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Longing for Clarity

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Katsuki hadn't slept in days.  It wasn't the first time he'd gone a long while without getting rest, but it felt the most irritating duration in a long while.  At first he had blamed it on the shift change, going from early morning work to overnights.  It had only been a couple of days since they had started, but he had hoped that staying up the first day would be enough to reset his clock.

It hadn't been.  He was still awake.

He hadn't even been able to nap or really rest.  He had been with Izuku the past few days, and when they were down and ready to fall asleep, he was nowhere as quick to slumber as his boyfriend.  Izuku would be buried into his side, happily dozing off in the haze of their intimacy, while Katsuki would be staring up at the ceiling, his mind unable to turn off.  At first it wasn't so bad; he'd go over lists or previous days of hero work, thinking of better ways to do his job. 

But then those thoughts would devolve, circling around to the worst of things.  He would recall what happened with Tokoyami and Izuku just a few days prior, and the scenario that came was if Izuku hadn't left.  He knew it was a horrible thing to think of, not just because he didn't want to visualise it, but because it was an insult to Izuku to even consider it happening.

He would do what he could to push it aside, to think of anything else.  That would only send him to think of everyone he'd seen flirting with Izuku or who he had mentioned had shown vague interest.  Izuku hadn't told him those things to make him mad, he'd told him because he was sharing his day with him.  Because that's what friends did, and they were friends before anything else.

Katsuki didn't even try sleeping like this.  He knew his thoughts would keep him up, no matter how much he tried to shove them aside and attempt to bring something else up.  Even knowing he shouldn't be entertaining the ideas, that none of them would actually happen, he couldn't help the programs playing out in his head.

He just needed a distraction until his mind settled down again.  It had happened before, over many things from awkward situations at school that he wished had gone different to conversations he wanted to have with his mother.  It would happen again.  His mind would take something and run with it, and he just had to wait until it was exhausted.

So once he was sure Izuku was beyond waking, he would head to the gymnasium for some training.  He couldn't keep his mind quiet, maybe, but he could interrupt its speech.  And thankfully everyone else had seemed easy to rest, because he was left alone to mull around in his own thoughts.

Except this one time.

Katsuki hadn't been surprised that someone was there.  There was bound to be at least one person sometime during the week that had the same troubles sleeping.  He just hadn't expected Todoroki Shouto to be one of those people.

He attempted to avoid him at first, as if he hadn't seen him and went about with his routine.  Eventually they crossed paths when jogging, and despite Todoroki's usual aloofness, he attempted at conversation.  It was awkward, as neither one of them was really good at impromptu topics, but he still tried.  He knew he had been trying to be more social and friendly over the time since their first year, but Katsuki hadn't cared to see his progress on it.  He had no particular eagerness to be friends with him, mostly due to their differences and lack of common ground.

There were other reasons, too, ones that he'd rather not think of at the moment.

Katsuki vaguely caught Todoroki's reasoning for being awake.  It was something to do with not adjusting well to the schedule, but he wasn't really paying attention.  That went for most of whatever he said.  Katsuki just nodded and grunted where he felt fit without contributing much else to the conversation.

After a while, their forced dialogue turned into a small challenge which led to a 'friendly' sparring session.  They went at each other with ferocity, but nothing like their fight back in the first year's sports festival.  It lasted for almost an hour, and when it was over, there was no clear victor.

It shouldn't really matter, if there was a winner or not.  But it still mattered to Katsuki.  Ah, well.  At least he won where it was really concerned.

They had taken their showers far apart and dried off almost completely in silence.  Katsuki was hurrying to get dressed, his urge to distance himself growing.  It was still early in the day and plenty of time before anyone would start waking up.  He thought about going back to Izuku's room for a little bit, with no real goal in mind other than to be close to his boyfriend.

He would only get a little while with him.  Izuku wanted to get up early to go see All Might, and he wouldn't want to distract from that.  Well, distract him then.  He could distract him now and he'd probably enjoy it.

"Can you believe it's almost over?"

Katsuki grunted in response.  He was towelling his hair dry.

"Three years..."

Katsuki didn't respond.  He was thinking if he should get a snack before he went back to Izuku's room.

"It'll be odd not to have everyone around anymore."

"Speak for yourself," he finally chimed in.  "I can't wait to get away from you losers."  The words felt like habit more than meaningful.  They came out naturally, though he knew it was far from what he meant anymore.

Todoroki made a noise, and Katsuki could have sworn it was a chuckle.  It sounded odd from him, but he supposed it wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

There was a small pause before he thoughtfully asked, "Even Midoriya?"

That caught Katsuki's attention.  He had just lifted up his arms to put on his shirt, and he turned to look at him, hands awkwardly above his head before he quickly righted the cloth to its proper place.  "What about him?"

"Just thought even you would share in everyone's sentimentality: it'll be disappointing when he's no longer around."  His voice was wistful.  He was putting on his shoes, his eyes focused on the laces.

Katsuki fixed his lips in a straight line.  He said, "It's not like I'd miss the nerd."

He was lying.  Of course he would if they were too far apart.  But that wasn't any of his business.

"I think I might."

He had to look away from the half-and-half hero, lest his glare be too obvious.  "I'm sure everyone thinks that."  He tried to keep the seething out of his voice. 

"Yeah, maybe..."  He knew that tone.  "But..."

"Our agencies are close," Katsuki said without thinking.  It was a truth.  They were going to be close even after school.  He didn't need to mention it, but he felt a need to.  He needed to show off his closeness to Izuku.

Todoroki made a thoughtful noise.  "How lucky," he said, his tone unsure.  "You can still see him, if you wanted to."

Of course he would want to.  The choice of agencies had been deliberate.  He had even given up his first choice just to be closer to Izuku.  He hadn't told his boyfriend as such, but only because he knew he would be upset and tell him to accept it instead.

Katsuki grunted again.  He quickly put on his socks.  He was tired of the conversation and just wanted to be as far away as possible.

"Bakugou."

Katsuki shot a heated look at him.  He was staring straight ahead at the lockers.

"What."

"You're... close to Midoriya, right?"

He didn't answer.  He was too busy concentrating on the flush that had crossed his cheeks.

"I was just thinking..." he started.  He was still looking in front.  "It's so close to the end, and there won't be much more time to--"

Katsuki didn't let him finish.  He hadn't put his shoes on, but he didn't care.  He carried them as he stood and left the locker room.

Katsuki was quick to Izuku's room, foregoing the idea of food completely.  He was quiet when he came into the room and quiet as he undressed and slid back into the bed.  Izuku was cuddling the pillow he had been using just hours before, but it wasn't hard for him to replace himself with the down.  Izuku wrapped his arms around him almost instantly, burying his face in his neck.

Katsuki kissed him softly, just to see if he would respond.  He did, though tiredly, and it was all the incentive he needed to press forward.  He rolled him over on his back to lay kisses along his jaw and neck.  Izuku made a sleepy sound, but turned his head as if to encourage him.

He adjusted, sliding his knee between his legs as Izuku spread them.

"Katchan...?"

Katsuki kissed him roughly.  This got more of a response, as Izuku put his arms around him.  He pushed into him, craving more of his body.  No, more of him.  More of his Izuku, his Deku.

And no one else could have him.

::*~~*::

Hours later, Katsuki found himself heading back to the dormitories with Kirishima, Kaminari, and Hagakure.  His two friends had offered they all go to 'breakfast' (or what should count as it with their current schedule), and he extended the invitation to Hagakure on the way out. 

They stayed at the restaurant longer than necessarily needed, but it was refreshing for him.  He needed the distraction or else he might read too far into his conversation with Todoroki earlier.  He had wanted to talk to Izuku about it, just to ease some of his worry, but his boyfriend had been late getting up and rushed away.

He guessed he was to blame for that.

When they had finished eating, they roamed around the streets for a bit, finding a rather nice arcade to waste even more time in.  Hagakure didn't seem as familiar with the surroundings as the young men were, but Kaminari took her under his wing to show her the best games to start with.  By the time they left, she was playing more advanced games with all of them and keeping up with them pretty well.

Katsuki wasn't the best company for the day.  He was still in a rut, exasperated by his mania.  He was feeling hostile, and almost everything his friends said would get a glower or growl.  This didn't deter them from keeping him involved, making sure he got a turn at consoles and including him in conversations, despite his lack of input.  They left him alone when he started to flare up too much, but didn't leave him behind.

He didn't deserve it.  They should have just left him behind.  The fact that they didn't mattered, but he had no true way of expressing that.  His lack of being able to say something as simple as a word of gratitude should have excluded him from the friendship completely, but here they were.

Kirishima had tried to talk to him more than once while they were there.  He would get to a two player with just him, and then he would start to talk about general things.  Then he would lead into how Katsuki was, and there would be an attempt to get him to open up.  The words weren't blunt, but he knew the question was about his attitude and his personal being.  He didn't answer him fully, other than maybe hints that he was all right.

He should have been more honest.  Kirishima was his friend, after all.  He just didn't know how to open up without admission to either his relationship to Izuku or his staggering condition.

Maybe it was time to be honest.  Maybe he should just say it.  But the words didn't come out, and he didn't feel like coaxing them.

Before they left the arcade, Katsuki spent time at the claw machines.  He had always been oddly good at them, but he thought it more luck than anything else.  He just moved the joystick and pressed the button and would get something.  He had a go at it until his goal was achieved.

As they left, he threw his spoils at his three friends.  They laughed and teased him, but they didn't push his buttons much further than that.

It was the least he could do.

By the time they got back, it was close to the start of their shifts.  They all made their way to the electric boards with their names, checking their partners before getting into their hero outfits.

Katsuki wasn't too thrilled with his partner for the evening.  He wasn't really fond of many of his choices, really, but Ashido was probably at the lower end of his list.  She was just too... bubbly for his tastes.  Then again, that was what he had thought of Hagakure.  Maybe it would just be mildly annoying instead of obscenely obnoxious.

He glowered when he noticed the name next to Izuku's. 

He reached into his pocket for his phone to text him, only to come up missing.  He sighed.  It had been at least the tenth time that day that he had forgotten he left his phone in his room.  He had put it on the charger before seeing Izuku in the morning, but had just no mind to pick it up between then and now.

He had thought of it earlier, when he and his friends had first gone out.  He was going to write a quick note in the application he was using to keep tabs on his mental status.  He still needed to do it.  He had tried to be good about it since Izuku had set it up for him the last time he'd left his phone in his room.  The update wouldn't be much different than it had been for the past few days, but his spike in energy brought on by his earlier encounter felt note-worthy.

He owed it to Izuku to keep up with it.

He turned intent on getting it, when he was called back by Denki.  He hesitated at first, but shrugged, thinking he would just get it when he was done getting dressed.  There was still time.

Katsuki had already gotten dressed by the time Izuku found him.  He was on his way out when Kirishima stopped him, talking about something inane.  His boyfriend had come up, all smiles and just a good air about him, and stole him away.  He went with him easily enough, finding this just as good as texting him.  It should have been a simple discussion, after all; he didn't see why Izuku would have any trouble seeing why he should change partners.

Izuku led him away to hidden area beneath the large stair case.  It wasn't an obvious place; you'd have to be looking for it to find it.  They were familiar with it, as they had used it just the day before for intimacy and not been caught.

Katsuki had barely gotten out his question for what he wanted when Izuku was on him, arms around him and kissing him.  It had caught him off guard, but quick enough he was pushing back into the kiss.  He put his arms around him, holding him as well as he could with his grenades in the way.  He let himself go for a moment, responding to him.

He smelled wonderful.  Katsuki knew it was the fermin, but it was strong, and it was pleasant.  Just because he knew what it would do to him didn't mean he didn't want it around him.  He liked it.  He liked that scent, and he liked the attraction it brought to him, sometimes at least.  He didn't need it, and he wouldn't really miss it when it was gone, but he would enjoy the smell by itself nonetheless.

When he felt Izuku's tongue against his lips, he had only one assumption what he wanted.  It had to be similar to where his mind was started to wander.  For a moment, he thought about giving in.  He could make it quick; he had been frustrated all day, even after spending so much time already with Izuku earlier.  All of his concerns were still festering under the surface, and he needed a way to relieve them.  What better way than with the person he was most concerned about?

He could shove him into the floor where the ceiling inclined.  It would be annoying, his unitard was awful to deal (it wasn't the first time they'd tried to fool around in their hero suits), but it was completely possible.  He didn't have any of his packets on him, though, since he was running low on his box.  He needed to get more of those soon.

Izuku's fingers were in his hair, tugging just lightly.  He wasn't being too insistent, but he knew soon enough he would be.  They had to stop before it got too hard, in more ways than one.

Izuku whined when he pulled him away.  He rolled his eyes.  "Deku, we don't have time for this."

Izuku smiled as he took Katsuki's face in his hands.  His expression was soft, and Katsuki couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking right then. 

"I don't want that," he said.  "I just... I just really wanted to be close to you."

Katsuki gave him a disbelieving look.  "Are you okay?"

"Are you?  You seemed... angrier than usual."

He didn't answer at first.  He knew he couldn't hide so easily from him.  He would always see through him simply.  He had been a simmering bit of ill-content for days, and Izuku had understood that.  Today had just been worse by his earlier conversation with Todoroki, as insignificant as it was, and his swirling thoughts around it and similar topics.

He was sure he was projecting his discontent with all of it.  But he didn't want Izuku to know that.  He wanted to ignore it and not to worry him.  It was all stupid, anyway.  He knew better.  And he knew Izuku would feel something like guilt if he expressed his worry, no matter how foolish it all was.  He didn't want that.  He would swallow it, bite it back, if it meant keeping Izuku content.

He sighed and pressed his forehead against Izuku's.  "It doesn't matter.  Just..."

"Just?"

"...swinging up."

It wasn't a lie.

Izuku visibly softened.  He kissed the bridge of his nose.  He could guess what he was thinking, that it was a miracle for Katsuki to admit to it.  It was distracting from the issue, that's what mattered.

"You going to be okay on your patrol?" Izuku asked.

Katsuki nodded.  "It's just Ashido.  She'll be annoying, but I can deal."  His partner would be simple enough to deal with.  But what about Izuku's?  Had he thought to switch?  He frowned, his jaw clenching as he thought about it.  "You need to change partners tonight."

He didn't mean to say it like that.  He meant to ask if he had.  His words had poured out his insecurities without giving any room for Izuku to clear his anxiety.  Of course he would have already switched, there's no reason not—

"What?  Why?"

A low sound left him as he pulled and moved away from Izuku.  "What do you mean why?"  His tone was low and said through gritted teeth.  How could he even ask that?  How could he not understand why he didn't want him around Tokoyami?

"It should be obvious."

Izuku's brows rose.  "Katchan, I don't know what you mean."

Katsuki looked away from him for just a moment, back to the locker room area.  He saw people moving out, and he could hear them heading upstairs, ready for their patrols.  He needed to go, too, they both did.  He took a breath and closed his eyes tight.  He forced himself to calm down.

Izuku probably just thought he could handle being around Tokoyami.  And he probably could, in all honesty.  But they would be alone in a dark building all night, and even if they were separated, what if...  Izuku could handle himself.  Izuku wouldn't do anything.  Tokoyami probably wouldn't do anything.

But Katsuki could feel the heat in his veins at the very thought of the bird hero around his Izuku in the night, completely alone.

He looked back at Izuku, who was giving him a quizzical look.  "Please.  Just anyone else but him."

It sounded so needy to him.  But he needed Izuku to understand.  It didn't matter how sure he was that Izuku wouldn't let his guard down.  It didn't matter how irrational it was to even entertain the thought.  He just couldn't stand the image that came to his head.

He didn't have the strength to think about it all night.

Izuku reached out to him, but Katsuki stepped back.  He didn't particularly feel like being touched suddenly.  "Katchan, I don't—"

"Later," he interrupted.  He needed to get away.  He wanted to run.  He just needed a moment to breathe.  "I'll stay tomorrow, okay?  As long as you want, just..."  That was a good exchange, wasn't it?  Izuku was always whining about how the left long before he woke up.  He'd risk getting caught if it just meant to him agreeing with his plea.

"I have to go find Ashido," he said, now a good distance away from him.  "Be safe tonight."

He only saw Izuku raise his hand before he was rushing up the stairs and away from him and everyone else.

::*~~*::

Katsuki hated the cold.

It wasn't that it affected him too badly.  He naturally ran hot, and it had to be a severe drop in temperature before he would start shivering.  And if he did get too cold, he could rub over the area and warm himself up with controlled explosions.  It only worked for his skin, though, and if the chill went too deep, he'd have to rely on traditional means to bring his system back to normal.

He'd been able to go out without any extra clothing for the Tour so far.  His hero outfit covered most of his body already, only leaving his shoulders vulnerable, so he didn't find himself needing anything more.

He regretted his earlier rush to get away from the dormitories, a vain attempt to leave his invasive thoughts behind with the building.  Even when he stood outside waiting for Ashido, he knew he should go back in and get the thermal shirt he had specifically for such cold evenings.  He hadn't thought about when he came back from hanging out with his friends.  He'd been wearing a jacket, and the cold didn't really get to him at that point.  But he knew it would, and it was only his urgency to move further away kept him from going back and fixing the problem.

He had thought that it wouldn't matter; once they had started moving around their route, he would have warmed up and forgotten the chill in the night.  However, shortly after they got to their designated block, a commanding officer approached them with a specific request for the evening.

Now he and Ashido had been stuck in an abandoned building, watching a warehouse and waiting for a signal from the local police.  They were to watch the warehouse to make sure no one left, and to tell if someone did.  There was a raid planned for early morning, after some minor red tape had been taken of, and the heroes were there as back up if anything got out of hand.  There were other police in other buildings watching, and it was all meant as a team effort to bring down some underground syndicate.

More life lessons for the aspiring heroes, he could almost hear Present Mic say.

The building they were confined to was empty aside from old furniture and cobwebs.  Plastic covered different places, as if it was a project left in a rush for whatever reason.  There were tools and construction left everywhere.  No one had been in there for what was probably years.

It would have been a perfect setup for one of the horror movies Katsuki liked so much.  He was just in too much of a foul mood to appreciate it.

Ashido had not been as chatty as he originally thought she would be.  She started some conversations, but when it was evident he wasn't going to participate, she dropped it.  They switched between who would do the look out.

When it was her turn, Katsuki found himself bored.  In his earlier hurry, he'd forgotten to get his phone from his room.  It wasn't just the entertainment he was lacking, it was the contact with Izuku that he wanted.  It left him anxious, wondering if his boyfriend had switched partners like he had asked.

Of course he did, he thought.  If he could have, he would have.

If nothing else, he could have been talking to him, easing himself.  But he was left to his own thoughts, which were quick to spiral.  He just kept pulling himself back, forcing his thoughts onto more pleasant things.

It was getting around one in the morning.  They had already been there for a few hours, and it just felt like it was going to drag on longer.  He hadn't really cared for the late shift, but it wasn't really that bad normally.  The first two days had gone by rather quickly, and he figured the rest would, too.  Tonight would just end up being an outlier, with how they were stationed with a pair of binoculars and a window and nothing else.

The building was cold.  There was no electricity or heat, and the chill came in from all of the various glassless windows.  It made his arm hurt more than the usual low temperature did.  He should have worn his brace, the one he got specifically for this issue, but he hated the way it felt inside his grenade.

He had taken off the large canister not for the first time that night, and he rubbed at his forearm.  He massaged it gently, but it didn't seem to help much.  He contemplated taking off his sleeve and warming up the area, but he knew it would just be a temporary solution.  He would have to do it constantly if he really wanted to help it.

Katsuki groaned.  He'd probably feel the ache for the majority of the next day.

"I'm back."

Katsuki looked up from his arm and at the entrance to the small room they were stuffed into.  The binoculars were on his lap, unused for several moments.  He should have been checking out the warehouse more, but he was too easily distracted that night.

"That was quick," he observed.

Ashido shrugged.  She handed him a bag and a cup of something warm.  He took it with a grunted word of appreciation.  She sat down in the other seat and opened up her own bag. 

"It's so cold tonight!" she exclaimed.  "I thought I'd freeze before I got back."  She pulled her coat around her for a second, nuzzling into the fur around the neck.

"And yet here you are," he muttered.  She chuckled, ignoring his tone.

She had only been gone for about fifteen minutes to get them something to eat and drink.  At least he guessed fifteen minutes.  Maybe it had been more.  He didn't have a watch without his phone.

He rubbed his arm for another quick moment before he took a sip of what was in his cup.  He stuck his tongue out at it and groaned.  "Why is there so much sugar in this?"

"Oh!  I wonder if that's mine," she pondered out loud.  She took a quick sip of her own drink.  She grimaced and bit her tongue.  She got up and handed him the cup, glaring at the offending cup.  Katsuki exchanged it, and they both took a sip to make sure it was right.

"I would ask how you can stand something so bitter, but it's Bakugou, so that's answer enough."  She was smiling as she said it, and there was no malice in her tone.

"Ha ha," he said dully.  "Am I supposed to comment what wanting it so sweet means for you?"

"I already know I'm sweet," she replied as she sat back down.

He rolled his eyes.  He almost commented how Izuku was the same way with his, but bit back the words.  He put the drink down next to his chair and looked back out the window, squinting at the area that they were supposed to be watching. 

"You okay?"

Katsuki looked back at her, brow raised.  "Why?"

She pointed at his discarded grenade and her eyes were on his arm.  He looked down at it himself and realised his hand had migrated back to it, massaging it in an attempt of relief.  He had probably done it subconsciously in response to the constant ache it was giving him.

He breathed a quiet 'oh' when acknowledged what she was referring to.  "It, ah... just hurts sometimes when it's cold."

Ashido leaned forward in his seat, obvious interest on her face.  "What happened?"

"What do you mean what happened?" he responded.  "I broke it in second year."

Her face lit up with recall.  "That's right!  You had a cast for, what, six months?"  She rubbed her chin.  "Didn't I sign it...?"

"Everyone did," he said.  "Deku made a big deal about it."

She laughed at that.  "I bet you hated that."

"Of course I did."  He didn't mention he still had the cast from after it was removed.  It wasn't like he kept it as sentiment for the class' sympathy.  Not entirely, anyway.

"Why did it take so long, anyway?" she mused.  "You'd think Recovery Girl would get it fixed up real quick."

Katsuki looked back outside, his eyes glued to the front of the warehouse.  "She can only do so much," he answered.  "The bones were shattered.  Even after surgery, it still took forever for everything to get back in place."

"How'd you break it?"

"What?"

Her expression was bright with curiosity.  "Your arm.  No one ever said how it got broken."

Katsuki narrowed his brows lightly.  He hadn't really talked about it to anyone but Izuku, but he was there.  There had been a few teachers around, but they didn't know the extent of what led up to it.

"It was when you and Midoriya got lost in the woods, right?"

"We didn't get lost," he corrected.  He leaned away from the window.  "We were separated; there's a difference."

"Whatever you want to call it," she said.  "Was it during the fight with the typhoon guy?"

"It was the tree guy," he said.  He leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling as he remembered the incident.  "Typhoon guy was how we got split up.  Tree guy was the one... hunting us, I think?  I never got his full deal."

"And he did it?"

"He..."  His face scrunched as he contemplated what part of the event he should tell.  "I fell off a cliff and landed on a tree."  It was what happened, in so many words.

Ashido didn't need to know the part where his flight off the edge was a result of his subconscious decision to protect Izuku at all costs.  Izuku knew why he did it.  That's all that mattered.

She tilted her head.  "That broke your arm?"

"The branch that went through it is what broke my arm."

Her eyes went wide and she whistled.  "That must've huuuuurt."

"From what I remember, it did."  He put his foot on the wall and pushed, leaning his chair back on two of its legs.  "I really can only recall what it felt like when it went through.  I passed out from shock pretty quickly, so I don't know much until I woke up back at school."

"Did you get a scar?"

He gave her an even look.  "Of course I have a scar."

"Can I see it?"

"Why do you want to see it?"

Ashido shrugged.  "Chicks dig scars?" she offered sarcastically.

He scoffed.  "Don't really care what chicks dig."

"Fine, guys dig scars."

Katsuki couldn't argue that.  Izuku loved it, in a weird way.  In the warmer months when he wore more exposed clothing, he'd find his boyfriend staring at it.  He remembered when he got it.  He'd remember what all happened that weekend.  He'd smile and run his fingers over it and kiss it, and then become increasingly affectionate.

Despite the amount of time they'd been naked around each other lately, he hadn't been as observant of it lately.  Maybe it was because how much time had passed.  Though it was a reminder of the start of their relationship, it was still in the past.  So much had happened in the near two years since that training trip.

Maybe Izuku was too distraction by his need for intimacy to focus on it like he used to.  They were both good reasons.

"C'mon, Bakugou," she pleaded in a sing-song voice.

Katsuki groaned.  "Fine," he said.  She gave an excited squeal, her attention square on him.  The legs made a dull thud as he set the chair back down.  He took off the sleeve quickly and held up his arm.

Ashido had almost leapt out of her chair and took his arm in her hands, eyes inspecting the proffered appendage.  "This is really gnarly," she commented.

Katsuki gave her another moment before pulling his arm back, looking at the area himself.  The scar was large; mostly round from where the branch had punctured him, going straight through his ulna and radius and on both sides of his arm.  There was a long line going through it from the surgery it took to repair it.  He was lucky they had Recovery Girl.  If she wasn't there, there was a strong possibility he would have lost the arm all together.

With that alternative, he would take a stiff arm in the cold any day.

He put back on the sleeve without another word.  She seemed almost satiated as she sat back in her seat and pulled out some food from her bag.  She was just a curious person, he guessed.  It wasn't the worst of quirks.

They fell into a silence as they went to snacking.  Ashido was smiling all the while, even humming when her mouth wasn't full of food.  He found it somewhat bothersome, but couldn't bring himself to really complain about it.  One thing he had learned during his relationship with Izuku was not to admonish someone in a good mood, no matter how it got under his skin.  It was a crude response to something innocent.

"How's Touru-chan?"

Katsuki gave her a confused look.  "Fine, I guess?" his response came in a slightly unclear tone.  "Why are you asking?  Aren't you two besties or something?"

Ashido gave him a bittersweet smile.  "We haven't gotten to talk that much over the year," she said.  "I've seen her around you a lot, so I thought I'd ask."

Katsuki scoffed and shrugged, turning his attention back out the window.  "Whatever," he said before popping a chocolate into his mouth.  They went back to quiet.  He rubbed his arm once more before putting his grenade back on.

After several moments, he sighed and glared at her.  Her humming had faded and she had been staring at him for minutes on end.  When he looked at her, she had a thoughtful expression on her face, but her gold eyes were still trained on him.

"What?" he growled out.

"Trying to think of how to ask you something."

He blinked.  She'd been blunt with him the whole evening, what was stopping her now?  "Ask what?"

She tilted her head again and scratched the bottom of her chin, humming.  She opened her mouth once than closed it, as if she was reconsidering what she was going to say.

"Just come out with it already."

"You... smell like Midoriya," she finally said.  "Like.  A lot."

His brows furrowed.  "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Well, maybe this is me just guessing and all, but you don't strike me as someone that gets too close to his friends."

He tapped his knee impatiently.  The observation felt obvious.  His friends knew he wasn't really the touchy-feely type, and they kept their distance from him.  Aside from Izuku, though he didn't really count.  And Hagakure, but he just hadn't gotten in through her head yet not to hang off him as much.  At least Kirishima had calmed down after a while, though he still did, too.

His friends really needed to learn not to touch him as much.

"And?"

"You shouldn't have a scent on you like that, then.  Unless you were really, really close."  She gave him a little smirk.  "Like, intimate and such."

Katsuki clicked his tongue.  "What are you getting at?"

"Tokoyami said Midoriya was out of bounds," she said.  "Doesn't seem he is for you..."

He glared at her, his teeth bared through a light growl.  "Were you going to try and fuck him?"

Ashido gave him a wide grin.  "That's very telling."           

"You fermin really do just gossip about who you can fuck, don't you?"

She rolled her eyes.  "It's not like that, you know."

He thought of how Tokoyami phrased it, that they were just 'helping' each other.  He had thought about that conversation a lot over the past few days.  He was sure he was being authentic with his reasoning.  Who knew better what a fermin needed than another fermin?  He still didn't like the answer.

"So?"

"So what?"

"Are you and Midoriya a thing or what?"

"Jumping to conclusions, aren't you?"

She gave him a sceptical look.  "Am I?"  She stood up and was close to him much too quickly for his liking.  He pulled back, but she was within centimetres of him, sniffing him.  "That is Midoriya.  I know it; I've been smelling it since his fermin started."  She tapped her nose, still in his face.  "I have one of the best senses when it comes to it, and believe me when I say, it sucks.

"So don't think you can just shrug me off.  No other reason for him to be all over you than the obvious."

"Why does it matter?"

She leaned back, giving him the space he needed.  He was grateful she had; he wasn't sure how much longer he could have held off before he socked her in the face.  She was still smiling, but it seemed less mischievous now, more genuine.

"It's okay, you know," she said.  "I'm more curious than anything.  I mean, his scent is so heavy.  And it's really nice, too."  She put her palms on the window sill and leaned back.  "I just like being around it more than anything.  But I kind of wanted to know why someone with such a good scent was off limits."

"I'm sure it's not the first time, with how you all group up."  He stood up from his chair and headed to the other side of the room, getting his much needed distance from her.

Ashido shrugged.  "Sure, Tsu-chan had a really good smell, but it wasn't as... prevalent?  I think that's the best word."

Katsuki gave her a look, even while he paced along the wall.  "What exactly does that mean?"

"You always know a room Midoriya's been in," she explained.  She was watching him as he moved.  "His smell, it just kind of hangs around.  You can tell where he stays the most, though.  When he's hugged someone or something."  She grinned again.  "Anytime I've walked by you, you smell like him.  Even now, he's stronger on you than anyone else."

He clicked his tongue but didn't acknowledge the accusation.

"So, are you?" she asked again.  "Or are you two in a will-they-won't-they kind of thing?"

"That kind of thing is stupid," he said definitively.  "Either you're with someone or you're not, that idiotic drama shit is worthless."

"Is that a yes?"

Katsuki groaned in response.  He pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing, before he looked at her again.  "Just stay away from him."

"Hmm, don't know about that."  She walked back to her chair.

He glowered at her, and she visibly bristled when his palms emitted smoke.  She frantically waved her hands in front of her face.  "I get it!  Trust me!"  She scratched the back of her head and gave a nervous chuckle.  "Who would do such a thing if Bakugou's his boyfriend?  That's just asking for a world of hurt!"

He grunted in agreement.

"What I mean is, Midoriya has a really good scent, as I'm sure you're familiar."  She gave a pause for him to respond, but went on when he didn't.  "I just like being around it.  It's like catnip or something."

Katsuki gave her another sceptical look.

Ashido waved him off.  "Don't worry, don't worry.  My fermin is loooong since over.  I mean, it was awful, but that's in the past.  Even though his scent is really... really strong and hard to ignore, I can keep it in my pants."

"I'm sure Tokoyami said the same thing."

"Hey, if he didn't do it, I was going to."

Katsuki paused at the statement, and thought how it was almost exactly what Tokoyami had said the other day.

"But I won't now," she assured.  "I... I already know about fermin having awful things happen in their relationship during their time."  Her voice was soft and had a thread of sadness to it.  She looked out the window, her expression fallen some.  "I wouldn't want that for anyone."

Katsuki raised a brow.  There was something in the words she said that he knew he should be grasping, but it just wasn't coming to him.

He shrugged it off.  "He wouldn't really be into it, anyway."

"Not into girls, huh?"

He shook his head.  "Not that.  He isn't gay."

"Like you?" she asked.  He could tell it was just her curiosity.

"Like me," he said easily.

"Then he's...?"

Katsuki hummed.  He came back to sit in his seat.  "You'd have to get him explain.  It's kind of weird, but he doesn't... he doesn't go for gender?"  He looked outside.  "He's more about the person, or something.  I don't know how to say it."

She pulled out a box of konpeito and started to munch on the sugary stars.  "I guess that makes enough sense."

He shrugged.  Izuku had explained his sexuality more than once to Katsuki, and he got it for the most part.  It just still seemed strange to him, but he wasn't going to hold his fault in understanding against how Izuku felt about himself.  He just wouldn't try to explain it for him: that wasn't his place.

"Ah, if he really doesn't care then, we could have had so much fun!" she exclaimed.  "How unfortunate."

"Do I even want to know what you mean by that?"

"Well, if we're doing guy talk here," she started, leaning forward, her elbows on her knees, "let's just say I'm twice the fun."

Katsuki wasn't sure he really wanted the explanation, but he felt a creeping curiosity.  "Twice the fun?"

She nodded, grinning.  She didn't say anything else, just raised her brow suggestively.

"...wait," he said, the gears finally turning in the right way.  "Do you... have both?"

She just kept grinning, a sense of pride about her.  He had to admire that.  "Huh.  I can see where that would be interesting."

Ashido gave a victory hum as she crunched on more candy.

"But I don't have a chance, do I?"

"Not a one."

She gave a sarcastic, defeated sigh, and shrugged.  "Oh, well!  Was worth a shot."

She gave him a genuine smile.  He thought maybe his lip turned up a bit.

"I still want your permission, though."

"For what?"

"What have we been talking about?" she said and tutted him.  "I just want to, you know, rub up on him, and get some of the smell for myself."

Katsuki gave her a strained look.  "You can't—"

"Don't worry, I get that I can't fuck him, and that's fine, really."  She threw one of the stars at him.  He swatted away at it.  "I just want to be around that smell."

He contemplated it for a long moment.  Finally, he said, "Fine, but if you do something I don't like, you'll regret it."

She made a small squeal of a noise.  "Of course, of course."

"And get his permission before you do anything too weird."

She nodded enthusiastically.  "I won't be too strange, I promise."

"Better not be," he grumbled.

Ashido sat back in her chair, laughing.