If eyes are the windows to the soul, Izuku thinks, then Kacchan is bloodstained. His eyes are endlessly hard, they’re pits of despair and hatred that sink whoever looks into them into a spiral of fear. Bakugō is not a man; he is a force of nature. He stands a cut above the rest, a painful tear in the fabric of their society, a glitch they cannot quite fix. This monster of a human, this innate killing machine, this fierce, formidable opponent, however, wants to become a hero. There is a dichotomy so harshly present in Bakugō it far outweighs even the difference Todoroki has between his two sides.
Izuku wants to run his hands over that divide. Izuku wants to stitch them together, to find where in the cruel, twisted, mangled side of Bakugō he presents to everyone, he somehow also wants to save and heal and mend. Izuku wants to taste that separation, to take it apart, to figure out just for himself, and only himself, why Bakugō is redeemable .
Izuku watches the boy in class, his hands tight around his pencil, they always are. He’s angry at something, again as usual, his back tense and his shoulders hunched. Kirishima walks over to ask him something and he’s met with a short, vulgar, two word reply, but it apparently is the answer he needed, because he smiles and says thank you.
Bakugō is a mystery. When he was young, Bakugō could rival the sun. He smiled like he knew the world only had good things in store for him and grabbed at it, taking his Quirk with two open hands and a dark, dark smile, taking the lead with two sure feet and an indomitable spirit- and towering over those who got in his way with two menacing, intimidating eyes.
Izuku still followed him. Why? Even if you begged, Izuku would have no satisfactory reply for you. Because once, I liked his smile , he could say, but Bakugō never smiled now. It was a distant memory. Because once, he wasn’t this mean , he could try, but Bakugō was only mean now. Because once, I thought I could change him .
Power had corrupted his heart the same way the lack of power had stolen the kindness from Endeavor. Some days, Izuku could almost make out the desire to win creeping up Bakugō's veins like a deadly poison, and he hated it.
“Kacchan,” Izuku calls one day after school, his face open, his eyes wary. “You wanna walk home together?”
Bakugō stares at him as if he’s grown another head. “Fuck off, shitty Deku,” he says as a form of polite reply. Izuku takes it in stride, and runs a little to catch up with him.
They walk in silence.
Izuku wonders why Bakugō can’t just say what he wants to say, why there has to be a harsh filter over everything he says. Izuku thinks it’s designed to push people away, to make them seethe and hate and grind their teeth, frustrated by the lack of care and respect this boy had for the world. Why would Bakugō need people to hate him?
“You wanna get a drink?”
“Deku, you’re lucky I’m not beating you bloody,” Bakugō folds his arms across his chest and turns down the road to the convenience store anyway. Being next to Bakugō is mentally exhausting, Izuku thinks wearily, but he doesn’t argue with the boy, just follows him down the road.
Izuku gets a grape juice that’s sickly sweet, almost like pouring syrup down his throat and choking on its intentions. Bakugō buys a bottle of green tea and straight up chugs it, downing the bottle in mere seconds. Still, he waits for Izuku, who is busy fiddling with the plastic wrapping coating the bottle, to realise he’s waiting to go.
They go back to walking in silence, just the crinkle of plastic as Izuku shifts his bottle from hand to hand and the rustle of the leaves as wind blows by.
An explosion happens just about a kilometre off their path, but neither of the boys do anything much about it. Things blowing up were their medium of expertise. From the pavement, they could already see Kamui Woods and a couple of other heroes rushing to the scene.
“You turn down this road asswipe,” Bakugō shoves Izuku down the shortcut to his house and looks at him warningly. “Watch where you’re fucking going.”
Izuku stands in the road, the cold grape juice numbing his hands. He watches the back of Bakugō's head as he walks away without so much as a goodbye.
He thinks he’s lucky he caught Bakugō on one of his good days.
Walking down the lonely street, he thinks forlornly that he hadn’t been able to do or learn anything about Bakugō's disposition. He’d just been treated the same, with barely there glances, harsh lines that furrow his brow, hands clenched in his pockets.
Lost in thought, he fails to notice the slinking feeling of something behind him, creeping up on him like a snake, a monster on little cat-feet, silent and terrifying.
His grape juice falls to the floor. The bottle rolls, hits the wall, and no one cares to pick it up.
There’s something painfully off about UA, Bakugō feels the wrongness sting his skin like a million paper cuts. The building itself seems to be reminding him about something he forgot, but he has no idea exactly what. He feels like he’s being told off for something, so he glares at nothing in particular and forces through the curtain to his classroom.
He’s almost late, as always. He sits at his desk and glares at anyone who tries to approach him, because he’s not in the mood , not with the heavy feeling of bad in the air. From his position, he sees that he’s not the only one who’s feeling the difference. Todoroki is staring intently at the door, as though waiting for someone. Kirishima isn’t smiling. Kaminari looks like someone is holding his mother hostage. Uraraka and Iida are crowded together, heads knocking. The classroom is a ball of nerves.
“What the fuck is going on?” Bakugō demands, slamming his hand on the table. It snaps everyone out of their stupor of worry. “Why the fuck is everyone acting as though someone just brutally fucking murdered their grandma?”
The bell rings. The classroom stares at him in solemn silence.
“Midoriya is late,” Todoroki folds his arms across the chest. “He’s never late.”
So that’s what was missing, Bakugō thinks as he snaps his head around to look at the seat by his side. There was no morning, Kacchan from the bane of his existence. Deku, late for the course of his dreams? Deku was never once late in his entire life. He viewed it as a form of utmost disrespect to keep someone waiting on you, and so whenever Bakugō had to meet him with his parents he ensured they were always late.
“Did you see him when you walked to school?” Uraraka asks, drawn to their conversation by the mere mention of Deku.
“Fuck off, like I keep tabs on your boyfriend,” Bakugō can feel his hands heating up with his worry . It makes him sick.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Uraraka protests weakly. “I’m worried about a friend .”
“Sure,” Bakugō waves his hands and ignores her as the lessons start when Aizawa-sensei walks into the room.
Deku doesn’t show up the whole day. Bakugō assumes the little turd is sick, he is always getting sick. Bakugō used to have to go to his house and pass him his missed homework not because he was secretly a good boy but because his sensei had made him. Why he didn’t throw the notes in the trash as he walked home is beyond him, even if it would’ve made his life easier. Deku always opened the door with a heavy flush on his face and bleary eyes, and he would shove him back into the house and throw his notes in a haphazard manner into the living room.
Deku always wrote him a little thank you card, though, complete with flowers, smiley faces, and other girly stuff Bakugō absolutely detested.
Bakugō has no notes to pass him this time, Todoroki had taken them, as if it was his job now to make sure that Deku was not dying. Bakugō has no problems with this. It was a waste of time, anyway, to go round the block for a stop by Deku’s house than just to go straight through.
An unknown number is calling his phone. If there’s one thing Bakugō detests more than Deku, it’s telemarketers. He keeps his patience and ignores it, but when it calls for the second time, and the third time, he picks up in a furious rush and shouts, “you pieces of fucking shit excuses for human life if-”
“Bakugō,” the voice on the line is flat and would almost be unrecognisable if not for the little uptake at the end of it.
“ Halfie, ” Bakugō sneers and glares at his phone. “What the fuck do you want?”
“Midoriya was not home the whole day,” Todoroki has a distinct tone of worry now. “His mother has informed me he did not come home after school yesterday.”
“What? I walked home with that useless piece of shit,” Bakugō's shoulders tense up. “Where are you?”
“In his room. His bag is not here.”
“Go outside the house,” he orders. There’s shuffling as Todoroki troops down the stairs and opens the door. “What’s on the floor?”
Bakugō can feel the eye roll come at him through the phone. “You stuck up pile of steaming bacteria, fucking do as I say. Walk to the left. Anything on the floor?”
Todoroki walks for about five minutes, all the while muttering about grass, pieces of paper, leaves, while Bakugō screams at him to take this a bit more seriously.
“There’s a bottle of grape juice on the floor,” Todoroki informs him after a while. “It’s on an alley just off the main road. That’s the only thing here, I swear.”
“Fuck. He bought that yesterday. Deku would die before he littered, that fucking good ass boy,” Bakugō drags a hand over his face and thinks furiously about the amount of trouble this would cause him. “Ah, shit. He’s been taken. What the fuck do we do?”
“Police? Aizawa-sensei?” Todoroki counts their options on his fingers. “All Might?”
“Fuck. Fuck. Okay. I’m coming over. Don’t do anything.”
“You’re looking through his diary,” Todoroki says. His voice is still flat, but his crazy eyes are disapproving.
“That idiot writes everything down in this stupid book,” Bakugō flips angrily through the pages, barely reading the words.
“You’re looking for someone who would take him?”
“Shut the fucking fuck up. Call this number. 398762213.”
“It’s All Might’s phone number,” Bakugō holds up the book triumphantly. “Fuckin’ told ya Deku would’ve written it down.”
Bakugō has never seen All Might look this furious, and he’s seen All Might do everything.
“Young Midoriya has been taken?” He rumbles, standing outside Deku’s house, all powered up and ready to go. Inside, Aizawa-sensei is trying to comfort a sobbing Inko, and is probably doing more damage than actually helping.
“Yeah, I fuckin’ said that over the phone,” Bakugō retorts, slamming down a wall of worry. He is Bakugō Katsuki. He could care less for Deku’s life.
“You seem to be worried. Fear not! I am here,” All Might folds his arms across his chest. “We have most of the teachers from UA working on triangulating his location. We’ll find him, young Bakugō-”
“I could care less for that little shit,” Bakugō warns him, his eyes narrowing. “But if he dies and doesn’t come back, then I will have no one to crush.”
“You could try besting young Todoroki.”
“Fuck the half-breed,” Bakugō rolls his eyes and stomps away. “I’m going home.”
“You shouldn’t go by yourself,” All Might preaches.
“I’m not weak like Deku ,” Bakugō sneers. “I’ll be fine .”
Izuku can barely stand with the weight of his head. He feels like he’s been asleep for decades, and his head rolls limply about his neck. He cannot tell where he is, for the room is so dark, he could be hanging upside down for all he knew. Feeling around in a panic, he can tell he is no longer wearing his school uniform but a thin sheet, similar to a hospital gown. As it is not hanging around his ears, he can tell he is not upside down, and breathes a sigh of relief.
He stumbles around the room, feeling his way along the edges of the rough wall, until he comes to a portion that is smoother. He deduces this must be the door, and thinks about using One For All to just solidly smash through the doors and be free. He knows by now that he has been taken, but for what and by who is a different matter.
The Izuku a year ago would’ve quaked in fear and tripped over his own feet, overcome with the undeniable sensation of creeping death. This Izuku now straightens his shoulders.
The doors are just like Kacchan, see? He’s just got to punch through these walls.
He’s not sure how much force to use, and he doesn’t want to break his arms so early into the escape game. If the people who took him knew he had a Quirk, why would they leave him completely untied? What is their Quirk?
There are too many questions to plan a logical escape route. Instead, he knows what he has to do, and winds up for a five percent One for All.
He’s about to blast the doors when they slide open of their own accord.
Izuku has been missing two days now. The entire classroom buzzes with where he could be. Iida sets up search parties and shifts, and their lessons have all but stopped as their teachers scour the planet for the boy. Bakugō, playing his dutiful part, visits areas he knows Deku to hang out in. He checks out the park, the treehouse, the hidden area behind a large bush Deku was so fond of and turns up a big fat nothing. He rages more so at his inability to do anything and his helplessness more so than the fact that Deku’s missing.
The Deku-shaped hole in his life is unexpectedly large. He can’t believe that he is this dependant on such a small, weak boy. Bakugō clenches his fist in his hands. He’s always known that the ties that bind Deku to him are not conventional, but they are necessary. Bully and victim, he thinks with a snarl. Friend and enemy. Rivals.
Deku, his enemy, his first friend, his victim, was always there to reaffirm the notion that Bakugō was strong . Deku could always be trusted to back away in a fright, to pale, to say Ah, sorry Kacchan! Please don’t hurt me today . And yet, Deku could also always be trusted to say Back away from him! Are you okay? Don’t take it too rough. Here, I made some cookies because midterms are coming up and you always stress out. Forget about the dichotomy within him, the desire to hurt, the villainous instinct that he has and the desperate, all-encompassing dream to become a hero, Deku was worse. It was as if he just didn’t know when to quit. When to stop loving someone.
“You’re a useless, Quirkless person,” the man who has taken him informs him harshly. He is given a bottle of water. “You’re no good to society, you hear me? That’s why I kidnapped you. I’m going to fix you.”
“Yes,” Izuku murmurs, holding the bottle in his hands. This man reminds him so much of how Kacchan used to be it hurts. He can almost relive the memories of Kacchan slamming him into walls, a disgust etched permanently onto his features. Quirkless . He’d say. Why do you not stop resisting? “I will only get in the way of the heroes.”
The man smiles. “You know already? Then, you understand why I took you, don’t you?”
Izuku looks at him. The man has loose brown hair that hangs to his shoulders, and far too bright, honey eyes. His voice drips with saccharine, like his grape juice. Of a tall build, he towers over Izuku, his smile far too big for his diminutive face. He looks like someone you would forget if you passed him on the street, and all you would know is that you are lucky to have escaped his wrath.
Deku, did you hear? The heroes called. They don’t want you.
“No,” Izuku murmurs. “I don’t.”
“You cannot be allowed to reproduce like this,” the man states with a flourish, his fingers tracing the outline of Izuku’s face. “Even one as cute as you. You are a burden on to society, a waste of resources. And yet, you’re in a prestigious, difficult school. UA, hmm? How did you get in without a Quirk?”
Deku’s quirkless. He can’t do anything when he grows up! I’m strong! I’ll be a hero!
“My written exam,” he whispers.
“I see. So you’re smart. It’s a pity, then, is it not, that in this world you live in, dear Midoriya , intelligence is of no use. What we need are people with Herculean strength. You see, Mi-do-ri-ya , there’s issues in this world that need to be fixed,” the man nods his head solemnly. “And you just make it worse.”
You can’t be a hero, Deku. Give up.
“You’re going to kill me?”
Give up. Give up. Give up.
“Oh, no,” the man startles a little. “I’m going to give you a Quirk.”
You’ve got a real flashy Quirk! Nice to know you’ve been tricking me this whole time!
Third day. Bakugō is going out of his mind. It’s because there’s no one to slam into a locker anymore , he insists, when people ask him why he looks so haggard. Todoroki looks at him out of the corner of his eyes, but says nothing.
“Did you find anything?” He corners All Might one after school that day, watching his overcast eyes fill with shame, his ragged appearance drooping.
“Young Midoriya has vanished off the face of this Earth,” All Might says with a droop of his shoulders. Just as fast as that flush of despair races across his features, he straightens back up again. “You do not need to worry, Bakugō-kun. I will get him back.”
“I’m not fucking worrying you-,” Bakugō snaps and abruptly cuts off his retorts because it’s All Might he’s talking to. “Deku can…” he swears and grits his teeth. “Deku can take care of himself.”
He knows the instance he says it is true, and no matter how much he tries to take it back, he cannot. Suddenly- suddenly Bakugō is not towering over him, relishing in his power, but they’re standing together.
He rages powerlessly against his inability to change this fact.
“So don’t fucking doubt him!” Bakugō holds a threatening finger up to All Might. “He’s going to be just fucking fine, because Deku ain’t a fucking loser anymore!”
“I’m glad to see you’ve recognised Midoriya’s potential,” All Might smiles.
“Fuck off, he’d always had potential,” Bakugō's eyes widen, he curls in on himself. He hunches over and feels so impossibly small and he hates it. An explosion goes off in the palm of his hand. “He’s always been better than me. That’s why you chose him.”
“You see, that’s where you’re wrong, Bakugō-kun,” All Might’s hand lands firmly on his shoulder. “You always work in one has to be better than the other . Isn’t that sad? Why can’t you just work on the same playing ground? Together? Equals, not enemies.”
Bakugō laughs. “Pah, equals? I’d crush him.”
Izuku realises that his official IC still says that he is Quirkless. It is a good thing, then, that One for All does not have an obvious effect. As he sits in the dark room, he practises powering up his entire body and powering down, heading for eight percent of One for All in his legs and hands. He is going to smash down that door soon, and get out, before that crazy son-of-a-bitch, Kacchan whispers, settled on the Quirk he is going to give him.
He missed his friends. His missed his mother, and his school, and his room. He missed his bed, and All Might, and even Aizawa-sensei. He missed the light. Most of all, however, he missed his Kacchan.
Something told him, without even a shred of doubt, that Kacchan was probably going out of his mind trying to figure out where Izuku was. Kacchan is that kind of person, after all. A sweaty-palmed asshole that everyone wishes would just shut up , with anger issues a mile wide and pent up angst, but he was a good sweaty-palmed asshole. Something about his lack of respect in dealing with social situations, once you understood it, made him all the more respectful.
What part of her was frail ? Bakugō asks, the first, first person not to underestimate Uraraka. What part of her was weak?
Suddenly, he understands all those beatings, all those years ago. It wasn’t that he was quirkless. He irked Kacchan because quirkless or not, he was braver , and kinder, and nobler. What is was about Izuku that pissed Kacchan off isn’t that he’s weak but because he lets others think he’s weak willingly. He’s not weak. He’s not frail. He’s like Uraraka, like Iida, like Todoroki like Kacchan. He is a hero. He’d make a stand, right here, right now. That’s why- that’s why Kacchan has mellowed out this year, hmm? He’d stopped letting Kacchan slap him around. He’d started making him more human. Well then. He needs to continue. He knows he needs to get out of here fast. If anything, to stop Kacchan worrying about him. He guesses the number of explosions had increased significantly while he was gone.
After all, Kacchan had been just all right when he’d been kidnapped. Izuku would die before he let himself lose to him.
Bakugō hears the BOOM loud and clear as he walks home from school on the seventh day. He thinks to ignore it, for explosions are commonplace within their town- except- except- except they’d heard an explosion just like that when he and Deku walked home, almost a week ago. Bakugō turns in the direction of the smoke, and he runs.
Izuku comes to blearily to see the bright, white lights of the hospital. Next to him sits his mother, and All Might, and to the left is- Bakugō and Todoroki, Uraraka and Iida.
“So you’re awake, fucker,” Bakugō is the first one to notice. There’s bandages lining his arms, winding up and disappearing into his sleeves. “You’re a goddamn idiot.”
“Izuku!” His mother cries, and grabs him. Todoroki even offers him a slight smile. Uraraka tears up and Iida lectures him on the proper avoiding kidnapping routine. All Might breathes for the first time in a week and a half.
“Kacchan- you’re hurt?” Izuku mumbles. Bakugō holds out his arms and sneers at it.
“You remember anything?”
“I broke down the door,” Izuku tilts back his head. “I ran. And there was- a-”
“A fire, you idiot. The walls were packed with explosives. You broke down the fucking door, and everything just went boom ,” Bakugō flicks him on the forehead. The room stares at his demeanor, more mellow, less aggressive. “I got there in time to get you out. Dumb shit. If I wasn’t walking home, you would’ve up and died like a fucking loser. ”
“Thank you, Kacchan,” Izuku smiles, bright as the sun. “You’re a hero, haha!”
“You better fucking stop with the mushy shit,” Bakugō threatens, his face turning slightly red.
“So who took you?” All Might presses, and the mood in the room drops.
“Maybe we shouldn’t talk about this now,” Iida shakes his head, ever the father figure.
“A man took me because I’m still registered as quirkless,” Izuku stares at the ceiling. “He told me quirkless people were banes on society, like a burden, an infection they couldn’t support. He wanted to give me a Quirk.”
Bakugō feels like his world had slid. If Deku hadn’t become part of UA- would he have- would he have become like this man?
“No,” Izuku looks at his hands. “He had others to do first. There were many-” his body shakes. “Oh my god, there were many others in the compound- did you-”
“We got most of them out,” All Might reassures him. “Some were...some died because their body rejected the installed Quirk on the way here.”
Izuku breathes again.
They have a party the first time Izuku comes back to school. Bakugō hands him a bag of chocolate, says it’s from Kaminari, and disappears when Kaminari tells him to stop being a tsun. Izuku chases him down, and he finds him on the roof, staring at the chain links.
“Did you miss me, Kacchan ?” Izuku asks, prodding, his existence annoying.
“Fuck off, as if.”
“You did, didn’t you? I missed you too,” Izuku clutches his heart. “The thought of dying without even getting to hear you say fuck off, shitty Deku one more time really got to me, you know?”
“Fuck- ugh! Stop it!”
“Thanks for saving me,” the change in tone causes Bakugō to look warily at him. “You didn’t have to.”
“You didn’t think I’d fuckin’ do it, right?”
“I didn’t think anyone was going to come for me.”
“You’re a stupid idiot,” Bakugō declares. “A real idiot. You think people care so little for you here? Chubby was practically a puddle. Fuckin’ four eyes was going all fucking crazy dad on us. Even the fuckin’ half-breed worried about you. You’re wanted here.”
Izuku’s eyes grow wider. Something in Bakugō seems to break at the sight of the wind rushing through the dark green hair, messing around with it, his face covered with a pale blush. He looked so...vulnerable, that Bakugō just wanted to drop everything and protect him. This stupid fucking feeling made him want to throw himself off the roof, or throw Deku off the roof, that’d do too.
“Aw, Kacchan, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Deku laughs and folds his arms across his chest. “You’re becoming nicer.”
“I am not.”
“I’m changing you. I’ll make you into a hero, yet.”
“I’m already a fucking hero, don’t try me!”
“You know, if you saved me, I’ve got to give you something in return.”
Deku grips the front of his shirt and pulls him forward, and Bakugō, offset as always by a Deku on the offensive, takes one step forward.
And Deku kisses him.
His mind blanks. Okay. So.
He splutters and pulls free, his hands heating up as his face does.
Deku looks at him, a small frown on his face. It looked too fucking cute.
“I’m not a homo,” Bakugō panics, actually panics, oh no. “I’m-”
Deku kisses him again .
His arms are around his neck, he’s on tip toes, he’s so fucking small, Bakugō suddenly realises. He’s so small. He’s got a tiny waist and a small frame and yet he packs enough punch to knock out anyone in his path.
Bakugō kisses him back, tentatively, a little hesitantly.
“You’re fucking tiny,” Bakugō says when Deku lets him go, breathing a little heavy.
“Haha, I guessed,” Deku rubs the back of his head and smiles. “Though I’m training with Kirishima,” and he winks. “I’m going to put on some more muscle, you’ll see.”
This time, Bakugō kisses him.