuki felt the same crippling presence he felt earlier on his neck. His legs shook. He was paralyzed. What the fuck? How…

“...didn’t you do the same thing?” his voice was deceptively innocent. “We only broke his hand, but last time we broke his entire arm and fried the other one.”

Katsuki froze.

“So, by your thinking wouldn’t we both be sociopaths? Not that it matters since we’re the same.”

Shut up.

“But you don’t wanna say that right? It’s okay, I’ll say it. It’s what I’m here for, after all!”

Shut the hell up.

“Hey, do you think everyone else’s tears would be as pretty as Deku’s?”

“Didn’t I say,” Katsuki said, fists clenching at his sides, “not to fuck with me!?

Katsuki didn’t know who moved first, but suddenly his childhood self was ten feet in front of him on the ground. He was there before Young Katsuki could move, he was there, punching him in the face.

A wail reached his ears, and he looked down, expecting his younger self, but he was met with--

“Deku…”

“That wasn’t very nice,” Young Bakugou whispered in his ear, hand on his shoulder. “But it felt good didn’t it?”

Katsuki turned his head to look at him, mouth opening and closing. He turned to face Deku, trembling on the floor. He held his cheek in his good hand. When he looked up, he was covered in blood from his head injury.

“Kacchan? Why? What did I do?” he asked, voice shaking and eyes shiny.

“Come on, say it. The sooner you admit that you’re human garbage, the sooner we can fill the world with our rot.”

Katsuki somehow found his vice. “Like hell I will!”

“Still stubborn? Hmm. Oh!”

Suddenly, Young Katsuki was behind Deku, draping his arms over his shoulders from behind. “Hey, Deku?”

Deku turned his head to Young Katsuki, smile lighting up his face.

What the fuck.

“You don’t care right?” he asked, leaning in closer. “You don’t care how much I hurt you, right? You’ll always be mine to walk all over, right?”

Deku nodded excitedly.

“He’s so naive. I wanna burn him.”

This is so fucked up.

He gripped Deku’s chin in the same manner he did Katsuki’s turning him to the right to face him. Unlike Katsuki, however, Deku held his position.

“So, if I did this,” he grabbed Deku’s broken hand, slotting his fingers between the limp joints, and squeezed. “You’ll be okay?”

Deku winced, but nodded again. “Kacchan’s my friend, so it’s okay!” Young Katsuki held eye contact with Deku for a few seconds before looking over to where Katsuki stood.

It’s fucking not.

“See? He says it’s okay. Will you give in now?”

“What made you think my answer’d change after that shit?” Katsuki growled. He was shaking.

“Ah, okay. Maybe if I hurt him a little more, you’ll see? We have so much potential being wasted, you know. To be a villain, I mean. Everyone says so. Deku, stand up."

Ever the loyal soldier, Deku obeyed his command. “Every time I hit you, stand back up unless I’m holding you. We’re playing a game. Got it?”

Katsuki got a dreadful feeling in his gut. Why can’t I move?

“Oh,” Young Katsuki said, turning to face him. “Don’t bother moving. That’s cheating. If you do, I’ll kill you.”

There was no lie in his voice.

“Well then,” he said after a moment's pause. “Here I go!”

He stepped behind Deku, immediately setting off an explosion at point blank range against his back.

How the hell? Those are bigger than the ones I do now! Deku cried as he fell, but he stood back up again.

“Deku, you’re so dumb! I told you I was coming but you didn’t dodge!”

This isn’t fair. Deku was fucking quirkless when we were four!

“Or was he?”

Katsuki gasped, not having realized he’d spoken out loud.

“You didn’t believe his story, right? That was crap,” he said casually, swinging with his right arm to hit Deku from behind. Katsuki winced. That was the one with the broken hand.

“He lied. So this is punishment for making fun of us. No one looks down on us.”

He swung again, knocking Deku off balance. Before he could fall, Young Katsuki grabbed Deku’s arm, using his other hand to create explosions to pivot on his right foot.

Wait.

Mini Katsuki swung Deku in an arch over his head, slamming him against the ground below him.

I know this fight.

Deku bounced off the ground with the force of this impact.

No way…

His younger self nudged Deku with his foot. “Hey, Deku! You still alive?” He kicked Deku onto his stomach. Deku shakily brought his arms up, trying to pull himself up. Young Katsuki stomped him back down, keeping a foot on his back. He took a squat position next to Deku’s head. “Oi!”

Katsuki could’ve cried. He was barely alive, yet he still turned his face from the ground to look at the demon in front of him.

“I’m gonna break your arm, okay? And probably burn the other one.”

Katsuki jolted in his frozen spot. No. No no no no no…

He roughly flipped Deku onto his back. Katsuki looked away. He covered his ears to block out the screams and brutal sounds. Why can’t I fucking move!? Help him, you fucking idiot!

“Hey! Now we match completely!”

Katsuki focused his gaze, immediately wishing he hadn’t. There Deku was, on the ground, one arm twisted grotesquely and the other charred. He gagged. The splitting image of how he was after their practice match.

“Ooh! I just got the best idea! Maybe if I ruin his arms now, he won’t be able to challenge us in the future! Aren’t I the best?”

He was gonna throw up. Katsuki was seriously gonna throw up. What kind of fresh hell was this? That bastard looked so happy when he said it, too. Like there’s nothing wrong with that. What the fuck what the fuck, what the fuck. This is so wrong. This is so fucking wrong.

“Deku, it’s okay right? I can? Cause we’re friends?” Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look...please don’t fucking look.

Katsuki looked.

“Of course! You’re my friend!”

Don’t sound like that. Don’t sound so fucking happy.

“Okay, here I go!”

Don’t.

Don’t fucking touch him.

“3...2...1…!”

“Go to hell!” Katsuki screamed. He charged towards the duo, pulling his arm back for a swing. His younger counterpart raised his finger, pointing at him. He froze in his tracks. He looked down to where he was pointing, pinpointing the area where his heart would be.

Already there.”

Katsuki’s eyes flew open; he sat up so quickly he got whiplash. He took a deep breath, trying to dampen the echo of his heartbeat. Soon, on breath turned to two, then three, then twelve--

He set off an explosion in his face. Wrinkling his nose at the smell of his singed hair, he swung his feet from his bed to the floor. It was only then that he became aware of the iron grip he had on his chest. Disgusted, he snatched his hand away. There was blood underneath his fingernails.

“Son of a--argh!” he exclaimed, slamming his face into his pillow. After a few seconds, he sat up again, pulling his knees to his chest. Ba-dumpBa-dumpBa-dumpBa-dump…

 

It just so happened that Katsuki was a lot more self aware than what people gave him credit for. He’d done his fair share of self exploring on his journey to figure out exactly why he was a walking shit show. (So far, his results were still inconclusive.) Despite this, he knew exactly what emotions he felt at all times and--for the most part--knew why. He just didn’t tell anyone. Better to let them think he’s an emotionally stunted dumbass. And why the hell should he? His feelings were no one’s fucking business but his own.

Point was, Katsuki knew he was an ass. More than an ass. The nastiest piece of shit around with a ridiculous fucking complex that could get a man killed. He knew why he was such a dick to Deku. He knew he was inferior. He knew Deku could surpass him. He knew he wasn’t the best, and that he chose to cover up these useless feelings of weakness by being tough. The more aggressive you were, the less likely people were to fuck with you, was how he saw it. Katsuki laughed. He was a fucking mess.

He looked down, setting off small explosions in the palm of his hand. Quirks. Why were they so important? Not even 85% of the human population had quirks, so it’s not like being quirkless was all that uncommon.

A pause.

Okay, maybe it was. Even so, was their society so reliant on quirks that there was no going back? Some brat got a quirk out of nowhere and then they started popping up everywhere, right? The opposite could happen at any time. Someone could lose their quirk. They could slowly but surely disappear. The thought scared him. As shitty as it was to admit, Katsuki knew that without his quirk, he’d be nothing. He’d get no more special treatment. He’d just be another dumbass delinquent with nothing going for him. Being a hero was all he had. Without it, he was insignificant. He was nothing without his quirk, yet Deku was everything. Quite simply, he was jealous. He always had been.

I know because I’m you.

Katsuki grit his teeth.

Fucking Deku, who’d rush out to save someone, even knowing damn well he couldn’t do anything. That fucktard would probably eat shit if it was to help someone else . Deku, everyone's hero. Deku, who still cared about him, even after 11 years of his shit. Deku, who was better than him in every single. way

A quiet boom! interrupted his train of thought.

“I’m not actually like that, right…?” Katsuki asked himself, voice barely a whisper. He snorted. “Yea fucking right.”

He and Deku didn’t get along. He knew that. Shit, he’d go so far as to say that he hated the fucker. But he’d never--he’d never do that. You already have though, haven’t you?

He beat Deku until he was on the brink of death out of jealousy .

"Hey! Now we match completely!

There it was, The one thing he didn’t want to admit. Because, he knew, deep inside, he wasn’t any better than the monster from his dream. What kind of cliche bullshit?

“Ah, but you’re rethinking it now, right?”

He bit his lip until it bled.

Fuck.

*

“Midoriya! Wait up!”

Izuku looked back, surprised to see Kirishima running towards him. Well, that’s unusual . He put his hands on his knees, taking a few seconds to catch his breath.

“Hey.”

Izuku smiled nervously. “Hello…”

There was an awkward silence. Izuku was startled when he finally spoke.

“So, listen,” Kirishima started. He seemed more serious than usual, which got Deku’s attention. “It’s about Bakugou.” Eh?

“Kacchan? What about him?” he asked nervously. He really hoped this wouldn’t be a repeat of last year.

“Sorry if it seems like I’m prying, but...you knew him before he came here, right?” Kirishima asked hesitantly.

“Yes,” he confirmed, arching a brow. Why was that relevant now?

“Do you...notice anything...off? Like he’s been behaving differently?” Kirishima questioned. The expression he wore was starting to worry Izuku.

“Um…” he trailed off, wracking his brain for any abnormalities. It was then that he noticed he hadn’t been paying attention to Katsuki for once. With the change in schools and his training, he didn’t really have time to pay attention. He couldn’t tell Kirishima that though. Right?

“No? Not really? I mean, I’ve been really busy so I haven’t had time to talk to him--not that we talk a lot anyways--so I could be missing something, but if you think--”

“I see. I don’t know him that well yet but I’ve got a feeling…” he muttered to himself. “Well! If you say you don’t think anything is off, I’ll take your word. I’m still gonna keep watch, though! It’s a man’s duty to look out for his peers!” Kirishima exclaimed, hands on his hips. He turned on his heel, jogging back to the front doors of the school. Strange guy. Izuku was itching to pull out his notebook and take some notes, but he realized that’d be creepy and inappropriate. Maybe if I ask him?

He followed Kirishima’s footsteps, albeit at a much slower pace than the former. Kacchan’s not well? It must be really obvious if Kirishima picked up on it. Or maybe he’s just good at reading people? I haven’t heard anyone else mention it

Is he okay? Did he move? Wait no he didn’t move I would know about that...maybe he has a cold or a fever but wait if he had a fever he wouldn’t be here but then again it is Kacchan and he’s super stubborn oh crap what if he faints at school will I have to take him home wait no they’d call his parents what the heck Izuku

“--but then again he might not have a cold and he could just have a bad day everyone has those right even though on bad days kacchan is louder not quieter oh man am I overthinking this? I bet I’m overthinking this…”

A laugh. Deku broke his laser like focus on his shoes to look across the walkway. “He’s talking to himself,” one girl snickered.

“Shhhhh! Don’t let him hear you!”

“Crap, he’s looking over here!”

“Well don’t look back! Pretend you didn’t see!”

Izuku sighed. I’ve gotta stop doing that.

 

*

“Hey, hey! Baku-bro!” Kirishima called out, ruffling Katsuki’s hair.

“Don’t ever fucking call me that again, you off-brand Sega wannabe! Also, don’t fucking touch me,” he grumbled, smacking Kirishima’s hand away from his fringe. He heard a low whistle from his left.

“Tou-chy . Or should I say no touchy?” Kaminari asked, plopping his lunch on Katsuki’s desk.

“I fucking hate you both,” he muttered, pulling out his own bento. “Eat shit.”

Katsuki ignored their conversation in favor of pulling out his chopsticks and opening his bento. Just as he was eating his first bite of pork, he felt a buzz from his pocket. He growled, snatching his phone from his pants. He was ready to cuss out the son of a bitch who interrupted--

Message from Eijirou Kirishima (1)

Katsuki’s eye twitched.

Eijirou: Meanie ):

You: Die.

You: Also you do your smileys the wrong way, dipshit .

Eijirou: ?

You: It goes like this :(

Eijirou: U have suprisingly good grammar when u text. Nvr would have guessed

You: You* surprisingly* you* never*

Eijirou: :(*** still a meanie tho

You: Fuck you. Also why are you texting me? I’m right fucking here.

Eijirou: u would have ignored me if i talked.

“Speaking of which,” Katsuki said, tapping the screen a few more times on his phone.

“Speaking of which…?”

“Gimme a fucking sec,” Katsuki droned.

Would you like to save your changes?

Yes  No

He tapped on the ‘yes’ icon.

‘Knuckles the Echidna Dipshit’ now added to contacts!

“How the hell did you get my number?” Katsuki questioned, glaring at the redhead in question.

“Oh. Um...phone a friend?” Kirishima asked sheepishly, trying to dodge the question.

“Nice try, dipshit. Last I checked, we were in Japan.”

“Uh...well…”

“Woah! Bakugou! What the hell are you eating!?” Kaminari suddenly yelled, attracting the attention of the majority of the class.

“I dunno. Something my mom made, probably.”

Iida, always the hero, sprints over in record time to assess the situation.

“What’s wrong Kamina--good god what in heaven’s graces is that!?” Iida exclaimed, pointing at Katsuki’s bento.

“Eh? The hell are you two on?” Bakugou asked, narrowing his eyes.

“B-Baku-bro...it’s red.” Kirishima said, putting an arm on Katsuki’s shoulder.

“And?”

“Dude!” Kirishima yelled, pointing a finger at the alarmingly red food. “It’s brighter than my hair!”

“Your point is…?” Katsuki questioned, bringing his chopsticks to his mouth. Uraraka swooped in from behind--the fuck did she come from? --and whacked the chopsticks out of his hand. “What the hell!”

“Oh god. It’s making my eyes water from here…” Yaoyorozu moaned, covering her mouth.

“Can someone tell me what the fucking problem is!?” Katsuki grunted, annoyed. He just wanted to eat his bento in peace.

“I’ll do the manly thing and test it for poison!” Kirishima stated proudly, plucking a piece of--alarmingly red--pork from the box and plucking it in his mouth. He then proceeded to immediately spit it out. Katsuki would describe the upcoming events as followed:

Kirishima fell on the floor, fanning his tongue and begging someone for water, because “AHH! AH! BAKUGOU WHAT THE HECK!! OWOWOW!”

Which is turn, caused Kaminari to call bullshit and try it for himself. He ended up overheating and short circuiting himself like a fucking idiot.

Iida left to get water, and when he came back, three more had fallen victim.

Some-fucking-how someone got Todoroki to try, and the idiot ended up freezing his mouth shut trying to counteract the heat. Apparently it wasn’t enough, though, cause he still looked very pink and unsettled twenty minutes later.

Uraraka thought it was a good idea to make a contest out of it, cause there’s no way it could be that spicy, right? (Katsuki didn’t think so, but apparently it was.)

Throughout the entire ordeal, Katsuki kept eating. However, no one apparently noticed, because when Tokoyami pointed out the empty plate, everyone was confused. When asked, he said: “I fucking ate it cause it was mine.” much to the disbelief of his classmates. Katsuki thought they were all fucking idiots. He couldn’t help but smile at his desk when the whole ordeal was over. This almost felt...normal, which was weird. Katsuki wasn’t very well liked or often approached, which he was fine with. He made it that way. But seeing everyone laughing and interacting with him like they were friends, it was nice. Refreshing.

Hey, do you think everyone else’s tears would be as pretty as Deku’s?

A chill went up Katsuki’s spine. He shook his head, but the smug face of that bastard from the night before wouldn’t go away. His face wouldn’t go away.

“Got somethin’ in your hair?” Kirishima joked, ruffling Katsuki’s hair again. Katsuki didn’t respond. “Bakugou?”

Katsuki didn’t hear them. Their voices drifted in and out of his consciousness.

Hey, bro...ar......okay?

Everyone on the ground. Beaten. Broken.

-he alright?

Blood. So much fucking blood. Why was he the only one standing? He was laughing. Why was he laughing?

Katsuki!

“Do you think everyone else’s tears would be as pretty as Deku’s?"

Bakugou!”

He was crying. Why was he crying? Did he do this?

“--’s wrong!?

As he gazed blankly at the faces of his comrades, he didn’t see smiles. He saw corpses, bloody and bruised.

“-- n’t know! He just stopped responding!

He raised his hands  to his face.

“...zuku!

Ah…

He watched, as they trembled in the chill of blood.

You’re rethinking it now, right?

“--chan.”

...rethinking it..

“--chan!”

" ...now…

“--acchan!”

...right?

KACCHAN!

Katsuki blinked. The echo of a strike registered, along with his gaze focusing to the corner of the room. Slowly, his senses returned. He turned his gaze upwards to meet the worried stares of his classmates. Deku was front and center, one hand on his shoulder and the other raised as if to strike him.

Whatever the hell just happened, it happened in class this time. Deku was the one who brought him out of it. He looked around, eyes landing on Kirishima. He wore the same expression he did on the day of the practice exam. A squeeze on his shoulder brought him back to the present.

Suddenly, he was looking straight at Deku. He’s breathing really hard. Katsuki’s eyes widened as he realized he’d unconsciously matched his breathing rhythm to Deku’s. He wondered what face he wore, to get a reaction like that. Deku was trembling, eyes wide and scared, but he wouldn’t look away. For once, Katsuki was the first one to break his gaze. Feeling a weight in his hand, he looked down to see the brokwn corner of the desk clenched in his hand. Did I… ?

“Bakugou…” Kirishima called quietly, arm reaching out.

Then it all clicked.

"Don’t touch me! ” he yelled. She shoved Deku’s arm arm his shoulder and threw himself backwards, just as a huge explosion left his hands. He didn’t need to look to see that he’d destroyed the back half of the classroom.

He didn’t look up, couldn’t look up. He scrambled up, tripped over himself one, two times, before slamming the door open and running out.

 

Midoriya stood in shock, with his hand poised like it was still on Katsuki’s shoulder. He met eyes with Kirishima, who looked just as shocked as he felt. Together, with the class, they held one collective thought: What the hell was that?

 

Shit, shit, shit. What the hell!? Katsuki thought, running through the building. Why was this the second time he was running from Deku? Why couldn’t he get his shit together? That bastard.

You’re rethinking it now, right?”

“Get out of my fucking head!” he bellowed, hopping over the stairwell.

“We have so much potential...”

No, I’m not. I’m fucking not! He didn’t know where he was running. He just needed to get away from it all.

Just admit you’re garbage.

Never! I won’t. I’m not like you. I’ll never be like you. You aren’t apart of me! Leave me the hell alone!

Will you give in now?

...I...won’t.

And thus, it began.

I never will.

This marked the start of Katsuki Bakugou’s downward spiral...

I never...will….?

...into complete and utter self destruction.

Will you give in now?

Chapter Text

“I want to win and surpass you, you idiot!”

Katsuki remembers that day well. It was still on his mind, one week later.

The rush, the adrenaline in his veins even after the fight was over. Shaking in the corner, barely able to breathe through the pounding in his chest.

 

Does that mean...even if we fought all out..Deku would completely…? He was shaken from his thoughts by All Might; the teacher led him back inside to review the results.

“Whether you win or lose, looking back and learning from your experiences is a part of life,” he said. Katsuki shook him off. I already know that. I don’t need you to fucking remind me . He felt numb. There’s no way that nerd beat me..! But he did. Watching Todoroki’s match confirmed it. I can’t win where I am now.

His mind was a hurricane of thoughts and emotions. Rage. Disappointment. Pride. Underneath all of that though, there was something else. Something more painful. Even though he’d never had experience with it, he knew what it was. Guilt. He thought back to his match against Deku. He’d slammed him against the ground, punched him, beat him until he passed out. And for what? Because he thought Deku was lying about his quirk? Holy shit. I could’ve killed him. I could’ve actually fucking killed him. For the first time in his life, he, Katsuki Bakugou, felt guilty . “An obviously personal grudge,” Yaoyorozu had said. It took every ounce of self control he had left just to keep himself in check. I’m not the best. Not anymore .

“Good work everyone!” All Might said cheerfully. Like everything was okay. “We didn’t have any major injuries other than Young Midoriya, either!”

The feeling came back. Guilt , he reminded himself.

“You all did a good job for your first training!” Yea fucking right. “Well then, I must review the results with Young Midoriya!” Bakugou felt a weighted stare. He didn’t have to look to know it was All Might. He’d bet money on the fact that it was most likely the same expression Deku made. Katsuki clenched his fist, keeping his stare facing downward.

“Hey man,” he heard, before and arm draped across his shoulders. It was the loud redhead--hair-for-brains, Katsuki dubbed him--from earlier. (Eijirou Kirishima, he later found out.) “Are you okay? Whatever Midoriya said to you really shook you up, huh?” The hell are you touching me for?

Katsuki shook him off. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Alright, alright. No need to bite,” he said jokingly. “Really though, if you ever need to talk, man to man, I’m here.”

Not fucking likely, he thought. “Yea, okay,” he said instead. Red hair didn’t speak for a second. “Bakugou,” he said after a moment. His tone of voice voice made Katsuki look up at him.

“Fucking what? What do you--”

His voice got stuck in his throat. That look. What is it with damn look ? Why did everyone look at him like that? Why did everyone look at him like Deku did?

“I’m serious.” Red hair’s eyes were too fucking earnest. “I know we just met or whatever, but you can talk to me.” Why? Why is he looking at me like that?

“Okay, man. I got it,” Katsuki replied. If his voice sounded strained to his own ears, he wondered how it must sound to the other. He didn’t think he wanted to find out. Hair-for-brains gave him one last pat on the back before running to talk to his blonde counterpart.

The chatter of his classmates faded into the background like white noise. His mind was a fucking mess, but one thought rang clear. I did that. I did that to Deku.

 

Katsuki was on edge for the rest of the day. What the hell ? His skin felt too hot, almost to the point of being feverish; his heart wouldn’t stop pounding. “What is this?” he whispered to himself, clutching his chest. (Katsuki swears this was the beginning of that stupid as hell habit.) “Fuck, I can’t do this.” He grabbed his bag and headed to the door.

“Bakugou! Where ya headed?”

Katsuki looked back at hair-for-brain’s blonde friend. He rolled his eyes. I don’t have time for this shit .

“Nowhere you need to worry about,” he grumbled. He didn’t stay to see his reaction.

 

Katsuki was halfway to the entrance when his phone buzzed.

“Message from Eijirou Kirishima. Who the hell..?” he trailed off. A heavy feeling weighed in his gut at the message on his screen.

Heads up. Midoriya headed ur way

“Shit.”

Katsuki pulled his bag higher on his shoulder and started walking double the pace he was before. “Since when the hell did I start avoiding Deku?” he muttered to himself. You know the reason why. Whatever. He could think about that later. He was almost there, just a few more feet--

“Kacchan!”

Goddamn it.

Katsuki kept walking. Just because the idiot called out to him didn’t mean he had to respond. He thought Deku would get the point and leave him alone, but no, of course not, cause Deku never knew when to fucking quit.

“Kacchan!” Deku yelled again, his voice accompanied by his hastening footsteps. Katsuki didn’t turn his head until he was a few feet away.

“What?” he replied, looking at Deku out of the corner of his eye. His own voice made him wince. It was too loaded. It gave too much away.

Deku looked anxious, making that same face he always made when looking at Katsuki for more than three seconds. He guessed his own face must have been showing what he felt, because Deku’s eyes quickly found his feet. Good. I don’t want you fucking looking at me right now .

“There’s one thing I feel like I have to tell you,” Deku mumbled.

“The hell?” Katsuki asked, turning around fully. “For fucks sake, Deku. Speak up, don’t start your muttering bullshit--”

“My Quirk is something I received from someone else.

Katsuki’s mouth snapped shut. “Huh?”

“I can’t say who I got it from, though!” Deku said quickly. “I won’t say...but it’s like a story out of comic books, except it’s true.”

Katsuki was speechless. Deku still wouldn’t look at him.

“On top of that, I still can’t control it properly. It’s still just a borrowed power that I haven’t made my own yet.”

Katsuki growled. The hell is this shit?

“That’s why...that’s why I tried to beat you without using it,” Deku said. He sounded disappointed in himself.

What the hell? What kind of fucking idiot does he take me for!? Katsuki clenched his fists. He could feel himself start to shake, and his gums ached from grinding his teeth so hard.

“I’ve still got a long way to go...That’s why…”

He felt the vein in his eye throb.

“That’s why…” Deku continued, bringing his arm up to his sling. “One day, I will make this quirk my own...and beat you with my own power!” He looked shocked at his own words.

Deku’s eyes finally met his, and Katsuki was faced with that face, that same goddamn, determined face Deku made when he said he was applying to U.A. It pissed him off. Everything about Deku pissed him off. Especially this bullshit story…!

Katsuki was sure he was making a stupid face because Deku was making a dumb as fuck one right back.

“What the hell is that?” Katsuki growled out. He let his bangs cover his face and clenched his eyes shut. “‘Borrowed power’? You’re talking nonsense.” He ground his teeth even harder.

“What are you trying to do, make me out to be a fool more than you already have? Huh!?” he questioned. Shit. My voice is getting choked up . He took in a shaky breath. "What are you trying to say? Today, I lost to you…”

Katsuki could feel his composure starting to trickle away. “That’s all it was…that’s all--!” he started. His mind flashed back to Todoroki, to his words at his fight. I can’t win where I am now...can’twincan’twincan’twin … “When I watched the ice-guy, I thought, ‘I can’t beat him’!” Why am I telling Deku all of this?  He remembered Yaoyorozu’s words. An obviously personal grudge

He brought his hand to his face, tilting his head back. “Damn it! I ended up agreeing to what that ponytail girl said!”  He yanked his hand back down to his side, clenching and unclenching his fists. It took everything he had to keep his Quirk at bay. “Damn it, damn it, damn it !” he could feel the strain in his throat when his voice cracked.

“Hey, you too, Deku!” His fists trembled. Why couldn’t he stop fucking shaking? His voice shook along with his shoulders, and it took too much effort to keep himself from bursting into tears. He wasn’t quite successful. He looked Deku right in the eyes and said, “I’m just getting started!” The burning in his nose and the lump in his throat were unfamiliar, but he knew what the hot trails making their way down his cheeks were. He must have looked like a fucking idiot. God, this fucking sucks. How does Deku do this all the time?  

“You hear!? Here, I will become number one! Not you, not that frozen bastard, me! Do you hear me!? Deku!?”

Deku gave him that fucking look again. Katsuki hated it. He hated the determined set to his feature, his focused gaze, because maybe, just maybe, he could become better with that look. Better than him. Katsuki fucking hated it.

He bit his lip, turning on his heel. Fuck Deku. He brought his sleeve to his eyes. Get your shit together. Fuckin’ pathetic. “You won’t beat me again, bastard!”

Deku was still fucking looking at him.

“There he is!” Katsuki heard from the building. He knew it was All Might.

“Young--Baku--gouuuu!” Katsuki chuckled to himself. That’s some weird ass pentameter. He felt the same heavy grip from earlier on his shoulder. “Just so you know, pride is important.”

Here we fucking go, Katsuki thought. “You definitely have the abilities needed to become a pro. You still have a lot of--”

“Let go of me, All Might. I can’t walk.”

“Hm?”

Katsuki looked back at All Might over his shoulder. “I’ll become a hero that surpasses even you without you telling me what I gotta do! Just watch!”

“Huh?”

Katsuki growled. “Fucking let go.”

“U-uh, right.”

All Might took a step back. Great. Now he had two heavy gazes on his back. Wait, make that five. He knew the three girls were watching from the window.

“Young Midoriya, what were you two talking about?”

“A-ah-um, we were just--”

“You’re an amazing person, so that’s why I want to beat you!”

Bask in it, fuckers. That was the first and last time you’ll ever see me cry .

 

Katsuki made a small explosion in his hand. He looked to his right at Deku. He was still in his sling.  An amazing person, huh, Deku ?

“Bakugou.”

“I know it might be logical, but please refrain from detonating everyone,” Aizawa said plainly. How the fuck is that logical? And get some sleep, your eyes are fuckin' creepy. Not like I have any room to talk ...

“Yea, whatever,” Katsuki replied, redirecting his gaze to the window.

“For that, you can come solve the next equation.”

He looked at the board. Fuck. He hated conic sections.

*

“Excuse me!”

“You’re fucking excused, now leave me the hell alone,” Katsuki mumbled under his breath.

“Excuse me--Oh? Aren’t you the one that was caught by the sludge villain?”

Katsuki’s eye twitched.

“Stop it!”

“But we’d just like to ask a few questions about All Might and maybe get a comment on that inci--”

“I said fucking quit! If you almost drowned to death in a fucking sewer, would you want people asking you about it? Instead of bugging students about All Might, why don’t you go ask him about it when he’s saving people? If you haven’t noticed, he does that a lot!”

His breathing was labored after his rant. Okay, went maybe just a little to far there. The reporters looked at him with horrified faces, ranging from shocked to outright disgusted by his behavior. He rolled his eyes. When he made it to the top, he was never talking to a fucking reporter again.

 

“Good work on last week’s combat training. I saw the video and the results,” Aizawa remarked.

“Excuse me!”

Katsuki looked back. It was ponytail girl. He grunted. After last week, seeing her face pissed him off. “Wouldn’t it have made more sense to review this the day after?”

Always the smartass.

“It’s so we had time to reflect on what we could have done different,” Katsuki said monotonously. “Heroes are always realizing what they could have done after the shit’s been done, so they want us to get used to considering every possible outcome before we actually go to the field so we can be ready for most scenarios. I’m surprised you didn’t figure that out, Ms. Recommendation. Guess your running commentary last week was a one time thing then?”

He could feel the stares of most of the class. So he was feeling talkative today, was that a crime? Katsuki rolled his eyes and leaned his head on his hand. Okay, so maybe he was being more of a dick than usual. Maybe. Ponytail looked from him to Aizawa.

“You’re just gonna let him get away with that?” she asked. She looked scandalized. Katsuki laughed. Nevermind. Definitely more of a dick.

“Well, he’s not wrong. You’re considering the fact that you were doing exactly what he said, right? It was a logical ruse meant to make you aware,” Aizawa stated. He was making that same derpy face he made on the first day. The. Exact. Same. One. It was disturbing.

“You look like Saitama. Fucking quit,” he said quietly. He was sure no one heard him, but Deku snickered next to him along with the ear girl in front of him. He shot a sideways glare towards Deku, but the action made his chest hurt. The feeling from before that he’d become accustomed to over the week. God dammit. What the hell? Why now?

He was roused from his thoughts by Aizawa. “Bakugou, you’re talented, so don’t act like a kid. Although I see you’ve done some growing up already.” Katsuki frowned. He was still pissed about the conic sections from earlier.

“I know,” he said shortly.

“And Midoriya,” Aizawa began. Katsuki could feel his stomach drop. “You settled it by breaking your arm again, huh?”

The sinking feeling got heavier. He wouldn’t have broken his arm if I would have just fucking listened for once , Katsuki thought. Then he remembered Deku’s bullshit story. He deserved that broken arm, and that burn on his other.

No he fucking didn’t. You know he didn’t.

Katsuki brought his hand up to clutch at his chest.He dug his nails in. Maybe the pain outside could stop the fucking pity party he had going on inside. It didn’t. He dug his nails in deeper anyway.

Chapter Text

The only warning he had was the bang of a door and a series of heavy, angry footsteps before his door banged open with enough force to put a hole in the wall. Katsuki took one earbud out, turning to look at the fuming woman in his doorway.

“What?” he asked apathetically, meeting his mother’s eyes. Her expression was absolutely livid, feet spread wide and fist still smoking. Katsuki gulped. His mother was about as hot-headed and loud as he normally was, but she looked ready to kill. That could only mean--

“KA-TSU-KIII!” she roared, each syllable punctuated by another step in his direction. He tried to scoot his chair back a little farther in an attempt to get away, but she was too quick. She grabbed him by the drawstring of his hoodie and pulled him to her eye level. She stared at him for a few seconds, scowl becoming more prominent the more time went by. After a few moments, she released him. Katsuki let out a breath he wasn’t aware he’d been holding in. Just as he was about to turn away and get back to his homework, she whacked him upside the head with a roll of papers she held in her other fist.

“Ow! What the--” he exclaimed, jerking his head back to face her. Before he could get another word in, she grabbed him by the nose and pulled him down to her height. “What the fuck? Let me go!” Katsuki demanded.

“Katsuki…” she began, tone shaking with barely controlled rage.

What ?” he questioned. He was pissed. I already asked what she wanted, but she decided to stare into my fucking soul instead. If she’d just say what she wanted, we wouldn’t have to do this bullshit twice every time.

“I got a call from the school today. Care to tell me why?”

Her tone was sweet, but Katsuki knew better. He learned that trick from her, after all.

“No fucking clue.” His tone conveyed his eyeroll. Clearly, he didn’t want to deal with this.

“Oh yea?” she asked, voice still deceptively honeyed. She let go of his nose and moved her hand to his shoulder. Why does everyone always grab me by the shoulder? Do they feel nice or some shit?

“So, nothing happened?”

“Nothing.”

“Not anything you wanna tell me about? Nothing at all?”

“Nope.”

“I see,” she replied. She brought her hand back to her side and turned to leave. “Well, I’ll just be leaving then.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. 3...2...1…

“YEA FUCKIN’ RIGHT!” she exclaimed. Quick as lightning, she turned on her heel, grabbing him by the hood and pulling him into a headlock. The air left him in a whoosh, winding him. He knew it was coming but it still took him by surprise. “If nothing happened, why did I get a call and a bill from the fucking school then!? Huh!?”

“Get off!” Katsuki grunted, shoving his elbow back to give himself some room. “I said, let--go--! Get off me, woman!”

“You destroyed ¥46,000 worth of shit, you brat!” she yelled, tugging on his ear. “And you left campus! Again!

Katsuki winced, recalling the day’s events.

I never...will….?

He shook his head, clearing his mind of the fucking embarrassment the day had been. It was a momentary weakness on his part. Never fucking happening again. He was running on empty, that was all. He hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and the class ate half his lunch. He’d never even begin to consider that option otherwise. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t.

He snorted, turning his head to bite the arm holding him captive. She whacked him again, hissing something along the lines of ‘don’t bite the woman who gave birth to you, bastard!

“It’s your own damn fault for attacking me in the first place. Did you expect me to sit back while you fucking assaulted me?” he muttered, readjusting his hoodie. Fuck. It’s stretched now. Katsuki moaned internally, cursing the crazy lady he called mother.
She sighed, running a hand through her head. Strolling to his bed, she plopped down and tapped the space next to her. Katsuki made to sit down at his desk, but the smile on her face told him to ‘sit here or else.’ Cautiously, he sat down next to her.

“So, what happened?”

Her question was met with silence.

She sighed again, twiddling with an invisible thread on her skirt.

“Izuku dropped by,” she said softly. Quietly. As if she didn’t want him to hear.

Katsuki’s head snapped up, eyes landing on his mother in barely subdued shock. Deku…?

Kacchan’s my friend, so it’s okay!

He shivered, partly from fear and partly from the effort it took to keep himself from collapsing in front of his mother.

“He stopped by the office. He said he brought your things there because you didn’t seem to feel well and he didn’t wanna bother you.”

She laughed.

“That boy really is something. I work almost an hour away, you know? He could’ve just brought them here.”

I know. I know he’s something. I don’t need you and everyone else fucking reminding me. I get it.

“Katsuki,” she addressed. Her tone was uncharacteristically quiet and subdued. She leaned to the left, wresting her head on his shoulder. “What’s been going on? You’re not yourself.”

He really didn’t want to talk about this. “Nothing’s wrong, mom. I’m fine.”

“That’s what I fucking mean!” she suddenly exclaimed, grabbing him by the arms and turning him to face her. “You’d never say that! You’d never, ever call me mom unless something was wrong! And you wouldn’t be so calm about me asking either!”

“Thanks for your concern, but I don’t need it.” Lies. All fucking lies.

“Katsuki,” she begged, words getting choked up. “Don’t shut me out. Please.”

He felt like shit. He felt like the worst fucking human, because even though him and his mother had their differences, he didn’t like seeing her cry. He hated it, actually. (It was at this point that he realized he hated a lot of things. This ranked pretty high on the list.)

He tried to meet her eyes. He couldn’t. Instead, he grunted: “Quit your fuckin’ worrying, you hag. I’m fine.”

The grip on his arms tightened to painful levels, and he winced in response.

“Oi--”

The look in her eyes stopped him dead in his tracks. She donned what Katsuki called ‘The Deku Stare’, all fierce determination and no room for argument. He tried to look away, but every time he did, her head would follow.

He panicked a little, because he knew that if she got one good glimpse at his face, his eyes, she’d ask questions. Questions that he didn’t need. All they ever did was scream at each other and fight, but he knew deep down she cared. She cared so much that she’d shatter him in the process of trying to help.  He knew that if she saw, she’d pry and pry until he broke. She didn’t need to see that. He didn't need to feel that.

So he squared his shoulders, schooled his face into a neutral expression, and stared right back.

He knew it had a slim chance of working. His mother was keen in the worst of ways, could pick up on a lie before he even had the chance to leave his lips. If he tried to run, she’d catch him. He knew it wouldn’t work, but maybe, just maybe, if he appeared unaffected, she’d leave it alone. She’d leave him to clean up his own fucking mess. He kept his posture relaxed, breaths even, and met her gaze head on.

He doesn’t know how long their internal battle went on for. He was just glad when it ended. Finally, finally, she lowered her gaze. She looked upset. Katsuki tried not to care.

He wasn’t expecting to be pulled forward, head tucked into her neck, but he didn’t protest. Her perfume tickled his nose, and he allowed himself a small smile. He was reminded of when he was young, when dreams he’d never admit to used to wake him up. He’d sneak into his parents' room, all shaky legs and knobby knees. She wouldn’t ask any questions, just held him until the tremors stopped and his breathing calmed down. It dawned on him then how fucking exhausted he was, and he secretly reveled in the way that this put him in a sense of relaxation he hadn’t known since his match with Deku. She ran her fingers through his hair, smoothing it down and untangling the little knots formed at the base. Just like she used to. The sensation enough used to be enough to put him to sleep, and it might still have, if he wasn’t avoiding his bed like the plague. He grumbled, trying to shove he roff. She wouldn’t budge.

“You’re such a brat,” she said, laughing quietly to herself. “You’re arrogant, spoiled, and fucking exhausting to be around.”

He shoved at her stomach. “Look, if you’re here just to fucking insult me--”

“I pay attention.”

Katsuki glanced up at her--her chin, to be exact--incredulously. “Are you high?”

She pulled his hair, hard. “Anyway,” she said pointedly, grip on his scalp tightening once again. Rolling his eyes, he settled back into the crook of her neck.

“I know you think I don’t pay attention to you, but I do.”

She’d stumbled upon a particularly stubborn knot, and was working to gently untangle it. It hurt, but it kind of felt good. Katsuki didn’t know, he didn’t have the brain capacity to think straight at that particular moment in time. Not that he’d admit that.

“I have to.” Her voice pulled him from whatever vegetative state he’d just been in. “If you haven’t noticed, you’re kind of a reckless fucking idiot.”

Oh fuck no. “Listen old hag--” he’d shoved himself away from her, fist raised to--to--something. Maybe not hit her, but something.

“Shut up, dumbass! God, can I get a fucking word in without you bitching about it whenever it hurts your feelings?”

Katsuki had almost forgotten why he hated her. Almost.

She tugged him back down. “Next time you move, I’m blowing your face off. Got it?”

He nodded begrudgingly, though secretly he wasn’t upset. He kind of liked this, feeling like a little boy again, letting mommy take care of his hurt for him. Deep down, he didn’t want it to end.

“You’re reckless, and cocky, and get yourself mixed up in all kinds of bullshit. So I watch you. I have to.”

“Is there a fucking point to this speech, or..?” he questioned, hissing when she pinched his ear again. Why does every single mom have the same shitty, sadistic ear fetish?

My point is,” she droned, annoyance clear in her voice. Good. See how I feel half the time. “My son is a dumbass who doesn’t realize that he isn’t invincible. He doesn’t know how to ask for help, either. I pay attention to you, you ungrateful brat. Take advantage of it sometime.”

Katsuki stiffened, expecting her to ask again, but she was silent. “Okay…” he trailed off, letting himself enjoy the calming presence of his mother for a little longer.

“I get your little speech bullshit, but couldn’t you have done it without touching me?”

“Your point is?”

“Why the hell are you touching me?” he asked bluntly, whacking her hand away when it went for his ear for the billionth fucking time.

“Oh shut up. I haven’t done this in a while. Besides, you act like you didn’t used to beg for cuddles when you were little.”

He groaned, slapping her hands away from his head. “Fuck off.”

“Besides,” she said, running her hands through his hair. I feel like a fucking cat. No wonder they’re so damn lazy. “You looked like you needed it.”

He smiled bitterly to himself. His mom was rough around the edges, a little loud, a little messy, but still a good woman when it came down to it. The complete opposite of him. She wasn’t perfect, but then again no one was. They may have looked alike, talked alike, but they were nothing alike where it mattered. He wondered, not for the first time, how someone as kind as she was managed to raise a fuck up like him.

“Whatever,” he’d said. He sighed, letting the steady heartbeat and the fingers running through his hair lull him into a state of semi-consciousness. He was so tired.

Yea, he thought. Maybe she was right, for once.

 

Fuckin’ hell, Katsuki thought to himself, shaking his foot out. His sock had a hole in it, but he couldn’t go get another one, because he was halfway to school already. He would go back and get one, but he hadn’t been to school for the past two days and he really didn’t want to hear his mom’s bitching at his return. He could just hear her now…

Katsuki! What the hell are you doing back here! I let you get away with it for a couple days but you are going your ass to school! Right. Fucking. Now! ’ Complete with smoking fists and the banging on utensils on the table. God.

He rolled his eyes at the mere image.

He saw the gaudy gates that guarded U.A. in the distance. The sight wormed its way into his stomach and made a home in the form of anxiety and dread. He had to give a chuckle at that one. Never in a million years had he ever expected to associate dread with the prestigious U.A. Round of applause for the biggest dumbass on the planet.

He truly didn’t want to go to school. He didn’t want to deal with the stares and whispers and questions or the fucking concern that he didn’t fucking need, god dammit, he was fine --

“Scan your I.D. please,” a pleasant voice said. Katsuki looked up, realizing he’d made it the the front without noticing. He quickly scanned his I.D., walking the distance to the entrance of the school. Why was he so nervous? Okay, so, he managed to have some sort of panic attack and took out half the class in the process. Couldn’t have been the weirdest thing to happen at U.A., right?

Ha ha. Nice try dipshit , he thought, scolding himself for his pathetic attempt at self consolation. He took a deep breath. If he didn’t act like anything was amiss, no one else would either. If that didn’t work, well… His class had windows, right?

Much like the night before, he took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and stared straight ahead. He was ready. He was so fucking ready, actually the ones that wouldn’t be ready were his classmates, hell yea. He was Katsuki Bakugou, resident badass. He could take on any challenge. Hell fucking yes. He was fucking ready. So, so, so --

“Bakugou?” a voice said from behind him. He craned his neck, coming face to face with Kirishima. “The hell are you doing blocking the door?”

Katsuki fumbled, a hand coming up to cover the lower half of his face. What the fuck, what the fuck, what the absolute fucking fuck.

Did I just pull a fucking Deku?

Dazedly, he moved out of the way. He watched Kirishima enter the class without any weird looks, so apparently he hadn’t spoken out loud. Thank fucking god. Kirishima closed the door behind him, and Katsuki just stood there for a second, embarrassed by his own stupidity.

“Wait a--” came Kirishima’s voice, muffled by the door. Suddenly, it slid open with enough force to have it almost bounce back closed. “Holy shit! It’s Bakugou!”

The door was quickly filled with the excited and happy faces of his classmates, which woah, wait, when the fuck?

“Eh? Really?”

“Bakugou? Bakugou’s back?”

“Oi! You feelin’ better now?”

Kirishima stood front and center, grinning from ear to ear like a fucking idiot.

“You gonna move outta the fucking doorway so I can get in or you just gonna look like a lost puppy all day?” Katsuki barked.

“Bakubroooo!” Kirishima exclaimed, laughing himself at Katsuki. He quickly dodged, side stepping and knocking him away by his head. He hit the floor with a thud.

“Oops,” he said monotonously, stepping over him to get into the classroom.

“Looks like he’s feeling better,” Kaminari commented with a snicker, hiding his grin behind his hand. Katsuki rolled his eyes, pushing him out of the way to get to his seat.

“Bakugou! I’m glad you’re feeling better!” Ochako exclaimed. Her tone was jovial, which was odd, considering they didn’t really talk. Why would she be happy about me?

“Yea, yea,” he replied, keeping his gaze forward.

“Stoic as ever, I see,” Iida greeted smartly.

“I don’t think ‘stoic’ would be the word to describe Bakugou, Iida,” Todoroki said stoically from his corner. How fucking ironic, Katsuki thought sarcastically. A flare of irritation rose up in his chest. Fuck off, half-face.

Katsuki slowly but surely made his way to his seat, deflecting the onslaught of questions and comments made by his classmates. He was fine. He really was, until he got to Deku. He tried to ignore him, he really did, but some sick, twisted part of him had to look. Had to see how Deku looked at him. It couldn’t have been more than two seconds, the journey from the seat on the other side of Deku’s to his own, but Katsuki swore time stopped. Really, brain? Really? More cliche bullshit?

While his expression wasn’t necessarily threatening or angry, it was still intense in it’s own way. Distantly, he felt that same twinge from earlier grow and unfurl in his chest, blossoming into something ugly. What was with this kid? Why did he rub Katsuki the wrong way with just a fucking look? Still, he didn’t react, just watched Deku watch him, with that same stupid fucking expression that he always, always wore when he looked at Katsuki now, every fucking time

Except it wasn’t. Somehow the little shit managed to look more and less determined at the same time. Determined, but determined to do what ? It annoyed the shit out of Katsuki. Deku just annoyed him, plain and simple. It was beyond the petty jealousy he’d pinpointed. Something so irksome and rage inducing and just... annoying. God it pissed him off. Always had and probably always fucking would.

He looked at him without hesitation, without fear . ‘I know your secret ,’ his eyes seemed to say. Even though he knew it was impossible, he hadn’t breathed a word to anyone, he felt his hackles rise anyway. Ready for a fight .

Deku might have told his mom that Katsuki was sick, but he knew that Deku knew that was bullshit. Hell, he probably knew that Katsuki knew that he knew it was bullshit. He was too perceptive for his own damn good.

For the x time in y amount of days, Katsuki looked away first. Which was a huge fucking deal because it was a blow to his pride. Katsuki didn’t get blows to his pride. It was too big and imposing. Or it fucking was, anyway. (Another thing added to the list of shit he hated. This was ranked pretty high up, too.) Stiffly, Katsuki made his way to his seat, pointedly ignoring the gaze that followed him as he sat down. His throat was suddenly dry and his skin almost uncomfortably hot. (Add that to the list, too.)

“Oi! By the way, Bakugou, why didn’t you ever tell me your mom was so hot?” Kaminari shouted from across the room.

Katsuki choked on air, sending him into a coughing fit. Once he regained his composure, he glared at Kaminari with a glare so intense it felt his eyes were smoking.

“What in the actual fuck are you on?” Katsuki asked, tone dangerous. He fixed him with a stare so intense, his head started throbbing.

“Oh yea! She was really hot. Is that what Bakugou would look like if he was a girl? Interesting.” Kirishima mused, mischievous smirk on his face.

“Seriously, shut the fuck up.”

“I’d date him!” Mineta exclaimed from behind the red head.

“If your balls were as big as the ones on your head, maybe you could get a girlfriend,” Bakugou shot back. He stepped back, an expression of--ridiculous--shock on his face. It would’ve been comical if Katsuki was in the fucking mood.

“Calm down Bakugou,” Kaminari advised. “We’re just joking.”

“Are you though? Are you really? Your face says different, you fucking pervert!” Katsuki exclaimed. He could feel his fists start to get hot. Kaminari dodged his punch, jumping back with a laugh.

“How’d you guess?”

“You’re such a douche. When the hell did she come here anyway?”

“Didn’t she come to talk to Midoriya? Nice one, bro!” Kirishima added, accompanied by a thumbs up.

Katsuki rounded his glare on Deku so fast he became dizzy with it. A part of him was scared, because what if he told her? What if he told her what really happened, and that was why she was being so weird. He didn’t need that, couldn’t fucking have that right now.

“She just brought me my notebook ‘cause they got mixed up when I dropped them off. C-calm down, K-K-Kacchan,” he assured, hands raised. Deku is many things. Many annoying, disturbing things, but he isn’t a liar. Katsuki glares at him for a few more seconds for good measure, before turning to face the front.

“Tch.”

“Did he just say ‘tch’?” Kaminari asked. “Dude, I think you’ve been watching too much anime.”

“You’ve been watching too much Pokemon,” he grumbled, folding his arms across his desk and putting his head in them. Kirishima and Mineta snickered. Iida, not wanting to be kept out of the loop, asked what was going on, earning a boisterous laugh and a knee slap. Fucking really? A knee slap? How fucking old are you, shitty glasses? Ochako joined, but the joke must've been lost on her, because she looked just as confused as Kaminari. You’re all fucking idiots.

“But seriously. If Bakugou looked like his mom, as a man I’d have to ask him out. 10/10 would date,” Kirishima commented.

“Die.”

“True he would be stunning, but his personality leaves much to be desired,” Iida commented. Katsuki threatened to break his glasses four different ways and shove them up his ass. No one was taking him seriously though, so he threw up the middle finger.

You: I fucking hate you. You came to my school?

He let his gaze settle over his classmates, all of which had varying degrees of joy and glee written across their faces. It was still different, even if he’s gotten used to it over the past few weeks.

His phone buzzed on his desk, and he snatched it up before anyone--Kaminari--could grab it.

Message from Hag (6)

Hag: fuck off i’m working

Hag: also it’s your fault for forgetting your shit in the first place

Hag: tell the pikachu fucker that i’m still married and the answer is still no

Hag: and engine legs glasses guy that i’ll help him with his chemistry

Hag: also if the balls guy asks i died in an accident

Hag: and tell izuku thanks and there’s something in your bento for him

You: Woah, woah. Calm the fuck down.

Hag: not my fault you actually made friends for once and they like me

Hag: when did your personality get decent enough to associate with other humans

You: I fucking hate you.

Hag: same

You: You set a WONDERFUL example for future brats. Good fucking job.

Hag: literally fuck off and never speak to me again.

You: K bye.

There was a low whistle over his shoulder. “Well damn. I see where he gets it from.”

“Can you not lean over my fucking shoulder? I don’t want your dumbass hair situation getting on me.”

Kirishima snatched his phone out of his hand, scrolling through the conversation. “Bakugou, you’re so mean,” he remarks offhandedly.

“Didn’t you just say you know where I got it from? Now give me my shit.”

“Yea yea, one sec.”

Katsuki decided to just give up. Laying his head in his arms, he closed his eyes. He hadn’t slept well last night either. Maybe if he went to sleep, he could catch a few minutes before class started.

As he drifted off, a thought occurred to him. It felt like he had friends . Not followers or lackeys, but real, actual friends that teased him and laughed alongside him without being afraid of his quirk. People who weren’t friends with him because of his quirk. People who were just as powerful as he was. The feeling was bittersweet, however, with the memory of what happened the last time he allowed thoughts like these to surface..

“Did you really think I wouldn’t be able to tell? Did you forget already? Idiot.”

Is this a punishment? Was it because of what he did to him? How he treated him? Was this because of…

He turned his head in the direction of the source of his turmoil. He was laughing, freckled cheeks dusted in a rosy hue and teeth on display. Deku…

Too fucking bright .

He was too bright for Katsuki’s darkness. He laughed quietly to himself. More cliche bullshit?

Ugh.

*

Katsuki honestly wanted to enjoy his lunch. Was that so much to ask? He just wanted to sit his ass down somewhere and pig the fuck out. Were such wishes not granted at this dumb school? In the huge, formidable mass of property taxes known as U.A., could he not find a place to eat quietly? Apparently fucking not.

“Kacchan!”

The voice made Katsuki tense. No matter what outward appearances said, he couldn’t look at Deku without his dream coming to mind. Which was bad. Really bad, because once Deku found a problem, he wouldn’t quit. Just like his mother. He should have known better. After so many failed attempts at ignoring the kid, he should have known it wouldn’t work. He tried anyway. He ignored the voice calling out to him, and he was almost convinced in thinking luck would actually be on his side for once. Until the little idiot came bounding around the corner.

“Oh, Kacchan!” he called, jogging over to the his place against the fence. He couldn’t catch a break, for  fuck's sake. Like the rude little shit he was, Katsuki shoved some rice in his mouth and didn’t respond. Deku took that as a cue to wait until he was ready to talk. Katsuki glanced up at him from the corner of his eye. He was smiling. Why? What was remotely pleasant about being alone with the person that tormented you for over half your life?

God, you’re such a fucking nerd.

He’d have to answer eventually, lest he be stuck with Deku staring at him with wide eyes for the rest of the period. Not fucking happening.

“What the hell do you want?” he grumbled, shoving more rice in his mouth.

“Kirishima told me your mom gave you something for me,” he confessed. He quickly backtracked at Katsuki’s withering glare. “B-but! You don’t have to give it to me if you don’t want to!”

No shit, Sherlock. I don’t owe you shit. Maybe a good beating, his mind supplied. He almost choked. It sounded too much like the bastard from his dream for his liking.

“Shut up,” he said. He didn't know whether he was talking to Izuku or his brain. He was leaning towards both. Just being in Izuku’s presence unnerved him. He pulled out a little white box. “For Izuku” was written on a note in his mother’s messy handwriting. He opened the box excitedly, eyes brightening at what was inside.

“‘Hope you still like strawberry,’” he read quietly. “‘thanks for dealing with Katsuki.’”

Izuku grinned, taking a bite out of the fruit on top. A pang of jealousy flared up in his chest. His mom didn’t make him any strawberry daifuku.

As if he could read his mind, Izuku asked, “Kacchan do you want some? They’re really good.”

The question aggravated him, because how? How was he sitting here, with Katsuki, smiling and acting as if everything was normal? Like they were friends? He didn’t get it.

“K-Kacchan? Can I ask you something?” he requested, twiddling with his thumbs in his lap. No . He took Katsuki’s silence as a yes. “Okay. Um. Is everything alright? You just seem...different.”

Different, different, different. He was tired of that word. All anyone has been saying to him is how different he’s been. Different how? He wasn’t any different, and if he was, people were paying too much attention.

“I-I mean! I know we don’t talk that much anymore and all--and that’s fine! Really, it’s fine, and even though we aren’t friends I still--”

Katsuki cut him off with a laugh. “Don’t screw with me.”

“W-what?” he asked, eyes lifting from their spot on his lap to Katsuki’s face.

Friends!? ” He stood, dragging Izuku by the collar of his shirt and slamming him into the fence behind him.

“K-Kacchan?” Stop. Don’t say my name in that voice. Don’t call me that.

“When have we ever even talked!? We weren’t even friends! You just used to follow me around like the useless dumbass you are!” No. Stop.

“I’m not screwing with you!” Izuku shouted back with just as much force. It took Katsuki by surprise, because Izuku didn’t yell at people. Ever.

“Kacchan! Why are you always like this! I just wanna help!”

This was too much. Too familiar. Too much like that stupid dream that wouldn’t go away no matter how he tried.

“I DON’T NEED YOUR FUCKING HELP!” Katsuki bellowed. That seemed to shut him up. “Why am I like this!? Why the fuck are you!?”

It was like the floodgates had been opened.

“No matter what happens, you always come back screaming ‘Kacchan, Kacchan!’ like nothing ever happened! You want to help? Start by fucking off!”

“No.”

Katsuki drug his hand down his face. Why is he like this? “Are you touched in the fucking head?”

“Kacchan,” he said, putting both hands on his arms. “It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere.”

He had the same expression as earlier. Defiant. Fearless. Powerful.

Kacchan’s my friend, so it’s okay!

He couldn’t. He really fucking couldn’t. He couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t handle those wide green eyes that somehow still didn’t hate him , and he just...snapped. Izuku was shoved back against the fence, Katsuki’s arm shoved into his throat before he could utter another word.

“Since you don’t seem to get it, let me break it down for you.” Katsuki brought his fist into Izuku’s line of sight, letting a few small blasts flicker in his palm. “This almost killed you.”

Izuku winced. Good.

“This is the hand I used to beat your sorry ass half to death. I nearly blew your fucking arm off. You mean to tell me,” he said, arm pressing harder into Izuku’s throat, “you still wanna be friends? You don’t hate me after I kicked your ass in front of all our classmates and left you for dead?”

As Katsuki watched pain trickle into that expression little by little, he was relieved. It had to be this way. They didn’t get a second chance. He watched, as eaxh word tore into Izuku, making him flinch back. His eyes were wet. He knew he was gonna kill himself for this later, but he had to say it. He couldn’t afford not to. “I could kill you right here and not give two fucks. Are we still friends, Deku?”

“You won’t,” Izuku said with conviction.

“I could.”

“You wouldn’t.”

How do you know?

Fuck. That question was too loaded, said to much--

“You wouldn’t,” he repeated, tone softer this time. Katsuki couldn’t meet his eyes.

“You don’t fucking know that!”

“I do.”

“You can’t possibly--”

A warm hand touched his cheek. He made to lean away, but another one came to rest on the other cheek. He was turned to face Izuku. “I do know. No matter how you act now, Kacchan is still Kacchan.”

There was waiver in his voice. His gaze was the same way. He looked straight into Katsuki’s eyes without a shrivel of doubt. Izuku believed without any question in his mind that Katsuki wouldn’t do it.

“He’s so naive. I wanna burn him.”

Katsuki ripped his hands away from his face. “Don’t fucking touch me. Don’t talk to me, don’t even fucking look at me. You think I won’t? Your fucking mistake. Next time, I’ll finish the job.”

He didn’t stay to hear the strangled noise that left Izuku’s throat nor the silent tears that made their way down his cheeks. He didn’t see the way his knees trembled when he left, nor did he hear the panicked breaths leaving Izuku’s lungs. He left him on the roof, shaking and crying. Because that’s what Katsuki did. He blew things up. He punched and pushed and prodded until there was nothing left.

He bit his lip.

God, he was such a piece of shit.

Chapter Text

Izuku had actually listened, for once. He hadn’t talked to, approached, or even looked at Katsuki once since the roof incident. He was grateful. Not sleeping was already becoming somewhat of a routine. That, paired with the uneasiness Izuku always managed to draw out was a shit show waiting to happen.

He pinched the bridge of his nose. There was a headache brewing, because the bus was loud and stuffy and there were too many people fucking touching him. He just wanted to go back home and lay down, even though he knew he wouldn’t sleep. At least there he’d find some fucking quiet . He tried to drown everyone out, but that wasn’t good either, because once he was alone with his thoughts--

 

It was dark, again. He was in the same room as before, but there was no projection on the wall. The air was damp and warm, the smell of gunpowder strong in the air. Sweat was building up quickly on his skin, so he pulled his collar away from his neck in an attempt to cool off.

“Hello,” a high voice chirped excitedly. He looked down for the first time, noticing he was sitting with his legs crossed. He met eyes with the same bastard from his other dream.

“What the fuck do you want?” he growled. He was trying to avoid this. Just his fucking luck. He was probably passed out somewhere because he was a weak piece of shit that couldn’t go a few days without rest.

“Don’t be mean, Kacchan!” he chastised. The boy looked down at his palm, eyes following the tendrils of smoke that rose from his enclosed fist. “I’d hate…” he began, letting his hand spark once, “to get rough with you.”

Katsuki felt as if he had ice in his veins. He knew it was a dream, knew it wasn’t real, but he couldn’t help shaking a little. How was he so terrifying? Just being in the same area as the child made Katsuki fear for his life. That doesn’t make any fucking sense. This is a dream, dumbass.

“Why am I here?” he asked, cursing the waver in his voice. He sounded scared shitless.

“I want to play a game,” Young Katsuki responded. A deck of cards appeared in his hands. Katsuki was silent, watching as he shuffled and dealt them out accordingly.

“What if I don’t wanna play?”

“Well,” Young Katsuki said, putting a finger on his chin. “That’s an option, but if you do that I’ll have to play with you instead.”

Katsuki shivered at the implication. “So? It’s just a stupid dream.”

The boy laughed. “Well yea! But you know just as well as I do how much that doesn’t matter.”

Katsuki’s hand flew to his neck, to the bruises that still stung whenever he took a breath. He bit his lip. “Fine. I’ll play your dumb game.”

“Oh you won’t be playing against me.”

Deku was there, in his lap. “You’ll be playing him. I’m gonna help though, since he’s really stupid sometimes. Young Katsuki wrapped his arms around Izuku from behind, hooking his chin over Izuku’s shoulder. “Oi, Deku. We’re gonna play another game, alright?”

Izuku nodded. Katsuki took notice of the bandage above his eye and the splotchy bruises that marred his skin. The sight of them made him feel sick.

“Okay. You both have twelve cards and you have to keep your cards face down. Both of you will take turns picking a card and putting it in the middle until you have one card left.”

“Up or down?”

“Hmmm...down,” Young Katsuki decided. “Let the ending be a surprise.”

Katsuki eyed the pair skeptically.

“Oh, him?” Young Katsuki asked, poking Izuku in the cheek. “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt him. You go first.”

It was just a dream. If he didn’t like it, all he had to do was wake up, right? Deku wasn’t actually there and he wasn’t hurting anyone. With that thought in mind, he laid down his first card. Izuku put down a card a few seconds later, and the game continued on.

“You know,” Young Katsuki said after a few minutes. “Our last name is Bakugou.”

“No shit,” Katsuki mumbled mockingly.

“It means explosion.”

Katsuki arched a brow.

“I just think it’s funny. ‘Cause explosion is the same as detonation, right?”

“Could you fucking quit with the chit chat and get to the goddamn point?”

They boy sighed. “Don’t need to be mean about it,” he grumbled. “Anyway, I was just thinking it’s funny how you’re trying to be a hero when our last name goes hand in hand with destruction.”

Katsuki gulped. “I didn’t choose my name, so fuck off.”

Young Katsuki tapped one of the cards in Izuku’s hand, telling him to put that one down. “Yea..but you didn’t seriously think you could become a hero with a name like that? Even you’re not that dumb. Heroes protect, not devastate, you know?”

I wanna rip this brat’s fucking head off. He chose a card from his own pile and put it in the middle. He was now down to six.

“Like I fucking said --”

Young Katsuki waved him off. “Yea yea, blame mom. I got that. You still know I’m right, though. You can’t hide anything from me, remember?”

“How many fucking times,” Katsuki growled, “do I gotta fucking tell you?”

He pointed to another card. After Izuku placed it down, Young Katsuki squeezed him tightly to his chest. Izuku winced, jerking to the side. Young Katsuki poked his side, smiling at the whimper it produced.

“H-hurts...” Izuku whispered, squirming as he poked and prodded at the bruises along his skin. For the second time in the hell hole, Katsuki wanted to cry. He could only watch, as minutes passed by, Izuku coming closer and closer to tears with each second. Young Katsuki must have poked a particularly sore spot, because he bit his lips hard enough to draw blood.

“Oops,” Young Katsuki mumbled, wiping the blood away with his thumb. “I promised not to hurt you. Sorry, I forgot.”

You forgot? How the fuck did you forget? Even if this was some sick and twisted reality that he created, Katsuki got the feeling that worse happened when he wasn’t around.

“I-it’s okay,” Izuku said quietly. “I don’t care if it hurts a little.”

You should. You really fucking should.

He wanted to leave. He wanted to get up, leave, and never come back. But more than that, he wanted to march over there and punch that little bastard so hard he wouldn’t wake up for weeks. He would’ve, but of course that was when his body decided to stop listening to him. Great. He couldn’t move an inch.

“Don’t do anything crazy,” Young Katsuki warned.  “I really don’t wanna have to be mean, but if you’re gonna act out I have no choice. Your turn.”

Me? Who’s the fucking child here!?

Katsuki chose the second farthest from the right. He was down to four.

Young Katsuki let Izuku choose this time, drawing patterns on his marked legs idly. “You’ll see.”

“See what?” Katsuki asked, skeptical.

Young Katsuki sighed. “Sooner or later, you’ll get it.”

“Get what? ” Katsuki questioned, annoyed. He was really fucking tired of these games.

“All we can do is destroy. You’ll tear apart anything that comes your way, right?”

“You don’t make any fuckin’ sense.”

“But...you did it again,” Young Katsuki reasoned.

Katsuki gulped. “Did what?”

“You hurt him,” he said, bumping Izuku’s shoulder with his chin. He tapped a card in Izuku’s hand, and he placed it in the pile. They were down to two.

“That’s not--”

“It is,” Young Katsuki said, voice steely. He met eyes with Katsuki from across the pile, gaze cold. Katsuki couldn’t look away. “He was just trying to be nice, right Deku?”

Izuku nodded.

“But you made him cry anyway. Don’t act like you didn’t hear.”

Katsuki thought back to that day, back to the sobs he head even after the door was closed, to the way Izuku stumbled into class a few minutes later, eyes red rimmed and voice croaky.

“And you liked it, didn’t you?”

He couldn’t deny it. He couldn’t fucking deny it because it was true. He couldn’t say he didn't like it because he did, he was glad Izuku was crying, because if he was crying he’d stay away. He’d stay away from Katsuki and his endless cycle of destructive bullshit. Katsuki had to make him cry, or else he would have kept pushing. He’d never have left it alone if he didn’t.

“I still don’t blame you, though. We can’t help it, right? His tears are prettiest, after all. He’s just so…”

Young Katsuki squished Izuku’s cheeks in his hand. He leaned forward further so that he could look at Izuku from the corner of his eye. “...breakable.”

Katsuki was going to be sick. He was really going to be sick this time. “You’re still fucking insane.”

Young Katsuki giggled. It was warped, high pitched and broken in all the wrong places. “So are you. The sooner you admit your depravity, the better you’ll feel.”

At some point, Izuku’s lip had started to bleed again. Young Katsuki wiped the blood off with his thumb again and licked it off with his tongue. “Cause you’re a beast, right?”

The question was innocent, as if he were just inquiring about the weather instead of accusing someone of being a monster. He held out his hand. “C’mon. I know it hurts. It’s okay.”

Izuku put down another card.

Katsuki sighed shakily. It did hurt. It hurt a whole fucking lot.

“I’ll make it better.”

Better...?

Katsuki shook his hand and slapped down a card. They were both down to one.

“Yea right. Get over yourself, fucking psycho.”

“Hmm.”

Young Katsuki hugged Izuku to his chest, plucking the card from his fingertips and turning it over. He hummed at the result.

Katsuki took that as a cue to flip over his own card. He immediately dropped it, recoiling as if it burned him. Young Katsuki laughed, once again.

“Still rethinking it? That’s fine.”

Katsuki started to feel dizzy, both people on the other side of him becoming fuzzy. Young Katsuki twined both arms around Izuku’s chest from behind, squeezing him tighter.

“O-ow! Hurts, Kacchan..!”

The bastard just smiled. “Sorry, Deku. Can you hold on for a little longer? He’s almost gone.”

Katsuki looked at his lap, realizing that he was, in fact, disappearing. Everything was still fuzzy.

“Me and Deku will wait, you know?”

He pulled Izuku tighter smile lighting up his face at the tears that followed. They started to flicker in and out, until Katsuki could barely make out the shape of them sitting there. He extended his arm out, and Katsuki couldn’t keep his eyes from following.

“We’ll always wait.”

That was the last thing he heard before he woke up. Even after he’d gotten out of bed, mechanically getting dressed and brushing his teeth, he couldn’t calm down. When he looked in the mirror, he didn’t see himself. All he could see was a small red card, the words ‘Bad End’ flashing at him in bold. That time, he couldn’t hold in his sick.

 

Katsuki clenched his fists in his lap. Stupid fucking dream. Stupid fucking brats thinking they know everything.

Whatever, he thought grumpily. Fuck sleep. I don’t need it. He moved his elbow to the windowsill, using his hand as a place to prop his chin. It was a bit uncomfortable with his gauntlets, but if he had to look at his overly excited peers for five more seconds, he might’ve been arrested for arson.

“Bakugou’s always fuming, so he won’t be a very popular hero,” Tsuyu coraked.

Katsuki’s eye twitched. He really didn’t need to be hearing this shit.

“Shut the fuck up. I’ll be popular, dammit,” he said quietly. Kirishima was giving him odd looks. ‘Kay man, dial it back a bit.

“See?” she said, although she looked confused. Katsuki could understand that, at least. Usually he would shout and scream until his face turned blue, but he didn’t have the energy. Or the patience.

“It’s only been a brief while since our socialization has commenced, yet already we have been apodictically cognizant of your personality, redolent as it is of a turd getting steamed in a sewer,” Kaminari said smartly. Give him a pair of glasses and he’d be the spitting image of Iida.

“Huh? The fuck’s wrong with your vocabulary?”

“Nothing,” Kaminari sang. “You’re just too dumb to get it.”

“Shut your nasty banana lookin’ ass up. You just said ever since we met, you’ve seen me being a shitty person,” Katsuki stated bitterly. Kaminari looked mildly shocked. He noticed Izuku in his peripheral vision, resolutely not looking up, gaze trained pointedly at his lap. He was shaking the slightest bit, so he bit his lip to get it under control. Katsuki felt a pang of guilt, but he ignored it.

“Of course, you probably didn’t even know what you meant your own damn self since you’re reading off your phone, you fuckin’ microphallic pikachu.”

“W-what?”

“Ex-fucking-actly. Leave me the fuck alone,” Katsuki growled. He turned to face the window, ignoring the now silent bus.

“What a vulgar conversation,” Yaoyorozu whispered. Ochako giggled in response.

“But it makes me laugh!”

Just like that, conversation started up again.

“Damn Bakugou, you are one foul mouthed dude,” Kirishima laughed.

Katsuki growled in response. He knew Kirishima was watching him, making sure he was okay. He didn’t need his fucking help. He was doing just fucking fine. Stop fucking lying to yourself, bastard. You’re as fine as a city that just got bombed.

“We’re almost there,” Aizawa droned. “Settle down already.”

“Yes sir!”

 

“Woah,” Ashido blurted.

Katsuki took in the giant dome, taking notice of burning towns, flooded rivers, and many other disasters. His classmates trickled in one after another, equal expressions of astonishment and awe on their face.

“Is this freakin’ U.S.J. or something!?”

Their instructor for the day, Space Hero Thirteen, answered her question.

“This is a practical training area I made specifically to simulate accidents and disasters of all calibers. So no, it’s not Universal Studios. Rather…”

He paused for dramatic effect.

The Ultimate Space for Jams! ” he announced, sweeping his arm across the area in front of him.

“So...it is U.S.J., then?” Todoroki questioned.

Thirteen cleared his throat. “Well, I suppose you could put it that way...”

A silence.

Aizawa walked over, rolling his eyes. “Hey, Thirteen. Where’s All Might? He should’ve been here by now.”

Katsuki tuned out the rest of their conversation. He doesn’t know when he started listening again, but he perked up at the words: “Please don’t forget that each of you has a quirk that can go awry.”

“All we can do is destroy. You’ll tear apart anything that comes your way, right?”

“One wrong step is all it takes…”

“You hurt him.”

“...to be able to kill others accidentally.”

“‘Cause you’re a beast, right?”

Get outta my fucking head, bastard.

He tuned them out again, something about potential and a sense of danger. Thirteen then went on to talk about fresh starts and using quirks for human life, the greater good, using quirks to help not hurt, using them to save people.... Blah, blah, happy go lucky bullshit. Katsuki didn’t give a shit. He just wanted to blow something up.

“... our last name goes hand in hand with destruction.”

“Shut the fuck up,” he muttered to himself angrily.

“Alright. First things first,” Aizawa began. Fucking finally. “You have--”

His words were cut off, the temperature in the dome dropping drastically. The air around them grew darker, dirtier . Katsuki’s head snapped up, eyes looking around him in panic. His peers were in the same situation, some looking around frighteningly while others were on high alert. Another hallucination? No...this is…

A swirling tunnel of mist appeared before them. Was this another test? Katsuki looked over at Thirteen, but he looked just as shocked as they were. Okay, not him. Katsuki kept his eyes trained on the foreign object, shoulders tense.

A hand came out of the mist. With it, a face appeared. It looked deformed, all wrinkly skin and wild eyes. The newcomer had a hand wrapping around from the back on his head and another over his mouth, like some sort of mask.

“Get back!” Katsuki bellowed, at the same time Aizawa said,  “Huddle together and don’t move!”

Katsuki grabbed the person nearest to him and threw himself backwards, hitting the floor. Thank god they all had decent reflexes, because not two seconds later, a horde of villains shot out of the mist.

“Thirteen, protect the students!” Aizawa shouted, jumping in front of them.

“You have got to me motherfucking kidding me,” Katsuki swore. In front of them, by the dozens, hundreds , were villains.

“W-what’s that?” Kirishima asked. He took a step forward. “Is this like the pattern at the entrance exam? All right” He grinned, moving to take a step forward. Shit .

Katsuki pulled the pin on his gauntlet, gritting his teeth at the force. He aimed it right in front of the redhead, wincing as the ground shook with the impact. Kirishima looked at him, angry, but Katsuki cut him off before he could speak.

“Don’t take another fucking step, dipshit.”

“Why?”

“Because!” Aizawa bellowed, “Those are villains! Use your fucking brain for once!”

Katsuki was mildly impressed.

Another figure emerged from the mist, but he seemed to be made of it. Katsuki guessed that he was the one responsible. Katsuki kept his guard up. He didn’t trust these guys for a fucking second.

“The information said Mr. All Might was supposed to be here too…” the mist shrouded man mused.

Behind him, Ochako gasped. “The reporters…” she whispered to herself.

The man who originally came out stepped forward, scratching his neck. “Where is he...we went through all this trouble,” he said, scratching harder at his skin, “and rustled so many to come along...you can’t tell me The Symbol of Peace isn’t here.

The scratching stopped. An eerily calm expression took over his face. Katsuki was willing to bet he was smiling underneath the mask.

“I wonder…” he said, twitching. Katsuki tensed his legs, ready to bolt at any given moment. His classmates seemed to be doing the same, preparing to fight or run.

“If he’ll show up…” The man turned his head to the sky, hands back to scratching at his neck. Katsuki watched, disgusted, as more skin came off with each motion.

When we kill the children…!

Fuck.

Words were being spoken, but Katsuki didn’t hear them. He was seized by the blind panic, spreading through his veins like lead. Calm down. Calm the fuck down.

He watched, as Aizawa charged into the mob of villains head on. “Thirteen! I’m counting on you!” his lips read. Katsuki still couldn’t hear anything. He could only spectate, watching dumbly, as Aizawa took on five, ten, twenty of them at once.

He saw Izuku mouth something, and Iida yell at him. “This is no time for analysis! We’ve got to evacuate.”

Evacuate…? Oh. Oh. He was supposed to be running, not standing there like a dead fish. He had legs that he should’ve probably used. He stiffly turned in an about face, forcing his legs to move, dammit, ‘cause these were real, actual villains that would kill them without a second thought--

The group was stopped by the Mist Man. “I’m afraid I cannot allow that,” he said solemnly. “Greetings. We are the Villain Alliance.”

Villain Alliance?

Move. Move damn it.

“Excuse us, but we took it upon ourselves to enter U.A., the base of heroes. We wanted to engage with Mr. All Might, ‘The Symbol of Peace ’.”

He went on to say, “We were hoping to extinguish him, you see. Is he feeling poorly?”

Move! Stop being so fucking scared!

He cleared his throat. “Well, setting that aside...this is my role.”

He needed to move. He needed to move so that he could kill this guy, tear him apart, destroy him for attacking his friends… His vision started to blur around the edges.

“All we can do is destroy.”

Destroy…

“..anything that comes your way..”

Tear apart…

“..that comes your way..”

Tear…

“...anything..”

Anything...

"...destroy..."

Rip him to shreds, Katsuki thought. Kill him right now.

 Kirishima zoomed past him, hitting him hard enough on the back to make him stumble. He had half a second to react, before he charged after him, fist raised. They hit at the same time, Katsuki’s fist going off with a BOOM and Kirishima’s with a Ping!

“As if we’d let you!” Kirishima screamed.

“That was quite perilous, the man said once the smoke cleared. Katsuki gulped. “That’s to be expected, though. You may be mere students, but you’re also the ‘golden eggs’ of the hero world.”

Golden? Don’t make me fuckin’ laugh.

Thirteen grabbed Katsuki and Kirishima by the shoulder, throwing them backwards. “It’s no use! Just run!”

They didn’t get the chance.

Before they could take one step, the black mist was surrounding the group of students. Katsuki covered his mouth and advised the rest to do the same.

You will be scattered ,” the man said, voice menacing, “and tortured, and slain.

Katsuki barely had a moment’s notice before he was gone.

Then he was back, this time in a dilapidated building. He stumbled once before a body caught him.

“Bakugou! You alright?” Kirishima. Katsuki sighed in relief.

“Yea, yea, get your fucking hands off,” he said, smacking said hands away. Kirishima looked sheepish.

“Sorry...Listen. Thanks, man. You really saved my ass back there.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Don’t count on it next time.”

Kirishima grunted. “Looks like we’ve got company,” he tutted, activating his quirk. Katsuki let the manic grin overtake his face. This is what he’s been waiting for.

“Yea? Let’s destroy them.”

 

“Fuckin’ hell,” Katsuki muttered to himself, dodging another attack. The guy he was fighting was tough, skin heat resistant just like his own was. No matter how many explosions he threw at him, he wouldn’t go down. He’d switch partners with Kirishima, but he had his own opponent that refused to back down and he doubted either would allow them to switch.

He sidestepped, tipping forward on his hands and spinning his legs around to kick. The man jumped back, fists raised. He wanted to use his gauntlet, but it had been broken a long time ago, lying somewhere discarded on the floor. His right hand took longer to produce more sweat, so he was stuck doing this petty back and forth bullshit until it was ready.

The man charged forward, managing to lay a blow on Katsuki’s jaw. His head snapped back, and he had just enough sense to block before a series of hits came down.

“You’re tough, kid,” the man said, wiping the blood away from his split lip. “Too bad you’re with me though. Your little fireworks ain’t jack shit.”

“Yea?” he asked, grabbing the man by the face and setting his quirk off. The smoke cleared and Katsuki cursed. No affect.

The man grabbed his arm, swinging him in an arc over his head. He hit the ground with a thud, something sharp and jagged piercing his shoulder. The man tried to swing him again but Katsuki was faster, grabbing an ankle in both of his and pulling forward. He let Katsuki go, hitting the ground in a similar fashion.

“Bakugou! You alive over there?” Kirishima asked from across the room, toe to toe in a battle of his own.

“Worry about your own damn self,” Katsuki barked, wiping sweat from his brow. He used it to his advantage, placing his palm flat in the ground and blowing it up. He used the rubble as a smokescreen, jumping behind a fallen structure and catching his breath. Damn, how the hell do I beat this guy?

“You’re smart, kid. Using that as a cloak to hide. But I see right through you.”

Katsuki whipped around, hand outstretched to land a blast, but the man grabbed his fist, forcing it closed. “Must take a lot to hide all that, huh?”

Katsuki froze. “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

The man laughed, a loud, bellowing sound that rattled Katsuki’s skull. “All that baggage! Must be a pain in the ass.”

Katsuki clenched his teeth. “You don’t know jack shit.”

“Sure I do!” the man argued, punching Katsuki in the stomach. The air was knocked out of him, and he hunched over in pain. “Used to be just like you!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” he grit out.

“Well,” the man stated, word accented by an uppercut to Katsuki’s jaw. “I know what that’s like. Ev’ryone always saying you’re a villain when you wanna be a hero.”

Katsuki couldn’t breathe for an entirely different reason.

“We have so much potential, you know. Everyone says so.”

“Shu-shut up,” he wheezed.

“Why?” he asked, twisting Katsuki’s arm behind his back. “I’m only speakin’ facts.”

He slammed Katsuki into the ground, one arm pinned behind his back and his face smushed into the cement.

“You say you wouldn’t think that way, but that’s a lie, right?”

You’re not.”

“Are you sure?”

“But I am,” the man said gravely. “Just give up now, kid. Save yourself some trouble.”

“Come on, say it.”

“I am not you,” Katsuki growled.

“I know it hurts.”

“I am not you.”

“Still rethinking it?”

“I fucking said ,” Katsuki roared, bucking the man off of him. Before he could hit the ground, Katsuki had him, throwing him to the ground himself and straddling his chest. His gauntlet glowed red. He aimed it at the man’s face.

I AM NOT FUCKING LIKE YOU! DO YOU FUCKING HEAR ME!?

He pulled the pin. He got a sort of sick satisfaction, watching the man scream. He watched, quietly, as the man writhed in pain.

“I’m not like that. I’d never think that!”

“Liar.”

His hands were shaking when he finally brought them back to his sides. He stood, numbly stumbling into the nearest piece of rubble. He rested his weight on it slowly. His vision wouldn’t stop shaking.

He wanted to scream. He wanted to scream, and cry, and rip his own fucking skin off because what the fuck. What the fuck was wrong with him? What kind of sick, twisted fuck was he? He grabbed the material over his chest, willing his heart to calm down. He felt like he was dying.

He glanced back at the man who lay still on the ground. He retched once, twice, before breaking into a coughing fit. Calm down. Calm down. Calm down , dammit!

A hand touched his back. He had the person pinned in a flash, eyes wild and ready to kill.

“Bakugou! Calm down, man! It’s just me,” Kirishima said calmly. Slowly, Katsuki let his breathing return to normal. He released him, falling back to the ground. He looked at Kirishima, who was standing up. He dusted himself off, then turned around to face Katsuki. He bent down to a squat so he was on Katsuki’s level. Katsuki felt like a cornered animal.

Slowly, cautiously, Kirishima held out his hand. “Dude, relax. It’s just me, see?”

Katsuki nodded slowly.

“C’mon. We gotta go help everyone else,” Kirishima explained. Katsuki took his hand and kirishima stood, dragging Katsuki with him. He stumbled again, taking a few seconds to find his footing. Kirishima gave him two hard hits on his back.

“You’re fine, okay?”

It took a while for Katsuki to find his voice. He swallowed. “Yea,” he whispered. “Yea, okay.”

He knew Kirishima was itching to ask, dying to know what happened, but he kept his mouth shut. Katsuki was so fucking grateful he could cry.

“Let’s go,” the redhead said, taking off in the direction of the bug’s center. Katsuki stumbled after him, biting his lip. He really wanted to cry.

 

“I’m gonna murder that warp gate motherfucker,” Katsuki said a little while later. They were almost there, walking through the buildings and cars in the earthquake zone.

“Now of all times you decide to start sounding like a kid again…” Kirishima sighed.

“Shut it!” Katsuki barked. “He’s their escape and entrance, dumbass! There’s gotta be a way to catch the fucker.”

“You think he’d ever give your fluffy asses a chance? Stop your fucking yapping you brats--”

Katsuki reached behind them, setting off an explosion to knock the guy out. He stopped walking, and turned to face their attacker. “Shut the fuck up. I’m not in the fucking mood, so unless you want to die, fuck off.”

Kirishima jumped at his tone. “Dude, chill.”

Katsuki sighed, ruffling his hair. “Whatever.”

They continued walking, and upon Katsuki’s insistence, had begun to devise a plan against the Mist Man.

“He’s gotta have a body somewhere, right? Even if it’s his quirk, people aren’t just born as fuckin’ mist.”

“But when we hit him, it didn’t do anything,” Kirishima pointed out. Katsuki kicked a stray rock in their path. Dammit. Hair for brains had a point. The rock hit a building off the the side, making a small noise.

Wait…

“Oi! When you punched him, it made a noise, right?” Katsuki asked, turning to face Kirishima. Kirishima hummed.

“Yea...I think so.”

Katsuki groaned. “I don’t need a think, dumbass. I need a know.

Kirishima  thought harder. “Wait! It did! It went all Ping! Fwah!

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Okay, Shoyuou. Calm the fuck down.”

“Shouyou? Who’s that?” Kirishima asked, but Katsuki ignored him. He smirked in triumph. They had their win.

*

They arrived on the scene right as Izku was charging forward. He had two seconds to assess the scene. All Might was on the ground fighting some sort of monster, Aizawa was unconscious on the floor, and Thirteen was nowhere to be seen. He saw Izuku, rushing forward.

What is he…?

“Midoriya!”

Oh fuck no.

“Midoriya, my boy!”

Fuck. No.

“Izuku! Don’t!”

That dumbass!

Katsuki didn’t think. He couldn’t think, because by the time he was, he was already moving. He ignored the calls of ‘Bakugou, wait! ’ and ran, zipping past everyone in front of him in half a second. What the hell is he thinking!? Fucking idiot!

Katsuki really hoped he was right about the Mist Man, because if not they were both dead. He pulled Izuku back, using his weight to propel himself forward, and tackled the mist.

“Outta the fucking way, Deku!”

He struggled for a minute, but he found what he was looking for and pinned it to the ground.

Behind him, Kirishima charged the silver haired man, striking him with a roar. He must had dodged, judging by the “Shit! Almost had him.” Kirishima let out.

“I heard about you bastards’ plan,” a third voice said. “About all of your roles in your scheme to kill All Might.”

Todoroki stepped into view. Katsuki was secretly relieved. With three of their strongest plus All Might, they stood a chance.

The Mist Man struggled under him, trying to get free. “No funny business outta you,  shadow ass mobling. I’ll blow your foggy day ass off the fucking planet,” Bakugou threatened, bending the metal with his fingers.

“Kacchan! Everyone!” Izuku exclaimed, sounding relieved.

“Shut the fuck up, Deku,” Katsuki growled. “You almost got your pathetic ass killed.”

The mere thought made him nauseous.

“But--”

“Shut. Up.”

Todoroki froze the monster holding All Might. Not wasting the chance, All Might freed himself and dashed forward. Katsuki smirked gripped the metal underneath him harder.

“See that? The Symbol of Peace won’t go down as weak as you baby ass sons of bitches.”

Both men were silent.

“You pinned down our revolving door,” the silver haired one said, addressing Katsuki. “Well now...this is quite the pinch.”

“Just like you said, Bakugou!” Kirishima cheered.

“Just like I fucking thought. The piece you used on your body to get all misty and teleporty just got sealed, motherfucker!”

Katsuki bent the metal further.

“You gonna try to say you don’t use that ward gate to hide your real body!? Huh!?”

Katsuki grinned.

“If you were just shadow mist and didn’t have a body, why would you ever call any attack ‘dangerous’!?” he demanded.

The man struggled beneath him.

“Doooon’t you move! The second you move so much as an inch, I’ll load you up right here, right now!”

Kirishima chuckled. “Not a very heroic line, buddy.”

I know, already. Shut the hell up.

The silver haired man began to speak again, but Katsuki couldn’t  be bothered to listen. His voice was getting on his fucking nerves.

“Nomu, go ahead and finish explosion boy over there. We’re taking our revolving door back.”

Nomu? The fuck’s a--oh. That’s a Nomu.

Katsuki watched, horrified as the creature--Nomu, his mind supplied--broke away from Todoroki’s ice. Half his body was gone, but its body started building itself back up again soon enough.

In between one blink and the next, the Nomu was there, and Katsuki was sure he would die that day. But no hit came.

“Kacchan!” Izuku exclaimed. He was to his left, gaping at him like he was the monster. “Y-you dodged him!? Wow…!”

“No, you fucking idiot,” he said stiffly.

I couldn’t see him at all…

All Might stood, panting in his place. “Do you not know mercy!?”

“We had no choice,” the silver haired man reasoned. “We had to take back one of our own. Plus, one of your kids..the uh... plain one over there by explosion boy tried to hit me with all his strength. Who taught him that?”

‘The Symbol of Peace'? Give me a break! You’re nothing more than oppression itself. Violence only breeds more violence.”

“You’re mad. Keep your anti social viewpoints to yourself,” All Might shot back.

The children gaped at the scene in front of them.

“It’s 3 vs 5,” Todoroki pointed out.

“And Kacchan exposed the shadow guy’s weakness!” Izuku added.

“These guys are outrageous but if we give All Might some support--”

All Might threw out his arm. “No! You must escape!” He turned to the group. “Todoroki my boy thank you for your help, but I’ll be okay! Let a pro show you how it’s done!”

And he was off. All Might charged at the Nomu, meeting fists in the middle. The shockwave was enough to push Katsuki back a few feet, and he covered his mouth just in case. They traded blows, too fast for anyone’s eyes to follow.

“A hero is someone who smashes through every obstacle life puts in his way! Do you know of what I speak, villain!?”

“You’ll tear apart anything that comes your way, right?”

Katsuki could feel the smug grin on that little bastard’s face.

With one punch, the Nomu was gone, straight through the ceiling. A home run.

“What is this, a comic book?” Kirishima asked, awed. “It’s like he pounded the shock absorption right out of him!”

“So that power was bullshit in the end,” Katsuki concurred. “He beat his ass so fast his regeneration couldn’t even kick in.” Is this really the type of shit the pros do? Holy fuck.

Just then, the entrance burst open. Katsuki turned, ready to fight. Luckily, it was just Iida.

“Class 1-A President Tenya Iida, reporting for duty!”

Maybe if you spent less time coming up with cheesy entrance lines and more time getting help, we could have avoided half of this.

“Okay but where the hell was he this entire time?” Tsuyu asked from the water. Katsuki had forgotten she was there.

Ah ,” the silver mad said, drawing attention back to himself. The scabs on his neck were bleeding again. “They came and now it’s our game over screen…But we’ll get you next time..Symbol of Peace All Might!

And then they were gone.

*

Katsuki was the first one on the bus and the first one off. He brushed off Kirishima’s inquiries and sat in the back the entire ride home. His throat felt tight. When they did get back, he changed, grabbed his bag, and left. Turns out Izuku didn’t actually listen, because Katsuki was stopped by him at the gate. Again.

“K-Kacchan!” he called. Katsuki stopped in front of him, glaring down at him with as much contempt as he could muster. He didn’t have time for this. He needed his fucking bed.

“I-I just wanted to say thank you. F-for saving me,” he said earnestly, looking back up at Katsuki. He couldn’t fucking do this, not with those wide eyes and that hopeful expression.

“Deku,” he sighed. “What the hell do you want?”

“I, um--”

“What I said still stands.”

Izuku’s face fell. Katsuki moved to walk around him. This is for the best. Izuku grabbed his wrist as he walked by.

“It’s not for the best.”

Katsuki winced. “How--”

“Because, idiot!” he exclaimed. “I know you! You’re making that face you always make when you’re being mean when you don’t want to! I’ve known you for eleven years, Kacchan! I can tell when something’s wrong!”

Katsuki grabbed him by his collar, yanking him upwards. “You don’t know anything.”

“I could.”

“No,” Katsuki ground out. He shoved him away. “You couldn’t.”

Izuku shoved him back. “You’re so freaking dumb! Can’t you tell when people are worried about you?”

I can. I just choose to ignore it.

Katsuki shoved him right back. “I don’t need your pity.”

“It’s not pity!” He walked up, taking Katsuki by the shoulders. He sighed. “Even your mom’s worried, Kacchan.”

Katsuki pushed him away, hard. “Don’t ever touch me. Stop fucking watching me and talking to my parents.”

“There you go again, dodging the issue.”

Katsuki pulled his hair in frustration. “Do you ever fucking stop? When will you realize that you’re not wanted? Keep me out of your bullshit hero complex.”

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what --”

“Being an ass when you don’t really want to,” Izuku said quietly.

Suddenly, he couldn’t take it. He wiped at his eyes furiously.

“Ka--”

“Deku,” he asserted. Something in his tone must’ve done something, because he was quiet. “Just--” he took a shuddering breath. “Stay away from me. Please.”

Izuku looked at him in alarm. Katsuki knew it was because of the tears making their way down his cheeks.

So much for 'the first and last time.'

“I--”

Katsuki didn’t stay to listen. He walked away, just like the day on the roof. He kept his head down the entire way home. When he got back, he didn’t say anything. He ignored his mother’s somewhat gentle questions and went up to his room. There, he flopped on his bed, face down, and grabbed his pillow.

He screamed.

Chapter Text

Katsuki didn’t really talk to many people. Like he’s said many times before, he generally wasn’t approached. Since beginning at U.A., his somewhat friendly interactions with people increased drastically, but it was nothing so significant that he had people vying for his attention very often. So, when Ochako suddenly walked up to him and asked to talk, he was surprised. He didn’t have a problem with her necessarily, but she was Izuku’s friend. He made it a point to steer clear of anyone who had close relations to Izuku. Nonetheless, he begrudgingly stood from his chair and followed her out.

He didn’t pay attention to where they were going, only noting that they were somewhere not too far from the classroom, yet there weren’t many students around. She turned one more corner; this time they ended up on a hallway that was completely deserted. They were alone.

She turned to face him, her eyes trained on the ground in front of her. He shifted his weight, shoving both hands in his pockets. Katsuki waited a few seconds, but he soon grew impatient.

“Look--”

Ochako raised her palm in front of his face, stopping him in his tracks. Katsuki grinned. Round Face has balls, huh?

She brought her hand back to her side, her other gripping the hem of her skirt tightly. Katsuki grew nervous. This wasn’t a confession, right? She couldn’t possibly…

“I…”

I really fucking hope not.

“Can you get on with it?” he griped, annoyed.

“I want you to stay away from Izuku,” she said quietly. She was still looking at her shoes. The grin slid off Katsuki’s face, his temper flaring up momentarily. Maybe he didn’t hear her right.

“What?” he questioned, voice shaking. He didn’t want to deal with this. Not now, not when his mind was already such a fucking mess.

She lifted her head from its tilted position, staring defiantly into Katsuki’s eyes. First his mother and now her? This stupid girl , who he didn’t look at, didn’t talk to, didn’t even associate with… He barely knew her name, and the only reason it stuck is because she hung out with the person he wanted the least to do with. He didn’t know her. She didn’t know him. So for her to pull him away, to call him out and give him that look that she could’ve only learned from him and him alone…

“I want you to stay away from Izuku,” she repeated, this time louder and more firmly. She stood confident, her head high and stance wide. Her arms were no longer gripping her skirt, instead they were raised to her waist with her hands in fists.  Katsuki wanted to punch her.

He pinched his nose between his fingers, giving himself a few seconds to calm down. When he looked at her again, she was still there, still looking at him with that fearless determination in her eyes. He clenched his fists.

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked tiredly.

Her glare became accusatory. She huffed, marching to forward to close the small distance between them, and poked a finger right into his chest.

“Every time he talks to you, he comes back looking like he’s about to cry!” she exclaimed, shoving him back. Katsuki was shocked.

“Are you fucking kidding--”

She cut him off. Again. He ground his teeth in annoyance. “Don’t lie! When you guys fought and the other day, I was there. I saw you!”

Katsuki scoffed. He didn’t need this from her. He knew he was an ass. He knew he made Izuku cry. He didn’t need this from anyone, especially not from his goody two shoes bubbly as fuck friend. He already knew it himself.

“Maybe you should get a hobby instead of watching other people talk,” he advised sarcastically. “It’s fucking creepy.”

“S-stop dodging the issue!” she demanded. Her cheeks were slightly pink, and she wouldn’t meet his gaze anymore.

“Oh?” he asked callously. “You should take that advice. You might hear something you shouldn’t.”

She looked momentarily shaken, then frowned up at him, shoving him back with her finger again. “And on the roof,” she began quietly, “when he came back. I could tell he was crying.”

That stupid feeling from made his chest ache. Guilt.

“But you made him cry anyway. Don’t act like you didn’t hear.”

His eye twitched and it took far more effort than it should have to get his heart rate back down.

“Look. I don’t feel like dealing with this right now, so let me put it to you straight. I don’t talk to him, he talks to me. Alright? Alright.”

Katsuki turned on his heel, ready to get the fuck out of there before he lost it. Sweat was forming on his brow and the pain in his chest was getting worse by the second.

“And you liked it, didn’t you?”

But Ochako was there before he could, stopping him in his tracks with one hand. Her glare was back and more heated than ever, burning two holes into his eyes where she looked.

We’re not done talking, Bakugou.”

He slapped her hand away from his chest. “Yes. We are.”

She held her arm out to the side, blocking his path. “No, we aren’t.”

She flexed her fingers and Katsuki’s attention was immediately drawn to the soft pink glow emitting from them. There was a similar light coming from the spots where she poked and blocked him. Katsuki chuckled, swiping a hand down his face. “Are you fucking serious? You really wanna go there with me right now?”

“If I have to,” she whispered forcefully.

Katsuki’s palms began smoking. He closed them, trying to reign in his anger. He didn’t want to fight her. “You’re not gonna let this go, are you?”

She shook her head.

“For the last fucking time, I told you. I don’t talk to him.”

“Yea right--”

Katsuki was done listening. He grabbed her outstretched arm, turning in an arch and slamming her into the wall next to them. He used one hand to pin her to to the wall by the shoulder. The glowing in her fingertips grew brighter, and Katsuki laughed loudly.

“You sure you wanna do that? I don’t care if you float me all the way up to the fucking moon, I don’t give a shit.”

His hand tightened on her shoulder; he smirked at her wince. “You better bet your ass you’re sure as hell coming with me, though.”

Ochako snarled at him. Kitty’s got claws, huh?

“Go ahead. You might be able to float the both of us, but after a while…” Katsuki trailed off, watching as her eyes grew open at his implication. She lowered her gaze again, hands trembling.

“Is this...is this what you do to him? Is this why Izuku always cries?” she mumbled, biting her lip. She let her hair cover her face.

“Maybe,” he said, voice patronizing. What the hell?  “Takes a little more for him, though.”

“Those words aren’t mine.”

Why am I acting like this?

“You’re the worst,” she growled. She was shaking along with her voice, but from what, Katsuki didn’t know. Hatred? Disgust? If so, he felt the same way. “I don’t know why he wastes his time on you.”

Me neither. If I knew, I’d make it stop. I’d give anything to make it stop.

She sniffed, using her sleeve to wipe away at the tears covering her nose and mouth. “Why would he waste so much time on someone like you?”

Why!? ” she exclaimed. “Why does he care? Why does he care so much about you, when he has us!? He has me --”

She slapped her hands over her mouth. She looked up at Katsuki, panicked. He couldn’t stop the smirk from taking over his face.

“Ah. I see what this is about,” Katsuki mumbled under his breath. So it was a confession, even if it was unplanned. He leaned into Ochako’s space, rolling his eyes at her scared expression.

“You’re jealous.”

“No--”

“Save it. You basically said it.”

“But--”

Katsuki covered her mouth with his palm. “Shut up. It doesn’t feel good, does it? When someone accuses you of something but won’t let you deny it,” he says, tone patronizing. Her glare was ice cold, staring at him with enough contempt to freeze hell over.

He felt her lips begin to move under his hand, so he activated his Quirk a little, just enough to make his hand smoke a bit. Katsuki didn’t think it would have an affect, but she yelped and he winced. I’m acting just like that brat.

“You say you wouldn’t? You are.

He pulled his hand back, refusing to look at the bright spot at the corner of her mouth. Fuck. I didn't mean to do that.

“I said shut up. If you’d listen for five fucking seconds, you’d know that I don’t talk to him. I ignore him,” he said, stepping back.  “He always follows me and starts talking to me. When I try to leave, he stops me.”

He sighed.

“I don’t even put my hands on him until he touches me. Sound familiar?”

She brought her hand up to rub at her mouth. “I don’t believe you.”

He snorted. “Then don’t. I don’t give a shit.”

Ochako rolled her eyes. “What the hell is your problem ? Why are you so mean?”

If I knew, I wouldn’t be here bitching back and forth with you.

“I have my reasons.”

She sighed. “Just stay away from him,” she whispered. She sounded near tears again. “I don’t want him to go through this anymore.”

That pissed him off. He kept telling her over and over that he did all he could to avoid Izuku, yet she was still going on about it.

“Don’t project your stupid jealousy onto me. You want me to stay away from Deku? Tell him to stay the fuck away from me .”

He turned again, ready to walk away, when she grabbed his sleeve. “I’ll…”

She stopped for a moment.

“I’ll take his place.”

What. “What.”

It wasn’t even a question. What is with this chick?

“I said I’ll do it! You can be mean to me and make me cry or whatever...Just--just stop hurting Izuku. Please.”

Wow. She’s got it bad. Katsuki could understand that. Izuku had his own weird charm, it drew people in and kept them there. He was clumsy, and awkward, and absolute shit at taking care of his own well-being. He was like a helpless bunny in a world full of larger, more dangerous creatures. It made you want to protect him, in a weird way. Hell, Katsuki knew he was doing just that, even if his methods were a bit skewed.

Plus, he’d saved Ochako during the entrance exam. So yes, he understood why she liked him. He understood why she pulled him aside, why she was talking to him then. He wasn’t good for Izuku, and she knew it too. She just wanted the one she liked to be happy. That didn’t mean Katsuki didn’t find this whole ordeal annoying as fuck, though.

“What the hell? ‘Take his place ’,” he said in a high pitched voice, “What is this, a bad manga?”

Ochako puffed out her cheeks, staring resolutely at the ground.

“Whatever, it doesn’t matter to me. If you wanna shake your ass in his face to draw his attention away from me, go ahead.”

Ochako snarled at him, and okay. He kind of wanted to punch himself for that one too. She balled her hands into fists at her sides.

“You’re seriously the worst.”

“I know,” he whispered. He forgot about her for a second, because she was right. Why was he being like this? His personality isn’t the best, and he’s vulgar, but he’s never been cruel. Not like this. What the hell is happening to me?

He stepped back, far enough so that she couldn’t grab him again. He started the trek back. Just as he was about to turn the corner, he heard her speak.

“I won’t let you get away with this. You won’t get away with hurting him.”

“Don’t,” he called over his shoulder. She jumped, surprised that he heard her. She looked at him, shocked. He supposed it was because his tone was completely serious.

“Don’t let me get away with it,” he said quietly. He held eye contact with her for a few seconds. When there was no change in her expression, he rolled his eyes and kept walking.

When he was around the corner and out of her sight, he put his head in his hands and slid down the wall to his left. His shoulder were shaking. Oh my god. Oh my fucking god.

He was dizzy and everything was spinning because why . Why did he act like that? Why did he sound like that? Why did he say those things? He felt disgusting He dug his fingers into his cheeks. He was still shaking.

There were too many thoughts bouncing around his head. It was too loud.

“Heroes protect, not devastate, you know?”

“Kacchan's my friend, so it's okay!”

“Just admit it. I know it hurts.”

It was too much.

“I never...will….?”

“I wouldn't do that.”

“Liar.”

He gripped his hair with his other hand, tugging harshly because he needed to come back. He needed some grounding. He needed something to anchor him there, so he wouldn’t drown.

“I’m not like you. “

“I would never do that.”

“I’m not like that.”

Don’t let me get away with it, please. Don’t let me do this. Don’t let me get away, ‘cause Deku sure as hell will.

He was drowning.

“Maybe,” he sniffed, wiping furiously at his eyes. He didn’t care about how rough he was being, didn’t mind the sting. He just needed them gone .

He was drowning.

“Cause you’re a beast, right?”

Something broke. Katsuki didn’t know how, but something broke in that moment. His tears stopped. His body stilled. He brought his now calm hands down to his lap, staring at them blankly. He took a breath. It wasn’t enough.

He was drowning.

“Maybe I am like that.”

He was drown...ing..

 

Ochako stumbled into the classroom a few minutes later. She didn’t look at Katsuki and he didn’t look at her. He kept his gaze on his desk, where a blank sheet of paper and a pencil were sat. For once, he just wanted class to begin.

“Woah, what happened to your face?”

The exclamation gained attention from the majority of the class, clusters of students rushing over to see what was going on. Katsuki didn’t look over, he already knew what was there. He didn't’ know why they were making such a big deal about it. It was just a burn, and a small one at that, on the corner of her mouth. He scoffed, turning his face in the opposite direction. Kaminari was there, looking back and forth between them curiously.

He felt the weight of her stare on the back of his neck, unmoving. Fine. You wanna make it a big deal? Let’s make it a huge fucking deal then.

He made a big show of turning, twisting his torso back around in a grand gesture and crossing his arms over his chest. The attention was still on her though, so no one saw. ‘ Tell them,’ he mouthed, licking the corner of his own mouth.

He could practically see her hackles rise, taking in the fierce snarl and cold glare. The smile dropped from his face and he glared back, willing her to say something. Go ahead. Say it. I don’t deserve friends. I’m the worst, right?

Their little face off was starting to gain attention, as more and more of their peers were turning to see what she was looking at. She seemed to notice after a minute, waving her hands and denying anything.

“Nothing. It was just an accident!” she said jovially, clapping her hands together.

Katsuki said nothing. Kaminari looked back and forth between them again, before loudly asking, “Something I’m missing here?”

Katsuki stayed silent.

“No!” she denied, waving him off. Katsuki wanted to laugh. Eeven if she said it cheerfully, he could hear the underlying hostility there. She can’t lie for shit. “What makes you ask that?”

Kaminari didn’t believe her either, because he turns to Katsuki. “Bakugou?”

Katsuki looked at Ochako, then at Kaminari, then back at Ochako again.

“Noooope,” he droned, popping the ‘p’. “Don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”

Her glare was enough to make the average man melt. Katsuki was not the average man. He grinned back at her. She did want a show, after all. She looked disgusted with him, and he laughed, turning back to the window and resting his chin in his hand. Kaminari looked at him skeptically.

“Oookay…” he mumbled. “If you say so.”

After a few seconds, conversation started back up, albeit hesitantly. All the tension left his shoulders and he flopped over his desk like a ragdoll. His phone buzzed in his pocket. He already knew who it was without even checking.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: so..u and uraraka huh ;)

You: 1. Don’t change shit in my phone. 2. Gross.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: ok ok calm down grumpy..but u 2 left and she comes back with a mark….

He glared at the redhead across the room. He was already looking over, like he expected Katsuki to glare at him. He scowled and flicked him off.

You: ew no go away

Katsuki heard his laugh from a few desks over, and he clenched his teeth . Overly happy idiot. There was a lull in the conversation, so Katsuki assumed that they were done. He put his phone down and started doodling on his paper.

His phone buzzed again. He huffed, snatching it up and angrily reading the message.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: r u okay tho?

He was typing a response, when:

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: dont lie. i can tell

Katsuki didn’t know what to do. He could’ve just told Kirishima to fuck off and mind his own business, but he’d had enough of being an asshole for one day. Then again, this was his problem and he didn’t want anyone else knowing. He looked over at Kirishima, who was already looking back. He locked gazes with Kirishima as he typed out his response.

You: Yea. I’m good.

Kirishima looked away then, typing something out on his screen.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: okie dokie. Meet me after school

You: Why?

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: cuz i want ice cream

You: go with someone else

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: nah

You: No.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: come oooonnnn

You: Nope.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: if u dont ill just follow u home and eat ur food

Katsuki didn’t reply.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: i take that as a yes?

You: …fuck off.

The Manliest Best Bro Of All: meet me out front

Katsuki groaned. He would’ve just ignored him, but he knew Kirishima would follow him all the way home if he didn’t, and his mom sure as hell wouldn’t kick him out. He flicked off Kirishima’s general direction. He heard a laugh, but he ignored in favor of sulking.

“Okay,” a voice said monotonously from the front. Aizawa popped into view, climbing out of his sleeping bag. “Class is starting, so shut up.”

The remaining students found their seats. Katsuki tensed when Izuku slid into his desk next to him. Aizawa went on to talk about last night’s homework and how most of them completely bombed it, so they had to take very thorough notes that he would check afterwards.  The majority of the class groaned, but Izuku excitedly took out his notebook and started writing.

Of course. Once a nerd, always a nerd.

Katsuki turned to his own paper, making to write the date in the corner, when he dropped his pencil in shock. In the corner of his paper was a drawing. It was small, and quick, and probably wouldn’t be alarming to anyone else, but it made Katsuki recoil. He probably didn’t even realize what he was doing when he drew it.

There, in the corner, was a card. It was halfway submerged in poorly drawn waves, the initials  'BE' sketched in the middle, like a brand. He asked to be excused. When he was outside, he slid down the wall next to the door. He wasn’t shaking, wasn’t trembling, he didn’t even feel panicked, but this felt all too similar to earlier.

The tears dripping off his chin and the tears stuck in his throat made him choke. He was still drowning.

*

Katsuki got home when his mother was cooking. The door opened and closed with a bang and she sighed to herself. It was a little past five. She looked at he clock, laughing quietly. He probably stayed out and got caught up in all sorts of shit , she thought to herself. She couldn’t really say much to that. She used to do the same. Like mama like son.

“Dinner’s ready! Go wash up!” she called, washing her hands in the sink.

“I’m not hungry!” he replied. That brat... She huffed, wiping her hands off angrily on a towel before stomping to the genkan. Katsuki was there, taking off his shoes.

“You damn brat! Geez, you didn’t eat yesterday either!”

Honestly, she was worried. Katsuki had been coming home late and going up to his room, refusing anything offered to him. He was starting to look more ragged than usual, dark circles forming under his eyes and tight lines around his mouth. She would’ve asked about it, but she already knew where that would lead.

She frowned at him.

“Whatever,” he mumbled, slinging his bag back over his shoulders and changing into his house shoes. She took him by the arm, trying to pull him along. She only made it about a meter before Katsuki had had enough. He stood firm, planting his feet on the floor and staying put. She sighed. Once her son decided he wasn’t going anywhere, no one could move him. She rounded on him, flinging her arm in the general direction of the dining room.

“Go,” she ordered.

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “I don’t wanna eat right now.”

Her frown deepened. Now that she was closer, she could see that he looked worse than usual. He was pale and his eyes were red, and from where she was touching him, he was...shaking?

“Sit. Down,” she growled, tugging on his sleeve. She was going to get him to eat something--and hopefully talk--if it was the last thing she did. “You are gonna park your little ungrateful ass down and eat every single fucking thing I give you.”

“No,” he growled back.

She clenched her fist. “ Excuse me?”

He snatched his arm back with enough force to make her stumble forward a few steps. “You heard me. I’m not fucking hungry. Go away.”

She bit her lip. Something was wrong.

“Katsuki,” she said firmly. He wasn’t looking at her. His face was turned to the side and his hair covered his eyes. “Katsuki, what’s wrong?”

Now she was beginning to panic. Usually, he’d push her away and mumble some rude response. She’d hit him and scold him, and then push him over to the table. He wasn’t doing that. He was completely silent and totally still. He didn’t protest, or lash out, or anything that he was known for doing.

“Katsuki,” she said, shaking him. “Katsuki, answer me.”

She put a hand on his cheek. Slowly, she turned his head to face her. “What’s….”

Her sentence got caught in her throat.

His eyes were blank, the usual spark of defiance within them gone. He looked haunted as well, as if he was in a nightmare he couldn’t wake up from. She tried to get a read on him, tried to understand what he was thinking because holy fucking shit.

She’d seen him sad. Of course she had, just because her son pretended to be bullet proof didn’t mean he was. She’d seen him tired. She’d seen him mad. She’d seen all of it, but…

She’s never seen this . This overall aura of darkness and hate . It made her shiver. She didn’t know who this was. Katsuki wasn’t like this.

“Don’t do that,” he whispered. He grabbed her hand and threw it away from his face--which would have earned him a slap on a good day--and took a step back. “Don’t fucking do that. Don’t look at me like that.”

Look at him like what? She touched her face. Oh. I’m crying.

Her arm hung in the air for a second before falling uselessly to her side.

“Stop,” he whispered, voice cracking. “You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to look at me like that in some sort of fucking guilt trip.”

She didn’t understand. She really didn’t fucking understand. Who was this? Not Katsuki. This couldn’t be Katsuki. She knew something was happening, but what could have lead to this ? He didn’t even look like this yesterday . What could have possibly happened within a day to do this to him? She didn’t get it.

She took one of his shaking hands in both of hers. “Katsuki…”

“No!” he exclaimed. He snatched his hand back down to his side. “Don’t talk to me like that!”

He just sounded wrong . She still couldn’t get it, couldn’t understand, because...this was Katsuki, right? Katsuki was difficult, not tortured.

She took his hand back, but he snatched it away again. When she looked at him, there was no hint of the vulnerable expression from before. He looked the same as he always did.

“Get your fucking hands off me. I said I’m not eating. You can fix a plate, but I’m sure as hell not gonna be the one eating it.”

He sidestepped and walked around her. She heard the opening and closing of the fridge, the creaky steps, and the shut of his door. She was still stood there, frozen, when the front door opened and her husband walked in.

“I’m ba--oh boy...” he sighed. He took one look at her expression. “So, what did he do this time?”

 

Katsuki shoved his pillow over his head after shooting a text to Kirishima. He knew his dad was home and he knew they were most likely talking about him. If he was petty enough, he would’ve opened the door and listened in. Just the thought of doing that made his stomach churn. He didn’t want to hear what they were saying. It felt too hot under his pillow, so he threw it off and turned onto his back.

He felt bad. Not even just about what happened a few minutes ago, he felt bad about what happened with Ochako, too. What the hell was wrong with him? He’d asked himself that question over and over. I made two people cry.

He hated the look on his mother’s face. She looked scared of him. He hated that face. That anxious, startled face, accented by silent tears and barely concealed grief. What expression could he have made to warrant one like that in return? He didn’t know. He didn’t know and he didn’t want to know.

“You’ll tear apart anything that comes your way, right?”

He covered his face with his hands. “Fuck off,” he groaned. “Don’t need your shit right now.”

He turned on to his side, gripping at his shirt over his heart. His chest hurt. It actually, physically hurt, and Katsuki didn’t know how to stop it.

Just apologize.

He was too prideful for that.

Well if you know that, why don’t you get off your ass and say sorry? Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

If he said sorry, that meant admitting something was wrong. His mother wasn’t stupid and neither was he. She knew something was wrong, and he knew that she knew. She probably knew that he knew that she knew. This is familiar…

Whatever. If he apologized, that meant admitting there was something to apologize for. It meant he knew his behavior was out of the ordinary, which was basically a confession. A confession meant an invitation to talk. Katsuki didn’t want to talk. He barely knew what was going on himself, so talking to someone wouldn’t do any good for anyone. (This was a lie and he knew this was a lie, but he stuck to it. Fake ignorance is semi-bliss, afterall. He wanted to wallow in his misery alone for a bit longer.)

Stop with the bullshit. Just get up, say sorry, and let it go.

“I’m not that good a person,” he whispered in the quietness of his room.

Deku would do it.

“Too bad I’m not Deku, then.”

He yawned. He was exhausted, but he didn’t want to sleep. Not after today. He didn’t want to, but his body did. It was hard fighting the creeping fatigue, so he didn’t. He was tired and angry and he just didn’t feel like dealing with anything. So he didn’t. He let the waves of his subconscious rock him into a deep sleep.

 

When he woke up, it was to gentle fingers combing through his hair. He groaned, burying his face farther into his mattress. He woke up slowly, taking a few minutes to wake up his body. The first thing he noticed was that he was calm. No rapid heartbeat, no hard breathing, just... calm .

The second thing that he noticed was the smell. It was light and fresh, like laundry detergent with the slightest hint of mint. It was oddly satisfying and somewhat relaxing. That’s why.

The third thing he noticed was his shoulder. It was moving back and forth. It was probably his mom, waking him up for school. She was the only one that touched him like this. Wait…

Katsuki’s eyes snapped open.

His mom and him had a fight. She never came into his room after a fight. Her hands also weren’t this big. Plus, she didn’t smell like that. He glanced at the clock to his right. 19:32 . So, not time for school yet. Who the…?

“Kacchan.”

You’ve gotta be fucking me right now.

“Kacchan, are you up yet?”

No. No fucking way.

“Kacchan…?”

He closed his eyes. This had better be a dream.

This had better be a fucking dream. This had better be a dream, or a stupid fucking nightmare, because if he opened his eyes and Izuku was there, he was gonna flip his shit. He opened his eyes. Izuku was there. It took approximately three seconds before he flipped. His. Shit.

Katsuki scrambled away from Izuku’s touch, backing against the wall like some sort of wild animal.

“Kacchan?” Izuku asked, reaching after him. “Do you not feel well?”

Did this kid not know how to read body language? Katsuki’s clearly read ‘STAY AWAY DO NOT APPROACH.’

But of course, since it was Izuku they were talking about, rules didn’t apply. He helped anyone that needed it, whether they wanted him to or not. Katsuki slapped his hand away, pulling his sheet and pillow closer to him like a shield.

“What in the actual fuck are you doing in my fucking room?” he hissed, pointing at him accusatorially.

“What?”

Katsuki arched a brow at him.

“Oh! Oh yea, your mom called mine and she told me to come over. I don’t know why though.”

Katsuki sighed. Of course. “My mom called and told you to come?”

Izuku shook his head. “No, no. She called my mom and I don’t know what they talked about, but my mom told me to come over so...here I am?”

“How long have you been here?”

“Since six.”

“You’ve been here for almost two hours!”

“B-but! She told me to come up here when I got in!”

This was too much. Katsuki needed time to process all of this. “Wait,” he said, holding a hand up. “You’re telling me you’ve been in here for over an hour?”

“Yes.”

“In my room.”

“Yes…?”

“While I was sleeping.”

“Uh…”

Katsuki smacked his palm on his forehead. “You’re a freaking idiot. And how did you get in here anyway? The door was locked.”

And quirk proof , Katsuki thought, thinking back to the many doors he’s ruined on accident.

Izuku waved his hands in front of his face. “No! It’s not how it looks! You just looked really tired and I didn’t wanna wake you..and the door…”

He held his hand up, sheepish. His pointer and middle finger were badly burnt, the skin dark and charred in some places. Katsuki sighed again.

“Change that ‘freaking’ to ‘fucking’. Cause that’s what you are. A fucking idiot.”

Katsuki drug his hand down his face. “Wait here.”

He scooted to the edge of his bed, standing up and stretching before making his way to the bathroom. Why am I doing this? He asked himself. Wasn’t I supposed to be avoiding him? He rummaged through the cabinet under the sink, pulling out a first aid kit. He got a glimpse of himself in the mirror as he was turning to leave. He thumbed over the bruises under his eyes. Tired, huh?

When he got back, Izuku was sitting on the floor. His hand was on his chin, fingers tapping at his jaw. As Katsuki got closer, he heard some of what Izuku was saying.

“--well, yeh. I mean the door is made out of normal material but the knob wouldn’t budge no matter what I did. Quirk proof? But quirk proof how? It would have to be heat resistant for sure  but resistant to brute force is just I mean I know Kacchan is strong but his quirk is explosion not super strength so what material is durable enough to withstand several hundred degree heat and force at the same time because heat usually makes material easier to work with not the other way around I mean I had to use One For All at max level just to--”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Oi, nerd,” he said, poking Izuku with his toe. He jumped, turning to see Katsuki above him.

“Ah, K-Kacchan! You’re back! Well obviously you are this is your room and all--”

“Shut up,” Katsuki said simply, moving to sit down across from him. “I’m not a doctor, so if you die or some shit you can’t blame me,” he warned.

He took Izuku’s injured hand, unwrapping the gauze and unraveling the tape. He set to work, bobbing his head at the tune Izuku was humming under his breath. He still didn’t understand why he was doing this. Was it because of guilt? Was he trying to make up for the number of times he’s made Izuku cry over those past weeks? They weren’t close, yet he didn’t mind.

This is my fault though. Just like after the class trials.

He bit his lip and kept working.

When he was finished, Izuku smiled at him. “Thank you, Kacchan!”

Don’t thank me. Don’t smile at me. “It’s whatever,” he grumbled, looking away. “Now maybe you’ll stop touching me when I tell you not to.”

“W-what?”

“You were touching my hair when I woke up,” Katsuki clarified.

Izuku was beet red, stuttering over his words and making wild hand gestures. “I was just--it was...it looked so soft, and--s-sorry!” he stammered, covering his face with his hands. Katsuki couldn’t understand. He still couldn’t understand how Izuku sat there, blushing and being as awkward as ever like it was okay. There were ten elephants stampeding in his room and somehow Izuku managed to ignore every single one of them.

“Deku,” he sighed, putting an end to Izuku’s rambling. “Why are you here?”

“Like I said--”

“No,” he interrupted. “Why are you here?”

He didn’t know why he needed to hear this. Redemption? Closure? He didn’t know. He did know that he planned to make this the last private encounter he and Izuku had together. He would make sure of it.

Izuku was silent for a minute and twenty eight seconds. Katsuki counted. He didn’t look at Katsuki when he spoke, but then again, when did he ever?

“I...I don’t know, really. You just…”

He gulped, wringing his hands together in his lap.

“You’re my friend,” he said suddenly.

“When have we ever been talked!? We weren’t even friends!”

“I know you don’t want us to be, but you are one. To me. I’ve known you for a long time, and you...you’re important to me. Really important.”

Don’t say that. Please. Don’t ever fucking say that again.

“And you’ve always been really bright. You’re always loud, and confident, and you take on anything without fear, saying ‘I’m the best, nobody can beat me!’”

“This is the hand I used to beat your sorry ass half to death.”

Izuku took in a shaky breath.

“But then suddenly, you’re not. After the trials, you said something you’ve never said before. You said you couldn’t beat someone, which is realistic because you can’t beat everyone , but...It’s like after that you stopped trying.”

“I nearly blew your fucking arm off.”

Izuku brought a knee up from its crossed position and let his head rest on top of it. “You never said ‘I’m the best!’ after that and you stopped smiling as much. You stopped being you, and I just...I’ve never seen you like that, and it’s scary. It’s scary, and I--”

“You mean to tell me,

Izuku’s voice grew choked, and he rubbed at his eyes for a few seconds. Three. I made three people cry today . “I had to come, Kacchan,” he sniffed. “I had to come, because you’re hurting.”

“I--”

“I know you’re hurt even though you don’t say anything! You always keep everything in until you literally explode! I..”

Katsuki didn’t know what to do in this situation. He wasn’t good with tears and he definitely wasn’t good with Izuku, so he was royally fucked. The guilt was eating him alive.

“I had to come. Even if you were hurt, and even if I couldn’t do anything, I had to see it for myself. I had to see you hurting, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t know if you would be here next time for me to see it!”

you still wanna be friends?”

Katsuki’s heart dropped. “What?”

“That’s how you were looking, Kacchan! You just look so sad and exhausted all the time and I don’t know how to make it better because you won’t let me!”

He looked directly into Katsuki’s eyes. “I don’t care if you don’t want us to be f-friends. I s-still care.”

“You don’t hate me after I kicked your ass in front of all our classmates and left you for dead?”

“I know you h-h-hate me, but I don’t care. I don’t hate you,” he hiccupped.

“I could kill you right here and not give two fucks.”

“I could never hate you,” he whispered.

“Are we still friends , Deku?”

Katsuki didn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t push him away now , not after that. How could he? Izuku was crazy. He had to be. No one in their right mind would say all of that after what they’d been through. He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t fucking deserve it.

“Don’t make that face,” Izuku insisted, crawling over to Katsuki. Katsuki could only stay still when Izuku’s arms came down on him. They wound tight around his shoulders, one gripping at the short hairs at the nape of his neck and the other in between his shoulder blades, anchoring him.

“What the fuck is this,” he grumbled into Izuku’s shirt. He hooked his chin over the other’s shoulder instead, because a mouth full of cloth wasn’t very appealing. “Why are you touching me?”

“I’m hugging you,” Izuku supplied simply. Katsuki rolled his eyes. No shit.

“Why, though?”

“You looked like you were about to cry.”

Katsuki sniffed. “Was not.”

“Were too.”

Okay. Maybe a little.

“No I wasn’t, dumbass. That’s your job.”

Izuku didn’t reply. He just squeezed him tighter.

“You shouldn’t worry about me,” Katsuki said a few moments later. “You’ve got better friends who treat you right.”

“Those friends don’t need hugs, do they?”

Katsuki sighed. “Round Face does.”

“Uraraka?” Izuku questioned, “Why? What’s wrong with her?”

“Ask her that,” Katsuki mumbled bitterly. Then you’ll see why you should stay away.

Izuku hummed. “Guess she’ll have to wait, then. Right now you’re my priority, Kacchan.”

Katsuki could feel the heat creeping up his neck and flooding into his cheeks. So that’s why she likes him. Deku’s one smooth motherfucker.

Cautiously, he brought his hands to hover above Izuku’s back. Izuku nudged him with his chin, nodding his head. “It’s okay,” he whispered.

Slowly, Katsuki let his hands rest on Izuku’s back, winding around him in the same fashion he’d done to Katsuki. “You should, you know. Go to her, I mean,” Katsuki mumbled.

Izuku flicked his ear. “I heard you the first time. Stop doing that.”

“Stop doing what?”

“Acting like you don’t deserve kindness.”

Katsuki’s heart throbbed in his chest. How was Izuku able to read him so well?

“But--”

“I’m not letting you go until you stop,” Izuku decided, scooting closer. Katsuki didn’t reply. Instead, he breathed in the scent of Izuku’s stupidly sweet smelling hair and closed his eyes. He could allow this, just for a little longer. They sat like that for a long time, denying Katsuki’s mother’s inquiries about food and water. The longer they sat there, the lighter Katsuki became.

Yes, he could allow this.

The longer he held Izuku and the longer Izuku held him in return, the more at peace he became. The chord that had been broken earlier mended itself, just the smallest bit. He wasn’t drowning.

It became easier to breathe.

 

In the morning, when he saw his mother, he wordlessly walked up to her and hugged her tightly. He couldn’t form his thoughts into words. He was sorry, and ashamed, and grateful and just...

“I know,” she hummed, petting the back of his hair. “Just don’t pull any shit like that again, you hear? I’ll beat your ass if you do.”

God, he loved his mother.

“Make tonkatsu tonight.”

She told him not to tell her what to do and shoved him out the door.

He really fucking loved his mother.

 

Izuku walked through the door. Katsuki didn’t stare. (He did. Just a little though, he swears.) He looked happy, stopping to greet Iida by the door and talk with Tsuyu about whatever they liked, Katsuki didn’t know. He practically skipped over to his desk, plopping down in his chair and turning to Katsuki.

“Hi Kacchan!” he exclaimed brightly. Like the Izuku radar she is, Ochako honed in on their conversation right away. Katsuki rolled his eyes. She was so fucking obvious it was sad.

“It’s too fucking early in the morning for your happy go lucky attitude,” Katsuki growled, turning away from him. Kirishima blinked. Kaminari blinked. Ochako blinked. He’s pretty sure even Todoroki blinked. These fuckers sure like to pay attention when it has to do with me.

Katsuki guessed he could understand this time, though. In his terms, that basically meant ‘good morning’ back. He’s pretty sure he and Izuku hadn’t had a civil conversation since the beginning of the year. Much less in front of everyone.

“Here,” Izuku said, dropping something on Katsuki’s desk. It was a lunch. Now Katsuki blinked.

“What the fuck?”

“To pay you back for dinner last night.”

Facepalm.

“And dessert that one time.”

Double facepalm.

“Deku. Stop,” he said underneath the hand covering the bottom portion of his face. “ Please.

“Eh? Why?”

He could feel the stares of his classmates. Usually he wouldn’t care, but this situation was just...no. They’re gonna get the wrong idea, you idiot.

Then, Izuku was right there , as in two centimeters away from his face, holy fuck. Katsuki jerked back. His face was red. He knew his face was red, Izuku knew his face was red, the entire fucking class knew his face was red someone kill him now please.

Izuku puckered his lips. Oh my god. Oh my motherfucking god fuck fuck shit he’s not gonna kiss me, right?

He leaned in closer.

Right!?

A gentle airflow swept across his eye and Izuku was gone. “You had something in your eyelash,” he explained with that dopey grin of his.

Katsuki had never been so embarrassed in his life. He’d never been embarrassed, period . Ochako’s glare was hot on the side of his face. He wished he was an ordinary man so he could melt into the ground and never return.

“Oh my god,” Katsuki moaned. This couldn’t be real. He slid down in his chain until he was almost on the floor. “Oh my god.

“K-Kacchan! What’s wrong?”

Was he doing this on purpose? He had to be. No one was like this naturally. There was no fucking way.

“You’re a fucking idiot,” he moaned. “You’re the biggest dumbass I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

“You said that last night too,” Izuku giggled.

Katsuki covered his face with both hands. Please. Make it stop. Someone make it stop.

“What!?” Ochako screeched, stomping over. She grabbed Izuku by the shoulders. “What do you mean by that? Izuku. What. Do. You. Mean?”

“Oh. It’s kind of a long story. We were talking in his room on the floor--but I can’t tell you what about, I don’t think Kacchan would want that--”

Katsuki groaned into his hands.

“And then I crawled over, and--”

“Deku, I swear to god. Shut the fuck up right now.”

“Oh my,” Tsuyu croaked.

What

“Woah,” Kirishima breathed from beside him. “Bakugou’s finally become a man.”

The

“Holy shit, dude! Even Bakugou gets embarrassed!” Kaminari called out.

“W-well then,” Iida said, adjusting his glasses over his red face

“Did you take a video?” Mineta asked. He was practically drooling, the creep.

Izuku looked confused. “Why would I wanna record an emotional moment like that?”

Fuck!?

The classroom exploded in chaos. Everyone rushed over to their little corner, shoving each other aside to get to the front. There were questions being hurled at them from all directions. It was worse than after All Might became a teacher.

He didn’t know where Ochako was, probably off in a corner somewhere plotting his murder for something he didn’t even do . Katsuki didn’t even care. Kirishima ruffled his hair and said something in his ear, but he wasn’t listening. He wished a hole would open underneath him and save him from the embarrassment of this entire misunderstanding.

He was never coming to school again.

Izuku was never going over to his house again.

He was never fucking leaving the house ever again.

“Wait, you think we did what!? ” Izuku screeched. “No. No no no! You’ve got it wrong! That’s--that’s n-not--”

Oh my fucking god.

Chapter Text

All good things must come to an end, such is life. This fact was drilled into Katsuki’s head in the form of another encounter with a very pissed off Ochako Uraraka. Katsuki knew it was coming. After the events of the most embarrassing day in his entire fucking life, she’d been shooting daggers at him nonstop. He was prepared for another confrontation, maybe some screaming, and maybe a bit of violence. Just because he was prepared, however, didn’t mean he was in the mood to deal with it.

She approached him much like last time, tapping him on the shoulder and nodding her head in the direction of the door. Here we fucking go.

He followed her to the same hallway they were in last time--the fuck’s up with that? Why’s there some random hallway that no one ever uses?--and rolled his eyes when she turned to face him. Before she could open her mouth, Katsuki was speaking.

“I already know what you’re gonna say, so I’m gonna stop you right there,” he said apathetically. Ochako scowled at him distastefully.

“You’re so rude. You didn’t even listen--”

Katsuki held a hand up.

“Like I said, I’m gonna stop you right there. Again.”

She rolled her eyes at him. She tried to speak, but once again, Katsuki cut her off.

“Save it. If you have a problem, take it up with Deku and fuck off.”

And with that, he left. Ochako, not to be silenced, ran after him. Katsuki kept walking, and she kept following.

“You said you didn’t talk to him, but he came over your house! What’s with that?”

Katsuki sighed, coming to a stop. “Take that up with the hag,” he answered. “Can you leave me alone now?”

Ochako shook her head, grabbing his arm. This was starting become a regular occurrence, and it annoyed him to no end. W hy does everyone keep fucking touching me? He looked back at her, giving her the darkest look he could muster.

“Let go,” he commanded. She winced at his dark tone, but she held firm.

“You didn’t even listen to what I had to say,” she said, tone exasperated. She seriously starting to piss him off.

“Why would I? You’re just talking bullshit that has nothing to do with me. There's no point.”

Ochako gripped his arm tighter. “How do you know that?”

Katsuki arched a brow. “Oh? So you weren’t gonna go off on some bullshit speech about staying away from your precious Deku? You weren’t gonna tell me that I wasn’t good for him?” He yanked his arm out of her grasp and turned to face her. He started to walk forward. “Or what? You were gonna say that it was all fine now? That you didn’t care anymore? Give me a fucking break.”

With every step he took forward, she took back. “I don’t need you telling me shit,” he muttered darkly. She stopped him with a hand on his chest, looking up at him with the same fiery determination as before. She didn’t say anything, and that managed to piss Katsuki off even further. He slapped her hand away from his chest, snarling at her.

“I told you not to fucking touch me,” he growled. She laughed quietly.

“You know,” she began, pushing him back with a little shove, “you’re sad.”

She took a step forward, and now Katsuki was the one backing up, which was not okay. None of this entire fucking situation was okay. Why was he being lectured by some annoying little side act that didn’t know anything? Why should he have to be pushed around by someone weaker than him? He shouldn’t have been. Why am I letting her act like she’s better than me?

“You walk around and act like you’re better than everyone else and then cry about it when you’re called out,” she said. “Where’s that cocky attitude now?”

She pushed him again, this time with enough force to make him stumble back a few steps. Enough. I’ve fucking had it.

She marched up to him again and grabbed his collar. “You’re just a liar who hides behind his flashy ego. It’s disgusting.”

“I’m only speakin’ facts.”

Ochako looked livid . Her tone was biting and her eyes were cold, but her smile was tight. Some sick, disgusting part of Katsuki was proud. Somehow, he was proud that he could reduce the usually bubbly and happy Ochako into a bitter, jealous mess. He was happy that he made her like this. He was truly, seriously glad that he turned someone so cheerful into something sour and bitter. I’m seriously fucked up.

His heart sped up in his chest. He didn’t know what to do. He was pissed because everything that she was saying was true. He was lying. He was acting like everything was fine when it wasn’t. He was acting like he was better than everyone else when he really fucking wasn’t. He was the farthest thing from better . It was disgusting. He was disgusting.

He knew she was baiting him. She was poking and prodding at all of his weak spots so she could get some sort of reaction to justify her claims. He knew she was, but he didn’t know what to do. He just wanted her to stop. He couldn’t have her picking at him and peeling back his layers. She couldn’t see anything . He wouldn’t let her. He fucking knew what she was doing, but he had no choice. She was biting him. So he bit back.

“You can’t hide anything from me, remember?”

You smart bastard.

“So?”

He grabbed her wrist, directing his gaze at the floor. He felt strangely calm.

“I don’t give a shit,” he whispered. He laughed quietly, deciding to finally look up. “That’s all true. But y’know what? I can’t be fucked to care.”

Ochako gasped, trying to tug her wrist away. He wouldn’t let go.

“So what?”

His volume increased with every word. He spared a second to be glad that this hallway was vacant. “So what if I’m a liar? Who cares? Who cares if I act like I’m better than you?

Stop it. Fucking stop, right now.

So what if I’m just a crazy piece of shit that everyone hates?”

She tried to take her hand back, but Katsuki held firm. Ochako looked at him like he was possessed. He laughed again. Maybe I am.

“I couldn’t give a shit if I tried.”

“Liar.”

She started shoving at his shoulder, twisting her arm in an attempt to free herself. Katsuki watched in mild amusement.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

He squeezed her wrist. The longer she struggled, the tighter he squeezed. Why now? What the fuck is wrong with me?

Ochako glared at him. “Stop. Let me go.”

Katsuki smirked at her in return.

Stop.

“It’s annoying, right?”

Please…

She pulled harder and tried to push him back.

Stop...

He let go at her yelp. He jumped back, looking at her in shock. He didn’t even realize that he was still squeezing. He looked down at his shaking hand. He needed to get away.

“What the heck--hey.”

He saw her feet getting closer in his peripheral vision. “Hey. Bakugou. What’s wrong?” Her voice sounded scared, worried.

She touched his shoulder. He flinched back like he’d been burned. He snarled at her, biting out a, “You see what happens?”

Fuck. Okay, bring it in. Calm down.

Ochako looked up at him with big brown eyes, shining with concern. He didn’t like that. Wasn’t she just upset a second ago? He didn’t like how her voice became gentle and quiet. Like she didn’t want to scare him.

“Hey. Answer me.”

Don’t fucking look at me like that. Don’t look at me like he does.

She was too close. She was too fucking close and her hand was too warm on his shoulder and he couldn’t fucking breathe because she was looking at him like that and-- he wanted her to stop. He wanted her to stop looking at him like she was worried about him. Stop looking at me like that, dammit!

He hated it. She looked like she was pitying him. ‘Poor little crazy Katsuki with his temper tantrums. He can’t handle a scolding like a big boy, so I have to baby him. So pathetic.’ Is that what she thought of him? Did she think that he was weak? That he couldn’t handle her sad excuse for a confrontation? He shoved his hands in his pockets. Fuck you.

He ground his teeth together so hard he tasted blood. That was good. It meant he was still there. He took a deep breath. In and out. In and out. Just like Deku said.

He shrugged her hand off. He fixed her with a scathing look. He wondered how scary it was, to make the fearless Ochako Uraraka jump back like that. Before he wouldn’t have wanted to know. Now he did.

“The fuck did I just say? Now get your stupid fucking hands off me and don’t touch me again or I’ll fuck you up worse than last time,” he growled. Whatever trace of empathy there was before vanished within a second. Her glare was back, this time darker and colder than ever.

Why was he doing this? Why was he treating her like this again? He didn’t get it. Why was she making him like this? Why was she doing this to him?

You’re doing this to yourself. He could see the little bastard now, swinging his feet and grinning at him.

“Sooner or later, you’ll get it.”

Ochako pulled back her now trembling hand slowly. Her eyes were wet when she looked away.

“You’re cruel.”

“So I’ve heard,” he said apathetically.

There were tears streaming down her cheeks when they met eyes again. He voice was choked up when she said, “This is why I want him away from you!”

“All we can do is destroy.”

“Nothing is worth this!”

He wished she’d stop being so right about everything. It was exhausting. He wanted to turn off his feelings for a while to make it stop. His chest was aching to the point of tears and he just wanted it to stop. Why was he here? Why was he doing this? Why am I arguing with her about this? It’s pointless.

“I know, right?”

God, he sounded like such an asshole. He wouldn’t have cared about something like that before. So why did it hurt so much now?

“Better save him before something bad happens.”

He wanted to vomit. The words burned coming out of his mouth, made him want to rip out his throat and never talk again. It was stifling. With each word he spoke, it made it harder to breathe. He dug his nails into his palm. He didn’t know whether he was talking to her or himself.

“You said you wouldn’t let me get away with hurting him, right? Who’s to say I haven’t already?”

He wanted to scream until his voice gave out and then scream some more. He wanted to punch the wall over and over again until his fists bled. He wanted to blow things up until he couldn’t anymore, until he could never use his quirk again. He was saying horrible things. He knew he was saying horrible, awful things that made him want to pull his hair out. Why couldn’t he  fucking stop? He bit his lip in frustration to keep more from spilling out.

Just stop. Stop fucking talking.

Ochako covered her mouth with her hand. She looked about as sick as Katsuki felt. I did that. I did that to her.

It took a few seconds for her to regain her composure. When she finally did, she looked absolutely enraged . Katsuki had thought he’d seen her mad before. Whatever he’d seen up until that point had nothing on the pure, unadulterated, contempt on her face. She looked ready to strike him. Katsuki didn’t even know if he could’ve put up a fight if she had.

“Is this,” she began, hands shaking at her side, “Is this how you treat your so called ‘friends’?”

“Deku and I aren’t friends.”

“Is this seriously how you treat him!? Is this really what happens when you two talk?”

Katsuki sighed. “Who knows?” he replied vaguely, just to piss her off.

Ochako laughed bitterly, wiping a hand down her face. “I can’t believe this. Actually, I can’t believe you.”

I can’t believe me either.

Katsuki was just done with this entire conversation. He could still barely breathe and he was pretty sure he was shaking. It took all of whatever sanity he had left to keep from sinking to the floor and bursting into tears. He just wanted her to leave so that he could try to get his shit together in time.

Ochako roughly shouldered past him when she walked away.

“I can’t believe I was actually worried about you for a second.”

“Bye bye,” he said cheerfully, laughing at her back. He tried to stop when she was gone, but he couldn’t. Why was he laughing? None of this was funny. It was the farthest fucking thing from anything remotely hilarious. He still couldn’t stop laughing.

He wondered how he looked, with hands in his pockets and his shoulders shaking. To anyone outside, he must’ve looked insane, laughing at nothing until he was blue in the face.

When he finally managed to calm down, he sunk to the floor. His chest was heaving and he was sucking in air, but no matter how many breaths he took he couldn’t fucking breathe. He was drowning again and this time he didn’t know how to stop it. Izuku wasn’t there and his mom was at home and honestly he just wanted a hug. Actually no, he didn’t want a fucking hug. He didn’t want a hug because he didn’t deserve a hug after what he did. He didn’t deserve anything after what he said. No sympathy, no empathy, and definitely not something good from someone better than him. He deserved to be locked up somewhere far away from everyone else so that he couldn’t hurt them. He was tired of ripping people apart.

He pulled one hand out of his pocket and buried his nails in his scalp. His head hurt. No, his heart hurt. He knocked himself in the head a few times because he was drowning and everything fucking hurt . Was this real? This couldn’t be fucking real. Nothing should fucking hurt like this. What is this?

He took his hand from his hair and squeezed his chest because that’s where it hurt the most. It felt like his chest would explode instead of his hands. He wondered what would follow if that were to happen.

He jumped at the feeling of something wet sliding down his cheek. Oh great. Now I’m fucking crying like the weak piece of shit I am.   He wiped at his eyes with his sleeve, but it didn’t help any cause the tears wouldn’t fucking stop and he still couldn’t breathe and he was a mess. He was just a big fucking mess and he didn’t know how to fix it. It felt like he was underwater. He couldn’t get any air into his lungs. Everything hurt. Nothing should feel like this. Make it stop.

Make it stop.

 

Of course she didn’t say anything.

Izuku and Ochako were whispering and giggling with Iida when Katsuki returned. Probably something stupid.

He was honestly tempted to just skip, but if he did that it would involve his parents and start up a pile of shit he couldn’t fucking deal with. Along with the list of things he hated, Katsuki noticed the things he couldn’t deal with growing at an alarming rate as well. He knew it was becoming an issue, but he shoved it down and filed under the list of things he couldn’t fuck with. He realized that he literally couldn’t deal with not being able to deal with things, but he never said he was a rational person. So he ignored it. (A very, very big mistake that he knew would come back to bite him in the ass later. He ignored that too.)

He walked past the three of them, refusing to look or even think about what just happened. There was no point. Even though he hoped she would, he knew Ochako wouldn’t talk. So he didn’t either. He walked past Ochako, ignoring her gaze even though he knew it was pinned to his back. If she wouldn’t bring it up, he wouldn’t either.

He roughly pulled out his chair and sat down, glaring at his desk. Stupid Round Face. Stupid Deku. Stupid fucking feelings fucking everything up.

It wasn’t long before Izuku, being the super duper caring individual he was, hopped his way over to Katsuki’s seat with his big green eyes and worried frown. Great. (Note: sarcasm.)

“Kacchan, are you okay?” Izuku asked quietly. He sounded more unnerved than his usual panicked stammering. She must’ve learned that voice from him, Katsuki thought, thinking back to Ochako’s inquiry from earlier.

Katsuki wished he could just glare at him and tell him to fuck off, but Izuku was scarily good at reading him. If he did look Izuku, he’s immediately be able to tell something was wrong. Then he’d ask questions. Katsuki didn’t want questions.

He scoffed. “Nothing’s wrong, calm down.”

He looked away. Izuku had the worst habit of derailing people with one look, and Katsuki wasn’t always immune to it. Especially as of late. He heard Izuku sigh quietly, but he held firm.

There was no response for a few seconds. Then Izuku was bending down to his level. The only warning he had was the feel of warm breath on his cheek before there was gentle fingers cradling his jaw and turning his head forward.

Warm.

Warm was the first thing that came to mind because Izuku’s touch was pleasant and comforting. His eyes were calm and inviting. Katsuki wanted to cry. Izuku was everything he wanted but didn’t deserve. He was soft and just--just warm and it made Katsuki want to curl up in a ball and bawl his eyes out. Izuku was looking at him so gently and it fucking hurt because he wanted to be selfish and nuzzle his cheek and say ‘I’m sad. I’m sad and fucked up and I’m pretty sure I’m going insane and I don’t know what to do.’ He wanted to so, so badly, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t admit to being that way. He couldn’t admit what he thought about at night when he woke up in a cold sweat to the image of the boy in front of him at the mercy of his hands.

He couldn’t say that he had nightmares, so often that he couldn’t sleep, and that Izuku was always there. But most of all, he couldn’t burden him. He couldn’t just forget the decade of relentless teasing and cruelty he’d put Izuku though. He couldn’t forgive himself just like that. He didn’t get to put Izuku through hell and then use him when it was convenient. The guilt was pouring into his chest in waves. No, he didn’t get to do that.

He really didn’t want to cry. He didn’t want to cry, or show weakness, or do anything in front of Izuku, or worse, in class, because he couldn’t get his feelings in check. He didn’t fucking want to, but if Izuku kept looking at him like that, he might’ve. He could feel his lip trembling when he spoke.

“It’s seriously nothing. Quit your bitchin’.”

Katsuki wanted to slam his head on his desk as soon as he said it. Fuck his stupid fucking dialect and his dumb accent that only came out when he was upset. Izuku frowned at him and his gentle look was replaced with a more worried one. Fuck. That meant he caught it too. Fuck it. I hate this.

Izuku didn’t say anything though, just moved his hand up a bit further and rubbed his thumb under the bottom of Katsuki’s eye. Softly, back and forth a few times, and he stopped again at near Katsuki’s ear.

“You’ve been crying,” Izuku murmured. Why the fuck does he sound like that? Why did he sound so sad. Izuku shouldn’t have sounded like that. He shouldn't have sounded so...so heartbroken. Heartbroken was the only way to describe it, and Katsuki was seriously considering banging his head on the desk this time because now Izuku looked ready to cry and that wasn’t the goal. Izuku let his thumb ghost down Katsuki’s cheek in the very path his tears took and he couldn’t breathe .

Katsuki was smart. He still didn’t get a lot of things. He really, really couldn’t fucking get this. Izuku shouldn’t  have been teary eyed. He shouldn’t have even been sad. Katsuki seriously didn’t get it. What the fuck is this? It hurts.

Seeing Izuku look at him like that hurt more than anything else he’d felt that day. He didn’t understand. He’d said worse, done worse, made Izuku look worse, but it never hurt as much as this. Then it clicked. This is why I didn’t want us to get closer.

He didn’t care. Lie. He didn’t care how Izuku looked or why--Liar--he just wanted him to look away. He didn’t care what face Izuku made, so long as he wasn’t making it at him.

He leaned away from Izuku’s touch and slapped his hand away. He really despised how he missed it as soon as it was gone. Seriously. Seriously, what the fuck is this? That’s not normal. Stop.

“I said nothing happened so nothing fucking happened,” he hissed.

Stop fucking looking at me like that.

Katsuki looked away. Don’t make that face.

Katsuki heard Izuku swallow. “O-okay, sorry…”

And then he left. He went back over to his friends and started joking around as usual, but Katsuki knew it was fake. His smile was just the smallest bit forced and his laugh just a hair too high. He left, but he forgot the to take the smell of his stupidly sweet shampoo, and the memory of his dumb worried face.

God, he was shit. He was so, so, so, shit for doing that. It’s for the best, he told himself, but was it really? It was the best for whom? Him? Izuku? He didn’t know. He still didn’t fucking know and it was driving him insane. There were too many thoughts running wild in his head and he didn’t know how to deal with any of them.

 

The next day, Izuku didn’t approach him. He didn’t greet him, talk to him, or even look at him. Even though it’s what Katsuki wanted, it still hurt all the same.

He’d never been more happy to see a teacher in his life than when Aizawa walked in. If Aizawa was there, that meant focusing on class instead of himself and whatever the hell was going on with his mind. Thank fucking god. He tunes back in at the excited murmuring of his peers.

“...since we’re going through with the festival, it means the school is confident in its measures security wise.”

...festival?

“Police presence will be five times bigger than normal. You should be thinking about how big a chance the academy’s sports festival is for you all,” Aizawa stated matter-of-factly. “This isn’t something that can be halted by villains.”

Katsuki tensed at the word. Villains. The very mention of them brought a sour taste to his mouth.

“Our sports festival is one of Japan’s biggest events!”

“Didn’t it replace the Olympics?” Yaoyorozu questioned. Aizawa nodded.

“The country's top heroes are sure to be watching!” Iida exclaimed enthusiastically. Sounds like a bother.

“Aren’t they gonna be scouting?” another student asked excitedly. This began a series of conversations that grew in volume as time went on. Katsuki rolled his eyes in annoyance. They’re getting excited over nothing. So freaking annoying, shut up already.

Aizawa hit the podium three times to get everyone’s attention. When it was silent, he spoke. “This is the chance you’ll only get once a year, for the total of three chances.”

Yea, yea, super important. We get it. Can we move on already?

“If you aim to be a hero, this is a chance you can’t overlook!”

I don’t even know if I wanna be a hero anymore.

What the fuck am I thinking? Of course I want to, what the hell?

Katsuki shook his head. Of course he still wanted to be a hero. Just because he had….whatever this was going on didn’t mean shit. He was still going to be a hero. He was still going to be number one, no matter what anyone said. Fuck his dreams and some stupid muscle head. He would become a hero. He was gonna be the best damn hero there was, everyone else be damned.

“Kacchan’s really strong! You can do it!”

Nope. Not now. Not fucking now. You already had your fifteen minutes. Now it’s my turn.

“Now I feel suuuper pumped!” Kaminari exclaimed, pumping a fist in the air.

“Yea, man! If we stand out to a pro and show our manliness, it’ll be a huge leap forward!” Kirishima yelled.

Katsuki felt some of their excitement rubbing off on him. This didn’t have to be a bad thing. He could look at it as fun, something to blow off a little steam and have a good time fighting. He was overreacting before. It would be fine.

“Hey. Iida, Izuku,” Ochako called. “Bakugou..” she added a second after.

Katsuki blinked, turning around to where she was, by the door.

“What?”

“Let’s crush it. The sports festival.”

Her aura screamed defiance. Her mouth was twisted in a frown, and her eyes were narrowed in determination. Right. At. Katsuki.

His nostrils flared. She arched a brow. Come at me , her eyes said.

“Woah, woah, woah! Uraraka, your face!”

Katsuki took a second to remember that while this was nothing new for him, most of the class hadn’t seen her like this.

She grinned. Are you scared?

Hell no , Katsuki thought with a smirk. He fixed her with a look of his own. Bring it on.

*

“Hey man,” Kirishima greeted as he walked through the entrance to the roof.

Can I just eat in peace? Just fucking once?

“What the hell are you doing here?” Katsuki asked tersely, taking a bite out of his sandwich. Every fucking time. What was with this guy? He was almost as persistent as--nope. Nopenopenope. Don’t think about him.

“Eating,” Kirishima replied with a grin, holding up his lunch box. “Can I sit with you?”

“If I said no, would you fuck off?”

“Nope!”

Kirishima took the spot beside him, sitting down and leaning back against the fence. He opened his bento and began eating heartily. Katsuki scowled at him when a stray piece of lettuce landed on his cheek. He plucked it off and flicked it back at Kirishima.

“Can you eat without spitting everywhere or do you not have any fucking home training?” Katsuki hissed, scooting over a few spaces. Kirishima laughed it off.

“Sorry, sorry. I’ll be more careful.”

Katsuki hummed and took another bite. It was kind of nice, eating with someone, even if they weren’t talking. Katsuki actually preferred it that way. No annoying questions.

“Hey Bakugou, can we talk for a sec?”

Never fucking mind then.

“About what?” Katsuki muttered angrily. He just wanted to fucking eat, for fucks sake.

“Are you...are you gonna be okay to fight?”

Katsuki didn’t like where this was going. Kirishima had suddenly become serious, abandoning his food in favor of turning towards him. “In the festival, I mean.”

“The fuck’s that supposed to mean?” Katsuki demanded, tone indignant. “I’m always ready to go.”

Kirishima looked like he didn’t believe him.

“You got something you wanna say?”

“Well...I mean, after--what about U.S.J.?” Kirishima blurted out, face going slightly pink. The hairs on the back of his neck bristled. He really didn’t like where this was going.

“Huh?”

“Wait, wait, no.” Kirishima said quickly, waving his hand in front of his face. “Scratch that, it came out wrong.”

No fucking kidding.

“What I mean is...uh...AGH! This is going all wrong,” Kirishima groaned, dragging a hand down his face. He placed one hand on Katsuki’s shoulder, then the other.

“Man, are you okay? Ever since then you’ve been kinda weird.”

He was suddenly brought back to that demolished building, back to the fight with that man. He could still hear his words fresh in his mind, could see the pain on his face during his last moments. He could feel the adrenaline he felt then, followed by dread at what he’d done. His throat burned.

“You’re smart, kid. Using that as a cloak to hide. But I see right through you.”

What was Kirishima’s obsession with him? They’d only known each other for a few weeks, but he’s shown more compassion for Katsuki than most of the people he’d known for years. Why did he care so much? Did Katsuki honestly seem that hopeless, or was Kirishima just a good person? No way. No one was that nice for no reason.

Deku is, his mind supplied.

Fuck Deku and fuck you too.

“What do you mean by that?” Katsuki asked quietly.

Kirishima gave him a look.

“Bro.”

Come on now. I was there , his eyes seemed to say.

Katsuki sighed. He really didn’t want to talk about this right now. Or never. Never would be great.

“Seriously, it’s fine--”

“Bakugou,” Kirishima warned. He gave Katsuki a stern look and squeezed his shoulders. “The truth. You hear me? The. Truth. Don’t bullshit me, man.”

“Must take a lot…”

This was too much. Katsuki couldn’t even find it in himself to be mad at Kirishima, honestly. He knew he wasn’t doing it to be prying or annoying. Kirishima was genuinely worried about him, and once again, Katsuki wondered what he must look like to make another person look at him in such a way. To make someone worry about him. Was he that fucked up?

“...to…”

At his silence, Kirishima shook him a little. “I don’t think you get it.”

No, I really fucking don’t.

“You...okay. We all know that you’re not the most calm or understanding guy, and you kinda act like a jerk a lot.”

Katsuki narrowed his eyes at him. What was he playing at?

“Chill out. I’m not trying to pick a fight,” Kirishima said at Katsuki’s scowl. “It’s just...you’re kind of scary when you fight. It’s not really a bad thing, but that day…”

Kirishima took a breath.

“That day, I don’t know what the hell happened or what that guy said to you, but you made this face, and it was just--it was fucking terrifying, honestly.”

The scowl dropped from Katsuki’s face.

“I mean he had to say something, right? No one just flips out like that for no reason. At first I thought you were just giving it your all to beat him, but then...you just panicked. You looked like you were about to pass out. You were stumbling around like you were drunk and I seriously thought you got hurt, so I came over…”

“..hide all that…”

Kirishima squeezed his shoulders again. “Just...the way you reacted was...all I wanna know is if you’re good to fight again. You’ve been acting weird even before U.S.J. and I just wanna see if you’re okay.”

“...huh?”

Looked like there was no skirting around this one. Katsuki really, really didn’t want to talk about it. At all. Never, like he said.

Kirishima sighed. “If you don’t wanna talk about it, I get it. We aren’t close like that.”

Katsuki was suddenly being pulled into a hug. “I know we just met and stuff, but like...I care, okay? Even though you barely tolerate me, you’re my friend.”

He didn’t know how to respond, so he settled for three awkward pats on the back.

“Like I said, you can trust me. I won’t tell anyone.”

It was weird, he thought. Even though it was the same hug, it felt different from Izuku’s. Izuku’s was soft and calming, while Kirishima’s was strong and firm. Kind of like it’s owner. Izuku’s made him feel warmer and safer, but Kirishima’s was warm in its own way. While hugs from Izuku heated him up from the inside out, ones from Kirishima warmed him from the outside. Both were polar opposites, yet still pleasant. Katsuki couldn’t say all of this, of course, so he responded with his usual snark.

“The sentiment is not appreciated. Now leave.”

Kirishima laughed him off, as usual not phased by Katsuki’s cold demeanor. He ended the hug with one hard pat and began to gather his things.

“Good talk. Can I eat with you again?”

Katsuki snorted. “Hell no. Never wanna see your ugly face again.”

“So same time then?”

“Fuck you.”

“You wish,” Kirishima sang. Katsuki threw a tomato at him, but he dodged it and ran through the door like the child he was. He really was nice. Too bad Katsuki couldn’t get close to him. It was then he noticed that his hands were shaking.

This was why he didn’t talk to people. Talking to people meant friends, and friends meant trust, and trust meant feelings. Katsuki fucking hated feelings. Fuck. Why are they shaking?

Cause you’re a lying, selfish bastard, maybe? Stop making people worry over dumb shit. Either get it together or hide it better.

Katsuki couldn’t disagree.

 

“Kacchan!”

Before, Katsuki would have kept walking. That’s what he should’ve done, but he kind of felt bad about what happened in class. (The real reason was that Katsuki had slowly but surely started his metamorphosis of being a creature that was completely weak to Everything Izuku™, but that’s a fact that he still won’t admit to this day. So.)

He stopped to let Izuku catch up. When he turned to face him, Izuku was smiling with red cheeks and a too bright smile that made Katsuki squint a little.

“Can I walk with you?”

“Whatever.”

So Izuku fell into step beside him, and they began to walk. It was quiet for the first half, Katsuki lost in his thoughts and Izuku...doing whatever it was that made him smile like that. Probably kicking rocks or something like that.

“So, uh..” Izuku spoke up after a moment, “about earlier--”

“Damn it, Deku! I said nothing was fucking going on and that’s what I fucking meant! You’re always making big deals out of nothing for no freaking reason. You’re so fucking annoying,” he barked.

Izuku jumped back in surprise, looking at him with stupid big eyes that made him feel guilty. He looked like a kicked puppy.

Not a puppy  he thought. Deku looks like a bunny.

He didn’t mean to snap like that. It was more of a reflex than anything else. He didn’t know if that made it better or worse. Well if that’s a fucking reflex , then what’s intentional?

This was why Katsuki stressed that they couldn’t be friends. Katsuki was mean and fucked in the head and Izuku was innocent and nice. It wouldn’t work. It had no chance of ever working. Katsuki would keep hurting him intentionally, and unintentionally, and Izuku would just smile and nod. That wasn’t okay. That was too close to him dreams for comfort.

“It’s okay, Kacchan. I don’t mind.”

No. He wouldn’t be like that even if it fucking killed him. He wouldn’t let it become like that.

“Sorry. I’m just being a dick for no reason.”

Izuku looked jumped again. Katsuki guessed he could understand why. He never apologized to anyone before Izuku came along. He never cried in front of people before Izuku--his mother didn’t count, he didn’t care what anyone said, it was once, dammit--either, but.

They both knew how that went.

“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have kept bringing it up,” Izuku said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. “Sorry, Kacchan.”

No. Don’t do that.

“Why the fuck are you apologizing?” he questioned, turning around and glaring at Izuku. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“I upset you though...so shouldn't I apologize?”

Too fucking close. Too fucking close.

No, dipshit.

He didn’t think he’d ever hated himself more than in that moment. Did he seriously used to enjoy this? Did he used to think this was fun? It seemed like second nature to the other.  Did he seriously fuck Izuku up so badly that this is how he acted, responded around him? Because he knew Izuku wasn’t like this normally. He saw him earlier. He didn’t act like this with anyone else. Was it because of that moment that they shared but didn’t talk about? Was he acting like this because Katsuki was ‘hurting’? Or was it something more? He didn’t know. He didn’t fucking know and it was still driving him crazy because why didn’t he know? He should’ve had this. He should’ve been able to figure this out. How was it that Izuku could read him so well, but he couldn’t do the same?

He hated himself. He really, truly hated himself. Why did he used to like this? Why did he used to be like that? Why was he still like that? He was happy when Izuku cried and left him alone for a few days because he was a miserable bastard that couldn’t do anything good for anyone but himself. Shit, he couldn’t do anything good for himself either, as of late.

He couldn’t breathe, again.

Shit. How many times is that today?

He squeezed his chest and closed his eyes, taking in a few deep breaths. Not now. Please, not now. Not while he’s here.

He didn’t want to open his eyes because Izuku would be right there , looking at him with that face and talking in that soft voice that somehow managed to calm Katsuki down and rile him up at the same time. He’d probably get really close and touch him and ask if he was okay and be nice . Katsuki didn’t need nice . He didn’t deserve nice . Nice was too good for him.

“Kacchan.”

There it was. I fucking knew it.

He squeezed his eyes shut harder at the sound of approaching footsteps. No. No no no fuck no. Please no.

“Kacchan.”

Then came the hands. One on his shoulder and the other on the side of his neck. They were still warm, but this time it was too much. It felt like they were scalding him. It fucking hurts.

It hurt so much and he was pretty sure he was hyperventilating at that point and the places where Izuku touched burned and everything hurt.

Izuku pinched his neck. He yelped and jumped back, would have fallen if izuku wasn’t holding him so securely. For the second time that day, he was looking into slightly panicked green eyes.

“Kacchan it’s okay. Come back.”

Slowly, he unclenched the fist tangled in his jacket. Izuku was swiping his thumb back and forth across Katsuki’s skin, just like earlier. Without realizing, he’d matched his breathing to the rhythm.

He wanted to cry. God, he must’ve looked like such an idiot, gasping for air on some random sidewalk in the middle of the day. Izuku wasn’t supposed to see this. He never wanted Izuku to see this.

And fuck, now he had to leave, because he was actually going to cry, and he was just fed up with it all because this wasn’t fucking normal. None of this was normal. Katsuki didn’t get nervous, he didn’t cry, he didn’t do any of this. This was the first time that he realized that something was seriously fucking wrong with him.

Izuku pinched him again. “Kacchan. Come back.”

He sighed in relief when Katsuki’s eyes focused on him. “I’m right here, Kacchan. Where did you go?”

If Katsuki was an idiot, he wouldn’t have known what that meant. Sadly, he wasn’t one, so he knew exactly what Izuku meant. He wasn’t ready for that question, so he chose the only logical option. He ran.

“I’m going home.”

“No.”

God fucking dammit.

“Deku, seriously. Let go.”

Katsuki tried to pull away but Izuku held them in place.

“I can’t let you go home like this,” he reasoned.

“And why the fuck not?” Katsuki demanded. He reached up and forcibly removed Izuku’s hands from his body. “Nevermind. I’m going.”

“Okay,” Izuku said simply. Katsuki sighed in relief. Thank--

Izuku grabbed onto his sleeve

No one. Thank nothing and no one.

Katsuki yanked his arm away. Izuku just grabbed on again.

“What in the actual fuck is wrong with you? Let go.”

“No.”

Katsuki sighed. “Deku, what are you doing?”

“Walking with you.”

“Why…?”

Izuku hummed. “Cause I won’t let you go home like this.”

“Like what?

Izuku looked over at him, suddenly serious. “I don’t think you want me to answer that.”

Izuku was probably right. He didn't. So, Katsuki went with it. He put up with Izuku and his weird demand until they got to his house. He ignored Izuku’s goodbye and stomped his way up the stairs. When his mother asked if he was hungry, he said he already ate and closed his door. He ignored her angry muttering and dropped his bag to the floor, following suit soon after. He leaned back against the door and put his head in his hands.

Now that Izuku was gone and he was alone, he finally allowed himself to break down. He had been sitting for several minutes, trying to control his shaking, when the first tear fell. Then the second. And third. He didn’t do anything to stop them, just let them fall. He cried and cried until he fell asleep, and even then he probably cried a little more after. It was messed up, he knew, but it felt like the best sleep he’d ever had came after he was too exhausted to even hold his eyes open. It was so, so messed up, but Katsuki didn’t care. He just wanted it to end. He needed it to end.

 

He awoke with a crick in his neck and a twinge in his spine. Whatever deity there was must have felt bad for him that day, because he’d had a peaceful sleep for once. It took a moment before he realized what woke him up. He shoved his hand in his pocket grumpily, yanking out his phone and squinting at the screen.

Missed call from Deku (1)

A moment later, his phone buzzed again.

Deku: kacchan are you okay?

Deku: you dont have to answer i was just asking because of earlier i just have a bad feeling

And after that,

Deku: am i annoying you? sorry ill stop

That’s not it. That’s not fucking it so don’t say that.

“Goddamn it,” Katsuki swore, tugging at his hair. How could Izuku be like this? How could he be wherever he was, worrying about Katsuki of all people? Shouldn’t he have been mad? Angry? Hurt? He’d gotten yelled at for no reason because Katsuki couldn’t get it together. So why? Why was he still being so nice?

Deku: kacchan please

And Katsuki felt even more shitty because he couldn’t bring himself to respond. Why was it like this? Things were supposed to be going better. He couldn’t respond, and the sick feeling was coming back, and he just didn’t understand. Izuku was warm. Izuku was warm, and nice, and all the things Katsuki shouldn’t have wanted but wanted anyway. Before, he calmed Katsuki down. Before, he made the bad thoughts go away. So why was it that now it felt like he was melting? He had to end this. He had to end whatever this was before it began and ripped the both of them apart.

Deku: im sorry i touched you again. can you please reply? im scared.

He had to end this. He had to make his thumbs work, and type out a reply. ‘I don’t want to see you.’ ‘Leave me alone.’ ‘Go away.’ ‘Stop annoying me.’

He flung his phone against the ground and curled an arm around his stomach protectively. His chest hurt. His heart hurt. Just end it. That’s all he had to do. With one text, it could all be over.

Deku: please dont do this

He curled his body in on itself. It shouldn’t have been this hard. It was a fucking text message. It shouldn’t have been this difficult to type out a two word reply.

His phone was still unlocked on the floor when it vibrated again. Katsuki glanced over and read the message at the edge of the screen.

Deku: sorry

Stop saying that.

“I don’t care if it hurts a little.”

Don’t be sorry.

Don’t.

“Is this how you treat your so called ‘friends’!?”

Deku, please.

He bit his lip harshly.

Don’t be.

Don’t be.

Chapter Text

Falling out of bed was not the ideal way to wake up, Katsuki found out. His head throbbed from where he hit his head on his nightstand, his feet tangled in his bed sheets. He angrily kicked them off and sat up. He sighed heavily and craned his neck around to see the time on his clock. 3:32 A.M. was not an ideal time to wake up either. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to rest his weight on the wood behind him. His head hurt.

 

He was in a boat. It wasn’t very big, rough and made of wood, maybe able to fit two people. The sea spread far and wide all around him, dyed black by the ominous clouds hanging in the sky. The air was buzzing with energy and when he looked over the side, he couldn’t see his reflection. He was alone.

“Kacchan! You came!” a jovial voice said. A solid weight crashed into his chest and he was pushed to his back, sprawled out on the bottom of the boat and eyes fixed on the swirling clouds.

A patch of fuzzy green hair popped into view, followed by a set of eyes and a mouth. “Kacchan? Are you okay?”

Oh. Right.

“Did you hit your head? You didn’t last time but it would be bad if you did.”

Izuku. It was definitely Izuku perched on top of him, poking around his head and looking for signs of injury. He looked the same as he always did, young and small, clothed in an oversized All Might shirt and green shorts. The scratches on his face had healed significantly, and the only trace of what had happened were a few light bruises on his arm. The only thing marring his skin was a nasty looking cut on the center of his bottom lip. The sight of him was relieving, yet particularly unsettling in Katsuki’s gut.

“I’ll help you sit up,” Izuku said, pushing himself off of Katsuki and tugging on his arm. Katsuki rose slowly, bringing a hand to his head. This was ridiculous.

Here he was, sat in the middle of fuck-knows-where, trapped in a boat in some weird alternate dream universe where they were all children. And to make matters worse, he was stuck with the moss haired, bright eyed source of his misery.

Wait.

If Izuku was there, that meant--

Katsuki searched with his eyes frantically, but all he could see were tranquil waves, somehow looking wicked in their charcoal hue. Where the hell was he? He had to be nearby, he never let Izuku go anywhere on his own. He was too possessive for that.

A small hand landed on his knee and Katsuki jumped back, meeting eyes with a nervous looking Izuku.

“Um. You don’t h-have to be scared. He’s not here t-t-today,” Izuku finished shakily, words running together at Katsuki’s glare. He school his face into a more neutral expression and sighed.

“So what the hell do you want?” Katsuki asked bluntly, crossing his arms defensively. No matter what it was, if he was here it wouldn’t be good.

“I-I--um. I just wanted t-to--”

“Oh my fucking god, Deku. Just say it already!” Katsuki exclaimed loudly. He immediately felt guilty at the startle flinch he got in return. It was strange, he thought. There was no anger, no doubt, no forbidding sense of dread. Whenever he came here, he’d usually be paralyzed in fear, unable to do or say anything in retaliation. Now, he was the one doing the scaring. It wasn’t a good feeling.

“S-sorry,” Izuku whispered quietly, eyes trained on his lap.

Katsuki wanted to jump overboard and never return, just to escape that dejected face and melancholy voice.

“Why do you always apologize?” Katsuki asked, focusing on the tremble in Izuku’s fingers and the downward slump of his shoulders. Katsuki hated this. He absolutely despised this with his entire being, possibly more than anything on the list so far.

Izuku’s tone was sardonic when he replied, which was unsettling for someone his age. “I’m always wrong right? Useless people are always beneath the strong guys, right? That’s what you said when you were little like me.”

“Stop it,” Katsuki commanded, voice hard. “Stop that shit right now.”

Izuku shook his head, eyes still trained downwards. “I can’t. I’m supposed to, right? Sorry.”

God fucking damn it. Katsuki ran his fingers through his hair and tugged, hard. This was fucked. This entire situation was so utterly, insanely fucked that he didn’t know what to do with himself. Jesus fucking Christ . He didn’t even remember saying that, which made it all the more horrible. Seriously, what the fuck was wrong with him? Why would he say that? Why did he say that? What made him so inclined to make someone else feel like Izuku just did? What sick enjoyment did he used to feel? He couldn’t remember and quite frankly, didn’t want to.

“P-please don’t get mad! I just wanted to talk to you c-cause you didn’t answer before--”

A dull ache throbbed in Katsuki’s chest at the reminder. The image of his screen popped into his head, the message staring back at him in big, bold letters.

please dont do this

kacchan please

“--but I made you m-mad! Don’t be angry K-Kacchan…” Izuku whimpered with a hiccup. He rubbed at his eyes with his fists and sniffled. “I’m s-s-sorry!”

“I’m not mad! Just--just stop apologizing. And stop crying, dumbass!”

Izuku’s tears slowed to a stop and he opened them, wide and green and piercing Katsuki’s soul.“R-Really?”

This was a mess. Izuku was crying and Katsuki was getting choked up and it was just a huge fucking mess and it made no sense. It frustrated Katsuki to no end.

Izuku must have taken Katsuki’s silence to mean something else, because the tears started up just and strongly as before.

“Stupid, stupid! You always say I’m dumb and it’s cause I always do this!” Izuku wailed, whacking himself on the ear a few times. His nose was running just as fiercely as his eyes and he was slobbering everywhere, and it was honestly kind of gross. It was gross, sad and wet and stabbing Katsuki in all the right places to make him hurt. He couldn’t watch.

“Stop,” Katsuki pleaded desperately. He reached out and grabbed Izuku’s arm, pinning it down to his side. “Quit fucking doing that and quit saying sorry. Stop all of it.”

Izuku nudged Katsuki’s arm with his forehead.

“Do you hate me?” Izuku asked quietly, tone vulnerable.

Yes. I hate you for making me feel like this, is what he thought.

“No,” Katsuki said. “I don’t.”

“But you said you did?” Izuku inquired gently. He was still looking at Katsuki with that bright, tear dampened gaze and he was fucking wheezing because it was just wrong .

Katsuki clenched his teeth. “I know.”

So fucking wrong.

“You yelled at me and ignored me.”

“I know.”

So messed up.

“Why?”

Because I need to hurt you. You need to stay away.

“I don’t know.”

“You tried to kill me.”

He couldn’t keep the tremble out of his voice at that one. “I know, dammit!”

Izuku climbed into his lap and gathered him in a hug. “It’s okay, Kacchan. Don’t be sad. I’m okay.”

Why did he always say that? Why was it okay? It wasn’t okay and Katsuki should’ve been sad because none of this was supposed to happen. None of it was was supposed to go like this. He wasn’t supposed to feel guilty and Izuku wasn’t supposed to come stumbling back into his life.

“Why do you always say that? It’s fucking not, alright?”

Izuku held him tighter and Katsuki knew he was trying to make him feel better, but it just made him feel worse. Why? Why was Izuku still being nice to him, even in his dreams? What could he have possibly gained from that? He should’ve been angry. He should’ve been pissed and fuming. He should’ve been sad. Anything but this...this care . That’s what it was. Izuku cared about him and was worried about him and Katsuki for the life of him couldn’t figure out why.

Izuku should have been relieved. He should have felt relieved that Katsuki was leaving him alone, thrilled that Katsuki was actively avoiding him. So why wasn’t he? Izuku should have been ecstatic about his freedom, not chasing after him and getting anxious over his well being. Why was Izuku here , hugging him in his dream, permeating Katsuki’s walls with his warmth? It was already bad enough that he did it in real life. Did he have to invade his mind as well?

Izuku buried his head in Katsuki’s chest and shook his head. “Don’t say that. It is!”

“No.”

“Yes!”

Katsuki sighed. This was why he fucking hated kids.

Katsuki glared at Izuku, who was down the bridge of his nose, his small chin rested on Katsuki’s chest.

“It means you love me, so I don’t care…” Izuku said quietly, mouth twisted up in a bashful grin.

What?

“What?”

The air couldn’t get to Katsuki’s lungs fast enough. Did Izuku know what he was saying?

What the fuck. What the fuck what the fuck what the fuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck.

“Who--” Katsuki gasped, chest heaving with each gulp of air he took. “Who the fuck told you that?”

“Kacchan did!”

I didn’t. I fucking didn’t. I don’t care what anyone says, I wouldn’t fucking say that what the fuck.

His lungs were full of water. He felt light, he couldn’t get enough air in his lungs, and he felt like dying. His heart was pounding in his chest, lungs heavy like they were filled with the thick water surrounding them. His chest burned, his eyes burned, everywhere they were touching burned like hell. His skin was going to melt off. His skin was going to melt off, and then his bones, and then whatever was left until there was nothing. He was going to turn into ash and fucking disappear, but he didn’t even care because what in the actual fuck, Deku.

“I never--I didn’t--”

He couldn’t breathe.

“Oh! S-sorry Kacchan, not you!” Izuku insisted hurriedly, patting Katsuki’s cheek with his little hand. “I didn’t mean you!”

All he could manage was a strangled “Huh?”

“My Kacchan!” Izuku squealed excitedly. Katsuki was gonna hurl. He was gonna hurl and throw himself off the side of this fucking boat because it was cramped and it was too much and oh my god .

“He said that he only gets like that when he loves me extra. When he hugged me really hard one time I told him it hurt and he said it was fine because he loves me and he’ll be the only one to hurt me, ever.”

Izuku said all of this with the most rosy cheeked, blissed out smile that Katsuki had ever seen and it made him sick to his fucking stomach. This was so twisted. So wrong.

“‘That’s how we love people and you’re mine and I love you so it’s okay’ is what he said. It made me happy!”

“Why? Why are you happy when you’re getting hurt? Who’s happy with shit like that?”

“I am.”

“That’s so fucking stupid! Don’t--don’t just let me walk all over you!” Katsuki yelled. Me, he thought. I said me. He pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel his patience wearing thinner and thinner. Why couldn’t Izuku understand? None of this was okay. He didn’t give a fuck about it not being real, it still wasn’t okay.

“Deku--”

“You still don’t get it?”

Don’t say it like that. You sound too much like him. Like me.

Izuku giggled quietly and hid his face in Katsuki’s chest. “When he does that, he’s looking at me,” he said quietly. Katsuki squinted at him, still perplexed.

“It makes me sad and it hurts a lot, but finally!” Izuku let out another giggle, this time sounding more strangled and off center. Katsuki felt the wetness seep into his shirt before he felt Izuku’s trembling form.

“You’re mad at me for finally catching up, and you both ha-hate me, but…! You’re finally looking at me Kacchan! Y-you can’t leave me behind, anymore. You always have to watch out so I don’t catch up. You’re always l-looking at me, Kacchan. It makes me happy!”

If it makes you so damn happy, then why don’t you sound it?

Izuku gripped at the fabric covering Katsuki’s back. “I want you to look at me and only at me, because I’ll be the one you fight to be number one. Nobody else.”

His voice was muffled by Katsuki’s shirt.

Both of them are crazy.

“Kacchan said that’s how you love people,” Izuku commented after a few seconds. “But I don’t think that’s true!”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Izuku pulled himself away from Katsuki’s chest and fixed him with a childish glare. “I don’t think it’s true,” he repeated. “You two don’t love the same. You love with your head and Kacchan loves with his heart.”

Katsuki was starting to realize that Izuku wasn’t as clueless as he appeared to be.

“What the fuck are you trying to say?” Katsuki demanded. Izuku gave him a small, shy smile.

“You’re almost the same person,” he mumbled quietly. “Almost.”

“I know because I’m you.”

Katsuki took a moment to be offended. We’re nothing alike, what the hell?

“Are you sure?”

No.

“Still don’t know what you’re getting at…”

“Kacchan has...troubles sometimes. They make him mad and it makes me really really sad sometimes and it hurts a lot but I can handle it.”

Izuku looked him directly in the eyes.

“I want Kacchan to love me and me only so I take his pain for him. And now he does love me and even though it hurts, I still love him. Your hurt is his hurt and I take it all. Cause Kacchan is my best friend.”

“I don’t mind if it hurts a little.”

The shape of Izuku’s wobbly smile was imprinted in his mind when he said, “So I can take it. It hurts, Kacchan. I can feel it. Can I have it?”

“Huh?”

“Cause Kacchan will keep me if I’m not useless, right? So give it to me. I won’t be a ‘Deku’ anymore. I’ll take it.”

Katsuki didn’t know how to respond.

“You want to forget it, right? I’ll forget it for you.”

A clap of thunder sounded in the distance and Katsuki looked at he sky in concern.

“I won’t be worthless anymore! Isn’t that great?”

“That’s not how it fucking works. That’s not how this works.”

Izuku smiled at him sadly. “You really don’t get it….”

He sounded forlorn. Katsuki ached.

“Maybe not now, but you will. You always do, Kacchan.”

Wide eyes.

Trembling hands.

Shuddering gasps.

“You should forget.”

A pale hand.

A fluttering throat.

A voice.

“Forget about them. Forget me.”

Katsuki shoved him away. “This doesn’t make sense. What you’re saying makes no fucking sense!”

A threat.

Tears.

Regret.

Izuku gripped one of Katsuki’s larger hands between his smaller ones. “I’m sorry.”

“This almost killed you.”

“I told you to stop apologizing!” Katsuki yelled. He was hysterical, his voice reaching pitches he didn’t know were possible and his heart thundering in his chest. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t fucking right.

“Kacchan, look.”

He didn’t want to. He didn’t want to he didn’t want to he didn’t want to . His body didn’t care what he wanted, because he was staring into the dry yet pained eyes of Izuku Midoriya. He poked at a spot underneath Katsuki’s eye.

“See? You’re not crying anymore. It’s okay.” I was crying?

Except it wasn’t. It wasn’t okay.

“Don’t go to that place. It hurt’s Kacchan! It hurts.”

“Where did you go?”

Izuku was there, then he wasn’t.

He was there, in his uniform, clutching Katsuki’s hand in his. His eyes were kind and his voice was gentle and he looked at Katsuki with so much gentleness that it hurt . His hands were warm.

He was there, in his too big t-shirt with his too big eyes that were too wise for his age. His nose was red and his mouth was shaky and he looked at Katsuki with too much admiration for someone that hurt him. His hands were cold.

Past and present flashed before his eyes, merged into one big blur so that he couldn’t distinguish one from the other.

“I’m here, Kacchan.”

A hand touched his cheek. He didn’t know whose it was; hot, cold, small, large. A face leaned in close; past, present, then, now.

“Sorry, Kacchan.”

That voice. He knew that voice.

He was pulled forward into a solid body. Pulled tight, stretched thin. His head hurt. He was so tired. Tired of it all, tired of the huge mess wreaking havoc in his head. He wanted to sleep.

“Sorry it hurts.”

His eyes slipped closed. Izuku smelled nice. The same minty fresh detergent smell with a hint of cinnamon.

….cinnamon?

That didn’t make sense. He’d never smelled this scent before. It was the same, but slightly different.

“I’ll take it. I’ll take it, so don’t worry.”

No. Don’t. Stop fucking hurting yourself for me. Stop letting me fuck you up for no reason. He wanted to say the words, but they wouldn’t come out.

“I have you.”

Katsuki groaned in protest, trying to get his arms to fucking move so that he could push Izuku away, look at him, do something . Something wasn’t right. It felt too real. The hands on him were too warm and the shudder in Izuku’s breath was too irregular. Izuku was too nervous.

“Shhh,” Izuku commanded gently. Katsuki could feel his heart beating through his shirt. Fast and rapid. “I’ve got you.”

His breath was warm on Katsuki’s ear and it made him shiver. His voice was gentle, yet shaken when he whispered:

“Wake up."

 

Images from the dream made a wretched tingle start at the base of his spine. He couldn’t make sense of it. Not like he really could before, but he was drawing a blank on where to even begin. Why had Izuku been there? Why had he been the focus of Katsuki’s dream? Why did he have to say such brutally honest things?

The cool wood was doing nothing for the throbbing behind his eyelids. His throat felt dry. Sometimes he really wished he was an idiot, or just oblivious. This would be a lot fucking easier to deal with if I was as dumb as I act.

He reached behind himself and unplugged his phone from the charger. The conversation from the night before was waiting for him when he unlocked him. He quickly switched over to a different app, wanting to avoid whatever harmful situation would arise from dwelling on it too much. He couldn’t believe he was about to do this.

After a quick search, the tossed his phone onto his mattress in frustration. Google was useless and Katsuki was upset that he’d stooped low enough to google how to get his shit together.

Fix your sleep ’,” he mumbled in a high pitched, mocking voice. “If I could fucking fix my sleep I wouldn’t have looked it up in the first place!”

He didn’t even know why he thought it would work in the first place. He knew why he was having problems. He knew why he couldn’t sleep. It was the same reason why he was so fucked up, the source of his doubt and misery over the last month.

Stupid Shitty Deku. Fuck you, you fucking nerd.

Except it wasn’t Izuku’s fault. It was his own, because he was shit and everyone knew it. No one told him to bully Izuku. No one told him to constantly put him down, to call him useless.

“Cause Kacchan will keep me if I’m not useless, right?”

No one told him to get mad when Izuku finally made something of himself. No one told him to ruin another person. No one told him to get revenge.

“You always do, Kacchan.”

It was all him.

“I DON’T NEED YOUR FUCKING HELP! Why am I like this? Why the fuck are you!?”

All of it.

Why was he like that? The question he asked himself so many times, because he just wanted to understand. It was grueling, because he’d picked himself apart over and over again, trying to find the missing link, the mutation.

It made his skin crawl and his breathing heavy. It was wrong, he was wrong, and it was distressing how it affected him so much but it was so right at the same time. Why else would he feel this way? Why else would he feel the regret and heartache if it wasn’t meant to be? He deserved it. He was wrong.

He was so incredibly wrong and repulsive, so sick and disgusting, and he was flawed because these thoughts were there, they were festering and rotting a hole in his heart, but he couldn’t admit it. The only time he could face this, confront these demons was when he was most weak,  at his most vulnerable. He wouldn’t be caught dead uttering the smallest hint of this during the day. He could think but not speak, and it was waring a hole in his sanity.

His skin felt clammy, too hot and too cold. He felt the ghost of a hand, warm and soothing yet icy and chilling. One was dead and one was alive and Katsuki didn’t know what to do with himself. He just wanted it to disappear, wanted it to leave him be. He wanted to be rid of all of it, the dreams, the guilt, the fear. Fear was not something he was used to. It didn’t feel good, to be scared.

Scared was exactly the right word to describe how he felt. He was petrified, he didn’t know what was happening or how to make it go away. He was aware that he wasn’t okay, and it was even worse to know and still not be able to act. It frightened him. Izuku frightened him. He could openly accept it, there in the quiet dark of his room. Izuku terrified him. For once, the roles were reversed. Izuku was the tormentor and Katsuki was the victim .

Stop. Don’t blame this on him, you piece of shit. He didn’t do anything and you fucking know it, so stop already.

He reached to his left towards the open wall and knocked his fist against it a few times, just to do something with his hands. They were getting hot and sweaty and he’d rather not explain why half his room was gone in the morning.

Fuck. What do I do?

Bit his lip. He was a mess. A gross, anxious mess.

He squeezed his fist tighter and hit the wall once more.

“Dammit!” he hissed quietly.

It may not have been right, maybe have actually been the worst decision to be made, but he made it anyway. He had to stay away. Had to actually stick to it this time. He had to physically remove himself whenever Izuku approached him, had to ignore his nervous way of calling Katsuki’s name, had to ignore his messages.

It was such a shit thing to do because Katsuki knew Izuku was starting to gain hope, was finally starting to see a glimpse of the friendship he’s sought out for a decade or more. He knew Izuku was ecstatic that Katsuki, at long last, appeared to be opening up. Maybe he was a little happy too, even if the circumstances weren’t favorable. He didn’t know.

He also knew that it probably wouldn’t work. He could feel it, deep in his bones. He knew it wouldn’t work, that Izuku would find a way to slither his frizzy little head back into Katsuki’s life. Even though he knew, had zero confidence that it would actually work, he made the decision anyway. It wouldn’t work, but it was enough for now.

He had to stop doing this and do him . Forget whoever this was and go back to being Katsuki .

“You should forget.”

(His mother had always talked his ear off, always said that denial was the first stage of two things: **** **** and insanity. This might have been both. Katsuki still doesn’t know. Of course, he denies that those words had ever been spoken or those thoughts ever being voiced. Speaking of which...)

 

Sleep wasn’t coming any time soon, so he distracted himself by tapping out a rhythm on the smooth surface of his wall. He misjudged the force of his knocks, however, because a few minutes later his mother was busting through the door, eyes bleary and expression aggravated. She was holding a pillow in her arms and her hair was askew. It was weird, Katsuki thought, to see his mother look younger than he was.

“Goddamit Katsuki! I’m trying to sleep . I don’t give a fuck when you decide to do your teenage shit, but keep it down!” Her voice was softer than it usually was, but it still carried that hard edge, if a bit sleep ruffled.

Katsuki gave her a look, expression incredulous. “What the hell?”

She sighed. “Look. You’re a growing boy or whatever, blah blah. I get it. Just keep it to yourself.”

What the heck was she talking about?

“Are you okay?” Katsuki asked, the smallest bit concerned. The tiniest but. Almost inconsequential.Katsuki was someone who didn’t get embarrassed easily. It was just built into his DNA, passed down from his mother and father. Even he would’ve gone red at her next statement.

“For fucks sake,” she moaned exasperatedly, “I don’t give a fuck about when you jack off, but don’t make so much freaking noise!”

“Oh my god! What the fuck is wrong with you!?” Katsuki yelped, pointing a finger in her direction. “That’s so fucking wrong on so many levels!”

She gave Katsuki a pointed look and gestured to his lower half. His feet were still tangles in the sheets a bit from where he kicked them away and his shirt and boxers were askew. She then pointed at his phone, which was still on the bed, facedown.

Katsuki slapped his hand to his face. “The fuck is that the first thing you thought of? I freaking fell .”

She pointed her finger at his other hand, which was obviously wet. “This is sweat!”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Do I really have to go over the basics of friction with you right now? Just be more careful and let that be the end of it.”

Jesus fuck.

“Gross!”

“Whatever, I don’t give a shit! Just keep private things private and clean up or so fucking help me--!”

“I’m not doing any of that! God, are all hags like this once they hit fourty? Stop project--”

His sentence was cut off by a pillow to the face.

“Who’s the nasty one now? Shut the fuck up, finish, and go to bed.”

His door was slammed shut and he grunted.

Jesus fucking Christ, his mother.

 

Izuku was staring.

Well, Izuku was always staring, but his time it was different. He was staring at Katsuki with a hungry curiosity, eyes slightly narrowed and head tilted. It was unnerving in the worst way. He honestly just wanted to avoid Izuku--more that usual, much, much more for obvious reasons--but it was kind of hard to not comment when Izuku was staring at him like he grew a second head and answered the meaning to life at the same time.

It didn’t really help much that Izuku was the least subtle person to ever fucking live, so of course he thought it would be a good idea to turn his entire body in Katsuki’s direction.

It probably had something to do with the unanswered messages wearing a hole in his pocket, but Izuku hadn’t said anything that morning when he walked in. Was he trying to guilt Katsuki into apologizing?

No way in hell.

Izuku wasn’t the type, but what else could it have been?

Unless Ochako finally decided to snitch. Said girl turned around just as the thought came to mind. Is she a fucking telepath, what the hell?

The first thing her eyes honed in on was Izuku, which led to Katsuki. That famous glare that she learned from none other than Katsuki favorite person was directed at him. Her eyes narrowed and she pushed herself up from her desk. Katsuki groaned internally. Can she fucking not?

“Good morning!” she greeted cheerfully, hand raised in a wave. Izuku was still looking at Katsuki and her smile fumbled for a second.

“Goodbye,” Katsuki said plainly. The smile dropped from her face just as quickly as it had been put here, but Katsuki didn’t care. He didn’t feel like dealing with her fake optimism and insincere words. He knew why she was really there.

He stood from his desk and began to walk over to where Kirishima was perched on his own desk, but no matter how cool Katsuki tries to appear, he knows he’s a fucking idiot. So, he tripped.

Can this day just stop already?

Since his life was a badly thought out romance novel, Izuku was up and grabbing him by the wrist before he could tilt forward any further. He didn’t know how to respond to the situation, emotions somewhere between mortified and annoyed. Izuku’s hand on his wrist was warm, but it was tolerable. He would have rathered taking the fall if it meant Izuku would get his hands away from Katsuki and step ten feet back.

“Um,” Ochako spoke up from her position across from them.

Shut the hell up, This is your fucking fault in the first place.

Izuku didn’t seem to hear her, and he was still looking and his hand was too warm and Katsuki needed to get away. He didn’t know how much more of being in the boy’s general area he could handle before he snapped. He rathered not finding out.

“You almost fell,” Izuku relayed quietly. His eyes were too big and he’s been looking for too long but Katsuki couldn’t look away.

“I got that, thanks,” Katsuki replied sarcastically. He tugged on his wrist, but Izuku didn’t budge. Katsuki sighed. Not this shit again.

“You gonna let go, or…?”

Izuku didn’t reply, just kept looking at Katsuki. A sick feeling started clawing its way up his stomach and into his throat.

“Deku, let go,” he ordered. The sick feeling was making its way out of his throat and spilling out into his voice.

“It’s okay, Kacchan,” Izuku reassured softly. Gingerly, he squeezed Katsuki’s wrist. “I have you.”

Katsuki froze. Izuku was still staring. This was why he didn’t want to get near Izuku. Whether he was trying to or not, he’d find something Katsuki didn’t want him to see.

He looked a little shocked at what he’d said himself, and his face went the slightest shade of pink. Was it his imagination, or did Izuku freeze up a little too?

Whereas Izuku’s touch was warm before, now it was scalding, marring his skin like a brand. He snatched his hand back and clutched at his chest. He was looking at Izuku, Izuku was looking at him, and Ochako was looking back and forth between the both of them, a perplexed expression on her face.

“Are you okay?” she asked cautiously, question directed at Katsuki. He wanted to roll his eyes. Stop looking at me like you actually give a shit .

His chest was tightening up and he needed them to leave, needed to get out, something . “Fine,” he replied tersely. He shoved the hand on his chest into his pocket and sat back down in his chair.

I’ll do you one even better.

“Can you go now?”

“But--”

“Kacchan--”

“You stopped me from falling or whatever, I get it. Shitty glasses is calling for you.”

He wasn’t, but.

Tough times called for tough measures.

At that, Ochako turned in the direction of where Iida was sitting, discussing something with Todoroki. Izuku did too, but he cast one glance back at Katsuki before he turned around fully. Katsuki must’ve had good timing, because right as Izuku turned around Iida was wrapping up his discussion and scanning the class for them.

Thank fucking god.

*

“Kacchan?”

Katsuki almost snapped his chopsticks in half. Why? Why did everyone always choose to talk to him when he was about to eat? Of all the goddamn opportunities to have a conversation with him in this goddamn school, but he most original people could get was lunch ? Give me a fucking break , Jesus Christ.

Katsuki turned to face the person he least wanted to see. Just being in the name room as the other made him uncomfortable. He hadn’t had nearly enough time to recover from the previous night and now he was expected to have a conversation ? The weighted stares and questioning gazes were already enough to make Katsuki sick to his stomach. He couldn’t deal with this too.

He knew that Izuku wanted to take advantage of the empty room to talk to him, knew he was itching to ask Katsuki what was wrong, and Katsuki couldn’t handle that. Izuku made his head hurt and his heart hurt, Izuku made everything hurt. Izuku hurt Katsuki almost as Katsuki hurt him.

But Katsuki couldn’t say no. he couldn’t deny him the chance, not after everything Katsuki has done. After all the times he’d made Izuku cry in the past couple of weeks alone , he should’ve taken anything Izuku threw at him, no matter how painful.

(Even though he knew there was a negative chance of it happening, a smaller, more timid part of Katsuki wanted Izuku to get mad--wanted him to yell and scream and tear into Katsuki so far he’d never be able to sew himself back together. He knew it made no sense for him to be the one hurting, that it wasn’t far that Katsuki was the one upset over it, but like he’s said, he was never rational.)

(He also knew that he could never voice these things aloud either, so he threw them back into whatever pathetic corner they crawled out from.)

“What do you want, Deku?”

When he looked up, bore into Izuku’s slightly wide green eyes, all the blood seemed to drain from the latter’s face. He was met with silence.
The usual flush in his cheeks was gone, replaced with pale, clammy skin and a jaw working with no words coming out.
He ground his teeth, trying not to get too irritated. He waited a few more seconds, all of which were filled with half formed words and useless babbling. Can’t he get on with it? I’m hungry…

He disregarded the voice in the back of his mind telling him that he didn’t want Izuku to get on with it, that he wanted to hear what he had to say. That voice didn’t know what the fuck it was talking about.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Is there something on my face or some shit?” Katsuki asked, just to break the pressured silence.  That seemed to snap Izuku out of whatever weird place he’d gone to. His eyes met Katsuki’s, and a flicker of fear crossed his face. An image flashed through Katsuki’s head, little Deku dirty and sniffling on the ground, eyes pleading--fuck no. Not fucking now.

“I was just--”

Katsuki rolled his eyes and pushed his bangs out of his face. “You were just…?”
Izuku seemed almost paralyzed, eyes wide and nose twitching slightly. He gnawed on his bottom lip nervously and wrung his hands together. He looks like a fucking rabbit.

The silence was starting to make him restless, so Katsuki banged his fist on the desk. “Damn it, Deku! Spit it out!”

Okay. Ouch.

Izuku flinched, the action panging somewhere deep within Katsuki’s heart, making it hard to breathe for a second. He took a few deep breaths, clutching his chest. As if that would make the pain go away. Reign it in, man. Calm the hell down.

He could feel those eyes on him, the eyes that were probably making the same  damn expression as the day this fuck fest started. He really didn’t want to, really fucking didn’t--like a lot of things lately--but he looked up anyway. Izuku looked fucking terrified. He wasn’t sure he was faring much better.

‘That’s right. You should be fucking scared of me.’ That sounds like something I'd think, right?

Izuku had seem him at some of his worst points, but even Katsuki knew this was a bit much. He couldn’t twist his features into a decent expression, couldn’t quell the anguish that he knew was showing in his eyes. He was supposed to be done with this. This wasn’t supposed to happen anymore.
“Ah--nevermind. S-sorry Kacchan,” Izuku replied shakily, grabbing his things and heading off to the cafeteria like the rest of the class. Katsuki squeezed his eyes shut, trying to chase the picture away. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t shake the image of Izuku on the ground, broken and happy because of him. He didn’t notice all too familiar green eyes watching him from the door.  The tell-tale burning in his nose started up. Somehow he’d lost his appetite.

*

Something wasn’t right. No shit, Sherlock , a voice rang in his head. The voice sounded suspiciously like Katsuki.

Okay. So obviously something was up, going by their most recent interactions. Something had been off since the beginning of the semester. Even Kirishima had noticed it. Izuku was a mess, but he wasn’t dumb.

He never held eye contact with Katsuki--until lately, that was--for a long time, a habit he’d learned to stick to over the years. He didn't have much experience with looking at Kacchan head on--again, until recent affairs--but he did have was a lifetime of observation and admiration. He’d never seen Katsuki so.. wrong .

Kacchan wasn’t a very well liked individual, which is something he himself admitted many times. “Why the fuck should I give a shit about what other people think?” is what he immediately said after. He was loud,  brash, and, quite frankly, one of the rudest people Izuku knew. His overall aura screamed ‘danger danger do not touch’, and the only ones that bothered to get close were the dumb and reckless. (See: Eijirou Kirishima.) Katsuki was moody, and he did his fair share of sulking, but he wasn’t despondent. Not his Kacchan. The purple bruising and pallid skin didn’t sit right in his stomach. Izuku shivered at the memory.
No, this wasn’t Katsuki’s usual arrogant indifference. This was darker, almost alarmingly so.

When his mother had gotten that call, at first Izuku had been sure she’d been mistaken. When she asked to talk to him, he was shocked. Katsuki’s mom called asking for him ?  She sounded frenzied on the phone, which was alarming in and of itself. Izuku knew Katsuki wasn’t the...easiest person to deal with, and he knew he and his mother argued, but.

That was different.

She sounded horrified, which set off warning bells in Izuku’s head. She was on the verge of tears--again, what? --and she was mixing her words up, which, once again, what ? Izuku had very limited memory of his interactions with her, spanning across ten years and getting less and less frequent as time went by, but even he knew that was odd. She was the one who raised Katsuki, the one he took the most after, the one who he looked up to even he would never admit it. For her to be crying...of course Izuku came as fast as he could. This was Kacchan , his childhood friend no matter what Katsuki himself said.

Is he sleeping enough? Does he have a job now?  Maybe he started training and has to adjust? All three?

“-ku.”

If we get out of class at 1500 and he goes to work until 1800 and gets home at 1820 and trains until 2100 he can go to bed at 2200 but what about homework? He does do it right he’s third in our class so maybe if we take the training time down--

“Izuku!”

“--or maybe cut out the job in general but that doesn’t work either if sleep is the issue well maybe he just stays up late and forgets to sleep or maybe sleep isn’t the issue because he was fine before now with the same schedule--”

The thought of Katsuki thinking brought a particular image to his head. Katsuki, curled up on his bed with his mouth open slightly, small puffs of air coming out. Izuku really couldn’t be blamed for how he ran his fingers through the spiky blond strands adorning Katsuki’s head. He’s only meant to do it once, because he was curious as to how it felt, but it was finer than it looked, soft yet course at the same time, and Izuku really couldn’t help himself. So one stroke turned to three, which turned to eight, which turned to twenty. It was just really silky and nice feeling and when he gots his head rubbed Katsuki did this little snuffle type thing--

“IZUKU MIDORIYA!”

Izuku jumped, looking up from his tray. He met the eyes of Iida and Ochako, both with worried expressions on their faces.

“Y-yes!”

“Are you okay?” Uraraka asked. She brought her hand to his forehead. “Do you have a fever? You were getting awfully red there for a sec.”

“A-ah, no. Sorry Uraraka. I was just thinking about something.” Wow. A+ explanation. Bravo, Izuku.

“Okay…” she replied, averting her eyes. She didn't look like she quite believed him. He saw her share a look with Iida out of the corner of his eye. After a few seconds, he relented.

“It’s nothing serious, I’m just a little worried about Kacchan,” he mumbled quietly. It was small, almost imperceptible, but Izuku thought he saw Ochako’s expression harden for a split second.

“Any particular reason?” Iida asked.

“I don’t really know,” Izuku confessed.

Which was a lie. He did know. He just didn’t think Katsuki would appreciate him running his mouth. “I just am.”

“Well I’m sure he’s fine,” Ochako reassured. Izuku squinted at her curiously. There was a hard set to her shoulders and the smallest hint of ice in her voice. She seemed to notice his concern, however, and gave him a cheerful smile.

“Yea…” he murmured, biting at his thumbnail. An image surfaced in his head, black, black, black. Dark and churning, surrounding him on all sides. Black sky, black air, black wood. He suppressed a shiver and shook his head. With a sigh, Izuku stood. The churning in his stomach still hadn’t gone away.

*

“W-whoa….” Ochako mumbled apprehensively. Katsuki glanced over at her from his seat, taking in the crowd of bodies and the low whispers. Iida and Izuku were standing on either side of her, gaping at the throng of people that suddenly appeared at the doorway. Mineta hopped over curiously, trying to get a survey of what was happening, and his jaw promptly dropped the the floor at the scene.

“W-What the heck!” he exclaimed, pointing at the crowd with a shaky finger. The other three were silent, apparently just as shocked as he was. They all gawked at the horde and the horde gawked right back.

Idiots, Katsuki thought. He pushed himself away from his desk and slung his bag over his shoulder. He shoved his hands in his pockets and began to walk to the entrance, where the others were still frozen. Katsuki’s movement seemed to shock some life back into their veins, because  Mineta clutched the straps of his bag worriedly and bit his lip.

“Why are they all crowding the door!?” Mineta whispered frantically, eyes darting back and forth between the swarm and Katsuki. Katsuki snorted.

“They’re scoping out the competition, dumbass,” Katsuki replied, rolling his eyes sardonically. “They’re checking us out to see who the douchebags who came out of the villain ambush are.”

There was some sort of commotion behind him, and he heard Izuku whisper something to a frightened Mineta. Katsuki ground his teeth in annoyance.

“It’s pointless to try, so why not fuck off?” Katsuki droned tiredly, boredom in his voice.

“Don’t be so rude to people you just met!” Iida scolded. Katsuki ignored him. He didn’t feel like doing this. He didn’t feel like listening to Mineta’s worries or Izuku’s rambling. He didn’t feel like having a dick size contest with some crush dazed girl, didn’t feel like even being here and he sure as hell didn’t feel like proving who was the bigger man to a bunch of overly nosey brats from two levels down.

(He didn’t feel like doing much, as of late. Whereas before, he would have been itching to fight, now he just wanted to go home. Another thing to add to the list of things he hated--verging on despise.)

“I came to see what you had to offer, but I didn’t think you’d be this arrogant,” a voice spoke up. “Are all the kids in the Department of Heroics like you?”

Katsuki’s nails embedded themselves into his palm. He dug his nails into his thigh, pulling at the soft fabric in his pockets. His nostrils flared when he asked, oh so quietly, “Huh?”

His voice was dripping in malice that even he himself didn’t know he could muster. A boy stepped up, shoulders turned inwards and hand scratching at the back of his head. His skin was milky and his eyes bruised, a ring of dark underneath each one. He doesn’t look so tough, don’t know what his fucking problem is.

“Did you know that lots of kid from other departments are there because they failed the heroics exam?” the boy asked boredly, fixing Katsuki with an uninterested stare. His hair shifted with a tilt of his head, the sun catching in the wavy strands. Like Deku . The thought was fleeting, but he retracted it just as it entered his mind. No. That’s wrong. Izuku’s hair was thicker and courser. The sun would bounce off and bring out the green buried underneath, not shine through like this guy’s.

“And based on the results of the sports festival,” he continued, bring Katsuki out of his-- non Izuku related, shut up--thought, “People can be transferred to heroics or vice versa.”

If you were good enough to get in the first time, you wouldn’t need to use some bullshit festival as a back door.

His lethargic glare shifted into something more challenging, the shadows underneath his eyes making him look that more menacing. Katsuki wanted to laugh. He’d seen worse. It was funny, the way this kid thought he could make Katsuki back down with some words and a half-assed look. Only one person can do that, a voice said in the back of his mind. Shut the fuck up.

“If nothing else, someone like me is thinking ‘Hey, why don’t I try pulling the rug out from under those heroics kids while they’re on their high horses?”

The boy smiled slightly.

“Consider it a declaration of war.”

Katsuki was silent. The atmosphere was tense, the weight of it setting his spine rigid. His classmates were silent behind him, waiting with bated breaths. He was pissed, could feel it in the clenching of his fists and the pounding in his chest. He was so, so incredibly pissed, and tired , tired of everyone thinking they were better him just because he’d been a little off, pissed that these wannabe fuckers had the audacity to challenge him when they weren’t good enough to make it on their own, pissed that they had this idiot at the forefront, looking down on Katsuki with his triumphant expression. Like he’d already won. The annoyance was choking him, pressing at the corners of his mind and testing the edges of his control. I can do better. I can do worse.

Fine. You wanna play? Let’s fucking go.

He let the reigns loosen, ever so slightly.

Katsuki laughed lightly, the tone tinged with bitterness. He brought a hand up to push his bangs out of his face. He wanted to see clearly, see this bastards face when he talked to him.

“Sure,” Katsuki began, allowing a frenzied smile to overtake his face. It was uncomfortable, but the falter in the pale boy’s expression more than made up for it.

“You can try that. Shit, it might even work. That is…” he let his voice trail off and reveled in the uncomfortable shuffle of the boy’s feet. “If your opponent isn’t me.”

He raised his chin so that he was the one looking down on the other. The way it should’ve been in the first place.

“‘Cause if it is,” Katsuki continued, tone causal. He licked his lips. “I’ll kill you.”

And with that, he slammed the door closed.

Ochako let out a sort of muffled squeak and hovered a few inches above the ground. She covered her mouth with her flushed fingers and plopped back to the floor.

So much fucking worse.

Katsuki sighed, let the tension bleed from his shoulder, and turned around. He kept his gaze slightly below eye level. He didn’t want to see, after what he just did. What he said . Didn’t he say he was done? Didn’t he say he wouldn’t do this shit again?

God, I’m such a piece of shit .

Their gazes burned through him, making his skin heat up uncomfortably. With each second that passed a new doubt wormed its way into his stomach, a new thought to his head.

One gaze burned hotter, pierced sharper than the rest. He already knew who it was. It was the only person that could rile him up like this, the only one that could ruin him with a flick of his stupidly large hand. Who else could it be, but the one who tormented his dreams? Who else, but the one who cared about him no matter what? Who else would look at him like that, but the one he didn’t deserve?

“Um,” Iida stated dumbly, mouth slightly ajar.

“Kacchan, what--”

“Bro, what the hell!” Kirishima exclaimed suddenly, swooping in a whacking Katsuki on the back of his head. “What the heck was that! Now we’ve got haters and the competition hasn’t even started yet!”

Thank god for eccentric redheads.

“It doesn’t matter,” Katsuki sighed. Kirishima rolled his eyes.

“What are you--”

“None of that shit matters,” he repeated, voice taking on a hardened tone, “once you’re at the top.”

“I’ll forget it for you.”

None of it will.

Kirishima grinned. He patted Katsuki on the back twice and wiped a fake tear from his eyes. “Oh man! So much manliness in such simple words!”

“Fuck off,” Katsuki groaned, stepping out of Kirishima’s range of touch. Kirishima laughed and stuck his tongue out. Katsuki flipped him off.

Kaminari told Kirishima to shut up, that Katsuki had been an idiot for doing that, and that started a class wide debate on the pros and cons of his decision. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ochako, who was looking at Izuku, who was looking at Katsuki. He shifted his gaze over slightly, until it landed on Izuku, who was stood frozen, wearing the same expression from earlier that day. Pale, shaky, and anxious. Afraid. Afraid of what? Afraid of Katsuki?

Good , he forced himself to think. Stay that way.

(That same smaller, more insignificant part of him screamed don’t, begged, pleaded with Izuku to stop. To wipe the sweat from his brow and bring the color back to his cheeks. To stop worrying, to stop looking at Katsuki in fear. I was small and insignificant, but there nonetheless.)

Upon eye contact, Izuku gulped loudly and bit his lip. He looked at war with himself, body stuck in an unyielding standstill. For the first time in too long, Izuku looked away first.

 

Katsuki picked up his phone from where it was casually lying on the ground. He laid back against his pillows and read the message on the screen.

Best Bro: dude i thought u said u were cool

You: wtf...I am…

Kind of.

Best Bro: didn’t seem like it….

Busted.

Alright, maybe not.

Best Bro: its kinda like that day u zoned out

“You’re rethinking it now, right?”

Katsuki winced at the sound of Izuku’s panicked voice echoing in his ears, at the sting of a long faded mark on his cheek.

He didn’t know how to retort without sounding weird, so he settles for a simple ‘ what the fuck.

Best Bro: u were there but u werent it was spooky. like u were a gost or something

Best Bro: ghost***

Kirishima was evidently sharper than he appeared--something Katsuki figured out a while ago. Deny, deny, deny. Terminate mission right fucking now.

You: Whatever. I’m fine so leave me alone.

Best Bro: :/

Katsuki sighed.

You: Seriously it’s fine. I’m good.

Deny and deflect.

You: Also stop changing my contact names. It’s annoying.

Best Bro: nopeeeee

You: you still never told me how you got my number.

Best Bro: whoops gotta go dinner

You: “gotta go dinner”? It’s almost 1 dumbass

Best Bro: ….

You: go to bed asswipe

Crisis avoided.

*

“I’m going to beat you.”

Katsuki’s attention was zeroed in on Todoroki, who had just spoken. Izuku jumped from his position across from Todoroki and turned from his animated conversation with Ochako, to face him.

“Um…”

“I won’t back down just because you’ve got All Might watching you,” Todoroki continued. Izuku laughed nervously and scratched his cheek.

“Woah woah, what’s with that?” Kaminari interjected, placing a hand on Todoroki’s shoulder, but it was quickly shaken off.

“I’m not here to play nice and buddy up,” Todoroki commented bitterly, eyes ghosting over where Izuku and Ochako were paired, “but whatever.”

Damn, what crawled up his ass and died?

Izuku was silent for a moment. Then, he spoke.

“Looking at it objectively, you’re obviously better. You’re stronger, faster, and have more experience. And unlike me, you can use your Quirk properly. I’m obviously no match.”

“C’mon don’t be like that--” Kaminari interrupted, but Izuku held up his hand.

“Let me finish,” he requested softly. His voice grew more firm as he addressed Todoroki.

“That may be true, but other people are gunning for my spot. I’m not gonna just lag behind while the rest of you run forward. I’ll take you head on.”

“Don’t--don’t just let me walk all over you!”

Katsuki was impressed. This was the first time that he’d seen the full extent of Izuku’s growth. Don’t be getting all proud, dumbass. It’s your fault he was the way he was in the first place.

 “I won’t be worthless anymore! Isn’t that great?”

No matter how fucked the context, the words were true. He wasn’t little Quirkless Deku anymore, too scared to even mutter ‘Hello’. He was new and improved, able to speak with the same confidence as one of the strongest people at U.A. without a hint of trepidation.

Not with you. He’s still scared of you.

Which was a good thing, he told himself. It had to be.

“So, that being said…”

Izuku looked ahead with the only type of expression he could make--slightly menacing but not threatening--and spoke his next words proudly:

“I’m gonna go for it with all my might. Ready?”

Todoroki tilted his chin up slightly--which kind of pissed Katsuki off. Come on now, that was his thing.

“Oh?” Todoroki smiled slightly. “Interesting. We’ll see then,”

Katsuki bit his lip and turned away. Those were things he said. Those were things he thought. And he got his emotions put through a blender that was still shredding. That won’t do you any good, Half Face.

But he kept his mouth shut. If Todoroki wanted to buck up and get humiliated on national television, Katsuki had no say. Besides, anything that Izuku got involved in didn’t concern him. He wouldn’t let it. He had himself to focus on, after all.

 

He wasn’t nervous. When Midnight named him class representative, he was relaxed. He had to save his anger for the main event, after all. He knew his classmates were doubtful, that class 1-B and that smug bastard were whispering, turning their ugly noses up at him, saying he was inferior -- stay calm, dammit. Now’s not the time.

“Oh boy,” Kirishima said quietly.

Kacchan’s our representative!?” Izuku blurted, immediately covering his mouth with his hands.

“He placed first in the entrance exam, remember?”

A girl from 1-B scoffed. “Yea, the heroics entrance exam.”

Shut the fuck up. It’s a fucking school meant for heroes. Don’t get pissed cause you didn’t make the cut and I came out on top.

He didn’t reply to any of them when he took the stage. He didn’t need to. Katsuki wouldn’t have humored him before and he didn’t humor them then.

“Sensei.”

The members of Class 1-A were waiting with bated breaths, unsure of what he was about to do. Class 1-B was glowering at him with different degrees of disgust, and in some cases, contempt.

You want a show? I’ll give you a fucking show.

“I’m gonna place first,” he declared nonchalantly, with all of the confidence he fueled himself with over the years. It was cocky and arrogant, so completely Katsuki that no one could accuse him of anything. No more of that sappy bullshit. (Denial, denial...oh so sweet.)

“Why do you insist on lowering our good graces!?” Iida asked. His glasses were fogging up and Katsuki found it amusing. Among all of the booing and hissing from the other classes, he caught something interesting.

Izuku cast a slightly troubling look to Kirishima, who was matching a baffled expression of his own.

When did those two become close?

He definitely saw a ‘Kacchan’ in the conversation they were having, but he couldn’t hear much from his position.

“He’s so freaking cocky! I wanna be the one to kick his ass!”

Katsuki beamed, wide enough to show all of his teeth a little bit of his gums.

“You remember what I said before?” Katsuki asked, deceptively innocent. That seemed to quiet them down a bit. “It’s not just me you should watch out for, though.”

All shouting ceased. Good. Be afraid. He was itching to fight some of these bastards. They were getting a little too ballsy for his liking.

After a few seconds of silence, Midnight began speaking again. “Alright! Now we can move directly to our first…”

Katsuki tuned her out, choosing instead to scan the crowd. There, he caught the eyes of Ochako, the latter’s narrowed in suspicion and arms folded across her chest. He shrugged his shoulders indifferently. She bared her teeth and turned her head. She appeared unaffected, but Katsuki saw the faint glow in her fingertips where they gripped at her sleeves.

He’d set the perfect plan.

 

The names had been drawn.

It was all too reminiscent of Izuku’s confrontation with Todoroki. Deku’s not the only one you should look out for.

It had been a very tense handshake, full of unspoken words and repressed disdain. The atmosphere was different after that, everyone’s giddy excitement tinged grey with acrid hostility.

“I’m going to win,” had been the first and last thing she said to him before it was time for them to meet in the arena.

Katsuki was the one to step out first.

“The heroics kid who’s been famous for his bad attitude and explosive power, Katsuki Bakugou!” Present Mic announced. The crowd was a mix of jeers and encouragements, echoing across the stadium all at once.

So fucking annoying.

Even so, he bared his teeth in his best game face.

Across the way, Ochako was emerging from her own door. He shoulders were squared and her eyes set forward, boring straight into Katsuki’s.

“And the one I’m personally rooting for--oh? I’m not supposed to say? Too late now--”

When she made it to the middle, she stopped and smiled.

“--also from heroics, the girl with the brightest smile around, Ochako Uraraka!”

“Hello, Kacchan! Fancy meeting you here!”

“Don’t ever fucking call me that again,” Katsuki snarled. Ochako laughed, a sly illusion for the crowd. She smiled even wider, the action causing her eyes to squint up in an innocent manner.

“Oh? Why not?”

Katsuki swung his arm up to strike, but he caught a glimpse of himself on the monitor. He stopped the motion before it began and gave her a smirk of his own.

“Oh. I see.”

Angelface has a plan of her own, huh?

“What do you mean?”

Shit had just gotten really freaking interesting. Katsuki ruffled the hair at the back of his head. “That was close. Almost didn’t see it coming. You’re a real fucking snake, you know?”

The shy smile she wore was replaced by a grimace. “Like you aren’t?” she pointed out sarcastically. That’s right. Show your true colors when I kick your ass into next week.

“Maybe so,” Katsuki admitted. He began to crack his knuckles and flex his fingers. He could feel the rage from the day before seeping into his veins, felt it fill in the cracks between his joints. Ochako wanted a fight, Katsuki was gonna take extra care to ensure she sure as hell got one.

“If you’re gonna withdraw, do it now,” he warned. He’d moved on to his legs, squatted down and leaned to each side. “‘Ow’ won’t cut it.”

She was scared. Katsuki could see it in the bob of her throat, she trembling of her jaw, but her stance was unyielding. “I don’t have that option.”

“Why?” he asked. Even though he was ready for a fight, itching to knock some sense into her, but he was still human. He still had his reservations.

“If I win,” she said in lieu of an answer, “you stay away from Izuku.”

I keep fucking telling you that’s what I’m trying to do.

Katsuki scoffed.

“Don’t underestimate me,” she cautioned.

With a sigh, Katsuki rolled his neck. “I already told you that you don’t need to fight me over dumb shit like that. Why do you make everything so fucking difficult?”

“Because I don’t trust you.”

I don’t either.

He didn’t have a reply that made sense, so he was silent. The horn blared. Katsuki stayed where he was. He watched Ochako with focused eyes. She began to walk towards him, slowly, calmly, much to the confusion of the audience. Her hands were raised in a placating manner. She kept them up, even when she was close enough to talk without straining her voice.

“Look,” she sighed. “I was kind of mean before. Maybe we can talk it over?”

While she was speaking, he hand began to inch closer to Katsuki’s shoulder. It didn’t even look out of the ordinary, just a natural contact to be had when comforting someone. But Katsuki knew better. He jerked his body sideways, to the left and out of range.

“So that won’t work, huh?” Ochako joked. She wiggled her finger tips at him, each one dawning a rosy hue. There was a chorus of ‘ what? ’s in the audience. Katsuki felt his irritation rise. Did she seriously think he was that stupid?

“How about next time you don’t use some shitty recycled move?” Katsuki advised.

“Gotcha,” Ochako confirmed, and then she was charging. Katsuki jumped out of the way, but she was there again. He swung his arm around him in an arc and set of an explosion near her torso, bringing up a thick cloud of dust. She crossed her arms in front of her in a guard, and stumbled backwards, coughing a few times.

There were boos from the audience members and a cry of “Is he seriously going all out on a girl right now?

“Dumbasses who don’t know anything should really learn their place,” Katsuki growled to himself. The debris cleared and Ochako was gone.

“Is this fun for you?”

Katsuki whipped around and barely had enough time to move before she was punching the spot he was in.

“I know that you think you could take me out with one hit, but you’re not even attacking. Is this how you play with Izuku?”

“We’re playing a game. Got it?”

“Shut the fuck up,” he gritted out. She gave him an incredibly smug look that made his blood boil. Her posture began to shift to something more offensive and she advanced, throwing him an onslaught of punches and kicks. He ducked under a particularly hazardous arm and grabbed the leg that kicked out in response. She careened backwards, but was held taut by Katsuki’s harsh grip on her calf. Her arms stopped spinning and she craned her neck forwards to look at him.

He anchored his foot to the ground and spun around twice before letting go. However, Ochako was quick and bent backwards to grab his pant leg. When he released, they were both connected in the air for a split second, and they both flung to opposite sides of the arena. Before he could cross the line, he set off an explosion that propelled him back forward. The impact with the ground rattled his skull, and he was sure he was bleeding, but he coughed twice and sat up.

Somehow Ochako managed to stay in bounds, the heel of her foot just a centimeter away from the groove.

“Maybe you should take your own advice!” she shouted. Shit.

He didn’t even realize that he was doing it. Of course she noticed. She was there the day of the class trials, she witnessed the outcome right alongside everyone else. She’d probably replayed the moment over and over in her head, picking apart every opening, every chance. She came prepared.

“Don’t underestimate me.”

Not one to let the opportunity slip by, Ochako used his distraction as a chance to strike. He fist collided with the underside of his jaw, and Katsuki staggered back with a groan. He shook it off and spat out the blood that was pooling in his mouth; his gums ached.

Oh shit. She’s serious.

Ochako didn’t give him a chance to recover, attacking him with a barrage of throws. Katsuki eluded each one, jutting and jumping around her. She laced her fingers together and swung them over her head, but Katsuki grabbed both of her wrists before they could make contact.

“He really admires you,” Ochako commented. She stomped on his foot and leaned forward, making Katsuki winced in pain. He dug her nails into her skin until she hissed and pushed back against her weight.

“He would never fight you on his own like this,” she added. She was beginning to slide backwards, her vigor nothing against Katsuki’s strength.

“Luckily,” she continued with a laugh. Her smile was back. “I’m not as merciful !”

With a mighty roar she shoved him backwards, the action surprising Katsuki. She kicked out in front of her and Katsuki fell. She pounced, hand outstretched, but Katsuki was quicker. He threw  some of the dirt on the ground between them and rolled out of the way just as her hand hit the ground.

Fuck. Ochako was actually gunning for him. She was attacking him with the intent to hurt him and maybe it was a bit hypocritical, but Katsuki was shocked. She looked deranged in her rage, chest heaving and eyes murderous. She regarded him with a fervent ferocity that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. She was dangerous.

Briefly, Katsuki wondered if this was how she saw him, an angry, bloodthirsty beast being held back by chains that were on their last legs of life. Katsuki felt threatened by her, which was very new and very much not fucking okay . She was standing and he was on the ground, and that wasn’t okay either.

Katsuki placed his palms flat against the ground and activated his Quirk, kicking up more dust. It swirled around them in an earthy smokescreen, and Ochako was soon cut off from Katsuki’s view. He scrambled to his feet and scanned the area, hands ready. There was a buzz in the crowd, the silence practically vibrating in anticipation. A bend in the cloud, a flutter of cloth, and he was there. Katsuki lunged at the movement and set off another explosion, the resulting force blowing away any remaining rubble clouding the air.

“Wow!” Present Mic cheered, “She used her jersey as a decoy! Must’ve thought of that one on the fly!”

...What?

Katsuki glanced at who--rather what he was straddling. It was, in fact, her gym jersey, surrounded by a pink tinge.

“Over here!”

Just as the words were spoken, he felt a presence behind him, and a small arm was wrapping itself around his throat. Oh fuck.

Katsuki choked, the weight of her pulling him, making him bow his back in her direction. He thrashed violently, clawed at her arm with his fingers to get her to release him.

“Why are you going so easy on me?” she questioned. Katsuki didn’t answer, just drove his elbow back into her stomach. She grunted and yanked her arm back more harshly. Katsuki bit his tongue and hissed, gasping as the air was knocked out of him.

“You--don’t want me to--get--serious,” he gasped. He squirmed in her hold, so she wrapped a leg around his torso from behind, restricting any possible movement.

“You’re the one that said you wouldn’t,” she scoffed. “Show me how it is when it’s you two.”

“I want to burn him.”

“Show me who you really are.”

“...didn’t you do the same thing?”

“Show me how it is,” she whispered,  “when it’s Izuku.”

“Didn’t I tell you,” he began, tone deathly calm, “to shut the fuck up!?

He took her knee into his hand and tore it from it’s place against his frame and took her wrist in his other. She yelped at the contact and he set off another explosion, in which the heat singed her hand and made her release him with a cry.

“Yikes!” Mic’s voice echoed across the arena. “And Uraraka goes flying!”

Ochako hit the ground with a thud and Katsuki fanned away any smoke hindering his vision. He wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

Aizawa, who had been quiet until that point, began to speak.

“Uraraka’s quirk is one that only works upon contact with her hand,” he revealed. “She almost had him, but against such strength and fighting prowess, the odds are against her for sure.”

“She did touch him though?”

Aizawa sighed into the microphone. “With her arm . If she has to touch him with her hand, it’s only logical that contact with her limbs wouldn’t work.”

Ochako stood on shaky feet, cradling her injured wrist close to her chest. She wiped away a smear of blood from the corner of her mouth and grinned at him. She crouched low to the ground, and without pause, took off.

“Yet undeterred, Uraraka pushes forward!”

The stadium erupted with cheers at Ochako’s advance. Katsuki didn’t hear them. Anything outside of the battlefield, anything outside of Katsuki and Ochako, faded into white noise. The pounding of his heart, his laboring breathes, the sting in his jaw. The stitch in his side and the throbbing in his head. None of it mattered. He was relaxed. The anger from just a moment ago faded into a quiet rumble. The calm before a dark, detrimental storm.

“Too slow,” Katsuki declared. His voice was unstable but tone lethargic, slow, soft, poisonous. His movements were sluggish and jerky when he thrust his arm out in front of him. He zeroed in on Ochako between the gaps in his fingers and swiped his palm upwards, setting off a large explosion.

The foundation beneath them shook and the members of the audience jerked forward with surprised cries.

There were things being shouted at him, each word filtering through his ears and into his brain until they assimilated into one muddled roar. There were a few distinguished cries of ‘ Ochako! ’ and ‘Uraraka! ’ among the mix, and Katsuki thought he might’ve even recognized a few.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mineta throw his hands up in frustration.

“Does he go for guys or something!? I don’t get it!”

A flash of annoyance crawled its way to the surface of the eerie calm that possessed him. Slowly, he turned his head towards the direction of the voice. Mineta, seeming to realized he was being watched, met eyes with Katsuki. There was an exclamation, a commotion, and then Mineta had his back plastered to his seat, usual fearful expression amped up a few notches.

Someone tapped on his shoulder and he pointed a quivering finger at Katsuki. The students of Class 1-A began to look at him one by one, each expression more horrified than the last.

Stop.

Stop doing that.

Don’t fucking look at me.

Don’t look at me with that face.

His mind was a mess, head pounding, thoughts racing. Each faster than the one before, his brain was rattled by judgement after judgement, emotion after emotion.

He saw Izuku.

Of course he did, he always, always saw Izuku and Izuku always, always saw him. His face was as much of a wreck as Katsuki’s mind, varying degrees of distress flickering across his face.

He’d seen Izuku fearful. He’d seen Izuku display every area of dread, every extremity of terror, every range of misery known to man. He thought he’d seen it all. He’d never experienced the unsullied, wholesome agony that took root in his features. Izuku was scared.

Scared of me?

Good thing. That’s good. That’s how it should be.

“This is what I hate about grown ups, they never admit what they feel.”

Maybe he’s scared for you , a small voice spoke, quiet in the back of his mind.

“Don’t--” Ochako panted. She coughed a few times and narrowed her eyes at Katsuki. “Don’t look away yet! I’m still standing!”

Katsuki observed her with a cold stare. “You never know when to quit, do you? You should’ve stayed down.”

His voice still carried that bored quality, and it was as confusing to him as it was vexing for Ochako. He wasn’t actively doing it, so why did he sound like that? That wasn’t him. That wasn’t how he was, calm and ruthlessly cold.

“She’s still fighting without a moment’s rest, but this….” Present Mic said hesitantly from the commentator’s stand.

“At this rate, he’s gonna burn her,” Aizawa commented just as Katsuki fired another eruption. The onlookers began talking amongst themselves, watching the fight unfold with unease.

It wasn’t fair, Katsuki knew. He’d known from the beginning, how one sided this struggle would be. That no matter how hard she tried or how much she trained in the days leading up to today, that Ochako wouldn’t win. He knew, but he agreed anyway. He humored her, knowing that she couldn’t beat him. That’s not something Katsuki would have done. What was happening to him?

“You say you wouldn’t? You are .”

“That guy…”

“How could he?”

“Are you sure it’s okay like this?”

“This isn’t fair!”

Shut up. Shut up shut up shut the fuck up.

“HEY! Do you mean to be a hero with conduct like that!? If you’re that much stronger, blow her out of bounds already!” a man from the audience projected. That’s what I’m trying to fucking do, old man. A chorus of jeers and insults started being thrown, one after another.

“She’s the one that told me to not go easy on her!” he whispered to himself.

“How dare you toy with a girl like that!?”

I’m not toying with anything, shitstain. Fuck off.

“And the stands stand to boo him!” Mic relayed. “I’ve gotta say, I kind of agr--ow!”

Mic’s statement was cut off by Aizawa, who elbowed him and took the microphone that was provided for himself. “Aizawa! What are you--”

Aizawa covered Mic’s mouth with his hand. “You a pro?” he asked over his counterpart’s muffled complaints. “How many years?”

“W-well…”

“If you said that in your right mind, then you shouldn’t be watching. In fact, do us all a favor and watch at home while you fill out a career change slip,” Aizawa said cooly. Once more, Ochako charged at him, but he blew her away before she could even make it two steps.

“He recognizes the strength of an opponent that’s reached this far, while most wouldn’t, and he’s on his guard as a result.”

Aizawa sighed.

“It only makes sense for him to eliminate the possibility of her attacking before she can begin. He’s doing everything in his power to win, so he refuses to stay his hand.”

“But--”

“Wouldn’t you do the same?” Aizawa asked briskly. The man didn’t seem to have a reply, so Aizawa set the microphone back down and removed his hand from Mic’s mouth. There were still protests from the crowd, but Aizawa paid them no mind. He was focused on the combat zone, where Ochako was speaking to Katsuki.

She beamed at him, the sort of triumphant smile that pissed Katsuki the fuck off. She was beaten, battered, and filthy, but she seemed to buzz with a delirious excitement.

She’s still not done? Fucking hell..

Katsuki maintained his cool exterior--he still didn’t know why he was so calm, he certainly didn’t fucking feel calm--and raised his arms--one offensive and the other on defense.

“I guess this is it,” she declared haughtily. Her intonation became softer, more earnest. “Thank you, Bakugou. Thanks for not letting your guard down.”

“The fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

“This is it,” she stated firmly. She widened her stance and pressed her fingertip together--her attack stance.

Katsuki clenched his fists.

She was patronizing him. He was furious , his heart going ballistic in his chest. Sweat started to seep from his palms in torrents and he could feel the air around him heating up with the heat from his skin. Fuck calm. He wasn’t calm , not anymore.

You little fucking bitch. Was she toying with him? I’m gonna rip your fucking throat out. He looked down, at his clenching fists, and growled. His vision was tinted red in his fury.

No.

Wait.

He tilted his head back and looked at the sky above. There were tens, hundreds of pieces of rock, ranging from sizes large to small. Each one was hovering steadily, covered in the pink light that signified Ochako’s quirk.

“I’ll never let you hurt him again,” she promised. She smiled again. “I win.”

Katsuki covered his head with his arms.

Release!

Katsuki smiled smugly.

Just kidding.

With a snarl, Katsuki pointed both hands at the sky and let loose. The arena shuddered and groaned with the force, and there were screams as people had to dodge falling debris.

No one makes a fool outta me.

(Except for himself. And I**** (name omitted by request), which he will refute until the day he dies. Fuck I****)

“You serious? I know that have lovey dovey fantasy bullshit with Deku, so you think you can read me like he can,” Katsuki sighed, and let his hand fall back to his side.

“No freaking way. In one hit!?”

“You win, huh?” Katsuki asked caustically. It was getting increasingly more difficult to keep his temper in check.“Real winner there. Good fucking job.”

“Shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up ! I can still beat you, I know I can! I just have to--”

During her speech, Katsuki had begun to walk closer and closer. When he was near enough, he shoved her backwards, just to get her to shut up. He was weary, his eyes were bloodshot, and he was pretty sure that if he set off another explosion on such a large scale, his hands would fry off. He didn’t want to fight anymore. Maybe he never wanted to fight in the first place. He added that to a new list of things, the list of things he didn’t know. The list was growing larger by the day.

It was disorienting and fatiguing, these changes in his mood.

“Are you fucking done?”

Ochako flared her nostrils at him. “Never.”

Katsuki laughed, just a tinge hysterical. “Fine,” he giggled callously.

He was tired and upset, because he knew what he was about to say wouldn’t help things. What he was about to do would do the opposite of what he wanted, would make people worry more.

“You want to forget it, right?”

He raised his hand high in the air and stated loudly:

“I quit.”

There was a chorus of shocked gasps from the crowd and one loud ‘What?” from Ochako in particular. He didn’t care. He needed to get out before he did something stupid.

He was done.

 

*

As the fight was drawing to a close, a girl in the audience hummed to herself.

“What’s wrong?” the man in the seat beside her asked. “Do you not feel well?”

She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt back and squealed. “This is even better than I thought, Kurocchin!”

The man sighed. “What on earth are you talking about? Didn’t you come to watch ?”

“I am watching!” she huffed indignantly.  “It’s just…”

“Just?”

She tapped her chin in thought. “So many people here are liars, Kurocchin. It’s..refreshing.”

The man scoffed. “You’re the only one who would describe something like that as refreshing .”

The girl whacked the man’s arm and pouted. “Well it’s true!”

They were silent as the crowd cheered and booed around them. The man nudged the girl with his shoulder after a few minutes. “What about him?”

“Who?”

He pointed at one of the screens floating in the sky.

“Katsuki Baku...go?” she read wearily. “What about--”

She stopped speaking when his face came into view on the monitor. He had his hand raised in defeat and the crowd roared in contempt around her. She paid them no mind, staring in awe at the boy being projected in front of her.

“He’s so freaking hot,” she groaned, ending it with a dreamy sigh. The breeze ruffled her fluffy hair and she put her hands on her red cheeks in embarrassment.

“That’s not what I meant,” the man sighed and took a sip from his bottle. “Control your hormones.”

The girl gasped and smacked him again. “You don’t understand ! He’s so--so--!”

The girl did a vague motion with her hands and made a noise that was definitely not appropriate for the setting.

“I wanna have his babies, Kurocchin.”

The man choked on his drink and regarded her in shock.

Excuse me?”

She clutched the cloth covering her rapidly beating heart. “He just-- he’s so not okay.”

“Mhmm,” the man hummed, uninterested.

It turns me on.

The man sputtered and checked around them to make sure nobody had heard.

“Please, we’re in public!”

She watched him exit the stage, and noticed that his eyes caught on something. She followed his line of sight and--

“Oh. This is so much better than before,” she mumbled, tone wicked.

“What?” the man asked curiously, leaning over her to see. “What do you see?”

The girl licked her lips shamelessly. She pulled the man down to her level by his tie and giggled into his ear.

“You see Kurocchin,” she whispered giddily, gesturing to the group of kids in the front row. “That boy right there,” she added, pointing to a figure that was scrambling to stand up and leave.

That boy isn’t okay either.

She released him and started bouncing in her seat, clapping her hands together in excitement. The man regarded her strangely, but didn’t say anything. Her expression morphed into one of satisfied debauchery.

So much better,” she mumbled to herself. Her cheeks were flushed and eyes bright, and if the man didn’t know any better, he’d think she’d just got finished doing the unthinkable.

“Your eyes,” the man warned gently, noticing the people around them starting to stare. The girl’s pupils gained a slightly sinister quality as she glared at the people gawking at them in spite.

She blinked once and turned back to the man with a wide smile.

“Sorry, Kurocchin!”

The man bowed his head in acknowledgement and the girl nodded in return, before turning back to face the main area. The man watched as the girl, blissfully unaware, began to talk quietly to herself and draw hearts in the air.

It was kind of cute, he had to admit. In a childish sort of way.

*

Katsuki slid down one of the many walls that made up the labyrinth underneath the stadium. His whole body hurt. His arms were covered in bruises from the punched he had to block and his sides were throbbing from where he hit the ground. He was pretty sure his jaw was bruised and his face felt swollen. He didn’t dwell on it, though.

Recovery Girl had offered her services, but Katsuki declined. Whatever he felt, Ochako had to feel ten times worse. Gingerly, he eased himself down and closed his eyes. Unlike his nightstand, the walls here sooted his headache. He let himself rest in a listless daze, the occasional patter of feet on the ground and the subdued roar from above making him doze off.

He wasn’t left alone for long.

He heard the footsteps approaching, but didn’t pay them any mind until they stopped in front of them. Behind his eyelids, he saw a faint shadow block the light from overhead. He cracked one eye open blearily and waited for them to focus.

He was able to make out a red face and tan skin, and then he was being yanked to his feet. He stood wobbly but was given no time to recover, as he was being dragged through the brightly lit halls. He knew he wasn’t in danger, didn’t sense any malicious intent, but he was drained, and distraught, and just needed a good hug from his mother--not that he would ever tell her that.

“Wha’ssit?” he asked tiredly, voice thick. All of a sudden, he wanted to cry. He struggled against whoever was holding him, but they gripped his wrist sternly and pulled him along. He could feel the person’s pulse through their thumb, hammering into his skin. He was tugged through a door and then they were there, in the same room he’d been placed in with the class when they arrived.

“Kacchan.”

Katsuki closed his eyes. Was he surprised? No.

Did he expect it to come this soon? Yes.

Was he ready? Absolutely fucking not.

He wondered if it was finally time. He wondered if Izuku figured it out, if he would finally get what he deserved. He hoped so.

Izuku pulled him forward, and they were close, closer than they’d ever been, closer than the day Izuku embarrassed him in front of the entire class by leaning in too far. Izuku’s brows were furrowed and his cheeks were flushed dark red. It wasn’t his usual cherubic pink, it was more intense, more red. Like he’d been crying. He hadn’t been though, his eyes were dry and clear.

“Kacchan,” Izuku repeated, tone just as quiet. “Kacchan.”

Katsuki wasn’t equipped to handle this. He knew how to handle excited Izuku. He knew how to handle sad Izuku. He even knew how to handle it when Izuku was on the verge of tears, most of the time. He absolutely did not know how to handle quiet, vulnerable Izuku who was looking at him like he found out Katsuki murdered his dog. He didn’t even know where to begin,

“What?” he asked, tone just as quiet.

“Kacchan,” Izuku said for the fourth time.

He thumbed at the spot on his cheek, right underneath his eye, so familiar yet so foreign. This time he only swiped once and let his thumb rest on Katsuki’s cheek.

“You’re not sleeping again,” Izuku mentioned. He was still quiet. Why was he so quiet? The air was quiet, the room was quiet, even their breathing was quiet, soft. So, so, soft. Katsuki didn’t need soft. Katsuki wasn’t worthy of soft.

“I slept last night,” he confessed, which wasn’t a lie but it definitely wasn’t what he wanted to say. He felt feral, he wanted to push, bite, scratch. He wanted to rile Izuku up and be riled up in return. He didn’t deserve Izuku’s concern. He never did and he probably never would.

Izuku laughed quietly, even though nothing was funny and replied, “I meant before that.”

Katsuki didn’t have a response, so he didn’t give one. Lying was futile. Izuku's read on him was almost as formidable as his mother’s.

“Why?”

He couldn’t manage much more than that, but Izuku seemed to understand.

“I told you before, I have to see it for myself.”

“I had to see you hurting, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t know if you would be here next time for me to see it!”

Katsuki gulped. “And your reason for touching me? Is that the same?”

Izuku bit his lip and looked to the side, cheeks glowing just a little brighter. “No,” he admitted. Izuku’s other hand was still wrapped loosely around his wrist and he slid it down further until his fingers were laced together with Katsuki’s. It was different, but somehow he didn’t hate it. The fire that burned him before quietened to a gentle simmer, prickling beneath his skin in a warm rush.

Katsuki’s attention was drawn to their joined hands in subdued surprise.

“That’s why,” Izuku explained. He squeezed Katsuki’s hand once, twice. “When I touch you, you’re here and not in that weird place you go to.”

One day Izuku’s perceptiveness was going to get him in trouble. Today was not that day. Izuku’s eyes were back on him, wide and honest and so, so green. Katsuki was used to Izuku’s eyes on him, calculating, analyzing, documenting. He was used to it, but this time it was different. They were still doing all of those things, still reading Katsuki from head to toe, but they were softer.

There it was again. Soft, warm, gentle, things that Katsuki knew he still wanted deep down, but he also knew that he still didn’t deserve them. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Izuku squeezed his hand again and Katsuki focused on the constellations dusting his cheeks so he didn’t see the forest in his eyes.

What the fuck?

Okay, that was a ridiculous thought to have, even in this situation. Get it together man, what the hell. It was just the mood. He was within close proximity to a decidedly not hideous-- shut the fuck up, I swear to god --person who was helping him through his sort of crisis. Yea.

Izuku took another step forward--or what he could take of one, there was practically no space to--until the tip of his nose was underneath Katsuki and enveloped him in a hug.

“I know I said I wouldn’t ask, but it’s killing me Kacchan,” Izuku said, words lost in the skin of Katsuki’s neck.

Katsuki was silent. Izuku sighed.

“You said you didn’t need my help...and I can accept that, but..”

He sniffed.

“You’re fighting something and you can’t fight battles alone, Kacchan. I won’t even help you. I won’t say anything, I promise, I just need..”

Katsuki had always had a few centimeters over Izuku, always had the benefit of added height, but in that moment he’d never felt more small. Izuku buried his face into Katsuki’s neck, as if he’d meant to disappear.

“Hug me back.”

He said it in a voice so small Katsuki almost didn’t hear it. The vulnerability was back, and it was only there for a split second, but he heard. Katsuki heard. He thought that he’d seen Izuku be somewhat vulnerable before, but he was wrong. Crying, begging, hand raised in defense--that wasn’t vulnerable. This was vulnerable, this quiet, shy, Izuku, scared of Katsuki’s reaction but showing him anyway. Asking for something that only Katsuki could give. He wasn’t ready.

“...”

“Please?” Izuku asked, and his voice cracked, and Katsuki wasn’t fucking ready .

“Yea,” Katsuki replied. “Yea, okay.”

Izuku’s exhale was shaky and he was shaking when Katsuki touched him.

“Kacchan.”

“Yea?”

“Wh--what’s w-wrong?”

And because this was Izuku, he started crying. Of course he did. Katsuki still wasn’t fucking ready. He was shaken and dazed, he events over the last few weeks playing in his mind on a loop. He couldn’t make sense of it, not then at least. All that he knew was that Izuku was still crying, he was always crying, and the majority of it had to do with Katsuki in some way or another. He said he was done. He said he was finished.

He also said that he knew that vow wouldn’t last.

“I’ll--I’ll tell you,” he gasped out, the corners of his eyes getting blurry because when Izuku cried everyone cried and it was just a mess. “Fuck. Okay. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you just--just stop fucking crying --” he pleaded desperately because Izuku was crying and he was selfish and he just wanted it to stop. He wanted a lot of things to stop, but especially this. It was too similar to his stupid fucking dream. 

“Now?”

“Not--not now.”

“When?”

“I don’t fucking know dammit, just stop!”

And now Katsuki was crying and Izuku was crying and they were both crying and it was gross and weird and still not normal because Katsuki didn’t fucking cry but he didn’t have enough room in the trainwreck that was his heart to deal with that. He knew that after he’d try to forget and try to push Izuku away because no matter what the boy himself said, Katsuki wasn’t good for him. Katsuki wasn’t good for him and was barely good for anyone else and he didn’t know how to be better without pushing people away and he just--he just--

He ached.

*

A girl sat at a desk, humming a simple tune to herself. She moved the needle and thread through the cloth, back and forth, back and forth. She swung her legs out in front of her while she worked.

“Oops,” she muttered to herself and bent down to pick up the button she dropped. She looked at the picture she had taped on her wall to make sure she had the position right and nodded to herself.

“Deepest stillness on the water,” she sang quietly, stopping to hum the tune. She poked the needle through the button seamlessly. She giggled. Seamless, she thought. She continued to sing as she worked.

“Sleeps the sea in calm profound…”

Another stitch,

“And the sailor sees dejected…”

Two more.

“...glassy flatness all around…”

She hissed when the needle came out with too much force and pricked her finger. Damn needle. Not to be deterred, she continued.

“In the vast unbroken distance,”

She held the note out for a moment as she finished the final stitch.

“Not a ripple moves the wave.”

She held the item out in front of her. She squealed in excitement and hugged it to her chest while she bounced up and down. The girl stood from her chair and leaned over her desk to give the picture a kiss. She sighed blissfully and ran run finger up the side of the photo.

“Katsuki Bakugou, huh?"

She bit her lip in ecstasy, an insatiable hunger lighting in her eyes.

"You’re mine.

Chapter Text

They didn’t talk about it. Whatever that moment had been was shattered by pounding footsteps and cheerful laughter.

Izuku squeaked and buried his face farther in Katsuki’s neck. Katsuki froze, posture becoming stiff and rigid. He couldn't move, even as the sounds got closer. At a particularly jarring laugh, Izuku jumped and Katsuki wrapped his arms around him tighter instinctively.

"Quiet, dumbass," he murmured, straining his ears.

"Midoriya!"

They both jumped at that, Izuku giving Katsuki and panicked look and Katsuki glaring right back.

"Kac--"

"Quiet," Katsuki hissed.

"Midoriya, are you here?"

The handle on the door started turning and it took Katsuki .02 seconds to assess their situation and discover that their position was extremely misleading. He shoved Izuku away just in time, as half a second later the door opened.

"Mido--oh there you are! Why are you in here with…?"  

Kaminari stood in the entryway, looking between the both of the them skeptically. A head of distinctively pink colored hair peered over his shoulder and Mineta appeared from behind his leg slowly. A confused look passed between the three and Katsuki was pretty sure their flushed faces and harsh breathing wouldn’t help any conclusion they drew very much.

"Come on man, you're almost up," Kaminari explained, still looking at them curiously.

"A-Ah. Yea. Coming..." Izuku replied shakily. He gave Katsuki a loaded look and followed Kaminari out, hands shaking the entire way. When they were gone, Katsuki shook his head and clenched his fists tightly.

For fucks sake.

 

Just thinking about it made Katsuki’s blood boil with embarrassment and shame. He was weak. The thought of him being pressed against Izuku like he had been minuted before made him nauseous. He was doing it again. Pushing Izuku away and allowing him to get closer when Katsuki benefitted. He was doing it again and he knew he would do it again.

Staring at the ceiling only seemed to anger him further, so he sat up in frustration, wincing at the ache in his limbs. He ripped his covers off of his legs and threw them across the room. It was too hot. It was hot and he was tired and he hurt and he was confused. He was confused and angry and he wished his quirk worked on his mind so that he could blow it all away.

“Come and eat!”

Katsuki groaned and stood, careful to mind his injuries. They had been mildly painful before but now they hurt, a pulsing ache that settled into his bones and made his body heavy. He was starting to regret not going to see Recovery Girl. He opened his door and poked his head out.

“Not hungry!” he called. That probably wouldn’t work.

“Don’t care!” his mother replied.

Well, it was worth a shot.

Katsuki sighed. “Wrap it up or something, I’m not eating!”

He closed the door.

There were some shuffling noises from the kitchen, and then he heard his mother’s thunderous footfalls growing closer. Katsuki closed his door and sat down on his bed. Here we fucking go .

“The hell you won’t,” she growled, voice carrying through the door. “Get out here!”

“No,” Katsuki grunted. “Go away.”

“Katsuki!”

“What!?”

“Come and eat your food!”

“I said no!”

The door slammed open immediately after he was done speaking, revealing a very red--and angry--Mrs. Bakugou. She trudged over heavily and glared at him heatedly. She stared. He stared back. She crossed her arms. He followed.

“Hag,” he greeted.

“Katsuki,” she sang, voice sweet. “Are you sure you don’t want to eat?”

He scoffed and looked away. “No.

She put a hand on her chin in thought. “Is that so?” she mused. She looked at him for a second before she shook her head. “That’s too fucking bad then.”

She grabbed his by the shirt before he responded, hand tightening around his arm in an iron-- ow --grip. Then he was being pulled. Katsuki squawked in protest and yanked his arm away, glowering at her. She just ignored him and pulled him again.

“Come on!”

He pulled himself farther away from her and shook his head. “Why the hell should I?”

“Because you’re my idiot son and you need to eat!” she exclaimed. Now there were two hands tugging on him harshly.

“I already said I wasn’t hungry!” he argued. Her thumb dug particularly hard into a newly formed bruise and he jerked back. “Will you let go!?”

She shook her head and leaned back, putting her weight into it. Everytime she would pull, Katsuki would pull back just as hard, until it became like a distorted game of tug of war with his arm as the prize.

“Will you stop--being--so fucking-- difficult !” she shouted, and with that she got him up. She pulled and he rose off the mattress to his feet, but his body didn’t seem to like that idea as he was sent stumbling a few steps. Moving so suddenly sent a shock of pain through his system and, kneeling forward, he landed on one knee with both hands on the ground. “Katsuki! You’re too old for this shit! Stop acting like a child!”

“Katsuki?” His mother dropped to her knees in front of him frantically and placed both hands on his shoulders, shaking him gently but urgently.

“Katsuki what’s wrong?” she asked, voice panicked.. She pushed him back so that his leg went down and he was sitting on his knees. Once she was sure he wouldn’t fall over, she placed a hand on his forehead in worry. She ran her hands over his face and shoulders, checking to see if anything was out of place.

“Katsuki, answer me.”

“Nothing, calm do--ow, fuck !” he hissed, flinching at a poke to his bruised jaw. She frowned, brow becoming more furrowed at each offhand cringe and hurt noise.

“Take it off,” she commanded. Katsuki wrinkled his nose and shook his head. She sighed and grabbed the hem of his shirt. He grabbed her wrist and shook his head again, more urgent this time.

“Did you get checked when the fight was over?” she demanded. Her voice was tight and she looked tired. His silence spoke for him.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“And why the hell not?”

“Didn’t need to.”

“Didn’t need to?”

Her voice was deathly quiet and Katsuki couldn’t see her face through the hair in her face. Her shoulders began to shake and her fists shook in her lap. Katsuki didn’t say anything in fear of making whatever was about to happen worse. When she finally met eyes with him, she looked upset, on the edge of exploding.

“You’re not a little kid anymore! You know damn well that it doesn’t work like that!”

Katsuki ground his teeth together and spat out, “Why the are you getting so fucking upset? It’s not a big deal!”

“Because it is a big deal ! You’re so fucking dumb!” she bellowed. She shoved him, not hard enough to hurt him, but just enough to get her point across. “You always do this shit!”

“What are you even talking--”

“This! You walk around like you’re so fucking great, like you’re invincible, but you’re not!”

She tugged on her hair in aggravation. “God I don’t know what to do with you anymore! And then you won’t accept help because you can’t put your dumb as hell pride away for two seconds to realize that you fucking need it!”

Was she looking down on him? Katsuki pushed her back--bracing himself for a slap--and sat up just a bit straighter. Fuck you .

“Why are you so fucking worried about this now!? You never said anything about it before!”

“I’m your mother, dumbass! Of course I’m gonna worry!”

He was grabbed by the collar and pulled forward so that they were eye to eye.

“You come home looking like fucking death everyday and then one time you look like you’re this close to blowing away in the night like some vigilante fucker--and I still don’t know what the hell that was about--” she took a deep breath, “and now when I finally think we’re starting to get over this shit--!”

Her body sagged. Like a puppet whose strings had been cut, it’s as if all of the fight left her at once. “What’s wrong with you?”

She sounded small and hurt and suddenly all the anger that had been building up in Katsuki left him in a rush. She chewed on her lip and looked away from him, like she couldn’t stand to look. He knew that face, had seen it many times throughout their various clashes and fights. She was blaming herself.

How could he find the words? How could he tell her that it wasn’t her fault? How could he say that it was all him, that he was the one at fault? It was his fault, not hers. Katsuki started this mess ten years ago, not his mother.

He couldn’t find the words to tell her that none of this was her fault. That it still wasn’t her fault that she raised such a fuck up.

She pulled Katsuki close to her chest and hugged him tightly, one hand on the back of his had and the other on his back like before. “You’re so goddamn stubborn and I know you won’t come to me, but...I still mean what I said before.”

The hand on the back of his neck gripped him firmly. “Katsuki, please. Please . I can’t watch you keep fucking ruining yourself over whatever it is.”

“I don’t…”

He didn’t what? What she was talking about? That’s a lie .

“You do know! Don’t give me that! You’re an idiot but you’re not stupid,” she insisted. “Going off and doing all this reckless shit on your own, what the fuck! Sometimes I wonder if you’ll come home in one piece!”

“Whatever.”

She sounded absolutely crushed when she said, “This is what I mean. Why are you so careless with yourself?”

I had to see you hurting, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t know if you would be here next time for me to see it!

Katsuki’s mother pinched the bridge of her nose and groaned. “You got your ass kicked and didn’t get help. You can’t just do that, Katsuki!  I just--”

She let out a long, frustrated sound and smacked the both of her cheeks. Katsuki hissed at the sound and squinted at the angry red marks that were left behind.

“I’m sorry.”

Katsuki almost did a double take. An apology from his mother was almost as rare as one from him.

“I’m probably overreacting but it’s your own damn fault for worrying me all the time. Let’s go.”

Okay. He did feel kind of bad. He’d snapped something awful when he came home and she jokingly asked what was up with his match. That mixed with the constant mood swings he’s been having probably didn’t help her anxiety. So, he did feel bad. It wasn’t her fault that he was such a shit son.

His eyes followed her nervously as she stood and walked behind him. She bent down and threw one of his arms over her shoulder before hoisting him up with an ‘oof’. One of her elbows knocked into his side and he groaned in pain.

“I’m still not hungry,” hu mumbled, which was true. Whatever appetite he might have had was spoiled by the white hot shame taking root in his gut. His mother was...intense, but she never got upset like that. Not usually. He did that.

“Shut the fuck up. You got your ass kicked and then didn’t do anything about it. The least you could do is eat something,” she chastised. Her weird way of nurturing bullying never ceased to surprise Katsuki.

“Fine, but get off me,” he grumbled, pushing her away. He only managed to make it a few steps before he stumbled again, legs weak from sitting for so long. Luckily, his mom was there to catch him. “Let go, I don’t need help!”

“Yea, yea,” she said offhandedly, not paying him any attention. A knock sounded from the open doorway and both of them looked to see Mr. Bakugou standing there sheepishly.

“Um..Is everything okay? Things got kind of... heated for sec there,” he explained, shuffling his feet. His eyes widened at the scene in front of him and immediately ran over to support Katsuki’s other side.

“Oh my god, what happened?” he asked, looking to his wife.

“Katsuki is a moron,” she sighed.

“Was it this bad earlier?”

“I don’t think so,” she answered casually.

“What the fuck is this? I don’t need you to help me!”

“Katsuki, language,” his father admonished. Katsuki rolled his eyes and huffed. What? It was true. He could walk just fine, they were just being overprotective.

“Shut the fuck up and let yourself be taken care of for once. I have half a mind to take you to the hospital,” his mother griped. Oh so she can say whatever the hell she wants but I can’t? Bullshit. The three of them began to make the trek to the kitchen slowly, carefully going down the steps and avoiding bumping into any furniture. His parents slowly sat him down in a chair at the table and his mother began preparing his plate. Katsuki flinched when he sad down and his father shook his head.

“Sorry bud, we’re definitely going to the doctor tomorrow,” Mr. Bakugou announced. “Need to get you fixed up before you go back to school.”

When the plate was set down in front of him, he didn’t say anything, just picked up his fork and began to eat. He hated to admit it, but the smell of pork and vegetable did make his stomach growl a bit. He let his parents converse without him, preferring to sit in silence and let his mind wander.

And Katsuki, being the--above, according to him--average person, his brain had the annoying habit of recounting the day’s events. While that wouldn’t normally be a problem... things happened.

Many things.

Many embarrassing things.

Many embarrassing things involving a certain sparkly-eyed, green haired menace that had done nothing but cause Katsuki problems as of late. So while his parents talked about work or whatever the hell old people talked about, he thought about bodies.

What the fuck?

A certain body.

A certain two bodies, in fact.

Pressed together. Very tightly.

No.

Izuku was warm, Katsuki had to admit. But then again Izuku was always warm. Was just warm in comparison to Katsuki? Or was he just warm overall? Katsuki didn’t really know. He just knew that during the--increasingly more common--moments that they were actually touching, he was always almost feverishly warm.

Oh hell no. No!

His hands were really warm when he slipped them into Katsuki’s. They were so, so tender when they caressed the discolored skin under his eyes and it felt so nice when they gripped his cheek.

Fuck. No. Stop. Fuck fuckfuckfuckfuck--

But he couldn’t stop. His mind was filled with the picture of Izuku pushed up against him so tightly, pressing against him so anxiously in the quiet of that room. He couldn’t stop replaying that moment of vulnerability over and over in his head.

“Kacchan.”

BOOM!

He stared slack-jawed at the melted remains of his spoon. Oh my god. His parents shared similar expressions. His father was giving him the weirdest look and he was pretty sure he was giving himself the weirdest look because what the fuck was that .

“Should we take you to the hospital tonight?” his father asked, brow furrowed. “Do you not feel well?”

“Uh…”

Katsuki felt really fucking dumb sitting there with his mouth hanging wide open, but how was he supposed to respond to that?

Why are you touching me?”

“I’m hugging you. You looked like you were about to cry.”

He managed to keep the blast at bay that time, but his hands were still sweaty and sparky and smoking and he didn’t really know what to do so he did the only plausible option that wouldn’t end in disaster.

He sat on them.

Now his mother was giving him a weird look but he couldn’t be assed to care because it was all rushing back. All of it.

The hand holding, the hugging, the way it felt when they were pressed together with their arms around each other. He nose as filled with the smell of Izuku’s hair when he buried his face in Katsuki’s neck, the feel of him burrowing closer into Katsuki, his heavy, gasping breaths on his skin.

Hug me back.

...Please?

What the fuck. What the fuck.

So warm. So gentle.

His mother silently stood up and went to get him another spoon, placing next to his plate without any questions. She plucked the useless utensil from his still raised hand and sighed.

“Come on Katsuki, you’re old enough to not be doing this anymore,” she affirmed. She sat back down at her place across from him and continued her conversation like nothing happened.

“You’re not sleeping again.

“Oh fuck no,” he blurted out. “No!”

Katsuki shoved himself away from the table and stood abruptly, injuries be damned. He turned on his heel and marched away, palms growing hotter the entire time. He cursed when the first explosion went off, followed by others in rapid succession. He tried to close his fists, but they were happening so rapidly that he didn’t have the time to.

(As stated many, many times before, Katsuki wasn’t stupid. He knew what was happening but this was just his body reacting, he insisted. There was no way he could have...no. Not over something that cliche. ...He was maybe right. He’s not wrong all the time, you know.)

Nope. Nope. No fucking way. Hell no.

He decided then and there to throw whatever the hell this was far far away and to never bring it up again as long as he lived. This was going in a tiny little box and would be locked away in a tiny little room in a tiny little corner.

“Katsuki, what the hell?”

“Fucking nope!”

He practically ran up the stairs to his room and shut the door behind him. He looked at his hands--that were still going off--and took a deep breath.

“Calm the fuck down. Calm down,” he whispered. He watched them slowly diminish before fizzing out and he closed his eyes in frustration. Okay, I don’t know what this is but it’s gotta go.

After he calmed down, he sat down in his chair and spun around, just to give himself something to do. He was definitely not going back downstairs to try and explain that clusterfuck. See? It’s fine.

Izuku’s other hand was still wrapped loosely around his wrist and he slid it down further until his fingers were laced together with Katsuki’s. It was different, but somehow he didn’t hate it. The fire that burned him before quietened to a gentle simmer, prickling beneath his skin in a warm rush.

Katsuki’s attention was drawn to their joined hands in subdued surprise.

“That’s why.

BOOM!

“GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!”

 

Mrs. Bakugou turned to her husband suddenly.

“Do you think it was the food?”

He shook his head.

“Is that kind of thing even possible?”

*

“Bakugou my man!” Kirishima exclaimed as Katsuki walked into the classroom. It seemed that they were the first ones there.

He slammed his duffel bag onto his desk and fixed the other with an icy glare.

“Go away,” he said bluntly. Kirishima seemed to take that as invitation to walk over and stand next to Katsuki like some sort of overgrown puppy. Katsuki could stand Kirishima a little more than most people, but he still didn’t understand the boy’s liking of him. He wasn’t friendly or chipper in the slightest.

“Why are you always so grumpy?” Kirishima asked teasingly. Katsuki rolled his eyes and sat down.

“Why are you always so fucking happy? It’s too damn early for this shit!” Katsuki growled. Kirishima held up his hands in surrender and laughed wholeheartedly.

“Okay, okay,” he soothed. Katsuki scowled at him.

“Maybe if you stopped looking like you have a turd stuck in your ass all the time you’d be in a better mood,” he mumbled a few seconds later.

“That’s it--”

Katsuki stood from his chair and raised his palms. He let a few sparks crackled and pop as he grinned at Kirishima menacingly. Kirishima held his hands up once again and chuckled nervously.

“W-Whatcha doin’ there buddy?”

Katsuki’s grin widened and he took a step forward. In response, Kirishima took a step back.

“Nothing much, ‘buddy’,” Katsuki replied. Kirishima visibly swallowed and scrambled to get a desk in between them.

“Bakubro, let’s think about this okay? Just calm down--”

“Calm? I’m perfectly calm, what about you?” Katsuki asked innocently.Kirishima sidestepped and Katsuki followed, each time Kirishima tried to escape, Katsuki would block him. His hand started sparking more violently and that paired with the creepy smile he was sporting made him look more menacing than he felt.

Kirishima looked at his palm cautiously and smiled. He surveyed his options, and seeing as there was no escape route that would actually work, he did the only sensible thing in this situation. He stuck out his middle finger, poked his tongue out, turned on his heel, and ran. He was almost to the door when Katsuki went after him in a rage.

“Get your ass back here you spiky hair for brains!” Katsuki bellowed. Kirishima cackled at him and hopped over a desk, throwing Katsuki off.

“You’re the last person I wanna hear calling anyone’s hair spiky!”

“Shut up!”

Katsuki continued to chase him but Kirishima was faster than he looked because time after time he managed to be just out of Katsuki’s reach. He could have stopped and put an end to the entire thing, but it was honestly fun chasing someone around the room like an idiot. Only a tiny bit though.

Ultimately, they were stopped by Iida, who upon entering almost had a heart attack at seeing Katsuki looming over a red faced and almost hysterical Kirishima.

He jumped back with an stammered exclamation of, “What in the name of--what on Earth is going on here!?”

He quickly rushed over, stepping over various desks and chairs that had fallen victim to their antics. He managed to step in front of Kirishima and held Katsuki back--after some intense struggling, mind you--and gave the both of them a disappointed look.

“Please refrain from fighting on school grounds,” he requested smartly.

“But we weren’t--”

Iida shook his head.

“Kirishima, Bakugou,” he dismissed curtly, nodding at the both of them. He fixed his glasses and smoothed his slightly ruffled hair down and turned back to the room at large with a sigh.

“Look at this mess . The absolute disrespect at the materials provided for us by the school….” he he trailed quietly as he began to pick up the chairs and put them back in place. Kirishima blinked at Katsuki and Katsuki blinked at Kirishima. After a second, Kirishima snorted and looked away.

“You got something to say?” Katsuki grumbled.

“You still look like you have to take a shit,” Kirishima commented.

“You wanna go again?” Katsuki asked, tone threatening.

Kirishima rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. “Even if we did, you wouldn’t be able to catch me.”

Katsuki bared his teeth at him and snapped, ‘Wanna bet?”

“Why--”

“Kirishima. Bakugou.” Iida snapped. Well snapped as much as he could, anyway. He sounded more like a parent chastising their rowdy children.

That effectively cut off any and all conversation and with a curse or two, and Katsuki began helping Iida with his task.

After a few minutes, Kirishima spoke up.

“So I guess you’re back then?”

Katsuki wrinkled his nose and have him a weird look.

“The fuck does that mean?”

Kirishima hummed in thought. He lifted a desk over his head with ease and said,

“You don't look as emo. You're mad like usual.”

Katsuki scoffed. “You would know what emo looks like, dumbass.”

Kirishima just laughed at him and put the desk in its proper place.

 

Eventually, the rest of the students trickled in one after another, each with tired eyes and stiff joints. They’d had battle simulations and combat training--and of course, the whole U.S.J. thing--but the sports festival two days prior really took a toll on everyone. Even with Recovery Girl’s help, the damage was still evident.

Even though they all looked one step away from passing out due to exhaustion, the occupants of Class 1-A entered with excitement, gossiping with one another, pulling up highlights on their phones and gesturing wildly. Kirishima left after a while to go talk to a group huddled by his desk.

“I got so embarrassed, everybody was staring at me!”

“But Hagakure…” Sero began, tone chastising.

A book seemed to lift itself from a desk and hurl through the air towards Sero.

“I know, but still!”

Sero rubbed his arm and pouted. “At least that's better than me! I got consoled with ‘Don't mind!’ By freaking elementary school kids!’”

He sat down in his seat and groaned. Tsuyu waddled past him and giggled.

“Don't mind,” she said bluntly, dodging a pencil that was thrown her way.

“We got to be the center of attention for more than a day though! U.A. is amazing!”

“That's true…” Kaminari commented, “But we were nothing compared to the main events.”

“What's that mean?” Kirishima asked, hopping on top of the desk and turning to face Kaminari.

“Well Todoroki vs. Midoriya, for one. That was fucking intense!”

The group nodded excitedly in response.

“I know right! I thought they were gonna tear the entire stadium down!” Kirishima exclaimed.

“I thought they were gonna die!” A timid voice spoke up.

“Hush, Mineta,” Hagakure chastised.

“Yea man! They weren't gonna die ,” Kirishima reassured.

“They might have,” Tsuyu corrected. “If they didn't put up that wall….”

“Game over,” Jirou finished.

Katsuki set his head in his hand and blew his bangs out of his face. He knew it all. He’d seen everything just like everyone else had.

“I wonder what Midoriya said to him though. I've never seen Todoroki get that worked up,” Hagakure mused. There was a collective nod. Katsuki didn't know specifics, but he didn't really need them. It wasn't hard to figure out what happened.

Just Deku being Deku. Has to go out and save the day every fucking time.

“Don't forget about Uraraka vs. Bakugou,” Ashido reminded. “That was insane! I would have never expected that!”

“Oh boy, that was something,” Sero speculated. “Bakugou caught all of us off guard.”

“He's s-scary,” Mineta whispered, hiding behind Tsuyu. Kaminari gave a low whistle and shook his head.

“I still can't believe Bakugou gave up!”

“You sure didn't give her any breaks, huh?” Kaminari asked, addressing Katsuki.

He continued looking forward when he answered, “Hell no! Why should I? She's the one that--”

“The one that….?”

Katsuki shook his head. “Nothing,” he scoffed. “Just know that I didn't do shit.”

You were going to.

Tsuyu took a quick glance around the classroom. “Where is she?”

“Uraraka got hurt really badly in the fight,” Hagakure said sadly.

Iida stepped over and cleared his throat.  “Uraraka is...out. Due to the injuries she acquired during her matches, she's been advised to take a few days of rest,” he explained politely.

“Oh yea...that match with Todoroki really messed her up,” Ashido mumbled. “Will she be okay?”

“I hope so. Talk about Bakugou not giving breaks? He has nothing on Todoroki,” Sero commented.

Katsuki’s eyes were drawn to the door. The topic of conversation strolled in, stoic as usual, but he had Izuku by his side, which was a shock in itself. Katsuki knew something had happened, but he didn't expect them to become friends so quickly. (Were they even friends? Katsuki still doesn’t know.)

See? You're not special. He helps anyone who he thinks needs it so stop fucking thinking about it.

Distantly, he heard Iida reassuring everyone about Ochako and her well being, but his focus was on Izuku, who was too wrapped up in his conversation to pay attention to where he was going. He bumped into Shouji and apologized immediately, still as ditzy as usual. He turned back to Todoroki and apologized to him as well.

Really not special.

Todoroki nodded at him out of courtesy and began walking to his seat.

You're not more important than anyone else.

Izuku perked up after a second and went after him to ask something.

That's just how he is.

Todoroki nodded skeptically and Izuku beamed at him, reaching into his bag to pull out a worn down looking notebook. No. 14, it read on the side.

See? That stupid annoying voice at the back of his mind taunted, told you you weren't different.

“Poor Uraraka,” Mineta whined.

“I know! Damn man, Todoroki just beat her like that!” Kaminari pointed out. “You too Bakugou. You were able to blast a fragile girl with no mercy. I couldn’t go through with it.”

If I showed no mercy, I wouldn’t be sitting here.

“But you got beat pretty easily,” Tsuyu teased. Kaminari covered his face with his hands.

“C’mon now…” he joked nervously.

Katsuki was getting irritated.

“That’s still not as bad as Todoroki! He knew she wouldn’t win so he took pity on her, but he still fucked her up.”

Poor this, poor that, poor Ochako, poor little girl.

“Ochako…” Hagakure cried pityingly.

“‘Poor little crazy Katsuki…’”

Really irritated.

“So pathetic...

He hated to admit it, he wouldn’t ever admit it, but he felt upset on her behalf. He fucking despised people looking down on him, hated that feeling of being underestimated, so hearing this…

He sympathized with her. As crazy as it sounded, he empathized with Ochako.

They had their differences. He didn’t like her and he knew damn well she didn’t like him either. But seeing people look down on someone who challenged him , someone who wasn’t afraid of him in the slightest--

Made him furious.

He could pinpoint the exact that Kaminari picked up on his mood, judging by the paleness in his face and the trepidation evident in his voice.

“What's up?” he asked shakily, looking up at Katsuki. He had stood from his desk and walked over to his peers, steps calm and measured. He was pretty fucking pissed, but he wasn't upset. In fact, he felt fine. Confident.

“Where do you see fragile?”

She challenged him. She challenged him and fought him, and she won. It may not have looked like it, but she beat him. She knew that she had no chance of coming out unscathes, Katsuki knew she knew, but she wounded him as much as he wounded her.

“If you say ‘because she’s a girl’ I’m gonna beat your ass.”

Kaminari was silent, so Jirou spoke up.

“Well she did fight you until you left,” she said. “You could have easily beaten her.”

Katsuki smirked to himself. “Pretty sure I could break all of her bones and she’d find a way to get back up.”

“So vulgar,” Tsuyu whispered. “Your poor future wife.”

That earned a good laugh out of the group, and Katsuki was about to reply when he saw Todoroki out of the corner of his eye. Izuku was standing over his shoulder, his pen flying furiously across the page.

(He knew what was happening, but once again deny, deny, deny. It was the first stage of two things, one which was relevant and the other more relevant than before. Maybe. Shit. Actually, no. It was not. He wouldn’t let it be, no matter what ***** said. Once again, fuck them.)

“You’ll piss people off if you stop trying halfway through ‘cause you think you have a win. That’s why Deku almost kicked my ass and almost got him too,” Katsuki sighed,  “Almost busted my goddamn balls, that bitch!”

Iida sputtered and gave him a disapproving look.

“You shouldn’t speak that way about the ill,” he chastised. “It’s not very becoming of you.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Get your panties out of your ass,” he huffed. “You said she’s fine, right?”

“Even so!” Iida argued. He huffed and began adjusting his tie--not that it needed to be. Ashido patted his shoulder in comfort, making Iida sigh. Katsuki scoffed and turned his head in the other direction.

“Did...did Bakugou grow up!?”

“It’s a miracle! A goddamn miracle!”

A heavy weight landed on his shoulders, and Katsuki already knew it was Kirishima. He ruffled Katsuki’s hair, and in response, he shook Kirishima off.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Bakugouuuuuu...”

“What?” Katsuki asked, mumbling. Kirishima ruffled his hair again and he growled. Kirishima laughed earnestly and did it again , just to piss him off.

Bakugou,” Kirishima repeated, grin mischievous. Katsuki didn’t like that look on the other, it made him feel anxious.

What!?”

“I’m so proud!” Kirishima shouted in mock praise. He wiped an invisible tear from his eye and sniffed dramatically.

“Denki! Our son! He’s grown so well!”

To that, Kaminari bounded over and enveloped him in much the same way Kirishima had. Katsuki was not pleased.

“Can you get your fucking shock fingers and shedding problem off of me ?”  he barked. Kaminari swooned.

“I never thought this day would come! Bakugou’s finally grown up!”

That earned a laugh from the onlookers, who were a bunch of idiots for allowing this to happen. Fuck all of you. Die.

“Who the hell grew up?” Katsuki demanded. “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

“You’re less hostile than you were at the beginning,” Hagakure supplied helpfully. “You’ve changed.”

“No one’s changed!” Katsuki insisted angrily. As he was speaking, he just so happened to catch Izuku’s eye, who smiled and waved at him sheepishly, small smile adorning his features. He was still looking at him when he said, “People just surprise you sometimes!”

Kirishima looked back and forth between the two and snickered before he  covered his eyes with his hand and groaned. “Such manly words! My poor old heart can’t take this! Tsuyu, hold me!”

He tore himself away from Katsuki and theatrically leaped towards Tsuyu, who stepped out of the way and let him hit the floor. The resulting THUD! made even the tougher patrons of class 1-A wince.

Almost simultaneously, Kouda quietly entered the classroom and jumped out of his skin when he saw Kirishima hit the ground. He scrambled over to help, gingerly helping the poor pick himself up from the floor and asked if he was alright in that quiet way of his, telltale beads of sweat forming on his brow. However, Ashido had no qualms about pointing a finger at him and blatantly laughing in his face.

“Tsuyu why,” Kirishima moaned.

Ashido snickered at him and interjected, “What did you expect! You’re almost a foot taller than her and you came barrelling out of nowhere like an idiot!”

“You left your child and wife behind, Kirishima. That’s just shameless,” Tsuyu pointed out. “I didn’t know you were like that. I don’t entertain such men.”

“Who’s his kid!?”

“Who’s his wife!?”

Kirishima stood up quickly and marched over to Katsuki and Kaminari. When he was there, he covered Katsuki’s ears with his hands and frowned.

“We have a child, man. Show some restraint.”

“You think I’m the wife in this situation? I can only make microwavable food!”

Katsuki growled and pushed Kirishima away.

“Didn’t I tell you not to fucking touch me!?”

“Bakugou, Bakugou! We just went over this earlier!” Kirishima reprimanded.

“Went over what?”

Kirishima grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a serious look. “You gotta let the turd face go, man. Seriously. You look like a pissed off chicken.”

His tone was so serious that what he said didn’t register at first. When it finally did, Katsuki sent and explosion his way without an ounce of regret. Kirishima shook his head dumbly when the smoke cleared, giving Katsuki an incredulous look.

“Poor Kirishima,” Tsuyu sighed, tone not matching up with her words in the slightest.

“My hair!” he moaned, gesturing to the--now poofy--mess on his head. “Do you know how long it takes to do this?”

“Not my problem,” Katsuki droned. He ignored the heat creeping up the back of his neck at the eyes that were still on him and removed himself for the situation. Before it could escalate any further, Aizawa was rolling in and class was in session.

Ten minutes after lessons began, there was an audible gasp and the sound of a pencil hitting the floor echoed across the classroom. Ashido stood up from her seat and pointed an accusatory finger at Tsuyu.

“You entertain such men? Entertain what such men!?”

Tsuyu just turned the page in her textbook and began to read the passage out loud.

 *

Shinsou. Hitoshi Shinsou. The name of the boy he threatened to kill was named Hitoshi Shinsou.

Finding out was an accident. He’d honestly almost forgotten about that entire spectacle, but now that it was back on his mind, he knew he wouldn’t stop thinking about it for a while.

He’d been walking through the gates when he heard. ‘Shinsou!’ the person had said. ‘Hitoshi, wait!’

Katsuki had looked up from his phone disinterestedly, but his entrance was piqued when he recognized the head of disheveled blue hair. His irritation spiked and he kicked the ground. That fucking bastard .

‘Don’t call me by my given name,’ Shinsou had drawled in that annoying-as-shit and haughty tone of his.

Hitoshi Shinsou was the name of the second person he’d…

“‘Cause if it is,” Katsuki continued, tone causal. He licked his lips. “I’ll kill you.”

Katsuki began making little crackles and pops in his hands. Now he couldn’t help but wonder. If he got pushed far enough one day, could he kill someone?

He didn’t know.

Not knowing made him restless.

“Kacchan.”

Kacchan.

The flickering mini explosions in Katsuki’s palm fizzed out as he looked up suddenly. Izuku was stood above him with his hand raised in a small wave, toes pointed inwards. He glanced around the vacant classroom in confusion.

“It’s break time,” Izuku supplied helpfully. Katsuki nodded slowly and looked back down at his hands, just for something to focus on. They were damp and kind of ugly in his opinion, but he just needed something to look at. Something that wasn’t Izuku. Whenever he was around, Katsuki was on edge.

Things were weird between them. Weirder than usual.

Katsuki expected for Izuku to be more invasive than ever, expected to be approached left and right like they were close. Which they still weren’t. He expected them to be a little closer, even if it was one sided.

(He was maybe disappointed. Somewhat. Not a lot. So little that he didn’t even realize it. Maybe.)

But they didn’t. They didn’t and they weren’t, and he didn’t really know what he was supposed to do. He was fully prepared to push away a clingy and hopeful Izuku, but he didn’t know how to handle this... awkwardness . Izuku hadn’t approached him or made any sort of contact beyond heavy gazes. It was exactly like after the roof incident, except this time it wasn’t on Katsuki’s orders. It was Izuku’s choice. He didn’t really know how he felt about that.

Didn’t I want him to stay away?

Did he?

He still did. But now there was... something .

Izuku didn’t bring up The Second Most Embarrassing Day of His Entire Fucking Life, so he didn’t either. He didn’t bring up what was said between them either. Which he was grateful for. Not that he would have stayed to talk about it even if Izuku did.

“AH SHIT!!” Katsuki shouted, putting his head in his arms. Thinking about it brought the anger back full force. He was not okay.

Would this be the end of whatever had been transpiring between them? He sure fucking hoped so.

“Why are you here?” Katsuki asked, voice muffled by his sleeve.

“Not hungry,” Izuku replied quietly.

There was a heavy pause and then the sound of a chair scraping against the ground reached his ears.

“What are you doing?”

He didn’t raise his face from its hidden position.

“Sitting,” he sighed. He sounded tired.

This stilted conversation was really starting to urk at Katsuki’s nerves.

“Why here then?” he demanded sarcastically. “There’s plenty of places to sit in this big ass school.”

“You’re in here,” Izuku responded immediately. His words were earnest, and honest, and it really didn’t help the tempest going on in Katsuki’s head. It only served to confuse him more.

“Your loss then, dipshit,” Katsuki bit back. He was angry. He was angry and confused and he just wanted to be mean for a while.

Another pause.

“I don’t think so,” Izuku retorted calmly.

“Why not?”

Shit. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

A sigh. Then, “You’re not as awful as you try to be.”

Katsuki laughed quietly. He turned his head so that he could see Izuku over his elbow. You’re the only one who thinks that. “Shouldn’t you be the last one saying that?”

Izuku was drawing patterns on his leg and mouthing something like the weirdo he was. At Katsuki’s statement, he stopped and brought his other hand to his chin. His expression was pensive and clouded; Katsuki couldn’t get a read on what he was thinking. The hand at his leg gripped the fabric tightly when he said, “Maybe you’re right.”

The room was too quiet. Katsuki still didn’t know how to handle quiet. He was loud and brash, he needed noise and chaos to think right. The mood was too reminiscent of the one after his match against Ochako.

He expected that to be the end of it, for Izuku to stand and take his leave, but he didn’t. Instead, he shifted in his chair and looked Katsuki directly in the eye. Katsuki wanted to punch him.

“Why are you still sitting there?”

“You’re in here,” Izuku repeated.

Katsuki groaned. “You’re so fucking annoying,” he commented callously. He was. Izuku was annoying in the worst fucking way. But not in the way he seemed to take it. If he wouldn’t leave, Katsuki would. He pushed himself away from the desk and stood.

“Sit down, Kacchan.”

Katsuki dug his nails into his palm with a growl. “The hell did you just say to me?”

“I said sit down,” Izuku countered. Katsuki ground his teeth together and shoved Izuku’s chair back with his foot. The tension had been building up within him for a while and he needed a release. He was absolutely boiling with anger and the sparks that fizzed out earlier were coming back in full force.

“Do I have to kick your ass so you know your goddamn place?”

This was why Katsuki didn’t deserve soft . It always came back to this, with Katsuki reaching his breaking point and taking it out on Izuku. This was why everything he secretly craved and desired didn’t line up with who he was.

Izuku’s expression hardened and his voice was strained when he said, “That won’t work.”

Those were his words, but not his actions. Did he think Katsuki wouldn’t catch it? The tremor in his voice and the shaking in his fists. He’s never felt more powerfully vile than he did in that moment, standing above Izuku.

His hands were shaking and so was his breath and Izuku was the same. Even if it was for different reasons, Katsuki out of anger and Izuku out of fear, they were the same.

“You hurt him.

I know, shut up. I fucking know already.

He wanted to scream. Scream and punch and rip and pull and fight. He needed a fight. Fighting Izuku was all he knew. No matter how many times they went through this fucked up cycle of push and pull, he would never know how to be nice. He wasn’t nice.

He wanted to hurt Izuku. He wanted to hurt him just like he was hurting because all of it started with him. It started with Izuku, and it was put into motion by Katsuki. He hated him. He hated Izuku so much.

“Get up.”

He wanted a fight.

Izuku glanced at him warily but began to slowly stand up.

He wanted a fight.

Katsuki’s fists began to sweat and he bit his lip hard enough to bruise.

He wanted a fight.

Izuku was moving too slowly for his liking so he bent down and grabbed him by the collar, pulling him so they were on eye level. Like this, Izuku was standing on his toes with his eyes wide, looking at Katsuki with ragged breaths.

“What if I said that I hated you?”

He needed to fight.

Izuku looked at Katsuki with a burning expression, eyes aflame. Katsuki could feel it on the side of his face and it made his skin prickle in all the wrong ways.

“I wouldn’t believe you,” he answered. The tremor was back. “You wouldn’t believe you either.”

He needed this fight.

“I hate you,” Katsuki growled, voice low. He didn’t hate Izuku, not really. He hated what he did to him. He loathed what it made him become.

Izuku shook his head adamantly. “You don’t. I know you don’t.”

Katsuki glared at him icily and spat, “Don’t be so sure. And don’t fucking tell me how I feel. You remember what I said would happen the next time you crossed me?”

He needed to hurt Izuku. He needed Izuku to hurt him.

“You won’t. I know you, Kacchan and I know you wouldn’t.”

“Do you?”

“I do.”

“You fucking don’t.”

“So what? You’re gonna do the same thing you told Shinsou--”

Izuku whimpered when Katsuki slammed him into the desk behind them and pointed his flashing palm at the other boy, with his other wrapped around his throat.

“You don’t know a goddamn thing about me!”

Izuku gasped and recoiled violently, eyes pressed shut and body trembling so hard it made Katsuki jolt. There was sweat forming on his brow.

Katsuki needed to hurt him.

Katsuki needed to be hurt by him.

Katsuki dug his fingers into the flesh beneath his fingertips and Izuku let one terrible, heartbreaking yelp leave his throat.

Katsuki released him.

He couldn’t hurt Izuku.

He balled his hands into fists and turned away. He was disgusted with himself.

“Don’t let me treat you like that,” he grunted, voice thick. “Next time I do something punch the shit out of me!”

Because it would happen again.

What was happening to him? He was telling Izuku of all people to hit him. You wouldn’t have to tell him that if you’d just get your shit together.

“It’s f--”

“If you’re about to say it’s fine, it’s not! Don’t let me shit all over you, Deku!”

There was some shuffling from behind him and then, “I’m sorry.”

No.

Izuku sounded timid and little, just like he’s been before. Before they came to U.A.

“Don’t apologize!” Katsuki shouted. He was pretty sure his heart was going to explode into a million pieces and he was going to die. He felt horrible and upset, and it wasn’t directed at Izuku. It was directed at himself. Izuku was apologizing because of him. He always apologized because of Katsuki. All those years of tormenting made him into this.

You don’t care how much I hurt you, right?

No. Shut up.

He wasn’t meant to be like this. Katsuki had seen Izuku at his best. He wasn’t meant to apologize to anyone, especially not someone like him. “Don’t just let me walk all over you like some sort of fucked up punching bag!”

You’ll always be mine to walk all over, right?

He fucking won’t.

Izuku appeared in his field of vision and he closed his eyes and bowed his head in shame. He couldn’t look at Izuku. He didn’t want him to see.

“Kacchan?”

Katsuki angled his body away from Izuku, still keeping his head bowed.

“Sorry, Kacchan. You were doing so much better and then I--”

He couldn’t listen to this anymore. Katsuki shook his head and covered Izuku’s mouth with his hand.

“Stop,” he pleaded. Izuku looked at Katsuki in confusion and suspicion before nodding. Katsuki kept his hand where it was because if he had to hear Izuku apologize one more time, he’d explode. Izuku regarded him with a meaningful expression to match his pained one.

He wrapped his fingers around Katsuki’s wrist and gently pulled his hand from his mouth, exhaling slowly. He gestured to himself with his other hand with a smile.

“Look at me, Kacchan. I’m fine.”

Are you?

“You’re a fucking liar,” Katsuki retaliated bitterly. “I felt you shaking.”

Izuku smiled once more and shook his head. “I’m okay.”

Katsuki exhaled unsteadily and closed his eyes. “I kicked you.”

“I know.”

“I threw you.”

Quieter this time, “I know.”

“I almost killed you.”

Izuku looked away then. “And I’m telling you it’s fine.”

He had this sort of shy and sincere smile when he said it, which was really fucked up because it could mean one of two things. Either Izuku was perfectly fine with this entire situation--which he shouldn’t have been for fucks sake, or there was something funny happening that Katsuki was missing. He was willing to bet on the former.

Katsuki didn’t have the mental stability to deal with this.

“Can I touch you?”

“You already are, stupid,” Katsuki scoffed. Izuku laughed and took that as a yes. Then, Katsuki was being hugged. He didn’t know what to do with his arms so he let them hang awkwardly at his sides.

“Why do you like doing this so much?” he grumbled. “Go hug somebody else.”

“Your hugs are nice,” Izuku said simply. He exhaled unsteadily into the skin beneath the collar of Katsuki’s badly done up shirt and snuffled. You’re such a freaking weirdo.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.”

Those were the words he spoke, but once again, his actions said otherwise.

He was still shaking.

 

The water was just as eerie as ever. It was still murky and black, the skies still matching in tone. It looked thick and intimidating, reflecting a dark iridescence each time the waves shifted and stirred. He still couldn’t see his reflection.

The waves were choppier this time. Along with them, the clouds overhead churned, the static in the air making the hairs on his arms stand on end. There was no breeze, no wind at all actually, but he still felt cold. He shivered.

Izuku was there again, quietly humming to himself and looking ahead--at what, Katsuki didn’t know. There was nothing there. The light bruises from before has darkened in color, taking on a reddish hue. He was pale and frail looking, and upon closer inspection, had a few imprints in his skin--the telltale sign of being gripped too hard. There were prominent ones in the shape of fingers circling his neck.

It was such a contrast to reality, where Izuku was warm and flushed and smiling. Here, he looked sick.

When he noticed Katsuki, a large grin broke out over his face and he turned to face him.

“Kacchan! You’re back!”

He stood shakily and took the few steps necessary to get to Katsuki and hugged him tightly. Katsuki stiffened immediately, still not used to contact from Izuku--real or not.

“Do you feel better now?” Izuku asked earnestly, checking Katsuki with his hands in a way that was so naively child-like that Katsuki didn’t know how to tell him off. Their last encounter was still fresh in his mind, and despite his time here never being fun, it creeped him out. He could still feel the body pressed against his and the quivering breath on his ears.

Seeing the look on his face, Izuku stopped abruptly and recoiled back.

“S-sorry! I didn’t mean to, you don’t like being touched--”

“For fucks sake, stop apologizing!” he exclaimed. “We went over this shit already!”

“Sorry! I’m really sorry, I--”

Even in his dreams, Izuku didn’t listen to him. Fucking figures.

What the fuck.

He ground his teeth together and put his hand on Izuku’s shoulder, cutting off his stream of babbling apologies. He still didn’t feel quite right here and having his mind play games with him didn’t help any.

“Deku.”

“K-Kacchan?”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“I’m s--”

Katsuki covered his mouth with his hand. “Shut it, fuckmunch!”

Izuku nodded slowly and Katsuki released him. They were silent for a few minutes. There was a tension just underneath the surface of Katsuki’s skin that he just couldn’t shake and it made him feel antsy.

“D-do you?” Izuku asked after a few seconds. Katsuki didn’t look at him, keeping his eyes trained on the sea.

“Do I what?”

“Feel better…?”

His tone was cautious and when Katsuki’s eyes found him once more, he was looking down at his lap.

Did he? Maybe. He could look at Izuku when he was awake for more than a few seconds without wanting to blow himself up, so that was something. But did he really feel better ? No, not really. Not after his attack.

Katsuki knew that he was really talking to himself, not Izuku, but admitting anything to that face was still impossible. So he didn’t.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does! Kacchan, you--”

Katsuki cut that thought off before it began because it was so Izuku , so much like something he would say, that it hurt . It was his dream, yet Izuku still challenged him, still made him think about things that he didn’t want to think about. The tension returned tenfold, burning under his skin and itching to be released. But he couldn’t. On some deeper level he knew that whether this was real or not didn’t make a difference. It would affect him later all the same.

“If I say it doesn’t matter it doesn’t fucking matter!” he spat. Izuku flinched back violently-- four times , Katsuki counted in his head.--and Katsuki immediately wanted to smash his face against the wood of the stupid boat and jump into the stupid black ocean because he was a stupid fucking idiot and he never fucking learned. He was shit, and he was an awful person, and he hated himself for it.

(Something he never thought he would ever think in his entire life. He was too good to hate himself, right? Wrong. )

“So what happened to you? You look like shit,” he commented, just to fill the silence, do something. He needed Izuku to stop looking at him like that. Like he was that monster that claimed to be him.

After a few seconds, Izuku responded.

“Kacchan got mad.”

Do I have to kick your ass so you know your goddamn place?"

Stop looking like that. Don’t make that face. Don’t look so fucking happy.

Before Katsuki could say anything, Izuku was speaking again.

“He’s angry because of what you said last time,” he mumbled. He tucked a lock of frizzy hair behind his ear. “About me.”

Oh.

Katsuki swallowed heavily. “Where is he?” he demanded quietly. He didn’t know why he wanted to know, because he couldn’t do anything. Despite this being his worst nightmare in his head, he was at complete mercy to himself. And he didn’t like himself very much in that moment.

“He’s not here today either,” Izuku murmured cautiously. “Kacchan he’s not here, so please don’t be scared.”

“I’m not scared,” he growled, and he wasn’t . He was upset and angry , at Izuku for making him doubt everything, at this entire situation for messing him up, at himself . He was furious with himself for being so weak . He was disgusted with himself for letting it get to this state.

What a fucking joke.

After a second, Izuku put a hand on his arm but retracted it quickly at Katsuki’s growl.

Don’t let me treat you like that. Next time I do something, punch the shit out of me!"

“You...don’t--” Katsuki began, looking away, “Don’t do that.”

There was a noise of confusion and Katsuki felt the boat move as Izuku shifted his weight.

“Huh?”

Katsuki sighed and ran a hand through his hair in frustration. He met eyes with a confused Izuku and groaned.

“Don’t look at me like that! You don’t always have to be scared of me, okay? You can...” he held back his scowl, “Touch me. Or whatever. I’m not gonna hurt you or some shit.”

Not here, anyway.

Izuku looked at him carefully, before he nodded and scooted closer. He still didn’t touch Katsuki, though.

“Okay.”

“Hey, Kacchan?” Izuku asked after a second.

“What?”

“You said you don’t hate me, right?”

A pause.

“Kacchan?”

“...Yea,” Katsuki reassured quietly. “You’re right. I don’t.”

A small weight barrelled into his side and Izuku squealed excitedly. “I’m so glad!”

“Do you hate me?”

“Mmmm…” he put a finger on his chin in deliberation. “No. I hate the things you say sometimes, but I don’t hate you.”

Katsuki allowed himself a small smile. “You really should.”

“I know, but I don’t.”

Katsuki’s throat became tight and he wanted to cry. Why? It didn’t make sense. He was fine before. I’m tired of this .

“Is it because we’re ‘friends’?”

Izuku poked him in the side and pouted. “Don’t say it like that! We are friends. You’re my best friend.”

He wrapped his arms around Katsuki torso and said into his sleeve, “ My best friend. You’re my best friend and no one else’s.”

Katsuki uncrossed his legs and leaned back. “If you say so, Deku.”

The sky was all the same dull color. The clouds were still moving, but they looked still. The waves rocked the boat slightly and then phantom breeze was still nipping at Katsuki’s skin.

“Are you okay?” Izuku asked quietly. Katsuki felt drained. All his energy left him in a flash and all that he could do was lay with his head turned towards the sky.

“No,” he answered honestly. He didn’t know what he was.

“D-do you want to hit me?” Izuku asked timidly. “Would that make it better?”

Katsuki chewed on his lip and avoided Izuku’s gaze. “Don’t say fucked up shit like that.”

“Sorry.”

“That’s what villains do.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.”

Katsuki felt like a broken record but he couldn’t even find the energy to be upset about it. This was his fault, after all.

Izuku hovered above him with a troubled face. “Did I make you mad?”

“No.”

Then, “Are you hungry?”

“No.”

“...Are you sleepy?”

Katsuki sniffed. “A little.”

He was cold.

“Okay,” Izuku whispered, always the considerate one. “I’ll wait until you go to sleep.”

A few minutes passed, and then there was a tug on his hair. “Can I?” Izuku inquired politely. Katsuki nodded and Izuku clapped his hands together lightly. Katsuki guessed he was braiding or something. He didn’t bother to check. That’s how he fell asleep, with Izuku playing in his hair and humming some melancholy tune.

 

Katsuki blinked his eyes open slowly. He felt disoriented. While that certainly hadn’t been the most traumatic dream he’d ever had, it still made him uneasy. He sat up with a grunt and ran his fingers through his hair roughly.

He didn’t know how to feel about that. Instead of making him feel unsettled or annoyed, he just felt…empty. And numb.

He felt hollow.

*

“Why the hell are you in my house?” Katsuki blurted out incredulously. He turned to his mother, outraged, and pointed a finger to the offending figure sitting rigid on his couch. “Why the hell is her here?”

His father gave him a stern look and shook his head. “He’s our guest, be polite. And watch your language.”

Izuku quietly raised his hand in a wave and smiled nervously. Mrs. Bakugou put a heavy hand on Katsuki’s shoulder and pinched his cheek.

“I invited him over.”

“Why!?” he asked, spalling her hand away.

His mother laughed good heartedly. “Because I like him and you have no friends. Stop whining about it!”

“I’m not whining about shit,” he grumbled. He lifted her arm away from his shoulder and regarded Izuku with faint distress. “You could have said no.”

“I know,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to.”

His mother let out a loud cackle and his father snorted into his fist.

“Tell him, Izuku! He needs to be put in his place!”

Katsuki growled and turned on his heel to march right back upstairs. “I hate all of you,” he said under his breath. He slumped onto his bed face first and screamed. Stupid Deku. Stupig hag. Stupid fucking dream.

He was pissed at himself--because when wasn’t he pissed at himself for something these days--for being a violently reckless dumbass and he was pissed at his mother for inviting the one thing all of his frustration was directed at.

He screamed into his pillow again just because it felt good to do so and then deflated. This was going to be an a trying and maddening night, he just knew it. There was a knock on his door and screamed again , because he didn’t want to fucking deal with this. 

“Go home Deku,” he sighed.

“I can’t do that,” Izuku insisted. “I just got here.”

“I’m not the one one who invited you over,” Katsuki argued, temper flaring.

“But you’re the one I want to see.”

Katsuki didn’t know what to do with that information. It made no sense.

“I don’t want to talk to you,” he tried.

“That’s fine. Can I come in?”

“Aren’t you gonna barge in anyway?” Katsuki groaned.

“No!” Izuku denied, sounding offended. “I wouldn’t--”

Katsuki raised his head and squinted his eyes at the other. Izuku’s face immediately went red and he began waving his hands around in a panic. “Okay. Maybe I would, b-but I’m asking this t-time!”

Izuku was an idiot. What kind of person constantly chased after someone who repeatedly hurt them?

(Izuku did, end of discussion. These are not Katsuki’s words.)

Katsuki put his face back in his pillow and raised his hand in a vague gesture. “The door is open, idiot.”

The sound of Izuku’s scurrying footsteps reached his ears and then there was a weight sinking into the side of his mattress. He opened his eyes to peek, finding Izuku sitting against the side of his bed with his phone in hand. He had so many things to say.

‘Why do you care?’ and ‘Why do you put so much effort into me?’ and ‘Why do you constantly chase after me after I hurt you?’ and ‘Why are you here now?’ and ‘What do you see in me?’ and ‘Why are you always helping me even though all I do is fuck you over?’

And the most urgent:

How many times can I break you before you’ve had enough?

So many questions. So many insecurities. It hurt.

This is why he hated having Izuku around. He stirred up painful thoughts that brought painful reactions that made Katsuki cause more pain. He wanted so badly to ask. But he couldn’t. His pride wouldn’t allow it.

(He could have. He could have torn Izuku down. He could have stripped him of everything he’d gained and destroyed every morsel of progress Izuku thought they made. He really could have.)

He was a coward.

(He’d been holding himself back, even if he didn’t realize it. Somewhere deep within him knew what words to say, what things to do to get Izuku away from him. Katsuki insists otherwise, that he wasn’t holding anything back, but well.)

Why are you here?

Wasn’t that the same question he asked the last time Izuku came to his room?

Whyareyouherewhyareyouherewhyareyouherewhyareyouhere...

Katsuki jumped when Izuku’s weight landed on top of him. His chest was to Katsuki’s back and he went rigid when the--unfortunately--familiar feeling of Izuku’s arms around his torso registered. He was too close.

He was too close and they were touching and he still felt stupidly warm pressed against Katsuki and Katsuki didn’t breathe in fear of screaming. His arms burned and froze all at once and the feeling made it hard to get air into his lungs.

What the fuck.

He let out a strangled noise that he didn’t even know he was capable of making and flipped them over so that he was the one on top of Izuku. Izuku seemed perfectly content with letting Katsuki manhandle him but Katsuki was definitely not , so he scrambled back. He wondered if Izuku was this proactive with his other friends.

“Deku! What the fuck!?”

Izuku laughed and sat up, grinning at him.

“It’s not funny, fuckface! I fucking hate it when people touch me!” Katsuki shouted. The fact that he let it get so bad to where Izuku thought it was okay to do it regularly was a problem in and of itself. Izuku muttered something under his breath and gave Katsuki a calculating look. Katsuki hated that look.

“I know,” Izuku replied cryptically, and then Katsuki was being tackled. Izuku must have underestimated his power because they were both falling to the floor in a tangled heap not soon after.

Katsuki really hated him sometimes.

There was a knee pressed uncomfortably to his stomach and he was pretty sure he’s gotten elbowed in the face twice. Katsuki was not amused.

“Well if you know,” Katsuki grunted, shoving at Izuku’s face with his hand, “then why don’t you stop being such a shitface and let go!”

His voice was getting to near screeching territory. Katsuki briefly wondered if his parents could hear them and what they made of the entire situation. Izuku shook his head and squeezed him tightly. His stupidly frizzy hair was tickling Katsuki’s stupid chin and the entire thing was just stupid. This was stupid.

It was difficult to maneuver is limbs into a position to where he could actually fight back with the equivalent of a five and a half foot freckled koala clinging to him, but he managed.

“Deku.”

“Kacchan.”

Deku.

Kacchan .”

“Deku!”

“Kacchan!”

“Oh my fucking god,” he groaned, shoving at Izuku harder. “Will--” he panted--“fucking--let me--go!”

Katsuki gave up his struggle in a huff. Since when did he get so strong ? The bastard was probably using his quirk.

(In all actuality, if he truly needed to get away, he could have. There were ways to get what he wanted. They may not have been the most ethical, but there were ways. Did he know this? No one knows.)

Izuku sighed. “If I tell you why I’m doing this, I’ll probably get hit.”

True.

“But I’ll tell you anyway.”

“You’re going to tell me something that’ll get you hurt?” Katsuki repeated. “Cause that makes a lot of fucking sense.”

“Do you remember what we talked about last time?” Izuku inquired gently. “At the sports festival.”

How could I fucking forget? It’s been bugging me all this time.

He didn’t want to talk about this.

“I said I wouldn’t ask, so I won’t.”

“You also said you wouldn’t try to help.”

“This is comforting.”

“Which counts as helping,” Katsuki pointed out.

Izuku hummed and shook his head. “Not to me. Kacchan...you had that far off look again. I don’t like it.”

Couldn’t he just let Katsuki wallow in his misery in peace? Why was Izuku always comforting Katsuki when he should be the one being comforted?

“I don’t need it,” Katsuki mumbled. “This, I don’t need it.”

He turned his head so that he was looking at the open doorway instead.

“Are you sure?”

Ridiculously observant. Izuku was ridiculously observant, and maybe a little bit insane.

“Yea.”

“Well since you don’t like it, then just think of it as a punishment then,” he compromised. What?

“What?”

“Since I can’t talk about it, I’ll just hug you whenever you start acting weird,” Izuku decided. On his own. Without asking Katsuki. Izuku exhaled and buried his face in Katsuki’s chest. Katsuki’s heart began thudding in his chest and he pushed Izuku again to no avail.

“Have you fucking lost it!? Get off!”

“Kacchan, you feel nice.”

Katsuki felt the heat seeping into his cheeks and he covered his eyes with his arms. Izuku poked his cheek a few times and he moaned miserably.

“I hate you so much. Deku, I fucking hate you.”

“You don’t, Izuku corrected seriously. “You shouldn’t say things that you don’t mean.”

Katsuki lifted his arms and glared at Izuku. “Who the hell says I don’t mean it?”

“You don’t,” Izuku insisted urgently.

Katsuki shook his head. “You can think that.”

“I know that.”

Katsuki shifted his weight and scrunched his nose. “Will you get off now?

“If you tell me what’s wrong,” Izuku revealed. Not happening.

“Didn’t you just say you weren’t gonna ask?”

“I’m not asking. You’re telling.”

He wasn’t quite used to bold Izuku.

Katsuki clucked his tongue. Manipulative little shit.

“This isn’t fun,” Katsuki commented.

“I know.”

“I hate this.”

“I know.”

“Are you enjoying this?”

“A little,” Izuku admitted, ears red. Katsuki looked away then, response caught in his throat. “You can either tell me what’s wrong, get me off, or suffer.”

Katsuki still didn’t look at him, choosing to ask, “You a sadist or some shit?”

“N-not quite,” Izuku stammered, sounding bashful. Bashful. As if he was the one that should have felt bashful .

“You’re a pervert, what the hell!”

Izuku laughed, and it really pissed Katsuki off, because this was not something to laugh about .

“Maybe so.”

What!?

“Well I can be, if that’s what it’s gonna take to make you tell me what’s wrong? I mean I can try --”

“Oh my god, shut the fuck up!”

It was quiet after that. Katsuki because he was feeling very awkward and very hot. His face was burning and the places he was being touched were burning and everything was almost uncomfortably warm and fuzzy. He hated the feeling of people touching him, and in a way, he hated this, but...it was different.

Somehow it was different.

Being hugged like this, by Izuku, on the floor of his bedroom didn’t make him panic. It didn’t make him upset. If anything, he wanted Izuku to let him go because if he didn’t, they’d be heading into dangerous territory. He’s get comfortable.

Comfortable wasn’t good.

This thoughts would never make it past his lips, of course. But deep down, he knew. He knew that if he let him, Izuku could have a chance at dragging it out of him anyway. Coward.

“You know…” Izuku began, “if you really can’t talk about it, you could h-h-hug me and I’ll k-know that you talk about it.”

His voice had gotten small.

There it was. That same flicker of vulnerability that Izuku was choosing to show to Katsuki and Katsuki alone. Because he was the only one who could do something about it. He was dumbfounded. He lay in shock, unsure of what to say. He wasn’t quite used to defenseless, unguarded Izuku either.

The shade of red Izuku was turning couldn’t have been healthy. He was shivering--from what? Nerves? Embarrassment? Katsuki saw him bite his lip and squeeze his eyes shut tightly.

“N-nevermind. Sorry for asking just--”

“Shut the fuck up,” Katsuki mumbled. “Don’t tell anyone about this, or you’re fucking dead.”

Before Izuku could reply, Katsuki grabbed him and pulled him close. Well. Closer.

Izuku looked at Katsuki with wide eyes before he smiled and hugged him back twice as hard. He still didn’t hate it.

Maybe he wanted more of it.

But this wasn’t for him. This was for Izuku, because he asked. This was his own shitty way of apologizing for being such an awful person. He should have apologized, he knew. If he apologized, he could let some of it go and try to get his shit together. He should have apologized, because Izuku deserved it. He should have apologized, because he needed to pay. He should have, but he didn’t.

Katsuki exhaled slowly into Izuku’s hair and blinked at his ceiling. After a minute, Izuku let him go and they both sat up. Izuku laughed awkwardly and turned his head to his lap.

“Sorry, Kacchan. I went too far.”

Katsuki scratched the side of his face and glanced away. “Don’t...don’t apologize.”

He felt Izuku’s eyes on the side of his face, so he angled his body farther away. Izuku shuffled over so that he was closer. Holding his breath, Katsuki let his eyes wander next to him, where Izuku was sitting.

His cheeks were still pink and his eyes still bright and he was twiddling his fingers in his lap. He he met eyes with Katsuki quickly, then glances back down when his cheeks grew more red.

“Hey, Kacchan. Do you--”

BOOM!

Chapter Text

 

Katsuki grunted in pain when his phone landed squarely on his face. He cursed and rubbed his sore nose, sitting up and throwing the offending device on his pillow. He watched it bounce once and fall, and for some reason the picture annoyed the shit out of him.

 

He hissed, now in frustration, when he spotted the marks on his floor.

 

Fuck Deku.

 

“Stupid bunny looking fucker,” Katsuki grumbled bitterly. “Fucking up my floors and shit.”

 

(“You were the one who messed up your own floors,” an annoying voice says, tone fond. “It was cute.” Katsuki wishes the voice would shut the fuck up and leave him alone.)

 

((“You think he looks like a bunny?”

 

“No, he’s fucking ugly and I hate him.”))

 

He buried his face in his blankets and sighed, willing himself to banish all thoughts of idiotic green haired pains in the ass, and their stupid strawberry shortcake looking friends, and their pushy girlfriends.

 

Fuck everything and everyone.

 

“Katsuki! Come and eat!”

 

Katsuki stood up grumpily and trudged his way down the stairs, acting as petulant as he felt. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was maybe, kind of, just the tiniest bit hungry. But he was upset, so his parents didn’t need to know that.

 

“Oh stop,” his mother bemoaned, rolling her eyes as soon as she saw his face. “Park your ass in a chair and eat. I’m tired of you looking like you’re two seconds away from death every time I see you.”

 

“I can look however I want,” he retorted quietly, but jumped back when he saw the resulting scowl on his mother’s face.

 

“Come again?” she asked sweetly, tapping her ladle on the pot of stew she was finishing. Just once, hard and loud. Out of the corner of his eye, Katsuki saw his father flinch and he decided to end this train wreck before it happened.

 

“Nothing, nothing,” he appeased shortly, sitting down heavily and crossing his arms. Soon, a bowl was set in front of him. He slapped away the hands that came to ruffle his hair in passing, growling at his parent and their amused laughter.

 

“I hate you both,” he declared simply.

 

“Of course you do,” his father sighed. “Now stop talking and eat.”

 *

A strangled squeak bubbled past his half-open lips and Izuku shoved his face further into the crook of Katsuki’s neck in response. They were both frozen solid. A sudden laugh made Izuku jump back instinctively. He had to push down another noise of surprise at the feeling of Katsuki pulling him back, closer to his chest. Izuku could feel his fluttering pulse pounding in tandem with his own, and the proximity made him let out another quiet noise.

“Quiet, dumbass,” Katsuki ordered quietly, pulling Izuku closer.

 

“Midoriya!” one of the voices called. That’s Kaminari .

 

Izuku flinched and gave the other a panicked look, gulping at the slightly worried glare he received in return. He could feel his fingers shaking from his nerves, so he gripped the bottom of his shirt to get them to stay still.

 

“Kac--” he began, but Katsuki’s insistent ‘Quiet’ cut him off.

“Midoriya, are you here?” Kaminari called. Izuku sincerely hoped that he wouldn’t open the door. His hopes were shattered, however, when the sound of the knob turning reached his ears. He blinked and met eyes with Katsuki, whose flashed in comprehension and oh .  

 

They seemed to reach the same conclusion, as Izuku stepped back quickly at Katsuki’s shove, just in time for the door to swing open in front of an oblivious Kaminari.

 

“Mido--” he called again, but stopped as his eyes landed on the two of them. “Oh…” he whispered, mildly surprised. “Why are you in here with….?”

 

He stopped himself again, staring between the both of them stupidly. Ashido peeked over his shoulder curiously, followed by Mineta popping up from behind his legs. Kaminari looked back at the two questioningly. Mineta shrugged, but Ashido narrowed her eyes suspiciously before she gasped.

 

Izuku looked down at himself then glanced over at Katsuki, his own eyes widening in realization. The two of them were in a room. Alone. They were both breathing hard and he was pretty sure his face was splotchy from crying, Katsuki’s red from embarrassment. Or anger. You could never know with him.

 

The guilty expressions that he just knew the both of them wore probably didn’t help the situation.

 

“Come on man, you’re almost up,” Kaminari explained with a wave of his hand. He was still looking at them skeptically.

 

“A-Ah. Yea. C-coming…” he stammered, quietly cursing his stutter. He gave Katsuki a look that he hoped conveyed the fact that he hadn’t forgotten what was promised, and followed the trio out. His hands were still trembling.

 

He shook his head to clear his thoughts and looked up to find Ashido squinting at him. He gave her a smile and a small wave. She blinked smiled back, skipping over to him and throwing an arm around his shoulder.

 

“Soooo,” she sang in his ear, laughing loudly at the startled look on his face.

 

“So…?” he countered, looking at her out of the corner of his eye.

 

“What’s going on between you and Mr. Grumpy back there?” she asked, grinning.

 

Oh my god. Izuku had never been more grateful for the fact that he’d been blessed with freckles than he was in that moment. He would’ve hoped that they did something to help hide the red blooming on his cheeks, but going by the smug look Ashido was giving him, probably not.

 

“W-what!? No. No, no, no, oh my god, ” he groaned, covering his hot face with his hands. “Why would you even think that? Oh my god, no! I was kind of worried but is that really what it looked like? Please say no, oh no. Kacchan’s gonna kill me oh my god, Mina why, why why why would you say that --”

 

“Mina?” Ashido teased, a lilt in her voice. Seemingly realizing his mistake, Izuku shook his head frantically and tried to backtrack.

 

“Oh fuck!” Izuku squeaked and covered his mouth with his hands, looking absolutely horrified. Ashido was trying her hardest to hold in a laugh. “Wait, no! I didn’t mean to say that. And I didn’t mean to call you by name! I was just--goddamit.”

 

The poor girl could barely take it anymore, her already pink face turning a dangerous shade of magenta and her shoulders shaking with the effort. One look at Izuku’s overly distraught face sent her careening into a fit of cackles so intense, she had to put a hand on the wall to steady herself.

 

“Oh--oh my god, Midoriya! You--you--” she fell into another round of giggles, throwing herself at the other to steady herself on his shoulders. “Jesus, man. You gotta warn me next time. I almost died!”

 

Izuku resolutely did not look at Ashido, choosing instead to focus on the very interesting shade of white adorning the walls. They began walking again, nothing passing between them but the occasional snort from a still amused Ashido.

 

“Can we--c-can we just never bring that up ever again?” Izuku pleaded, still slightly embarrassed. “Please?”

 

“Sure!” came the enthusiastic reply. “But--”

 

“Oh no.”

 

“Looks like someone’s been spending too much time around Bakugou,” she sang, adopting the same teasing tone from before.

 

“N-no! I mean, we spend more time together now than before, but it’s--it’s not like that! S-stop looking at me like that!” he stammered, trying to make sure she understood. “We just walk together sometimes and sometimes his mom invites me over, it’s not like--no! Ashido!”

 

“I never said any of that, no need to get so defensive,” she chided, though her expression was clearly amused. “Although, I can understand Mrs. Bakugou. Her son is a literal mess, so if there’s any chance of him marrying anyone, she might as well pick someone nice like you to--”

 

He squeezed his eyes shut at her peals of laughter, feeling the familiar heat crawl up the base of his neck. I hate this. I hate this and I’m never opening my mouth ever again .

 

“Ashido, please,” he begged.

 

“Alright, alright,” she gasped, patting her cheeks a few times. “God, I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.”

 

He opened his eyes once more to see her a few feet away, waiting.

 

“C’mon! There’s still,” she pulled her phone from the pocket of her sweatpants, “fifteen minutes until the start of the next match? Oh, well guess there’s no need to rush after all.”

 

Izuku opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by Ashido’s excited gasp.

 

“Oh my god! Is that Uraraka?”

 

Izuku turned his head to where she was pointing, spotting a familiar head of brown hair through the window on the door. A screen to the left displayed a simple “U.A. Heroics Department, Class 1-A”. He furrowed his brow in confusion. He didn’t realize they’d come that far.

 

“Yea,” he confirmed. There was an uncharacteristic slump in her shoulders, and it unsettled Izuku. Ochako was naturally bright and bubbly, and seeing her so tense didn’t sit well with him. She wasn’t a static person, so his worry was understood. “Hey, you can go ahead. I need to...do something,” he commented distractedly.

 

He didn’t see the contemplative look she gave him, nor the one she gave Ochako. He was also oblivious to the quiet ‘Ah.’ she let out, followed by an ‘I see now. That makes a lot of sense.’

 

She just pat him on the shoulder and waved him goodbye. He raised a hand in return, watching her bound cheerily down the hall, humming to herself excitedly.

 

He didn’t bother knocking, just opened the door quietly. There was no one else there except for them. Ochako didn’t warrant him any kind of reaction, just kept silent with her head towards the ground. Izuku wondered if she’d even heard him enter.

 

As he silently made his way over, he noticed that she wasn’t quite as still as he’d originally thought. Even though her back was rigid, the slight shake in her shoulders gave away how shaken up she was. There was a styrofoam cup clenched in her fist, crumpled and shaking along with the rest of her arm. The spilled water stained her lap and the floor below, dripping in a constant rhythm. Drip. Drip. Drip.

She started at the sound of the chair across from her scraping against the ground, and she squinted at Izuku skeptically. Her mind seemed to be on something else. He raised his hand in a cautious wave and smiled gently.

 

“Hey,” he greeted simply.

 

Ochako blinked and let out a shout, causing the both of them to flinch. Across from him, a smile was plastered on her face, though it wavered at the corners. Izuku allowed himself to frown for a second.

 

“Oh! Oh Deku, hi! How are you?” Ochako asked brightly, smile still shining brightly at him. Izuku let his own smile drop and bit his lip.

 

“Uraraka.”

 

“Did you need something? Sorry, I was kind of spaced out for a sec there--”

 

“Uraraka,” Izuku repeated, giving her a worried once over.

 

“What’s up?”

 

That tone of hers was starting to become a bit more than slightly worrying.

 

“Are...are you alright?” he asked slowly.

 

And immediately wanted to punch himself.

 

No, of course she’s not okay, idiot. She just got humiliated in front of the entire school, he thought bitterly .

 

He took in her appearance, her slumped shoulders and nervous jittering. Her usually neatly brushed hair was in disarray, like she’d run her fingers through it and tugged at it multiple times. Her skin was clammy and her breaths shaky, fast. There were no visible injuries, at least. Recovery Girl had made sure of that.

 

“He absolutely kicked my ass,” she said bluntly, a quirk in her lips. “I gave it my all, and he beat me like it was nothing.”

 

There was a tinge of something acrid in her voice. A dark look shadowed her features for a split second.

 

“I wouldn’t say ‘nothing’...” Izuku replied carefully, thinking back to a few minutes before. To the figure slumped to the floor of the hallway, looking more exhausted than Izuku had ever seen him. He knew it wasn’t purely from the match, but he also knew Katsuki wasn’t left unscathed either.

 

“He’s an arrogant jerk, but at least his cockiness has something to be founded on,” Ochako giggled. Her giggles turned into full, gasping laughs, shoulders heaving and lashed quivering. She wiped absently at her eyes to catch the few stray tears that managed to leak out.

 

“Uraraka.” Izuku repeated her name for the third time, panic lacing his tone. He stood and rushed to her side, putting a soothing hand on her shoulder in what he hoped was an act of comfort.

 

At the contact, she let out a pained scream and shook him off frantically. She banged her fist against the table and grabbed the chair next to her, activating her quirk and flinging it against the wall with all of her strength. When it hit the wall, she let her carefully constructed smile fall and burst into tears.

 

Izuku was panicking. He didn’t know what to do, touching only seemed to make it worse and he didn’t think he could say anything that would be of any real help. He’d never seen Ochako cry, never seen her truly upset either, so he wasn’t sure what it was that he was supposed to do. He just knew that seeing her cry like this made him upset, and not being able to help made his chest hurt.

 

Loud, heaving sobs shook her chest as she hunched in on herself and cried, and Izuku was--he was stuck. Should he let her cry it out? Or should he stop her? He glanced at the remains of the chair against the wall and shivered. He was scared of what she would do if he let her continue like this.

 

“Uraraka,” he tried again. “Uraraka, please listen.”

 

He made his voice as calm as possible, despite the anxiety brewing in his stomach. He felt nauseous, like he wanted to throw up, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t. Ochako was the one hurting, not him. He needed to help her first.

 

“Uraraka,” he repeated. Six times. “I need you to listen to me.”

 

But she wasn’t, and she wouldn’t, and the longer this went on, the more distraught she looked, and Izuku didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to do because his friend was in a panic and he was about to follow soon after, and he didn’t know what was wrong. He just wanted to help , and he couldn’t. First Katsuki and now Ochako? Why couldn’t he help his friends when they needed him most? Wasn’t that why he was there? To help people?

 

Izuku could feel his breaths becoming shorter and Ochako was still crying and he really didn’t know what to do, so he just--

 

He hugged her.

 

He launched himself at Ochako and wrapped her in the tightest hold that he could manage without hurting her. She kicked and struggled, elbowed him in the chest a few times, but he didn’t let go. He didn’t know how to make it better, so he did what he knew best. He smothered until she was forced to calm down, forced to give in. He’d only done this to one other person, but it was all he knew. He had to make it better, he needed to make it better.

 

He shushed her and squeezed even tighter, cursing whatever deity there was for doing this to him twice in one day. Once was enough. He couldn’t do this twice. Izuku inhaled through his nose and exhaled roughly, trying to keep his emotions at bay.

 

Maybe he had been spending too much time with Katsuki.

 

He couldn’t carry the weight of anyone’s pain if he didn’t know what it was. He couldn’t help if he didn’t know what was wrong.

 

Eventually, she calmed down and sagged against him, sighing shakily. After a few seconds, he released her, eyeing his friend carefully. She turned her back to him, and let her arms hang at her sides.

 

“Ur--”

 

“You’re amazing, you know that?” Ochako’s voice was slightly hoarse. Izuku wanted to interrupt, wanted to ask what she meant, but he didn’t. He let her speak.

 

“You--you’re so bright, you know?” No, I’m not. I’m really not, what are you saying? That’s you . What happened? Why were you crying? Why are you upset? “You’re so determined, and you always do your best and try so hard. And some people-” her voice tightened and shook a bit- “some people make it some kind of end goal to...to put you down, you know?”

 

Izuku wanted so badly to reach out and ask what it was that she was talking about, but he let her be. Ochako was shaking like a leaf, and although he might have been an imposing idiot, he wasn’t blind. She needed her space.

 

“You try so hard to help everyone. You protect everyone, even when they don’t deserve it.”

 

Izuku couldn’t take it anymore. “I don’t under--”

 

“I’m not strong. I know I’m not strong. I knew going into that fight, that I wouldn’t win. Do you know how good it felt when I thought I beat him? Do you understand?”

 

With each word, her frame grew smaller and smaller. “I was so happy. And then he gave me that stupid look and--”

 

(Izuku knew that sound. He understood that choked off whimper that crawled up your throat when you least needed it too. He understood the pained breaths, almost sobs that hurt every time you took a breath. He understood the ever-present tremor, in body and voice, that followed you wherever you spoke. Oh yes, Izuku Midoriya was well acquainted with the feeling of holding back tears.)

 

“--I knew I’d lost. And I’ll probably keep losing.”

 

“I’m sure that--”

 

“I want to protect the people I care about too,” she confessed. The mood shifted, the air suddenly growing heavier with the weight of her words. “Please just forget this. Forget it ever happened, okay? Please don’t tell Iida. I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

It was funny really, the way the same words he spoke to Ashido just a while ago in such a light manner could hold such a different meaning. He didn’t understand. He didn’t understand what was wrong.

 

With that, she turned, gave him a bright smile--that he knew wasn’t real, couldn’t possibly be real, after all of that--and left. The door clicked shut behind her and Izuku numbly followed, feeling strangely yet understandably shaken.

 

There was a strange feeling in his belly, sinking its claws in and standing his hairs on end. He was sure the uneasiness was rolling off of him in waves, and he swallowed nervously.

 

Izuku had a bad feeling. A very, very bad feeling.

 

He could still hear it, the grating sound of the water hitting the floor in the otherwise silent room.

 

Drip, drip, drip.

*

Katsuki, not being as stupid as his actions would lead you to believe, figured out pretty early on that no matter how much he protested, his complaints would be ignored when it came to this...thing.

 

And no matter how much it annoyed the shit out of him, he knew he didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. No matter how much he scratched and bit (he’d tried) Izuku had an iron grip, which meant he’d just have to scream insults into Izuku’s dumb ear and deal with it.

 

The true problem lied in his lack of regard for TPO.

 

A very prominent theme in Izuku’s obsession with invading Katsuki’s personal space seemed to be him doing it anywhere . At anytime. Which was really starting to become an issue.

 

For someone who would literally apologize to a wall after bumping into it, Izuku had no shame. He seriously didn’t give a fuck, and Katsuki would have taken a moment to be (barely) impressed if he wasn’t on the receiving end of it every single time .

 

Katsuki didn’t really feel like talking about his emotional instability in front of everyone--or ever, really--so his only option was to hug back. Or he’d stay. Katsuki had tried to ignore him once, but it was kind of hard to have a conversation with someone with another person plastered to your front like a second skin. And Izuku obviously knew all of this, the little shit.

 

That had been a very awkward experience that he wasn’t too fond of repeating.

 

He was seriously tired of seeing Kirishima’s tiny as fuck eyebrows wiggling at him over Izuku’s head. And Kaminari’s snickers. And Ashido’s--which was really new, what the fuck?--knowing glances.

 

The first time it happened, Katsuki was eating in the cafeteria.

 

(Courtesy of Kirishima, of course.)

 

“Man that two days did me good,” Sero declared, setting his tray down. He was flanked on either side by Kaminari and Mineta, with Ashido seated to Kaminari’s right. Across from her sat Tsuyu, with Kirishima to her left and Katsuki to the left of him. Jirou sat a couple seats down, listening to the conversation taking place but not really contributing. Katsuki grunted in reply and shoved a spoonful of rice in his mouth.

 

“Not good enough,” Ashido sighed tiredly, rotating her shoulder. “I could’ve done with another week!”

 

“Right?” Kaminari agreed enthusiastically. He flexed his fingers and hummed at the trail of sparks that flared from his fingertips. “They healed up all of my injuries or whatever, but my muscles are stiff as hell!”

 

A chorus of affirmatives echoed.

 

“The stress before and after was too much,” Tsuyu added quietly. “Class 1-B came looking for a fight, then it got blown into something bigger than it should’ve been.”

 

“I kind of wanted to see Bakugou and Shinsou go at it,” Jirou said sheepishly, startling everyone.

 

Katsuki froze for a split second, spoon halfway to his mouth, but carried on like he didn’t hear anything.

 

“Who’s that?” Mineta inquired, taking a sip of his juice.

 

“He’s the one that came barging in with his entire class,” Jirou explained. “Kinda tall, blue hair?”

 

“The one that looks like he hasn’t slept for three weeks,” Sero supplied helpfully.

 

“Yea,” Jirou agreed, nodding. She took a bite out of her bread and talked around her food. “That dude. Hitoshi Shinsou.”

 

Wordlessly, Tsuyu handed her a napkin.

 

He had to bite back a snarl at the name. He didn’t know if it was directed more towards himself or the boy in question. Kirishima gave him a sideways glance but left it alone.

 

After a second, Ashido giggled and shook her head fondly.

 

“You’re too much,” she retorted jokingly. Another second passed and she rubbed her shin pensively. “No, actually now that you’ve mentioned it, I kinda want to see it too.”

 

“When Bakugou said--what did he say?” Mineta mumbled, squinting down at his juice pouch. “Oh! When Bakugou said he was gonna kill him! That was scary,” he recounted with a shiver. “I thought I was gonna pee myself.”

 

Katsuki snorted into his pudding. “He tried to say he was better, so I made him fuck off. It worked, didn’t it?”

 

“Well yea, but…” Kaminari began. He stopped himself a few times, trying to find the right words. “That was kind of...I dunno. Like, dude. You basically said you were gonna murder him in front of like, forty people.”

 

Katsuki’s expression hardened immediately and he shoved more pudding into his mouth so he didn’t have to say anything right away.

 

“Ah well, what’s done is done,” Kirishima reasoned, seeming to sense Katsuki’s shift in mood. “That was then and this is now, so there’s no use going over what we could’ve done before.”

 

And that was that.

 

They moved onto the next topic, something about English Literature and the ridiculous amount of homework they were assigned. Katsuki kept up with the conversation, but his mind was elsewhere, back to the day before the festival.

 

“You can try that. Shit, it might even work. That is…” he let his voice trail off and reveled in the uncomfortable shuffle of the boy’s feet. “If your opponent isn’t me.”

He raised his chin so that he was the one looking down on the other. The way it should’ve been in the first place.

“‘Cause if it is,” Katsuki continued, tone causal. He licked his lips. “I’ll kill you.”

 

The sound of the door slamming shut echoed in his eardrums. The feeling of eyes on him made his skin itch, even though they weren’t there. There wasn’t anyone looking at him, and there was no door slamming shut.

 

That was then and this was now.

 

Get it together.

 

He distantly heard Tsuyu say something and felt himself jerking forward as he was jostled by a laughing Kirishima, but it barely registered through the haze of his thoughts.

 

Katsuki was so distracted that he didn’t feel the weight settle on his back at first. He was only made aware when a sharp jab--once again, courtesy of Kirishima--brought him back to the present. A hush settled over their section of the table. It was then that Katsuki became aware of three things.

 

One, there was a person draped across his back. As in full on bodily contact, which was really not okay, all things considering.

 

(“We know, you don’t like to be touched.”)

 

Two, people were staring. Katsuki felt his neck prickle uncomfortably and had to fight the urge to scream.

 

Someone was touching him of all people. Which you just...didn’t do. No one touched Katsuki and Katsuki touched no one else. For the most part. That was just how it was, because it didn’t take much to figure out that he didn’t like people fucking touching him .

 

Three, he only knew one person who was actually idiotic enough to do this without fear of repercussions. He didn’t even need to look back to see the goofy smile the other was sporting, he could feel it on the back of his head. It irritated the shit out of him.

 

This fucking kid.

 

“Fuck off,” Katsuki growled lowly, stabbing a carrot with his fork.  

 

“Hello,” Izuku said in lieu of a response, waving to the table at large. Ashido waved back enthusiastically and Kaminari gave a cheerful salute. “Hi Kacchan,” he continued, tapping out a rhythm on his shoulder.

 

“No.”

 

His protests were of course, ignored.

 

After a second, Izuku sighed and mumbled something under his breath that had Kirishima do a double take

 

(Some may be wondering what exactly was said. Eijirou Kirishima respectfully declines to make any comment.)

 

And pulled Katsuki back, away from his tray, and into what was probably his stomach. Which was warm. Not that Katsuki cared.

 

It probably wasn’t that far away, considering how close they were. Certainly close enough that Izuku managed to keep a firm hold while he picked at the food on Katsuki’s tray. Or something. He wasn’t too focused on the specifics.

“Can you get your stupid fuckng hands off of me ?” Katsuki demanded around his spoon. His words were muffled and hardly understandable, but he didn’t really care. “I’m trying to eat here.”

 

“You’re not being very nice,” Izuku argued, then gently pried the pudding cup from Katsuki’s fingers, took the spoon from his mouth, and began to eat.

 

A fork clattered against the table and behind it sat a wide eyed Kaminari and a bright eyed Ashido. Kirishima was openly gaping at them, Tsuyu mumbling quietly into her bread, and Sero shock still. Jirou snorted into her food and Mineta looked between the two, scandalized. He’s also pretty sure he heard outraged sputtering a table over, most likely Iida.

 

Sometimes Katsuki really fucking hated his life.

 

“What the hell are you doing?” he hissed. His body followed the motion of Izuku’s shrug, and he had to stomp down the urge to blow the entire cafeteria to pieces in his horror.

 

(“Was it really horror?”

 

“Yea, it looked more like some awkward mix of happiness and disgust.”

 

“How about you shut the fuck up?”)

 

“Hugging you.”

 

“Yea no shit!”

 

Beside him, Kirishima snickered, and although the group had returned to some semblance of a conversation, Katsuki knew they were all listening in.

 

He really, really did hate it sometimes. His life, that is.

 

Begrudgingly, he turned his body slightly. He really, really, really , didn’t want to do this. I hate you. I hate you so fucking much.

 

And the wolf hugged the bunny.

 

It wasn’t anything extravagant, just a quick squeeze, so brief that it could barely be considered contact at all. It was nothing, really.

 

Yet somehow, those few seconds of contact made something coil, a deep rooted, intense feeling that he was starting to associate with izuku Midoriya. No matter what it was, good or bad, he was always left reeling and feeling like he’d been punched in the stomach.

 

What…? What is this?

 

(“But...didn’t your mom say…?”

 

“She didn’t say anything, shut up.”

 

“But before, you said--”

 

“Shut up. ”)

 

He smells good. Why does he smell good? I hate that he smells good.

 

Izuku smiled his dumb, self satisfied smile and left.

 

Katsuki inhaled slowly, pushed his tray away, and banged his head against the table.

 

“Bro…” Kirishima.

 

“No. Shut up.”

 

“What--” Sero.

 

“Don’t ask.”

 

“But like…?” Kaminari.

 

“Fucking don’t. ” 

*

 “I didn’t study at all,” Kaminari admitted. He put his head in his hands and sighed from his position, slumped over various books and materials. Ashido laughed at his frustration and thumped him on the back a few times. “After the U.S.J thing and the sports festival, there was no time to do anything!”

 

“Indeed,” Tokoyami agreed. “The Midterms didn’t cover much, but this…”

 

“I’m worried about the practical test,” Hagakure added nervously. The sleeves of her uniform flailed around earnestly with her gestures. Across from her, Tsuyu nodded thoughtfully.

 

“You should stay on top of your studies no matter what,” Todoroki asserted, face buried in his phone. He hummed quietly at the screen, seeming content with the score on whatever game he was playing. “Don’t blame your inadequacy on anyone else but yourself if you can’t put forth the effort to work for it.”

 

“Oh shut up,” Kaminari mumbled, crossing his arms. “Not everyone’s dad is a national hero that can afford fancy tutors and an entire library full of books for studying.”

 

“I resent that,” Todoroki replied, completely serious.

 

“I second that,” Kirishima called, face buried in his own book. “You’re the only one not currently being suffocated by a textbook.”

 

Yaoyorozu pinched the bridge of her nose tiredly, turning around in her seat to fix the three with an unimpressed look. “Don’t blame Todoroki for your poor time management skills. If anything he had more to do and--” she stuttered her words in response to their dejected looks-- “B-but! If you need some help with lecture things, I can help.”

 

“If you need it,” she added after a minute.

 

“Momo!” the trio cheered, crowding around her. There were suddenly books and papers being shoved onto her already packed desk, questions being hurled at her left and right.

 

“Oh! I have this uh, what was it? Classical--Classical Literature? I have this Classical Literature thing--”

 

“Oh come on, that’s easy! The real problem is bio. What the hell is a man-a-sack-a r-ide? Lipid? Why are there aminos in science? Isn’t that an app for bands?”

 

“You mean a monosaccharide ?”

 

“Yes! What the heck is that!?”

 

“Stupid fucking--you son of a…! ARGH DAMMIT!” came the affronted roar, followed by the clatter of a phone hitting the floor.

 

Kirishima let out a low whistle and bent down to pick up the phone. He turned it over to see the still intact screen, smooth and shiny without a single scratch. “Bro, how is your phone still in one piece? I think I’ve seen you throw this thing a million times since the beginning of the year.”

 

“Magic,” Katsuki droned, snatching the phone out of Kirishima’s grip. “I hate those stupid slugs,” he sulked angrily. “Eating everything and shit!”

 

“You know, you don’t seem like the gaming type….?”

 

“Maybe I am,” Katsuki snapped. “Who cares?”

 

“You saw it on youtube, didn’t you?” Kirishima deadpanned, ducking to avoid the book that flew at his head and cackling.

 

He glanced between Yaoyorozu, who was flocked on all sides by struggling classmates, and Katsuki, who was elbow deep in manga with the Best Fiends theme playing in the background.

 

“Talk about a gap in personal virtue,” he sighed, a sly grin on his face. Katsuki’s eyes snapped up to meet his, challenge in them. With a click and a slam, his phone was put away, the manga was shoved in his backpack, and a pile of textbooks were stacked onto his desk haphazardly.

 

“I’m plenty virtuous.”

 

Kirishima smirked haughtily and looked down his nose at the other, a trait he knew Katsuki despised.

 

“Oh really?” he asked, looking back at Yaoyorozu. “I’m not too sure about that.”

 

Katsuki kicked the chair beside him forward and crossed his arms. “Why don’t you sit down and find out?”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“Smack your ugly lips at me one more time and I’ll tutor you ‘till you die,” Katsuki snarled.

 

Kirishima grinned. “I think I’ll take you up on that.”

 

*

 

Katsuki awoke with a start.

 

His eyes flickered between the corners of his room, taking in his surroundings. A desk shoved against one wall, two small bookshelves, a closet. His phone sat on his nightstand, glowing bright with incoming notifications. His bed. In front of it, a chest full of old toys. A dresser beside  the door and beside that, his bag thrown carelessly on the floor.

 

Exactly how he left it.

 

He buried his face in his hands and tried to breathe, tried to make the rattling in his chest go away, something . His mouth was dry and his head was pounding and his chest hurt , limbs throbbing with the weight of his pulse.

 

“Kacchan..You’re changing...”

 

In horror, he realized there were tear tracks on his cheeks.

 

“Shut up. Shut the hell up!”

 

He screwed his eyes shut, shaking his head frantically. No. Nononono no.

 

He was panicking.

 

The waves were violent, swelling and buckling in all directions. The boat thrashed violently in the torrent, swaying back and forth dangerously. The clouds twisted and curled in the sky, rumbling ominously with enough force to rattle the ocean and shake Katsuki to his bones.

 

There was still no wind.

 

He could feel the adrenaline coursing through his veins and the nausea pooling in his stomach, bringing him to his knees. He coughed once, twice, gagged around his own bile.

 

A wave crashed over the edge of the small boat and he went under. He made the mistake of crying out as the water hit him, and he inhaled.

 

He was panicking.

 

He was panicking, and alone, and he was going to die.

 

And then it stopped.

 

Abruptly, a hush settles. The waves were still high, ready to crash down and take him under. The clouds still curdled, the boat still tilted, but it was...still.

 

The water hung in the air and sparkled, despite there being almost no light.

 

Hesitantly, Katsuki stood on shaky legs, almost falling over. He had to put a hand on the side of the boat to steady himself, and he staggered to the edge to stare in awe.

 

He let his hand pass through the drops hanging in the air. It came back wet, but the orbs didn’t budge.

 

It was horrifyingly beautiful, the way the dark water towered over him in a peak, volatile yet harmless all at once. He could see his reflection, almost like a mirror. Pale and shivering, hair plastered to his face and drool trickling out of the corner of his lips.

 

He scrubbed his mouth in disgust and laughed bitterly.

 

God, he was pathetic.

 

“Kacchan!”

 

Instinctively, his arms raised. He turned, arms poised for a fight, but they dropped as soon as he saw who it was. There, Izuku stood, still small and pale with big eyes full of worry. “K-Kacchan….?”

 

And then he was laughing. He was laughing and it fucking hurt , but he was laughing and falling to his knees for the second time. He was laughing and he couldn’t stop , even though he tried. He tried again and again, but it wouldn’t stop, and it was really starting to hurt--

 

And then he wasn’t.

 

Izuku was in front of him, shaking him in his own panic, babbling words that didn’t make any sense.

 

It didn’t make any sense.

 

Why didn’t it make any sense?

 

Why didn’t anything make any sense?

 

“Kacchan,” Izuku sobbed, shaking him as hard as he could. Which wasn’t very much. He was small and Katsuki was big. Why was he big? “Kacchan please!”

 

He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to block it out, but it didn’t work. Nothing ever worked. Why did nothing he tried ever fucking work?

 

“Say something please!”

 

He was pathetic. He was weak, and a coward, and he deserved whatever this was. He deserved to feel like shit because no matter how many times he made the same promise to fix something, it never worked.

 

He was a coward, he couldn’t keep his promises, and he deserved all of it.

 

A clap echoed in the quiet of the sea, followed by a light sting blooming across his cheek. His eyes refocused, and Izuku was there. He was there, he shouldn’t have been there, why was he there ?

 

“Why are you here?” he asked, voice hoarse. He swallowed around his dry throat and licked his dry lips with his dry tongue.

 

Izuku didn’t answer, just hugged him close and cried.

 

But it wasn’t Izuku. And he wasn’t crying. It was him , with small hands fisted in the back of his wet shirt. He was the one with his cheek pressed against his shirt. That was his hair and those were his eyes and it was his own face that he saw when he jerked back.

 

“No,” he moaned, scrambling back. “No! Why are you here? Deku said you were gone, why the fuck are you here?”

 

“That’s not a very nice thing to say to yourself,” the familiar voice tutted. “Of course I’m here. If you’re here, I’m here.”

 

In front of him, Katsuki stood. Still little, still as evil looking as ever. He fixed Katsuki with a frown and took a step forward. Katsuki scooted back.

 

“Huh,” Young Katsuki hummed thoughtfully. “This is very, very interesting.”

 

Katsuki swallowed and dug his nails into the wet wood, glaring at the boy stood in front of him with as much contempt as he could muster.

 

“Katsuki, my dear other half. Come here.”

 

Katsuki shook his head violently. “No. No way in hell!”

 

Young Katsuki giggled and walked forward, an amused smile on his face. He fisted a hand in Katsuki’s hair and dragged him forward, sighing at his struggling. Shit, Katsuki forgot how strong he was.

 

“Did you think that just because Deku was nice to you, things would be better?” he asked nonchalantly. He let go of Katsuki and sat down across from him, folding his small arms across his tiny chest.

 

“No,” he panted. Young Katsuki smiled at him again and shook his head.

 

“You can’t lie to me, remember? I know everything.”

 

“You don’t know shit,” Katsuki growled, voice cold.

 

He forgot that he was dealing with himself. “Keep thinking that if you want to,” the other replied, voice just as frosty. They glared at each other for a while, before Young Katsuki broke into a smile.

 

His mood swings were throwing Katsuki in a loop.

 

“It’s only a matter of time,” he sang, laughing at Katsuki’s silent bristling. “You know, don’t you? You can’t be good,” he laughed, like it was a big joke. “You’ll never be good enough for anything but showing off that flashy quirk and losing your temper.”

 

“Shut up.”

 

Young Katsuki’s face lost all traces of humor and he fixed Katsuki with a snarl.

 

“You don’t get to change,” the boy gritted. “You wanna know why you can’t be the good guy?”

 

“Shut up!”

 

He held out his hand and Ochako was there, scrambling and scratching at the hand on her neck. Katsuki stared in horror as he let her go and she hit the surface of the boat with a thud, coughing.

 

“You don’t get to be the good guy ‘cause you do stuff like this!” he roared, pointing at her. She was covered in burns and scratched, her gym uniform tattered and scorched. “God…”

 

Ochako managed to put herself in a sitting position, scrubbing at the blood on her mouth with one hand and rubbing her neck with the other. She kept her head down.

 

“When are you gonna admit it? It hurts when you fight, please, Kacchan.”

 

And Izuku was there, rubbing Ochako’s back, eyes begging.

 

Begging for what?

 

What was he begging for?

 

“Kacchan...you’re changing,” he whispered, voice breaking. “You’re changing, Kacchan.”

 

Katsuki covered his ears and screwed his eyes shut. He couldn’t breathe. It hurt. “Shut up. Shut the hell up!”

 

He couldn’t breathe.

 

“You are,” and now it was back to Young Katsuki, standing centimeters away from his shaking form. He put a hand on Katsuki’s cheek and Katsuki recoiled, but his grip was firm. “You are, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

 

He couldn’t breathe .

 

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” Young Katsuki asked, voice tender. He placed his free hand on Katsuki’s other cheek and held him still, eyes boring into Katsuki’s. “It’s hard to keep swimming when the current is against you.”

 

He let his hand trail until it was over Katsuki’s throat and sighed wistfully. “When you stop going against it, you can breathe. It’s easier to get to the surface.”

 

Katsuki gasped at the wicked smile that overtook the other’s face.

 

“But until then--” he paused, to look up at the sky--”why don’t you just…”

 

And now Izuku was back, with both hands on his face. His wide, wet eyes clouded with tears. And it hurt, it hurt a lot, because it was Izuku. He wasn’t being malicious, wasn’t speaking with the specific purpose of hurting Katsuki.

 

(But it hurt.

 

It fucking hurt a lot.)

 

“Drown.”

 

The last picture in his mind was Izuku, crying softly in front of him, the words “I’m sorry,” barely making it past his lips.

 

It was a split second.

 

And then all hell broke loose.

 

The water was oddly clear when it swept him under, like tinted glass. It was thick and dark, but he could see everything. Warped, maybe, but he could see.

 

All he could feel was cold. The water, overwhelming him, seeping into his pores, ready to drag him down. It was thick and dark. Thick, dark, and cold, but he could see. He couldn’t see himself, but he could see the other side.

 

He screamed, but there was no air left in his lungs. No bubbles followed his shout, no movement arose from his attempts of escape.

 

It was a split second, but he saw.

 

He saw himself, tiny and evil behind Izuku, whispering into his ear.

 

He saw Ochako, eyes wide and frantic, reaching out for him.

 

He saw Izuku flinch and fall to his knees.

 

He saw himself see right through him, he saw himself smile and wink.

 

He saw it all.

 

And water was filling his lungs and he’s dying , he’s really dying. He tried to push the water off, away, but it swallowed him whole--

 

And the shapes are getting blurry and there are spots in his vision, and why can’t he swim, dammit? Why can’t he swim? Why ?

 

He saw it all.

 

It was a split second.

 

Just a split second.

 

It was a split second, but he saw Izuku reach for him and fall to his knees, Young Katsuki cackling behind him with his foot raised.

 

He saw it.

 

He tried, he tried to do something, but there was water in his lungs and his heart, pressing him down.

 

There was water everywhere.

 

You lied. You fucking lied .

 

And the current swept him away.

 

A single red card flashed before his eyes, two words glowing in the dark.

 

He stood drunkenly from his bed and stumbled forward, accidentally knocking his hip into his nightstand, but he didn’t feel it. His mouth was dry, and his head hurt, and his chest burned .

 

He staggered his way across the hall to the bathroom, where he slumped against the wall. Sluggishly, he flicked the switch and hissed at the onslaught of light. He was cold. He was so, so, cold, but he was sweating, and it was hot. It was hot, it was cold, it was everything. Everything bad.

 

There were still tears in his eyes and he couldn’t see , dammit, he couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t do anything .

 

Stop it. Get it together, what the fuck.

 

He shook his head, trying to clear the haze, and turned on the tap. After splashing his face a few dozen times, he looked at himself in the mirror.

 

The tap echoed in his ears.

 

It held him down. He struggled against it, thrashed and fought, punched and kicked and screamed and fought, but it didn’t do anything.

 

Drip. Drip. Drip .

 

He was gonna die. He was gonna die again. He was gonna die again .

 

The pressure on his limbs was suffocating.

 

He screamed in agony, trying to free himself. It hurt.

 

“Katsuki…”

 

No. Not again.

 

“Katsuki!”

 

No.

 

“KATSUKI!”

 

“NO!”

 

He opened his eyes for the third time that night, taking everything in. The bathroom. He was in the bathroom, there was water soaking his through his clothes, and he was cold.

 

“Shh. Katsuki it’s okay.”

 

His mother was there, crushing him against her chest and keeping his flailing at bay.

 

“We’re here. It’s okay.”

 

There was blood trickling from her nose, and Katsuki understood what happened. His father stood kneeled beside him, a hand on his back, looking petrified. There was glass on the floor, and something warm dripping from his hand.

 

“Oh fuck,” he croaked with a hoarse throat. He buried his face into his mother’s shoulder and sighed.

 

*

 

Izuku glanced at Katsuki’s missing seat in confusion and worry during roll call. He pulled out his phone and sighed at the various unread texts from that morning until that moment.

 

He shared a look with Kirishima and shook his head.

 

He didn’t notice the dark look Ochako gave the empty desk, nor the clenched fist that followed.

 

*

 

Katsuki walked into class two days later good as new.

 

(Which was a fucking lie and we all know it, but for story’s sake we’ll let it slide.)

 

He ignored Kirishima’s friendly banter as usual, shoved Izuku’s Izuku...ness away, and rolled his eyes at his classmates.

 

When their free time to study came up, he tutored Kirishima until he bled, as promised.

 

(It was just his nose, but still.)

 

He was fine, everything was fine, and he carried on with his day.

 

And then shit hit the fan.

 

*

 

“So, whenever I add these two together, they equal negative one?” Kirishima asked. He still had a tissue held to his nose and Katsuki may or may not have been very proud of himself.

 

“No,” Katsuki sighed angrily. “Look--ugh.”

 

“Okay,” he started again. “If you multiply two of the terms in the poly-whatever-the-fuck--”

 

“Polynomial?”

 

“Yea, that shit--”

 

“Shouldn’t you know that if you’re the one helping me?”

 

“Do you want my help or not?”

 

“Okay! Sorry.”

 

“--so, if you multiply two of those together and you get i2, that equals negative one.”

 

Kirishima squinted at the paper curiously. “Why?”

 

“Fuck if I know.”

 

Katsuki sat back in his chair and pulled out his phone, checking to see if he had any messages. (he did.)

 

He glanced at Kirishima’s paper briefly and immediately snatched the pencil out of his hand. He crumpled the paper and shook his head.

 

“Not even close. Do it again,” he commanded. Kirishima groaned and pulled at his hair.

 

“Dude! What am I even doing wrong, I did exactly--Oh! Hey Ur…”

 

Katsuki’s chair was yanked from under his desk with him still in it, and he sputtered, ready to punch someone in the face, when he was grabbed by the back of his collar. Turning, he saw a flash of pink before he was hurling through the air and crashing into the the podium at the front of the room. Pain exploded along his back and he kept going, all the way until he met the wall.

 

“...araka.”

 

“Release,” Ochako snarled.

 

Katsuki hit the floor with a thump and a groan of pain, and then the classroom was silent. His knees creaked when he stood and he coughed, wiping away the blood from his lip.

 

Ochako stood where he sat previously, with flushed cheeks and laboured breaths. Her fingertips glowed a faint pink color, and her eyes narrowed when they met Katsuki’s. Kaminari looked back and forth between the two with his mouth hanging open in disbelief.

 

“Did you say something to him?”

 

“What the fuck are you--”

 

“You know what!” she shouted, and Katsuki dodged as a chair was thrown at him.

 

“Are you fucking kidding me!?” he panted, standing up. “Are you so freaking obsessed with--”

 

Another chair hit the wall beside his head.

 

Katsuki growled lowly in his throat, palms getting hot. “Oh, so that’s how we’re doing this now?”

 

Ochako arched a brow and glared, challenge in her eyes. “Are we?”

 

“Woah, guys--” Yaoyorozu tried, but Katsuki cut her off.

 

“So the festival wasn’t enough, huh?”

 

He flexed his fingers and let the sparks start to flow.

 

“Wait, wait, wait,” Ashido began. “Let’s just calm down here--”

 

“Fuck calming down!” Ochako bellowed, startling everyone. She took a step forward to which Katsuki took two. “I’m not just gonna let him get away with--”

 

“You really want a round two?” Katsuki cautioned, rolling up his sleeves. “I’m gonna fuck you up so bad.”

 

“Guys, please..”

 

“You’re not gonna beat me, Bakugou,” she maintained, arms raised defensively.

 

“You said the same shit last time,” he continued. “And look at where that got you!”

 

And he charged.

 

Before she could react, his arms were behind him and he was propelling himself forward, already raising another hand and pointing it where she was standing. She flung herself to the left right as he got to her, knocking back three desks in the process. The explosion threw four against the adjacent walls and burnt another five.

 

He found his footing and rounded on her, quickly leaning backwards to avoid another chair and falling on his ass when a perfectly timed kick caught him in the ribs. She stood over him and raised her leg again, but Katsuki rolled out of the way before her foot made contact.

 

He scrambled to his feet and leaned away just in time to miss a slap. Ochako kicked out again, but Katsuki was quicker.

 

He grabbed her foot before it could make contact and she grinned, pushing herself off of a desk (that he didn’t even realize she was on) and pulling her other leg forward, dragging Katsuki with it. She grabbed the arm that was holding her leg and they began to float.

 

Katsuki cursed and tried to free his arm, but her grip was strong. Ochako yanked her foot free while he was distracted and swung him over her head until Katsuki was beneath her with her foot on his chest.

 

“Release!”

 

They hit the ground hard enough to rattle the desks.

 

Katsuki turned his head and coughed, flecks of blood littering the floor.

 

Briefly, he heard scrambling and someone’s rushed command of “Go get Aizawa!”

 

Ochako had both of his hands restrained. Quickly, he glanced around the classroom and smirked in triumph when he found what he was looking for. Katsuki hooked his foot around the leg of a chair and slugged it as hard as he could, and it hit another desk near the both of them. Ochako flinched and Katsuki took the chance to free one of his arms and aim a blast at her face.

 

She scrambled to get away, but the bottom edge of her skirt still got burned. Katsuki jumped up and ducked as an onslaught of chairs and desks were thrown in his direction. He fell back and felt the blood gush out of his nose when a chair hit him square in the face, causing him to fall back and hit the ground.

 

Katsuki stood and managed to move just as Ochako dove for him. She grabbed ahold of his sleeve and pulled , but Katsuki tugged his arm in the other direction until half of his uniform was hanging off, caught between his body and her hands. He yanked the material forward and kicked her legs out from under her.

 

With a yelp, she fell and Katsuki tackled her to the ground, hand poised over her face.

 

“Still think you can beat me?”

 

She bit his hand where it was covering the bottom portion of her face. “Do it,” she spat. “I want you to do it.”

 

He hesitated.

 

She struck.

 

She grabbed his wrist and then they were both hovering in the air, rising with each passing second. Katsuki grit his teeth and his hands started to smoke--

 

And then they were falling.

 

Katsuki and Ochako hit the floor with a yelp. Aizawa stood in the doorway with his eyes wide open, trained on the both of them. Katsuki was panting harshly and so was Ochako. They shared a look and with a roar, charged. Katsuki was being grabbed and dragged back before he could even stand and Ochako was held in place by Yaoyorozu and Sero.

 

The shocked eyes of his classmates prickled the side of his face. He recognized the two people holding him as Izuku and Kirishima, both with grim looks on their faces. As soon as Ochako was released, she was running for him. Katsuki clenched his fists, ready, but Ashido tackled Ochako from behind and held her down.

 

“You bastard! You’re not getting away with this!” she screamed, struggling in Ashido’s hold. Ashido’s grip was firm though, so her attempts were in vain.

 

Me ? Me!? You’re the one that attacked me, you crazy bitch--”

 

“You know what you did--”

 

“I didn’t do shit! You’re so hung up on--”

 

“Don’t you dare--”

 

“You’re so fucking in love with this fucking idiot--”

 

“Shut up! Stop it right now!”

 

And there were tears in her eyes and her face was red, and she was screaming at the top of her lungs so that he wasn’t heard.

 

“--that you can’t even see straight! How about you stop being a whiny little--”

 

ENOUGH! ” Aizawa bellowed. Izuku dropped his arm in shock. “Uraraka, you stay here. Bakugou, go in the hallway and calm the hell down.”

 

And with that, Katsuki was being tugged away. Away from Ochako, who was still crying, past Aizawa, past the judging stares of his peers and out into the hall. Frustrated, Kirishima ran his fingers through his hair and groaned.

 

“Oh my god. What the hell was that? What the hell was that? I thought you said there was nothing going on between you two?”

 

And Izuku. Always worried, always concerned, Izuku Midoriya. Always looking at Katsuki with those stupid eyes of his.

 

“Are you alright?” he inquired. Thankfully, he read the situation and realized that Katsuki did not want to be touched .

 

“What the fuck do you think, dipshit?” Katsuki snapped. “Does it look like I’m ‘alright’? Does any of this shit look alright to you?”

 

Izuku bit his lip. Katsuki looked away.

 

"Get your girlfriend under control," Katsuki spat, a hint of bitterness tinging his tone. He breathed harshly through his nose and glared coldly at the floor. It was full of anger, at himself for starting this mess and at the world that spited him at every turn. He was angry, and tired, and just done with feeling like shit all the time, even if it was all his fault. "Get her to get her shit together," he grunted, still looking at the ground. His frustration was starting to bleed into his voice, his eyes. He was so tired . "Get her, before she does something she can't take back, and then I do something I regret."

 

*

 

The tension in the air was thick. Katsuki counted fourteen feet from his position in the room, eyes downcast. Seven pairs. Seven people. He could feel his mother’s rigid posture directly to his right, and each carefully controlled tap, tap, tap of her nails on the arm of her chair was slowly but surely driving him insane. To his left, his father sat, slightly less tense but back just as straight. He brushed Katsuki’s clenched fist with his own warm hand, an act of comfort. Any other time, he would have yanked his and away and grumbled something underneath his breath. Now, he kept his mouth shut.

Funnily enough, for once he wasn’t the cause of the feeling of agitation building in the room. In fact, he was fine, bored even. He supposed that it would have been normal to feel some degree of unease in his current situation. Maybe if he wasn’t Katsuki, maybe if he was someone who actually gave a shit. Fortunately, (or not, depending on who you asked) he didn’t.

So.

He glanced at the screen on the wall to his left, rolling his eyes at the time displayed there. They’d been like this for seven minutes. Seven pairs. Seven people. Seven minutes. Katsuki was starting to get really fucking tired of the number seven. Principal Nedzu cleared his throat softly, expression uncharacteristically serious.

 

“Now that we’ve taken a few moments to…” he glanced quickly in Katsuki’s direction, to where his mother was quietly seething, “gather our thoughts, who would like to begin?”

Aizawa, from his position next to the principal, sighed and rubbed his temples.

 

“Katsuki isn’t in the wrong,” his mother said firmly, sitting up from her slouched yet stiff posture. “He isn’t, and I won’t allow you to tell me otherwise.”

 

That got a small reaction out of Katsuki. He turned to face her and blinked, taking in her downturned brows and the way her mouth was poised in a snarl. He’d fully expected her to come in and apologize as usual. He’d taken her silent wrath to be directed at him, not for him.

 

Before Nedzu could speak, another voice cut in from across the room. Katsuki had a pretty good idea of who it was, but he refused to look up. They could all burn in hell, honestly.

 

“And why not? If you expect us to take the blame--”

His mother turned to them with a growl. “No one said anything about you, it’s your child that’s the problem.”

 

A deeper voice scoffed bitterly. “I would tell you to teach that boy o’ yours some manners, but it’s clear who he got ‘em from.”

 

Katsuki clenched his fists and exhaled shakily.

 

“Don’t,” Katsuki’s father, who had been quiet up to that point, gritted out. Katsuki was, for the second time, taken aback. He’d almost never heard his father angry. “ Don’t speak to my wife like that.”

 

“It’s because of her son--”

Our son,” he corrected through gritted teeth.

“--that we’re even standing here right now!”

Excuse me?” his mother asked, hackles rising. She jumped to her feet and pointed a finger at the other pair. “Don’t you dare try to pin this on us.”

 

“The people who witnessed it said it looked like he was ready to seriously hurt--”

“Your kid attacked mine--”

“And yours almost killed mine!”

 

“If your psychotic little brat would have just stayed the fuck away--”

 

Katsuki grabbed her hand where it was clenched at her side and shook his head. “Mom,” he said quietly. They met eyes for a second and she took a deep breath, sitting down once more.

 

“He’s not to blame,” she repeated, quietly seething.

 

“Does it really even matter?” Aizawa asked bluntly. “The fact of the matter remains the same: both of your children were caught fighting on school grounds and neither one of them tried to walk away.”

 

Nedzu nodded along, expression far too cheery for the situation at hand. “Mr. Aizawa is correct, of course. This type of behavior isn’t acceptable here at U.A.”

 

Mr. Bakugou cleared his throat tentatively. “May I ask what this was about?”

 

Aizawa leveled them with a boredly scrutinizing look, first at Katsuki, then Ochako.

 

“I wish I knew myself,” he sighed. “I know Bakugou’s temper needs some serious work, but I can’t imagine what would aggravate Uraraka of all people to throw the first punch.”

 

“He didn’t do anything!” Katsuki mother insisted. “You saw the same footage I did. She just stormed into the classroom and threw him like an animal!”

 

Aizawa sighed again and Katsuki crossed his arms. “Bakugou, what happened out there?”

 

“Dunno,” he drawled, much to the irritation of his teacher. “Why don’t you ask the psycho? I’m sure she has plenty of shit to say.”

 

Ochako refused to lift her head.

 

“Well I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to take disciplinary action if we can’t get to the bottom of this,” Nedzu affirmed. “Are you sure there isn’t anything you’d like to say?”

 

“Not my secret to tell,” Katsuki grunted.

 

“If you insist,” Nedzu conceded solemnly. “End of Term tests are coming up, you know? You shouldn’t be missing out on education time like this.”

 

“I say they both fail,” Aizawa insisted. He held up a hand at Ochako’s indignant sputtering and carried on. “Clearly, if you can’t manage not fighting each other, then you’re not ready to move into your next phase of training.”

 

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Aizawa,” Nedzu warned.

 

*

Five days suspension without authorization to be on school grounds.

 

*

 

Aizawa escorted Katsuki and Ochako back to the classroom along with their parents to collect their things. When they entered, all eyes were on them. The classroom was put back in order, with everyone crowded around a single desk in the middle. It was obvious that they’d been talking about him. Katsuki could hear the echo of his footsteps as he walked over to his seat. There were too many eyes on him and he hated it. Since when did he hate being the center of attention? He used to thrive on the stares of others, but now they just made him feel sick.

 

He grabbed his things as quickly as he could and walked back to his parents, where his mother put a hand on his shoulder and led him out, head held high.

 

*

(The next day, it was in the news. Some asshole recorded the fight and the screaming match afterwards, and it went viral overnight. U.A. was already in enough shit for the U.S.J. scandal and now they had to deal with fire from the public about discipline?

It would be a miracle if he was even allowed to think about being allowed back into the school, much less attend it.

Katsuki stuffed his face under his pillow after reading the article and didn’t come out for the duration of the day.)

 

*

 

Izuku didn’t really expect to see Katsuki in a park on a Saturday night, cursing at his phone and stuffing his face full of chips, but he wasn’t going to question ]it. They seemed to bump into each other a lot lately, whether it be purely by coincidence or by Izuku's persistence. He bit his lip in thought, debating on whether or not it would be a good idea to walk over and say hi.

 

He looked a lot scarier than he was (and how he could be if given the opportunity) sitting there, with stray crumbs littering the side of his mouth and the light from his phone casting dark shadows along his face. There was a dull ache in Izuku's chest as he watched him. He bit his lip in contemplation. After a few seconds, izuku decided to take his chances. His hands shook and his heart was ready to beat right out of his chest, but he stamped down his apprehension and plastered a smile onto his face. With his bag of snacks clenched in his hand, he walked over at a leisurely pace and sat. Katsuki didn’t react at first, too absorbed in his phone. Izuku let his head rest on his shoulder and he flailed, shoving him away and cursing up a storm.

 

“Are you actually stalking me or something?” Katsuki asked suspiciously, narrowing his eyes at the other boy. Izuku smiled nervously and held up his bag, expression sheepish. Katsuki snorted a small ‘whatever’ and went back to whatever he was doing before. He was looking pretty alright for someone who got slammed into three walls, Izuku thought. Being in such close proximity was as exciting as it was terrifying, with Izuku never knowing what Katsuki was thinking or how he would react.

 

Should I ask him? I want to but I don’t know if it’s okay. Why did him and Uraraka fight? Why was he so upset before? Is he ready to talk? He said he would but I don’t know if he’s ready yet...should I ask? But what if he gets mad oh god I don’t want him to get mad why did I come over here oh my god --

 

“Can you shut up?” Katsuki grunted, eyes trained on his screen. “Kinda trying to concentrate and you muttering shit isn’t helping.”

 

Izuku squeezed his eyes shut and sighed. Hesitantly, he let his head rest on Katsuki’s shoulder again. Katsuki sighed in irritation but otherwise didn’t say anything. So, Izuku let his hand slowly creep over to his free one, until their pinkies were touching. God, he felt stupid.

 

But he fought through his feelings of embarrassment, and slowly laced their fingers together. Katsuki immediately tried to pull his hand away, but Izuku was nothing if not persistent. After a few seconds of struggle, Katsuki locked his phone and sneered at Izuku.

 

“Deku, what the fuck?”

 

“I won’t ask, just this once,” Izuku sighed. He knew Katsuki understood when he felt him tense beneath him. Katsuki tried to pull his hand away again, and admittedly, that hurt, but Izuku wouldn’t budge. “Just let me have this, please.”

 

He didn’t look at Katsuki, not wanting to see the bewildered look the other was wearing. He giggled a little to himself. Katsuki was so expressive, yet he didn’t even realize it.

 

“What kinda relationship are you pretending to have with me?” Katsuki murmured quietly, but Izuku heard. And that hurt too. That hurt a lot more than he'd like to admit.

 

“I’m fine, you know,” Katsuki mumbled quietly, but didn’t try to pull his hand away. Izuku knew this. He knew Katsuki was fine, and content, and didn’t need anything from him in that moment. He knew.

 

“Maybe I’m not here for you.”

 

That shut him up for a second. There was a huge issue that they were both skirting around, as always. But he didn’t want to disturb the peace they established, on a bench in the park across from an old convenience store. Like he said, just this once.

 

Just this once.


He doesn’t know how long they sat there, Izuku looking at the people going in and out of the store and Katsuki looking at his phone. Katsuki’s leg was bouncing up and down, and it jostled him a bit, but he didn’t mind. It was getting cold, but his hands were warm, one stuffed in the pocket of his hoodie and the other attached to someone who always had warm hands.

 

Katsuki’s hands were always warm.

 

If there were ever a day that Katsuki’s hands felt cold, Izuku would worry.

 

But today wasn’t that day. Not yet.

 

("'Yet', he says," Kirishima scoffs around a snort.

 

"Can you let him finish? Fuck's sake."

 

"Okay, okay! Sorry, jeez!")

 

He was getting sleepy, out in the cold but warm all over. His head somehow slipped from Katsuki’s shoulder to the crook of his neck, but he didn’t mind. He smelled nice, like body wash and shampoo and something warm. Spicy. Izuku had just enough presence of mind to prevent him from burrowing himself into the warmth further.)

 

Izuku stifled a yawn, knowing that if he did, Katsuki would get up and make him go home.

 

He was jostled into full consciousness by someone tripping over his feet, stumbling but managing to catch themselves before they fell. Now that Izuku was awake, he realized it was two someones.

 

“O-oh my god! I’m so sorry,” Izuku stammered and stood up to bow. “I wasn’t thinking about where my feet were, I’m really sorry!”

 

“Oh no!” the stranger--woman, no girl --laughed, waving him off. There was something...off about the sound. She smoothed out the wrinkles of her sweatshirt and rearranged her hood over her fluffy bangs. “That’s totally fine! I just wasn’t looking where I was going is all.”

 

“My apologies,” the other person said. A man this time. “My friend here can be really thick-headed sometimes.”

 

The girl held out her hand, and although Izuku found it a bit odd, he reached out to shake it. Before he could, Katsuki tugged him so he sat back down, unreadable expression on his face. Izuku gaped at him and turned to apologize, but an invisible tug stopped him. Nothing changed outwardly, but something about the duo sent a shiver up his spine. He squeezed Katsuki’s hand and Katsuki squeezed back, grip becoming tighter.

 

She smiled and even though he couldn’t see her very well, it unsettled him a little bit. She stepped forward and Katsuki subtly pulled him closer, still looking at her with that same clouded expression. Her eyes flickered to him briefly, but she stepped forward and ruffled Izuku’s hair anyway. Again, there was nothing outwardly horrible, but her touch sent a feeling of ice through his veins, shocking him.

 

“Calm down man, I can see the nerves coming off you in waves,” she joked. And was Izuku seeing things, or was there something weird about her eyes? He tried to get a better look, but the girl backed away before he could. “Anyway, sorry about that!”

 

She turned to leave, beckoning her friend, and Izuku breathed a sigh of relief.

 

“Oh, wait!”

 

She turned to face them once more and pointed at the sky. “Make sure to keep an eye out for the forecast, okay? There’s supposed to be a storm coming.”

 

And the feeling of dread returned. He gulped, and Katsuki squeezed their fingers together tightly, enough that his fingers turned white. He hadn’t taken his eyes off of the two since they showed up. Izuku turned his head towards the sky, seeing nothing but a few clusters of stars among the clouds.

 

“Sure…” he answered, apprehensive. “Yea. I’ll uh, I’ll keep an eye out.”

 

She nodded and skipped away, her friend giving them a small wave.

 

And okay, Izuku definitely knew he wasn’t seeing things.

 

While her eyes had been a cool shade of grey before, the flashed crimson beneath the shade of her hood.

 

Katsuki waited until they turned the corner before standing up abruptly. “Come on,” he mumbled, a hint of desperation in his voice. He looked down to where they’d turned for a few seconds before he began walking, dragging Izuku with him.

 

“Kacchan--what? I don’t--”

 

“Shut up right now, okay? Just listen and let’s go.”

 

Wordlessly, Izuku followed.

 

*

 

“You’re so full of shit,” a man said. He walked beside the girl who hummed a tune. She turned and stuck her tongue out at him, teasing.

 

“So mean, Kurocchin! That language isn’t like you,” she chastised. The man flicked her forehead in response and shook his head at her overdramatic cry of pain.

 

“Please refrain from interfering with the day to day lives of those you don’t know personally. Also, don’t lie. It’s not very becoming of a young lady.”

 

The girl rolled her eyes and moaned in frustration. “Oh hush! You’re such a grump,” she droned. “And what do you mean ‘don’t know’? One of them is mine, you know. He’ll know me soon enough.”

 

Her voice gained an edge at the words and her eyes hardened briefly.

 

“I won’t let anything or anyone get in the way,” she snarled. "Especially not curly haired idiots who don't know what the hell they're doing." The man regarded her carefully.

 

You're a curly haired idiot and you surely don't know what you're doing either, he thought.

 

“Yes, I know,” he agreed.

 

“Besides--” a sinister smile overtook her features and she laughed with glee. “I wasn’t lying. There really is a storm coming.”

 

Another one, you mean. He watched the girl pull something from her pocket and nuzzle it affectionately, sighing in contentment.

 

He should have reminded her. ‘Your eyes,’ he was going to say, but decided against it.

 

Sometimes it was best to let the lady have fun, after all.

 

*

 

Izuku spat out the foam in his mouth. He looked at himself in the mirror (foamy mouth, frizzy hair, plain face) and turned on the tap. He jumped at the splash of water that hit his face and rinsed accordingly.

 

“What kinda relationship are you pretending to have with me?”

 

He was glad Katsuki was talking to him again. Ecstatic, even. More ecstatic than he had any right to be. He was.

 

But that question had been plaguing his mind ever since it was asked.

 

It was asked without thinking, probably just a slip of the tongue with no real thought. It didn’t mean anything, but…

 

“What kinda relationship are you pretending to have with me?”

 

He felt really small (foamy mouth, frizzy hair, plain face) and pathetic ( foamy mouth, frizzy hair, plain face ) as he looked at himself in the mirror.

 

“What kinda relationship are you pretending to have with me?”

 

He dragged a hand down his face and laughed quietly.

 

“If I knew that, Kacchan...wouldn’t this be easier?”

 

He clenched his fist and breathed through his nose. Steady. Always steady. “God, it hurts.”

 

He turned off the light in his bathroom and trudged to his bed, falling carelessly into his pillows. There was something wrong with him. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

 

There was something seriously wrong with him. There was something seriously, seriously wrong.

 

He turned onto his back and grabbed his phone from his nightstand, staring at a string of unanswered texts. His hands were warm.

 

“God, it hurts .”

 

It hurts, but--

 

“I don’t care...”

 

Chapter Text

So.

Um.

Hi?

This is really awkward, I'm sorry.

 

But I just thought that it would only be fair to let you guys know what's going on?

 

First off, no, I'm not ending Collision. It was never my intention to, and I don't plan on it anytime soon. Let's just get that out of the way now.

 

I'm sure 99.99% of you don't know this, but I do suffer from a chronic illness and things haven't been going the best since October. I've been really busy with my job and school, but the added time and stress of this and frequent visits to the hospital make it hard to even think about writing the complex ins and outs of what I have stored, much less do it. I haven't been able to write much more than short little things for this and other fandoms, because every time I sit down and get a flow going, something happens or I can't continue. So basically I'm back to square one every single time.

 

And I know this isn't really an excuse, because I made a commitment when I posted this, but I just wanted you to expect a kind of hectic update schedule.

 

There might even be a tiny official hiatus until I can get my life back in order, but we'll see. 

 

 

If anyone is even still interested when I can finally get back to a semi decent schedule, I'd love to make up for all of the bullshit.

 

I'm sorry if this is kind of scattered, my mind is kind if away because of medicine, but thank you for reading.

 

Again, I'm sorry!

I'm so, so sorry if I've let anyone down.

-Nelly xx

Chapter Text

Katsuki pressed the ignore button for the fourth time, only for the buzzing to start up again a few minutes later. He sighed and smashed the ringer button until the buzzing was cut off and stuffed it into the pocket of his sweatpants. It was probably one of his parents calling, but he honestly didn’t want to talk to them.

Lately, fights between them had become more frequent, even between him and his father, who he didn’t even talk to enough to end up fighting with in the first place. As usual, they disagreed on something which led to a simple debate which rose to passionate arguing that then escalated to a screaming match that ended with him slamming the front door shut and wandering the city until he felt like swallowing his pride and going back.

Even he couldn’t deny that their fights had turned into something more personal and callous, no longer about not cleaning up after himself or doing the dishes, more so about why he was--in their words of course--losing his goddamn mind.

 His mother had pleaded with him at first, asking him what was wrong and why he’d woken them screaming that one night. She had been keeping an even closer eye on him than ever after they had rushed him to the hospital to get his hand treated. They had asked all sorts of questions that Katsuki didn’t have the answers to, so he didn’t. It started off simply enough, with them asking what was wrong and if he needed to talk, but after countless denials that fell upon deaf ears, inquiries turned into threats.

 His mother insisted on sticking him in therapy with his father’s hesitant agreement, to which Katuski replied with a polite fuck no .

 His parents were persistent on doing what they thought was best for him, while he argued that he was long past old enough to start making decisions for himself. Of course, the Bakugou household would not be the Bakugou household without pride getting in the way of every civil discussion possible. Conversations ended in tense silence and slammed doors more often than not.

 He just didn’t understand why they wouldn’t leave him alone. Sure, he’d had some problems lately, but there wasn’t anything wrong with him. It would pass. He was fine.

 (“How many times have you contradicted yourself during this entire--”

 “Hush! My favorite part is coming up!”

 “Of course it’s your favorite part, you--”

 “Shh! ” a chorus echoed.)

 

It was annoying to be interrogated about pointless things and then have his answers doubted again and again. There was enough on his plate with the bullshit at school and his dreams which, thankfully, seemed to be at bay.

 

It was just--a lot.

 

It was a lot.

 

It was during moments like these that Katsuki bitterly remembered that he was only sixteen.

 

He didn’t know where he was going this time, he just hoped to clear his head. It probably wasn’t the safest thing to wander alone in the middle of the night, but Katsuki always did what he wanted to anyway.

 

He took his phone out to check the time. He saw a few more missed phone calls--that he ignored--and an incoming text message from Kirishima.

 

Message from Fuckface (;¬_¬) (9)

Fuckface (;¬_¬): yo

Fuckface (;¬_¬): are u busy?

Fuckface (;¬_¬): hey

Fuckface (;¬_¬): hey

Fuckface (;¬_¬): hi

Fuckface (;¬_¬): hiiii

Fuckface (;¬_¬): bakugou

Fuckface (;¬_¬): bro bro bro

Fuckface (;¬_¬): i can see u reading me msgs asshole

You: my*

Fuckface (;¬_¬): ha! knew u cdnt resist a type

Fuckface (;¬_¬): typo*

You: wtf do you want

Fuckface (;¬_¬): help me w/ tonights math?

 

Katsuki pinched the bridge of his nose. He really wasn’t in the mood for this.

 

Fuckface (;¬_¬): pls

Fuckface (;¬_¬): pls

Fuckface (;¬_¬): plz

Fuckface (;¬_¬): ….please?

Fuckface (;¬_¬): ugh fine

 

Katsuki decided to play a game while he walked, which proved to be pointless once the onslaught of calls from none other than Eijirou Kirishima disrupted him every five seconds. He declined them all, but he soon grew annoyed when his game was interrupted after the ninth time, so answered with a low growl of ‘ what!?

 

It was maybe kinda sort of fucked up that he’d answer a call from his classmate and not his mother, but.

 

That’s an issue for another day.

 

Katsuki! My bro, my pal, my soulmate!” Kirishima greeted, ignoring the gagging noises Katsuki made at his overly cheerful tone. “ What’s up with you this fine evening?

 

“None of your business,” Katsuki replied monotonously, kicking at a stray pebble in the road. “Why are you blowing up my phone at ten at night?”

 

Can I not check up on my best friend?

 

Katsuki hoped his unamused snort could be conveyed in its entirety through the phone line.

 

“Okay, okay. I’m struggling, man! When am I ever gonna need to know about end behaviors and fractions--

 

“Functions.”

 

--functions, whatever. When am I ever gonna need to use this? I wanna save lives, not build shit, ” Kirishima whined. “ But other than that, I just wanna catch up.

 

Katsuki was coming up on a light, so he moved the phone away from his ear and pressed the crosswalk button. When it turned green, he jogged across the street and waited a few seconds before answering. “We literally go to the same school, dumbass.”

 

Which you never talk in, ” Kirishima shot back. “You just sit in the corner brooding and then go apeshit every once in a while.”

 

“Shut up,” Katsuki mumbled, unable to think of a better retort. Kirishima sighed and the sound of crinkling paper bled through the phone screen. It was silent for a few moments, but based on the light scratching Katsuki heard, it seemed like Kirishima was actually telling the truth about doing his homework.

 

But seriously, ” the other began after a yawn. “ How are you?

 

“As fine as I usually am,” Katsuki said absently, watching a man on the other side of the street struggle with his dog. It was so tiny and the man was so large. It was kind of funny.

 

Soooo, not fine at all then? ” Kirishima teased lightly, but there was an undercurrent of something serious in his voice.

 

“It’s whatever,” Katsuki returned. There was a tense set in his shoulders at the insinuation which made it kind of hard to walk normally.

 

I know you’re lying, asshole. You should stop doing that, man. No offense, but you’re kinda bad at it.

 

God, Katsuki hated being called out on his own bullshit.

 

He hesitated on answering. It was a decently clear night. He was farther away from the heart of the city, so he could see a few clusters of stars here and there. The moonlight bathed everything in a silvery sheen, even if it was a bit muted from the small shops that were still open.

 

Katsuki bit his lip. He’d stopped walking a while ago. He probably looked weird to anyone looking, a kid stopped in the middle of the sidewalk in the middle of the night.

 

Kirishima’s words from a few months back echoed in his head.

 

“Alright, alright. No need to bite,” he said jokingly. “Really though, if you ever need to talk, man to man, I’m here.”

 

He could, Katsuki realized. He could tell Kirishima everything. About the dreams, the insomnia. He could tell him all about how he was ashamed of who he was and who he was becoming, about how he was honestly scared of the future if things kept going in the direction they were headed in. He could confess about all of his dangerous thoughts, about the mood swings, about how he wanted to lash out, about how he felt disgusting in his own skin sometimes, like he wanted to sink his fingers into his flesh and rip it away, if only he wouldn’t feel so disgusting .

 

He could own up to how he was fine but he wasn’t at the same time, that he knew how he felt but he didn’t, about how he had an idea about how to make some of this go away but he didn’t want to. Because some sick, twisted part of him, the same repulsive part of himself that enjoyed beating down another person for over ten years, was satisfied with it. Somewhere deep down, he knew he deserved to feel like this, because it was probably a fraction of the pain he’d caused other people. He could say that sometimes the push and pull of his thoughts didn’t even make sense to him , much less other people.

 

He could admit to questioning his ability to be a hero anymore, because what kind of hero gets enjoyment out of seeing others suffer?

 

He honestly could.

 

But he wouldn’t.

 

Katsuki was old enough to deal with his own shit, regardless of what anyone said or thought. He was tired of seesawing back and forth between ‘ I can handle it ’ and ‘ I can’t fucking deal with this ’, but he would come up with his own solution in his own time. He couldn’t let this get in the way of his progress, because regardless of whether or not he was deserving of it, he was in U.A., on the fast track to becoming one of the top heros in the country. He couldn’t afford to fall behind.

 

Hello?

 

“Yea, I’m still here,” Katsuki muttered, switching his phone to the other ear and rubbing his hands together. The temperature had dropped considerably since he left and he was starting to regret only wearing his hoodie.

 

How are you really doing, man? Honestly, ” Kirishima pushed gently.

 

His breath fogs and curls around his next words as he answers.

 

“I don’t know,” Katsuki whispers hollowly. “I really don’t freaking know.”

 

He punctuates his words with bitter laugh that sounds kind of wet to his own ears and the line was silent.

 

*

 

“And so after some discussion with your teachers and my fellow instructors, it’s been decided that you two will be required to begin a few extra tasks before you’re allowed to pass this semester,” Nedzu finished grandly. He was smiling widely like this was somehow good news for the both of them. “With the testing period being so close, you won’t be able to finish this particular assignment in its entirety, but you at least need to show a promising start. A probation, if you will. After the test, of course, because education takes priority here.”

 

“Against my better judgement,” Aizawa murmured, clearly tired of the whole ordeal. Nedzu cleared his throat pointedly and Aizawa held his hands up as a sign of defeat with a quiet ‘Fine, fine.’

 

“Honestly, I wanted to force you two to work together on the practical exam, but that would interfere with All Might’s plans, so we can’t do that,” Aizawa confessed, blunt and bland as usual.

 

Katsuki smothered down the urge to tell them all to go to hell.

 

His return to U.A. had been painfully awkward at best. The curious eyes of his classmates had followed him even more so than usual, and even students from other departments were starting to become a nuisance with the way they were gawking at him.

 

He couldn’t even take a piss in peace.

 

With the addition of the video of the fight going viral, he’d even been pestered in public with camera flashes and whispers following him everywhere. Someone had managed to find him on accounts for things he hadn’t used since he was twelve and he thought pointless things like angry blogging were relevant. It’d gotten to the point of him having to deactivate stuff he forgot even existed so random people would stop messaging him and tagging him in things he’d rather not look at and didn’t really care to see.

 

And that was just within the first three days.

 

Even Izuku seemed to be avoiding him ever since the incident on the bench a week ago.

 

When Ochako finally returned, the bullshit multiplied tenfold and Katsuki had never been more irritated and on edge in his life.

 

She sat next to him then, back rigid and undoubtedly wearing the same sour expression he had. He was willing to bet money on it.

 

“Look, I know it isn’t the most... appealing suggestion,” All Might sighed, glancing at their matching expressions of distaste, “but it’s the best we can do for you right now. The board wanted to expel the both of you, but we argued that your talents are too promising to let go to waste.”

 

“So you think that forcing us into the same room to ‘talk’--” Katsuki spat venomously, putting mocking air quotes around the word-- “is supposed to help?”

 

“This is the compromise,” Aizawa cut in brusquely. “Either agree or call your parents so that we can sign the withdrawal forms right now. We’ve already discussed this with them.”

 

There was a tense silence as the both of them considered their options. The expectant gazes of their teachers and principal didn’t really help much. Logically, Katsuki knew that he had to do this in order to move forward so that he could go back to ignoring everyone like usual. On the other hand, he really didn’t want to.

 

Surprisingly, Ochako was the first one to speak.

 

“Okay,” she agreed, voice tense. “Okay. I don’t want to, but I refuse to let my plans for the future crumble because I got into a fight with this moron.”

 

“Ouch,” All Might hissed.

 

“Alright,” Aizawa replied, voice surprisingly gentle. He then turned to Katsuki. “Bakugou?”

 

Katsuki sighed.

 

Gritting his teeth, he answered:

 

“Fine.”


“Um, excuse me?” Ochako interjected, timidly interrupting where Nedzu and Aizawa were going over the details of their “probation” as the school liked to put it. She felt her cheeks warm as four pairs of eyes turned to her and pointed at the door, hopefully as a distraction. “Can I take this?”

 

She gestured to her still buzzing phone, sat in her lap. She received three nods in response and gratefully stepped out into the hallway.

 

She already knew who it was.

 

Taking a deep breath, she flipped the screen up and pressed the ‘accept’ button with trembling fingers.

 

“Hello?”

 

Hi sweetie! How are you settling back in?

 

Ochako brought a hand to her mouth in hopes to mask her shaky breaths. It’d only been a little more than a week since she’d seen her parents last, but she still missed them terribly. Hearing her mother’s voice always brought a source of comfort, no matter the amount of time passed.

 

“Hi Mama,” she whispered, trying to keep the thickness out of her voice. “I’m fine, how are things back home?”

 

“Oh, the usual,” her mother responded casually. “Your father still overworks himself and I still burn the rice.”

 

There was a laugh at that.

 

“Where is he right now?”

 

He’s on bed rest right now because he does too much, ” her mother continued, unaware of the rising panic beginning to take root in her daughter. Exasperation began creeping into her tone. “ I always tell him to take it easy when he’s transporting the materials, but you know him…

 

“Oh. Will...will he be okay, though?” Ochako pressed, resting more of her weight against the wall. “Do you know how long he’ll be out of it?”

 

Without realizing it, she had sunken to the floor on her knees with her side pressed against the sturdy material of the hallway. There was a bit of a burn on her arm, most likely from the friction, but she ignored it.

 

“Do you guys need anything? I’d have to check with the school first, but I’m sure I could get another job for a little while or ask the store for more shifts--”

 

Don’t, ” her mother objected. An uncharacteristic edge was present in her voice.

 

“It’s fine,” Ochako continued. She shifted into a more comfortable position, so that her back was to the wall and her legs were pulled to her chest. “If I wake up a little earlier to finish my homework, I can work some nights and I’m sure if I explain I can ask for a few extensions--”

 

Ochako! Don’t. Don’t you dare.”

 

“...Sorry.”

 

A lull.

 

No, ” Mrs. Uraraka sighed. “ I’m sorry. I just don’t want you doing more than you do already.

 

“I know.”

 

It’s just--

 

Another sigh. Then, the sound of a chair squeaking.

 

You already maintain your grades and never have any trouble. And you work on the weekends. I hate it, ” she began. Ochako pressed the phone tighter to her ear, and it was almost like she was back home, in their small kitchen, working out the kinks in her mother’s back after a hard day. She could taste it, the burning questions that would be on her tongue on the days where the fatigue shined through a bit more, when the stress lines seemed more prominent.

 

But just as she did then, now she kept silent.

 

I hate that you have to work to eat, to pay for your part of the tuition. I hate that we can’t provide for you like we should be able to.

 

Believe her, Ochako knew. She wasn’t blind to the resentment her parents aimed at themselves for not being able to do more. She just wished that she could say that she didn’t care, that she loved them anyway and no amount of money or lack thereof would change that.

 

You should be able to go out and have fun with your friends, not sit at home and worry about things like budgeting and rent. You’re my baby. I want to spoil you and I hate that I can’t.

 

“Mama no,” Ochako pleaded, voice cracking. She couldn’t let this go on any longer. “Don’t say that. It’s not your fault. I never asked for those special things because I didn’t want them. I’m fine with what we have.”

 

That’s why you’re such a good girl, Ochako. You never complain or ask for more. We’re worried, you know?

 

“I’m sorry,” she pleaded, voice small.

 

No baby, don’t apologize. I’m just sorry that we couldn’t see that something was wrong until it was too late.

 

And Ochako couldn’t coax any words to come up in response to that.

 

Well you probably have stuff to do and I don’t want to bring you down, alright? No matter what, we’re still proud of you.

 

“Okay, Mama. I love you.”

 

“Love you too, sweetie.

 

And before she could say anything else, the line was dead.

 

Ochako sighed tiredly.

 

Her mother had always joked about how she took more after her father, his hard working personality and boisterous laugh as much a trademark of hers as it was his. Mrs. Uraraka always laughed with a tight smile, bitterly joking that they’d both run themselves into the ground and there would only be her left.

 

Ochako felt so incredibly guilty.

 

Guilty for causing trouble, for starting a fight over some partially misguided and misplaced sense of justice. Guilty for pressing more stress on her already exhausted parents, for making them take days off of work to come to the school and stay with her. Guilty for giving them insight to some of the troubles that plagued her mind.

 

Ochako was a big girl. She knew that she didn’t have to bear the burden herself, but she wanted to. She couldn’t, wouldn’t bother people with her insignificant problems.

 

She was tired.

 

She was so, unbelievably tired. It was obvious in the way she slumped in her chair when she sat and groaned when she had to stand again, bones heavy and muscles sore from hours of training piled on top of hours put in at her job of stocking inventory, on top of more hours hunched over her own lap on the floor of her tiny one room apartment struggling with concepts that she could just barely grasp.

 

It was evident in how she scarfed down her lunches at school on some days and denied anything on others, nursing on a bottle of lukewarm water with her hand poised over her stomach under the table. How when she made trips down to the convenience store on days she wasn’t working there more infrequently than she should have and had to put back the ¥340 bundle packets of ramen and conditioner--even though she already had a small discount from the sympathetic owner--and just take the energy drink and bag of chips.

 

It was so painfully clear when she looked at her reflection on the dead screen of her old flip phone and saw the ghost of a wrinkle between her brows and the pale grey color her skin seemed to take some days that no amount of makeup could cover up.

 

It was painfully obvious that Ochako wasn’t okay and hadn’t been for a while.

 

She was so angry at herself, but she didn’t have time to be. She had to keep pushing forward with a smile on her face.

 

Breathe, girl.

 

She smacked her cheeks with the palms of her hands to bring some color back into them and took a deep breath.

 

Is there a problem?

 

Ochako flinched violently, whipping around and prepared to explain herself.

 

With the budget this school has, you can’t afford to have a door that opens right? ” All Might’s voice carried through.

 

Whatever, I got it ,” Katsuki grumbled loudly, throwing the door open and stepping out. Briefly, he met eyes with Ochako before carrying on.

 

After a few seconds, All Might stepped out and beckoned her forward. “You missed a lot, but that’s okay. For I am here!”

 

Aizawa’s sigh could be heard from the hallway. “Do you have to keep up the act now of all times?”

 

“Why of course! A hero must be a hero around the clock, no matter the time of--”

 

“Yea, whatever,” Aizawa interrupted. Ochako followed her teacher into the office and resumed her position across from the large desk.

 

“Strange,” All Might commented from the doorway. “There seems to be nothing wrong with this door, so why did Young Bakugou have trouble with it?”

 

Ochako looked down to the corner Katsuki had just turned, deep in thought.

 

*

 

Katsuki quietly slid into his desk. Everyone still seemed to be giving him his space, which he was thankful for. He pulled out his headphones and scrolled to a random playlist on his phone, just so that he could have something to focus on. Out of his peripheral, he saw Ochako also take her seat and join a conversation with a few other classmates.

 

“I’m so not looking forward to these tests,” Jirou whined. “I feel like I’m gonna fail them big time.”

 

Izuku rubbed his chin in thought. “Well I don’t think it’ll be too hard for the written portion…”

 

Iida nodded his agreement. “I think anything within the normal subject range is in the scope of our lessons,” he chimed in, pushing his glasses up his nose. “The practical portion, however…”

 

There was a sullen silence at that.

 

“Well I don’t think it’ll be anything too wild,” Kaminari insisted, pulling up a chair. He sat down with a bottle of juice and a bag of chips in his hand. “We can for sure pull off the general test. Plus, we’ve had at least some experience with a real world emergency so there’s an advantage there.”

 

“He’s right,” Ochako nodded. Tzuyu added on that Aizawa said that the test would be a summary of all the drills and scenarios they learned that semester.

 

“The president from 1-B told me that the practical portion would be similar to the entrance exam,” Tsuyu explained. “She said it would probably be best to brush up on our combat skills.”

 

“Kendou?” Kaminari questioned around a mouth full of crumbs. “How do you know she’s not lying?”

 

“I think you’re confusing Kendou and Monoma,” Jirou joked. “That sounds realistic, though so I’ll take it.”

 

“Robots are gonna be a walk in the park,” Kaminari snickered, reaching over for a high five. Jirou returned it with a grin of her own before being tackled by a cheering Ashido.

 

“Less work on my part,” she sang, pulling Jirou up to dance with her. Kaminari got up too, cheering about the prospect of less work.

 

“Walk in the park, my ass,” Katsuki mumbled, ripping his headphones from his ears. Kirishima bounded up to him and gave him an amused laugh.

 

“What’s got your panties in a twist?”

 

Katsuki crossed his arms. “Who cares if it’s people or robots, it’s all the same when they’re blown away, so they’re all idiots.”

 

“Who’re you calling an idiot, idiot!?” Kaminari shouted from across the classroom. Katsuki slammed his palms on the desk and stood up.

 

“Shut up! You don’t need to worry about adjusting, idiot!” he barked. The majority of the class just laughed and Kaminari stuck his tongue out. Katsuki cracked his neck and sat back down.

 

“Whatever. I’ll annihilate you, leave you in the dust with the gap between us, and then I’ll come back to stomp on your body until you die,” he promised with an unsettling smile. Kaminari gulped and sent him a shaky thumbs up. “Todoroki too,” he added as an afterthought.

 

Kirishima whistled. “That’s some vintage Bakugou. Where the hell did that come from?”

 

Katsuki just ignored him and stuffed his headphones back into his ears.

 

The next few days were void of any joking or threats. Everyone was focused on cramming as much material into their heads as possible before the exam period began. Yaoyorozu seemed to be up to her pits in extra study material, Kaminari could be seen with a stern set to his brow as he bowed over various textbooks, and even Mineta seemed to be taking this seriously, more focused on memorizing formulas instead of flirting with fellow classmates.

 

Ultimately, they all had nothing to worry about. Most of the class breezed through the written exam with ease.

 

And so, came the day of the practical exam.

 

*

It was a clear day. The clouds followed the sun lazily, trudging along in soft waves. It was bright but not too hot, and there was a steady breeze gently blowing past. The large pillars on each side of the school cast shadows on the class gathered in front of them. A perfect fall day for an outdoor exercise.

 

The air was filled with a sense of excitement, the students of 1-A buzzing with chatter and speculation about the test. In front of them stood the flock of teachers they’d all grown familiar with over the past few months. From familiar faces like All Might and Aizawa to more elusive guests like Ectoplasm, they were all there.

 

Katsuki was feeling great.

 

Maybe a breakdown was all that he needed.

 

(“Um.”

 

“I know. I already know what you’re about to say and I’ve tried saying it, but it’s not going to make a difference. Stubborn as always.”)

 

He hadn’t been faced with any more crazy dreams since his suspension.

 

He was finally starting to feel more like himself--despite what his parents thought--and was ready to kick some ass.

 

“Alright, listen up!” Aizawa called, waiting until the chatter died down to resume talking. “The exam will begin shortly. Obviously you can fail this too, so if you want to go to the forest lodge, don’t just half ass it.”

 

The students of class 1-A stood in a cluttered row, suited up and ready for battle. They all rose to attention with alert ears, awaiting the instructions and the signal to begin..

 

“Five...six...eight?” Hagakure counted quietly, gesturing to each teacher with her gloved fingers. Jirou hummed beside her, crossing her arms.

 

“Why so many of them?” Jirou replied just as quietly. Hagakure could only gesture what Jirou guessed was a shrug and so their attention went back to the cluster of adults in front of them.

 

“I’ve no doubt you have learned all you could about the test beforehand,” Aizawa continued in his standard tone, voice slightly louder to carry over. “So I think you already have a vague idea of what you’re supposed to do.”

 

“Woohoo!” Ashido cheered. She pumped her fist in the air and jumped up with restless energy. “I can just see the fireworks! The curry! The dare sessions!”

 

“Guys, I don’t think--” Hagakure began, but she was interrupted by an overly hyped Kirishima.

 

“Hot tubs, hot springs, hot girls, ” he cheered, ignoring the chorus of ‘hey!’s from the girls and affronted sputtering from Iida, “campfires, and good food! I can’t wait!”

 

That started another round of joyous cries.

 

“Guys, seriously!” Hagakure tried to shout above the chaos, her gloves waving around frantically in the air. She ducked to avoid a swinging arm and tried again. “I don’t think it’s as simple as--”

 

Suddenly, Principal Nedzu appeared over Aizawa’s shoulder with a boisterous, “Sorry, but I’m afraid not!” in that extremely chipper inflection of his.

 

As abruptly as it began, the celebration ceased, and all eyes were on the principal. It was almost comical how everyone froze in their positions, arms, feet, and hair in the air and mouths still open. Nedzu shook his paw at the class. “Due to various reasons, we’re changing the contents of the test, starting today!”

 

Silently, Katsuki stepped forward from where he’d been pushed to the back.

 

Mr. Principal, ” Kaminari groaned, head thrown back.

 

“What do you mean..?” Jirou questioned, confused.

 

“Is it the same reason that field training had to be pushed back to second term?” Hagakure asked timidly.

 

Nedzu didn’t grace her with an answer, choosing to hop down from AIzawa’s shoulder in order to get closer to the students.

 

“From now on, we’ll focus more with person-on-person battle training and emphasizing a teaching environment closer to that of a real battle. Which means, boys and girls,”

 

Slowly, nervous anticipation began to settle in the air.

 

“that henceforth, you’re to engage in combat--in pairs of course, we’re not that awful--with one of these here educators!” he finished with a flourish, angling his small body to the side and throwing his arm out as if to say ‘here! these teachers here behind me!’

 

A moment of stunned silence. Suddenly the shadows cast by the pillars began to feel like a sense of apprehension.

 

“With our….with our teachers?” Ochako whimpered, brows creasing. Nedzu nodded.

 

“Precisely. Now who you’ve been paired with and the teacher you’ll be fighting have already been decided. Your grades and your degree of familiarity,” he paused for a breath, meeting each student’s eyes. “we personally judged how you’ll be paired up based on all kinds of factors and we’ll list the matchups now.”

 

Aizawa stepped forward then. “First off, Todoroki and Yaoyorozu as a team against me.”

 

“Midoriya,” he continued, ignoring the startled looks he was met with. “You’re with Ashido as a team.”

 

“No,” Aizawa corrected after a moment, shaking his head. “I spoke without thinking. That was changed back to what it originally was Ashido, you’ll be with Kaminari against Principal Nedzu. Midoriya you’ll be with…”

 

Aizawa took a moment to give Katsuki a calculating gaze, before looking away and carrying on.

 

“Bakugou will be with Midoriya.” As for who your opponent will be...”

 

Katsuki didn't like where this was going.

 

He choked on an inhale and cleared his throat roughly, eyes meeting with Izuku, diagonal from his position within the group. Katsuki narrowed his eyes with a sneer, scoffing. Somewhere beside him, someone gasped and Kirishima whistled, squeezing his way through his classmates to pat Katsuki on the back.

 

“Tough shit, bro.”

 

“Fuck off,” Katsuki growled.

 

Abruptly, a heavy hand landed on his left shoulder.

 

Oh.

 

Fuck.

 

I'm here to oblige!

 

Honestly, I wanted to force you two to work together on the practical exam, but that would interfere with All Might's plans so we can't do that.”

 

And shit, of course it would be him. Katsuki would recognize that voice anywhere. That booming, overly enthusiastic voice that gives them lessons every single day. Shit, he listens to it on the intercom every day when he rides the train to school.

 

“Son of a bitch,” he hissed.

 

“Oh god…” Katsuki read on Izuku's lips. He could practically feel his nervous energy, even five feet away.

 

He stepped away and turned to face the man, who gave him a challenging smile, eyes shadowed and aura confident.

 

“Now cooperate and come at me to win, wonder duo !”



This had to be the longest and hardest forty-five minutes of Katsuki’s life. After the class was assigned their partners and teachers and split up to be transported to their stages via campus buses, he’d had to endure one of the most awkward rides of his life in which he sat all the way at the back, Izuku at the front, and All Might in the middle trying fruitlessly to diffuse the tension.

 

When they’d arrived at their pseudo-city, All Might explained the objective of the test and fastened himself with weights and let them loose with a thirty minute time limit.

 

28 minutes .

 

Win the battle by fighting or fleeing. Simple enough.

 

Problem was, Katsuki Bakugou and Izuku Midoriya were as far away from each other as possible on the spectrum of Anything and Everything, so trying to have them agree on anything was a disaster in waiting, especially when it came to combat.

 

Factor that in with the fact that they’d shared barely any form of contact since that night on the bench, things were more awkward than ever, and rather than fighting, they couldn’t figure out how to start a conversation with the other.

 

It was like they were executing two separate plans on one side instead of being a cohesive team. Each attempt so far left them fleeing in frustration, only to try again to yield the same results.

 

But who was going to admit that?

 

Certainly not Katsuki Bakugou.

 

(At least he knows himself.)

 

“Kacchan...I don’t think this is working,” Izuku panted as they tried to recover from their most recent failure.

 

Seven minutes had passed.

 

“Yea no shit,” Katsuki snapped, heaving. They were crouched with their backs to a wall in the shadows of a ground floor in one of the smaller buildings near the main road. Izuku sighed and peeked over the edge of the window, sagging in relief when he saw it was clear. “It’s obvious that I should just knock him out!”

 

“And I’m telling you we should avoid a battle at all costs! We’ve tried to fight him and every time he blasts us away without even thinking about it.”

 

Katsuki stiffened at the proximity of his voice, not realizing how close the other was. Silently, he moved over a few feet to put more space between them.

 

“I can just lead him around and blast him after I tire him out,” Katsuki argued.

 

“How many times have we tried that? Who...who do you think All Might is ?” Izuku pleaded, stubborn. “No matter how many handicaps he has, the idea that you can just beat him is--”

 

Katsuki didn’t want to hear anymore. Without warning, he brought his arm up and slammed it back into the wall behind them, gritting his teeth at the shock vibrations when his gauntlet made contact with the concrete.

 

He heard a small hissing noise, but he didn’t turn to look, instead choosing to keep his eyes on the ground.

 

“Not another word. Just cause you’re doing halfway decent doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want to me. Shut up or I’ll get pissed.”

 

“I-I just want you to listen so we can pass!” Izuku stammered, voice muffled. Out of the corner of his eye, Katsuki saw him wipe a bit of blood off his nose. There was a scrape on his cheek, probably from Katsuki himself just then, and he felt kind of guilty. A little bit. Sort of.

 

“I said I don’t need your help to pass, asshole!”

 

Katsuki jumped to his feet then. Izuku just did the same because that’s what Izuku did. He always, always followed.

 

27 minutes.

 

“Wait, where are you going?”

 

Katsuki began walking to the exit, rolling his eyes. He cracked his knuckles and rolled his neck, ready for action.

 

I’m going out there to do something about this. You can just stay in here and do whatever the hell you want.”

 

By the time he was finished speaking, he was in front of the door with a hand on the handle. But  before he could open it, Izuku was hooking his finger on the ring of his gauntlets and stopping him. Katsuki could feel his presence and he hated it. He was too close.

 

“Kacchan, you can’t just...run away every time we talk--”

 

“Deku, shut it,” Katsuki warned, voice tight.

 

Izuku sighed and let him go. “That’s not what I meant. I-it’s just you always leave before we can figure out something, or a solution.”

 

He was right, of course. Izuku was usually right about most things when it came to Katsuki.

 

“What’s your point? That has nothing to do with this.” he grunted tersely, in response. “And get away from me.”

 

Izuku stuttered a quiet apology and stepped back, but he wasn’t quiet for long. “But Kacchan, it does have something to do with this.”

 

“No.”

 

“But--”

“Look,” Katsuki sighed. He wanted to pinch his nose or rub his temples to fight off the impending headache, but his stupid gauntlets were too big for all that when he was so close to the door. Who designed this shit? Why did they ever think these were practical? “can you stop being annoying for like five fucking seconds? I’m ready to leave. We have shit to do.”

 

Katsuki would put money on the fact that if he were to turn around, he’d see that stupid expression. He’d be met with stubborn eyes and a mouth downturned in a frown framed by puffed out cheeks. He was just starting to get back into the rhythm of himself. He didn’t need all of this shit right now.

 

“See, you’re doing it again!” Izuku pointed out. “You’re always ignoring me!”

 

Katsuki didn’t grace him with a reply.

 

“Seriously? Now you’re ignoring me?”

 

Silence.

 

Suddenly, Katsuki was angry.

 

The sound of shuffling could be heard, and then he was back at it. “Look, I know you’re mad at me like you always are, but we have to work together for this!”

 

Being a man-boy of his temperament, Katsuki was only equipped with so much patience. He was already someone of little tolerance before, but coupled with being injured and exhausted,

 

(“I think you forgot to add in ‘mentally frayed and probably fucking insane’’ to the list.”)

 

plus being forced to remain close to someone that put him so on edge…

 

“And tell me why in the hell do I have to listen to you?

 

Well.

 

“Why would I ever, ever in a million fucking years, ever do what you tell me to?” Katsuki demanded, rounding on the other. He shoved him, hard enough to send him tripping on air and almost careening into the floor. “You got a lotta fuckin’ nerve, don’t you nerd?”

 

“Kacchan,” Izuku soothed. He held his hands out and spoke very slowly. Why was he speaking slowly? Why was that look back? That stupid, stupid fucking look that drove mad, why was it back? Why were his eyes always, always on him? “Just--just calm down, okay? I’m not trying to tell you what to do.”

 

“So what are you trying to do, asshole?” Katsuki barrelled on. “You think just cause I haven’t been feeling like kicking your ass lately, that you can just do whatever you want around me?”

 

Everyone reaches their breaking point sometime, right?

 

Izuku sucked in a harsh breath before continuing. “I’m just asking you to listen--”

 

“WHY DO I GOTTA LISTEN TO YOUR DUMB VOICE ALL THE TIME?”

 

And Katsuki wasn’t thinking at all, really. In his rage, he surged forward and swung, smacking Izuku in the head with his arm, and in effect, his armor. The sound resonated throughout the small space with a loud CRACK!

 

Izuku fell with the direction of the blow, collapsing to the floor on a heap, clutching his rapidly swelling cheek. It was bruising already, and the tangy smell of blood hit Katsuki’s nose.

 

Then, Izuku was angry as well.

 

“WILL YOU STOP YELLING AND CALM DOWN!? AND YOU CALL ME THE ASSHOLE? THIS IS WHY WE CAN NEVER HAVE A PROPER CONVERSATION!”

 

Katsuki couldn’t even find it in him to feel remorseful, he was so just pissed. “Whatever, man. Fuck you.”

 

Then, Izuku’s eyes widened and he cursed under his breath. Katsuki sniffed and turned, letting him have whatever moment he was having. He had shit to do.

 

He reached for the handle.

 

“Kacchan, wait--”

 

Katsuki wasn’t listening. With an angry tug, he wrenched the door open and was met with All Might’s cheery face before being sent crashing into the wall on the opposite side of the space. Izuku, who was behind him, went flying too.

 

They impacted somewhat together, with Izuku’s legs kind of cushioning Katsuki’s shoulders and Katsuki’s arm being crushed by Izuku’s weight. It couldn’t have been comfortable having a rigid mass of bulbous metal digging into his back though, so that didn’t do much. They fell from the wall with a shout, landing into an even more confusing tangle of limbs on the ground.

 

“Fuck,” Katsuki yelped as the heavy sole of Izuku’s shoe dug into his stomach. Izuku hissed a chorus of ‘ ow ow ow owwww ’ when Katsuki tried to push himself up, as it put pressure on his arm that was twisted in a strange way, but luckily not broken.

 

“You make yourselves very easy to find when you argue at the top of your lungs,” All Might noted, smiling. The two lying on the ground made quick work of themselves, untangling and back on their feet in record time, eyes wary.

 

Izuku bit his lip, meeting Katsuki’s eyes for a second before breaking, Katsuki to the left and Izuku to the right. All Might laughed boisterously, punching at the air and sending shockwaves strong enough to shake the foundation of the building after them.

 

“Kacchan!” Izuku cried, diving towards of the window they were crouched under earlier. He activated his quirk and punched through the glass, and disappeared out of sight. Katsuki made the split decision to follow, trying to dodge all Might’s shockwaves as he used his quirk to blast himself across the room. In a flash, he dived out as well, rolling on the ground outside when he made contact. He spotted Izuku a few feet away.

 

A loud crash sounded behind them and glass rained down, all the windows breaking and exploding outward at once. A loud crack, louder than anything Katsuki had ever heard reverberated in the air, and the sound of creaking and breaking metal sounded, making him rush to his feet and turn around in horror.

 

A crack split in the concrete, all the way around the perimeter of what they could see, and the building began tilting forward, slowly at first, and then rapidly picking up speed.

 

Katsuki assessed the situation quickly.

 

He couldn’t go backwards into the building across from the one they were in, as the falling building would only smash into it and possibly trap him there. His only options were left and right, but would he have enough blast power to launch him fast enough? The building was wide, and the split second downtime it would take for him to land and blast off again could cost him dearly.

 

He didn’t have to think much further however, as he was being hauled backwards by the waist, buildings passing by in a blur, and then he was farther down the street, Izuku’s heaving body holding them both up.

 

“One--One For All: Full...Cowl,” the other huffed, letting him go and stepping back shakily. “S-Shit, I think I broke my toe.”

 

Katsuki could only stare incredulously, listening to the other berate himself about power displacement and equal distribution. Oh right. He’d sort of forgotten about Izuku being there.

 

Their attention was soon stolen again though, as the mighty crack sounded again and the building finally hit the ground, bringing them both to their knees with the force of the tremors. The boys looked on in morbid awe as the building fell into the one across the street. It was only a story tall but it was enough to cause a domino effect, with building falling one after another in a row, each tremor greater than the last. When it was finished, a path was cleared into the distance, a road of toppled buildings caked in rising dust.

 

24 minutes .

 

Among the body of the first one that fell, stood All Might, dust blowing past him and hiding half of his body.

 

“Collateral damage to the city, who gives a damn!”

 

He jumped the distance from the felled building to them like it was nothing, just a hop over a puddle.

 

“If you’re thinking of this as just a test, then you’re in for a world of pain. For I am a villain, oh young heroes,” the teacher recited, his large smile darkening into something more sinister. “Come at me, with All your Might!”

 

(“Did he just--”

 

“Yep.”)

 

“This is bad, we can’t take him head on!” Izuku shouted, like Katsuki was an idiot and couldn’t see that now. All Might crouched low and the air around him sizzled and bent, making Katsuki wince at the pressure. “We need to run!”

 

Katsuki raised his arms, replying, “Shut up, don’t tell me what to do!”

 

“Kacchan!” Izuku implored desperately. Ignoring him, Katsuki set off the largest and brightest explosion he could muster with the sweat pooling in his palms.

 

“Stun grenade!”

He was momentarily baffled by Izuku’s wail of ‘All Might!’ like the man didn’t just destroy part of the city like it was nothing . He wouldn’t be hurt by a flash of light and he most definitely wouldn’t be detained for long, hopefully.

 

(“Hopefully?”

 

A shrug.)

 

“You didn’t need to tell me, that was my plan--”

 

He was cut short by All Might surging forward and grabbing his face in a large palm--which felt really gross with all the sweat on his face--and Katsuki grinned.

 

As well as he could, anyway.

 

Fruddastah!

 

(“‘From the start?’”

 

“Guessing so.”)

 

He used his still outstretched arms to his advantage, setting off a series of quick explosions. They weren’t as strong as they could have been, seeing as he had to use the majority of his sweat on the flash from earlier.

 

All Might shielded his face with his other hand, and using that chance, Katsuki used him as a prop, kicking off to send his body upwards in an arch. All Might still had a hand on his face, so he couldn’t see what he was doing, but he sensed the man grabbing for him. He set off another series of explosions and used his gauntlet to try to hit him in the face, cheering when it made contact.

 

22 minutes .

 

However, his victory was short lived, as All Might threw him back down to the ground, his back exploding with fire as soon as he hit the ground. The grip was released from his face, so he could finally breathe properly, taking in huge gulps of air. Utterly spent, he was too helpless to to anything but lay there until his energy came back.

 

“Is that all you’ve got, my boy?” All Might asked sarcastically, laughing freely. It made something ugly twist in his gut, to be laughed at. He expected as much. “A small flurry like that can’t hurt me, young man.”

 

All Might stood and turned his attention to Izuku. C’mon, idiot. Do something . “And Young Midoriya! You’ll soon be next!”

 

Katsuki turned his head to watch, catching Izuku quickly dodge and step backwards, the same energy from before crackling around him, making his hair raise and his skin...glow?

 

Katsuki never noticed, but it was like Izuku’s veins pulsed with energy beneath his skin, his blood crackling and sparkling beneath his skin. It made them flash, like lightning beneath his skin.

 

He dodged a punch and feinted, doubling back around All Might to punch the ground behind him, creating a split and sending the teacher forward. He didn’t spare any time looking to see if it did anything, turning around to run towards Katsuki.

 

“C’mon Kacchan, we gotta go,” Izuku said crouching down, grabbing Katsuki’s arm to pull him up to sitting position. He put Katsuki’s arm around his shoulder and stood, using his quirk to speed them off between two buildings as soon as they heard All Might’s laughter once more. Izuku ducked through countless houses and stores, making sure to look around before crossing large roads until he deemed them far enough to buy some time.

 

Gingerly, he leaned Katsuki against a building and sighed. It looked like they were in a well shaded area between a restaurant and a dentist’s office.

 

For a fake city, it was surprisingly well detailed.

 

“We have to fight him,” Katsuki said after a few seconds. Izuku gave him the most disbelieving face to ever adorn a human being and crossed his arms.

 

“Are you crazy!? Kacchan, did you see what just happened?”

 

“Yea, smartass. I fought while you sat back and got a boner from seeing your hero in close combat,” Katsuki challenged, just to be an ass.

 

“Kacchan, we can’t fight him.”

 

“Deku, we can’t run without fighting him.”

 

“But--”

 

“Deku!” Katsuki whisper shouted, now mindful of his volume. “You said it yourself. The dude is psycho. No way he’s just gonna let us waltz on out like it’s nothing.”

 

“So what should we do?”

 

Katsuki shrugged. “Aren’t you supposed to be the nerd?”

 

“Your class ranking is higher than mine, Kacchan.”

 

“Well--”

 

For the nth time, they were cut off by a loud smash. All Might stood on the top of the dentist’s office and grinned down at them. He had something with him, but Katsuki couldn’t see what it was.

 

“And now,” All Might began theatrically, “a present for the boy who would run !”

 

He dove down, towards Izuku and slammed something into him, whatever it was stuck to the ground around him and prevented him from moving.

 

Katsuki blinked. “Is that a fucking guardrail?”

 

All Might turned to him. “Always be resourceful, my boy!”

 

In a blink, he was right there in front of Katsuki and in a second blink, Katsuki was on the ground in the front of the alleyway coughing up bile.

 

“And of course a present for the boy who fights!”

 

All Might began to walk forward at a leisurely pace. “Now young man. I think I understand your frustrations. It’s because of young Midoriya’s sudden growth, am I right?”

 

Katsuki wiped his mouth shakily and squinted at the man through blurry vision.

 

“Well, that’s the root of it anyhow. Now, whatever other feelings you’re having are probably adding to the mix. It’s alright, I was also a confused and hormonal teenage boy once.”

 

Fucking what?

 

“But that’s something to sort out on your own time with the internet. I’m here to talk about your pride in combat.”

 

Oh my god .

 

If this was a cartoon, Katsuki’s pretty sure he would have had question marks floating around his head.

 

“If you compare someone at level one to someone at level fifty, then the pace at which they grow can’t be completely even, can it? Even you can grow so much! But you cannot do everything yourself.”

 

At this point, All Might was directly in front of him.

 

And god, Katsuki was tired of this shit. Deku this, Deku that. Could he go for one week without that reckless idiot being mentioned in conjunction with him? Fucking Christ.

 

Katsuki pushed himself to his feet, snarling. “Shut your mouth, All Might. If I ever need to borrow that piddly little bitch ass ‘strength’ then I’d be better off losing.”

 

All Might regarded him carefully. “Is that so…”

 

“Then don’t regret this.”

 

Katsuki bit his lip hard enough to draw blood and looked to the ground. He had a headache from dehydration. His hands were pouring sweat, but when he twitched them, there wasn’t even a spark. He was weak.

 

(It was probably psychological, more than anything, but to Katsuki it meant weakness.)

 

Katsuki felt like crying. He didn’t know why, but he did. First he was mad, now he’s sad. God, what was wrong with him? Was he really this pathetic? After all that talk about doing it alone, was he really about to sit back and not even try? Not even attempt to do anything? Nothing at all?

 

Fuck.

 

Damn it.

 

Damn it, damn it,

 

“Goddamn it!”

 

He squeezed his eyes shut and braced for impact. It came in the form of a punch to his left jaw, sending him flying into the deserted road. But it didn’t come from All Might.

 

Above him, Izuku stood, and he was livid .

 

He bent down and hauled Katsuki to his feet by his tank top, shaking him violently. “Snap out of it!”

 

All Might watched them, waiting.

 

“What do you mean ‘ better off losing ’? Don’t say you’d rather lose. You of all people!”

 

Izuku looked behind him. He turned back and dropped down, swinging his leg in an arc to make Katsuki fall forward, but he caught him and took off.

 

“Ow, Deku, what? Let me go--fuck!” Katsuki demanded, shoving the other in the shoulder. Izuku held firm, once again darting through and around buildings, going back the way they came.

 

20 minutes .

 

“Enough already!” Izuku bellowed. It was a shock, enough to make Katsuki shut up because it was the loudest he’s ever heard Izuku be when he wasn’t crying.

 

“Kacchan, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you but enough ! You’d rather lose? You! ? You did the same thing at the sports festival but you’re not quitting this time! I won’t let you! Aren’t you the one who never gives up on winning?”

 

“Deku--fuck!” Katsuki grunted, blasting away a large chunk of rubble that came hurling at them. When the smoke cleared, Katsuki spotted All Might chasing them, picking up things from benches to road signs to throw at them. Katsuki cleared each one away, cursing when a rock scraped his cheek. “Just keep running, fuck!”

 

And so run they did.

 

Izuku told him that he couldn’t keep going for much longer, so he set off another stun grenade and they ducked into a convenience store, about two streets over from where they started.

 

They watched All Might run past whilst hiding behind a fake chip display.

 

“I...I can’t think of a way to beat All Might and I can’t think of a way to escape him either,” Izuku panted. “but why don't you try using me before you give up?”

 

And that particular phrase brought up memories of things and dreams he couldn’t afford to think about at that moment in time, so he locked it up in a little box in the corner of his mind to angst about later.

 

Katsuki didn’t feel like arguing with him anymore. Wordlessly, he undid the buckles holding one of his gauntlets to his sleeves and thrust it into Izuku’s arms. “Alright, listen up.”



“I’ll go first, you follow.”

 

Izuku nodded hesitantly and gave him a bright grin.

 

And with that, he ducked out of the store, spotting All Might a few hundred meters ahead. Quietly, he stuck to the sides and sprinted forward, making sure his steps were as silent as they could be. When he was close enough, he called out, “Where do you think you’re looking!?”

 

And launched himself forward.

 

All Might turned to him, smile still in place. “An attack from behind, huh?”

 

He made sure to keep his left side hidden and set off an explosion. When All Might surged forward to grab him, he jumped back. The teacher’s face appeared out of the smoke, right in front of him, and he smirked.

 

“DEKU!”

 

Bingo.

 

“FIRE!”

 

“I already said it earlier, we won’t be able to run without fighting him. An enemy with that much speed, and it doesn’t matter how you try to run and hide. That’s why I wanted to fight him in the first place.”

 

“But...but it wouldn’t even be a fight against someone like All Might.”

 

Katsuki groaned. “ Listen . You say I don’t listen but you’re even worse, you know?”

 

Izuku apologized with a red face and was quiet after that. “I know from earlier that half assed explosions won’t do shit, so we need maximum power at zero distance.”

 

Izuku grabbed his chin, deep in thought. Then, “I think I have an idea.”

 

Katsuki ducked, trying to avoid the brunt of the explosion when it went off.

 

Then, he ran. It was risky, he had to run past Izuku and All Might in order to get to the exit, but it was his only chance.

 

17 minutes .

 

He took off, propelling himself over All Might with an explosion, soaring over Izuku, who stood there stunned like an idiot.

 

“Run, dumbass!” he shouted, rolling his eyes at the way Izuku jumped before following. He didn’t have enough power or energy to propel himself again, so he hit the ground running. All Might was still fighting off the effects of the blast. They ran neck and neck, pushing themselves harder the closer the exit got.

 

Izuku chanced a glance back and blanched at the sight he was met with. “Kacchan, he’s gone!”

 

“Fuck! If he catches up, I’ll launch you with my bracer!”

 

All Might appeared between them, amused. “Oh? And then what?”

 

Reflexively, Katsuki brought his arm up and began to pull the trigger, but All Might was faster, gripping his arm and crushing his gauntlet like a piece of paper. It bent and shattered in his hold, and the man laughed, like it was funny. The sweat he had stored dripped down his arm, a mockery of his failure. That was his last resort.

 

He threw Katsuki down and held him with a foot on his back when he tried to get back up. He couldn’t even reach forward to get a rock to throw, because his arms were behind him with his palms to the sky.

 

Fuck.

 

He felt tears cloud his vision.

 

They were so close, fuck.

 

Katsuki’s face was pressed into the pavement, so he couldn’t see what was going on, but it sounded like he got Izuku too. Of course he did.

 

“Using your maximum power flame to repel me away while slipping off to the gate. It seems that was your response, but now your maximum flame’s gone,” he said, digging his heel into Katsuki’s back.

 

“It’s the end of the line.”

 

Katsuki clenched his fist, scowling at how wet his glove was--wait.

 

Without thinking, he set off a spark, a tiny one, but it was enough. It set off an explosion, a huge one, big enough to send All Might falling backwards. His hand throbbed painfully, probably burnt, but he didn’t care. They couldn’t waste time.

 

He stood on shaking legs and limped over to Izuku, grabbing him by the hood.

 

“I’m flinging you.”

 

“Wait, I thought you didn’t--”

 

“I don’t care, I’m doing it!”

 

Izuku shook his head, protest on his lips, but Katsuki hauled him up. He couldn’t do too much without burning himself, but he had to try. Without another word, he lifted Izuku up over his head, ignoring his warnings and threw him with a blast. But of course, just as he thought they’d made it, All Might came soaring above Izuku, punching him from the air into the asphalt.

 

“Son of a--” Katsuki began to swear. Without his gauntlets on, he could do more. It wasn’t advised, as they protected him from doing too much and getting burned--probably why it burned so much when he used his quirk just then--but they were seriously out of options. It was risky, but you couldn’t take on someone like All Might and not take any risks.

 

While their teacher’s back was turned, he sent a supersized blast his way, biting his tongue at the throbbing in his hands.

 

“Deku! GO!”

 

He charged forward, intercepting All Might’s attempts to down Izuku, arriving just under him and setting off another one just below his neck. He felt it in the air when Izuku activated his quirk, which meant he’s be arriving at the exit soon. All Katsuki had to do--

 

All Might was too strong. He reached through the heat of the explosion and tackled Katsuki to the ground, hand on his face again . But no, he wouldn’t give up.

 

Aren’t you the one who never gives up on winning?

 

He wouldn’t bow. He wouldn’t bend to anyone, not All Might, not Izuku, not even himself.

 

It was getting hard to breathe again, with his face covered and pressure on his torso, but he wouldn’t give up.

 

I won’t give in.

 

“Sleep Bakugou, my boy. Put those self wrecking ways of yours to sleep, too.”

 

If I give you this time, you better do something with it, nerd.

 

He grabbed the wrist of the man he’d looked up to ever since he was a child, of his teacher, one of his mentors, and sent a silent fuck you . He seethed. All Might didn’t know anything . None of them did.

 

He activated his quirk again, not even registering the burning of his already blistered skin. He bit the skin in between All Might’s thumb and forefinger, enough to taste iron, and did it again. And again, and again. The pain didn’t matter.

 

No matter how strong you are, unless you have some type of heat resistant skin quirk, a person could only take so much heat on their skin. Especially if they aren’t used to it. That’s what he was counting on.

 

All Might withdrew his arm with a curse, and Katsuki shouted, “Quick, go! Go, you fucking dweeb...! Even if I bend and fold and choose to twist myself into a pretzel to win, if I can’t even do this much then I couldn’t stand it! It’d drive me insane!”

 

He felt it. Izuku had recharged and was ready to run. Katsuki was completely done. He meant it this time. His hand was burnt beyond anything recognizable and he couldn’t risk any more without risking blowing it off. Everything hurt, but he’d done all that he could.

 

He lost. Katsuki hated losing. He tried his best but his best wasn’t enough. At least they’d pass, though. If they didn’t pass, Katsuki was going to kill Izuku. He’d actually kill him. As long as they’d pass…

 

And Katsuki was out like a light.

 

*

 

Izuku was laying on one of the beds Recovery Girl had set up for after the exams. He’d gotten checked out along with Katsuki and the recovery process started, so they had to take it easy. Katsuki was still out of it, but Recovery Girl assured him that it wasn’t anything too serious.

 

Speaking of…

 

He allowed himself to glance at the other, relieved to see the burns on his hand starting to heal a little already. But then, he frowned, remembering the day’s events. He thought he and Katsuki were getting somewhere. He thought they were slowly becoming friends. But then why did he revert back to the way he used to be?

 

Old habits die hard, Izuku guessed.

 

He stood, wincing at the soreness in his back and legs, and slowly hobbled over to the other’s bed, watching him sleep soundly.

 

(“Bro, that’s kind of weird.”

 

“Shut up, you know what kind of bullshit they went through, let him have this.”)

 

Katsuki always was peaceful in his sleep, ever since they were kids. He never looked angry or upset, just peaceful and content. Izuku wondered if he’d ever willingly show that side to him or if he’d have to look forward to moments like these, where he could know Katsuki was at peace and observe quietly.

 

He sat down on the edge of the cot gently. With a sigh, he reached out to brush the hair off Katsuki’s forehead, but he hesitated. Would he let me do this ? If he was awake ? Maybe.

 

He did let Izuku hold his hand.

 

Softly, ever so softly, he brushed the hair back from Katsuki’s forehead and cheeks. His skin is warm . He could feel the soft puffs of air against his palms and he smiled softly. I’m kind of an idiot, aren’t I?

 

He let his fingers lightly rub over the soft skin of Katsuki’s cheeks, red blooming in his cheeks when they accidentally brush his lips.

 

Which were also soft.

 

A little chapped, but soft.

 

Oh God. He shouldn’t be doing this.

 

But his heart is a fickle, traitorous thing. It mocks him as it pounds away in his chest and Izuku feels drunk and giddy off the high of the possibility.

 

Can I…?

 

He cupped Katsuki’s cheek softly, ever so softly, and the skin felt smooth and warm underneath his palm. The same warmth, the same fire from the heat of Katsuki’s skin spread to the tips of his fingertips and it took every ounce of control he harbored in his body not to scream. It felt the same as the day he’d been allowed into the other’s room, into his personal space and he’d dared to touch then.

 

When Katsuki didn’t wake up, Izuku swept his thumb over Katsuki’s lower lip again, and then his own, and then back again. It dipped under the pressure. Perhaps it’s because Katsuki was sleeping and dreaming that it was someone else touching his face, but he murmured and turned his face into Izuku’s touch, and for the briefest of seconds every nerve ending in Izuku’s body came alive with the sensation when he presses his lips into Izuku’s palm.

 

He strained to listen for the sound of footsteps, and when there were none, he caressed them with his pointer finger and giggled softly.

 

(He’d feel like a real creep for this later, but in that moment, he enjoyed it.)

 

He wondered if…

 

He bent down until he was hovering over the other. If he moved just a little bit--

 

“No!” he whispered harshly to himself, immediately standing up and fleeing back to his bed. You can’t do that--never do that again. You can’t do that to someone while they’re asleep.

 

His face heated up even further thinking about it. If he was an awful person, he could have. But he tried not to be an awful person, so he didn’t.

 

But he could.

 

“Nope,” he sang, covering his red ears. “No, I refuse.”

 

He took one look and was back in record time. He bit his lip, pensive, but just decided to settle with a light press on the other’s cheek. He exhaled, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart.

 

*

 

“This is stupid,” Katsuki complained, brushing his sweaty bangs out of his face. Katsuki and Ochako had been ordered to stay after school for their so called ‘remedial’ obligations. “Why the hell would you make us fight if we got in trouble for fighting in the first place?”

 

Ochako was in a similar position, hunched over with her hands on her knees, when she voiced her agreement. “I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make sense,” she panted, wiping a bead of sweat from her brow.

 

Ishiyama Ken, formally known as Cementoss, was one of the more calm and level headed authorities at U.A. This meant he also doubled as the go to for any sort of student discrepancies. He’d been in charge of overseeing the two’s remediation and reporting everything back to Nedzu.

 

“This is to--”

 

“Yea, yea, enough with the ‘strengthen the bond’ zen hippie bullshit. Why are we doing this?”

 

Cementoss shook his head in a mix between disappointment and frustration. “This is the fastest method possible. I don’t really agree with this part so much, but the Board wants to see a certain amount of progress in a ridiculous amount of time, and this is the only way I know how to do it.”

 

“But why ,” Ochako demanded. “If this is what we were going to do, you should have just let us finish the first time!”

 

She was cranky, having taken up a few extra shifts on weekdays despite her mother’s warnings without eating any breakfast and running on two hours of sleep due to a japanese literature essay gone tragically wrong.

 

So yes, Ochako wasn’t in the best of moods.

 

“We’re trying to release as much tension as we can before the real activities begin,” Cementoss explained patiently. “The more frustrated we are before you begin, the harder it’ll be to make any progress.”

 

Katsuki cracked his neck with a hiss. “Can’t we just go at some punching bags or something?”

 

“No.”

 

Falling to her knees, Ochako tipped her head to the heavens and groaned. “Can we please take a break?”

 

Cementoss gave her a critical look, brow twitching in concern, before nodding his assent. “I think that’s enough for today.”

 

A few seconds later, a water bottle each was placed by their heads, which Ochako chugged gratefully.

 

Both kids fell to the ground, Katsuki on his front and Ochako from her knees to her side. “How long has it been?” she asked, breath still labored.

 

“Fifteen minutes.”

 

“Fuck sake!” came Katsuki’s enraged exclamation a few feet away. “I wanna go home.”

 

Cementoss warranted them both with a drawn out sigh in response. He suggested that they begin with their next activity, which was met with more cursing and grumbling, but he assured them both that they wouldn’t need to move from their positions for the time being.

 

“What we have to do next can get a little heated, so it’s good that we got a lot of that negative energy out first,” the teacher began. “Are you ready?”

 

“No.”

 

“Not really.”

 

“Great!”

 

He told them to do one simple thing: talk.

 

Ochako was confused, seeing as if they were to just talk, couldn’t they have started with that? She voiced these thoughts but was only met with a cryptic ‘ You’ll see. ’. They were assured that nothing would leave this room, unless it was detrimental or dangerous to themselves or others and that they could talk freely.

 

It took a minute of painfully awkward silence before Ochako was the one to speak.

 

“I don’t like you.”

 

Katsuki snorted sarcastically. “Yea, no kidding. I don’t like you either, Round Face.”

 

“My face isn’t round!” Ochako defended, huffing indignantly. “Yours is just stupidly angular.”

 

Katsuki scoffed and sent a finger in her direction. “Fuck off.”

 

Another stretch of awkward silence.

 

Katsuki would’ve rather been anywhere else than in some room at school after hours talking his problems out. He wasn’t a talk it out kind of guy. If anything had to be said, he’d usually let his fists and Quirk do the talking.

 

But he knew that if he didn’t comply, he’d have to face Nedzu and the board--and probably be expelled, which he didn’t feel like doing--but y’know who cares about that crucial detail? Logic was not something necessary to begin with anyway.

 

(“Dude.”

 

“...”

 

Dude. ”)

 

So,--

 

(“No man, we’re not gonna just skip over how you blatantly lied about why you did it--”

 

“Shut up! I’m trying to hear how this all went down!”

 

“You were there --”)

 

--he swallowed his pride, something somehow becoming increasingly easier and more difficult at the same time, and at least pretended to care.

 

“Even at the entrance exams you acted like this big hotshot and it only got worse when school actually started,” Ochako said. She shifted once more so that she was lying on her back and looking at the harsh florescent light. “And you were awful to Deku, who’s a friend I really care about and it just rubbed me the wrong way.”

 

“You sure this doesn’t have to do with your crush on him?” Katsuki fired back.

 

A tint of pink colored her cheeks. “That has nothing to do with this! Besides, I don’t even--”

 

A harsh laugh cut her off. “Are you kidding me?” Katsuki asked, incredulous. He rolled onto his back and linked his fingers behind his head, crossing one leg over his knee. “You’ve been all over him since this term started.”

 

Katsuki couldn’t see her face from his position, but he was pretty sure her cheeks were a violent shade of red at this point and that she was practically steaming from the ears.

 

“Don’t.”

 

“Why not,” Katsuki demanded, casual. “That’s where this shit started. You were mad or something because he wouldn’t leave me alone so you--”

 

“And what of it?” Ochako asked shakily, wringing her hands together. “What if I like him? You’re still cruel and even if I didn’t have feelings--which I don’t --I would feel the same way.”

 

“Doubt it.”

 

“For the last time, I don’t like him!” Ochako practically screeched, flinging her discarded water bottle across the room. It bounced off the wall opposite her and landed on the floor with a solid clunk!

 

“That excuse is getting kind of old,” Katsuki hummed. “Try again.”

 

“You wanna talk about excuses? You keep pressuring me to admit something but you can’t be honest with yourself,” Ochako spat.

 

“The fuck is that supposed to--”

 

“‘ Don’t even try it, ’” she repeated in a high pitched voice, a clear mockery of what Katsuki said a minute ago. He growled low in his throat. “You go on and on about how I have a thing for him, but have you seen yourself?”

 

Katsuki’s voice got caught in his throat. “I don’t know what the hell--”

 

“Who sounds old now?” Ochako sneered, cutting him off. “You think no one can see what’s going on? You follow each other around like lost puppies and share these...these looks !”

 

Katsuki choked on his own spit. “What--”

 

“You feed each other, hold hands, disappear and show back up together, and he hangs off of you all the time! For freaks sake, you let him sleep on you on a park bench! That’s what .”

 

There was a split second of Katsuki wondering how the hell she knew that and what she was playing at, but his temper stamped it out with a sharp glare in her direction.

 

He immediately went on the defensive. “That’s none of your damn business.”

 

“But it is my business! News flash, moron: I work Saturday nights at the convenience store across from the park.” Ochako exploded. In a flash, she stood up and began pacing back and forth. “It’s always ‘Kacchan’ this and ‘Kacchan’ that and it’s driving me up a freaking wall!”

 

She began tugging at her hair in frustration. “You made it my business whenever Deku came back to me and Iida looking devastated after he was done talking to you! I had to sit through him questioning himself and wondering why you hate him so much so many times and it’s so annoying!” she rounded on him and pointed an accusing finger in his direction. “You--you bully !”

 

With a snarl, Katsuki was up and on his feet again. “Why are you so freaking obsessive--”

 

“Oh boo hoo, bare your teeth like the animal you act like you are. I’m not scared of you and I’m not obsessive. You’re just so caught up in your emo Twilight ‘oh-woe-is-me’--” and okay, that kind of hurt a little-- “mess that you see it that way!”

 

Katsuki took a step forward. “Well you’re just too freaking nosy--”

 

Ochako mirrored him. “And you’re a jerk--”

 

“Say that again, I fucking dare you--”

 

“You’re. A. Jerk !”

 

“You wanna go again?”

 

“Go right ahead, since you apparently can’t control yourself--”

 

“Do you really wanna get your ass beat three times in a row? Fine by me--”

 

“Fine!” Ochako returned, wiping her brow and stepping forward.

 

Fine! ” Katsuki parroted. His palms began to spark.

 

Before things could get too out of control, a large concrete wall rose beneath the two, cutting off their advances. Cementoss regarded them both with an unimpressed look. “That’s enough,” he reprimanded. “Both of you sit down.”

 

Ochako huffed and sat with her back to the newly formed wall, hunched over her lap with her chin in her palm. On the other side, Katsuki sat down where he was. He leaned back onto his hands and stretched his legs out.

 

There was a tense stretch of silence, before another sigh was heard and Cementoss took his own position on the floor directly in front of the concrete. “So, from what I hear, this entire altercation happened because of...boy troubles?”

 

“No!” they both screeched in unison.

 

Cementoss didn’t look like he believed them, but he didn’t say anything. “...Okay. Well let’s backtrack then.”

 

He glanced over the two students in front of him. “So there seems to be a lot of stress,” he continued cautiously sending a pointed look in Ochako’s direction, “and a lot of anger,” he finished, now looking at Katsuki.

 

“So let’s start there. Since you seem more open minded, let’s start with you Uraraka.”

 

Ochako was conflicted. On one hand, she didn’t want to lay herself bare to a teacher she barely knew and a peer she couldn’t trust all too well.

 

(Even though on the multiple chances Katsuki was given to expose her, he didn’t, so maybe she should have given him a bit more credit on this matter but she digresses.)

 

On another hand, she was tired of not speaking up. Maybe it would do some good. It’s not like anything would leave this room, right? What she said wouldn’t burden anyone. It wouldn’t burden her parents.

 

Ochako kept her eyes on the ground as she spoke.

 

“I don’t know what stresses me out,” she confessed quietly. “I guess it’s a lot of things? Maybe I’m easily worked up or something, I don’t know.”

 

She punctuated her statement with a self deprecating laugh. “My family is kind of poor. It’s really hard paying for school in the city and still being able to afford other things, so I cover what I can.”

 

“Do you have a job?” Cementoss probed. Ochako nodded.

 

“Yea. I, uh…” she clenched the fist that was in her lap and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “I work weekends at this corner store and I stock inventory for a grocery store some nights.”

 

(Most nights.)

 

“It’s alright, I guess. It’s enough to get by, anyway.”

 

(Barely, she might add, but what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.)

 

Cementoss was quiet after that. He scratched his chin in thought and hummed. Ochako didn’t say anything either, and Katsuki had been pretty much mute up until that point because there wasn’t much to say.

 

“Do you have anxiety?” Katsuki suddenly spoke up. “It’s like when you panic real bad. I think Deku has it or some shit.” Ochako jumped, and in her shock, knocked her elbow against the cement behind her. With a hiss, she bit her lip and hesitated before answering,

 

“I think so,” she answered truthfully. She rubbed her elbow slowly before continuing. “Sometimes it just gets too much and I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s like my thoughts get muddled and my emotions go into overdrive. I don’t think I used to be like this.”

 

She sighed.

 

“I hope not, at least.”

 

“Have you talked to your parents about quitting?” the teacher asked gently.

 

Ochako opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by her phone ringing in her bag by the door. She held up a finger and stood up before jogging over to get it. Upon seeing the missed call and following text messages, she began to zip up her bag and gather her things together.

 

“I’m sorry sensei, but I really have to go now.”

 

Cementoss put his palms to the floor and began retracting the wall he put up. “Is everything okay?” he asked. Ochako bobbed her head in confirmation and bowed.

 

“I don’t mean to cut this session short, but this is really important. I’ll try to think of something to make up for it later,” she promised. And with that, she was out the door.

 

Cementoss turned to Katuski, ready to try to get him to open up, but he was packing his things too. At the teacher’s incredulous look, Katuski huffed.

 

“It’s been an hour. I’ve done my part and now I’m gone. Bye,” he said shortly with a salute, and then he was gone too. The teacher sighed and made a note in his head to tell Nedzu later. This was going to be a long week, he could tell.