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Hunting The Past

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Katsuki stood amidst the fallen corpses of his clients. Former clients now, to be more precise. His hand clutched his phone hard and his body shook with an unsatisfied rage, a fire that was just beginning to burn with nothing stopping it from growing to the point of engulfing his very being.

Every fucking time.

He's known for being one of, if not the, best bodyguards in the United States’ north west region. Surprising, given his young age of twenty-three, yet at the same time unsurprising given his training. He worked very hard to get where he was career-wise. He didn't put all that effort in for it to blow up in his face as much as has been happening recently.

He brought his phone up to his face again, loosening his grip and feeling a small pain once the pressure on his skin was released. The glowing screen still had those words on them. Each time it ranged from a taunt to an apology when he got a message from this person.

u can take the rest of the night off now

He never saw anything when it happened either. There was never anyone in the vicinity but himself and the people he was supposed to guard. He could be walking his client from a building to their car and they would be shot in the head. One time he even watched a person he was guarding take a cup from the cabinet in their own home, fill it with water from the sink and fall over dead from poison after drinking it.

How did this killer always get by him? He's asked other people who he works with if anything strange has ever happened to their high profile clients before and they never have anything for him. It was like the person was targeting him specifically.

His phone buzzed again and he opened the new message. His eyes narrowed and his grip tightened around the device once again.

plz leave so i dont have to kill u too

He could feel his mind working a mile a minute at this point. Why were they asking him to leave this time? Why were they trying to be so polite after killing a room full of people? A few other things ran through his mind, but the one that stood out in front of all others...

"Who the fuck do you think you are?" Katsuki questioned the message itself. He knew the person sending it wouldn't be able to hear him but he could hardly refrain from blurting the thought out. "You think you can kill me?!"

His grip caused a small crack in his phone and he stopped himself before the device was completely broken. When he moved the phone to his pocket he could feel the indent left in his skin from the hold on it. A quick glance showed the red marks left behind, the same shape and size as the sides of his phone, and he looked around the room again.

He was protecting a group of clients while they had a meeting this time. Not an uncommon job. Underground leaders of gangs, mobs and other types of groups would seek such protection when meeting with each other. Often the bodyguard could act as a sort of 'mediator' should things get too heated. Mediator, in this case, being the one who simply makes sure none of them harm each other without threat of being grievously injured themselves.

One was crushed to death under a giant stag's head that had fallen off the wall above his chair, another poisoned from his own cup of scotch, the third impaled by a pool cue that was somehow sent flying across the room and the last shot in the back of the head during the chaos.

His phone vibrated again. Another message.

i rly need u to leave plz

"What? Are you fucking in here right now?" Katsuki looked over his shoulder with a maniacal grin. He could put an end to all of this tonight. "Come kill me then. Come right on out and let's fucking settle this."

He spun around in a circle, his head darting every which way with that psychotic, ear-to-ear grin plastered on his face. He couldn't find anybody that was ever willing to challenge him anymore, so this would be more than welcome. He's been aching for a fight for a long, long time. "Come on. Far be it from me to back down from the first asshole with the balls to try me. Quit being a fuckin' bitch and come out."

His phone vibrated again, but instead of checking it he placed it on the table next to one of the bodies. He had little interest in a conversation now. All he wanted was to catch the person who has been making his life hell for the past few months.

"You can see me, right? Obviously you can because you know I'm still in the room. So you can probably see how fucking pissed off I am right now. And I know you can fucking hear me because you keep texting me. So you can obviously hear how fucking pissed off I am, too. You want to talk? Come fuckin' talk." Another vibration. Katsuki kept his back to the phone and cracked his knuckles while walking around the room. Words wouldn't satisfy him now. His entire being ached for the chance to put an end to this game of hide n' go seek. "And stop with the goddamn messages you worthless motherfucking shitrag! I said come talk. I'll stay here all fucking night until you come out. You want me to leave, so there's something in here you want, right? Come and fucking get it."

The sound of his phone vibrating on the table caused him to flip the entire piece of furniture and look around the room again, his grin disappearing and his fists clenching. He just needed a sign for where they were. The smallest hint. When his breathing calmed some and he went completely still he got the hint he was looking for.

Tap tap tap

The faintest tapping could be heard inside the room. His head spun around to the direction the noise could be heard in. A second or two passed by after the noise halted and his phone vibrated on the other side of the room. He slowly made his way over to where the noise originated from. A corner of the room with not much in it. A coat rack, television and an open window.

Outside? Katsuki leaned out of the window, looking in every direction for someone or something, but spotted nothing.

He has to be in the room somewhere. A cursory glance upwards brought into view a ventilation duct on the top of the wall. He stood on the chair to reach the duct and his fingers wrapped around the cover and pulled roughly, but it came off with surprising ease. He examined the cover then, seeing the screws were already undone.

More tapping, definitely coming from inside the vent, and his phone vibrated again.

"Don't try to talk me out of beating your ass black and blue now you shit. I know you're in there," Katsuki told him, his voice echoing off the metallic walls. He poked his head in and almost fell backwards when a gunshot went off. The sound rang in his ears incessantly even after it was over and he could've sworn he saw someone inside the small space when the gun flashed. "Fuck. You're really trying to kill me, huh? Whatever. Use the fucking gun if you want. Just come out here. Because that metal scrap of shit isn't going to save you. I've had plenty of shitrags try to shoot me and none of them ever got me before."

More tapping ensued and Katsuki clenched his jaw. He refused to go get his phone right now. This was the closest he's ever been to figuring out who this person was and he wasn't about to let them out of his reach now. Instead of getting his phone, which vibrated yet again, he snatched up the coat rack and jammed it in the ventilation duct, feeling it hit something soft. He pulled back and jammed it forward again, feeling resistance this time. The person trying to push it away no doubt.

"Look here assface; you may have a gun keeping me from reaching in there and pulling you out by your fucking throat, but that doesn't mean I won't stand here and fucking jab you with shit until you come out. You can't fucking live in there forever." He heard a small sigh come from inside the air duct and the sound of shuffling. Katsuki grinned again and pulled the coat rack back, waving his hand in front of the ventilation duct's entrance. If they were going to shoot again it'd be better if it hit his hand instead of his head.

"Oi, you finally coming out? About fucking time." The moment he finished his sentence he figured out the sound was of them moving away from him, rather than towards him. He jammed the coat rack back inside furiously, hearing it clang against the metal inside. "Get the fuck back here you worthless sack of fucking shit! I'm not fucking done with you!"

He abandoned the coat rack in the vent and ran to the door, snatching his phone off the floor as he went, to enter the hallway. He stopped and listened carefully, trying to hear where the other person went, but heard nothing. He took a guess and crossed over into the next room, kicking the door open, and spotted them frantically crawling back inside the vent.

Katsuki dashed across the room to grab them, stopping short of the vent when another gunshot went off from inside. He couldn't get a hold of them if they stayed in an enclosed space like that with a gun. He'd never be able to maneuver around in there.

The tapping started again.

"I'm not looking at my goddamn phone! Talk with your fucking mouth if you want me to listen!" Katsuki slammed his fist into the wall, baring his teeth and glaring daggers at the duct. The tapping stopped the moment he yelled and he waited for a verbal response, but only silence followed. The fuck is with this guy?

After some time he peeked his head in front of the vent, staring in and seeing the figure of the person in the air duct. It was too dark to make out any features and it felt like he was staring at a silhouette instead of an actual person. Though he could very clearly make out the pistol that was currently aimed directly at his forehead. But it wasn't being fired, so that was a start.

Now if I can just get my hands on them...

They began typing on their phone again. He could just barely see that it was one of those prepaid phones that people generally disposed of after use. The brightness of their screen was dimmed as low as possible so as to not light them up too clearly, though he could vaguely make out the bandana they were using to cover most of their face and their big eyes focused on the screen.

Brown eyes, Katsuki mused. He tried to make out any other noticeable features to remember, but couldn't find anything else in the dim light.

Even while they were typing the gun stayed pointed directly at his head. When he tried to move slowly the typing stopped and the weapon followed him precisely. When he stopped moving the tapping began again.

They pushed the phone forward, next to their weapon, for Katsuki to read the words.

plz look at ur messages. i dont want to fight

"I said if you wanna fucking talk to do it with your shit eating mouth," Katsuki growled. The unknown person shook their phone in their hand as if to simply repeat the message it had on it.

Katsuki tried very hard not to make a grab for them for multiple reasons. They were out of reach and he would have to jump pretty far into the air duct to get them, meaning they would have more than enough time to react. They were still pointing a gun at his head, which could kill him instantly the second he tried to jump in. But most of all they seemed reluctant to actually kill him, as they've clearly had more than enough time to do it in the past minute. That last fact intrigued him regardless of how pissed off he still was about them killing a good chunk of his core business.

He begrudgingly pulled out his phone and checked the many messages that were sent to him earlier. Six text messages awaited him, all from the same number.

i dont want to kill u. plz just leave

i dont want to talk. i want u to leave

ur too scary to talk to when ur this angry

look u even flipped a table how do u expect me to come out after that i bet u want to kick my butt

plz go away b4 someone gets hurt

do u ever listen? ur so mean just go away!!

Katsuki stared at the messages incredulously. In a nutshell: They threatened to kill him, changed their mind and didn't want to kill him, refused to talk, continued messaging him even after refusing to talk, vaguely threatened him again? Maybe?? Then called him mean after they were the one who brutally murdered four people within ten seconds of each other.

He glanced up from his phone, his mind still swimming in utter disbelief, at the person whose gun was finally lowered and the phone returned to their front. They were staring back at him expectantly, lying on their back in the vent with the gun resting between their legs and pointing downwards. A sign of peace, perhaps.

"What the fuck are you expecting here? You've been killing the people I'm supposed to be fucking protecting. You're literally the opposition to my whole fucking career. You think I won't get fucking pissed? You think I'm going to let you waltz the fuck on out of here without any retaliation at all? I'm not your fucking partner or anything. It's my job to stop assholes like you and right now it's my job to take you to the police. Preferably alive if you'd like to avoid me murdering your ass tonight."

They started typing again and Katsuki slammed his fist on the ventilation duct's wall. The pistol was snapped up to attention and aiming at him again, but he ignored it after hearing they had no intention of killing him as long as he didn't give them a reason to. Instead he continued to glare ahead at the silhouette. "Why don't you talk with your fucking voice?! Are you a fucking mute or what?" They waved the phone into view again, Katsuki growling the whole time they typed, and he read it over with great annoyance.

theres something in the other room i need and i cant afford to be imprisoned at this time. i cant let u know who i am right now and i would very much like for both of us to stay alive. im sorry for causing u trouble but plz trust me and leave now

"I'm not fucking leaving until you come out. I have you trapped and there's no way you're getting away you fucking shit."

Another sigh was heard from the air duct. Katsuki watched them pull their phone back and begin typing again.

sorry about this

He felt a sting in the back of his shoulder and he spun around, ready to take down whoever was there. He spotted a small, old woman holding a tranquillizer gun in the doorway and staring at him. Then as it clicked in his mind what was about to come out of this he slipped his phone into his pocket and slammed his fist against the wall. The strike was weak and the sound reflected that fact. His body was already beginning to feel heavy and he found it hard to continue standing.

"You fuck... fucking," he tried to say. He dropped to his knees and lurched forward, catching himself from falling by placing his palms on the wooden floor. He fought the urge to close his eyes, but his entire body felt so heavy now. His arms were beginning to feel weak and he tried to hold himself up as best he could until he fell forward and landed flat on the floor. His eyes fluttered open and shut as he fought to keep awake, but to no avail. The world was beginning to blur and everything was going dark. "Assholes..."

"Goodness he has quite the mouth on him," the little old lady stated while entering the room. She flipped Katsuki over and examined him. "He's very stubborn and heated. Are you sure about him, Midoriya?"

Izuku crawled out from the air duct feet first. When he landed on the floor he pulled the beanie covering his hair off and pulled down the bandana covering his mouth.

"Of course. Have I ever steered us wrong before?" She glowered up at the him and Izuku quickly waved his hand dismissively, looking away. "D-don't answer that. Just get the car and let's take him to his home before he wakes up. I'll carry him, granny."

The old woman smacked him across the face with the tranquilizer gun, jabbing a finger in his direction. "I told you not to call me that!"

"R-right! Sorry, sorry!"

 


 

Katsuki awoke to harsh banging on the door to his room. His head was pounding and his eyes felt like they were on fire. He blinked rapidly and tried to hone in on the voice that was yelling at him through the door while rubbing his eyes. No matter how much he rubbed the burning wouldn't subside. It was a horrid feeling and he could only guess his eyes had dried out during his slumber for one reason or another.

"-upid brat! You're not sleeping in late again!"

He squinted over at the clock by his bed, attempting to make out the digital numbers through his bleariness.

11:46 AM

The door to his room was kicked open and he flinched at the sound, grabbing his head and glaring at his mother who was closing in on him. Her scowl and heavy footsteps accentuated her growing anger at seeing him still in bed. It was rare for him to sleep so late into the morning and so the worst was automatically assumed of him.

"I don't care how hungover you are. You don't skip out on meetings. Get downstairs now."

"Not fuckin' hungover," Katsuki drawled out, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and pulling at his V-neck shirt because why is it so fucking hot. He attempted to stand and stumbled forward, catching himself on the nightstand. "Tranquilizer."

His mother's expression changed instantly. Her brows unfurrowed and she came forward to help him stand up straight, grabbing his arm and pulling it over her shoulder. He tried to shove her away, believing he didn't need help, but was hardly awake enough to do so yet.

Fucking shit. How strong of a dosage did they use?

"What about your clients?"

"Dead." Katsuki's hoarse voice held no remorse in it. It was beginning to become a normal thing for him to say. More normal than he ever wanted it to be.

His mother clicked her tongue, helping him towards the door and down the stairs to the bar. Before the door to the meeting room was opened he pushed himself away from her, standing on wobbly legs and holding his fists at his sides. He refused to let the others see him in a pitifully weak state when he was supposed to be the best of the bunch. It was bad enough his continued failure would have to be announced and there was no reason to give them more to rub in his face.

She rolled her eyes at his show of 'strength' and pushed the door open, moving to sit at the head of the conference room's table. Her husband was working behind the counter of the bar at the moment, but there was rarely a need to worry about any business so early in the day.

"Hey, Katsuki! Rough night again?" Eijirou called out to him the moment he crossed the threshold into the room.

"Fuck you," Katsuki retorted sharply. He moved slowly to his chair to keep his composure and not let anything seem too out of place. His footsteps were light enough that, even with his heavy combat boots on, everyone could barely hear him at all.

"Seriously, you look like crap. Are you alright?" Denki asked, leaning forward with his elbows on the table to get a better look at Katsuki.

Katsuki pulled his chair out and sat down carefully, giving Denki a harsh glare in response. Everyone dropped the subject with that, knowing if they kept pushing they would just end up angering him.

"Now then," Katsuki's mom began, pulling a few vanilla folders towards herself and opening them. Each contained a plethora of papers and when she opened the first one a few could be seen with Katsuki's name on top. "Starting with Katsuki's clients: As he told me on the way down here, they did not survive the night. So authorities will need to be contacted about them."

Katsuki could feel everyone's eyes on him as his snapped shut and he grit his teeth. He knew if he opened his eyes and looked at any one of them he would instantly snap and in his current sluggish state he wouldn't be able to so much as get out of his seat, let alone start something with anybody here. Though he could feel his body slowly catching up to his mind and soon enough he would be good to go.

"Was it the-"

"Yes," Katsuki cut Eijirou off sharply. Everyone here was fully aware of the person that was picking on Katsuki. None of them have yet to have a run-in with whoever was doing it. "I almost caught the piece of shit, too. I had them trapped and someone came and saved their worthless fucking ass."

"Did you get a look at them? Maybe we can go find them!" Denki suggested, suddenly getting pumped up at the idea of going on a hunt.

"No. They were fucking crawling around in the goddamn air ducts. When I tried to get them they fucking shot at me with a pistol. Motherfucker texted me the whole fucking time, too."

"Wow," Eijirou commented, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. "That's like some spy movie-type stuff. Pretty weak he wouldn't come out and face you straight-up, though."

"Alright boys, we can gossip later. Let's finish the meeting first," Katsuki's mom interrupted. "I will speak with Naomasa after the meeting and inform him of the deaths of Katsuki's clients. Moving on, Denki, have you collected payment for the job from last week yet? I'm tired of the IOUs they're giving."

"No ma'am. I'll speak with them again today and let them know we won't be waiting any longer."

"Good. What of your clients from yesterday afternoon?"

Katsuki's head fell back and he slumped in his chair, tuning out the conversations in front of him. He knew nothing of relevance for himself would be said during this meeting. There was rarely ever a time when something happened that he actually had to pay attention to beyond giving his own reports.

The bell above the door to the bar rung as it opened slowly. A timid looking green haired man in baggy cargo pants, a white T-shirt and red shoes entered. His large eyes travelled around the room, landing on the barkeep behind the counter before he smiled and approached.

"Hi! I heard there's a, um, protection service agency somewhere around here? Am I in the right place?"

"Why, yes. This is the place you're looking for," Katsuki's father answered, giving a warm smile in return. "My wife handles that part of our business though. You'll have to wait until they're done with their meeting in the back to speak with her. Could I offer you a drink while you wait?"

Izuku shook his head while taking a seat on a bar stool. He laid his head in his arms on the counter and closed his eyes, trying to get comfortable while he waited. "No thank you. It's still a bit too early for that. Plus I don't drink much."

"Understandable," Katsuki's father replied, leaving the young man to do as he pleased. He went back to watching the television on the wall behind the counter, flipping through channels. Normally they'd leave it on one or two specific channels but during this time of day when there were little to no customers at all he could watch what he pleased.

Not long after the door to the backroom bursted open, causing the lone customer to sit up straight and stare in that direction, and Katsuki stormed through, yelling over his shoulder at the people still in there.

"Because it's a waste of my fucking time! What the fuck do I need to hear this shit for anyway?!" Katsuki stopped mid-stride when he spotted the other person sitting on the bar stool. They both stared at each other hard, neither backing down from the other, until the man gave a nervous smile suddenly. Katsuki scowled at him in response, shoving one hand in his pocket and turning to face the person. He could see a snake in those big, green eyes. Something that he wanted nothing to do with. Whoever this guy was the innocent face wasn't fooling Katsuki and Katsuki wanted him gone. "What the fuck do you want?"

"Please be nice to our customers, Katsuki. How many times do we need to tell you this?"

"Oh, you're Katsuki Bakugou!" He stood from the bar stool and began making his way over, his eyes taking on a new light upon hearing the person's name. His hand was held out as he approached, waiting for a handshake. "My name is Izuku. It's a pleasure to finally meet-"

Izuku was cut off when suddenly his arm was pulled behind his back. In the span of a second he found himself being pinned on the floor with Katsuki's knee on his upper-back. Izuku fought the smile that tried to creep onto his face. It was both thrilling and scary to see the man he'd heard so much about in action. Obviously it'd have been infinitely better to see him attacking someone other than himself, but this was fine for now.

Then he could feel Katsuki pulling his shirt up and his urge to grin was gone. He didn't bother to struggle, though, as he didn't want to cause more of a scene by fighting him here.

"And just what the fuck is this?" Katsuki questioned while pulling a pistol out from the hem of Izuku's pants. He waved it around in front of Izuku's face, clicking the safety on and off. "Feels too heavy to be empty. Safety was already off. What's up with this shit, huh?"

Katsuki felt the gun snatched out of his hand and glared over his shoulder to the group huddled around them. His mother held the weapon between her index finger and thumb, glowering down at Katsuki until he released Izuku and stood up. Denki helped Izuku up and patted him off.

"Sorry about that. Katsuki is a little... temperamental."

"Fuck you," Katsuki retorted. He'd take a swing at Denki too if he wasn't already in enough trouble as it was.

"You need to calm down, man. You're going to scare off business if you keep this stuff up," Eijirou insisted, putting his hand on Katsuki's shoulder and frowning when Katsuki roughly shrugged it off. "Not everybody is out to get you."

Katsuki's mom clicked the safety on and tossed Izuku's weapon back to him. He caught it, fumbling with the object for a second, and placed it back in the waistband of his pants. His shirt was pulled down to hide it again and he scratched his cheek while looking down at the ground.

"U-um, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset anyone. I-it's just for my pr-protection. I swear," Izuku tried to explain, but Katsuki's mom patted him on the head to try to put him at ease.

"Don't worry about it. If you tried to shoot up this place you wouldn't get very far at all. Now you're clearly not here for a drink, so what do you want?"

Izuku grinned at the woman, his nervousness slowly dissipating. He felt safe around her for some reason. If not only because it seemed like Katsuki was afraid to act out as much as he wanted with this woman around, then because it looked like she was in charge of these guys for more than signing their paychecks. Izuku could only guess she was the bartender's wife that he needed to talk to and nodded his head in Katsuki's direction.

"I want to hire him for a few hours."

"What a fucking surprise," Katsuki droned, shoving his hands into his pockets and heading back into the conference room.

"Good luck," Denki told Izuku, something he told all of Katsuki's new clients. "You'll need it."

Eijirou came by and patted Izuku on the back, leaning in and whispering something to him before leaving with Denki.

Izuku stared over his shoulder at them with furrowed brows. Why would he need luck? Katsuki may be rude, but he's supposed to be the best in the business from what Izuku knew. As long as he stayed professional and did his job there should be no problems at all.

Katsuki's mom waved for him to follow and they both went into the backroom where Katsuki was waiting, leaning back in a chair with his feet up on the table. His mother ignored him, sitting with Izuku on the opposite side of the room and pulling out Katsuki's folder from a filing cabinet directly behind herself.

"I personally don't care too much for the details, but write them down here anyway. It's mostly for organization and legal matters should anything go wrong."

Izuku nodded while taking the pen and form from her, beginning to fill it out where needed. He never thought paperwork would be involved in something like this, but couldn't really argue with them over it. If it was their policy then it was their policy. Although he always pictured it as something as simple as taking one of them with you and, when you're done with them, sending them back with some money.

"Um, it says I need-" Izuku started, but was cut off when the pen was snatched from his hand and Katsuki was already signing his name while hovering over Izuku's back. Izuku tensed up from the closeness, frozen from the feeling of Katsuki's breath on the back of his neck and he had to wonder just how much he was currently overreacting but he was so not used to strangers being this close. He began to relax again the moment Katsuki was crossing the room to sit opposite of them once more. "-your signatures."

Katsuki leaned back in his chair once more, pulling his arms behind his head and closing his eyes. He did his part and didn't care for the rest. He was only here now in case the client had any questions or special requests. His mother slid the paper towards herself and reviewed it, frowning when she saw what was written for the job description.

"Could I interest you in taking one of the others instead of Katsuki for this?"

Katsuki cracked open an eye when he heard this and stared at her. He hadn't bothered reading over the description when he signed but he could easily guess that it must be something important if she was trying to replace him. Because if it was important enough then that meant his client killer would strike again. The other eye opened and his gaze shifted to Izuku, who was staring at him with a half-smile.

"I don't think that'll be necessary. I've only ever heard good things about Katsuki's work and I'm willing to trust him completely for this job," Izuku explained. Katsuki glared at his appraising gaze. It was one thing to be sized up by an enemy or potential ally, but something else entirely to be sized up by some scrawny kid who could barely hold onto his own gun. "Besides, he looks wholly confident and capable to me."

Katsuki placed his hands on his knees and bent forward, narrowing his eyes at the other man. Izuku kept on staring at him without a care in the world and if Katsuki's mother wasn't in the room staring him down and mentally daring him to say something rude to his new client he'd probably have already yelled at the other by now.

Izuku took the chance to walk over to Katsuki, stopping just in front of him and holding his hand out. He grinned from ear to ear and held his other hand behind his back, waiting for Katsuki to grab his hand in a more peaceful manner this time.

"I think I'm really going to enjoy working with you, Katsuki. I hope we can get along really well."

Katsuki watched his mother leave the room. When she was gone he stared up at Izuku, glaring into his eyes. He found it hard not to attack this man on the spot for some reason. There was something about him that just felt... off. Those slightly round and freckled cheeks, that annoying voice, the harmless looking giant fluff of green hair, his easy going and somewhat timid personality. They all felt like beautifully told lies in his face. But worst of all, what Katsuki couldn't get over, the thing that bugged him most of all were those wide green eyes. Most might not notice it right away, but Katsuki sure did. Those eyes move with a precision that betrayed his own personality. As if he was always searching for something and was used to finding his mark every single time. Like he always knew just where to look. The only things genuine about this guy were his stupid smiles and facial expressions.

At this point Katsuki wasn't even convinced his name was Izuku.

Katsuki moved a single finger quickly, a small twitch, to see Izuku's reaction. Izuku's eyes darted directly to Katsuki's finger. Just what Katsuki expected of him. It was his turn to grin with his mother no longer here to protect Izuku. He grabbed Izuku's hand, moving it up and down slowly.

"You don't even need protection, do you?" Katsuki questioned him in a low voice, standing up to loom over Izuku threateningly. "You want me for something else. The fuck kind of idiot do you take me for?" Izuku's smile faltered just a bit and he let go of Katsuki's hand. When he tried to pull away Katsuki's grip tightened and he jerked Izuku closer. They bumped into each other and Katsuki held him there by his hand, glaring down at Izuku's now distressed look. "I asked a fucking question, shitrag. And quit it with the fake fucking innocent act. You're not even scared right now, are you?"

"Of course I'm a little scared right now. For a few reasons in fact. You're probably physically stronger than me," Izuku started, pulling at his still trapped hand to prove his point, and Katsuki quickly took note of the fact Izuku only referred to physical strength. "You seem pretty easily angered, you definitely don't like me, and you're kind of renowned for how dangerous you are. Plus I get kind of nervous when people get this far into my personal space without permission."

Katsuki narrowed his eyes. The first four he could believe without a second thought. The last point made him question whether Izuku was making fun of him right now or not. But he chose to ignore it and get back on topic, shoving Izuku away and standing between him and the only exit when Izuku fell on the floor.

"You still haven't answered the other question."

Izuku frowned up at Katsuki, staying seated on the ground with his hands flat on the floor behind him. "Why would you think I don't need protection? I came here to hire you just for that. I've heard there's some crazy serial killer out here in Seattle and I don't want him to attack us during our meeting. So I got two of the best bodyguards I could find, and you happen to be one of them."

"I doubt that asshole would want anything to do with you," Katsuki said, turning around and walking towards the filing cabinet to pull his folder out. He skimmed over the paper Izuku filled out and grimaced at the signature. "Why the fuck did you write your name in kanji?" Izuku stood up and took one step forward, freezing in place when Katsuki pointed at him without looking up from the paper. "Don't fucking move."

"Do you always place your clients under this much scrutiny?" Izuku asked with amusement laced in his voice. "I'm still getting used to using english and sometimes forget to write in it. I only just moved here recently."

Katsuki side-eyed him for a moment, then returned to reading the document. Nothing else really seemed out of place, although one thing stood out quite clearly from the others.

"You want me to guard government officials? Just who the fuck are you?"

"You ask too many questions. Look, I really need to go right now. But meet me at the location I wrote down on there tomorrow at noon, okay?" Izuku slowly made his way to the door leading out to the bar, holding his hands up in front of himself to show he wasn't trying to pull any tricks. "I promise you'll get to know more about me later. I have a feeling we'll be working together for a long, long while."

Katsuki watched him carefully as he left, still holding the paper in his hand and staying rooted in place. His gaze shifted back down to the document, staring at Izuku's signed name. He could already tell something bad was going to come out of this. He just knew it.

Chapter Text

Katsuki arrived at the location Izuku wrote down three hours early, stopping by the front door and staring up at the large structure. It looked like any other office building. Minus the two people in suits guarding the front door.

He came here early to search the room the meeting would be in for anything that could be used to kill the people in it. It was one thing to let a bunch of underground gangs and misfits die to a serial killer or assassin or whatever the hell this guy was. Katsuki didn't particularly care what he was classified as. Either way they were an asshole to him.

None of the gangs and what not could complain too much while knowing full-well there are people of all types hunting them. It was another thing entirely, however, to let a bunch of government officials be murdered under his protection. It could not only hurt his public reputation but land him in serious hot water if he happens to be the only survivor once again. But Izuku said he had a second bodyguard, so that should make it easier to keep watch at least.

"Katsuki?" Katsuki glanced over his shoulder, keeping his hands in the pockets of his black sweatpants. Izuku could be seen staring at him with questioning eyes from a distance. He quickly approached and grabbed Katsuki's arm, turning him around and leaning in to murmur to him. "What are you doing here so early?"

"I could ask you the same fucking question." Katsuki jerked his arm out of Izuku's grasp and glared at him. "I want to check the room to make sure nothing is turned into a trap or some shit. Tired of that fuckwad always getting one up on me just because I don't have time to check everything."

"That's very admirable but completely unneeded. Security is pretty tight in this building and they keep guards around during the night, too." Izuku grabbed Katsuki again and tried to pull him away, but Katsuki stayed rooted in place.

"If security was tight enough for you to feel safe then you wouldn’t have hired me."

"I meant it’s tight enough that you don’t need to worry about inspecting the room or anything. I think they’d notice if someone tampered with it. I hired you in case someone tries to break in to come after us." Izuku pulled harder but Katsuki didn't budge and he realized he couldn’t force Katsuki to follow him so long as Katsuki didn't want to go without causing a commotion. "Come on. If they see us just standing around here talking in front of the building we're going to look suspicious."

"Then fucking leave. I came to go inside, not stand around and talk all damn day." Katsuki slapped Izuku's hand away and made for the meeting place. Izuku ran to catch up to him and grabbed him by the back of his shirt.

It was obvious he really, really didn't want Katsuki going in there for one reason or another. If Katsuki wouldn't listen to reason then he'd just have to try to issue orders. He could do that with him, right? They had a contract they both signed, so he should be able to tell him what to do as long as the agreement is active. At least until he was done protecting the group.

"Don't you have to listen to me or something? I didn't authorize-"

He was cut off by Katsuki grabbing him by the neck and glaring into his eyes. Katsuki looked as though he were trying to burn a hole straight through Izuku's head with his own eyes and only loosened his grip a little when Izuku gripped his wrist and began gasping for air. Izuku sucked in a large breath and stood on his toes when Katsuki lifted him, trying to touch the ground and staring at Katsuki in surprise.

People around them stopped and moved away, staring at the two to see what was happening, and Izuku refrained from reaching for his gun, not wanting to cause a scene out in public. At the very least he knew Katsuki wouldn’t kill him, as that would be the exact opposite of what he was hired to do, but Izuku couldn’t help feeling annoyance at this stupid attempt at a threat.

"Look here you shit. I don't have to listen to a fucking word you say, so don't you dare try to treat me like I'm your shitty fucking pet dog on a leash that you give an order for it to obey. You get a mercenary if you want that bullshit. My job is to keep you and everyone else in that room alive and if I have to beat your ass unconscious and drag you around to do that then I fucking will." Katsuki dropped him and stared down at Izuku when he fell on his hands and knees. The coughing fit he had from his lungs rapidly filling with air garnered no sympathy from Katsuki at all and Katsuki fought the urge to kick Izuku while the other was down for trying to order him around. "If you try to stop me again I'm kicking your ass down this street and then right back up to the front of this building. I’ll kick your ass up the fucking stairs and to the meeting room if you’re still fucking conscious by then, too."

Izuku looked up and watched Katsuki head for the building, knowing full-well there was no stopping him beyond killing him now. But if he killed Katsuki then that would completely destroy the entire reason he was doing any of this in the first place. He would just have to change how all of this would go down and improvise a little.

Izuku was slowly beginning to realize why that blond guy back at the bar wished him luck with Katsuki yesterday. He was also beginning to realize that, as much as he liked how skilled, talented and smart Katsuki was, as a person he was pretty suckish. But Izuku wasn't going to exclude highly skilled people from his employ simply because their personality was crap. It's just something he would have to work through.

He got up and ran to the building ahead, pulling out his phone as he went and sending a message to someone. He stopped a small ways away and walked the rest of the distance, seeing Katsuki already talking to the guys blocking the door. No doubt they were suspicious of him after Katsuki basically choked him in broad daylight on a busy sidewalk. One of them was talking into an ear piece when Izuku approached and he stopped next to Katsuki.

"It's fine. He's with me," Izuku told them. “He’s here early."

They both gazed at Izuku, looking him over for a brief second and then opening the door. "Please keep him under control on the premises, Mr. Hagakure."

Katsuki scowled at the man’s implication of him even being under Izuku’s control in the first place and Izuku grabbed his wrist, pulling him forward quickly before Katsuki could start something. When they were inside Katsuki snatched his wrist back and followed Izuku to the elevator. Izuku pressed the button for the twenty-fifth floor and the elevator doors closed.

"You keep giving me more and more reasons to not trust you the slightest fucking bit."

Izuku glanced at Katsuki, his face scrunching up in confusion. He cautiously and slowly took a couple of steps away from the other in case Katsuki decided to attack him again. "What did I do? I just helped you get in the building."

"Your surname isn't Hagakure."

Izuku watched Katsuki from the corner of his eyes, inspecting his body language to try to get an idea of what was going on in his head right now. Katsuki seemed to be a very rigid and hard to read person when relatively calm, though. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and stared up at the elevator lights moving slowly though the floor numbers when he couldn’t get anything out of Katsuki’s currently relaxed demeanor. It was somewhat impressive seeing Katsuki flip through his emotions with such ease.

"You can read kanji," Izuku stated with no surprise. Katsuki noted how his tone changed from nervous and small to flat and a bit confident and he had to wonder just how two-faced this guy really was. "I was hoping you couldn't when I signed the papers."

"Why the fuck did you sign your real name then?" Katsuki glowered at Izuku when the other chuckled quietly at his question. Was he even taking this seriously?

"It was actually an honest mistake. My most common alias is Deku and in Kanji that spells the same as Izuku. When I wrote that I just happened to sign my real surname along with it out of habit. I sign a lot of contracts and this was the first one in a while I didn’t mean to sign with my real name." Izuku breathed a soft sigh, causing Katsuki to eye him cautiously. “Between you and me, I thought you'd be a really cool guy when I heard about you, but you're actually kind of an awful jerk. N-no offense honestly, just speaking the truth. I’m sure you have some very redeeming qualities! But I haven’t seen you be nice to a single person since I’ve met you and you clearly hate my guts for one reason or another, so I'm guessing we're not going to become friends or anything. Please don't call me by my real name in here, by the way. Just call me Deku when we’re out in public.

Katsuki stared at Izuku during his little monologue. He didn't know whether to be insulted that Izuku called him an awful jerk, disgusted that Izuku potentially wanted them to become friends, or even more suspicious that he didn't want his real name used here. Maybe a weird combination of all three. His face stayed passive the entire time as he contemplated what was being said, focused mostly on how Izuku would keep saying things about how the two of them would be working together for a long time even though Katsuki didn’t intend to have any contact with him the moment this job was over.

Katsuki found it hard to be even remotely interested in being friends with someone so untrustworthy and secretive. Just the thought of all the lies Izuku has probably managed to spout off at him in the short time they've known each other was enough to piss Katsuki off to the point of wanting to beat the ever living hell out of him.

Still, he smirked when he saw Izuku's eyes dart in his direction for a quick second and Katsuki turned his head to look forward at the elevator doors again.

"You're a cocky little shit." Katsuki still wanted to beat the hell out of this guy, but he held a slight respect for Izuku's cleverness. He, of course, still considered himself far too intelligent to be outsmarted by this guy though. The things Izuku would say just to try to elicit a reaction out of Katsuki for him to observe were pretty ridiculous. “You come up with all that bullshit as you were saying it or what?"

"I meant every word of it actually. And I don’t really think I’m cocky per se. Just… confident. I was taught that confidence is the food of the wise-man but the liquor of the fool." Izuku grinned at Katsuki and rubbed the back of his head. "But I don't think either of us are fools. You actually seem extremely intelligent, rather than the dumb muscle head I thought you’d be."

Katsuki frowned at the insult and pulled his arms up behind his head in a relaxed manner, closing his eyes to showcase his disinterest. "Too bad about your name, though. English isn't my first language, but I've been using it for years now. My mom makes me keep up with a few common languages if I want to continue working for her. She insists on me knowing multiple languages so people can't talk in front of me without my knowing what they're saying. In case someone tries to pull some kind of shit thinking I won’t catch them just because they’re speaking another language right in front of me."

Izuku’s grin died down to a simple smirk. Maybe he could get an actual conversation out of Katsuki without potentially coming to blows. "That's pretty cool. My mentors made me do the same thing when I was young, but when we went our separate ways I didn't bother keeping up with many of the languages. I only really remember the basics for the ones that aren't english now."

Katsuki cracked one eye open halfway and stared at Izuku. Finally something that might sate his ever growing curiosity about this person. "Mentors?"

"Yeah. I had four mentors all my life instead of parents."

Katsuki was about to ask what he was being mentored in when the elevator dinged and the doors opened. A few other people were waiting on the other side and moved out of their way for the two to exit and Katsuki knew with other people around Izuku would probably be much more reluctant to talk if they didn’t even know his real name. So he silently followed Izuku down the busy hallway to the meeting room, seeing far more people up here than in the lobby.

Izuku stopped in front of a set of double doors and pulled one open, standing aside and waving his arm to signal Katsuki to enter first with an innocent grin. Katsuki ignored Izuku’s antics and entered the room, shielding his eyes with one hand when he was inside the room to look around.

"Why the fuck is it so bright in here?" Katsuki asked, covering his eyes from the light bouncing off the white walls and white floor. "And what the fuck kind of meeting room is this? It’s blinding as shit in here."

“Yeah, it isn’t the best room or anything but like this it’s easier to tell if something is out of place." Izuku shut the door behind himself after entering and squinted as well while making his way to a drawer off to the side. Katsuki watched him rummage through the drawer and Izuku beamed at him when the drawer was closed, whirling around and holding his hands behind his back. He brought one arm around to reveal a spray bottle filled with cleaning liquid. “And it’s easier to see if it needs to be cleaned."

Katsuki stared at him for a moment longer and Izuku could tell Katsuki still didn’t fully trust him. But it seems the earlier conversation helped, because instead of placing Izuku under further scrutiny he simply started going about the room and searching various places. Under the table in the middle of the room, under each chair, running his hand along the walls in random spots. It was clear he was suspicious of anything and everything.

Izuku placed the spray bottle down on the table, keeping his other arm behind his back, and walked next to Katsuki as the other stalked around the room with his hand sliding against the wall.

“Looking for a secret switch or something? That’s in the room across the hall," Izuku commented, grinning at Katsuki’s annoyed expression. At the very least the joke seemed to make Katsuki relax just a little bit more, which was what Izuku wanted.

“Ha ha, asshole," Katsuki said sarcastically. He stopped for a moment and looked up and around the room, though Izuku could see Katsuki occasionally glancing at the arm behind his back. “Last time I saw the killer he was crawling around in the air ducts of the building I was in. I don’t see any visible vents in this room so I’m guessing they’re hidden or look the same as the walls or some stupid shit."

“Actually there are no vents in here. Safety compromise. This room is for high-level meetings only, so they try to make it as fortified as possible. It isn’t like enough air doesn’t get in through the cracks in the door anyway." Izuku followed Katsuki around the rest of the room. His phone vibrated in his pocket and he reached for it, freezing with wide eyes when Katsuki took the opportunity to grab his other arm and jerk it out from behind him.

Katsuki stared at Izuku’s empty hand suspiciously until Izuku smiled at him. Izuku watched him slowly relax and took his arm back to let Katsuki continue searching the room. He checked the message on his phone once Katsuki had walked away from him and glanced at the camera up in the corner of the room.

Cameras are off.

Izuku came up behind Katsuki, staring over his shoulder as Katsuki crouched down to check behind the drawers against the wall. Katsuki glanced over his shoulder at him briefly and went back to searching. Izuku reached for the object he hid in the hem of his pants under his shirt earlier, a little before Katsuki jerked his arm out from behind him, and counted himself lucky Katsuki was wearing a sleeveless shirt so that his skin was easily accessible.

"Hey, Katsuki?" Katsuki glanced over his shoulder again, annoyed by the constant interruptions, when he heard his name called. He felt a sting in the back of his arm and looked down, seeing Izuku emptying a syringe's contents into him. He stood quickly and swiped at Izuku, growling when Izuku moved back and tearing the syringe out of his arm to throw on the ground.

"What the fuck gives?" Katsuki snarled at him, baring his teeth and narrowing his eyes. He knew he shouldn't have trusted this guy in the slightest. He should've knocked him unconscious when he had the chance. He should've beat him senseless in the elevator instead of talking with him and letting his own guard down just because Izuku decided to tell him a few secrets and he couldn't fathom how he was so stupid to let his guard down around this little shit. "You’re a grade A fucking asshole, you know that? The only reason you talked at all was to get my fucking guard down, wasn’t it? What the fuck did you do?"

"I’m really, really sorry, Katsuki. I promise it's nothing terribly bad. It's just a sedative that should kick in soon." Izuku smiled at him softly, then looked away nervously. "Er... I-I know how that sounds, uh, I'm not going to hurt you or anything! Really! But you came here way too early. A-and I tried to make you leave. Really I did. You saw. I just need you to sleep for a bit. You shouldn’t have come so early."

Katsuki's fist struck the wall and Izuku flinched. He really didn't plan on hurting Katsuki at all and didn’t want to make him this angry. He meant that. But Katsuki coming too early ruins the whole reason Izuku was doing all of this. Izuku could already see the sedation process starting in Katsuki's body. He looked very tired, yet still just as angry.

"I'm going to fucking murder you when I wake up. I'm going to murder you so goddamn dead."

"We both know that isn’t true. But you might beat me senselessly later and if I can't talk you out of it I'll accept that as a consequence. I won't like it, but it's a consequence of my actions. Just, uh, I-I need to be able to see out of my eyes and move my limbs if you can leave all that for me."

Katsuki didn't respond, falling forward and closing his eyes and Izuku ran forward to catch him before he hit the floor.  Izuku’s gaze travelled the room as he mused about how this probably wasn't the best room to do this in. There was nowhere to lay him down where he'd be comfortable or out of sight.

Not that comfort really matters when you're completely unconscious, but it'd still be the nice thing to do. Izuku seated Katsuki on the floor with his back to the wall and stood there for a second with arms out, ready to grab Katsuki in case he started to fall over. He jerked forward when Katsuki's head fell to the side, but it looked like the rest of him would stay upright so he began walking towards the door.

"This'll all make more sense in a few days," Izuku said to him even though he knew Katsuki couldn't hear a word he was saying. "I'll try my best to make it worth your while. Just be patient, please."

When he opened the door he stepped out backwards and watched Katsuki while closing it slowly. Once the soft click of the door was heard he turned around and nearly jumped out of his skin with a loud yelp due to the other man standing less than a foot away from him. He grabbed his chest and glared at them while trying to calm down.

"For the love of… Why do you always do that?!" Izuku whispered angrily. His heart was beating roughly and quickly in his chest right now and he swore he could physically feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins. He hated when Shouto did that, though was pretty sure Shouto got some kind of entertainment out of it every time. "And look at you! You're dressed like you're in the black ops or something! I told you this was going to be a mostly public operation. How do you expect to not get attention dressed like that?"

Shouto looked down at his attire. Black sweater, black tactical pants with knee-pads, black boots, black leather gloves and a knitted cap to top it off. It seemed fine to him, considering he wasn't really going to be seen by many people. If anything he felt it was best in case they had to deal with any real opposition and the cap hid his two-sided hair.

"I thought it was appropriate. You messaged me and said the plans changed, so I wanted to be prepared." Shouto glanced over Izuku's shoulder at the door. "What's going on in there?"

"Katsuki came too early and I couldn't get him to leave." Izuku cracked the door open for Shouto to see Katsuki still passed out on the floor. "I didn't plan on that, so I had to put him to sleep for a while. That also means we're going to have to do things a little differently than originally planned." Izuku sighed while closing the door. He started down the empty hallway to head for the real conference room. "Which stinks because I really wanted to see his reaction when I told him the news. Now I'll have to settle for telling him another time."

"Unknown variables and wild cards do often complicate things," Shouto said, following close behind Izuku. He gave an unsurprised glance down at the back of that fluff of green hair. He already knew what Izuku was feeling at this moment because he met one of Izuku's mentors before, even worked for the person a few times too, and he knew full well just what kind of messed up ideals that guy probably ingrained into Izuku's mind. "But you like when things get complicated, don't you?"

"Sometimes. It's a little more fun when everything isn't going exactly how I expected." Izuku shoved his hands into his pockets and grinned, not bothering to look back at Shouto. "It's more fun when there's surprises involved in situations like these. The scare factors and what not get me excited and it’s fun to improvise on the spot. But only if I still actually succeed. Am I still that easy for you to read?"

"Only when you're as worked-up as you are right now. You act more like him when you're like this. I like it better when you're actually you, and not what that guy tried to shape you into." Shouto glared softly at Izuku's back. He never liked the one mentor he personally met and when he learned of the things that were done to Izuku he regretted not telling someone and getting the boy out at the first chance he got. "I don't really like him."

Izuku's grin quickly morphed into a frown. He was well aware of his conditioning and didn't like to be constantly reminded of it. But that was part of the reason he was going through all of this in the first place. He needed to find all of his old mentors for more than just a couple of reasons.

"This could all end a lot quicker if you just told me where he was hiding," Izuku tried. But he knew the answer that was coming. Shouto always said the same thing when he tried to pry for information.

"I'm infinitely more afraid of what he'll do to me than what you will. You know that."

Izuku smiled over his shoulder. "You shouldn't be scared of me, though. You know I wouldn't hurt you. Plus you could totally take me on. You know I'm not very good at head-on fights." Izuku looked forward again, stopping in front of the conference room door and holding it open for Shouto. "That's what I have you for."

"You look plain and weak, but you use that to your advantage when needed. We both know you've killed more than your fair share of people." Shouto took a seat at the table. They were both still here far earlier than everyone else who would be arriving. “The government decided to use you instead of condemning you and I think that alone speaks volumes of your capability. And if you really trust me then why are you trying to get Katsuki?"

Izuku smiled apologetically at Shouto, sitting across the table from him, but refrained from giving a verbal answer. He knew he couldn't talk his way out of that one. Because of the fact Shouto was a mercenary who worked for favors and money his loyalty wasn't something Izuku could really count on. At least with Katsuki he could count on him to never turn against him. As long as everything he was doing went off without too much of a hitch, that is.

"You know that you're still one of my closest friends, right? I'm not going to plot against you or anything without sufficient reason. Like, unless you literally shoot at me and try to kill me or something."

"That doesn't mean a reason will never present itself," Shouto stated while standing up.

"I like your dorky side better than this analytical part of you for the record," Izuku called out to Shouto as the other walked away.

Shouto left to wait right outside the room, not feeling like continuing this conversation. It was beginning to get on his nerves, hearing about the two of them potentially having to oppose each other one day. He considered Izuku a close friend too, but only when Izuku was actually trying to help people instead of senselessly killing them. Even the fact Izuku knew the things he did were wrong and regretted most of it didn't appease Shouto in the slightest. But the fact Izuku still hesitated to pull the trigger from time to time and limited his killing to only when absolutely necessary was the reason Shouto stayed with him.

It showed he at least still had restraint regardless of what he'd been taught.

 


 

Katsuki roused from his forced sleep and cracked his eyes open to see stone walls and a stone floor. He turned his head and saw a couple of other people staring at him from a bench. He slowly stood while gazing around the room, noticing a few other people that he didn't recognize. When he turned around to see what was behind him he figured out where he was the moment he saw the bars blocking the only way out of this little room. A glance over his shoulder showed a small window with bars on it as well.

"You've got to be shitting me." Katsuki walked up to the bars and wrapped his fingers around them, pressing his face against two and trying to get a look around. He couldn't even fathom why he would be detained after being completely unconscious for the past who knows how long. There's no way he did anything worth getting arrested over since the last time he was awake.

Katsuki pulled at the bars while trying to get someone's attention, shouting down the hallway of cells. There had to be someone here guarding them. While he waited for an officer to approach one of the other people in the cell walked up to him, stopping right beside him and staring at him.

"I'll-"

Katsuki interrupted him quickly without turning his attention away from the hallway, not wanting to deal with whoever this was, "Step away. Now."

The person backed away slowly and Katsuki continued to wait for someone. His patience was running thin by the time some woman in a suit arrived with Izuku beside her. He glared absolute death at Izuku and refrained from threatening him in the presence of others. Whatever he was being detained for he was sure it wouldn't help prove his innocence if he threatened to kill the very first person he saw.

"Is this him?" the woman asked, using a pen she had in hand to point towards Katsuki.

Izuku nodded. "Yes, that's him. Could I speak with him alone in the interrogation room? I promise he won't attack any of you."

"Any of us. What about you?"

Izuku's head tilted to the side and he looked down at the ground with a childish little smirk that told her all she needed to know. "Well..."

The woman seemed to consider Izuku's words, her eyes bouncing between the two before she waved to two officers down the hallway and they came to unlock the cell. "This is the last favor you have to call in. Neither I nor Mr. Iida will owe you any longer after this. Hopefully I do not need to remind you to keep quiet about this as well."

"Of course. You know you can count on my discretion. Have I ever let you down before, Ms. Yaoyorozu?" Izuku grinned at her look of annoyance and glanced down at the clipboard in her hands briefly. "Don’t answer that. Besides, we both know you guys'll owe me again another time. I'm your favorite little 'agent', right?"

Momo glowered at him and walked away, no longer wanting to even give Izuku the time of day. Katsuki stepped away from the bars while they were unlocked and opened. He fought the strong urge to lash out and attack Izuku on the spot, grinding his teeth to try to restrain his fury from the mere sight of that man. Instead he followed them to another room with a metal door, stepping inside with Izuku and glaring at him hard when the door shut. Once Izuku turned away from the door to face him and smiled Katsuki figured now would be as good a time as any.

"Listen-"

Katsuki cut him off with a quick strike to Izuku's face, sending him down to the floor. He quickly stepped on Izuku's neck and grinded the heel of his boot into Izuku's adam's apple, clenching his fists and scowling at him. He'd have kept going if Izuku wasn't trying desperately and failing to breathe. Though he took note that, even with all of this happening, Izuku didn't look the least bit terrified. It pissed Katsuki off even more knowing Izuku didn't seem to be afraid of him like a normal person would be at this point.

"I should really fucking kill you right now. Fucking hell. You have no idea how badly I want to." He watched Izuku struggle under him for a moment, trying to push his foot off, before he let him go. He reveled in Izuku's coughing fit while walking around him slowly, reminiscent of a snarling wolf circling its prey before it pounced. "You have no fucking idea how pissed off I am right now. You have no fucking idea how goddamn hard it is to look at you without wanting to fucking murder the shit out of you."

Izuku rolled over and pushed himself up onto his knees and Katsuki wasted no time kicking him in the stomach the moment there was enough room for his foot to connect. Izuku fell over again and Katsuki stepped on his abdomen, glaring down at him still. Izuku knew he deserved this, hence why he didn't bother trying to get away or fighting back. He wronged Katsuki earlier and was rightfully accepting this as his punishment. He knew it was coming the moment he stepped foot in this room. Although he had hoped he could at least get a few words in before it started. And that Katsuki would pull his punches just a little.

Izuku could tell from the first moment he saw Katsuki that he had an anger issue but he didn't imagine it'd be so bad as to not even listen before beating him into the ground.

He lied on the floor limply with his arms sprawled out, staring up at Katsuki and panting while awaiting whatever attack was going to come next. Katsuki appeared to become even more annoyed by Izuku's silent resignation to this abuse and stepped away from him. His arms came to cross over his chest and he silently watched Izuku take the chance to stand slowly. Izuku watched him the entire time he moved to stand up, making sure he didn't move in some way that upsetted Katsuki even more.

"Ca-can I explain myself now?" Izuku held his stomach and cheek where he was hit while watching Katsuki for any signs of aggression. At the very least, even if he wouldn't fight back, he could brace himself for another blow. He took the silence he got in return as his cue to continue and took a step forward to approach Katsuki. He stopped immediately upon seeing Katsuki's arms uncross a small amount, as if preparing for a fight, and took a few steps back with his hands out in front of him. "I-I'm not going to do anything to you. I swear. I just want to talk. Honest."

"The last time we talked it was to get me to let my guard down." Katsuki took a couple of steps back and hopped onto the table, sitting on the edge with his legs dangling just above the floor. "You come within five feet of me and I'm shoving my foot so far up your fucking ass that your teeth will be my new nail clippers. I can hear you perfectly fine from here."

"Look, I'm really, really sorry, okay? I know you're angry. Livid, in fact, but I had to do it because you came so early. You weren't supposed to be there that early. I really, honestly didn’t want to. It was just a last resort."

"Why the fuck should it matter how early I come? And in what fucking universe would a proportionate response to somebody arriving too early to a meeting be to fucking sedate them?" Katsuki not only couldn't understand Izuku's train of thought on that matter, but outright refused to believe it even if Izuku made it sound like the most reasonable course of action in the universe. "Because God fucking forbid I show up to protect your asses early. Fuck, why would you want protection for longer than you would have paid for with no extra charge? That shit would just be stupid. Of course you wouldn't want me to do my goddamn job as best as I possibly fucking can."

Izuku didn't bother stopping Katsuki during his long-winded rant that practically dripped with overflowing sarcasm. There were still some things Katsuki didn't know yet, things that Izuku could not tell him just yet, so of course he wouldn't understand Izuku's seemingly irrational response to him simply doing his job.

"Well, point is I tried to stop you from going into the building and I couldn't. So I did what I had to do. But now you're being framed for the murder of all the people in the meeting because you were the only one left alive at the time."

"You're alive right fucking now," Katsuki snarled.

"Er, yeah, but they know I didn't do it," Izuku responded while rubbing the back of his head and looking away.

"And I didn't fucking do it either!" Katsuki gripped the edges of the table and glared at Izuku harder. How would he have even done it while unconscious anyway? He couldn't figure out the thought process behind such a train of events.

"I know, I know. But look, my friend and I are going to be at your trial in a few days. He's the other bodyguard I got for the group and we're being brought on as witnesses to defend your case. I already got you a lawyer and everything. I'm going to do my best to get you out of here, okay?"

Katsuki's glare softened, but he continued to stare at Izuku with narrowed eyes. He didn't know if he could actually trust him, but he currently had no one else to turn to and didn't want to make the case against himself more solid by breaking out. But he could see genuine concern and regret in Izuku's eyes, so that helped to sway his decision to relent and trust the other.

He jumped down from the table and approached Izuku, who closed his eyes and held his fists at his sides to brace himself for whatever may come. When he felt nothing he peeked one eye open and glanced up at Katsuki, who was standing just before him and staring down at him unamusedly. Katsuki reached around him and grabbed the pistol he remembered Izuku having, pulling it out from under his shirt and pointing it at Izuku's chest.

"I-I promise I'm doing what's best." Izuku gazed off to the side nervously, catching his weapon when Katsuki dropped it and began walking towards the door to go back to the cell.

"Do not fuck me over again," Katsuki warned in a low voice.

Chapter Text

Guilty.

The word was a two ton weight hanging in his head as he stared at the ceiling of his new prison cell. He remembered his parents, Eijirou and Kaminari looking thoroughly disappointed and distressed in the crowd when Katsuki was restrained during his rage filled outburst and hauled away.

"He did it." Izuku's voice rang out through the courtroom at the time and during that moment Katsuki couldn't hear anything but him speaking. "My bodyguard and I left the room and by the time we came back everyone was already dead. He would've killed us, too, if the guard didn't knock him unconscious. I don't know why he was there. None of us ever even hired him."

Katsuki had never in his life heard such a load of bullshit. He remembered screaming at Izuku from his seat next to his lawyer. He called him a liar, he tried to defend himself, but no one would believe him. Of course no one would believe him. He was the one that killed a room full of people, right?

His co-workers and parents tried to defend him, saying Izuku did in fact hire Katsuki. But apparently the papers were missing. Stolen, no doubt, to hide the fact Katsuki ever took the job in the first place. He was about a thousand percent sure he knew exactly who took them, too.

Twenty-five years.

"What a fucking joke," Katsuki drawled out, causing his bunkmate below to glare up at him.

"Yo, shut up. I'm trying to sleep."

"Screw off," Katsuki snarled back at them.

Katsuki rolled onto his side and ignored the guy. He knew if he caused too much trouble they would transfer him from a medium security cell to a maximum security one. He knew because he already got a warning for beating down someone who tried to boss him around. He didn't care for prison politics or who owned what or who wants to do whatever. All he cared about was that no one screwed with him.

His eyes slid shut and he continued remembering the events leading up to his arrest. Another guy with heterochromatic eyes and hair testified against him as well. Katsuki was pretty sure he'd never seen that guy in his entire life, either.

"I heard gunshots and went running to the meeting room. Katsuki Bakugou was standing over the bodies with weapon in hand when we found him. After a short fight he was knocked unconscious and we called the authorities immediately."

Katsuki had no idea how his fingerprints even got on the gun. But when he was unconscious anything could have happened without his knowing. Someone could have just as easily placed any object in his hand and riddled it with his finger prints.

After that guy's, who he remembered being called Shouto Todoroki, Izuku went to the stand and gave his little spiel. Katsuki couldn't contain his overflowing rage at the time and had jumped over the table in the courtroom to go after Izuku. At that moment he knew full well he was going to be imprisoned anyway, so he might as well give them a real reason to do it by tearing Izuku's head off his shoulders.

It was at that time he was restrained by both the bailiff and the person with dual colored eyes and hair. Katsuki didn't bother trying to fight them off, wanting only to get to Izuku to kill him on the spot, and was stated guilty shortly after the scene. Of course no one knew why he went after Izuku, either, so he could understand why it made him look even guiltier to the jury. But he still knew he was framed.

Regardless of such, he finds himself on his fifth day of being incarcerated. This left only nine thousand, one hundred twenty days to go.

He glanced over his shoulder when he heard a small sound from the window. Nothing was there, but a look down at his bunkmate showed a dart in their back and Katsuki mentally sighed. He really wasn't in the mood for this tonight. It didn't matter if it was Izuku, the assassin, or his own mother come to break him out. He just didn't want to deal with it for the time being.

"Whoever the fuck you are if you put me to sleep I'm going to murder the first ten people I see the second I wake up," Katsuki droned while staring at the window. He could just barely see a couple of hands holding onto the edge. A few seconds after his declaration to violence a head popped up. Somehow he could tell they were grinning behind the bandana covering their mouth. But the brown eyes told him it wasn't Izuku at least. "What? Come here to kill me now? Can't you see I've been fucking screwed over enough?"

They looked down and took one hand off the bars blocking the window. He could tell from the motions of their shoulder they were digging for something and was proven correct when the person tossed something through the bars. He caught it and examined the object, then looked up to them with furrowed brows to see them motioning towards their ear.

The fuck is he giving me an earpiece for?

The earpiece was pressed into place and he switched it on. Immediately his ear was bombarded with the voice of a child yelling into the mic.

"Hey stupid! We're busting you out, so get ready to go!"

Katsuki looked over to the other person giving him a thumbs up through the window's bars. Personally his preference would be to smash this guy's face in, but who was he to complain if they were breaking him out? It wasn't like he belonged here anyway.

"Who the fuck are you calling stupid?" Katsuki responded, jumping down from the top bunk and approaching the window. "You sound like you're five or some shit."

"Screw you! Do you want out of here or not?" The voice stopped when the person on the other side of the window disappeared. After a few seconds the gate to his cell creaked open slowly and Katsuki stared over his shoulder. "And my age isn't your concern you loser."

"Have your balls not dropped yet or what?" Katsuki stood just before the exit to his cell, pushing it open the rest of the way and examining the rusted bars closely. It was supposed to be opened with a key and if the kid breaking him out was outside then he wouldn't have had enough time in the span of a few seconds to make his way in and unlock the gate. Especially not without Katsuki noticing.

What kind of shit...

He looked over to the right, seeing the door that lead to the stairs and he suddenly remembered he was on the fourth floor of this building. A guard opened the door and stared at Katsuki with wide eyes, reaching for his weapon and being pulled from behind. Katsuki watched with relative disinterest as the guard disappeared back down the stairs with an arm around his neck and pressed his finger up to the earpiece again.

"You must be determined if you scaled a wall up to the fourth floor and killed a guard for me."

"No one is killing anyone," the boy responded. "He's just... Er, I mean, I'm just knocking them out."

"He's? Nice job, moron. So if you're not the one here then who am I talking to right now?" Katsuki smirked at the kid's slip-up and began his stride towards the stairs. Silence was the answer he got in return and he couldn't help but grin wider while passing the unconscious guard from a moment ago. "Scared to talk shit all of a sudden?"

Once he reached the bottom of the stairs he pushed the door open and the first thing he saw was another passed out guard at his feet. He scanned the area and saw no one but a few other prisoners behind their cells staring up at the ceiling. He looked up too and saw the person breaking him out hanging onto the railings of the second floor with another guard gasping for air between his legs.

How the...

"Just ignore him and go before more come." Katsuki continued to stare for another couple of seconds before slowly walking away. He got to the front door that lead to the prison's parking lot and was about to push it open. "Wait, wait, hold up a sec."

Katsuki froze with the door handle in hand, looking every which way for whatever he was stopping for. He saw the man dressed in all black dash past him and jump out of the window by the door, shattering the glass, then heard a couple of shouts from outside. Two gunshots went off and Katsuki shoved the door open quickly. He was greeted with the person standing over two unconscious guards and staring at him. Katsuki's expression returned to one of passive disinterest and he walked out, watching the other person walk backwards two steps for every one step Katsuki took.

"You scared of me or what?" He kept his eyes trained on Katsuki while walking back and stopped when Katsuki stopped. They both stared at each other for a long while, both completely silent, until Katsuki noticed something and grinned. He twitched a finger and watched the person's eyes dart towards it for a second, confirming his thoughts. "I know you, don't I?"

"Hey idiot, he wants you to follow-"

"Shut up. I know what he wants." Katsuki took the earpiece out and held it out while advancing towards the one in front of him. Once close enough he waited for them to take it and when they refused he dropped it on the ground and stomped on it, silencing the high pitched voice of the younger boy yelling at him to put it back in his ear. "You've got a lot of fucking nerve showing up here."

They cocked their head to the side and furrowed their brows in response. When Katsuki reached for the bandanna their hand shot out and snatched his wrist, holding it just short of their face. Katsuki glared at him and reached around their back, feeling nothing under their shirt.

"Smart, moving that out of the way. But you should make sure all of your hair is covered by the hat next time, Deku."

Izuku's eyes rolled up and he saw the tip of a tuft of green hair poking out from under his hat. No doubt it slipped out while he was handling the guards earlier. His hand retreated from Katsuki's wrist and with one finger he pushed the tuft of hair back under his knitted cap.

"Shoot. Uh, yeah, I-"

Katsuki's fist connected with is jaw and sent him tumbling down to the ground. Reminiscent of their last private encounter he stepped on Izuku's stomach again and glared down at him.

"So you were the fucker killing my clients. You hired me just to fucking frame me, get me arrested, lied to my fucking face about wanting to help me, fucking testified against me in court, and now you're breaking me out for what?" Katsuki grinded the heel of his shoe into Izuku's abdomen, clenching his fists harder and harder as he spoke until his nails were digging firmly into his skin. "You gonna lead me into an ambush and get me put in a maximum security prison this time? Maybe kill my whole goddamn family in front of me and then say I broke out just to do it? Tell me what kind of shit you have planned for me now so I can have sufficient reason to kill you."

"N-nothing like that at all! Geez, how badly do you think of me? I... Crap, ca-can you lighten up on the pressure a little? I-it's getting hard to b-breathe." Izuku reached for a phone in his pocket and held it out to Katsuki. Katsuki stared at it for a moment and snatched it away, refusing to take his eyes completely off Izuku or press any lighter with his foot at all. "It's my real phone. It has my address in it and I took the password off for now. Just-"

Izuku let out a squeak when Katsuki put all his weight into his one foot on Izuku, pulling his arm back and throwing the phone as hard as he possibly could over the fence that led out of the parking lot. Izuku watched with horror as it soared through the air and then heard the sound of it breaking on the other side of the fence.

"Fuck you, fuck your fake ass address, and fuck your shitty little phone." Katsuki pulled his other foot back and kicked Izuku across the face before storming off to the gate. "Oh, and also, fuck you."

"Wait! ...Owww!" Izuku held his jaw as he sat up, the delayed pain from the kick flaring up when he called out to Katsuki.

He got up and ran to Katsuki's side, slowing down to match his pace with the other's. He could tell from the look on Katsuki's face that he was not in a talking mood, but the fact Katsuki hasn't tried to outright kill him yet filled him with hope.

"Listen-"

"I'm through listening. Two separate times I trusted you and you fucked up. Fool me once, strike one. But fool me twice? Strike three. Fuck. You."

"Katsuki please. Just hear me out one last time. I swear I'm never going to betray you again. I did all of this because I need your help." When the pair crossed the threshold out of the parking lot and onto the open street with still no response from Katsuki, Izuku huffed and ran the opposite direction to get his broken phone from where Katsuki threw it. He snatched it off the concrete and slipped it into his pocket, then ran back to Katsuki's side. Katsuki was looking in every direction to try to figure out where to go from here and Izuku stopped just in front of him. He ducked under another swing of Katsuki's fist, deciding he'd had enough of getting kicked around for the time being.

"Look here you fucking shit; you've pretty much completely ruined my whole fucking life and now you want me to help you? What kind of-"

"But I haven't! I can prove your innocence. I can let you start over and go back to your family without any trouble from the law at all. I have connections that can do that. I'll even admit it was me who did the killings. But I need you to help me first," Izuku explained in a pleading voice. He took off the bandanna covering his face and the hat covering his hair, shoving both into his pockets and finally taking out a pair of contacts he used to change the color of his eyes. His hands clasped together in a desperate manner. "Look, see? I'm offering my full self to you. No more tricks and no more games. I did what I had to do to get you to be forced to work for me. And I know, I know, that isn't much better at all. But there's no way I could've gotten you to work for me under regular circumstances. So I'm doing what I have to in order to get you. And I'm sorry. Really I'm truly sorry for causing you a lot of grief. But I need your help. So help me out and I'll help you out. Then you'll never have to see me again, okay? I swear I'll leave you alone for the rest of your life the moment we're done. I'll make sure you can go back to your family without any trouble at all even if I have to kill someone to do it."

Katsuki watched Izuku carefully. As far as he could tell all of this sounded genuine, but he's learned pretty quickly not to trust a word this guy says. Though he could see in Izuku's eyes that he was genuinely desperate and concerned. Not to mention the fact he couldn't exactly return to his family and get them in trouble for harboring an escaped prisoner. As far as right now goes he had no one he could trust and nowhere to go that would be safe. No place to live or hide and nowhere to get food or a job without potentially being arrested all over again. And he didn't exactly want to live a life on the lamb, either.

Yet he also really, really, really did not want to go anywhere with Izuku. It was a sickening thought, being forced to work with someone he considered his worst and most hated enemy. But for now he would have to. Either that or he would have to live on the streets and stay hidden away from society.

"And why the fuck couldn't you have just hired me for whatever you need instead of doing all this stupid shit?"

Izuku rolled his eyes. "Hey, Katsuki, I want to hire you for a few months. Potentially a couple of years, even. You're not going to get to have contact with anyone unless I say so and you can't see your family. We're going to live in constant danger of being attacked every single day and you're going to have to get used to living with a whole new family the entire time. Also I can't pay you. When can you start?"

"Fuck you," Katsuki responded immediately. Izuku waved his hands and tilted his head in an 'I told you so' manner and Katsuki narrowed his eyes, mentally sighing at the fact he just proved Izuku's point. "I'm going to smash your fucking face in when this is all over. Got that?"

Izuku beamed at him and did a little hop as a silent cheer. "Of course, of course. Bury me alive when we're done if you feel the need to. Either way, come on, you can come with us back to our place since you broke my phone."

"Us?" Katsuki looked in the direction Izuku pointed in, seeing the little old lady from so long ago pointing the same tranquilizer gun at him in a patch of tall grass. She smiled and waved, stepping out and approaching the two. "You fucking bastard! You were going to try to take me by force, weren't you?!"

"O-only as a last ditch kind of thing. But there's no need for that now. Heh... Uh, come on, the car is this way."

Katsuki glared at Izuku's back until he felt the old lady pat him on the back of his leg while walking by. He followed them while figuring this most likely couldn't get any worse.

 


 

"The fuck kind of place is this?" Katsuki stared up at the rundown apartment complex. Smashed windows, boarded up windows, the front door was missing, and cars that had been scrapped for parts were dotted around the streets. Another glance around showed the occasional stray animal, ranging anywhere between a small raccoon to a large dog. The whirring sound of a generator could be heard from behind the building they were standing in front of and Katsuki couldn't help but wonder if the city officials still knew this place even existed or not. It all looked like some haunted location in a horror movie where everyone who enters gets murdered. "This place is an absolute fucking shit hole!"

"That's a bit rude," Izuku said with a frown. Sure the place looked like a dump to most people, but to Izuku and the others here it was home. And with all of them living along the edges of the law it would be hard for any one of them to get real jobs and live in a nice place. But everyone does their part to help each other out regardless, so none of that is ever need for concern. "But you'll get used to it. Come on, I'll introduce you to everyone. You've seen Chiyo and Shouto. Sort of... And you've kind of talked to Kouta. But there are a few others, too! Everyone is really nice and I'm sure you'll like them."

"There are more of you?" Katsuki crossed his arms and stayed rooted in place. He wasn't particularly interested in meeting anyone else around here. If anything it would be best for him to just do whatever he has to do, without interference from anyone else, get his life back and go home. "I don't even care. Just show me where I'm staying in this fuckfest of assholery."

Izuku glared over his shoulder. He could understand why Katsuki would be angry, but he had no need to be angry at anyone but Izuku, Chiyo, and Shouto. The fact that he was treating everyone like enemies before even getting to know a single one of them was, frankly, pretty lamentful. But Izuku continued forward to the first building in front of them regardless while waving for Katsuki to follow.

"I really think you should get to know everyone, Katsuki. But you can have my room unless you see another one you want. Mine is the second best room on this block though. I'll move my stuff out today."

Katsuki raised a brow at Izuku's retreating back. He couldn't really complain about getting the second best room already. Even if he did want to stay somewhere far away from everyone else. So he quietly followed Izuku into the building, looking around the rundown place and stopping at the base of the stairs to stare up at Izuku. He trotted up them without hesitation and Katsuki stared down at the broken wood and creaky sounds they made under Izuku's steps. Izuku didn't warn him about anything being broken so he assumed it mostly safe and climbed the stairs as well. Once at the top they travelled down a short hallway and stopped just in front of a door with a dented and obviously worn knob. Izuku grabbed the knob and looked to Katsuki before opening the door.

"Now let me just warn you; there's a kid staying with us. He can get pretty mean and even a little violent sometimes. But only a little. You can restrain him if you ever need to but please, please don't injure him." Izuku smiled nervously at Katsuki's unchanging glare and cracked the door open before turning back to Katsuki again. "And please don't encourage his language. He's really impressionable and I'm trying to get him to stop cursing so much."

Izuku pushed the door open the rest of the way and took a step in, glancing around the room to see if anyone was here. When he saw no one he took a few more steps in and switched on the lights. Katsuki came in and kicked the door behind them closed, revealing the small boy hidden behind said door that neither of them had noticed yet. He creeped forward ever so slowly and reached under his hat when he stopped directly behind Katsuki.

I can do this. I practiced for an hour for this very moment...

"Hey, Kouta? Are you here? I'm home," Izuku called out while staring ahead at the doors to the other rooms. He waited for Kouta to shout back or come out from one of the rooms, but no noise was made and nobody was seen. "Huh. He may be around the neighborhood with one of the others. He likes to hang around Mashirao and Kyouka sometimes."

"Die, loser!"

Both men spun around at the exclamation, Izuku pulling out one of his pistols and aiming directly at the intruder. When Katsuki was completely turned around he felt something hit him in the groin and fell to his knees. His eyes sprung back open to the view of a small kid wearing a hat with horns on the front and pointing a gun at his forehead.

"Kouta, don't!"

Before anyone had a chance to react Kouta pulled the trigger and a pellet shot out from the gun he was holding, smacking Katsuki directly in the forehead and sending him backwards onto the ground.

"YOU FUCKING-"

Katsuki was cut off by Kouta pouncing on him and holding the BB gun with both hands in front of Katsuki's face.

"Suck it, you fucking chump!"

Katsuki could quickly deduce this must have not only been the kid Izuku was talking about, but also the same one he talked to when they were breaking him out of prison. It took every ounce of self-control he had and more to not knock this kid clear across the room, instead swinging his arm between them and smacking the weapon out of Kouta's hand. His other hand came forward and grabbed Kouta's face, who grabbed his wrist with both hands and struggled to try to pry it off.

"Guys, stop it!" Izuku's voice rang out in the room as Katsuki stood with Kouta's head still in hand. He held the small boy high up off the ground and glared daggers at Izuku, who had long since put away his own weapon. "Please put him down, Katsuki."

Katsuki considered throwing Kouta across the room, but instead dropped him and stepped away. Kouta landed on his bottom on the wooden floor and immediately crawled towards his BB gun, stopping in his tracks when he reached for it and a gunshot went off. He watched his weapon slide away and his head snapped in Izuku's direction, staring at the pistol being aimed in his direction.

"I said stop, Kouta." The look of disappointment and fear on the young boy's face got him no sympathy from either of the two men glaring at him. He stood up while rubbing his arm and looking down at the ground, knowing full well what he did was wrong. Yet he knew, given the chance, he would have done the exact same thing again.

"Room. Now."

Kouta's head came up to stare at Izuku in surprise and he jerked a finger in Katsuki's direction. "But-"

"Go," Izuku demanded while jabbing his finger towards one of the doors. Kouta's lips drew into a thin line and he glared at Izuku for a second. Izuku pointed more forcefully towards the door and Kouta stormed past him, slamming the door to his room shut. Izuku tossed his weapon to the side and approached Katsuki, stopping mid-stride when he saw the scowl being sent his way. "I'm really, really sorry. I don't know why he did that."

"Were you going to apologize to my fucking corpse if that was a real gun?" Katsuki snarled at him, rubbing the red bump on his head where Kouta shot him. His head was throbbing almost as badly as his groin was thanks to that and it was taking quite the amount of willpower to continue standing through it at the moment. But Katsuki refused to let it look like the kid did that much damage to him.

"I would've taken more action if I thought for a second it was a real gun. We keep the weapons locked away where he can't get them, but he really wants to be like Shouto, Chiyo and I. So he whined for days-"

"I didn't whine!" Kouta yelled from his room. Izuku threw a quick glance over his shoulder at the door before returning his attention to Katsuki.

"-So he complained for days that he wanted something for protection. I got him that BB gun to get him to stop. But he can't get to the real weapons, so don't worry about that."

"And you can't discipline him enough to get him to fucking behave? Why the fuck do you even have him then?" Katsuki looked Izuku over. By the looks of him he was probably too young to have a child of his own. But with how people he knew were he wouldn't be too surprised to hear it was Izuku's biological son. "He barely even looks like you. Where's the little shit's mom?"

"Shut your trap you giant, raging nerd!"

Katsuki pulled the sleeve of his prison outfit up and took a step towards the door, but Izuku stood in his way and held his hands up to dissuade the other from going after the boy.

"Kouta, why don't you go see Kyouka? She was just saying yesterday how she hasn't seen you in a while."

Kouta opened the door and his head peered through. With Izuku still holding Katsuki back neither of them could figure which one of them he was glaring at until he stepped out and crossed his arms over his chest.

"What if I don't want to?"

Izuku held a finger up to Katsuki, signaling for him to wait here, while walking backwards towards Kouta. He spun around halfway there and stopped just in front of the boy, crouching down to his level.

"Then you have to stay in your room all day and I take the computer away for a week. Come on. You like listening to music with Kyouka, don't you? She tells me you look like you're having a lot of fun when you dance to music. She even says you're pretty good when you dance with her." Izuku smirks a little when he sees Kouta take a step back and stare at him as if Izuku has committed some atrocity by even mentioning that. He threw his arms out and continued quickly before Kouta used the silence of his pause to throw a fit, "And you don't want to stay here with jerky Katsuki, do you? Just let me talk to him for a bit and we'll hang out some later, just you and me. Alright?"

Kouta appeared to be considering Izuku's words, studying the man's smile as if judging the validity of his very facial expression. Eventually he walked into Izuku's arms and let himself be lifted into a hug, hugging his arms around Izuku's neck and glaring over Izuku's shoulder at Katsuki before throwing up a middle finger. Katsuki, who watched the whole scene from a distance, threw up both of his middle fingers in response and Kouta stuck his tongue out.

"Stop it, Kouta. I know what you're doing," Izuku chastised and whirled around. He carried Kouta to the front door and opened it, placing the boy down in the hallway and making shooing motions with his hands. "Go on. If you're not with Kyouka or Mashirao when I come to find you you're going to be in even bigger trouble."

Kouta clenched his fists and opened his mouth to protest and Izuku closed the door in his face to stop him. He turned around and pressed his back to the door, closing his eyes and letting out a long sigh. He's had enough of dealing with Kouta's moodiness recently and needed a break for the time being. Although he was well aware, as he slowly opened his eyes again to see Katsuki glaring at him with crossed arms from afar, that he was about to trade up to another person's bad attitude.

"He normally is behaved for the most part. I honestly don't know what got into him today. He's pretty quiet around new people and while he's pretty mean he's never done anything like that before. I'm so sorry. But I'm not his father if that's what you're implying. I'm only twenty-two and he's already five," Izuku said to him, revisiting the topic he dropped to deal with Kouta. Katsuki did a double-take upon hearing Izuku's age and looked him over in a new light. He pegged the guy at seventeen or something. Nineteen at most. It was a little surprising to hear he was hardly a year younger than Katsuki himself. "Not biologically or legally anyway. But he listens to me over everyone else, so I'm technically kind of like his dad? Or maybe his older brother. Guardian? I don't know. But he's not my child and I don't know where his parents are. I'm assuming they're dead. He doesn't like to talk about it so I never learned much."

Katsuki's expression softened only the slightest bit. The kid was an irritating little shit, but he still didn't deserve to be left completely alone like that. "Why'd he imprint on you then? You're both polar fucking opposites."

Izuku chuckled at Katsuki's interpretation and then grinned at him. "If you want to look at it that way then you two should be best friends. He can be kind of a jerk like you."

"Fuck you," Katsuki responded while looking off to the side. He didn't refrain from killing the kid just for this guy to add insult to injury.

"Yeah, just like that."

Katsuki side-eyed Izuku across the room. "You just going to fucking insult me all day long or what? Where am I staying?"

"Right, sorry. It's this way." Izuku ran past him and stopped in front of another bedroom door, pushing it open while looking at Katsuki. "And I wasn't trying to insult you. I was mostly joking. Sorry."

Katsuki pushed past him and into the room, ignoring Izuku's comment and inspecting the place while Izuku came to stand next to him. "Pretty small. But at least it doesn't look like absolute shit like the rest of the place."

Izuku frowned at the insult to his home yet again. He didn't want to start a scene over something so trivial though, so he kept his mouth shut about it and moved into the closet to change his clothes.

"I didn't mean it was the biggest room in the world when I said it was the second best we have. I just meant it's the second least messed up. Some of the others are pretty bad. Holes in the floors and walls, splintered beds and stuff. A couple of them even have collapsed ceilings," Izuku explained from inside the closet. Katsuki walked to the bed and ran his hand across the sheets. They were clean and the bed was neatly made, heavily contrasting some of the dustier and less tended to parts of the room. Overall the place was in good condition, but most of it just looked unused. "I'd give you the best one, but that's Kouta's. I'm not going to kick him out of his room and there are no other rooms in this apartment."

"So you're leaving him alone with me?" Katsuki sat on the edge of the bed and fell back, spreading his arms across the mattress. Since the day Izuku hired him he's been detained for almost a week and a half. His body was already beginning to get used to the hard, unforgiving mattresses and thin, useless sheets provided to him from prison establishments. This mattress felt soft and welcoming compared to those; the sheets thick and warm. "You saw us earlier. What makes you think one of us won't kill each other in their sleep?"

"You scared?" Izuku inquired jokingly. "I've seen you fight a lot of times and you don't go for a kill unless absolutely necessary. You're not actually as bloodthirsty as you seem. I find it hard to believe you'd refuse to kill an adult attacker who is trying to kill you but wouldn't hesitate to kill a small child who hardly stands a chance beyond carefully planned sneak attacks."

Katsuki scoffed at that last point. He didn't know if Izuku taught the runt anything, but the way Kouta set up that sneak attack Katsuki wouldn't be surprised if he actually did stand a chance. He could already tell Kouta liked to bite off more than he can chew and now knew to stay on his guard around the kid.

Izuku pushed the closet door open and stepped out, still pulling his shirt over his head. "Besides, I'm not going to be far. I'll be sleeping on the couch in the main room."

Katsuki sat up and stared at Izuku with a raised brow. "Why not just take one of the rooms in the apartment next door or something?"

"Kouta doesn't like to be alone at night, but I'm trying to get him to get used to sleeping on his own," Izuku explained with a sad smile. "I think it has to do with the time before I found him two years ago. He refused to sleep in a bed by himself for a long time. Now I can get him to sleep in his own room, but he doesn't like it when there's no one else around. So I have to stay nearby so he'll stay in his room. He's fine during the day though."

Katsuki would've questioned why Izuku had to stay nearby if he was going to be staying with Kouta, but figured the kid would just complain and throw a tantrum about being forced to rely on him of all people. Instead he fell back onto the bed and closed his eyes, twisting around to lie on the bed normally and rolling onto his side.

"Whatever. I'm going to sleep. Break me out at night and then take six hours to get me here without letting me fucking sleep. Barely even seven in the fucking morning."

Izuku ignored Katsuki's ramblings and left the room, shutting the door quietly to let him sleep. He made his way into the main room of the apartment and collapsed on the couch, draping his arm over his face and letting out a long, tired sigh. It was a draining night, but a needed one. Katsuki was a must have addition to the team and couldn't be passed up. Even if now he would have to find a way to get him to get along with everyone else. Not to mention figuring out why Kouta has been such a pain the past two weeks and why Shouto ran off without telling him anything. Plus Mei needed help fixing a few things around the neighborhood-

But first and foremost he needed sleep if he was going to continue working.

One thing at a time...

Chapter Text

Kouta opened the door slowly, cringing at the slow creak that emitted from its movement. He stared at Katsuki's sleeping form up on the bed, glaring at the man from afar. It bugged him more and more seeing Katsuki here when the man really shouldn't be. He has his reasons for disliking Katsuki. Multiple reasons in fact. He isn't simply picking on the new guy or anything.

Kouta, having left his boots by the entrance to the apartment, sneaks towards the edge of the bed, walking on his toes to keep his footsteps as light as possible. Once by the bed he crawled on top, freezing in place on his knees on the mattress when it squeaked under the pressure of his body.

Staring down at Katsuki's sleeping face he thinks of how to go about doing this. Izuku is sure to understand once he explains his reasoning, so there's no worry about that. Instead he grabs the pillow next to Katsuki's head and holds it close, glaring down at the man and jerking the pillow toward his face.

Kouta's eyes go wide when he suddenly realizes he isn't about to smother Katsuki anymore. Even more so when he realizes he's actually being held down by his arms and a set of intense red eyes were glaring down at him. He tries to recall what just happened, feeling cheated as he remembers the pillow being slapped out of his hand and Katsuki jerking up and pinning him down all before he can blink.

"Listen you little shit; He asked me to only restrain you and not injure you, but I never agreed to that. You try this shit one more time and I'm knocking you clear across the fucking room." Katsuki grabbed Kouta's leg and pinned that down too when the boy tried to kick at him, his eyes never leaving the other's. Although Kouta's face remained an unchanged scowl, full of anger and the readiness to fight, he could see the fear slowly welling up in the kid's eyes. "I'll let you attacking me that one time slide. I was stupid enough to let my guard down and get ambushed by some fucking toddler, so that's fair game. But attacking me and trying to kill me in my sleep are two different things. I don't care if you're a kid, a teenager, an adult, an old person or even a fucking cat or dog, if you try to kill me I will put you in the fucking ground without hesitation. Do you understand?"

Kouta refused to answer, instead leaning his head back to stare at the door upside down. If Izuku was going to come in he would've done it by now, so Kouta realized he would have to rely on himself this time. He looked back up at Katsuki, who was still waiting patiently for a response and considered spitting in his face. Before he could finish thinking about all of his options Katsuki let him go suddenly, but Kouta stayed on his back on the bed and sat up on his elbows to stare at Katsuki cautiously.

"You want to make a run for it? Do it. I want you gone just as much as you want to go." Katsuki sat cross-legged on the mattress and rested his elbows on his knees to lean forward. He smirked when Kouta crawled back a few inches in response to him leaning forward, appreciating the fact this kid could actually understand when he’s in actual danger. "But if you stay then I want to know what the fuck your problem is with me. Because as far as I'm concerned I haven't done shit except walk through the front door."

Kouta remained there, eyeing Katsuki cautiously for any more signs of aggression. He didn't even want to be associated with Katsuki, let alone talk to the guy. But if he left without getting rid of the man then surely Izuku would be informed of his actions and trying this again would just become that much harder with Izuku keeping an eye on him.

"You've got ten seconds."

"Let me fucking think!" Kouta shouted back angrily. He quickly covered his mouth with wide eyes afterward and glanced back at the door, staring at it for a moment before turning back to a clearly amused Katsuki.

"You don't want him to know you're trying to kill me, huh?"

"You blow chunks," Kouta replied in a hushed but equally as angry as before tone. "What now? You going to blackmail me?"

"Blackmail you into doing what? You're a five year old that bites off more than you can chew at every opportunity you get. You can't do shit even remotely useful for me. "

Kouta jerked forward and took a swing at him, gritting his teeth when Katsuki grabbed his wrist with little effort and pulled him close enough to slap a hand on his face and pin him down on the mattress again. Katsuki collected his other wrist in the same hand and held his arms together to keep him from trying anything else.

"Why don't you just get out of here? We don't even need you. We don't need to replace Shouto. He's better than you anyway."

"I don't even want to be here you little fuckmunch. Your asshole of a guardian or whatever the fuck that loser is ruined my goddamn life and dragged me here basically against my will."

"Don't call him an asshole!" Kouta kicked Katsuki in the knee, struggling to free his arms and growing angrier upon seeing Katsuki didn't even flinch from the kick. "You're infinitely more of an asshole than he can even try to be! You suck so much! He never hurt you once but you hurt him three different times. He even let you do it when you're not worth the trouble. You want to know why I hate you so much? Because we don't need someone like you around here! We're perfectly fine just like we are now. All you're going to do is screw everything up and get mad over the dumbest things and hurt us because of it. I'm trying to get rid of you because we don't need you in our family and you're just going to get in everyone's way!"

Katsuki sighed, not wanting to deal with this kid's issues in the slightest, and moved off the bed while dragging Kouta with him. Once on the floor he lifted Kouta up, still holding him by the wrists, and ignored the boy's complaints as he made his way into the living room.

He didn't care if this was an issue of not wanting things to change, something about his aggression or whatever else Kouta could and would spout at him. As far as Katsuki is concerned he's stuck here until he fulfills whatever forced job Izuku has for him. Afterward he'd be more than happy to get out of both their lives and never see either of them again.

Katsuki stopped in front of the couch, looking down at Kouta shaking his head to silently say, 'Don't tell him.' Katsuki then looked down at Izuku and kicked the couch hard, shaking the entire piece of furniture and jerking Izuku awake.

"Wha-?" Izuku looked up sleepily at Katsuki holding a very defeated looking Kouta by his wrists and frowned.

"I believe this belongs to you." Katsuki held Kouta out and dropped him on top of Izuku. He crossed his arms and frowned disappointedly when Kouta didn't try to run away, seeing the boy instead sit on top of Izuku patiently awaiting whatever would come from this. "Little shit tried to smother me in my fucking sleep with a pillow."

"You butt wipe! I can't stand you!"

Izuku sucked in a big breath and let out a long sigh, blinking slowly and then staring up at Kouta on top of him. Kouta averted his eyes, staring down at the ground. He didn't struggle in the slightest when Izuku lifted him up and sat up, shifting to sit cross-legged, to place Kouta in his lap. Izuku put his index finger under Kouta's chin and lifted his head, giving the boy a soft glare.

"Why?" Kouta tried to look away again but Izuku grabbed him by the chin, gently forcing the boy to look at him again. "Answer me, Kouta."

"I don't want to talk about it," Kouta responded weakly. He suddenly didn't feel so confident in his reasoning now that he was in front of Izuku, knowing it wouldn't help sway any favor in his direction with Katsuki still alive.

"We shouldn't need to be talking about it. You shouldn't have done it in the first place. You understand that, right?" Izuku held back the urge to slap a hand on his face and drag it down in annoyance upon seeing Kouta's head shake slowly. "Well you should understand it now. You shouldn't have tried to do that. Don't do it again, okay?"

Kouta couldn't move his head from Izuku's grip, so instead his eyes slowly slid to the side to look away and Izuku felt the frustration well up inside from the silent refusal. He still couldn't understand why Kouta has been acting the way he has the past week. Being a little moody or throwing a fit wasn't too uncommon, but Kouta never showed any type of murderous intent. He especially never ignored Izuku's orders until recently and Izuku now had to figure out a way to get him back to listening.

"Fine." Izuku lifted Kouta again and placed him on the ground, then pointed towards the door to Kouta's room. "Go to your room and don't come out until I say you can. And that means until I say it, not anyone else."

"But what if Shouto comes to hang out with me?!"

"Tough. And the next time you do something like this I'm making you spend the day with Katsuki instead of staying alone in your room."

"Why the fuck am I getting punished next time?" Katsuki asked incredulously.

Izuku bent forward and rested his face in his hands tiredly after Kouta stormed off to the bedroom and slammed the door shut. He glanced upwards when he remembered Katsuki was still here and gave him a smile that didn't seem too convincing. Katsuki could tell he was still exhausted and trying pitifully to hide it.

"I'm-"

"Sorry, I know. Heard it all before," Katsuki interrupted with a roll of his eyes. He decided to let it go this time, after seeing first-hand what Izuku had to deal with on a daily basis. Instead he would meet these people that Izuku seemed so keen on making him get to know for the sake of making things go a little more smoothly. Better to only have one three and a half foot tall enemy than an entire group of enemies all living around him. "Get me something besides this dumbass prison suit and let's go meet the other fuckers who want to kill me."

"No one else wants to kill you," Izuku said quickly, staring up at Katsuki worriedly. "I know I haven't done much to convince you about anything I've said at all but Kouta is the only one who has a problem with you and I don't even know what it is."

"Yeah, yeah." Katsuki moved back to the bedroom with Izuku following him closely and started rummaging through the closet.

"Hey, your clothes are over here," Izuku said while opening a dresser and pulling out a black tank top.

Katsuki glared over his shoulder at the shirt, then the black, baggy sweat pants Izuku pulled out in the drawer directly below it and it slowly began to click in his mind that these weren't just clothes for him, but these were his clothes.

"You broke into my house and stole my fucking clothes?"

"Yeah, and I'm also the one who stole the files that proved I hired you." Izuku tossed the shirt and pants at Katsuki, opening the very bottom drawer and pulling out Katsuki's shoes to toss at him as well. "I'm also the one who broke you out of prison and killed half of your clients. Are you really surprised anymore?"

Katsuki growled and threw one of the shoes back at Izuku's head, then blew a puff of air out of his nose when Izuku ducked and it thumped against the wall. "Get the fuck out of my room."

"Shirts in the top drawer, pants in the second, underwear in the third and socks in the fourth. I only found those sneakers and some combat boots in your room for shoes." Izuku waved at Katsuki briefly before stepping out. He poked his head through the door one last time with a grin before leaving. "I didn't take you for the boxer-brief type, by the way. Thought you'd like the freedom of plain boxers more."

Izuku retreated from the doorway as another shoe flew by, thudding against Kouta's door across the hall. The door opened and Kouta stared through the crack curiously, only for Izuku to point at the door and tell him to stay inside. Kouta shut it with an angry huff and Izuku went to wait by the front door for Katsuki. When Katsuki was ready he came out into the hall, shutting the door to his room and heading for the front door.

"Kouta, we're going to introduce Katsuki to everyone else! Come on," Izuku shouted to the boy. Getting no answer back he told Katsuki to wait for him outside and went down the hall to Kouta's room, cracking the door open to peer inside. He spotted Kouta sulking, sitting at the head of his bed with his arms crossed and eyes fixated angrily on the mattress. "Did you hear me?"

Kouta twisted around on the bed to face away from Izuku, causing the man to roll his eyes and enter the room. Izuku sat on the edge of the bed and grabbed Kouta by the back of his shirt when he tried to scoot away.

"Look, I know you're mad at me and Katsuki and I know you're upset that you're getting punished. I get that. But I can't have you going around trying to murder people just because you don't like them."

"Then why do you get to do it?!"

Izuku pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance. "That's not why I kill people, Kouta. You know that. You especially know I try not to kill someone unless I really have to. And I know for a fact you don't have to kill Katsuki. He isn't threatening you in any way. So what's going on? How come you're so angry at him?"

"Because he fu-"

"Hey," Izuku cut him off quickly. Kouta glanced over his shoulder at Izuku's 'I dare you to say it' look.

"-freaking sucks. He doesn't deserve to stay with us. He should be staying in a dog house out in the back yard or something like the rabid animal he is. He beats you up three times and you just let him do it. Why do we even need him?"

"Because I need his help. So I would appreciate it if you stop trying to kill him until I don't need him anymore. Or at all." He pressed his index finger to Kouta's mouth when the boy whirled around to spout more excuses, insults and questions. "I get it. You don't like him. You saw him attack me and that makes you mad. You want things to stay just like they are and Katsuki can potentially cause too much change. But I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't feel it was necessary. Do you want to know why I let him beat me up? Because I did really mean things to him, Kouta. Just because I do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do or that it's nice. Just because I wanted to do it or needed to do it does not mean I had a right to or that it's the best thing to do. I did things to Katsuki that ruined his life, just like you feel like he's ruining yours. I can defend myself perfectly well, you know that, but I let him do what he did to me because there was nothing else I could do to take responsibility for my actions just yet and I need to keep him at least a little happy for now. Plus I felt bad doing all of that to him. Do you understand?"

Kouta looked down to the sheets on his bed, finding it hard to believe Izuku of all people would do something wrong. Kouta has only ever known the man to do good and to hear otherwise from Izuku himself threw him for a loop. Regardless of such, he nodded slowly with his eyes still fixated on the bed and Izuku smiled softly at him.

"Good. So from now on you're not going to attack him in anyway. You don't have to make friends with him, you don't have to be nice to him, and you don't even have to talk to him or look at him if you don't want to. But you will not attack him again." Izuku stood and walked to the door, stopping in the doorway and looking back at Kouta. "Now I'm going to go introduce Katsuki to everyone else. You can either come with us or stay with Kyouka until I come to get you."

"...So I'm not in trouble anymore?"

"Of course you are. That's why you can either stay with Katsuki and I or with Kyouka. If you stay with us, I know you won't be happy because you're stuck with Katsuki. If you stay with Kyouka she's going to make sure you sit quietly and do homework until I say so." Izuku nodded his head back, signaling Kouta to follow him with a small smile. He waited for Kouta to begrudgingly join him and went to get his pistol from the couch. The both of them then left the apartment to go meet up with Katsuki outside.

 


 

"I don't understand why everyone isn't in the same building," Katsuki said, walking down the middle of the street next to Izuku. Kouta was on the opposite side of Izuku, having refused to walk next to Katsuki. "What's the point of six of you living in three different buildings?"

"Because the building Kouta and I live in only has the one apartment that is in livable condition. The rest of them need repairs of some sort and as far as I know none of us are either knowledgeable or equipped for that sort of stuff." Izuku looked down to his left and took a hold of Kouta's hand, frowning when the boy jerked it away harshly.

"But you're knowledgeable and equipped enough for three fucking generators? And if this entire half of the city is abandoned then how the hell are you getting running water? Hot water at that." It baffled Katsuki to imagine what kind of things Izuku must have done for this kind of stuff. This part of the city literally looked like some type of typical zombie apocalypse movie, except he has yet to see anyone besides the two people beside himself right now since he got here.

"Ah, well, I kind of have a bit of a deal with the government. I scratch their back, they scratch mine type of stuff. You know what I mean?" Izuku watched Katsuki glare at him from the corner of his eye.

"So that bitch with the clipboard that got me out of the cell was government?" Katsuki didn't even find any of that hard to believe. He has nearly lost the ability to be surprised by anything this guy says or does anymore.

"Y-yeah, but don't let her know I told you. Her name is Momo Yaoyorozu and she works with a man named Tenya Iida. Long story short and to put it as simply as possible, sometimes they need people killed or something stolen and sometimes I need money, resources or a favor. So I assassinate people for them here, steal something for them there, they get to get things done quicker by going around the law without getting in trouble themselves and in return I get money for food and stuff, running water, equipment, immunity to prison and no one comes looking around this place. They had this part of the city classified as condemned and won't let the city overturn the ruling. But it wasn't that hard to do because it already looked like this before we got here. The city was going to demolish all of this and rebuild until we came.”

Katsuki stared at Izuku incredulously. "The government actually does shit like that? I thought that was all bullshit stories."

"So did I. That's why I shot Tenya in the arm the first time we met and they tried to give me the whole 'join us or be arrested' spiel. But now we're all great work buddies."

Katsuki could almost feel the sarcasm dripping from Izuku's last statement. He turned into a building with the two of them suddenly, some two blocks away from Izuku's apartment. The place looked much nicer than the building Izuku and Kouta lived in and Katsuki wondered why they didn't take this place instead.

"So they're partially responsible for my prison break too, then?" Katsuki frowned when both Izuku and Kouta purposely and very obviously looked away from him to avoid the question, the both of them instead staring up the stair cases. "Right?"

"Uh, sure."

"You're kidding. You mean I'm going to get fucked even harder when they stop by to give you some dumbass mission and I get spotted?! You stupid-"

"I-it's okay, really." Izuku said, interrupting Katsuki's tirade. He grabbed Kouta by the arm when the boy very obviously stared Katsuki down for the insult. "They don't care too much what I do as long as I don't cause trouble for them specifically. Honestly if I end up getting hurt I think they'd see it as some sort of blessing. They feel threatened by me being alive. I'm living proof of their corruption."

Izuku knocked on a door, finally arriving at the apartment he wanted to get to, and opened it at the sound of someone shouting for him to come in. Katsuki took one step in the room and froze to gawk at his surroundings.

Computer and television screens lined a long wall, all of them displaying different locations in black and white. Ahead of the screen covered wall was a coffee table with several laptops, a couch and a woman working on one of said laptops.

"Kyouka, Katsuki is here to meet you," Izuku said, holding his arm out towards Katsuki to present him to her.

"I know. Heard you guys in the apartment. Saw you coming up the stairs." Kyouka replied, her eyes still glued to the laptop. She moved her finger around on the mouse pad and clicked a few times, then looked up to finally give Katsuki her attention. "Also heard your vague death threat to Kouta. I'd refrain from talking to him like that around here whenever possible. A lot of people would get pretty mad if something happened to this kid."

"And? Am I supposed to be scared of you or what?" Katsuki glared back at Izuku when he noticed the stare Izuku was giving him. He'd yet to see this look on the man's face, relating it to angry analyzing of some sort.

"No, I'm just the tech person. I have one gun for protection and I'm not very good with it." Kyouka pulled the pistol out and waved it around briefly for Katsuki to see. "I'd be more worried about Izuku and Shouto if I were you. The two of them would kill without a second’s hesitation for that boy. I would too, even if I'm not good at it."

"Yeah, yeah, the spoiled brat has complete and utter fucking immunity. Anything else?" Katsuki asked, watching Kouta stroll up and hop onto the couch with Kyouka.

"Homework only. I saw what you did and I heard your punishment choices," Kyouka said, pulling away the laptop Kouta took.

"I was about to do homework! Let me do it on one of the computers."

Katsuki watched the two of them from afar, and then looked to Izuku. "You let a menace like that go to school?"

"He isn't-" Izuku stopped himself, knowing that to say Kouta wouldn't be a public menace when put in a room with a bunch of other kids with the logic 'if you don't like someone then kill them' would be a blatant lie. "-a complete menace. Just... misguided. But no, he's homeschooled. Kyouka and I teach him and Mashirao what we can."

“Then wouldn’t it be class work if his home is class?”

“I don’t know! Class isn’t in session when he’s doing it so I just call it homework! Just… Ugh, hold on.”

Izuku approached the two of them, leaving Katsuki by the door and looked around on the coffee table. Kyouka looked up from setting up a computer for Kouta to work on and stared at him curiously.

"What are you looking for?"

"Do you have the device ready for Katsuki? Or does Mei still need to finish building it?"

Katsuki's interest is piqued at the sound of his name and he listens more carefully, wondering what device is supposed to be made for him. Izuku never mentioned him getting any type of equipment on the way here.

"No, Mei hasn't finished it yet. After she's done I'll need to set it up to work with my computers, too."

Katsuki looked at the computers from afar when Kyouka mentioned them, craning his neck to the side a small bit to try to get a better view. With nothing interesting coming into sight he looked at the screens on the wall next and noticed one of the areas was moving. Approaching the screen and staring at it showed a very familiar looking room.

"Katsuki?"

He continued to stare at the screen until whatever camera was showing the place suddenly moved and he saw himself show up in black and white. He whirled around and noticed all three of them staring at him.

Izuku's eyes moved up to the screen and his face lit up quickly.

"Oh, shoot, I was so busy I forgot I still had it on." Izuku reached behind his ear and pulled off a small device.

Katsuki noticed there was a very small camera built into it, and when he looked over at the screen he could see the floor it was facing. "Do you wear that all the time?"

"Only when I leave town. If something happens to me I want Kyouka to know, rather than having everyone wait around for years for me to come back when I'm never coming." Izuku handed it off to Kyouka and made to leave, expecting Katsuki to follow.

Katsuki looked down at Kouta, who was glaring up at him, and he realized now how Kouta knew about the times he beat Izuku into the ground. Still no regret was felt, yet some understanding dawned on him as to one of the reasons Kouta despised him so much. Katsuki could understand if he saw someone knocking his father around he would get pretty angry, too.

 


 

"Who's going to threaten me next?" Katsuki asked, breaking the silence as he followed Izuku down the sidewalk.

"I don't think she was really threatening you. Just warning you about hurting Kouta." Izuku side eyed Katsuki, eyeing him carefully. "She is right, by the way. I did a lot to bring you here, but if you endanger Kouta I won't hesitate to kill you."

Katsuki glanced at him and smirked. "Good fucking luck. I'm not letting you assholes get the drop on me anymore. I don't trust any of you worth a damn."

Izuku glowered at him at the implication that he could do whatever he wanted around here. Katsuki's smirk dwindled quickly from the increasing tension, realizing he's yet to see this specific side of Izuku until now. Their eyes locked onto each other and their stride slowed to a mere saunter, and then they were rooted in place looking ready to attack at any moment.

Katsuki realized very quickly the direction this was headed in and considered his next words carefully. If Izuku wanted to fight then he wouldn't hold back in the slightest, but he still needed Izuku to get him out of trouble with the law so he could return to his own life after whatever Izuku made him do. So until then he'd need the both of them to refrain from either of them killing each other.

"I never really threatened him anyway. I told him to not try to murder me if he doesn't want me to treat him like an adult assailant." Katsuki's eyes roamed Izuku's body, watching the other relax little by little and the glare directed at him soften the slightest bit. He'd been curious to what degree Izuku can fight, but sadly now isn't the time to find out. "I'm not going to outright kill him or some shit. But a kid with a knife or a gun can potentially be just as dangerous as an adult with one. I'm not going to underestimate anyone with a weapon and a motive. Period."

Izuku relaxed completely now and moved onward, the tension finally withering away into nothingness. Katsuki stayed back and stared at him for a couple of seconds, feeling a small chill run up his spine. Katsuki shoved his hands into his pockets and jogged to catch up to Izuku, walking beside him once caught up and taking note that no one has ever given him chills like that before.

"You obviously don't need protection. So just what the fuck am I here for anyway?"

"Sometimes I do. In a way. Sometimes I do things that require two people, or I don't feel capable enough to handle a job alone. Stuff like that. Sometimes when I'm gone for more than a day I get paranoid about leaving everyone here alone without anyone to protect them. I use Shouto for all of that, but he's a very good mercenary in high demand. He can't be everywhere at once." Izuku stopped and looked up to the sky, focusing on listening to the area around himself. He could just barely hear the sound of someone working on one of the generators from afar and headed in that direction. "That's where you come in. Shouto tries to make as much time for me as he can, but honestly I have to do a lot of prolonged waiting for him and it's getting on my nerves. Not that I'm mad at him, but I'm... I'm just in a hurry to get some things done. So it'd be easier if I had someone I could count on to be around all of the time."

“So you expect me to stay here and take care of your little pretend family of assholes until the day you die or what? Because that isn’t happening.”

“No, no. And they’re not that bad when they don’t hate you.” Izuku rubbed the back of his neck anxiously, thinking of how best to explain the situation. “I just have a life goal I need to get done, and I can’t make any progress on it if I don’t have someone else cutting my responsibilities in half. That someone was Shouto, but as I said I can’t rely on him every time I need someone because he might not be around at the time. So I only need you until that life goal is done. After that I’ll make sure the entire world knows it wasn’t you that killed those people and you will be one hundred percent free to go. But I need you to help out until then.”

"And so you picked my name out of a hat, fucked me over thrice and brought me here," Katsuki said, not bothering to hide the obvious annoyance in his voice.

"Actually I had a couple of jobs in your area and, well, talk gets around and I heard about you a lot." Izuku smirked playfully and elbowed Katsuki. "I wanted to check you out for myself, and I liked what I saw."

"You may have fucked my life, but you're not fucking me along with it." Katsuki shoved Izuku away, keeping his eyes fixed forward to ignore the other man stumbling a few steps. "I get enough drunken men and women of all way, shapes, and sizes hitting on me at the bar I lived above. I don't need to add some bastard government assassin to the list."

"I'm joking," Izuku said with a small chuckle. "It's pretty easy to tell you aren't interested. Even if you walk around with your pants sagging and the hem of your underwear showing. You look more like you're itching to fight me most of the time-"

"We're getting way off topic," Katsuki said quickly, annoyed that Izuku is perceptive enough to pick up on those kinds of things.

"Oh, uh, right. So I came up with that whole big plan to get you for myself. Kill your clients for a while, then kill the government officials I hired you to protect and no one would question it was you because strangely enough the people you protect all keep dying whenever you're around them."

"Too bad it got your ass kicked a few times."

Izuku shrugged and dug his hands into his pockets as well. "Those weren’t the first few times and they won’t be the last. I think you'll be worth it though.”

“We’ll see about that when everyone stops threatening me and trying to kill me.” Katsuki glanced over to the side at the sight of two people waving at them.

“I wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t think you could handle a moody five year old and a young woman who hasn’t even killed someone before,” Izuku said while waving back at them and pulling on Katsuki’s shirt to lead him toward the two.

Katsuki eyed them both cautiously as he and Izuku approached, taking note of the woman covered in grease staring at him through a pair of goggles. Izuku mentioned names before, but Katsuki didn’t care to remember them to try to figure out who this was.

Next his eyes landed on the boy who looked just barely shorter than Izuku, bent over behind the woman to observe the generator she was working on before he and Izuku came around. Compared to everyone else he’s seen so far today this guy looked strangely normal.

“Katsuki, this is Mashirao Ojiro and Mei Hatsume. Mei does most of the repairs and stuff for the apartments we live in. She’s good with electronics and stuff. She keeps the generators running for us without performing weird experiments to try to boost their power output, fixes pipes for our water supply without moving them around to try to make the water faster or hotter because it’s fine the way it is now. She also builds the devices like the earpiece you destroyed or the one you saw me wearing without trying to add new tools and stuff to them,” Izuku explained while jerking a small glare towards her at every emphasized word. Katsuki could easily tell there was a story or two to each one of those addendums.

“Wait, what?! He destroyed one of those?!”

“And Mashirao here is a runaway,” Izuku continued, ignoring Mei’s angry stare at Katsuki, “who happened upon us one day. He was hungry and filthy when Kyouka spotted him-”

“Hey!”

“-on one of the surveillance cameras out here,” Izuku continued yet again, now ignoring Mashirao’s indignant shout, “so we tried to take him home but he refused to go back to his home. He’s been with us for about a year now and he’s fitting in pretty well, so we’ve stopped trying to pawn him off on social services. But if he’s going to stay here he’s going to stop growing before he gets taller than me and get a job when he turns eighteen next year because his gaming and reading are both starting to get expensive.”

“I said I would,” Mashirao said under his breath, approaching Katsuki and holding his hand out. “Slightly embarrassing life story aside, it’s nice to meet you Mr.-?”

“Katsuki,” Katsuki replied, swatting Mashirao’s hand away harshly. “Pertaining to the three people I’ve met so far, you’ll have to excuse me for refusing to let anymore of you fuckwads in my personal space. So back off.”

Mei pulled the goggles off her eyes, she and Mashirao staring at Katsuki with wide, confused eyes. Their gazes shifted to Izuku, who was hiding his face in his hands, having obviously not expected that to be the man’s greeting.

“He met Chiyo, Kouta and Kyouka before you two,” Izuku explained. Understanding dawned on their faces and Mei put her goggles back on to go back to work on the generator.

“Kouta take a liking to him already?” Mashirao questioned.

“He tried to smother me in my fucking sleep with a pillow,” Katsuki growled at him, shrugging off Izuku off roughly when the man put a hand on his shoulder. “And he punched me in the goddamn balls the moment I got here.”

“Yeah, if you could go help him with his homework and try to talk to him a little I’d appreciate it,” Izuku said, smiling at Mashirao apologetically. “I already played bad cop and punished him, so he’ll be more receptive to you and Kyouka right now.”

“Sure. I still need to start on mine anyway. We can do ours together,” Mashirao replied as he walked around Izuku, keeping a wider than necessary berth from Katsuki. Katsuki watched him go around, amused by the fact someone around here actually has the sense to be afraid of him.

His attention is brought back to Izuku, seeing the man crouched down and arguing with Mei about unnecessarily amplifying the generator again. It was then that he realized he really is stuck with a group of people whom he shared a mutual hatred with.

“Hey ass clown,” Katsuki called out to Izuku, tapping the man on the back with his foot. “If I’m going to be living in this shit hole you need to show me the important places. Food, bathroom, all that shit.”

Izuku snatched the wrench out of Mei’s hand, glaring at her a moment longer before turning his attention to Katsuki. “Of course. Just let me help fix this generator and we’ll finish the tour, okay?”

Katsuki nodded and took a couple of steps back, dropping down to sit in the grass and watch the two of them.

“I don’t need help with this, Izuku. Just go show him around,” Mei said, reaching for the wrench and groaning as Izuku jerked it out of her reach.

“Sorry Mei, but I’m not letting you blow up another generator! You’ve already gone through three and I just don’t have the money for another one right now.” Izuku fell back onto his bottom while keeping Mei from snatching the wrench back out of his hand. “I’ll buy you something else to experiment on when I get the money for it, but not our water and power supplies!”

Katsuki looked up to the street lamp a few feet away, hearing the noise from a camera where the light should be turning to stare at him and sighed. He already knew it was that one girl whose name he couldn’t remember watching him.

A small child who bites off more than he can chew, a woman who is going to watch him everywhere all the time for biased suspicions, an old lady that carries around a tranquilizer gun everywhere she goes, another woman that apparently blows things up in the name of experimentation, and an assassin bent on making sure all of these people live together peacefully.

So far the teenager is the only one he can stand, and yet Katsuki still finds himself thinking…

I’m surrounded by fucking idiots and crazy people.

Chapter Text

“Don’t get that. Go one over,” Izuku said, looking up at the box Kouta grabbed.

“I don’t want the stupid cartoon characters,” Kouta said, frowning down from atop Izuku’s shoulders. He grabbed the other box of fruit snacks and looked it over, grimacing at the characters’ faces. “They look stupid.”

“I didn’t say they’re for you. I want them.” Izuku tightened his grip on Kouta’s legs around his head and glanced from side to side to look for Katsuki.

Kouta tossed both boxes into the shopping cart below. He looked back over the top of the shelf and spotted the top of Katsuki’s head a few aisles away.

“Angry spike trap at twelve o’ clock.”

“Remember what I said about calling Katsuki names?” Izuku questioned while lowering Kouta back into the shopping cart.

“Not to let him hear me do it,” Kouta repeated Izuku’s warning from yesterday, shoving a couple of boxes of cereal out of his way to stand at the front of the cart.

“Good. Now which direction was he headed in?” Izuku positioned himself on the back of the shopping cart and turned it around to the opposite direction Kouta pointed in. Once settled in he ran with the cart and jumped onto the back to ride it down the aisle.

The both of them rode the cart through the store, Izuku touching the floor every few seconds to make sharp turns. They ignored the looks of disapproval from bystanders around the store and Izuku kept sharp eyes out for anyone or anything that might get in their way. They turned into one of the frozen food aisles and the cart jerked to a hard stop.

Kouta stared up at Katsuki, annoyed at the man stopping their joyride, and Izuku gave him a half smile.

“Just how fucking old are you?” Katsuki asked, his foot positioned on the bottom front of the cart to keep them from moving onward.

“Twenty-two,” Izuku answered innocently, knowing full well it was a rhetorical question. “Being older doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. You should try it sometime.”

“I had plenty of fun before I was forced to stay with you two assholes. You know, back when I had my own life,” Katsuki retorted before something smacked him across the face and his head jerked to the side. He could easily assume whatever it was had to do with Kouta, given that his attention was wholly focused on Izuku up until now.

He looked down at the boy, unamused by the sight of Kouta wielding a loaf of bread by the edge of the wrapper and glaring up at him.

“Either put something in the cart or get out of the frickin way. We’re not done getting stuff and we don’t have time for you to complain all day!”

Katsuki closed his eyes, sucked in a large breath, and exhaled slowly through his nose. If Izuku wasn’t already pulling Kouta out of the cart he might have snatched the bread out of Kouta’s hand and slapped the boy across the face with it in retaliation. Though he also stopped and reminded himself that a stupid, misbehaved child didn’t deserve something as horrible as his wrath.

Not his full wrath, anyway.

“You didn’t say I can’t hit him with soft things,” Kouta complained quietly, crossing his arms and pouting due to his cart privileges being revoked.

“I said you can’t attack him at all. No loopholes allowed,” Izuku clarified, returning back to his spot behind the cart and leaning forward to rest his arms on the handlebar.

Katsuki grabbed the front of the cart and jerked it forward, paying no mind to Izuku jumping onto the back and letting Katsuki pull him along. Kouta tried to grab onto the side and Izuku swatted his hand away while telling him he had to walk now.

Katsuki guided them back into the produce section, where he had them initially before they both snuck off. That thought prompted him to look into the cart for the first time since he lost them and he felt frustration well up inside his chest at the sight of all the junk food and snacks he came here to replace.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Izuku says quickly, moving between Katsuki and the cart protectively, “but you don’t have to eat this stuff if you don’t want. Just think about that. We get this and you get your stuff. Everyone wins.”

“That’s not the fucking point! You have nothing but this disgusting shit all over your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer! We came here to fucking diversify, not get more of the same shit,” Katsuki barked at him.

“And we are! We’re getting your stuff too, but we’re just also getting a little more of ours. It just means more for you, right?”

Katsuki’s scowl intensified, although he made no move to get Izuku out of his way. While he wasn’t the healthiest eater himself he still refused to live off of stuff like this, and while having the stuff these two have stocked up every so often was fine he still found himself wholly against the sheer amount of it.

He glanced over Izuku’s shoulder at the multitude of bags of chips, boxes of fruit snacks, packages of juice boxes and other things he considered utter crap, and then sighed.

“Fine, but you’re not living on this shitfest anymore. I’m getting stuff to make actual food and when I make something you shut up and eat it. So figure out what you like that isn’t packaged, go get it, and bring it here.”

“Why do you care what we eat? You don’t even like us,” Kouta argued.

“Because the stuff I make requires that I make it in bulk and I’m not eating it all by myself,” Katsuki said, already piling ingredients into the cart. “I’m not letting any of it go to waste either.”

“What, so just cause you’re lonely means we have to eat what you say?”

Katsuki placed one last thing in the cart and moved in front of the child, crouching down and staring him in the eyes.

“Yeah, you know what? Let’s go with that.” He poked Kouta on the forehead roughly with his index and middle finger, causing Kouta to stumble back a step and scowl at him. “Because your pseudo daddy right there took me away from my family and friends, and you want to be an unruly, troublesome, little delinquent shit, you’re going to eat what I say to help make me feel more at home. Ain’t that right, Deku?”

They both looked up at Izuku. Even though he was nodding it was easy to tell he didn’t look so sure about agreeing to this. Nevertheless, it was agreed upon, and so off he dragged Kouta to look around.

Another half hour had gone by, most of it spent with Katsuki guarding the cart from being taken by Izuku and Kouta, and the latter two going back and forth to get things to put in the cart. When it was time to finally go, Izuku took the cart to the same check-out lane he always went to.

“Dekuuu!”

“Hello again, Ms. Ashido,” Izuku greeted with a wave. “It’s been a while this time.”

“I told you to just call me Mina!” she shouted at him, slapping her hands onto the counter. “You bought up in such bulk last time I thought I’d never see you again. Where’s Kouta?”

She spotted his hat down below and leaned across the counter separating them to see his sullen face.

“He’s not allowed in the cart because he’s misbehaving today,” Izuku explained, reaching down to pat Kouta on the head. “He’s been going through a bit of a rough patch recently.”

“Aww, what’s got him so upset?”

“Are you going to scan this shit or what?” Katsuki interrupted their conversation, having already emptied half of the cart onto the conveyer belt without either of them noticing.

“Him,” Izuku replied, jabbing a thumb in Katsuki’s direction.

“Don’t believe I’ve seen him before. I would’ve remembered an attitude like that,” Mina said, beginning to scan the items for the group as Izuku reached for his wallet. “Who is he?”

“Ka...c-cchan,” Izuku corrected himself quickly, remembering that Katsuki was currently a convicted felon and telling everyone his name probably wouldn’t be good in the long run if authorities ever caught wind of his name being used around here. “...His name is Kacchan.”

“Excuse me?” Katsuki managed to say through gritted teeth, his glare aimed dead center at Izuku’s slightly panicked face. “My name-”

“-is Kacchan,” Izuku interrupted quickly, kicking Kouta in the butt at the sight of the boy trying desperately not to burst out laughing. “He’s new around here. Um, he’s my new work partner, so he’s living with us to make things easier.”

“Oh, well nice to meet you, Kacchan!” Mina greeted him happily, giving him a big grin. “Deku and I are pretty good pals, so if you ever need anything I can help with, you be sure to let me know too!”

“K-Kacchan, why don’t you take Kouta to the car? I’ll pay for the groceries and meet you both out there.”

Katsuki snatched Kouta by the wrist and dragged him away with no time left wasted. Izuku looked at the window where they left and spotted Katsuki mouthing ‘This isn’t over’ with Kouta laughing next to him.

Outside, Katsuki dragged Kouta toward the parking lot where their car was parked with Kouta laughing the entire way. Katsuki clenched his jaw, but kept from tightening his grip on the boy’s arm. No matter how angry he is, he still remained rational enough to at least know not to hurt the him.

“H-h-hey, Kacchan,” Kouta started, stuttering between laughter, “I-I think we p-passed the car back there, Kacchan.”

“Listen you little fucking shit-”

“Oh I’m listening, Kacchan!

Katsuki jerked the door to the backseat open and practically tossed Kouta inside, slammed the door shut, and climbed into the front seat. With his own door slammed shut he found himself now locked in with the most annoying gremlin he'd ever come to know.

“This is the best night ever, Kacchan,” Kouta commented once his laughter finally died down. “I think I can look at you in a whole new light now, Kacchan.”

Katsuki smiled wickedly in the rear-view mirror at Kouta. “You know what? I agree. I think this night might be the start of a brand new friendship, tator-tot.”

“Hey, you can’t call me that,” Kouta said, pointing at him accusingly.

“Oh? Is short stack trying to start something?” Katsuki retorted, amused by Kouta’s reaction. “What are you going to do about it? Careful you don’t have your bedtime pushed up earlier as punishment. Maybe he’ll take away your milk and cookies-”

“Shut up! Stupid Kacchan!”

“Come on, get creative with it, you little gremlin” Katsuki continued to taunt him, sitting back in his seat and smugly watching Kouta fume in the mirror. “Is that all you got? A nickname Deku came up with on the spot? Try harder you cretin. Oh wait, you can’t, because you have the vocabulary and mental fortitude of a fucking kindergartner.”

Kouta reached for Katsuki, prompting the man to snatch him by the wrist again and jerk him forward into the front seat. The back of his head landed in Katsuki’s lap with a hand pressed over his mouth and his wrists held together above his head.

At the same moment the driver’s side door opened and Izuku poked his head in, frowning at the scene. “What’s going on?”

“Apparently two-bit here is going to take on the world.”

“Geez, we don’t have time for this, guys,” Izuku whined at them. “Kouta, get back in the backseat and stay there. I’m going to put the groceries in the trunk and I’ll be right back.”

Izuku quickly put the groceries away in the trunk of the car, ignoring the commotion he saw through the back window as he rushed to put away bag after bag. Once done, and the cart put away, he got into the driver’s seat and leaned back in the chair with his head back. He glanced at the backseat to make sure Kouta wasn’t harmed after seeing Katsuki’s smug grin. Seeing Kouta unharmed, although clearly angered by something, he turned to Katsuki.

“I’m sorry about the name. I wasn’t trying to make fun of you or anything,” Izuku explained. He put the key in and started the car. “I was going to say your real name, but then I remembered you’re technically an escaped convict and if the news is doing any reports about you, just your name circulating could be enough for anyone to find you. So I had to come up with something mid-sentence. That’s my fault for not remembering to come up with a new name for you before we went anywhere. You’re going to have to stick with the name now that at least one person knows it, but if there’s anything I can add on to make it worth it-”

“No more surprises,” Katsuki interjected. “The reasoning is good enough. But no more fucking surprises. You tell me this shit before it happens, got it?”

“Got it,” Izuku repeated, holding out his pinky finger with a grin.

Katsuki stared down at it, trying to ascertain just what Izuku was doing, then clicked his tongue in annoyance once he figured it out. He crossed his arms and glared out the window instead of fulfilling his part of the action.

“Come on, don’t you want a chance at breaking my pinky one day?”

“That’s fucking childish. Who the fuck even does pinky promises anymore?”

“C’mooon, you know you want to,” Izuku said, poking Katsuki in the arm with his pinky finger. “Kacchan.”

Katsuki glared at Izuku’s reflection in the window, and then took Izuku’s pinky with his own hastily to seal the deal. Being reminded of what he’d have to be called now ignited the desire to hopefully break that finger one day.

“Hey, see, even you still got a little childish wonder in you,” Izuku commented once the deal was sealed. “You’re never too old to have fun.”

“I’m doing it so I can break your fucking finger, dumbass.”

“Are you two going to stop flirting?” Kouta complained from the backseat, slapping their hands away from each other. “I want to get home before Christmas.”

“Flir-? Where did you learn that word?” Izuku questioned, glancing back at Kouta in confusion.

“Kyouka and Mashirao taught it to me when we were watching you flirt with Katsuki yesterday,” Kouta explained, sitting back and putting his seatbelt on. “Did I use it wrong? It looked like you were flirting with him just now-”

“Please, just...” Izuku buried his face in his hands with a sigh at the same time Katsuki snorted with amusement, clearly holding back some laughter. Izuku checked his mirrors before backing out of the parking spot, now on a mission to get home and scold Kyouka for teaching Kouta things he didn’t need to know. “Just stop talking right now.”

“Yeah, give him a break, kid,” Katsuki chimed in, grinning at the situation. “He just learned that, not only did he strike out, but everyone saw it. Guess I’m not the one who got fucked after all, huh Deku?”

“I said I was joking!” Izuku shouted, speeding up to get home, or more specifically, out of close quarters with the two of them, faster.

Once the three arrived home, the groceries were put away, Katsuki was given everything he needed to start cooking, and everyone was subsequently forced out of the kitchen so he could work without distractions.

Izuku left with Kouta to invite the others over, as Katsuki mentioned that there would be enough for everyone if anyone else wanted to come. So of course Izuku takes that as ‘Invite the others over!’

Although that isn’t at all what Katsuki meant.

With Mei, he got the device he asked to be built for Katsuki, and with Kyouka it was paired up with her computers and finally ready for use.

Once everyone was invited, Izuku returns to the apartment with Kouta, Mashirao and Kyouka in tow, arriving just after Katsuki was done cooking.

By the time the last bowl was filled with soup and handed off to Kouta, who swirls it around with his spoon and a look of disgust while making his way towards his room, everyone else was already drowning in the sea of delight provided by their taste buds.

Izuku feels like he’s in heaven right now.

It was impossible to say how long it’d been since he had a meal that was made by someone else from scratch. Not since he ran off to live alone, so at least a good seven years.

At least.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Katsuki’s voice cut through the silence. The only other noises in the room were the clanking of spoons against glass bowls and happy eating. Everyone’s attention was drawn to him, then toward the target of his gaze.

“To my room...?” Kouta responded from the middle of the doorway leading to the living room. His voice carried a questioning undertone, as he didn’t understand exactly why he was being stopped by Katsuki of all people.

“No, you’re going to eat your first spoonful where I can see you,” Katsuki said, placing one hand on his waist.

“What kind of perverted shit-?”

“Hey,” Izuku interrupted with the spoon still in his mouth, “language.”

“I want to see your face light up from something I made. Just so I can rub it in that shit spewing little fucking mouth of yours the next time you try to insult me,” Katsuki explained, then pointed toward the bowl in Kouta’s hands and demanded, “Eat.”

Kouta looked to Izuku for support, but all he got in return was an amused smile, and it was in that moment that no one stood up for him, here and now, that everyone officially became dead to the boy.

“What, so he gets to say your crappy ‘bad words’ and I don’t?” Kouta questioned, quickly trying to change the subject. Hopefully, if everyone was distracted enough with something else, he can escape without any trouble.

“He’s older than me. I’m not going to tell him what he can and can’t say,” Izuku said with a shrug. Although he'd already made it clear he’d prefer Katsuki didn’t curse around Kouta, it was a preference and a request, not a rule that he could enforce. Both men are well aware of such.

“Eat,” Katsuki repeated, pointing toward the bowl more forcefully. “Quit trying to change the subject. Just take one bite and then I don’t care what you do.”

“Katsuki, let me ask you,” Kyouka said, turning her attention toward him, “when you end up in a situation like this, does it ever even occur to you to stop and figure out how you got there?”

“And let him win?” Katsuki asked incredulously. Whether the point of the question went completely over his head or he was purposefully making fun of it was beyond her judgement.

Kouta looked down into the bowl, his reflection staring back amidst the kale, potato slices and sausage chunks in the broth. He realized there'd be no way out of this if no one else was going to tell him he could go. But believing that something Katsuki made can’t be all that good, because someone with as big an attitude problem as him obviously couldn’t put the care into making something good, he grabbed the spoon and lifted it toward his mouth to take a bite.

Then suddenly he felt like he was tasting food for the first time.

“Well? Taste better than the frozen shit Deku microwaves for you all the time?” Katsuki asked, crossing his arms with a smug, knowing smile.

Kouta remained silent. Katsuki’s voice and all the pairs of eyes on him are enough to jerk him out of his stupor, and he doesn’t want to give the man the satisfaction of a yes, but he also won’t lie when the answer should be so obvious. It'd been so obvious, in fact, that Kouta was more than aware Katsuki was only asking because he already knew the answer to the question.

Instead he whirled around and stormed off to his room, bowl of soup still in hand, and that was all Katsuki needed to know the conclusion of this situation.

“How do you know how to cook so well anyway?” Mashirao asked. “No offense, but meeting you at first, I didn’t think cooking would be one of your talents.”

“You saying I can’t be talented just because you suck at reading people?” Katsuki filled his bowl and sat at the table that Izuku set up in the living room, scowling at Mashirao as he sat.

“No, no, I just- Cooking takes patience and you don’t seem like a very patient person and-”

“He’s asking because he doesn’t know you, Kacchan. He can’t know a lot about you if you don’t let him get to know about you,” Izuku interjected. He was learning quickly that defusing a situation before it had a chance to turn into anything was the best course of action with Katsuki. Though he had a feeling he'd be living a more active life than a member of a bomb squad when it came to defusing as long as Katsuki was around.

“You’re calling me that even here?”

“I’m doing it for the same reason you call me ‘Deku’ around here,” Izuku said with his hands up defensively. “I have to get used to it, or else I could end up calling you by your name in public on accident.”

Katsuki ate a spoonful of the soup, glared at Izuku for a few seconds, and deemed both statements, about Mashirao and about his name, accurate if not completely correct. So his gaze falls upon Mashirao’s uneasy face once more.

“My parents made sure I knew how to cook by the time I was thirteen. I’ve been helping them make food for years,” Katsuki explained. This was among a numerous amount of other things they made him learn, many either against his will or per his request. “Which is also why I’m not going to eat a lot of the bullshit Deku buys as long as I can help it.”

Everyone’s heads turned toward the door at the sound of a knock, and Izuku was the first one up to get it. They’re under the assumption it was either Chiyo or Mei come to join the group for dinner. Izuku, as well as Kyouka when she cranes her neck back to catch a glimpse at their guest, was startled to see Momo and Tenya at the door.

“Hello, Midoriya,” Momo said, pushing past him and into the apartment.

She was followed closely by Tenya, who closes the door and glances at everyone in the room. Once his eyes land on Katsuki, he taps Momo on the shoulder and points towards him, whispering something to her.

Momo stared at Katsuki for a few seconds. It was obvious from the look on her face that she was mere milliseconds from putting two and two together, and Izuku braced himself for the scolding he was no doubt about to receive.

“I was afraid it was you who broke him out.”

Izuku shrugged with an apologetic smile. “I needed him.”

“Then why would you get him locked up in the first place?”

“Well,” Izuku said, rubbing his arm similarly to a child being scolded, “it’s a long story that I’m willing to bet you aren’t interested in.”

“You realize we cannot simply overlook this, correct? His case was a big one. He’s a serial killer.”

“Yeah, about that,” Izuku grinned at them when their expressions morphed to one he was used to seeing. Expressions that tell him they’ve begun to get tired of him and his schemes. “I’m actually the one who killed every single person he’s accused of killing. I framed him. So, he’s actually innocent.”

“Framed or not, we can’t throw you under the bus for him. You’re far more valuable to us than he is and this is the consequence of your actions.” She turned toward Tenya and pointed at Katsuki. “Take him in.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Oh, um-” Izuku pulled out his pistol and pointed it at her. He followed up with a kick to Tenya’s hand when the man reached for his own weapon, sending the gun up into the air and into Izuku’s other hand, now pointed towards Tenya. “-then, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can work together anymore.”

Momo stared down at the barrel of the gun pointed at her chest with distaste. Slowly and gently she pushed it to the side with her clipboard. “Is he really so important that you’d risk making enemies of us?”

“Is his imprisonment really so important that you’d risk making enemies of us?”

She looked over her shoulder at Katsuki, who was the only person not watching this scene unfold, instead choosing to eat his food without so much as a glance toward any of them, and then back to Izuku.

“Fine. But we’re not affiliated with him in any way, and therefore are not giving him protection or payment of any kind,” Momo explained. She grabbed one of the papers on her clipboard and held it out for Izuku to take. “Here’s the next target, same area as the last. I’m told a somewhat competent bodyguard will be there, a weapons expert, so do tread lightly. We’ll show ourselves out.”

“I think I’ll be fine,” Izuku said, putting his gun away and taking the paper from her. He let Tenya snatch the other weapon out of his hand while he read over the paper.

With the two of them gone, Izuku took his seat back at the table and double checked the profile of the person he’s now assigned to kill.

“Guess I’ll be gone all night tomorrow.”

“Where to?” Kyouka asked, taking the paper from Izuku to look it over.

“Back to Washington, around where Katsuki lived.”

This caught Katsuki’s attention. That and the earlier statement of “a somewhat competent bodyguard” being there. Which only left two people in his mind that Izuku could be dealing with. The fact the person was a weapons expert narrowed it down to one person he knew, and he’d rather not have them take arms against Izuku.

Not because he cared for Izuku’s safety, but because he cared for theirs. He’s fully aware of what they can do, but only seen a glimpse of what Izuku can do just now. Better not to leave it to chance.

“I’m going with you,” Katsuki said, the finality in his tone leaving no room for question. Though apparently that didn’t stop Izuku from trying anyway.

“No offense, but I’d prefer if you stayed here,” Izuku said while studying the paper over Kyouka’s shoulder. “It’s really close to the area you lived in and it would be problematic if someone who recognized you saw you. Also I don’t trust you to not get in contact with your family the first chance you get, and this is a really simple assignment that I don’t need help-”

“I said I’m going,” Katsuki reiterated, his tone once again filled with finality.

It was clear to Izuku that he wasn’t going anywhere without Katsuki tomorrow, so he got out of his seat and went to go make a call to Shouto.

“We’ll leave in the afternoon and be back in the morning, then,” came Izuku’s defeated voice from the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Breezy. That was Izuku’s only thought in this second.

It was peaceful, to say the least, during these moments. When he’s waiting for his targets to come into view everything else melts away. Even though he’s focused on the window across the street, he still manages to find his attention spread across everything else. The people drifting in and out of his view, the small snippets of conversations he often hears from below, the cool, night air blowing against his face to help combat the sweltering summer heat. There are two dogs playing in a nearby park, from what he can hear-

“Is he fucking there yet or what?”

-and Katsuki very close by, having made his boredom crystal clear for the past hour and a half.

“You didn’t have to come. I told you that you wouldn’t like it,” Izuku reminded him, still not taking his eye off the window across the street. He reached over and blindly tugged at Katsuki’s pant leg with a small smile. “Please don’t mess with your earpiece too much.”

He didn’t need to look at Katsuki to know that’s what the other was doing. The man made it clear he didn’t want to wear the earpiece, but Izuku had Mei make it just for him. Shouto wears one too when he goes out with Izuku, and if Izuku has anything to say about it, so will anyone who works with him.

It’s the same as his own. Made for communication between all the people wearing similar devices, a miniature camera attached so it can always stream a feed of what the user sees to Kyouka’s computers. The audio and video is always saved as recordings and it serves a great many purposes. It can be annoying to wear at first, but once you’re used to it you don’t even notice it’s there.

Though to Katsuki, the only purpose it serves is annoying him to no end.

Katsuki leaned forward on the edge of the building. He’s standing on a rooftop, only partially amused by how long Izuku has managed to hang upside down on the same ledge Katsuki is standing on. Twenty-five minutes and counting. The blood should have rushed to his head long ago, and if it has Izuku has showed no signs of it bothering him whatsoever.

He claims he can’t see through the window properly from anywhere else. The fire escape below them is too low, sitting on the ledge is too high, even laying on his stomach is apparently too high. Katsuki is convinced he just wants to show off, but Izuku doesn’t really seem the type to do so.

“This should be him,” Izuku said, zooming in more with the scope. Everyone he sees may be upside down right now, but he’s still able to make out who is who. The person he needs to kill is just out of sight, the only thing he can get a shot on right now is the man’s nose. “Just let me kill him and we can go.”

Katsuki kept his eyes trained on the window as well. There’s someone else he’s looking for, someone he hopes isn’t here but is willing to bet they are.

Then, lo and behold, the very same person suddenly takes up the view of the whole window.

Katsuki’s eyes dart down towards Izuku, seeing his finger practically twitching. He wants to shoot badly, Katsuki can tell, but he won’t do it. He won’t because killing the bodyguard would only serve to alert the target that they’re being hunted.

“Deku-”

“Shh-” Izuku adjusts the scope again, but he looks more controlled, calmer, “-I need to concentrate.”

Katsuki can physically feel the anxiety welling up in his chest. He wants the other person alive, and he needs Izuku alive, so there’s little he can do in this moment. It’s haunting to feel so powerless for once.

He won’t do it.

Katsuki’s gaze keeps shifting between Izuku’s trigger finger and the window.

Fuck, he’s going to do it.

Katsuki sees the person turn their head towards the table where the target is sitting, talking to others, some sort of meeting no doubt, and then he’s reaching for the window curtains.

Katsuki’s foot moves on its own, he can swear he had no say in it, and suddenly Izuku is falling from the roof. At the same time he’s kicked, Izuku let off a shot, thankful for the silencer he used so the entire neighborhood wouldn’t be alerted, and the window across the street shatters from the bullet passing through.

Katsuki looks at the window and sees his person of interest holding their ear. Presumably that’s what was shot, which is still better than their actual head. His gaze then moves down to check on Izuku as he realized he just kicked the man off the roof of an apartment building.

“Katsuki?” Denki stared at the figure on the rooftop across the street, holding his still bleeding ear. His gaze moved to the other person on the fire escape holding a sniper and staring up at Katsuki, and he turned to the other people in the room. “Go to the room across the hall, lock the door and stay as quiet as possible. Anyone tries to come in without knocking five times, shoot them.”

Izuku hung precariously from the edge of the fire escape, having caught himself with one leg on the bar below, and glared daggers up at Katsuki. It’s fairly obvious who pushed him off, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. For that, he’s also fairly certain he knows why Katsuki wanted to come so badly too.

“Katsuki,” Kyouka called to him in his earpiece, watching the feed through his camera. “You know how Izuku is really laid back and accepting of so much? Well, if you keep this up you’re going to see something you really don’t want to. Don’t ever get between him and a target. It gets bad. He’s got a pretty fucked up past and making him angry makes it harder for him to keep control of his conditioning.”

“I don’t want to hurt him Kacchan, but he’s directly opposing me here.” Izuku unbent his knee and let himself fall, then caught onto the next bar below with his hand and pulled himself up. He looked up to Katsuki, the cold, analytical, almost robotic look in his eyes enough to give the other a brief chill. They were the complete opposite of the normally warm and inviting look they always had. “If he gets in my way, I’m going to kill him.”

There’s an undertone in there that doesn’t sound like Izuku at all; not from what Katsuki is used to anyway. It’s easy to tell from his voice that this isn’t a threat, it’s a promise.

This is a new side to Izuku that he hadn’t seen before, and one he isn’t too happy to see at that. This is the true assassin locked away in that cheerful smile and large, innocent eyes.

Katsuki cursed under his breath and jumped over the edge to the fire escape. He proceeded to run down the stairs to catch up with Izuku, who had already touched ground by now and was running across the street.

“Alright, but Izuku doesn’t let a target get away. Ever,” came Kyouka’s voice in his ear again. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Izuku ran into the old apartment building and shut the front double doors, then shoved his sniper through the handles to keep Katsuki from getting inside. He knew that, if given the chance, Katsuki would try to hinder him, and he’s not about to have that.

“You’re the guy who framed Katsuki.”

Izuku looked down the hallway, being met with Denki holding two pistols up at him and his ear bleeding freely onto his shoulder. He held his hands up to signal surrender so Denki hopefully wouldn’t shoot.

“Yeah, sorry about that. It was part of a convoluted plan. This meeting here is actually coincidence, too. I honestly had no intention of coming here to kill you.”

“Then why did you try? Why are you here?”

“Well, see,” Izuku grinned sheepishly, his hands still just above his shoulders. He took one step forward and froze when a bullet pierced the wooden floor directly next to his foot.

“I don’t miss twice. Answer me from there,” Denki growled, pointing the guns back up at Izuku’s head. “Everyone is pretty pissed off about what you did to Katsuki. Are you coming back for the rest of us now?”

“Look, I’m not here for you. You’re a friend of Kacchan's, and I really don’t want to get into a fight with him for killing you. As good as I am, I’m still convinced he can beat me in a fair fight. So I’m going to ask once for everyone’s sake, before I make sure this isn’t a fair fight; please step aside.”

Denki’s eyebrow raised, and his eyes darted towards the door behind Izuku at the sound of pounding. That second was all Izuku needed to kick up the pipe at his feet and catch it. He moved to the side when Denki shot, then again to the other side, and finally once more to the other side. On the third move he spun and threw the pipe down the hall at Denki, running forward directly behind it.

“Fuck.” Katsuki kicked the door one last time, and then deemed it useless to try to get through that way. He ran around to the nearest window to jump through there instead.

Holy shit this guy is fast. Denki moved out of the way of the pipe and took one last shot at Izuku before having to retreat towards the stairs. At the top of the stairs he aimed down at where Izuku should be, but no one was there.

Denki looked every which way. After that little display he’s willing to bet this guy could have ended up anywhere in the short time he looked away. With no one in sight, he slowly began to climb the stairs.

He won’t return to the group of people he’s protecting in case the assassin is watching him. That would just lead the guy right to them. So instead he stops one floor below the group and moves down the hallway slowly and quietly, then jumps from the sudden shattering of a window from below.

Katsuki climbed through the broken window and took in his surroundings before moving to the nearest door. Said door led him to a hallway, where he checked both his left and right. On the right he spotted Izuku turning a corner and dashed down the hall to catch up to him. Upon turning the corner he saw no one there.

“He doesn’t do as well in open spaces, but he has a lot of dark rooms and corners to work with now. You’re not going to find him unless he wants to be found, and you’re not going to see him unless he wants to be seen,” Kyouka explained to him. “Not to sound all ‘join the dark side’ or anything, but you’d be better off killing the target yourself if you want your friend to live. Izuku is heavily trained in this, and he’s in his element right now. You’ll need luck on your side if you want to stop him from killing anyone at all.”

“You can see what he sees, right? Can’t you tell me where he is?” Katsuki asked, checking different rooms as he worked his way towards the staircase.

“I could.” A long pause ensued, and Katsuki knew the implication of that pause.

But I won’t.

Gunshots are heard upstairs, and Katsuki followed the noise hurriedly. Stepping foot onto the third floor, he spots Denki holding his side and pointing a gun at him.

“Katsuki? Please tell me that’s you.” It’s not obvious to just anyone, but Katsuki can tell. The hint of fright in Denki’s voice, the small shaking in his frame, and the way his eyes dart around the hallway. He’s still bleeding from his ear, but there’s a new wound in his side now, and a stain of red on his shirt. “This guy is freaking me out, man. He said he knows you, so just call him off.”

It’s to be expected. The two of them have dealt with a lot of aggressors before, more than they can count or even bother to remember, even groups of them at a time, but they’ve never had to deal with someone of this caliber before. The worst part being that he doesn’t know exactly what caliber Izuku is. Just that this isn’t the usual street thug or hitman they’re used to dealing with.

Come to think of it, Katsuki always did want a challenge. Just not one that threatened the life of a friend, such as in this specific situation.

“He’s not going to stop until he kills the person he came here for. One of the guys upstairs.”

“I can’t let him do that,” Denki said quickly. “Our business got hurt badly enough when you got sent to prison. I can’t let it get hurt any more than it already is.”

Katsuki cocked his head to the side to look over Denki’s shoulder, prompting the other to glance backwards and see Izuku standing at the end of the hall. Izuku’s sympathetic look didn’t go unnoticed, but it did serve to piss Denki off just a little more.

The fact that’s Denki’s pistol Izuku is holding is what angers him most.

 


 

Ting!

Another soda can goes flying. The one next to it follows quickly after, and Shouto is reloading the rifle in his hands.

It’s typically boring being around here at night. Everyone is asleep, there’s no real shooting range because this was widely a residential area in the past, and he can’t go too far away because he’s technically supposed to be babysitting.

But, as boring as it is, he still agreed to this favor for Izuku and wouldn’t turn his back on the other for something so simple. It’s just one night after all.

Ting!

That’s the last soda can, and now he has to set them up again for his makeshift shooting range. It’s the most entertaining thing for him to do at two in the morning, short of going to Kyouka’s place to see what Izuku and Katsuki are up to. But to do so would take him too far away from Kouta, who needs the most attention of anyone here.

Izuku insists Kouta is the most defenseless of the bunch, and so needs protection the most, but Shouto would argue it was Mashirao who was the most defenseless. Kouta at least knows how to set up a decent sneak attack and has obviously gained the trait of not being afraid to kill someone from being around Izuku and him so much.

Mashirao is just too nice to properly defend himself, Shouto muses, picking up the cans and setting them back up on the random assortment of chairs and tables around the yard. But, regardless of the finer details, Kouta has always been Izuku’s favorite out of everyone here. The spoiled child who has the run of the place most times.

“What are you doing?”

As if thinking about him was enough to summon him, Kouta arrived clad in a shirt clearly too big for him.

Shouto’s actions are halted briefly to give him a cursory look, and then he’s right back to placing cans up in their respective places. “You should be in bed.”

“You’re not supposed to be firing guns unless someone is trying to kill us.”

Shouto feels the corners of his mouth tug upwards in amusement. Even if he has a silencer on the rifle, it’s still possible for Kouta to hear the cans getting hit. They’re not as loud as the gun being fired without a silencer, but it’s still fairly noisy. That, Shouto surmises, is what woke the boy up and brought him out here.

“Fair enough. I won’t tell if you don’t.” Another glance at Kouta and this time Shouto noticed he isn’t wearing his hat or boots either. If it wasn’t summer he might worry about the boy getting cold, but as it is right now he should be fine. “Are you going back to bed?”

“Not if you’re going to keep shooting stuff. It’s keeping me up,” Kouta complained, crossing his arms and glaring at Shouto.

Yet another fair point, but not one that is going to convince Shouto to stop. His last job had him up at this hour, and so he’s not about to fall asleep just yet. So he returns to the rifle, switches the safety on, and tosses it to Kouta, who looks as though he was just given a world he isn’t sure he’s ready for.

There’s another reason he believes Kouta isn’t the most defenseless around here, and this would be why.

“Again?”

“Are you complaining? Last time you hit three targets and you couldn’t stop grinning.”

“No, but…”

Shouto waited for him to finish, but Kouta never continued. Instead he tentatively makes his way towards Shouto and stands beside him. The rifle is pulled up and pointed towards one of the cans, but Shouto kneels down behind Kouta and grabs the gun to steady his aim.

“You’re worried about something?” Shouto asked suddenly while fixing Kouta’s posture. He can tell from the way Kouta seems to be lacking focus. His muscles are more relaxed than normal, which tells Shouto he’s thinking about something.

Kouta didn’t answer, squeezing the trigger instead and shaking the gun angrily when nothing happened. Shouto grabbed his arms to stop him, turned the safety off, and fixed his posture again.

“It’s stupid Katsuki,” Kouta finally answered after missing the first two shots he took. Shouto kept a hold on his shoulders to help with the recoil, knowing that the gun must already be hard enough for the boy to handle without it.

“Has he been giving you a hard time?”

Silence ensued, and for a while the only sounds are the bullets hitting walls. Shouto doesn’t push for an answer. He’s tried that before, and it only works for Izuku. Anyone else gets shut out almost instantly for trying to pressure Kouta into answering something.

He knows just as well as Izuku that Kouta is actually a decent person when given the chance to be, but he’s young and has the terrible social skills to reflect that. Not to mention the environment he’s growing up in isn’t the most favorable, even if he is surrounded by people who adore him.

“I tried to kill him,” Kouta said, breaking the silence between them after he hit the first can.

“Evidently you didn’t do a very good job,” Shouto replied, knowing that Katsuki is still living and breathing at this very moment. Kouta’s glare deterred him from continuing the joke. He’s aware it was in bad taste, considering Kouta’s feelings on the matter, but he couldn’t help himself. “No offense, but Izuku wouldn’t have gone through so much trouble to get a hold of someone who couldn’t at least defend themselves from you. What did you do to him?”

“I tried to cover his face with a pillow so he couldn’t breathe,” Kouta explained, going back to trying to shoot the next can. His shots are far apart as he tries to carefully aim each shot, but he finds it hard to hold still while he’s focused on his thoughts.

Shouto can tell as much because it normally doesn’t take Kouta this long to hit a target.

“Why would you smother him?” Kouta looked at Shouto, his brow furrowed and nose scrunched, and Shouto considered he probably didn’t know the word with how confused he looked. “Suffocate.” Kouta’s confusion persisted still, causing Shouto to roll his eyes and sigh. “You tried to cover his face so he couldn’t breathe. That’s what smother means.”

Understanding dawned on Kouta, and he went back to trying to shoot the next can. “What else was I supposed to do?”

The child tensed up quickly when a large knife appeared in the corner of his eye, even though it was just the handle, he couldn’t help but feel fear trickle into his system from the sight of it being so close.

“There’s more than a few better, faster and far more efficient ways to kill someone than smothering them with a pillow.” Shouto pulled the knife away and placed it back in the sheath on his hip. Not that he wants to advocate a five year old committing murder, but he’s a firm believer of doing something right if you’re going to do it at all. “So why are you trying to kill him? I understand he’s an acquired taste, but he can’t be so bad you need to end his life.”

“Because he’s such a pain. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He gets mad really easily. He’s just a big idiot.” Kouta accentuated each statement with a shot from the weapon in his hands, the last one finally hitting a can. “He’s going to screw up everything everyone has worked for.”

The deeper he pries the more Shouto can see this probably isn’t something a simple talk can fix. If anything, there seems to be some sort of psychological issue here that he doesn’t believe he’s prepared to handle. There are a lot of skills he has, but being a child therapist definitely is not one of them.

“Are these things you’ve witnessed firsthand, or are you projecting fears of an unknown variable onto him?” He’s faced by Kouta’s confused look for that question and it doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s talking in a far too complicated manner for someone so young to understand. It takes a moment of thought for him to try to word it in a way that Kouta can understand, but it’s especially hard due to the fact he doesn’t know the exact extent of Kouta’s vocabulary.

The kid often uses words he shouldn’t even know, or incorrectly uses words he knows but doesn’t understand, and then will turn right around and not know a word of a similar difficulty. It makes it maddening to talk to him sometimes.

“Do you know all of that for sure, or are you just taking a guess from what you think he is like?”

Kouta turned his back to Shouto again and returned to his thoughts while paying half attention to trying to aim. “I’ve seen enough.”

“I don’t think you have.”

“I have!” Kouta fired the rifle in rapid succession, hitting different targets flawlessly with each shot. “He’s a giant idiot that has no place here and he’s going to get Izuku killed because he doesn’t know how to work with anyone but his own selfish fucking self!”

Kouta threw the gun on the ground after squeezing the trigger several times and hearing the ever familiar ‘Click’ of an empty clip each time. His hands are then balled into fists with a glare directed at the ground.

Shouto cautiously slipped his index finger through the trigger ring and pulled the gun away, keeping his surprised eyes on Kouta the entire time. He didn’t expect Kouta to hurt either of the two of them purposefully, but accidents are pretty common when one is sufficiently angered.

“When he does get Izuku killed, I’m going to kill him myself.”

“Izuku can take care of himself. You should know that. The fact he always comes back relatively unharmed should be proof enough of that.” Kouta glared at Shouto, aware that what’s being said is true, yet he can’t help but feel paranoid about any problems Izuku will have with Katsuki around to hinder him. “He’s going to be fine, and Katsuki isn’t going to get him killed. Katsuki needs him alive just as much as Izuku wants him alive. You may not think it, but Katsuki, from what I hear, is extremely intelligent. He’s not going to endanger Izuku, and he’s not going to endanger you.”

“What makes you so sure?”

Absolutely nothing, if he’s to be honest. But looking at the situation Katsuki is in logically, he won’t turn against Izuku. As for Kouta, if he keeps pushing Katsuki’s buttons…

“I’ll talk to him when they get back tomorrow.” Shouto lifted Kouta up onto his shoulders and carried him back towards the apartment to put him to bed. ”And if he ever does hurt you after that, you don’t even have to bother Izuku, because I’ll be there to end him right away.”

Kouta snorted, shaking his head slowly while holding onto Shouto’s hair. “How stupid do you think I am? You wouldn’t even know he hurt me unless someone told you, and when they did you’d still have to take forever to get here. You’re not a superhero.”

A small smile made its way onto Shouto’s face as he held onto Kouta’s legs so the boy wouldn’t fall off his shoulders. Kouta has a lot to learn, but Shouto had to admit that the child is still smarter than he seems.

“You’re wearing Izuku’s shirt,” he points out to change the subject. It’s something that, if he happened to take a picture of right now, would be pretty good for coercion.

“You let me shoot a gun,” Kouta countered, and then quickly added on, “a gun you gave me. Willingly.”

Shouto has always regretted teaching Kouta what the word ‘blackmail’ meant. Regardless of the fact it’s all in good fun, he never seems to win one against the boy.

“Fair enough. I won’t tell if you don’t.”

 


 

“I searched the room upstairs, where did you move them?”

“I’m not telling you squat,” Denki growled, pointing his own weapon at Izuku.

Katsuki moved in the middle of them both and held a hand up toward each. Overall he'd like to keep both of them alive, but worse than one dying would be both of them killing each other.

“I'm going to find them. If you tell me where they are it'll just make it go quicker, then I'll be out of your way,” Izuku said, lowering the pistol and placing his hand on his waist. “I'm only after one of them and I don't want to be here anymore than you want me here.”

“Why the fuck is it so important?” Katsuki barked at him with a stomp of his foot. “It's just one nobody. You can let this one go and take another job.”

“That's not the point. They made a deal with me, and my part is to kill that man. It's the same as when you're hired to protect someone. You don't let them die. Well for me, I don't let them live. It's what I was trained to do, it's what keeps my friends alive, and it's what I'm going to do.”

Katsuki understands that, but it's strange hearing it from Izuku. He didn't seem the prideful type. Then again, after tonight, Katsuki realizes he probably doesn't know the man as well as he thought he did.

He knows Denki won't let it go either, but his current fears are alleviated a small bit when Izuku huffs and walks off around the corner into another hallway.

“Not that I'm not happy to see you again, but if you're not going to help then stay out of the way,” Denki said, moving around Katsuki and running down the hall. He manages only a few steps, then is jerked back by his shirt collar.

“If he doesn't outsmart you into leading him to them, then he's going to kill you.”

“Then I won't go to them and I'll kill him first.”

“Look at you, he's wounded you twice and stolen one of your guns,” Katsuki shouted, waving his hand at Denki to emphasize his point. “This is the first time I've seen him fight, so I don't know how good he is, but I can already tell you he'll fucking kill you. We've never dealt with someone like him before, so dying like this isn't going to help anyone accomplish shit.”

“You never let that stop you when you were overwhelmed,” Denki said, slapping Katsuki's hand off his shirt.

Katsuki had no comeback to that, and Denki knew it, so he took the chance to run off to find Izuku. Once Denki turned the corner, Katsuki spun around to meet the set of eyes he felt on his back.

“Not to be rude, but is he always that bullheaded?” Izuku asked, looking down the hall at where Denki just ran off to.

“Are you always this fucking sadistic?”

Izuku flinched at the word. It's not the first time he's been called that, and he doesn't believe it'll be the last, but it couldn't be further from the truth.

“I'm not enjoying this, if that's what you think. I don't want to be doing any of this. I just wanted to kill my target and leave. That's it.” Izuku blew a puff of air out of his mouth up towards his hair, sending a strand of hair out of his face. He looked around as though he may find the man he's hunting nearby, but really he's just uncomfortable. Whether Katsuki can tell or not doesn't matter to him. “I wasn't going to kill your friend. Earlier in the window, I mean.”

“You took a shot at him-”

You kicked me off the roof of a building that I was hanging upside down from. It startled me, and do you know what happens when someone with his finger on the trigger of a gun gets startled? They shoot.”

“Then what was all that shit about killing him if he gets in the way?!” Katsuki snarled, and then grabbed Izuku by the front of his shirt. “If this is some kind of fucking game...”

“I said I would kill him if he gets in the way because I expected him to be more of a challenge. He's someone that worked with you, so I was afraid he'd be someone as skilled as you. But he isn't, and so he isn't in my way. I don't mean this to be some type of wordplay, but that's how it is. He has too many weaknesses, and I'm an assassin. In case you don't know what that is, we don't really try to fight. We find weaknesses and we exploit them. Why do you think when we first met I always watched different parts of your body instead of making eye contact?”

“You were looking for weaknesses,” Katsuki said after a pause for thought. He slowly let Izuku go, though considered knocking that grin off his face while they were both still within arm's reach.

“I only hurt him the second time to scare him, I'm running around and hiding because he isn't good at close combat and I need to get close to him. Plus it helps to scare him more. He isn't the most confident person, so I'm hoping he realizes he can't handle me and gives up. The best assassins don't just run in screaming raaa I'm going to kill you!” Izuku explained, throwing his hands up and making clawing motions like a monster to go with his pretend roar. He grabbed Katsuki's hand and placed the pistol belonging to Denki in it, then closed the other's fingers around it and patted them twice.

“There's a psychological aspect to the job too. Anyway, you can give that back to him. I honestly don't plan on killing him or anything, or at least not anymore. And it looks like he isn't going to break down and tell me where the target is, so I'll lay off him and just find them myself. You can talk to him, but don't let him know where we're staying or that you're working with me, okay?”

“This is a fucking joke, right?” Katsuki couldn't believe this. That he never even had to get involved and everything would've been fine. But even worse-

“Hey, if you didn't interfere, none of this would've ever happened. I would've just killed the target and your friend would never have gotten hurt.”

-is that fact right there.

“How the fuck was I supposed to know that a fucking assassin wasn't going to kill someone?”

Izuku held his free hand and beamed at him. “Because I told you I'm not going to lie to you anymore, and I said I'd try not to improvise anymore. If we're out on a job together, I'm not going to do something without letting you know unless I don't have time to say something. So you just have to trust me, okay?”

Katsuki jerked his hand away, took a couple of steps back, and stared Izuku's big, stupid smile down. With how their relationship has started out, it obviously isn't going to be easy to learn to trust him. But, unfortunately, Izuku is right. None of this would've happened if he just trusted the other.

“Just go kill the guy so we can get the fuck out of here.”

Chapter Text

“He wouldn’t leave it be, so I had to knock him out.”

Katsuki remembers Izuku dropping Denki’s unconscious body next to him. He can’t complain that much, given the circumstances. Neither were going to give up and he couldn’t take a side without screwing himself over one way or another.

They treated Denki’s wounds in the car, Izuku letting Katsuki know now that he apparently keeps medical supplies in the glove box, and took him back to his home. Thankfully none of his injuries were serious.

As per Izuku’s request, Katsuki waited in the car while he took Denki inside. It was maddening to look up at his house, where his parents and friends are, and not be able to go inside.

Izuku leaned Denki against his shoulder and closed the door behind himself. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, but once he could see well enough he pulled Denki up onto his shoulder and made his way through the bar, up the stairs, and down a hallway. He stopped in the middle of the hallway and looked at each of the doors, just now realizing he had no idea which room belonged to the man.

“It’s the one on your right.”

The sound of the unknown voice and the hallway lights switching on caused Izuku to drop Denki and spin around instantly. He jumped back and bumped into someone else, who wrapped their arms around him. Izuku stomped on their foot and threw his head back, hitting them in the face to free himself.

“You got a lot of nerve showing your face here again, punk.”

“Well actually I didn’t want to be here, but I had to drop off your employee.” Izuku pointed at Denki on the floor, but neither of their heads turned. By the looks of it the two of them didn’t want to give him a chance to escape. “I didn’t want to hurt him, but things got a little out of hand.”

“Is that the same excuse you used with Katsuki?” Izuku didn’t recognize the voice, but remembered the spiky red hair from the last time he was here. The other person he already knew as Katsuki’s mom.

“Okay, wait, that was different-”

“Yeah, you had a plan for him. For the rest of us you just plan to pick us off one by one, huh?” Eijirou interjected.

“I’m not picking anyone off! Look, he’s not dead.” Izuku argued, pointing down at Denki more forcefully. Evidently it’s extremely hard to make your case to people who don’t know what actually happened when the situation looks more dire than it actually is. Even more so when said people regard you as an enemy above all else. “I’m bringing him back because I didn’t want to leave him unconscious in the middle of the street.

“Yeah? Tell that to the police when he wakes up and points you out as the guy who attacked him,” Mitsuki said. She looked to Eijirou and pointed at Izuku, “Restrain him while I get the police on the line. If my son is going to spend his life as a fugitive, you’re going to rot in prison for it.”

“But he’s-” Izuku slapped Eijirou’s hands away when he tried to grab him, “-you’re not getting a hold of me.”

“How much you want to bet?” Eijirou challenged while reaching for Izuku again. “Don’t think you can get cocky just because you outsmarted one of us and beat another.”

Izuku grabbed his wrist and moved behind him, pulling Eijirou’s arm up to restrain him instead. Eijirou grabbed Izuku by his hair and dragged him over his shoulder, throwing him onto the floor and pinning him down by his arms.

“I got him.”

Izuku waited for Mitsuki to pull out her cellphone and start dialing, then took the time to eye Eijirou.

Big muscles, only one gun holstered on his hip, he’s very straightforward and pretty tall, honest look in his eyes, Izuku named off everything he could pick up in his head before coming to the conclusion that this man was best at fighting hand-to-hand. But he’s probably not as reactive as Kacchan.

He kicked his legs up and wrapped them around Eijirou’s neck to pull him forward and slam him on his back. Mitsuki watched the scene, amused by Izuku’s struggling regardless of the situation he’s in, as she told the police dispatcher about an intruder in their home and where to go.

Izuku rolled backwards onto his feet and backed away down the hallway. Looking around he noticed the only way out would be going through the both of them, unless he wanted to jump out a nearby window from the second floor. Not something he hasn’t done before, but it’s still not anything desirable.

He eyed Mitsuki quickly as she put away the phone and cracked her knuckles, then watched Eijirou stand up and move towards him. She has a tough looking facade, but overall Izuku can pick up nothing dangerous about her. With only Eijirou to worry about, going through the two of them would likely be the safer option.

She’s just a house mom, so she can’t be that dangerous, Izuku reasoned, sidestepping Eijirou to move around him. The real problem will be getting out without seriously injuring either of them.

Eijirou keeps swinging and Izuku keeps dodging to the point that Eijirou begins to become frustrated. He drops his fists and stares Izuku down, waiting for the assassin’s move that never comes.

“I don’t think he wants to fight,” Eijirou commented, looking back at Mitsuki’s disappointed head shaking. He knows that disappointed look all too well, and jerks his head back around just in time to get hit in the face, then subsequently kneed in the stomach and tripped down to the ground.

“He was waiting for your guard to drop. How many times do I have to keep telling you not to give them an opening?” Mitsuki chastised Eijirou, placing her fists on her waist and grinning widely at the approaching assassin. “He definitely doesn’t want to fight, but he knows he isn’t getting out of here without one.”

Alright, so she’s observant, but I can still get past her, Izuku continues to reason, spotting a hundred different weaknesses coming from her. Once he’s within a few feet of her and she takes a fighting stance, he stops on the spot and takes a couple of steps back.

The sudden change in the air is palpable. The intensity suddenly oozing from her does not betray the eager grin on her face and it’s in this moment that Izuku realizes he has horribly underestimated her.

He has no idea when the last time she got a chance to be in a real fight was, but it’s evident from the lack of faults in her form that she’s one of the most experienced he’s seen by far.

“Keep searching kid,” Mitsuki taunts him, waiting for him to come, “but you won’t find a way around me. And the longer you wait, the closer the police get.”

Izuku’s worried expression morphs to one of annoyance, and he charges forward. During the entire few feet it takes him to get to her he can’t help but wish he went for a window instead.

“Katsuki.”

Katsuki turned his head, saw no one in the car with him, and then remembered the earpiece. “What?”

“You need to go in and get Izuku,” Kyouka said.

“What, can he not get a door open or something?” Katsuki complained, opening the car door and slamming it shut once outside.

“No, he’s being detained right now.”

Katsuki let out a small laugh, shaking his head as he approached the building with a grin. If Izuku got caught in here, there’s only one person who he knows could do it.

Once he made it up the stairs, he couldn’t decide if the sight in front of him brought him immense joy or irritation. He can’t think of any other situation being more fitting than Mitsuki beating Izuku down after all that’s happened, although unfortunately he needs Izuku to not rot in prison right now, and something about seeing Izuku’s unconscious form hanging limply just above the ground unsettled him.

“Let him go, hag.”

“Katsuki! What-”

“What the hell are you doing here, brat?!” Mitsuki interrupted Eijirou, holding Izuku’s face against the wall. “The police are going to be here soon, get out before they come!”

“I came here for him,” Katsuki said, nodding at Izuku’s unconscious form and frowning deeply when she dropped him. Sadly, as satisfying as it was to see Izuku had been caught by his mother at first, it wasn’t as good to watch him drop to the ground. “I know it sounds dumb, but I need that fuck with me for a while.”

“Didn’t you see what he did to Denki?” Eijirou argued, pointing at Denki on the ground angrily.

“Yeah, that’s my fault. He wasn’t going to hurt him until I got in the way,” Katsuki said, shoving past Mitsuki and kneeling down to snap his fingers in front of Izuku’s face. It’s only from this close that he sees all the damage she wrought on him. A bloody nose, some bruises and who knows what else that he can’t see at the moment. Izuku doesn’t wake up from the snapping, nor from the slap across the face, which intensifies Katsuki’s irritation. “Fucking hell, you didn’t have to go this hard on him.”

“Well how the hell was I supposed to know after all that he’s done?!” Mitsuki shouted. When an intruder, one that’s fucked over her son at that, breaks into the house the first thing that comes to mind is beat them down.

“Did he look like he wanted to fight?” Katsuki questioned after slinging Izuku’s body over his shoulder and glaring at her. From her silence he can assume that he didn’t, and began carrying Izuku out. “Then that was your first clue.”

Not that he actually blames her for it, but he’s just thoroughly annoyed right now and holds anyone that breathes in his general direction responsible at this moment.

“Wait, where are you-?”

“Out of here before the cops come,” Katsuki interjected, ignoring Eijirou’s footsteps directly behind him. “If I get to talk to you another time, I’ll explain then. But I’m supposed to be helping him if I ever want to come back. It’s especially going to look bad for you guys if I get caught here. You know, harboring a fugitive and all that shit.”

Eijirou stopped just short of the front door for one final question. “Can you at least let us know where you’re staying?”

“Not supposed to say,” Katsuki replied, not stopping his stride towards the car. It’s also partially because he doesn’t really know himself. Something he might want to figure out some time, especially since it looks like he’s about to have to drive home. He shoved Izuku into the car, put his seatbelt on and got into the driver’s seat.

Really, if he’s going to start trusting Izuku, it’s about time he got some answers about more than a couple of things.

“Hey, computer girl-”

Kyouka,” she corrected him.

Katsuki ignored her correction, not caring for her name at the moment. So far he only cares to remember Izuku and Kouta’s names. “Do you know how to get back from here? I have no idea where the fuck we’ve been staying.”

“There’s a tracker built into the earpiece, so I can lead you from here. But it’s going to be a long drive.”

“Then it’ll give this fuck time to wake up,” Katsuki said, starting up the car and waiting for her directions.

 


 

“...ku.”

Izuku stirred, his mind feeling hazy.

“...eku!”

Izuku felt a sting flare up on his cheek and his head jerk to the side, but he still finds it hard to open his eyes. He can’t remember where he’s supposed to be or what he’s supposed to be doing, just that something wasn’t, and still isn’t, right. But he’s slowly beginning to awake.

“I don’t think slapping him is the appropriate action to take. Wasn’t this caused by him getting hit in the first place?” He recognizes that as Shouto’s voice, but what is Shouto doing here? He’s not at home, so Shouto shouldn’t be here.

“Well what the fuck am I supposed to do then?” Katsuki’s voice now, but Katsuki is supposed to be in the car. Izuku grabbed his head and opened one eye, seeing Katsuki, Shouto and Mashirao hovering above him. “See? It worked.”

“That has yet to be seen,” Shouto said while moving closer to Izuku and waving his hand in the other’s face.

“For all we know you just made it worse, Katsuki,” Mashirao added. He moved further away from Katsuki when he was met with a glare in response.

“Are you okay, Izuku? How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Three,” Izuku answered, shoving Shouto’s hand out of his face and glancing around the room. “How did I get back here?”

“I brought you back after you got your ass handed to you.” Katsuki moved to pull out the toilet paper currently rolled up and shoved into Izuku’s nostrils, and examined them before tossing them in the trash. “That old lady came to check on you, said she was a doctor or some shit. You’re going to be fine, but don’t make any sudden movements for a few hours. The bleeding in your nose should have stopped a while ago.”

Izuku sat up, still holding his head, and watched Katsuki move around the room. “You brought me back?”

“What, did she break your fucking ears? I just said that.”

“I think he’s just woozy,” Mashirao said, moving to sit next to Izuku on the arm of the couch. “And it’s probably kind of surprising to think of you carrying him to safety.”

“Guess I’m not the only one who needs to learn trust then,” Katsuki retorted on his way out of the room.

Shouto began walking towards the door as well. He told Kouta he’d speak with Katsuki today, and there’s something else he wants to affirm while he’s at it. Both situations would be better suited with the two of them secluded, so now will likely be as good a time as any.

“Shouto.” He stopped at the sound of his name and glanced over his shoulder, seeing Izuku’s glower directed at him. “Don’t start anything.”

He’s done something like this before with somebody Izuku worked with once, and Izuku likely knows what he’s about to do. Thankfully he’s not in a condition to get in the way at the moment, so he continues on his way without any regard to the warning.

He’s more than aware of what he’s getting himself into.

Katsuki held both earpieces in his fist, tucked away into his pocket. He remembers his way to Kyouka’s place well enough, given that he thought it important to know where to find the others. If he’s supposed to be guarding these people, it’d be prudent to keep track of where they live.

He knocks on the door and awaits an answer, though it’s almost immediately that the door swings open. He can’t help but wonder if she actually went through the trouble of watching him come all the way over here from whatever cameras are hidden around this neighborhood. He’s about to walk off, not caring for conversation, when she places a hand on his shoulder to pull him close.

“You know you were followed, right?” Her voice is barely above a whisper, though Katsuki does not keep his own voice low to match hers.

“Of course I fucking know. How oblivious do you think I am?”

“Hey, I’m just making sure.” Kyouka glances over her shoulder at Mei’s shout for the devices to be handed over, and gives Katsuki one last look. “Don’t let him get to you.”

The door is shut in his face and Katsuki rolls his eyes. He isn’t interested in whatever this guy has to talk about in the first place, so avoiding getting drawn into anything shouldn’t be a problem anyway.

He’s barely turning the corner of the hallway when he spots Shouto at the other end. Katsuki stares at him curiously only for a moment, and then he’s moving forward. He stops in front of Shouto, who is blocking his path, tilts his head to the side, and shoves his hands into his pockets.

“Move.” Katsuki’s voice is demanding, unwavering and his eyes challenge the other to reject the order. It’s been a long night, moving well into the late morning now, and he’s too wary of what this man followed him for. It won’t do him any favors to show weakness, not that he has any to show in the first place, so he isn’t going to bother with niceties right now.

“I would like to talk,” Shouto tries. Regardless of the neutral tone he keeps to avoid angering Katsuki any further than he might already be, he has no intention of moving out of the way until he gets what he came for. “First, about Kouta-”

“Like I care about the snot nosed little shit,” Katsuki interrupted, shoving his way past Shouto. He’s blocked off by Shouto’s hand jerking outward and slamming against the wall, though a quick glance shows the man’s expression hasn’t changed a bit. Whether he means to be so enigmatic or not, Katsuki does have to note that the poker face is impressive.

But he’s not averse to breaking that face if the guy keeps this up.

“I would just like a quick conversation. It really won’t be any trouble to you at all if you just listen. I’m concerned about the situation between the two of you.”

“Oh, really? What concerns you most? When he attacked me or when he tried to kill me in my fucking sleep?” Katsuki slapped Shouto’s arm out of his way and made to move past him. His aggravation only grew more and more with each move Shouto made to stop him from leaving, this time in the form of Shouto standing in front of him. “I don’t know what the kid put you up to, but if stop me from going down this hallway again I’m kicking your fucking ass.”

“You’re so brutish. I thought you were more intelligent by the way Izuku speaks of you.” Shouto frowned at Katsuki’s low growling, hearing an almost animalistic nature in it. He’s aware of what is going to happen if he keeps pushing, and this wouldn’t be the first time he’s caused a fight to start, whether on accident or on purpose. It would only serve to help him better understand if Katsuki is actually suited for the task of protecting anyone here or not. Because if he’s going to leave Kouta in the hands of anyone, he’d rather it be someone capable. “What concerns me is that he has some sort of issue with you being here and, from what I'm to understand, you’re reacting to it like a child.”

“You’re joking.” Katsuki couldn’t believe this. Of all things to be said, this guy had to go and choose that? “Let me tell you something, fuckass. Since the day I got here you assholes have done nothing but pile more and more shit on top of me like I’m fucking Superman come to save the day. I’ve been sedated twice, framed, imprisoned, broken out of jail and blackmailed into working for that asshole Deku just to come here and be met with adversity at every goddamn turn. I’m being forced to protect the kid and keep him from getting killed, not to be his fucking therapist or his friend. If you want his issues worked out so badly, then you do it.”

“I’m trying to work them out. Right now. I just need your cooperation,” Shouto tried again. He can understand Katsuki’s reluctance with the matter, but he doesn’t plan on leaving until this is worked out.

“Try again when I give a fuck.”

Katsuki pushed Shouto out of his way and began his stride down the hallway once more. Shouto ran to stop him, knowing he’s beyond pushing his luck at this point and what’s going to come of this, but he cares about Kouta too much to let this man have authority over the child without any intention of getting along with him.

Katsuki stepped to the side just before Shouto grabbed ahold of his shoulder and snatched his wrist up, then grabbed Shouto’s neck and kicked his legs out from under him. Both of them landed in a heap on the floor with Katsuki’s knee pinning down Shouto’s free hand.

“I told you not to stop me again,” Katsuki said, his red eyes glaring down intensely at Shouto’s face. “If you think I’m not going to beat the fucking shit out of you for getting in my way because of what Deku has over me, you’re seriously mistaken. I’m not going to be jerked around.”

Shouto kicked his legs up and knocked Katsuki off of him, then kicked forward and jumped up onto his feet. “I’m well aware of what you’ll do, but I find it a sufficient enough reason to dispatch you if you’re not going to be more cooperative with anyone here.”

Whether Izuku will understand or not isn’t something he’s concerned with at the moment.

Shouto pulls out both knives sheathed on either side of his hips and holds them backwards. Katsuki grins at the sight, having seen more than enough people take up knives against him. He’s unimpressed by Shouto’s form, though whether or not it’s how he fights or just because he looks unsure of this doesn’t bother Katsuki at the moment.

“Well? Give me a fucking reason to then,” Katsuki challenges him, waiting for Shouto to make the first move. What he did before he considers self-defense, and likewise if Shouto is the first one to attack then surely Izuku can’t throw a fit when Katsuki beats him into the ground.

Shouto sighs and charges forward. He came here to resolve the issue, and one way or another he’s going to do it. Izuku may have his heart set on having Katsuki work for him, but as long as Kouta is happy then Shouto doesn’t care one way or another how this ends. Izuku can always find someone else. It’s not as if there’s a huge shortage of competent people on the planet.

Katsuki stood his ground, waiting for Shouto to get near. Once close enough he ducked down and pushed forward, ducking between Shouto’s legs and grabbing him by the ankles to trip him forward.

Shouto used both knives to keep from falling on the floor, stabbing each into the floorboards and pushing up to twist around onto his back. Katsuki’s arms can’t follow the motion and he’s forced to let go of Shouto’s ankles, though he doesn’t drop his offensive any and he’s already moving to grab for Shouto.

Shouto, on his back, swipes one of the knives up at Katsuki, then the other to force Katsuki back enough for him to get on his feet.

“I’m sure you’ve dealt with enough knife wielders in your line of work,” Shouto comments as the two are walking in a slow circle around the hallway, “though I’m also willing to bet none of them ever had any proper training.”

“You got me there, but hey, I guess I can learn while I’m kicking your ass,” Katsuki retorted.

Unfortunately Shouto does happen to be right, and Katsuki is stuck waiting for him to make a move out of slight paranoia. Any other knife wielders he’s fought to this day were never mercenaries, just simple thugs and lowlifes who would swing randomly in the hopes of landing a cut or two on him.

Shouto finally appeases him by taking the offensive again, throwing one knife and following up with a dash towards him. Katsuki claps both hands together around the blade of the knife, stopping it a few inches from his face and dropping it to jump back from Shouto’s swipe. His back hits the wall at the same time Shouto is already catching the falling blade and swinging it upward.

Katsuki grabs Shouto’s wrist to stop the swing, then the other, and while his eyes are focused on the man’s hands he doesn’t take notice of the kick coming to swipe his legs out from under him. They both fall to the ground, and while Katsuki keeps one of Shouto’s wrists at bay, the other is pushing against Katsuki’s hold to drive a knife into his face.

The two struggle briefly, pushing against each other’s hold, until a gunshot rings through the air and Shouto’s face morphs into one of agony. Katsuki gains the upper hand in that moment and shoves Shouto’s hand into his face, flips them both over and grabs him by the neck. Another shot rings in the air and this time it’s Katsuki who is falling over in pain.

“What the hell are you guys doing?!” Izuku screamed at them, keeping his pistol aimed at the space between them so he can get to whoever attacks first quicker.

Both of them turn their attention towards Izuku a little ways down the hall, then glance toward each other to share a mutual look of ‘Nice job, asshole’.

 


 

“I literally can’t fathom why the hell you would do this. Fucking honestly.”

Izuku is pacing back and forth in front of the couch that Shouto and Katsuki are settled on, his rant going on for nearly half an hour now. Each time one of them tries to speak up he shuts them down immediately, so eventually the both of them stopped trying to say anything at all.

Even Kyouka, who was the one to tell Izuku about what was happening so he could stop it, had taken Kouta and left the room long ago. Very rare is the occasion Izuku would be caught cursing, and when he is doing so she knows well enough to take all innocent people and get as far away as possible.

Finally Izuku stops and pinches the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed. He breathes a long sigh and asks a single question, now that he’s finally calm enough.

“Why?” Both of them look at each other, waiting for the other to fess up and take responsibility for what they both believed was the other’s fault. When neither spoke up Izuku pointed at Shouto. “Fine, you start.”

“I wanted to talk to him about some questionable things I heard going on between him and Kouta. I want to make sure Kouta is in a safe environment as much as I can-”

“Did he put you up to this?”

Shouto shook his head in response. Granted he only decided to talk to Katsuki for Kouta’s sake, but the boy never actually asked him to do it. He only said that he would. With that technicality he would keep Kouta from punishment’s path.

“And you?” Izuku questioned, shifting his gaze toward Katsuki.

“Self-defense.” His response is short and simple, and that’s all he’s going with. He didn’t want to talk, he made that clear, and when Shouto tried to stop him after the last warning he took that as an act of aggression. As far as he’s concerned he’s in the right.

Apparently, so is Izuku, because he’s glaring at Shouto and pointing towards the door now. “Leave. I don’t want to see you around here again. Not until I decide you can come back.”

Shouto looks down at the ground, and with a heavy sigh lifts himself up with his good arm. Moving causes the pain in his bandaged shoulder where Izuku shot him to flare up, but he doesn’t show the pain is bothering him too badly.

“Can I say goodbye to anyone?”

Izuku considers it for a moment. His stare is beating down on Shouto like a pile of rocks, but eventually he nods.

Katsuki is stuck on the couch, his wound being on his currently bandaged leg. Izuku asks him to wait here, as if he has much of a choice, and follows Shouto all the way to Kyouka’s apartment where Kouta is currently staying. Just outside the door to the apartment, Izuku grabs him by the arm to get his attention.

“Don’t you dare make this sound like Kacchan’s fault. I’m having enough trouble as it is trying to get rid of the rift between them and I don’t need Kouta thinking Kacchan is out to get rid of his favorite people now.”

“If he would just try to get along with Kouta-”

“The problem between them was started by Kouta. I’m not going to pretend like Kacchan is handling it well, but this all started with Kouta.” Izuku let him go, his warning glare still in place. “Kouta is having trouble understanding that I do things that are wrong just like everyone else, and I need to do better at teaching him I’m not perfect. That’s where all this stemmed from. Nothing here is Kacchan’s fault. If you talked to me first, you’d have understood that beforehand.”

The door is then shoved open by Izuku, who has already plastered a smile on his face so convincing that Shouto isn’t even sure if he’s still mad. But he knows Izuku shoved it open to get this over with, to not give him time to think about how wrong he was to go in without all the facts first.

“Hey guys, Shouto is just coming by to say bye for a while.”

‘You’ll have plenty of time to think about it while you’re gone’ is the look he’s given when Izuku glowers over his shoulder.

Kyouka continues to work on one of her laptops, unfazed by the situation. She already knows everything, she heard it all and saw it all, and has no interest in talking with Shouto at the moment. Mei likewise has little interest in it regardless of not being aware of what transpired earlier. Shouto comes and goes often enough that she’s used to it and the two never bothered to become much of friends in the first place. Kouta, on the other hand, snaps his head in Shouto’s direction with a disappointed look.

“Are you coming back soon?” Kouta questions from his spot on the couch with a laptop on his legs. One side of the headphones are pulled back behind his ear so he can hear Shouto’s response.

“I’m afraid not,” Shouto responds, walking up to Kouta and kneeling down in front of him. “It’ll be a while before I’m back, but when I come back we’ll do something cool, okay?”

“Alright,” Kouta said disappointedly, moving the laptop so he can hug Shouto.

Shouto waves to Mei and Kyouka, and only Mei waves back absentmindedly, before he exits the room with Izuku directly behind him. They both walk out of the building and Izuku escorts him to the very edge of the next block over until Shouto stops and turns to speak with him.

“Do you have a set amount of time in mind?”

Izuku is significantly less angry by now, but he’s not going to let Shouto off easy. Last time something like this happened Shouto actually did kill the person working for Izuku, albeit for another reason entirely, and Izuku banned him from returning for almost a week.

But this time, even if his intentions were good, Izuku can’t help but remember that it was Katsuki he went after.

“Three months,” he finally decides, “and no calling this time.”

“Last time was barely a week,” Shouto commented, surprised from the sudden harshness in punishment. “Do you like this one that much?”

“Don’t make jokes right now,” Izuku warned with a straight face. He turned his back on the man and shoved his hands in his pockets, walking back to the apartment to go talk with Katsuki.

“Are you going to yell at me and throw me out if I show up before my punishment is over like last time, or is this one a little more serious?” Shouto asked. A relevant question considering last time he tried to sneak in to give Kouta a birthday present, he was promptly thrown out. Should he need to come back for any reason, it’d be useful to know just how serious Izuku is.

“Remember when I said you shouldn’t be afraid of me?” He stopped and threw a death glare over his shoulder, the intensity enough to cause Shouto’s blood to run cold briefly. “I take it back. Attack someone important to me again and I’ll kill you.”

He stalked off after that, leaving Shouto to decide for himself what to do. But he already knows Shouto is walking away right now, he doesn’t need to turn around to see that.

He knows because he’s never threatened Shouto before, least of all with that look. The one he picked up from the mentor he hated most.

Shouto left after that, staring at the ground as he walked. He knows what that look means, he knows the implication because he has gotten it from Izuku’s mentor more than once.

‘There won’t be a fight between us’, is what it means. ‘It’ll just be murder.’

Chapter Text

Izuku dropped down onto the opposite side of the couch from Katsuki, letting his face fall into his hands. He can’t help but feel distressed at losing Shouto, even if only temporarily. The punishment he gave feels like it was too much as well, only adding on more to his troubles.

He can feel Katsuki’s eyes on him, and he knows Kyouka is probably watching as well. Kouta is with her, so if she can see him…

His hands are dragged down his face, and once his view is free of them he forces a small smile onto his face before looking towards Katsuki, who is watching him expectantly.

“I’m-”

“-sorry,” Katsuki interrupted him mockingly, “I’ve heard it before.”

“I had to stop you two. I wasn’t picking a side.”

Katsuki looked down to his bandaged leg, wound hidden from view by his pant leg, and sighed through his nose. “You shot him first, so I’ll forgive you this time.”

“I did it on purpose,” Izuku explained hastily, hoping to let Katsuki know he meant no real harm. “Not entirely piercing your leg, I mean. I didn’t want the bullet to hit anything important.”

Katsuki stared at the ground and nodded. He can understand that, regardless of how annoying it is to have a nearly constant pain in his leg. It’s minor enough for him to ignore so long as he stays off of it and should be better within a few days.

“Izuku,” Izuku looks to the intercom on the wall ahead while Katsuki tries to figure out how he’s hearing Kyouka’s voice in this room, “Momo and Tenya are coming up.”

“For fu–” Izuku stops himself from cursing, then takes a breath in an attempt to calm himself. “Okay, thank you.”

He’s aware that Katsuki is still watching his every movement, and it’s becoming more and more unnerving that almost everyone can see him losing his composure. Still he moves to the door and it’s swung open right before Momo is about to knock.

“What?”

“What a hostile tone,” Momo comments, taking in the bruises on his face. “Rough night?”

“Today isn’t a good day. I can’t take another job right now.”

“I don’t remember having it stated that we would need to request your services,” Momo said with a deep frown. She shoved two pieces of paper against his chest, maintaining eye contact with him. “You do what we tell you, and we consider what you ask of us. That is how this works.”

Izuku grabbed her wrist and shoved her arm back against her own chest. “I said today isn’t a good day. If it’s time sensitive then find someone else. I know I’m not the only person who does your dirty work for you.”

“You’re the only one currently free–”

“Then you should manage your people better.” Izuku swung the door shut, turning his back as it went.

His attention comes back around when he doesn’t hear the door slam shut. His gaze shifts down to the foot keeping it open. Tenya pushed it back open to let both himself and Momo inside.

“You don’t seem to understand that what we say is law.” Tenya’s voice is stern, his glare heavy. He held his hand back for Momo to place the papers in, and once he has them he shoves them against Izuku’s chest with enough force to nearly knock the man over. “You have a choice. Take these and do the job, or have the full force of our jurisdiction rain down on you for your illegal actions.”

Izuku glowered back, still not taking the papers in his hand. The two of them refused to back down, focused only on each other, until Katsuki snatches the papers out of Tenya’s hand and looks them over.

“He’ll do the job. Now get the fuck out,” Katsuki said, standing between the two and staring down Tenya.

“Because of your lack of cooperation, payment for this won’t be given until after we confirm you have successfully completed the job,” Momo stated while taking Tenya by the shoulder and leading him out. “I’m sure you understand.”

Once the two are gone, Katsuki hands the papers off to Izuku, who is staring at him irritatedly.

“Why did you take it?”

“Because you’re being a fucking idiot.” Katsuki limped back over to the couch, dropping down with a wince and sinking into the cushions. “I know that lady’s type. You know what will happen if they decide to kill you? They know what you’re capable of, and to match that they’re going to send a metric ass ton of trained people over here to take you down when you least expect it.”

“I can handle them–”

“Oh yeah? Can the others handle them too?” Katsuki glared over his shoulder at Izuku, annoyed that he has to spell it out for someone who’s supposed to be so smart and perceptive. “What happens when they find the runt, the girl, the old lady? What happens to everyone else?”

Katsuki let those questions hang in the air, watching Izuku’s eyes slowly drift down to the ground. Izuku is thinking, he can tell, and he can only hope the idiot realizes what is being implied.

Izuku moves to sit on the couch, this time right next to Katsuki, and stares down at the papers in his hands. He feels ashamed that in his stress and anger he forgot about everyone else for a moment.

He beams at Katsuki, patting him on the back softly. “You’re starting to care for them that much, then?”

“I have to protect them until you let me go, and protecting them will be a hell of a lot easier without hundreds of people coming to try to kill us all,” Katsuki replied, shoving Izuku’s arm away. He doesn’t particularly care what happens to any of them after he’s done here, but as of right now it’s his, albeit forced, responsibility to keep harm from befalling them. That includes keeping Izuku from making enemies he shouldn’t whenever possible.

“If you say so.” Izuku tossed the pages to the side with a sigh. Once they were done sliding on the floor he fell back onto the sofa, resting his hands in his lap and staring at the wall.

The silence hangs in the air awhile as the two of them sit. Izuku closed his eyes and rested some, trying to calm himself after the events of last night and today. He’s just on the verge of standing up to go talk to Chiyo when Katsuki’s voice pierces the air.

“At some point you’re going to have to tell me who else there is to worry about.”

Izuku stares at Katsuki from the corners of his eyes, then blinks and looks toward the wall again. “What do you mean?”

“You know I’m not fucking stupid, Deku,” Katsuki said with a roll of his eyes. “You never leave this place without someone you trust to guard the people here, but you’ve yet to say anything about who might even attack us. You haven’t told me shit about who I’m guarding us from–”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Izuku interrupted, waving his hands in front of Katsuki’s face to silence him. A cursory glance is thrown to the camera in the room, and then he leans in to whisper, “Come with me to the bathroom.”

“Why the–”

Just do it,” Izuku whispered urgently, pulling at Katsuki’s arm.

He slows his pace when Katsuki jerks his arm back, causing Izuku to realize he’s moving too fast for Katsuki’s leg. Inside the bathroom he closes the door and moves to sit on the edge of the bathtub. Katsuki, following his lead, sits on the toilet seat, watching him cautiously the entire time.

“There’s no surveillance in the bathrooms. I thought it would be a little much.” Izuku placed his hands on the side of the tub, leaning back a little and staring up at the ceiling. “The others don’t know about my past, and I’d like to keep it that way. You can keep it that way, right?”

Katsuki raised a brow, but nodded shortly after. Whatever this past is can’t be that bad.

“Okay.” Izuku took a breath until his cheeks were puffed up, then blew it out. “I guess the quickest way of putting it, is that I had four mentors instead of parents, and all but one of them were horrible. One taught me how to use weapons effectively, the other taught me stealth, assassination and disabling techniques, the third taught me medical practices, and the last, psychological studies. Chiyo, the old lady who uses the small tranquilizer gun as a cane, she’s the third one. She was the only nice one, and she helped me escape the place they were keeping me when I turned eighteen.”

“So the other three want to take you back,” Katsuki guessed, resting his elbow on one leg and placing his chin in that hand. “If they’re better than you, what makes you think I can guard everyone?”

Izuku smiled softly, gazing at Katsuki now. “Because they all specialize in one thing each. They’re not a jack of all trades like you, Shouto and I, but in their area of expertise we would look like jokes compared to them. If anything, I feel like you could kill at least one of them even if all three came after you by yourself. You’re brilliant, Kacchan, and you’re capable. That’s why I wanted you here.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes at the compliments. To him it sounds like Izuku is trying to get him to stay even though he hardly has a choice of leaving, so he ignores them. He’s more than aware of what he’s capable of. The only thing that annoys him is that he still doesn’t know what Izuku is capable of, and by extension what these mentors are capable of.

“So, what is it you want to do then? Kill them?”

“Exactly.” Izuku leaned forward and clasped his hands together, placing an elbow on each leg. “I want them out of my life for good. Then I don’t need to wake up in the middle of the night just to check on everyone, I don’t need to look over my shoulder every time I’m going to visit the others, I don’t need to be on edge while I’m trying to give Mashirao and Kouta lessons. Kyouka can have her own life based on what she wants to do, instead of watching an innumerable amount of cameras all day long when she doesn’t even know what she’s looking for–”

She doesn’t even know what to look out for? How the fuck–”

I know,” Izuku interjected, “I know. She should know, but I don’t want her to be scared out of her mind, okay? I don’t want her to be a paranoid mess like me. I don’t want her to know there are people just as dangerous as me out there coming to try to find me. As far as she knows, I just happen to make enemies from the things I do and she needs to tell me about anything she sees that looks suspicious. Because whether she knows who’s looking for us or not isn’t going to change how in danger anyone is. It isn’t going to make anyone any safer, all it’s going to do is scare them and make them miserable.”

Katsuki mulled over the information. He stared quietly at Izuku for a long while, contemplating how Izuku is right, regardless of how wrong it sounds to him.

“Why are you keeping them here if you’re just putting them in danger?”

Izuku leaned back with his hands on the bathtub again, staring up at the ceiling once more. “I… I wanted to help them. They’re a bunch of runaways and outcasts, and none of it is their fault. I don’t want them to be in danger, but I feel like I’d be sending them to their deaths anyway if I told them to leave. They don’t have anywhere else to go or anyone else to go to, and I want to keep them safe. I guess it’s also pretty selfish when you think about it, actually. I never had a family, so I probably took them all in subconsciously looking to make one.”

“You’re telling me none of them have anywhere to go at all?”

“Chiyo stayed with me when she helped me escape the other mentors. She can do what she wants; I bet she’d be fine no matter what. Mei was the first person I found. She was arguing with her landlord on the sidewalk, sounded like she was being kicked out for tampering with household appliances or something. I wasn’t listening that well, but it costed the landlord too much in repairs and stuff. I was the first person she saw, so she came running up to me and said she’d help with any mechanical needs I had if I let her stay with me. I was going to turn her down, because I can handle simple things like that myself already, but she seemed like an interesting person who just needed to get back on her feet. So I decided to let her stay until she could find another place. Plus I didn’t think she’d be very safe just asking random people on the street like that. Better me than some serial killer, right?”

Katsuki gazed at the door, then back to Izuku. “You said you’ve had Kouta for more than a year, and Mei is the first person you found? So she’s been here for longer than a year too?”

Izuku shrugged with a grin. “She grew on me. She’s very upbeat and fun to have around when you get used to her. She wants to be an engineer, but she doesn’t have the money to get an education yet. Don’t tell her, but I’m saving a little money from every job I do to pay for her to go.”

Katsuki’s eyes widened a fraction. That’s the most selfless thing he’s heard Izuku say so far, surprising only because he’s used to the assassin who framed him just to make him protect this little makeshift family.

“I found Mashirao next. He had apparently run away from an abusive home. He still had bruises when I found him, and he was passing through this part of town.” Izuku gazed down at the floor sadly. “I took him in and gave him food for a while, learned what he was willing to tell me, and when he tried to leave he admitted he didn’t know where to even go. I just told him to stay with me until we found a safe place for him. He was understandably skeptical of me, but I like to think he’s grown to trust me.”

“I take it you’re not looking for a place for him?” Katsuki questioned, crossing his arms and leaning against the back of the toilet. Izuku’s eyes turned up to him with a small smile, and it was all the answer Katsuki needed. “And the other two?”

“Kyouka was next. She won’t tell me how or why, but she was in a computer college and suddenly couldn’t afford to go anymore. I don’t know if her parents were funding it and they stopped for some reason, she lost her job? I don’t know. I found her sleeping in her car, and asked if she needed a job.” Izuku grinned nervously at the look Katsuki gave him, moving his hands in a placating motion. “I know, I know, that sounds weird. Like something a freak would do, just knocking on someone’s car window at night and asking if they wanted a place to stay or a job. But I didn’t know how else to go about it. Hers was more of a trade-off. I wanted someone to keep watch over this place and a car; she had a car and needed a place to stay and a job. So it worked out, right?”

“She actually took you up on that dumbass offer?” Katsuki didn’t know who to call the bigger idiot in this scenario.

“It took some time to convince her I wasn’t a psycho or anything. She wouldn’t even roll down the window until we were halfway into a conversation. But yeah, she eventually agreed when I gave her my gun and told her she could shoot me at the first sign of anything weird happening. She’s really smart, too. She had me put it on the ground and walk away so she could take it, then I had to drive while she sat in the back pointing it at me the entire time. I believe I was more afraid of her by that point than she was of me.”

“She told me she’s never fired a gun before, so that’s pretty impressive if she thought of all that on the fly.” Katsuki saw her in a new light now, an ounce of respect for her being born inside of him. “And the gremlin?”

Izuku’s face darkened immediately at the mention of Kouta, and Katsuki could tell right away there’s something horribly wrong about this. He waited patiently while Izuku collected himself. Although he’s impatient, he’s still understanding to some degree.

“I killed Kouta’s parents. They were both targets in a job I had, and after I killed them I was about to leave until I found a kid in the hallway of their house. I didn’t know what to do, but I wasn’t going to just leave him there to find his parents dead on the floor, so I brought him home and kept him. Chiyo loves him, but she still hasn’t forgiven me for what I did. She’s the only one who knows.” Izuku glared up at Katsuki, the shift in mood causing Katsuki to straighten his back to show he isn’t being intimidated. “Kouta doesn’t know what happened to his parents, and I don’t want him to know I’m the one who killed them. The only people who know the truth are Chiyo, Shouto, me, and now you. Understand?”

“That’s pretty fucked up, but at least mine isn’t the first life you fucked.” Katsuki grabbed Izuku’s arm when the other tried to leave, pulled him back and met his glare. “You don’t want to hear comments like that? Then stop fucking with people.”

“Kouta was an accident.

“Look, I don’t respect what you do. You kill people for a living, and I don’t like that, just like I don’t like most of the people I protected as a bodyguard. But I do respect that you try to man up to your actions instead of bitching out and running away. You could’ve turned any of these people away, but you took them in, and you could’ve given the kid to an orphanage and been done with him, but you kept him. You’re still a fucking asshole and I’m going to kick your ass when this is all over, but at least you try.” Katsuki jerked him back toward the bathtub and pointed at it, signaling him to sit down again. “Now who are these other three mentors? Any of them have a name for themselves that I might know? I can deal with having no information, but things are easier to deal with if I do have knowledge.”

“Okay, well one is named Shouta Aizawa,” Izuku started while taking a seat again. “He was the mentor in charge of my stealth and assassination training. I don’t think he’s known very well publicly. He always told me the best assassins don’t make names for themselves, but let the body count do the talking. Or something like that, I don’t remember it very well. He’s limited in combat technique and not that great with weapons. He’s best at lying in wait and ambushing his target, hit and run tactics and the like, so as long as you can keep him in your sight and don’t let him know you’re scared you’ll be fine.”

“Doesn’t sound like much of an assassin. What does he do if he’s seen?”

Izuku let out a small laugh, remembering the times he’s seen Aizawa in action. “He doesn’t. If I didn’t know any better I’d believe the guy could phase into walls and meld with shadows. But with him as my mentor, it’s why I say I’m not great at close-combat. I’m almost as good as him at killing and disabling my opponent, but against someone as reactive as you or calculating as Shouto? I wouldn’t fare so well, and he won’t either. Shouto would drive him into a corner and make him angry with his endurance and accurate predictions. You’d drive him insane by countering almost everything he does with your reflexes. I didn’t pick you both just because you’re skilled, but because you both have talents that negate my mentors.”

Katsuki nods slowly, taking in the information. He finds it hard to imagine Izuku isn’t over exaggerating, but takes what’s being said seriously until he sees otherwise.

“You might know my weapon usage mentor. He uses the alias Snipe.”

“You’re fucking joking.” He knows Snipe as the number one mercenary world-wide. The man has held that title for years, and Katsuki is more than aware of what he’s capable of. “That asshole shot somebody in the head from two miles away once. How the fuck do you expect me to stop that?”

“It was only 1.8 miles, and he can’t do anything like that to us because he has to know exactly where we’ll be at a specific moment to do something like that,” Izuku reassured him, his words being followed by another placating wave of his hands. “I was there when he did it. He only pulled it off because he knew beforehand where the guy would be. We’d look like clowns trying to fight him mid or long-range, but when it comes to hand-to-hand he doesn’t do so well. As long as you stay close to him or keep him disarmed, he’s practically just a street thug in armor.”

Izuku feels he doesn’t need to mention that actually getting close to him is the issue, as Snipe is well known as a man that doesn’t miss twice. Sadly enough, unlike his name might suggest, sniper rifles are not his only area of expertise and he often carries a small arsenal everywhere he goes.

He gives Katsuki a moment to digest this information, waiting until Katsuki is done running his hand down his face before he continues.

“You probably won’t like the third one, either. He was my mentor in psychoanalyzing people, learning how people think and behave, reading people like an open book basically–”

“Just tell me the goddamn name,” Katsuki groaned impatiently.

“Nedzu.”

Katsuki knows that name all too well, as does the rest of the country, and he can’t help but wonder just who the fuck Izuku really is. “The motherfucking vice president? Really? Why the fuck is he one of your mentors?”

“He wasn’t affiliated with politics until long after I escaped, but from what I know he was in charge of the whole program for training me. I think he wanted to use me to assassinate political figures so he could rise to power or something. But that’s just a theory.” Izuku shrugged. He’s given all the information he considers relevant, and saying anything else would just be for the sake of sating Katsuki’s curiosity. “As far as I know he can’t fight at all, but he’s the most intelligent of the bunch. He’ll get in your head and screw with you easily, so don’t ever bother getting into a conversation with him. Either kill him or leave, whatever the situation calls for. They might also have this rat of a man called Higari, too. Some people called him Power Loader, but he shouldn’t be any trouble. He was basically just the head engineer of the facility I stayed in. He taught me about tools sometimes, but I didn’t like being around him. He’s kind of creepy, and that’s coming from someone who spent eighteen years stuck with murderers and psychopaths. I don’t know if he’s any real danger, or if he’s trustworthy, so if you ever meet him just be wary and don’t believe anything he says unless I’m there with you.”

“So, basically I’m here to watch over the place while you chase after and kill these assholes?” Katsuki finally concluded. He has a fair understanding of why Izuku would want him so badly now, given that he’s to be defending Izuku’s family from people like this. As attached as Shouto is to the group, he can’t help but wonder why Shouto doesn’t just take a break from working to stay while Izuku handles this, though. But it isn’t his place to ask that, and he considers that unhelpful information right now anyway.

“Yep. But now I have to take this job, because you’re right, I can’t risk putting everyone else in danger just because I don’t want to do something right now. Thank you for bringing me back to my senses, I’m just a little stressed right now.” Izuku sighed and stood to leave. “So I guess I have to go call Shouto and ask him to come back.”

“I’ve got someone else if you don’t want to get that prick back just yet,” Katsuki offered. Izuku finally answered his questions, so he’s feeling a little more cooperative now. These people sound like they could desperately use some help anyway, and just because Izuku is misguided doesn’t mean everyone else should suffer for it.

Izuku stopped with his hand on the knob and bit his bottom lip in thought. Not that he didn’t want Shouto back, he’d love to completely take back everything that happened this morning and make the two get along honestly, but he can’t let anyone think they have the run of the place and can just attack people without repercussions. He still feels bad about the punishment, that maybe he was too harsh, but he let his anger get the best of him then just like he did with Momo.

“Who is it?”

 


 

Izuku and Kouta are staring at him with very different expressions. Izuku is unimpressed, borderline annoyed, that Katsuki would choose this guy. Especially considering Izuku didn’t see anything too impressive from him the other night. Granted he only met the man for a grand total of ten or so minutes, but still.

He’s also doubtful that anything will really happen right now, so perhaps it will be alright. Alternatively, Kouta is staring at him with awe. His mouth is open a small bit, and he’s practically hiding behind Izuku’s leg.

“Um, Eijirou Kirishima, right?” Izuku asked. Preferably, with this being one of the people who are sure to dislike him, he wants to make sure he makes a somewhat better connection than the two currently have.

“Yeah, where’s Katsuki?” Eijirou has little to no interest in speaking with Izuku. He doesn’t want to make a scene, but he’s not going to try to hide the fact he doesn’t like nor trust the man either. If he’s going to get any information he’d prefer it be from someone he knows he can trust.

Katsuki raised his hand from his spot lying on the couch. Eijirou is quick to make his way over to learn whatever he needs to know from Katsuki, rather than Izuku. While the two are talking, Izuku turns to face Kouta and crouches down, putting his hands on Kouta’s shoulders.

“I’m leaving Katsuki and this guy in charge while I’m away, because Shouto can’t make it back right now. You do what they say while I’m gone, okay?” Izuku frowned when Kouta’s only response is to look off to the side, obviously trying to avoid voicing his refusal. He grabbed Kouta’s chin and made him look forward to meet his eyes again. “I’m not kidding, try to be good for them. I’m going to be really disappointed in you if you don’t.”

“But what if he’s like Katsuki?”

“He isn’t. I promise.” Izuku turned Kouta’s hat to the side and kissed his forehead, then turned the hat back while ignoring the look of indignation on the boy’s face. He tilted his head to the side and smiled affectionately, rubbing the spot he kissed with his thumb. He stares at Kouta a moment longer, remembering the story of how Kouta arrived here that he told Katsuki earlier, and pats the boy on the head. “You know I love you, right?”

Kouta squinted at Izuku suspiciously, swatting the arm away. “Yeah?”

Izuku, reading the obvious mood Kouta is letting off, leaves it at that. He’s never gotten Kouta to admit he cares about anyone, even though the boy does a terrible job of trying to hide it, so he knows Kouta loves him too. As nice as it’d be to hear it back, he won’t ever push Kouta to show affection in a way he doesn’t want to.

He’s more than aware Kouta considers him to be some sort of parental figure, and that’s enough for him.

“Just making sure. Be good while I’m gone and don’t bother Kyouka. She’s going to be helping me.” Izuku stood up and took a few steps towards the door. He stopped at the feeling of something tugging at his pant leg and looked back down to see Kouta holding onto him while staring at Eijirou’s back. “What?”

Kouta signals for Izuku to come down, and once Izuku is bent over and within whispering range Kouta tells him, “Something isn’t right about that guy. I don’t like him.”

“What do you mean?” Izuku takes a moment to gawk at Eijirou, unabated by the stare he gets in return from the man. He believes Eijirou is a very earnest and trustworthy person, though that’s only from what little he’s seen. To hear otherwise is somewhat off-putting.

“I don’t know. He gives me a weird feeling and I don’t like it.”

Izuku stares at Eijirou a little longer, and he can tell from the look on the other’s face that Eijirou is getting uncomfortable with the staring contest. He moves over to the couch, leaning over the back with his arms resting on it to see Katsuki laid out across the cushions.

“Kacchan, can I speak with you alone for a moment?”

“Kacchan?” Eijirou inquires with a hint of amusement tainting his voice.

“Leave,” Katsuki commands, not wanting to get into the situation involving the nickname right now. He waits for Izuku to stop watching Eijirou, but ends up jerking him forward by the front of his shirt once impatience kicks in. “What?”

“Kouta says he’s getting a weird feeling from Eijirou. I don’t know the history between you two, but you’re sure he’s a good person? Absolutely sure?”

“I’ve known him since we were eighteen. He’s an idiot, but he’s a good guy. Wouldn’t ever harm an innocent person and usually tries to talk a situation down before things get violent.”

Izuku looked back over his shoulder, still hunched forward, and watched Eijirou trying and failing to make friends with Kouta. He attests it to Kouta beginning to develop a trust issue and decides to leave it at that for now. Something to look into when he gets back.

“Okay. Can you try to help the two get along? Just until I get back.”

“You’re being overprotective,” Katsuki stated bluntly. He’s growing more and more annoyed by Izuku’s overbearing personality whenever Kouta is involved. “And he fucking hates me. I’ll make things worse just by existing.”

Izuku blows a puff of air out of his nose, bouncing up and down to showcase his agitation. When he emits a small whining noise Katsuki slams his fist onto the arm of the couch to shut him up. It’s the first time he’s seen some type of anxiousness from Izuku, and it’s disturbing.

“Alright! Fuck! I’ll see what I can do, just get the fuck out.”

“Holy crap just go already! You were only half this bad the first time you left him with Shouto!” Izuku glared at the intercom on the wall, immediately becoming annoyed by Kyouka’s complaints. “You’re going to be late.”

“I’m going, I’m going.” Izuku glances back over to Kouta, seeing the boy subtly moving away from Eijirou, who is looking around the room to find the source of the mysterious voice. He sucks in a breath and heads straight for the door, intent on leaving before he has second thoughts again.

Eijirou approaches Kouta again after Izuku is gone, bending down and holding his hand out with a grin that showcased his sharp teeth.

“Careful, he punched me in the balls and shot me in the forehead with a fucking BB gun when I first met him,” Katsuki warned, peeking over the couch. If anything, at least he would get some entertainment out of this.

“You probably just insulted him or something,” Eijirou said, throwing a soft glare over his shoulder at Katsuki. “Hey little buddy, you want to watch TV or something? We can do whatever you like today, because I bet you don’t get to do that too often with Katsuki around.”

Katsuki waited with anticipation for the barrage of insults or physical violence that will no doubt erupt from Kouta. His smirk vanished the instant Kouta tentatively grabbed hold of Eijirou’s hand, and Eijirou led him around to the couch.

Kouta kept his head down and eyes fixed on the floor the entire way. He climbed up on the opposite side of Katsuki, as far as he can manage, while Eijirou sat between the two, after getting Katsuki to move, with the boy’s hand still firmly in his.

“See? You just have to be nice.” Katsuki couldn’t believe his eyes. Since when is the little brat like this? Since when is he so docile? “Pass us the remote, Katsuki. Let him watch what he wants.”

“What the fuck,” Katsuki hissed, his scowl fixated on the boy. He ignored Eijirou’s complaint about needing him to speak up and reached for the remote to hand it off. He’s so focused on Kouta’s sudden change in attitude that he doesn’t care about the television anymore.

“Here, you can pick what we watch,” Eijirou said while holding the remote in front of Kouta. He then turned his gaze towards Katsuki, “Does he know how to work the remote? That guy didn’t tell me much.”

“This little fuck does fifth grade school work on almost a daily basis, uses laptops all the time and has his own fucking BB gun. I don’t know what kind of shit he’s trying to pull, but this is fucking ridiculous,” Katsuki snarled. “I haven’t gone a day here without this fuck trying to assault me in some fucking way. He is not this innocent.”

“That’s because you’re yelling and screaming at him. You need to chill, he’s just a kid, so lay off of him,” Eijirou argued, leaning forward to block Katsuki’s view of the child. “You’re my best friend and all, but man, you can be kind of a jerk sometimes, so it’s no wonder he probably hates you. Stop exaggerating and leave him alone.”

Kouta looked ready to say something, almost ready to jump off the couch and go after Katsuki here and now while he stood half a chance, but was surprised to be defended for his actions.

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed further. His jaw clenched and he had the terribly strong urge to punch Eijirou in the face. He scooted further away on the couch and shifted his attention to the television, resting his cheek on his fist.

“Don’t worry, I got your back,” Eijirou said to Kouta, giving him another grin and a pat on the back. “I can deal with Katsuki’s attitude, but you’re much too young for that to be directed at you. If he gives you a hard time you just let me know and I’ll handle him for you.”

Katsuki scoffed, keeping his eyes forward. “Handle me? I’ll fucking murder you.”

“I didn’t mean I’d fight you. If you want to yell at me, yell until you lose your voice. Just leave him alone.”

“Whatever,” Katsuki said. He’ll wait for Eijirou to find out the truth about this gremlin. It’ll probably only be a few hours before Eijirou is apologizing and tell him how right he was.

Though he can’t help but try to figure out why Kouta is acting like this in the first place. He’s only been even remotely this nice to Izuku, as far as Katsuki has seen.

It takes a while of observing, but Katsuki begins to notice the little things. How Kouta won’t make eye contact with Eijirou, how he won’t speak more than one or two word responses when necessary and always in the lowest voice, the sneaky glances he sends Eijirou’s way, and the way he still hasn’t let go of Eijirou’s hand.

Then it hits Katsuki, and the snort from his held back laughter is enough to draw the attention of both of them. When questioned, he simply shakes his head and smirks.

Katsuki eventually decides to take advantage of this situation, hours after Izuku is gone and he’s bored out of his mind because there’s nowhere to go in this dump of a neighborhood. He can’t even be bothered to exercise or practice until his leg stops hurting.

“Hey Eijirou,” Katsuki keeps away the grin fighting to show itself, “it’s almost time for dinner. Why don’t give the runt a bath and put him to bed after he eats?”

Amusement kicks in swiftly at the sight of Kouta instantly trying to make a run for it, only to be jerked back by Eijirou catching him by the shirt.

“I can take a bath by myself!” Kouta argues hastily, trying to wrench Eijirou’s hand off of his shirt. Izuku and Shouto have been to only two to ever bathe him, and this new guy is the absolute last person he wants to add on to that list. He doesn’t understand why, but he has a very big problem with it.

“Don’t listen to him. I bet the last time he tried to bathe alone the idiot almost drowned–”

“What the hell?! No I didn’t! I haven’t even taken a bath by myself before!” Kouta froze with his hands still trying to pry Eijirou’s hand off, his body rigid as he realized what he said. “Wait–!”

“So you say you can take a bath by yourself, but you’ve never done it before?” Katsuki questioned tauntingly. “Sounds like a fucking liar to me. I wouldn’t trust him, Eijirou.”

“Sorry little dude,” Eijirou said, and lifted Kouta up with a hand under each arm, “I have to go with Katsuki on this one. Let’s get you washed up and we’ll eat, alright?”

Eijirou hoisted Kouta up and hugged the boy to his chest, giving Kouta a clear view of Katsuki over Eijirou’s shoulder. He glared at Katsuki hard, mouthing a silent ‘You’re so dead’ to the man as he’s carried off to the bathroom with Eijirou spouting something about always wanting a baby brother.

He stands to go to the kitchen so he can start cooking, though halfway there someone knocks on the door. He stares at it for a moment and considers that Kyouka hasn’t told him anyone is coming, but she’s supposed to be helping Izuku right now too–

Fuck, I’m starting to be as paranoid as that idiot.

He goes to answer it and is greeted by Mashirao waving shyly on the other side with Mei and Chiyo on either side of him. “Hey, are you cooking tonight?”

Katsuki stares at them, long enough that Mashirao begins to feel awkward for intruding, before waving them in.

“Yeah, just don’t make a mess.”

He can practically see the excitement well up in Mashirao’s frame. The grin on Mei’s face and the small smile on Chiyo’s doesn’t go unnoticed when Mei shoves past him to get in. Mashirao is following her closely, ranting to her about how she’ll see for herself just how good the food is.

“You might just fit in here after all,” Chiyo said, shuffling her way past Katsuki and into the apartment.

Katsuki rolls his eyes and slams the door shut. He didn’t plan on making food for everyone, but he’ll make an exception tonight.

Everyone. The word repeats itself in his head while he’s digging through pots and pans in the kitchen.

“Hey, kid–” Katsuki snaps his fingers a few times while staring at Mashirao in an attempt to remember the name, “–Mashirao? Take some to the computer girl on your way home.”

Kyouka,” Mei corrects him.

“The fuck ever,” Katsuki responds. As far as he’s concerned they should be happy he even thought about her in the first place. “Just save some for Deku and her.”

Eijirou listens to the conversation in the other room with a grin, staring at the closed door while washing an extremely unhappy Kouta’s face.

Didn’t know you were going soft, Katsuki.

Chapter Text

Izuku cracked open the door, peeking his head through to see if he could spot anyone. On one of the sofa arms he catches a glimpse of Eijirou’s hair.

He sneaks in, leaving his shoes by the door, and makes his way to Kouta’s room. Inside he sees a lump under the covers on Kouta’s bed, and happily believes it to be the boy still asleep. Near-silently he makes his way over to Kouta’s closet, pulling out an outfit to change Kouta into. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done this, and Kouta gets angry at him every time because the boy hates this outfit so much. Izuku can’t help it with how adorable Kouta looks in it, so he continues to do it anyway.

Next he peeks inside Katsuki’s room. Katsuki is lying on his side, his back shown to Izuku.

“What the fuck do you want, Deku?”

Izuku grins while stepping into the room and closing the door. He rests his back against it and stares at Katsuki. “I’m just checking on everyone. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Katsuki rolled over and to the edge of the bed. He kicked his feet over the edge and onto the ground. The foot of his injured leg is stomped onto the floor a couple of times, seeing how bad it still is, and then he glared at Izuku.

“You didn’t. I was about to get up.” He stretched with his arms in the air, the action lifting his shirt above his waist for a brief few seconds. Afterward he catches Izuku’s stare. “I know you want me, but at least fucking try to be subtle.”

Izuku’s gaze darted up to Katsuki’s face. “I don’t… Did Kouta behave? Did you happen to find out why he doesn’t like Eijirou?”

Katsuki fell back onto the bed, his arms spread out wide on either side, and let a quick, mocking laugh escape. “I have a pretty good idea why. I’m not going to tell you because you’re going to overreact.”

“What? Why would I… What did he do?!”

“See? You’re already freaking out.”

Izuku closed his eyes, took a deep breath, exhaled and opened his eyes. His eyes are fixated on what he can see of Katsuki’s face, his stare intense.

“I’m calm. I won’t overreact. Tell me why please.”

Katsuki propped himself up on his elbows and scrutinized Izuku. Katsuki doesn’t doubt Izuku believes he won’t blow things out of proportion. Still, it isn’t enough to be convincing.

“No.”

Izuku dragged his hand down his face, a deep sigh being emitted through the entire action. He can’t fathom how to go about dealing with this right now.

“Okay, whatever. Is Eijirou open for another day? When your leg is better I need you to come with me to Japan.” Izuku’s crooked smile in response to Katsuki’s confusion only serves to irritate Katsuki. “I have to talk to a, uh, ‘friend’ about something and he won’t come here, so we have to go to him.”

“Why do I have to go?”

“Because he hates me with every fiber of his being. If given the chance he’d kill me without a second’s hesitation, and the people who work for him are practically a cult. If he tells them to kill me they would kill themselves just to do it. So I’d feel a little bit safer if you were there with me.

Katsuki takes a few moments to think about it. Obviously he’s going to go. It’s what he’s being blackmailed for in the first place. What he needs to take into consideration is whether he should ask Eijirou to come back another day.

Regardless of if Izuku wants him to know or not, he can tell that Izuku is stressed out. Strange, as he has been under the impression Izuku is a very laid back guy. Though after hearing about the other’s background he doesn’t deem it too weird for Izuku to be more than a little high strung.

What he believes he should do, rather than getting Eijirou to come back this time, is get Izuku to welcome Shouto back. Personally he hates the guy, yet it’s become evident that Izuku feels as though he’s lost a limb with Shouto being banished. Izuku even said himself that he, Katsuki and Shouto are the only three he completely trusts to protect people. Taking away one of three is a pretty big loss.

“Just get the other guy to do it. He knows more about what’s going on than Eijirou does.” A lame attempt, but at least a base to be laid out for him to work forward from. Obviously he wouldn’t have suggested Eijirou had he not trusted the man wholeheartedly, and Izuku will know that. He’s working on the spot and doing what he can for now.

“I can’t let him be here if he thinks he can just do whatever he wants, attack whoever he wants, and take matters into his own hands without repercussions.” Izuku goes to sit on the bed next to Katsuki, then unties his shoes and kicks them away to the wall. Each one hits with a soft thud, and he lets his hands rest on the mattress while leaning back and staring up at the ceiling. “I want him back. He’s a great friend. The first friend I made when I was freed. I feel the place is left safest with one of us three rather than an outsider–”

“I am an outsider.”

“Kyouka told me you cooked for everyone, had Mashirao bring her food and you left something for me in the fridge. You’re not an outsider anymore, because even if you don’t want to show it, you obviously care for everyone. Even if just a little.” Izuku gives him a half smile, watching Katsuki from the corners of his eyes. “Even though I forced you into this I don’t want you to feel alienated. If you still feel like an outsider, even after being silently accepted by everyone, then I’d like to do what I can to change that.”

Katsuki deadpanned, thoroughly annoyed by how this is beginning to get turned around on him. That Izuku wants so badly for him to fit in causes a strange feeling in his belly.

“I don’t. I’m just doing the shitty job you gave me. It’s easier to keep everyone protected if they’re all in one place, which is why having six people split up into four different buildings pisses me off so fucking much. Do you know how much walking I’ll have to do just to check on the others? It’s fucking idiotic.”

“I understand, and I agree. Still, do you know how hard it would be to have everyone jammed into one apartment with two bedrooms and one bathroom? Including you that would be seven people in this place. Most of the living room would be taken up with Kyouka’s equipment, and there’s no garage for Mei to work in here, Mashirao will want to play his games and Kyouka will get mad if he tries to use one of her screens. Chiyo likes to read books in peace and Kouta will get angry if I put anyone else in his room. I wouldn’t even have a place to give Kouta and Mashirao their schooling.”

Katsuki waves his hand in Izuku’s face. A pathetic attempt at getting him to shut up that works nonetheless. This has gotten way off track anyway, and he aims to steer the conversation back on course. “I still think you should bring Shouto back. I don’t like him, but you’re obviously distraught over the whole thing–”

“No I’m not,” Izuku argued quickly. His glare is directed to Katsuki, who looks as though he couldn’t believe Izuku’s words any less.

“I’m not good at empathizing, or dealing with feelings in general, and even I can still tell you’re stressed about something. And you only started showing signs of it right after the fight. You’re not the only one who can read a person or a situation. You’re just the only one who is fucking shit at dealing with the problem.” Katsuki waited for those words to sink in, taking in Izuku’s thoughtful expression. He figures that, as long as he’s going to have to be looking at the other, he may as well learn to read Izuku like Izuku has already begun to learn to read him. “He wanted to talk, and I wouldn’t listen because I was pissed off. That’s why he started the fight. I’ll talk to the fucker if you just bring his dumbass back and stop freaking out about everything.”

He waited for Izuku’s response, getting only silence in return. Impatience begins to kick in fast and he has to hold himself back to the best of his ability. The whole thing is stupid to him. He has to try to remind himself that this is important to Izuku, so it’ll take some convincing.

People like to be touched to be reassured, right? Eijirou does it, as do other people. With that reasoning in mind, he reaches for Izuku’s hand. He’s not normally one for calming people, and definitely not one for using someone’s attraction to him against them, so this whole ‘empathize with and convince’ thing is really throwing him for a loop.

Even more so when Izuku’s hand snaps towards his. Izuku’s fingers wrap around his palm and his arm is jerked backwards to the point of pain. His face is warped into a grimace almost instantly and he sucks in a breath through his teeth. He’s about to wrench his hand free and punch Izuku in the face when Izuku releases him, gaze never having left the floor.

Katsuki is on the verge of attacking him, and Izuku must have picked up on that because he’s already moving over to pin Katsuki onto the bed. Katsuki hears the familiar cock of a pistol, and he glances down to see it after feeling the cold metal of it’s barrel pressed under his chin. He’d have reacted had Izuku not purposefully moved on top of his wound.

He’s trying hard not to let it show that he’s in pain. He can tell Izuku can see through his facade when more pressure is added.

“Don’t try to manipulate me.” Unlike the time he’s asked not to curse around Kouta, this is a warning. Not a request.

Katsuki smirked at him, not showing the slightest hint of fear or even discomfort. “Or what? You’ll shoot me?”

“Don’t test me,” Izuku said, pushing the barrel against Katsuki’s jaw harder, “I’ve been manipulated long enough and I’m not going back to that.”

Katsuki’s smirk disappears, and he’s left staring expressionlessly up at Izuku’s glare. He might consider this position a little more exciting if he thought for one second he was in any real danger. Sadly, as far as he’s concerned, this is just a pathetic attempt to make an empty threat seem real. A show of confidence or bravado. It almost makes Izuku seem a little more attractive.

Almost.

Katsuki slaps Izuku’s hand away and kicks his legs upwards, the act toppling Izuku forward with Katsuki following to pin him down. Izuku’s hand with the gun is held off to the side, and he snatches the other up to defend against the strike coming for his neck. With Izuku’s hand still in his he reaches down to grab hold of the other’s neck and turns one leg to weigh down both of Izuku’s so that Izuku can’t repeat what he just did.

“I’m trying to help you, asshole. Whether you want to allow other people to help you or not isn’t my issue, but my task becomes exceedingly harder if you start going crazy over the stupidest fucking problems that can be solved easily.” He lets go of both of Izuku’s arms. “It’s not often I try to help someone, so quit being a goddamn paranoid fuck and let me help.”

Izuku never bothered to struggle, and doesn’t defend against the flick on his forehead either. He’s well aware he won’t overpower Katsuki while the other is prepared for him and doesn’t want to waste the energy.

Still, he shies away from Katsuki’s offered help. “I know what I’m doing–”

“I know you do. I also know what you’re doing is fucking stupid.”

The door opened and Eijirou peeked his head in, his sharp teeth revealed by the grin that grows on his face. “Is this why you didn’t want us to give him to the police, Katsuki?”

Katsuki stares at him questioningly, then realizes the position he and Izuku are in. He’s quick to move off and nearly stumble from the pain that shoots up his leg once it makes contact with the floor.

“I’m not involved with him like that, you fuck–”

“Eijirou, can you come by again in a few days–”

Katsuki’s hand slammed down over Izuku’s mouth, and then he takes the opportunity to voice Eijirou’s rejection for the man. While the two are arguing, Eijirou sighs at their childishness, unaware of why this is happening.

“Whatever is going on, can you guys keep it down? Kouta is still asleep.”

With that he closes the door and retreats to the living room. He’s barely three steps away before the pair is trailing right behind him. His ears are peppered by a barrage of ‘I need you for’s and ‘Don’t you fucking dare’s and he’s entirely not awake enough to deal with this.

“Guys, I don’t know what’s going on, but can this wait until I’ve been awake for more than two minutes?” While not particularly in a bad mood, it’s still seen as rude by Eijirou to bombard someone with questions and demands with no context while the person is only half conscious. He sidetracked to the kitchen, being under the impression the two of them are not going to let him go back to sleep on the couch right now. As if that isn’t bad enough, they’re both trying to talk over each other, so he can’t even understand who wants what. “You’re acting like an old married couple right now. Can we cool it down a bit?”

That shut them both up quick. It takes a moment of searching for Eijirou to remember that the apartment doesn’t have a dining table for him to sit at. Only a foldable table that’s kept around somewhere. He pinches the bridge of his nose with his index and thumb, and then makes his way back to the couch. Once there, he drops down and shows his back to the pair that are still stalking him. He can only hope they’ll get the hint.

Sadly, they appear not to, as he can still feel their eyes piercing his back while trying to fall back asleep.

“Eijirou,” they both said simultaneously.

He groaned and rolled over to stare up at them. “What is it?”

“Would you be willing to come by again in a few days and stay for a couple of nights? I need to take Katsuki to Japan with me and don’t have anyone to watch over the people here.”

“Say no,” Katsuki demanded.

“Don’t just decide for him!”

“Guys, guys,” Eijirou said while moving his hands in a calming manner to get them to stop, “chill out. Why don’t you want me to do it, Katsuki?”

“This dumbass banned his regular babysitter from coming here because the asshole started a fight with me–”

They started the fight?” Eijirou asked for clarification. Katsuki has been known to have his fair share of blame whenever something bad happens between him and another person.

“Yes, he started it, you assclown. Something about the kid not liking me and it pissing him off or some dumb shit. I don’t know and I don’t care. Bottom line is, this dumbass needs to make up with that dumbass and he’s trying to use you so he doesn’t have to.”

“A punishment is a punishment,” Izuku said. “I can’t let him do whatever he wants just because he’s doing something for me. There are limits.”

“He’s not going to do it again if we talk to him,” Katsuki argued. “I’m already over it. You shot that fuck in the shoulder and kicked him out. That’s already enough to let him know he can’t do what he fucking wants.”

“And all of that gets negated if I let him right back in a day later! It’s the principal of the matter!”

“Guys!” Eijirou sat up and pinched both of their arms to silence them. “Izuku is right. It sounds like the guy did something bad and needs to be punished for it somehow–”

“See?” Izuku grew a smug grin. Finally this debate would end on his terms.

“–but, I bet he’s a reasonable guy on some level, right? So make him apologize this time, and if he does it again then banish him. Next time show no mercy.”

Katsuki smirks at Izuku, and then shoves his elbow into Izuku’s arm. “Hear that? Call the fuckwad up and set us up a play date.”

Izuku, albeit deeply annoyed by this turn of events, decides to comply now that he’s outnumbered. While reaching for the phone in his pocket he spots something in the corner of his eye. A glance in that direction causes his face to brighten up immensely.

Katsuki and Eijirou, both noticing Izuku is shamelessly gawking at something, turn their heads in the same direction he’s facing. Both of their faces immediately light up as well. While Izuku and Eijirou’s grins are more excited, Katsuki’s is noticeably more impish and entertained.

“What’s with all the noise?” Kouta questioned, rubbing one of his eyes with his fist. It’s obvious he’s just gotten out of bed, though what everyone is staring at right now is the slightly oversized fox onesie with a large, bushy tail trailing behind him that he’s unknowingly clad in. “And what’s with those looks on your faces?”

“Nothing.” Izuku shoved Katsuki hard enough to send him down to the ground before the man could say anything taunting and moved over to pick Kouta up quickly. His only regret is that he didn’t put the hood on Kouta’s head. If he did there’s more of a chance the boy would’ve figured out what’s on him before Izuku could get a chance to see him walk around in it. “We’re just talking about something. Go back to sleep.”

With the rubbing and patting on his back Kouta had already made it back from half asleep to being out like a light by the time Izuku makes it over to the sofa. Izuku sat down next to Eijirou, who is staring giddily at Kouta’s outfit. He’s about to say something, when Izuku presses a finger up to his own lips and continues to rock back and forth with the sleepy child in hand.

Izuku mouthed the words ‘He doesn’t know’ and Eijirou nodded in understanding. At this time Katsuki is already standing again and debating whether kicking Izuku in the leg for the shove would be worth losing his chance for something to use against Kouta in the future. He wants to take a picture for that reason, and something suddenly dawns on him.

“What ever happened to my phone?”

Izuku shrugged, then spoke in a very low voice, “I assume it’s still at the prison. I never went looking for your belongings after you were arrested. I was planning on getting you another one before we go to Japan.”

Katsuki motioned for Eijirou to hand something over, and Eijirou immediately starts reaching for his phone. The device is pointed at Kouta, camera ready, and Izuku waved his hand in front of it to try to stave him off.

“If you wake him up and he finds out he’ll get mad and take it off. Just wait until he’s waking up and you can take a few before he runs away.” Katsuki rolls his eyes, then tries to shove Izuku’s hand out of the way. “Kacchan! Please, do you know how hard it is to get him in one of these while he’s asleep? It’s really rare I get this opportunity.”

Kouta mumbled something against Izuku’s shoulder, prompting the man to switch his attention over to the boy. He begins rocking slowly again, rubbing Kouta’s back and shushing him. All actions that, if he wasn’t dead asleep, Kouta would consider demeaning and instantly fight back against.

Katsuki pockets the phone to silence Izuku’s borderline begging.

“Let me hold him and you make the call to that one guy,” Eijirou offered, though it’s clear from the grabby hands he’s making that he just wants a turn to hold Kouta before the boy wakes up. Izuku reluctantly hands Kouta over, then quietly stands to go make the call to Shouto.

“I don’t understand how you can like that little rat so much.”

“Quit calling him names, try to get along with him and you might understand.” Eijirou’s voice is hardly above a whisper, though he knows Katsuki heard him loud and clear from the disgusted visage. “He’s really sweet and cool if you get to know him. Did you know he likes dinosaurs? You like Godzilla, try using that–”

“I’m not trying to make friends with anyone here,” Katsuki interjected, “I just need to do what Izuku says until he doesn’t need me anymore. Then he’s going to prove my innocence and I won’t ever see anyone here again.”

“I’d take over for you if I could. The Mashirao guy has some pretty cool games, Mei is super fun to talk to, Chiyo is really sweet and I love babysitting Kouta.” Eijirou continued to run his fingers through Kouta’s spiky hair, listening to the tiny breathing on his shoulder while recounting the fun he had meeting everyone. “I still want to meet the other person they were talking about. Kyouka? Everyone said she can’t be bothered.”

“Long story. You can go meet her before you leave today if she’s awake.”

Eijirou carefully pulled the hood of the onesie over Kouta’s head, grinning widely the entire time. “Cool. Is she as friendly as everyone else?”

Eijirou forgot for a second who he was talking to and expected to get either no answer at all or a completely negative one. Likely he’s already started a fight with her or something to sully their relationship right off the bat. With that in mind, the answer he did get caught him off guard.

“She’s all right.”

Eijirou is now beaming for an entirely different reason. It takes a second for him to remember to keep his voice down. “Really? Now I definitely have to meet her if you think she’s all right.”

Katsuki is about to shout in protest, only to be stopped by Izuku returning and dropping down on the couch next to Eijirou again.

“Shouto will be here in three days. With the pay from the job I just did I’ll buy us plane tickets when I wake up. Think your leg will be healed in three days?”

Eijirou tossed a concerned glance to Katsuki. “What happened to your leg?”

“Fuckass here shot both me and the other guy to break up our fight,” Katsuki explained with a glare in Izuku’s direction, “because, you know, yelling at us or something would be fucking stupid, right?”

“That would’ve left a chance for one of you to die. I don’t like dealing in chances,” Izuku said, crossing his arms and glaring off to the side. “And after I shot him you turned the knife around on him. I didn’t know what you were going to do.”

Eijirou, while becoming annoyed to hear that anyone would shoot Katsuki, keeps himself composed. Even if it was to stop the fight, it’s still become very apparent that this guy doesn’t know how to deal with people in a normal manner at all.

“Well hey, if you ever need me and I don’t have a job from a client lined up, I’ll be happy to drop by.” Eijirou’s words are clearly aimed at Katsuki, not regarding Izuku’s existence with so much as a glance. “I bet Denki will help out too if you need him. You know we’re always here for you.”

“Yeah I know, quit with the sappy shit and turn the little fuck around.”

Eijirou grinned and turned Kouta around in his lap with both of them ignoring Izuku’s protesting about potentially waking him up. His hand came to prop up Kouta’s head after it drooped to the side. Katsuki knew just what threat to make with these if Kouta ever decided to try to be a handful again.

Around the fourth picture, where Eijirou is hugging Kouta with one arm and making a peace sign with the other, the boy starts to rouse. His arm comes up to rub his eyes and, finally waking up enough to notice, he realizes this isn’t the sleeve of the shirt he fell asleep in. Even stranger is he doesn’t recall owning any orange clothes.

“What the…” A cursory glance down reveals he’s in fact in one of the outfits he detests so much. Even worse is when he realizes just why Katsuki is pointing a cellphone at him.

He bites Eijirou’s arm hard and jumps after the phone once he’s released from Eijirou’s hold. The device is narrowly missed with Katsuki sidestepping the boy to let him drop to the floor gracelessly. Kouta is quick to stand and reach for the phone, jumping up and down repeatedly to try to get a hold of it. Neither of them pay any mind to Eijirou voicing his concerns about being careful with his phone.

“Give me that–”

“Language,” Izuku warned.

“–stupid thing!”

“No way. Keep being a little shit and I’m printing out a thousand of these and putting them up on every lamp post, street light, and everything in between for the next hundred miles.” Katsuki took delight in the horrified look on the child’s face. Even though he had no intention of going through the trouble of doing all that, all he needs is for Kouta to believe he would.

“You’re such a–”

“Ah, ah, ah,” Katsuki sing songs with a wag of his finger, “choose your next words carefully. Just be a good little runt and we’ll all get along peacefully. Got it?”

“I haven’t done anything to you for a while,” Kouta said in a low voice.

“Insurance to keep it that way,” Katsuki said, then tossed the phone over to Eijirou.

Kouta chased after it through the air. He’s about to run face first into Eijirou’s knee, as his attention is focused wholly on the cellphone. Eijirou’s hand jerks out and stops him an inch away from his knee, the other hand snapping up to catch the device in the air.

“Please don’t throw my phone,” Eijirou said to Katsuki, ignorant of the mortification on the child’s face.

Kouta swiftly retreats to his room to change clothes. Whether he’s going to come back out is another matter entirely.

“I told you guys you’d wake him up,” Izuku complained while watching Kouta run away. “There goes my little kit.”

You put him in the fucking thing,” Katsuki retorted.

“He only gets annoyed when I do it. He understandably gets angry when he finds out someone was taking pictures of him in…” Izuku stops and sighs, “Nevermind, that’s not important right now. Will you be good to go in less than a week? There’s a pretty decent chance the person I need to go see will try to kill us. I don’t want to go unless you can handle a potential fight.”

“Why the fuck are we going to see him if he might try to kill us?”

“Because, that night you were trying to get me in the vents; the guys you were guarding had something I needed to prove something. His organization has been hiring, uh, one of them often, apparently. I’m not exactly on good terms with them, but they’re going to be my biggest lead to finding one of the three I’m hunting.”

Eijirou listens on in utter bewilderment. Never has he felt more like a third wheel than at this very moment. “Do I need to know any of this?”

Both of them give a synchronous ‘No’, to which Eijirou frowns with half-lidded eyes that showcase his annoyance when the two begin speaking to each other again. Obviously whatever they’re talking about is important, and he can guess by the occasional pauses in their conversation to change a word or a name to something ambiguous that not everyone around this place knows what they’re talking about.

Regardless, he’s already moving towards the door to gather his shoes. It’s at that point that he remembers the other reason he agreed to come by, and approaches Izuku before leaving. He’s rummaging in his pocket, then the other, while Izuku’s attention moves to him after noticing him standing next to the arm of the couch.

“By the way, Izuku, is it? Here.” Eijirou pulled out an envelope and placed it in Izuku’s lap, then goes on his way to head home. “Denki found it in his coat pocket. Mitsuki doesn’t want to accept it. If you need help with anything feel free to call me, Katsuki.”

Izuku picks up the envelope and sighs through his nose. “Is she too proud for it?”

“No,” Eijirou responds from the doorway, “she just doesn’t want it coming from you. Personally I wouldn’t want it from you either. No offense. Who knows what you’ve done to get it. They both asked me to punch you in the face too, and if there wasn’t such a young kid running around that would get upset by your black eye I would because of the things you did. I’m not going to make Kouta see you hurt though.”

Eijirou is gone after that, leaving Izuku with a curious Katsuki. Izuku can tell right away Katsuki is staring at the envelope in his hands.

“It’s money. Nothing bad.”

“If you had money to give, why didn’t you just hire me in the first place instead of screwing with everyone?”

“Remember our conversation outside the prison?” Katsuki nodded while Izuku pulled the money out of the envelope. A note was inside as well, though Katsuki can guess Izuku isn’t the one who put it there or else Izuku wouldn’t be taking the time to read it over. “It’s still true. I don’t have much free money to give. If I pay you it’s going to be so little you’d probably consider it an insult. The majority of it all goes to equipment, keeping this place from falling apart, food for seven people, so on so forth.”

Katsuki’s gaze shifts down to the money in Izuku’s hands, seeing several hundreds next to the note, and wonders if that’s what Izuku considers insultingly low.

“Most of it is what I was going to spend on a new generator for Mei. Her electricity is still going on and off because it needs to be replaced. The last little bit is about half our food money,” Izuku clarified after seeing what Katsuki is staring at. “I put it in his pocket when I was sneaking him into the house after hearing I caused trouble for their business.”

“And what the fuck did you plan to do when we couldn’t afford enough food for everyone?”

“I’d be the one eating less. There’d be no difference for the rest of you. If everyone asked for what is usually bought that is,” Izuku explained as he stood and began making his way back to the bedroom. Katsuki is hot on his tail, though they’re both stopped by Kouta’s door swinging open and nearly hitting Izuku in the face.

He’s in regular clothes now, hat in hand instead of on his head, and Izuku can already tell what’s about to happen from the look of indignity on the boy’s face. Kouta zeroed in on Izuku and pointed at him, then down at the floor between them. Izuku, having gone through this more than once before, crouched down to Kouta’s level and covered his eyes.

Katsuki watched the pair curiously, never thinking for one second that Kouta would take revenge on Izuku for anything. Watching Kouta slap Izuku across the face with his hat feels somewhat like witnessing history at this point.

Izuku uncovers his eyes, tilts his head to the side and grins at Kouta. “I told them not to, you know.”

Kouta’s gaze shifts over to Katsuki, who is quite obviously amused by all of this. He wants to kick the man in the leg as hard as he can. He knows Izuku will get far more upset about that than what he just did, so it doesn’t. It still doesn’t lessen his desire to do so any.

“One day you’re going to pay for this,” Kouta warns him in a low voice while donning his hat. “I swear on it.”

Kouta shoves past the both of them and puts his boots on by the front door. The apartment door is slammed shut, hard enough that the sound echoes through the apartment, as he leaves, the two of them watching him over their shoulders the entire time.

Katsuki looks down at Izuku, holding back a scoff. “The fuck does he think he’s going to do?”

Izuku grows an amused smirk. He looks as though he knows something Katsuki doesn’t, and the look unsettles Katsuki. He follows Izuku down the hall, trying to hide his slight concern.

“So what, you planned on starving yourself just to-”

“Yes, I know how stupid it sounds,” Izuku interjects in an extremely dull tone. He falls onto the mattress to sleep, and it’s then that Katsuki becomes aware of that fact that Izuku has been awake all night. “I still owe them don’t I? I didn’t intend to harm them like that. So I’d like to make it right somehow. Provided it’s a way I can. As long as I eat enough to not die, I can afford to send them some money every other month or something.”

“The best way to make it right would be to let me go,” Katsuki tried, though he already knows the answer to that.

“I said a way I can. I can’t afford that now. Especially after I need to go to Japan with someone, and I need someone else to stay here. I need at least two people with me now, and you’re one of them. I’m sorry, but no.”

Worth a try. Katsuki crossed his arms and stared at Izuku’s back while the man lay face down on the bed. “At least you’re trying to do something about it, unlike a lot of people I wish I didn’t know.”

“You don’t mind if I use the bed while you’re not using it, do you? I don’t want to sleep on the couch and keep anyone else off of it all day.”

“You’re still a fucking asshole.” Katsuki withdrew from the room, his voice soft as he spoke on his way out, “The plate in the fridge is all for you. Take it whenever.”

 


 

Izuku watches Shouto cautiously from his spot at the table he placed for the three of them to talk. Katsuki is seated directly across from Shouto, Izuku to the side of them both.

It’s obvious from the way his eyes are constantly darting between them that Izuku is a little paranoid about having the two so close to each other. Katsuki said he wouldn’t start a fight and Shouto promised over the phone he wouldn’t either. Still he finds himself ready for anything at this moment.

“So, Kacchan decided he wants you back-”

“That you need him,” Katsuki growls with a glare tossed to Izuku.

“-and I want to see if you think you can handle being around him without something happening. So let’s get the problems out of the way now so both of you no longer have an issue with each other. Shouto, why don’t you explain why you have a problem with Katsuki?”

Neither Shouto or Katsuki have broken eye contact since the group has sat down. Izuku can’t tell if they’re having some sort of silent conversation, quietly threatening each other, sizing each other up or something. Shouto breaks the silence after being prompted by Izuku, though the impassive expression is still not broken.

“Kouta has been having problems with him. I wanted to make sure it was not as serious as Kouta was making them out to be. Katsuki gave me reason to believe it was when he acted so aggressively toward me. I don’t want Kouta to be stuck with someone who will potentially harm him in some way.”

Katsuki snorted and turned his head to the side, then back to Shouto. “Harm him? How big of a cliff did you jump off of to reach that conclusion? The only reason I haven’t kicked his ass is because he’s a child. If he was an adult the things he’s done to me would be seen by any sane person as fucking assault and premeditated murder. Anything I do to him at this point would be self-defense in a court of law if he was older.”

“He’s misguided and your aggressive tendencies are making it worse.”

“If he was misguided before I even got here, then whose fault is that? The dimwit who spoils him rotten or fucking idiot who kills someone just because the brat doesn’t like them? You’re only defending him because he’s Deku’s little hellion. If either of you two were in my position I’d like to see you handle a murderous little fuck without doing something to him.”

“Okay guys,” Izuku cut in, placing his hands on the table calmly. His voice is soft and his eyes fixated on the table. “I don’t want to take a definite side, but Katsuki is right in this situation, Shouto. I’m not normally around you both, so I don’t know if you have anything to do with it. As far as I know Kouta’s behavior is my fault. I already intend to work on that. I would appreciate if you understand Kouta is not in the right. We both need to make sure he knows that.”

Izuku waits for Shouto to give him some kind of sign that he understands. Shouto nodded quietly, and Izuku’s gaze moved to Katsuki.

“I’m going to handle Kouta, so moving on to you and the antics with Eijirou–”

“You know damn well you wanted those pictures just as much as I did.”

“That isn’t the point. Kouta was right that morning. He hasn’t done anything to you in a while. He’s been surprisingly restrained, so if you want him to lay off then that’s a two way street. I’m going to have that much more trouble trying to get him to leave you alone if you pull stunts like that. I know you want payback. I just want it all to end. Be the bigger man.”

Katsuki nodded. That nod inserted the final nail into the coffin of their dispute. Izuku grinned and sat back in his chair.

“Good. You all don’t have to get along. You just have to work together and not kill each other. That’s all I need.” Izuku’s grin dwindled down to a soft smile. “Although I wouldn’t complain if you could get along too. Everyone here is important to me. Whether either of you believe it or not.”

“Enough with the sappy shit,” Katsuki complained, already standing and heading for the door to go check on the others. He’s made it a point recently to go from place to place and make sure everyone is fine at least once every two hours. He would do one hour if everyone wasn’t so spread out.

He opened the front door and stopped in place. Down below he spotted the familiar horned hat staring up at him. The two glare at each other, both of them seemingly unwilling to move for the other, until Katsuki steps aside to let Kouta in.

The child is notably confused by Katsuki yielding to him. He accepted the right of way without question and Katsuki watched him make his way up to Izuku and hand off the papers in his hand—presumably some type of schoolwork Izuku gave him—before attempting to retreat to his room.

Izuku grabbed onto the back of Kouta’s shirt and pulled him up into his lap. “Where are you off to in such a hurry? Come help me review the work. You didn’t even greet Shouto.”

Kouta’s complaints are but background noise to Katsuki by now. He’s already halfway down the hallway, wholly uninterested in watching those three interact.

“Katsuki.” And he has even less interest in hearing what this guy has to say to him. Still, he glances over his shoulder at the hand extended to him. “I apologize for my rash behavior. I should have gotten all the facts first.”

Katsuki’s gaze moved up to Shouto’s face, then back down to his hand. He pushed Shouto’s hand away and continued on down the hall.

“Get your shit right next time. And if you want to talk, don’t fucking stalk me.”

“Katsuki,” Shouto called to him again, “Izuku would also like to know if you’re fine to leave early in the morning. You’ll only be there for a couple of days.”

“I’m fine. Let’s just get it over with.” He has no desire to be on the other side of the planet from the places he needs to be right now. He also has no desire to leave Izuku in someone else’s hands on the other side of the planet either.

Better he go with Izuku into the belly of the beast than stay here where there’s less of a chance of something happening.

Chapter Text

“We’re meeting in this shithole? I thought the guy was supposed to be rich?”

Ahead lied the old factory that Izuku mentioned they would be meeting his “contact” in. He did fail to mention the meeting would be in the dead of night with multiple people pointing guns at them right at the entrance to the property.

Then again, the detail with the guns being pointed at them could’ve been assumed from the very beginning.

“Rich via illegal activities,” Izuku said on their way inside, “as in arrest on sight. Shoot on sight to some people.”

“Is this what I think it is?”

“...Probably.”

Izuku leaves it at that. With only a fair idea of what Katsuki thinks it is he can’t give a straight answer. He knows Katsuki is smart enough to figure it out by now though. A large number of armed guards—with more than your conventional weapons—awaiting them at a seemingly random building for a secret meeting in the middle of the night in Japan?

“Why are you making enemies with these kinds of people?” Katsuki ignored the stares he got from the guards for that utterance.

“You’re a bodyguard with a name for yourself. Shouto is a mercenary who takes jobs all over the place for all sorts of people. When you both do your jobs you get happy clients who recommend you to others. The people you upset understand it’s just business. They can hire you to do the exact same thing that happened to them,” Izuku explained as they made their way through the building and followed someone who waved to them down into an underground entrance. “I, on the other hand, am a freelance assassin and thief who has no name for himself–”

“Because you choose not to have one.”

“For good reason,” Izuku continued, “who has no name for himself, kills people without explanation to any third parties, takes things that I need, etc. When I do my job, I don’t get happy clients. I get dead bodies, stolen objects of interest or intelligence, disappointed looks, and angry enemies.”

“You should probably stop doing that.”

“What’s the saying? You have to break some eggs to make an omelette?”

They reached the door to the meeting room and he grabbed Izuku’s arm to pull Izuku back behind him. Regardless of how competent the person he’s guarding may be, he’s still not going to let them take charge so long as he has a say in it. Letting them walk into a potentially dangerous room is the first step to getting them killed.

Whether he likes Izuku or not at this point is irrelevant. If he’s going to do a job he’s going to do it right.

With that in mind, he’s the one to kick the door open, both hands in his pockets lest they think he’s attempting an attack. There’s one person sitting in a chair at the end of the room and two masked and hooded figures on either side of him pointing rifles at Katsuki. His eyes roam the room slowly, the only thing to be noticed so far being the person who thinks they’re hidden behind the door. Katsuki can see him through the crack between the door and the frame.

Not something someone hasn’t tried before, hence why he kicked the door open instead of just walking in. Izuku is staring at him questioningly when Katsuki walks in and places his hand on the door.

“How fucking stupid do you think we are?” Katsuki questioned. He slammed the door shut and spun around to slam the head of the person behind the door against the wall. He dragged the person by their arm to the middle of the room and tossed them at the other three’s feet. Halfway there he could hear Izuku open and peek through the door, then enter and follow behind him.

“I thought we weren’t going to kill each other this once, Chisaki?” Izuku complained.

“I felt if we didn’t get the first attempt out of the way right at the beginning you would be paranoid the whole time. That would make this exceedingly tedious.” Chisaki leaned forward and clasped his hands together. “Please, have a seat. Then tell me your reason for asking to meet.”

Izuku sat down, though Katsuki did not. He instead chose to stand next to the couch. It’s fairly obvious he has no trust for anyone in this room. Not even after the guns that were pointed at him are faced away.

“I’m here to ask about someone you’ve been hiring recently. I don’t know if you know his name yet. Aizawa Shouta?”

Chisaki stared at him, seemingly unphased by the question. His eyes slid toward Katsuki. “And why is he here?”

Izuku looked up at Katsuki. “This is Kacchan. He’s currently under my employ.”

“As what?”

“Does it matter?” Izuku and Chisaki glared at each other. Izuku could see Chisaki would refuse to continue without an answer. “He’s my bodyguard.”

Chisaki glanced up at Katsuki briefly, and then gave Izuku another unimpressed stare. As anonymous as Izuku tries to be, he still manages to make plenty of ripples in the stream of things. Enough that people like Chisaki try to find out everything they can about him.

“You expect me to believe you need a bodyguard?” Chisaki leaned back in his chair and adjusted his gloves. “I don’t feel much like talking while you’re both here. He can wait outside.”

Izuku frowned, his eyes narrowing a fraction. He refuses to be locked in a room alone with someone as cunning as Chisaki and two disposable guards. Forget that he truly means no harm to them in this moment, there’s nothing proving they mean no harm to him or Katsuki.

“Why do you need him gone if I’ve made it clear I have no intention of harming you?” Izuku followed Chisaki’s gaze to the unconscious man on the floor between them. “Okay, first of all he’s not dead, and second, he was lying in wait to ambush us. That’s fair game.”

“It’s been proven time and again that your promises are meaningless and your words fickle, Midoriya Izuku. I have no trust in you at all. He leaves or you don’t get a single word from me.”

Katsuki looked to Izuku after hearing that. Memories of the lies and tricks Izuku has used on him for the upper-hand come flooding in. Izuku is bent forward ruffling his hair, very obviously and openly showing his frustration by being cornered into this decision. Katsuki goes from wondering what all Izuku has done to this man to be put in this position to the realization that if someone like this can’t even trust Izuku to keep his word, then how can he?

He’s also wondering just what Izuku is trying to accomplish by this pathetically fake show of frustration, and if Chisaki can tell if it’s real or not.

“Alright, fine, I lied,” Izuku said. His voice brings Katsuki’s attention to him. Chisaki is wholly unamused by this declaration. His eyes watching their every move carefully betrayed the calm body language as Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s hand and guided Katsuki onto the couch beside him. “He’s not my bodyguard. He’s my lover, and I’m not letting him out of my sight where you can hurt him. I don’t trust you or your guards.”

“The fuck?” Katsuki said in a low voice.

“He’s not your lover or you wouldn’t have brought him with you.”

Izuku blew a puff of air from his nose and his eyes narrowed even further. He looks as though he’s just accepted a challenge that Chisaki issued. Likewise, he very clearly remembered what Katsuki said about improvising, and how he said he wouldn’t do it so long as he could help it.

Izuku absolutely refuses to send Katsuki out of his view so he can be trapped in here alone and have Katsuki walk into whatever potential problems may be waiting outside alone. So, he did the only thing he could think of in this situation.

He improvised. Because he has decided that he can’t help it this time.

There isn’t a great many lines Izuku won’t cross, especially when it comes to achieving his life’s goal of killing his mentors. He has boundaries of course. Ideals he won’t betray and ideas that he considers too much and wouldn’t force himself to do. Thankfully the line is far enough out there that he can get away with a lot of things to keep himself and others alive and safe.

The idea comes almost naturally to him, regardless of the sheer embarrassment he’s trying to hide, to move over and settle himself on his knees above Katsuki’s lap. His legs straddle Katsuki’s thighs and he grabs hold of the other’s face, cradling Katsuki’s cheeks in his hands and moving his face extremely close.

“Sorry about this,” Izuku whispered with a tilt of his head, and then he’s pressing his lips to Katsuki’s.

Katsuki’s very first urge is to hit him. Hard. One he thankfully doesn’t follow through with, given their current situation. He wouldn’t have sat down if he knew this is what Izuku was leading him to do. He wouldn’t have even walked in the room.

His second urge comes another two seconds in. This one he does follow.

His lips part and he leans into the kiss. His hand grabs hold of the front of Izuku’s shirt and jerks him closer because Izuku’s lips are so small yet feel so good, so warm, that he can’t help indulging.

Katsuki didn’t know what to expect from helping Izuku on missions and stuff. Of all the things to probably assume from the sound of it, the last two things he ever thought he’d be doing were trying to keep Izuku and one of his best friends from killing each other, and kissing Izuku.

That line of thinking brings forth another urge he can’t follow through with. He wants to kill Izuku right now for putting him in this position. For putting him in a situation where he has to kiss this bastard so that he can do what’s asked of him. So that the two aren’t separated with potentially horrible results awaiting them the moment they’re no longer in sight of each other.

Katsuki ends up following three other urges, all of which are deemed necessary by him to complete the illusion they’re attempting to weave. Katsuki’s eyes slid closed and the hand holding onto Izuku’s shirt slid down to rest on Izuku’s hip. The other hand lands on Izuku’s other hip long enough to pull Izuku down fully onto his lap, and then slides back to grab hold of Izuku’s backside.

If he’s going to be forced to go through with this, he might as well make it look as realistic as possible. That’s his reasoning that warrants squeezing Izuku’s butt.

Izuku tried to pull off, convinced that they’d done enough to hopefully fool Chisaki. He can’t see the man’s reaction in his current position, so he can only hope right now. The moment he tries to move away from Katsuki, the hand on his hip grabs onto the back of his neck and keeps him in place.

His own hands fall off Katsuki’s face and down to Katsuki’s chest, where he tries very unconvincingly to push away.

He’s about to bite Katsuki’s lip in an attempt to escape before he’s dragged further into this than he meant to go. Then he can feel it. The way Katsuki’s head tilts further to the side. The way Katsuki’s lips try to ease his mouth open, and the tongue that tries to move into the opening.

Izuku knows he shouldn’t let Katsuki in. This was meant to be a fast act to convince Chisaki that he wasn’t going to let Katsuki out of his sight. This isn’t supposed to be for personal pleasure and going this far would be just that.

Just pleasure.

And knowing that, he still does nothing to stop Katsuki.

“Disgusting,” Chisaki said. His voice rang out through the near-silence of the room and caught the attention of them both, reminding them where they are. “He can stay, if you stop doing that. It’s inappropriate and I have no interest in seeing anyone act so childishly.”

Katsuki allowed Izuku to retreat from him, but kept his hand on the back of Izuku’s neck. Izuku released a breathy sigh, his face still entirely too close to Katsuki’s. He held back the laughter bubbling up in his chest and licked his teeth. Both of his hands are resting on either of Katsuki’s shoulders.

“You didn’t have to go that far,” Izuku murmured.

Katsuki smirked, looking pleased with himself for the accomplishment of, both figuratively and literally, stealing Izuku’s breath away. “I don’t half-ass things. If you’re going to do something then commit to it. Now get the fuck off me.”

“Quit squeezing my butt so hard and I will,” Izuku said. A light tap is placed on Katsuki’s arm to emphasize the point that Katsuki is still holding onto his backside.

Katsuki let him go, raising both his hands up at shoulder height to show he’s no longer holding onto Izuku in any fashion. Izuku lingers a second longer, then crawls off of Katsuki to sit next to him.

Chisaki appears visibly disgusted. Even with the plague mask covering a portion of his face Izuku can see it.

“Why do you want to know about Aizawa Shouta?”

“I just want to know anything you can tell me about where he is.” Izuku tried to come up with a reason. Saying he wants to kill Aizawa would be a quick way to not get any information at all. If Aizawa has been working for Chisaki then there’s no reason Chisaki would want to help the man get killed. “He’s a very elusive man and I’d like to meet with him.”

“What makes you believe he wants to meet with you?”

Katsuki’s eyes are trained on the guards during the conversation. Izuku can handle the persuading here. He doesn’t know this person—Chisaki, he believes Izuku mentioned—and doesn’t want to say something that could be detrimental for the situation.

Izuku is doing a perfectly fine job of botching this himself as it is.

“Nothing. There’s also nothing leading me to believe he wants to avoid me. I can’t know either until I speak with him, so stop jerking me around. Are you going to help me or not?”

Chisaki watched Izuku for a long moment. He weighed his options, thought of the benefits and detriments.

“I can contact him and ask if he is interested in meeting you. If he agrees to meet, then that is that. If not, then it is out of my control.”

Katsuki can see what’s coming next from a mile away. His hand flies down to Izuku’s arm and grabs hold of it. Izuku is pulling, trying to reach for the gun he keeps with him at almost all times. He’s adamant about getting information on Aizawa and Katsuki believes Izuku is on the verge of making a mistake with the information practically being waved in his face similar to waving a bone in front of a dog.

“Is it upsetting realizing things are not as in your control as you’d like them to be?” Chisaki goaded him. “I will not give information about him without his consent. To do so would be the equivalent of signing a death warrant. I am no more important to him than a beggar on the street, and neither are you. I will ask if he wishes to meet Midoriya Izuku, the attack dog of Yaoyorozu Momo and Iida Tenya, and you will be given an answer within a week. Take the offer or leave it.”

Katsuki side-eyed Izuku. He’s waiting to hear the refusal so he can jump in to stop Izuku from being an idiot yet again. Waiting to hear a barrage of threats or insults. While he and Izuku aren’t the same person, he can’t see anyone responding to being egged on like that positively.

He also knows Chisaki knows that and expects the same.

“Fine, but let’s alter it a little,” Izuku said, much to Katsuki’s surprise.

“No,” Chisaki tried to reject him. He doesn’t try to hide his annoyance when Izuku continues anyway.

“Don’t use my name. Tell him Yamada Hizashi wants to meet, and I won’t steal your next weapons shipment.”

“You were going to steal from me after asking me for a favor?”

Izuku gave him a lopsided smile, eyeing Chisaki’s movements. Katsuki kept his eyes on the guards once Chisaki’s gaze moved to him.

“It’s not a favor if you don’t do it in a way that’s beneficial to me.”

Chisaki snorted irritatedly. His gaze shifted up toward the ceiling, then to the wall, and finally back to Izuku’s smiling face. “And if I kill you right now?”

“If all the people you have come bearing down on the two of us, we might die, and you’ll still die long before either of us do.” Izuku shook his head and eased his arm out of Katsuki’s hold. “You’re not going to risk that. You’re also not going to increase the body count by sending more guards to your shipment. It won’t work and you know it. I’m trying to make this work for both of us, so help me out here.”

“You’re a cocky bastard, you know that?”

Izuku shook his head again. “Not cocky. Determined. I try to make sure I know what I can and can’t handle. It just so happens I can handle you.”

Chisaki appeared to weigh his options one more time. “Okay. If you cause him any trouble and he comes for me, I’m going to make sure you both die if it’s the last thing I do.”

Izuku clapped his hands together once and stood abruptly, causing the two guards to jerk their guns toward him. “All right! Glad to see we finally came to an understanding. Get in touch with me the usual way within the next two days and let me know what he says.”

Izuku tugged at Katsuki’s shirt to signal their departure. He doesn’t wait for a response from Chisaki or anything, already leaving with Katsuki.

Chisaki watched the pair leave. Once he’s sure they’re out of the building he stands up and heads for the door.

“I don’t know what business you have with him, and I want no part in it.”

“Doesn’t look like he cares about that,” Aizawa commented. He stood up from behind Chisaki’s chair to meet the man’s gaze. “I need to speak with someone else first. I’ll tell you if I wish to meet him before the deadline is up.”

 


 

“You didn’t say anything about stealing some shit. What the fuck would we even do with a box of weapons?” Katsuki asked after they were clear of the building and walking down a mostly empty sidewalk.

“Nothing. I don’t care about his weapons.”

Katsuki frowned, upset by the realization he had fallen for the trick as well. “You were never going to steal it. You just wanted leverage.”

“Yep. Whatever business Aizawa and I have between us isn’t worth losing money or manpower to him.” Izuku flashed him a bright grin and casually bumped shoulders with Katsuki. “It worked. That’s all that matters.”

Katsuki shoved Izuku in retaliation. “And if it didn’t?”

Izuku caught himself before he fell over the curb and returned to Katsuki’s side. “Then I would have had to go with what he said.”

Katsuki nodded, and then tapped the pistol under Izuku’s shirt. “What did you plan to do if I didn’t stop your dumbass from grabbing this?”

“I knew you were going to stop me, like how you stopped me from going off on Momo and Tenya. That’s why I went for the gun. I was hoping it would make him more paranoid and want to get me to leave sooner if he knew I was on the verge of attacking him.” Izuku shook his head with a small, knowing smile. There would’ve been no point in attacking Chisaki and he knew it. If Katsuki didn’t try to stop him he still wouldn’t have done anything. Only given empty threats, lest he wanted a lot of dead guards on top of a dead end. “You don’t understand how badly I want revenge on these guys, Kacchan. I wasn’t going to kill the only lead I had. I just had to work him right.”

“No, you’re right. I don’t understand. I don’t want to understand either. What I do what to understand is how you got to be so fucking stupid when it comes to critical thinking. Given the correct information and everything you do great, and then when you have to react to something on the spot you automatically choose the worst possible fucking option or take way too long to try to think of something.”

Izuku shrugged. He was taught to never let something go wrong. Nothing is supposed to go wrong. Likewise, social situations tend to be a big weakness for him. Nedzu taught him to read people, to learn their fears and weaknesses and use those against people, not to befriend them or hold conversations. Or, rather, Izuku never got that far into his lessons before he ran away.

“Just not something I’m good at yet. I do intend to learn.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “I’d tell you to stop thinking and go with your gut when you’re in a situation like that if I didn’t think you’d still choose the stupidest fucking option. So try going with the opposite of what your gut tells you.”

Izuku doesn’t reply to that, and Katsuki doesn’t relish the awkward silence afterward. Even worse is the topic Izuku chooses to break the silence with.

“I’m sorry I kissed you.”

Katsuki absentmindedly rubbed his thumb across his lips as that moment came to mind. “It’s fine. It was just so he wouldn’t separate us.”

“Yeah.” Izuku kept his eyes fixed on the passing cracks in the sidewalk. The corners of his mouth twitched up in a partial smile. “That’s the only reason.”

The two continued on in silence again for another two blocks, then Katsuki moved ahead of Izuku and stopped in front of him. The action forced Izuku to stop too, lest he bump into Katsuki. Katsuki’s eyes roamed Izuku’s face, and his hand came up to grab Izuku’s chin.

Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s wrist, his brows furrowed from confusion. “What are you doing?”

Katsuki inspected him for a few more seconds. He looked unsure of something. His face closed in on Izuku’s, his mouth hovering less than an inch away from Izuku’s. Izuku stood frozen in place, shocked and curious.

“You owe me something,” Katsuki whispered into Izuku’s ear. He backed away with that, shoved his hands into his pockets, and continued the trek back to their hotel. “Ask me what when we get back from Japan.”

“...Huh?” Izuku said quietly to himself, bewildered about what just transpired.

 


 

“You’re still not showing your work.”

“Why does it matter if I get the right answer?”

“Because I’m curious how you’re doing it.” Izuku, on his belly in bed, tapped the screen of the laptop in front of him three times, his smile unwaning. “Do it on a different sheet and show me. Maybe you’ve got a better way.”

Katsuki watched from his position in a chair across the room. His cheek is resting on his fist, elbow on the armrest. One knee is up close to his chest, the other arm lying flat on the other armrest. From here he can only see Izuku’s hair around the laptop.

Izuku is supposed to be asleep, but under the different time zones he’s taking the time right now to deal with teaching Mashirao and Kouta. Katsuki had to deal with two painstaking hours of Mashirao learning history. Right now it’s time for Kouta’s math lesson and Katsuki is ready to tear out his hair after an hour and a half.

If it isn’t bad enough that it’s four in the morning, he’s also had zero hours of sleep. He’s still trying to decide whether the worst part is that Izuku seems to be running at full capacity even after being up for the same amount of time, or that he has to listen to the man drone on about these lessons endlessly. The only silver lining is that he doesn’t have to hear anyone on the other side of the screen.

Thankfully Izuku is wearing headphones.

He took note of it the first time Izuku’s head popped up from behind the laptop’s screen to stare at him for a brief moment. Then again the second time, and once more the third.

On the fourth occurrence Katsuki snapped the fingers of his resting arm to gain Izuku’s attention.

“What the fuck do you want?”

“Hmm?”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. “You keep looking at me. What do you want?”

“Nothing,” Izuku responded with a shake of his head. His eyes switched down to the laptop screen, and a small smile formed. “That’s Kacchan talking.”

Katsuki let it go for the moment. The only lights in the room are coming from the moon in the window and Izuku’s screen, making his movements easier to notice under a sort of spotlight.

Izuku looks over the screen at him again a few minutes later. This time Katsuki throws a half empty water bottle that was in his lap at Izuku. Izuku rolls to the side, dragging the laptop with him, and the bottle hits the wall with a thud.

“What. Do. You. Fucking. Want?”

“Nothing,” Izuku responded with another shake of his head. He doesn’t react to the water bottle on his bed at all, or the fact that Katsuki just threw it at him. To him it’s as if nothing at all just happened. He ignored the idle threats Kouta is making at Katsuki, as he knows that Katsuki can’t hear him anyway.

Katsuki pounded both of his fists on the armrests of his chair. “I’m going you fucking murder you if you don’t tell me what it is.”

Izuku looked down at the screen again. “Have Kyouka or Shouto help you with the rest. It’s all in the same chapter in that book I got you. We’ll talk again tomorrow.”

Katsuki’s eyes stayed on Izuku the entire time he put his laptop and headphones back in the backpack by his bed. He sat cross-legged in the middle of his bed and stared back at Katsuki. The two maintained a steady gaze at each other for a while, and then Izuku finally spoke up.

“You know you’ve sat there and watched me for nearly four hours, right?”

Katsuki didn’t react on the outside. In his head he went through the last three hours and realized that he had in fact kept a watchful eye on Izuku this entire time. Every time Izuku looked up at him he never considered the fact he’d been staring intensely at Izuku long before then.

He didn’t answer, couldn’t answer, because anything he said in response to that would just be in Izuku’s favor.

“I’m not upset,” Izuku said after picking up on Katsuki’s refusal to speak. “I’m curious what you want. Did I do something?”

Katsuki continued to stare at him in silence. It’s irksome that he has become so stubbornly silent all the sudden. Normally he’d yell and shout about whatever Izuku has done wrong. Now, with no answer being given, Izuku doesn’t know very well how to pry.

“I do care about you. Your feelings and thoughts I mean. Er, I mean like, you’re an important person to me. Not just because of what you can do. It’s also because you’re a person just like me, and you deserve consideration. I know you probably get tired of hearing stuff like that from me,” Izuku said, his hands folded in his lap and eyes trained on the floor between them. His gaze moved up to meet Katsuki’s once more. “I don’t know what else to say, really. If I’ve done something wrong that I’m not sure about, please let me know so that I can try to make it right. If I don’t know what it is, chances are I’ll just do it again without knowing you don’t like it.”

Izuku, by stark contrast to Katsuki, has all the patience in the world. He waits for Katsuki to give him some kind of sign, anything, and is soon rewarded for said patience with a short sigh from Katsuki.

“You always want to make shit right, yet you never stop yourself from doing the wrong thing in the first place,” Katsuki said as he stood and went to lie down on the bed next to Izuku’s. He doesn’t look to see Izuku’s puzzled expression. He faces his back to the other, pulls the cover up over his shoulders, and lets himself finally begin to fall asleep.

Izuku kept a steady gaze on Katsuki’s back. There’s more than enough truth to what Katsuki says. Izuku has learned that Katsuki rarely, if ever, lies.

He lied down with his back to Katsuki after spending some time in the silence of the dark room. If there’s nothing to be done for the moment, there’s no use losing sleep over it.

Chapter Text

“You keep stepping on my feet.”

“Your feet are in my fucking way!”

The two glare at each other, Katsuki’s right hand on Izuku’s lower back and left hand clasped firmly in Izuku’s right hand. Izuku released an irritated sigh and placed his left hand back on Katsuki’s shoulder.

“You have to learn at least one of these. We can’t stand out too much or–”

“Do you ever shut the fuck up and move on or do you always state the obvious this much?” Katsuki jerked Izuku closer and started moving again, half dragging Izuku with him this time. “Stop wasting time and let’s get this over with.”

Another irritated sigh, and Izuku rights his position to follow Katsuki properly.

Chisaki informed Izuku that his request to meet with Aizawa was declined on the grounds that, in Aizawa’s words, ‘If you want to meet, don’t use the name of a popular radio host who would never have need of my services’.

Because of this, Izuku has now taken it upon himself to teach Katsuki at least two forms of ballroom dancing. They’ll need them to sneak into a formal event Chisaki is holding. One slow dance and one fast.

Izuku doesn’t know why he would be holding such an event, nor does he care. All he cares is that Chisaki, currently his only chance at beginning his hunt, will be there.

Katsuki hesitated on one of his steps, convinced he would’ve stepped on Izuku’s foot yet again. That unexpected hesitation sent the both of them tumbling down onto the ground. Thankfully Izuku had the foresight to move the furniture in their hotel room to the side to have more room. Not that it gave them a ton of extra room, but it’s better than hitting a bedpost with your foot. Or, in the case of falling, with his head.

“Kacchan–”

“Don’t say a damn thing,” Katsuki warned, pushing himself up onto his knees. He grabbed Izuku by the wrist and dragged him up. He slapped his right hand onto Izuku’s lower back and waited for Izuku to get his hands into place.

Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s hand and pulled it off. “You’re too stiff. Loosen up.”

“You said–”

“I know. I shouldn’t have rushed you and I’m sorry. Here,” Izuku placed Katsuki’s right hand on his lower back, clasped Katsuki’s left hand with his right at shoulder height, and righted himself to look Katsuki in the eyes, “stay calm and watch my feet. Let’s try a different one and go slower this time. Start with your left foot.”

Katsuki glared at the uneasy grin Izuku had, his temper beginning to spark because of that wobbly smile. His gaze shifted to their feet, and he took the first step. His left foot moved forward, followed by Izuku’s right foot moving back.

“Good, now your right goes diagonally. Slowly turn ninety degrees to your right as you go.”

Katsuki did as he was instructed. The two moved slowly, both watching their feet the entire way. Once they were stopped, Katsuki looked up at Izuku questioningly. Izuku found the look especially cute on Katsuki. He normally exuded confidence to the point that Izuku didn’t think he’d ever see the look of lostness on that face.

“This time your right foot goes back. My left will go forward.” Izuku nodded down, a signal for Katsuki to watch their feet. His left foot went forward at the same time as Katsuki’s. Katsuki steps on Izuku’s right foot at the same time they’re both running into each other.

The two remained pressed against each other, noses touching, for a brief few seconds, then Katsuki takes a step back. He tried to remove his hands from Izuku, and Izuku stopped him by tightening his grip on Katsuki’s left hand and grabbing his right.

“We’ll say that was my fault. I should have told you we weren’t repeating the first steps.”

Katsuki can’t help the wave of annoyance that washes over him. The situation being his own fault isn’t what annoys him. No, he’s annoyed because Izuku is trying to take the blame to keep Katsuki calm and not let him try to retreat again. He’s annoyed because Izuku is, even in the midst of teaching him, studying his habits still. Izuku is learning how to handle him, how to keep him from losing his temper, and how best to teach him.

None of that is bad in hindsight. It’s only annoying to know Izuku is accomplishing it so swiftly.

He’s glaring at Izuku while his hand is being placed on Izuku’s lower back again. Izuku has that uneasy smile again. The one that somehow makes Katsuki even more angry. It’s infuriating to think about how he’s being read this easily, yet he can’t tell if this is a facade in front of him or the real deal. He can’t tell if Izuku is actually nervous, or faking it in an attempt to give Katsuki more confidence.

“We’ll start over. Go forward with your left.” Katsuki continued to glare for a moment longer, and then looked at their feet and stepped forward with his left foot. Izuku’s right foot went back at the same time. “Now your right foot, and turn.”

Katsuki, once again, did as he was instructed. Same as last time, Katsuki looked to Izuku for his next step. Izuku’s smile grew at the sight before him. The way Katsuki’s head stayed facing partially down and his gaze shifted upward to stare at him.

Izuku gave him the next step, this time sure to mention they’re not repeating the first steps. Katsuki’s eyes rolled back down and Izuku watched Katsuki’s face instead of his feet. He isn’t used to seeing such a look of concentration on Katsuki’s face. He can tell Katsuki is trying to memorize it all in one go, attempting to create a loop in his mind. If he can accomplish that he won’t need Izuku to instruct him any longer.

“Now my right goes diagonally, your left goes diagonally, and we turn to my right.”

Katsuki did what he was told again, and then stared at Izuku’s growing grin. “What?”

“That’s it! We keep going like that again and again.” Izuku righted himself and fixed his arm’s position on Katsuki’s shoulder. “This time I’m going to number your steps. That way I’ll be able to call them as we go. We’ll try to go at a speed close to what’s intended for the dance this time. Left foot forward will be one, right foot and turn to your right will be two. Right foot back will be three, left foot and turn to my right will be four. Got that?”

Katsuki nodded. At Izuku’s call for the first step, his left foot goes forward at the same time Izuku’s goes back. Izuku waits two seconds to make sure Katsuki is ready, and then calls for the second step. He goes a little faster, only waiting one second before calling for the third step. Katsuki hesitated again, his attempt at perfection becoming his downfall as he stepped in what he thought would be the wrong spot and froze to stare at his feet. Izuku waited, head down and eyes up at Katsuki’s face, for him to reassure himself.

“You’re on the right spot. You’re fine.”

Katsuki took a breath to calm himself. Izuku waited until he was sure Katsuki wasn’t angry or frustrated, until he was sure Katsuki is ready to continue, and then called for the fourth step. He didn’t wait before calling for the first again, and started calling the numbers repeatedly with the only pause between them being the time it takes for their feet to move.

“Good, good. There’s one more I need to teach you,” Izuku said. He went to get something out of a bag in the bathroom and came back holding up two boxes of hair dye with a big grin. “We should probably start getting ready to go first. Some of this will take a while. Do you want black or brown?”

Katsuki’s eye twitched once, twice, and then he took a step back. “You touch me with that shit and I’ll break your fucking face.”

“Come on, be reasonable. We can’t walk in there looking the same way we always do if we don’t want to get spotted. If Chisaki knows we’re there he’ll either have us watched the whole night or leave entirely to avoid us. That means we’ll have gone through all of this for nothing. So,” Izuku shoved both of the boxes forward into the air between them with another large grin, “black or brown?

“Won’t they recognize us by face?”

Izuku shook his head. “Nope. It’s a masquerade party, so everyone will be wearing masks.”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. He’s getting the urge to kill Izuku again. Not an uncommon one, though not one he intended to follow through with.

 


 

Izuku and Katsuki entered a large room full of people, Katsuki in a tuxedo and Izuku in a long flowing dress. There are tables of food and drink along each wall. Music is being played throughout the room for couples to dance to. Fancy tablecloths and decorations adorn the room and stage with bright lighting coming from the three chandeliers.

Izuku pushed a few strands of his now light brown, straightened hair behind his ear. Izuku’s arm is linked around Katsuki’s and Katsuki is fumbling with the mask on his face on the way into the building.

“I don’t like this mask,” Katsuki complained quietly. He pulled it off to examine it and Izuku slapped it back onto his face without warning. Katsuki growled and grabbed Izuku’s wrist. “Do you want to fucking die?”

“Do you? I don’t like wearing one either. That doesn’t mean we can take it off in the middle of a room full of people who know Chisaki and might warn him we’re here. Everyone will be on us in a matter of seconds if they find out we’re here. And try not to threaten your date in a room full of people.”

“I’ll threaten whoever the fuck I want.” Katsuki adjusted the mask on his face and looked around the room. “I wasn’t going to keep it off. I wanted to look at it to make sure it was on right or whatever. It feels fucking stupid.”

“Look, Chisaki knows we’re in the country right now. All of his guards are probably on high alert and on the lookout for us specifically.” Izuku smiled and waved to a passing man who greeted them. “The longer he knows we aren’t here, the easier a time we’re going to have.”

“You make it sound like he’s definitely going to find out.” Katsuki gave a half-hearted wave to another passerby. A glare is then directed to Izuku. “You still haven’t told me what exactly we’re doing at this party.”

Izuku stared forward intently for a couple of seconds before answering. “He’ll find out we’re here.”

That’s all Katsuki needed to hear to understand that, whatever they’re doing, there’s a very high potential things will get loud.

Izuku pulled him through a door at the end of the room full of people. Together they slipped out and into a stairwell. Katsuki let himself be lead up the stairs, where Izuku paused at the second floor. His hand hovered near the knob to enter the second floor, and then he whirled around and dragged Katsuki to the third floor.

“How do you know where he is?”

“I don’t,” Izuku said, inching the door open and peeking through.

Katsuki snorted and kept an eye on the staircases for anyone that might come behind them. Izuku pushed the door open and moved silently into the hallway, followed closely by Katsuki. Izuku grew annoyed by Katsuki’s not-so-quiet footsteps fast.

“I know you don’t do stuff like this normally, but can you try to be a little lighter on your feet?” Izuku stopped at a corner and peeked over to see if there’s anyone on the other side. “I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to be up here, and I don’t think they’ll buy any excuses if we get caught.”

“What do you want me to do? Walk on my fucking toes?” Katsuki whispered over his shoulder. “And you’re damn right I don’t go undercover at a goddamn crime lord’s party on a regular basis.”

“Okay, okay,” Izuku whispered back, desperately trying to keep Katsuki from losing his temper. “I wasn’t insulting you. Just… whatever you can do to stay as quiet as possible would be really helpful. Anything at all.”

Katsuki let out a short growl and followed Izuku around the corner, walking backwards to keep an eye out behind them. They’ve gone through three hallways now and Izuku has yet to see any guards. In fact, now that he thinks about it, there weren’t any guards inside the party or around the building.

They both look to each other. Izuku can see Katsuki is probably thinking the same thing. They both rushed downstairs to check on the people and returned to see everyone the same as when the pair snuck off. There’s still people milling about, eating and drinking, dancing and talking.

“He wouldn’t kill a whole room full of people,” Izuku murmured to himself, eyes darting around the room for some sign of trouble.

“Are you absolutely sure about that?” Katsuki grabbed Izuku’s wrist, intent on dragging him out of here kicking and screaming if need be.

“Well, not a room full of these people.” Izuku wrenched his wrist from Katsuki’s hold and stared at the front doors. “They look important.”

“Okay, well you know him better than me, so what the fuck is going on here?”

“I don’t know. He should be here, but he wouldn’t come without a bunch of guards. He doesn’t like to get his own hands dirty.” Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s hand and led him forward into the crowd. “Both literally and figuratively.”

“Maybe he’s running late,” Kyouka said into their earpieces.

Katsuki and Izuku both gave each other a look at shrugged. However unlikely that is, it doesn’t sound completely unreasonable.

Katsuki leaned in and asked in a low voice, “So what do we do until he gets here?”

“Blend in I guess.” Izuku isn’t all that sure himself. If there are no guards, does it matter if they stand out at the current moment?

He’s beginning to wonder if they crashed the wrong party. This building should be owned by an associate of Chisaki’s. Izuku has been to this building before. He knows Chisaki uses it for events such as this.

Chisaki should arrive at some point. It’d be strange to host a party and not show up.

“Kyouka must be right. He’s probably just late,” Izuku murmured, more to himself than to Katsuki. “Let’s just keep our eyes peeled for anything weird and go… I don’t know, dance for a while? I don’t trust the food.”

Katsuki’s groan at the suggestion is loud enough to draw the attention of nearby people. Izuku grinned sheepishly at them and pulled Katsuki along with him. The two of them stopped in the small crowd of people waltzing near the large speakers on the ground.

“Come on. I know you don’t like to dance, or the music, or the crowd, or me… but this is how we kill time without looking suspicious.” Izuku stopped in a small, open spot and placed his left arm around Katsuki’s shoulder with the other out and waiting for Katsuki’s hand. “We can’t be wall flowers because we came together.”

Katsuki placed his right hand on Izuku’s lower back and grabbed Izuku’s waiting hand with the other. He doesn’t want to be around the other people, that much is for sure, though he figures if he focuses solely on Izuku it might not be as bad.

“Do the slow one,” Izuku told him in a quiet voice. “Want me to count?”

“Shut it,” Katsuki retorted.

He started off like Izuku taught him before they left for the party. As opposed to the other dance, this one takes up far less space and follows a much slower tempo. There are only really three steps to this one, and each step hardly moves them anywhere at all. Katsuki, once in the rhythm of it, stops looking at their feet and notices Izuku looking around the room.

“You’re being pretty fucking obvious about looking out for someone,” Katsuki commented. He pulled Izuku closer to get Izuku to focus on him.

Izuku’s chest, along with his forehead, bumped into Katsuki’s and he emitted a small grunt. “If he isn’t here yet then I don’t have to be all that discrete.”

“Then why the hell are we trying to blend in?”

“Because if we aren’t fitting in when he gets here, it’ll look even weirder when we suddenly do try just because he is here. However, if we already look inconspicuous when he arrives, they won’t even notice me looking around, and when I see him I won’t be looking around anymore. Or they could just think I was searching for someone else.”

Katsuki stared at him, wondering just how many times Izuku has done something like this.

“You’re so fucking weird.” Katsuki smirked and held back a laugh. “You can’t deal with a social situation or solve problems in any logical way, but when it comes to stalking or killing someone, you’re ten steps ahead. Seriously, what the fuck?”

Izuku shrugged with a half-smile. “It’s what I know.”

“Yeah, well, you need to learn how to not fuck up literally everything else.”

“I will. I just need to… I don’t know, get used to it or something. I’m still getting used to being around people who aren’t trying to teach me to kill and stuff.” Izuku noticed the few people around them giving them strange looks and smiled bashfully. He leaned into Katsuki and hid his masked face on Katsuki’s shoulder. “M-maybe we should change the topic…”

Regardless of Izuku saying that in the barest whisper, Katsuki heard him and began to notice the pairs of eyes staring them down. The two were talking quietly, though not quietly enough apparently.

“Fuck off.” Katsuki’s declaration to everyone staring at them causes Izuku to bury his face even further into Katsuki’s shoulder. To his credit, it does cause them all to look away, even if only because of the rudeness.

“You’re making it worse,” Izuku complained softly.

“Then you do something about it.” Katsuki says this knowing that Izuku won’t do anything. He’ll just hide away like he’s doing right now.

Something—or rather someone—catches Katsuki’s eye. Up on the second floor a man is gazing around the room from an interior balcony. Katsuki is sure he’s never seen him before, yet they still give off a vibe that he’s wary about. As though they are someone Katsuki should know.

“What is it?” Izuku asked, looking over his shoulder to see what Katsuki is staring at.

Katsuki grabbed Izuku’s face and turned him back around. Katsuki’s hand instinctively presses harder onto Izuku’s lower back in a protective manner. “There’s someone staring at the people in the room. I think he’s looking for us.” Katsuki gave him one last glance, and then gave his attention back to Izuku. “He definitely doesn’t look like he belongs here. Look up at the second floor directly behind me when we turn.”

It takes a few seconds for the two to turn naturally in their dance. Their slow swaying to the rhythm doesn’t break and they remain as inconspicuous as possible. Once they’re in position for Izuku to see, his eyes widen. Katsuki calls to him, asking who it is and what’s happening. Silence is the only answer he gets as Izuku jerks away from him and pushes past person after person to make his way to the nearest staircase.

Katsuki stands there, frozen and dumbfounded.

What just happened?

He gave chase and caught up to Izuku in the stairwell. At the sight of Izuku pulling his pistol out from the holster on his hip hidden under his dress he quickens his pace and grabs Izuku by the arm.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” Katsuki asked in a hushed, yet urgent tone. “Who is that?”

“It’s Aizawa,” Izuku stated coldly, jerking his arm away from Katsuki and crouching down low before he opened the door to the second floor. “And I’m going to kill him. I know you don’t like to kill without sufficient reason, so you can stand watch and make sure no one else interrupts. Just stay out of my way if you don’t want to help, please.”

Katsuki is stuck debating what he should do at the same moment Izuku crawls forward on the floor, using the balustrade for cover. Granted it isn’t the best cover in the world, it should still be helpful while his target is searching the crowd below and not paying attention to what is above.

He was unfortunate enough to choose the stairwell completely opposite of Aizawa. Because of that he has some distance to cover, but eventually he makes it to the last corner before he can peek over and see Aizawa still staring below. Aizawa’s attention shifts to the side opposite of Izuku, and his mouth starts moving. Izuku can’t hear what’s being said or who he’s talking to, but he can clearly see someone has started a conversation with Aizawa. He took a gamble and poked his head up over the balustrade, and his heart raced at the sight.

“You’re not supposed to be up here.”

Katsuki took note of how tired this man sounded. From close up he can better see the smaller details, such as how messy his hair is, the wraps—They look like bandages…—of some sort coiled around his neck, and the goggles on his face.

“Yeah, I figured. I saw you up here and came to tell you the same thing. Shouldn’t you be down at the party?” Katsuki glanced down at the first floor, and then gave Aizawa a small smirk. “You hiding from your date or something?”

“The opposite, actually. Trying to stand out. Waiting for someone to find me, and I believe they just did.” Aizawa took his hands off the balustrade and began walking towards Katsuki. “It isn’t you, so I’m going to have to apologize for killing you. I need you out of my way.”

Katsuki cocked his head to the side, but didn’t move. He found it almost amusing that Aizawa didn’t know who he was, or otherwise didn’t care. He just needs to keep him distracted long enough for Izuku to kill him. That’s all.

The gunshot goes off. There’s a scream from down below. Katsuki blinked, confused as to why Aizawa is still moving towards him, still walking as though nothing has happened.

One.

Another gunshot rings through the air, and this time Katsuki sees Aizawa’s arm move back with one of the wraps coiled around it. The move is fast and subtle, so much so that Katsuki wouldn’t notice if he wasn’t looking for it.

Two.

“Cool trick,” Katsuki said, taking his mask off and casually tossing it over the balustrade to the first floor. “I got a few tricks too. Let me show you.”

Aizawa began backing away from the now approaching Katsuki. “Oh, you’re the one with Izuku. Thought he’d have left you behind.”

Two more shots come in their direction.

Three. Four.

Aizawa blocks them both with the steel wraps and Katsuki capitalizes on the distraction, moving in to get a hold on him. Aizawa rolled backwards and kicked Katsuki over him to get both Izuku and Katsuki in the same direction.

Katsuki landed on his hands and flipped forward onto his feet. He whirled around with his arms already up to block whatever may come.

Yet instead of Aizawa being there, all he sees is Izuku running across the balustrade right past him.

“Don’t just stand there! He’s getting away!” Izuku shouted at him while jumping onto the floor and turning the corner into a hallway.

Katsuki shook his head, befuddled that someone could escape that quickly, and followed Izuku around the corner. The moment he turned the corner a boot came at him from a door that swung open and he reflexively dodged.

“Deku!” Katsuki yelled at Izuku, who was still running down the hall without noticing anything.

Katsuki’s arm is caught in a wrap that he blocks and he’s jerked face first into the wall, then straight down to the ground. Aizawa stepped on both of Katsuki’s hands and held his ground, blocking bullets with his arms wrapped in the steel alloy cloths.

Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.

“I told them to keep you under tighter security,” Aizawa said to Izuku, who is running directly at him with no pause in his shooting, “warned them that making someone like you would only give you the ability to get away from us. They were too arrogant, and you too emotional.”

Izuku released the empty clip in his pistol and caught it mid-drop, then threw it at Aizawa’s face before he holstered the gun and jumped at Aizawa. Aizawa batted the magazine away and caught both of Izuku’s fists, refusing to budge off of Katsuki’s hands.

“You should’ve warned them about giving me the ability to kill you all,” Izuku retorted with hatred in his eyes.

“That I was never worried about,” Aizawa stated coolly.

“Then you’re too arrogant too!”

Izuku aimed a kick at one of Aizawa’s legs, intent on freeing Katsuki, only to have his own leg snatched up by one of Aizawa’s wraps. He’s flipped up and backwards where he lands on his face in front of Aizawa.

“No, arrogance would be if I believed I could capture you both without sustaining significant injury. Those are my orders, but I’m not going to follow through with those.” Aizawa lifted one boot and stomped it back down as Izuku tried to grab his ankle, leaving one of Izuku’s hands trapped with Katsuki’s. “While I could easily kill you both, I don’t believe Nedzu wants you dead. That’s why I’m going to leave, and come after you with Snipe once I tell them I failed.”

“Fuck that.” Katsuki twisted himself around onto his back, his arms now crossed, and swung his lower half up to kick Aizawa in the back.

Aizawa backflipped over Katsuki’s incoming feet and turned to run on landing. Izuku swiftly kicked off the ground and jumped up onto Katsuki’s feet, then jumped off using them as leverage. Aizawa is about to hop over the balustrade to the now empty first floor as Izuku tackled him and both of them tumbled over the edge.

“Fucking agile as shit, batshit crazy, dumbass assassins,” Katsuki complained under his breath while picking himself up and running to the edge of the balustrade. He glanced down at the two fighting and jumped over to join in.

“The cloths are new,” Izuku said, dodging the wraps Aizawa is trying to catch him in. “So are the goggles.”

“Keep your tactics ever changing, or else you fall behind when everyone else adapts to you.” Aizawa paused to glance into the mirrors on the edges of his goggles, which showed a fair share of the area behind his back. He could see Katsuki dropping into a roll and dashing toward him now. “New tools also help when you’re not in your prime anymore.”

He sidestepped a strike from Izuku and placed his palms on either side of Izuku’s arm, ready to break the bone. Izuku kicked him in the back of his ankle and sent him tumbling down. Aizawa, rather than catch himself, let himself fall to the ground so he could roll back and have the both of them in front of him.

Katsuki took the offensive now, transitioning smoothly between kicks and punches that left Aizawa reeling back after the first block.

“You found someone with some power behind his punches,” Aizawa noted aloud. It isn’t often he finds someone who hits him hard enough that blocking still hurts. “Almost seems like he knows where to hit.”

He resorts to dodging only, mentally cursing as Izuku ran behind him and cut off his ability to move backwards, away from Katsuki. He turned his back to Katsuki and used the mirrors in his goggles to dodge anything he saw coming from behind, leaving his hands and arms free to block Izuku.

Izuku pulls out his pistol and tosses it high into the air. The action is a sufficient distraction to allow both him and Katsuki to land a blow on both his chest and back. Aizawa ducks under Katsuki’s next punch and slinks off to the side to free himself from being trapped between the two. Katsuki’s fist froze just short of Izuku, and both stopped to stare at Aizawa.

The three of them simultaneously inhaled, and then audibly exhaled. Izuku and Katsuki glanced at each other briefly.

Izuku grabbed a new clip and tossed it into the air in the same direction of the pistol. The clip landed perfectly in the slot at the same time Izuku dashed off to the side. Katsuki caught the pistol and cocked it immediately, then began shooting relentlessly at Aizawa while walking to the opposite direction Izuku ran in. Aizawa blocked bullet after bullet as he slowly turned to keep his eyes on Katsuki, checking the mirrors every split second he could for Izuku.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.

Izuku ran across the room while Katsuki kept Aizawa distracted and jumped on the stage, then onto the large speakers, and finally up to grab onto the edge of the balustrade. He swung forward and then back to flip up onto the balustrade and ran across it until he was directly over Aizawa’s head.

Ten.

Aizawa caught a brief glimpse of Izuku in the very corner of one of his mirrors.

Above. One bullet left.

Aizawa deflected the last bullet and spun around. He looked directly up where Izuku was dropping down from the balustrade and blocked Izuku’s feet with his arms.

Another shot echoed through the room and Aizawa felt the sharp pain jolt through his arm.

…Twelve?

Izuku jumped off and landed behind Aizawa. He spun around and kicked Aizawa in the arm where the bullet wound is, sending the man toppling down.

“You told me to always count the bullets, so I made you think there was only eleven.” Izuku pulled his dress up and grabbed another clip from the belt hidden under his dress, and then tossed it to Katsuki. “Guess you need to adapt quicker.”

“I’ll be sure to do that.” Aizawa rolled backwards to dodge the bullet that hit the carpet right where his head was. He deflected the next bullet and threw a wrap out that grabbed Izuku by the leg. “I also need your new friend out of the way. He’s extremely irritating and dangerous.”

He tripped Izuku to the ground and pulled him over. Izuku clawed at the carpet with nothing nearby to grab onto. Aizawa pulled him up and ran at Katsuki using Izuku as a shield while Izuku punched and kicked at Aizawa’s back to attempt to break free.

Katsuki growled and dropped the pistol. He dug his feet into the carpet and held his hands out, ready to stop them in their tracks. Right before they collided with him, Aizawa let Izuku go and jumped over the both of them. He landed directly behind Katsuki with the heel of his boot stomping down onto the very edge of the pistol. The gun flew up into arm’s reach and Aizawa snatched it up with his injured arm.

He placed the gun against Katsuki’s head and pulled the trigger at the same time Izuku jerked Katsuki’s head out of the way. The bullet whizzed by Katsuki, leaving him uninjured, and grazed Izuku’s cheek.

Aizawa, having failed his best attempt at getting Katsuki out of the way, decided to finally retreat for good and jumped back. Katsuki’s arm shot out and grabbed Aizawa’s wraps. He dragged Aizawa over and planted his fist square in the middle of Aizawa’s face.

Katsuki struck Aizawa again, this time with the back of his fist. Aizawa kicked Katsuki in the stomach with both of his legs. The force of the kick caused Katsuki to take a step back, but he didn’t dare let Aizawa go. He knew if he did he wouldn’t get ahold of him again.

Izuku ran to the side and snatched the gun out of Aizawa’s hand. He placed the barrel against Aizawa’s head, ready to end this struggle. Aizawa kicked Izuku’s legs out from under him at the moment Izuku pulled the trigger. Izuku fell backwards and the shot went up and hit the chandelier above them.

The chandelier began to fall, much to Aizawa’s pleasure. Katsuki let him go and grabbed Izuku by the shirt collar to drag him out of the way, which left Aizawa free to run toward the exit. The chandelier shattered on the floor and Izuku ran around it, undeterred, to catch Aizawa.

He ran out the front door and stood on the front steps of the building, glaring into the night with rage beginning to fill his stomach. His hands flew up to his hair and he started pulling at it angrily, the action followed by a stomp of his foot.

“Fucking hell!” he yelled into the busy street, catching the attention of every passerby.

Katsuki placed his hand over Izuku’s mouth and started pulling him away. He could hear the sound of police sirens some distance away closing in on them.

“I know you’re pissed, but we have to go. Come on.”

He started shoving people out of their way on the sidewalk and continued to usher Izuku on. He didn’t stop for the people in their way, he didn’t stop for Izuku to put away the pistol he was openly wielding in public, and he didn’t stop when he felt the wet droplets hit his arm.

Katsuki looked up at the sky. There were no clouds in sight. Just a crack in Izuku’s voice.

“I was so close! Damn it…”

Chapter Text

Katsuki and Izuku pulled up to the apartment complex, with Izuku asleep in the back next to Katsuki. Katsuki paid the cab driver with the money Izuku gave him before he fell asleep, and then shook Izuku awake so they could both go.

The fight with Aizawa was two nights ago. After they returned to their hotel room that night Izuku almost immediately retreated to bed and stayed there until their flight the next day. Katsuki did the packing for the both of them that night, changed clothes, washed the dye out of his hair and went to sleep for the flight the next day as well.

They were both uncharacteristically quiet on the way to the flight, on the plane, and on the car ride back.

Katsuki waited on the curb for Izuku to come around, watching him move in that zombie-like state. They both held their backpacks above their heads to shield themselves from the pouring rain, though Izuku didn’t appear to be in any rush to escape the deluge.

It made Katsuki feel bad for holding back to some degree in that fight, but he also refused to blame himself for that at the same time. This was supposed to be Izuku’s goal and, personally speaking, he wanted nothing to do with it. The only reason he got involved in the first place was that he hoped Izuku would be the one to kill Aizawa, and so at the very least he tried to give Izuku openings to get the job done.

Katsuki almost began to wish he had gone for the kill as well, and next time he certainly would. It was uncomforting seeing Izuku—who was normally lively and a little on edge—borderline depressed and uncaring.

“Your spirit didn’t die that easily, did it?” Katsuki asked half-jokingly on the walk to the apartment building. He got a sideways glare from Izuku in response and rolled his eyes. “It isn’t like we won’t have another chance. Worst case scenario; he comes after us and we kill him. Easy as that.”

“You know it won’t be that easy,” Izuku grumbled. He slung his backpack over his shoulder and onto his back once inside, stood up straighter as they climbed the flights of stairs, and prepared himself for the usual ‘welcome back’ gathering that everyone prepared whenever he returned from a long trip. “You saw him fight. He isn’t a pushover, and he got better since the last time I saw him. If he didn’t have those stupid… wraps or… whatever! It’s just stupid. I should’ve done better. That’s the second time I’ve ever failed to kill someone.”

Izuku ended his rant with a heavy exhale through his nose, and then opened the door with a giant smile on his face. He announced his return, which was met with a handful of greetings from the majority of his little family all squeezed onto the couch.

Izuku left his shoes by the door and joined the group, already trying to quell the onslaught of questions coming from Mashirao, Kouta, and Mei before he even sat down.

Katsuki stayed in the doorway, watching him with an unimpressed glare. He couldn’t tell whether Izuku had a sudden mood swing, was putting on a facade to not worry the others, or actually managed to bounce back that quickly after such little venting.

“–think Kacchan did. Ask him.”

He was pulled out of his thoughts upon hearing his name—No, that dumbass nickname—called. He was met with stares from Izuku, Kouta, Mei, and Mashirao, and no idea why they would be talking about him. Shouto stared at Izuku as though he obviously didn’t believe what Izuku had said, and at some point in Katsuki’s stupor Kouta must have made room for Izuku to sit on the sofa and climbed in his lap.

“What?”

“I was telling them how I forgot to get them gifts from our trip, but you got a few things for them.” Izuku nodded subtly towards the backpack on Katsuki’s shoulder, and then gave him a look. “Remember?

“Yeah, apparently I did,” Katsuki retorted and took his shoes off.

Katsuki shut the door on the way in and dropped his backpack on the back of the couch above everyone’s heads. He started digging through the main part with his other set of clothes and found smaller objects hidden at the bottom.

How Izuku found the time to do this when Katsuki was with him every moment of each day was beyond his comprehension, but he would play along nevertheless. Even if only this once.

Out he pulled two…

What the hell are these?

“Yes!” Mashirao shouted as he snatched the manga copies out of Katsuki’s hands. “How did you know I needed these last two?!”

Katsuki, taken aback by Mashirao’s excited demeanor, glanced down into the open backpack, at a loss for words. He knew Izuku was very obviously responsible for this, but he didn’t think Izuku would give him credit for something that would make them this happy.

He could see a shine in Mashirao’s eyes, and the curiosity and eagerness growing in the others around them. It was somewhat off-putting to have those emotions aimed at him from people he didn’t know so well, and because of such another glare was thrown toward Izuku. He could have gone the rest of his life without being put in a situation like this, and he knew exactly why Izuku did it.

“A lucky guess,” Katsuki practically growled. He began rummaging through his backpack again, and this time he pulled out a black beanie and looked it over.

“How did you know Shouto needed a new one, Kacchan?” Izuku asked with his best attempt at being surprised.

Katsuki rolled his eyes and tossed the hat to Shouto. “Just had a feeling, considering his line of work and all.”

Back in he went, this time with Mei staring into the bag as he dug through his clothes to find whatever else was hidden in there. He pulled out a screwdriver that was still in its packaging with the word ‘Magnetized’ written on it, which Mei promptly plucked from his hand.

“Heckie yes! You have no idea how long I’ve been telling Izuku I need one of these!” She grabbed Mashirao by the back of his shirt and dragged him along as she left. “Come on my faithful assistant! We’re going to go test this baby out.”

“What? Wait, no I–!” Mashirao tried to protest, though he had already been dragged away and his words faded in the distance.

Kouta crossed his arms over his chest and stared ahead at the TV. Even though he wasn’t really interested in seeing what was currently on, he tried to look as invested as possible in the hopes that Katsuki would leave him alone.

Whether Katsuki was unfooled or just didn’t care at all was unclear, but something was still dropped into Kouta’s lap from over his head after the sound of cardboard and plastic being ripped and torn was heard. He glanced down and his lip curled up in disgust at the Rubik’s cube resting in his lap.

“What’s the matter? You afraid you can’t figure it out?” Katsuki mocked him, leaning forward and resting his arms on the back of the sofa next to Izuku.

Kouta scowled at Katsuki’s taunting smirk, then grabbed the cube and shook it at Katsuki threateningly. “Why the–”

“Language,” Izuku warned.

“–heck would I want to waste my time with this thing?” Kouta turned his back to Katsuki and started twisting and turning the Rubik’s cube, putting on a show of attempting to solve it. “I could finish this in five seconds if I want. Just wait and see how you wasted your stupid money.”

Kouta continued to vigorously twist and turn the cube’s sides in every direction, and Izuku gave Katsuki a thumbs up behind the child’s back. He hugged the boy in his lap, careful not to disrupt his actions, and Kouta responded by leaning into him, still fumbling with the cube but allowing Izuku to give him affection.

“Why don’t you take that to your room and solve it in there so Katsuki doesn’t see how you beat it? Then you can rub it in his face that you can do it and he can’t.”

Kouta paused for a second, quiet and unmoving, and then acknowledged Izuku’s suggestion with a quiet grunt. His motions had slowed and it was apparent that he was paying closer attention to where he turned each side of the cube, but he still found his way down to the floor and through the apartment to his room.

Shouto couldn’t believe Kouta fell for that. Or rather that the child was so distracted that he didn’t care to leave Izuku.

He caught the stares from both Izuku and Katsuki, but didn’t seem to catch whatever hint the pair was giving him. Instead he simply stared back, at a loss for what to do or say.

“What?” Shouto questioned once he deemed it more awkward than necessary.

“Go away,” Katsuki demanded. He took off his earpiece and tossed it to Shouto. “And take this shit with you.”

“Kacchan!” Izuku sighed and turned back to Shouto. He took his earpiece out and held it out for Shouto to take as well. “We uh, need to talk if you could give us the room?”

“Oh, sure. I’ll go take these to Kyouka then.”

Katsuki dropped down on the couch next to Izuku, and Izuku clasped his hands together and hunched forward with his elbows resting on his legs as soon as Shouto was gone. He stared at the wall as one leg started bouncing repeatedly.

Katsuki could clearly see something was on Izuku’s mind from the display of unease. He slapped one hand down on Izuku’s bouncing leg to get his attention and Izuku’s gaze shifted toward him.

“You’re jumpier than usual.”

“Well, they know I’m after them now. Aizawa said he was there on Nedzu’s orders, and that means all three of them know by now.” Izuku covered his face and took a deep breath in the hopes it would help calm himself some.

It would’ve been far more beneficial and optimal to kill one, which would just look like a job gone wrong. Then a second killed would cause the third to be suspicious, but by then it would be too late. Izuku would have already been coming for them with nothing and no one that could stop him at that point. It would have been perfect.

It would have.

“Shit will always go wrong,” Katsuki said. He took his hand off Izuku’s leg and the bouncing started up again almost immediately. His hand came back down on Izuku’s leg to stop it once more, and then he continued, “You just have to get over it, adapt to it, and keep going.”

Izuku grinned at him and placed his hand on top of Katsuki’s. “It’s okay. Everything is fine.”

“No, it isn't,” Katsuki retorted, his voice having forgone gentleness. “I know you're putting on a brave face and a fake smile and all that shit so no one around here will worry or whatever, but it's just annoying to me and unhealthy for you. Don't do that shit.”

Izuku’s grin vanished, and he slowly took his hand off of Katsuki’s. He was left meeting Katsuki’s glower with surprise that he saw straight through his act.

“How do you…”

“Because you looked like a goddamn zombie all the way from Japan to the cab ride here, and then you did a total one-eighty the moment you walked through that door. Did you think I wouldn't notice?”

Izuku let that sink in, suddenly becoming aware of how he must've looked when Aizawa escaped and he'd lost hold of himself.

In hindsight it would make problems much easier to deal with if he had someone to talk to about them. Shouto always knew about his past but tried not to take sides, given that Nedzu had employed him in the past. Because of such, Izuku did tend to withhold information from Shouto. He knew Shouto would never hurt him or anyone here, but giving information was, in the eyes of some, not seen as harmful even when it could be.

Izuku trusted Shouto, but he was no fool.

“I know. I wish you weren’t, but you’re right.” Izuku sighed and smiled at Katsuki again. This time more sincere, more genuine. “I'll try to confide in you then. I guess it makes your job more difficult when I don’t. But I'm fine now, honest. I'm just upset that Aizawa got away from us. I'll be over it, given a little time. I definitely wouldn’t give up that easily. I just need a little time to be sad about it before I fully move on.”

Katsuki scrutinized Izuku, but believed him nevertheless. “Good. I already have one little piss baby to deal with. I don't need another.”

“Don't worry about that. But hey, isn't there something you wanted to talk to me about? You said to remind you when we got home.”

Katsuki placed a hand on the back of his neck and glanced off to the side. “Yeah, but I really don't think now is a good time.”

“I could really use the distraction.” Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s hand and pulled it off of his leg. In Izuku’s mind anything to forget the other night would be great right now. “Even if it's something bad. It can't be as bad as what happened with Aizawa.”

“Alright,” Katsuki replied with a sigh. He pulled Izuku by the arm and tilted his head to the side as he closed in. His other hand came to guide Izuku closer by his chin. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Izuku went rigid and his eyes grew wide at the realization of what Katsuki was doing. His head was swiftly filled with questions relating to the moment they kissed in Japan, as well as the time they almost did on the sidewalk right after.

Is he interested after all? Is he really about to kiss me now? Should I let him or is he making a mistake?

Izuku resigned to letting it happen. Katsuki was an adult that could make his own decisions. He must have a reason for doing this, a reason for making a potential mistake. Surely because it was something he would enjoy, just like Izuku knew he himself would, no matter how much he knew he was in denial with himself.

This time they’re going to kiss and it won’t be an act. It’ll just be for pleasure, for–

Pain.

Sudden, excruciating pain.

Izuku tried to yelp, but it was muffled by the hand covering his mouth. He couldn’t focus fully on the intense, red eyes taking up his line of sight. The glare could barely be made out, however the pain in his finger was more evident than ever.

Izuku glanced down at the hand Katsuki was holding. His pinky finger was pushed further and further back by Katsuki’s grip and he was unclear about what to do about this. He fought a strong, instinctive urge to fight back and defend himself so he could see where this was going. To see if Katsuki had lost his mind.

“You know how pinky promises work, right?”

Oh… shit.

Izuku began to panic inwardly. At the very least he knew Katsuki wasn’t going to try to kill him. Not that a broken bone was a significantly better alternative.

“I could—should—break it.” Katsuki accentuated that fact by pushing Izuku’s finger even further back. He pressed his other hand harder against Izuku’s mouth to muffle the next cry that tried to escape with the added pain. “I’m not going to, but I should after what you did there.”

It wasn’t the improvisation that upsetted him. He could see firsthand that the situation had called for it without question. He was actually somewhat touched Izuku fought so hard to not let Chisaki send him outside to whatever potential dangers may have waited. Not that he felt he needed someone looking out for him in that manner.

No, the problem comes with what he did.

Katsuki realized that same night—while he was staring relentlessly at Izuku without realizing it—that he liked that kiss. Not for the pleasure of kissing someone, but for the pleasure of kissing Izuku.

On that night he realized his slowly growing attraction to this idiot. This talented, cunning, and oh so determined idiot.

He’d begun to question whether his desire for someone who could challenge him had actually fostered a potential rivalry like he originally thought, or if it created an attraction he mistook for a challenge to be had until now. Even more so after seeing Izuku handle himself against Aizawa and the way the two of them managed to work together so well without any type of training to work together to begin with.

He hated Izuku so strongly before, but working with him was increasingly exhilarating the more he did it. He started to feel a twinge of excitement at the prospect of doing something else like the things they did in Japan so long as it was with him.

With all of that beginning to weigh on his mind and confuse him for the time being, he had decided he cannot abide Izuku toying with him in a way such as that. Whether it’d be him just being friendly or some kind of cover for them to use in a troubling situation.

If on the off chance he was perhaps starting to feel something, he didn’t need Izuku coming onto him and pressuring him into it. Not until he figured this out for himself.

“Don’t give us a cover as lovers again. Don’t repeat what happened on that couch,” Katsuki warned him. He released Izuku’s hand and uncovered his mouth, and then shoved Izuku away. “We both know neither of us are idiots. While your intelligence is debatable sometimes, I’m still under the belief you aren’t fucking stupid.”

“Mean, but okay–”

“Shut up. I’m not done,” Katsuki interjected. “I know you’re attracted to me. Physically at the very least, anyway. I see the way you stare at me sometimes. I may be starting to have… fuck, I don’t know, mixed feelings about you right now? Something fucking stupid. I’m trying to figure it out and I don’t need more confusion piled onto that. I don't need you toying with me or taking advantage of me and shit. That's the only reason I'm being honest and saying anything.”

“Wait, is this a confess–”

“Shut up!” Katsuki shouted at him. It can’t be a confession, he knew that much at least. It was still too soon to tell if these feelings were anything significant or some type of Stockholm syndrome. Logic and feelings don’t go together, and using one to figure out the other was too complicated more times than not. “This is a warning. Don’t treat us like a fucking couple if we’re not one or I will break you.

“Okay, I won’t,” Izuku reassured him, holding his hands up placatingly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that bothered you and I didn't know a kiss meant that much to you. I wouldn’t have done it if you said it was off limits.” Izuku placed his hands in his lap and looked down at his feet. “Can I ask you a question?”

“As long as it isn’t something fucking stupid.” Katsuki leaned back into the couch and crossed his arms. He glared at the still running TV that was turned down to a near mute when he and Izuku arrived. “And if you make fun of me I’m going to break your fucking finger. No hesitation, no remorse.”

“No, no, this is important. I wouldn’t make fun of you for something important. Especially not your feelings,” Izuku said. He rubbed one arm and gave Katsuki a small, lopsided smile. “Would you want to… t-try it out maybe?”

Katsuki stared at him through the corners of his eyes. “Try what out?”

“Being a–”

“Izuku!” Kouta’s voice rang out through the apartment for his attention.

Izuku looked over his shoulder towards Kouta’s room and debated in his head whether it could wait or not. He considered this conversation important, but Kouta rarely calls out to him. He decided he should probably go handle whatever it was.

He mentally cursed on his way to Kouta’s room after apologizing to Katsuki and asking him to wait a moment. He’d never thought of Kouta as an inconvenience, not once, but this felt like the worst time for Kouta to need his attention for something. Izuku felt like he was finally making a meaningful connection with Katsuki. More than he could have hoped for even. If it could have waited just a few more minutes he would’ve gotten somewhere.

He came into Kouta’s room and saw him lying on his back in bed, still trying to solve the Rubik’s cube. He stepped into the doorway and kept his hand on the knob in the hopes this would be quick.

“Is something wrong? I’m kind of in the middle of–”

“Are you mad at me?” Kouta interrupted.

Izuku, surprised and confused by the question, studied Kouta for a brief moment, and then came in and shut the door. This probably won’t be quick after all.

“Why would you think that?” Izuku asked. He came over and sat down on the foot of the bed and stared over his shoulder at Kouta. Two pats on the spot next to him signaled for Kouta to come and join him, but the boy didn’t acknowledge him if he even noticed.

“Everyone keeps kicking me out of places. I keep getting kicked out of a room when Katsuki is there, I got kicked out of Kyouka’s place two nights in a row while you were in Japan. You just got back and you sent me to my room,” Kouta elaborated, listing off the most recent occurrences one after the other. “I don’t know if I should say something or not, but if no one wants me here then you can just tell me.”

The Rubik’s cube was snatched out of his hand and Kouta looked up at Izuku, who dropped the cube on the floor to get it out of the way. He held his hand out for Kouta to take, the stern expression upon his face a silent demand for Kouta to take it. Once Kouta reluctantly had his hand Izuku pulled the boy to the foot of the bed next to him and squeezed Kouta’s hand.

Izuku could hardly stand seeing that sad and hurt gleam in Kouta’s eyes as the boy spoke. If Kouta hadn’t explained his reasoning Izuku would be utterly baffled as to how he could possibly be convinced that he wouldn’t be wanted.

“No one is mad at you, and no one wants you to leave. I know for a fact I don’t.”

“Then why do you keep trying to get rid of me?” Kouta asked in a small voice. “I’m trying to stop being mad at Katsuki. I haven’t done anything to him in a while and you still want to spend more time with him than with me.”

“I’m not trying to get rid of you, Kouta. I’m trying to make sure you and Kacchan stop trying to kill each other by keeping you both separated. I’m spending a lot of time with him for a few reasons, but not because I don’t want to spend time with you. I’m definitely not avoiding you,” Izuku explained. He pulled Kouta onto his lap and hugged him tight. He was filled with joy when Kouta reciprocated the hug rather than trying to break free of it. “And the times we send you out of the room is because things you don’t need to know about are happening at the time. I was doing stuff in Japan that I didn’t want you to see. Kyouka will only send you out if she knows something I don’t want you to see might come up. It’s not because we’re trying to get rid of you. It’s because you’re not ready for stuff like that, and personally I hope you never get into a life like mine in the first place.”

“I get scared when you say stuff like that,” Kouta responded after a long silence. He dug his face deeper into Izuku’s shoulder and gripped Izuku’s shirt in his fists. “I feel like something bad is going to happen to you, and I don’t want to lose you.”

Izuku’s eyes widened and he looked down at Kouta’s back, stunned by what Kouta was saying. Not that he ever doubted Kouta cared about him, but to hear it like this was new. This was the closest even he had ever come to having Kouta show his softer and innermost feelings. He only wished it was under happier circumstances.

He didn’t know how to respond to that. He can’t say he’ll be around forever, especially not in his line of work. Even more so now that he knew for sure he poked the bear with Aizawa. All three of his mentors are going to be out for blood. But he can’t say nothing. Not while Kouta was actually communicating with him. What can he say to alleviate Kouta’s fears without lying to his face?

“I… I don’t plan on going anywhere, Kouta. As long as I have you and everyone else here, I have that much more reason to make sure nothing happens to me. Kacchan is here to make sure nothing happens to any of us too, just like Shouto,” Izuku said after he gathered himself. “One reason we send you out of the room is because I want to avoid scaring you. I didn’t know that was also bothering you this much, and I’m sorry for that. We’re going to keep doing it because sometimes I see things I don’t ever want you to see, but I want you to know that as long as I can help it I’m going to make sure I keep coming back to see you, alright?”

“Okay,” Kouta replied, his voice cracking with the one word. He cleared his throat and tried to push his steadily rising urge to cry by repeating reassurances in his head.

He won’t leave. He’ll be okay. There’s nothing to be scared of.

His fists gripping handfuls of the back of Izuku’s shirt relaxed bit by bit until his hands lied flat on Izuku’s back. He felt silly for doubting Izuku now, for being worried that something would happen to him. He’d seen some of what Izuku was capable of, and he shouldn’t be worried at all. Except for one person that still caused him to worry…

“How long is Katsuki going to stay with us?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s going to be a little longer than I originally thought now.” Izuku let go of Kouta, but the child didn’t release him, and so Izuku tentatively wrapped his arms around him again. “It isn’t so bad having him around anymore is it? You two have been doing better around each other.”

“No, I still hate him for what he did to you,” Kouta replied. His fists clenched in anger at the memory of seeing Katsuki beating on Izuku. “The sooner he’s gone the better. Then everything can go back to normal.”

Izuku felt his heart drop into his stomach with that. He knew it would take some time, but he’d hoped Kouta would at least be warming up to Katsuki by now. He felt like he’d finally gotten somewhere with Katsuki—somewhere he never thought he’d be able to get—and to think he might have to put a hold on it while Kouta continued to get used to Katsuki was disheartening to say the least. If he ever got used to him, that is. But he didn’t even think about how it might have affected Kouta or the others.

He cared about all of them too much to force Katsuki on them any harder than he already had.

“You know he only did it because of the things I did to him, Kouta. I told you that,” Izuku clarified in an attempt to save himself from having to backtrack with Katsuki. “Kacchan and I have both begun to put our differences aside, and I feel like if you put the past behind you like we’ve done, you and him could be pretty good friends.”

Izuku waited with bated breath for Kouta’s answer. He wanted so badly for the two of them to start treating each other better, yet he also knew he couldn’t force them to like each other.

“No way,” Kouta responded after a moment of thought. “Just seeing his stupid face makes me mad because I think about the ways he hurt you.”

And with that Izuku’s heart sank further.

“Alright, I understand,” Izuku said. He patted Kouta on the back and placed him on the spot next to him on the bed once Kouta let him go. “He’s just here to help out until I finish a project I’m working on. So as soon as I’m done with that he’ll be out of our hair.”

“Good,” Kouta replied with a nod. He reached down to get his Rubik’s cube off of the floor, and then crawled back across the mattress to lay his head on his pillow again. “Thanks for talking to me.”

“Anytime. Don’t be afraid to talk to me if you ever need something,” Izuku replied on his way to the door.

“Izuku,” Kouta called out to him. He rolled over onto his side and stared at Izuku with an unsure expression. “I’m… I-I’m happy you’re my dad.”

His voice was low and his words were barely heard, but they still managed to strike a chord in Izuku and he can’t help the grin that forced its way onto his face.

“But don’t tell anyone I said that,” Kouta warned him as he rolled back over onto his back and continued his attempts to solve the Rubik’s cube. “That’s just between us.”

Izuku mimed himself zipping his mouth shut, barely able to confine the large grin fighting to stay on his face. He left the room and shut the door, and halfway to the couch where Katsuki was still waiting for him he suddenly felt that feeling of dread welling up inside him again.

He never made it to the couch, opting instead to stop behind it and tap Katsuki on the shoulder.

“I’m feeling tired, so I’m going to go take a nap in the bedroom if that’s alright with you.”

He didn’t wait for an answer and started making his way toward the hallway. His hopes of getting away without the earlier conversation resurfacing are dashed when Katsuki called out to him. He flinched at Katsuki’s voice and hoped against hope that Katsuki would want something—anything—other than to continue the conversation.

“Being a what?” Katsuki asked.

In the time Izuku was gone he’d thought about what Izuku might have implied. When he put two and two together and figured out exactly what Izuku was about to ask before he was called away, he then thought about whether he’d be alright with trying that out.

And how dumb he’d look if he was wrong.

Trying to be a couple with someone he used to, and still did to a lesser extent now, consider his enemy. All in all there was no harm in simply trying it out, was there? If anything he’d get to kiss Izuku again, and that alone was worth the risk in his book.

But he wanted to hear Izuku say it. He wanted to be sure Izuku shared the very same feelings he was trying to figure out, and that this wasn’t something else.

Izuku hesitated, and then sent a forced grin over his shoulder to Katsuki.

“I was just going to ask if you wanted to try being a… a team. Like, you know, work on some moves together or something? But we can worry about that later.”

Izuku left with that, hoping to get away before Katsuki said anything else. He had lied a lot before, always with an objective in mind, but this time lying was just plain painful.

Katsuki watched Izuku leave, and continued to stare at the hallway even after he was gone. He felt a slight pain in his chest from what Izuku said. A pain he couldn’t identify as it was the first time he ever felt this.

Disappointment? A new kind of anger?

He turned back to the TV and turned it up.

Stupid of me to think of him like that anyway.

 


 

“At least you have something to do tomorrow. I don’t have anything until next Friday,” Eijirou complained from his spot at a table. He flipped another page in the magazine he was skimming through, feet up on the table and chair tipped back.

“It’s not like I’m going to a party or anything,” Denki reasoned with him, his head in his arms on the same table. “Just going to guard a couple of guys during a meeting is all. They aren’t even first rate. Pay isn’t all that great.”

“It’s better than nothing though!” Eijirou exclaimed as he dropped his feet to the floor and slapped the magazine on the table excitedly. “It–”

“Makes you feel manly to have someone else trust you with their safety,” Denki mocked him jokingly. “You’ve said it like a hundred times, man. I know already.”

“I just wish I had more to do.” Eijirou sighed and started flipping through the magazine he had again.

The door to the bar swung open and all eyes were set upon the group of people that entered. Denki raised his head and furrowed his brows at them, and Eijirou dropped his magazine and gave them a stern look. The two could swear they knew two of those four people from somewhere.

“Greetings!” the shortest man shouted as he waved his hand. He tucked a loose lock of white hair behind his ear and looked down at a slip of paper he pulled from his suit jacket’s pocket. “We’re looking for an Eijirou Kirishima.”

“That’s me,” Eijirou replied hesitantly with a raised hand. “Wh–”

“What do you want with him?” Mitsuki asked from the doorway of the backroom. “And don’t try to convince me you want to hire him for anything. I know two of you by face alone.”

“I wouldn’t be doing very well in my position if people didn’t know me just by looking at me,” Nedzu explained, his arms behind his back and a smile on his face. “I just want to ask him a few questions.”

“Then ask away,” Mitsuki urged him on with a flippant wave of her hand. She crossed her arms and leaned against the frame of the doorway, ready to scrutinize.

She was convinced there was absolutely no reason for the vice president to be entering their establishment, let alone looking for someone here, without something bad tied to the situation.

She couldn’t fathom why, but deep down she knew this had to do with Katsuki.

“I’d prefer to talk to him in private. Come with me if you’d please.” Nedzu made a beckoning motion to Eijirou. “We’ll go for a walk.”

There was something about him. Whether it was his soft smile, easygoing tone, or small stature, something made Eijirou trust him for whatever reason. Not to mention his place in the country led Eijirou to believe that if he was told to follow, then he should follow.

Eijirou stood up and was shoved back down into his chair by Mitsuki.

“I’ve already had my son poached by some backstabbing little assassin. I don’t need one of my last two boys taken by someone else.” Mitsuki placed her hands on her waist and glared Nedzu down. “So what’s the big secret? Why come here with two mercenaries and a tin man to ask some questions in private?”

It hadn’t been clear to either Eijirou or Denki that Mitsuki had been a little more protective of the two of them than usual until now. She really cared for them almost like they were her own children, and after losing one she clearly had no intention of losing any more.

“For that very reason! We seem to have a mutual “rat” problem, the rat being that little assassin. The four of us are on an extermination mission, so to speak. Eijirou here apparently has some information that could help us, and you in turn, with that endeavor.” Nedzu glanced up at Aizawa, Snipe and Power Loader and nodded to them. He then began walking towards Eijirou with his hand out. “Now I’m in a bit of a rush, being a busy man and all, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take Eijirou’s hand and we’ll go for a short walk so we can talk. Just him and I. I’m certainly no match for him by myself if I wanted to try anything funny. This man looks as if he tears phonebooks in half for fun! So he will be in no danger at all.”

“It’s okay, Mitsuki,” Eijirou reassured her. He patted her hand on his shoulder and stood up, then went to stand next to Nedzu. “If he just wants to talk then it’s no big deal. You and Denki can watch the creepy looking dudes and put them down if I’m not back in ten. Sound good?”

Mitsuki considered his words and nodded once deemed fair. He was given a strict warning that he better know what he was doing, and Nedzu was warned that if they aren’t back in ten minutes exactly she’d start cracking skulls. The two of them left with no time to waste, and once walking down the sidewalk Nedzu took a quick glance at Eijirou.

“She seems very protective of you.”

“She’s protective of all of us. Especially after what happened with Katsuki.” Eijirou ran a hand through his hair and stared down at Nedzu. “So like, I know you probably want some kind of information about that Izuku guy or whatever, but I can’t give you anything. They asked me to keep quiet about it, and a man who breaks his word is no man at all. I’m sorry.”

Nedzu kept a casual appearance as he studied Eijirou for a moment, and then turned his attention back to the walk ahead of them.

“I understand, truly I do.” Nedzu nodded with a little smile. “I still had an obligation to try. Well listen, my friends back at your shop are expecting me to try my hardest, but you seem like an unbreakable man. So let’s make a compromise here.”

“I’m listening,” Eijirou said. The reluctance to continue this walk was evident in his voice.

“I won’t ask you about Izuku or your friend. Instead we can just talk about other stuff while we walk around for the rest of the nine or so minutes. Light conversation and what not. That way you don’t get pressed for information and I can tell my team I tried my best within the allotted time. Sound fair?”

“I guess that’s okay,” Eijirou responded after a few seconds of thought. “We both get something out of it, so it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. No reason for you to get the short end of the stick too, right?”

Eijirou failed to notice the grin creeping onto Nedzu’s face. Giving Eijirou a sense of safety and security in an unnecessary compromise had just turned him into a fly caught in the spider’s web, ready to be devoured.

There’re plenty of indirect ways to get information from people who aren’t willing to talk. Nedzu knew them all, and invented a few himself, and they’re especially useful on people pleasers like he believed Eijirou to be.

“Excellent. I already have a topic in mind to pass the time…”

Chapter Text

Katsuki was beginning to regret not fighting Izuku harder about going with him on his next assignment. The more Kouta glared at him from across the room the more he wished he’d forced Izuku to allow him to go.

“Oi, did you hear me?” Katsuki crossed his arms over his chest and glared back at Kouta.

Kouta mimicked him by crossing his arms as well. “Yes. I don’t want to.”

Katsuki breathed in, and exhaled loudly in an attempt to keep calm. He wasn’t going to take this from a five year old, but he knew he couldn’t beat the crap out of him either. No matter how angry he got or how many empty threats he used, he wouldn’t resort to beating up a child.

But Kouta didn’t know that.

“I’m going to say it one more time, and then I’m going to count to three,” Katsuki warned him in a low voice. That was something his mother always did to him, even in the past year, and it sometimes worked. “Get in the fucking bathtub before I kick your ass into it!”

“Why does it have to be with you?!” Kouta shouted, “Go find Shouto!”

“One.” Shouto was out, and Katsuki didn’t know when he would be back. Or if he’d even be back by tonight. He wasn’t going to risk hearing Izuku complain about Kouta not bathing again. Granted it wasn’t Katsuki’s job to bathe him, but he decided to do something nice for Izuku to help relieve a little stress.

He was regretting this decision.

“Kyouka! Or Mashirao!” Kouta continued to ask for other people, but his wishes fell on deaf ears. Truth be told, he’d still put up at least half a fight with anyone else. He didn’t like people in general putting him in the tub, but no one would allow him to do it by himself yet. The fact it was Katsuki just made matters worse.

“Two.” Katsuki wasn’t going to bother Kyouka with something so trivial, and Mashirao was taking a nap. “And don’t ask for the old lady or the tech freak either.”

Kouta sprinted down the hallway without warning. Evidently his pleas weren’t getting him anywhere, and he wasn’t going to wait for Katsuki to finish counting. He had a pretty good idea of where that would lead.

He almost got into his room, but was yanked back by Katsuki grabbing his shirt. He wriggled and thrashed about as he was placed under Katsuki’s arm and hauled away to the bathroom. If he could’ve gotten to his room and locked his door he could’ve easily held out until Katsuki gave up.

“You’re wasting your energy, runt,” Katsuki said. He didn’t want to do this just as much as Kouta didn’t want it to happen, but there was no getting around it.

A cursory thought of using the spikes on his hat to stab Katsuki in the side crossed Kouta’s mind, but he decided not to for a multitude of reasons. The first being that he didn’t want to stain his hat with Katsuki’s blood. Another being that Izuku would probably be upset with him.

“I hate you!” Kouta shouted at him, and then finally let his limbs fall limp in defeat.

“Yeah? Well–” Katsuki paused. He was going to say the feeling was mutual, but that didn’t feel right. As much as Kouta pissed him off, he didn’t hate him. In fact, he liked Kouta better than most kids for a few reasons. But it would be significantly better if all that anger wasn’t directed at him. “Get over it.”

He’d realized by now that if he was ever going to even begin to get along with this three and a half foot gremlin, he was going to have to be the one to take the first step. Kouta was evidently too childish and full of anger to try and meet him halfway yet.

On top of that, he didn’t see a reason to waste time fighting with him. He’d spent too much time letting his anger get the better of him and fighting an uphill battle. It was time for a change of tactics, rather than ramming his head against the wall in the same spot repeatedly.

The two disappeared into the bathroom and the door slammed shut. When running water could be heard, followed by a shouted ‘Pervert!’, Aizawa poked his head up from behind the kitchen counters.

He glanced around the room to make sure it was empty, and then jumped over the counter and crouched down behind the couch. He was aware of the cameras, and their general positioning pattern, so staying out of sight of them should be easy enough.

The door to the bathroom opened, and Aizawa swiftly crawled behind the side of the couch where Katsuki wouldn’t see him.

“You get out of that tub and you’re dead,” Katsuki warned him on his way to the kitchen.

He jerked open drawer after drawer in search of a clean washrag. Upon finding one he started going back to the bathroom, but stopped midway and stood in place.

With the smallest turn of his head he stared at the couch through the corners of his eyes. He took a step toward it and–

“Hurry it up!” Kouta called over the running water, his voice echoing through the hall. “I want out of here!”

Katsuki regarded Kouta’s call with a low growl and went to get his task over with. Once the bathroom door slammed shut again, Aizawa made for the exit and jumped out of the door. He flew over the railing and held on to the edge to avoid the camera that was staring down at the front door.

Izuku did a good job of making sure he would be seen by at least some of the cameras no matter where he went, but he could still keep his movements swift and stay on each one for as little time as possible. He glanced down at the dark street below, lit up only by the moon and stars.

He dropped down below, landed on his feet, and ran through the shadows and alleyways in search of the next building. He would’ve thought Izuku would keep the control station and screens for all of these cameras in his own apartment, but he must have someone else working on all of that.

A couple of blocks away he noticed a light on in a second story window. Easy enough to climb the fire escape, but with the high probability of a camera watching the window it’d be safer to try for the door where he could move quicker.

Inside the building and up the stairs he heard noise coming from one door in particular. The sound of laughter and people talking. The door was already open a bit and he took advantage of that to peek through.

A woman was sitting alone, watching something on a laptop where the voices were coming from.

While she was distracted he used that time to move in and sneak around to the back of the sofa she was sitting on. He quietly peeked over from behind her and started following the wires from each monitor to whatever they were plugged in to. Half of them went to a computer sitting on the coffee table in front of her, and the other half to another computer beside that one.

One of the screens caught his eye as Chiyo moved from one room to another. He watched her intently until she got to her room, but didn’t know what building she was staying in. Though the apartment looked nothing like the other two he’d already been to. That much he knew.

Probably a block or two away. Definitely a different building. Perhaps the same building he saw the teenager enter an hour ago.

She stood up and he dropped down, crawled around to the opposite side she was walking to, and took one laptop that the screens were hooked up to. While she was in the apartment’s kitchen he pulled off the part covering the battery and attached a microchip to the laptop beside the battery. He put the cover back on, placed it back on the table, and glanced at the other laptop. He’d have to come back with another one for the other computer, but knowing his way around would knock off a lot of time on the second trip.

Aizawa stood when the woman walked by and followed behind her. His footsteps were light, silent, and kept in rhythm with hers. She shut the door and turned around to go back to the sofa, and he walked around to stay behind her as she turned.

Kyouka barely made it a step away from the door before she heard it creak and glanced over her shoulder. It was open again, exactly the same as when she shut it a second ago. She furrowed her brow and peeked out into the hallway. Upon seeing nothing in either direction, she shut the door and went to go eat her food.

Aizawa let out the breath he was holding, and silently dropped down from the top of the door frame onto the floor of the hallway. He casually began walking down the hall while typing on his phone, no longer afraid of the cameras within the immediate vicinity. Higari’s program should upload to the laptop overnight, collect footage, and be ready to loop it before he returns for the other computer.

He’d message Higari to prepare another microchip for his return, and go find out where Chiyo was staying before they began their operation the next day. Once he mapped out that last building and checked out the nearby workshop they could begin the final planning stage.

 


 

Chiyo glanced up at the overcast sky. Shouto had returned early in the morning and Izuku was supposed to be back a while ago, but called moments before to let everyone know he’d be late.

It was disappointing, given that most everyone had already gathered to welcome him home, but there was still plenty of time in the day. It was only noon, and he would hopefully be back sometime in the next couple of hours.

At least that was what he said to Katsuki and Shouto. She knew he was only warning them because he’d had a bad feeling ever since he had rattled the hornets’ nest with Aizawa. He’d came to her the day before and talked about it, and while she had no proper advice to offer, she still happily listened to him anytime he needed to talk.

She was the only person he had to truly vent to about his frustrations and fears regarding that group of people, as she was the only one who truly knew all that he’d gone through with them.

She was worried as well, but certainly not to the extent that Izuku was. They still didn’t know where Izuku stayed, and Izuku was careful to make sure he wasn’t followed now more than ever.

The familiar creak of the door to her apartment sounded as she pushed it open. Her surprise was evident, and she realized then how much she had forgotten about their abilities, upon seeing Aizawa standing nonchalantly in a far corner of the room.

He pulled both hands out of his pockets and showed them to her. “I’m unarmed, so move about as you wish.”

Her eyes narrowed, but she moved to her rocking chair nonetheless. “Those hands of yours are as dangerous as any weapon. Who have you harmed so far?”

“No one,” Aizawa answered honestly. “We’re only here for you and some little kid, but the kid isn’t for me to worry about yet. Anyone else is just in the way.”

There was a moment of tense silence. Chiyo was putting the pieces together and Aizawa was waiting. She would get there eventually.

“Nedzu is making a bigger mistake than he realizes,” she said. A warning that seemed to have caught Aizawa’s interest. She sat back in her seat and pulled up the tranquilizer gun from against the wall. Aizawa didn’t appear to care where she had it pointed. “That child is the apple of Izuku’s eye, and anyone that goes after him will meet Izuku’s full wrath. That’s something I don’t believe any of you are prepared for.”

“That’s probably what Nedzu wants,” Aizawa said, “but I don’t care as long as the money is good and Izuku is no longer hunting me in the end. I’m only doing my part while the others do theirs.”

“You’re a distraction,” Chiyo stated plainly, disappointed that he did not get the clue. “You’re meant to take the attention away from the others, and that means it’ll be you Izuku’s fury rains down on first.”

“He isn’t the one I’m supposed to keep busy.” Aizawa took out his phone and checked the time, then gave her a bored look. “I’m a little short on time. I need to know if you would be willing to come work with us again or not. Nedzu is willing to forgive your past transgressions this once if you agree. But you will be working under stricter conditions I’m sure.”

Chiyo chuckled at his offer and raised her rifle. “I’m not a killer like the rest of you. We both already know how this will play out. I’m going to shoot at you, you’re going to get to me anyway, and then you’re going to kill me because I don’t want to join you. So let’s get it over with.”

Aizawa put his phone back in his pocket. “Alright then.”

“Do me one last favor,” Chiyo said, and smirked at Aizawa’s raised eyebrow, “make sure you’re the first one Izuku kills.”

 


 

Shouto looked up from the table. Mashirao and Kouta’s argument became near-silent background noise as he focused heavily on the window. He couldn’t explain why, but he had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. That something very bad had just happened.

He stood up and started to leave, ignoring the protests about him leaving in the middle of the board game.

“Both of you go to Katsuki. Stay with him,” Shouto told them on his way out.

He knew they would listen, because it wasn’t often that he told anyone to do something in such a serious manner. They’d know that he meant it.

Outside he felt that gut feeling get stronger. It made him think about taking Mashirao and Kouta to Katsuki himself, but he didn’t have any tangible evidence to prove that something was wrong. Not yet. Only the feeling that something important was lost all of a sudden.

If Kyouka had seen something then she would’ve told him, and he found it hard to believe something would happen to her while Katsuki was with her. Katsuki had proven that he could absolutely hold his own.

That left Mei and Chiyo. Katsuki was closer to Mei because he was with Kyouka, which left Chiyo to him.

Suddenly Shouto appreciated that Izuku had gone through the trouble to get an extra set of capable hands to help with something like this. It was relieving to not be the only one trying to keep an eye on everyone. He wouldn’t know what to do with Mashirao and Kouta, or who to go to first, if Katsuki wasn’t here too.

He kept that thought in mind on his way to and through the apartment building. He attested it to a sense of paranoia that he was starting to develop from spending too much time around Izuku, but he kept one hand on one of his knives just in case and remained ready to strike.

The door to the apartment creaked as Shouto pushed it open. He didn’t relax in the slightest when he saw Chiyo in her rocking chair. She’d have woken up from the sound if she’d fallen asleep, and would’ve acknowledged him in some way if she was awake.

Like Izuku, she wasn’t one to let her guard down. The two of them had been through too much to ever be careless.

He scanned the room from left to right and then made his way over. He couldn’t easily determine the cause without examination, but he could tell from her unblinking and glossed over eyes that she was no longer alive. He checked her pulse anyway, regardless of how sure he was.

Shouto knew he’d never hear the end of it from Izuku if it wasn’t natural causes. He wasn’t particularly close to Chiyo himself, but she was an important person in Izuku’s life. And it was safe to assume the cause wasn’t natural when he looked over his shoulder and saw Aizawa standing in the doorway.

One person he really didn’t want to see.

Two sets of cold, calculating eyes meet. They didn’t know each other personally, but well enough to be wary of one another.

Shouto’s eyes hid his anger well. He waited and watched, expecting the killer to make a move. To try and kill him next. He turned around to face Aizawa and pulled out a pistol and a knife. The hand with the gun was placed on top of the other hand with both held outward, the knife ready to strike in case his foe got too close.

“Who else have you killed?”

Aizawa’s eyes were tired and uninterested. He was biding his time, looking for an opportunity to subdue Shouto. Nedzu said he would like for Shouto to stay alive if possible, but Aizawa doesn’t intend to let Shouto kill him either.

“No one yet.”

Aizawa moved back and slammed the door shut. More than anything he needed to buy time. The others would handle the rest. Even if he didn’t trust them to get their parts done without help.

Shouto took his phone out and tried to call Kyouka as he ran out the door and down the hall. However his phone was snatched from behind right as he turned the corner. He spun around and shot too late. The bullet embedded in the wall as Aizawa ran back around and jumped out of the window in Chiyo’s room.

He followed Aizawa out of the window and landed on the fire escape one floor down. Aizawa was standing at the end of the hall on that floor, dangling Shouto’s phone right in front of himself before he walked around the corner out of sight.

Shouto’s annoyance was easily noticed by now. He pulled out his knife, placed his pistol hand on top of it, and moved forward.

As far as he could tell, Aizawa wanted his attention. So he’d give it to him for now until he found out the ulterior motive.

 


 

Katsuki stared boredly at the screens ahead of him. Nothing interesting was happening. Nothing at all. Nothing had happened an hour ago, nothing thirty minutes ago, nothing ten minutes ago, and nothing now.

“How do you deal with this?”

Kyouka glanced up from the laptop in her lap to him. They were sitting next to each other on the couch in her apartment, and while she didn’t really mind him being here she also saw her chance for a break when he walked in. He was asked to watch the screens for a while if he was going to stay so that she could finally do something else.

“I never said I liked doing it,” she replied while scrolling through another tab. “But Izuku needed someone to do it and I needed a place to live while I figured some stuff out. Everybody wins.”

Katsuki had begun to wonder which was worse. Staring at these screens, or watching the others play some game on one of them. Though the screens only seemed worse when considering the silence. It left his mind free to wander, and it kept choosing to wander right to conflicting thoughts of Izuku.

He kept trying to see Izuku as his adversary like he used to not so long ago. Tried to force the perspective. But the more time they spent together the more that hatred dissipated.

It was downright annoying to think of how Izuku was essentially holding him hostage and putting him to work, yet his anger about it was only decreasing rather than increasing.

It was somewhat maddening that it only took a few nights together, a couple of life or death situations, and some light emotional bonding for him to manifest some inkling of feelings other than hatred. Almost as though Izuku had some way of getting under Katsuki’s skin and infecting him with that generally cheery personality.

It could be hard to continue to despise someone who tried to accommodate you in every way possible. Someone who tried to make things as positive as they could and attempted to take responsibility for their actions even at the cost of their own health. It was as respectable, up to a point, as it was worrying.

Or perhaps it was just hard for him to despise Izuku for long. He could still get angry at Izuku, yell at him, and anything else. But he felt the need to escape, or beat the ever living hell out of Izuku, dwindling over time.

Katsuki leaned his head back and closed his eyes for a couple of seconds.

To think of how he was somewhat happy whenever Izuku tried to include him in stuff, and disappointed when he was asked to stay here while Izuku went out on another assignment. He should be disdainful that a walking mess of a person like that would dare talk to him. Disdainful that someone like Izuku would ever set his sights on him.

A mess.

Suddenly, thinking of Izuku like that felt harsh.

There was reason in everything Izuku did, good and bad. Even if others couldn’t see it in the moment.

Izuku had proven that, while perhaps not the greatest at snap decisions, he could get by. He was much better at thinking big. Planning things out. He evidently wasn’t taught to think for himself too much, but Katsuki could tell that Izuku was fighting that. Unlearning the traits that were instilled in him by his past and making mistakes to learn from.

He liked that. Izuku appeared to be an idiot, but he knew what he was doing most of the time. He took care of others, owned up to his mistakes, remained determined even when things looked bad for him–

Katsuki closed his eyes for another second and mentally sighed. Yet again he started to think about things he liked about Izuku, and once again it was annoying. But he knew this feeling, even if he hadn’t experienced it this strongly before.

The feeling of attraction, budding freshly in his heart and slowly creeping up to his mind to infest his thoughts. Something beyond the physical attraction he refused to acknowledge at first due to his initial hatred.

He would need to figure out how to deal with it if the feeling wasn’t reciprocated, and Izuku was actually just being overly friendly. Or how to kill Izuku if he was so much of a piece of shit that he decided to string Katsuki along for the entirety of the time they were working together.

Katsuki resolved to confront Izuku the next time they were alone. Something was wrong with that rejection the other night. It felt like Izuku did a complete one-eighty the moment Katsuki decided to make even the smallest advance, and he wasn’t going to deal with this potential miscommunication or held back information any longer than he already had.

He shouldn’t have even let it go when it happened, but it had bothered him too much to jump on the chance right away. Now it was starting to become an aching feeling in his stomach, and he refused to let that feeling plague him without some form of closure. He refused to let the unknown reason eat him up inside.

If he was going to stay with Izuku for the time being, he wasn’t going to be dragged around, blindly hoping for some scrap of affection every now and then and beating himself up any time he felt he failed to get any.

Katsuki barely noticed the door opening at first. He expected Mei or Chiyo, given that he hadn’t seen them on camera for some time. The person that walked through instead caused him to do a double take and abruptly stand in front of Kyouka, who also took a couple of seconds longer to realize what was wrong.

“Not here either.” Nedzu hummed disapprovingly as he glanced around the room. “How disappointing. I was hoping this would be quick.”

“How the fuck did you get here?” Katsuki knew him by name and face well enough, and knew he must be here for Izuku.

“Unimportant,” Nedzu brushed him off with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Have you seen a small child around here? I’d like to take… Kouta, was it? Before Izuku returns. I feel it would be rather difficult if he were here.”

Katsuki ran toward him upon mention of Kouta’s name. If Nedzu had been looking for Izuku then Katsuki could have happily told him he was out of luck, but wanting to take Kouta away was another matter. It was something Katsuki couldn’t allow. Not only because it was currently his job to guard everyone, but also because Izuku might go on a rampage if something happened to that kid.

That was also something Katsuki couldn’t allow.

Katsuki thought it weird that Nedzu didn’t budge as he ran forward. He remembered Izuku telling him that Nedzu wasn’t much of a fighter, but always thought ahead, and stopped just short of grabbing him.

While a hastily made assumption, he was right to stop as an arm with a heavily modified looking pistol swung at him through the doorway. Katsuki ducked backwards and moved out past Nedzu, already in mid swing for whoever was hiding around the doorway.

His fist connected and the man didn’t even flinch, but pain rocketed through Katsuki’s arm with the hit. He grabbed his fist instinctively and got a better look at the guy.

Snipe was utterly unfazed by the hit. His mask, where Katsuki had punched him, appeared to be reinforced with some type of metal hard enough to let him ignore the punch. Katsuki, on the other hand, felt it full force.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Nedzu said. He turned to go back the way he came, hopeful he’d find Kouta elsewhere.

Katsuki wanted to stop him—to grab him and wring his neck—but Snipe seemed like a more important target at the moment. His only other fear now was that Aizawa would be lurking around somewhere. He’d seen what that man could do first hand now and could only hope that Shouto would find him first.

“You really want to get out of my way,” Katsuki warned him. He’d say he wasn’t in the mood for this, but he can’t think of a time he’d ever be in a mood for this situation. “We’re in a small space. Guns aren’t really going to help you here.”

“Not getting paid to kill ya,” Snipe admitted. He took a few steps back and holstered his pistol, and then pulled out the short shotgun he had hidden under one side of his cape. Katsuki jumped into the next room over at the same moment the shotgun was blasted in his direction. “Just making sure you stay right there.”

Katsuki furled and unfurled his fingers a few times. The pain was pretty much gone, but now he had a different issue.

He was willing to fight a pistol in a hallway. That was easy enough for him. A shotgun was another story entirely.

One didn’t have to be all that accurate to use that, especially in a hallway. Give it to someone like Snipe and Katsuki knew better than to try to get close. He wasn’t looking to get his head blown off here.

“I don’t like killing bystanders, but from what Aizawa told me you’re not just a regular ol’ street rat that our Izuku plucked off the side of the road.” Snipe shot at the wall of the apartment Katsuki had ran into and moved to the doorway. “Told me you like to brute force your way through things. Lack of finesse and all that. So I brought a little brute force of my own.”

Katsuki bit back the urge to yell at this guy. Letting Snipe know where exactly he was wouldn’t do much to help him. At this point it would only get him killed. He inched his way to the door, where he could barely see the barrel of the shotgun poking through, and then rushed out.

He shoved the barrel out of his way as he charged through the door. Snipe didn’t bother pulling the trigger, instead choosing to attempt a headbutt that Katsuki dodged. Katsuki kneed him in the stomach and felt the vest underneath the jumpsuit eat the majority of the blow.

Snipe elbowed Katsuki in the chest to push him back and swung the shotgun back around. Katsuki ducked under Snipe’s arm at the moment the shotgun was fired, slipped past him, kicked him in the back, and retreated to Kyouka’s apartment.

A reinforced gas mask, a vest that was very likely bulletproof, two pistols and a shotgun. And that was only what he was aware the guy had. Seemed like overkill, but Katsuki reasoned Snipe didn’t get to be where he was today by being unprepared.

All the clothing, armor and guns would slow him down, but it helped to make up for his lack of fighting ability. Katsuki was sure there was some thought process behind it all that he didn’t have time to analyze.

He noticed Kyouka hiding behind the counter in her kitchen and silently motioned for her to stay down. Izuku warned him of their strengths and weaknesses, but after seeing Aizawa’s equipment to deal with guns and Snipe’s equipment to deal with up close and personal foes, Katsuki realized he should’ve known they’d cover their own weaknesses.

These guys weren’t some of the best by not learning and adapting, covering their bases and making sure they came prepared. They, at the very least, knew exactly what they were going to be dealing with when it came to Izuku and Shouto. He wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow learned a thing or two about him while they were at it.

This was going to be rough.

 


 

“I'm going to find that rulebook and prove you wrong,” Kouta said. His arms were crossed angrily and he glared at the ground as he walked.

“You can barely read, but go ahead and find it then,” Mashirao told him smugly. He knew he'd be right, and then when they got back he could continue to win. “I hate to break it to you, but I've got you beat this time.”

Normally he wouldn’t be so hard on Kouta, but the kid had a pretty impressive poker face when it came to card games and board games. Mashirao regretted teaching him how to play after the third loss in a row.

Today he was finally winning though, and he wasn’t going to give up that chance.

“In your dreams,” Kouta growled.

The two of them slowed to a stop when they heard the first gunshot coming from the building. From across the street they couldn’t tell what was happening, but the second shot made them jump just as much as the first.

Mashirao glanced down at Kouta’s dumbstruck expression and grabbed his hand. As worried as he was about what was going on in there, he knew that either of them getting involved wouldn’t be good.

He began to back away, pulling Kouta with him, but only made it a few steps. He bumped into someone standing behind him and whirled around. Kouta stepped behind Mashirao and poked his head out from behind Mashirao’s leg to stare at the person in their way.

A short, shirtless man stood in their way. Mashirao could just barely make out the grin under the yellow helmet covering his head. The strange looking, oversized gloves on his hands was the second thing he noticed.

“Finally! I need that,” the short man said. He grew annoyed by the confused look Mashirao gave him and pointed at Kouta. “The boy. I’ve been looking for him. Move aside.”

“What? Who are you?” Mashirao questioned. He pushed Kouta’s head back behind him and glared at the man in front of them. He became more frightened with each passing moment this creepy person was staring at them, but he wasn’t about to stand aside and let him do whatever he had planned with someone he considered a brother. “Nevermind. You’re not taking him.”

The man’s helmet cocked to the side along with his head, giving them the impression of confusion. Mashirao started to back away slowly, unsure if his words had registered in the man’s head. He couldn’t see this ending well regardless of whether they had or not though.

“Oh, my apologies,” he said as he stepped forward and grabbed Mashirao by the head. His large glove easily engulfed Mashirao’s face to the point of not being able to see, and he effortlessly tossed Mashirao aside. “I’m not used to being told no.”

“Mashirao!” Kouta yelled for him, and then stomped his foot and glared at the man. His seething rage at seeing Mashirao hurt was enough to momentarily overcome his fear. “Touch him again and I’ll kill you!”

The man shifted his attention to Kouta, amused by the threat. He couldn’t fight the grin that forced its way onto his face because of it. As small as he was, at least this one had some fight in him. Unlike Izuku at that age.

He reached forward and snatched Kouta up. His gloved hand enveloped Kouta’s head far more than it did Mashirao’s, and he lifted the boy up as though he weighed absolutely nothing.

Kouta thrashed about, kicking and swinging as hard as he could. Though try as he might he couldn't free himself from the man’s grasp.

“You’re a bit old, and it doesn’t help that you already know how to think for yourself,” he said while watching Kouta’s futile attempts at escape, “but you’ll do. Nedzu will listen to me this time. We’ll put my newest toy in the back of your neck and ensure obedience one way or another.”

Kouta shouted at him, his words too muffled for anyone to understand, and tried again to kick the man’s arm, but it did no visible harm to him.

“How to put it for someone so young to understand…” He thought of how to word it as he began walking away, intent on getting out of here before trouble arrived. He could inform Nedzu that the target was acquired when he was in a safer place.

Though his eyes weren’t visible, his toothy grin showed through the mouthpiece of his helmet.

“We’re going to turn you into the next Izuku. A better one. You’ll like that, right?”

His grin faded at the muffled ‘No’, and he moved his hand to drag Kouta by the top of the head rather than his face.

“Too bad. It’ll add insult to injury when we finally get rid of Izuku. Except you’re not going to turn on us. We’re not going to trust in Nedzu’s silver tongue to keep you in check like it failed to keep Izuku.” He placed the tips of his fingers together on the side of his head and mimicked an explosion as he spoke, “I’m going to put something in your neck to make it easier to dispose of you should you defect. Hopefully that keeps you in line until I finish my other project.”

The mere prospect would, in the best case scenario, drive Izuku to attempt a hasty and reckless rescue attempt against a facility they’ll use specifically made to kill him.

He lurched forward, cut off by a sudden weight landing on his back. Two arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him backwards, followed by two legs that wrapped around his waist. For a brief moment he felt immense fear under the assumption that Izuku had returned, but the voice he heard dispelled that fear quickly.

“Like hell anyone is letting you take him!” Mashirao yelled, trying to throw his weight around and knock the man over.

He rolled his eyes and reached back, though his hand stopped short of ripping Mashirao off his back and as sharp pain coursed through his shoulder. It was painful enough to cause him to drop Kouta and yelp, and he swung around while reaching wildly to get Mashirao off his back.

“Did you just bite me?!” he yelled. “Get off!”

“Shut up!” Mashirao looked at Kouta and pointed across the street. “Go find Katsuki!”

“But–”

“Go!” Mashirao yelled. As long as Kouta was the one they wanted, he would hold this person off as long as he could. Even if only for a few seconds.

“Hey, hey, hey! Don’t–” the man stepped forward to give chase and was pulled back by the arms around his neck again. Even though his target was much smaller than him, it would be nearly impossible to catch him with someone on his back like this.

He could do little but struggle against Mashirao’s movements while watching Kouta run towards the building and disappear from sight. It was frustrating enough trying to find that kid once, and now that he had to do it all over again he was sufficiently annoyed enough to care less about the orders he was given to leave all the unimportant people alive.

He finally got a hold of Mashirao and abruptly ripped the boy off of his back. He threw him on the ground and stepped on Mashirao’s head to keep him down. The hands that wrapped around his boot and tried to pull him off did nothing to stop him. He clanged together the sharpened, iron tipped fingers of his gloves and pointed them toward Mashirao.

“I wasn’t going to kill you, but since you insist on being such a nuisance–”

“Don’t worry, Higari.” The man, Higari, froze at the sound of the voice behind him. Following the voice was the sound of a gun being cocked, and he felt ice run through his veins. “I’ll kill you so you don’t have to hurt him.”

This was not part of the plan. This was not part of the plan.

Higari slowly raised his hands in surrender with an uneasy grin. Both he and Nedzu were supposed to be out of here before this happened. He argued and fought to not be brought out here for this very reason. So he wouldn’t end up in this exact situation.

“H-hello again, Izuku,” Higari said as he turned around slowly. He locked eyes with Izuku, but they weren’t the calm, collected and analytical eyes he was used to seeing so long ago. The ones that studied your every move, and appeared to log away information like a living computer. They were filled with an emotion he’d never seen Izuku show before.

They were filled with an unbridled fury.

Chapter Text

Kouta peeked around the corner of the hallway. He’d made it to the same floor that Kyouka’s room was on, and the noises were getting louder the closer he got. He’d swear that most of the sounds were gunshots, but it didn’t sound like any gun he’d heard before. Each time made him jump until he got used to it, but he was still afraid to find out where the noise was coming from.

It seemed like he was going to find out whether he liked it or not.

Around the corner he saw the source of the noises. Some strange man pointing a gun he’d never seen before at Kyouka’s door.

Kouta didn’t know that person, so that had to be one of the bad people. There was no other reason for him to be pointing a weapon like that at Kyouka’s door than to threaten someone. And where was Katsuki? Why was he not taking care of this guy?

“Hello.”

Kouta jumped and whirled around, his eyes wide as could be. Another person he didn’t know, a man with white hair that wasn’t much taller than him, stood before him with a relaxed smile. Far too relaxed for all the things that were going on around them. It was somewhat unsettling, and in his current situation he already automatically distrusted anyone he didn’t know.

He recoiled when a hand was offered to him, no less wary of the man after the peaceful action. He was only vaguely aware that he was being offered help, too wrapped up in his thoughts of where to run in the next few seconds. Because he sure as heck wasn’t going to stay here, and he had no intentions of going with this guy.

“Uh, I-I don’t need help,” Kouta responded nervously.

He wasn’t entirely sure if that was even a viable response to whatever the man said to him, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to find Izuku or Shouto. He’d even take Katsuki right now. Anyone that he knew wasn’t out to get him.

“I really must insist you come with me before that man sees us. My name is Nedzu, and we can go find Izuku together.”

Kouta took another step back as Nedzu moved forward. “How do you know Izuku? Only we call him that.”

“We’re old acquaintances,” Nedzu answered, and his smile faltered only slightly from Kouta’s befuddled expression.

“Old what?”

Nedzu resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose in irritation. He wasn’t used to talking to children, especially with the last time being when Izuku was little.

“Friends. We’re old friends, and he would be absolutely torn up if anything happened to you. So let me–”

“Give me your phone.”

Nedzu stared at Kouta, surprised by the sudden demand. His smile had vanished by this time, and he was growing more and more irked with each wasted moment.

“Why?”

“You said you’re friends with Izuku.” Kouta held his hand out, his mood almost completely turning around at the prospect of getting Izuku’s help. As far as he was concerned he didn’t need to trust this person to use his phone. “So let me call him so he knows what’s happening. He’ll come help really fast.”

Kouta could almost bring himself to grin with that thought in mind. Almost.

Nedzu could see the naivety in Kouta’s eyes. The way one mention of being friends with Izuku was enough to begin gaining the boy’s trust.

Whether Kouta was being cleverly deceptive or genuinely starting to believe him, he didn’t know. But he could definitely tell that Kouta was still scared by body language alone. If he didn’t comply then Kouta was likely to bolt at the first chance that presented itself.

His gaze moved to Kouta’s outstretched hand, and the hint of a smile formed as he got an idea. However crude it may be, he didn’t know how long he had and he needed to get out of here as soon as possible.

“Very well.”

Nedzu fished his phone out of his pocket and showed the front and back to Kouta. An action meant to pacify him by showing there were no tricks to it. The second he placed the phone in Kouta’s hand, he reached out and grabbed Kouta’s arm with his other hand and yanked his phone away.

He ignored Kouta’s demands to let him go and gripped tighter as Kouta tried to pry his hand off. He pressed the button on his earpiece to contact the others and jerked Kouta along with him toward the stairs.

“Aizawa, I have the boy. Lose Shouto and get the helicopter with Higari. I’ll be on the–”

Aizawa ducked back to dodge Shouto’s knife and grabbed Shouto’s arm, then pulled him forward and spun around his side to get behind the man. He just needed to dance around Shouto’s attacks for the time being, though that was proving to be more difficult than he originally thought.

If he hid for too long, Shouto would try to leave. If he fought for too long, Shouto would catch onto his patterns and start to get an upper hand. Aizawa was almost beginning to consider him too smart for his own good.

Shouto was proving more and more how much of a danger he could be to Aizawa. Especially if someone were to hire Shouto to hunt him down some day. It almost drove home the increasing desire to attempt a kill right now.

But if he did try, he certainly wouldn’t go for any of those openings Shouto was making. Aizawa wasn’t rookie enough to not notice those were fakes.

Aizawa got one of his wraps around Shouto’s ankles and pulled his legs out, tripping the man and giving him another chance to hopefully escape now that he had been called off by Nedzu.

He took the chance to jump over Shouto’s prone body and run down the hall, but a few steps away he was yanked backwards and fell on his back as well. He didn’t look back before immediately rolling to the side.

A smart move, given the knife that implanted itself in the floor where his head previously was at the same moment Shouto picked himself up. He rolled backwards and landed on his feet in time to sidestep the next three gunshots aimed at him. He jumped backwards and once again was jerked back to the same spot.

Finally he spotted the culprit. The heel of Shouto’s boot holding down one of his wraps so he wouldn’t escape.

He tore that wrap off and tossed it to the ground just as Shouto finished reloading, and jumped toward the wall to avoid Shouto’s first two shots. He kicked off the wall and leaped over Shouto’s head, where the top of his head barely missed hitting the ceiling, and kicked the gun out of Shouto’s hand on his way by.

The new opening was used to successfully flee, and he pressed his finger onto the earpiece on his way down the stairwell to finally respond.

“What happened? On the what?”

There was no response for a second, and then Nedzu’s strained voice played through the earpiece.

“The child…”

“What about him? Do you still have him?” Aizawa questioned. He needed to know if he should continue his descent to the ground floor or make his way back to Shouto. Though from the sound of Nedzu’s voice, something obviously happened to him, and if Nedzu was in trouble–

“He kicked me… below the belt and… ran off…”

Aizawa rolled his eyes. “I told you. You can’t talk your way out of everything.”

Nedzu stood back up on wobbly legs and took a deep breath. It hurt to move, but he fought through the pain. He couldn’t let something like this deter him.

“Your criticism is unappreciated, as per usual.” He looked to the room he saw Kouta run in and straightened the jacket of his suit. “Get over here and help me secure him. Higari, get the helicopter here now.

Higari would have responded if he could. Truly he wanted to. Because if he had the ability to respond, then that meant he wouldn’t be in his current predicament.

“Y-you really don’t want to kill me,” Higari tried to reason with Izuku.

“Why?” Izuku asked as he cocked his gun and aimed it at Higari’s chest.

He would give Higari a chance to bargain for his life, but he certainly didn’t intend to let him walk away scot free. Were it any of the other three, or if he considered Higari any actual threat, giving him a chance wouldn’t be an option at all. It could be heard in his tone that he wouldn’t tolerate any stalling or nonsense however.

“Well, I could do all kinds of–”

Pain.

Sharp, horrible pain in his shoulder, mixed with the ear blasting sound of a gunshot from so close.

Why?” Izuku asked more forcefully. “Last chance.”

Obviously he was in no mood for long winded speeches, guessing games, or implications. He wanted a straightforward answer in the next few seconds or he would very happily kill Higari and move on. He didn’t know who else was here, who was in danger, or even what was happening.

All of that meant he had no time to screw around. But if Higari could shine some light on any of that, Izuku would happily take the information to help keep the others safe.

“Information! I’ll give information!” Higari tried, a gloved hand now covering his wounded shoulder.

“Talk fast,” Izuku warned him. “Who all is here?”

“Aizawa, Snipe, and Nedzu. All of us.”

Izuku seemed to consider the information. He looked toward the nearby building where he knew Kyouka and Kouta would be, and then turned back to continue the interrogation.

“Targets?”

“The old lady who defected, I don’t remember her name–”

Chiyo,” Izuku corrected him angrily.

“Right! Her and some kid Nedzu wants.” Higari feared for his life when Izuku’s eyes widened a fraction and the rage in his eyes appeared to increase tenfold. Upon seeing this he quickly added on, “Alive! He wants the kid alive!”

“And the others?” Izuku felt the need for confirmation. If Nedzu wanted Kouta alive, then what happens to everyone else? “Mei, Kyouka, Mashirao?”

“Nedzu doesn’t care about them as long as they stay out of the way. He said they would be dealt with in a couple of days after this, but wouldn’t say how.” Higari jumped as Izuku shot the ground beside him and chips of concrete bounced off his side. “I didn’t care to ask!”

Izuku stared at Higari, one final question biting at the back of his mind. He had a good feeling Nedzu wouldn’t want Shouto killed, but…

“What about Kacchan?”

Higari’s confused expression was hidden behind his helmet. The few seconds of confusion costed him, and another bullet was embedded in his other shoulder.

“I don’t know who that is!”

“Ka–!” Izuku started to yell, and then realized his mistake. “Sorry, I mean Katsuki. Katsuki Bakugou.”

“Distracted! Snipe is distracting him and Aizawa is distracting the mercenary while Nedzu and I find the kid!” Higari looked over at the building across the street, an action which caught Izuku’s attention and caused him to do the same. “I think Nedzu already has him and Aizawa is on the way to secure him.”

Izuku’s emotions couldn’t choose between distress that Kouta was in trouble or relief that Nedzu didn’t care to kill Katsuki. He placed his head in his hand and sighed.

“Next time I see you, whether that be in ten minutes or ten years,” Izuku said, and then turned his back toward Higari to walk to Kyouka’s apartment, “I’m going to step on your head and shoot you in the neck no matter what you offer me.”

Higari rubbed his neck, already feeling phantom pains from the mere warning. He didn’t wait for Izuku to cross the street before getting up and running off. Izuku killing him was bad enough, but whatever the thought of what the others would do if he didn’t get their escape here couldn’t be much better.

“Go find Mei and stay with her,” Izuku told Mashirao on his way past. “If you see anyone you don’t know, tell her she can test out that thing I told her not to ever use.”

 


 

Kouta could hear the door to the apartment open. It was hard to hear over the increasing sound of his heartbeat drumming in his ears. It was beating hard enough to feel throughout his entire body.

No one lived in this apartment as far as he knew, and nothing of any importance was kept here. It just happened to be the closest room he could run into after getting away from that Nedzu guy. Once he had escaped to the room he had quickly ran to his current hiding spot, which was a cabinet under the sink in the kitchen.

Although it was just big enough for him to fit in, the downside was that it was pitch black. He couldn’t see his own hand in front of his face if he tried, but he managed to scoot himself into the corner when he crawled in and closed the cabinet door.

“We don’t have time for games, Kouta.”

Kouta recognized that as Nedzu’s voice.

He scooted back further until his back hit the cabinet wall and he nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt something hard press against his lower back.

Reaching back and pulling the object out from under his shirt revealed his BB gun. In all the panic he’d completely forgotten that he kept it in the same place Izuku kept his. This was potentially his only chance at salvation.

“I’d like to get you out of here before Izuku finds us. You wouldn’t want very bad things to happen all because you refused to give yourself up, would you?

Kouta held the BB gun close to his chest and stared at the cabinet door. He could hear Nedzu moving things around in an attempt to find him. Footsteps grew louder and quieter as the man moved about the room, and Kouta knew it was only a matter of time before he was found.

“I’d hate for him to do to me what he did to your parents.”

That comment stopped Kouta’s shaking.

…What?

He actually considered coming out of his hiding spot for that. To question what Nedzu meant by that.

Kouta faintly remembered two other people in his life that he hadn’t seen for a long time, but he hardly remembered anything about them. Sometimes he had a dream or two about them at most. Still, this was his family. He had never asked, but he didn’t know his mother and believed Izuku was his father. He knew it.

Right?

His arms instinctively jerked forward, BB gun aimed toward the cabinet door as it was jerked open. Light flooded the dark cabinet and his eyes went wide with shock. He was too caught up in his thoughts to realize Nedzu had gotten close to finding him.

Whatever trace of a smile Nedzu had before was gone again, now that a very realistic looking gun was pointed directly at his face. Of all the possibilities he expected, for Kouta to have a gun was not one of them.

The two stared at each other, both at a loss for what to do next. Kouta was a deer caught in the headlights, stunned from fear and unable to think clearly.

Nedzu was paranoid of setting the child off. He hadn’t come this far for a five year old to put a bullet through his skull, and with each passing second he regretted insisting that he come along. He raised Izuku to put himself first and ignore the wellbeing of others. To care about the mission and nothing else. He hadn’t been prepared for Izuku to go to such lengths to make sure nothing happened to those he cared about.

It was quite annoying to think of how much of his work on Izuku had come undone. All because of a few years of freedom.

“I-Izuku is my dad.”

Nedzu’s head cocked ever so slightly to the side. He had learned of the fate of the boy’s parents before he arrived, but he certainly didn’t know that was the lie Izuku had fabricated. Or that Izuku was even hiding the information to begin with.

His earlier statement was intended to goad Kouta. Perhaps his parents were a sore point for him to hit, or maybe it’d chip away at Kouta’s trust in Izuku. Instead he felt he could drive a wedge into their relationship with this. Perhaps even destroy it entirely.

“He isn’t,” Nedzu stated calmly. “I suppose it makes sense he wouldn’t tell you he killed your parents. It wouldn’t be easy to keep you if you were afraid of him, angry at him, or hated him.”

“Shut up and move!”

Nedzu smiled and backed away slowly. He stayed out of Kouta’s way while the child climbed out of the cabinet, BB gun trained on him the entire time, and backed out of the kitchen all the way to the door.

“Oh, Kouta,” Nedzu called out to him once Kouta was halfway out the door. His resisted the urge to widen his smile when Kouta stopped to look back at him. “If you get a chance, ask Izuku why your last name is Izumi instead of Midoriya. And be sure to watch his reactions very closely.”

Kouta placed the BB gun back in the hem of his shorts under his shirt, stuck his middle finger up at Nedzu, and then turned to leave. Although he hardly made it two steps before he was jerked upward by his arm.

“Let me go!” Kouta yelled. He didn’t know who had picked him up and didn’t care. He was not in a mood to let anyone to manhandle him anymore.

“Oh, good, you’re here,” Nedzu said from the doorway.

“Shut it and let’s go,” Snipe ordered as he shot his pistol down the hallway at the floor in front of Kyouka’s door. “We’ve screwed around too much as it is and it won’t take that Bakugou guy long to figure out I left.”

“You’re hurting my arm!”

Snipe pulled Kouta along, barely letting the boy touch the ground at all. “Good. Remember that next time you don’t take the peaceful option.”

The group approached the staircase just in time to see Izuku climbing up to their floor. Snipe didn’t hesitate in immediately unloading a barrage of bullets his way, forcing him to retreat and crouch out of sight. The fact Izuku was in sight at all already meant the mission had gone to hell, and he didn’t plan on dying today.

They were meant to deal with him at a separate time, on their terms and with their advantage. Not here where Izuku had a chance. Not to mention that Snipe didn’t want to try to keep both Nedzu and himself alive and try to keep this kid out of Izuku’s hands all at the same time.

Nedzu rushed ahead of the two and started making his way up to the roof. Snipe followed him shortly after he was out of sight, letting off a couple of shots Izuku’s way for good measure. The longer he stalled them the better.

Katsuki poked his head out after determining that the gunshots were getting further and further away. With no one to be seen, he ran over to the window and glanced outside. No one in sight at all. The sounds of the gunshots were moving up as well, which meant…

“Don’t go anywhere,” Katsuki told Kyouka as he climbed out of the window and onto the fire escape. Not as fast, but better than going right to where they were shooting at who he assumed to be Shouto.

Izuku cautiously followed them up the stairs. He stayed out of sight, but kept close enough to hear Snipe’s heavy footsteps. Any time he poked his head out he was instantly shot at, and was given no opening to get close.

Up on the roof Snipe met Nedzu over by the edge. He could see the helicopter coming in the distance, but definitely not fast enough to get here before trouble showed.

As soon as the thought crossed his mind he looked over at the door to the rooftop. Izuku was standing there, pistol in hand, staring at Snipe with a look of death in his eyes.

Snipe didn’t bother raising his gun. There was enough cover in the form of ventilation ducts and other miscellaneous objects scattered around the rooftop. He knew Izuku could easily get to him mostly unharmed. Likewise, he assumed the only reason Izuku hadn’t shot at him was because of the kid he was holding onto.

“Put him down and let’s settle this,” Izuku demanded.

He could see the helicopter getting closer as well. It could very easily be heard from its current distance already. He started walking forward to get there before they got away, but remained ready to take cover. His movements were slow so as to not set Snipe off, but even as much as he wanted to kill the man he still wanted to get Kouta out of there more.

It was almost painful to be so close. To have all four of them present themselves in one spot where he could handle each and every one of them. Yet as close as he was to killing all four of them right now and being done with it all, his mind automatically went to ensuring everyone else’s safety first. He felt a strong urge to make sure no one else would be hurt in the process.

“I’m not suicidal. You weren’t even supposed to be here for this,” Snipe said. He looked over his shoulder one more time, and something else caught his attention below. He smirked under his mask as Izuku and the helicopter approached from both sides. He then let go of Kouta’s arm and took one step forward. “I’m also not going to die because of some kid.”

And then he kicked Kouta off of the roof.

Izuku couldn’t even manage to yell Kouta’s name. His body moved on its own, going for the ledge in an all-out sprint. He couldn’t bring himself to pay attention to Snipe grabbing Nedzu and tossing the small man through the helicopter’s door. He couldn’t pay attention to Nedzu’s angry protests about kicking Kouta off of the roof.

He didn’t shoot at them, didn’t care for the danger of running directly past them, and didn’t hold on to his pistol when he jumped head first off the roof with his arms out. He barely registered falling past a surprised Katsuki, and fell with his arms out to catch Kouta in the air.

Katsuki caught the pistol that fell behind Izuku and pointed it right up at the helicopter. He fired repeatedly at Snipe, seeing the man try to line up a shot on Izuku. He couldn’t do much about the two of them plummeting toward the ground, but he could at least make sure neither of them were shot on the way down and hope for the best.

Izuku finally caught Kouta and hugged him to his chest. It did little to muffle Kouta’s terrified screams, but he held on to him tight and spun in the air so that his back would hit the oncoming ground.

With Kouta in his arms, he quickly looked around and noticed the nearby tree. It was leafless but full of branches, and close enough to break some of the fall if he could just move over some.

He kicked one of the passing railings on the fire escape and gained enough distance at the last second to hit the first branch. His momentum snapped it instantly, along with every other one along the way until he reached the thicker branches. Even those broke, sending sharp pains all along his back and shoulders for each and every one, until he finally hit the ground with a hard thud.

He was afraid Kouta wasn’t alright when the screaming stopped. He tried to raise his arms to check, but couldn’t move them. His whole body hurt and trying to move his arms felt the same as trying to lift a bag of bricks.

Izuku’s fears were alleviated as Kouta pushed himself up. Kouta still had an expression of shock, though Izuku couldn’t tell if it was because of the falling or because of how he must have looked lying on the ground like that.

What hit him worse than that was seeing the fresh tears rolling down Kouta’s face and falling onto his.

He tried to smile to let Kouta know he was alright, but it came out more strained and forced than he meant for it to.

Kouta’s head snapped forward, and his eyes widened. Izuku wished desperately to see whatever Kouta saw that brought on this reaction, but he had a pretty good idea of what when Kouta spoke in a shaky voice, sob filled voice.

“D-don’t t-touch him,” Kouta warned. He stood up and reached for his BB gun, but was snatched up and out of Izuku’s sight before he could pull it out.

“Thank you for saving me the trouble of catching him,” Aizawa said in his usual, bored tone. He tied Kouta’s arms to his sides with one of the wraps when the child wouldn’t stop struggling, and dropped him on the ground. “I suppose it would be easier to kill you in this state than waiting until later. Do me a favor and hold still.”

Izuku tried futilely to push himself up, to move in some way to defend himself. He barely made it up onto his elbows and collapsed back down onto the ground breathlessly. It already hurt enough to try to sit up, but falling onto his back only caused more pain to rocket through the rest of his body.

Aizawa reached down for Izuku’s neck, and then stopped when he sighted Shouto running toward them in the mirrors on his goggles. He wanted to finish Izuku so badly, but it wasn’t worth leaving himself open to the gun being pointed at his back.

He grabbed Kouta without a word and ran for the ladder that had been dropped from the helicopter to the ground. Kouta was placed in the bundle of wraps around his neck and he started climbing, unconcerned by Shouto as the helicopter began flying away.

Shouto pointed the pistol at Aizawa, but couldn’t bring himself to shoot so long as Kouta was so close to him. He glanced over and saw Izuku trying to get up, and then back up at the helicopter slowly gaining speed.

And then he saw something—no, someone—jumping from roof to roof along the flying vehicle’s direction. He could just barely make out the blonde, spiky hair in the distance as Katsuki jumped across another rooftop, and then shot at the helicopter to hopefully keep their attention away from the rooftops.

It was the least he could do in this situation. The only other thing to do was place his trust in Katsuki to succeed.

Katsuki glanced over at the helicopter to his left, too far to jump towards but close enough to see clearly, and ran as fast as he could to the edge of each rooftop. Each jump his head is filled with the dreaded thought of coming up short and falling, but he forced himself to traverse the rooftops regardless. He just needed them to get a little closer and he believed he could make it.

The helicopter started turning right to pass by the end of the row of buildings, and he followed by moving to the right on the last building to intercept it. This would be his only chance.

There was no hesitation in his jump. No uncertainty that he wouldn’t make it. Not a drop of self-doubt as he kicked off the very edge of the building toward the helicopter. Aizawa had climbed in seconds before, and with him inside it started to ascend. The ascension caused him to miss the door, but he caught onto the railing at the bottom with one hand and held on as he saw the ground start to get further and further away.

Katsuki grabbed onto the railing with his other hand and pulled himself up. Once he was inside he saw all four of them up near the front.

Nedzu was sitting in the passenger seat, Snipe was standing behind the pilot—some man Katsuki had never seen before—and Aizawa was holding Kouta’s shoulder behind Nedzu’s seat. With how loud the helicopter was none of them noticed him climb onboard, but there would be no way to take Kouta without being seen.

Yet one way or another, he wasn’t leaving here without him.

He took a deep breath and moved forward slowly, quietly. Not that he needed to be all that quiet with the helicopter and the wind drowning out all other noise. A force of habit, though.

He started by pushing Kouta to the side, out of Aizawa’s grasp, and kicking Aizawa’s legs out from under him. After essentially dealing with both of them separately he had a pretty basic plan of how to handle them in mind.

Aizawa would be a bigger danger here, but they were both terribly out of their element inside this helicopter. There was nowhere for Aizawa to get the drop on him, and if he got rid of Snipe’s weapons it would be like fighting half of an enemy.

With Aizawa falling to the ground and the others still reeling from the surprise, Katsuki snatched the shotgun off of Snipe’s back and pointed it in Nedzu’s direction. Right as he pulled the trigger Snipe hit the weapon, sending the barrel up into the air and causing the shot to miss.

Katsuki shoved Snipe against the wall, ramming the unprotected back of his head against it before he could react, and took one of the holstered pistols. He held Snipe against the wall with an arm on his neck and shot behind himself at Aizawa with the pistol, unconcerned with whether the bullets were deflected or not. Once it was out of ammo and Snipe was reaching for the other one, he chucked it aside and grabbed Snipe’s arm.

“We can still exonerate you and send you home if you’d like!” Nedzu shouted over the sound of the helicopter, watching the three begin their fight. “That was the plan for you to begin with!”

“Shut up!” Katsuki shouted back at Nedzu. “The only thing keeping me and him apart is the two minutes it’s going to take to kick your asses!”

He punched Snipe in the throat before he whirled around and forced Snipe to aim at Aizawa with the other pistol. Katsuki pulled the trigger himself, continuing to shoot repeatedly at Aizawa even though he’d finally gotten off of the floor. Once the gun was empty, he threw the shotgun out of the helicopter and rushed toward Aizawa to deal with him next.

Snipe cursed under his breath and reloaded the gun. Though right as the clip was inside, the gun was kicked right out of his hand and over to the other at the back of the helicopter.

Katsuki caught Aizawa’s arm to block a swing, then the other, and jerked him down by both arms to knee him in the face. He then spun around to roundhouse kick Snipe back when the man tried to get to his guns.

Getting the drop on them helped immensely. Katsuki wasn’t sure how this would’ve played out without the element of surprise, but he could easily guess it wouldn’t have gone anywhere near as much in his favor. Now if he could just get one of the parachutes off the wall and get out with Kouta he’d be golden.

He took a second to find Kouta—backed against the wall and watching the fight intently with his arms still tied to his sides—and then ran back to race Snipe to the pistols. Both men got a hold of one and pointed them at each other.

Katsuki pulled the trigger first. He realized he’d grabbed the wrong one when he heard the familiar click of an empty clip, and then ducked backwards to dodge the nearly pointblank shot from Snipe’s. He moved to the side out of Snipe’s aim and dodged another swing from Aizawa. When Aizawa’s arm passed him he grabbed it and spun around to throw the man back toward the front of the helicopter.

He whirled back around to face Snipe and hit him in the head with the empty pistol and then turned to throw the empty gun at Aizawa. It hit him square in the head while he was trying to get back up, and he dodged another shot from Snipe.

“That Katsuki.” Nedzu shook his head at the scene and got up from his seat. “All the subtlety and nuance of a napalm enema.”

Katsuki slapped the gun out of Snipe’s hand, and then kicked it up at Snipe’s face after it bounced off the ground. He grabbed Snipe’s arm and pulled it back behind him, kicked him in the back of the knee to bring him down to one knee, and then shoved his arm up until he dropped to the floor. Katsuki then kicked the pistol out of the helicopter and stomped Snipe’s head into the floor.

“Hey, that’s mine!”

Katsuki faced the front of the helicopter and saw Nedzu holding onto Kouta with a gun pointed at the boy’s head.

“I’d prefer to keep him alive, but I’d rather he be dead than back with Izuku if that’s what it comes to,” Nedzu shouted at Katsuki. “Either one will cause Izuku to come after us recklessly. If he is kept happy, then our whole plan is for naught.”

Katsuki appeared to be unconcerned about the situation. Kouta’s exclamation earlier already told him all he needed to know about that gun.

He grabbed a parachute off the wall and ran toward them. He didn’t care when Nedzu turned the gun on him, didn’t care when the trigger was pulled, and almost laughed at the expression on Nedzu’s face when a BB pellet flew out rather than a bullet.

It hit Katsuki square in the chest, but didn’t slow him down in the slightest. The pain was laughable when he braced for it.

He dived past Aizawa and rolled in front of them, punched Nedzu in the face and grabbed Kouta. He caught and pocketed the BB gun as it fell and moved out of the way and kneed Aizawa in the stomach when he attempted to tackle the two of them down.

Finally he’d made it to the edge of the helicopter unimpeded, now that everyone was out of his way, and jumped out with Kouta in his arms.

Never did Katsuki think he would be jumping out of a moving helicopter, high enough in the sky to kill him should he hit the ground. Falling fast enough that his hair was whipping in the wind and the very sound of the passing air filled his ears. Never did he think that, as some bodyguard for people not so well known to the public, in some small town, he’d end up in some kind of war with a handful of the world’s most dangerous.

Now that it was over for the time being and he felt like he had won, he could only think…

Finally I got to have some real fun.

He untied Kouta’s arms while they fell. He wanted to call out for Kouta to hold on to him, but the moment Kouta’s arms were free he was already clinging onto Katsuki.

He was somewhat surprised, until he realized what Kouta must have gone through during all that time. Kouta must have been willing to take solace in any kind of safety he could find at the time. Practically anyone familiar to him would be a source of comfort, including Katsuki.

Katsuki pulled the cord to the parachute and wrapped an arm around Kouta as it jerked them back. They landed beside the road just outside of the city, his legs almost buckling under him from the landing.

It would be a long walk back, but that thought didn’t fill Katsuki with unease like it would have before. He had a feeling being alone with Kouta wouldn’t be an absolute nightmare this time around.

He glanced down at Kouta, who was still holding onto him as though his life depended on it. The side of his head was held against Katsuki’s chest and his eyes were still squeezed shut as tightly as possible. Katsuki reasoned that the only thing keeping Kouta from burying his face there instead were the horns on his hat.

Katsuki pulled the parachute off of his back and tried to pry Kouta off of him. But the more Kouta was pulled, the tighter his grip became, until eventually his legs were wrapped around Katsuki as well.

As annoying as it was, Katsuki couldn’t bring himself to yell at the boy for this. Kouta was probably still scared out of his mind. He found it in himself to go against his instinct of telling Kouta to suck it up and move on, and instead got down on one knee.

“I’m not going to carry you all the way home like this,” Katsuki stated as calmly as he could. “You have to get off.”

Kouta finally opened his eyes and looked up at him. He hadn’t realized Kouta had been crying until now, and seeing the tear streaks on Kouta’s cheeks caused Katsuki to groan inwardly. He wouldn’t force Kouta away from his comfort after seeing that pitiful face.

Someone that age didn’t deserve to go through any of the things they’d just gone through. Katsuki realized it would only be more unfair to treat him poorly in a time of distress.

“Fine, you can get on my back,” Katsuki relented. “But don’t you dare say I don’t do shit for you.”

Kouta dropped down, ran around to climb on Katsuki’s back, and wrapped his arms around Katsuki’s neck without a word. Even as Katsuki placed his arms under Kouta’s legs to hold him up and started walking, he couldn’t enjoy the quiet. He liked a natural silence, but Kouta’s current reluctance to speak was an unusual silence.

Normally he would’ve said something snarky by now. Or maybe called Katsuki a name or two. The silence Katsuki was getting from him instead was unsettling.

He thought and thought of something to help calm Kouta down. Something to help lift the heavy silence and pass the time as he carried Kouta home. Eventually one idea came to mind.

“Want to hear some stupid stories about Eijirou and our friend Denki?”

There was a long pause, and then Katsuki felt Kouta’s head move in a nod against the back of his neck.

“Good. I have a lot of stories about those idiots.”

Chapter Text

Izuku was seated in a chair in the middle of his apartment, shirtless and internally distressed.

He continued to stare at the ground in absolute silence. The three voices complaining to him and bombarding him with a constant stream of questions were practically white noise. The pain in his back and shoulder blades hardly registered as Shouto continued to run his hand across the reddened skin. Even Shouto questioning him about where it hurt most and if anything felt broken went in one ear and out the other.

They were all here.

He never thought he’d be found so easily. That they’d find out enough to make their own plan of attack. That he would lose two, potentially three, people in one fell swoop.

His heart was filled with an overwhelming amount of pain at the mere thought.

Chiyo, the only person from his past he didn’t want to kill, was dead. A terrible form of irony.

Kouta, the boy he wronged who he considered no less than his own son, taken to some place he may never find. Izuku couldn’t help but believe now that Kouta would’ve been better off without him rather than with him. The thought stung, yet reigned true in his mind.

And finally Katsuki. Another person he dragged into all of this. Katsuki was perfectly fine with his life until Izuku showed up. Now Izuku couldn’t get a hold of him. Katsuki wouldn’t answer his phone, and contact couldn’t be made in any other way to know if he was alright or not.

He’d made mistakes just like any other person, but never had he felt as stupid as he did now.

“Where’s Kouta?”

All other questions directed at him had fallen on deaf ears, but that was the first question that finally got a reaction out of him. He stood up abruptly, put on his shirt, and made for the door, intent on finding the answer to that question. No matter how long it took or what he had to do.

He didn’t know where to start, who to ask, or what to do. But he would find something out.

Izuku pulled the door open and his eyes went wide with disbelief. He stood there, mouth agape and unable to move, as Katsuki stared back at him with Kouta on his back.

Katsuki appeared to be just as surprised. He was reaching for the door when it swung open in front of him and Izuku nearly walked right into him.

“Kacchan…”

It was the only word Izuku could manage. He had believed Kouta was gone, and didn’t know what to think about Katsuki’s fate. They had both been missing for hours now, yet here they both were, right in front of him and—more or less—unharmed.

“What? You thought I’d just let them fuck us over and walk away?” Katsuki pushed past Izuku and let Kouta down inside the apartment, where Mashirao immediately hugged him. “Those fucking assholes are going to have to do better than that.”

He stood up and barely made it a step forward before Shouto stepped in front of him. He was ready to shove Shouto out of his way, but stared confusedly at him after Shouto quietly thanked him.

Katsuki didn’t expect anything from him, much less a thank you, but responded with a single nod. He didn’t do it for the gratitude anyway.

Izuku snapped out of his stupor, shut the door, and went to go hug Kouta too. The tears that streamed down his face from all of his emotions finally overwhelming him were unexpected, but Kouta paid little mind to them.

Kouta’s arms came up to hug Izuku back, but paused mid-way and hovered just away from Izuku.

He had thought about what Nedzu told him for a while on the way back. Sometime during one of Katsuki’s stories he tuned out and looked at what signs he could think of, and some things that he had never questioned before suddenly crossed his mind.

It took Izuku a moment, but he noticed Kouta’s hesitation. Even as Kouta’s arms wrapped around him, he was already concerned. He pulled away and wiped his face with his arm to clear the tears.

He wanted to ask what was wrong, to find out the reason for Kouta’s hesitation, but halfway through the thought to ask, the door swung open once again.

Momo entered the apartment and froze on the spot. Her usual business-like demeanor was interrupted by slight concern as she scanned the room and counted two guns aimed directly at her. The concern quickly subsided when they were lowered, and she stepped in to meet Izuku’s gaze.

“Now isn’t really a good time for a job,” Izuku said, and then glanced behind her. “Where’s Tenya?”

“He said he didn’t want to play a part in this,” Momo stated, and then stepped aside to let a handful of agents enter the room, “and unfortunately I’m not here to give you anything this time.”

There were just enough to grab and handcuff Mashirao, Mei, and Kyouka. Two went for Shouto, although he let himself be cuffed peacefully rather than starting a scene. This wasn’t the first time he’d had something like this happen, and he would like to know why it was happening before deciding whether to fight or not.

Everyone else had no problems voicing their complaints however. Including Izuku, who approached Momo angrily.

“What are you doing?!”

“Take them out to the cars. Separate vehicles. We’ll depart in ten.” Momo brushed Izuku aside and stepped forward. She glanced around the room, ignoring Izuku’s attempts to get her attention, and then turned to him when she couldn’t find what she was looking for. “Where is it?”

“Where’s what? What do you think you’re doing?” Izuku waved a hand toward the agents taking away his friends. “What’s your problem all of a sudden?! We haven’t done anything!”

“No, you haven’t. But I’m required to do this anyway.” She held her hand out, as though she were waiting for Izuku to place something there. “I need whatever evidence in your possession that proves Katsuki’s innocence.”

“I’m not giving you anything until I get answers,” Izuku said, “and I’m not letting you leave here until you explain yourself either.”

“What do you care if I’m innocent or not?” Katsuki asked.

She glanced over her shoulder at him, and then turned her attention back to Izuku. “Because we’re taking you home. You’re not staying here.”

“The fuck do you care if I’m here or not?”

“Because we allowed him to keep all of you around so long as it didn’t cause trouble. Evidently it is now causing trouble,” Momo explained. She waved her hand at Katsuki and three more agents came in to restrain him. “We would prefer to not have a repeat of what happened earlier today.”

“Don’t touch me you fucking extras!” Katsuki struggled against the people trying to restrain and handcuff him, though the moment the cuffs were on he gave up the fight and glared daggers at Momo. “How do you even know anything happened? That was only a few hours ago!”

“We need to prove his innocence to send him home, or else we’ll have to take him back to prison. One you won’t get him out of,” Momo said, completely ignoring Katsuki. “Either way, he isn’t staying here.”

Izuku didn’t budge. He appeared to be ready to fight, but wouldn’t attack anyone. A strong sense of restraint was required to keep the anger boiling inside of him at this moment in check, and a stronger one to go to the kitchen and pull something out of a drawer.

He slapped a folder down in Momo’s hand, clearly displeased that he had to do so. He wouldn’t place Katsuki in danger out of stubbornness.

“The papers to show he hired me, and a USB with the footage of the crime being committed.” Izuku glanced at Katsuki, his gaze going soft for a moment, and then glowered at Momo. He waited for Momo to leave, and when she didn’t he crossed his arms. “What?”

Momo looked at Kouta for just a second, and that was all Izuku needed to know that she intended to take everything away from him. His friends, Katsuki, Kouta, and he wouldn’t be surprised if they planned to relocate him immediately after.

“I know the boy is important to you–”

“They’re all important to me!” Izuku yelled at her. He ignored the increasing amounts of people entering the apartment and pointing more and more weapons at him, all standing at the ready to attack should he lash out, and focused his increasing frustration on her. “They’re all important and you’re taking them away! What did I do to make you angry? What did I do to make you do this? They don’t deserve to be arrested, or to have anything bad happen to them!”

“None of them are being arrested,” Momo responded while shaking her head, “they’re simply being taken away from here. Katsuki Bakugou will be returned home, Shouto Todoroki will be released outside of the city and instructed to not return, Mei Hatsume will be given an apartment and a job, Kyouka Jirou will be put back into her previous college and placed in the dorms, Mashirao Ojiro–”

“Don’t put him with his parents,” Izuku warned her.

“We’re putting him with a foster family. We’re aware of his background.” She looked to Kouta again, who seemed to be mildly confused by most of what was happening. “Kouta Izumi will be placed in a safe place.”

The more Izuku heard, the more he slowly calmed. The guilt he was feeling earlier started to wane.

He began to think this might actually be better for everyone. The last thing he needed was for everyone to be in danger simply because they were staying with him. And by the sound of it, they were being given acceptable alternatives to staying with him.

A long stare was given to Katsuki, who had very quickly become the person Izuku thought to turn to for advice during their time together. But he didn’t know if asking Katsuki would be a good idea here.

One of the last things he wanted to hear was Katsuki say that he wanted to go home and never see him again.

Izuku wanted everyone to stay, but none of them belonged in his world. In a world of murderers, thieves, liars, and madness.

They were all normal, and they deserved to live their normal lives. As far away from all of this as possible.

“Do you promise they’ll all be safe?” Izuku asked. From the corner of his eye he could make out Katsuki’s increasing anger, but tried not to think of it for the moment. “I have money to give to Mei and Kyouka, and I’m sure Mei will want some things from her workspace. I don’t want to find out the foster family got rid of Mashirao as soon as he turned eighteen either. You have to prove Kacchan’s innocence so he can go back to his family, and make sure no one gets a hold of Kouta except for you.”

“You maybe want to think about how everyone else fucking feels?” Katsuki shouted at them. He only grew more frustrated by the lack of reaction from either party. “Hey, assholes!”

“Ms. Jirou’s tuition and materials will already be taken care of, if that’s what the money is for.” Momo glanced over her shoulder and waved for someone to take Kouta. “The rest of your terms are accepted.”

She left with that, the rest of her people following her lead and dragging Katsuki and Kouta away.

Izuku watched Katsuki’s glare as he was taken away, and then watched Kouta struggle to free himself from the one who took him. He remained still as stone during this, though his heart ached through the whole ordeal. All the way up until he was the only one left in the room.

Nedzu and Aizawa both always told him making friends would only lead to trouble. That he would end up betraying them or putting them in danger.

He never wanted to believe them, but couldn’t help it anymore.

 


 

Katsuki stared out of the car window, thoroughly annoyed by his current situation. Sent away with Izuku’s approval, stuck in the backseat with Kouta while Momo drove the two them to who knew where.

He didn’t know whether to feel betrayed, relieved, pissed off, freed, frustrated…

There was a myriad of emotions circulating through him. All because of Izuku. Because he wanted to give them a chance, and then he was cast aside without an ounce of consideration for what he wanted or felt.

He never got to confront Izuku about any of it.

That idiot probably thought that he would be better off not being stuck there. That he would be happier forgetting any of them ever existed and returning home as though nothing ever happened.

He would only be partially correct. A part of him always wanted to go home and return to his old life. It wasn’t a terrible one, but not overly exciting either. Certainly not as exciting as being with Izuku was.

Not as fun as Japan was. What with the meeting in the warehouse, the fight in the ballroom, the dancing, the kiss–

Katsuki shook his head as though he disapproved of his own thoughts. He didn’t want to think about those things anymore. There was no point anymore.

Another part of him, somewhere deep inside where he was almost unaware of its existence, wanted to stay with all of them. He had just begun to get along with Kyouka, and had planned to reach out to the others little by little since he thought he would be with them for some time. He had even finally decided to take steps toward ending the feud between Kouta and himself.

Because if they were important to Izuku, then he felt they should hold some modicum of importance to himself.

That was the part that refused to let those thoughts leave him permanently.

He looked over at Kouta and caught the boy staring at him. Kouta’s head quickly turned away to stare out of the other window, trying and failing miserably to appear uninterested in him.

He half expected Kouta to blame him for this in some way. To find some kind of logic or make something up that proved that everything falling apart was his fault. He was almost waiting for it.

The car stopped not long into the drive. They couldn’t be out of the same city Izuku was in yet, but Katsuki noticed the building they had stopped in front of.

He tried to appear unaffected as the alarms rang in his mind, telling him to stop this lady from exiting the vehicle and opening the door next to Kouta.

“You call this somewhere safe?” Katsuki asked her. “If you know what happened today, then you know damn well he isn’t going to be safe here.”

“No, he isn’t. But he won’t be here long,” Momo responded, and then put on her sweetest face for Kouta. “I need you to come with me now, alright?”

Kouta’s brows furrowed instantly at the sight. He didn’t know her all that well, and trusted her about as far as his little arms could throw her.

Katsuki was given a look from Kouta. One that silently questioned whether he should go with her or not. Though the second Kouta faced him, he was also given a look from Momo. One that very obviously demanded his cooperation, nearly the opposite of how she smiled at Kouta.

If he were to be honest, he didn’t trust her all that much either. But the closer he looked, the more he noticed a certain desperation in her eyes.

She wasn’t demanding his cooperation out of anger or impatience. She was silently pleading.

He said he didn’t want to play a part in this.”

That statement was replayed in his mind, along with the realization that she had no other agents or guards around her anymore. Katsuki, no longer handcuffed, could just as easily walk away from her with little to no trouble at all if he so desired.

So maybe she didn’t want to do this either.

The circumstances caused a certain confliction in him. For the first time—perhaps the only time ever—Kouta’s trust was placed solely in him.

This wasn’t someone paying him, or blackmailing him, or expecting him to do his job to the best of his ability. This was simply someone putting their faith in his decision. In him making the right call.

There was a long, awkward pause in which both of them stared at him until a response was given.

“Go on,” Katsuki said with a nod toward the building.

“But–”

“Go.”

Kouta stared at him for a few more seconds, and then hesitantly climbed out of the car and followed Momo.

Katsuki was surprised that Kouta listened to him without much of a fight, but didn’t think anything of it. If he had to guess, it was only because Kouta seemed confused about everything else that was happening and needed someone familiar to him to listen to.

That must have been it.

He watched the pair walk away, until they entered the nearby orphanage, and then turned away to stare out of the window again. When Momo returned and started the car, he waited until they made it around the block before turning his attention on her.

“So what’s the plan for me then? Detained for life? Killed in a horrible accident?”

“There will be an unfortunate accident, yes,” Momo replied after a brief pause.

Katsuki almost sighed. He had no interest in any half-assed attempts on his life. At least when Izuku tried to kill someone, he really thought about it and planned carefully. This felt like something that was just thought of on the fly.

The car pulled over not far from there. She turned it off and made an extremely unconvincing comment about car troubles in the most deadpan tone he had ever heard.

He was insulted that she didn’t feel the need to even try.

She got out of the car and walked around to his side. He was already out and waiting for her by the time she got to him, hands curled up into fists and waiting for her to make a move.

“Tell me, Mr. Bakugou, where do you want to be right now?”

The question caught him off guard. He didn’t expect that from her at all.

Why would she care where he wanted to be? She was the second person to steal him away from somewhere—presumably without remorse—that he actually wanted to be.

He was handcuffed and pulled away, his complaints and arguments ignored the entire time it happened, shoved in a car, and brought here to some random street, and now she cared what he wanted?

“Is that a trick question or what?”

“No,” Momo shoved the evidence of his innocence against his chest, “it’s an actual question. I need to know where you want to be.”

“Why? You planning to kill me or some shit if I answer wrong?” Katsuki clutched the evidence in his hand and crossed his arms. “You better have someone waiting to shoot me somewhere I can’t see, because you got another thing coming if you think I won’t kick your ass for trying to–”

“We don’t have time for this. If you’re going to go home, then get back in the car and let’s go.” Momo slammed the car door shut behind him and stared him dead in the eye. She was in no mood for games of this type, and had little patience for the current situation. “But if you’re going to go back to Izuku, I need you to do two things for me.”

Katsuki cocked his head to the side, and his brow furrowed in confusion. Was she serious?

If she intended to let him go wherever he wanted, then maybe he was right in believing she didn’t want to do any of this.

“…What do you want?”

“Kouta Izumi needs to stay with Izuku. If you go back to him, I ask that you take Kouta with you.”

Katsuki stared at her in disbelief. Was all of this merely another attempt to keep the kid safe now? There had to be something he was missing.

“And?”

Momo studied him, and then took a step back and braced herself. With her eyes closed, arms folded behind her back, and chin high, she told him the next request.

“I need you to punch me in the eye.”

She waited patiently, but when nothing happened after a while she opened her eyes and was met with Katsuki’s utterly bewildered expression.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Izuku is going to end up being steered on a very self destructive path, leading all the way up to his death without some form of support. You and Kouta could be what he needs to keep from being goaded into falling into a darker path–”

“A darker path than killing people for you?” Katsuki interjected. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared her down. “He already told me he doesn’t like to kill people. He never did like it, but–”

“But he does it because it’s all he knows, right?” She sighed and relaxed her stance, sure of the fact that Katsuki wouldn’t do what she had asked of him unless convinced otherwise. “He doesn’t like to kill unless necessary, and he sees it as necessary for the people he cares about and himself to survive. I picked up on that, and preferred he kill criminals who can’t be handled by legal means. I still feel that is significantly better than if he were working for the criminals.”

Katsuki nodded. He could see the merit in that, even if it would be better than him not killing anyone at all.

“I don’t give him any work I feel he may be uncomfortable with because the last thing I want him to do is become a criminal working against us, rather than for us. He could be a very, very big problem. But I try to make sure he doesn’t become a problem at all by making sure he has no reason to become one,” Momo explained.

“At least you have some unselfish desires,” Katsuki commented, and then looked off in the direction of the orphanage. “And what about the others? Deku is going to want everyone back. Not just the two of us.”

“Non-negotiable. I can only do so much under the circumstances.” She took the same stance as before, her eyes closed and arms folded behind her back, and waited for him to strike her. “So what is it going to be?”

Katsuki blinked once, and then again, and gazed down at the ground pensively.

He could go home right now and be done with all of this. None of this was actually any of his problem in the first place. These were all Izuku’s problems, which he got dragged into unwillfully and forced to help deal with.

He could easily leave it all behind right now and return home.

“What are you going to do?” Momo asked again.

A deep breath is inhaled, and then exhaled slowly with his eyes closed.

He knew he would hate himself for this decision later.

Chapter Text

It was too quiet.

There was no one watching TV. No one getting food, or talking, or arguing, moving about the apartment, listening to music, complaining about there being no food, playing games…

Nothing.

Izuku continued to scroll through local news on his phone. He was lying on his back on the couch, head against the armrest and one leg hanging off the side.

If he could find some kind of lead to go off of, he could work his way to them from there. If anyone saw what direction the helicopter flew in, saw where it came from, anything regarding what happened earlier at all.

He pressed the button to lock the screen, placed it on his chest, and then gazed around the apartment. As far as he could tell, there was little to no reason to hang around here anymore.

Staying in one place wouldn’t serve him much of a purpose at this point. There was no one to protect and nothing important here but memories of people that weren’t coming back.

With nothing to keep him here but memories that caused only pain, Izuku got up and moved around the apartment to grab anything he deemed important to hunting down those who have wronged him.

Taking jobs wouldn’t be important, as money wouldn’t be an issue for him anymore. As such, staying in a place where Momo or Tenya could find him easily wasn’t an important thought in his mind. He assumed no one else would bother coming here either. Especially seeing how no one else was allowed to come here anymore.

Finding places to sleep wouldn’t be a big problem. Staying off the grid and not causing any trouble might be a little more difficult, but entirely possible.

Yeah. He could do this.

A full backpack was slung over his shoulder. Confidence was beginning to elevate his mood. More and more his sadness turned into determination. This would be the second time he was starting with almost nothing, and he could make something out of it just like last time.

He refused to be held down so easily. He would come back from this.

 


 

The sound of children yelling and playing outside could be heard from the foyer, where Nedzu waited patiently for an adult to show up.

He had been waiting for some time already, but he was in no particular rush anymore. There were no threats or problems that he could foresee interrupting his business after the fiasco from earlier in the day.

By now Izuku would still be where he was before, or on the move to some other place. Either way he was in the clear. For however long that would last.

Finally someone approached him. It was getting late in the afternoon and he had wondered if anyone would come before the sun started setting.

“Hello, how can I help you?”

Nedzu smiled warmly at them, pulled out a picture of Kouta, and held it out for them.

“I’m looking for a lost child. His name is Kouta Izumi, and this is a picture of him.”

The person shook their head slowly upon seeing the photo. “I’m sorry, someone already came and adopted him. Kouta said he knew them, so I let them go.”

Nedzu stood frozen in place. His smile turned hollow and forced, and with a blink he looked right through the person before him as if they no longer existed.

So Kouta was here at one point. That much was for sure.

“I see. Well, thank you very much for your time.”

He turned on his heels and walked away with that, hands in his pockets and ears shut off to anything else that might have been said. There was a more important place to be now, and one last thing to do before the day ended.

Outside of the orphanage the car he came in was waiting by the curb. He climbed into the backseat, where Snipe was waiting for him, and put his seatbelt on after instructing the driver where to go next.

“Where’s the kid?” Snipe asked.

“Seems we’ve potentially been played.” Nedzu placed his hands on his lap, leaned back in his seat, and closed his eyes. “I was hoping to be done for the day after this, but I suppose you and I will go remedy this situation before I must return to work tomorrow.”

 


 

Katsuki stopped at the corner of the sidewalk and stared down the block. Kouta stopped beside him and looked up at him curiously.

This spot marked the street Izuku’s apartment was on. With each step he took towards the place he felt more apprehension.

He didn’t intend to be sent away without answers. If Izuku didn’t want him there, then Katsuki wanted to be told why. If Izuku didn’t like him, whether in one way or another, he wanted to know that. And if he didn’t have a shot, he wanted to know that there was no point in trying.

But, against his better judgment, he refused to let this rest until he knew for sure that there was absolutely no point anymore.

He needed to know, or it would eat away at him for the rest of his life.

“What are you doing?”

Kouta’s voice brought him back to reality, where he realized he had just been staring down the street at nothing the whole time.

“Nothing.” Katsuki pushed Kouta forward with a hand on his head and continued down the sidewalk. “Just thinking.”

“Oh.” Kouta looked down at the ground, slowly pushed Katsuki’s hand off of his head, and put his hands in his pockets. “I’ve been thinking too. Can I ask you a question?”

“Whatever,” Katsuki responded absentmindedly.

His disinterest was obvious, as he expected something either entirely irrelevant or some sort of slight at him. Although he noticed from the corner of his eye the way Kouta studied him.

It was in a similar fashion to the way Izuku would scrutinize him whenever trying to glean something from his body language. Close enough to the point that Katsuki would almost question if Izuku taught him the look.

The lack of interest was replaced with a curiosity that seemed out of place for Katsuki. He had been caught up in his own thoughts, but Kouta’s sudden change in mannerisms had begun to catch his eye.

While a refreshing change of pace from the usual anger induced rants, silent glares, and outright avoidance, it was somewhat unsettling when Katsuki realized that Kouta was coming to him for help. Something he didn’t think would ever happen.

Come to think of it, Kouta actually hadn’t done a single rude thing to him all day long. Though it could simply be a cause of all the trouble he’d gone through today. As such, Katsuki expected him to likely be back to normal in a few days time.

“Hey!”

Katsuki shook his head to clear his thoughts. It was annoying how much these two were getting in his head.

“Sorry, runt. What did you ask?”

“I said, do you think Izuku is my real dad?”

The question caused Katsuki’s gaze to bolt forward and his eyes to widen a fraction. That was the last thing he’d expected to be asked, and the last thing he wanted to answer for Kouta.

Katsuki was no liar. It was something he tried to avoid doing as much as humanly possible. However he didn’t want to out Izuku. Doing so would be an easy way to make sure Izuku really didn’t want to see him again.

He needed something to say though. Kouta was staring him down with that analytical gaze that reminded him so much of Izuku. He was seeing more of Izuku in the kid than he wanted to admit, whether Kouta was doing it on purpose or not.

“Legally I’m your dad now,” Katsuki answered, "since I adopted you."

He didn’t want to ignite Kouta’s ire, but that was his best chance at getting the subject dropped. To say something that would no doubt piss him off would drive him away from the conversation right away.

Though the statement evidently seemed to have no effect on him, much to Katsuki’s dismay. Kouta simply looked forward again, with very little displeasure on his face. At worst he seemed mildly annoyed that Katsuki dodged the question.

“You know what I meant.” Kouta knew Katsuki was smart enough to realize what he was asking, and wouldn’t take that for an answer. “Like, is he my real dad? Or do you think someone else is?”

“Why the fuck are you asking me this?” Katsuki asked incredulously. Last he checked, Kouta wanted to kill him just to get rid of him. “Don’t you hate me and shit?”

There was a long pause. Katsuki believed—hoped—that Kouta would come to his senses and realize who he was talking to. That the subject would be dropped entirely, and it would no longer be his problem. This wasn’t something he was prepared to deal with.

He was even less prepared for Kouta’s next statement. It caught him more off guard than the earlier question, and threw him for a loop entirely.

“I don’t hate you,” Kouta muttered.

His voice was quiet, to the point one would assume he might not want to be heard, but Katsuki managed to hear him loud and clear nevertheless.

The words almost made him stop in his tracks, but thankfully Kouta didn’t appear to notice the hesitation in his stride.

It shouldn’t mean anything that some kid, who he thought hated him down to the very core, was beginning to open up to him. But for some reason those words struck a chord in him.

Katsuki actually didn’t know how to respond. It led to a somewhat awkward silence between the two the rest of the way to the apartment.

At the very least he could appreciate that Kouta didn’t bring up the previous subject.

 


 

Momo unlocked the door to her home, though there was no familiar click of the bolt lock coming undone. She closed her eyes and sighed quietly, already knowing who was waiting for her inside.

The door was pushed open and she entered, glancing around the entryway to her house. The lights in her dining room were on, though she knew she always turned all the lights off whenever she left.

“I suppose you’re here about the child,” Momo said aloud. She couldn’t see them from here, but knew at least one of them were there. She walked through the living room and to the dining room, where she stopped short of the table he was sitting at and stood with her hands on her hips.

Nedzu continued typing on his phone, nonchalantly answering emails that required his attention. He wasn’t concerned about her presence in the least, even though he appeared to be alone in the room.

“Welcome home. I hope your day has gone well.” His fingers tapped away for another few seconds until he was done, and then looked up at her. “Yes, I am here because you have failed to fulfill your role concerning Kouta Izumi.”

Momo glanced around the room, and then stared him down. She didn’t believe he had come here alone, or else she would feel more than free to attempt to dig deeper into his relationship with Izuku. Unless she knew for sure there was no one else around to endanger her, she wouldn’t push his buttons.

“I had a bit of trouble of the unruly variety,” Momo stated, and then pointed at her black eye. “Courtesy of Katsuki Bakugou.”

Nedzu studied her eye as though it would revert to normality under his gaze. It concerned Momo somewhat that he didn’t seem all that convinced by her story, so she continued.

“It seems he cares for Kouta in some capacity, given all the trouble he went through to make sure you didn’t abscond with the child.” She pulled out a chair, sat down across from him, and folded her arms on the table. “He had some… reservations with me leaving Kouta in an orphanage. So he went and took Kouta back, despite my efforts to convince him not to.”

“He doesn’t care for the child that much. Aizawa informed me of what interactions he heard between the two. Kouta absolutely despises him, and Katsuki is not too fond of him in return,” Nedzu explained, shaking his head with a knowing smile. “Katsuki is extremely prideful. Regardless of whether he cares for a person or not, he will do his best simply for the sake of doing his best to do his job. And that meant not letting us escape with what we wanted under any circumstance. Apparently that included stopping you from acquiring Kouta for us.”

“Then perhaps something happened that changed the relationship between–”

“Or perhaps,” Nedzu interjected, “you care for them more than I thought you did. Perhaps you convinced Katsuki to go back, because I find it hard to believe he escaped someone as intelligent as yourself so easily.”

Momo sat in silence, trying to think of something to say quickly. The longer she didn’t respond, the more guilty she seemed.

She thought the black eye would be enough, given Katsuki’s inherently violently nature. That saying Katsuki went back for Kouta and returned to Izuku would be enough. But evidently Nedzu knew more about them than even she did.

Or maybe he only knew more about Kouta’s relationships in particular…

“When Eijirou Kirishima offhandedly mentioned that I was the second government aligned person to come to him about Katsuki and Izuku, I thought that was rather curious. And then when I found out it was you that visited the area recently, I looked at your file. It is quite impressive. So forgive my having trouble believing he escaped someone as accomplished yourself.” Nedzu pulled out a folder and flipped through the pages inside, which detailed all of Momo’s past achievements. “I also find it hard to believe he would forego his best chance at returning to a life he was working toward returning to just to go back to where he does not wish to be.”

“And the relationship between Izuku and Katsuki? Are you sure we know everything concerning them?”

Nedzu’s head tilted ever so slightly, indicating his interest was piqued.

“You did say they’ve been together for quite some time,” Nedzu said aloud to himself.

He mused over the thought of them somehow becoming friends, remembering how Izuku used to be sickeningly sweet despite their best efforts to remove that aspect of his personality.

There was a chance that could draw people in. Which would also explain why he had so many people around him, rather than it just being Chiyo and him.

“Okay,” Nedzu said as he hopped out of his chair and pushed it in, apparently satisfied with this new angle to look at. “You’ve convinced me for now.”

Momo watched him walk past, thankful that worked. She was even more thankful when she turned in her chair and spotted Snipe standing a few feet behind her.

“I’ll keep you in mind for any future services I may need regarding these issues in particular,” Nedzu said on his way through the living room with Snipe right behind him. “Until then, I have other issues that require my attention. I trust you will uphold the utmost discretion should you ever speak of us.”

Momo stayed in her seat until she heard her front door shut, and then let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

She did not look forward to the next time they met.

 


 

Izuku stood in front of the open door, in the same stunned silence as before, as his backpack dropped to the floor.

He could hardly believe his eyes.

“Why…?”

His voice was hardly above a whisper, but Katsuki heard him.

That was the second time Izuku had opened the door at the same moment Katsuki was reaching for it. The second time Katsuki took a long walk to come back and be greeted by Izuku’s shocked face.

“I should be asking you that, shithead.” Katsuki pushed past him for the second time that day, followed closely by Kouta.

“I thought they were taking you home?” Izuku glanced down at Kouta, equally in disbelief by his presence as well. “What are you doing here? Why did you come back? I–”

“You what?” Katsuki interrupted him angrily. “You wanted to–”

Katsuki stopped his rant short, feeling the anger welling up at the mere sight of Izuku.

The entire way here he had thought about almost nothing besides getting Izuku to answer his questions. However, he wanted to explode now that he finally had the chance to let it out. To yell and prove Izuku wrong.

But a cursory glance showed Kouta watching them, waiting for whatever was going to happen. The thought of any progress he’d made with Kouta earlier being torn to shreds the second he went off stopped his rant short.

He refused to go all the way back to step one with the kid. There was no way he was going right back to Kouta trying to kill him to protect Izuku. Not after everything he’d gone through just to make sure Kouta was safe and sound.

Izuku followed the line of sight of Katsuki’s quick glance, and realized why he had stopped. He didn’t understand why Kouta would suddenly be the reason that Katsuki would hold back, but didn’t question it at the time.

“Why don’t you head to your room for a bit while I talk to Katsuki?”

Kouta stared at him, but didn’t budge. He seemed to be debating on whether or not he should listen before he looked to the side nervously.

“I want to ask you something.”

“Later,” Katsuki responded for him.

Kouta took a step toward them. “But–!”

Later,” Katsuki repeated more forcefully. “Go lock your window and door and wait for us. Don’t open it for anyone.

Kouta pursed his lips, but thought better of trying to argue with both of them at the same time. He went to go do as he was told, but not without slamming his door from frustration.

The second he was gone, Katsuki grabbed Izuku’s arm and jerked him toward the door. Izuku pulled against his grasp half-heartedly, but resigned to being taken for the time being.

“Where are we going?”

Katsuki didn’t answer, which was something that frightened Izuku a little. He expected to be yelled at, maybe threatened or called names. Silence was not what he had come to expect from Katsuki’s anger. He couldn’t tell if it was a good sign, or a very, very bad sign.

Once they were outside of the building, Katsuki continued to drag him right into the middle of the street. Only there did he finally release his grip and face Izuku.

“If you’re trying to intimidate me, it isn’t working.”

Only a half lie. He was somewhat intimidated, but not enough to cave just yet.

“No, I’m not going to bother trying to scare you, you fucking moron.” Katsuki stared Izuku in the eyes, trying to decide what exactly he wanted to do. “I brought you here so the gremlin wouldn’t hear us, and then halfway here I thought maybe I’ll just kick your ass. But you know what? That doesn’t get us anywhere. So I’m going to tell you all the reasons you’re a piece of shit fucking dumbass instead.”

“I think I’d prefer if you hit me instead,” Izuku said, the reluctance to be here in his tone clear as day.

“I’d rather do that too. That’s a whole lot easier than talking about shit. But I can’t kick your ass every time you do something wrong. It isn’t good for you, it isn’t good for me, and it isn’t good for the people who care about you.” Katsuki crossed his arms and tilted his head. “You know, all the people you just shipped off to different places without any explanation at all.”

Izuku rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. “I planned to go tell them all why that happened later.”

“Yeah? When? After you ran off and got yourself killed?” Katsuki pressed on, his voice getting louder with each question. “What did you plan to tell Kouta when you never saw him again? Or Mashirao when he was shoved into a completely different family where he didn’t know anyone?”

Izuku shrunk away as Katsuki got louder. “I don’t plan on getting killed…”

“And I didn’t plan on being brought here! But here I am!” Katsuki shouted at him with a stomp of his foot. His hands were now fists at his sides, his teeth bared, and glare fixed on Izuku’s avoidant gaze. “I didn’t plan on being sent away when I wanted to fucking stay! Things don’t always go according to a goddamn plan!”

Izuku’s gaze moved to him, surprised by what Katsuki was saying.

“You wanted to stay?” Izuku’s nervousness and discomfort were completely replaced with bewilderment. “Why? I let them take you–”

“Because you thought I didn’t want to be here. Because you thought I’d be happier if I never saw you again. Well you know what?”

Katsuki paused as his next words came to mind. Words he wanted to say in the heat of the moment.

You were right.

But he knew better. Katsuki’s anger was second nature to him. So much so that he knew how to keep a semi-clear head even when fogged by utter rage.

“You’re fucking wrong.”

His chest ached at the thought of never seeing Izuku again. It utterly baffled him that he couldn’t walk away as easily as he should be able to.

There was just something about Izuku that drew Katsuki to him. Something beyond the exciting lifestyle and caring nature that Katsuki couldn’t bring himself to abandon so effortlessly.

“I don’t understand,” Izuku said quietly, which Katsuki could relate to right now. “I’ve done so much wrong. Why would you want to stay? I thought you would want to get away from here at the first chance you got. The chance showed up, so I pushed you to it.”

What he was saying was true. Izuku had lied to him in the past, killed people to frame him, blackmailed him, forced him to stay here against his will.

Katsuki knew he should hate him so intensely that he should be able to kill Izuku and walk away with the evidence to prove his innocence, all without batting an eyelash.

But Izuku also did everything in his power to make up for everything as much as he could. To get what was needed of him while making it all as painless as possible.

He went out of his way to try to make things right wherever possible, even at the expense of his own health, and showed that he cared so deeply when he didn’t need to do any of that.

Izuku could have easily treated him like a tool. He could have been cold and distant, only speaking to him when necessary and not giving two shits about his wants or needs. But he was warm and inviting in a way that he didn’t have to be.

All the times Izuku could have hurt him, maybe even killed him, and he never did. All the times Izuku could have made things so much worse, he was instead extremely careful not to.

“You’re so smart, but you still manage to be so fucking stupid.” Katsuki shook his head slowly, and then moved closer to Izuku. “You’re so perceptive, but you’re still so fucking blind. Do you really not understand why I came back?

Izuku stared right through him, almost completely lost in thought. He didn’t notice Katsuki move closer as he looked at the ground, trying to understand why Katsuki would want to stay. He tried desperately to find the logic, to find the evidence that would explain why Katsuki came back.

What he didn’t seem to understand was that there wasn’t always logic or reasoning behind feelings and emotions. A connection formed between two people could transcend all rational thought, or be fueled by even the smallest of things, just as easily as a connection could be broken.

No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t find the logic in Katsuki’s decisions. Because there didn’t need to be any.

Katsuki’s face filled his vision as the hand on his chin jerked his head up. He hadn’t realized that Katsuki had gotten so close while he was preoccupied with his own thoughts.

“Stop muttering to yourself. Just stop fucking thinking for two seconds and look at me,” Katsuki demanded. His voice was tamer than before, but filled with impatience. “Do you really not understand? Is the reason why I’m here not even a possibility to you?”

Izuku truly couldn’t understand. It was frustrating, to say the least, and the only thing that drove him more mad than not knowing the answer was being so close to Katsuki that it gave him goosebumps. He felt like Katsuki was deliberately using his attraction to–

…His attraction.

“You maybe want to think about how everyone else fucking feels?”

He searched for the answer in Katsuki’s eyes. Something he hadn’t thought to do at any point today.

If Izuku had to describe them, he would say Katsuki’s eyes were normally two raging infernos trapped inside of a sharp, intense gaze. But right now, strangely enough, he would say they looked more like candlelit flames, inviting him to bask in their warm, soft stare.

A chill ran down his spine as Katsuki’s face moved closer.

Izuku could tell Katsuki was hesitant. There was something that he wanted besides a response from Izuku. Something that he was afraid to pursue.

The realization brought a possibility to mind. One Izuku considered so far fetched that he couldn’t believe it without confirmation.

“Kacchan,” Izuku murmured, “do you… Are you in lo–”

“I can’t wait anymore!”

Both of their heads snapped in the direction of the new voice. Katsuki’s heart sank at the sight of Kouta standing on the sidewalk, staring the pair down with clenched fists.

It was a sight that indicated all of the courage he had built up through this conversation, and all of the anger he pushed through to get to this moment, would be for naught.

He was ready to confess his feelings, ready to take the chance and see if Izuku truly felt the same, and now this was happening.

“Kouta, don’t–”

“No!” Kouta cut Katsuki off, “I need to know!”

This had been eating at his mind all day long, tearing away at the curtains that hid the memories of two people he hadn’t seen in so long. He could vaguely remember their faces, almost remember the names that rested on the tip of his tongue. Names he was too young to pronounce back then, but seemed to remember somewhere deep inside.

But, while he was locked in his room, he remembered something else he used to call them. Something that turned his whole world upside down and sent the sanctuary of his own ignorance crashing down around him.

He called one ‘Mama’, and the other ‘Papa’.

He turned his pained stare to Izuku. Looking at someone he loved so deeply made it nearly impossible to believe that they had done something so horrible. But he had to know the truth. He had to get to the bottom of it.

“Did you kill my parents?”

Chapter Text

The silence was unbearable. It showed their hesitance to answer, which already told Kouta what he needed to know. More so than the look of silent panic on Izuku’s face.

“Why would you think that?” Izuku asked, stepping away from Katsuki and turning his full attention to the distraught boy.

“They told me. They told me when they tried to take me away and Katsuki saved me.” Kouta stomped his foot out of anger and pointed at Izuku. “And they were right, weren’t they? I can barely remember my parents, but I can! And neither of them are you! That’s why we have different last names, isn’t it?! Nedzu said so!”

“Kouta, you shouldn’t trust anything they say. You saw what they did here. They would say anything to get you to go with them. To get you away from me,” Izuku said. He started walking toward Kouta, but stopped when Kouta backed away with every step he took.

“And you would say anything to keep me, wouldn’t you? Even if it’s a lie.” Kouta looked down at the ground for a brief second as a thought popped into his head. “That’s why you let the other people take me, isn’t it? Because you knew that I knew the truth–”

“No!” Izuku interjected.

His shout made Kouta jump, but he only partially regretted doing so. He wouldn’t let Kouta maintain that train of thought.

He had no idea Kouta had any of this in mind. He didn’t understand how his former mentors had even learned of that. It was something only three people knew of, not including himself.

“I would never turn against you. I never have, and I never will. I would never hurt you under any circumstance. If I do something, it means it’s because I believe it’s what’s best for you. Don’t ever think otherwise,” Izuku explained. He could feel himself on the verge of tears, hurt by the fact that he couldn’t stop this problem before it got to the point that Kouta no longer trusted him. “I love you too much to do anything less than my best for you.”

“Then answer the question,” Kouta demanded, “and tell me the truth. Promise me you didn’t kill them.”

Izuku stood up straight and took a deep breath. He could see there would be no getting around this. Kouta knew he didn’t break promises. If he tried to answer without a promise, Kouta would distrust him instantly.

He could try to shift the blame, or change the subject, or anything else. Nothing was going to get him out of this. Nothing was going to stop what he tried to hold off for as long as possible.

Izuku looked over his shoulder at Katsuki. He didn’t think Katsuki could do anything to remedy this, but if there was anything he would welcome it with open arms.

Katsuki appeared to want to stop this as well. It was clear he did want to do something, but this was not his fight. There was nothing for him to do here.

Izuku turned back to Kouta and decided he would have to admit to it. Regardless of his reluctance to have this conversation, or his desire to protect Kouta from the truth until he thought the boy was ready, he was backed into a corner with which there was no escape.

“Yes. I killed them.”

Kouta didn’t appear surprised in the slightest. He had already put it together some time ago. All he wanted was Izuku’s confession. Now that he had it, he could state his ultimatum without any hesitance.

“Then you have to help me find them,” Kouta said, “or else I never want to see you again.”

Another heavy silence ensued, followed by Izuku cocking his head to the side with furrowed brows.

“Find them? What do you mean?”

“Don’t play stupid!” Kouta shouted at him. “They might still be looking for me. I have to meet them, so we have to find them. You’re going to help me.”

Izuku couldn’t be any more confused. How would they be looking for him? What was Kouta trying to tell him right now?

“Kouta, I don’t understand,” Izuku responded with a slow shake of his head.

“They can’t look for you,” Katsuki said. “They aren’t alive anymore.”

“Are you both dumb or something?” Kouta questioned, his frustration with their lack of cooperation clear as can be. “When you kill someone they go somewhere else, right? Or they’re just asleep for a long time. That means they’re still out there and we can find them, wherever they are.”

Izuku’s heart skipped a beat. He had forgotten that, in all his efforts to avoid exposing Kouta to death, Kouta had never learned what it truly meant for someone to die. He had never learned what it was that Izuku actually did to people.

It made so much more sense now. Kouta tried to kill Katsuki because he didn’t fully understand what that actually entailed. He thought it would have sent Katsuki somewhere else, or knocked him unconscious for an extended period of time.

He wanted a gun because he didn’t realize the true consequences of using one.

Kouta tried to be more like him because he didn’t understand the things Izuku did was so wrong. Not because Kouta admired him too much to ever think he could do any wrong.

He could understand now why it was so hard to keep Kouta from emulating him too much.

Izuku glanced at Katsuki, and was met with an ‘Are you serious?’ look that made him go cold.

He covered his face with his hand, sighed tiredly, and then looked at Kouta once more. There was no doubt in his mind that explaining this would be far, far worse than admitting to what he had done.

The most positive outcome Izuku expected of this would be Kouta’s eternal hatred. That Kouta would want to leave and never see him again. At least then there would be no sense of betrayal if he sent Kouta off with Momo again for safekeeping.

The worst outcome…

There were too many for Izuku to pick one.

“That’s not how it works, Kouta,” Izuku finally responded sadly. He thought about his words carefully, trying to word his explanation in a way that wouldn’t cause any confusion. “When someone is killed, when they’re no longer alive, they don’t come back. They aren’t somewhere else in the world, and they aren’t just asleep. They’re buried underground in graves, and we don’t get to see them anymore.”

Izuku waited for some type of outburst, denial, or opposition. Something that indicated Kouta didn’t believe him. But all he got from Kouta was a vacant stare with a couple of blinks. It almost looked like Kouta didn’t comprehend anything that he had just said.

Kouta looked down at his boots to process the information. “Then they’re gone? I can never see my mom or dad?”

Neither of them answered, though their unwillingness to say anything was an answer in and of itself. It meant exactly what Kouta wished was a horrible lie, a terrible joke, or a bad dream.

“No, that’s…” Kouta glared daggers at Izuku with tears forming in his eyes. “…that’s what you’ve been doing to people all this time?”

“Kouta–”

“Is that why you wouldn’t let me watch you with Kyouka when you were out sometimes?” Kouta’s fists were clenched so tight now that they were shaking. A steady stream of tears flowed freely down his face as his voice cracked with a mixture of pain, rage, and sorrow. “Because you didn’t want me to see the things you did to my parents?!”

Izuku listened to Kouta’s tirade, his heart filled to the brim with a sorrow of his own. He never wanted to get to this point. He wanted to tell Kouta one day, but not while he was still too young to handle it.

Seeing Kouta start to break down before him brought forth tears of his own. But what hurt him most—more than seeing Kouta like this, and more than knowing he was the cause of it—was that he couldn’t do anything at all to ease Kouta’s quickly intensifying pain.

If Kouta wouldn’t listen to him, or let him close, then he could do nothing to soothe the unbridled rage that was tearing the boy up from the inside out.

“Kouta, please listen,” Izuku tried, his voice almost as strained as Kouta’s.

No! This whole time I’ve been listening to your lies and trusting you!”

Kouta tore the hat off of his head—the one Izuku had given him so long ago—and threw it at him. It was followed immediately by the BB gun hitting Izuku square in the chest, and then dropping to the ground at Izuku’s feet.

“I’ve believed you were my dad, and that everyone here was my family, when you’ve probably never cared about me! I bet you stole me for your own selfish reasons and killed them when they tried to stop you! And what about everyone else? Did you kill Mashirao’s parents too? Or Mei, or Kyouka? Have you been forcing everyone to stay here like you did to Katsuki?!”

“None of that is true!” Izuku shouted back. He placed his hand over his heart and took a step forward. “I swore I would take care of you the second I realized what I had done! I care about all of you, and I only want to give you the best that I can.”

“Then give me my real family back! Give me my parents back!” Kouta yelled through a choked sob. His eyes squeezed shut and he could no longer hear anything other than his own voice. “Give them back, give them back, give them back, give them back–!”

He kept going, repeating the demand until he completely ran out of breath and could yell no more. Both Izuku and Katsuki tried to get his attention, but his ears refused to hear them over his own voice.

After a gasp for air, he screamed his final words at the top of his lungs before running down the sidewalk away from the two.

“I hate you!”

It was a stab in the heart to Izuku. Both to hear those words and to watch him run away. One that didn’t simply pierce him, but twisted the knife slowly and painfully.

He had never seen Kouta even remotely close to a breakdown of that magnitude. Never had Kouta screamed at him like that, or cried his eyes out in such a way.

And he had most definitely never told Izuku that he hated him.

“Deku.”

He reasoned that it was his own fault this happened. This was what a life of killing brought him. A life doing something he disliked so much already, and he was punished even further for it.

“Deku.”

Even though he had made it clear when taking jobs that he would turn down anything that required harming parents of young children or innocent people in general. Those were his rules, and because someone made him cross them–

“Deku!”

Izuku blinked after Katsuki shook him back to reality with a hand on each shoulder.

How long was he standing there? How far did Kouta get?

“I have to find him,” Izuku murmured, his eyes wide as he stared right through Katsuki. “I have to… I can’t let him just run off on his own–”

“Shut up,” Katsuki said, and then shook him again to make sure he was listening. “He’s just going to run and fight if you go after him, dumbass. I’ll get him, but I need you to not do anything stupid. Got it?”

“He’ll do the same thing with you though!” Izuku placed a hand on his head, trying to think of what to do in this scenario. He couldn’t go get Kouta, he couldn’t send Katsuki, there was no one else–

“No, he won’t.” Katsuki covered Izuku’s mouth with his hand when Izuku tried to protest further. “He’ll listen to me. I just need you to shut up and go the fuck away.”

Izuku, unaware of the rapidly growing trust between Katsuki and Kouta, had his doubts about Katsuki’s ability to get Kouta to return peacefully. But it would be reasonable at this point to believe that Kouta probably hated Katsuki far, far less than him now.

Izuku nodded, slowly and silently. He picked up Kouta’s hat and BB gun, and stared at both sadly.

“I get it. He’s pissed off, and hurt, and confused. And I know it’s probably killing you inside right now, and I don’t know how it feels for either of you because I’ve never dealt with shit like this before, but I need you to trust me,” Katsuki tried one last time. “ I don’t know how yet, but I’m going to bring him to you and you’re both going to talk. Then we’re both going to stay with you whether you fucking like it or not. Just let me try to bring him back, without you watching us or stalking us or some shit, and without having to drag him kicking and screaming first.”

Izuku, with no other option readily available, relented to Katsuki’s plan. He nodded once more, and with a quiet ‘Okay’ he backed away and left for the apartment.

Katsuki stood there until Izuku was inside the building and out of sight, and then whirled around and walked in the direction Kouta had run off in.

Truth be told, he was also pretty pissed off that Kouta stabbed Izuku in the heart and twisted the blade endlessly like that. He didn’t ever want to see Izuku that hurt.

Though he also understood that it wasn’t Kouta’s fault, despite how any of the three of them might feel about the matter. He was young and didn’t yet know how to hold himself back. Emotional control was not a skill Katsuki expected, nor demanded, from the boy.

The situation sucked all together. Izuku and Kouta were both hurt beyond belief, and Katsuki volunteered yet again to deal with another problem that was not his own.

Yet he couldn’t help but feel that it somehow was his problem now. That, because he was foolish enough to care for these two, he couldn’t let them destroy each other like this.

They needed each other, whether they realized that or not, and Katsuki refused to idly sit by and let them fall apart. Especially not when it would be exactly what Izuku’s enemies would no doubt want.

Katsuki wouldn’t let those guys have this win either.

 


 

Although Katsuki had to do some searching, it didn't take too long to find Kouta. It helped when he got close enough to hear the loud wailing.

Kouta was seated on the curb of the sidewalk, knees up to his chest and head buried in his arms. It was a sad sight to see, to say the least. Katsuki was used to seeing the boy with so much fight in him. Not looking like this.

He stood at a distance for a moment, staring at Kouta’s back and thinking of how to go about this. Kids were not something he had dealt with on the regular before he came here, and people who hired him never wanted emotional support. They simply wanted to not be killed.

He sighed and moved forward to sit on the curb next to Kouta. Although he still wasn't entirely sure what to do here, he reasoned that it would be better to let Kouta know that someone was here for him.

That’s what people in a shitty mood wanted, right? For someone else to be there with them?

He hoped that was right.

Kouta either didn't notice his presence, or didn't care that he was there at all, from what he could tell. There was no change in his demeanor or position when Katsuki sat next to him.

They sat like that for longer than Katsuki cared to keep track of. Long enough that Kouta’s sobs, while not becoming any quieter, began to get interrupted by hiccups every so often. A sign that he had been going for far too long.

Katsuki glanced down at him for a moment, and then looked forward again. “You’re going to throw up if you keep going.”

The comment actually made Kouta stop, but a couple of seconds was all he could manage before he was right back to weeping, sniffling, and hiccuping. It wasn’t until Kouta started coughing that Katsuki finally reached over and hesitantly started rubbing his hand along Kouta’s back.

He’d hoped pointing that fact out would be enough to make Kouta stop. A warning that would get him to try to calm himself before it got worse. But it was becoming apparent that wasn’t going to work, so he would have to take another approach.

Katsuki rubbed in small, soothing circles. The way he remembered his father and mother used to do to him if he ever cried uncontrollably for any reason.

The action seemed to work somewhat. As far as he could tell Kouta appeared to calm a little. Enough to look up at Katsuki and speak through the hiccups, sobs, and occasional gasps for air.

“W-wh-what d-do you wa-want?”

Katsuki could have answered that in any number of ways. He could have said he was here to calm him down, to take him back, to make sure he didn’t run away from home or get hurt, or a multitude of other things. But he decided to look at this differently and realized something.

This wasn’t some kid that needed to be reigned in and forced back into what made him break down like this in the first place. This wasn’t an object that needed to be put back in its place, or a pet that needed to learn submission and be trained to do what others wanted.

This was a person. Child or not, this was another human being who had feelings and emotions just like him.

Kouta was very obviously extremely overwhelmed by those feelings, which was something Katsuki could relate to from his younger days, and it would do no good to exacerbate them further. Doing so would only serve to make matters worse, which was the exact opposite of why Katsuki was here.

Katsuki breathed in, and let out a long, quiet sigh as he thought about that. He had since been treating Kouta as all of those other things, and it wasn’t until now that he realized how much of a mistake that was.

He tried to imagine if this were Denki or Eijirou, and truly thought about what Kouta needed in that moment.

“You don’t have to say a word until you’re ready, but I’m not going anywhere until you do,” Katsuki said. He ignored the disgust he felt at seeing Kouta’s snot covered, tear streaked face. This was no time to worry about dignity or cleanliness. “I’m just going to sit here until you’re ready to talk.”

Kouta stared at him, his bottom lip quivering as he tried to hold in his sobs, hiccuped again, and then returned to his previous position. The subsequent fit of crying was nowhere near as bad as it once was, but he continued like that for another few minutes.

Katsuki rubbed his back some more, not entirely sure if it was helping or not.

He hoped it was, or that Kouta would ask him to stop if it wasn’t. But from the sound of it, Kouta was slowly and surely beginning to settle down.

After what felt like an eternity of sitting here, Kouta’s sobs died down slowly. They grew less violent until there was just sniffling and hiccuping with quiet whines.

Katsuki glanced down at Kouta from the corners of his eyes after noticing that Kouta had begun to rock back and forth, his head still buried in his arms and arms still on his knees.

He had a feeling that telling stories wouldn’t remedy this issue.

Kouta muttered something, his voice so quiet and muffled that Katsuki didn’t know if it was meant for him to hear or not. He hesitated to ask Kouta to repeat himself, but when he did he almost sighed yet again at the question.

“Why are you trying so hard for people you hate?”

It was something he had asked himself multiple times before. The answer always ended up being the same, which no one, including himself, seemed to understand most of the time.

Katsuki took his hand off of Kouta’s back and placed his arms on his knees. He intertwined his fingers as his arms rested on his knees and his hands hovered in the air ahead of them. His gaze remained fixed on the street at their feet as he spoke.

“Because I don’t hate you, dumbass.” He caught sight through his peripheral of Kouta looking up at him, but kept staring forward. “You piss me off a lot, you’re a total brat, and you really know how to get under my fucking skin and drive me nuts, but I don’t hate you.”

The look on Kouta’s face said a lot about the considerable lack of communication that Katsuki realized was present. Not just between Izuku and himself, but between Kouta and himself as well.

This kid had very likely been going around thinking Katsuki was his sworn enemy, or something similar to that. He probably thought Katsuki spent his days thinking of ways to get back at him, or to screw with him in some way.

But Katsuki was never interested in any of that. The fight was entirely one sided, because Katsuki never had any intention of fighting this kid.

He had learned the hard way that going out and looking for fights only led to more trouble than one would want.

“I’ve been so t-terrible to you, and you…” Kouta’s arms tightened around his head and he curled further into himself, as though doing so would cause his shaking body to somehow collapse into itself and make him disappear. “You never did anything b-bad to me. You never hurt me b-back. I don’t get it. I don’t get w-why you never fought b-back.”

Kouta paused to look up at Katsuki. He wiped at the snot and tears covering his face with his sleeve and stared at Katsuki, who looked back at him calmly and waited for him to finish.

“You s-saved me. You r-risked your life for me, and fought all of them for m-me, and c-carried me all the way home, and got me out of that p-place that the girl left me in.” Kouta looked down at his shaking hands as he thought about the things he did to Katsuki, when Katsuki had done nothing but try to take care of him. “B-but I tried to kill you. I almost did to y-you what Izuku does to other people. I…”

Kouta wouldn’t look at him. His gaze was stuck on his shaking hands, and he felt worse and worse the more he thought about what he would have done to Katsuki because of his own ignorance.

Until a hand on the top of his head forced him to look away. To look directly at Katsuki, where Katsuki’s calm face betrayed the underlying mixture of anger and concern in his eyes.

“I didn’t go after you because you’re a stupid kid, just like when I was younger and a total dumbass that bullied people. If you were an adult acting the way that you did when we met, I would’ve put your ass in the ground without a second thought.” Katsuki wiped away another tear running down Kouta’s cheek with his thumb, and then looked forward again. “But you’re a kid. You didn’t deserve a single fucking thing that happened to you today. I’m still pretty pissed that you had to go through all of it, just to end up a fucking mess right here. It isn’t fair at all, but fairness seems to be a hell of a thing to ask for these days.”

The thought of them not only trying to kidnap Kouta, but causing this as well just because they couldn’t, ignited something fierce inside of Katsuki. They had crossed a line that told him there was very little they would stop at to fulfill their goals

Where he previously had little care for Izuku killing them or not, and didn’t particularly care to try to talk Izuku out of it, he now had a desire of his own to get rid of these guys one way or another.

To make sure Izuku got the justice he so desired. To make sure Kouta never had to worry about them again, and that they could never do anything like this to him again.

And if for nothing else, then to make sure they never cause another moment like this to anyone else.

“I get that you tried to kill me. I thought you knew what you were doing, but apparently you didn’t. That’s why I’ve always been on guard around you, but you know not to ever do that shit again now, right? Not to anyone.

Kouta nodded vigorously in response, and then hugged Katsuki. His face was buried in Katsuki’s side, which instantly started to become wet with the steady flow of tears running down his face once again.

“I-I’m sorry. I’ll n-never do it again,” Kouta agreed, his voice muffled by Katsuki’s shirt.

Katsuki wrapped one arm around him and lightly hugged him back. He tried to sound casual about it, thankful that Kouta couldn’t see the melancholic expression he had.

“Yeah, yeah. I already forgave you a while ago, so don’t get your underwear in a knot over it.”

Katsuki felt like he needed to hurry up and end this before the kid really got to him. He was starting to care way too much for his liking, and it was getting pretty dark out anyway.

“You know we have to go back to Deku soon, right?”

Kouta didn’t answer, which only told Katsuki of his reluctance to tackle the issue.

It was understandable, given the freshness of that wound, but Katsuki gave his word that he would return with Kouta one way or another. He wanted to keep this current streak of convincing people going, especially now that he had realized how he should have been treating Kouta this whole time.

He felt like he would be taking two steps back by forcing Kouta to go where he didn’t want to be. But for this matter specifically, he would resort to that if need be.

Still, he would try to take a diplomatic approach right now while the chance for its success was still there.

“I don’t know what your parents did to get someone to want them dead, and you didn’t deserve to lose them, but you have to understand something.” Katsuki ruffled Kouta’s hair gently, then splayed his fingers through Kouta’s hair and rubbed his head soothingly. “Deku didn’t have to do shit for you. He told me a little about what happened with your parents, and he felt really terrible about it.”

Kouta pulled his face out of Katsuki’s side and looked up at him. His hiccups were long gone, and he was pretty much done crying at this point. All that was left was the occasional sniffle and his red, puffy eyes.

“How do you know he didn’t lie?”

Katsuki pursed his lips. Truthfully he didn’t know for sure that Izuku didn’t make any of it up. The entire story could have been made up for all Katsuki knew.

But he trusted Izuku.

Maybe Izuku didn’t tell the entire story, but he trusted that Izuku didn’t lie to him about it.

“Because I’ll find out if he lied and knock out every fucking tooth in his mouth. So if you can’t trust him right now, then trust me.

Kouta glanced away pensively for a few seconds, blinked, and then nodded in response.

“Good. Now try to think of it like this,” Katsuki said as he stood up and pulled Kouta up with him.

He hugged Kouta to his chest, one arm across Kouta’s back and the other under his backside, and carried him along on his way back to the apartment. Kouta wrapped his arms around Katsuki’s neck and tiredly rested his head on one arm.

“Deku could have killed you too if he was truly a monster. He could have left you as an orphan, or given you to some random family, or done whatever he wanted. But he chose to take care of you. He chose to try his fucking hardest to make up for the shit he caused, and to make you as happy as he possibly could. I think the very least we could give him is a chance to explain himself. And if you don’t like his explanation, we’ll deal with that later. That sound fair?”

There was a long moment where Kouta didn’t respond in any way. Not a word, sound, or motion that indicated he had heard a single word Katsuki said. It almost made Katsuki stop in his tracks under the belief that Kouta would refuse to go, or that he had fallen asleep along the way.

But then there was a single nod, followed by a quiet ‘Okay’.

 


 

There was a certain anxiousness that was normally present in Izuku’s life. He was used to the way it made him overthink, imagine and disregard possibilities that would never happen, and generally worry about key events and people.

He had ways to keep it in check. To keep a clear mind and retain his sanity even in the most dire of situations, and to appear as normal as possible.

None of them were working right now.

His mind was a relentless torrent of worst case scenarios, both as a voice in his head and as passing images in his imagination.

Thoughts of Katsuki setting all of this up on purpose to completely ruin him the same way Izuku did to him. Poetic justice, one might call it. Or perhaps just irony.

Kouta convincing Katsuki that they both need to get rid of him before he hurts either of them anymore. It would only be fair, given his track record with them today.

Momo getting Katsuki to do all of this, or even Nedzu sending Katsuki and Kouta back to do this. Either of the two of them could make good on promises that could convince Kouta and Katsuki to make a common enemy of Izuku.

The both of them running away together and resolving to never talk to him again. Izuku reasoned that they would be better off without him. Happier, even.

There were too many ideas for him to lie there comfortably. But he managed to wait, lying on his back on the couch with Kouta’s hat and BB gun resting on his chest. All while he was battered with images of Kouta and Katsuki attacking him, yelling at him, leaving him, and killing him.

The door to the apartment opened and Izuku bolted upright. He stared at them, somewhat in disbelief by the fact that Katsuki was putting down a calm, uncrying Kouta.

There was no fighting or struggling between the two. No yelling, screaming, or trying to run away. At worst they both just looked worn out.

They both faced him, though Kouta refused to look directly at him.

The fact he was here at all gave Izuku a fleeting sense of hope that, coupled with the silent nod toward Kouta from Katsuki, convinced him that there may be a chance. A chance to make all of this right and move forward as painlessly as possible.

“Kouta?”

He waited, but the closest to a response he got was a delayed glance in his direction.

“He agreed to listen,” Katsuki replied for him, pushing Kouta forward and leading him to the left side of the couch. He shoved Izuku’s legs off and sat there. “He can talk if he wants, but I’m not making him do more than listen. So say your piece and see how he feels about it.”

That sounded fair to Izuku. More than fair when he considered the alternative being that he got no chance at all.

“Okay. I can work with that,” Izuku said.

He thought back to how it began. Broke and being rejected from jobs left and right. Nowhere to stay and using what little money he could steal for food for Chiyo and himself.

It wasn’t until a couple of months into his newfound freedom that he got caught stealing once. Apparently from the very wrong type of people, because that very same day three people came to ‘teach him a lesson’ for it.

He didn’t want to hurt them, but he wasn’t going to let himself be subjected to any type of torment for simply trying to survive.

It wasn’t a long fight in the slightest, and felt horribly one sided, but he ended up driving them off with no trouble. Apparently well enough that he got the attention of someone else when they told their boss about what happened.

The next night he was found again, this time by one person. They talked about how they were told about what Izuku did, both going almost unnoticed stealing and able to fight off three people with almost no effort. They offered him a lot of money to get rid of someone else, but Izuku could tell right then what was going on.

There was no doubt in his mind that they were offering him this job because they expected him to fail. They expected him to get himself killed trying to do it so that they would no longer have to deal with him, and if by some fluke he actually managed to succeed, they would want more.

But, as Izuku glanced back at Chiyo sleeping in the alley behind him, he couldn’t help but bring himself to accept. If they really did give him the money, he would easily be able to rent a cheap place for a while. And if they had the money to keep offering more work…

“I started killing as a means to take care of myself and Chiyo. Mostly her because she saved me, and in return I wanted to give her better than how we were living,” Izuku started.

The back of his mind, where Nedzu’s lessons were kept under lock, nagged at him to go into more detail. It would be easier if he could make the two of them sympathize.

But he wasn’t here to trick them into coming to his side. He was going to own up to what he did, and let them decide for themselves how they felt afterward.

He remembered the first job again. Sneaking through countless other people, unaware that he was working for a gang leader to go kill an opposing one. After he had learned of that, it made sense why so many other people in that place were carrying weapons of all types.

But it wasn’t the first time Izuku had done this. Aizawa had made him go through things like this a hundred times before.

The only hard part was bringing the body all the way back to the location they told him to go to if he did it. They didn’t ask for a body, likely because they expected failure, but he wanted to make sure that there was no confusion about the fact that he did it.

It took a few hours after he delivered the body, because they obviously weren’t ready for his return, but they brought him the money. Every cent he was promised.

They offered him more when they realized that he was the real deal, and that was how he became their attack dog.

“I didn’t enjoy killing people, but it wasn’t something I couldn’t bring myself to do. I’ve done it a lot, but I always told the people I worked for that I had lines.”

That made Kouta finally look at him, apparently interested in what lines someone like him wouldn’t cross. Someone that Kouta deemed capable of anything evil now.

“I refused to torture people. Either they die quick or not at all. No innocent people and no bystanders, because I didn’t do this for fun and I refused to indulge their habits if they did. They needed to have an actual reason if I was going to do it. No children, because there should never be a viable reason for that. And finally, no parents of young children. If the child still needed to be taken care of, then I wasn’t going anywhere near them.”

“Then why mine?” Kouta questioned, his tone a combination of frustration and sadness. “What did my parents do to you to make you break your rules?”

“Nothing, Kouta. That was the worst part about it. The people I was accepting jobs for always followed my rules before sending me off. They knew not to bother trying to convince me otherwise, and after so long I got used to it and didn’t suspect them of anything. And then they sent me after your parents,” Izuku explained.

Although he continued to face them, his gaze shifted to the side as he avoided eye contact with both of them. Katsuki didn’t appear all that interested until now, and Kouta was glaring at him intensely.

“I should have made sure before I went, but they took advantage of my trust. They sent me after your parents under the pretense that they had stolen something. I even asked myself why people living in such a nice neighborhood would need to steal something when I got there. But I never saw you when I snuck in. I never saw any signs of a child living there because they were asleep, and you were in another room.”

Izuku paused, visibly uncomfortable with retelling it. It was easily one of his worst moments, and he hated reliving it. Sometimes just looking at Kouta reminded him of what he had done that night, but he also used the memory to make sure he would never go down a path like that. It was one of many things used to keep him grounded.

“After I had already killed them, I was going to go out the back door where it was less likely that people would see me, and I ran into you on my way out.”

Izuku shook his head slowly as he thought about what he had realized a hundred times over by now.

“If I didn’t run into you, I never would’ve known. But the moment I saw you standing in the hallway, staring up at me while half asleep, I shut the door to your parents room and panicked. I wanted to instantly undo the mistake I had just made.” Izuku wiped at the few tears that had begun to fall from his eyes as he spoke. “I wanted to turn back time and bring them back, and I wanted everything to be okay for you. I didn’t know what to do, or how to make it right, but I knew I couldn’t leave you there on your own. I couldn’t let you find your parents like that, because no child should ever have to see that.”

Katsuki tilted his head to the side and glanced down at Kouta, who was now staring at the floor with clenched fists. He couldn’t tell if it was anger, frustration, or something else, but he knew if Kouta exploded now that Izuku would have no chance at this.

He pulled Kouta closer by tugging at his sleeve, and tentatively started to run his fingers through Kouta’s hair again. It was something he had seen Izuku do to him before, and it helped to calm Kouta down when they were outside earlier.

It seemed to work somewhat. At least enough that Kouta’s fists, though balled up, weren’t clenched so tightly anymore.

Izuku stopped to take in the scene, almost losing his train of thought as he saw Katsuki try to calm Kouta. He couldn’t decide if the calm and caring look on Katsuki’s face, coupled with the soft, slow motions, threw him off the most, or if the fact that it was actually working did.

Often when Katsuki looked calm, he still managed to look angry, or just generally in a sour mood. But right now was one of the times he didn’t have either of those looks about him, even though he was most definitely not happy.

It was hard to tell if he looked concerned for Kouta, or just plain tired. Perhaps even a combination of both. If Izuku had to have guessed during any other day, it would be the latter, but he was starting to think there was something between the two of them that he was unaware of. That a connection may have been made somewhere along the way during this long, long day.

The look Katsuki gave him jolted him out of those thoughts. The concerned expression was completely gone, replaced entirely with a look that Izuku interpreted as ‘Start fucking talking’.

“I took you with me that night. You could barely say more than a few words at the time, and you could hardly walk straight. There was no way I was going to leave you there to fend for yourself, or to be thrown into an orphanage where you may never find a family. You slept in the backseat while I drove you all the way here, and then I went back to go get what they owed me for the last time after I put you to bed.”

“You should have done something about it,” Kouta growled.

“I did,” Izuku responded. He continued as Kouta looked up at him confusedly, “When I put you back to bed in this apartment, you were so innocent. It made me angry to think about what I had just done to someone who didn’t deserve it. It ate away at me, all the way up until I was standing in front of them. The second the money was in my hand, I thanked them for all they had done to help me, and then I killed both the leader and the person that sent me after your parents. I killed anyone that tried to stop me from leaving, and never looked back when I left. I’ve never spoken to anyone from there again, and I don’t ever want anything to do with any of the ones still alive.”

They both stared at him as he finished his story. Katsuki was holding Kouta’s shoulder so that he wouldn’t run off, but Kouta didn’t seem to be in any rush to escape.

Kouta let it all sink in, going over every detail that he could retain and thinking about if he believed any of it or not.

It was tough to say, given that he couldn’t readily tell if Izuku was lying or not. He didn’t truly know the limitations of Izuku’s capabilities, but…

“I’m not sure if it’ll mean anything, but I can take you to their graves if you want to visit.”

Kouta eyed him suspiciously. “Why would you know where they’re buried?”

Izuku looked hesitant to answer, but he had already decided he would answer any question Kouta threw at him.

There would be no lies, no half truths, and no tricks.

“Because I kept track of where their bodies were taken, all the way up until they were buried. I go to their graves every year on the day that I killed them.” Izuku shifted nervously as even Katsuki’s head snapped toward him. “Maybe it’s naïve of me, but I talk to them every year. I promised them that I would make sure you’re safe, and that I’d take care of you as best I could.”

“Can they hear you talking to them?” Kouta asked as he stepped forward, away from Katsuki’s grasp, genuinely curious about that.

“I don’t know for sure, and I may never know. I like to think that they can, and I truly hope that they can so that they can know you’re okay.”

Katsuki stared at him with an emotion that Izuku couldn’t read. Maybe a type of understanding, or respect, that he had never seen from Katsuki.

Kouta appeared to be conflicted. He opened his mouth to say something, closed it again, and then looked up at Izuku after a moment.

“What do you say to them?”

A small smile tugged at the corners of Izuku’s mouth. There was still an underlying sadness, but he could tell Kouta’s anger was dissipating.

“I spend hours telling them about you every year. About the things you do, how much you’re growing, how quickly you’re learning from homeschooling, and that you’re still healthy and okay. Sometimes I take pictures of you with me to show them. But the one thing I make sure to do is apologize to them every single time I go, because I’ve made some bad choices and terrible mistakes in my life,” Izuku paused and met Katsuki’s gaze, and then looked back to Kouta, “but killing them has always been my biggest regret. And maybe it’s a little selfish of me to say this, but the only good thing that came out of that mistake was you, Kouta.”

“Then why did you take the money?” Katsuki asked. He intended to be on Izuku’s side, but he wouldn’t let Izuku get away with anything he thought sounded suspicious. “You should’ve just taken care of business and left, money or not.”

“Because they owed both Kouta and I for what happened. I took their lives as payment for tricking me into breaking my rules, and I took the money for Kouta.” Izuku glanced in the direction of Kouta’s door. “I never spent a single bit of it on myself. All of it went to furnishing Kouta’s room. I refused to use any of it on anyone else.”

The answer must have been acceptable, since Katsuki didn’t pursue the subject any further.

Kouta looked back at Katsuki for confirmation, and when Katsuki nodded once he hesitantly took another step toward Izuku.

“So they didn’t do anything wrong, and you really didn’t want to kill them?” Kouta asked.

“That’s right,” Izuku said.

“Promise me you’re telling the truth,” Kouta demanded without skipping a beat.

Izuku could have foreseen that coming. It would be Kouta’s one way to make sure he was telling to truth, because he had never once broken a promise to Kouta. He never intended to break one, either.

“I promise.”

It was Izuku’s turn to be faced with that subtle, analytical gaze of Kouta’s. It was slightly off putting, seeing how he had never seen Kouta stare someone down in such a way, but he waited with bated breath for Kouta’s judgment.

The sight was somewhat amusing to Katsuki. Normally it was him being scrutinized by one of the two of them, but seeing Izuku faced with the way he watched other people was a funny form of karma to Katsuki.

Izuku waited as Kouta’s eyes moved in small, darting motions, searching him for some sign of deception, or trying to force him to cave and admit to lying. He waited as Kouta glanced back at Katsuki one last time, and he waited as Kouta stared him down for a few more seconds.

“Okay.”

Both Katsuki and Izuku’s eyes met, and then they looked back down at Kouta.

“Okay?” Izuku repeated questioningly.

“Okay,” Kouta said again, “I forgive you.”

Izuku’s heart almost stopped. He could hardly believe his ears, even as his heart jumped for joy inside of him.

He almost thought it was a cruel joke. Like Kouta would suddenly take it back, or that someone would jump out and tell him it was all a prank. When Kouta walked up and took his hat back from Izuku’s lap, he waited for Kouta to throw it again.

But he didn’t. He didn’t take it all back, and he didn’t throw the hat away.

A lump formed in Izuku’s throat, and he knew for sure that it was all real, as Kouta donned his cap and spoke.

“If he can forgive me after everything I did then I guess I can forgive you for an accident,” Kouta said, trying to act casual as he took the BB gun from Izuku’s lap and started walking toward his room. “Even if it was a really, really crappy one.”

Katsuki caught him by the back of his shirt to stop him, much to Kouta’s displeasure. He wanted to go be alone for a bit after this long day, now that everything was said and done, and Katsuki’s next demand was almost the exact opposite of that.

“Go get ready for a bath.”

Now?

“Did I fucking stutter?” Katsuki let him go and stared him down. “You’re tired as shit right now, aren’t you?”

Kouta stared back with an equal amount of intensity. “How do you know?”

“Because you were bawling your fucking eyes out for almost an hour. You have to be exhausted after that, and you’re going to take a bath before you go to sleep or I’m going to keep you awake until you do.”

“You’d be keeping yourself awake too!” Kouta argued. “You wouldn’t do that!”

Try me, ” Katsuki dared him. “I’m not going to sleep until I shower, and you’re not going until you’re clean either.”

At first glance one might think the two were glaring at each other angrily. Although there was no malice, anger, or hatred in their eyes. It was more of a challenging stare, each of them waiting for the other to cave first.

After a moment Katsuki could tell that this wasn’t the same as before. This wasn’t Kouta being particularly defiant, or challenging him because of the one-sided rivalry that had been present for far too long. This was simply someone who was absolutely exhausted after a long day, which was something Katsuki could very easily relate to right now. But he wouldn’t let him off the hook for that.

Kouta groaned and left with a muttered ‘Fine’ when he realized he wouldn’t win this battle.

Katsuki faced Izuku once Kouta was gone. The sight he was met with evoked a whole new wave of emotion, though it thankfully only lasted a few seconds.

He was quick to figure out the waterfalls flowing from Izuku’s eyes weren’t of pain or sorrow, but tears of joy.

“You have no idea what you’ve done for me today,” Izuku said while wiping furiously at his eyes. “This is all because of you, Kacchan. Thank you so, so much.”

“Yeah, well I didn’t do it just for you,” Katsuki said. He looked away from Izuku and lowered his voice, “He needs you too, whether he knows it or not.”

Izuku looked him over, his smile growing wider as Katsuki spoke.

It was one thing to expect Katsuki to make sure Kouta was physically safe. That was why he brought Katsuki here. Not to handle anyone mentally or emotionally, or to take care of anyone like they were one of his own. He merely wanted Katsuki to guard them.

Seeing Katsuki go above and beyond for someone that used to despise him…

“I didn’t know you two were getting so close,” Izuku said in a low voice, following Katsuki’s lead to keep Kouta from hearing.

Katsuki looked in the direction of Kouta’s door through the corners of his eyes, and then back to Izuku. “He’s just tolerating me. That’s all.”

“No, I don’t know what you did but he definitely likes you. I can see it. He might even look up to you some.” Izuku eyed him, remembering both Katsuki’s actions to calm Kouta earlier, and that he had supposedly brought Kouta back without the two fighting. “And I’m getting the feeling you like him too.”

“Fuck no,” Katsuki argued. “I just have to deal with him because your dumbass obviously can’t do it right.”

“Are you sure? It’s okay to admit if he got to you,” Izuku teased him. “He really gets under your skin and makes you care about him when he’s nice, doesn’t he?”

“Shut the fuck up,” Katsuki responded with a dismissive wave of his hand. Though there was a distinct lack of aggression in his tone when he spoke.

He stood up and went to the bathroom, shouting for Kouta on his way. Evidently he was done with that conversation, regardless of whether Izuku was right or wrong.

Izuku laughed a little at Katsuki’s retreat. He might have been concerned that he struck a nerve, if it weren’t for the fact that Katsuki was leaving to do something with Kouta right now that Izuku could very easily do himself.

He watched Kouta rush out of his room and down the hall, stop by the bathroom door and stare at him for a moment, and then run inside with the hint of a smile showing at the last second.

Izuku was more than happy to be forgiven by the person he felt had got the worst of his mistake. Even with that forgiveness, he still felt the need to keep a minor distance and ease his way back into Kouta’s favor.

He couldn’t read the boy’s mind, and although Kouta said that all was forgiven, he thought it better to give Kouta some time and space before trying to go back to how they were. It would be best not to force his way back in where possible.

Better safe than sorry.

As for Katsuki…

He wanted to pick up where he and Katsuki had left off. To learn the truth behind what Katsuki was trying to get him to realize earlier, but tonight wasn’t the time for it anymore.

Izuku sighed as he fell over onto the couch and closed his eyes. He figured that after today, no matter how early it was right now, all of them could do with some sleep.

More than enough had already happened in this one day, and Izuku didn’t know how much more he could handle. It would be best to end the day on a good note for now.

“Pervert!”

“You have to take your fucking clothes off, dumbass!”

Izuku pushed himself up and glanced over the back of the sofa at the open bathroom door, then lied back down once everything seemed all right.

Whether they liked each other or not, they still needed time to get used to each other. Especially now that they were beginning to bond. That much was for sure.

He just hoped that wouldn’t take too long.

Before he drifted off to sleep, with the sound of running water in the background, he resolved to find out exactly how Kouta felt about Katsuki later.

If there was no longer any bad blood between those two, and Kouta didn't mind Katsuki staying, then Izuku would happily help Katsuki explore those conflicted feelings that were mentioned mere days ago.

Chapter Text

There was virtually no comfort in sleeping on the floor. Especially not when trying to sleep while sitting upright. Though there wasn’t much of an alternative as far as he could see.

Kouta pulled the blanket tighter around himself, trying to beat the cold that flowed in through the crack in his protection. He had woken up for the tenth…eleventh…maybe twelfth time? He lost count quite some time ago, and was beginning to have trouble remembering what was a dream and what was reality over the course of the night.

Needless to say he had trouble sleeping through the night after all that had happened yesterday.

He glanced over to the side to look at the sofa, where Izuku was sleeping soundly behind him.

When he had trouble sleeping in his room, he had tried to come to Izuku. He had walked down the hall quietly, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and dragging across the floor, but found it difficult to bring himself to climb into Izuku’s arms once there.

There was a strange feeling that welled up inside of him upon seeing Izuku. Something unpleasant and reminiscent of yesterday’s feelings. A feeling he thought he would be done with if he said he had forgiven Izuku for what happened, yet it still managed to find its way into him.

He had ended up staring at Izuku’s sleeping face for a while, a mixture of conflicted love, frustration, admiration, and distrust overtaking him and twisting his insides up in an uncomfortable manner. He then left to go to Katsuki instead.

Why was it becoming a problem again? He told Izuku that he was forgiven, just like Katsuki told him that he was forgiven. If he said he was over it, then that meant he should be over it, didn't it? Was there something else to it that he was missing?

He thought that was all there was to it. To say ‘I forgive you’ and move on.

So why did he still feel troubled when he looked at Izuku?

In Katsuki’s room he faced the same trouble, but for different reasons. Where with Izuku it was a matter of potentially not being completely over what he had found out yesterday, like he originally thought he would be, with Katsuki it was that he wasn’t sure Katsuki would allow Kouta in bed with him.

He had obviously never tried—or even thought about—climbing into bed with Katsuki for comfort or support. And although Katsuki had said he didn’t hate him, it was never stated that he liked him either.

On top of that, his previous thought came to mind. If he said that he had forgiven Izuku, but he was still having problems, then when Katsuki said he was forgiven…

In the end he had walked away dejectedly, not wanting to waste his time by being told to leave, and not wanting to bother Katsuki. He wanted Katsuki to like him now, but annoying the man so early in the morning wouldn’t be the way to make that happen.

He had stood in the hallway, trying to think of another option, until eventually he went and sat under the armrest of the couch. With his back against it, he tried to sleep there for the night. Though it proved just as difficult as trying to sleep alone in his room.

The blanket was pulled up and over his head. Faint signs of sunlight had begun to drift into the hallway from his and Katsuki’s rooms. The night was over, and he hardly felt rested at all.

It didn’t make any sense to him how Izuku and Katsuki could sleep so soundly. Every time he had woken up it was because he felt like he was being watched, or that someone was coming after him.

Something was eating away at him every time he was alone in a room, or in the dark at all. Something worse than his confused emotions regarding Izuku, or his conflicted thoughts about Katsuki.

Thinking about it only made the sensation worse. He felt as though someone was going to appear in front of him and try to take him again. If all of those people did it yesterday, what was stopping them from doing it today? Or the next day?

He got up and moved in front of Izuku with those thoughts in mind, then reached out to shake him awake. His hand froze midway with hesitation, but he managed to grab Izuku’s shoulder and shake him.

It was earlier than any of them normally woke up, but because of how early they all went to sleep the night before he didn’t think much of it. He just wanted someone to be awake right now.

“What?” Izuku questioned sleepily, his eyes barely open. “What is it, Kouta?”

Kouta looked up at the top of the refrigerator in the kitchen, where the boxes of cereal were far out of his reach, and then back to Izuku.

Come to think of it, he hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning. With all that had happened during the day he never got a long enough break for to do so. With that he at least had a real reason for waking them up beyond paranoia and overthinking.

“I’m really hungry and I can’t reach the cereal.”

Izuku stared at him through squinted eyes. From the looks of it, Kouta would guess he wasn’t even half awake at the moment.

“Tell Kacchan to make you something.”

“Make me…?” Kouta trailed off, and then shook Izuku again. “I said the cereal. I just need the box and a bowl.”

Kouta huffed in annoyance when he realized Izuku was already asleep again. He knew he should’ve went to Katsuki first. This early in the morning Izuku would sell his soul if it meant ten more minutes of sleep. This wasn’t the first time Kouta had trouble getting him to wake up after a long day.

He went to Katsuki’s room, the guilt of waking him up after all Katsuki had done for him eating at him every step of the way. But now he not only wanted someone awake with him, he also unfortunately realized that he really was practically starving.

Once he was beside Katsuki’s bed, he climbed up with his blanket still wrapped around his shoulders and sat on his knees in front of Katsuki’s face.

It was weird seeing Katsuki look so peaceful. Normally he looked angry almost all the time. Although, as Kouta thought about it, Katsuki never had a reason to not be angry around him before now.

Kouta reached for Katsuki’s shoulder to shake him awake, and jumped when that arm jolted up and caught him by the wrist. He would’ve yelped if he weren’t too shocked to utter a sound. For a second he swore his heart leapt into his throat when Katsuki grabbed him.

“You better have a good reason for this.”

Kouta almost blanked out as he tried to think of what to say, suddenly not so sure that his reason would be good enough to satisfy Katsuki.

“I-I’m hungry,” Kouta said, and then cleared his throat in an attempt to draw attention away from the stutter. “I can’t reach the cereal boxes on top of the fridge.”

Katsuki let him go and opened one eye to examine him, then rolled over to face away and go back to sleep.

“So tell Deku.”

“But he told me to get you,” Kouta responded quickly to keep him from falling back asleep like Izuku.

“Then tell him I said he’s your dad, so take some fucking responsibility,” Katsuki growled.

“Yesterday you said you are,” Kouta argued. He really didn’t want to go back and forth between the two, and at this point would happily take whichever of the two. “Legally or whatever. That’s what you said.”

Katsuki didn’t budge. He held still for long enough that Kouta thought he had fallen back asleep, until he abruptly sat up and rubbed his eyes, muttering obscenities too quietly for Kouta to understand what exactly was being said.

It wasn’t Kouta’s argument, or the fact that he wouldn’t leave that finally got Katsuki to give in. It was the loud growl his stomach emitted reminding Katsuki that neither Kouta nor he had eaten in almost an entire day.

Katsuki looked him over again as he sat there, trying to wake up completely before getting up. There was something off about Kouta, but he couldn’t quite pin down what it was.

“Where’s your hat?”

“I don’t wear it with my pajamas,” Kouta replied, curious as to why Katsuki would care.

That was one thing, but not quite it.

The long pajama bottoms instead of shorts, perhaps? The blanket wrapped around his shoulders in the same fashion as a cape?

There was something else that he couldn’t pick up on, something that didn’t have to do specifically with physical appearance, but in the end he chalked it up to him developing traces of Izuku’s paranoia. Maybe living like this just caused that after some time, or maybe Izuku was just starting to rub off on him.

Katsuki inhaled deeply and let out a loud sigh. He really didn’t want to get up yet, especially when he glanced at the clock and saw that it was barely six in the morning.

He forced himself out of bed and waved for Kouta to follow. Kouta hopped off the bed and ran to catch up to Katsuki in the hallway, where the sound of their bare footsteps resounded in a mixture of light patters and heavy thumps.

Kouta turned toward the kitchen at the end of the hall, but stopped when he realized that wasn’t where Katsuki was headed.

Katsuki stopped behind the couch instead. At any other time he would’ve let Izuku sleep, or even insisted that he did, what with how much Izuku went through on some days. He knew how much Izuku pushed himself from time to time, and how much he decimated any possibility of a normal sleep schedule.

Today that luxury would not be offered.

He grabbed the back of the sofa with both hands and tilted the entire piece of furniture forward, far enough for Izuku to roll off and land on the floor. Izuku scrambled out of shock to get up as Katsuki dropped the couch back onto the floor and glared at him.

“If you’re sending him to me, then you’re getting up too.”

Izuku lowered his fists, where previously he was ready to fight at a moment’s notice, once he realized it was only Katsuki. It still took a moment for his brain to process where he was and what was going on as Katsuki left to go to the boxes of cereal.

“You only have the shitty kinds,” Katsuki complained as he moved each of the three boxes around to look for more.

“Your taste is shitty!” Kouta bit back, jumping up and down with one arm up for the boxes, his other hand holding the blanket together on his shoulders. “Give me that one!”

The box of cereal he was reaching for was tossed at his face, knocking him on his butt, and Katsuki chastised him before Izuku had the chance to realize what had been said.

“Watch your fucking language.”

Kouta rubbed his nose where the box landed and glared up at Katsuki. He could hardly believe that Katsuki of all people would be telling him not to curse, but held himself back from complaining. He knew it would be a lost cause.

“You didn’t have to toss the box in his face to say that,” Izuku said through a yawn while setting up the table. He pulled up the nearby chair and sat at the table, laid his head down, then spoke in a muffled voice, “And you shouldn’t curse at him while telling him not to do it.”

“Didn’t think it would knock him on his ass,” Katsuki said while pulling Kouta up, “and I’m only telling him not to because you don’t want him to. Personally I don’t give a fuck.”

Izuku took a deep breath as he sat up, and then breathed out. He got up to go get bowls, hopeful that moving around some would wake him up faster.

Normally he didn’t have as much of a problem with getting up, regardless of the time of day, but yesterday had proven to be enough of an emotionally draining day that no matter how much sleep he got it didn’t feel like it was enough.

One bowl is placed at each seat that was pulled up, along with a spoon to go with the cereal Katsuki was already pouring into each. Although he made a face at Katsuki when the jug of milk is placed in front of Kouta after pouring his own.

“Kacchan, that’s too heavy for him.”

Katsuki glanced at Kouta defiantly trying to carefully pour the gallon of milk, only to be saved from spilling it by Izuku. He started eating his own cereal while Izuku took care of the issue.

“He can lift it, thought he could pour it, too.”

“That isn’t the same thing,” Izuku said over Kouta’s protests about not being able to do it himself.

Katsuki tuned them out though, already uninterested in the conversation. He now knew Kouta couldn’t do it for future reference, and didn’t care beyond that point. There were other, more important, things to speak of at the moment.

“What do you plan to do now?” Katsuki asked through a yawn, and then ate another spoonful of cereal.

Izuku looked at him questioningly before pouring milk into his own bowl.

“About what?”

Katsuki subtly glanced at Kouta before continuing, unsure of whether they should talk about it in front of him. It would be somewhat difficult now that there was no one else to send him off to however.

“About a certain trio of assholes that need to be dealt with,” Katsuki said as casually as possible, as though it were just normal conversation.

“Oh, yeah…” Izuku understood Katsuki’s reluctance to speak of them completely openly. There’s no telling what kind of effect the entire ordeal had on Kouta, and neither of them wanted to open those wounds if they were already healing.

Kouta’s head turned from left to right as he looked at the both of them, chewing a mouthful of cereal and trying to decipher their conversation. Although currently he wasn’t all that invested in it.

“I’m not sure yet. If I know the leader, he won’t let himself slack in his career for long. He’s worked too hard to get where he is now, especially since I was supposed to cut a lot of his work in half. Both figuratively and literally.” Izuku ate another spoonful, though his eyes remained fixed on the tabletop and his chewing appeared to be more of an absentminded action. “He’s going to back off for now, but that doesn’t mean the others will. And I don’t know for how long, either. At the least it means they won’t have another big, elaborate plan for some time.”

Katsuki watched Izuku as he spoke. He stirred his cereal, the spoon moving in slow, long circles as he stared. Izuku seemed more troubled than usual, and for good reason. But if they were going to back off, then that meant Izuku, Kouta and himself could get some much needed rest.

“Plus I don’t know if Momo is going to come back to search for you two. Or she might come to give me a job and spot you two–”

“She isn’t going to cause any trouble,” Katsuki interjected

Izuku stared at him, trying to understand what exactly Katsuki meant by that. The smallest hint of silent panic flashed across his face and he calmly put his spoon down.

“Kacchan, what did you do…?” Izuku threw a cursory glance towards Kouta.

“I did what she asked me to,” Katsuki answered casually, not bothering to look up at Izuku, “I punched her in the eye.”

The ensuing silence was what caused him to look up and almost snort at the face Izuku had made. It was easy to imagine Katsuki had the same, if not extremely close to the same, face when Momo made the request. An expression of complete and utter bewilderment.

“She never said why, but she said if I was going to come back here then I would have to punch her, and bring Kouta with me.”

“Wait, so she let you both go?” Izuku closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose with his index finger and thumb. This was starting to make his head hurt. “Why did she make a show of coming here to take you in the first place then?”

“Don’t know, don’t care anymore. She gave me the option to go back home, or to get Kouta from the orphanage and come back to you.”

Izuku almost got caught up in the fact that Katsuki had chosen to come back to him when presented with the choice. In the fact that Katsuki had chosen to be here, rather than forced to come back.

That easily would’ve taken precedence, were it not for that one word that stood out more than anything else.

“Orphanage?!”

Both Kouta and Katsuki glanced at each other, and then went back to eating. Neither of them seemed to be as upset about the matter as Izuku.

“Yeah. I guess she put him there so we could talk without him and I could easily go get him. Or so that he would legally belong to one of us in case something happens in the future. Again, don’t know, don’t care anymore.”

Katsuki’s gaze shifted to the side as he thought about it, only just now realizing that there never was a point to the orphanage at all. Or at least not one that he could see. Although at the moment he didn’t want to bother trying to decipher her actions.

“So they just held him there for a few minutes, and that’s all?” Izuku questioned.

“No, I had to adopt him. They said that she said he was an orphan. I had to sign some papers and all that shit,” Katsuki explained as he rested his cheek against his fist and stirred his cereal boredly. “So I guess he’s technically my kid now, but as far as I’m concerned he’s yours. So, you know, just forge my signature on shit if you need my permission for whatever. I won’t care.”

Izuku stared in utter disbelief. It shouldn’t be a big deal at all, and he knew that, but for some reason it bothered him immensely that someone else was Kouta’s legal guardian. Even if it was just a useless title for people like them, he didn’t need anything else standing in his way while he was trying to get back on Kouta’s good side.

Not to mention it made him wonder what else had happened that he wasn’t aware of.

Izuku placed his head in his hands and exhaled softly. “Okay, well that’s just great to know.”

Both of them looked at him, easily picking up on the annoyance and sarcasm laced in his tone. It wasn’t exactly blatant, but it absolutely wasn’t hard to miss either.

“I know damn well you’re not getting fucking mad at me of all people for someone fucking up your family,” Katsuki growled, “or did you forget how I got here in the first place?”

Izuku dragged his hands down his face tiredly and met Katsuki’s gaze. “I’m not getting angry at you.”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. Obviously he didn’t believe Izuku for even a second, which Izuku caught on to quickly. He glanced at Kouta, who was watching them worriedly, and decided he needed to defuse the situation. There was little reason for him to be as upset as he was, and no reason to do this in front of Kouta.

At least it’s Katsuki, Izuku reasoned with himself. Were it anyone else he might have been infinitely more upset, but knowing at this point that Katsuki wouldn’t betray him, is getting close to Kouta, and that he could trust Katsuki entirely helped. The only other person he would’ve accepted even half as much right now would be Shouto.

The thought helped to calm him, and within a few seconds he was okay with what was just a passing, negative feeling.

“It kind of makes sense anyway,” Izuku said in a teasing manner, his smile and lightheartedness returning in almost an instant, “you both look and act alike.”

“No we don’t!” Katsuki and Kouta both retorted in unison as they sat up straight at the same time. They glanced at each other, and then glared at Izuku. “We’re nothing alike!”

“You guys sure about that?” Izuku’s smile slowly grew into a smirk. As long as he could redirect the attention to them and away from his mood, they would forget about the tone he had earlier. “He does have your big, spiky hair.”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed again. He refused to look in Kouta’s direction to check and see, because he already knew Kouta’s hair, without the hat, looked strikingly similar to his. Yet he still refused to let Izuku have this so easily.

“You must be fucking blind if you can’t see that he’s way more like you.” Katsuki looked at Kouta through the corners of his eyes, a cursory glance to look for a similarity, and then stared Izuku in the eyes. “He has your wide as shit eyes.”

“When he’s glaring they look like yours, which is a lot of the time considering he has your attitude,” Izuku fired back with no hesitation. It seemed like this was something he had thought about at length before, and already had his bullet points prepared for a moment just like this.

“No he doesn’t,” Katsuki argued, “he’s too nice. Too soft.”

“I’m not soft!” Kouta argued.

“If you’re close friends with him, yes. But that’s also just like you, huh?” Izuku placed his cheek on his fist and stared at Katsuki with a knowing smile. “You were really rude when we first met, even before I had done anything to you, but now you worry about me, don’t you? You weren’t nice to anyone else here, but you started opening up and making friends with them at some point.”

“Alright, alright,” Katsuki stopped him with a dismissive wave. “Well he’s a fucking crybaby like you.”

“No he isn’t?” Izuku replied confusedly before Kouta had a chance to protest.

“He stubbed his toe the other day and cried about it for a whole five minutes,” Katsuki said. He recalled Kouta trying to hide it from him because he didn’t want to seem ‘weak’ in front of Katsuki. “He fell down last week while he was running through the hallway and cried because his face hit the floor. You both cried when you two were watching that dumbass movie about the dog–”

“Okay, okay,” Izuku interjected. He knew Katsuki could go on with a lot more, but he wanted to spare Kouta the apparent embarrassment after seeing Kouta’s face turn more red with each story. “Well, he talks like you.”

“No he doesn’t.”

“Yes he does. Actually, he didn’t start cursing until I first started keeping an eye on you. He thought you were cool at first,” Izuku admitted.

“H-hey, t-that’s not true!” Kouta cried out. “I never said that!”

“And yesterday when Momo’s men were taking him away he called the person a ‘fucking extra’ just like you did,” Izuku continued on. “I heard him in the hallway.”

Katsuki’s gaze shifted toward Kouta for a moment, who was hiding his reddened face in his hands with the blanket over his head as though that would make him magically go somewhere far, far away from this conversation.

“He tries to act like you,” Katsuki finally said.

“He tries to act like you, too,” Izuku said.

“Shut up!” Kouta finally shouted through his hands, his voice muffled but still plenty loud enough for them to hear. “I’m right here! I can hear you both! Shut up!”

Izuku held back his laughter. Ever since Aizawa had escaped his grasp in Japan he had felt a depressive hold on himself, but these days whenever he was around Katsuki or Kouta he felt at peace.

Somehow the two of them, despite their often combative attitudes, were his greatest sources of relaxation. On slow days like this, spending time with either or both of them was enough to let him know that things truly weren’t as dire as he normally felt they were.

So what if Nedzu and the others were still out there, just outside of his grasp and looming over him threateningly? He had the two people he loved most, and everyone else was safely away where no one would think to hurt them.

A warm fluttering blossomed in Izuku’s chest as he looked at the pair. Kouta, who he loved as no less than his own flesh and blood, and Katsuki, the most amazing person he had come to known, who he loved as…

As…

Izuku’s smile dwindled the longer he stared at Katsuki. He tried to find the right word to describe his love for Katsuki, but he couldn’t quite place it. It wasn’t as a friend, a best friend, or even a brother. It was definitely something…

More.

Katsuki caught Izuku’s gaze, but thought little of the look he was being given. He had become used to Izuku staring at people by now, and often believed it just meant Izuku was taking mental notes of said person. Though that didn’t mean he wasn’t curious what he was taking note of now.

“You never said what you plan to do now.” Katsuki pushed his bowl away, crossed his arms, and sat back in his chair. “I hope you’re not just going to sit around and wait for them to come at us again.”

Izuku blinked a few times, his mind processing what was being said as he returned to reality, and then looked down at the table instead.

“No, I have a couple of ideas, but both of them mean leaving you two for a few days. Maybe even a week or two.” Izuku shook his head at the thought. The last thing he wanted to do was leave them both alone without being sure they would be safe. “I need to go explain to Kyouka and the others what happened, and ask Momo what she’s going to do with a certain someone’s body too. That’ll also take some time.”

“Then you should probably start now,” Katsuki said.

“I’m not leaving you and Kouta by yourselves,” Izuku stated firmly.

They both stared each other down, neither willing to give in to the other’s wishes on the matter.

Katsuki wanted to take the offensive and get this whole ordeal over with as soon as possible. The sooner their enemies lie dead in the ground, the sooner he can coax Izuku into an actually normal life. Preferably with him.

He was sure he could get Izuku to become a good bodyguard with the rest of them and bring in more money. Then Izuku could put his skills to use without having to kill people anymore, while simultaneously making up for what he had done to Katsuki’s family without a simple handout.

Izuku, on the other hand, wanted to put Katsuki and Kouta’s safety first. The thought of losing the two of them felt the same as letting Nedzu take the last of what he held dear.

They could burn this place to the ground, make sure he never makes a single penny, even capture and torture him for the rest of his life. But the moment he failed to keep these two safe would be the moment he felt he had truly lost everything.

He had no desire to leave their lives up to chance.

“You guys aren’t going to fight, are you?”

Both of them turned their attention to Kouta, who had just finished off the last of his cereal and was watching them cautiously. Although he couldn’t completely understand the issue, it wasn’t hard to notice the silent conflict happening between the two of them, even for someone so young.

“No,” Katsuki said as he turned his gaze back to Izuku, “we’re going to get you some babysitters, and then I’m going to take this dumbass to get his shit together.”

“I don’t know if we can bring Shouto back, Kacchan. You don’t need to come with me either,” Izuku protested. He didn’t intend to leave just one person here to get outnumbered if both Aizawa and Snipe were to come back together, and Katsuki and Shouto were the only two he knew that could fight.

“Don’t need him,” Katsuki responded, already getting up to go get his phone back from Kyouka’s apartment, “and I’m going with you so you don’t fuck up whatever you have to do.”

Izuku watched with a bewildered expression as Katsuki made for the door. Was he off to go and physically grab a random person off the street? Where was he going?

“Then who are you going to get?”

Chapter Text

There wasn’t a lot that easily annoyed Izuku. He was generally an understanding and forgiving person. For something to really get under his skin it had to either undermine a plan of his, or wear away at his patience by repetitively being done with the express purpose of annoying him.

Today Katsuki had decided to engage in the former. More specifically, he hired his friends to come and watch over Kouta while he made Izuku take him to deal with other problems.

It wasn’t the money. When Momo handled the money Kyouka would need, Izuku was left with all the rest of it that was now sitting around doing nothing. He had no problem with hiring them. They were even considered just capable enough to guard Kouta by Izuku’s standards as long as they worked together.

He had watched all three of them long enough to know that.

No, it was that he was still so far on edge from nearly losing Kouta twice in one day that he didn’t want to take anymore risks for the time being. That, and he was somewhat afraid of being alone with Katsuki for an extended period of time.

He already had a decent idea of what would potentially happen between the two of them. Not that he considered it a bad direction for them to go in, but there were still unknown factors.

Katsuki’s feelings were guessed at best, and perhaps not even concrete. He wouldn’t want to impose or put Katsuki in a position where he felt taken advantage of or tricked. Nor did he want to cause a rift to form between them when Katsuki was the only other adult he could turn to for help anymore.

Though he also wanted to make a move so badly. So badly that it almost hurt to indulge in longing stares behind his back, knowing he couldn’t do anything about it at the time.

“–the fuck up and deal with it.”

But now wasn’t the time to think about that.

“There’s no reason to rush into it!”

“Good thing we aren’t rushing into anything then.”

Kouta yawned and turned the TV up louder. Izuku and Katsuki had been arguing for some time, and by now, coupled with the lack of sleep he had gotten, it was far past merely irritating.

He didn’t want either of them to leave. He already felt insecure enough that it was messing with his sleep. With one of them gone it would only get worse, and with both of them away…

Kouta glanced at the sound of knocking at the door, and then to the bickering pair. They didn’t appear to hear it, or else were ignoring the noise if they did. Maybe they thought it was the TV, but if anything was evident, it was that they were too wrapped up in their conversation to bother with anything else.

He got up to go see who was there. If there was a chance to get their attention, he didn’t care to bother. Not after the third time they had shooed him away when he tried to get them to stop.

On the other side of the door awaited a man Kouta had never seen before, with hair as golden as his sharp eyes, save for the black lightning bolt on the side. He glanced toward Katsuki and Izuku, and then down at Kouta after realizing it wasn’t either of them that answered the door.

“Hey little dude. You must be Kouta?”

Kouta stared at him, trying to piece together who this might be, how he knew his name, and why he was at their door.

Izuku and Katsuki kept talking about two people who were coming over, one of them being Eijirou, but he didn’t see Eijirou anywhere. All he saw was this stranger smiling down at him, which normally wouldn’t have been such a bad thing were it not for the plethora of strangers who wanted to take him away the other day.

So he did the first thing that came to mind whenever he felt threatened. What had become a sort of default defense for him at this point.

“Stranger!”

The word is shouted at the same moment he pulled his fist back and aimed a punch right between the man’s legs. His eyes widened when his fist was caught before it made contact, and he struggled to pull himself free of the man’s grasp.

“Red hat with golden horns, chubby cheeks, goes straight for the balls. Yep, you’re definitely Kouta,” he said as he crouched down to get on eye level with Kouta, “I was warned that you might try to do that. You really shouldn’t hit guys there.”

“Stop trying to nut punch everyone who walks through the fucking door,” Katsuki chastised Kouta while approaching. “That’s Denki, the one I told you stories about.”

“What?” Denki questioned. “What stories?”

Kouta looked over his shoulder at Katsuki, his wrist still firmly in the man’s hand, with a confused expression. It took a couple of seconds until understanding dawned on him and he turned back to point at the man’s face.

“Oh! You’re the other idiot!”

Denki raised an eyebrow, and then looked up at Katsuki. “Why does he know me as ‘the other idiot’?”

“I said you can only call him that if he does something dumb,” Katsuki responded to Kouta, and then returned to Izuku’s side.

Denki stared at his back as he went, then met Kouta’s gaze. There were a few seconds of silence in which Kouta seemed to be trying to assure himself of something before he whispered to Denki.

“If it makes you feel any better, he said you were only dumb compared to really smart people like him,” Kouta reassured him. He pulled his wrist free, and left to go back to the couch, muttering to himself on the way, “At least you and Eiji have good looks on your side.”

Denki watched him go as well, still crouched down and frozen in place from confusion. He may have felt insulted were it not for the sincerity in the child’s tone when complimenting his looks. Even if he did call both him and Eijirou dumb.

Twice.

“Thanks? I guess,” Denki said. Although he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to hear what Kouta muttered or not.

Denki set his sights on Izuku now, who was standing next to Katsuki and watching him uncomfortably. He could guess why pretty easily, and approached with his hands in his pockets to really meet him for the first time.

“Hey, I think you know me, but I don’t believe we’ve met properly before. You know, without shooting at each other, using real identities, that sort of stuff.” He held a hand out for Izuku and smirked. “Denki Kaminari. I’ve been informed that you are often a fellow idiot as well. Welcome to the club.”

Izuku threw a cursory glance at Katsuki through the corners of his eyes, then tentatively shook Denki’s hand. He was waiting for some kind of retaliation for what he had done that one night, but Denki didn’t seem to be upset about it so far.

“Yeah, sorry about all of that. And sorry for attacking you that night, it was nothing personal and I would’ve avoided it if I could. I don’t like to kill or hurt people indiscriminately or without a good reason. N-not that I wanted to kill you either, that wasn’t my intention at all. And I don’t like to hurt people even for a good reason either. I just–” Izuku cut his rambling short, still shaking Denki’s hand even though Denki had long since stopped. He took a deep breath to calm himself and smiled apologetically. “Izuku Midoriya.”

“Smooth,” Katsuki commented, clearly amused by the display.

“Don’t worry too much about it. I think I’m the only person that isn’t mad at you about that night. We were both just doing our jobs, and they just happened to oppose each other. No hard feelings. Besides, Katsuki said you’re both friends, so as one of his best friends I think we should try to get along too,” Denki explained. “But if you really want to make it up to me, I wouldn’t be opposed to you teaching me some of those moves you used on me.”

“Just don’t use them on him again,” Eijirou warned them from the doorway. He came in carrying a number of suitcases, two in each hand and one under each arm. “Why did you leave me with all the suitcases?”

“You said you’d get them,” Denki replied, and then came over and took a couple of them to lighten the load.

“I said I’ll get what I can and you grab the rest,” Eijirou clarified.

“And you got all of them! Just like I knew you could.”

“You have to carry them all when we leave,” Eijirou said, and then turned his attention to Izuku and Katsuki.

It was clear from the look in his eyes that he still didn’t want to be around Izuku, but he promised Katsuki he would help out however he could. He wouldn’t go back on his word even if it meant working for the guy who did awful things to his friends.

“Where can we put our stuff? It’s mostly just clothes,” Eijirou asked.

“It’s hard to say, because he sleeps in the only available room and he isn’t going with me,” Izuku answered, jabbing his thumb in Katsuki’s direction, before Katsuki could say anything. He only fumed harder when no one acknowledged his words.

“Ignore him, follow me,” Katsuki told them as he led them down the hallway. “He’s being a fucking baby. He’ll get over it.”

Izuku glared at Katsuki’s back as the three left. He knew it was a losing battle to try to stop Katsuki from coming with him, or to stop Katsuki from making him go in the first place. This was obviously something he was going to do whether he liked it or not, unless he wanted to start a real fight that he would very possibly lose against all three of them.

Which was something he wouldn’t do even if Kouta wasn’t here.

He sighed and went to start packing before Katsuki could throw together a random assortment of clothing and forced him to go with whatever could be found. If he was going to end up being taken somewhere he didn’t want to go, he at least wanted the freedom to choose what he wanted to take.

He got down the hallway and stopped just before the door upon hearing Denki’s question. His back was pressed to the wall so as to remain out of sight while listening in. Imagining Katsuki’s answer to this was too enticing to hold back the urge to eavesdrop.

“You still haven’t explained how you became friends with someone like that,” Denki said while lifting the two suitcases up onto the mattress. “I mean, you kind of just mentioned that you two were getting along. So you’re not mad at him anymore?”

Katsuki didn’t entirely know how to answer that. There were a few reasons for it that were clear to him by now, but there was a good chance it wouldn’t translate well to others. Especially his two friends who might still resent Izuku for all that he had inadvertently caused.

He’d like for the three of them to get along, but he wasn’t going to get his hopes up on the matter. And then his parents would be a whole other problem…

His hand was dragged across his face as he realized he was thinking way too far into it now. Thinking about his parents would definitely be moving too fast for two people who weren’t even together yet.

“It’s a long story, and it isn’t my story to tell, but he isn’t as bad a guy as I originally thought.” Katsuki hated to admit that, and his friends would understand that. It was rare that Katsuki was wrong, and rarer that he would openly admit it rather than letting people figure it out themselves. “He’s in bad circumstances, but he really isn’t a bad guy at all.”

“Except that he kills people,” Denki said.

“And blackmails,” Eijirou chimed in.

“Maybe kidnaps,” Denki added, “we still don’t know how all those other people got here before.”

“Probably tortures people.”

Huge liar, too.”

“A wanted criminal in who knows how many places.”

“I bet he steals stuff.”

“Are you two fucking done?” Katsuki cut in, his fuse burning shorter with each assumption and addition added to the list. Regardless of what was truth or imagination in all of those, Katsuki of all people didn’t need to be reminded of what he already knew about Izuku.

“Yeah, he kills people, and no, that isn’t something I like about him. In fact I’d like it if he stopped, but for a long time he has only killed criminals that otherwise wouldn’t be dealt with. He made it clear he doesn’t like killing innocent people, which is probably one reason he didn’t kill you, Denki. He already admitted the blackmailing and lying were things he shouldn’t have done, and wouldn’t have done if he didn’t feel he needed to. I seriously doubt he’s kidnapped anyone, and he said he doesn’t like to torture people.”

“But definitely a wanted criminal who steals stuff,” Denki pointed out, both facts that Katsuki didn’t deny or try to defend against. He sat on the edge of the bed and smiled when Katsuki glared at him. “Relax, I’m joking. Well, half joking. You’re still one of my best friends, and you’re the one he really made an enemy out of, so if he’s cool with you then he can be cool with me. You just let me know if he turns on you again and I’ll be right there to take him down with you. I got your back.”

Katsuki turned his gaze on Eijirou and waited to hear his judgement. They were both important to him, therefore both of their opinions mattered. Even if he wouldn’t let their disapproval get in his way, he would still greatly appreciate their support.

The pensive expression Eijirou had wasn’t promising. Katsuki attested it to that of someone stuck between a rock and a hard place. He almost felt bad for expecting Eijirou to give an answer, knowing that Eijirou would want to please him and remain truthful at the same time.

“I don’t know man, I’m still pretty upset about what he did to you guys,” Eijirou sat next to Denki and gave Katsuki a half smile, “but if you both are going to warm up to him, I can try to give him a chance. As long as he doesn’t hurt either of you again.”

“He won’t,” Katsuki responded quickly to put him at ease, “I’m sure of it. I trust him.”

“Wow, that’s saying a lot coming from you,” Denki commented.

It wasn’t everyday that Katsuki would admit that. In the many years the three had known each other, he had only mentioned his trust for them in front of them twice, and never had he said he trusted anyone else.

“Yeah, well don’t tell him that. He’ll never shut up about it,” Katsuki warned them. He had no intention of letting Izuku hold that over his head so long as he could help it.

“Speak of the devil,” Eijirou said, watching Izuku enter the room. “You don’t mind if we clear out your closet and use it while you’re gone, do you?”

Izuku was momentarily caught off guard by the fact that he was being spoken to so casually all of a sudden. He heard Eijirou say he would try to give him a chance, but he didn’t expect it to happen so abruptly.

“Uh, yeah, sure. Do whatever you guys need to feel at home. Just toss my stuff in the corner or something and I’ll sort it out when I get back. There’s a few leftover laptops nearby that you can use however you like, Eijirou will know where they are. I’ll leave some money too, for–”

“Geez, Katsuki wasn’t kidding when he said you’d give us anything,” Denki cut him off.

“Seriously man, that’s all cool but I just asked for the closet,” Eijirou commented with a small laugh. “Don’t be afraid to set some boundaries either. This is your place, we’re only borrowing it.”

“Well, to be honest I don’t have many rules. Or none that I can think of at least. As long as you don’t damage anything I don’t really mind what you do to pass the time.” Izuku looked up in thought, attempting to think of something they shouldn’t touch or go through. Nothing in particular came to mind, or rather nothing he thought they would find that they shouldn’t. “Just respect Kouta’s privacy, don’t let anyone outside of all of us know we live here, and whatever you do, don’t try to put Kouta in one of the onesies in his room. He will fight you if you try. Like, actually physically fight you.”

“He seems like a pretty violent kid,” Denki pointed out.

“Yeah, that might be my fault. I don’t know exactly how he was before I got him, but watching me when I’m out fighting people has probably had an effect on his mannerisms.”

“I still don’t know what you guys are talking about,” Eijirou said. “I haven’t seen a single instance of him being mean or violent.”

“There’s a good reason for that that you’re too oblivious to notice,” Katsuki said, and then turned to Izuku after grabbing his suitcase, “you better be ready to go in no more than an hour. We’re not procrastinating this. Denki, Eijirou, walk with me.”

He was out of the room before Izuku could even think to say something, Eijirou and Denki hot on his trail. Through the living room he caught sight of Kouta poking his head up over the back of the couch and watching them.

He put his shoes on at the front door and left, his friends still following him closely.

“By the way, you didn’t explain on the phone why we’re getting paid to babysit. Couldn’t he have just gotten someone else to do it for free?” Denki asked.

“Yeah, I would’ve watched everyone for free on my own,” Eijirou added. “Speaking of which, where is everyone else?”

Katsuki carried his suitcase in silence, thinking about how best to explain that this was a little more than just babysitting. He hadn’t even told them what happened the other day yet, and how Kouta was the only one left to guard now.

“You’re getting paid because Deku is trying to find a way to make amends with you guys, and because you’re not just babysitting. You’re actually guarding Kouta. That means if you see someone you don’t know, you kill first and question the people at the funeral.” Katsuki shielded his eyes from the sun as the group made their way out of the building and stopped at the curb. “Everyone else here got taken away so that Deku’s enemies wouldn’t try to do anything with them. But they made it clear they want to kidnap Kouta, and everyone seems to think it would be best to leave him under Deku’s care. Anyway, what I’m saying is that you need to take this seriously and watch out for people trying to kidnap him, but try to keep him happy too. He’s gone through some shit lately and he really needs some cheering up.”

“Wow, I didn’t know it was that serious.” Eijirou glanced over his shoulder, back up at the apartment building, and then looked to Katsuki as the suitcase was dropped on the ground. “But why bring us out here to tell us that?”

“Because Kouta doesn’t know everything, and he doesn’t need to know a bunch of shit that’ll only make him worry more. There’s something off about him, too. Something I can’t figure out. It’s just a gut feeling, but keep a close eye on him for me and try to find out what’s going on in his head. He seems a little more jumpy and somber than I’m used to seeing from him,” Katsuki explained. He cracked his knuckles and stared Eijirou dead in the eye, both actions a sign of what he wanted from the other. “I also brought you out here to kill time.”

“Oh, man. It’s been a while, but okay,” Eijirou responded with a grin. “I bet I can take you this time.”

“Here we go again,” Denki muttered with a roll of his eyes. “You say that every time, and you lose every time.”

He backed away to let them have at it, being the least interested of the three in fighting for fun. Although he didn’t have as much of a problem with watching, as there was a chance he might learn a thing or two from them. Especially now, since it’s been a long while since he last saw Katsuki fight anyone at all.

The two wasted no time going into their usual routine. So often would they spar and practice together that Denki remembered the rules clearly himself, even though he rarely took part in it.

He pulled out a cigarette and lighter from his back pocket, lit it, and took a long drag as he put the lighter away. The relaxation that overtook him as a puff of smoke was exhaled in a long, drawn out sigh, only lasted a moment before he noticed someone was standing next to him and jumped out of his skin.

“Holy–” Denki stopped himself short and stared down at Kouta, “When did you get here?”

“Just now,” Kouta replied in a monotone, his eyes trained on Katsuki and Eijirou’s movements, “don’t die of a heart attack.”

“Die of a…? How old do you think I am?” Denki asked incredulously.

Kouta took a moment to look him over, and then responded in a casual manner as his gaze returned to the others, “Age doesn’t matter. You can die at any time. Why are they fighting? Shouldn’t you stop them?”

“Nah, they’re just playing around. It’s nothing to worry about,” Denki explained as his attention returned to the dueling pair. He actively chose to ignore the earlier comment, but took note of Kouta’s attitude. “One way to put it is that if he wants to fight you for fun, chances are he enjoys your company more than normal people. It’s kind of like his messed up way of declaring that you’re worthy of being a close friend.”

His words were accompanied by another plume of smoke, blown away by the weak breeze. A cursory glance toward where the smoke traveled showed it pass over top of Kouta’s head and drop just past him. Close enough to put a thought in Denki’s mind.

“You don’t have asthma, do you?”

Kouta’s eyes never left Katsuki and Eijirou, and his flat, uninterested tone when he replied reflected the preoccupied state of mind he had from watching them go at it.

“What’s asthma?”

Denki cautiously took a couple of steps away from Kouta, tapped the cigarette to drop the ashes away from Kouta’s direction, and called out toward the other two.

“Hey!” He pointed toward Kouta with his free hand when Katsuki and Eijirou both paused to look at him. “Does he have asthma, or anything we should know about?”

Eijirou looked to Katsuki for an answer, who simply stared at Denki. His body relaxed as he wiped the sweat off of his forehead, and his gaze shifted to meet Kouta’s confused stare. He tried to think of any instance where Kouta might have displayed signs of something of that sort, and everyone could practically see the cogs turning in his head.

He felt like that would’ve been something Izuku would mention right away, or that he would’ve seen some type of sign by now. With that his first answer would be no, but he couldn’t be totally sure right away.

“I don’t know,” Katsuki shouted, looking back to Denki, “put that shit out anyways. If he coughs once I’ll fucking murder you.”

Denki rolled his eyes at the empty threat, but dropped the cigarette to the ground and stepped on it regardless. He had hoped to get through one before he had to go back inside, but with Kouta’s sudden appearance that apparently wasn’t going to happen.

“Don’t worry, I don’t think he would kill you,” Kouta said, his eyes trained on Katsuki and Eijirou’s movements, “one time he was telling me about you and he said he would hunt down anyone who hurt you guys like the piece of shit scum they are.”

He stared at Kouta with a surprised expression, his eyes wide and eyebrows raised high. It was hard to decide what was more unbelievable between Katsuki openly admitting something that nice, or that someone Kouta’s age just spoke like that.

During his stupor, Izuku stepped out and joined them, watching Katsuki and Eijirou curiously along the way. He dropped his suitcase on the ground at his feet and stood next to Kouta.

“How long have they been going?”

“Not long,” Kouta responded, “they just started when I came out.”

“So who do you think is winning?”

Izuku was given a brief look, and then got silence in return. For a second he thought Kouta had decided to ignore him, given the way the boy had simply returned to watching. Then came his answer.

“Ka–” Kouta cut himself off, glanced at Denki from the corners of his eyes, and continued, “Kacchan.”

“Who?” Denki asked in a state of disbelief. Did he hear that right?

Kouta pointed towards Katsuki, his hand moving to follow Katsuki through the fight, and repeated, “Kacchan. I think he’s winning.”

“Are you just saying that because you’re biased?” Izuku questioned further, an amused smile on his face accentuating the playful tone he had.

“No.”

“Do you know what being biased means?”

There was a moment of quiet as the three continued to watch, followed by both Izuku and Denki turning their heads toward Kouta. Kouta could feel their eyes on him, but he couldn’t think of a time when he had ever heard that word.

“…No.”

Izuku’s laughter was quickly joined by Denki’s muffled chuckle. He made a mental note to continue with Kouta’s schooling while he was out with Katsuki. He would need to stop by the other apartment to grab a laptop for Katsuki and himself, and would need to keep track of any time zone differences when they stopped for the day somewhere. Eijirou and Denki would also need to be asked to–

“Deku!”

Izuku’s sight snapped back in Katsuki’s direction, and he proceeded to jog over with his suitcase in hand. A pin was put in his thoughts for later, because for some reason people seemed to only want his attention whenever he was thinking.

“I’m ready to go whenever you a–”

“Your turn,” Katsuki interrupted him. He shooed Eijirou away with one hand, who normally would’ve been annoyed at the thought of being swapped out for Izuku, but was eager enough to see this fight that he left without a word. “Make it a good one.”

“A good one?” Izuku asked. His brows furrowed, and when the phrase ‘Your turn’ ran through his mind again he recoiled. “My turn to fight? I’m not going to fight you!”

“Hey guys?” Eijirou started as he reapproached them. He pointed to the car he and Denki came in, “Before you fight, or leave, or whatever you’re about to do, you mind letting me get the car seat from your car?”

“The car seat?” both of them repeated.

“Yeah, for Kouta.” Eijirou stared back at their confused expressions, and then put his hands up to mimic the size of a child’s car seat. “You know, the thing about this big that goes in the backseat for him? Because he’s too small to go anywhere without one.”

Still he was met with a confused silence. The longer they stared at him, the more that miniscule seed of frustration bloomed. After so long it became very obvious that neither of them had the slightest clue what he was speaking of.

“Don’t you take him anywhere, or do you make him stay home all the time?”

“No, I take him to the grocery store every time we go. And sometimes to a toy store or something if he’s behaving,” Izuku finally answered, “but he just sits up front with me whenever Kacchan doesn’t go with us. What car seat are you talking about?”

Eijirou looked to Katsuki, his gaze desperately pleading for Katsuki to realize what he was referring to. However, all he gained was disappointment from the sight of Katsuki either not knowing what he meant, or not caring.

“You’re supposed to–!” Eijirou cut himself short and facepalmed. He then breathed in and sighed disappointedly.

How long had Izuku had Kouta and not been using a car seat? How long had everyone else been here and no one knew that they needed one for him?

Izuku leaned over and whispered to Katsuki, “I’m getting the feeling this is something we should’ve known about.”

“Yes, you should have!” Eijirou said in a raised voice. “I’ll get one later and leave it for you guys when Denki and I are gone, but come on. You should’ve known about something like that. It’s for his safety. It may even be a law, too. I think.”

“We get it,” Katsuki cut in, “he’ll learn from this and start using one from now on. Get over it and move the fuck on.”

Eijirou suppressed the urge to sigh again and left them alone. The utter disbelief had managed to get the better of him, and while he felt bad about confronting them in such a way, he was at least pleased that he got his point across.

“Well, I guess we should get going. We’ll stop by the other apartment and pick up a laptop first,” Izuku said, then left for the car before Katsuki could try to challenge him to a fight again.

Katsuki glowered at Izuku’s back, noticeably upset and disappointed about Izuku’s refusal to so much as hear him out. He went to grab his suitcase by Denki, Eijirou and Kouta, lifted it up in a swift jerking motion, and made for the car where Izuku would be waiting.

“Are you guys leaving now?”

Katsuki stopped, hardly having gotten a few steps away, and looked over his shoulder at Denki. Eijirou came to bid him good luck on his trip as well, followed closely by Kouta.

“Yeah, we’ll probably be gone for at least a week he said. Maybe a month or two at most. But he’s paying for your time, so don’t worry about getting back to work or anything,” Katsuki explained, turning to face them and placing his free hand in his pocket. “You both have my phone number if you need something, and you remember where the laptops are, Eijirou?”

“Yeah, we’ll grab a couple to bring over here for Kouta and us. What do we do about laundry though?”

Kouta stared up at the three as they talked. Denki and Eijirou were both listening intently to memorize the directions Katsuki was giving them, along with answers to any subsequent questions. None of it really mattered to him, save for the one part Katsuki mentioned.

At least a week. Maybe a month or two at most.

That part stuck out to him most. This would not only be the first time time he was left with only two people, who he didn’t know all that well, but it would also be the longest both Katsuki or Izuku were gone.

Of all the times Izuku left, Kouta remembered him almost never being gone for more than a week. The times that were longer were only by a few days.

But a month, maybe even two? After all that had happened recently?

It caused an unpleasant, gnawing feeling in his stomach. One that he wanted to quash before they left. Even if he could only get a temporary relief.

Izuku was already out of sight, not that doing this would’ve been any easier with him, so he would settle for Katsuki.

Normally he wouldn’t seek any type of affection in front of others, especially not in front of people he wasn’t all that comfortable with, but regardless of the other two that could see him, he wanted even the smallest form of comfort if possible. Something to combat the paranoid and gloomy feelings that had nestled inside of him and make him feel better.

Kouta raised his arms slightly, almost poised for a hug, and set his eyes on Katsuki, unable to bring himself to call for Katsuki’s attention. He raised his arms a little higher for Katsuki to see his silent plea for a hug, because none of the three of them appeared to be aware of his actions.

“Talk to you guys later.”

When he still went unnoticed he stepped forward, unfortunately at the same moment the conversation ended and Katsuki started walking away.

Panic overtook him as his arms dropped, and those negative feelings festering inside of him spiked. He wanted to call out for Katsuki to come back, to run after him, to do something to stop him. Yet all he could manage in his quiet, panicked state was to hold one hand out toward Katsuki’s retreating back, which promptly fell back to his side when it was clear he wouldn’t be turning around.

“You okay, Kouta?”

Kouta glanced up at the two looking down at him, tilted his head down to hide his upset visage under the visor of his cap, and left to go back to the apartment.

“M’fine,” he murmured, his voice kept low in an attempt to hide the hurt tone that would otherwise make his lie obvious.

Katsuki entered his previous mindset as he remembered what he perceived to be Izuku’s slight toward him. Even more frustrating was the fact that Izuku didn’t seem to notice he was upset. Not in the way he tossed his suitcase carelessly into the backseat, nor when he wouldn’t look in Izuku’s direction after getting into the passenger seat next to him.

Maybe he was taking it the wrong way, but it felt like a personal insult to Katsuki. Like Izuku had yelled ‘I don’t want to do something you enjoy with you!’. He assumed it was clear, and that Izuku was smart enough and knew him well enough by now to realize, that he didn’t mean a real fight. Just something to do for fun, as friends that respected each other, before they departed.

Katsuki leaned back in his seat and kept his gaze focused on the window with his arms crossed. Whether Izuku cared to notice or not, it was evident that Katsuki didn’t want to acknowledge the other at the moment.

But Izuku did notice. He noticed the ungracious handling of the suitcase, Katsuki’s rough and angered body language, and the lack of acknowledgement. He noticed it all, but still he wouldn’t give in.

Izuku didn’t understand why Katsuki wanted to hurt him all of the sudden. He thought they had gotten past that by now. He had long stopped arguing about going on this trip and gotten ready to go. He was nice to Katsuki’s friends.

He couldn’t think of what he did wrong. But at the very least, he would have plenty of time to try and find out what it was.

Hopefully it wasn’t a mistake he could easily repeat.

Chapter Text

Katsuki didn’t expect this to be what Izuku meant when he said there was something else that needed to be done first. He had expected to go somewhere much further away, maybe a little dangerous with a larger goal in mind.

Not to a college he’d never heard of, an apartment in the middle of some random town, and a foster house in another state he’d never had any intention of traveling to before.

“I think this is the house.”

Izuku considered it important however, and here they were for that fact. Not that Katsuki could complain about his reasoning, because Katsuki himself asked if Izuku was going to do anything about it the other day.

It also had become obvious to Katsuki that Izuku wouldn’t leave somebody lost and confused. He would make sure they knew what happened if he could, and would try to make it better. That was just how he was.

Izuku folded the document he was holding and put it in his pocket. “We’ll explain to Mashirao why this happened, and then we’ll catch our flight tomorrow morning.”

“Considering the things you don’t like to do, I wouldn’t have pegged you for a thief,” Katsuki said, his arms crossed as he stared at the home.

“It isn’t technically stealing if I put it back,” Izuku said. He raised his fist and knocked on the door. “I’m just borrowing it. They can have it back when I’m done.”

“How do you plan to get it all the way back to Momo’s office in another state if we’re getting on a plane tomorrow?”

“Mail it,” Izuku responded nonchalantly, and then smiled as the door opened. “Hello, is Mashirao home? We’re with child welfare, and we’re doing a follow up check to make sure he’s acclimating well to his new home.”

The person who answered the door looked a little surprised, but allowed the two of them in anyway. “Oh, I thought that was next month?”

“Really? That’s weird. I was told this morning to come over today,” Izuku explained. He walked in past them with Katsuki following closely behind, a bright smile on his face as he examined the home. “Sometimes they aren’t the best at scheduling over there. It makes for some weird situations like this. I apologize if this is a bad time. Your house is beautiful.”

“No, it’s alright. He’s in his room right now. I think he still misses his friends.”

“Yes, that’s a common feeling among children being moved from one place to another. It’s perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about.” Izuku moved towards the hallway and called over his shoulder, “I’ll go talk to him while my partner stays with you.”

Katsuki glanced at the person and, although he kept a straight face, mentally groaned at the prospect of having to pretend he knew what he was talking about if they tried to speak with him.

He should’ve known Izuku would pull something like this if it meant accomplishing his goal.

“So, I assume you have some questions for me as well?”

Katsuki stared down the hallway in silence, trying his hardest to hide his irritation.

 


 

There was a strange silence during the ride back to the hotel. A heavy one that made Katsuki not want to speak, regardless of his urge to break it.

Izuku seemed a little out of it since they left that house. Instead of staring at people, trying to make conversation, or focusing on any one thing in general, he would stare out into nothingness whenever they hit a red light.

Katsuki wouldn’t have thought much of it, or perhaps would have associated it with Izuku’s tendency to become lost in thought, if it weren’t for the lack of muttering that normally accompanied that. Without that Izuku appeared more sad than occupied.

He snuck another glance at Izuku at the next red light. At the sight of that same crestfallen expression, Katsuki lightly punched his shoulder.

“The fuck is wrong with you?”

The sudden physical contact caused Izuku to jump. His startled stare as he processed Katsuki’s question gave Katsuki the time to mentally kick himself again and again.

He instantly regretted his approach on the matter. The memory of physical contact helping Kouta to calm down had come to mind when he did it, but that felt different from now, and the action was definitely different. It was more aggressive than he meant for it to be.

And then there was the way he worded the question. It made him want to slap his own mouth off.

“I’m just sad that I won’t get to see any of them for a long time. If ever again,” Izuku admitted. He started driving again when the light turned green and smiled a little. “But they all seem okay with how things are turning out. Everyone was kind of upset that I didn't tell them about the real dangers and everything, and I don't blame them for that, but they also understood my reasoning for not saying anything. It was still a mistake to never say anything though.”

“At least you can recognize that,” Katsuki commented.

They both fell into another bout of silence after that. It had been a somewhat awkward few days since they’d left on their journey, and Katsuki was beginning to think it was time to do something to lighten the mood.

“Since we're leaving tomorrow, we're not doing anything tonight, right?”

Izuku nodded. “Yeah. Why?”

“Let's go somewhere tonight then. Your treat,” Katsuki said, and started to keep an eye out for somewhere to go. “Preferably somewhere with alcohol.”

“Why alcohol?” Izuku asked. “And why my treat?”

“Because you're always so down and shit lately, so let's get a little buzzed and think positive or whatever. Have a good time and that kind of shit.” Katsuki once again wanted to facepalm, this time because of how cheesy that sounded.

“That sounds like something an alcoholic would say,” Izuku said, and giggled at the indignant look he was given. “We can do that. But you have to tell me what you think I'd like.”

“Mixed drinks it is,” Katsuki responded idly as he listed all the things he thought Izuku might like in his head.

“So why my treat if you're the one taking me out?” Izuku dismissed Katsuki’s comment and asked.

“Because you don't fucking pay me. And you owe me for all the shit I do for you.” Katsuki said.

Izuku laughed. “That's the first time I've ever blackmailed someone into helping me and then had them tell me I owe them.”

Katsuki almost got angry at that statement, but realized that Izuku was merely teasing him. It was becoming easier over time to tell when Izuku was and wasn't serious. A trait Katsuki was happy to begin picking up, given how Izuku liked to joke with him more and more as they grew closer.

“You're not blackmailing me anymore. I know where the proof is and I can leave whenever I want.” Katsuki leaned back and stared out of the window, noting passing buildings while searching for a place to stop.

“No, I'm not. I was, but now you're here because you want to be,” Izuku said. “So you're–”

“I'm going to punch you in the mouth if you say you're paying me back by letting me stay or some shit,” Katsuki warned him. He smirked when Izuku didn't respond in any way, amused that he stopped Izuku in his tracks for once. “That's what I thought.”

“So mean,” Izuku whined. “You'd punch me in the mouth for a joke?”

Izuku waited for a response, however this time it was Katsuki’s turn to respond with silence. He almost started to worry, but saw the small smirk from the corners of his eyes.

It was nice to be able to joke around and have fun with Katsuki after the last few days had weighed him down so much. To know that Katsuki didn’t think ill of him after getting angry at him right before they left to go on these trips.

“Instead of going somewhere else for your idea, we could just do it downstairs at the hotel,” Izuku offered. “Then we don’t have to worry about who’s going to drive.”

“The food and shit is so much more expensive there though,” Katsuki complained.

“It’d be more expensive somewhere else if you count the potential cost of a cab as part of it,” Izuku said. “Probably a lot more expensive, depending on how far out we go.”

“The plan isn’t to get fucking hammered. You know that, right?”

Izuku laughed. “I know. Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

 


 

The door to the hotel room was kicked open harshly, followed shortly by Katsuki pulling Izuku inside by the arm. He planted his feet firmly and grunted as Izuku bumped into him and almost went limp against his back.

“How are you so smart and fucking stupid at the same time?” Katsuki asked. “It makes no goddamn sense.”

“You’re being mean again!” Izuku shouted childishly right in Katsuki’s ear. “You said you wouldn’t be mean if I came with you!”

Katsuki shoved Izuku off of his back, and then caught him by the shirt before he fell to the floor. He kicked their door shut and pulled Izuku towards one of the beds, fighting to keep Izuku from veering off track or falling over.

Once at the bed he shoved Izuku onto the mattress, where Izuku landed face first and laid still for a few seconds.

Those few seconds felt like years and years of peace after all that Katsuki had gone through to get him to leave and come to the room. From trying to pay for their food and drinks, to convincing Izuku to leave and come back to the room with him, to actually leaving and coming back, and finally trying to stop him from making conversation with every single person his eyes landed on, Katsuki was almost ready to strangle the life out of Izuku.

As reserved and seemingly introverted as Izuku appeared to be, he was apparently the exact opposite in this state and wouldn’t shut his mouth. It was somewhat maddening, mostly because they were trying to keep a low profile and Izuku was now attempting to make as high a profile for himself as possible.

Izuku rolled over and stared up at the ceiling. There was another moment of silence, and then he sat up and stared at Katsuki. He looked tired, but felt more energetic than ever.

“Kacchan,” Izuku called out to him at the same moment Katsuki’s phone began to ring, and then frowned when Katsuki held up a finger and answered the phone. He called out again, his voice just below a shout and just above a normal speaking tone, “Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan–”

“Shut the fuck up!” Katsuki shouted at him. He turned his back to Izuku and placed his free hand on his hip, the other holding the phone up to his ear. “What? I’m busy.”

Eijirou’s voice came from the other side of the line, “Oh, I was just wondering when Izuku was going to give Kouta his lessons? It’s starting to get kind of late. We were going to put him to bed soon.”

Katsuki glanced back over his shoulder at Izuku, who was still repeating his name over and over incessantly, as though it were the only word he had ever learned, and shook his head.

“Not happening tonight. Go ahead and put him to bed.”

There were a couple of seconds of silence where Katsuki almost hung up, and then Eijirou’s voice again.

“Is that Izuku in the background? What’s he saying? Seriously if one of you can get on for Kouta–”

“He’s drunk off his fucking ass and saying my damn name over and over and fucking over because I’m talking to you instead of him,” Katsuki interjected, his voice nearly a low growl.

It was easy for Eijirou to tell that Katsuki’s buttons were being pushed right now. Hard.

“And I’m going to beat his fucking ass if he doesn’t stop!” Katsuki yelled over his shoulder.

Izuku, even in his current state of mind, managed to pick up on the not-so-subtle hint that he was about to get his ass kicked if he didn’t stop.

“Why would he–”

“Because he’s fucking stupid,” Katsuki stopped Eijirou short once again. He already knew the direction Eijirou was going to go. “He talked to Mashirao today–”

“I miss him already,” Izuku said somberly.

“–and he looked sad and shit, so I took him drinking to try and have a little fun tonight or whatever. Ya know, get his mind off of shit? And it turns out he’s never had a drink before in his life, but he liked the taste of the drink I chose for him–”

“It was sooo good,” Izuku added.

“–so he just kept drinking more and more because apparently he didn’t know it doesn’t hit you right away and he thought he was fine–”

“I’m still completely fine,” Izuku said, “for the record.”

“–and he’s a total fucking lightweight with no tolerance at all apparently. By the time I had my second he had already finished his fourth.”

“I can hear him slurring from here,” Eijirou commented, “he’s definitely not ‘fine’.”

“No, he’s full of shit. Don’t listen to him.” Katsuki put his hand on Izuku’s face and held him back when Izuku got up and tried to hug him. “Listen, just tell Kouta he got the night off and put him to bed. Give him one of those gold star stickers in the drawer next to the microwave. He says he doesn’t like them but he does. Don’t say a word about this to him.”

“I’ll handle it.” There was a brief pause where Katsuki thought he could hear Denki’s voice. “Oh, yeah, we need to ask you something about Kouta too.”

Katsuki fell over onto the bed, pulled down by Izuku’s grip on his arm, and groaned internally as Izuku’s arms were promptly wrapped around him in a big hug.

“Whatever, just hurry up.”

“Yeah, okay, so what do you normally do to give him a bath? Because he kind of flips his lid whenever I try to do it, and he keeps calling Denki a pervert if he tries to do it. So like, are we doing something wrong or…?”

Katsuki shifted in Izuku’s arms, trying to worm his way out. “What do you mean ‘flips his lid’? Is he trying to fight you?”

“Not really fight, but his face gets really red and he refuses to go in the bathroom with me,” Eijirou explained. “He doesn’t get like that with Denki though. He just calls him a pervert every time.”

“He calls me a pervert when I undress him too. Tell Denki to ignore it.” Katsuki got his arm up between the two of them and started trying to unsuccessfully push Izuku away. “I have to go. I’m going to be on a plane all day tomorrow, so if you need something call me the day after.”

Eijirou began to say something, likely in protest to hanging up, but Katsuki hung up too quickly to hear what.

“You smell good, Kacchan.”

He had more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.

“Cool. Great. Get the fuck off of me,” Katsuki demanded, and pushed harder against Izuku’s hold.

Izuku held onto him tighter in response, trying his damndest to stay as close to Katsuki as possible. “But I want to hug you! You deserve it after everything you’ve done! You deserve all the love I can give, and I have a lot of it. Have I told you how amazing you are?”

Katsuki’s face scrunched up as the smell of the alcohol on Izuku’s breath hit him square in the face. He dropped his arms and succumbed to his fate of being held by Izuku. Surely he would pass out soon enough, and then Katsuki could slip away more easily.

“I heard you telling the waitress, and the bartender when I got back from the bathroom, and the guy at the front desk, the people in the elevator, and the girl in the hallway trying to get in her room. I’m fully fucking aware what you think of me,” Katsuki said.

“But I haven’t told you?!” Izuku nearly yelled, flabbergasted that he forgot to tell Katsuki himself how amazing he was. “Oh man, I’m so sorry. Let me–”

No. For fuck’s sake please don’t start again.” Katsuki tried to push him away again, but to no avail. “Are you ever going to let go?”

“But I like hugging you,” Izuku said as he nestled his face under Katsuki’s chin and closed his eyes. “You’re warm, and smell good. They’re just more reasons you’re so great!”

“So I’ve heard,” Katsuki responded in a deadpan tone.

“See? You’re funny, too,” Izuku added on. He nuzzled Katsuki’s neck and finally let him go, and then a grin spread across his face when Katsuki didn’t take the opportunity to move away.

Katsuki suppressed the urge to sigh. He knew he should take the chance to get away now that he was freed, but if he could get Izuku to fall asleep right here then he could be done with all of this for the rest of the night. That would be much better than fighting with him all night long.

Plus, and although he would never say it aloud, he was beginning to get a little comfortable in this position.

He tried hard not to move in any way while Izuku laid there. The fact Izuku hadn’t spoken in the past few minutes was a miracle by itself. Him falling asleep would feel like winning the lottery to Katsuki.

It was difficult at certain times. When Izuku’s soft breathing tickled his neck, or Izuku shifted in even the smallest of ways and Katsuki had to keep himself from smacking Izuku’s arms away, lest he be hugged and this time not released.

It wasn’t until Izuku mumbled something too quiet for him to hear that Katsuki deemed it safe. He slowly and carefully moved backwards until he reached the edge of the bed. Once he had his feet on the floor he stood up and stretched.

There wasn’t much else for him to do at this point besides go to sleep himself.

With that in mind, he went to go brush his teeth, and made it a point to stay as quiet as possible. The door was shut, the faucet was kept to a low pressure, and he brushed slower than he normally would.

Yet even with all of that effort, he still managed to get ambushed by a fully reawakened Izuku the moment he stepped out.

“Kacchan! You didn’t answer my question!” Izuku exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around Katsuki and pinned him against the wall.

Katsuki’s heart sank. He thought he had freed himself of this torment, but it seemed like all he did was exacerbate it.

“You didn’t fucking ask me anything,” Katsuki growled in response.

“Yuh huh, right before you got up and left. I asked what can I do to make up for all the trouble I’ve caused you? I want to do something for you, because you’re always doing stuff for me.” Izuku gave him a lopsided grin and moved closer when Katsuki tried to back away and hit the wall. “So what can I do, Kacchan? You name it and I’ll do it. Anything. I’ll buy you something, or steal you something. I’ll kill someone for you, or not kill someone–”

“Why don’t you suck my fucking dick?” Katsuki snarled.

He was starting to get fed up with Izuku trying so hard to get on his good side. He didn’t seem to understand that he was already on Katsuki’s good side.

As much as he liked the attention, and would even admit to himself that he liked Izuku being so touchy-feely, what he didn’t like was the thought that this might not be how Izuku actually felt. Or if it was, this probably wasn’t how Izuku wanted to make it known.

He wanted Izuku’s genuine love and affection, not this drunken mess throwing themself at him.

Katsuki stared Izuku down. He could see the gears turning in Izuku’s mind through those half-lidded, somewhat confused eyes. And then, as soon as Izuku opened his mouth, Katsuki heavily regretted what he had just said out of frustration mere seconds ago.

“Okay.”

Katsuki barely registered what Izuku meant before a hand was tugging at the front of his pants.

Oh. No, no, no, no, no, oh hell no.

He quickly snatched Izuku’s hand away, his fingers wrapped tightly around Izuku’s wrist. He had no intention of taking advantage of Izuku’s condition in that way tonight.

“I didn’t mean that fucking literally!”

Izuku frowned, his face uncharacteristically serious. It was a little strange to see such an expression on him after how he’d been before now, but Katsuki was more concerned with how red Izuku’s face still was. He didn’t seem to be sobering up in the slightest yet. Or if he was then it definitely wasn’t a noticeable amount.

“But you sounded serious. I’ll do it if you want. I’ll swall–”

Don’t finish that sentence,” Katsuki commanded.

He looked around the room. Surely there had to be a water bottle or something around here. He needed to get Izuku to drink water or eat something that’ll soak up the alcohol in him. Or he could use the water to drown him. Something to make this hell end sooner–

“Do you like me, Kacchan?”

Katsuki’s gaze focused back on Izuku, his eyes growing slightly wider from the sudden question. Just enough that Katsuki prayed Izuku wasn’t as perceptive when this drunk, because he would surely pounce on that little tell if he was.

“I really like you, Kacchan,” he went on. He leaned in closer, prying his one hand free as the other moved to tangle his fingers with Katsuki’s. “I really like you. I like the way you’re always so confident, and the crazy way you grin when you’re getting worked up, and how you can be so soft and loving when you seem like you wouldn’t be–”

“What the hell are you getting at?” Katsuki growled. “What the fuck do you want from me?”

“I don’t want anything from you, Kacchan,” Izuku said as he pulled Katsuki’s arms up onto his shoulders, “I want you.

The statement was punctuated with a kiss from Izuku. One that shocked Katsuki to the point of immobility. His eyes couldn’t go any wider even if he tried to make them.

Just like the last time this happened, his first instinct was to shove Izuku away, although for entirely different reasons this time. To beat him to a pulp, but not because he had no interest in Izuku. It was because he was interested in Izuku.

And it was also because of that reason that he found himself slowly getting into the kiss. It was because of that reason that he started to lose the urge to fight, and leaned back against the wall to let Izuku have his way. That his eyes closed and his arms wrapped around Izuku’s neck to rest on his shoulders.

This is wrong, said the prickling little voice in the back of his mind, slowly being drowned out by the fluttering that bloomed in his belly and floated up to his chest.

It nagged at him as Izuku moved forward and pressed their chests together. It nagged at him as Katsuki tilted his head back against the wall and Izuku lifted himself a little on his tiptoes to follow.

This is wrong, said the prickling little voice in the back of his mind, still being drowned out by the feeling of Izuku pressing against his front, and the wall against his back. By the feeling of Izuku trying to part his lips, and Katsuki hesitantly letting him in. By the taste of the alcohol in Izuku's mouth, on Izuku's breath, trickling into his.

It continued to nag at him as Izuku’s hands moved lower along Katsuki’s back. Down, down, down until he reached into Katsuki’s pants and grabbed hold of his backside. It continued to nag at him as, instead of pulling Izuku’s arms away, he let Izuku have his fill of groping, squeezing, and feeling.

Katsuki cracked his eyes open a little, just enough to see, and caught sight of Izuku doing the same. It wasn’t until then, when their eyes met and his thoughts were filled with images of the things he wanted to do with Izuku, and the things he wanted Izuku to do to him, that his conscience finally caught up to him.

It was then that the fluttering turned into the dull ache of guilt.

This is so, so wrong.

He started to feel bad. Not only because he knew he had to be the one to stop this, but also because he’d let it go this far in the first place. And now he had to explain to Izuku why they couldn't keep going, all while keeping himself from shoving Izuku onto the bed and riding him mercilessly.

“Deku,” Katsuki said when Izuku pulled away for a breath. He put a hand on Izuku’s chest and pushed him back when Izuku tried to dive in for more. “Deku, you have to stop.”

Izuku stared at him through half-lidded eyes, almost as though he couldn’t interpret what Katsuki had said to him. Then he tried to go for another kiss.

“I said stop, ” Katsuki demanded. He pulled Izuku's hands out of his pants and pushed to keep him at bay.

Izuku stared at him again with the same confused expression. “Did I do something? I thought…”

“No, we’re just not going to do this while you’re drunk,” Katsuki explained. “When you’re sober, come at me. Just get sober first.”

“I want you now though,” Izuku complained.

“I said it’s not fucking happening,” Katsuki said, “so back off. I don’t care if you go to sleep anymore, just don’t leave this room and stay the fuck away from me.”

“But–”

“Don’t make me hurt you, Deku,” Katsuki warned him, though his voice carried and unintended pleading undertone. A silent ‘please’ that would hopefully be caught.

With the looks Izuku kept giving him, Katsuki had begun to wonder if Izuku could fully understand the words coming out of his mouth.

He was finally put at ease when Izuku backed away to give him space. He moved further and further, walking backwards across the room, until he hit one of the beds and ungracefully fell backwards onto the mattress.

Katsuki remained against the wall, his eyes trained on Izuku until he deemed it safe to get into the bathroom and lock the door.

For now he would have to trust that Izuku would listen to him and stay put, because if he didn’t take care of the other problem that Izuku had built up inside of him he was going to lose his own mind.

 


 

The sunlight of the new morning dimly lit the hotel room through the closed blinds. Both men in the room appeared to be fast asleep in their unmoving state, but both were actually wide awake at the moment. Neither wanted to move for their own reasons.

Katsuki for fear of disturbing Izuku, regardless of the two of them lying in separate beds. He didn’t know when exactly Izuku had fallen asleep, but he guessed Izuku was after he left the bathroom last night and saw Izuku lying unmoving on the bed.

He slept relatively well himself, even after the events leading up to going to bed, but he wasn’t sure how well Izuku had fared.

Izuku on the other hand laid completely still in bed for fear of the pain that would rocket through his head at every little sound and movement. The occasional bird that chirped outside, which normally wouldn’t even manage to be a minor annoyance, would now cause the feeling of his head splitting in two.

He knew there was a flight they had to catch today, but he couldn’t bring himself to find his phone and check the time. The mere thought of doing so felt like a death sentence.

He felt a simultaneous feeling of fortunate and unfortunate when he heard Katsuki get up. There was a pause in which Izuku could feel Katsuki staring at his back, and then he no longer felt fortunate at all to have Katsuki there.

“Get up, Deku. We need to get ready to go.”

Izuku pulled his pillow up and placed it on top of his head to cover his ear and hide. The motion was followed up with a long whine that could easily be interpreted as a plea to be left alone.

Katsuki stared somewhat sympathetically. He sort of knew what Izuku would be going through right now, as he’d been in that state before. There was a lingering sense of guilt, considering that it was his idea to put the drink in front of Izuku without making sure he knew what he was getting into.

He should’ve known someone in Izuku’s position had never gone drinking with friends or anything like that before. His mentors had probably never allowed him anywhere near alcohol before.

But he also realized it wasn’t his job to baby him. With Izuku’s lack of ability to blackmail him it was no longer his job to do anything for Izuku anymore. Izuku was a grown man that could handle himself, and he should’ve asked questions or knew to stop after he’d had too much.

Still, Katsuki thought of them as close friends with an extremely strong potential to be something more now. Because of such he would take it upon himself to help when he deemed it necessary. Even though he felt like that feeling of wanting to help is what put Izuku in this position in the first place.

Although, really thinking about it, none of this would have happened if Izuku would pay more attention to Katsuki’s intentions and admit his feelings like his drunken self did. If Katsuki could even trust a single word Izuku had said last night.

Katsuki shook his head at those thoughts.

There was no reason to get defensive like that. Not when he knew he was to blame in that regard as well. His lack of coming to terms with his own feelings and communicating them to Izuku properly was just as much to blame, and he quickly realized he was simply blaming Izuku to shield himself from any blame.

He took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, then moved around the bed to stand in front of Izuku and leave all of his conflicting thoughts behind.

“I said get up, Deku,” Katsuki said again. “We have to be at the airport in a couple of hours.”

“Please stop yelling at me,” Izuku begged, pushing the pillow against his head harder.

“I don’t think I’ve ever used a softer voice with you than I’m using right now,” Katsuki replied calmly. He would try to make this as painless for Izuku as possible, but they were going to get on that plane no matter what.

There was a few minutes without talking in which Izuku thought Katsuki had relented and left him alone. Then he lifted the pillow to curiously look over the items that were suddenly placed on the nightstand next to his bed when Katsuki called for him again.

A bottle of painkillers, a glass of water, and a candy bar.

Izuku threw a cursory glance to Katsuki, but made it a point to not make eye contact. He sat up, sighed, and went for the painkillers first. He knew as well as Katsuki that they did have to catch the flight, or it would be a lot of wasted money and a lot of trouble to book a new flight.

Katsuki sat down next to Izuku on the edge of the bed and took note of the way Izuku subtly inched away from him. He also noticed the way Izuku refused to look in his direction, and shied away from Katsuki’s touch when he tried to offer the candy bar to him.

“You need to eat something.” Katsuki bit his bottom lip when Izuku covered his ears, realizing how bad that must have been when they were sitting this closely.

“I need a bit,” Izuku said after a moment. He rubbed his forehead and went for the glass of water. “I feel a little sick.”

There’s no way you drank enough to throw up,’ Katsuki wanted to say, but refrained from opening his mouth. He knew how much it would agitate Izuku’s headache if he said something again.

Instead he sat in silence and waited. He couldn’t help the nagging feeling that they were wasting precious time, but reasoned that there wasn’t much to pack up and it would be hell trying to get Izuku through the airport in this condition.

It would be best to simply wait and let as much of this pass as possible.

Around the time Izuku started to feel a little better, he placed his hands on the mattress and took a few deep breaths. Katsuki reached for his hand and froze when Izuku recoiled at his touch. The candy bar was put aside and Katsuki watched Izuku from the corners of his eyes.

“Do you remember anything from last night?”

Izuku went visibly rigid at the mere mention, but slowly shook his head.

“Just coming back to the room, and then nothing,” Izuku replied with his head down and gaze to the ground.

Katsuki turned his head to look Izuku over, taking note of the way Izuku still wouldn’t look at him.

“You don’t remember anything after we came back to the room?” Katsuki pressed him.

He wanted something to work off of. The ‘I really like you’, the making out, the groping, something. If Izuku could remember anything it would make this a million times easier. It would make everything so much easier if he could just get some form of confirmation from Izuku first.

Something that said Izuku wanted more than his good looks. Something that said Izuku was legitimately interested in him, and not simply in it for the fun of it. Something that said Izuku wasn’t screwing around with him in some messed up way.

“Not a thing,” Izuku said with an uneasy smile. “Hope it was nothing weird.”

Katsuki continued to watch him, his gaze as sharp as a freshly crafted knife. Izuku had an impeccable poker face when he was truly trying to hide something. He was cunning, intelligent, and very careful in that regard. But he was completely frazzled right now, and it was causing him to slip up.

He was trying too hard to hide the truth, and it showed. Katsuki could probably guess why, too.

Katsuki assumed that Izuku was scared. Scared that he had gone way too far last night, and that one more mistake could cost him Katsuki’s companionship. He wanted to cover this up and never let it see the light of day again, because he was frightened that Katsuki would be furious with him.

But he wasn’t furious. A little upset, maybe a little angry, but not at Izuku specifically. More so at the situation itself.

Katsuki looked down at the floor as well and tried to think. If Izuku really was scared, then Katsuki didn’t want to corner him or freak him out. He wanted to approach this tactfully, which was hard in and of itself without taking into account his lack of experience in being careful with people.

He tried to think of it as the same situation that he was in with Kouta on the curb. He needed to be careful and not say the wrong thing.

“You did some pretty weird shit for someone like you,” Katsuki said. He caught sight of Izuku tensing up in his peripheral when he said that, but remained calm to avoid freaking him out. “You annoyed the fuck out of me a little when you kept repeating my name, but you never made me angry at you. And we didn’t do anything I regret.”

Katsuki waited for a reaction from Izuku, and then mentally kicked himself when he realized how that last part sounded.

If he was going under the assumption that Izuku did actually remember at least some of what happened, but was trying to make it seem like he remembered nothing, then Katsuki was supposed to talk to Izuku like he didn’t know that Izuku knew that he–

Katsuki cut off his own thoughts and suppressed the urge to punch Izuku for forcing him think in the most confusing manner ever. This wasn’t stuff he normally did, nor had he ever tried to talk to someone in this manner. It was way too complicated for him to ever want to bother doing so.

“I meant nothing bad happened last night. I’m not mad at you or anything.” Katsuki briefly placed his hand on top of Izuku’s, ignoring the flinch from Izuku that followed, and slid his hand off as he got up to get their stuff together. “So don’t worry about it. We’re still friends.”

He would let Izuku come to terms with what they did last night at his own pace. Rushing Izuku might only make it worse, but he’d almost had enough of this unnecessary little dance between the two of them. All because they were both afraid of what the other did or didn’t feel.

He was going to give Izuku some time, to be patient for Izuku’s sake, but he resolved to finally come clean the moment he thought Izuku could handle it.

For better or for worse, he was going to confess his feelings.

Chapter Text

Where Izuku lived both the nights and days were always quiet. There were no neighbors or anyone around for blocks, no one ever came around that didn’t have a reason involving Izuku and his friends, and in general it always remained peaceful compared to most anywhere else.

One would get used to the constant peace and quiet after living here for so long.

Tonight however, and throughout the past week for that matter, that peace had become an illusion to Kouta. An illusion that threatened to break every time he heard the smallest of noises in the night anymore.

He lay there the same as he did most nights. Head on his pillow, eyes half open, gaze trained on the locked door, and blanket pulled up to cover everything from his mouth to his toes. The hem of his blanket was clutched in both fists, held tightly over the bottom half of his face with tension he wasn’t aware was even there.

The majority of his nights was taken up by watching the door and waiting for someone to try to come in. The other part was spent wondering if he had fallen asleep or simply blinked.

Every time it got harder to tell with more time that went by.

With a big yawn that let loose a tear in the corner of one eye, he sat up and moved to the edge of the bed. His feet dangled off as he considered leaving his room for the night, confident that there would be no sleep to be had.

An hour or two a night was all he had been getting since the day Katsuki saved his life. Anymore was a grace that he wouldn’t complain about, but couldn’t force his body to get anymore. If he wasn’t kept up by the paranoia and stress that had sunk in over time, then it was the occasional nightmare of varying degrees that decided to plague his much needed sleep.

There was a quiet thud as his feet landed on the floor, which made Kouta instinctively flinch and stand completely still. He listened carefully to make sure that noise did actually come from him, and when he deemed it safe he went for the door.

Right before unlocking the door he stopped again, a thought crossing his mind, and went back to get his BB gun from under his pillow. It was placed in the pocket of his pajama pants and he went for the door again.

Better safe than sorry.

Kouta poked his head out from the half opened door and checked both directions before he went out, just like he’d seen Izuku do during the times he was allowed to watch the screen with Kyouka.

The door across the hallway to the master bedroom was open, where Denki and Eijirou were both sound asleep. A cursory glance through the door revealed Eijirou’s back facing him as Kouta snuck down the hallway.

He considered asking them to let him sleep with them. Maybe the presence of someone else would help.

He knew he would feel safer, like the nights he vaguely remembered two years ago. The nights when he was too scared to sleep alone and Izuku let him sleep with him.

But remembering those nights with Izuku brought about an unpleasant feeling in his belly. One he found hard to describe as more than feeling bad for even thinking about a happy moment with Izuku. It was easiest to equate it to the same feeling he got whenever he thought about all of the bad things he’d done to Katsuki.

It was that feeling that kept him from going in the room with them and seeking comfort. He wouldn’t want whatever that feeling was to infect his thoughts and feelings about anyone else. Especially not those two.

He only wished he knew the word for it, so that he could better understand it, or maybe ask somebody about it.

Kouta turned on the lights to the living room, sat on the couch, and pulled his feet up to sit cross-legged. He looked left, then right, and picked up the remote from between the cushions where it was slowly sinking in.

The second the TV was turned on he was repeatedly pressing the volume down button on the remote until it was dead silent again. He remembered the first time he got caught staying up late because of the volume being too high.

This wasn’t the first time he’d come to the television in the middle of the night recently either. It was a decent distraction, provided something actually interesting was on. Although that was hoping for a lot at this time of night, as was evident when he switched from channel to channel in search of something, anything, to serve as a distraction.

There was a brief second in which he thought he’d had something, but he had apparently just caught the end of the show.

With a frustrated sigh he turned the TV off. There were a couple of seconds where he merely stared at his reflection in the black screen. Where he could almost, just barely make out the faint bags forming under his eyes if he stared hard enough.

And then he saw another reflection in the screen. It was gone as quickly as it was there, but he swore he saw it.

The BB gun was whipped out and fumbled with at the same moment he fell off of the couch in an attempt to scramble to his feet. He rolled over and pointed the pistol up at the back of the couch where he saw them standing in the reflection, his arms shaking violently and heart pounding against his chest.

His pulse could be felt throughout his entire body, thumping rapidly in his ears and drowning out all other feelings.

His eyes darted around the room. His head snapped in every direction, searching for where they may be, and then he clutched his shirt where his heart was pounding with one hand.

Kouta swore he saw them standing right behind him. It was only for a flash of a second, but he knew he saw them.

The tall man with the mask that tried to take him. The one that was shooting at Katsuki, and that kicked him off of the roof.

He looked around again, and then picked himself up and inched toward the hall with his BB gun raised and ready to fire if he saw anything move. He made it to the hallway with nothing happening, lowered his weapon, and scanned the area once more.

“Where did he go?” Kouta murmured to himself. “I know I saw him. I know… He was right there!”

Kouta didn’t see him behind the couch, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom when he went searching. There was no one in the cabinets in the kitchen, under the sink or in the bathtub in the bathroom. Not behind the TV, under the couch, or anywhere in the living room.

Realistically that would leave two more places to search. His room, and…

He ran in a blind panic from the TV to the master bedroom. If the man had gotten to Eijirou and Denki, would they have woken up in time?

Kouta would kill the man himself if he did anything to them. He didn’t know how he’d do it, but he would find a way.

He charged in and swiftly surveyed the room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first glance, but he wouldn’t rule anything out just yet.

His footsteps were near silent as he moved through the room to check under the bed and in the closet. He remained aware of which floorboards were the creaky ones, and followed a practiced path to avoid them. The old wood scratched at the soles of his feet as he walked on his bare toes toward the foot of the bed and peeked over to check on Eijirou and Denki.

He breathed a sigh of relief upon finding them sleeping soundly, and then he ducked down when Denki moved in his sleep. Slowly he crawled along the floor to Eijirou’s side of the bed closest to the door, and sat with his back against the nightstand.

It was unclear to him how much more of this he could take. The nights felt too long and the days even longer. He was completely and utterly exhausted, made only worse by the adrenaline that pumped through his veins fading away and leaving him more tired than ever before.

Was this what it was like for Izuku and Katsuki everyday, knowing that there were people out there that were after them? How did they handle it so well on top of hiding it from everybody the whole time?

With a brief look upward he spotted their phones, and grabbed one of the two. He wasn’t sure which belonged to who, but that didn’t matter. Either would work.

He returned to his own room, closed the door, and glanced around in the dark. The room was lit only by the moonlight that barely managed to flow in through his locked window. It wasn’t enough to light the entire room, but enough for him to find his way into his bed and under the blanket.

He couldn’t even be bothered to check if the man was hiding in here somewhere. They were probably gone by now, if they ever existed at all, and he didn’t care enough anymore. He couldn’t bring himself to try to care right now.

He just wanted so desperately to sleep, but he knew that had long since changed from a necessity to a luxury that his mind and body no longer allowed.

Kouta sat on the bed, his knees hugged to his chest and the blanket pulled over his head. In the dim lighting it was easy to see the large lump on the bed, and in the quiet room anyone close by would be able to hear him tapping on the phone’s screen to input the password Eijirou showed him the day before.

He swiped from screen to screen to find the phone app, looking for the familiar picture of the green and white phone that he couldn’t seem to find. After a few more moments of searching he finally found the picture of a book he associated with the word ‘Contacts’ instead, and pressed his thumb against that.

Before him appeared a large list full of names he neither knew nor wanted to bother attempting to sound out. The pictures beside each contact’s name were the only things that allowed him to figure out that he didn’t know a single person in the list. All save for one familiar face.

For some reason there was a Katsuki Bakugou with a picture, and a Katsuki Bakugou without one.

It was a little confusing why there were two people with the exact same name, but Kouta pressed his thumb against the one with a picture of that familiar glare and stared at the numbers that appeared on the screen.

His thumb then hovered above the picture of the phone.

Pressing that would call him, but Kouta hesitated and considered if he wanted to bother Katsuki just because he wanted to talk. Just because he was having a little trouble sleeping and was bothered by problems that might seem petty to someone out on life threatening missions.

Would Katsuki be angry with him for calling because of such minor reasons? In the middle of the night all because he had a few nightmares and wasn’t sleeping well? All because he wanted to talk to him and be told by the person that saved his life that everything would be all right?

He thought about what Katsuki might say. How Katsuki would probably tell him to get over it or something. Because the nightmares aren’t real and he shouldn’t be scared of them, and there was no reason for him to have so much trouble falling asleep. That he shouldn’t be bothering him over something so dumb when he had more important matters to deal with like keeping Izuku alive and saving other people and–

There was another few seconds of hesitation where his thumb hovered above the button. The more he thought about it, the lower his thumb inched as he absentmindedly let it slowly fall.

Suddenly the button was pressed, his thumb not even entirely on it, and the phone made quiet noises to alert him that it was calling.

Kouta’s thumb had fallen just enough to barely touch the screen and initiate the call without him meaning to.

He quickly pulled the phone up to his ear, his eyes wide with the realization that this was now going to happen whether he meant for it to or not. If he hung up now, Katsuki would still see that somebody called and get in contact with somebody about it.

But as it rang, his mind started racing again. This time with more comforting thoughts.

He remembered the way Katsuki cared for him when he found out about Izuku’s secret. How Katsuki kept him calm on the long trek back home after the jump from the helicopter, and the way Katsuki kept close to him during his talk with Izuku.

Katsuki wouldn’t do those mean things to him. Katsuki would talk to him and help him through this, because for all of Katsuki’s anger and aggressiveness he was still a reasonable person. A reasonable person who seemed to care, regardless of how much he either didn’t want to or tried to hide it.

Katsuki comforted him before when there was no personal gain to be had from it. Surely he’d do it again.

Right?

The phone rang, and rang, and rang, until finally a voice answered.

“Yo.”

Kouta bolted upright at the sound of Katsuki’s voice. Already the corners of his mouth tugged upward to form the tiniest smile, followed by the tension in his shoulders dropping. The weight that beared down on his chest and has been crushing his heart for the past few minutes became much lighter, almost to the point that it felt as though it no longer existed.

He had to remind himself to talk quietly, so as to not wake the others, when he almost shouted Katsuki’s name into the phone.

“Ka–”

“Not here right now,” Katsuki’s voice continued, “leave a message.”

Kouta’s smile turned hollow at the sound of the automated tone that followed. The one that instructed him to begin leaving his message.

He slouched back down, his face buried in his knees as his smile dwindled to a deep frown, and sat in the silence for what felt like forever, the phone still against his ear.

He tried to think of something to say. Some message to leave before it hung up on him, and in the midst of running words through his head his sight got blurry. Something wet hit his leg and rolled down his ankle to his foot.

He lifted his head from his knees and wiped at his eyes with the back of his free hand to get rid of the tears that began to fall.

The last thing he had expected was for life to taunt him like that. It hit him hard and unexpectedly.

“Can you call me when you get a chance?” Kouta said quietly into the phone. He buried his face in his knees again, a little embarrassed when he realized his voice had cracked mid-sentence. “Please?”

He hesitated for another few seconds, and then added on right as the call ended itself, “I miss you both.”

He lifted his head again and pulled the phone back to glare at it the moment he figured out it had cut him off. He wiped at his eyes again when another few tears dropped, this time landing on the phone’s screen, and then angrily threw the blanket off of his head and got out of bed.

The frustration built up inside of him threatened to break out in a bout of anger, but for the sake of staying quiet and not dragging Eijirou or Denki into his plight he held his frustration back and returned the phone back to the nightstand in the other room.

Trying to stay quiet was a heavily conscious effort at that point. It took effort to keep from stomping his feet, and from screaming at the top of his lungs in aggravation on his way there and back.

It all felt like far too much to him. The lack of sleep kept him from enjoying much of the time spent with Eijirou and Denki. Kyouka, Mashirao, and everyone else were gone.

He couldn’t seem to get a hold of Izuku for anything beyond homeschooling, and he felt like to even get that at times.

During moments like this now he no longer cared if he was angry at Izuku, or resentful deep down for what Izuku had done, or whatever that stupid feeling that constantly reared its ugly head wherever Izuku was concerned in his mind was. He didn’t know the word for it and he didn’t care right now.

He just wanted everything to go back to the way it was. When nothing was wrong, and everyone just lived as normally as they could here. When he didn’t have anything to worry about, he got to enjoy the time spent with the people he considered his family, and no one was in any danger.

When he returned to his room he climbed back into bed, pulled the blanket up over himself, and lay face first in his pillow. He turned his head toward the window and stared with half-lidded eyes at the slowly increasing amount of sunlight beginning to brighten his room.

It was hard to tell how long he stayed in that position. An hour or two, maybe three? Perhaps he had fallen asleep for a half hour, or a few minutes, or maybe not at all. His mind felt foggy now, his eyes burned, and time seemed to pass at increasingly different intervals the longer he waited.

But he knew it had to have been a while when he heard his door open and his head snapped in that direction to see Eijirou peeking in from the doorway.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you,” Eijirou apologized quietly, and then smiled softly at Kouta. “We made some breakfast if you want to get up soon.”

Kouta stared at him in a way that made Eijirou hesitate before shutting his door again. As though the boy looked right through him, rather than truly acknowledging that someone had spoken to him. But he assumed it was simply that he had just woken Kouta up, and that Kouta still needed a minute or two to get his bearings.

Once the door was shut Kouta let out a small sigh and pushed the blanket away. There was no point in trying to sleep now. Eijirou and Denki would come and get him out of bed before too long because, as he’d been told before, it’s just as unhealthy to sleep too long as it is to sleep too little.

As if he would fall asleep anyway.

Kouta put on his hat and stepped out into the hallway, his feet almost dragging with each step. He’d barely made it into the chair they had set up at the table for him before a plate was placed in front of him, and then Denki was standing next to him.

There was a moment where Denki examined him closely with squinted eyes. He got closer with each passing second, until Kouta slapped a hand on his face and pushed him away.

“What are you doing? Back off.”

Denki turned his head to continue to examine Kouta, his cheek squished by the little hand that held him at bay.

“You don’t look too hot. Are you feeling sick?”

“I’m fine,” Kouta said, but even he could hear the croak in his voice. The obvious tell that no, he absolutely was not fine.

Eijirou was looking over from the stove now, curious and concerned about the situation. He kept cooking though, and trusted Denki to take care of it for the moment. Surely it was nothing too serious if Denki wasn’t actively making a big deal out of it.

“Nah, you definitely look like you got hit by a car. Maybe a truck.” Denki pulled Kouta’s hand away and inspected him again. He leaned down, dodged the next hand that abruptly tried to shove him again, and smiled at Kouta. “I just want to make sure you’re okay because I’m a little concerned. May I, please?”

Kouta met his smile with a half-hearted glare, and then turned in his chair to face Denki with a huff. A gesture that made it clear he would allow the other to inspect him without too much resistance.

As much as he wanted to keep these two out of it, he wouldn’t cause trouble for them. They didn’t deserve that, and they were going to find out eventually anyway. If he continued to resist then it would only look more suspicious.

Eijirou glanced over his shoulder again, amused by Denki’s antics. “You almost never say please before invading someone’s space.”

“I don’t invade! I just assertively share the public space we’re all living in. Plus I can’t figure out what’s wrong if he doesn’t let me near him. It may not look like it, but he packs a punch,” Denki explained, one hand on each side of Kouta’s face as he turned the boy’s head left and right to investigate his condition. “Whose genes did you get to be this cute anyway?”

“I’m not wearing jeans, idiot. They’re pajama pants.”

Denki’s smile vanished for a moment as he glared at Eijirou from the corners of his eyes, who snickered at Kouta’s response, and then smiled at Kouta again.

He’d not only developed thick skin long ago, especially with Katsuki as a friend, but he could tell from a simple glimpse at Kouta’s features that the boy would no doubt be at least a little cranky.

He believed he would be too if he looked this sleep deprived. Atleast, that was his guess from the bags that found a new home under Kouta’s bloodshot eyes. Bags which certainly weren’t there when Denki first arrived. That happened to be coupled with the obvious irritation that made up Kouta’s mood.

Although to be fair, the irritation was already there when he first arrived.

Denki lifted Kouta’s hat, pushed his bangs up, and held the back of his hand against Kouta’s forehead to check for a fever. Upon finding nothing else out of the ordinary, he placed Kouta’s hat back on his head.

“Well, you’re probably not dying.”

“Probably?” Eijirou asked.

“I’m not a pediatrician. He’s not running a fever or coughing or anything, just sleep deprived. I think,” Denki explained over his shoulder to Eijirou. He then turned back to Kouta, “Did you sleep at all last night, Kouta?”

Kouta turned back toward the table and stared down at the plate of food in front of him. “A couple hours maybe.”

Denki hummed his disapproval, along with a slightly concerned glance from Eijirou.

“You should try to take a nap today then. A short one so you can still fall asleep tonight,” Eijirou said.

“Maybe.” Kouta put his elbow on the table and rested his cheek against his fist. He was sure it would be a useless effort, but if it would appease them for now then he would agree to it at least. “I’ll try later.”

Denki went to sit across the table from Kouta, seemingly pleased with that response, but barely pulled his chair out before there was a knock at the door.

All three of them turned their attention towards the front door, suddenly on guard. Neither Izuku or Katsuki said anything about coming back already, and they weren’t expecting anyone else.

While any sensible intruder would be unlikely to just knock on their front door, Katsuki had warned them beforehand that this was both babysitting and actual bodyguarding.

They didn’t want to take the chance out of curiosity.

Both Eijirou and Denki moved quietly, their movements mere instinct from so much practice on jobs before. Eijirou to the door cautiously, Denki to Kouta to guard him. Not a word was said between the three, and then Eijirou lowered his guard a little when he opened the door and saw who was standing there.

“What are you doing here?”

Momo looked just as surprised to be greeted by him. She glanced over Eijirou’s shoulder at Denki, and then went straight from surprised to annoyed. “Don’t tell me he’s blackmailing the both of you too?”

“Who? Izuku?” Eijirou inquired. “No, he’s paying us to watch Kouta. Why are you here?”

Momo pursed her lips. When she had gone to question Eijirou the last time he was seen here, she never fully explained to him Izuku’s and her tentative partnership. She never considered that she would have to, because she never expected to have to deal with him directly again.

But what got to her more was that if these two were being paid to watch over Kouta, then Izuku most likely wasn’t here. And if he wasn’t here, then she had wasted her time coming here.

“I need to speak with either Izuku or Katsuki as soon as possible,” Momo said, her eyes scanning the room behind Eijirou as she spoke. “If you both are here, then I assume neither of them are. When will they be back?”

“Hey lady, I hate to threaten someone so pretty, but we were instructed to shoot first and ask questions at the funeral for anyone who stopped by,” Denki chimed in from his spot in front of Kouta. “So, ya know, it’d be in everyone’s best interest if you left. Now. This conversation is already us being nicer than we’re supposed to be.”

Momo studied their expressions, and promptly came to the conclusion that these two would not be reasoned with. Her words meant nothing to them without Izuku or Katsuki to back her up, and therefore her position of power also meant nothing in this current situation.

As frustrating as it was, they were unfortunately correct. It would be in everyone’s best interest if she left without making a scene. There was no point to it without Izuku here anyway.

“Fine. I would appreciate it if you would relay a message for me. May I at least ask that of you?” Momo tore off a scrap of paper from her clipboard without waiting for a response, and wrote something down on it. She held it out for Eijirou to take, and waited as Eijirou stared at it suspiciously. “It’s very important, and a simple message couldn’t possibly hurt anyone.”

Eijirou considered it for a moment, and although he knew he probably shouldn’t take it, his features softened and he did.

Deep down his instincts caused him to agree with her. There was no harm in playing messenger boy for one message. And if it really was important, then surely Izuku would want to know. If it wasn’t, then whatever.

“Alright, but only this one message. Nothing else,” Eijirou clarified. “Now please leave. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

“Thank you. Make sure you read it word for word to him. It’s a phrase only Izuku would know, and he needs to hear it exactly as written.”

Momo turned and left with that. She had hoped to talk to Izuku directly before she went to go do what she had planned, but that would have to suffice for the time being. It would be too difficult, and potentially dangerous for herself, to pry for information from those two.

They seemed nice enough, but they were under orders. Momo could see in Eijirou’s eyes that, even though he was arguably too nice for his own good, he wouldn’t defy those orders.

She got into the driver’s seat of her car outside, put on her seatbelt, and started the car.

“That was a quick conversation.”

Momo turned to face Tenya. “He wasn’t there. I left a message.”

“Who’s watching Kouta?”

Momo glanced in the rearview mirror at Shouto, who was watching her intently from the backseat for an answer.

“He’s in safe hands. Katsuki’s co-workers and friends are watching over him. They were very protective of him, and they’re apparently under orders to ‘Shoot first and ask questions at the funeral’. Katsuki’s words I’m sure.” Momo set the car in drive, and drove off to keep Shouto from leaving to go check. The last thing she needed was him abandoning Tenya and herself for Kouta all of a sudden. “I’m sure he’ll be cared for.”

Shouto stared out of the back of the car apprehensively. He’d have preferred to go and see Kouta himself, but it would have to wait until he came back.

Although he hoped Momo was right, and that Kouta was doing well, he was also hired to help Tenya and Momo with their self-appointed task for Izuku’s sake. And he wouldn’t go back on his word, especially if it meant helping his friend.

 


 

Katsuki looked around the empty yard of the factory Izuku had guided him to. There were a couple of guards standing out front, but otherwise the place was almost entirely empty. Eerily so, considering it was barely noon.

He pulled out his phone and checked the time. A little late, but no messages or missed calls from anyone. He had expected a call or two from Eijirou since he got off the plane the other day, but so far nothing.

His eyes darted to the side as Izuku’s voice emitted from the earpiece.

“Just try to look as unmenacing as possible.” Izuku adjusted the zoom on his binoculars and focused in on Katsuki’s glare. He wasn’t too far from his spot on top of the building across the street, but didn’t want to risk missing anything important. “Maybe less angry, too.”

“It’s bad enough you made me lie. I’m not going to play nice with these assholes too,” Katsuki growled back. “If they point one of those guns at me I’m going to kill them.”

“They’re not going to point their guns at you,” Izuku reasoned with him, and then zoomed in on the guards. “Probably. Okay they might but they won’t shoot at you just please don’t kill them Kacchan we don’t have any other plan to fall back on right now.”

Katsuki scoffed at Izuku’s unassuring words, glared at the guards from afar, and then started walking towards them. “I’m just going to kick their asses now and get it over with. It’s easier.”

“Please don’t!” Izuku pleaded into the earpiece as his vision darted towards Katsuki. They’d only just begun, and he wouldn’t know where else to begin the hunt if they messed up this chance. “I will literally pay you to not do that. Whatever amount you want, you name it and I’ll get the money. Legally or illegally, your choice.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, but didn’t lessen his stride in the least. He had no interest in a deal like that right now, but since Izuku was practically begging him not to then he would refrain from acting rashly.

For as long as he could.

“Yo, I’m here to–”

“Sir, please get the fuck out of my sight.”

Izuku lowered the binoculars, along with his head, closed his eyes as he pinched the bridge of his nose, and sighed heavily. He already knew what would follow that, and it hurt his very brain that they would be so unfortunate to encounter someone like that at the very first step. They didn’t even make it through the front door.

He started climbing down the ladder on the side of the building, convinced that this could only end badly, but stopped halfway upon hearing Katsuki’s voice through the earpiece.

“I was told to come see Chisaki at this location,” Katsuki forced his words through gritted teeth. His hands were shoved into his pockets to hide the fact they were balled into tight fists. He was doing all he could to not go off on the man in front of him, giving his all in this matter for Izuku’s sake.

Izuku stared with wide eyes from the ladder, one arm hanging onto a bar as he turned his upper body to watch the scene from afar. He quickly slid down the rest of the ladder and spoke into his earpiece, aware of the effort Katsuki was putting in to not instantly blow this.

“You’ll call Chisaki back if they don’t let you in!” Izuku ignored the strange looks he got from the people on the sidewalk he was running by and continued to give Katsuki support. “You’ll describe the person who stopped you to Chisaki too!”

“I could just leave and go call him. Explain how I wasn’t allowed in by some asshole being a piece of shit at the front door,” Katsuki went on, and then made a show of staring the man down. “Pretty sure I can describe your ugly fucking mug well enough for him to figure out who it was.”

Izuku jumped on the fence with a running start and climbed over as fast as he could, only stopping at the top to further instruct Katsuki before jumping down. He couldn’t believe Katsuki suppressed his aggressive nature and kept this going.

“Now start walking away, they’ll both get nervous and try to get you back.”

Katsuki hesitated, reluctant to turn his back on these two, but did as Izuku said and turned to walk off. He’d hardly made it two steps before the other guard, who had remained silent until now, called out for him and pointed toward the door.

“Bakugou Katsuki, right? I’ll take you. Just don’t call Chisaki, please.”

Katsuki stopped, resisted the urge to grin, and turned back to them. He casually walked past and through the door, his hands in his pockets. He made it a point to not look at either of them as he went by.

“Fine. Don’t waste anymore of my fucking time.”

Izuku stood with his back against the wall of the building. He peeked around the corner in time to see Katsuki walk inside with the polite one. The other stayed behind to continue to guard the door, a pensive and concerned look on his face.

Izuku couldn’t help but feel bad for this man’s misfortune for being rude to Katsuki and being in Izuku’s way.

Inside the building Katsuki followed the guard through a very large room, filled with shelves full of varying objects. He assumed this was a place used to hold illegal items and products, as well as other varying uses.

If they were still going along with the plan, then Izuku shouldn’t be far behind.

Within a minute he became vaguely aware of the faint noises heard behind. It was hard to tell if they were footsteps of other patrolling guards, workers of some type, or Izuku following closely from somewhere.

He was impressed with how swiftly Izuku caught up to them when he glanced over, through a shelf full of machinery parts, and watched what appeared to be a mere shadow flit across his sight.

The person leading him stopped at a door and stepped out of Katsuki’s way. “He’s waiting for you inside. Sorry about the other guy.”

“Don’t care anymore,” Katsuki replied as he stood there and waited for them to leave. “Karma is a bitch. He’ll get what’s coming to him.”

They gave him a look, like they obviously didn’t believe in the same thing, and walked away. Once they were out of sight, Katsuki put the earpiece in his pocket and stepped into the room.

Katsuki, try as he might, couldn’t convince Izuku to stay away and let him handle this alone. Izuku insisted on being close by in case anything at all went wrong. As such, Izuku would be waiting in hiding right outside the room.

That was the furthest Katsuki could convince him to stay. Though it was still better than Izuku’s idea of trying to find a way inside with them. That had a much higher chance of causing far, far more problems.

The room looked similar to the last one he’d seen this man in. Although this time there were two chairs rather than one chair and a sofa.

Katsuki moved to sit in the chair across from Chisaki, who sat with one leg crossed over the other and scrolled through something on his phone. He was regarded with a cursory glance, and then Chisaki pressed the button to lock his phone before placing it on the armrest of his chair.

“I don’t appreciate tardiness.”

“Boo hoo,” Katsuki said sarcastically. “Now are we going to talk terms or are you here to bitch about the world not revolving around you?”

It was hard to tell what Chisaki was thinking behind the mask that covered his face from the nose down, but Katsuki had no doubt his words would annoy him.

Izuku informed him that Chisaki would remain calm to an astounding degree with people who didn’t work for him though. It was only when you worked for him that you really had to walk on eggshells.

All he had to do was refrain from crossing the line of ‘too much’ while not acting too unlike himself.

He already disliked this part of Izuku’s line of work. Too much acting, too much deceit, and too much bullshitting overall.

“And how am I to reliably believe that you, the proclaimed lover of Midoriya, want to get rid of him?” Chisaki leaned back in his chair and rested his cheek against his fist. “Quite frankly, I’m under the assumption he’s here right now. It seems like the type of stunt he would pull.”

“Because I’m not that piece of shit’s lover. He said that so you wouldn’t kick me out of the room. I’m only with him because the asshole is blackmailing me into working for him. And so far you and two other people are my best chance at getting rid of him so that I can finally be free,” Katsuki explained. He mimicked Chisaki’s pose and stared him dead in the eyes. “He’s here in Japan too, but he didn’t follow me. He thinks I went to the store. So it’d be nice if we could hurry this up so I can get back before he gets too suspicious.”

Chisaki assessed Katsuki’s words, checked something on his phone, and then reluctantly nodded.

“What exactly do you propose?” Chisaki asked. He decided he would take the gamble, if it really meant finally getting rid of Izuku at little to no cost to himself. “You're in a far better position to handle him than I am.”

“That doesn't mean I can just walk up and kill him. He's a paranoid freak, doesn't let me keep a weapon, and never takes his eyes off me. It took a fucking hour just to convince him to let me go to the store alone. I need someone to help me get rid of him, someone he isn't expecting, and you're the only one I know that can get a hold of one of them for me. Because we ended up in Japan again, I figured I’d try to take my chances with you.”

Chisaki regarded him with another reluctant stare. It could be seen in his eyes that he knew exactly where this was going, and he didn’t appear to be all that keen on the idea.

“You want Aizawa.”

“Izuku won't be able to handle both me and him at the same time. We fuck him up, all three of us get to be rid of him, and no one owes anyone anything. Everyone wins.” Katsuki leaned forward and clasped his hands together. “All you have to do is get him in a position that I can talk to him, and then it’s out of your hands.”

Izuku pressed the earpiece harder into his ear, trying hard to hear anything at all. He could only hear faint voices, but couldn’t make out what was being said well enough. He had to resist the urge to find some way into that room and trust that Katsuki could take care of himself.

Katsuki would find some way to contact him if he was in trouble. He could handle himself if a guard tries to give him trouble.

“Find a way to call me again when you’ve taken care of those issues, and I’ll make sure you get what you need.”

Izuku’s gaze snapped over towards Chisaki and Katsuki walking out of the meeting room. Katsuki appeared to be unharmed. However Chisaki looked somewhat pleased, and that alone put Izuku further on edge even though it should’ve been a sign of Katsuki’s success.

“And if I can’t get a hold of you?” Katsuki questioned as Chisaki followed him outside.

“You did it once. Do it again,” Chisaki responded nonchalantly. “If getting in contact with me is the thing you’re worried about, then you have bigger problems than that ahead of you.”

Once outside, Katsuki stopped at where the guards used to be, wondering if Izuku had done something to cause them to go missing. Chisaki didn’t seem concerned however, and kept going until he was well out of sight, so Katsuki did the same and returned to the car.

He sat in the car and started watching videos on his phone while he waited for Izuku to catch up. They had discussed beforehand that they would wait before meeting up in case Chisaki decided to have someone watch Katsuki.

Katsuki looked up when the car door opened and put his phone away. Izuku sat down in the passenger seat and smiled at Katsuki from behind the mask that covered the lower half of his face. He almost reached to take the hood of his hoodie off, but decided it’d be better to wait until they got back to the hotel.

“People usually wear black when they do this type of shit,” Katsuki commented, referring to Izuku’s choice of light colored clothing as he started the car.

“That’s why I didn’t wear black. Then I would stick out more,” Izuku replied while putting his seatbelt on and leaning back in his seat. “Wearing super dark grey is for when you don’t want to be seen in dark places. If I was going to wear all black, it would be so I could blend in with a group of goths. Or if I’m confident enough about success that I don’t care that much.”

“Dark grey?” Katsuki said incredulously.

“Maybe not that color exactly, but closer to that than pure black. It would have to be pitch black for pure black clothing to blend in properly,” Izuku explained, “and at that point it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing because no one could see anything anyway. What I’m wearing right now is entirely appropriate casual attire. The mask both hides my face and dissuades interaction because I appear to have something contagious.”

Katsuki stared at Izuku for a moment, shook his head at the ridiculousness that anyone would go that much in depth about remaining unseen, and started to drive off.

“Why do you never change out of those bright as fuck red shoes when you disguise yourself?”

“Shoes are expensive. I’d end up spending way too much on them if I got a new pair every time I used a new disguise.” Izuku said. “Anyway, Chisaki seemed pleased with whatever you said to him. Did he go for it?”

The hint of excitement in his voice didn’t go unnoticed by Katsuki, and it made him feel a little bad for the slight problems that arose.

“Yeah, but he wants me to do a couple things for him first. The first being to make sure you don’t do anything that inconveniences him while we’re here.”

“Easy. I don’t want anything else from him right now, and I don’t care what he’s doing at the moment.”

“He also wants me to steal some shit for him. He thinks I’d be better at it than anyone working for him, and cheaper than anyone he could hire,” Katsuki continued. “Told him I’d do it because I figured it’d be easy for you.”

There was a long pause in which Katsuki wondered if Izuku registered what he had said. He almost repeated himself to make sure Izuku was paying attention, but Izuku replied first.

“Okay, I’ll handle that then. You can take a break and enjoy yourself while I’m gone.” He smiled at Katsuki from behind the mask. “Maybe you can help Kouta with his lessons tonight while I’m doing that. I bet he would love that.”

“I barely know how to hold a conversation with him and you want me to spend a few hours teaching him shit?”

“It isn’t that hard! He’s still learning how to read and write mostly. So you just have to help him learn how to sound stuff out and maybe do a little math. Easy numbers. I bet he would want to show off what he knows to you.”

“I bet you think he likes me a lot more than he actually does,” Katsuki argued.

“I bet he likes you more than I think he does,” Izuku responded in an amused tone. “He asked about you the other night. After you’d already gone to bed. He’s really started looking up to you since you saved him I think.”

Katsuki sent a cursory glance his way while at a stop sign. He would continue to argue that Izuku was wrong if he was more sure, but Kouta was proving Izuku right little by little every time he asked if Katsuki was around during his lessons.

“Whatever. It doesn’t matter since I’m going with you anyway.”

“Really, it’s okay. All I have to do is steal something, right? So it should be super easy. No need for you to waste your time.” Izuku leaned his head back with his eyes closed. “I’ll be in and out before anything bad happens.”

There was a tell of Izuku’s that Katsuki had recently begun to pick up on. One of very, very few that Izuku seemed to either be unaware of, chose not to control, or used to his advantage from time to time.

It wasn’t the extremely subtle change in Izuku’s expression, half hidden by the mask and unnoticed by Katsuki while he was busy driving.

No, it was the fact that Izuku rarely ever pushed him away and refused his help unless there was something to hide. Something Izuku wasn’t telling him that Katsuki was slowly and unknowingly encroaching on. It had become a noticeable pattern after spending enough time with him.

It was one of the few tells Katsuki had picked up on. One that Izuku seemed to either be unaware of, chose not to control, or used to his advantage. However it still managed to be useful all the same so far.

And now, knowing that there was some unknown reason that Izuku didn’t want him to go, he wanted to go even more just to spite Izuku for keeping something from him.

“Then me being there just in case something does happen shouldn’t be a problem,” Katsuki said as he pulled into a parking space outside of their hotel. “So you can tell me why you don’t want me to go, or shut up and deal with it.”

There was a moment of silence where Katsuki turned off the car and waited for Izuku’s reply. Izuku’s lips pursed, though he didn’t look at Katsuki. Right before Katsuki was moving to open the door and leave Izuku spoke up.

“I don’t want to tell you no, because you get argumentative and a little combative when you don’t get what you want–”

“Bullshit,” Katsuki interjected, his tone somewhat of a snarl.

“–but I think it’s a bad idea for you to get involved in any blatant crimes while you’re with me,” Izuku continued as though Katsuki had said nothing. He’d long since grown used to Katsuki’s outbursts and wouldn’t let that stop him from talking now. “It’s one thing to help protect Kouta and the others when you’re being blackmailed. Anything you do then is self defense, or defending other people. None of that should matter when you prove your innocence and go back home. It’s another thing entirely to commit crimes while you’re with me. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do or say to excuse further criminal actions that could be used against you in court.”

Katsuki not only hadn’t thought of that, but hated to admit that Izuku was right. Even if he didn’t admit it aloud. Though Izuku picked up on that from the displeased look on his face, and lowered the mask to smile sheepishly at him.

“I’d rather not, but we can try with you coming. But you have to do what I say and make it a point to be stealthy. Just getting caught on a security camera could potentially be a massive issue for us to deal with in the future.” Izuku looked back down at the floorboard and unbuckled his seatbelt. “I’m not doing any of this to upset you or anything. I really want you to be happy and I’m just thinking about what’s best for you. Both in the near and far future.”

“Let me worry about what’s best for me for once. I can take care of my damn self,” Katsuki said as he unbuckled his seatbelt and opened his door. Right before he stepped out, something else came to mind. Something that had been bothering him for some time. “And you know what? Think about yourself instead of someone else for once. It’s starting to piss me off that you only think about others and never yourself. Forget about all that other shit and ask yourself if you want me to go. Not if it’ll cause trouble, but if you want me to be there with you.”

Izuku watched Katsuki get out and slam the car door shut before he could respond. That was something he hadn’t heard before, nor ever thought of before. That someone could get upset at him for thinking of them more.

He was far too used to thinking of his own needs last. Growing up he was taught to put Nedzu’s safety first, Nedzu’s interests first, Nedzu’s needs first. Whatever he himself needed came last.

He supposed that might have transferred over to the people he cared about. To put their needs ahead of his own. Though he still didn’t fully understand why it would upset Katsuki that he was putting him first.

Regardless, he thought about what was said. He put aside his thoughts of keeping Katsuki away from unnecessary danger, of making sure everything worked out easier for Katsuki, and asked himself that question.

Do I want him to go with me?

 


 

The soft laughter on one side of the room could barely be heard over the sound of the TV at the other side. Every so often a little head would poke up from the couch and stare at the back of the laptop.

The actions didn’t go unnoticed either. Not by Eijirou, sitting by a very tired looking Kouta on the couch, nor by Denki, who would occasionally catch a glimpse of Kouta on the edge of his vision.

He had the table set up a little further from the couch than usual, with a laptop set up facing away from them. Were it not for Kouta’s bright red hat and the gold horns he might not even notice the small boy trying to stare at him stealthily

But every time Denki caught sight of Kouta, he’d duck back out of sight before Denki could acknowledge him in any way.

While both found it amusing that he seemed to take an interest in Denki, Eijirou still found it a little weird that Kouta was so hesitant around them. Weird enough to be concerned of what Kouta thought of them.

He’d have thought that maybe Kouta didn’t like them if it weren’t for the fact he kept an eye on the boy, letting him notice every subtle movement Kouta made to move closer to Eijirou, and then farther, and then closer. It was as though he couldn’t make up his mind where he wanted to be in relation to Eijirou.

Ever since Izuku and Katsuki left on their trip Kouta had stuck to him like glue. The only times he wasn’t in Eijirou’s sight anymore was when either of them went to the bathroom, when they went to sleep, or when Denki gave Kouta a bath.

If he didn’t know any better, right now he’d say Kouta was scared to get too close, but couldn’t bring himself to stay away. Although why there would be any fear Eijirou couldn’t say, nor could he say if that part was even true.

But it really felt like it for one reason or another.

Eijirou watched Kouta when he turned around, sat up on his knees, and looked over the back of the couch again. A smile formed on his lips at the sight of Kouta’s growing curiosity about Denki.

It was harder than ever before to believe that Kouta could be scared of either of them when he seemed so genuinely interested in both of them.

“You can go check out what he’s doing,” Eijirou said quietly.

Kouta jumped at the sound of Eijirou’s voice, his cheeks taking on a light shade of red, and then quickly sat back down and faced the TV. He appeared unable to decide what to do with his hands for a moment, trying to look casual in some way. He settled on crossing his arms as he leaned back into the couch, eyes trained on the screen in front of them.

“I don’t care what he’s doing.”

Eijirou stared at him, a little surprised by the answer. Although those words were easy to disprove, and not believed in the slightest, Eijirou’s smile dropped all the same.

“Oh.”

He had noticed, now that he’d been here for longer than a couple of days, that Kouta really didn’t warm up to others easily at all.

For some reason incomprehensible to him, Kouta had taken a liking to him very fast. It was only now that he saw the way Kouta acted around Denki, on top of the way he knew Kouta acted around Katsuki, that he could see how reclusive Kouta tended to be under normal circumstances.

It made him wonder if Katsuki had something to do with it, if it was the secretive and somewhat distrustful environment he was being raised in, if he thought it was cooler or something to that effect, or if that was just who he was as a person.

Eijirou noticed Kouta cover up a yawn, and then start to squirm uncomfortably a little with a somber look on his face. He wasn’t even pretending to watch what was on the screen in front of them anymore. His eyes were instead trained on his own legs as he stared off into space.

“I don’t know what to say to him,” Kouta murmured.

That was a more believable answer, and a problem Eijirou thought would be easier to remedy. If a little reassurance and encouragement was all Kouta needed, Eijirou would more than happily help out.

“That’s one of the best parts about him though. He’ll talk about almost anything. He’s really outgoing and talks a lot.” Eijirou said excitedly. He stood up and grinned at Kouta with a wave of his hand, signaling Kouta to follow. “Come on, I’ll go with you. I bet Denki would really like it if you spent time with him. He’s been afraid that you hate him.”

Kouta, although skeptical of how this would work out, hopped off of the couch, grabbed Eijirou’s hand, and followed him around to the table.

He often found it exceedingly difficult to say no to that sharp toothed grin and upbeat attitude.

Eijirou stacked two chairs from against the wall together and brought them along. He put them on either side of Denki, who pulled out one earbud and tried to subtly watch them on their way over.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing, just seeing what you’re doing,” Eijirou replied as he sat down on one side of him. “Thought we’d come hang out.”

“Oh, I’m not doing anything interesting right now.” Denki nodded toward the screen and scrolled up through the page. “I forgot a couple of books I was going to bring, so I found a place online to read them instead.”

Denki’s gaze shifted down to Kouta, his attention caught by the slight movement of Kouta silently mouthing something in the corners of his eyes. His eyes were narrowed, and eyebrows furrowed, to the point that Denki couldn’t tell if he was angry or concentrating.

“Insss… gee… na…” Kouta sounded parts of the word out under his breath, and then cocked his head to the side and gave the screen a look of disbelief. “That’s not right, is it?”

“No, but you got the first part right.” Denki pointed toward one of the words in the title at the top of the page, “This word, right? It’s ‘insignia’. The ‘G’ sounds different because of the other letters around it.”

“Oh,” Kouta paused to think for a couple of seconds, and then a look of dread overtook his face, “there’s more sounds I have to learn?”

Kouta groaned when both of them nodded with apologetic smiles.

“Wait, so how do you use a computer if you don’t know how to read?” Eijirou asked. By this time he was pretty sure Kouta could read, and it was somewhat confusing to learn that he couldn’t.

“The red picture goes to the place with videos. I think they called it YouTube? And the green one goes to the place with music. Spotty, spoti… Something about a spot,” Kouta answered matter-of-factly, as though it were common sense to know that. He then pointed to the one earbud still in Denki’s ear, “Why do you need those to read? Does it read to you?”

“No, I like to listen to music when I read, and Eijirou turns the TV up too loud sometimes.” Denki cleaned off the earbud in his hand with his shirt and held it out toward Kouta. “Want to listen?”

Kouta stared at the earbud with a look of distrust, but took it and placed it in his ear. It was already in the middle of a song, but he recognized it almost instantly and smiled up at Denki.

“I know this song! Iz– Deku and Kyouka showed it to me, and Kyouka played it on her guitar one time.”

Eijirou grinned as the air of uncertainty around Kouta seemed to morph into restrained excitement. He came to help Kouta feel more at ease while over here, but he was starting to feel like that part was done already.

Not that he was surprised. He knew Denki had a way with people. It was pretty hard to dislike him.

“I bet you and Denki like a lot of the same music. He’ll listen to almost anything,” Eijirou said.

“Almost any genre,” Denki clarified, “not every song.”

“You still listen to some weird songs.” Eijirou grabbed Denki’s phone and skimmed through the playlist. All different genres and styles mixed together in one large list, unorganized in every way. “And wildly different.”

Denki shrugged and opened a new tab on the browser to Youtube, and then turned the screen a little toward Kouta. “Music is music. If I like it, I like it, and that’s all there is to it. Isn’t that right, Kouta?”

Kouta nodded, clearly distracted by both the music and the laptop he was just given control of. He yawned again right before he spoke, “Putting it all in one place is faster and easier.”

Eijirou playfully rolled his eyes at the pleased smirk from Denki. He placed Denki’s phone back on the table when his own rang, and stepped away to go answer it in the bedroom after he saw who was calling.

He expected to hear disappointing news, as was becoming normal whenever Katsuki or Izuku called. Whether it be that they couldn’t talk to Kouta tonight, or they would be gone longer than they last thought, or just that something unfortunate had happened.

“Yeah?” Eijirou listened to Izuku’s voice on the other end. He was unsurprised by the apologetic tone Izuku used to explain why he wouldn’t be able to give Kouta any schooling that night.

A sigh was held back. Not only out of disappointment that Kouta would likely be saddened by the news, but because Eijirou knew he would have to be the one to tell him too. Something he was starting to hate the more he had to do it.

“Are you sure you can’t find time? He seems kind of, I don’t know, depressed lately?”

There was a long pause, the faint sound of something shuffling on the other end, and then Izuku’s voice again. This time more focused, more serious and concerned.

“What do you mean? Do I need to come back? I knew this whole thing was a bad idea. I told Kacchan over and over–”

“Whoa, whoa, calm down man. I’m not sure if it’s that serious.” Eijirou went to shut the door and go sit on the bed. “He still hangs around us and stuff. You know, usual behavior, except he didn’t sleep any a couple of nights ago, and I’m not sure he did last night either. He seems really tired and distracted all the time too. Sometimes I catch him staring off into space, and last time I was here I don’t think I ever saw him do that. He’s been yawning a lot and I think I caught him dozing off a couple times. But only if he thinks no one is looking. If he knows we’re paying attention to him he tries to act normal. Is any of that normal for him and I didn’t know until now, or…?”

There was another moment of silence where Eijirou wondered if Izuku was thinking or had gotten distracted. Both thoughts were dissuaded by the voices he heard from Izuku’s end, too far from the phone for him to understand exact words.

He could barely make out Izuku saying ‘Home’ and Katsuki heatedly disagreeing to whatever Izuku had suggested.

Eijirou leaned back and rested his weight on one arm, hand planted firmly on the mattress while he waited for them to finish arguing. Not long after that he heard Izuku’s voice again, still concerned but with a new heated undertone. Presumably not caused by himself, Eijirou guessed.

“He’s someone who doesn’t sleep well when he’s stressed. Like, normally stress affects anyone’s sleep at least a little, but I think he’s one of those people that it hits extra hard. You’ll have to find out what it is and help him work it out.”

“How am I supposed to find it out if he’s keeping it all to himself? And also, why is he keeping it all to himself? Who taught him to do that?”

“Nobody. I think.” Izuku went quiet for a few seconds, rapidly going through past conversations in his head. “At least I know I didn’t. I always told him if he ever had trouble with anything he could come to me.”

“Well something is stopping him from coming to us, and we can’t help him if he doesn’t let us.”

“I understand. I’m not blaming you, I just–”

There was another hesitation in which Eijirou raised his eyebrows. A silent motion that urged Izuku to continue, even though he knew it wouldn’t be seen.

“I’ll talk to him the first chance I get and see if I can’t get him to open up to you two more. But I have to get ready to leave. Like, right now.”

Eijirou glanced over at the clock on the nightstand. Given how late it was in the evening, he safely assumed that meant the conversation would not happen tonight.

“Okay. We’ll see what we can do on our end, but try to get in touch with him as soon as you can. He gets more moody when I tell him you or Katsuki can’t talk to him. He definitely misses you both, whether he wants to admit it or not.”

“Yeah, I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Oh! Before I forget again. That government lady came by yesterday morning when you guys were on the plane and wanted me to pass a message on to you. Um…” Eijirou placed the phone between his head and shoulder and pulled the note out of his pocket awkwardly. “It says ‘The caged bird flies free when the keeper doesn’t return’. Whatever that means.”

Eijirou was met with another bout of silence, and then a quiet ‘Thank you, Eijirou’ before he pulled the phone away upon hearing nothing more. Izuku had hung up and left him to do what he wanted to procrastinate so much.

It would only be that much harder to relieve Kouta’s stress after telling him news he didn’t want to hear. News that very likely played right into what was causing some of his stress in the first place.

He left the room and took that trek down the hall that felt longer with each step. A sense of dread overtook him as he watched Denki pointing at the screen and smiling at Kouta, who seemed more at ease than when he left.

“Hey, who called?”

Eijirou stopped at the end of the hall and stared at them with a fake smile that made Denki realize the answer and wish he hadn’t asked.

“He said he and Katsuki would both be busy tonight. So…” Eijirou’s eyes landed on Denki when Kouta glared at the computer screen and made it clear he didn’t want to hear anymore. “So Denki is going to help you learn to read. That way you can show off what you learned next time.”

Eijirou felt a little bad for blurting out such an off the cuff idea that Denki hadn’t agreed to, but it was all he could think of at the moment. Anything to keep that sullen expression off of Kouta’s face.

Not to mention Kouta had made it clear he was curious about Denki, and Denki wanted to get along better with Kouta. In the end it would work out for both of them, and Eijirou believed Kouta might forget about his troubles for a while if he was busy.

Denki threw a confused stare at Eijirou, nearly identical to the confused stare Denki got from Kouta. There was only a couple of seconds of silent conversation between his and Eijirou’s eyes before his head snapped toward Kouta with an uneasy grin.

Skepticism radiated from Kouta on a level neither of them could ignore. His eyes narrowed and he took on a questioning tone that showcased his disbelief.

“You’re going to teach me?”

“Y-yeah dude. Totally. Definitely,” Denki responded. He had nothing against the idea, but he had little to no idea how to teach somebody and had no time to prepare beforehand at all. “I read stuff all the time. Super great at it. I’ll teach you to read so freakin’ well they won’t even know that you couldn’t before. Izuku will be all like ‘whoa! This kid is a frickin’ genius!’ and Katsuki will think you’re cheating somehow and you can be like ‘no way loser’ and make him write something down and then read it to prove to him you can do it and then he’ll look like the dumb one and you can be all smug about it and stuff.”

Denki sucked in a deep breath to replace all the air he lost while rambling without pause. Eijirou, seeing the amused little smile taking place on Kouta’s face, decided to pile on.

“And then while you’re both doing that I can go get whatever you want for dinner tonight. Anything you want at all.”

“Whatever you want for dessert too. Cake, ice cream, pie,” Denki added.

“Or all three,” Eijirou continued.

“Smash them all into one.”

“And then drown them in soda.”

“Then we’ll get you presents.”

“Whatever you want. A game, a toy, some candy.”

“And then we’ll take over the world and give you your own continent.”

Kouta, who had been looking back and forth as each promised some sort of offering to him, stopped on Denki with an incredulous look. Denki shrugged with a little smile when he realized what he had said while caught up in the moment.

“Or we can take you swimming some time. Whatever’s easier.”

Eijirou wasn’t fooled by the act though. He knew exactly what Denki had meant to accomplish with that ridiculous claim. It made him grin all the more to know Denki was trying that hard to entertain Kouta and help the boy feel more at ease.

“Food sounds good right now,” Kouta replied quietly.

The hint of amusement in his tired voice left them both hopeful that they were on the right track for now. Eijirou grabbed his keys off the kitchen counter and made for the door.

“You guys text me what you want.”

Once Eijirou was gone, Denki glanced at the video he’d helped Kouta find to watch that was left paused, and then looked to Kouta.

“So, want to start now?”

Kouta looked down at his feet, idly kicking as he thought for a few seconds, and then smiled up at Denki and nodded eagerly.

 


 

Izuku sighed quietly, his back against the soft blankets on his mattress and arms spread from one side to the other. His legs were dangled over the edge of the bed, and his feet hung just above the floor of their hotel room.

He kept a steady gaze on the ceiling, unperturbed by the sudden weight that sank a spot on his mattress directly next to him. He didn’t need to turn or question the presence to know it was Katsuki, presumably somewhat concerned about his sudden mood shift.

Izuku had felt bad the moment he decided to call Eijirou. Hearing of Kouta’s current condition, and having a short argument with Katsuki about returning home, all put him in a bit of a moping state that seemed to confuse Katsuki about where it was all coming from.

Katsuki glanced down at Izuku through the corners of his eyes, and then stared forward at the wall.

“What’s wrong now?” He realized a little too late how rude he made that sound. Even more so when Izuku responded with a bit of a glare he caught in his peripherals. “I mean with the others. ‘Cause you just talked to Eijirou and it didn’t sound good. And now you look…”

Izuku stared at him a little longer, the gaze putting him on edge because he knew he wasn’t doing the greatest job recovering.

But he’d be damned if he was going to let that stop him.

“Okay, I didn’t mean to sound like an asshole.” Katsuki sucked in a breath and audibly let it out through his nose. “What’s the matter?”

Izuku appeared to take that much better. Whether it was Katsuki’s somewhat apologetic comment, or the forced gentler tone used in the rephrased question, he seemed more at ease as far as Katsuki could tell. Which, in turn, put Katsuki more at ease.

“It’s Kouta.”

Katsuki waited for the continuation that never came. He waited and waited, far past what would be considered even a dramatic pause, until his impatience grew to the boiling point and threatened to erupt in a fit of frustration.

‘No fucking shit,’ he wanted to say, because he’d obviously figured that much out. But he thankfully settled with a calmer approach.

“…Go on.”

Izuku sat up and stared inquisitively at Katsuki. He’d assumed that would be as far as Katsuki would’ve care about the matter.

Not that he believed Katsuki didn’t care about Kouta at all. Katsuki had actually been doing an amazing job with Kouta recently compared to when the two first met. However Katsuki seemed to be on a war path of sorts ever since the assault and attempted kidnapping.

Izuku had almost fallen under the belief that if it didn’t have to do with killing the people involved in that, then Katsuki was no longer interested. But perhaps he was wrong.

“Once again he’s going through some things that no one should ever have to, let alone someone his age. And it’s painful to yet again think I’m the cause of it all, because all I want to do is make it better for him and I feel like I can’t.” Izuku’s fingers mingled in his lap as he looked down. “I want to help him and everyone else involved with me, but whatever decision I come to makes everything worse for everyone. I just don’t know what the right thing to do is anymore, and that sucks.

Katsuki watched Izuku’s twiddling fingers. His eyes traveled down to Izuku’s feet, and then back up to the melancholic countenance that instilled a similar feeling in Katsuki’s chest. A sadness from seeing Izuku so down where he normally was pretty cheerful, whether faked or not.

It was a hard hitting sight that caused Katsuki to realize something he often forgot. That Izuku didn’t often let his real feelings and emotions out from behind the mask, lest they get too hard to control and can’t be reeled back in.

He wondered just how much trust Izuku had in him to let his emotions show like this yet again. Something Katsuki hadn’t kept track of until now.

“You’re not making shit worse. You’re constantly choosing between two bad decisions. Neither of them are going to feel like a win when they both suck that much.” Katsuki glanced down at Izuku’s hands again. He placed his hand palm up on the bed between them and looked to the wall ahead again. “You’re doing your best to do good for everyone. If anyone says that isn’t good enough, they can go fuck themselves.”

Izuku looked at Katsuki’s hand. He tentatively placed his hand in Katsuki’s, watching him for confirmation that this was okay. He didn’t get an answer in the form of a facial expression or verbal response, but rather in the way Katsuki gently squeezed his hand.

Katsuki’s words of reassurance were one thing, but that one caring gesture was enough to warm his heart and shine a light on his otherwise darkened train of thought.

His worries hadn’t dissipated completely, but he relaxed with the comfort Katsuki gave him.

At least someone knew he was trying. Regardless as to what could be perceived as failure or success, bad choice or good, no one could say he didn’t care or that he wasn’t trying to do what he thought was best.”

Not for himself, but for the people he cared about.

And the greatest of all was that one of the most important people to him understood that right now. He really needed that in this moment.

“Thank you, Kacchan.”

Chapter Text

There was something liberating about this position every time Izuku found himself in it. No matter how many times, although it may be many, he loved it every single time.

Perched atop a roof, hidden only by the dark of night and a chest high wall on the roof.

There was nobody to try to trap or control him here. Nobody could endanger him while he was hidden, and nobody could find him easily.

He worried sometimes that he would become too predictable. But he had always been taught to have the high ground in the beginning, because until alarmed, nobody ever looked up high. Both Aizawa and Snipe taught him that, and he had never had an issue that caused him to stray away from that teaching so far.

It also helped that he refrained from building up a reputation like the two of them. Unless he became a public enemy and people started learning his tactics, he had no need to make any adaptations or fix what wasn’t broken.

He breathed deep the outside air and pulled his tranquilizer rifle up rest on the top of the wall, and then leaned down to peer through the scope. The occasional wind blew across his face, gentle enough to be a comfort rather than a nuisance.

He wished he didn’t feel a need to wear the beanie to hide his hair in case somebody spotted him. He enjoyed the sensation of the wind blowing through his hair the few times he had free time to let it happen.

“Are you sure about this?”

Katsuki looked up at the building ahead, dressed in the same attire as Izuku. Dark clothing, a beanie to cover his hair. Although instead of the plain shirt Izuku went with, he wore a sweater instead. And instead of the red shoes Izuku never changed, he wore a pair of boots and knee pads.

Unlike Izuku, he didn’t like the cold of the approaching autumn so much.

A small part of him wanted to say no, he wasn’t sure, but for the most part he wanted to be a part of this.

One big reason being that he wanted to get a better understanding of how Izuku did things. Up until now he hadn’t done a whole lot that required a large portion of Izuku’s skills. Only a handful of things had, and he hoped this would be another one of those times.

There had been a curiosity nestled in him that left him wondering for the longest time how Izuku had always gotten the upper-hand whenever the two ended up with opposing jobs. Back before they had met face to face for the first time.

The more he saw Izuku work, the more insight he got into how Izuku managed to get past him every time. Into how Izuku would scope a place out, gather information, plan out his infiltration, and execute his job. Which in turn, as much as he hated to admit it, better taught him how to do his own job of guarding others.

Another reason happened to be that he would very likely be horribly, horribly bored otherwise.

“Too late to turn around now,” Katsuki said into his earpiece.

He moved ahead, climbed the fence, and dropped down into a shipping yard. He scanned the area from left to right, taking in the scenery of large metal crates of various colors stacked and sorted across the yard.

Deactivated cranes and forklifts littered the yard both in and out of his sight. The only sources of light were large street lamps that dotted the area, spread out just enough to illuminate the entire yard enough to see with some areas left in dim lighting.

“First target?”

Izuku panned across the shipping yard. He had chosen a high building some distance away that overlooked the yard, but he couldn’t see every inch of the place with all of the shipping crates around. If he were to start putting people to sleep, there would be a significant problem should anyone find the bodies.

“First container ahead. Left side.”

That was where Katsuki came in.

Katsuki moved ahead and rounded the corner of the crate. He peeked over and saw the armed guard leaned against the wall, cigarette in hand and automatic rifle on the ground.

“Okay, I see him. What do I–”

Katsuki stopped mid sentence as the guard dropped to the ground with a heavy thump. He moved forward as the momentary surprise wore off and examined the man.

It took a couple of seconds to notice the dart stuck in the side of his neck, and another second still to remember that it was his job to move the bodies.

Izuku watched Katsuki drag the unconscious body away through the scope. He lazily swept across the yard in a long, slow motion to take quick note of where the others were, and to make sure none that he could see would happen upon Katsuki.

Once Katsuki had hidden the guard in a darker part of the yard, he moved to the next target Izuku pointed out for him. One just out of Izuku’s sight.

“Do you know how to whistle?” Izuku asked as he did another sweep of the yard.

“Of course. What asshole doesn’t?”

“You’d be surprised how many people can’t, and most of them weren’t assholes.” Izuku lowered the rifle and took a couple of seconds to think about that. “As far as I know. Anyway, lure him toward you for me, please.”

“Toward me?”

“Yes, I can’t see him from there.” Izuku didn’t move an inch, his sights trained on the spot between Katsuki and the guard where he could see. “You don’t trust me?”

Katsuki pursed his lips with irritation. He licked his lips, breathed in, and let out a quick whistle that grabbed the guard’s attention.

He ducked behind the crate and waited. He waited and waited for some sort of sign. Whether it be Izuku giving him the go ahead, or some kind of shout, or even the guard turning the corner and outright shooting him.

Something.

And then he heard the thump of another unconscious body hitting pavement.

He peered past the corner of the crate he’d been using to hide, and saw the guard face down on the ground.

“You should know by now I wouldn’t let you down, Kacchan,” Izuku said while loading another dart into his rifle.

“Yeah, yeah,” Katsuki replied dismissively as he dragged the body away.

The two continued on in this manner to clear out the entire yard. One by one each guard fell. Lured out into the open by Katsuki, put to sleep by Izuku, and subsequently dragged away to be hidden.

Izuku had experience doing something like this before, and Katsuki learned increasingly fast. They’d almost gotten it down to a science by the time there were only two left. To the point they hardly needed communication anymore.

“Uh, sorry Kacchan.”

Until one, small, little incident occurred.

“What?”

Katsuki had just hidden the second to last body. He barely got two steps away after Izuku apologized before he turned around to meet the barrel of a gun pointed directly at him.

His eyes went wide from the sudden appearance and he slowly put his hands up. A mental note was made to kill Izuku later for not keeping an eye on this one.

“Get down on the ground. Hands behind your back,” the guard commanded. “Move a single muscle in a way I don’t say and you’re dead.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. As if he’d never heard a million variations of that phrase before.

“Lost track of them for a second. I’ll fix it. Promise,” Izuku said.

He slung the rifle’s strap over his shoulder and secured it on his back, then climbed up onto the roof ledge and stood on his toes to gauge the distance they were at himself. A glance downward reaffirmed the assumption that a misstep would be inevitably lethal.

Izuku pulled his fingerless gloves out of his pocket and quickly put them on before climbing down.

“Can you stall? I need twenty seconds.”

Katsuki glared at the guard. He wasn’t the best conversationalist, but he could try. As much as he would rather just find a way to handle this himself.

“I don’t think you understand what a bad idea this is,” Katsuki warned the guard.

“What? No I’ve got you, don’t worry. I just need like… fifteen seconds now,” Izuku reassured him.

“You have five seconds to comply,” the guard warned him.

“Can we make it ten?” Katsuki asked the guard, still unmoving from his spot with his hands up.

“I can only move so fast,” Izuku said.

“Five,” the guard started counting.

“Not you, dumbass!” Katsuki yelled at the earpiece.

“Four!” the guard yelled back.

“Please don’t antagonize them, Kacchan.”

Katsuki resisted the urge to roll his eyes again and got down on his knees on the count of one. He deliberately moved his hands behind his back extra slow to buy more time. Just enough for a dart to suddenly sink into the guard’s ankle.

Izuku breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing the guard drop into his sight.

He had managed to climb down the building from window sill to window sill, broken open a window at the angle he needed, unlocked and opened it, and used the opening to hang upside down to get the quickest shot he could.

And the sudden scream reminded him exactly why he hated the unsubtle approach.

He sat up and came face to face with the owner of the apartment window he just smashed, still hanging halfway out the window by his legs.

“Oh, uh…” Izuku slung the rifle over his shoulder again and spun around on the window sill. “Sorry about the window.”

He started climbing back up before they could say anything to him. The janitor’s outfit he stole to get up onto the roof was still up top, and he wasn’t about to go walking through the building dressed as he was now. Even if he was in a rush.

Katsuki shoved the body into the same hiding spot as the other closest one and and started walking towards the building. He pressed his finger to his earpiece to make sure it was turned on.

“You were fucking with me, weren’t you?”

“What?” Izuku’s voice emitted into his ear. He sounded slightly offended by the accusation. “When?”

“You know damn well when,” Katsuki growled. “When I was trying to stall the fucking guard!

“Oh.” Katsuki glared toward the building when he was met with silence, and then gritted his teeth at Izuku’s answer. “Not at first. Why?”

“I’m going to shove one of these darts up your ass one day.”

“We can shove stuff in each other later,” Izuku replied absentmindedly while climbing over the ledge to the top of the roof. “There’s still a job to do.”

Katsuki stopped dead in his tracks with a blink of surprise. Izuku was dead last on the list of people that he expected to make a joke like that. If that even was a joke.

“I… What?”

Izuku responded with a nervous chuckle into the earpiece. “Nothing. I’m on my way. Wait for me by the door.”

 


 

Something wasn’t right here.

There was something off about this building. Katsuki couldn’t tell what from a glance, but he could feel it. A gut feeling that put him on edge the more he hung around the place.

No factual evidence in sight caused this feeling. He couldn’t for the life of him think of why. The place just reeked of suspicion.

“Hey.”

Katsuki looked over to Izuku, who had finally joined him in the shipping yard. They both stood outside of a smaller building, designed to be a single office that he assumed the manager of this yard worked at for most of the day.

“Sorry again about the guard.”

“Whatever. Let’s get this done,” Katsuki said. He reached for the door, and glared daggers at Izuku as the latter swiftly smacked his hand away. “What the fuck is your problem?!”

“Don’t leave your prints on anything,” Izuku warned him. He tossed a pair of gloves to Katsuki, not fingerless like his own, and then reached for the door himself. “Remember what I said about not linking you to any blatant crimes we commit? Leaving your fingerprints at the scene of a B&E counts as that.”

“A what?”

Izuku got down on one knee and pulled a lockpick out of his pocket after finding out the door was locked. “Breaking and entering.”

Katsuki put on the gloves, eyed Izuku’s fingerless gloves, and shoved his own hands into his pockets. “What about yours?”

“Only two people have my fingerprints on file, and neither of them would give them to anyone else. Even if it gave them a better chance at finding me.” Izuku placed the tool back in his pocket and opened the door, then stood aside to allow Katsuki in first. “It would only be a detriment to them if they did, because it would mean I exist and only they knew about me. That would raise some questions. So anyone can find my fingerprints, but as far as society is concerned they don't belong to anybody.”

“They’ll start belonging to somebody if you leave them all over the place,” Katsuki said on his way past Izuku.

“Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing for once,” Izuku grumbled as he shut and locked the door behind them.

Katsuki gave him a quick glance, his gaze softer than before, but decided it best not to comment. Instead he stood aside while Izuku began to rummage through the office. He searched under desks, under chairs, the sides of a bookcase, and so on.

He narrowed his eyes and scanned the room. There hadn’t appeared to be anything out of the ordinary.

A small office with four desks, one without a computer, each with a rolling chair. Two covered in stacks of papers. The bookcase against the wall looked a bit out of place, especially in a work environment that had almost nothing to do with books, but he thought nothing of it.

There were two windows, one by the door and one on an adjacent wall. Nothing special on the ceiling, although it was a little hard to see up there with the only lighting coming from a light outside of the window. The carpet…

Katsuki’s head cocked to the side. His curiosity at the sight of Izuku was matched only by his concern, although his concern was not of fear that Izuku would hurt himself.

Rather he was concerned that Izuku had suddenly become an idiot.

“What are you doing?”

Izuku looked up at him from his spot on the floor. He started crawling forward on his hands and knees again, stopping every few inches to thumb the carpet as if searching for something underneath.

“Following the trail.”

Katsuki squinted to try to see whatever trail Izuku spoke of, but saw nothing. He moved over to a spot where Izuku had just crawled away from and kneeled down to feel the carpet right where Izuku had.

Sure enough he felt something there. It was incredibly hard to feel, even more so with the gloves on, but there was something under the carpet there.

It felt like a wire, placed well enough that if Katsuki wasn’t pushing down just to feel it he’d never have figured it out. He certainly wouldn’t have felt it under his boot if he walked around either.

He jumped and immediately went on guard when the bookcase suddenly began to move. The very bottom of it collapsed upward with a mechanical noise just enough to not scrape against the floor, and then it slowly opened from the middle outward.

“There you are,” Izuku muttered, a wide grin on his face.

Katsuki stared, almost in awe as the bookcase opened to reveal an even smaller room. It wasn’t much bigger than a closet, and the walls, ceiling and floor were all a pure white that reflected the light inside almost blindingly.

It looked to be a dead end as soon as Izuku went in and waited for Katsuki.

“Coming?”

All at once he felt as though he’d found his way into a movie.

He got up and followed into the small room. Once inside he saw the four buttons on the wall where the bookcase opened like doors. He assumed as much upon seeing them, and his suspicions were confirmed as soon as Izuku pressed one, the doors shut, and the room started moving.

“An elevator?” Katsuki looked around for anything else.

A camera that would be watching them, some sort of sentry turret that would gun them down for intruding, anything. The feeling of having wandered into some sort of movie set caused a certain suspension of disbelief that had him ready for almost anything at this point.

Even more baffling was that Izuku didn’t seem fazed by any of this at all. He even appeared to be completely used to this.

“Yeah. One that the people who work real jobs here probably don’t know about,” Izuku explained. “It belongs to a… competitor of sorts for Chisaki, and I guess they have something he wants. They’ve moved the button to open it since the last time I was here though.”

The doors to the elevator opened once they reached the bottom floor. It led to a dark grey hallway that completely contrasted the bright white elevator.

Izuku poked his head out and looked down the left, and then the right, and furrowed his brows at the sight.

“Seems like that’s not the only thing they changed.”

“How long has it been since you’ve been here?” Katsuki asked as he followed Izuku out and down the left hall.

“Uh…” Izuku thought about that on his way down the hall. He stopped in the middle of a four way intersection and glanced down each direction. “About a year?”

Katsuki didn’t need that answer to tell that Izuku had absolutely no idea where to go.

“Maybe we should split up? It doesn’t look like anyone is here to cause us any trouble.”

Izuku grabbed Katsuki by the wrist and pulled him down the left path. “As far as we’ve seen. That can change anywhere between here and our goal.”

Katsuki jerked his wrist out of Izuku’s grasp, but continued to follow. He would allow Izuku to be in charge because this was by far more his area of expertise, but he wouldn’t be pulled around like some pet on a leash.

Izuku opened a door they passed by and glanced around to get an idea of what went on in this area. His best guess on seeing chemistry stations and the like was that they were in the right area for what they were searching for.

Probably.

“They changed the layout a little, but it seems like their operations remained on the same floors,” Izuku commented. He shut the door and moved ahead to the next intersection. “We should be in the right place. It’s just a matter of finding the right room now.”

Katsuki opened the door and glanced through the room as well. With nothing of immediate interest coming into sight, he closed the door and speed walked to catch up to Izuku.

Izuku stopped in the middle of the intersection again, this one only going right, forward, and the way they came from. He went right this time, walking straight toward a nearby door.

Katsuki caught up to him right as Izuku turned the corner. He slowed his stride, and then immediately started into a run when he caught sight of Izuku walking directly past a patrolling guard as though they didn’t exist.

The fact he even had the audacity to say ‘Excuse me’ as he walked by infuriated Katsuki.

He caught the guard right as their gun was being raised to shoot Izuku in the back and slammed their head into the wall twice for good measure. He glared at Izuku’s disappearing back as Izuku went into the nearby room while the guard crumpled to the ground in an unconscious heap.

“Are you fucking blind?!” Katsuki hissed when he finally caught up to Izuku, his voice low in case anyone else might be nearby.

“What?” Izuku questioned, his voice sincerely full of confusion. “Was it in the first room? I didn’t think it would be in there.”

“The guard, you fucking moron!” Katsuki clarified with a hard shove to Izuku’s shoulder. “He was going to kill you!”

“Oh, that. They weren’t going to kill me,” Izuku said, rubbing his shoulder where Katsuki shoved him. He then proceeded to examine the multitude of liquid filled test tubes on the desk behind him.

Katsuki couldn’t believe this. How had Izuku survived this far into his life doing shit like that?

“He was pointing a gun at you, dipshit! Of course he was going to kill you. Do you think you’re fucking invincible?”

“Protected, not invincible,” Izuku replied nonchalantly, now going through drawers and giving cursory glances to papers on the counters. “As long as you’re with me, I feel safe enough to do that.”

The tension in Katsuki’s shoulders dropped a little, and his glare softened immensely. He was still full of disbelief, but now for an entirely different reason.

Did this guy even hear what he just said?

Regardless, Katsuki’s anger felt like it had been halved.

“You still shouldn’t pull shit like that,” Katsuki said, his tone much calmer than before.

“I wasn’t playing around. I ignored them because I trust you.” Izuku dropped the stack of papers in his hand to the floor and moved on, slightly irritated about still not finding any clue to what they were after. “And because I know you get antsy when you don’t get to do anything. I thought it’d be more beneficial in the long run for you to deal with them than it would be for me.”

Katsuki stayed rooted in place and watched Izuku leave the room, still somewhat baffled by his words. Not just by what was said, but by the way it was said so matter-of-factly.

He then ran to catch up to Izuku before the idiot pulled another stunt like that while he had fallen behind. The last thing he needed was to fail at guarding him after all of that was said.

That would be more than simply embarrassing.

He found Izuku in a room directly across the hall. One that very obviously looked like something they might be looking for.

This room mimicked the elevator in being a pure, blinding white. It reminded both of them of an operating room they would see on a television show. Except for the large glass pane in the middle of the room that separated them from five glass vials on a counter in the other half of the room.

Izuku tilted his head slightly to the side. He couldn’t explain what, but he had a gut feeling there was something he couldn’t see. Some unknown variable to this situation that was eating away inside of him in the form of paranoia.

Katsuki looked to Izuku, curious about the sudden reluctance to continue onward.

Izuku surveyed the room, his gaze slowly moving from right to left, until he noticed a keypad directly on the wall to their left. He looked back and flipped the two light switches by the door.

The room went dark, save for a red glow from a set of lasers that emitted from the walls to the left and right. They made intertwining patterns ahead that left very little room for maneuverability.

Very little, but not absolutely none. Something Katsuki took note of as Izuku moved forward and studied them more closely.

He moved ahead, close enough for the red lights to illuminate his face in the dark room, and crouched down by the lasers. His hand moved up to his mouth in thought.

“It looks like there’s a path through, but–”

Izuku jumped enough to nearly fall backwards when his shirt was lifted up. The pistol, thankfully with a silencer currently attached, was snatched out from between his pants and his back and fired off three times in quick succession.

The lasers in front of him dissipated, which left them both in a pitch black room, and he whirled around and stared at where he believed Katsuki to be in utter disbelief.

“What the hell, Kacchan?!”

Katsuki switched the lights back on and turned from the smoking and broken control panel on the wall to face Izuku. He tossed the gun back to him and casually walked past to advance toward their goal.

“You take too damn long trying to figure stuff out,” Katsuki said. “And there was no way I was going to fit through those.”

Izuku caught it and put the pistol away, then followed Katsuki toward the glass pane. “And what if what you did had set off an alarm?”

“Then we would’ve had to grab this thing a lot faster,” Katsuki replied as he stopped and ran his gloved hand across the glass. “But it didn’t. So get over it and figure this one out. I bet breaking the glass will definitely set an alarm off.”

Izuku ran his bare fingers across the glass as well. Surely there was another way inside besides smashing their way in.

He tried to feel for anything on the smooth glass that would provide a way inside. Soon enough, after traveling from one side of the glass all the way to the other, he found a part of the glass that rotated on the very far left to let him inside.

“Over here,” Izuku called out to him on his way inside.

Katsuki looked to where Izuku was. Instead of going in he waited outside in case anything else happened. The last thing they needed was for both of them to get locked inside that room somehow.

Izuku pulled a pebble out of his pocket and tossed it into the room. He didn’t notice anything strange about the room with the lights either on or off. However with how much the security has been upped since the last time he was here he didn’t put anything past them in terms of hidden mechanisms.

He wouldn’t let his guard down in the slightest this far in.

Nothing happened as far as he could see. Still he proceeded somewhat slowly, cautious of the empty looking room that was walled off from the rest of the room. There had to be a reason to it.

At the counter he looked closely at each vial and hesitantly grabbed the one Katsuki had described to him before they left. A smaller one with a purple liquid inside.

He would be lying if he said he wasn’t at least a little concerned about what this was and what Chisaki wanted with it.

Sadly Izuku was in no position to question the motives or goals of the only person able to give him what he needed. Or else he could do it later, but right now he needed to get this and go.

With the vial in hand he backed away until his back hit the spinning part of the glass and moved through. On the other side he met up with Katsuki and they both began walking out.

“Got the right one?”

“Yep.” Izuku held it up for Katsuki to see, and smiled when Katsuki nodded.

“Cool.” Katsuki shoved his hands in his pockets and moved in front of Izuku. “Let’s get out of here.”

Though hardly three steps out of the door they both halted. Izuku suppressed a sigh at the sight of the three guards around them. One to the left, one to the right, and one directly ahead, all three pointing guns at them.

He had hoped he could get through the night without killing too many people.

“Hands up. Hand over the vial.”

Katsuki followed the order and put his hands up half-heartedly. It was clear he was already just as done with them as Izuku was. Though he decided to humor them due to the fact that even he wasn’t good enough to get away from fully automatic weapons at this range in an open hallway.

Izuku held one hand out with the vial and put the other up above his head. The guard in front came to take it from him and ordered the other two to restrain them and bring them along.

Izuku and Katsuki both put their hands behind their backs and waited for the approaching guards. The moment the guards had zip ties in hand Izuku and Katsuki jumped each one.

Katsuki punched his guard in the throat and snatched away their weapon before they could fire it. He was going in for the knockout with the butt of the gun, when suddenly blood splattered out of the side if their head and they fell to the ground.

He stared at their unmoving body for a few seconds, his eyes wide with shock, and then turned his gaze to Izuku.

Izuku put his pistol away, standing over the body of the guard that attempted to restrain him, and went to retrieve the vial from the body of the last.

“What the fuck did you kill all of them for?”

Izuku glanced over his shoulder at Katsuki before pocketing the vial. “They saw your face. I dealt with it before it became a future problem.”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t like it, but Izuku had a point. Even if Katsuki saw Izuku’s solution as a gross overreaction.

“So what, you’re going to kill every person who sees me? What about the one outside who saw me?”

“I already dealt with them earlier,” Izuku replied matter-of-factly. “We should get going before anyone else shows up. If these three told anyone they were coming here, it’ll be suspicious when they take too long to return.”

Katsuki didn’t move while Izuku walked onward and looked around at his feet.

If that was how Izuku wanted to do things…

Izuku stopped at an intersection and looked around. He didn’t entirely remember each turn they had made on their way here, but surely enough they could find their way back with a little fumbling around.

He looked back toward Katsuki as the other ran to catch up to him and slowed to a stop. A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he examined the sudden little change in attire.

Cloth that looked to be hastily torn from the clothes of one of the guards was now tied around his face, covering just under his eyes down to his chin.

“That good enough?”

“You look funny,” Izuku commented, and then went down the left path, “but yeah. That’ll do.”

Katsuki grinned under his makeshift mask, content with the belief that he had outsmarted Izuku’s stupid rule, and followed close behind.

The place seemed as oddly quiet as before. Nobody to run into, very little security, and no consequences for anything they’ve done up until now. No one working in any rooms, no conversations to be overheard. Merely Katsuki’s somewhat heavy footsteps coupled with Izuku’s nearly silent ones.

They had the run of the place as far as exploring went. To the point they found the elevator without any hassle, save for a couple of short arguments between the two about going in circles.

The silence had Izuku on edge the entire time, and to a lesser extent Katsuki as well.

Up until the elevator made an unexpected stop.

“That still went smoother than I thought it would,” Izuku said as he took a step toward the opening doors.

He stopped dead in his tracks and was jerked backwards by Katsuki when he was faced with at least a dozen guards. All pointing a myriad of weapons at them, and all with an angry glare.

They both looked around outside the elevator and realized it hadn’t stopped at the shipping yard like they wanted.

“So uh,” Izuku started nervously, “I don’t suppose you all accept parleys?”

 


 

“Do you have any idea who you’ve fucked with tonight?”

Izuku opened his eyes, the side of his face red with what promised to be a bruise if the abuse kept up. That had to be the second, maybe third time he had been slapped already.

And to think he had been keeping his tongue in check for them. The ungratefulness left him utterly baffled.

Izuku took note of Katsuki’s growing irritation, his expression visible with the makeshift mask he had earlier removed. The stiffness of his jaw and occasionally grinding teeth did little to deter the anger bubbling like lava in his stomach, threatening to burst should this continue right in front of him.

Izuku felt regret in not mentioning to Katsuki that he’d been stuck in situations like this before. This wouldn’t be the first time he’d been caught, whether on purpose or not, and had to take a beating or two while he bided his time.

It wasn’t something he couldn’t take and certainly wasn’t something he couldn’t give back in full another time, were he the overly petty type. Though as it stood he was glad it was him taking the hits and not Katsuki.

Much in the same fashion as Katsuki right now, Izuku wasn’t sure what he’d do if and when they turned their attention to Katsuki.

He looked around the rest of the room. Only three guards, not including the obvious boss-type yelling at him at the moment. Both he and Katsuki had their hands tied behind their backs, down on their knees inside a nice looking office, and Izuku would be working his way out of his binds if it weren’t for the two guards behind them that would see his hands moving.

All in all, he’d been in worse situations before. This didn’t even make top three in his list. Though to be fair, in Izuku’s mind, Katsuki being here reduced the level of danger considerably.

He looked back up to the leader. More time was needed. At least enough for him to come up with the beginnings of a plan. If he could just get the two behind them to move away…

“Are you deaf or what, asshole?!”

“Sorry, what?” Izuku asked as he was snapped out of his thoughts. “I was thinking about something.”

“I said do you have any idea who you’ve fucked with tonight?”

Izuku let out a quick sigh and turned his head away, clearly uninterested in this man’s attempt to reinforce his self-perceived importance.

So far he had been responding with nothing but polite, short answers when it wasn’t silence due to reluctance to give an answer. But if he was going to be smacked around no matter what, then why bother holding his tongue?

“I don’t know. Some third rate, dime a dozen street gang lieutenant who got promoted because I killed the last guy in your position?” Izuku bit back, somewhat amused by the suppressed snort of laughter from Katsuki. “Do you expect me to say your name or something? I don’t know who you are, and that isn’t going to matter when I shoot you in the head within the next ten minutes.”

The man kneed Izuku’s chin with an angry shout, which sent him falling onto his back, and turned his attention to Katsuki.

“All right laughs-a-lot, why don’t you tell me why you two were trying to steal this?” he questioned with a sharp gesture toward the vial of purple liquid on the desk behind him. “Unless you want to end up on the floor like that piece of shit too.”

The scowl returned to Katsuki’s face as quickly as Izuku’s comment had made it leave, and he replied without hesitation, “Blow me.”

“Fuck this. I’m done with these two.” The man punched Katsuki in the eye, which knocked him down to the ground, and went to take the vial before making his way toward the door. “Take them into the next room and gun them down. I don’t want their blood all over my office.”

“Yes boss,” one of the guards responded. The three of them gathered around the pair once he was gone and pulled them to their feet. “Let’s go.”

Katsuki looked to Izuku, who nodded in response to his questioning stare, and grinned as soon as they were both standing.

Izuku kneed the guard in front of him in the stomach, and then axe kicked their head while they were doubled over. He quickly turned around, jumped at the next person as they aimed their gun at him, and wrapped his legs around their head. With a harsh turn of his body, he broke their neck and fell to the ground with the body.

In the same moment, Katsuki kicked the shin of his guard, headbutted them, and then jumped over his hands to move them in front of him while they were still reeling. He grabbed their arm and flipped them over his shoulder, down onto the other guard Izuku had kicked to the ground.

Izuku picked himself up, jumped over his hands in the same fashion Katsuki had, and grabbed his pistol on the desk to finish them both off before they could retaliate.

Katsuki didn’t waste time complaining. He knew that would have been coming one way or another.

The two ran out of the room and ran down the long hall toward the boss still walking away, unaware of the fast approaching danger.

“I’ll go low and get the objective back before we deal with him. I don’t want it to get broken if he hits the floor too hard,” Izuku said. He then placed his pistol in his mouth, gripped it with his teeth, and picked up speed to get there first.

When he caught up he dropped to the floor and slid with one leg ahead to trip the man. He snatched the vial out of the man’s hand as he slid by and kicked his legs out from under him.

Katsuki swiftly jumped ahead and landed with a boot on each of the man’s arms. Katsuki held the man’s arms down as he struggled against Katsuki’s weight and watched Izuku approach.

“Hey,” Izuku called to him as he walked up and pointed his pistol at the man’s forehead, “I’d be sorry if he didn’t punch him.”

Then he pulled the trigger.

Katsuki looked away with disgust. “You didn’t even hesitate.”

“Wasn’t trained to.” Izuku started walking down the hallway toward the way he remembered the elevator to be from the office they just escaped. “Plus all four of them saw your face. I had to no matter what. Besides, he hit you.”

“Are you going to shoot every dumbass that hits me?” Katsuki argued.

“Depends on the situation,” Izuku replied nonchalantly. “In that situation? Always.”

Katsuki stared at Izuku, who purposefully kept his eyes forward to avoid Katsuki’s. Katsuki shook his head with a muttered ‘Dumbass…’ and kept close to Izuku.

They stopped in the office and used the first sharp object they could find to cut the binds around their wrists before continuing on toward the elevator.

Izuku suddenly stopped at a corner and held out his arm to stop Katsuki too. Katsuki heard the footsteps down the other hall that made Izuku stop and did a double take when Izuku’s gun was shoved into his hands.

“Hold onto that for a sec.”

“Are you out of your damn mind?” Katsuki chastised him quietly. “It’s one thing for you to kill people. I’m not–”

“You don’t have to shoot it. Hold it in your left hand, and drop it when they yell at you to.” Izuku smiled at Katsuki’s bewildered expression and pulled at his own gloves to tighten them. “Just trust me, okay?”

Katsuki snatched it out of his hand and grumbled, “Usually trusting you means something I don’t like happens.”

“It’s better than the alternative,” Izuku said, and walked around to Katsuki’s left before turning the corner with him.

“Which is?”

“Them killing us.”

Katsuki pursed his lips, and stopped in the middle of the hall with Izuku when they got yelled at by three new guards. “Whatever.”

“Put your hands up and drop the weapon!”

Both of them did as they were told. Katsuki, not surprised in the least at this point that Izuku knew exactly what they would tell them to do, dropped the gun with his hands high above his head.

Izuku kept his eyes trained on them, watching their arms closely with the falling pistol in his peripheral.

It was a subtle movement, but in that moment those people lowered their weapons at the sign of surrender. They had the upper hand, and these two couldn’t fight back now. All they had to do was go over and restrain them.

That moment that their guards were lowered was the same moment Izuku reached for the still falling gun, caught it out of the air, and shot each of them from left to right before they could react.

Katsuki looked their unmoving bodies over, and continued forward as Izuku ran ahead.

“Why did I need to hold onto it for that?”

“If you have the gun, they’re focused on your movements a little more than mine. Plus no one expects a falling gun to get caught and used that quickly.”

They both ran into the elevator upon first sight of it. They were as eager as could be to get out of here. Even more so with the thought of everyone being on alert when all the bodies left behind are inevitably found.

As the elevator moved up to the office in the shipping yard they could only hope no one came to wake up all the guards they left incapacitated up here. With any luck they could get out of here and away from trouble without having to hurt anyone else. Or get hurt themselves for that matter.

Katsuki peeked out of the elevator and glanced around the room for any sign of an ambush, but nobody was there. Izuku moved to the window and looked around outside, but spotted nobody around there either.

“You think it’s clear?” Izuku asked from his place at the window. He tried to open it and found out it wasn’t built to open in any way.

“Guess we’ll find out,” Katsuki said on his way to the door.

He made it three steps outside and looked around. Still nobody in sight.

Izuku went to stand next to him. Still nothing.

They both made it out of the shipping yard undisturbed, and still suspicious that there wasn’t a third ambush waiting for them anywhere out here.

“Looks like we’re done,” Katsuki said as he sat down in the driver’s seat of their rented car.

“Yeah,” Izuku said.

Izuku leaned back in the passenger seat and closed his eyes. He wasn’t proud of everything that had happened that night, but it was a little more fun than normal. Katsuki seemed quieter than usual during the whole ordeal, but his presence and having someone to talk to at all made everything more bearable.

Nevertheless, the somewhat impromptu mission was a success, and they were now one step closer to getting another shot at the people who plagued Izuku’s life.

No, who now plagued their lives. Both him and the people closest to him.

Izuku looked to Katsuki and caught his stare just before Katsuki quickly looked away.

“How was it?” Izuku asked. “Probably not as great as you thought it would be, huh?”

“Could have done without the killing.” Katsuki glanced at him through the corners of his eyes. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth opposite of Izuku as he focused on the road ahead. “It was fun though. Beats sitting in a hotel room all night long.”

“Well if you want to come along on other jobs, I uh, wouldn’t be entirely opposed,” Izuku offered shyly, and turned to look out the passenger side window. “It was better having someone with me in person for once. I can try to keep the killing to a minimum.”

“We’ll see,” Katsuki responded absentmindedly, already caught up in his own thoughts. “Either way, I need to call Chisaki and let him know I have what he wants.”

Now? It’s like three in the morning.”

“He told me to call him as soon as I made it out with the damn thing. Whatever time, whatever day.” Katsuki pulled over into a random parking lot, pulled out his phone, and started dialing. “I’m sure that includes three in the morning if he wants this thing so fucking bad. Now shut up so he doesn’t know you’re here.”

Izuku leaned his head against the window and waited for Katsuki to finish his business. It reminded him that there was a call he had to make to a certain someone as well. Though it probably wasn’t best to do it right now.

Maybe in a few hours when he could be sure he wouldn’t wake anyone there up. Even if he had to stay awake the entire rest of the day to do it.

He said he would the first chance he got, and he meant it.

Chapter Text

“Does it hurt?”

A small, tentative touch, followed by a hand gently gliding across. Katsuki flinched at the first touch, and then relaxed under Izuku’s caress.

Strangely enough his first instinct wasn’t to snap at Izuku for touching it. With anyone else he would’ve yelled at them instantly for trying to touch him at all, let alone trying to touch him there. His only problem with this was that he felt vulnerable, something he wasn’t used to allowing himself to be.

“When you fucking poke it like that, yeah. No shit.”

Izuku smiled at him sadly. “I should’ve done something before it happened.”

Katsuki looked at his black eye in the rearview mirror of the car again. “They would’ve killed us if you did.”

“I still should’ve done something. I could’ve gotten his attention again so he’d hit me instead, or–”

“What makes you think I wouldn’t have done something stupid then?” Katsuki interjected, gently tapping at his bruise in the mirror. “Again, I’m supposed to be guarding you, dumbass. If I can’t take a hit or two doing it, then I’m not very fucking good at it.”

“Yeah, but…” Izuku looked out of the car window for any sign of Chisaki’s people, and then sunk down low in his seat. “I still feel bad.”

“Well stop,” Katsuki told him firmly, as though that would make him forget any of it ever happened. “I’ve been hit harder, and it didn’t kill me. We’ve got more important stuff to deal with anyway. Get over it.”

Izuku checked the time on his phone. “He really said to come here immediately?”

“Yeah.” Katsuki pulled out the vial and examined it half-heartedly. “I don’t know what’s so important about this thing, but he wants it bad.”

Izuku stared at it. He didn’t have the slightest clue what it could be either, but if Chisaki wanted it then it was either something for blackmail, money, or something extremely bad. It brought to mind thoughts of exactly how far Izuku was willing to go for his goal.

He was having heavy second thoughts about this, but…

Izuku pushed down the growing anxiousness in his gut. There might be another chance to track any of them down. This didn’t have to be the only way. What if this ended up hurting somebody who didn’t deserve it?

He blinked and turned his gaze on Katsuki as the sound of the car door opening pulled him back into reality. A quick breath was sucked in through his nose, and he realized he had been holding his breath the entire time he’d been staring.

“I’m going in,” Katsuki said. “Sit here and mumble to yourself if you want. Just stay out of sight.”

Izuku watched him go, teetering on the line of yelling for him to come back and keeping his mouth shut. All the while he tried to think of another way to get Aizawa or Snipe to come out. A way to find where they stayed so he could go to them. Something to avoid this trade and put his conscience at ease.

But nothing came to mind. In the end he watched Katsuki disappear into the building, led in by one of Chisaki’s people, and cursed to himself with a hard slam of the door as he exited the vehicle.

He felt like shit for letting that go, but it was all he had. This was all he could think of. His only chance at progressing toward a better life. For himself, for Kouta, and for…

Izuku stopped by the side of the building and stared up at its wall. This decision would be something that stayed with him for a long time. He could feel that.

But he said he would do absolutely everything in his power this time around, and he meant it.

 


 

There was a heavy tension in the air. One that had nothing to do with the low visibility in this snow storm, or the lack of ability to hear their own thoughts. What set the group on edge was the lone bunker ahead, and what potentially waited inside.

The trek from the snowmobiles to the door felt significantly longer that it really was. The storm did a good job of slowing them to a crawl, but once inside they took a moment to warm up and shed their winter apparel. Underneath the layers of clothes they wore similar outfits to Izuku when he went out on jobs he took seriously.

“We really shouldn’t be here.”

“Nonsense. She knows what she’s doing. Right, Ms. Yaoyorozu?”

Momo glanced back at Tenya and Shouto, pulled at her gloves, and walked forward without a word.

Truth be told she had no plan this time around. There wasn’t much of a plan to make when you didn’t know anything about the place you were breaking into. What, and who, lied in wait here was still a mystery to all three of them. She only knew it had to do with that whole group.

Higari, Nedzu, Snipe, Aizawa, Chiyo, and Izuku.

It was one thing when it was only Izuku. She could manage to keep him under control as needed. Once the others were thrown into the mix, all while she had little to no information on how they were all connected, she was suddenly running blind in a field of hungry lions.

She had Shouto lead them here in the hopes that she could find something. As informative as Shouto was about Izuku’s past once Momo had made it clear she would side with Izuku, she still needed more.

Why did someone like Nedzu want to groom Izuku into what he was?

With how old she knew Izuku to be, she had checked Nedzu’s past and found he had very little political ties before the year Izuku was born. He didn’t make any unnecessary waves, lived a particularly normal life, and had no known ties to people like Aizawa, Snipe, Chiyo and Higari.

What tipped him over the edge?

Surely he didn’t suddenly decide to go down this path for the fun of it. Something must have happened to push him towards it. Someone could have done something to cause all of this.

What was the end goal of it all?

Momo pressed a button at the end of the room, to call the elevator, and looked to Shouto questioningly.

“I was told it isn’t hidden because if someone did enough digging to find out about this place, a hidden button wouldn’t stop them from getting in,” Shouto explained.

“Makes sense to me,” Tenya commented. Although he kept his hand on his holstered gun just in case. “The brunt of the danger must lie down below.”

Momo understood the reasoning, but didn’t like how cocky they seemed for it. She had to agree with Tenya though. If they weren’t afraid of someone who wasn’t supposed to be here getting inside, then they most likely had measures to deal with intruders.

Measures they’d no doubt rather avoid.

They took the elevator down without much trouble inside of it. Though once they stepped out, they were met with a grand hall with very little lighting. Lights attached to the wall barely lit up the walls and pathway, but not much else. The ceiling remained shrouded in darkness, and the end of the hall was far enough ahead that they couldn’t see it right away.

No doors or anything else was there. It was simply a straight shot to the end.

“This seems superfluous,” Tenya said as his gaze roamed the hall. “Surely something is waiting for us here.”

“It’s definitely ridiculous. That much is for sure,” Shouto added on.

“Stay focused,” Momo ordered, and began to move forward.

The noise of their wet boots echoed through the hall, though there was little they could do about that now. The snow caked into their soles had begun to melt since they got out of the elevator, and none of them wanted to go barefoot in this place.

All the way down the hall they made it to a lone, metal door. An electronic lock awaited them, which Tenya got down on one knee and connected a device to.

“Do you know if Izuku knows about this place, Shouto?” Momo asked while watching Tenya hack through the lock. “Has he ever mentioned it?”

“Not to me, no.” Shouto’s eyes turned away and narrowed as he thought about it. “He said the place they kept him all his life was underground. He never specified the environment outside or any other details. This could be the place, but I don’t know for sure.”

Momo nodded, and took the lead again once the door was open. “Remember the mission parameters here.”

One thing she had made clear was that they were here for information only. They were not here to pick a fight, and they weren’t here to try to fulfill Izuku’s goal for him. Izuku didn’t even know any of them were here in fact.

Momo and Tenya hired Shouto to come with them to increase the likelihood of at least one of them escaping in the event of a catastrophe.

They were all to stick together, and at the first sign of trouble get as far away from this place as possible. She also instructed Shouto to leave the two of them behind if absolutely necessary.

“What’s to stop Izuku from coming here if something happens to us and he learns about it?” Shouto asked.

“We have a few codes to use with him whenever necessary,” Tenya explained quietly as they roamed the next room, which appeared to be completely empty. “Ms. Yaoyorozu left one with one of Mr. Bakugou’s friends to give to him. It essentially tells him that if the two of us go missing, to not go looking for us.”

“And preferably you don’t get caught or killed, so that that doesn’t become a later issue,” Momo added on.

“I try not to make promises if possible,” Shouto said and exited the room into a hallway. “Hard to keep them during stuff like this.”

Momo and Tenya followed him into the next room across the hall. This one seemed to be a firing range with three stalls. One labeled Snipe, one labeled Izuku, and the last labeled Aizawa.

The dummies at the end of the range were riddled with bullet holes. The first two, Snipe’s and Izuku’s, had clean shots in the forehead, neck, shoulders, heart, and knees. The last one, Aizawa’s, had holes in quite a few places close to where a person’s vitals would be, but none were quite on the mark.

“I get the feeling this bunker is where he was kept,” Tenya said as he eyed where Izuku’s name was etched into the middle stall.

The three of them returned to the hall and looked around. To the right led back to the entrance of this place and a dead end. To the left led into uncharted territory.

Momo waved for them to follow and went down the hall to the left.

The hallway led to another set of rooms. Two doors on the left and one on the right. Shouto offered to check one on his own, but Tenya shot the idea down and advised the group stay together as much as possible. It was still too unknown what may be down here to deal with intruders, or even what may have been down here to try to dissuade Izuku from escaping for all of those years.

They went into the room on the right first. Inside was what looked to be a bedroom with almost nothing in it. Metal walls and a metal floor, undecorated in every possible way and a terribly uncomfortable looking bed. It was hard to tell whether the bed looked that bad from age or if it had always been like that since day one.

A nightstand with one lamp plugged into the wall was sitting directly next to the bed, and inside the nightstand drawer were a couple of worn and slightly damaged notebooks with what Momo recognized to be a worse version of Izuku’s handwriting.

They were journals that detailed unspecific events of Izuku’s life here. Time spent in something he called ‘the stealth room’, time spent in the shooting range. His first mission with Snipe, followed by a visit from Chiyo the same day. More time spent in the two aforementioned rooms, time spent learning how to give CPR and first aid. His first mission with Aizawa is mentioned a month later.

As she checked the dates of each entry she figured he must have been younger than a teenager on these days. At least eight or nine years old.

Each entry detailed things he learned as well. What he needed to work on, what he did well on, how he needed to be more aware of his surroundings.

More importantly, as she skimmed the second notebook, at some point he started taking note of Snipe’s and Aizawa’s flaws as well as his own.

Snipe keeps going to Higari about modifying his guns. Complains that reloading too much gives too many openings. Clearly still refuses to learn more than very basic hand-to-hand. Has mused about getting some type of armor to dissuade people from trying to get in close.

Aizawa never fails to remind me that guns are a nuisance when trying to remain unseen and unheard. Both my own and the enemies’. Reminds me to keep my eye on their finger on the trigger, not the barrel. We can’t dodge the bullet once it’s coming, but we can predict the trajectory. He’s mentioned trying to get something to deflect them so he can close the distance instead of running away, but I doubt he’ll find something like that.

I can’t learn a lot about Higari. Nedzu doesn’t like it when the two of us are near each other. He wants to keep us apart as much as possible, but the fact he keeps Higari around means he’s being used for something. Maybe just like I am. I don’t understand why he would want to work here. It really sucks here.

Chiyo has tried time and again to let me know she’s on my side. Still skeptical, but I’ll accept her help for now. No known combat training either way, but I won’t let my guard down around her.

Nedzu doesn’t know I read his books. I recently learned what he’s doing to me. Why I always feel bad for wanting to leave and why he talks to me so much. I think he manipulates me and wants me to be dependant on him. That way I’ll never leave. But I’m getting out of here. Really soon.

I want to know what the world is like out there. I want to live a normal life and make real friends and have a family, and if they try to bring me back I’ll hunt them all down.

On the last page with writing there were only two words.

“I’m ready,” Momo read aloud, and then flipped through the rest of the blank pages to the end. “He took advantage of them teaching him and learned their weaknesses to escape.”

“That sounds like him,” Shouto said from beside the door.

Other than the bed, nightstand and lamp there appeared to be nothing else to this room. Tenya bagged the notebooks and they all moved on to the next room.

In one of the doors across the hall there was what looked like a school nurse’s office. There were very limited medical supplies, and the place looked like it had been looted in a rush long ago.

The next room over appeared to be an operating room for surgeries. A tray of surgical tools stood next to an operating table with a large light that hung just above the table.

The group ventured a guess that this room was for any serious injuries Izuku may have suffered over the years, and then moved on. There was more than likely nothing of value to be found here.

“They really built this place as a means to house him with nothing in mind other than work,” Tenya said quietly while the group walked further into the place.

For all three of them it answered some things they had long wondered about Izuku. None of the three of them could imagine living in a place so isolated from regular society. Secluded from anyone that wasn’t these adults meant to shape him into a killer that would be completely dependant on them.

Further down at the end of the hall they pushed through a set of double doors. Inside was a large room similar to a warehouse. Shelves filled with boxes and stacks of wooden crates all around the room made it hard to see anything beyond the grid like pathways and intersections.

All three of them pulled their weapons as Momo switched the lights on. There were far too many places for someone to hide in here, and all of them were suddenly on edge because of such.

Tenya pressed his back to Momo’s, a regular position to two took on the rare occasions they had field work. Shouto pulled out one of his knives and held it under his pistol, ready to fight in case someone got up close, and the three moved ahead slowly.

Shouto constantly switched between watching the left and the right while Tenya watched the back and Momo watched the front.

Whether it be from the uneasy feeling that settled inside all of them or something else, they could swear they were being watched. By something or someone they couldn’t see. The feeling only put them all further on edge.

However they made it across to the other room without any trouble, and through the door to what looked to be a cozy office. Similar to that of a therapist’s.

Two bookshelves filled with books sat against the wall on either side of a large desk. Small stacks of papers lined the desk from one end to the other, which Momo promptly started to go through. The faster they could find something and get out of here, the better.

Shouto glanced through the book titles and Tenya rifled through the desk drawers.

A few moments passed when Shouto pulled a brown book off of one of the shelves. It was very old and appeared to be barely held together. There was no text on the front or back, and it was held closed by a string that circled it several times until tied at the front.

From the look of it alone Shouto feared untying it would cause the book to fall apart, but risked it to check this strange, out of place book.

“Hey, you guys’ll want to see this,” Shouto called to them as he read a random page.

It detailed a meeting with a group of people, dated far back before Izuku would have even been born. He skipped a few pages ahead after Momo and Tenya caught up, and there was more about another meeting. Aizawa and Snipe are mentioned, though the author seemed to speak of them in an unfamiliar light.

Another few pages ahead, another meeting, each one several months apart. This one mentions Izuku, dated around the time he would’ve been a toddler.

“And it’s all in his handwriting,” Momo said under her breath, reading with rapt attention as she compared it to the papers on the desk. “I don’t recognize any of these names though.”

“They aren’t mentioning the end goal either,” Tenya added on. “He’s only written about what was immediately relevant. However it’s clear Izuku was meant to be raised as Nedzu’s attack dog. Nedzu was given the resources to make all of this happen by this group of people.”

“But why?” Shouto questioned quietly, now more intrigued by Izuku’s past than ever.

He’d always been curious, but left it to Izuku to decide when and where to open up. But this…

The three of them scattered to different hiding places upon hearing heavy footsteps. The door swung open, though none of them could see who it was from their spots.

Shouto down below the desk, Tenya and Momo behind the door, all three ready to pop out at a moment’s notice.

“Where’d he run off to now?”

“Probably in the lab. Or not here yet.”

Shouto recognized the voices. Snipe and Aizawa, though no Nedzu or Higari. Just the two of them were enough trouble as it was though.

What were they even doing here?

The three of them came out of their hiding places and met in the middle of the room. Shouto handed the book to Momo, and she quickly flipped through the pages with a cursory glance.

“We’ll take this and get out of here. Tenya and I will sit down and read through this to get whatever we can from it, and we’ll decide where to go from there. With any luck, we’ll get something solid enough to get Nedzu put away. Or have him go into hiding.”

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Shouto said. “He’s pretty thorough about covering his tracks.”

“But everybody makes mistakes,” Tenya said, “no matter how small. Even if it doesn’t give us something against him, it may point us in the direction of something else.”

“Let’s go. We can discuss it later,” Momo cut in. “After we’re not in danger of being discovered.”

 


 

Katsuki took his place back in the driver’s seat of the car. He left the doors unlocked and waited for Izuku to return, sure that Izuku must have snuck inside in an attempt to keep on eye on them.

That much didn’t concern him. Izuku had proven more than enough times that he could get past people like these without any trouble. Though it was slightly concerning that Izuku hadn’t mentioned he would be going inside this time.

He pulled out his phone and put on a video when Izuku didn’t show up after a couple of minutes. There normally wasn’t anything he was too interested in watching on the internet, but it beat staring outside of a window and doing nothing.

A few more minutes later Izuku opened the door and sat in the car with a heavy sigh. He had a look of utter exasperation, and with the door shut he buckled his seatbelt and sat back.

“He really ramped up security this time,” Izuku complained as he remembered the trouble he had to go through just to get out of there unseen. “It’s like he’s expecting me to do something.”

“You did sneak in to try to listen to his meeting with me,” Katsuki mentioned boredly, his gaze still settled on his phone, and then started the car.

“Yeah but he didn’t know I was going to do that,” Izuku grumbled. He stared out of the window when Katsuki started to drive away. “I didn’t even hear anything anyway.”

“He set up a meeting with Aizawa. Made him think it’s with Chisaki instead of me. Said it would be a better chance of him not blowing me off.” Katsuki glanced at Izuku, taking in his thoughtful expression. “He’ll be here in two days. Said he had something to take care of with his boss first, and then he’ll take the first flight here.”

Izuku’s eyes narrowed. The only boss Aizawa would ever mention would be Nedzu, and if the two of them had business together then that could only be bad.

“Wonder what he’s up to.”

 


 

Shouto held the book tight in one hand and his pistol in the other, pointed forward with one shaky finger on the trigger. He aimed left, at Snipe holding a subdued Tenya at gunpoint, and then right, at Aizawa holding a struggling Momo with one of his wraps around her neck.

He had a choice to make here. One that he was going to regret no matter what. And although he wanted to choose one option, he knew the other was the correct one.

He knew it because it would be infinitely more beneficial in the long run. He knew it from the look in Momo and Tenya’s eyes. He knew it from the heavy feeling of guilt and shame in what he was about to do.

They discussed earlier what should be done in a situation almost exactly like this.

And so he turned and ran, clutching the book harder in his hand. He ran down the winding halls of this compound and back to the elevator that would lead to partial safety. He ran inside and repeatedly pressed the button to go up until the doors were shut, and then pressed it two more times just in case.

There would have been no winning that fight. If he attacked one, the other would kill their hostage and distract him long enough for the second hostage to be killed. If he gave himself up, they would all three be imprisoned or killed. If he fought both of them, he would lose without a doubt.

He hated it with every fiber of his being, but leaving them behind was the only option. This thing, this book filled with information, needed to get out to the world.

He didn’t know what exactly he would do with it. Where to take it, or who to take it to, remained unclear without Tenya and Momo to handle it. He had simply been employed as a means of better ensuring success, regardless of whether the two of them lived or died.

The two of them made it clear before the they all came here. Mission first, safety second.

Maybe Izuku could find a use for it. He might know someone who could make better sense of the book’s contents, or Izuku could use it himself to damage Nedzu’s reputation in some way. Something could be done.

All of this wouldn’t be for naught. Shouto would make sure something came out of their sacrifices, even if it meant he had to paint a large target on his own back and make enemies with the world’s most dangerous.

The elevator pinged its arrival at the top floor and the doors slid open. He took one step forward with a new sense of resolve as the doors to freedom opened.

Then he fell backwards with the sound of a gunshot coming from the room ahead. His chest burned as all the air left his lungs from the impact of a bullet against his bulletproof vest. The back of his head hit the wall and he slid down to the floor with a quick gasp for air.

He had just enough time to raise his own gun, and then have it kicked from his grasp as two pistols are pointed toward him, each belonging to a different person.

“It’s a shame, Shouto Todoroki,” Nedzu said, his heading shaking from side to side with disapproval. “I kind of liked you.”

Chapter Text

The slow scratching sound of pencil on paper was all that was heard in the room. The muted television on the other side of the room was still a slight distraction, regardless of the lack of sound. But two of the three of them preferred it stay on for something to look at from time to time.

Denki suppressed another yawn and checked his phone for the time. It was coming up on three in the morning, but he was staying awake for a reason and didn’t intend to go to sleep just yet.

He stared ahead and waited, a patient smile on his face, and chose to suddenly spring a random question on the obviously half asleep child while Kouta still wrote.

“If you have fifty cookies and I take away half, what do I have?”

“A broken hand,” Kouta replied absentmindedly, half in a daze as he continued to copy the alphabet Denki had written out for him. His voice was tired and practically monotone at this point, as he was no longer bothering to try to hide the fact he had slept very little from everyone.

Yet still, try as he might, he could not bring himself to sleep. Not when he tried two hours ago, or three hours ago, or six hours ago, or even twelve hours ago.

The smile on Denki’s face vanished in an instant, his patience now replaced with the tiniest bit of fear from the fact that that was Kouta’s first instinct.

Eijirou, on the other hand, grew somewhat amused after he related it to an empty threat of the same fashion as Katsuki’s. He almost chuckled as he emerged from the hallway with a long stretch and a yawn.

“Think you said it wrong, bro. You have to ask for them.” He stopped behind Kouta and stared down at the piece of paper that was being written on. “Let me try. If you have a hundred cookies and I ask for half, how many do you have left?”

“Zero,” Kouta replied in an identical tone to before. He continued his task without pause as though he heard Eijirou’s voice, but didn’t register his presence at all.

The both of them made a face of confusion at each other, and then looked back to Kouta with the same bewildered expressions. Surely he knew that wasn’t correct, but the benefit of the doubt was given when his sleep deprivation was taken into account.

“That’s not right, little dude,” Denki said with a tilt of his head. He craned his neck forward to glance at the page Kouta was writing on to check that as well. “He only asked for–”

“I’d give them all to you because I love you,” Kouta interjected in an exasperated tone with a heavy breath. He still never paused his work while responding.

Rather he started writing a little more aggressively, his irritation becoming more evident. He remained focused on the task at hand, although his brows furrowed with aggravation. Obviously he was completely done with having to explain something that, in his eyes, should have been completely obvious.

Eijirou appeared a bit taken aback by the sudden, somewhat out of the blue declaration of feelings. In the time he’d known Kouta, he’d learned that Kouta most certainly was not one to announce his affection for others so bluntly.

Denki’s eyes widened, along with an amused grin that spread along his face, however. In the even shorter time he’d known Kouta he learned of the same, and foresaw his chance to uncover some knowledge while Kouta was in this state of mind.

“Oh?” Denki leaned forward, excited to learn of Kouta’s thoughts on himself. “So you love the three of them, but how about me? I’m totally your favorite, right? The cool uncle or the older brother you never had.”

Eijirou slapped a hand over Denki’s mouth once Kouta glared at them. He knew better than anyone else that Denki meant well, but could sometimes be a bit much to handle when it was time for peace and quiet.

He could tell Kouta was getting cranky again, and Denki being ‘too’ friendly could easily have the opposite of the desired effect. Rather than calming him or making him happy, right now it appeared to be simply exacerbating the child’s bad mood.

“Let’s tag out for now,” Eijirou offered to Denki with a pat on the back. “You get some sleep. I’ll stay up with him for a while.”

Denki’s grin lessened to a soft smile as he picked up on the hint. He’d noticed Kouta’s mood swing as well, and decided to leave it for Eijirou to handle.

“Alright. If you guys need me, you know where to find me.” He stood from his chair, shoved both hands in his pockets, and sauntered down the hall to the bedroom with a yawn. “Off in dream world.”

Eijirou went to the kitchen to get a drink before he took Denki’s seat across the table from Kouta. While in there he asked if Kouta wanted anything, and took the unintelligible grumble he got as a response for a no.

He sat in Denki’s chair across the folding table from Kouta and glanced at the paper to see Kouta’s progress. With a sip of his drink he then leaned back in his chair and watched Kouta write.

He’d try to put Kouta to bed if he thought it would work, but by this point the two of them had decided it better to stay up with him as long as he wasn’t asleep. They started alternating sleeping so that at least one of them would be up with him at all times, and once it had become clear that Kouta wanted distractions they did whatever they could with him.

Fast had this turned from bodyguard work to babysitting. Though it wasn’t like it was unexpected. Rather it was the fact in which they found themselves in this whole sleep deprivation debacle that was unexpected.

The worst either of them would have thought would happen would be a restless child running around and screaming, full of pent up energy with no outside source to use it all on. Maybe complaining about not being allowed to go anywhere and having to stay inside all of the time.

This was a whole other issue.

Eijirou leaned forward again and rested his elbows on the table. With a lopsided smile he watched Kouta work and tried to think of something to say to ease the tension that wracked the boy. He could see it in Kouta’s shoulders, in the way he hunched forward and worked without pause to make sure he wouldn’t think about anything but what was right in front of him.

Before he could think of something however, Kouta spoke up without looking at him.

“You look weird with your hair down.” He glanced up at Eijirou for only a second, and then looked back down to his work. He continued, his voice still low and tired, as he erased a mistake he had made, “Not like in a bad way. I like it, but it’s weird.”

Eijirou’s smile grew a little. He hadn’t styled his hair yet since he had just woken up and came straight here, and completely forgot that it was down to his shoulders right now.

“You mean because it’s different?” He pushed the bangs that hovered just above his eyes up when Kouta nodded in response. “I get that a lot whenever people see it down for the first time.”

Eijirou’s phone rang and he pulled it out of his pocket to check the screen. Upon seeing the name on the screen, he answered with a confused and slightly worried tone.

“What’s up? Kind of late to be calling.”

“Late? It’s ten in the morn–”

“Time zones, dumbass,” Eijirou heard Katsuki say from Izuku’s side of the phone.”

“Oh, right.” Izuku pulled his phone away and checked the time just to make sure it really was ten in the morning for them. “Uh, what time is it there?”

“Little past three in the morning. Denki just went to bed, and I’m staying up with Kouta while he can’t sleep.” Eijirou noticed Kouta throwing him little glances during the conversation and flashed him a grin. “You should talk to him. He’s right here, sitting across the table from me. He looks like he’s going to tackle me for the phone if I don’t give it up.”

“No I don’t,” Kouta said, and then laid his head down in his arms on the table. He stared off to the side down the hall to avoid giving Eijirou the satisfaction of being proven right.

Granted he was going to snatch the phone out of Eijirou’s hand if they tried to end the call without talking to him, but none of them needed to know that unless it became relevant.

Katsuki watched Izuku talk on the phone from his spot on a reclining chair. With one foot up on the chair, his knee at chest height, and his cheek resting boredly on his fist, he mused over how someone could do the amount of killing Izuku had just committed mere hours ago and then come to talk to people on the phone as though nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

It would be baffling if he didn’t know about Izuku’s background in the first place. The fact he knew about it didn’t make it okay, but it certainly explained a lot as far as this was concerned.

Not that he ever doubted it, but his beliefs had only been confirmed after tonight. That Izuku, no matter how casual or dorky he looked or acted, was easily one of the most dangerous people Katsuki had ever met in his life.

He shifted to lean to the other side of the chair, his other arm now on the armrest. Although that fact had been wholly confirmed for him, he still felt no sense of danger when around Izuku. No reason to be on guard. No reason to fear for his safety in the slightest, regardless of the fact he was constantly in the presence of someone the law would easily consider a serial killer of some type.

Because even though Izuku had shown another side of himself tonight, Katsuki had seen the only side that really mattered in the long run.

The one that doesn’t want to kill if it isn’t necessary. The one that would take in people who need help getting back on their feet, and ask for very little in return. The one that would jump off of a building to save a kid he thought of as his own. That would take a punch for Katsuki for no reason other than he didn’t want to see Katsuki get hurt.

Katsuki focused his eyes and then looked off to the side, suddenly aware that he had been blatantly staring while Izuku tossed him an occasional glance, obviously aware of the gaze stuck to him like glue.

He felt dumb every time he caught himself doing that. Staring at Izuku like some love-struck teenager watching their significant other rather than paying attention to anything else going on around them.

More and more he caught himself doing it as of late, and more and more he felt disgusted by the fluttery feeling in his stomach each time.

“I’m taking a shower,” Katsuki said as he quickly stood up and left for the bathroom. The sweat that had dried up from their all night escapade was as good an excuse as ever to step away from this situation. “Tell the runt I said hey or something.”

Izuku watched him go through the corners of his eyes, the voice on the phone mere white noise for the moment before the bathroom door shut.

Since the moment he realized one of his biggest goals could potentially come to fruition, he realized at the same time that this could be one of the most dangerous things they’d done.

Granted they’d fought Aizawa once before, and almost killed him in the process. But now both groups, his mentors and his own, were all on high alert from the attacks on either side. Aizawa could just as easily come more on guard than ever, ready to kill at a moment’s notice.

The thought of he or Katsuki perishing in this endeavor rattled his nerves like never before. He’d almost always been prepared for the worst case scenario, and as such kept calm in the face of danger.

However he didn’t know if he could prepare for losing Katsuki, or dying himself and leaving Katsuki and Kouta’s fates to those psychopaths.

With the thoughts of what could happen to them in mind, he realized failure is by far not an option in any possible way.

He had to be perfect for this. Everything had to go perfectly. Otherwise he would damn anyone who had ever helped him. Anyone he associated himself with, and anyone he cared for.

“Are you there?”

Izuku blinked himself back to the here and now, his gaze focused on the ceiling once more, and nodded to the phone with a shaky breath. He released the tension in his shoulders, pulling them back down and breathing in deep in a somewhat futile attempt to calm himself.

Even lying on his back on the bed he could almost physically feel the knots forming in his back and neck from the sudden onslaught of stress. His shoulders almost instinctively pushed up, trying to tense up again, but he resisted.

“Er, yeah. Sorry.” He rolled onto his side, his back to the bathroom door, and stared out of the window at the building across the street and the stars in the sky. “I just dozed off a little. Listen, before I talk to Kouta I just want to ask if you or Denki could give him a haircut sometime soon? It’s been a while since I’ve done it and it’s probably getting pretty long again.”

A short bout of silence ensued, in which Izuku guessed Eijirou was inspecting Kouta’s hair. He thought of the last time he saw it. A week or two ago, give or take a few days. He’d lost track with the time spent getting here, tracking down Chisaki, setting up the meeting, doing the job given to them, and so on when he had to stay up and sleep at odd hours of the days and nights.

“Yeah, I’ll ask Denki to do it. He likes doing hair stuff, and he’s pretty good at it.”

“Alright. Thank you again for agreeing to do this.” Izuku sat up and looked around the room for his bag. “I’m going to get my laptop. Will you set up Kouta’s laptop and I’ll call him on there?”

“Sure, of course, man. See you then.”

Izuku’s smile faltered, taking on a hint of worry at the sudden sound of something hitting the ground, followed by struggling, on the other end of the phone. He could just barely make out Eijirou trying to convince Kouta not to break his phone and that they would talk to Izuku in a minute. Then the call abruptly ended, and Izuku went to get his bag from the other side of the room.

Within a minute he was lying on the bed in front of his laptop, head on one arm and the other arm off to the side, waiting for Kouta to come online. Another couple of minutes passed by where he really did nearly doze off, fighting the urge his eyes had to close, and then the call showed up on his screen.

Izuku jolted upright and sat cross-legged, then answered the call and waved at the laptop’s webcam with a grin. One that remained regardless of the shock and worry that flashed in his eyes at the sight of Kouta’s haggard state.

He hadn’t expected it to be this bad, and in an instant had a fleeting desire to drop everything and rush back home. Although he knew he had come too far to do such a thing on a whim, and Katsuki would lose it if he even suggested going back before finishing the job that they had already done so much for.

“You look,” Izuku paused to think about his wording. Even more careful thought was put into it once Kouta’s smile dwindled at the mention of it. “Tired.”

“I know,” Kouta said. He glanced away to ignore that nagging feeling in his stomach that reared its ugly head again. He placed his head in his arms on the table, kicked his legs back and forth softly, and he suppressed a yawn. “They’ve said that like, a thousand times now.”

“It’s because they’re worried. Everyone is.” Izuku gave him a sad smile when Kouta looked at the screen, and he noticed Eijirou behind Kouta on the couch, half watching TV and half listening to the conversation. “We all care about you and want you to be able to sleep normally.”

Kouta turned away again in the middle of muttering something. His voice was too quiet for the mic to pick up, and Izuku asked him to repeat whatever he had said. With a small glare Kouta lifted his head out of his arms so as to not muffle his voice and reiterated.

“I said Katsuki doesn’t.”

Izuku glanced toward the bathroom, where running water could still be heard behind the closed door, and then tilted his head at the screen a little.

“Why would you think that?”

“Because I called him days ago and he still hasn’t called back. I even left a message and everything! And the stupid phone cut me off mid f–” Kouta paused and breathed to calm himself before he cursed in front of Izuku. The frustration from that night was welling up inside of him again, and he could feel the agitation eating away at him all over again. “Mid freaking sentence when I was leaving the message.”

Izuku glanced at the bathroom again, and then to Katsuki’s forgotten phone on the nightstand between their two beds. He picked it up, typed in the numerical password and checked the call logs. He threw a cursory glance at Kouta as he looked through the very, very few calls.

“Do you remember what time you called him? And who’s phone you used?”

Kouta shrugged and looked away again. “It was in the middle of the night. Like three or four in the morning or something. I think it was Eiji’s phone.”

Izuku shook his head as he checked the time on each of Eijirou’s calls. “There’s no call on his phone in the middle of the night. Only late mornings, afternoons, and evenings.”

“Uh, which one did you call?” Eijirou asked over his shoulder. “One of those is his old phone. The one back at our place before he came here.”

“The one that had his picture,” Kouta called back to him, and then he pursed his lips on hearing that that one was the old phone that Katsuki currently no longer had.

“See? He does care,” Izuku said. Although not entirely sure of that statement himself, he hoped Katsuki did anyway. “He just doesn’t know you even tried to call him.”

Kouta’s arms dropped down off the table and his head dropped to the table, his forehead hitting the hard plastic with a thud that moved everything on the table. He closed his eyes and breathed out a sigh.

“I’m so stupid.”

“Not knowing isn’t being stupid. That’s making a mistake.” Izuku scooted back on the bed, laid his hands in his lap, and leaned back against the headboard to get more comfortable. He kept a straight face through the conversation, unwilling to let someone so young become self-deprecating so early. “It’d be stupid if you knew and still did it on purpose, but you didn’t. Do you think I get everything right on my first try?”

Kouta lifted his head, looked sadly at the screen, and nodded in response, to which Izuku almost laughed.

“Of course I don’t. No one does everything right. I make a lot of mistakes. So does everyone else, and you will too. But don’t think you’re stupid just because of that. Got it?”

He looked away for a brief second, and then nodded.

“Good. I’m pretty much free for the next day or two.” Izuku grinned at flash of hope that appeared in Kouta’s eyes. “Want to watch movies for a while? I’ll stay up if you can’t sleep.”

Kouta nodded enthusiastically. He didn’t really care what movie at this point. So long as he wasn’t sitting here doing nothing of immediate interest and letting his mood swings get the better of him he would do whatever else.

“Okay, but do me a favor and watch them in your bed so you can at least try to sleep a little.” He gave an apologetic smile as Kouta’s enthusiasm vanished, replaced with an annoyed expression. “Please? Whether you want to or not, you have to get some sleep. I promise you’ll feel better if you get some, too. I won’t end the call if you fall asleep either. I’ll stay right here.”

Kouta inhaled sharply and spoke in the middle of a harsh sigh, “ Fiiiine.

 


 

Izuku watched Kouta soundly sleeping on the screen. With his mouse on the end call button, his finger hovered over the left click on his laptop.

Eijirou had come in at some point and said this was the most peaceful Kouta had looked in days. A statement that made it all the harder to leave for the time being.

They’d spent almost every minute of the last two days together, sometimes with Katsuki, Eijirou, or Denki joining them for a bit. However for the most part they watched movies and Izuku would occasionally get Kouta to fall asleep for a couple of hours.

“Let’s go,” Katsuki called out to him. “This is our one good chance. Let’s not fuck it up.”

Izuku typed out a goodnight message saying he’d be back later, pressed the button, turned off his computer, and put it to the side. As much as he’d like to stay, Katsuki was right. They wouldn’t get another chance like this. Best not to squander it by being late and missing Aizawa entirely, or losing the element of surprise in some way.

“Coming.”

He put his hat on, pulled a duffle bag out from under the bed and slung it over his shoulder, and then followed Katsuki down to the car.

Down by the car Izuku placed the bag in the floorboard of the backseat, and then crawled in and laid down in the backseat. When his actions were questioned, he made it clear that if anyone happened to be watching as they pulled up to the meeting place it would look bad if Izuku was seen right next to Katsuki.

Izuku crossed one leg over the other and stared up at the ceiling of the car as the engine came to life and Katsuki drove off.

Since the beginning of this morning a million things had been running through his mind. An endless torrent of thoughts that bombarded him with increasing amounts of anxiousness and anticipation.

One of them were in the same city as him. They were going to meet again, and with any hope Izuku could finally be rid of one of the demons that haunted his life. However there was just as much of a chance of something happening to Katsuki or himself. Maybe even both of them.

Such a thing couldn’t be allowed to even be imagined, though. If anything happened to Katsuki, it would be squarely on Izuku’s shoulders, and he knew it. It would be because Izuku pulled Katsuki into all of this mess.

Izuku was convinced that, no matter what, whatever happens tonight is all on himself. Whether someone does or doesn’t die, or if Katsuki somehow winds up in trouble with the law more so than before. Or if Aizawa somehow knew that he was meeting with the two of them, and took it upon himself to send the others after Kouta while they were meeting.

He bolted upright at the very thought that this could all be an elaborate ruse to launch a counterattack. An action that, he noticed, caught Katsuki’s eye in the rearview mirror.

With one hand on his forehead he went back down and breathed slowly. There was no way for them to truly know that this was a trap. Katsuki said that Chisaki made sure Aizawa believed he was meeting with a new client that he didn’t know. Eijirou and Denki were there to guard Kouta in case anything happened.

Although that only led to thoughts of how it would now be his fault if anything happened to the two of them.

Katsuki glanced over his shoulder at Izuku at the next red light. He took in the sight of Izuku lying in the seat with one arm draped over his eyes, and once Katsuki turned forward again he spoke in a low, uncharacteristically calming voice.

“You’re not having a panic attack or some shit, are you?” He pushed on the gas pedal and tensed up a little at the silence he got in response. If Izuku was having some type of episode, he believed he certainly wouldn’t be the right person to handle it. “You just killed like ten people the other night. This asshole will just be another name off the list. No big deal.”

Granted he knew it wasn’t that simple, but what else was he to say?

Good luck? Break a leg?

“I’m not having a panic attack, I’m just thinking,” Izuku broke the silence. He sat up and stared at the back of Katsuki’s head, and with a slow blink his gaze settled straight down on his legs. “You said you wanted me to be more selfish. I want to ask a favor.”

“Not exactly what I meant, but go for it.”

“If something happens to me I want you to forget about all of this, take Kouta and just try to live your life like none of it ever happened.” Izuku didn’t need to see Katsuki’s face to know of the glare he likely just got in the rearview mirror. He laid back down, out of sight of everyone out and inside the car. “Or come as close to forgetting all of it as you can. Just don’t go after revenge or anything.”

Another red light, and suddenly Katsuki had turned his upper body to glare down at Izuku. Although he knew he could never forget about Izuku, he decided to focus his anger from being tasked with such a thing on the apparently more obvious question.

“How the fuck is that selfish? You’re still thinking about everyone else.”

That he could still deal with for the moment. That annoying trait of Izuku’s wasn’t going to go away just because he demanded it be done. But the fact Izuku would even dare ask Katsuki to forget about him just because he died.

Which Katsuki was going to make damn sure didn’t happen anyway.

If the person behind them wasn’t honking their horn because of the light Katsuki wasn’t paying attention to was green, he’d be yelling even louder. Instead he turned back around and started driving again, now with a middle finger casually out the window for a moment.

“I can promise you it is. I’m more sure of it because of how angry you are.”

Asking something like that wasn’t just for Katsuki’s own safety and sanity. He didn’t want Katsuki to go hunting these people if Izuku failed, and then Katsuki’s family and friends to get roped in because something happened to Katsuki as well.

But more than that, Izuku didn’t want to die knowing that he sent Katsuki on a warpath that may never end with anything other than regret and possibly death. The thought of that possibility was already eating him up inside right now.

Izuku suppressed a sigh as he remembered one of the first lessons he was taught as a kid. Don’t get emotionally attached. These thoughts and feelings must have been why they pushed that lesson so hard.

“I’m just a job for you. Remember that,” Izuku reminded him.

And he didn’t mean to, either. Katsuki was meant to be a helping hand that was then let go at the end of all of this, or earlier if need be. To guard the others, maybe help on a mission or two, and then disappear and go back to his life not caring for what happened.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He wasn’t supposed to care so much about what happened to the other.

Yet here they were.

“I’m not promising you shit.” Katsuki parked the car out near the first place the two of them came to meet Chisaki last time they were in Japan. “You can fuck right off with that. Nothing is going to happen to you anyway, dumbass. They’d have to get through me to do something.”

Izuku crossed one leg over the other, intertwined his fingers and rested the palms of his hands on his stomach, and closed his eyes to wait a while before he snuck out.

Your arrogance is as reassuring as ever.

It took a bit of willpower to not say what was running through his mind, but he managed to hold his tongue.

“Just don’t underestimate them. You’ve seen them in action, and they’re no pushovers. The two of us together can handle one, sure, but that doesn’t mean we should be overconfident and let our guard down.”

“No shit,” Katsuki spat as he got out of the car and left with a slam of the door.

He made his way into the old, abandoned factory the same way that he remembered before. Once he finally got to the room he stepped inside and looked around.

Empty, save for the same couch and chair as before. As far as he could tell nobody was here, though with the knowledge of who he was meeting here he didn’t let his guard down for half a second.

He checked behind the door, behind the chair and couch, and each corner of the room. He even looked at the ceiling for a moment, just to make absolutely sure he was alone in the room.

Once it was determined that he really was alone he sat down in the chair and watched the door. He tapped his index finger on the armrest of the chair impatiently and waited.

He waited, and waited, and waited until he thought that maybe Aizawa wasn’t coming at all. He almost stood up when the door opened, and he saw the familiar, scruffy man walk in with the barest hint of surprise on his face.

Katsuki gave him a calm look. An attempt to look as unthreatening as possible, although it was questionable whether it did anything at all for him. Though still Aizawa decided to take a couple of steps into the room and look around warily.

“Where is he?” Aizawa asked, his voice still as tired and deceptively uncaring as ever.

“Not here. I’m not hijacking your meeting, I am your meeting,” Katsuki clarified. He leaned forward and closed his hands together, rested an arm on each knee and stared Aizawa in the eyes. “I’m not trying to kill you right now.”

Aizawa closed the door, put on his goggles, and moved to the couch, but didn’t sit. Instead he stood behind it and rested his hands on the back of it.

“What do you want?”

“Same thing you do. To get rid of a thorn in my ass. But it isn’t something I can do by myself, obviously.”

“If you wanted him gone, you would’ve helped while we were there. Not ambush us in our helicopter and steal the kid.”

Katsuki shook his head. “First of all, helping is the last thing on my mind when some asshole shows up and starts shooting a fucking shotgun at my head.”

A point made that Aizawa, unfortunately for himself, had to agree with. Although learning that fact annoyed him all the more when he had made it clear not to kill who they could potentially recruit to get rid of Izuku.

“Second, he’s not the best kid around or the brightest ray of sunshine. In fact he’s kind of an asshole too. But he doesn’t deserve whatever you guys were going to do to him, and I’ll kick anyone’s ass who hurts him.”

Aizawa tilted his head back to consider this information. His eyes checked the little mirrors on the sides of his goggles every so often to make sure nobody was sneaking up behind him.

“Duly noted.”

“Great,” Katsuki said as he slapped his hands onto his knees and sat up straight. “So here’s the deal. I know where he is right now, and I know what he’s doing right now. We go get rid of him and go our separate ways. The kid goes with me, and I don’t give a fuck what you do as long as you leave me, my friends, and my family alone.”

Another moment of silence. Katsuki watched Aizawa, tried to read his body language like he knew Izuku would be doing, but knew little about the man and what to look for. Especially where his eyes were otherwise covered, he had very little to go on.

Soon enough Aizawa gave him a nod, and placed both hands in his pockets.

“Sounds like a fair deal. But how am I to know you aren’t leading me into a trap?”

“Because if we were going to kill you I would have just done it right here. In a very small, cramped room with one exit that could be easily blocked up.”

“Very well,” Aizawa said after a short pause of consideration, and then followed him out of the room.

Down the winding hallways they went, turning corner after corner toward the exit. It felt almost superfluous to make the pathways this long. As if being underground in a building no one had any business being inside of wasn’t enough.

Although it worked to their advantage better than an open area.

Izuku should be behind one of these corners, ready to pounce the second he heard them coming. Far enough out to give time for Aizawa to gain at least a little trust, but far enough in that he couldn’t easily escape if he somehow got through the two of them fighting him together.

However if everything went smoothly there wouldn’t even be a fight. A simple turn of a corner into the barrel of a gun, and then it would be over.

No fuss, no trouble, just a quick kill and then they’d be gone.

Izuku had said Aizawa would be so focused on what was behind him that he’d be less alert to what showed up right in front of him.

Katsuki glanced to Aizawa as the sound of a phone went off. Not a call, but a text message. He could barely make out the message when Aizawa unlocked the screen and pulled it up. Two words, from an unknown number.

‘Watch out.’

The smallest turn of Aizawa’s head toward him let him know he was now being watched, and something he didn’t want to happen was about to happen. Just when everything was going so well, too. But heaven forbid anything ever go according to plan.

And for the first time ever, Katsuki actually mentally sighed at the idea of a fight.

Katsuki caught the fist that suddenly came for his throat, dodged the kick, and caught the phone thrown at his face with his other hand. Although quickly following the phone was another punch that hit him square in the nose.

As much as he hated to praise them, if there was one thing he could give both Izuku and Aizawa credit for it was that they moved quicker than Katsuki was used to dealing with. And somehow their speed was only emphasized any time either of those two got the drop on someone.

Katsuki could only think of it as some sort of assassin’s adrenaline.

He hardly had time to react to the knee that hit him in the stomach, and then the arm that was holding back Aizawa’s first punch was suddenly being twisted behind his back. He fell flat on his face once pushed forward, and just when he had expected a follow up attack he instead rolled over, ready to defend himself, to find nobody there.

“Fucking–” he paused while getting up and shoving the phone in his pocket to find that his car key was stolen as well, “–hell.”

Katsuki ran down the hall after him. His speed increased once he heard gunshots, and he quickly caught up to see Aizawa just scrape past Izuku. Izuku fell to the ground from the wrap tied around his ankle before he could make a move, and Aizawa disappeared around the next corner.

Though Izuku was up almost in an instant and running at full speed to go after him, followed closely by Katsuki who hadn’t stopped for a second.

They both got outside just in time to see Aizawa starting up his car, but while Katsuki hesitated to look around for some form of transportation Izuku continued in a full on sprint toward the car. He managed to jump onto the trunk just as it picked up speed and took off, and Katsuki was left standing in disbelief.

As far as Katsuki knew, Izuku didn’t even know the car key was stolen. Izuku could’ve have easily gotten into the car and expected to chase him down. But no, the psychotic freak decided to jump onto a moving car.

He ran out of the factory yard and looked around for something to go after them in. And as luck would have it, there was exactly what he needed right across the street.

Izuku held on tight with a hand on each side of the car, and then managed to climb up enough to get his knees onto the trunk. The windows where his hands were went down just enough for his fingers to slip through, and right when he was about to take the chance to get inside of one they started to close in on his fingers.

At the same moment he pulled his hands away the car swerved hard and he went flying off. He hit the ground in a roll, though the very second his momentum slowed he sat up and shot at the back of the car relentlessly, pouring his anger and frustration into each and every pull of the trigger.

Even as the pistol began to click with each pull, signifying it had run out of bullets, Izuku continued to pull the trigger a few more times. He then let his arms drop to his side in defeat, and almost screamed out in frustration when a motorcycle slowed to a stop just beside him.

Katsuki took off his helmet and jabbed his thumb to the open space directly behind him.

“Get on, dumbass.”

Katsuki ignored the spark of hope in Izuku’s eyes upon seeing him, put on his helmet, and sped off once Izuku was on safely.

Meanwhile, atop a roof overlooking the factory and the entire scene that just played out, Chisaki stood with two phones in hand. One he tossed off the roof and watched shatter on impact, and the other he dialed the number for emergency services and pulled up to his ear. He pulled his mask down just enough for him to speak into the phone, and then back up once he was done.

“Hello, police? There’re crazy people on a motorcycle with guns trying to kill some reckless driver. They’re all heading toward the north city exit as we speak. You’ll want to do something before somebody gets hurt.”

He hung up the phone before they could respond, and then tossed that one off the roof as well. He then turned and went back for the stairs to leave, hoping all three of those freaks crash and burn before the police get ahold of them.

 


 

Izuku and Katsuki quickly caught sight of Aizawa. This time Katsuki had no intention of letting him get away, and it showed in the way he swerved in between cars, in and out of oncoming traffic and occasionally hopped the sidewalk, all in an attempt to catch up to Aizawa’s vehicle.

All the while Izuku held on tight with his arms wrapped around Katsuki’s stomach. Of the list of things he’d never done before, riding on a motorcycle was one of them.

“Let up on the fucking death grip!” Katsuki yelled back at him.

Izuku tentatively loosened his hold on Katsuki. Although as soon as Katsuki made another hard turn he held on even tighter than before.

He needed to recompose himself. As afraid as he was of moving at such a speed with virtually no protection whatsoever—not even so much as a helmet should he fall off—he couldn’t let himself get paralyzed with fear at this time. There was far too much at stake for that.

He closed his eyes and placed the side of his face against Katsuki’s back for a moment. With the wind whipping through his hair he breathed in, and out, in, and out. He found comfort in matching his breathing with Katsuki’s for the time being.

And then his eyes flung open and he sat up straight to take in the scene before him to formulate a plan.

Police sirens began to blare behind them, and Katsuki cursed under his breath, too low for anyone to hear over the motorcycles engine while muffled by his helmet.

“Stay straight and keep going,” Izuku demanded, and then whirled around to face the two police cars that were slowly gaining on them.

He pulled out his gun and lined up a shot, holding onto the motorcycle with his thighs to try and steady himself. The shocked expressions on the officers’ faces didn’t make him hesitate in the slightest.

Four shots went off in slow succession, with a few seconds in between each to take aim again and again.

Katsuki jerked his head back, ready to yell at Izuku for taking innocent lives, and noticed the front tires on each car popped rather than the officers killed.

He quickly brought his attention forward again and grabbed onto Izuku as he swerved to avoid a car that Aizawa rammed into and spun out toward them.

“Go to the right and speed up!” Izuku shouted at him, staring over his shoulder to weigh their options.

He could almost feel the skeptical look Katsuki was making, wordlessly calling him batshit insane, and then the slow shift toward dubious trust as the motorcycle shifted over into the next lane and steadily picked up speed.

In front of them now awaited a truck, the back of it tilted perfectly for a ramp, and unfortunately Katsuki knew exactly what Izuku wanted.

“If we fall off this bridge coming up, I’m going to kill you before we hit the water,” Katsuki shouted back at him.

Izuku grabbed onto the seat of the motorcycle tight and waited. He stared down at the ground and held his breath, and with a quick jerk that nearly threw him off, they were in the air.

For once he felt as though he were watching the scene before him as a spectator, rather than a participant. Everything around him moved slowly to him, to the point he could clearly think about his next move with time to spare. He could stop and see every detail around him, and take in everything as he went.

He could see the determination on Aizawa’s face turn to disbelief as they passed overhead and he jumped off of the back of the motorcycle.

He could see the sudden, harsh turn of the steering wheel, and hear the horns from several other cars going off.

He could feel his heartbeat racing, his body pumped full of adrenaline from finally having a fragment of what he’d sought after for so long right in front of him.

And then he aimed at the windshield and pulled the trigger. Again, and again, and again until his body hit the hood of the car. Until the car swerved hard and crashed into another.

The vehicle then crashed into the side of the bridge. Izuku held on as hard as he could, but to no avail. As soon as the car hit the side of the bridge and came to a hard stop, he flew off of the hood and skidded across the road, occasionally scraping against the wall of the bridge as he went.

Once he finally rolled to a stop face first in the road, he groaned and took a minute to collect himself. He could hear cars pulling over and doors opening and shutting, but he was too busy holding his bleeding arm and searching the nearby area for his gun.

Once he figured it wasn’t nearby, he pushed himself up with his one good arm, reluctant to let so many people see him at once. Though he knew he had no choice in the matter at this point. The best he could hope for was finishing off Aizawa and getting out of here before anyone started taking pictures or filming the incident.

The last thing he needed was for authorities in any part of the world to start building a profile for him. Not while he was so close.

He got a few inches off of the ground, and then something wrapped around his neck and his face was driven back into the asphalt with a boot against the back of his head. More blood dripped down and hit the ground right next to him, directly next to the pair of goggles that dropped next to him.

“These cat and mouse games have gone on long enough.”

Izuku gritted his teeth and tried to push against the road to get up, only to be shoved down harder. The wrap Aizawa was using to choke him tightened around his neck, and with a harsh pull Izuku could no longer breathe.

He reached back, and immediately his hand was crushed under the weight of Aizawa’s other foot. He tried to roll over, and once again his face was shoved into the ground by the boot on the back of his head.

Still he didn’t feel beaten though. He could see his victory coming in the shattered glass of one of the mirrors in the goggles. And it was in that very moment he was happy—so very happy—that he wasn’t working alone anymore.

Through the coughs and futile gasps, the struggling and pain, he managed to croak out a short, hoarse laugh and grin. Even as the corners of his eyes began to darken, his lungs started to burn, and the blood dripped down his face and across his teeth.

“You sure take death well,” Aizawa commented. The toll that crash took on him could be heard in his pained voice and labored breathing, however still he refused to allow any slack in the way he choked Izuku.

“S’cause,” Izuku rested his forehead against the cold asphalt and closed his eyes, confident in his next strained words, “we win.”

And with the loud bang of a gunshot, followed by gasps, screams, and the sound of retreating footsteps, all the pressure holding Izuku down was released in an instant. He gasped and coughed, finally able to breathe again, and moved away from the body that dropped directly next to him.

Izuku lied there on his back, staring up at the clear, starry sky. He could see Aizawa’s dead eyes through the corner of his own, illuminated by the nearby street light. He remained there and caught his breath for a few seconds, and then Katsuki appeared over him with the helmet still on and held out a hand to help him up.

“Let’s go, you crazy idiot.”

Izuku looked to him, and nearly reached out with his right hand before he remembered his current injury. Instead he grabbed on with his left and let himself be pulled up.

“Wait,” Izuku called out halfway to the motorcycle, and then went back to push Aizawa’s corpse off the bridge and into the water below.

“Was that really necessary?” Katsuki questioned as Izuku settled in behind him.

“The longer nobody knows he’s dead, the better,” Izuku replied.

Katsuki handed Izuku his gun, started up the motorcycle, and took off in the opposite direction of the sound of approaching police sirens.

Halfway back to the hotel Katsuki nearly jumped as what must’ve been Izuku’s head fell onto Katsuki’s upper back for the second time that night. The one arm wrapped around him held on slightly tighter, and Katsuki could feel Izuku slowly relax into him.

He then slowed the motorcycle a little.

Even if it only got him a another minute or two like this, he’d take what he could get.

Chapter Text

Yet again it was raining on the ride home. Like most times, the neighborhood took on a darker tint with the heavy rain clouds blotting out the sun. Everything seemed to take on some shade of grey, as if covered in a light fog today.

Katsuki glanced over at Izuku once more, with the both of them in the backseat together. He couldn’t tell since they’d got here if Izuku was happy with all that had transpired on their trip or not. Any time Katsuki looked at him all he could see was that entirely neutral, lost in thought expression only partially covered by the strip of bandage across Izuku’s nose and the patch shaped one on his cheek.

He remembered the group of scars that traveled up the length of Izuku’s right arm now as well. Ones that neither of them were entirely sure would heal completely. For one reason or another that Izuku seemed reluctant to divulge, he was most upset about those one over anything else from what Katsuki could tell.

While Katsuki took in the sight of him once more, Izuku appeared to not notice. Instead of giving any sign that he knew he was being watched, he merely continued to stare out of his window.

Katsuki turned his attention forward once the car slowed to a stop. He could see Eijirou grin at him in the rearview mirror as the car turned off.

“Welcome back!” Eijirou called out to the both of them.

Katsuki opened his door, pulled his backpack up onto one shoulder, and opened the umbrella Eijirou had brought for them on his way out of the car. He looked back one more time at Izuku, and through the corner of his eye as he turned he could swear he caught a glimpse of Izuku quickly turning away.

In fact, now that he thought about it, he could’ve sworn he almost caught Izuku staring at him multiple times during their trip. More careful and in ways more subtle than Katsuki was used to with any normal person who attempted to stare at him.

He moved around to the other side of the car and opened Izuku’s door for him, who then looked up at him as though he had just returned from his thoughts. Although with new potential information in mind, Katsuki began to wonder if maybe Izuku was a better actor than Katsuki was really aware of.

Katsuki caught his gaze for a brief moment, and then Izuku looked to the ground as he got out of the car and walked next to Katsuki under the umbrella with his own backpack. Eijirou caught up to them and walked next to Katsuki with his own umbrella. He leaned in and spoke quietly to Katsuki, hopeful that the loud deluge would do well to drown out his voice.

“What’s up with him? He seems kind of… Off.”

Katsuki snapped his eyes toward Izuku, and for the second time today hardly managed to catch a glimpse of Izuku turning away. He guessed the first time was probably luck, and this time he managed to catch Izuku off guard.

But if he was that fast even when caught unawares, it was no wonder Katsuki hadn’t noticed until now.

Katsuki leaned toward Eijirou and murmured back, “Trying to find out.”

He immediately regretted admitting that upon seeing Eijirou’s face light up at a chance to help out. It took an immense amount of willpower to not slap a hand over Eijirou’s mouth as Eijirou leaned forward to see Izuku from the other side of Katsuki and started talking to him.

“Hey, are you excited to be back? You finally got rid of one of those guys, right?”

Katsuki watched the indecisiveness in Izuku’s eyes, the barest twitch of the corners of his mouth as Izuku tried to decide between smiling or not.

More than that however, he had to question if Izuku was walking this close to him before, or had moved closer at some point.

Not that he was complaining, but it seemed unusual given Izuku’s past behavior.

“I’m happy to make some progress is all,” Izuku responded, though his expression remained as neutral as the moment he woke up the day after the fight. “One step closer to, well, as normal a life as someone like me can have.”

Once inside the building they could hear what sounded like faint music playing further up. Although Izuku didn’t seem to care, Katsuki cocked his head to the side questioningly and Eijirou smiled knowingly.

“They’ve been doing this for fun almost every day for a week. It’s pretty fun to watch,” Eijirou explained while shaking the rain off of his umbrella and closing it. “They really get into it sometimes. I don’t know how they get in sync so fast.”

“Denki and the goblin?” Katsuki asked as he did the same to his umbrella.

Eijirou nodded and lead them up the stairs back to the apartment. The closer they got the louder the music got, until they were right outside the door and could almost clearly hear the music directly on the other side.

Eijirou opened the door slowly to peek in, and then pushed it open for Izuku and Katsuki to see the scene before them.

Music blared from a bluetooth speaker next to the television, and in the middle of the room Denki and Kouta were dancing and singing into the hairbrush and spatula that they had. As they danced around each other they sang along in unison just barely loudly enough to be heard with the music.

Kouta jumped onto a chair near the table, and then climbed on the table to stand next to Denki. Denki raised his hairbrush into the air, along with Kouta’s spatula, and they both struck a pose together with a hand on their hip and their legs a little spread during a slow part in the song.

They both then alternated singing lines during the slow part, bobbing their heads up and down and jerking their hips to the left and right with each beat.

“They sound awful,” Katsuki said from his spot next to the door.

“But they’re having fun,” Eijirou replied, tapping his foot to the beat of the music, “so who cares?”

And unfortunately Katsuki had to admit, watching the two of them spin around in their socks with their make believe microphones, jumping up and down to the music once the tempo picked up again, that it did look like fun.

Not that he’d ever dance like that. But still.

“Maybe we should try that sometime.”

Katsuki had to do a double take once his brain registered that coming from Izuku. He almost didn’t notice the song end and Denki and Kouta turn back to look at the three of them.

Which would’ve been regretful, seeing how he would’ve missed Kouta’s beet red cheeks and eyes like a deer caught in the headlights.

“How long–”

Kouta stopped mid-sentence, interrupted by the sound of clapping. Katsuki stared at Izuku, who continued to clap excitedly at their performance, and then at Eijirou who joined in after figuring out what was happening.

“You were great, guys,” Izuku commented with a big smile. “It looked really cool, right Kacchan?”

“Uh, sure. Real cool,” Katsuki agreed half-heartedly. He then put his umbrella next to the door, grabbed Izuku’s hand, and pulled him along through the room toward the bedroom in the back. “Let’s go unpack real quick.”

Izuku allowed himself to be pulled along, and did well in hiding his irritation on the matter. Though as soon as he was sat down on the bed in his room, and the door closed, he kept his neutral expression through the surprise of seeing Katsuki turn on him in what appeared to be irritation as well.

“All right, what the hell is your problem?” Katsuki watched Izuku’s eyes search him, likely an attempt to gather some sort of clue from body language. “You’re being fucking weird. And not your normal weird. It’s like you have no emotions, not even depression like last time we returned from a trip. You can’t decide if you want to be as far away from me as possible or right up my ass. I can’t figure out when you do or don’t want to talk. What the fuck is up?”

Katsuki met Izuku’s gaze once again. He grew more agitated with each passing second he didn’t get a response. Clearly in his mind Izuku was refusing to answer, or taking too long to come up with something.

“What, are you mad because I killed him instead of you? Or because we didn’t torture him first or some shit?”

He waited again for a response of any type. Vocal or not, it didn’t matter. He just wanted some sort of sign. Something that showed his words were actually stopping in Izuku’s brain, and not flowing through one ear and out the other.

Though he got none. Not so much as a twitch. Nothing but some impossible to read emotion in those big, green eyes of Izuku’s. No smile, no deep frown, no thumb twiddling or leg kicking or any of the usual bodily motions Izuku did whenever sitting idle.

And then Izuku broke the silence.

“You’re being very insensitive right now, Kacchan.”

“Insensi…” Katsuki trailed off into a pause, stuck in utter disbelief while Izuku got up and walked right past him to look through the dresser full of Katsuki’s clothes. “What the fuck? I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with you. How the hell is that insensitive?”

“Because you make it sound like I’m some character in a video game or movie. That I’m mad because you stole my kill, or because I didn’t get to do something inhumane just because of how you perceive me?”

Izuku started tossing clothes aside as he went through each drawer until he found Katsuki’s black hoodie.

“I’ve been thinking about some things and second guessing myself lately. I’m trying to figure stuff out and it’s really difficult right now. The last thing I need is you being a total asshole and lashing out at me because you can’t get out of my ass for two seconds.”

“I’m trying to fucking help!” Katsuki nearly shouted, just barely remembering to keep his voice down so the others wouldn’t hear.

“And did you think maybe this time you can’t? That just this once I need to figure it out myself? Or that it might even have to do with you in the first place? Maybe you’re making it harder by acting like this, but most of the time all you really know how to do is be angry, huh?”

He slipped the hoodie on and found it to be a bit oversized for him, about one size larger than what he was used to. Nevertheless he let the sleeves drop down to his fingertips and glared at Katsuki.

“You don’t mind if I borrow this for a bit, right?” He had already turned on his heel rather than waiting for an answer though, and quickly added on, “Thanks. I’ll be on the roof if you want to yell at me up there instead.”

“Wait, Deku,” Katsuki called to him, following him through the door into the hallway.

“Hey guys, sorry to go somewhere right after coming back, but I need to head out for a little bit.”

Katsuki stopped just short of the end of the hallway and stared in annoyance as Izuku explained that he wouldn’t be gone long, hugged Kouta, and mentioned that Katsuki should help Kouta get some sleep.

He almost growled at Izuku’s retreating back, knowing full well that Izuku suggested that to keep him away for a while. Because they both knew Katsuki wouldn’t outright say no to such a task for more than a couple of reasons.

As soon as the door closed all heads swiveled towards Katsuki in the hallway. He clicked his tongue with irritation and went to go dig something out of his overstuffed backpack in the bedroom. He pulled out a small, plush toy wolf and went back down the hall.

Immediately the first sign of suspicion to him was that Denki was missing in the short time he was gone. The second was that Eijirou was standing in front of the front door, and as Katsuki stopped by the table and dropped the toy wolf in front of where Kouta was sitting, he could tell Kouta was apprehensive.

He could see it in the way Kouta almost moved away when Katsuki got close, and in the brief second he met Kouta’s nervous gaze.

He turned his glare on Eijirou and, still not seeing Denki around, noticed one of the umbrellas was missing too.

“Move.” A simple command, said in a low, mostly calm tone.

One that was not obliged, however.

“Just calm down first,” Eijirou insisted, putting his hands up placatingly.

Eijirou kept an apologetic smile, because although he and Denki had very little context for what was happening, he couldn’t let Katsuki further unintentionally sabotage whatever was going on.

They couldn’t make out every word, but they’d heard the two of them arguing down the hall. He knew how Katsuki could get whenever anyone was being what he deemed ‘difficult’ with him. He got short, pushy, and angry. Or, at least, more of those than normally. As such, he often made things worse while trying too hard to fix them.

Eijirou believed he knew enough about Katsuki being in this mood that he could often tell when something was up, and he and Denki had taken it upon themselves long ago to step in and calm him as much as they could before he made anything worse.

Even if that meant separating him from the situation.

“Like hell,” Katsuki said, stomping his way toward the door.

The moment he got there he tried to move Eijirou with force, only to be met hand to hand and pushed back with just as much strength.

Eijirou leaned in and said in a low voice, “Come on, man, there’s a kid in the room that looks up to you. Don’t be like this.”

The corner of Katsuki’s lip curled in anger. Anger that everyone kept trying to use Kouta to hold him back, that people were stepping in without being asked, and that Denki was probably following Izuku and fucking everything up right now.

Regardless of that, he wasn’t going to beat anybody up, and he unfortunately had to take Eijirou’s hushed words to heart. He’d just gotten a hold of Kouta’s respect as far as he could tell, and the last thing he needed was to throw that away and start fighting with the kid all over again.

He tore his hands away from Eijirou’s and muttered a couple of obscenities, which Eijirou ignored, before he went to sit across from the table from Kouta.

Katsuki shoved both hands in his pockets, leaned back in his chair, and stared back at the child giving him a hesitant look.

“You look like shit,” Katsuki commented on his sleep deprived state.

Kouta glared at him now, and leaned back in his own chair with his arms crossed. “You act like shit.”

A small smile tugged at a corner of Katsuki’s mouth. Clearly he found Kouta’s propensity for verbal defense and aggression at least somewhat entertaining by this point. Even more so once the factor of sleep deprivation not slowing him down in the slightest came to mind.

Just as Eijirou was about to remind Kouta that he shouldn’t be cursing, Katsuki continued, “Want to hear what you missed in Japan?”

Kouta’s glare lessened, and after a few seconds of thought he nodded.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell him–”

“About why he shouldn’t be afraid of anyone coming here because of how good Deku and I are at what we do?” Katsuki interjected. “Right, instead I should let him keep thinking he isn’t safe. How about that?”

Eijirou scratched the top of his head in thought, and then sighed in defeat. He didn’t know if Izuku would be okay with Kouta hearing about that kind of stuff, but Katsuki made a halfway decent point. Maybe it would help Kouta out.

Or at least take his mind off of things for a bit while Katsuki told a story or two. It would be better than all of them sitting in a tension filled silence.

“Don’t worry. I’ll censor the bad parts.”

 


 

Izuku kicked his legs back and forth over the edge of the rooftop. Sat atop the chest high wall he clasped his hands together in his lap and closed his eyes to focus on the feeling of the raindrops landing on the hood pulled over his head.

Obviously he was still getting soaked, but he didn’t particularly mind at the moment. He was much too caught up in his thoughts to care.

Until he heard the quiet splash of approaching footsteps.

Immediately his legs came to a stop. He sat up straight, breathed in deep, and exhaled slowly to try and alleviate the sliver of annoyance that immediately plagued him. The last thing he wanted to do was get angry with anyone that came by.

He glanced over his shoulder, ready to meet with a set of angry red eyes. All the more surprised was he to find Denki coming his way instead.

“What’s up?” Denki greeted him as he stopped and leaned forward against the wall Izuku sat on. He moved the umbrella up and over to cover Izuku as well, and stared forward to the scenery ahead.

Not that there was much to look at besides run down buildings and abandoned streets, but at least it was something.

Sort of.

“Uh, gathering my thoughts I guess. Nothing special,” Izuku said. Not that he didn’t trust anyone else, but the last thing he was going to do was explain exactly what he’d been thinking about to anyone here. “Shouldn’t you be inside?”

“Yeah, but we kind of heard you guys arguing. Not all of it, just whatever Katsuki said loudly enough for us to overhear. Figured I’d come see if everything is all right while Eijirou talks to him.”

Izuku didn’t respond. He merely stared ahead silently with the same neutral look he gave Katsuki any time they were together recently. One that seemed to not acknowledge the other’s existence in any way, devoid of any emotion beyond simple calm.

He didn’t want to be rude, but at the same time he just wanted to be alone for the time being. Something he was afraid to tell anyone for fear that Katsuki would take it in the wrong way.

Denki, however, either didn’t seem to pick up on that, or believed that wasn’t what was best for Izuku. Much to Izuku’s dismay as soon as he started to speak again.

“So what happened with the bandages on your face and his black eye? You guys lose a fight?” Denki made a surprised face and looked up at Izuku. “Oh, or did you guys beat each other up? Is that why you’re mad at each other?”

“I’m not mad at him,” Izuku said quickly.

He really wasn’t, and one of the last things he needed was someone telling Katsuki that he was. He knew Katsuki hadn’t really done anything wrong, and if someone told Katsuki that Izuku was mad at him when he hadn’t done anything wrong, it would only make things so, so much worse.

But then a thought came to mind.

“Has Katsuki ever tried to fight you?” Izuku asked, genuinely curious.

“Hm? Oh, yeah, a couple of times. He usually does it with Eijirou to burn off some steam. Or just to practice. They have fun with that kind of stuff. Not really my thing though, ya know? He stopped asking me when he figured that out.” Denki smiled up at him expectantly. “Why? Did he ask you too at some point?”

Izuku thought back to the day they left for Japan. He remembered Katsuki asking him, and him turning Katsuki down with no room for convincing. At the time he didn’t think it was overreacting, but in light of new information…

“Yeah, once.”

“I figured. You didn’t hear it from me, but he really likes you. And he only asks to do that type of stuff with people he trusts. It’s like rough housing for him.” Denki gazed out at the buildings again and shook his head. “I never got it, but different strokes for different folks and all that.”

Izuku’s leaned back and placed both hands on the wall he sat on. Suddenly he felt stupid all over again.

Not only because he had rebuffed Katsuki on said matter due to his own assumptions, but also because he hadn’t even left it up to discussion or let Katsuki explain. He had merely refused and moved on without a second thought on the matter.

For all that people around him used to boast of his perception and forethought, for whatever reason all of his ability to discern and sort through information and problems were thrown out the window wherever Katsuki was concerned.

It was irritating, to say the least. Not in a way that made him want to get rid of Katsuki so that he could do better. Certainly not to that extent.

And even for as annoying as it was, he still found himself happy whenever Katsuki was around. Elated, even, to be able to spend time with him. No matter how dumb it made him act, or how much he seemed to lose himself to some type of feeling he couldn’t quite label.

Even now he found himself calm when thinking of Katsuki. The earlier argument not forgotten, but forgiven already.

He found it hard to stay mad at Katsuki for long periods of time, let alone short periods.

He wished emotions were one of the things his mentors taught him more about while he was growing up. He was starting to learn more and more of how little a grasp he truly had on understanding them, rather than just controlling them.

“Well, we just wanted to make sure you guys were all right.” Denki stood up straight and looked down at the street below one last time, then over to Izuku. “Say, how come you didn’t bring an umbrella? Aren’t you afraid you’ll get sick?”

Izuku didn’t need to answer that question, as nature gave the answer for him. A crack of lightning appeared in the sky not too far away from them, followed by the low rumble of thunder. He then looked to Denki with an expression that said the answer should be rather obvious now.

Denki, realizing that he was currently standing in a very high spot with an umbrella that had a metal tip to it, looked back to him.

“Right, I’ll just…” He closed it to keep it by his side rather than above his head, and backed away a couple of steps. “Yeah…”

Denki almost grinned when he saw the hint of a smile on Izuku’s mouth once Izuku turned away. At the very least, even though Izuku clearly appeared to be troubled by something or another, he could entertain him just a little.

Knowing that felt good.

“Well I’m not exactly dressed for being out in this, so I’m going to head back inside. You want me to bring you anything?” Denki examined him for a couple of seconds, and then added on, “Rain coat, perhaps?”

“No, but thanks. I probably won’t stay out too long, I think.”

He gave a curt nod to Izuku’s back, and left with that.

 


 

“Wow, you can drive a motorcycle?!” Kouta’s eyes lit up at the mere mention of Katsuki’s vehicular escapade. He sat up on his knees in his chair and put his hands down on the table. “Can I ride one with you?”

Katsuki glanced at Eijirou, who subtly shook his head to tell him no and mouthed the words ‘Too young’, and then looked back to Kouta.

“Learn how to ride a bike first. We’ll work our way up to motorcycles,” Katsuki said. He then pointed toward the stuffed wolf toy he had placed on the table earlier. “And take that damn thing already. I got that for you myself.”

Kouta looked it over, and then made a face of uncertainty. “I don’t need a toy. I’m not a little kid.”

Katsuki almost laughed at that. “The hell you’re not.”

“Shut up, you talking spike trap,” Kouta spat.

“You’re still a runt.”

“Big idiot.”

“Tiny gremlin.”

“Stupid rage machine.”

“Trash eating goblin.”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

“Guys, guys,” Eijirou cut in, waving his hands placatingly from his seat at the table, “come on, don’t fight. We don’t need to get mad over nothing.”

“Ha? Who’s fighting?” Katsuki questioned, genuinely confused by Eijirou’s assumption.

“And who’s mad?” Kouta asked as well, just as confused as Katsuki.

“Pull your head out of your ass and pay attention for once,” Katsuki said, and then dodged the pencil that flew right past his head.

“Don’t talk to him like that!” Kouta said, pointing an accusatory finger toward Katsuki. He then grabbed the stuffed wolf and held it up for Katsuki to see, “And who would want some dumb toy anyway?”

Eijirou rested his elbows on the table and placed his head in his hands. He didn’t believe Izuku’s warning long ago, but now he could see what Izuku was saying.

The two of them really were way too much alike for their own good. Eijirou could only compare it to almost having two Katsukis in the same room.

Honestly, who else would consider back and forth insulting to this extent mere banter? Eijirou didn’t understand that at all.

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. Though rather than broach the subject of Kouta suddenly being aggressively protective of Eijirou, he stood up, slapped the palms of his hands flat against the table, and glared at Kouta.

“Fine, then give the shitty thing back.”

Kouta stood up on his chair to meet Katsuki’s glare with his own. He then hid the toy behind his back with both hands.

“No way. It’s mine,” Kouta said, and then stuck his tongue out mockingly.

“Then I’ll take it.”

“Try it, doofus.”

Eijirou watched the two of them, still unsure of whether he should step in or not. If they weren’t fighting during the supposed spat mere seconds ago, they weren’t right now either, right?

Or were they actually getting into it now?

At the sign of a half amused smirk slowly growing at the corner of Katsuki’s mouth, Eijirou pulled out his phone and washed his hands of this. Evidently Katsuki was having some sort of fun with this, and he clearly couldn’t keep up with the relationship between these two anymore.

In the moment Katsuki took one step around the table to go for the plush toy, the front door swung open and Denki came in, shaking his head from side to side to get the water out of his hair.

“I hate the rain,” he said as water droplets flew from his head to the walls and floor.

“Don’t get it on the carpet, dumbass!” Katsuki shouted at him.

“Sorry. Next time I’ll stand outside and drip dry for thirty minutes before I come in,” Denki said, his voice absolutely dripping with sarcasm. He then turned his attention to Eijirou. “He’s staying outside for a while. Said he isn’t mad, and he seems pretty fine to me. Except he was starting to look like he got sprayed with a hose.”

“He’s going to get sick out there,” Eijirou commented without looking up from his phone.

“That’s what I said. He said he wouldn’t stay out too long, but I don’t buy it.”

“Should have dragged him in with you,” Katsuki said with crossed arms.

“Strangely enough I don’t subscribe to the same philosophy as you in these situations,” Denki said as he put the umbrella away and brought another chair over to sit at the table. “You know, the one where if someone doesn’t do what you want you force them to?”

Kouta let out a short breath of amusement and sat back down with the toy wolf in his lap. Evidently it was funny to him for someone else to point that out for once.

Katsuki sent him a quick glare, and then slapped his hand on the table and loomed over Denki. “The fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Eijirou almost stood up to come to Denki’s defense, finally looking up from his phone at the conversation. But he knew this tone Denki was using. The same one that was used to goad Katsuki into doing all sorts of things he normally wouldn’t do.

Knowing this gave rise to curiosity. It was something only Denki was good at anymore, so Eijirou kept out of it. He wanted to know where this was going.

“I mean, you don’t ever seem to be able to just talk to someone. You always have to drag or push someone along instead of just talking them into doing something.” Denki turned away and casually pulled up his phone to check his social medias. He continued with a shrug of his shoulders, “I bet you’d get all tongue tied and stuff just trying to figure out what to say without yelling at him. If you even could talk without yelling.”

Katsuki’s mouth twitched as he watched Denki scroll through his phone without a care in the world. No other words were spoken from anyone at the table. Not until Katsuki suddenly stalked off down the hall muttering ‘I’ll fucking show you’ and other similar things.

He muttered all the way into the bedroom, putting on his jacket, back down the hall, and right out the door without anyone standing in his way.

It wasn’t until he was gone that Denki allowed himself to breathe and put his phone face down on the table. He glanced at Kouta and Eijirou and gave a short laugh.

“For a second I thought he was going to kick my ass.”

 


 

A shiver flowed through Katsuki’s arms, across his shoulders, and down his back. His eyes remained on Izuku’s distant back though. Although his feet found trouble with moving forward all of a sudden, he still couldn’t tear his gaze away.

Not even if he wanted to.

He found himself uncharacteristically nervous. What could he say in this situation, knowing his previous belief about Izuku’s pensiveness was wrong?

And without allowing himself to get riled up enough to yell on top of that.

He thought back to that day Kouta had his meltdown and what he did there. Surely something similar would work. What all did he do that time?

He thought hard, and resolved to do the same things as much as possible.

Katsuki finally moved forward with a new sense of purpose.

First step: Let him know he’s not alone.

He climbed up onto the wall and sat next to Izuku. Close, but not too close. It was still unknown just how much space Izuku wanted right now. If even this was okay was questionable.

Katsuki was acutely aware of the confused stare he got the entire time he was climbing onto the wall. All the way up to the point where he sat down and looked Izuku over.

Once he was settled in, Izuku’s gaze returned to the cityscape ahead. No words were spoken between the two, leading Katsuki to wonder if Izuku knew why he was here.

Katsuki felt a need to elaborate. To let Izuku know that he wasn’t here to argue, or yell, or drag him back against his will.

He opened his mouth to say something, let it hang for a couple of seconds, and then closed it and softly bit his bottom lip in thought.

A set of words he hadn’t expected came out the second time he opened his mouth. A phrase that had crossed his mind, and with having a habit of speaking his mind, it slipped out far too easily for his liking.

“Do you want to talk?”

A spike of irritation flared up from the look he was given. A confused glance with furrowed brows, only for a second. Almost a double take from Izuku.

What, did everyone think he was incapable of caring? He just cared differently. Why was that such a big deal?

Regardless, he swallowed that feeling and awaited a response. A nod, a shake of the head, a yes or no, a shove even.

He’d almost prefer being pushed off of the building and to the street below as opposed to getting nothing but silence for God knows how long.

For what felt like the longest minute of his life, he got nothing. And then…

“Have you ever loved someone?” Izuku looked at Katsuki as he wiggled his fingers up from his waist to his chest, just far away enough to avoid actually touching himself. “You know, butterflies and that type of stuff?”

Katsuki felt his blood run cold, and his breath hitched in his chest for a second. He couldn’t tell if that was his heart that jumped into his throat for a split second, or something else entirely.

And then he took note of Izuku’s stare. Of those wide, green eyes taking in every detail of his reaction, and he wondered if this was exactly what Izuku was looking for. A purposeful lack of tact to catch him off guard and get the most honest reaction.

…Or else, Katsuki mused, perhaps he had started to become as paranoid as Izuku was when they first met. Izuku had no real reason to fish for something like that. They’d discussed the possibility of feelings before, but it was so long ago now that there was no way it was still relevant.

Right?

“One person,” Katsuki answered truthfully. His mouth felt horribly dry as he said it.

And, as much as he hated to admit it to himself every time, he was looking directly at said person right now.

Not that he could bring himself to admit that aloud at the moment.

Izuku looked away again, however Katsuki couldn’t tell if that signified the end of the conversation or not.

What did that even have to do with anything going on right now?

“Do you still think about them?”

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. He found it more than a little odd that this was Izuku’s choice of topic, but obliged for now.

“Every day.”

Izuku’s thoughtful gaze turned to one of sad uncertainty, followed by silence.

However by now Katsuki had learned. He was likely gathering his thoughts for the next question, and Katsuki decided to wait this time.

He waited while the rain drops battered the top of his hood. With how long he had been out here it had begun to seep through and wet his hair. Thankfully the rain had calmed down over time enough that it wasn’t a huge concern yet.

He waited while he not-so-subtly examined Izuku, and took note of the way Izuku’s body seemed to instinctively lock up the moment he realized he was being watched. As though he had been trained to be still as a statue and show as little body language as possible. Training that kicked in while his mind was otherwise too preoccupied to overcome it like he normally would.

He waited while he took in the sight of Izuku, drenched from the top of his hood covered head to the tip of his bright red shoes. By now Katsuki would be surprised if there was a single dry spot left on Izuku.

And as much as he would love to drag him inside and out of the rain, challenge be damned, he knew it wouldn’t be that simple whether he restrained himself to only peaceful methods or not.

He continued to wait, and then his patience was rewarded with yet another question.

“Do you still love them?”

“What’s with all the sappy ass questions?”

“You asked if I wanted to talk,” Izuku replied quickly, yet calmly. “This is what I want to talk about.”

Katsuki bit his bottom lip again as he considered this. Then, more as a reward for Izuku showing some backbone in a conversation for once, rather than his interest in the topic, Katsuki decided to satisfy Izuku’s curiosity.

“Yes.”

Katsuki was met with a small, sad smile in response. He took the momentary silence as a chance to look out onto the cityscape and try to see what Izuku was looking at. There was another feeling of surprise when, not a question, but a statement was said.

“I’m feeling conflicted. About my emotions.” Izuku allowed his body the freedom of movement again. His legs began to kick back and forth once more, and his hand subtly moved closer to Katsuki’s under the guise of keeping balance as he leaned back a little. “So I thought maybe you could be of some help. Advice or something like that. Seeing how you seem to be so in touch with yours.”

Again, Katsuki’s breath hitched. This time he could feel his heart skip a beat.

Feeling conflicted about what emotions? Something that has to do with love? It had to be something very recent that brought this on all of a sudden.

What type of love? What type of person? Him, Denki, Eijirou?

…Aizawa?

Katsuki almost shuddered at the thought. Surely that wasn’t it.

Maybe he was just feeling far too hopeful for reciprocation.

Or far too paranoid of rejection.

He took a deep breath as he sat up straighter, seemingly unaware that Izuku’s hand had moved closer. Though before he could say anything, another question reared its ugly head up.

“What are they like?”

Katsuki’s gaze shifted down to his feet. He didn’t know if he was prepared to go down this road just yet.

Even though he had thought before that as soon as they were back home, as soon as they had a free moment together, he would be ready to make that leap. To make a move and try to get what he wanted out of Izuku.

But now that he supposedly had a chance, he found himself as unready as ever. All of his usual confidence washed away by a wave of nervousness he was not used to. A type of nervousness he’d never felt before, and couldn’t quite squash like any other he could normally so easily overcome.

“He’s dumb as all hell,” Katsuki finally managed to say. He was a little surprised by the short chuckle he got in response.

“That narrows it down to everyone you’ve ever met, right?” The two of them met eyes for a second, and then Izuku looked back out ahead. “So it’s a guy?”

No response. Not verbally, nor physically.

And in that moment Izuku wondered if he had pushed just a little too much.

However Katsuki was merely more preoccupied with his thoughts. Whether he was really going to go through with this or not. What this could mean for the two of them.

And whether or not this would drive them apart.

“He’s a snarky asshole sometimes, too. But he’s also too kind for his own good.”

Izuku’s eyebrows raised, as he evidently hadn’t expected Katsuki to continue, and turned his attention back to the other. Although Katsuki seemingly wouldn’t look at him, he clearly had Izuku’s undivided attention.

“Sometimes he tries too hard because he cares so much. He worries about way too much shit, and he doesn’t care about himself anywhere near as much as he should, because he cares too much about literally everyone else more. He pisses me off more than anyone else, but that’s because I care about his dumbass more than anyone else.”

Katsuki reluctantly met Izuku’s gaze, and in that moment realized his mistake.

Although the mistake wasn’t continuing this conversation. It wasn’t giving Izuku a mile when he asked for an inch, and it wasn’t being so much more specific than he had been with everything else up to this point.

No, his mistake was looking into those eyes. Bordered by wet green hair, pushed further down by the hood of his own hoodie, and two diamond shaped sets of four freckles.

At some point he’d found that, for the very, very few times he could meet eyes with Izuku in a way such as this, it was damn near impossible to escape short of Izuku breaking eye contact.

He’d otherwise remain prisoner. Lost while taking in every detail of every last speck of green that he could. Taking in every emotion that Izuku dared to allow him to see. All to make a mental picture and keep in his memory.

And in those eyes he realized what he saw now. What emotion stood above all others in what people had called the windows to the soul. He noticed that which he had never looked for before, and never saw in passing.

He saw love.

Pure, unabashed, unadulterated love.

The same look he imagined he was giving Izuku right this very second.

Katsuki didn’t know how he knew that was what it was. Perhaps it was only hope on his part, or a misinterpretation of something else.

But in his gut he knew.

He just knew.

He leaned closer and inched his hand towards Izuku’s.

Both of their hands remained seated on the wall, close enough to touch should either of them so much as twitch. Although neither made a move.

“And even though he’s dumb as hell, he’s super smart. He’s got a kid, but I don’t care–”

“Kacchan,” Izuku interrupted. He started to get a better idea of where this was going, but his interruption was to no avail.

“He’s got dark green hair that’s so stupidly fluffy and untamed you could probably lose a hand in it,” Katsuki continued. His mind apparently still hadn’t registered that Izuku had even spoken. Instead he grabbed hold of Izuku’s hand and slid closer. “And bright green eyes, prettier than emerald stones.”

“Kacchan…”

“And he’s… He’s…”

Katsuki struggled to find something else to say. But there was nothing else that would drive this point any further honestly, and he knew it. Only one other thing would do it, and surrendering himself to the flow he’d created was the only way he could do it.

Thinking about it and the consequences only served to twist his stomach into knots and prolong what he had said he was going to do.

He didn’t think he’d find another chance. Definitely not after this.

Katsuki looked Izuku dead in the eyes, and hesitated only for the barest second.

“He’s you, Deku. It’s you.”

Chapter Text

The rain still poured, further drenching the two men sat next to each other on the rooftop ledge. A crack of lightning and the long, low rumble of distant thunder sounded off as the storm continued.

Izuku stared with wide, shocked eyes at Katsuki’s hopeful and hesitant face. Of all the things he would have guessed Katsuki to say out here, all of that was never even considered to be on the list.

He wasn’t a complete idiot. He’d known for a while that Katsuki had some kind of slight attraction toward him. Whether sexual, brotherly, platonic, or even just curiosity itself. Any of those he would have accepted without a second thought. One or two of those he almost expected.

Romantic? Love?

Utterly unexpected.

With the way Katsuki’s gaze remained fixed on his, he’d almost forgotten Katsuki had placed a hand atop his. He almost didn’t notice how close Katsuki had moved. How their shoulders were almost touching from how Katsuki had leaned in.

Izuku didn’t know what to say. Truly he was at a loss for words.

It showed well enough that doubt started to set into Katsuki’s features. Enough that Izuku panicked inside even more, because the last thing he wanted to do was make Katsuki think he’d ruined their relationship or anything. He didn’t want Katsuki to leave here thinking Izuku didn’t want to see him anymore.

But…

“Deku?”

Izuku nearly jumped. He’d tuned out the sound of raindrops hitting the area around them. Any thunder that dared try to fill in the silence in the absence of their voice would fall on deaf ears. Only Katsuki’s soft, uncertain voice could catch his attention at this point. The rest of the world may as well be on mute to him.

Only that voice, uncertain and hesitant as it was, could free him from the stunned stupor that Katsuki’s words had left him in.

“Kacchan,” Izuku responded quietly, “I didn’t know you felt that way.”

“Well now you do,” Katsuki said. His tone was firm and left no room for questioning that fact. He then leaned in a little more and tilted his head as he awaited an answer. “So?”

“So?” Izuku repeated, still just as confused as before.

Katsuki’s uncertain expression fell flat, now somewhat annoyed. Had he not made it clear what he was looking for here? How much harder did it need to be spelled it out?

Or was Izuku truly so unprepared for something like this that he couldn’t entirely understand what was happening right now?

“Do you…” Katsuki trailed off, and then pursed his lips as his eyes glanced away nervously. He couldn’t believe Izuku was making him outright ask this. “How do you feel? About me?”

Izuku’s eyes stayed wholly focused on Katsuki’s gaze. No matter what was said, what was asked of him, he couldn’t bring himself to tear away from Katsuki’s bright red, emotion filled eyes in this moment. He’d almost gone numb to the rain drops against his face and hands, feeling only Katsuki’s hand on his anymore.

“How do I feel…”

It was a question for himself more than anything. And for but a few seconds he allowed his mind to roam. Thoughts and images flooded him of Katsuki and himself in that manner.

Sleeping in the same bed, arms wrapped around each other with soft breathing against one another. Cuddling and spooning for no other reason than to be close to each other, comfortable in each others’ hold. Big hugs and the occasional swinging the other around after not seeing each other for a few days, a genuinely happy and excited laugh upon laying eyes on the other. Greeting each day with a kiss. Whether it be on the nose, cheek, forehead, the palm or back of one hand, or even all of the above. Bidding goodbye to each day with a kiss to the lips in bed.

But then those few seconds were over, and with their end came the bitter reminder of why those things shouldn’t— couldn’t —happen.

“I don’t know.”

And yet Izuku couldn’t bring himself to simply say no to his fantasies. He wanted them, but he had his reasons in this moment.

He’d been fighting for the longest time to make his desires into reality. From the time he was still trapped with Nedzu, Snipe, Aizawa and Chiyo, he’d been working towards breaking free and escaping. He took their training and used it against them to realize his desire of getting out into the world for real and making something of himself other than being a puppet meant to sabotage and kill his owner’s enemies.

He took their training and used it to begin hunting them down when it had become clear that they wouldn’t let him go so easily. He’d find and kill them all if it meant granting his wish of truly being free and able to be something else. To be someone other than a killer for the rest of his life.

Others were taken in, in order to allow him the deep seeded wish to have a family of some sort. One of his own choosing, with people he actually liked that liked him back.

He’d done everything he could to allow himself some modicum of a real life, and this would be another step towards it in his mind. To have someone he loved, who loved him with all of their heart in return.

But…

“Why the hell are you crying?”

Izuku was snapped out of his thoughts, and after his brain took a second to register what was said he wiped at his eyes to see if he really was crying. Not that it did any good, as he couldn’t tell what was the rain and what might have been tear drops.

He could feel them well up in his eyes however, and Katsuki could tell just as easily from being so focused on said eyes.

Izuku couldn’t fathom why though. He shouldn’t…

No. He knew how he felt after so much thought the last couple of days. After he felt that sensation in his stomach whenever he thought of Katsuki, whenever Katsuki came near him, and the same feeling buried under the dread when Katsuki confessed mere minutes ago.

Although he couldn’t tell whether the tears streaming down his face were of happiness or sadness. Because he and Katsuki felt the same in a relationship that surely wasn’t meant to be. Not with the way they had met, the terrible things Izuku had done to him, and the direction they were heading in. It just wouldn’t be right to drag Katsuki all the way down the path he was going in with him.

“I’m not sure,” Izuku replied honestly. He really and truly couldn’t tell why he was crying. He had a few ideas, but whether it was one of them, some of them, or all of them escaped him.

The most prominent of them being that he wanted Katsuki, but he knew he shouldn’t have him. He knew he didn’t deserve him. Katsuki didn’t deserve to attempt a life with someone who could do nothing in return but ruin his life as they went. Who might not even make it out of these current goals alive.

Katsuki deserved more than someone who didn’t have a future, and there was no good reason to throw away Katsuki’s future for him.

“Well are you at least happy right now?” Katsuki asked exasperatedly. Izuku seemed so unsure of and unwilling to answer everything that Katsuki didn’t know what to think anymore. “I mean fuck, give me something. You can even tell me to go away. Anything is better than silence.”

“I’m happy and sad, okay?! I’m happy because you love me, but I’m sad because there’s no way we could be together, and I’m mad because of the people who have caused that. I’m tired, and I’m confused, and I’m frustrated and I have to think about what I’m going to do next. I need to figure out how I’m going to hunt down the next person from my past that’s haunting me and I have to find out how to deal with Kouta when I can’t even tell if he’s still angry at me or not because I think he is and he doesn’t even fully know it himself and what I’m going to do with five people staying in one apartment that only has two rooms and where I’m going to get money when my only employer could potentially be missing or dead and then I have this now–”

Izuku finally stopped and sucked in a large breath, having said so much in one go and completely running out of air. He could feel every responsibility he had piling up on top of him suddenly, crushing him under the weight of worrying and overthinking. His mind looked for every little thing to add onto the pile, nitpicking each and every little issue that came to mind and making it out to be worse than it truly was.

Then his mind went blank in an instant once two hands grabbed either side of his face and forced him to look at Katsuki. He could make out the worry and determination in those two red eyes. The resolve to do something— anything —to lighten that load. To make things better and cause him just a little less stress.

“So share the damn load for once.” Katsuki squished Izuku’s cheeks together to shut him up when Izuku tried to protest. “You’re so fucking adamant about doing everything yourself. You had the half n’ half bastard around to guard and babysit, and then you’re using me for the same thing. You won’t consult anyone about shit, you don’t want us to do anything besides watch your back while you do all the work, and then you add us onto your workload. I get that you’re not used to having people actually help you, but guess what? We’re all willing to! Just ask for fuck’s sake!”

He let his hands slide down to Izuku’s shoulders, and lightly shook him to make sure he was paying attention. The last thing he wanted to see was Izuku tearing himself apart, letting all of these problems claw their way into him and pull in so many different directions that they destroyed him. And even more, Katsuki didn’t want to be one of those problems himself.

He’d absolutely hate himself to no end if his feelings were causing Izuku stress and strain. If he was the reason something bad happened to Izuku, whether it be emotionally or physically.

And if Izuku didn’t know how to respond to his feelings because of these troubles, or if they were holding him back in any way, Katsuki wanted to get rid of them as fast as possible.

If all he needed to do to get an answer was solve a few problems, he could handle that. He could do that without a second thought.

And if it didn’t get him an answer, well… At least he wouldn’t see Izuku tearing himself to pieces anymore.

“Tell me what you need. I’ll get Denki and Eijirou to help if I have to. But right now I’m here for you, just like I know you’d be there for me, right? Stop thinking you’re alone. You’re too smart for that, you damn moron.”

“I don’t do it because it isn’t fair for you–”

“Bullshit,” Katsuki interjected angrily. “If that were true, you’d still ask two-face for stuff. If you really cared that much about ‘fair’ then I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I’d be at home and I never would’ve met you. You don’t do it because you want to do it all yourself. Because you want to protect everyone from whatever you possibly can. Even if that means protecting us from doing a little bit of fucking work. You’re making us do as little as possible while you do everything you can, only because you can’t do absolutely everything by yourself. Don’t pretend like you’re the only one who can pick up on shit.”

Katsuki sucked in a deep breath and held it for a couple of seconds, sure that he was going to burst if he didn’t.

At this point in all of his time with Izuku, he wouldn’t mind being asked to do a few things here or there. Maybe when he was still new around here he might’ve gotten angry each time Izuku asked anything of him. But after these feelings developing, the fact he had to be the one to ask to be asked to do things really got to him.

He understood a little about why these things probably didn’t even register in Izuku’s mind. That Izuku was probably raised specifically to handle everything himself and never ask for help. That Izuku was taught to never have the need for help. Those were Katsuki’s first two guesses.

But they were only that. Simple guesses.

It may even be part of his personality to try to be the big hero for everybody. Whether someone needed it or not.

But he didn’t want Izuku to be like this. Selfless to the point of self-destruction until he could feel himself ready to blow, followed by trying to fix it by hiding away for a while. It kept leading to trouble for the whole lot of them in the long run.

He needed to learn to ask for help, to be a little more selfish and put himself first in some cases, and to trust others more. And he needed to learn to do those things soon.

“I’ll take care of the kid, okay?” Katsuki held onto Izuku’s hand and rubbed his thumb across the back of it. A soft and caring gesture that he hoped would help soothe Izuku. “We’ll take a break from hunting for a few days and get our shit in order. I’ll figure out what’s up with him, you figure out how to get money, and we can all figure out where we’ll sleep tonight. I’ll buy two garden gnomes for pillows and make Denki and Eijirou sleep on the lawn if I have to.”

Izuku looked back out to the abandoned part of town they lived in, holding back a short laugh. “Don’t do that to them. They’ve been really good to Kouta.”

“Then you have to stop freaking out and get ahold of your damn self.” Katsuki gave him a longing, lingering glance and tried to subtly scoot closer. “We need to kill those assholes, Kouta needs you, the rest of us don’t want anything bad to happen to you, and Mashirao, Kyouka and Shouto will want to see you when this is all over.”

Izuku gave him a look drenched in both surprise and disbelief. “You remember their names?”

“It’s hard not to when I’m stuck around them for so damn long.”

Katsuki took note of the little smile Izuku had when Izuku turned away from him again. He looked forward too, still holding onto Izuku’s hand. For a couple of seconds he looked down and noticed Izuku’s legs kicking softly again, and his heart jumped a little with joy at that.

For some reason he didn’t fully understand himself, he related that to Izuku feeling safe and content. As opposed to the slightly harsher kicking when Izuku seemed to be anxious or stressed. The idea that Izuku would be feeling safe and content here alone with him now filled him with a joy that he hadn’t felt in so very long.

A joy that, sadly, did not last long in the ensuing silence of a conversation that died down. One overridden by a bit of anxiousness on his own part as he wondered if it would be in poor taste to bring up the previous topic.

Considering he hadn’t gotten an absolutely definite answer he didn’t entirely know what to think of Izuku’s feelings.

Though would it be bad to ask again? Would it be better to wait until the immediate issues are resolved, or even to wait until Izuku took the next initiative?

But the thought of waiting ate him up inside. It would be impossible to know how long it would take to get an answer. How long it could be before another opportunity to bring this up appeared without being horrendously awkward about it. If another opportunity would ever show up at all that is.

Worse still, Izuku might forget. He might take Katsuki backing off as a sign of disinterest after awhile. What if they both end up waiting for the other until it’s too late?

“Deku.”

Katsuki almost bit his lip. Hard.

He didn’t mean to say anything at all, but his emotions managed to get the better of him for just long enough to get him to say something. And that one word—that one call of Izuku’s name—was enough to drive another nail into his coffin. It was enough to fill him to the brim with a sense of dread that he had started something he can’t possibly back out of.

Even more so once he realized Izuku was staring at him expectantly, waiting for whatever was to come next. Waiting for Katsuki to continue whatever he was going to say, and probably extremely aware of Katsuki’s sudden struggle.

Katsuki met his gaze—yet another mistake—and tried to think of something to say. Anything other than asking about Izuku’s feelings towards him. Something lighthearted, something distracting that could be played off easily.

Instead he found himself staring. Staring into Izuku’s eyes and trapped once again by the irresistible pull of a gaze he wished would look at him the same way. All to aware of that happy little smile being sent his way.

If this was really what love was like, then he hated it. From the floaty feeling in his stomach that came and went, to the way his body practically turned to mush. From the way he could barely control his mouth in this situation, to the way his own feelings rode a rollercoaster depending on how this one individual in front of him acted. From the way the feel of Izuku’s hand in his was enough to paralyze or save him, to the way Izuku’s stare could suck him in like a blackhole.

And just as he found himself staring and unable to look away, he then found himself leaning forward. Moving closer and closer without realizing it until he was already tilting his head.

He paused for but a second, curious enough to take in Izuku’s reaction. The slight widening of eyes, but otherwise reluctance to move away.

Katsuki took that reluctance as his cue to continue. He saw Izuku’s eyes close, and almost did the same. He got close, their lips only a hair's breadth away from brushing together, and then realized Izuku’s eyes weren’t just closed.

They were squeezed shut. As if in anticipation of something unpleasant. His lips were pressed together, opposite of the way Katsuki’s had parted.

Katsuki pulled away, a sudden knot taking hold in his belly. Seeing that reaction…

Hurt.

He almost accepted that as an answer. He would have if he didn’t remember Izuku’s earlier words. About being happy for the love, but sad because they couldn’t be together. There had to be something behind that.

That couldn’t have meant nothing.

But it was more or less an answer for the time being. Definitely not the one he was hoping for, but an answer nevertheless. One Katsuki would take over silence or reluctance to answer, even.

At least he knew. Izuku either wasn’t ready, or wasn’t yet willing to have him. But he wouldn’t let this be the end. He was absolutely going to try again, and get to the bottom of what this ‘can’t be together’ stuff was.

He would bring it up another time. Maybe when Izuku had more of his affairs in order. Or at least just another time that wasn’t today.

Clearly the both of them had gone through enough for today, and he didn’t want to pile on even more.

Today just wasn’t the day.

He tried, very poorly, to hide his hurt as Izuku’s eyes slowly opened with a couple of quick blinks, clearly confused by the lack of contact.

“I’ll…” Katsuki took his hand off of Izuku’s and pointed back toward the door to the roof with his thumb, “Go and uh, take care of the kid or whatever.”

He whirled around, kicking his legs over the wall, and hopped down to leave. With hands buried deep in his pockets, he left hunched over with disappointment and eyes glued down on his feet where the rain puddles splashed with each step.

Izuku remained silent the entire time, watching Katsuki’s retreating back over his shoulder until he was gone. The entire time torn between stopping him to explain, or letting him go because in the end it would be better this way.

Though once Katsuki disappeared behind the door, the choice had been made.

He turned back to the abandoned part of the city and tried to think of something else. Anything else. Anything at all that didn’t involve Katsuki.

Though all that came to mind was the hurt on Katsuki’s face, and how he knew he shouldn’t have let that happen. He should never have made himself be the cause for a look like that on Katsuki’s face.

But even as he tried to think that maybe he could take it back and go for it, more of the same as before came rushing forward. A handful of reasons off the top of his head why they shouldn’t do it. Why he wished Katsuki still hated him the same way as the first day they came here.

And in those thoughts he found anger. Anger and seething hatred for the people whose fault this was. The same ones who, in his mind, were at fault for absolutely everything wrong in his life.

From the killing he hated doing, to the training he never asked for, to the seclusion from society and lack of true love or care, and every subsequent problem each of those caused.

His hands tightened on the edge of the wall on either side of him, his fingernails futilely trying to dig their way into the concrete. He closed his eyes to the world before him with a feeling of hatred overtaking the sadness and regret that had taken hold of his heart.

Hatred for those he intended to kill now more than ever before.

 


 

The front door swung open and slammed shut behind Katsuki. With a muttered ‘Shut up’ before anyone could even say anything he stormed his way down the hall, wet hair and clothes dripping the entire way, into the bathroom. He grabbed a few towels, continued on his way to the bedroom and slammed that door behind him as well.

He looked around the room, wanting to break something and yet fully aware of all the reasons he shouldn’t. Unfortunately all he saw around the room was Izuku’s stuff, with a few things littered about that he recognized as Eijirou and Denki’s.

All things he couldn’t break.

The intent to break was not born of anger. Not of malice, nor any ill-will. That fact alone was what kept him from damaging anything that didn’t belong to him, or anything that he actually cared about.

No, this was a side effect of the pain in his heart. A desire to redirect that pain elsewhere. A desire to turn that great sadness into anger, or any other possible emotion to stop the urge to cry that had formed a lump in his throat. To stop his breath from dangling on the edge of shaky, and fight off the tears that threatened to well up in his eyes if he blinked too much or not enough.

He laid out a couple of towels on the edge of the bed and sat on them. Another towel was draped over his shoulders and, with one elbow rested on each knee, he hunched forward and placed his head down in his hands to stare at the floor through his fingers.

He didn’t know what he had expected from all of that, but at least it was finally out of the way. Even if he wasn’t prepared for the aftermath of his first rejection, it was out of the way.

“Get–!” he nearly snarled at the slowly opening door as his head snapped up, and then reeled in his aggression and let the next word die on his tongue once he saw who was there. With a heavy but quiet sigh he looked off to the side and began drying himself off with the towel around his shoulders. “What?”

Kouta stepped in, closed the door behind him, and leaned back against it while looking down at the ground. He folded his hands behind his back and tried to look as casual as possible, though he certainly wasn’t pulling it off super well.

“Nothing.”

“You didn’t come in here for nothing,” Katsuki said as he sent a glare Kouta’s way. “You knew I was here. What do you want?”

Kouta continued to stare at the ground for a moment, and then his eyes slid toward the wall off to the side. Evidently he was having trouble looking Katsuki in the eye at the moment, but damned if he was going to let that stop him from doing what he had come to do.

He shrugged in response and kicked his foot lightly at nothing in particular.

“Just wanted to see you.” He put his hands in his pockets and looked at Katsuki. “Are you mad at him?”

“Mad at who?” Katsuki thought for a second and quickly figured out who Kouta must’ve been talking about. The only person he’d gone to spoke to and then came back from in this mood. “At Deku? No, I’m not mad at him.”

“Oh. Well you looked pretty mad.” Kouta looked him up and down. “Sounded pretty mad too.”

“I’m not fucking–” Katsuki stopped, held his face in his hand and sighed again. He wasn’t about to get in an argument about whether he was mad or not, because he knew that would only make him angry and then Kouta would be proved right even though he was wrong. “I’m just not in a good mood right now.”

“Want me to do anything?”

Katsuki dragged his hand down his face until it was just covering his mouth and stared at the child. He could hear the tinge of hope in Kouta’s voice, not at all hidden in any way. A pure and innocent determination that seemed almost out of place when Katsuki thought of the personality he’d gotten used to some time ago. A genuine desire to do something helpful, even if there was nothing to be done.

He patted the bed next to him. A silent signal for Kouta to come here, and waited patiently as Kouta moved to sit next to him on the bed. Once the child was sitting next to him, with a fair bit of distance between the two to avoid getting wet, and watching him Katsuki stared ahead at the wall again, thinking of what to say for something like this.

He thought of what direction to take this conversation in. Reassurance that everything was fine, probing for Kouta’s current feelings about Izuku, an attempt to convince Kouta to sleep.

Just thinking about those three without the handful of other possibilities almost gave him a headache. He already believed he wasn’t that great at conversing to begin with. Then pile that on top of the fact he had to bring this stuff up with a kid.

However he wouldn’t let those doubts or that sense of feeling overwhelmed with the options stop him. He said he would handle this, and he was going to do it.

Though it would be nice if he could get dry first.

“Are you mad at him?”

Katsuki settled on that topic first. He brought the towel up to his head and ruffled his hair to dry it. After that he took off the shirt that was practically stuck to him and started to dry off his upper body.

Kouta shifted uncomfortably and looked away. “Why would I be mad at him?”

Katsuki wasn’t exactly one for reading into a person’s movements during conversation, yet even he could tell how much Kouta wanted to avoid this subject. The terribly hidden discomfort coupled with his tone couldn’t say ‘I’m hiding something’ any harder.

“That’s what I want to know. You’re flipping back and forth between wanting his attention and being cold to him. What’s up with that?”

Katsuki turned his head to stare at Kouta’s pensive features while he wiped his arms down.

A furrowed brow with a downset gaze told him to wait for the answer. If he was getting one at all, it would come after being carefully thought about. Whether it was something he didn’t understand entirely and was having trouble forming into words, or something he’d rather not think about and didn’t want to answer.

One way or another Katsuki intended to get an answer. Preferably without any aggression of course. That at least was one way he didn’t intend to do this. If not because he figured the kid was having a tough enough time already, then because he just felt a strange need to be softer than he normally would be when interrogating someone.

It was a weird feeling to actively not want to be aggressive, as that was how he was used to getting things done. However he didn’t consider himself above going to get Eijirou and seeing if he could coax an answer out of the child.

Kouta, on the other hand, had a whole other feeling right now. A bad feeling that, had it a voice, he imagined would yell at him for continuing to love the person who took his life from him. That took his previous life away, even if said person had done everything in their power to give him another.

It took a little bit, but once he had come to terms with the fact that Katsuki was most definitely trying to help he felt a sense of ease. He realized he could trust the other, the same as he was always able to up to this point.

He tried his best to explain to Katsuki what he was feeling. The feeling that made him uneasy whenever he thought about it. Whenever he thought about trying to be happy with Izuku, that feeling would rear its ugly head up and tie knots in his stomach. The feeling without a voice that still managed to yell at him and make him feel bad inside.

He didn’t recognize it to be anger, or even completely sadness. It was something else he’d felt before, but not often…

“Guilt.”

Kouta looked up at Katsuki, confused by the sudden declaration. The word sounded familiar, but he didn’t think he knew it too well.

“What?”

“You’re feeling guilty. That’s what it sounds like,” Katsuki elaborated. He turned his head a little and continued to stare down at Kouta. At least now he had something to go off of. Progress could be made with this. “Like feeling bad because of something you did. But you’re not doing anything wrong, so quit it.”

In hindsight Katsuki realized that probably didn’t help at all. That much became clear with the slightly irritated look he was given.

Of course Kouta would just stop a bad feeling at the snap of a finger if he could. However that wasn’t how things worked. If he could’ve just decided to not feel something, then they wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

“I’m not a fucking expert at this stuff, okay? What do you want me to say?”

Katsuki stood and walked towards the dresser, where he rifled through sets of clothes to find something dry to put on. He tossed the new shirt, pants, and underwear he dug out onto the bed and ordered Kouta to turn around before he took off his pants to dry his lower half off.

“You shouldn’t feel guilty about loving him, if that’s what’s going on. And that’s what it sounds like. He made a mistake. He makes a lot of those, just like every other person.”

Kouta’s irritated expression softened up. He looked from the wall to the floor again, his back completely to Katsuki at the moment, and suppressed a sigh.

“He’s trying to do what he can about it. He definitely feels guilty about things he did in the past, and he’d do anything for you. Obviously I didn’t know your parents, but if they know what happened, why it happened, and what Deku was trying to do to make it better, I bet they would want you to stay with him. Because he’s going to love you more than anyone else now, and he won’t let anything happen to you. Even if it kills him.”

“Okay, okay, I get it.” Kouta sighed again and crossed his arms, sitting cross-legged on the bed.

He stayed like that until Katsuki finished drying off, got dressed, and sat back on the bed and tapped him on the shoulder.

He glanced at Katsuki, and in that moment he could make out the genuine care in Katsuki’s eyes. He could see all of this wasn’t something Katsuki was making up so that he would get over whatever he was feeling.

With Katsuki’s words in his head he realized that he shouldn’t feel bad about loving Izuku either. That Izuku may not be a blood relative, but regardless of what happened in the past he was definitely family. The same way Kyouka, Mashirao, Mei, and Chiyo all were.

“I’ll try to get over it,” Kouta said as he fell backwards onto the bed, spread his arms and closed his eyes.

“Don’t force yourself if you can’t,” Katsuki said.

As much as he wanted Kouta to love and get along with Izuku again, it wouldn’t do to have it be forced. That would only be bad for everybody involved. Although right now seeing Kouta in this position reminded him of something else as well.

Katsuki crawled over to the pillows at the head of the bed and got under the covers. Once he was settled in he pulled off Kouta's hat, put it to the side, and pulled Kouta over to him with a fistful of child’s shirt.

“Hey! What the–?” Kouta started to protest. He would have kicked the person pulling him without hesitation if it weren’t Katsuki, but knowing who it was he let himself be pulled until he was pressed against Katsuki. “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking a nap and you need sleep. Go to sleep with me.”

Kouta glared at him as best he could from his position. He pushed against Katsuki’s chest to get a little more space between them and pushed himself up onto his elbow.

“I don’t want to sleep.”

Katsuki resisted the urge to glare. From what he was to understand, this kid hadn’t had an actual full night of sleep in at least a week, if not more. Yet still he persisted in the endeavor to avoid sleep as much as possible for one reason or another.

If his life were a cartoon, he would have half a mind to hit this kid over the head with a frying pan until he was knocked out cold.

But sadly this was not a cartoon.

“And why the fuck not?”

“Because–!” Kouta sat up on his knees and looked around. Almost as though he were making sure no one else was sneaking up on them. “I just don’t want to.”

Katsuki stared up at Kouta with the blanket pulled up to his shoulders. Evidently simply telling Kouta to go to sleep wasn’t going to work. He’d hoped that, while it obviously hadn’t worked for anyone else, it may have been different for himself.

Now knowing that wasn’t going to work out, he tried to think of something Izuku would do here. That line of thought did bring one idea to mind. Something similar he’d seen Izuku do with different problems.

“Fine,” Katsuki said, “then at least lay here with me for a bit.”

“Why do I have to–”

“You asked if I wanted you to do anything,” Katsuki reminded the other of his earlier words. “Today has really, really fucking sucked. I’d feel better if you lay here for a bit.”

Kouta stared at him hesitantly. Katsuki could see the indecision in his eyes, and if he really had to say ‘please’ for this he was going to be very thoroughly annoyed.

Although that didn’t look like it would be a problem. He could tell Kouta didn’t want to say yes, but he didn’t want to say no either.

He may not have known the reason for either answer, but that didn’t really matter at the moment. His only hope was that if Kouta were to lie here with him for a while he may just fall asleep. Maybe.

It was the best shot he had.

“Come on, what do you care? I’ll fall asleep in a few minutes and then you can leave. It’s not like you’ll fall asleep.”

Kouta’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he silently agreed nevertheless.

He crawled under the cover and laid his head on the other pillow. Within seconds of Katsuki closing his eyes there was only quiet breathing. No movement, no other noises, nothing that would imply Katsuki may still be awake.

Kouta wondered if Katsuki had truly fallen asleep that fast.

He waved a hand in front of Katsuki’s face, whispered a ‘Hey’, and even poked Katsuki’s cheek a couple of times. On getting no reaction from the man, he glanced over his shoulder at the closed door and thought about leaving. He only had to stay until Katsuki was content enough to fall asleep, right?

But then he thought about how rude it might be to just leave him like that. He could stay for a few more minutes. It wasn’t like that was a big deal. That was the least he could do for Katsuki, after everything Katsuki had done for him so far.

Even if it would be terribly boring.

Kouta glanced over his shoulder one more time, and upon seeing nobody there he scooted closer to Katsuki. Inch by inch, closer and closer until he could rest his head against Katsuki’s arm. He then pressed his forehead to Katsuki’s chest, closed his eyes, and started to drift off almost immediately, sure that if he fell asleep he would definitely wake up within an hour or two like every other time.

Whether it be a nightmare, an unpleasant feeling, or just simply being unable to sleep any longer again, he would definitely wake up before Katsuki or anyone else ever realized he was in this embarrassing position.

Until then he could enjoy this though. The soft warmth of someone he knew could keep him safe from harm, as the man had done before. A feeling of safety he hadn’t felt in a long while that allowed him to truly relax.

His body melted into the mattress, and into Katsuki’s frame, with a long sought after coziness.

So long had it been since he’d felt this at ease, he’d almost forgotten the feeling.

Before he knew it he was fast asleep, cuddled up to Katsuki as though the man were an oversized stuffed toy.

There was no paranoid feeling eating away at his subconscious. There were no nightmares. There was no sudden inability to sleep.

There was only the pure bliss of a comfortable sleep.