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Where did you go to end up right back here?

Chapter Text

 

Katsuki wakes up to the dim glow of the sunrise, with a golden hue tinged rose filtering through a set of shuttered blinds hanging on a window near his head. The bed he lays in is firm beneath him, the sheets are the kind of soft that you only get from washing them one too many times, and there’s someone sprawled out beside him.

 

He can tell because there’s a slight dip in the mattress that’s causing gravity to tug him towards this other person, his body on a slight incline facing them. There’s also the arm currently resting beside his face on a pillow that feels just shy of too thin. It’s the first thing Katsuki sees when he wakes up and groggily opens his eyes to the odd scene in front of him.

 

It’s an interesting arm, all things considered. It’s pale and littered with criss-crossing scars all along it. Some of them are dark, others paler than the skin they mar. Some are raised, but most of them are just faint markings on what would be otherwise unblemished skin. There’s a light amount of dark hair covering it too. More hair than Katsuki has on his arms, that’s for sure. It looks more like the arm of someone closer to his dad’s age than his own. He’s pretty sure most teenagers don’t have that much arm hair. It’s also, evidently, a man’s arm.

 

The body the arm is attached to moves slightly, a low groan coming from him, and Katsuki feels a warm foot rub up against his calf, tipping to tuck under his ankle, entwining them together under the thin sheets.

 

“Mmm, morning.” Comes a groggy voice, weighted down by sleep. It’s impossible to recognize in that state, probably lower than it normally would be, and all Katsuki can do is blink motionlessly at the arm that’s still in his eyesight. 

 

And it’s about at the same moment it clicks with Katsuki that hey, he’s just woken up in a strange place, lying next to a man probably much older than him, who he has no way of actually knowing that the door across from the bed he’s on is thrown open and he’s showered in bright light and the sounds of multiple scuffling footsteps.

 

“There he is!” Cries someone as they saunter into the room, and it takes a moment for Katsuki’s eyes to adjust enough to recognize who it is in front of him. The light from the doorway illuminates the outlines of the figures crowding about there, and if it weren’t for the extremely distinctive shape of the leader of the intruders’ hair, Katsuki might not have figured it out as quickly. But he does, because he’s one hundred percent certain it doesn’t matter where he is, he’ll always recognize that dumbass haircut.

 

“Hair-for-brains, what the fuck–”

 

“Tut, tut, tut.” Goes Kirishima, effectively cutting off Katsuki’s swearing as he wags his finger in front of Katsuki’s face, a mischievous grin growing on his now visible face as he leans in closer. “You know the rules, no peeking until the ceremony!”

 

Katsuki just grunts in reply, completely at a loss as to what’s going on around him. He’d probably, under normal circumstances, be extremely frustrated at this point, but he’s just a little too shocked right now to have any sort of reaction that’s much more than just cautious observation.

 

“C’mon, big fella, up and at ‘em!” Comes Ashido’s voice from behind Kirishima, and suddenly Katsuki feels multiple pairs of hands wrap around him as the others wrestle him from the bed. His legs are effectively untangled from the sheets and the warm foot he previously felt cling to him and he’s abruptly forced into a standing position, the cold hardwood floor steading under the soles of his feet.

 

“Hey! What is going on?” Cries Katsuki as he’s manhandled into standing by Kirishima, Ashido, and - now that he can properly see them - Kaminari and Sero.

 

“Dude, have a heart!” Swoons Kaminari, gesturing grandly back to the figure still on the previously shared bed. “Don’t wake the poor guy up, he’s got it bad enough, what with having to deal with you indefinitely from now on. Not sure who in their right mind would agree to that living damnation, but here we are.”

 

“Hey, fuck you, Pikachu.” Argues Katsuki on instinct alone before glancing back over at the body still unmoving on the bed before him. The man’s essentially star-fished on his stomach, with his head buried under the pillow, because he’s some sort of weirdo, obviously. A few tuffs of dark hair peak out from under the pillow, but besides that Katsuki can’t see any significantly defining factors in his partially hidden figure.

 

And oh, my god, he’s shirtless. Katsuki was lying, presumably sleeping next to, someone – a man – who has thick, hairy arms and is completely shirtless. And no one else but him seems to think this is unusual behaviour.

 

What the fuck is going on?

 

He’s not dreaming, because he knows what that feels like and it’s never this real. The only answer he can seem to find that could be remotely logical is that he’s somehow woken up in a different reality. Katsuki’s not one to give credit to someone, even if its due, but he has to admit that this might be the evidence Schrodinger needed to support his multiverse theory, because he can’t see any other way besides him having fallen somehow into a parallel universe for this all to be happening.

 

“Alright, alright, keep moving Mr. Sunshine.” Calls Ashido as she and the others usher him from the bedroom. His feet stubble over a thick rug place haphazardly in front of the entry way of a thin hallway and he grunts in annoyance. He does not like not knowing where he is and why on earth he could be there in the first place.

 

He’s led over to where a pile of shoes is laying out by what looks like the front door of the apartment, and he quickly slides his feet into a pair of workman boots that look like they could belong to him. All the other shoes seem to be worn out sneakers in different gaudily bright colors and Katsuki doesn’t think he’s worn anything that dumb since he was in elementary school. Does he live with a child too? A child with very large feet, apparently?

 

Katsuki doesn’t get a chance to look around at his surroundings, because once he’s got his feet into his boots Sero comes up behind him and shucks a cotton sweatshirt on over his head, covering up the thin tank top Katsuki woke up in. Sero then pushes him out the door that Kirishima has propped open. Katsuki says a silent prayer of thanks to whatever powers that be in existence that he seems to have fallen asleep in this strange reality wearing a pair of sweatpants, else he would be very exposed right now out on what appears to be the front step of a modest walk-up apartment complex. 

 

“Jeez, your quiet this morning!” Exclaims Kirishima, patting him, much too hard, on the shoulder as they make their way over to the parking lot just beside the building. The sun is finally starting to properly rise in the sky and there’s a softness to the outside world that Katsuki doesn’t usually get to experience as a habitual late-riser. “Pensive about what day it is?”

 

Katsuki shifts his eyes over to look at Kirishima, whose got both his hands on Katsuki’s shoulders now and is directing him towards a huge, red, lifted ranger rover that looks like its seen better days going by the amount of mud it’s got caked on it. It seems like whatever version of himself this is, he’s still close friends with Kirishima. If anything, they might be better friends in this reality than in his own, as there’s no way the other boy would feel comfortable barging into his dorm room and dragging him out of it at an ungodly early hour in his lifetime.

 

Though, Kirishima hardly seems like a teenage boy here, none of the others do. It’s still obviously them, but everyone looks more… grown. They’re all larger and worn in most aspects. Kirishima might still have that stupid haircut, but his hair is no longer dyed that obviously fake color, instead it’s a more nature dark brown; and Sero seems to have filled out some, no longer the wiry teen Katsuki knows. Ashido’s just as bubbly as ever, but there’s a sense of professionalism in her that Katsuki doesn’t recognize. He can imagine her sitting down at the head of a sleek table, leading an executive board meeting for a fancy company just as easily as he can imagine her twirling around in a field of freshly bloomed flowers, and its throwing him off a bit.

 

Kaminari has goatee now, what the actual fuck is that? It looks so stupid, and Katsuki’s not surprised that the man thought the horrible piece of facial hair would be a good idea, but he is surprised he was able to grow it out. Katsuki still only uses his razor one or twice a week, he barely even needs it that often. Or at least, he thinks, he didn’t use to need it, as he rubs a hand over the prominent stubble he feels prickling his palm.

 

Katsuki thinks he can probably trust these guys anyways, they’re obviously just older versions of the kids he knows. He sighs and asks, “what day is it today then?”

 

Instead of giving him a proper answer, like he actually wanted - why the fuck else would he have fucking asked? – Kirishima just laughs and pats his shoulder again in a chummy way. Like they both get the joke that he apparently just made, even though Katsuki has no idea what’s going on and it’s so very frustrating.

 

“Please, don’t give me that calm and collected act. Remember that it was my apartment you were stomping around last night, freaking out again over this whole thing.” Kirishima says, rolling his eyes. “’You don’t understand, hair-for-brains, everything has to be perfect. It’s the least that idiot deserves for saying yes after everything I’ve put him through. I have to make it perfect, okay!’” He teases, and Katsuki recognizes the brash tone as his own, and the underlying perfectionism he’s so familiar with in the words said. It’s obvious that whatever’s going to happen today is pretty important to Katsuki.

 

“We’ll have to shave that all off.” Adds in Ashido with a twinkle in her eye as she sees him continue to rub his hand over the stubble that’s covering his jaw. He’s still not used to it and he can’t seem to stop the motion. He looks over at her, raising an eyebrow, unsure as to why that matters at all. Is everyone in this futuristic version of his life somewhat obsessed with facial hair?

 

“We wouldn’t want that idiot of yours to burst into giggles up there just because your neck tickled him.” She elaborates, chuckling lightly behind her hand. Katsuki just stares wide eyed at her, trying and failing to come up with any reason he can possibly think of that would require him to rub his neck against someone.

 

The distinctive car ends up being Kirishima’s, which does not surprise Katsuki at all. They all pile into it, slamming the doors and take off at a completely reasonable pace. Kirishima seems to be a perfectly good driver, following all the rules of the road to a T, and Katsuki gets an itch under his skin to reach over and press his foot on the accelerator just to see how fast the hunk of junk can go.

 

He wonders if this version of him ever bought that Bugatti that he’s always wanted. He hopes that whoever that was in the bed he woke up beside isn’t a buzzkill and wouldn’t stop him from driving it as fast as he could on a freeway. Katsuki rests his head on the car window, strumming his hands on the dashboard in front of him, thoughts of scarred arms, bare backs and warm feet sliding across body-heated sheets flitting through his mind.

 

-x-

 

They end up at another apartment, because why the fuck not make everything more complicated than it needs to be guesses Katsuki. It’s messy, and filled with a mix of random pieces of furniture and decorations that don’t seem to match at all, along with a large selection of things covered in designs of flames and a fair amount of work out equipment all pushed into the small space together. It’s headache-inducing, is what it is, and Katsuki finds himself longing for the simply decorated, but comfy arrangement of the first apartment. It seemed homier than this place.

 

Kaminari runs to the cabinet by the fridge once Katsuki’s been pushed into the kitchen, which seems to be just as disorganized as the living room, grabbing a bottle of dark liquid and a couple shot glasses. He sets them out on the small table in the corner of the room and fills each one up with the alcohol, probably spiced rum if Katsuki had to guess, spilling drops of the strong drink over the edges of the small glasses.

 

“Shots!” He calls, grabbing one of the glasses and pushes it into Katsuki’s palm, wrapping the man’s fingers forcibly around it and tipping his own fingers under it to force it up Katsuki’s lips.

 

Katsuki complies and takes the shot, only because he has a set of guidelines he likes to live by and one of those aforementioned guidelines is that he always has to accept free booze when it's offered to him. When he slams the glass back on the table everyone hoots and hollers before each of them take their own shot, Katsuki joining them in for a second one of this own. It was spiced rum, and pretty smooth stuff at that, so he’s slightly impressed with Kaminari, but it’s not as if he’d tell the other man that.

 

Anyways, his newly raised opinion of his friend drops back down almost instantly after that, since the goatee-growing dumbass can’t even handle his own liquor. He’s spluttering after choking down the drink and Kirishima has to pat his back to get him to stop coughing. Katsuki notices that the pats Kaminari gets are much softer than the harsh ones he got earlier and he’s slightly miffed about that. What did Kaminari do to deserve less severe back pats?

 

“Why did we have to move apartments so damn early in the morning anyways?” Asks Katsuki, crossing his arms over his chest and jutting out his chin. He’s got a lot more questions he’d like to ask, like, why are we doing shots before the sun has even fully risen? Or, who was I sharing a bed with, and why aren’t any of you surprised that I apparently live with someone? But he feels like the question he posed is more likely to be actually answered, so he’s sticking with that one.

 

“Don’t keep reminding me of my failure as a man, Bakugou!” Wails Kirishima, throwing an arm up to cover his eyes and he tilts he head in shame. “How was I supposed to know that Todoroki could bench press that much? It still seems physically impossible!”

 

“Oh, it’s okay, Eijiro-kun,” Comforts Ashido. “It doesn’t matter that you lost the competition to him. Your guys’ place is just as rad, if not better than Katsuki-kun’s home.  Let those nerds get ready over there, the cool kids are going to be partying at this rocking pad!” She emphasizes her point by punching the air with a fist and popping one of her heels off the ground. Kirishima looks at her from under his arms and smiles slightly.

 

“Still,” He sighs. “Losing a lifting competition? When Bakugou was counting on me, too? Makes me feel like the worst man, not the best one.”

 

“Please,” Grunts Katsuki, rolling his eyes at the dramatics. “None of you are the best at anything.”

 

“Oh, there’s the grumpy guy we know and terrifyingly love.” Kaminari teases, jabbing his elbow into Katsuki’s side. “I thought we had lost him to the stoic stranger weighted down by last-minute jitters.” Katsuki just huffs and sticks out his chin at that comment, rubbing the sore spot where Kaminari ribbed him. It’s not his fault he has still no fucking clue what’s going on. He did just abruptly wake up in a whole different universe, what was he supposed to do?

 

“Alright, enough of the bro-bonding.” Says Ashido, rubbing her hands together almost manically. “It’s time to get ready! Katsuki-kun, get that butt of yours into the shower and clean up. Eijiro-kun, you’re in charge of his hair, and Hanta-kun, you’re in charge of his suit. Make sure he actually wears that tie we had picked out for him!”

 

“Hey! There’s no way shitty-hair over there is coming anywhere near my head!” Shouts Katsuki, batting away Kirishima’s roaming fingers as they approach his blond spikes. “I don’t want to look like a demented cactus!”

 

“What about me?” Asks Kaminari, ignoring the scuffle between Katsuki and Kirishima. “What job do I get?”



“Oh, Denki-kun… You can be in charge of the snacks…?” Offers Ashido, sliding a slightly strained smile his way.

 

“She didn’t give you a job because she doesn’t want you to screw anything up, Lightening McQueen!” Shouts Katsuki while dodging Kirishima’s most recent attempt to grab a handful of his hair.

 

He shoves Kirishima away from him with a jab from his arm and bolts through the entryway between the kitchen and the living room before turning quickly to the first of two doors he sees attached to the main room. Opening it, he finds the bathroom, and quickly steps in, shutting the door with a loud smack before locking the doorknob and leaning against the cool wood of the door, giving his brain a few moments as a break so it can hopefully stop spinning.

 

He takes in the bathroom around him. Unsurprisingly it seems to match the rest of the apartment. All the towels folded in the cupboard are a mix match of colors and patterns, as if they were all purchased haphazardly at different times and with no care about if they would match the others already there. The shower curtain has flames licking the bottom of it, melting into an ombré reminiscent of a sunset as they reach the top of the material. Katsuki’s unsure how he ever became friends with people who had such bad taste in interior décor.

 

After looking over the array of hair products on the counter Katsuki’s eyes finally meet their reflection in the mirror above the sink. His eyes, the first thing he sees, are the same ones he recognizes from early mornings before school starts, the ones he glances at whenever he passes under the mirrored ceiling at the local mall. The lines around his eyes are unfamiliar however, the wrinkles there reflective of an uncountable number of smiles and laughs that Katsuki has no way of ever remembering, as he never experienced them in the first place. He can’t remember ever being a person who smiles an extravagant amount, but obviously this Katsuki does often enough, since the effects of them have sunk into his skin, a permanent reminder of all those bittersweet memories.

 

He’s glad to see that he’s still fit, if anything he’s more muscular than his teenage self. Scratch that, flexing his arms he can tell that he’s much more muscular than the other version of himself. Damn, he could practically crush a car with his bare hands. Maybe he should try?

 

His physique isn’t the only noticeable difference. For one, he now has the previously noticed stubble, slightly darker than his pale hair, covering his face in a prickly fashion. He wonders how long it’s been since he last shaved in this reality. It would have to have been at least a few days, he can’t imagine growing this much facial hair in one day. His jaw also looks squarer than he thinks it used to look. It seems stronger and less sharp than before. He wonders if that affects his ability to kiss. He’s always worried that his jaw was too pointy and would be a problem when making out with someone, though he’s never had the chance to test out that theory.

 

To Katsuki’s chagrin, there also seems to be a small growth of prematurely grey hairs along his temples. It’s faint, only a few shades lighter than the blond hairs that cover the rest of his head, but it’s still there. It makes him look like his dad, which a strange feeling. He thinks he might look more like his dad now than the other teenage version of himself. Well, except for his eyes, and the frown lines marring his forehead, those are entirely Katsuki.

 

If he'd have to label it, he'd probably estimate that this version of himself is somewhere in his twenties, but he's not entirely sure, since he still hasn't been able to check out a calendar to confirm such suspicions.

 

He wonders what the others think about his appearance. Do they tease him about his grey hair? Who makes him laugh so much that he’s gotten crow’s feet as a result? His thoughts find their way back to the man from earlier that morning, the one whose identity is still an unknown variable. What does he think about Katsuki, his eyes, his wrinkles? Does he care that Katsuki seems to be going slightly pre-maturely grey, or does he think it’s a becoming look?

 

He forcibly shakes his head, trying to rid his mind of those inquiries that stir up an array of complicated feelings in the pit of his gut. Instead he turns on the faucet of the shower and steps in without even a second thought towards letting the water warm up first. Honestly, a cold shower might do him some good right now.

 

-x-

 

Getting his body washed, hair styled, facial hair shaved, and suit tucked in takes a lot less time than it seems Ashido allotted for. Him and the other men are now lounging on the lumpy couch that’s situated haphazardly in the middle of the living room of the apartment, watching the baseball game on the big flat screen TV that’s attached to the wall across from them. They’re all somewhat dressed in their suits, but no one seems too concerned about putting on the finishing touches just yet.

 

Katsuki’s grateful that he hasn’t been nagged yet to tie his tie, as he hates the feeling of restriction that it puts on his relatively sensitive neck. Ties remind him of things he’d rather not think about, the feeling of restrains shackling him, and the like that he’d rather leave in the back of his mind where they can fester in peace, untouched.

 

Ashido just threw her hands up with a proclaimed “men!” when she saw them all sprawled out, sipping beer and yelling at the screen, before she fled to the bathroom, which is where she’s been for the past three innings. He honestly has no idea what could possibly be taking her so long in there, but he’s not judging either way.

 

“Come on, come on, come on!” Goads Kirishima as he pounds his fists on his thighs. His eyes are trained on the player stepping up to the bat, his body leaning precariously closer and closer to the TV as he gets more and more into the action on the screen.

 

The infielders shoot off towards the bases in front of them as the ball is hit with a resounding smack from the bat and suddenly Kirishima and Sero are on their feet shouting out encouraging words that the players have no way of hearing. Kaminari slaps Katsuki on the back unexpectedly, making him spit his most recent gulp of beer out, just barely avoiding his currently unblemished three-piece suit.

 

“Hey, fuck off, Sparky! Watch yourself or I’ll destroy you!” He cries in frustration. Kaminari surprisingly doesn’t seem fazed by his threats, only rolling his eyes and sighing out a “oh calm down, would you? Your perfectly fine,” in reply.

 

The celebrations over the home run is soon cut short by a sharp knock on the front door. Katsuki’s part relieved at having something to disrupt the completely embarrassing show of inaptitude his friends have for dancing, and part unsure, because he liked the comfort that was found in the simple act of watching a game with the bros, and he’s got no idea what waits for him on the other side of that door.

 

Before any of them have a chance to move towards the door Ashido comes flying out of the bathroom, tittering in a pair of extremely high and extremely pink heels, a skin-tight cheetah print dress and an up-do that looks like its fighting – and winning – against gravity. In her wake, she leaves a heavy sent of something floral and it causes Katsuki to sneeze when the fumes reach his poor, unprotected nose.

 

The door opens to reveal Jiro and Yaoyorozu and Katsuki takes a moment to wonder what possible reasons the two of them have for showing up on his friends’ doorstep. These versons of them don’t look much different than the ones he knows from his own universe, just slightly older, as seems to be the theme in place. Their obviously headed to the same event that the others are, as they’re dressed in their formal best; Yaoyorozu wearing a red velvet dress with a low neckline and a slit up one of the legs and Jiro’s clad in a black leather number that’s got a huge zipper going from the entire front of it.

 

Katsuki takes one look at the skin-tightness of the women’s outfits and then down at his loose and baggy dress pants and thanks the universe again for having been born male in this sexist and heteronormative world.

 

“Why aren’t you guys ready yet?” Blurts out Yaoyorozu the minute she sees them all, her eyes widening comically large. “I just got a text from Shouto-kun, and he said their group is already on their way to the venue!” She waves her phone as if to give proof to her statement, but the screen in black and so the point doesn’t really get across that effectively.

 

“Men,” Signs Jiro, crossing her arms over her chest and shaking her head in annoyance. She looks unsurprised, as if this is an argument she makes often. “You can’t take them anywhere.”

 

From there it’s a flurry of motion as the three women forcibly get the rest of their group dressed, pressed and ready to go. Katsuki sees Kaminari gasping out breaths as Jiro does his cummerbund up tightly around his stomach while Yoayorozu pins white rose corsages onto everyone’s lapels.

 

“Ouch, Yaomomo, you stabbed me!” Complains Sero to deaf ears, as the woman is already moved onto her next victim.

 

Katsuki feels his pants being pulled up to his hips and his belt properly synched snugly on around waist, much to his displeasure. He glares down at Ashido as she buttons up his vest and dress shirt to his neck, before looping the aforementioned tie around his neck, which is pale pink, so who on earth picked out that color and why the fuck did Katsuki agree to wear it?!

 

They’re then ushered out of the front door and into a slick SUV that Yaoyorozu slides behind the wheel of and navigates them smoothly out onto the road. Katsuki finds himself sitting in the middle of the backseat, one hand been tightly squeezed by Ashido and the other clamped under Jiro’s tight grasp. Kirishima keeps looking back over the arm he has draped around Kaminari’s shoulders from the middle row to shoot him expectant looks that Katsuki has no way of interpreting the meaning of.

 

Katsuki can feel his hands becoming clammy, but neither of the girls seem to mind as they only seem to squeeze his fingers tighter the longer they’re in the van. He feels jittery for some unknown reason, butterflies filling his stomach and his foot starts to tap insistently on the soft carpet of the vehicle.

 

“What?” He grumbles a little self-consciously when Kirishima looks back at him again for the what feels like the fiftieth fucking time.

 

“Nothing, man.” Replies Kirishima, giving him a bright smile. “I’m just proud of you that’s all. This has been a long time coming and everything, but it’s still a pretty big deal and I think you’re really manly for going through with it. I know you’ve worked really hard to get to where you are.”

 

With that comment, he can feel everyone turn to look at him, sparing Yaoyorozu whose eyes are still glued to the road in front of her, and beam up at him with something akin to pride, which doesn’t really make sense as far as Katsuki knows. He’s not sure what he could have done that made them all proud of him. The compliments and attention makes his chest feel tight and he has to clear his throat a couple times to dislodge the lump that somehow got stuck there.

 

He can’t fathom why he’s friends with such softies.

 

He can’t imagine it any other way.

-x-

Chapter Text

The venue ends up being the local boathouse from the old neighborhood where he grew up. It seems like everyone he’s ever known, dressed in their Sunday best, is crammed into the large open lobby with high arched ceilings when he arrives, though he doesn’t get a chance to stop and chat with anyone. He’s ushered on past the crowd towards a set of white doors, they’re just off a set of huge ones that seem to be where the majority of the people milling about in the lobby are headed towards.

 

He sees Jiro escape from their little entourage and head over to where he spots Ojiro with hand on Hagakure’s back, both of them smiling widely in greeting. He catches sight of his parents, and when he meets their eyes, his mother sends him an enthusiastic thumbs-up and winks while his father waves brightly at him. He manages a hesitant smile for them as he’s finally manhandled through the doorway and into a private set of rooms that are painted a calming cream color with big windows along each wall, shedding the entire place in the almost white light of the early afternoon.

 

He instantly recognizes everyone present there, what with Todoroki pulling Yaoyorozu away from Katsuki’s group with a small tug of his arms and a loose smile of his face, and Iida pacing a hole into the hardwood floors. Uraraka and Asui are hovering over Izuku, giggling as they tease his hair with one hand each, with their other ones clasped together behind his back.

 

He hears them murmuring together, words like ‘hon’ and ‘so cute’ and ‘just adorable’ as they rearrange the dark wavy strands covering his head. Izuku looks up at their roaming fingers with a small smile and a look of apprehension in his green eyes as his cheeks are painted with a faint blush that makes his freckles pop.

 

Eyes, that upon hearing the doors squeak open, slide over to meet Katsuki’s, and before Katsuki can even react, he’s being firmly turned away from the small gathering and led to another room just off from the first one, which looks almost identical to it.

 

“Don’t even think about it.” Chuckles Kirishima. “You know the rules!”

 

And okay, Katsuki’s starting to get an idea about why they might all be gathered here, at the boathouse in his old neighborhood, dressed in formal wear and smiling widely. Because he knows there are only really two reasons why adults dress up this nicely, and one of them is definitely not a cheerful celebration.

 

The other reason, however… Well.

 

All his friends are around him, giving him support and encouragement, and he’s wearing a rose corsage for fuck’s sake, and he’s not allowed to see Izuku right now, who’s wearing a matching one, along with the palest of green ties that compliments his eyes perfectly… And, well, Katsuki’s not an idiot.

 

He can figure out what’s going on.

 

His heart starts to impersonate a jackhammer in his chest, pounding insistently against his ribcage. Thoughts of a body lying beside his, covered in a rosy hue from the early hour of the morning, thin sheets tangled around loose limbs, and husky sleep-filled voices whispering against soft pillows flow through his mind at a pace that feels both break-neck and lethargic. He thinks of arms that are covered in scars and bare backs that don’t look much less unblemished.

 

He goes over to one of those big windows and flings it open, taking in big gulps of fresh air, and tries - and fails - to calm himself, and reduce his body temperature, which seems to have skyrocketed in the space of only moments.

 

Ashido gets them all to squish in together for a selfie before running out of the room, claiming she’s going to go find Aoyama, so that they can squeal together before the ceremony starts, and holy shit, Katsuki needs some space right now.

 

There’s a TV in the room, so Kirishima, Kaminari and Sero pile around it as they flick through the channels, trying to find the game they had on earlier. There’s a good chance the last inning is still going, and nothing short of a natural disaster will deter them from watching it.

 

Katsuki lets them be, sitting on the much-too-fancy-to-be-comfortable chairs, as he makes his way out of the room and over to what appears to be the entrance to a private bathroom. He’s feeling more overwhelmed than ever and he can’t stand pretending to be fine when he’s absolutely not right now.

 

He shuts the bathroom door quietly and moves over in front of the sink, turning the faucet and splashing his face with the tap water. The bathroom is fancy enough to have marble counters, and single-use hand towels that feel more expensive than any he’s ever willingly owned. He uses one of them to dry off his now dripping face and stares at his reflection in the mirror, similar to how he had been positioned earlier that day at his friends’ place.

 

Everything about his appearance is both the same and the complete opposite of what he’s expecting. He’s not sure what to feel about that. He’s not sure what to feel about a lot of things.

 

He feels tremors twitch his fingers out of his control as they attempt the impossible feat of clinging to the smooth and slippery surface of the marble counters. His eyesight is starting to go out of focus, and he blinks incessantly with the unachievable goal of clearing his vision. His head feels like it’s both pressing in on itself and expanding in the space surround him. Like his own body is both too close to bear, and too far away to gain a proper grasp on. Dammit.

 

One hand moves from its resting place on the cold stone to lightly touch the center of a quickly expanding and contracting chest. Katsuki can hear quick, shallow breaths being drowned out by an overpowering heartbeat. Shit, shit, shit. This is not happening, okay? This is not happening.

 

“Get your shit together, Katsuki. You are not like this. You don’t do this. You’re supposed to be stronger than this weakness.” Katsuki grits out.  He’s squinting at the mirror, trying to meet his own eyes, but there’s a piercing pain right behind the left side of his forehead and he can’t keep a steady gaze no matter how hard he tries forcing his eyes to focus. It’s like there’s a film covering the him that’s inside his body and he knows that technically his body is him, but with that film in the way, it’s like his body isn’t his anymore. It’s confusing and he knows that it doesn’t make any sense, but he can’t help the feeling of both the contrasting numbness and hyper-focus clouding his judgement. Which is stupid, and he knows that, but there’s a sharp stab of pain that hits him right above his left eye, and he feels like his fingers and toes have caught frostbite, and he can’t look at his face in the mirror anymore.

 

He’s sitting on the ground now, with his head in his hands, while they grasp and futilely rip, without much power, at hairs that are too short and too smooth to be dislodged easily from his head. “Stop it. Stop it. Katsuki, you can hear this and that means that you’re here, and so you need to stop this. How are you supposed to win against villains if you can’t win against your own fucking self? Get your act together, you’re a hero, and hero’s always win.”

 

His self-deprecating repetitive ramblings of stop it, stop it are cut short when he hears a noise come from above him and to his right. He hears a small click and hiss as the bathroom door is opened and a painfully familiar figure steps inside quietly, and most notably, not hesitantly. Katsuki’s eyes seek out the motion and meet a pair of emerald one’s staring back at him.

 

Katsuki’s breath seems to stutter, if that’s even possible in this state, and he hides his face in the crooks of his elbows and his fingers dig even more mercilessly into his blond hair.

 

Fuck.

 

Izuku.

 

You have to stop this now, Katsuki. Izuku is watching you, and you have to stop it now. Stop it now. He’ll look down at you more than he already does if he realizes what’s happening here. He’ll worry about you.

 

He’ll pity you.

 

Katsuki wants to punch the wall, the counters, the tiles, Izuku’s stupid, freckled face. He wants to feel the pressure of something solid and opposing crumble under the force of his knuckles, the force of his will, in a way that his reactions never seem to. He wants to be ignorant of the pain he’ll inflict on himself, on his environment, on his… Izuku.

 

Katsuki hears Izuku’s dress shoes scuff along the cold tiled floor as he sits down cross-legged, with his back against the door to the bathroom and his head tipped back against the wood, neck bare and eyes focused on the ceiling above them. There’s no acknowledgement of Katsuki in his posture, no reassuring nature about him. There’s nothing in those green eyes that screams ‘I’m worried about you and I’m here to try and fix you’ like Katsuki so regularly remembers, taunting memories of him at his lowest and Izuku there, above him in a literal and metaphorical sense.

 

Izuku isn’t above him right now, his eyes aren’t trailed on Katsuki, and Katsuki feels the weightlessness of that realization hit him in full force. Its surprisingly comforting to be surrounded by silent support, without feelings the immense pressure that usually comes with the expectation that he must rise to the occasion of what’s being offered to him when he just physically can’t. Izuku isn’t trying to make anything better right now, he’s just there to experience it with Katsuki, without interfering, without expecting his support to change anything.

 

Katsuki watches the other man out of the corner of his eye, and after a few long minutes go by and Izuku doesn’t appear to be about to do anything else or say anything at all, Katsuki finally starts to purposefully take in deep gulps of the stale air.

 

Katsuki feels the sharp pains start to recede, though the headache hidden beneath them remains. He blinks his eyes a few times and his eyesight still feels far away from what’s actually in front of him, but that film has dissolved away, and he is relieved to have been returned to his body. His heartrate is decreasing slowly and he’s breathing properly and his fingers and toes are feeling warmer.

 

He’s tired, the kind of tired that seeps into bones, and that’s the only excuse he can find that explains why he scoots over to Izuku’s side and rests his head on that broad shoulder. That, and because Izuku didn’t say anything, especially not ‘I just had to do something’, and Izuku didn’t touch him at all, and Izuku has somehow always been furnace-level hot to the touch, and Katsuki just needs this. Normally he doesn’t indulge himself, but Izuku is right there and Katsuki is oh so very weak, and so, just this once, he does.

 

After what is probably too long of a time for them to have been in the bathroom, Katsuki’s eyes slide back over to Izuku’s figure and he finally takes in the sight that is a mature and fully grown Midoriya Izuku.

 

Izuku is… breathtaking.

 

He’s grown. Katsuki understands why in the haze of the morning he wasn’t able to recognize him, though thinking back on it, Katsuki can’t imagine anyone else he’d be able to wake up next to. It feels like an inevitability he just hadn’t acknowledged yet. Ever present, just hidden under the surface of every single one of his motivations, of his actions, of his beliefs. As if his entire life was leading up to that moment, and he was just along for the ride, unaware of his fate, but playing the part anyways.

 

Izuku’s has filled out in almost every aspect, he’s taller - though he never seemed to have reached Katsuki’s height, and Katsuki is thankful to small mercies - and fitter and his jawline seems squarer. In all aspects he seems stronger, in his physique, in his resolve. He’s still covered in freckles, but there are smile lines competing with them for space on his face. His lips seem fuller, if that’s even possible, or maybe they just appear that way because this is the first time Katsuki he’s really focused intently on Izuku’s lips, and damn, they look really inviting. How come he never noticed that about them before?

 

His hands are larger, his arms are more muscular and Katsuki knows he’s also hairier. Overall, he looks like a man and not a boy, and that’s a new development for sure, but it’s not the biggest surprise of them all. The most jarring part about the man that’s seated beside him is that he is Izuku to the bone, despite all these changes. He’s got the same warm, sparkling eyes that always look like they’re hiding something behind their depths, with the same crinkles around them from when he makes that crooked smile, the same exact smile that seems to have been branded for eternity on Katsuki’s brain.

 

He’s looking at Katsuki in a way that is both so familiar in its warmth, but alien in its depth and openness. It’s the kind of look that makes Katsuki’s gut swoop and flutter at the same time, and he’s not sure he’s ever had this much of a physical reaction to anything before, let alone the nerd seated beside him.

 

“Hi, Kacchan,” says Izuku, as if his presence isn’t altering the trajectory of Katsuki’s whole life, as if this moment isn’t momentous, but just another in a series of common occurrences. He speaks into the absolute silence of the small room they occupy together, alone in space, and in their own time. His voice isn’t hesitant, but it is calm, not skittish, but not invasive either. Katsuki feels his worn-out heart hammering in his chest.

 

Katsuki licks his lips. Izuku’s eyes follow the movement. Katsuki grasps the last strains of his thinly veiled superficial calm to muster enough courage to reply. “Hi, Deku.”

 

Hearing Katsuki’s voice seems to be a catalyst for Izuku, and he allows his 100-watt smile to seep into his features, his eyes lids lowering as he reaches out to hold onto Katsuki’s hand, a single finger tracing the circumference of his ring finger. Slowly he helps to pull Katsuki to a standing position, and he doesn’t say anything like ‘are you okay?’ or ‘what do you need me to do for you right now?’, and Katsuki is so grateful he could cry. He feels the tell-tale sign of prickling and tightening behind his eyes, but he does not bow to their influence.

 

“Thanks.” He whispers gruffly, and if it weren’t for the utter silence of the bathroom, he’s pretty sure Izuku wouldn’t have been able to hear him at all, but because it is absolutely silent, he does.

 

Izuku doesn’t say ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘I’ll always be there for you even if you don’t want to acknowledge it’, or ‘even if you think you are, I could never see you as weak’, what he says instead is; “I missed you this morning.”

 

It’s hushed, as if even after all this time Izuku finds some reverence in their moments alone together. Katsuki can barely get a croak out as he feels Izuku’s hands slide over his palm and around his wrists to grasp his forearms, effectively pulling him closer.

 

“Yeah,” he agrees, his voice matching Izuku’s tone. He thinks about the feeling of entwined legs and the abruptness of the cold hardwood floor of their bedroom under his heels. He thinks about the type of full-body calmness that only comes after an adrenaline rush and heartbeats syncing together as bodies rest beside each other in the aftershock of something draining. “I missed you too.”

 

He’s not sure if he’s referring to missing Izuku this morning, or every day since he was an idiotic child and tore the ties that bound their close relationship into fragile fragments, barely hanging on. He’s not sure it really matters in this moment.

 

“Yeah?” Asks Izuku, but in a way that reveals he already know the answer, and it’s not really a question anyways, as he tips his chin up just slightly, smiling turning into a smirk in the blink of an eye. Katsuki gets the impression that maybe this version of himself isn’t very good with the emotional confessions either, and is as equally unlikely to admit those sorts of things, even when they are true. Sometimes, however, it’s better to just be honest, or so Katsuki is learning.

 

“Yeah.” Breaths out Katsuki, and he can feel his breath ghost across Izuku’s skin, and the sensory perception of it sends shivers down his spine.

 

One second there’s space between them, just barely, and they’re both looking at each other’s lips, and then in the next, they’ve closed the distance, and their hot breaths mingle, and Izuku’s soft lips slide against his, and Katsuki presses in against the other man, insistently opening their mouths together. Suddenly they’re properly kissing and its everything Katsuki was not prepared for, and yet so wanted to experience.

 

Izuku’s mouth is warm and welcoming, just like the man in question, and Katsuki can’t help the small whimper that bubbles out in response. This may not be the first kiss this version of himself has experienced, but it is for him. It’s pretty spectacular, as far as these things go, he has to think.

 

His hands move to grip onto Izuku’s suit jacket, finding purchase and holding on with all his might. He’s probably wrinkling the expensive material, but he can’t seem to find enough energy to devote towards caring about that, not when what he’s doing and with whom is so much more important.

 

Izuku slips his arms under Katsuki’s, holding closely, and oh man, sure, this version of Katsuki seems to have gained some muscles that the other him doesn’t have, yet, but he was already pretty fit, it’s not that much of a revelation. However, Izuku, the boy who used to be as skinny as they could physically come, a boy you would describe as boyishly cute more often than ever consider manly or hot, seems to now be fully covered in hard muscles absolutely everywhere, and Katsuki relishes the feeling of those strong arms wrapping around his frame tightly.

 

“We’re breaking the rules.” Murmurs Katsuki against Izuku’s lips, breaking the kiss to catch his breath, but unable to physically detach himself from the other man. Izuku just chuckles lowly in response.

 

“I think we can risk it. It’s not like we haven’t done worse.” Is his only reply before he goes back to kissing Katsuki completely senseless.

 

His lips move off of Katsuki’s lips and he trails his hot mouth over Katsuki’s jaw to make his way up his neck and behind his ear, where he presses wet pecks against flushed, sensitive skin while moving his arms up Katsuki’s back to give him a tight, full body squeeze.

 

Katsuki’s never felt this cared for in his life and it’s a feeling he could drown in willingly. Izuku’s holding him in his arms and it’s absolutely everything.

 

And then Izuku nips at his ear lobe and those hands end up on his belt and oh my god, he’s sliding the black leather out from the buckle and Katsuki’s legs are going to give out under him and this is how it ends for him: in a fancy bathroom with his grown-up childhood friend pulling down his pants.

 

It’s a pretty good way to go, all things considered.

 

There’s a clink in the quiet bathroom that goes in harmony to the sound of their panting as his pants fall to the ground and hit the tiles below them. There are fingers dipping under the band of his boxer briefs and he’s never had hands there before, let alone Izuku’s hands. He feels his legs tremble beneath him.

 

Izuku must sense his loss of balance, as he backs Katsuki up against the wall before picking up the elastic that keeps him covered and decent, and pulling it down to match the fate of his dress pants.

 

The air is colder than Katsuki’s expecting, but it soon doesn’t matter since Izuku’s breath is hot against his skin. He’s kneeling in front of Katsuki, his knees resting on the outside of both Katsuki’s legs, thighs pressed against calves, radiating warmth that creeps up Katsuki’s shivering legs.

 

Izuku’s hands are warm on his bare thighs and his thumbs knead soothing circles into the muscles there, as his breath ghosts over Katsuki’s most sensitive area. Katsuki’s breath stutters as he feels Izuku, warm, and wet, and inviting, surround him completely. It takes everything in him not to collapse right then and there, and he really doesn’t want to, because hey, who would have thought, but blow jobs are fucking amazing, and he’s rather just stick through it, thanks oh so much.

 

Izuku is amazing, and Katsuki can’t help letting out small sounds as he’s consumed by the other man. Izuku’s eyes are on his own, and Katsuki’s hands are tugging on those dark locks, probably messing up the look that the girls worked so hard on just moments prior, but it doesn’t really matter. Nothing matters but him and Izuku, and that’s it.

 

Izuku’s hair is soft, his eyes are bright and challenging, those lips are notably swollen, and Katsuki comes encompassed by these sensations that are raw and real, and completely Izuku.

 

Izuku takes his time coming back up for air, and he lazily pulls layers of fabric over the skin he was only moments before intimate with. He then works to right Katsuki’s appearance, making him look decent once more. Katsuki can’t help carding his hands through Izuku’s hair again, smoothing it down into a shape that’s slightly more presentable, though it may be a lost cause at this point.

 

Izuku’s got his hands lightly wrapped around Katsuki’s wrists as he works his fingers through thick locks of hair, and the other man is wearing a satisfied smile that reeks of accomplishment. It makes Katsuki’s blood boil in the most unusual way as he watches him. A sense of comfort is draped over them both like a cozy blanket, and Katsuki knows that this feeling is right.

 

“Deku,” Katsuki says, feeling his throat closing up around the words he has to force out of his mouth. Because Katsuki has many questions, but this is the most important one and if he doesn’t ask it now he may never get the chance to again.

 

“Yes, Kacchan?” Implores Izuku, his smile never wavering, his gaze steady as he regards Katsuki.

 

“…How?” It’s all he can get out. He doesn’t know how to put the amalgamation of everything he’s feeling and everything he’s remembering and everything that’s between them - that’s always been between them - into words. He’s not sure there are even enough words to encompass how he feels about Izuku, about what he’s done to Izuku.

 

But it seems like Izuku understands anyways, without the words having been spoken, because he sighs in a way that seems both heavy and light, and it fits them so perfectly, he wonders if Izuku has sighed like that in regards to anything else, or if it’s a special noise that only makes an appearance when Katsuki’s past and current crimes are discussed. He wishes he knew the answer to that.

 

There’s a lot he wishes he understood better.

 

“Kacchan,” breaths Izuku, his voice soft, his eyes warm. “It’s so simple, really.”

 

“It is?” Katsuki whispers, unable to speak louder in the silence that surrounds them, completely confused. He doesn’t understand how the complicated mess between them could ever be anything close to ‘simple’. Not with all that he’s done to Izuku, whether he regrets those long-past actions or not.

 

Izuku chuckles lightly in response, but there’s no real humour in his tone, just a sense of contentment, as odd to Katsuki as that may be. Izuku is not upset by this topic of discussion. Whatever hurt he once held for the other, for their circumstances, it seems to be long since resolved. Perhaps not ‘fixed’; because how can that many years of hurt, of mistrust, of pain be fixed, anyways? Yet even still, some reconciliation seems to have taken place, and maybe, slowly and over much time and invested effort, these two were able to have worked through those issues, learned how to continuously work on their relationship. They somehow managed the conceivably impossible, and mended the taters of their broken relationship.

 

“Yes, because Katsuki,” Katsuki starts at the sound of his given name coming from Izuku’s lips, he’s not sure he can even remember the last time the other man used his given name instead of the affectionate nickname that’s much too immature to be used anymore. “You’ve always had the capacity to be forgiven, you know.”

 

Katsuki has to remind himself to breath as Izuku looks deeply into his eyes, hands moving to smooth over his chest, layers of formal wear hindering his warm touch from piercing Katsuki’s skin. He somehow feels the touch as sensitively as if those hands were tracing over his bare skin anyways.

 

“I always wanted to forgive you, I just hadn’t always had the chance to.”

 

“I had to earn it.” Assess Katsuki, voice full of wonder with the realization that where they currently are, and where they had been - where they are in Katsuki’s reality - is not as far apart as what he had first imagined. The distance between the man he is, and the man he could be with Izuku’s forgiveness, being a traversable journey, maybe not easily, but manageable with hard work all the same.

 

“It wasn’t all on you, of course.” Adds Izuku, a small, almost embarrassed smile on his face. “I had to learn too. I had to learn how to be good for you, as a friend, as a lover, as… Well, as a fiancé. Just like how you had to learn to be good for me.

 

“There were a lot of reasons we didn’t work before, not just your… Abrasiveness, we’ll call it. We didn’t understand each other, not really. Which probably came from knowing each other for forever, but never taking the time to properly know each other. Spending time together without competition tinting every interaction, talking for once, and listening when we actually did.

 

“I used to do a lot of stupid things when we were younger.-”

 

“No.” Katsuki interrupts, anxiety tightening his chest. “Deku- Izuku, no. You didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t still blame yourself for my mistakes.-”

 

“I don’t, Kacchan.” Sooths Izuku, tone calm and relaxed, as if this is a topic he has had to argue many times before, the words falling from his lips are worn and familiar to him, but nevertheless true. “I’m not blinded by your accomplishments anymore. I’m not talking about excusing your past behaviour, I won’t do that. What you did before, it wasn’t okay. But since then, you’ve worked hard to make up for those mistakes, and to improve on your shortcoming. You’ve done a lot to try to do better, all of which I’m going to continue to acknowledge. But, I’m not talking about you right now, I’m talking about me, about the ways I’ve improved too.

 

“What I’m talking about how I used to rush into things without thinking them through, how I can be so analytical about the technical aspects of heroics, but I so easily ignore the impact of my actions on the emotions of those I am affecting. How I’ve learned it’s not just enough to do what I want to think is the best course of action, but to instead do what is best for those I am trying to help. Learning to figure out what other’s actually need and acting on those instincts, instead of pushing my own urges and expectations onto others, onto you.”

 

Katsuki is silent in reflection of that confession. This Izuku, the one in front of him, is so much more mature than Katsuki is, so much more than the teenage version of Izuku himself was. He is both the same and not the same man he was in Katsuki’s reality. Katsuki wondering if he’ll ever be able to grow this much. He hopes it’s still a possibility for this version of himself.

 

“And after everything, you can still…?” Katsuki questions quietly, unable to finish his sentence, the sentiments hinted at much too emotional for him to express properly.

 

“Kacchan, you’ve always been much harder on yourself for what happened in the past than I could be.” Izuku admonishes, fingers running through blond strands to soften the words spoken.

 

“Well, someone has to hold me accountable.” Grumbles Katsuki, his thoughts millions of miles away, back to earlier days, and the sun beating down on metal playground equipment, insulting words thrown out into the open and loosely held fists following shortly after. It makes his heart hurt, his head hurt, the sharp pain behind his left eye coming back abrasively. He thinks he might have winced under its influence, but he’s not too sure, his head is still off, thinking of determined green eyes and explosively powered fists clenched so tightly they shake.

 

He feels hands rub soothing circles lightly against his temples, grounding him in whats happening in front of him, the space around him. “Kacchan, are you here with me right now?”

 

Katsuki looks into those same eyes, filled with the same determination that’s been haunting him since the early age of four years old. “I’m here.”

 

“I know you find it hard to understand how I can accept what you’ve done and also be able to move past it. I know that’s something you’ve struggled with for a long time now.” Izuku’s voice is soft and his finger tips are warm and comforting as they trace patterns on Katsuki’s cheeks. Katsuki can’t help but stare, mesmerized by Izuku’s grace as he talks.

 

“It’s not something that I can just move past.” Growls Katsuki before taking a deep gulp of air, trying to breathe through the rapid rise and fall of his chest as his breath hitches.

 

“I know, Kacchan, I know. I think these feelings are like what we’ve talked about before. You know, how there are certain things in your mind you have to learn how to live with, because they’re not going away. This guilt you feel for your past actions, it’s a part of who you are, Kacchan. That being said, you can’t let it control you, you have to live too, yeah?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, okay. I can try to do that.” Katsuki agrees hesitantly, reminding himself to slow down his breathing, eyes trailed on the man in front of him. “How come you always end up having to save me, huh?”

 

Izuku smiles warmly at this. “Well, I’d just say this is a perfect example as to why you and I are the No. 2 and No. 1 pro heroes, respectively.” He winks conspiratorially at Katsuki, his smile morphing into a teasing smirk.

 

“Oh, is that so?” Replies Katsuki, a smirk of his own crawling subconsciously up the corners of his lips. He’s surprised at how not bothered he is by that statement. He would have thought the idea of Izuku beating him at something, especially to their mutual, and highly motivated, goal would upset him... But, surprisingly, Katsuki is okay with that revelation. If anything, it settles on him like just another fact of life, something unchangeable; the sun sets in the west, the moon controls the tides, Izuku is the No. 1 pro hero, and he cares for Katsuki. He more than cares for Katsuki.

 

Katsuki is feeling warm all over and almost, dare he say it, bubbly, at that realization. His lips are only inches away from Izuku’s, and his arms have somehow found their way around the other man’s waist, and their noses brush against each other’s…

 

They’re going to kiss again, and this time Katsuki is more than ready as he leans infinitesimally closer to his once childhood friend.

 

When they’re abruptly interrupted by Uraraka and Iida.

 

“Alright, alright, you two!” Cries Uraraka as the two men in front of her break apart in surprise at her unexpected entrance in their small bathroom. “We’ve all tried to be understanding and look the other way as you two blatantly flaunt these institutional rules - whatever bad luck might befall you for it – but if you two don’t stop smooching back here you’re actually going to miss your own ceremony!”

 

Iida stands slightly behind her – as with her arms out by her sides, flailing about, Uraraka’s small frame takes up the entire doorway of the bathroom – nodding solemnly in agreement, index finger tapping repeatedly on his wrist in an insistent manner.

 

These two, sighs Katsuki as he rolls his eyes in response. Some things never change.

 

They’re ushered out of the bathroom and towards the main lobby of the boathouse, which has conspicuously emptied out completely of all the guests that had been filling it up previously. Their footsteps echo in the newly emptied, open space as they all trek through the big room at a fast pace. Before they reach the huge doorway, both of their intruders stop abruptly, putting arms out to stop Katsuki and Izuku from following behind them. They all stand together, right in front of those large white door Katsuki noticed earlier.

 

“Okay,” whispers Uraraka, turning around and taking Izuku’s hands in her grip, Katsuki sees her squeeze them reassuringly. “It’s time.” Her eyes are sparklingly with unshed tears as she meets first Izuku’s eyes, and then, unexpectedly, Katsuki’s. She nods to him and he returns the gesture.

 

“We’ll see you two in there.” Says Iida, a small smile gracing his usually stern expression. “Congratulations, again, to both of you.” Katsuki repeats the same nod he gave Uraraka when Iida turns to look at him. Iida offers his hand and Katsuki can’t quite believe it, but he takes it easily and shakes it firmly, all the while holding the other man’s eye contact.

 

Uraraka and Iida then slip through the doors silently, leaving Katsuki alone with Izuku once more.

 

“Here goes nothing.” Whispers Izuku, looking over at Katsuki as he takes a step forward, one hand grasping the handle of the heavy door in front of them, the other open, reaching back towards Katsuki for him to take. There’s a small smile on his lips and Katsuki is again surprised to see that there is no nervousness in his expression, no hesitation in his movements.

 

But Katsuki can’t walk through those big white doors next to this man, he can’t take the hand Izuku is holding out for him, he can’t do this. He isn’t ready to marry Izuku, he doesn’t deserve to, not yet anyways. Maybe this reality’s version of him has made amends for their shared past, but the Katsuki from his own reality, himself, he hasn’t done so yet. He needs to do that first, wants to apologize properly, so that he can earn the right to walk with Izuku down the aisle. He can’t stumble his way through this, he has to do it right. He owes Izuku that much after all, that and so much more.

 

He looks up into those warm, green eyes and blurts the inevitability he’s almost certain he’s been feeling for a long time now, maybe since he first laid eyes on the boy in front of him. Even way back before everything between them became so complicated and he committed the crimes he can never forgive himself for. Unable to put those feelings into words until this very moment. “I think I’m falling in love with you, Izuku.”

 

Izuku cocks his head and smiles softly at him, as if to say ‘Well, of course, silly. I already knew that.’ It’s not a passionate or heated gaze, it just is, simple and sweet, much like the owner of it. The image it makes strikes a chord in Katsuki’s being, a sense of resonance filling him as he’s drawn to this boy, this man, in front of him, always in front of him.

 

And Katsuki wants. He wants more than anything to take a step forward, to reach out and grasp that hand in his, and to never let go. He wants it more than anything he’s ever wanted before, and it hurts to resist that urge. But he does resist, because he has to. He has to make this right first.

 

It’s the last thing Katsuki thinks before he promptly faints, and the world goes dark around him.

 

-x-

Chapter Text

Katsuki wakes to bright light of a midday sun illuminating the lids of his eyes, and the faint breeze that comes with being outside on a slightly chilly day rustling his hair softly. He wiggles his fingers and toes, accounting for the right amount of sensation in every one of his digits before adjusting his back and rolling his shoulders, all of which ache slightly with the tension of a deep pain coming from well and consistent use.

 

“Bakugou-kun?”

 

“I think he’s waking up!”

 

“Man, that was scary, what happened to him?”

 

As he starts to regain consciousness, his ears are hit with a tirade of voices, one crashing over him after the other, all fighting each other to be heard distinctively by him, recognized for who they belong to. They’re all futile in their efforts however, all except one. A voice which sounds out above all the others, uniquely noticeable and definable even in its hesitation.

 

“Kacchan?”

 

Izuku.

 

But this is not the Izuku Katsuki had just seen. Not the same man who had sat with him, letting the sounds of Katsuki’s harsh breathing echo around the otherwise quiet and pristine bathroom that they shared. This is not the voice of the man who stood before Katsuki while propping open a large white door, one hand extended out to Katsuki with none of the uncertainty that is ever-present now.

 

And it’s that slight lilt of doubt in his voice, an omnipresent awareness of their distance between them - if not by physical separation, than by emotional understanding – that makes it hard for Katsuki to swallow, that tightens his chest painfully and makes him do a double-take.

 

He slowly blinks his eyes open, gaining an awareness of his surroundings as he does. This time he does not find himself somewhere all that unusual, though the act of waking from such a state is out of the ordinary for him. He’s a good fighter, and he didn’t get good without knowing how to properly exert the right amount of power when in combat to both pack a punch without over doing it; yet it seems he’s either a lot worse at calculating his limits than he originally thought (probable, shut up) or his dodging skills have fallen by the wayside, because upon opening his eyes he finds himself laying sprawled out on one of the outdoor sparing areas on the grounds of UA.

 

The sun, hot and unrelenting, beats down on him from directly above, and its rays illuminate the profiles of the group of other students huddled around him, their frames hovering over him as they mutter above him and poke and prod at his prone form. It seems to be an independent sparing session, as there are no teachers anywhere around them. Just the rowdy bunch of eighteen year old senior students getting in some one-on-one practice before the term ends in less than two weeks, and their high school careers end with it, and they’re suddenly thrust out into the real world and expected to fend for themselves. It’s not as if they haven’t been doing that for a while now, some of them more than others.

 

Katsuki’s eyes blindingly slide over the group of this classmates, searchingly, before landing, as if pulled by gravity towards him, on Izuku’s crouched posture. The other teen’s (newly noted) prominent lips are pulled down into a concerned frown and there’s a crease of worry between his bright, illuminating, ever-searching eyes.

 

The eyes that seem to always somehow see right through Katsuki’s hard exterior and into him, like a spotlight exposing every single one of his insecurities, his flaws, his dreams and desires, and everything that has made him into the person he is.

 

And Katsuki can’t look away, struck to a standstill, when those bright, deep eyes look straight at him and hold his gaze. He feels his pulse start to speed up ominously and his heartbeat start to pound in his ears, and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, he can do to stop this reaction. It’s been etched into his skin, into his very DNA, and he’s finally starting to realize that he might just be helpless to resist it.

 

“Hey, Bakugou!” Comes a voice from near his head as a hand reaches out and pokes him in the side, gently but persistently. “You okay, man?”

 

Katsuki stiffens in surprise, being pulled out of the reverie Izuku’s gaze had put him under. He blinks rapidly, looking around at those surrounding him again with eyes that are more calculating, paying attention and taking stock of the situation he has found himself abruptly in.

 

A sense of odd déjà vu hits him as he sees the outline of Kirishima’s distinctive hair, silhouetted by the sun that blazes above them. He blinks up at his friend until his eyes properly adjust to the sunlight and he can see everything in clear definition.

 

He sits up slowly, and feels multiple hands helping to prop him up as he does. He’s not sure what to think of the physical touches, but he’s a little too shook by everything that he’s felt, and seen, and experienced as of late to say anything.

 

“Maybe we should take him to Recovery Girl? He doesn’t look so good. Kero kero.” Proposes Asui, her large index finger resting against her mouth as she regards the scene in front of her.

 

“Fuck no! I’m fine, you damn nerds. Get your hands off me.” Growls Katsuki, swatting at his classmates. He hates feels so inept in front of them all. He’s better than this, supposed to be better than them, and they shouldn’t be seeing him this disorganized, so unsure.

 

“I don’t know man, you might want to get checked out, you could have hit your head.” Adds Kirishima as Katsuki stands up beside him.

 

“Yeah, you went down fast. Like, bam! One second you were standing and the next you were out cold!” Claims Kaminari, waving his hands around above him, as completely unneeded as he always is. Katsuki takes note that he must be back in his own timeline, as his friends are all teenagers again, much like him. He says a little prayer of thanks that Kaminari’s goatee seems to be non-existent here, he’s not sure he could handle looking at it right now. Katsuki also can’t help the relief he feels to have these people around him again, even if he’s not willing to admit it out loud.

 

“Hey,” He bites out as he brushes the dirt from his gym uniform. “I said I was fine, okay? Lay off, you glorified phone charger.” Kaminari puts a hand to heart, as deeply offended, bt Katsuki doubts he’s even insulted. The electric teen seems to have an immunity to the sting of his harsh words, probably due to the sheer exposure he’s had of them directed aggressively towards him.

 

The truth is that Katsuki’s not exactly fine, but it’s not as if he can explain that to them, it’s not as if any of them would understand.

 

Well, he thinks as his eyes find themselves falling back onto Izuku, taking in his tousled hair and familiar freckles littering his chubby cheeks, almost none of them would understand.

 

Izuku still has that same look on his face, eyes piercing and gaze steady in the face of his obvious hesitancy. But his voice is undercut with steel when he speaks, a hidden strength behind his words that Katsuki doubt most would notice.

 

Katsuki notices. Katsuki has always noticed the little things that make up who Izuku is. And they terrify his superficial, lightweight sense of confidence.

 

“Kacchan, you should really go to the infirmary…!”

 

And Katsuki can’t right now. He can’t look into those green eyes, with their piercing gaze, and he can’t watch the determination that leaks from every pore of Izuku’s stance. He can’t do this, not now, not in front of everyone, and not after what he just witnessed, what he just did.

 

He just can’t.

 

He just has to get away from this, all this stimuli that threatens to tear down his self-esteem with the ease of a slight breeze. That makes him feel as though he were paper-thin.

 

“I said I’m fine, stupid Deku.” He grits out, his teeth clenching as his fingers unconsciously tense and curl into fists at his side.

 

“But, Kacchan-”

 

“Shut up, Deku!” He growls out, and he feels his fists shake with the force of his frustration coursing through them, trremors of his insecurities running along the skin pulled tight over his knuckles.

 

Katsuki abruptly turns around and stalks off, away from the school, away from his classmates, away from Izuku.

 

“Bakugou-” He hears Kirishima call out after him, but Katsuki’s swift to reply and stop the other teen in his tracks before he starts to chase after him.

 

“Tell Aizawa-sensei that I’m feeling sick so I’m going back to the dorms, okay?” Katsuki doesn’t wait for a reply before picking up his pace until he’s sprinting across the lawn, out towards anything that isn’t going to be a stark reminder of all his failures, of all he needs to do better, of how he needs to be better.

 

He ends up walking the streets of his old neighborhood, hands in his pockets as he idly kicks stones that fall across his path. He passes by the boathouse, and sees that its relatively empty when compared to the amount of people it had pouring into it in the other reality.

 

Thoughts of calloused hands reaching out, bright eyes glistening with unshed tears, and the feeling of a heart beating so hard it might just burst, flutter through his mind as he continues on towards a destination unknown.

 

Katsuki thinks about a lot of things.

 

He thinks of how forgiveness can’t be won with the right words, but earnt through consistent and persistent action. He thinks about how starting over isn’t always possible when the amount of history between two people looms ominously in the background, with it casting a shadow that’s long and foreboding.

 

He thinks about how falling in love doesn’t happen in an instant, but over a period of time, a series of moments that fit together in a pattern that only makes sense in hindsight. He thinks about how the realization of being in love does happens abruptly, an accumulation of so many signs that on their own are unworthy of notice, but together create something all-consuming and overpowering in its indisputability.

 

He thinks so much that he doesn’t notice at first that he’s walked all the way back to the dorms until he’s standing on the walk that leads up to them. A tree stands in front of the expanse of brick that makes up the dormitory wall facing him. The green of its leaves standing out in contrast to the burgundy of the building front. A lone figure stands below the tree, head tilted up, gaze unfocused as he blinks up at the leaves that dangle above him. Their color matching his eyes, and the highlights of his hair, perfectly.

 

Katsuki might miss a step, tripping slightly as he catches sight of the other teen. He slows his pace, cautiously approaching the subtly commanding presence of his childhood friend. Izuku turns his head towards Katsuki as he comes closer, his eyes switching into sharp focus in an instant. Katsuki can feel the weight of their stare deep in his bones.

 

“You know,” Izuku greets, his calm voice at odds with his slightly tense posture. Katsuki knows Izuku is trying to hide his uncertainty in front of his old tormentor, but Katsuki can read every tell of Izuku’s body like a map to the house he grew up in, and is not fooled in the slightest. “You probably shouldn’t be skipping classes this close to graduation. What if you jinx it?”

 

“I have a flawless record, you idiot. You don’t need to worry about me.” Katsuki replies, crossing his arms over his chest on instinct before deciding against that intimidating pose, and letting them fall back down to twitch at his sides. Izuku tracks the movement and Katsuki knows he’s showing his own insecurities openly under the omniscient scrutiny.

 

“You had a flawless record.” Responds Izuku, raising an eyebrow in challenge. Katsuki can’t help the slight heat he feels dusting his cheekbones at that comment. "And," he adds softly. "I'll always worry about you."

 

“You’re a smartass, you know that right?” Grumbles Katsuki, but he can’t seem to muster an venom to lace his words with.

 

Surprisingly, Izuku offers a tentative smile, cocking his head slightly in relative admission, there’s a twinkle of humour lighting up his face. The simple image hits Katsuki like a freight train. His heart may have just skipped a beat, if he were one of those saps from some overly dramatic romance flick - the type his mother likes to watch.

 

But Katsuki’s pretty close to admitting out loud - at the top of his lungs while standing on a rooftop - that he is one of those romantic saps. Because there’s a lot of things Katsuki can be, but immune to Midoriya Izuku is not one of them.

 

Katsuki puffs up his cheeks before letting the air he’s accumulated there out in one loud breath. He hunches and then purposefully relaxes his shoulders. He tucks his hands into his pant pockets, before removing them quickly afterwards.

 

“Look,” he says. He stops, takes another deep breath and tries again.

 

“Look, there’s something that I need to say to you, and I’m pretty sure it’s something you need to hear, okay? So just listen for a second and don’t interrupt.” At this Izuku opens his mouth before quickly shutting it at a sharp pointed glance from Katsuki. He shrugs his shoulders sheepishly before nodding his head once. Katsuki can see that Izuku is being serious about this, about listening to Katsuki speak his mind, and this realization sends a sense of calm rushing over his oversensitive skin.

 

“Firstly, I want to thank you. Thank you for always trying to be there for me, even if you don’t always do it in the best way. It’s not your fault that I don’t seem to be able to just receive help like a normal person, and I’m really grateful that even through all that you’re still willing to stay, willing to believe I’m worth your help.

 

“And secondly- secondly, I’d like to apologize. Say sorry for all the shitty things I’ve done ever to you. I know that that’s not good enough to change anything, or fix anything, but at least I’ve said it.

 

“I’m not saying that you’re all that great at dealing with me and my shit, or anything. You do things that always seem to make everything worse, even when you’re just trying to do the opposite, and it can be a real pain in the ass most of the time. But- but, all that included, I think it’d be pretty horrible if I didn’t have you in my life, doing what you do.

 

“I know you want to save me, or something. I know that, and I appreciate that and all, but you can’t save me, Deku- Izuku. You can’t save me, because I have to save myself. I have to make myself better, I have to be better. That’s something I have to do by my own will. You can’t do that for me.

 

“All that being said, I can’t fix- no, not fix, you can’t fix something that's always transient, but work on- I can’t put the effort into working on this, us, our- our relationship, or rivalry, or whatever the fuck we even are to each other, on my own. So, all that being said and everything else, I would like to work on this, us, and I would really appreciate if you continued to do as well, even though you don’t owe me a sliver of the effort you’ve always put into this, into… Us.

 

“And- and, I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry for being the kind of asshole that can’t even handle his own issues and has to take them out on you instead. And I’m sorry that I did take them out on you, and treated you so terribly, for so long. You deserve more than that. You deserve more than me. You deserve so much better in every way, Izuku.

 

“And I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to be that for you. I want to be better enough to deserve you. I want to be better in general, but I also would like to better because of you.”

 

Katsuki ends his rambling, lengthy and curse-ridden apology with that, and he takes a deep breath, because he’s not sure he breathed at all through that entire speech, and he looks at Izuku.

 

Izuku is looking back at him, and he’s got tears in his eyes, because Izuku was always a bit of a sap too. He’s squishing his lips together, and blinking quickly, and Katsuki knows the other teen is trying to hold back the waterworks that are steadily building up speed behind his eyes.

 

Because when it’s all said and done, Katsuki knows almost every part of Izuku, and Katsuki thinks he just might love it all, as hectic and difficult and goddamn frustrating as it all can be.

 

Izuku is nodding, and taking a few steps forward, towards Katsuki, stopping right in front of him. “Okay,” he says. “Okay, we can do that.

 

“We can work on this, on us, and you can work on figuring out how to better deal with yourself and your ‘shit’, and I- I can work on learning how to better help you.” Agrees Izuku, and Katsuki can feel his entire body become lighter, as if a weight he’s been carrying around since he was four years old and decided that he was ever supposed to be better than anyone else was actually true, is finally being lifted off him.

 

“And how to forgive you, I can work on that too.” Adds Izuku, quietly, looking shyly up at Katsuki from under his eyelashes. “Because I’m not there yet, but I want to be. I really, really want to forgive you, Katsuki.”

 

Katsuki swallows hard, his voice might be a little breathy as he answers back. “Yeah, okay, because I’d really like to work on earning that forgiveness, Izuku.”

 

“Good.” Replies Izuku and he begins to smile, and it brightens up his entire face, and suddenly he isn’t looking at Katsuki somberly anymore, but with hope, and happiness, and maybe even a slight edge of teasing. He holds out his hand to Katsuki. “Shake on it?”

 

Katsuki rolls his eyes at the gesture, and then he reaches out and does just that.

 

The End