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Quiet Rapture

Chapter Text

The last thing Katsuki had expected upon walking into some dusty old bookshop was the fist of scent that punched him square in the gut.

Reeling in the open doorway, fingers wrapped with crushing force around the handle, Katsuki inhaled a shuddering breath against the onslaught, his knees buckling. Eyes huge and scavenging the small store for signs of this - this oppressive, mouthwatering musk, Katsuki stalked inside, the door shutting behind him with a great gust of frigid winter air.

Nostrils flaring with the hunt, with the deep, earthy scent so unlike the sickly sweet ones of most Omegas, Katsuki approached the cashier desk and looked around. He didn’t see anyone, but fuck if his mouth wasn’t watering with a flavor of Omega he’d never encountered in his life. The unbridled strength of it alone had him reeling – reeling and wondering what idiot was out there, leaving their scent utterly unrepressed.

Oiy!” Katsuki slammed a fist on the counter top, his skin tight with barely contained restraint against the force of this Omega scent. Who the actual fuck? “You got a customer here. You can’t smell me? Goddamn.”

“Wow,” said a smooth, melodic voice from one of the tall stacks. “Aren’t you a charmer.”

“I don’t give a sh-“

Around the corner came a short, stocky guy with a perplexed smile and large green eyes. His hair was a riot of deep green curls, his frame dwarfed in a thick, oatmeal-hued, cable knit sweater with leather elbow patches. Katsuki hadn’t even realized until now that people still wore corduroy pants.

Looking at him, Katsuki was consumed with the overwhelming compulsion to encompass this person in his arms and bury his snarling mouth into the crook of his fragrant neck.

Oh, shit.

“I’m sorry?” the guy said, his eyebrows raised in question as he came around to stand behind the counter. “Are you okay, sir? You look a little red and –“

Teeth bared, Katsuki lofted over the counter, spilling pens, cards, and knick knacks in the fray as he landed, spun the stranger in his arms and slammed his back against the ridge of the desk. Hands slammed down on the surface either side the Omega’s waist, Katsuki caught his own scent pluming through the air like clouds of smoke, overtaking everything else, a fire that consumed as much as he wanted to gorge himself the nameless person caged in his hold.

A shiver skated down Katsuki’s spine as he leaned in to sniff, waiting for that throat to be bared, for the Omega to prostrate himself, to wilt beneath the force of his scent, of the power radiating from within Katsuki like a forest fire. Katsuki’s eyes flicked to the stranger’s face for a brief second, widening as he realized that gaze was not averted, but lancing right through him like a sword.

Katsuki didn’t have time to react before the Omega’s hand rocketed up. The palm strike cracked Katsuki square on the noise, pain streaking through his eye sockets. Stumbling back a half step, Katsuku dropped his hand from his nose to bare his teeth, but something inside him snapped his mouth shut, as if he couldn’t dare act with aggression towards his –

His?

His what?

Katsuki couldn’t think. Not when his entire face was pulsing in time with his heartbeat, which was racing up towards his throat and prepping to dive at the nameless Omega braced before him with two scarred fists poised in front of his face.

Did this nerd just stop a powerful Alpha in his tracks without so much as an Omega whimper of anxiety?

Double shit.

“Tell me your name,” Katsuki said, still standing, still wading through this thick, humid rainstorm and lightning scent that drenched him to the bone. He winced as he pinched his nose and tipped his head back to stop the blood. Copper rolled down his throat, while ironically exposing his own neck to the Omega like some kind of pathetic weakling. “Please.”

“Are you done?” the guy said, his voice taut, his fists raised and ready.

“Dunno,” Katsuki said. What was this truth shit pouring out of him like this person deserved it?

Something primal and deep, forged of fire and ash spoke from gut, echoing through his veins.

He deserves it. He deserves so much. He smells like summer in the middle of winter.

“Didn’t know I was doing it ‘til I’d done it.”

“I’ve heard that one before.”

“You’re a helluva hard-ass for an Omega, know that?”

Was Katsuki grinning? Katsuki sucked in through his nose, swallowed the congealed blood and realized that, yeah, he was fucking grinning over this little asshole who’d nearly broke his nose upon first sight.

Granted, Katsuki had come at this guy with the deep, instinctive intent of finding submission in the Omega, but – well, that’s what an Alpha did when they…

When they came across the one scent that didn’t just smell different from all the rest. But called to the beast within him, both tempting and soothing and taunting in tandem.

“I don’t want to have to throw you out.”

Katsuki blinked, realizing his nostrils were flaring, his gaze going foggy and dazed as he leaned in towards the stranger’s fists to catch the scent drifting from his wrists. Thunderstorm, ozone, electricity.

The hairs on Katsuki’s arms stood on end. His attention flicked up, past those hands with inexplicable layers of scars, met wary forest eyes.

“You’re not gonna throw me out,” Katsuki said. “You feel it too.”

The Omega’s straight, serious brows bunched together, a frown tugging at his lips, his stare narrowed, and head cocked. He dropped his hands with a sudden soft laugh, shaking his head and dragging fingers through his wild mess of curls.

“Gosh, okay. Okay, I get it. I’m sorry for the mix-up, but –“

“What’s your name?” Katsuki said, wanting to press closer, to rub his cheek against the unmarked line of this Omega’s freckled neck. “I need to know. Now.”

“Listen,” the stranger said with a placating smile as he leaned one hip against the counter and folded his arms, body language closed from Katsuki, so beyond anything he’d ever experienced from an Omega that Katsuki was beginning to wonder just what the fuck this pine and wet earth musk actually was. “This is all a big misunderstanding. I know that I kinda stink –“

“You smell like I want to roll in you naked,” Katsuki said, clenching his teeth against the words even as the Alpha in him offered them up to this person for which his body was crying out. Just where the hell was his mouth running off? Just who the hell was this person and why was Katsuki losing his goddamn mind within ten minutes of meeting him?

Well. He knew.

Deep down, he knew. But this couldn’t be real. People didn’t just –

“That’s really, uh, sweet? And all. But I can’t actually, you know –“ The omega waved a hand vaguely in the air, glancing to the ceiling, not in submission but pure awkwardness as his cheeks pinked up. He met Katsuki’s eyes and shrugged, lips pulled in a closed mouth smile. “Can’t smell you.”

Katsuki blinked.

Hah?”

“I can’t smell you,” the stranger said, shrugging once more as he hefted a sigh and shoved his sleeves up to his elbows. The chunky sweater revealed thick, muscular forearms. A hot, liquid pull curled up low in Katsuki’s gut.

“Can’t smell me,” Katsuki said flatly, starting at the Omega’s arms.

“Yeah, uh.” The guy laughed a little. “Got my nose shattered in a fight as a teenager. My nasal cavity is all collapsed and stuff. I can barely smell, hardly taste a thing, and I snore like a buzz saw.”

Katsuki gaped.

“You can’t smell me?”

The Omega's attention flicked to Katsuki’s throat, lingered. Looked up, met Katsuki’s wide eyes.

“Nope. I’m sure you smell great and uh, stuff?”

“You – you can’t smell what’s going on here?” Katsuki said, his world dropping from beneath his feet. "Between us?"

He was going to tear down this entire fucking store with his bare hands. Set the fucking world on fire. How could this one person not smell him? Omega’s had been fawning over him since he was fourteen and showed no signs of stopping.

But this one person. This one Omega whose scent had nearly taken Katsuki to his knees from the first moment, had no clue that they were… That they were -

“What do you mean? What’s going on?”

“Tell me your fucking name or I’m going to rip someone's throat out,” Katsuki said between his teeth, fists clenching at his sides to keep himself from yanking the collar of that ugly sweater aside to lave the flat of his tongue over the gland apparently working in overtime to drive him utterly fucking crazy.

The Omega smiled, obviously confused.

“Why?”

“Because you’re gonna date me and then mate me and I’m never gonna let another person even fucking look at you for the rest of your life.”

The guy stared at him for half a second before he burst out laughing, his smile wide and beautiful and lighting his eyes up like sunlight through a thick canopy.

What? I’m sorry, who are you? Is this a prank? Did my friends set you up? Wait, you’re not a prostitute are you? They didn’t hire you because they knew my heat was coming and wanted me to get laid, because this is the last time I’m gonna let them get away with –“

Haaah? I’m not a hooker!” Katsuki gawked. Did he really have such little effect on this person? How the hell was he supposed to convince this Omega that everything Katsuki felt was true? Talking? What the fuck Alpha loser did that shit anymore? “I’m Bakugou. Bakugou Katsuki? I’m motherfuckin’ Ground Zero, dammit!”

The Omega’s laughter stilled, then, as he surveyed Katsuki with lips softly parted, awe in his expression for the first time. A sudden swell of musk and impending rain swamped Katsuki’s sense, left chills along his skin and electricity sparking in his chest.

“O-oh,” the Omega said, mouth opening and closing as if he didn’t know what to say.

So he had a weakness for heroes, huh? Katsuki at least had that going for him right now.

Yeah,” Katsuki said, squaring his shoulders, chest puffing out as he eyed the Omega narrowly. “So I’m a fuckin’ catch, alright? You at least owe me one damn date –“

“Midoriya,” the no longer stranger finally said, his face flushed, his eyes flitted across Katsuki’s scowl. “Uh, Midoriya Izuku. Bookshop… owner?”

“Good, great, hi, what’s up. Now you can go out with me.”

Midoriya blinked, as if coming out of a dream. His scent abated to a softer glow. That wrinkled brow and confused smile returned as he cocked his head.

“Sorry, can I ask why you’re here in the first place? Can I help you find something?”

“I’m lookin’ for a pet dog.” Katsuki’s nose scrunched as he sensed Midoriya’s bewilderment. “For fuck’s sake, I’m obviously looking for a book.”

“Oh, well –“ Midoriya vaguely gestured behind him. “I have those.”

“No shit, shortstack. I got a stakeout for a couple days comin’ on. Need shit to keep me going.”

At this, Midoriya noticeably brightened, his gaze attentive on Katsuki’s face as his arms finally uncrossed.

“Really? What do you like to read?”

Katsuki shrugged, looking over Midorya’s head at the vast, high shelving units, testing his own ability to not stare at this Omega like he wanted to strip him of those bulky clothes and lick him from top to bottom.

“Non-fiction. War, biographies, that kinda stuff.”

Hmm.” Midoriya turned his back to Katsuki, and what the fuck was he thinking doing that? Did this guy have zero sense of self-preservation or was he that confident in his ability to fend off the stronger, larger breed with his own puny strength? “A couple of things come to mind, but – Are you sniffing me?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki said, his timbre husky, his nose just an inch from Midoriya’s lush curls. God, how did he smell like summer, like spring and life and sun when it was so bitterly cold outside?

With a sigh, Midoriya walked away and disappeared into the shelves that smelled of parchment and dust, and dreams in printed word.

Like a hound on a trail of a fox, Katsuki followed, his hands itching to touch.

He’d never felt anything like this. Not remotely. As a hero, he took high-quality suppressants for his ruts, and rarely had the time or inclination to even look at another Omega. While it was true he found himself the target of many an Omega’s attention – he’d simply never been interested. Ever.

By twenty-five, he’d come to terms with and had very little problem with the fact that not only did he have little time for a mate, but the inclination was also missing. And that had been fine.

This, however.

Katsuki leaned lightly against a shelf, ankles loosely crossed as he considered the compact Omega with the winning smile, suspicious eyes, and a palm strike like a professional MMA fighter.

Could he seriously not smell Katsuki’s scent? He knew his was especially potent, that of an Alpha firing on all cylinders, his glands practically steaming with power, aggression, perfection.

And Midoriya here was acting like they were going for a fucking stroll through the park, rather than whimpering and averting his eyes, chin tilted to offer his neck. No shivers or quakes or any damn thing Katsuki had ever seen or heard or read about.

Katsuki was half-way in love, his own Alpha body entirely decided on this one enigmatic person, and the Omega was content to sell him a fucking book and send him home.

Triple shit.

All Quiet on the Western Front?”

Katsuki frowned, a remnant expression of his thoughts.

“Heard of it. It’s fiction, though, ain’t it?”

Midoriya hummed in thought, lips pursed as he turned and met Katsuki, still clutching the book to his chest.

“Yes and no. The writer was drafted to the military as an eighteen year old and this book, among some of his others, focuses less on the physical side of how war destroys a person, and more on how you go into it as a civilian, and come out of it something altogether different.”

Katsuki slipped the book from Midoriya’s hold, his stomach clenching as his fingers brushed against his chest. Bowing his head, Katsuki flipped through the book as Midoriya continued to speak with a rising sense of passion to his pleasant, lilting voice.

“It’s one of my favorites. Growing up, I’d wanted to be a hero for – well, forever. As long as I'd known what one was. And when I found out I couldn’t be, I was devastated. Things got dark for me, I got into a lot of fights, I was so full of anger and bitterness. I’d take on anyone, guys twice my size –“

“That makes sense now.”

“But after reading this.” Midoriya’s voice trailed off, and when Katsuki flicked a look up, he saw Midoriya was also looking at the open pages in Katsuki’s hands. “After I read this, I thought, maybe I don’t want to be broken like that. Being a hero from a young age is the same as being thrust into war. Sure, you choose it, but you don’t choose what happens to you once you're there.”

“I love being a hero,” Katsuki said, scowling. “There’s nothing wrong with it. I’m the fuckin’ best.”

Midoriya huffed a sound of amusement through this nose and raised an eyebrow at Katsuki, the corner of his mouth quirked.

“You sure are. And that’s good. The country needs you. All the same, I read it and I felt like, maybe there’s more for me than this kind of future, this end.” Midoriya’s lips curved slowly, his lashes lowered, dark and thick as he spoke in another tone altogether. Reverent. “I want that quiet rapture again.”

Hah? What’re you-“

“I want to feel the same powerful, nameless urge that I used to feel when I turned to my books.” Midoriya raised his gaze to Katsuki’s, and his scent rose up like the first rain hitting a long dead ground, filling Katsuki’s senses with clean musk and humming skin. “The breath of desire that then arose from the colored backs of the books shall fill me again, melt the heavy, dead lump of lead that lies somewhere in me and waken again the impatience of the future, the quick joy in the world of thought, it shall bring back again the lost eagerness of my youth.”

Midoriya leaned in, his eyes bright, intent.

“I sit. And wait.”

Katsuki sucked in a breath, entranced, falling. He swallowed hard, his eyelids growing heavy as that scent cradled him, roused the Alpha that had been lurking, waiting for this with a patience Katsuki himself did not recognize.

“That’s –“ Katsuki licked his chapped lips. “That’s from the book?”

Mhm.” Midoriya’s attention flicked to Katsuki’s mouth, then back up. “Well, this has been a day.”

“I think I’m in love with you.”

Midoriya’s smile was instant. Fuck, he had a dimple in one cheek. Midoriya patted Katsuki on the shoulder as he brushed past and made for the desk once more.

“I’d say you're sweet but I’m not sure I can say that since you tried to pounce me about five minutes ago. And, for the record, you’re not in love with me.”

Katsuki followed, bringing the book up to his nose as he trailed behind. The pages smelled of Midoriya, clung on to his earthly scent.

“You really can’t smell me?” Katsuki said as he approached the opposite side of the counter. He was absolutely positive this was not how it went in the movies or books.

“You just don’t give up, do you?” Midoriya said with a breathy laugh as he shook his head and rung up the purchase. “Anything else?”

“Just a date.”

“Anything purchasable?”

“I can buy you a date.”

“Yes, but you can’t purchase me. Insert your card, please”

Katsuki gritted his teeth as he fumbled with his wallet and did as he was told. They completed their transaction in silence, Midoriya all the while with a pleasant, if not a little amused, expression on his freckled face.

With his bagged book in hand, Katsuki hung back at the desk, openly staring at Midoriya. Again, there was no aversion of eyes, no head tilt of submission. He just met Katsuki’s fiery gaze, a steady, sturdy rock.

“I’m going to come back,” Katsuki said, his face stern.

“Enjoy your stakeout,” Midoriya said, finding the actual nerve to wave at Katsuki as if he were a child heading off to school.

“You’re gonna get on my nerves real fuckin’ fast, aren’t you, Omega?” Katsuki gritted out as he turned on his heel and headed for the door.

“Not if you don’t come back!” Midoriya called cheerfully. “Bye!”

Chapter Text

“Okay,” Kirishima said, puffing out a breath from his nose and rolling down the window to the winter night air. “Mina told me it was rude to say anything, but I can’t take it anymore! What is that scent coming off of you?”

HAAH?” Katsuki rounded on Kirishima in the small car, a snarl at the ready. “You got a problem with how I smell, Omega?”

“I have a problem with feeling like I want to climb out of the window while we’re on a stakeout,” Kirishima said, folding his arms across his chest with a huff. “You smell like Omega and rut – only not rut, it’s like this weird beckoning scent, like for the first time in your existence as an Alpha, you’re trying to call a mate over.”

“Since when did you learn the word ‘beckon’?” Katsuki said with a snort, tilting his face to lean back against the headrest of the car. He allowed his eyes to fall shut for a moment as he tamed his scent, the mindless call he’d been emitting for two days. Two days of obsessing over Midoriya Izuku, the nerdy bookshop owner with eyes like lightning and a tongue just as quick.

The more Katsuki replayed their interaction, the more questions arose. The greater the need to know and learn and keep that man.

Did he smell so strongly because he was unable to catch his own scent and rein it in, or was it Katsuki’s sensitivity to this particular person that made it so overwhelming? A mix of both? Did Midoriya take suppressants? If so, they weren’t working very well. Some people had a naturally strong scent – usually, the stronger the person, the stronger the scent. From the way he’d popped Katsuki in the nose, and the brief mention of Midoriya’s past with fighting, Katsuki gauged him as strong – and, concurrently, well-worthy of Katsuki’s desire.

Somehow, the object of Katsuki’s interest did not agree. At all. In fact, he hadn't gotten rid of Katsuki quick enough.

Who the hell looked at Bakugou fucking Katsuki and thought, Get Him Out Of Here?

Okay, a lot of people.

Regardless.

“I know things,” Kirishima said with a pout. “And I also know that something’s up with you, man. You’re all kinds of weird and jumpy. Like that –“ Kirishima jammed an accusatory finger at Katsuki, who was inhaling the scent of the book Midoriya gave him because it smelled like him. “That! What the hell are you doing? What’s going on? You’re scaring me, dude.”

“Don’t be such a fucking drama queen,” Katsuki said, glad for the evening darkness hiding the way his cheeks heated upon realizing he’d been unconsciously sniffing the book. If Kirishima knew the extent of this – this lunacy – he would laugh his head off. “Probably just need to up my suppressants. It’s been a couple of years.”

“Don’t let that stuff hurt you,” Kirishima said, genuine concern radiating from him as ever. “When was the last time you let yourself go into rut? UA? That was like ten years ago, bro.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Katsuki said without heat, gaze lowered as he thumbed through the corner pages of the already twice-read book. “That ain’t my thing.”

Or, it wasn’t, until two days ago. Now, something was brewing within Katsuki, rising to a heated simmer.

They fell silent then, still waiting in a grubby, nondescript van, across the street from a supposed villain club entrance. Katsuki inhaled deep and pushed back thoughts of Midoriya and his smile. Kirishima’s scent filled the car, one which had long ago become familiar – hell, familial, like a brother. And he’d been bonded to Mina since graduation. Kirishima smelled as much like himself as he did his Alpha.

“What did you mean I smell like Omega?” Katsuki said, his temple pressed to the window, staring out. It had been days. He himself only had the book by which to remember Midoriya.

“Dunno,” Kirishima said, shrugging a shoulder as he pulled out his phone and flicked through some texts. “Like someone rubbed up on you. Or you got laid.”

Kirishima’s head whipped around, his eyes huge, his toothy smile blinding.

“Holy shit, Bakugou, did you get laid?”

“I didn’t get fuckin’ laid, hair-for-brains!” Katsuki snarled, unconsciously clutching the book to his chest. “What is wrong with you? Mind your goddamn business.”

“Your business is my business, buddy,” Kirishima said with a grin, patting Katsuki’s thigh amiably. “And the fact that you’re the most celibate Alpha I’ve ever heard of is, in itself, a serious worry of mine. You’d be so much more chill with a girlfriend. Or just – y’know – sex. Of any kind. At some point in your life. Would be helpful. For everyone’s sanity who works around you and –“

“Stop, stop!” Katsuki dragged his hands over his face and groaned. “You’re un-fucking-bearable.”

“And you’re a seriously miserable virgin, but we love each other anyway,” Kirishima said matter-of-factly.

“Nobody loves you,” Katsuki grumbled.

Stupid fucking Kirishima. Everybody loved him.

Katsuki pursed his lips and slid a slow glance over, eyeing Kirishima’s profile as he texted someone with a half-smile. Probably Mina, probably gossiping. Fucker. But a well-liked fucker.

“Why do people like you so much?” Katsuki said.

Kirishima looked up, and Katsuki could see his cheeks darken, even in the blue evening light.

“I – uh. What do you mean?”

“You go places and everyone fawns over you like you’re a fucking Disney character incarnate. How do you – ugh, I don’t fucking know. Use your personality to make people like you?”

“Use my –“ Kirishima blinked, blinked again. “This is nothing new, but, uh, I don’t think I know what’s going on. Do you not use your personality to make people li – okay, no, nevermind, forget I asked. I mean, I just be myself? And be nice.”

“That sounds like a fuckload of work.”

“It really doesn’t.”

“So, what? Just be nice – that’s it?”

“Maybe just start there. Why are you asking, anyway?”

“Can’t I just make conversation?” Katsuki snapped, his attention fixed out the window, ignoring the press of Kirishima’s gaze against the side of his face.

“Okay,” Kirishima said, gentle enough to have Katsuki’s hackles rising. “If you wanna talk about it, I’m here.”

“Of course you’re fucking here!” Katsuki said, losing his shit enough to have Kirishima laughing as he mock-cowered against his car door. “I’m stuck with you in this godforsaken car!”

At the very least, Kirishima’s laughter distracted him for a while.

 

Be nice.

Katsuki grimaced as he wrapped his orange scarf around his nose and mouth, squinting as a gust of snow flung into his face. Trudging down the street, wrapped in layers, Katsuki navigated the packed holiday crowd, toward the hole in the wall bookshop he’d discovered just a week ago.

When he opened the door and stepped in, the wind slammed it shut behind him, bringing in the cold with his entrance.

“Holy –“

Katsuki leaned back against the door and inhaled sharply, then once more, filling his lungs, refusing to exhale as that evergreen and sunlight shower scent battered his senses like an incoming storm. A shudder trailed down his spine, weakening his knees like no scent had ever come near, not even close. Never had Katsuki been so utterly consumed, so shaken by an Omega. Releasing a slow breath, Katsuki opened his eyes and –

“Hi.” Midoriya said, his head cocked a little, eyes narrowed not in aggression but curiosity, like Katsuki were a strange animal at the zoo. He held a stack of books with identical spines. “You’re back.”

“You’re surprised?”

“I don’t know,” Midoriya said, his mouth in a soft pout akin to a thoughtful frown.

Today he’d dressed in a striking black and red plaid, flannel shirt. His forearms were exposed once more, and Katsuki couldn’t help lingering on the scars up the single arm, the large hand. The top button of his shirt was open, his clavicle freckled and smooth, his shoulders now remarkably wider and thicker than when drowned in an oversized sweater. His jeans were tucked into roughened, steel-toed work boots. He looked like he’d just stepped out of the woods.

Katsuki wanted to devour him.

“Maybe I thought you were just one of those Alphas who get excitable over the first available Omega they see that day.”

Katsuki clenched his teeth.

“Do I look like the type?”

“Yes,” Midoriya said, his grin distracting as much as it was goading and obnoxious. He turned and headed into the maze of shelves.

Are you available?” Katsuki said, trailing behind as he unraveled his scarf and shoved it into the pocket of his parka. He followed that scent as if it were a curled, beckoning finger beneath his nose. Warmth nestled low in his gut.

Midoriya huffed a short laugh.

“What?”

“You said, the first available Omega. Are you available?”

“Who knows?” Midoriya said with a sigh, turning to face a shelf. He promptly side on the ground, cross-legged, and began to finagle the books into the relatively small slot.

“I’m not asking because I respect that,” Katsuki said, serious, as he dropped to a squat and balanced back on his heels. “I’m asking to know if there’s some asshole I need to fight.”

“Do you even know if I’m gay?” Midoriya said, turning his head to stare at Katsuki with a frank, clear expression. He was so utterly guileless, so without apparent dishonesty.

“Does it matter?” Katsuki fired back. “You’re my destined mate or whatever it’s called. It’s not supposed to matter what we were or are before each other.”

“Did you read that in a book?” Midoriya said, his smile humorless and thin this time. He returned to his work, shoving books onto the shelves with increased aggression. His scent had soured, like bitter, unripe blackberries on a forest path. “Well, I’m not gay. And I know you couldn’t be my destined mate in a million years. So, thanks anyway.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“What part?” Midoriya said, not bothering to look at him.

“Any of it.”

“Well, that’s not my problem.” Midoriya finished shelving his books and sighed, pushing off his knees to a stand. He waited for Katsuki to follow suit, met his eyes with ones almost sad. Katsuki’s heart tugged. “This has been entertaining and all, but your time is wasted on me. I’m about as defective as an Omega can get, Mr. Zero. I’m not mate material.”

Katsuki scoffed.

“The fuck’re you talkin’ about?” He spun and followed Midoriya, who had swept past him toward the front of the store. “What’s defective about you? So you can’t smell. You look perfectly fine to me. Better than fine.”

“Wow,” Midoriya said with a laugh, whirling with his arms folded as he considered Katsuki from head to toe. “Perfectly fine, huh? I guess I’m flattered. I wish I could say the same for you.”

Hah?” The Alpha in him flared up, chest puffed out and preening for his mate. Katsuki flung off his coat and dropped it to the floor, the full span of his shoulders, his muscled arms, straining in the long-sleeved grey thermal he wore. “You think this doesn’t add up to fine? Not good enough for you?”

He stalked over, hands moving to cage Midoriya against the desk, much like before.

Midoriya’s eyes flashed, and just as quickly, a foot was slipping behind Katsuki’s heel, tripping him up and sending him toppling back against the endcap of a shelving unit. A scarred hand lashed out, wide palm slapping against the wood beside Katsuki’s ear.

Eyes wide, instantly hard, Katsuki gawked down at the deep, secret forest eyes, shrouded in anger. Midoriya smelled like a forest fire. Frustration crackled between them like a lightning storm waiting to strike. Katsuki knew he’d already been hit by it.

You,” Midoriya said, voice deeper. This was an Omega? Just what the fuck was he? “Don’t pull that Alpha shit in my store. On me or anyone else.”

“There’s only you,” Katsuki said, his chest heaving, his thighs quivering with the repressed urge to pounce, to claim. In this moment, he was thankful Midoriya couldn’t sense the lust steaming off him in thick, sticky plumes of musk.

Meeting Midoriya’s fierce gaze, Katsuki reached up, tentatively wrapped his fingers around Midoriya’s wrist. His scent gland.

“What’re you doing?” Midoriya said, his eyes widening a little, attention flicking between Katsuki’s face, and the thumb that rubbed slow circles over the thin skin of his wrist, releasing summer storm and damp soil scent. Midoriya’s eyelids went a little heavy, thick lashes fluttering as he seemed unable to look away from Katsuki’s ministrations. “What is…”

Katsuki had sunk into instinct, into the steps of calming his Omega, the beast inside of him needing to cool the forest fire that burned between them, to soothe. Releasing a shivering, uneven breath, Katsuki bared his wrist, slicked it across Midoriya’s.

A wave of relief swept over him, like oceans lapping at his soul. Calm, peace, inner silence fell like a soft, grey morning fog, smelled like damp early moments of muted dawn and grass clinging with dew.

Marked. They’d smell like each other for days. Midoriya would be safe from the Alphas – for a time.

Katsuki opened his eyes, unaware he’d closed them. Midoriya’s lids were shut too, his free hand no longer pinned to the shelf but, at some point, moving to cling to Katsuki’s collar, fingers bunched in the fabric. His rosy lips were softly parted, breathing shallow.

Midoriya opened his eyes, a softer, hazy green.

“What –“

“Yeah,” Katsuki said, his voice a deep croak of sound. He swallowed, wet his lips. Dropped his hand from Midoriya’s. “That was –“

“What the hell did you do to me?” Midoriya said, his words suddenly sharp, his hand slipping away from Katsuki's chest.

Katsuki blinked, smelled the confusion curling around him like wisps of smoke. Saw the way Midoriya’s eyebrows weighed down low.

“I don’t – I mean.” Katsuki shrugged, unable to find the words for pure instinct. “I just… I just did it. It felt right.”

“That doesn’t mean it was,” Midoriya said, his expression unreadable as he stepped back. “I should ban you here and now.”

“For what? Showing you what I already know?” Katsuki’s laugh was harsh and hard. “You’re mine, Midoriya Izuku. Whether you accept it yet or not. I didn't peg you for a wimp.”

“As much as the whole stalker thing is absolutely charming and all,” Midoriya said, turning to pick up Katsuki’s coat and shoving it in his arms. “You can go now. Don’t come back.”

“Oiy, oiy!” Katsuki said, whirling around, snarling as Midoriya physically pushed and coaxed him backwards toward the door. “I didn’t even get to buy a book!”

“Read the first one twice, Alpha.”

With that, Katsuki was very literally forced out into the street, into the biting cold.

Midoriya stood on the other side of the glass door, fists on his hips, with a face like the apocalypse.

Katsuki was completely in love.

Chapter Text

“Get off me,” Izuku said with a low chuckle, smiling at the insistent weight upon his chest. A nuzzle against his jaw had his lashes fluttering as he pushed away the intrusive face with one hand and rubbed at his eyes with the other. “I’m up, I’m up. Breakfast?”

The three and a half foot, fifteen pound Maine Coon cat the color of beach sand and gold headbutted Izuku’s temple hard enough to ache and yeowled in his ear.

“Act like I starve you,” Izuku mumbled, rolling to sit at the edge of the bed, feet on the cold hardwood. Blue winter light cast long shadows, darker than it should have been at seven in the morning. A chill crept across the floor and up his legs, goading him to curl into the warm cradle of downy blankets and fleecy sheets for a day of nesting and resting.

Another headbutt akin to a toddler punching in him the back had Izuku groaning to a stand, ruffling his hair as he aimed a quelling look over his shoulder.  Natsume sat there, a king among cats, as large as a three year old and as fluffy and magnificent as a lion. However, his grumpy expression rarely changed. Especially as he stared up at Izuku, clearly waiting for his morning meal.

“Come on, then,” Izuku said with a sigh, padding from the bedroom on sleep-wobbled legs.

Scratching his hip through rumpled All Might boxers, Izuku yanked open the refrigerator door and set about plating up a massive meal of his own homemade cat chow. Once Natsume was devouring his feast with muffled grumbles and smacking lips, Izuku wrapped himself in a worn, faded robe of moss green, grabbed his phone, and sat upon a kitchen countertop to check messages as he waited for his kettle to boil.

Feet idly swinging, heels knocking back against cupboard cabinets, Izuku smiled to himself as he skimmed a 4am text. Only one person contacted him at that hour. He opened Hitoshi’s message.

Early lunch at 10:30? I’m coming off a night shift.

Izuku sent confirmation and set about his day in earnest. The wind was once more clawing and whipping at the window frames of his small, cozy apartment, and so he bundled and layered up in his usual pieces. A long-sleeved thermal in deep, brick red and an oversized, chunky knit cardigan in shades of warm, mellow grays. Black jeans, ripped at the knees from years of wear, with red thermal leggings beneath for extra warmth. Izuku did not enjoy being cold. His double layer of socks told that story.

Turning on the radio for Natsume, Izuku collected his things, his worn leather side satchel, his hiking boots, and outerwear.

“Food,” he mumbled to himself, already forgetting to eat again by the time he’d buttoned himself into his coat, hat, and scarf. He always kept a stash of protein drinks in the tiny back room fridge at the shop, anyway.

“Shit, pills,” Izuku said as he locked the door of his apartment. Heaving a sigh, he let himself back in, ignoring Natsume’s moans and groans at him for falling out of schedule. Making a beeline for a kitchen cupboard, he cracked open the tops of his suppression and depression meds, popped them in the mouth, and swallowed them dry.

Not that one of them made much a difference. The guess as to which would be easy for anyone who met him even once.

Saying a final goodbye to real and only Alpha in his life, Izuku shut the door on Natsume’s displeased face and braved the cold.

The sour, acrid taste of the suppressant stuck chalky and dry on Izuku’s tongue, and he hated every minute of every day of it. They barely made a difference anyway. He’d been to doctors all over the place after he’d presented. His scent, so instant and volatile, had been a cause for concern among his school and his family.

Turned out, Izuku’s affliction was rare. Extremely so. Heterozygous alpha.  In a nutshell, Izuku’s genes had held both the possibility of Alpha or Omega. Due to a birth defect, he prominently carried both genes. Only one could win, and in this instance, the Omega had been the victor. Had the Alpha prevailed, he'd have been heterozygous omega.

However, the side effects of such a disability included an overpowering scent from the glands that formed to accommodate a more aggressive, pungent sent of an Alpha, the musculature and agility of an Alpha, and, well, an Alpha’s disposition on many accounts. Aggression included.

Izuku had wished he’d never known. As a sixteen year old who’d missed out on being a hero, missed out on the profession he’d desperately dreamed of for a lifetime, finding out that he could have – should have – presented as an Alpha had crushed him. Utterly.

And so, the Omega suppression pills barely worked, and the Alpha ones certainly next to nothing. Dead End.

Izuku stared out the bus window, watching hundreds of people mill about their mornings in the slush and snow. Overcast skies bled into gray buildings which bled into gray sidewalks. He missed color, vibrancy, vitality.

Red eyes and the devil’s grin peeking over a bright orange scarf snapped into view, sparked in his chest.

Izuku huffed and promptly set that on a high shelf. What an absolutely self-important, classic Alpha.

Someone sat beside him, a man in his periphery in his early forties, handsome and graying at the temples. Izuku didn’t have to smell him to know he reeked of Alpha. Lacking the ability to sniff out others’ presentations had only made Izuku more keenly aware to their habits, dispositions, and expressions. All three gave them away, more often than not.

Izuku was about to spread his own knees since the guy next to him seemed to feel like he could open his legs to encompass two seats instead of one, when the man inhaled sharply, his shoulders going stiff.

Frowning, Izuku slowly looked over and up, meeting eyes that were a little wide and a nose scrunched in distaste. The grown man whimpered – just once, quick and short, and cut-off early as he abruptly stood and found a spot at the back of the bus.

Izuku faced forward his seat, puzzled. He stared at the back of a stranger’s head as he ripped at the chapped skin of his bottom lip, lost in thought.

Such a scene had occurred seven times in the last three days. Two Alphas had even straight-up apologized for standing next to him. No one had hit on him at all. In three days. That had to be a record within the last ten years of his entire life.

Izuku opened up shop at precisely nine, downed a protein drink without any joy or taste for it, and put on some coffee in anticipation of Hitoshi’s later arrival. Sipping from his own mug behind the cashier counter, Izuku began his lazy morning. The shop made fairly good business. Located just a block from a train station, travelers were always popping in on their walk to the tracks, grabbing a book or magazine to flip through as they sped off to distant towns.

Izuku liked it. This peaceful existence. Never would he imagine he’d have ended up here, owning his own bookstore in a busy area of town and enjoying every single day – but here he was. So far from the life of a Pro Hero.

He owed it all to Mr. Yagi. The tall, emaciated gentleman who had intercepted Izuku’s disaster life on more than one occasion in the past. The man who had passed this place on to him, and him alone. 

“Ding dong,” said a lazy drawl.

Izuku peered up from a book he’d been rereading, already grinning as he watched Hitoshi unravel from a white scarf that circled around him three times over. An inordinately long scarf. Hitoshi's smile was wide and welcoming, his eyes as dark and shadowed as ever. His wild mane of hair was tamed into a hat with a puffball atop.

“How was work?” Izuku said, coming around the counter for a short hug and slap on the back.

“It was – woah.” Hitoshi took a step in retreat, his brows knitted as he scanned Izuku up and down. “You alright? You stink.”

“Stink?” Izuku glanced at himself. “Like what?”

“Like aggression and bro pheromones.”

Izuku locked eyes with Hitoshi, his heart a dull thud in his ears.

“I smell like Alpha?”

“You smell like you’ve been purposefully marked by an Alpha, is what you smell like.” Hitoshi cocked his head, the edges of his smirk returning. “You get laid?”

“No, I didn’t get laid,” Izuku said, grimacing. “Who in the world would I be sleeping –“

“Whoever stank you up, I’d say.” Hitoshi raised an eyebrow and leaned in once more, his nose hovering at Izuku’s neck. He sniffed delicately then coughed like he’d inhaled too much smoke. He waved Izuku off and leaned back against the countertop, lounging his elbows upon them. “Don’t you remember, y’know, when you could smell? Two kids in high school presenting, and dating, and the next day they’d smell like each other and no one would wanna go near them?”

“I know what marking is,” Izuku snapped, aggravated with himself and with Bakugou fucking Katsuki, current bane of his existence. “I’ll break his nose for real this time.”

“Whose nose?” Hitoshi said, snorting a short laugh, no doubt at his best friend’s expense. “Who did this to you? Whoever it was, I wanna shake their hand. I bet you’ve had Alphas cowering from you left and right the past couple of days.”

“How do you know it’s been a couple of days?” Izuku said, now pacing the center of the store, big black boots scraping the over-treaded carpeting.

“It’s a little distant now. Can’t smell it so much when you’re five feet away as when I’m right next to you. However many days ago you saw the person, and let them do fuck knows what to you, the Alphas were probably diving into nearby bushes. You smell scary, Izuku.”

Izuku scrubbed his hands over his face, biting back an instinctive growl. He tamped down the lightning storm that crackled and flashed in his chest, ready to snap and burn.

“I’m gonna kill him.”

“As much as I love the whole mystery surrounding this, because – let’s face it – your life is about as exciting as a game of backgammon at the old folks’ home these days, let’s spit it out. Who did you let touch you long enough to mark you?”

“That guy,” Izuku said, dropping his head into his hands, his voice muffled in shame against his palms. “You know. The stalker.”

“The –“ Hitsoshi’s laugh was raspy and full of delight. “The stalker? The stalker. Oh my god, the –“

“Alright, alright.” Izuku whimpered, his shoulders folding in a rare display of distress as he approached and dropped his forehead to Hitoshi’s shoulder. Broken Omega or not, there were times when the comfort of another person akin to packmate was all the savage soul required.

Hitoshi sighed and patted Izuku’s back in steady, soothing rhythm.

“He didn’t… hurt you, or anything, right?”

“You think I’m that weak?”

“You know I don’t. You remember how we met.”

“Couldn’t forget.”

“So, I know you're not weak. I’m just wondering how you went from ranting about the obnoxious Alpha barging into your store to letting him mark you a week later. You had to have known what he was doing.”

“I – hm.” Izuku didn’t move, his eyes shut, lost in thought, harking back to what Bakugou had brought out in him. “I guess I knew, on some level. But there was just something that he – there was a way about him and I don’t know how to explain it. Like I couldn’t move or think, couldn’t –“

“I hate to pause the trip down memory lane,” Hitoshi said, placing both slim hands on Izuku’s shoulders and bringing him back a step so Izuku could look up at him. “But I’m just gonna stop you right there. You know you were reacting to him as an Omega does an Alpha, right? I mean, you fucked with Alphas in university. I remember.”

“I – I mean,” Izuku paused, pouting in thought. “I did but I never – I never felt like that with any Alpha. I mean, I couldn’t smell them. We just had sex because I was physically attracted to them and they were – I don’t know how attracted they were to me, rather than my scent. But I personally didn’t feel what I… felt. With him.”

Hitoshi considered him for a moment, his bruises beneath his eyes highlighting the pale purple shade of his irises with eerie intensity.

“Then I guess your body might know something you don’t.”

“That’s bullsh-“

A snarl rose up like thunder, Hitoshi bashed in from the left. He toppled into a spinning shelf of novels and was back on his feet in seconds with a face ominous as the reaper.

Izuku blinked owlishly against a hard, heaving chest of muscle and bone, two arms encasing him close. Against his ear, a crescendo of growls mounted, more animal than human. Izuku couldn’t move, his arms pinned to his sides as he gawked at Hitoshi from his prone spot against a body he recognized a little too well for having only met him twice.

When Hitoshi grinned, Izuku’s stomach dropped.

Oh no. This was the whole reason he hadn’t used the stalker’s name.

Bakugou?” Hitoshi said, folding his arms as he rocked back on his heels, considering the two of them. “You’re the stalker?”

Izuku tilted his head, his hair brushing Bakugou’s chin as he inwardly startled at the vision of Bakugou’s teeth bared, a feral growl still coming, low now. His pointed canines glinted, his pupils were pinpricks surrounded by blood.

Once more, Izuku didn’t have to smell him to know he was saying, Mine mine mine.

“Wow,” Hitoshi said, wandering a lazy circle around the two of them, his smile only growing. “Is it okay if I take a picture? This is – I mean, I never thought I’d see the day. This is the shit of legends. No one would ever believe me.” Hitoshi held up his hands in peace, his gaze notably and smartly averted. Eye contact would be a Bad Idea right now, and if there was anyone more calm and collected in a tense situation than Hitoshi, Izuku had yet to meet them. “Not that I would. Tell anyone.”

Bakugou’s response was to bring one hand from Izuku’s back to bury in his curls, shoving his face further against his chest as a threatening, thunderous warning rolled up mindlessly from his throat.

“Hey,” Izuku said, wiggling, looking for room in the iron hold. “Hey, stop that right now! Stop. Bakugou!”

Bakugou’s frame twitched, his growl cut off like a switch.  Eyes narrowed, attention never leaving Hitoshi’s slightly ducked head, the grip around Izuku began to loosen. Bakugou buried his nose in Izuku’s hair before he could escape, inhaling deep and slow. His shoulders slumped, rounded out with a sense of calm that somehow flooded Izuku’s body with warm licks of fireside comfort.

Opening his eyes without realizing they’d closed, it dawned on Izuku that Bakugou had stroked and smoothed his throat across Izuku’s, over the pulsing gland that ached like a second heartbeat upon his neck

With a gasp, Izuku stumbled back, then again, until he bumped in Hitoshi. Familiar, comforting hands lightly held his biceps, steadying.

“It’s fine,” Hitoshi said lowly, as they watched Bakugou look at Izuku like he’d been smacked in the face. He hadn’t yet spoken a single word. Izuku had never really seen the animal take over in Alpha up close. Not like this – not when he was involved. “You released a scent of distress and he calmed you both with his own. Nature being nature.”

“Nature doesn’t mean he can barge in here and – and – and – “

Midoriya,” Bakugou said finally, his voice a ravaged husk from overuse. He was still dressed in his winter jacket, a sheen of sweat across his forehead, his hat and scarf strewn on the floor. “I’m – why is he here?”

“That’s none of your business,” Izuku snapped, his face hot as he folded his arms across his chest.

“I’m his friend,” Hitoshi said easily. “You know about those, right? I hear you still have a few back from 1-A.”

“You don’t get to touch him,” was Bakugou’s only reply, stalking forward with a finger pointed.

“Watch it, Explodo Boy,” Hitoshi said, taking a step in front of Izuku. “You know I’m Omega, and you know I’ve been bonded with Shouto for near five years now. Your aggression isn’t just misplaced. You look like a brainless Alpha who thinks with his dick. And I can tell you right now that this guy?” Hitoshi jerked a thumb to the side. “He’s seen all that before and he’s not impressed. Ever.”

Bakugou’s face twisted up in a vicious smile that had nothing to do with humor and everything to do with the kill.

“You don’t know me, Shinsou. Haven’t for a good long time.”

“I know everyone better than they think,” Hitoshi said with a sigh and shrug, like it was a great weight to carry.

Bakugou scoffed.

“Well I –“

Excuse me,” Izuku said, his voice dripping with venom as he marched forward, hooked his arm in Bakugou’s and yanked him away. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Wh-“

“That wasn’t a question, Alpha.”

“I’ll just wait here, then!” Hitoshi called, laughing in the distance as Izuku dragged Bakugou to the back of the store and urged him into the break room.

“You insufferable asshole!” Izuku said, pushing Bakugou’s chest hard, livid. “Are you out of your mind? Just what do you think you –“

Oiy, oiy,” Bakugou said, catching Izuku’s wrists, his face screwed up in a frown, his brow wrinkled deep. “Calm down.”

Izuku’s eyes flashed. He streaked into action, gripping Bakugou’s wrist at the right angle, shifting his compact body to throw Bakugou off balance, and spinning him around until Bakugou’s arm was locked behind his back in an instant.

Five foot five or not, Izuku pressed his weight against Bakugou’s back, ignoring the curses that spewed from Bakugou’s mouth as his cheek was smashed against the wall.

“Move now, and your arm will snap,” Izuku said, his voice shaking. “But you already know that, Mr. Zero.”

“Fuck, you’re strong,” Bakugou said, his voice strained. It was either Izuku’s imagination, or Bakugou had arched his ass back against Izuku’s crotch.

Regardless.

Izuku took a breath, calmed the roiling storm that threatened within.

“Now let me make this clear. Come at me or my friends again, animal instinct or not, and I’ll make sure you’re probated from Pro-Hero work for as long my charge against you will let me. Got that? Alpha or not, you don’t throw your weight around in here. Nobody does that but me.”

There was a pause, Bakugou unmoving against Izuku’s body, his breathing still irregular and irritated by the rise and fall of his shoulders.

“Yeah. Alright.”

Izuku gritted his teeth, nearly every instinct in his body telling him not to let this Alpha off so easy. Except for the instinct in his heart, the heart Hitoshi had always claimed was too soft on any and all people who came into his life.

With a sigh, Izuku released Bakugou and took a cautionary step back, his gaze wary when Bakugou turned and met his eyes.

“Also,” Izuku said, earning another disgruntled expression from Bakugou. “Don’t mark me without my permission.”

“Does that mean you’ll eventually give me permission?” Bakugou said, his arms folded across his chest, his eyebrows climbing toward his hairline expectantly.

“I –“ Izuku sputtered, eyes huge and bewildered. “What? No. No! What?”

“You’ll change your mind,” Bakugou said, taking a step forward, his head ducked slightly, almost – what? Passive? Never. “You feel it, too. I smelled it on you.”

“I’m pretty sure what you smelled was your own arrogance. Alphas get that confused a lot.”

“Midoriya.”

What?” Izuku snapped, his fists on his hips, his equilibrium entirely off kilter by this bizarre conversation.

Another step forward and Bakugou was too close, his nostrils flaring, his cheeks flushing as his fiery gaze dragged over Izuku’s tense figure.

“I came here to bring you lunch, y’know. Before I saw that asshole with his hands on you. I hate that guy.”

“I’m sure he’s not a huge fan of you, either,” Izuku said dryly. He cocked his head. “You brought me lunch?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Bakugou said with a shrug, his frown exhibiting his own confusion about the situation. “I can’t stop cooking. I’ve been cooking for three days. My friend, he – he said it was some instinct or whatever. To, uh, provide for you. Or something.”

“That’s… nice,” Izuku said carefully, taking a single step in retreat. His back bumped against the office door. He met Bakugou’s gaze plainly. “But I can’t eat that. I don’t even know you. What if you poisoned it? Or you’re secretly a murderer who drugs the food of your latest victim and waits until they collapse so you can bring them back to –“

“You think way too much, buddy,” Bakugou said, a flash of his white grin cutting across his devastating features.

Izuku huffed.

“I’m just careful. Like I said, Pro-Hero or not. Classmate of my best friend or not. I don’t know you.”

“So, get to know me,” Bakugou said, advancing two steps. So close. Stalking his prey with hungry, blood red eyes and a wicked grin. “Go on a date with me.”

“Ohhh no,” Izuku said, sputtering a laugh as he waved his hands in front of him. “That would – no. That’s never happening.”

“You want to, though,” Bakugou said, his voice dropping an octave as he hunched his shoulders to lean in, looming. His nose grazed the line of Izuku’s jaw. “Don’t you. Izuku.”

“I –“ Izuku swallowed, a hand coming up to rest upon Bakugou’s chest, to push him away. He did not push. Bakugou’s heart was like a warrior drum in full attack against his palm. “I don’t want to.”

“I don’t believe you,” Bakugou murmured.

I don’t either.

“I have a book for you,” Izuku said quietly, his gaze lowering.

Bakugou paused and stood straighter, his voice almost, maybe, excited.

“A book? Give it to me.”

“C-come on,” Izuku said, demanding of himself that he shake off the effect Bakugou had on him.

Once more, a feeling he’d never experienced with another Alpha. Nothing that seeped into his bones like curling in front of a warm fire, wrapped in a thick blanket.

Izuku could feel Bakugou trailing behind him. His presence, his attitude, his desire.

Pausing at a shelf, Izuku plucked a thin paperback and held it out with a sober expression. Bakugou took it, their fingers brushing like a flicker of fire against Izuku’s skin.

Kokoro?” Bakugou said, his smile wide and too charming for his brutish nature. “Are you giving me your heart?”

“Nice try,” Izuku said dryly, though his chest constricted. “You need to read this if you ever want to, y’know…”

“Fuck you?”

Izuku gawked.

“Go on a date with me!” Izuku yanked at the book in Bakugou’s hands, his face gone up in flame. “You know what? Forget I ever –“

Bakugou held onto the book tightly, using the force of Izuku’s grasp to pull him in until their faces were close.

“Thank you,” Bakugou said softly, his breath soft and warm upon Izuku’s lips. “For this. And the date you’ll eventually give me.”

Izuku swallowed, pressing his lips tightly together so that he might not fall into the magnetism of the man before him, caught in the shadows of hundreds of book with their hundreds of fairy tale romances. Izuku had read them all. Didn’t mean he believed in them. Or this.

“Let’s just –“ Izuku released the book and spun on his heel. “Let’s just ring you up so you can go, already.”

“Pushy.”

“Says you.”

“Hey, boys,” Hitoshi said, having sat himself atop the counter as he flipped through a bicycling magazine. He eyed Izuku once, and when he received a nod of okay, relaxed his smile on Bakugou as he slid down to his feet. “This was such a fun day.”

“I hate you,” Bakugou said dismally, making a point not to touch Hitoshi as he swerved out of his way and took out his wallet.

“You miss me,” Hitoshi said, giving Bakugou’s back a solid thwack. “We should have lunch together.”

“It’s not you I want lunch with,” Bakugou said, his voice taut and barely repressed as he paid for his purchase and Izuku kept quiet, listening.

“Wow,” Hitoshi said, in awe as he peered between Izuku and Bakugou. “You must feel so awkward right now. I don’t think you ever even looked at a anyone in high school, and here you are basically professing your –“

“I’ll shear off your hair and shove it down your throat,” Bakugou said, turning on his heel with his bagged book. He looked over his shoulder, and when his eyes pierced Izuku’s, Izuku had to swallow a gasp at their intensity. “Sunday. You, me, lunch, this book.”

“Uh.”

Bakugou headed for the door, gesturing to a large paper bag left at the entryway.

“Eat that. It’s for you. Shinsou, don’t touch it or I’ll know and I’ll kill you. Bye.”

The door shut with a frigid gust and they both stood their silently, like they’d just witnessed the destruction of the entire bookstore.

“So,” Hitoshi said, turning to Izuku with a smirk. “Let’s eat all that food.”

Chapter Text

 “My Alpha.”

Warm, soothing voice, panting damp at Katsuki’s ear. Unrushed hands, calloused and scarred, skimming his shoulders, scraping blunt nails down his back as that compact powerhouse body lowered upon his lap, taking his aching cock in full, squeezing tight, unrelenting.

Arms clinging around each other, embracing in a sweat slick hold, their entwined scent like a forest fire raging, burning, consuming. Finally, finally, Katsuki could graze his teeth over that fragrant junction of neck, drown in it, frantically rub this throat over it, over that beautiful face, marking, claiming every span of freckle-scattered skin.

“Stay,” Katsuki managed, his cock throbbing to breed as that hot, taut body slowly, idly worked up and down. Like they had all the time in the world. Like they had the world. “Stay.”

Thick, muscular thighs wrapped and clenched around Katsuki’s waist, a welcome weight, sinking his dick deeper, razing all thoughts to ash.

That sinful mouth was at his ear still, a scrap of tongue lapping at his throat, tasting his smoky scent, savoring him as their hips rocked together, barely parted.

“Fill me, my Alpha,” the voice crooned, both soft and steel at once, both heady and anchoring. “Please.”

Katsuki’s eyes shot open with a gasp, his body mid-arch, his boxers warm and sticky.

Breathing shallow, quick, and shock, Katsuki gaped at ceiling, cast deep blue in early morning shadow. He didn’t know how long he laid there, but his lips were dry from not having closed his mouth in quite some time, and when he got up to shuck away his boxers, the mess he wiped from himself was cool.

This was getting pathetic.

No, Katsuki had passed pathetic the moment he’d practically – literally – begged for Midoriya’s name.

Naked, Katsuki wandered to the kitchen, a scowl already marring his mouth.

Filling his kettle to boil and preparing a mug of matcha with practiced movements, guided by years of habit, Katsuki flicked on the morning news and listened in with one ear while he scrolled through his phone.

“-nother Alpha attack on an Omega in the early morning hours this Sunday morning.”

With a sigh, Katsuki tossed his phone aside and folded his arms across his chest as he meandered toward the television, intent on the screen.

“This is the fourth attack by the same assumed culprit. Reports say that, once more, the Alpha approached the Omega from behind, ripped out her neck glands with his teeth. When the Omega was lying prone upon the ground, the assailant chewed on the wrist glands until damaged, and left for the victim for dead. Thankfully, the Omega survived. A recent update on the previous victims confirm that the second Omega has since passed from their wounds. This has been –“

The electric kettle boiled over with a pop and Katsuki turned on his heel to pour his tea.

Fucking Alphas, he thought as stirred his tea and was reminded of someone’s green eyes. Ninety percent of manslaughter, domestic abuse, and aggravated assault crimes stemmed directly from Alphas. The remaining percentage was nearly all Betas with an extremely rare smattering of Omegas.

Sipping his scalding tea and enjoying the aggressive burn on his tongue, Katsuki wandered into his bedroom and opened his closet to peer inside.

A flash of Midoriya’s fierce expression just before he’d wrenched Katsuki’s arm behind his back and slammed him up against the wall. The authority in his relatively unassuming, almost sweet-toned voice.

Katsuki’s future mate was indeed an extremely rare Omega.

He was a complete fucking badass.

Who happened to want to kick Katsuki’s ass from here to Sunday.

Today just happened to be Sunday.

Peering over the rim of his mug as he drank, Katsuki eyed his clothes. What did a person wear to a date? Katsuki could take down twenty-five men on his own, but what the fuck pants did a person put on when they needed to impress someone who actively disliked them?

Since their last encounter, Katsuki had bit the bullet and done some proper research. He was a smart guy, smarter than most, so why the thought hadn’t occurred to him until recently was beyond him. His only explanation was the way Midoriya made him feel.

Like Midoriya was the sun and Katsuki couldn’t escape his gravity since he’d walked into that damn bookshop. He blinded and brought Katsuki to his knees, made his instincts rise up his throat and speak for him, act and think for him.

Did everyone feel this way after meeting a potential mate? Katsuki had never paid attention. If anything, he’d found it distasteful, obnoxious, and a very clear waste of time.

How many times had Kirishima failed a test simply because he’d been too busy mooning over Mina in class? How many times had they gotten detention after being caught in a goddamn broom closet?

Now what? Katsuki felt like a teenager. Worse than a teenager, because he was a grown-ass twenty-five year old Alpha male at the top of his game as a hero, known throughout the literal world for his triumphs –

And here he was, mooning over a guy who smelled like deep, dark woods and old parchment scrawled with secrets. A guy who appeared not merely uninterested, but actively distasteful of Alphas.

Yanking out a pair of casual, black khakis and a soft, almost violet-grey crewneck sweater with quieter grey dress shirt beneath, Katsuki tossed them on the bed and walked out. He was early – way too early.  Having only Sundays off during the week, his daily regimen bled over to his free day and he found himself waking at six in the morning, regardless of duty.

With a sigh, Katsuki dropped onto his couch, comfortably nude as he stretched his legs out down the length and grabbed his phone once more. Tea in hand, he flicked open the recent article he’d been reading on the science behind bonding.

Previous to this line of research, his main concern had been: Why Am I Suddenly Acting Like Such A Tool?

Mina might have laughed and pointed out that Katsuki had needed to read an article like that ten years ago.

But this was different. Katsuki had no intention of changing. What he wanted to know was why he felt so out of control when he was around Midoriya. Why the tenuous grasp upon his feral desires was so slippery, writhing to be free, to latch onto Midoriya and refuse to let go. Why he couldn’t stop cooking. Why he instinctively growled at pathetic, shitty Alphas who might approach him on the street. Why he’d had to fight back to urge to eviscerate his own former classmate, a fucking Omega and bonded at that, for just having his hands on Midoriya’s arms.

Midoriya was right. They didn’t really know each other.

That didn’t make Midoriya any less his, though. Of this, Katsuki had been sure, the minute he’d been overwhelmed by that scent, entranced, enraptured so wholly.
If only Midoriya felt it, too.

For the record, there were no search results for: How Do I Make A Guy Like Me When He Can’t Smell How Awesome I Am?

This date would make a difference. Midoriya would see what Katsuki was like. Strong, brave, cool, a top hero, smart as hell, desired by all. He was the ideal fucking Alpha, wasn’t he? Even the magazines said so.

If Katsuki could just pull Midoriya out of that bookshop, he would see. He’d see how well they could match, and what a catch Katsuki was.

Speaking of the date, Katsuki had never given a time to meet. Or anything, for that matter. He’d been pissed off and desperate – the former he was used to, the latter an entirely unfamiliar emotion – and he’d just screamed the first thing to come to mind. He knew Midoriya would be there, though, working.

In fact, he seemed to be the only person who worked there. Did he ever have a day off?

He seemed like the workaholic type. Serious, studious, undoubtedly intelligent.

So how did a person become a bookworm stuck in the body of, to Katsuki’s impression, a miniature Alpha? The lightning cracks in those expressive eyes were anything but meek.

Curiosities clinging to the frowning corners of Katsuki’s mouth, he headed for the shower. He’d take his time getting ready, and would show up when he showed up.

After he’d dressed and decided there was never and could never be a thing done with his hair, Katsuki switched out his chunky parka for a black peacoat. Tugging taut, black leather gloves over his crooked, broken five-times-over fingers, Katsuki glanced at the slim book sitting upon his kitchen table. He shoved it in the back pocket of his khakis.

Wrapping his orange scarf around his nose and mouth as he took the stairs down from his apartment, Katsuki slipped on his sunglasses before he stepped out and found himself appropriately hidden from the public. Winter always benefitted him on that level, at least. It was easier to cover his face.

Being loved by the people of his city was great and all, but it had gotten old, fast. The glory and recognition had always been a driving force in Katsuki’s life, but what had always mattered most was winning the war. Emerging victorious. Racking up a record like no hero before him.

Past or present, there was no one else like him on his planet. Everybody told him so. The facts told him so.

Brisk air bit at his cheeks, but wasn’t as harsh as previous weeks. The sun shone, reflecting like sharp shards of glass against snow drifts. Shouldering through the cluttered Sunday crowd, Katsuki scanned faces, expressions, what people held in their hands. Tuned in to passing conversation. It wasn’t just his heightened senses at work, but the hero in him never off-duty. His ‘day off’ had stopped being a day off by the time he was eighteen.

The trip from his apartment to Parchment, the simply named, hole-in-the-wall bookstore near a bustling train station, took a good half an hour. Katsuki’s muscles warmed from the walk, his hands growing familiarly damp as he peeled off his gloves and shoved them in his pockets.

Pulling a monogrammed handkerchief of ultra-absorbent material from his coat, Katsuki wiped the nitroglycerin from his hands and crumpled it away. The last thing he needed was to put his sweaty, flammable palms on a paperback and accidentally burst the entire shop into flames.

Katsuki didn’t know shit about dudes or dating, but he had a fucking clue that wouldn’t go over well.

The buzz from Katsuki’s pants had his teeth baring as he yanked the phone out, swerving between obnoxious shoppers. Katsuki’s snarl dropped to a frown as he opened Sero’s text.

Are you seriously going on a date today?

Katsuki considered demanding who the hell spilled the beans, but he recognized a worthless line of questioning when he saw one. Kirishima had jumped onto the counter with joy when he’d pried the information of him. He’d hugged Katsuki longer than comfortable. There had been tears. One-sided tears. Then, more tears after Katsuki aimed a right jab to Kirishima’s ribs.

Then, unavoidably, the news would travel from Kirishima to Mina, Mina to Denki, and Denki to Sero. Hell, if the information had reached Denki, then half a dozen other people probably already knew. Mouthy little fucker.

Before Katsuki could pointedly not reply to such an intrusive question, another text popped up, followed by more.

Let me give you some advice.

I don’t know this girl, or if she’s Omega, Beta. Either way, when you walk into that room, she’s more important than you. Remember that the whole time, and you’ll be fine.

I pray you’ll be fine, anyway.

Also, make sure she’s not a gold digger.

Fuming, Katsuki stood in the center of the sidewalk, bumped left and right as he extinguished the urge to set his phone ablaze. He’d lost too many phones that way.

Promptly ignoring the messages, Katsuki skulked down the street, his mostly masked face and black ensemble opening a path for him as he stomped on with a vengeance.

No one fucking knew him. Not really. Not even his best friends. He wasn’t complaining, but it was the truth all the same. Hell, they didn’t even know he was gay.

Katsuki preferred it that way. He kept himself to himself. If people didn’t know him, they couldn’t involve him in their drama, nor could they cause drama in his life.

Unraveling his scarf to reveal a scowl, Katsuki slipped through the front door, sliding his sunglasses atop his head. A sweet and sour mingle of mixed scents hung heavy in the air, cloying and nauseating as Katsuki wrinkled his nose and stepped inside. He eyed the multiple adults idly wandering the store.

Customers, Katsuki thought bitterly. He’d only ever come on weekdays at random hours. A weekend, just before noon, looked like prime opportunity for the swarm of Omega and Beta nerds to clog the aisles of Midoriya’s shop.

Speaking of.

Katsuki inclined his chin, nostrils flaring. His lashes fluttered as the familiar wave of pine and drenched earth both soothed his body and invigorated the beast within. His throat rumbled softly, quickly cut off and subdued.

Choosing an aisle at random, Katsuki unbuttoned the length of his coat as he meandered between tall book cases. A scatter of giggles drew him in to the very back of the store, opening up to a bright and cheerful children’s area he’d been too preoccupied to previously notice.

Katsuki’s lungs expanded and paused, his chest full as he lagged back behind a few scattered parents.

Midoriya sat, cross-legged, cheeks rosy he held a large book upon his lap. He read slowly, his enunciation both clear and emphatic, a storyteller’s voice. A half-moon of toddlers and small children sat before him, engrossed in every word spoken in that sweet, smooth rise and fall.

“Know when to speak,” Midoriya said, staring pointedly at a boy with very red hair. The boy’s gap-toothed smile was shameless. “Know when to listen. No matter how you look at it, there’s so much to discover.”

Expression neutral, intent upon Midoriya’s face, Katsuki leaned his back against the endcap of a shelf and folded his arms. Up until this point, he’d hadn’t been given – or given himself – the opportunity to study Midoriya in his natural habitat, relaxed and quietly confident.

“If you make a wrong turn, circle back,” Midoriya said, and the children hung onto his words with eyes that swallowed the book whole, with the dozen little fish painted inside. “If something gets in your way, move around it. Set aside some quiet time to relax and reflect. Every day.”

Inexplicably lulled, Katsuki watched Midoriya’s full, soft mouth move, conjuring kindness and courage into the world, these kids, and maybe even the parents around. This was the same man with scarred hands, crooked fingers like Katsuki’s own, arms like steel beneath brushed cotton and thick wool and worn-out flannel. Deep doe eyes, and the wolf lurking in the lush, green underbrush.

Where did Midoriya come from? Everyone knew everything about Katsuki – everything that he wanted them to know, anyway. The public knew his life story, had watched it unfurl from his days as an outstanding but volatile, unpredictable First Year, up until this point, some ten years later.

He wasn’t a stupid fifteen year old. But the twenty-five year old version of himself felt a little more than lost when he came up against Midoriya Izuku, and that wasn’t just frustrating – it pissed him off.

Where did Midoriya come from? How had he become what he was?

The book in Katsuki’s back pocket burned a hole. He’d be told to read it – why? To learn about Midoriya? Katsuki couldn’t see how.

Some young man, lost and lonely without knowing it, looking to an older man who was just as lost, but better at hiding it. The both of them wandering through life like blind idiots, one of them knowing they hadn’t found a place for themselves – the other totally unaware and living in a dream world where he assumed his life was just fine.

What did that say about Midoriya? Was he the young man? He didn’t seem like it. Didn’t seem ignorant or blind to a damn thing, except the way he should be feeling about Katsuki. He didn’t have a fucking clue.

And here was motherfucking Ground Zero, top of his game, desired by thousands as a mate – and he was standing in some tiny, poorly lit bookshop, obsessing over a mysteriously aggressive, unbearably intelligent, gentle-hearted, anxious Omega with an arm lock like a pro hero. And he had absolutely no interest in Katsuki.

So why continue to pursue him?

The beast within him pawed at his ribcage, whimpering a little as Midoriya finished up the book.

“There’s only one you in this great big world, she said.” Midoriya paused, his gaze calm and kind upon the kids. “Make it a better place.”

Katsuki gritted his teeth as the children clambered to their feet and assaulted Midoriya with chatter.

How could Katsuki not pursue him? That intoxicating scent had told him everything his instincts had needed to know. Every minute in Midoriya’s presence cemented what his body already understood.

Getting to his feet, Midoriya brushed off the back of his green corduroy pants and straightened the hem of his plain grey flannel shirt. The sleeves were rolled to his elbows once more, showcasing a wild array of freckles and scars scattering the contoured plains.

Tugging a hand through his mass of hair, Midoriya looked up and they locked eyes, forest to fire. Paused for a half second, vividly startled, then recovered fast enough to have Katsuki bristling, and turned away. Katsuki opened his mouth to speak, but Midoriya kept his head bowed as he brushed past without making physical contact, aiming for the front of the store.

“Oiy,” Katsuki said, low, not wanting to draw attention in a tiny store where his face would undoubtedly be recognized by at least one person. With that in mind, he dropped his sunglasses down, fast on Midoriya’s heels. “Oiy, what’re you –“

Why are you here?” Midoriya said, swiftly turning. He blinked up, scrunching his face in confusion. “Why are you wearing sunglasses indoors?”

“The fuck’re you talkin’ about?” Katsuki said, hunching, leaning in with a harsh whisper. Midoriya’s scent curled around him like cool mist, enticing him like a man dying of thirst. He swallowed hard against the saliva that pooled upon his tongue. “We have a date.”

Uh.” Midoriya’s eyebrows shot up as he took a step back. “I-I – no. We don’t? That is, you –“

“Last time I saw you,” Katsuki said between his teeth, his eyes falling to rest at the scent gland peeking from the open collar of Midoriya’s flannel. “Last time I saw you I told you we were going on a date today.”

Midoriya stared for a second, his serious brows low until he sputtered a laugh and took another step in retreat, wiping at one eye with the back of his hand.

“You really are all the same.”

Taken aback by everything happening in his entire life at this point, Katsuki straightened sharply, a low rumble deep in his throat.

“I’m not like anybody. You’d see that if –“

“I didn’t agree to any date with you, Mr Zero,” Midoriya said in a deceptively soft tone, folding his arms across his body, his chin jutting forth as he eyes went deep and daring. “You ordered a date, and I’m not a person who takes orders from Alphas. I’m sure there’s someone in this very store who would just love to take my place today, so why don’t I just –“

Horror dawned on Katsuki.

“Don’t you fuckin’ da–“

With a stubborn set of jaw, Midoriya strode away to the front door of the shop, raising his voice above the murmurs of adults and children shopping.

“Excuse me, everybody! We have as surprise guest in our humble shop today. Mr Ground Zero is here! Please grab a recent copy of My Hero Magazine up at the front of the store and get your autograph and picture with our greatest pro hero!”

The entire store went up in a frenzy of chatter.

From across the shop, Katsuki flicked Midoriya off with both hands and pocketed them as Midoriya’s mouth curved in triumph. Was this payback?

Apparently Midoriya Izuku was a spiteful little Omega, too. He had balls.

“Come on now,” Midoriya said, clearly biting back a smile as he crooked a finger. “Don’t get nervous on us, Mr Ground Zero. Everyone just wants an autograph.”

“I’m not nervous,” Katsuki said, raising his voice as he lurched down the aisle, hunched, hands in his coat pockets as he looked from side to side where people were gathering in excitable groups, pulling out their phones and ravaging the magazine stacks. He flashed a heated look Midoriya’s way and kept his tone soft, shaking with barely reined control. “I’m pissed the fuck off. You owe me, short stack.”

“Says every Alpha ever,” Midoriya said under his breath. He clapped his hands once, putting on a bright smile that hadn’t once been aimed at Katsuki himself. “Let’s form an orderly line, shall we?”

Sheer hell followed in the next hour.

People texted their nearby friends. Kids – while nice enough and Katsuki didn’t have it in him to snap – were literally climbing him like a tree, and everyone wanted more than just one photo. Eventually, thankfully, Midoriya called out he’d be closing for a short lunch and that Mr Ground Zero – it sounded so fucking condescending coming from Midoriya’s mouth – had hero business to attend to for the rest of the day.

The click of the lock on the front door had Katsuki breathing a sigh of relief.

“You’re a sneaky fucker, know that, Omega?”

Midoriya sighed and rounded the cashier counter, sat upon the stool, and pillowed his head upon his arms, his eyes falling shut. His voice was low and exhausted.

“And you’re an entitled, cocky, fire-for-brains Alpha. What else is new? You can go whenever. Thank you for all of your hard work.”

“Like hell I’m leavin’ after all that,” Katsuki said as he approached and leaned his palms upon the counter, scowling at the back of Midoriya’s curly head. His fingers ached to touch, to test the texture and weight of that hair in his fist. “What’s wrong with you, anyway?”

Midoriya propped his cheek upon his open hand and peered up at Katsuki with shadows beneath his eyes.

“You know, all this time I thought pro heroes had to pass some kind of etiquette classes in order to graduate school. You’re managing to dissuade every preconception I’ve had up until now.”

“Fuck off, I’m charming as hell,” Katsuki said, his face twisted up with insult as he leaned further against the counter to go head to head.  Midoriya didn’t even blink. “You, on the other hand.”

I am an innocent bookshop owner minding his own business. You are a person who would cause someone to worry for their safety if they weren’t me.”

Katsuki sputtered, gawking. Where the hell to even begin with this guy?

“First of all, I am the epitome of your goddamn safety. Second, why don’t you out and tell me just who you are, then? Huh?” Katsuki leaned in further, the rising, thickening scent of Midoriya’s stormy aggravation filling his senses. “Huh? I’m here, aren’t I? I’m telling you I fuckin’ want you, aren’t I?”

“You are utterly unbelievable!” Midoriya said, pushing off the counter, his cheeks flushed, his eyes flashing with fury. He came around the register, full steam toward Katsuki. “You stormed in here just, what, two weeks ago? You forced your Alpha ideals onto me, marking me, talking to me like you know me when you don’t know the first,” a finger jammed against Katsuki’s chest, “damn,” a hard poke, “thing about me.”

“Watch your mou-“

You should be watching your mouth with me,” Midoriya said, perfect teeth bared, startlingly pointed canines nothing like any Omega should have. A low thunder wracked through Midoriya’s heaving chest, a growl no one would dare aim Katsuki’s way unless they were looking for a fight. “I don’t believe in destined mates. I don’t believe in the romance novels on these shelves. I don’t believe an Omega should have to submit to an Alpha when they’re made of the same flesh and blood and heart, and I don’t believe you could ever find a place in my life, unless it’s your face on a magazine page that I use to line my cat’s litter box.”

“You think you’re so fuckin’ smart, don’tcha, little Omega?” Katsuki managed between gritted teeth, the inside of his cheek tasting of copper, his face burning hot. “And yet you haven’t noticed that I have no goddamn idea what I’m doing with you, have you?”

Swollen pupils swamped in green scattered over Katsuki’s features, Midoriya’s lips faintly parted.

“What –“

“I don’t give a flying fuck about romance,” Katsuki said, his fists tight his sides, knuckles as strained as his voice as he attempted to bank the flames that dared to flare up. “Never have and still don’t. Never wanted another person and sure as fuck never wanted to waste my time winning over some asshole who didn’t already know I’m as good a mate as anyone could get.”

“Oh boy,” Midoriya muttered, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands.

“I’ve never believed in that romance novel shit. Certainly never wanted some Omega hangin’ onto my ankle like a ball and chain, stoppin’ me from the important shit I gotta do with my life. Then –“

“So?” Midoriya said, folding his arms over his chest once more. Protecting himself? From what? Midoriya’s closed-mouthed smile was soft, his eyes a dark, haunting moss. “So why don’t you just – just leave me alone? We both don’t want the same things. We’re a non-match made in heaven.”

“You interrupted me,” Katsuki said, advancing a step, the Alpha inside keening to caress throat to throat, to inhale a scent no longer tinged sour and rotten with anxiety and sadness. “I never believed or wanted any of that. Until I smelled you.”

Still hugging himself, Midoriya’s fingertips dug into his arms, creasing the soft grey fabric of his shirt. His freckles were stark on his pale cheeks.

“Love at first scent doesn’t exist, Mr Zero. You don’t love me, and I certainly don’t love you. I – frankly, I don’t know how we’re having this conversation. You’re no different to me from a stranger on a street.”

Katsuki took another step forward, a fire burning in his eyes that threatened to burn Midoriya’s defenses down with every match he had left.

“I don’t know anything about the whole love thing. But I know I want you.” Katsuki reached out, hand pausing just shy of brushing Midoriya’s strong jaw line. His voice went husky, deep. “Need you. I know you could need me too, scent or not.”

Midoriya remained still, embracing himself, gaze flicking to Katsuki’s hand and back to his face with a frown.

“No matter how full one's head might be with the image of greatness, one was useless, I found out, unless one was a worthy man first.” Midoriya reached up, seemingly careful not to brush Katsuki’s wrist as he placed his hand atop Katsuki’s and pushed it down and away. “Does that sound familiar to you?”

Kokoro,” Katsuki said, dropping his hand to his side, nails digging sharp crescents into his closed palm.

Midoriya cocked his head, his eyes narrowed. His small smile was a little more genuine, a little more relaxed.

“You’re either good at guessing or good at studying.”

“I graduated top of my class, you nerd.”

“Says the nerd,” Midoriya said, surveying Katsuki from head to toe, a shimmer of amusement skimming his expression.

Katsuki huffed a sharp breath through his nose.

“I was never a nerd. I’m gifted.”

“Just goes to show you don’t really become a finer person just by reading lots of books.”

“Stop quoting that fucking book at me!” Katsuki snapped, looking on suspiciously as Midoriya snorted a short laugh and hefted himself upon the counter to sit, his legs idly kicking. His face looked clearer, maybe more at ease since they’d managed to scream and threaten each other.

“Just checking if you’d actually read it.”

“I read it twice, like you damn well know you told me.”

Hm.” Midoriya stared at Katsuki for a long moment.

What?” Katsuki snapped. “You wanna fuckin’ fight about it because, mate or not, we can have a damn go at it.”

“Oh yeah?” Midoriya said, pursing his lips in thought as he considered Katsuki’s balled fists and twisted scowl. “Sorry, Mr Zero, but I don’t do that anymore.”

“Do what?”

“Fight.”

“Why?” Katsuki shook his head, negating his question. “Why did you fight in the first place?”

Midoriya aimed one of those endless, considering looks Katsuki’s way once more.

“You’re twenty-five, right?"

“So?”

“So, me too. We could have been in UA together. Wouldn’t that have been strange? I’d have probably idolized you – the way I was before. Young and stupid.”

Katsuki studied those big, sad eyes that Midoriya probably thought didn’t look sad at all. His feelings were written there, Katsuki was beginning to learn. In the damp, heavy scent of his sorrow and the way his gaze glistened.

“You applied for UA? What’s your Quirk?”

“Did you read the first book I gave you?”

Hah?” Katsuki shifted to Midoriya’s side, leaned one elbow upon the counter and inclined his chin to meet Midoriya’s studious expression. “The fuck’re you –“

All Quiet On The Western Front. Did you read it?”

“Yeah.” Half a dozen times.

“What did you think of it?”

“What part, exactly?”

Midoriya crossed one leg over his knee, toward Katsuki, the toe of his booted foot fidgeting lightly as he leaned his palms back on the counter and looked to the ceiling in thought.

“What did you think about war’s effect on the soldiers too young for it? How death affected them until they were just hollow little boys who just wanted to go home instead of waiting to die?”

Lips tugged downward in thought, Katsuki’s gaze followed the lines of Midoriya’s profile.

“I guess I thought that I’m pretty fuckin’ lucky I love what I do and I’m doing what I’m meant to.”

Midoriya looked over, met Katsuki’s eyes.

“That’s not the kind of answer I was expecting.”

“Yeah, well, don’t think you know me either, nerd.”

Midoriya’s lips curved.

“Maybe. So you didn’t feel anything when Paul Bäumer said: We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.”

A shiver cast a cold slick across Katsuki’s arms.

“If you’re trying to relate that to pro heroes, you’re doin’ it wrong. We don’t run from shit. We don’t fear. S’not part of our job.”

Midoriya looked into him like he could see Katsuki’s soul, all big, earnest eyes searching for truth and honesty.

“You don’t think pro heroes aren’t children of war in their own way? That learning how to become death machines from age fifteen – and having that be their goal from the age of five – damages their ability to be a child with peace of mind from a very young age? What was your childhood, Mr Zero? Did you have one? How many bones had you broken in your body before you’d even presented as Alpha?”

“You ask a lotta questions for someone who ain’t no hero,” Katsuki snapped, his hackles rising.

“You seem pretty threatened by a book about the psychological devastation of war on young soldiers for someone who is apparently entirely unaffected by murdering people multiple times a year.”

“We don’t set out to murder anybody,” Katsuki said, cracking his head and neck from side to side in aggravation, his shoulders stiff. He pushed off the counter and to his feet, pacing away until he whirled around, hands upon his hips, eyes bright and hot. “You’re obnoxious as hell. Fuck. I’m – I’m leaving now. If you’re not havin’ lunch with me then I’m –“

“Sorry,” Midoriya said, grinning now as he hopped to the ground and strained out his shirt. “I didn’t know a big strong Alpha like you would get so touchy about a subject that apparently has nothing to do with him.”

Just –“ Katsuki glowered, his shoulders slouching in unconscious, momentary submission as he shoved his hands in his pockets and dragged his feet to stand before Midoriya’s curious expression. “You got another book?”

“You want another?” Midoriya asked, his eyebrows bowing, his expression suddenly sweet and confused. “From me? You know that won’t end well for you, right?”

“I ain’t a lil’ bitch, short stack,” Katsuki said with a wide, toothy smirk. “You don’t scare me. Your pacifist propaganda don’t, either.”

“If you say so,” Midoriya said, throwing his hands up and turning on his heel.

Katsuki followed instinctively. For all the aggravation grating him the wrong way, he felt dared by Midoriya, excited and vibrating with it. He was pissed off and a little hard.

Fuck, Midoriya smelled good. Watching him walk away, the slim fit of his flannel shirt shifting around his hips, the way his pants clung almost a little too tight to thighs that had to be thick with muscle, if they were any reflection of that ass –

“Here.” Midoriya turned and held out another slim book. “Maybe this one will give you some insight.”

“Into what?” Katsuki said, turning the book in his hands. I Am A Cat, by Natsume Souseki. Same author as Koroko.

“You. Me. Humanity.”

“You think you sound deep, but it just makes me wanna bite your mouth ‘til you shut up.”

“Put your teeth anywhere near me and you’ll be missing some, Mr Zero.”

“Stop calling me that,” Katsuki snapped, clenching the book hard, clashing his gaze with Midoriya’s stubborn one. “Bakugou. Hell, Katsuki. Anything.”

“Anything, huh?” Midoriya said, scratching his jaw in thought. “I’d say as long as you’ve got all this reading to do, you’ll stay Mr Zero to me.”

“What, m’I your pet project or some shit now?”

“Are you going to keep stalking me?”

“It’s courting. Courting.”

“I’ve been courted and this is not courting. This is stalking and hoping your unconventional charm gets your foot in the door.”

“Has it?” Katsuki shifted, his hand skimming past Midoriya’s shoulder to grip the edge of a shelf. He loomed in, lashes lowering as he inhaled, long and slow. The heady, mouthwatering scent of Midoriya’s skin, his throat, had Katsuki near panting.

Midoriya’s chewed on his full bottom lip briefly, the faintest tilt of his head calling to Katsuki’s beast.

“No,” Midoriya said tightly, ducking beneath Katsuki’s outstretched arm and heading back to the register.

Patience,” Katsuki hissed, slamming his fist against the shelving. “Patience.”

He turned and strode after Midoriya.

“Fuck patience.”

Midoriya was already bagging Katsuki’s book.

“That’ll be –“

“Go on a date with me.”

“No,” Midoriya said, then rattled off the price.

Katsuki yanked out his wallet, fumbling for his card as he refused to back down, only glare daggers at the object of his obsession.

“Why the hell not? Have you met me?”

“That would be why I’m saying no.” Midoriya sighed and peered up. “Read the book, Mr Zero. I can’t give you a date, but maybe I give you some insight past the world you’ve let shape you into this person up until now.”

Oiy!” Katsuki slapped both palms upon the counter and leaned in close, his nostrils flaring, soaking up the flicker of excitement that lit up his gut when he saw Midoriya’s eyes widen, his pulse quicken at his throat. “I like who I am. I fuckin’ love who I am. Can you say the same shit about yourself?”

“You know,” Midoriya said, his jaw taut as he came around from the register and went to the front door. As he unlocked it, he spoke in quick, sharp bites. “The more I see you, the happier I am each time to see you go. Goodbye. Mr Zero,” Midoriya said, holding the door open expectantly.

“Sure. Whatever.”

Katsuki whirled and made for the door. He paused as he passed Midoriya, looked over his shoulder and down at him.

“Let me scent you. To keep the Alphas away.”

Midoriya’s eyes went wide.

“I’d rather fight off half a dozen Alphas a day than let people think I’m yours. Goodbye.”

Chapter Text

"Okay okay okay.” Cheeks red from beer, electric blonde bun in a frizzy mess atop his head, Denki slammed his emptied bottle on the table and made hazy eye contact with Katsuki across from him. “You’re drunk right?”

“I’ll fuckin’…” Katsuki aimed a narrowed look at Denki, waiting for his vision to clear. “Break that bottle over your head.”

“He’s drunk,” Mina said simply, sipping her sake as she gave Denki the side eye.

“M’not,” Katsuki mumbled, not sure if he was lying or not. He couldn’t be drunk, could he? Wait, he was. He definitely was. He was getting drunk because of that stubborn little shit.

“So now I can ask,” Denki said, leaning too far over the table, the long gold chain he wore dragging across the sticky, alcohol-spilled surface. “Your first date was a total flop, wasn’t it? You can tell us.”

Katsuki’s hand whipped out in quick fire, fisting the necklace and yanking Denki’s face forward, nose to nose.

“Changed my mind. I’ll shove this bottle up your ass and you can pray it don’t break.”

Eek.”

Sero’s hand patted Katsuki on the back firmly, then gripped his shoulder, easing him into his chair.

“I think it’s safe to say that it didn’t go well.”

“Didn’t go at all,” Katsuki said under his breath, signaling the waitress for another round. Thumping his elbow on the table and pillowing his cheek on his palm, he idly spun an empty beer bottle in circles, watched it go around and around while his head swam.

“Seriously, man?” Kirishima asked, frowning from Mina’s side. The coddling scent of his concern radiated off of him, easing the tension in Katsuki’s shoulders. “What did you do?”

“What did I do?” Katsuki said sharply, biting off every word as if too sour for his tongue. “That person is insufferable. Not only are they beyond stubborn and opinionated, but they think they know every goddamn thing about me before I can even open my mouth. Swear I can’t have a fuckin’ conversation with them without them starting a fight with me!”

“Sounds familiar,” Sero said with a shrug, then offered a smile to the waitress who brought four beers to the table. “Thanks.”

“Maybe you’re not right for each other,” Mina said casually, pouring herself more warm sake.

No,” Katsuki said a little too quickly, his fist slamming to the tabletop with a resounding boom.

Everyone at the table jumped in their seat a little, four sets of eyes on him at once.

“Fuck.” Katsuki dragged his hands through his hair, head heavy, thoughts dragging. “It’s not that. I know it isn’t.”

“You sure?” Mina said, pursing her lips in thought as she hovered her small cup before them. “This is the first person you’ve ever been interested in. Ever.”

“Ever,” Kirishima said emphatically.

Ever,” Sero and Denki said in tandem.

Katsuki didn’t have the energy or drive to knock everyone’s hollow heads together. He gave his beer a long swig. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he eyed his friends.

“Y’don’t think I know that? Doesn’t fuckin’ matter. The last thing I’ve ever wanted is the whole –“ With apparent disgust screwing up his face, Katsuki gestured flippantly between Kirishima and Mina. “That shit. It’s gross and annoying and a hindrance to our very professions.”

The offending party shared a long look.

“Gee, thanks,” Mina said, her lips curved in good humor as she pressed a kiss to her Omega’s temple.

Vom,” Katsuki said, finishing off his beer, straight-up chugging it down.

“So, what?” Sero said from beside him, nipping the beer from Katsuki’s hand and moving the remaining three bottles down the end of the table, out of his reach. “You don’t want to kiss this girl or do you?”

“I do and I’m pissed about it!” Katsuki snarled, “Obviously.”

“Must be some girl,” Denki said, pulling out his phone. “Listen, if you screw it up royally, mind giving me her number?”

Wordlessly, Katsuki grabbed Denki’s mobile and chucked it across the restaurant. Shrieking, Denki stumbled from the table and raced off in retrieval.

“Good dog,” Katsuki said, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands and groaning. “Shit. Why’m’I so fucked up over this? I’m all –“

“Horny?” Mina said.

“Confused?” Kirishima said.

“Hormonal?” Sero said.

“Like I want to lock him away in my house and murder anyone who goes near him,” Katsuki said darkly, standing to reach across the table for a far away beer.

Silence prevailed as Katsuki drank.

“Uh,” Sero said slowly. “I don’t even know where to start with that.”

“Well,” Mina said, “Besides the disturbing revelation that Bakugou is currently overflowing with Alpha-driven murder feels –“

“Are you gay?” Kirishima said, gawking. “Why didn’t you tell me, bro?”

What?” Katsuki said, unaware of what he’d said. He snarled, baring sharp canines, his fiery, acrid scent of aggression rising up. “Who told you that?”

Kirishima’s instinctive whimper and lowered chin were immediate. Hands slammed on the table as Mina reared up with a scent that burned Katsuki’s nostrils to the point of sobering him up a bit.

“Calm your ass down,” Mina said, her chin canted, their gazes clashing. “You’re embarrassing yourself.”

Katsuki blinked, the boil in his blood simmering as he slowly slumped to his seat.

“You’re gonna be so hung over in the morning,” Sero said, patting Katsuki on the back and giving no reaction when the latter snapped his teeth at his hand.

“M’not gay,” Katsuki said into the mouth of his bottle.

“You’re gay?” Denki said, returning to the table. “That makes so much sense.”

Mina groaned held her face in her hands.

“He’s apparently not gay,” Mina said from behind her palms. “Though it would be absolutely fine if he was.”

“I don’t care what you dimwits think,” Katsuki said with a sniff and a hooded, pensive expression. He peered down into his beer. “It’s nobody’s business.”

“True,” Sero said. He gently plucked the beer from Katsuki’s hand and set it aside. “It’s all cool. Maybe you could tell us a little about him.”

“We could help,” Kirishima said eagerly, practically wagging a tail. “We’re good at helping. Is he an Omega like me?”

“He’s Omega, but he’s not like you,” Katsuki said with a short bark of a laugh. Shoulders hunched, he dropped his elbows to the table, flicking a glance over his shoulder to make sure no one was listening. “He’s smart.”

“Hey!” Kirishima said.

“I mean really smart. Not smarter than me, but probably close.”

“Okay, that is smart,” Kirishima said with a hefty sigh.

“He owns a bookstore,” Katsuki said, like it was some kind of heinous crime by the way he scowled into the distance. “A fuckin’ bookworm, y’know? Can talk circles around me. Put me in one helluva arm lock, too.”

“Just how big is this guy?” Sero asked warily.

“Don’t tell me you’re into bears,” Mina said.

“An Omega put you into an arm lock?” Kirishima said, eyes huge.

“He’s fuckin’ strong, alright, assholes?” Katsuki said defensively. “And a fighter. Or he was, I think. He’s skilled – fast.”

“You sure he’s not a vigilante?” Sero asked. “He sounds suspicious.”

“Bakugou would never date anyone suspicious,” Mina said pointedly, smacking Denki’s phone from his hand when he became too busy texting. “He’s a good boy.”

“Fuck you,” Katsuki said with little heat.

“So,” Mina said, leaning across the table with a sly smile. “What’s this brawny Omega’s name?”

“Like hell I’m tellin’ you!” Katsuki said with an incredulous laugh. “You’d go through the criminal database straight away and find out everything you could about him. Visit his place of work to interrogate him and shit.”

Me?”

“You did do that with my last girlfriend,” Sero said with a shrug.

Katsuki pointed at Sero with the beer he resnatched, eyebrows raised in a told you so expression.

“Okay, okay.” Mina heaved a sigh and retreated back in her chair, leaning into Kirishima as he draped an arm over her shoulders. “Well, what does he look like?”

Captivating, soft, strong. Delicious.

Katsuki felt his cheeks heat.

“That’s an answer if I ever saw one,” Mina said with a warm smile. “We’ve never seen you like this, Bakugou. I almost thought you weren’t into the whole dating-mating dance.”

“I’m not,” Katsuki said, on automatic. “It’s just him. I don’t have a choice, y’know?”

Mina flicked a look to Kirishima, her lips quirked.

“I know.”

“Then what’re you doing wrong?” Denki said, his head cocked. “You’re like, the ideal Alpha male specimen.”

“I know!” Katsuki said, gesturing to himself.

Sero and Mina groaned.

“You should know something is awry with the situation when Denki and Bakugou agree on something,” Mina said into her drink.

“So,” Sero said, pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers. “You think –“

“Know.”

Know this guy is your mate. And he feels…”

“He doesn’t give a shit.”

Mina frowned and stole Kirishima’s beer, taking a short drink.

“He doesn’t smell the same thing?”

“He…” Katsuki grimaced and nabbed Denki’s beer from his hand. He chugged it down, cracking it back to the table. “He can’t smell.”

Anything?” Kirishima asked.

“Anything.”

“Nothing?” Kirishima said, scratching his jaw.

“I mean, I ain’t his fuckin’ doctor. I dunno the full extent of it, but pretty damn much.”

A moment of silence passed around the table in memoriam for Katsuki’s love life.

“I’m going to regret asking this,” Sero said, “but have you attempted to be an extremely nice and accommodating gentleman?”

“I’m a perfect gentleman, dickwad,” Katsuki said, flashing a hot red glare.

“God, yeah, totally,” Sero said, nodding, deadpan.

Kirishima chimed in from across the table, his cheeks pink from booze and the buzz of excitement.

“As the only Omega at this table, could I give some advice?”

“I’ll just get out my notebook and pen,” Katsuki said, but waved a hand to encourage Kirishima to continue.

“Give him space. Don’t touch him unless invited to, and make him feel super comfortable around you. Omegas want to feel safe, you know?”

“This one don’t need that,” Katsuki muttered. “Snarky little pacifist is a fuckin’ brick house.”

“And I’m indestructible,” Kirishima added with a shrug. “I still want to feel like my Alpha has my back and will make a safe space for me.”

Ugh.” Giving up, Katsuki laid his forehead upon the tacky wood surface, shut his eyes, and felt his world tilt and whirl. “What does that even entail on my end?”

“How about this,” Mina said. “Any time you’re about to open your mouth without thinking, shut it, count to three, and find a different way to say it. A nice way.”

“I am nice.”

“Let’s not have that conversation.”

“Oh!” Kirishima added, his face brightening. “And buy him something fluffy and cozy!”

“I’m not buying him a fuckin’ kitten!”

“A sweater!”

“A sweater?” Katsuki frowned. Midoriya did wear a lot of them. “He’d probably like that.”

“Great!”

“Okay,” Mina said, pointing at Katsuki with renewed vigor. “Tomorrow. Buy sweater, get it wrapped, deliver it quickly and calmly. Do not engage past: I’ve been and asshole, I’m sorry, here’s a present as apology.”

“I’m not saying that,” Katsuki said, his heart flat-lining at the very premise.

“You’re saying it.”

Their second Alpha stare-off of the night stretched out across the table.

Katsuki sighed.

“If this doesn’t work, you owe me.”

The conversation dwindled toward Sero and Denki’s own dating lives, and Katsuki was content to drink the glass of water placed in front of him as he sobered up and considered the next day.

When was the last time he’d ever apologized to a person? He couldn’t remember. He never had anything to be sorry about – that he was aware of, anyway.

In this case, it had quickly become evident that however Katsuki was being – no matter what his opinion of himself – Midoriya’s impression of him was less than favorable. All Katsuki could do was try another approach.

Gentler, apparently. Nicer.

Midoriya was going to bite his hand off at the wrist.

Katsuki was glad for the innumerable beers he’d poured down his gullet, because he passed out cold for the night and slept straight through his normal alarm. Despite working the night shift the incoming evening, he was more than a little perturbed at having woken later than his habit.

Dressing casually in baggy black jeans some random skull shirt of many, Katsuki tied tight his worn out hiking boots, shrugged into his ratty parka and braved the cold.

A thin layer of snow had carpeted the city overnight. Katsuki zipped his jacket to the top, the tip of his nose peeking from the collar as he slipped on sunglasses and headed toward the shopping district. Pausing at a store specifically for Omegas, Katsuki squinted through the window and fought back a reflexive gag.

So many pastels.  Fuck that shit.

Frowning, Katsuki stood in the center of the sidewalk, surveying the line of shops across the street.

What did Midoriya wear? Comfortable clothes. Old, nerdy university professor clothes.

Attention lingering on the nearby camping store, Katsuki considered Midoriya’s plaids, his boots so similar to ones he himself owned.

Twenty minutes later, Katsuki emerged from the shop, bag in hand. Bursting with pride for his choice, he loped with long legs down the street, toward the man who was making him do a dozen things he’d never imagined possible.

Katsuki salivated at the mere thought of seeing Midoriya again – smelling him. Talking to him. Although the talking inevitably led to his downfall. But he was on a mission this time, and if there was one thing he was good at, it was sticking to a mission.

Approaching the attractive window display of Parchment, Katsuki took a calming breath, his heart alight, aching for the soothing balm of Midoriya’s voice, his scent. Even as he walked through the front door, he wasn’t disappointed.

Midoriya was everywhere. A waterfall, fresh and bright, pouring sunshine and spring showers down upon him, flooding his senses, refreshing his soul.

Would he ever grow used the way this made him feel? Would he ever get better at managing it, rather than just standing at the entryway like a fool?

Inhaling deep, Katsuki glanced around the front of the shop, noting its emptiness. A radio played distantly, toward the back, something acoustic, warm, and delicate. Taking silent steps, Katsuki passed each aisle until he found Midoriya at the furthest.

Katsuki bit back a groan as he watched Midoriya stretch to his tiptoes, reaching for the highest shelf with a book, the outrageous curve of his ass straining against clinging khaki pants. Another thick, cable knit sweater dwarfed his body in deep navy, but Midoriya’s efforts exposed a trim waist and tucked in white shirt.

Unconsciously, Katsuki chewed his bottom lip and shifted to knock his temple none-too-gently against the edge of a shelving unit.

Why did he have to be the only one suffering here, dammit?

Without a word, Katsuki approached Midoriya from behind. Careful not to brush his body up against Midoriya’s back, he reached out, nipped the book from Midoriya’s scarred hand, and slotted it in place.

Whipping around with large eyes like deep green lakes, Midoriya released a shaky breath, his palm coming up to calm his heart.

“You surprised me. I’m shocked at your ability to be that stealth.”

Katsuki raised an eyebrow and took a purposeful step back.

“It’s my job,” he said simply.

Midoriya’s jittery gaze scattered over Katsuki’s form, lingered on the bag in hand.

“S-so it is. Uh. Can I help you with something?”

“Did I scare you?” Katsuki said, tilting his head with a frown. “Sorry.”

Saying sorry was good, right?

Midoriya’s eyes flashed, a quick crack of lightning.

“You don’t scare me. What do you need, Mr Zero?”

“Oh, um, well.” Katsuki thrust the bag forth without fanfare, causing Midoriya to take a step back. “That’s for you. Because I’m an asshole and sorry about it.”

“I…” Midoriya flicked a furrowed gaze between the bag and Katsuki, like either of them might bite. “Thank you, but uh. I can’t take that. Thank you, really.”

“Well,” Katsuki said, locking eyes with a stubborn set to his jaw. “If you don’t want it, then chuck it in the trash. I got it for you as an apology, so you can take it or leave it.”

Midoriya aimed a narrow look his way, his attention dropping to the still-presented bag.

"Are you really this enamored with my scent?"

"What?" Katsuki said, taken aback. "Sure, I mean, at first. Not now. You're not what I thought I'd like until I realized I like who you are. Or, whatever the hell I know of you."

Midoriya studied him, eyes scanning as if reading a difficult book. 

“I’ll just. I’ll look at it.”

“Great, fine,” Katsuki said sharply, totally unaccustomed to a scene like this. Who the fuck turned away presents? Well, Katsuki did, but that wasn’t the point.

Gingerly, Midoriya took the bag, their fingers not touching. Plush lips in a thoughtful pout, Midoriya rummaged through the crinkly wrapping paper and pulled out a plaid flannel in hues of deep burnt orange and muted, mellow rust. The lining of the shirt and inner sleeves were plush, cream fleece.

“I dunno if it’s too bright for you or whatever,” Katsuki said, “But I like orange. More people should wear orange.”

“I like orange,” Midoriya said hollowly, holding the shirt out, the bag having toppled to the floor. His expression was blank, unreadable, his eyes wide. “This is too much, though. All I’ve done is give you a hard time.”

“Only because I am, uh, how I am,” Katsuki said, skimming his gaze over the bookshelves instead of Midoriya. “Anyway. Like I said, trash it or whatever the fuck. I don’t care. I gotta – I’m gonna go.”

Katsuki turned on his heel.

“It’s soft.”

Stopping dead in his tracks, Katsuki slowly looked over his shoulder. Midoriya stood there, eyelids heavy, almost drugged, as he caressed the fleece lining across his rosy cheek.

“Um,” Katsuki said smartly, clearing his throat. He felt hot. Was it hot in here? “Yeah. You like comfortable stuff, right?”

Mmm,” Midoriya said, practically a purr as his long, dark lashes fluttered. He turned his face into the shirt and breathed in deep.

Katsuki frowned. Without a doubt, Midoriya could not smell. Was it the shirt or the situation coaxing the blatant Omega nuzzling from him?

“I change my mind,” Katsuki said, licking his chapped lips as he watched Midoriya drowsy eyes opened, his scent rising up look cool, cloying fog. “Don’t throw that away, alright? Wear it.”

“’Kay,” Midoriya said simply, his voice husky and sweet, his cheek still snuggled into the flannel. “Bye, Mr Zero.”

“Walk away,” Katsuki said under his breath, already turning around so he didn’t ravage the Midoriya against the bookshelves like the beast clawing and drooling inside of him told him to. “Walk away.”

Days later, Katsuki was still shocked he’d managed to exit Parchment with both of them in one piece.

Chapter Text

Damn that man.

Face set in sober lines, Izuku busied himself with the meticulous placement and decoration of the storefront window display. Sunset dropped fiery curtains across the late December slush, casting lush pinks and gold across Izuku’s scarred hands and face as he worked. Calm had settled like new snowfall within the shop, but Izuku was anything but.

Damn that man.

With a groan, Izuku stood up, only to slouch against the side wall and knock his temple there, none too gently. Pinching the bridge of his nose and wishing away the dull ache that pulsed low in his gut, Izuku stomped down the weight of embarrassment having accumulated upon him over the past five days.

He’d acted a complete fool. Him, a grown man. A man trying to keep a bizarre, brazen ultra Alpha at bay. Had Bakugou scented Izuku’s encroaching heat and taken advantage, or had it been simple coincidence?

Either way, it had been several minutes past Bakugou’s exit before the thrall of soft, snuggly nesting instinct had cleared Izuku’s clouded mind. Puzzled and, admittedly, utterly floored, Izuku had stood there for who knew how long, frowning at the shirt in his hands, sifting through the brief conversation and the more reticent, controlled version of the human wildfire, Ground Zero.

The gift wasn’t necessarily what puzzled him most.

Izuku’s own reaction left him stumped.

With a sigh, Izuku left his work in favor of sitting on the stool behind the cash register and sipping lukewarm tea. Cupping both hands around the fading heat of the mug, Izuku peered over the rim, lost in thought.

Never in his life had he reacted to an Alpha’s presence in the way he had the other day – incoming heat or not.

Izuku had always assumed his condition had not only left him with Alpha tendencies, but some level of Alpha immunity to their hormones, their influence. He’d slept with a couple of Alphas in university, but through pure pleasure-seeking behavior – not out of some primal Omega need. Izuku simply, embarrassingly, found an Alpha’s demeanor and build more attractive. Or was that the Omega talking all along?

Izuku’s life was rather more complicated than he preferred.

With his sexual preferences and experiences in mind, Bakugou was a riddle. Izuku’s physical reaction to him was a mystery. For fuck’s sake, he’d instinctively inhaled the shirt, breathed it in as if his body were desperate to imbibe of whatever intoxicating scent with which Bakugou must be dripping.

It wasn’t as if Izuku liked Bakugou. That was definitely not why his body had wanted to curl into the fleecy fabric like it was home.

“Well,” Izuku said to the empty store as he set his cup down with an unnecessary crack. “Whatever. It’s just the heat. Probably a strong one. Oh!”

Izuku plucked his cell from his pocket and dialed. The phone rang once before it was answered in a clipped, clear tone.

“Hey,” Chisaki said, his voice even keel as ever. “Something wrong?”

“Why do you think something is wrong whenever I call you?” Izuku said, smiling.

“Call it a lingering habit from your teens.”

“Hey,” Izuku said a half laugh, “I haven’t gotten into a fight in over five years. What about you, huh? Five days?”

“The less you know, the better,” Chisaki said, but there was a low key humor humming beneath the words. What the vigilante did during his free time was indeed better left unknown. “What do you need?”

“Can you fill in for me soon? I don’t know when it’s coming, but it’ll be within the next couple of days. Are you free? If not, I can see if Inasa can get some time off wo-“

“As if I’d let that oaf take care of an entire business himself,” Chisaki said. “I’ll make time. Text me when I’m needed.”

“Thanks,” Izuku said, bringing his thumbnail to his teeth. “Hey.”

“What?”

“Please don’t start any fights while you’re working here.”

“I’m insulted you’d think I would.”

“Try to sound more genuinely insulted the next time you say that,” Izuku said, refraining from biting his nail as he curled the hand into a loose fist upon the counter. “Seriously, though. I have a… a regular customer who happens to pro. Don’t start something with him, Chisaki. He’s the type who’ll take you up on it.”

“Don’t get me so excited,” Chisaki said, his tone deceptively casual despite the tension quickening his speech that no one but his closest friends would notice. “Who’s the guy?”

“He might not even come,” Izuku said. “Forget I said anything.”

“I’m not going to let anything happen to your shop, Izuku,” Chisaki said with a put upon sigh. “I’m not a heathen.”

Izuku snorted a soft laugh through his nose.

“Yeah. Alright, I’ll text you in a couple of days.”

“Sure. One more thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Aren’t you early?”

“Early?”

“Your heat.”

Izuku frowned, mentally pulling up a calendar and scanning through the weeks. His schedule normally repeated every six weeks – less often than an average Omega, Izuku assumed, due to his faulty physical mechanics.

“Maybe a little. Yeah, a couple of weeks, actually. Weird.”

“Keep an eye on that,” Chisaki said.

“Okay, dad,” Izuku said softly, his lips curved.

“Disgusting. Hanging up now.”

Izuku couldn’t help but laugh as the dial tone sounded in his ear. Intentionally or not, his friends always managed to cheer him. Chisaki and Hitoshi more than most. The three of them had a history, deeply rooted in blood, sweat, and tears.

Handsome heroes with sharp sneers and soft gifts pushed aside, Izuku turned the music up within his little haven and hummed along as he finished his book display by the setting sun.

Some time later, deep winter evening having crept up and pressed its icy face against the windows of the shop, the door opened with a howling wind behind it.

“Oh,” Izuku said from the back of the store. He peeked his head out of the storage closet, unable to see the front of the building, and called out. “Hello, good evening! I’ll be up front shortly – please look around.”

Hearing a grunt of reply, Izuku popped back into storage and finished stacking a few heavy boxes of books. Wiping his dusty hands upon his corduroys, Izuku turned and gasped.

The punch flew with the same lingering habits to which Chisaki had referred.

Shit,” was all Bakugou managed before he evaded –

Too slow.

“Oh my god!” Izuku gawked, arms a dead weight at his sides as Bakugou clutched his jaw and gaped. “I’m so sorry, I –“

“You punched me.”

Izuku’s hands fluttered uselessly for a second and dropped again.

“I – I – crap. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I just clipped you a little, right? Here, let me –“ Izuku rushed into Bakugou’s space, gently holding Bakugou’s wrist to pull his hand back for a look.

“You punched me,” Bakugou said, hollow, eyes dark and fixed on Izuku.

“You should be used to that,” Izuku said softly, a soothing tone as he winced a little at the instantly forming, black shadows. “It’s – it’s not the worst. Come on, let’s get you an ice pack.”

Izuku kept a hold on Bakugou’s wrist, leading him back to the children’s area.

“How the hell did you get a punch in on me?” Bakugou said. Was that wonder in his voice or numb shock?

“I’m a little on edge today,” Izuku said, gesturing for Bakugou to sit back in a cheerful neon green beanbag chair. “I’ll be right back.”

“That’s a little on edge?” Bakugou said, still holding his bruised jaw as Izuku disappeared into the break room. “You a vigilante or somethin’? It ain’t ideal but we can make it work.”

“I’m so relieved to hear that,” Izuku said dryly as he returned with an ice pack wrapped in paper towel. He dropped to a crouch before Bakugou and held it out with a faint, muted smile. “Here. You shouldn’t sneak up on people, you know. You seem to have the habit.”

“You make it a habit of punching customers?” Bakugou said, accepting the pack and sliding a considering look to Izuku, who took a seat beside him in the other beanbag chair.

“Ones who soundlessly stand two feet behind me in an off limits room?” Izuku said, evenly meeting Bakugou’s gaze. “Yeah.”

“You’re a lot sweeter to everyone but me, y’know that, shortstack?” Bakugou slouched and slid down the bean bag until his long legs stretched forth, crossed at the ankle. Head pillowed in the beanbag, he angled his chin to look over and up at Izuku beside him with a raised, expectant eyebrow, ice pack pressed to his jaw.

“I can’t afford to be nice to you,” Izuku said, his face flushing as his attention trailed down the endless line of leg. The hot pull in his gut pooled lower, heavy and insistent between his thighs. “I don’t want – don’t want you getting the wrong idea.”

The beat of unusual silence had Izuku looked up quickly, meeting Bakugou’s now narrowed eyes.

“W-why are you looking at me like that?” Izuku said, the nape of his neck aflame, his hairline growing damp. He folded his arms across his chest, shifting in the chair, highly aware of the awkward crinkly noises the beanbag made beneath him. “You may keep coming here, but I’m not going to let you think it’ll make any difference in –“

You.” Bakugou’s nostrils flared, his pupils swelling, gaze lingering on the ache that had begin to pulse at Izuku’s throat some days ago. “You’re – right now.”

“I’m not,” Izuku said too quickly, snapping off the words like brittle bones as his eyes grew wide. Something like a dark shadow loomed over Bakugou’s demeanor, over the strong contours of his face. The harsh change in countenance startled Izuku, charged the blood in his veins to pump faster, his heart aflutter with – what, fear? No. “I’m not.”

Izuku didn’t know what it was, but his knees trembled with it, and the coiling heat between his legs curled tighter.

“Midoriya,” Bakugou said, the ice pack fallen to the floor as he slid from his seat.

“D-don’t – I – what’re you doing?” Izuku stood up, stumbling a little as Bakugou stood in tandem, neither of them touching, but close enough to feel each other’s breath on mouths and cheeks.

Stunned into stillness, Izuku could only pant, lips parted as Bakugou’s nose trailed the Izuku’s ridge of shoulder, right up to his throat, lingering at the delicate, blushing shell of his ear.

“Do you know,” Bakugou said, pausing to inhale the crook of neck and jaw, “how delicious you smell right now?”

Goosebumps scattered his arms. Izuku burned from head to toe, legs growing weak, flooded with warmth. Every logical part of him screamed as he bit off a whimper and subtly cocked his head, exposing himself prone.

What the hell was happening? This had never happened before – even in a heat!

“Never smelled anything like it,” Bakugou said, voice crumbled to gravel, his mouth just hovering above Izuku’s skin, untouched. “Like you. Barely know what the hell t’ do with you, but I know I wanna watch you and that smartass mouth moan for me.”

Bakugou,” Izuku released with a shuddering breath, tilting in, their chests bumping. “That’s – no. I-I don’t know you and –“

“You don’t know me?” Bakugou said with a snarl so sudden that Izuku jumped. Teeth bared right beside Izuku’s ear. “You don’t know me? Your body disagrees, doesn’t it? I just came in to see you after a long day at work. It was your scent begging for me on its knees.”

“My –“ Izuku swallowed hard and took a torturous step back. He regretted his decision immediately, because now he could properly see Bakugou. The predatory hunger in his eyes, the wide set of stiff shoulders beneath his chunky winter coat, the flushed lips and cheeks. For the first time in a long time, Izuku actively wished he could smell. This man probably emitted sin.

Izuku shook his head to clear it and held up a hand to keep Bakugou at bay, careful not to actually touch him.

“My body is a – is a construct of thousands of years of instinct and – and impulse.” Izuku’s palm came to cup the side of his throat, rubbing the heartbeat thumping in the swollen gland. “But my mind is my own, Mr Zero. And that’s stronger than any animal drive – always will be. I don’t know what my body knows about you, but it can’t be more important than my autonomy.”

Bakugou blinked, head cocked as he watched Izuku closely.

Izuku cleared his throat, shifting from foot to foot as he crossed his arms before him and looked away.

“This is, uh, admittedly awkward, but – well. It’s just nature, even for me. You’d do best to keep your distance.”

At the back of Izuku’s mind, he was actually more than a little impressed how Bakugou kept his distance. Izuku had sought out an Alpha or two for his heats back in his university days, and had come out worse for wear when they had let loose on him. Bakugou remained… remarkably still.

And, now that Izuku’s addled brain caught up, he realized Bakugou had yet to touch him. Close, but nothing.

The Omega within keened high and mournful. Izuku pointedly ignored it.

“Keep my distance,” Bakugou said carefully, with a stare like two burning brands. “How? You’re all I think about. And now you’re – “ He gestured with a flailing hand at Izuku’s everything. “And I can’t have you?”

Izuku’s hackles rose, eyes narrowed.

“Of course you can’t have me. I – do – not – know – you.”

Bakugou’s snarl erupted from the depths of his throat and, under normal circumstances, were Izuku in full control of his body, a fight would have kicked off then and there.

Instead, to Izuku’s horror, he whined, tripped forward, and ducked his head beneath Bakugou’s chin, nose frantically nuzzling the underside of his throat. Bakugou’s arms came around him in an equal rush, yanking him in closer, humming deep as he caressed his neck, his glands over Izuku’s head, the side of his face.

The moment lasted less than ten seconds.

With a raspy growl of his own, teeth bared in alarm and fear, Izuku pushed from Bakugou’s arms, sending Bakugou crashing into a bookshelf.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Izuku nearly screamed. “Who the hell do you think you are? Get out!”

ME?” Bakugou said, voice booming as he stomped back to jab a finger in Izuku’s face. “You did that, you delusional idiot! How full of yourself are you, hah? I didn’t lay a hand on you ‘til you jumped me and – and you scent marked me! Omegas aren’t even meant to do that shit. You were there for it, so don’t attack me for what your body is obviously telling you. If you want me, you can have me, for fucks sake!”

Izuku gawked.

Excuse me? I don’t want anything to do with you, you – you stalker! You think you’re god’s gift to Omegas? Here’s a newsflash, Mr Zero. You’re repulsive. The world is better off without you ever mating.”

“Well, same to you, defective Omega,” Bakugou snapped, chest heaving, face red. “You seem to like being alone. Now I see why it suits you.”

Izuku wetly sniffed back hot, angry tears, his hands fisted and aching at his sides as he remained still in their face to face standoff.

“Don’t ever come back here,” he said, throat torn up with emotion. “You were never welcome in the first place.”

Bakugou held Izuku’s stubborn gaze.

“Gladly,” he said, voice grave as he stood straight and turned around. Striding toward the door, he tossed over his shoulder, “Nice shirt, by the way,” and was then gone.

Izuku looked down at the incriminating burnt orange flannel and groaned.

Damn that man!”

Chapter Text

“He landed a punch on you?” Kirishima said from above, his stupid face upside down and gawking at Katsuki with awe as he kept his hands near to the weighted bar Katsuki lifted, prepared to spot him.

“That all you’re gettin’ outta this?” Katsuki snapped as he slowly brought the bar to his sweat-stained tank top. He pushed the lumbering weight up, hissing the word asshole on the way.

“I mean,” Kirishima said, cocking his head a little as he considered Katsuki’s increasing effort. “Kinda? What can I tell you, bro? Approaching your mate while they’re in heat is one thing. Approaching an unfamiliar and, from what you’ve told me, weirdly aggressive, Omega on the edge of heat while they’re in starter stages of anxiety and itchiness? Not the smartest thing you’ve ever done.”

“The smartest thing you’ve ever done is keep your mouth shut,” Katsuki said, his voice tapering off to another harsh breath as he continued his increasingly difficult number of reps. “Anyway,” he continued, breathing harder between each word. “He – came on – to me.”

“That’s his body talking, not him,” Kirishima said, his closed mouth smile apologetic and so fucking punchable.

That’s exactly what Midoriya had said.

“Fuck – you.” Katsuki huffed for air as he completed the set, Kirishima lightly lifting the bar away with barely a grunt, and setting it in place. Laying there, Katsuki blindly grappled at the side of the bench for his water bottle and guzzled it while he considered his friend’s face. “He pisses me the fuck off. I should clock him one, see how he likes it.”

“That – that’s not – I wouldn’t –“

“Now that sounds like my kinda plan,” said a familiar feminine voice on the approach. Katsuki was already rolling his eyes until Camie promptly shouldered Kirishima aside and placed her hands on her hips, leaning down until Katsuki's eyes were in line with smirking, pink-glossed lips. “Did I hear that right? Ground Zero interested in an Omega? I wouldn’t have pegged you for the weakling sort.”

Unaffected by Camie’s closeness – she’d been in his face for years – Katsuki raised a brow.

You’re an Omega. And the person I’m talking about isn’t weak.”

“Whatevs,” Camie said, standing at full height and tightening the messy bun atop her head. “You’re on the market for a strong Omega these days and you didn’t text me?”

“Must'a slipped my mind,” Katsuki said blandly, rebuffing the cloying come hither scent Camie swirled into the space between them. “And by slipped I mean, was never there in the first place.”

“Hella harsh,” Camie said, mouth quirked as she stepped aside for Kirishima to bring the bar back to Katsuki’s calloused palms. She pulled out her phone, scrolling through with a thumb garnished in Barbie pink nail polish as she spoke. “TBH, I didn’t hear anything about the guy except for face punching. I just wanted to give myself an entrance.”

Katsuki would have sighed had he not been busy with his repetitions. Count that as another asshat who knew he was gay. The more people who knew – friends or not – the closer the information got to the public. Sure as hell wouldn’t be the end of the world if it did, but the way his newly discovered romantic life was headed – if it could even be considered romantic at this point – the last thing he needed was unknown factors butting in to his progress.

Or lack thereof.

“What’s this Omega like, anyway?” Camie said, frowning down at her phone. “There’s plenty of dating sites where you can find someone better for you. Like, Hero’s Hideaway would at least pair you with an Omega who can handle themselves. Our kind have gotten so, like, complacent. You’d think we’d get better about it, but it’s like this ‘free to be me’ trend among the Omegas now which they’re just using as an excuse to find themselves an Alpha who’ll cater to them for life.”

“We’re not all like that,” Kirishima said, hefting the bar from Katsuki and setting it on the rack above Katsuki’s head once more. “You’re not, I’m not. Tamaki –“

“Point totes proven,” Camie said, aiming finger guns at Kirishima with a grin. “We are, like, heroes. Presentation barely comes into play. Everyone else? Mega thumbs down.”

“I’d rather barf in my own mouth and swallow it than join motherfuckin’ Hero’s Hideaway.”

Katsuki sat up from the bench, bunching the hem of his shirt to wipe his dripping brow.

He didn’t necessarily disagree with Camie. Never in his twenty-five years had it even occurred to him to find a mate, or a date, or – hell, someone to fuck in a rut. That kind of shit had always felt unnecessary to his existence, and a straight up inconvenience.

Knowing Midoriya now, Katsuki had to wonder how much of that lacking desire for a mate grew from how fucking dependent Omegas presented. They wanted the litter of kids, the home, the food and money brought to them. And while Katsuki had seen it work with plenty of mates in the course of his life – it had never looked appealing to him. As a hero, the last thing he needed were dependents.

But Midoriya wasn’t needy. He was fierce and clever and scrappy, with a heart too forgiving and soft and hurt from what Katsuki surmised were years of disappointment and hidden hardship.

Or were those his instincts talking?

Katsuki wasn’t stupid – and he certainly wasn’t blind to the fashion in which Midoriya’s scent intoxicated, beckoned, yanked at Katsuki’s leash. Around Midoriya, Katsuki was different. Because of Midoriya, Katsuki was different.

His body had been the first to fall for Midoriya. His mind was currently racing to match stride, make sense of it all. And his heart was ruthlessly dragged along the pavement behind him, not yet caught up with the ordeal.

A couple of months ago, Katsuki would have wholeheartedly agreed with Camie.

Now?

“Can’t compare every Omega to you,” Katsuki said easily as he stood and chugged his water. He swiped the back of his mouth and tossed the bottle to Kirishima as he smirked at Camie. “Some of them actually have taste. What the fuck is that on top of your head? You tryin’ to attract an Alpha or a fellow pineapple?”

Camie gaped, slapped Katsuki’s arm with the back of her hand.

“It’s a topknot, bitch! Shave your head.”

“I will if you do,” Katsuki said, striding away with Kirishima at his side. “We’re gonna go beat the shit outta each other.”

“Sparring,” Kirishima said quickly, chuckling nervously as he waved Camie’s way. “He means sparring.”

“Who said sparring? I got aggression to release.”

“You can try,” Kirishima said, excitement rising in his voice as he beamed at Katsuki.

“Call me when your Omega disappoints you!” Camie hollered, laughing brightly as she wandered toward the treadmills.

“Enjoy your D-list hero dating site!”

The distant swearing was enough of a victory for Katsuki.

“So, what’re you gonna do now?” Kirishima said as they meandered toward the sparring room. “You basically undid anything good you managed the other day.”

“Fuck you,” Katsuki said mildly, because he knew Kirishima wasn’t wrong. “He probably won’t even remember that shit happened. Heat fever and all.”

“Yeah, uh, it doesn’t work like that,” Kirishima said with genuine concern. “At all. You, um, you fucked up, man.”

Katsuki scoffed as they pushed through the double doors into a room that was rank with sweat and humidity. They made for the mixed martial arts octagon.

“Not everyone is as thick skinned as you are, you know?” Kirishima said gently, his hand falling to Katsuki’s damp back as they paused before the cage.

Katsuki spared a glance over his shoulder, brow arched.

He is.”

“Or he acts that way because it keeps him safe from guys like you.”

Katsuki opened his mouth in rebuttal, and when he found nothing emerging, clamped it shut. Without a word, he dropped to one knee and aggressively retied one of his shoes, his expression drawn and thoughtful.

Well, fuck.

He had a visit to make.

 

Four days was long enough to be banned, right? Midoriya couldn’t have been serious, right? No one banned Ground Zero from anywhere or anything.

Anyway, Katsuki was merely checking in. He could do that. He could do whatever he wanted.

And if he got to see Midoriya – and sate the anxious, pacing beast inside of him that stressed to know if he’d weathered his heat safely or not – well, that was an added benefit.

Tucking his chin into his bulky parka and navigating the evening crowd all atwitter with the current swirling snowfall, Katsuki trailed the now familiar path toward Parchment.

With a subtle, mournful sigh that fogged up out of his coat, Katsuki realized he no longer smelled of Midoriya’s heavy summer scent. The sticky damp which coated the skin before a torrential downpour, the sizzling ozone in the air, the dark, swollen clouds desperate to burst. Four nights ago, the scent, the taste of Midoriya had drenched Katsuki to the bone.

His mouth watered with recollection.

Maybe someone more experienced with relationships would have read the situation differently. He probably should have continued his mantra of ‘walk away’. And he definitely shouldn’t have called Midoriya a defective Omega when he was far from.

Well, that was all in the past. Kirishima was full of shit. Midoriya was probably over it by now.

But the way he’d tucked himself beneath Katsuki’s chin with that submissive whimper. The way he’d gone to his toes to slick the length of his throat along Katsuki’s, frantic and feral, rubbing his cheek, his curls over Katsuki’s neck in turn – fuck. That was…

Well, Katsuki had endured enough mating lessons in school to know that Omega’s simply did not scent mark relative strangers, incoming heat or not. In fact, Omegas were meant to offer their glands, not instigate the exchange.

How had Midoriya already become this inexplicable new planet in Katsuki’s solar system?

Shit – who the hell was he kidding? Midoriya drew him in like the sun.

He should have been more pissed about it than he was, but Katsuki had never been one to deny himself his more visceral emotions. And in the case of the moody bookworm with a punch like a lightning strike, Katsuki’s body had already decided how to feel before he’d even had a say. Katsuki was scrambling to play catch up with himself.

Ducking through entrance of Parchment, Katsuki shook off the chill he carried, brushing his sleeves to rid the thin cling of snowfall.

He was frowning before he finished looking up, eyes narrowed as he registered Midoriya’s scent as a distant, faded one.

“Welcome,” said a civil, entirely unwelcoming voice.

Katsuki slid a glance toward the man lounging behind the service counter with a popular anti-hero magazine flipped open.

Unflinching, assessing yellow cat eyes, outrageously long-lashed, met Katsuki’s gaze evenly. Closely cropped dark hair, pale, firm mouth, all sharp cheekbones, jaw and chin. Despite being indoors, he still wore a green parka, the fur hood draped back over and behind his shoulders. The Beta’s scent was nearly nonexistent, as it was with most of their kind. If anything, he smelled like the city. Cold, merciless concrete and cigarette smoke.

“The fuck’re you?” Katsuki said, his top lip curling in distaste.

“I work here,” the intruder said, one thin, disdainful eyebrow quirked. “And you don’t. So I can’t comprehend why you need to know who I am.”

“Bullshit.”

“Struggling to find why it’s bullshit, but okay.” The guy waved a slim hand, a shooing motion reserved for a king and his court. “Go find a coloring book or something. I –”

The speed with which the stranger stood from the stool and drilled Katsuki with a gilded glare would have startled a lesser man.

“Ground Zero.”

Katsuki mirrored the asshole’s expression, his teeth bared as he snapped off each word.

“You suddenly a fan?”

“Oh.” The man’s smile was like a scythe. “Let’s not flatter the undeserving.”

Katsuki felt sweat bead at his hairline, the fire in his gut rising with vitriol.

“Just who the fuck d’you think you are? Where’s Midoriya – he not back yet?”

“What does it matter to – oh.” The guy’s lips curved without humor. “You’re the one he meant.”

HAH?” Katsuki said, his heart flip-flopping to think Midoriya had mentioned him outside of their interactions. “What one? I’m what?”

“The kid’s not here,” said the stranger with a flippant, dismissive wave. With that, he returned to his spot atop the stool and pointedly flipped the page of his magazine, haughty angles of his face set in cool control. “And I’m not supposed to start any fights in his shop, so really, there’s no point in us continuing this interaction.”

“The fuck?” Katsuki said, boggling, his temper bubbling high. “Who the hell are you and what’re you to Midoriya?"

Pausing, the man peered up from those long lashes, eyes like interrogation lights.

“Chisaki. And you’re Ground Zero – the so-called pro hero I clean up after when your wreckage is complete.”

The name niggled at the back of Katsuki’s brain, something familiar.

“What –“

“And if I have anything to say about it – and I have plenty say – Izuku won’t be going near you with a ten foot pole. Especially not now.”

Especially not now?” Katsuki said, taking steps forward to place his palms upon the counter. Looming over Chisaki like a volcano set to burst, Katsuki put no effort to reduce the growl growing in his throat. “Where is he? His heat – is it bad? Tell me. Let me see him. I should –“

Chisaki’s hollow, humorless laugh should’ve frozen Katsuki in his tracks, but only served to singe his self-control.

“You really are as cocky as they say. What’re you doing sniffing around Izuku, huh, boy? Where’s your owner? Do I need to chain you to a lamppost? I promise I’ll leave a bowl of water and a pillow to hump.”

“ENOUGH!” Clenched fists slammed upon the counter, black smoke seeping from them as he lunged forward, the searing spike of his aggressive scent piercing the air. Even a shitty Beta could smell it, and yet Chisaki remained motionless as Katsuki snarled. “How the fuck you think you are to talk to me like that? I could break you over my knee and use you as a toothpick.”

“I’d be entertained to see you try,” Chisaki said, the taut, clipped tone of voice belaying an edge of nerves as they faced off. Still, Chisaki did not budge.

The stench of Katsuki’s sulfur rose up stronger.

“Lay a hand on me,” Chisaki said, his smile thin and colorless. “Be a bad doggy. I dare you.”

Fuck, did he ever want to. Every aching joint and straining muscle howled for release, for attack.

Locked in a stare, statue still, Katsuki inhaled slowly through his flared nostrils. Forced his jaw to loosen, his palms to open, the blood returning to his bone white fingers. Exhaled.

“Provoke me again,” Katsuki said with quiet, raspy menace, “and I won’t be so lenient.”

“Terrifying, I’m sure,” Chisaki said flatly. He sighed and glanced over Katsuki’s shoulder like he had somewhere to be. “Can you go now? I really did promise I’d avoid fights while I’m covering his shifts.”

“How're you his friend?” Katsuki said. He could figure that much out. “He hates aggressive assholes.”

I,” Chisaki said, a hand flat to his chest in sincerity, “am not aggressive. I merely react to my surroundings, which happen to be infested with pro heroes who care more about the glory and a paycheck than the destruction they leave behind and the lives they ruin without a second thought.”

Katsuki stared, bland and dead inside.

“Nevermind. I see why you’re friends.”

“Taught him everything I know,” Chisaki said offhandedly as his attention fell back to his magazine. “Can you go now? This is meant to be a quiet establishment, thank you.”

Fists and teeth clenched, Katsuki looked to the ceiling, eyes jammed shut as he talked himself from the ledge. More than he needed to clock this dickbag’s teeth out – he needed information.

“Right. Fuck.” Katsuki chewed on any number of venomous quips and swallowed them down for Midoriya’s sake.

Chisaki looked up at him with the most infuriatingly calm face he’d ever seen. His demeanor vaguely reminded Katsuki of Shinsou. Hell, if Midoriya and Chisaki were friends, then did Shinsou fit in there? Who were these freaks Midoriya collected? Katsuki would rather bathe in lava than be in the same room with the three of them.

“So,” Katsuki said, low and mumbled, hands shoved in his pockets. “Is Midoriya alright? I don’t really – I don’t know how long his, y’know, lasts. Is four days normal?”

Chisaki aimed a long, guarded look his way and shrugged.

“That’s not really anyone’s business but his. Ask him yourself. I’m sure it’ll go over splendidly.”

“Well, gimme his address, then,” Katsuki said, pulling out his phone to take it down.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“No,” Katsuki said, meeting Chisaki’s feline eyes. “I need to – I have to see how he is. You wouldn’t understand but –“

I hurt with not knowing.

“Listen, Rover,” Chisaki said with a hefty sigh. “Despite the fact that I hate you on principle of everything you stand for, you’re also a stranger and an Alpha. You tick most boxes of Izuku’s ‘fuck off and die’ list. So I’m going to go ahead and say good night to you and if you shit on the sidewalk please pick it up with a baggy.”

They considered each other for half a heartbeat before Katsuki was turning on his heel and evacuating the store before he set the entire fucking place on fire.

Face burning, unfeeling of the winter chill, Katsuki ground his teeth to the beginnings of nubs as he scrolled through his phone and punched in a number.

Amajiki answered on the first ring.

“Bakugou?” he said softly, an waver of concern in his voice. “What’s the ma-“

“I need you to find an address for me,” Katsuki snapped, sweeping down the street, eating up the concrete in great, anxious strides. The beast in him clawed at his ribcage for its mate, his scent firing off in all directions without his control, calling in the man who wanted nothing to do with him.

“Address?” Amajiki said. “This is for work?”

“Yes for work, goddammit. How long you gonna make me wait?”

Hesitation and the clack of a distant keyboard filled the silence before Amajiki spoke.

“Okay, I have the system up. Who am I looking for?”

Katsuki fisted a hand at his side, the wind stinging his red hot eyes.

“Midoriya Izuku.”

Chapter Text

Ass in the air, teeth sunk into the sheets, Izuku writhed up toward no one, his slick-sloppy hand grappling for purchase on the oversized vibrator he vehemently thrust inside himself. His own ragged breathing was the soundtrack for this mateless dance, this desperation for completion that drove his body to betray him month in and out. Burning, dripping, whimpering as his violently red cock singed with each brush against the sheets, Izuku clawed for release, reprieve from what held him by the collar, by the heart.

The blanket rumpled beneath Izuku’s cheek, damp from mindless salivation and tears, Izuku slammed at his aching hole, the vibrator grown too hot to handle from overuse. Thick waves of unquenchable lust filled his lungs, his throat, his mouth as he gasped and cried out for breath, for freedom. His insides twisted and curled taut, a spring close to snapping point.

Too wrecked to restrain his body or mind, Izuku’s skull swam through a lifetime of vivid memories. Powerful hands on his hips, merciless smiles and delirious Alpha eyes, drunk on Izuku’s scent as they fucked him through his heats, years into years. He’d asked for it – he’d asked for it like a bitch with her belly up – but oh, did they use him until every drop of slick was dry.

Izuku bit the blankets now, ass held high, one palm pumping his cock, the other frantic at his wide hole.

Alphas, Alphas, bathing in his provocative scent, draining him dry until the only wet thing was the mattress soaked in cum. Fuck, did he ever want to be striped with seed, fuck, how his skin vibrated off bone for touch, any touch.

"Are you really this enamored with my scent?"

A snarl ripped through the unwelcome memory as Izuku rolled to his back, gripped the vibrator anew and relished the wet suction sound between his splayed thighs.

This kept happening. Why this Alpha, this man out of all men thrust into his heat like he had some right to be there? Like he mattered? Was it because of the brief times they’d shared scents? The weekly proximity to an available, interested Alpha?

No. Izuku knew himself better than that. Knew his body wouldn’t just present for another man simply because he was nearest.

Groaning, the small of his back rising off the bed, Izuku’s flesh burned with the memory of Bakugou’s arms taking him in, sheltering him as Izuku whimpered and smeared his pulsing throat glands across Bakugou’s rough cheek and his thick, muscular throat.

Bakugou’s eyes hadn’t been clouded, hadn’t been drunk. He hadn’t held Izuku like he’d deserved him, even if the confusion and fury in his expression had been enough to melt lead.

"Sure, I mean, at first. Not now. You're not what I thought I'd like until I realized I like who you are. Or, whatever the hell I know of you."

Izuku’s lungs halted, his body wound viciously tight, his jaw cracking beneath the strength with which he bit down. His ass clenched, his free hand racing over his painful erection to finish.

I realized I like who you are.

Cumming alone during heat was never ultimately satisfying.

This time was different.

Izuku gaped soundlessly, sightless as he stared at the ceiling, his ears popping, muffling the world around him as he burst at the seams. The hairs upon his arms and legs stood on end, an ungodly gush slopping between his legs as he bucked off the bed with a meager croak.

Floating and high on it, body boneless, Izuku lay there like the dead, skimming in and out of consciousness.

I realized I like who –

A rapid knock at the door jack-rabbited Izuku’s heart into his mouth. His teeth bared in an instinctive, savage snarl that gave away the part of him that was so very un-Omega, Izuku rolled to all fours on the bed, dislodging himself from the burnt out vibrator and ignoring the slick that trailed down his inner thighs. Cocking his head, Izuku listened.

A thunderous rapping startled him a second time, revving Izuku’s protective pride into full gear as he jumped off the bad and bounded toward the door. Clumsy on heat-weak legs and jelly knees, Izuku screeched to a late stop and slammed into his own door, cheek and ear flattened against the paneling as he narrowed his eyes.

“Who –“ Izuku swallowed, his voice hoarse from four days’ disuse. “Who’s that?”

Midoriya?”

Oh no.

“Oh no.” Eyes bugging out, Izuku tripped a step back, utterly naked, utterly a mess, his palms up in a defensive gesture. “No no no, you’re not – you can’t be here, I –“

Fuck, Midoriya,” Bakugou’s said clearly from the other side, parted from Izuku by a few slabs of mere plywood. “Is that your scent I – I can smell you. Oh shit, I didn’t think it would be like –“

Leave!” Izuku launched himself forward, slammed a fist on the door. He couldn’t blink for horror at the situation, couldn’t breathe for the all-too-familiar waves of desire dripping down his fading sanity. “What the hell do you think you’re doing here? Who – how did you – go, just go! This is an O.B. building!”

An Omega-Beta only building. An Alpha just – just wandering in, especially one like Bakugou who seemed to radiate a dominant nature – shit. This was not good. For Izuku, for anyone.

Midoriya,” Bakugou choked out, clearly already struggling. “I’m – I can’t leave.”

“What do you mean you can’t leave?” Izuku said, a panicked screech to his voice. “You’ve got legs! Big strong hero legs! Get out of here before I – before I –“

A low, long moan welled up in Izuku’s throat, spilling over like sticky honey, coating the air between them as Izuku rubbed his cheek, the glands of his throat, against the door. His lashes fluttered once, closed, then snapped open.

Izuku burned.

“Get the hell out of here before I break the door down and fuck you on the stairs,” Izuku said with a voice like distant thunder.

HAAAH?” Bakugou’s incredulous reaction would have been funny if Izuku hadn’t started lightly thrusting his hips and half-hard cock against the paneling. “What the hell are you? And why is this door padlocked from the outside?”

“It hurts,” Izuku whimpered, scrunching his eyes shut, bitten nails faintly raking against the door. His gut twisted up, the fire raging, a fever scorching his flesh. “It’s never hurt like this before. Why does it hurt, Zero?”

“The fuck’re you doin’ to my body?” Bakugou rasped out, the door subtly shaking as Bakugou rested either his forehead or fists upon the surface.

Wha?” Izuku shook his head, his thoughts slippery, dripping between his quivering fingers. His hips stuck to the door, grinding, swaying against the wood for friction. “Don’t know what you mean. Can’t think. Wh-why’d you come here? How?”

A guttural groan from the other side hummed down Izuku’s chest, buzzing low and encouraging, deep in his tightening balls.

“What’re you doin’ to me, dammit? I’m – I feel –“

“You wanna fuck me?” Izuku rasped through the door, his cheek smashed hard, his hips rolling on automatic against the wood. “Everybody does. All the time. You’re not going near me.”

“You were the one threatening to fuck me!” Bakugou hissed through the barrier, his voice splintering as he spoke. Another bang of fists, louder now, shuddering the hinges of the door.

Despite every protest in Izuku’s mind, his body flinched in reaction to the sound of an angry Alpha. His spine curled, his frame recoiling in on itself as a yearning whimper eked out. When Izuku popped his eyes open, it was with a gasp of realization that he was smearing his throat, his damp, needy glands across the wood, no doubt seeping a distressed, desperate scent.

Biting down on a groan, his nails digging into the door anew, Izuku thumped his forehead against the wood, nose smashed, lips dragging across the faded paint as he spoke between huffs of breath. His hips still arched forward for friction, his cock raised high, mercilessly trapped between the door and his sloppy stomach.

“I can’t help it.” The small of Izuku’s back ached, his slick dripping between his thighs moreso than he’d ever experienced. Was this Bakugou’s proximity? Was this all that guy’s fault? Izuku sobbed out a breath and humped the door in full, one hand gripping the brass knob, rattling it in mindless demand. “My body – oh, Zero, my body. Touch me, touch me please.”

“Holy shit.” The doorknob startled in Izuku’s palm in return. A scrape and drag sounded from the other side – Bakugou imitating Izuku’s frantic movements against the wood? Surely not. Bakugou wasn’t in rut. He couldn’t desire Izuku that bad. “Holy shit, I can’t –”

A fist slammed against the door, hard enough to make Izuku flinch and moan, rub his cheek and cock against the panels.

“Let me in,” came a suddenly deeper, more intense voice formed of darkness and ageless instinct. “Let – me – in.”

Drugged, lulled in by the power of that Alpha voice rumbling beneath Izuku’s skin, he sighed, lips faintly curving as he rutted in a slow, easy rhythm. But the friction wasn’t enough, and too grating against his hyper sensitive skin. Forehead dragging as he went, Izuku slid and dropped to his knees, his face pressed into the door as he brought a hand around his cock.

Eyes rocketing open once more, a snarl ripped from his chest as he lashed out like a whip, both palms smacking against the paneling with enough force to crack.

“No no no! I don’t know you!”

The replying roar froze Izuku on the spot, eyes wide as the inhuman aggression arrowed right to his ungodly hard erection.

“Your body is fuckin’ dripping for me right now, isn’t it, Omega?” Bakugou’s voice snapped through the door, perfectly in line with Izuku’s ear mashed against the wood. “You on your knees for me? ‘Cause you’ve sure as hell dragged me to mine and I can’t find it in me to be pissed about it just yet. Wait ‘til I am, though. This isn’t my fuckin’ ideal either, y’know.”

Inhaling deep, cheekbone crushed too hard against the door as if he might melt through into Bakugou’s hold if he did it hard enough, Izuku exhaled on a slow count.

“I don’t want you,” he said softly, licking his trembling lips. “My b-body wants you. There’s a –” another shaky breath, “a difference.”

Fuck, Midoriya,” Bakugou grated out, voice a harsh rasp that bristled against Izuku’s skin, pricked goosebumps along his arms, his back. “Your scent’s beggin’ me for somethin’ else. You can’t expect me to –“

“I don’t want anything to do with you!”

Izuku launched at the door, fingertips digging in, scraping down, old paint crusting beneath his nails. He hiccupped, a short sob as he thumped his brow against the wood again, again, again. The swelling in his cock hadn’t abated, his slick glistening upon the floor, slipping beneath his aching knees as he remained kneeling on the bruising skin.

“It hurts so much, Zero,” Izuku whispered, lips cracked and dry, the fire in his gut spreading further, consuming. His hands itched to touch, to be touched, to be cherished, to mate. “I burn, I’m burning.”

“That’s your fuckin’ problem if you wanna reject me when I’m right at your door, dammit!”

“I can’t get out ‘til I’m through this,” Izuku retorted sharply, fuming as his palm unconsciously closed around his cock and started a slow job of it. His eyelids fell shut, his mouth kissing the door as he spoke to it, through it. “Don’t you know that lock’s outside for a reason?”

A moment of silence. A brief, heavy thud of the padlock being handled, then released back against the door.

Midoriya.” Bakugou sounded taut, breathless. “I just wanna make you feel good. You that stupid? Can’t you feel it too, dumbass? You think I’m crazy about humping the door just to get to you? I could shatter that lock in a second if I damn well wanted.”

The image of Bakugou tearing steel and wood and doors off hinges just to claim him had Izuku’s dick spurting precum over his sweat-damp hand. An involuntary guttural groan rose up Izuku’s throat as he stroked himself quicker.

“Y-you’re,” Izuku swallowed back a gasp of pleasure. “You’re not going to?”

HAH? I just wanted to see if you were okay, you shitty Omega! God, I’m – I can’t think. I can’t fuckin’ think and it’s pissin’ me off now. I’ve never – d'you make everyone feel like this?”

Drifting in and out of the smoke that clouded his thoughts, Izuku snorted a soft, incredulous laugh. Just came to see if he was okay? During a heat? Not gonna bust the door down to fuck him senseless? Just who the heck was this guy? Most Alphas weren’t nearly as clever to use words to entice their Omega in. They took, and then took some more. Because it was their biological right – right?

“Feel?” Izuku managed, hissing between gritted teeth as his length wept sticky pearls of impatience. “F-feel like what?”

A lightning crack of fist crunching against the flimsy door, just shy of where Izuku’s forehead rested, shocked a thrill through his loose, lax limbs.

“Like I’d do anything for you, dumbass!”

Soundlessly mouthing oh my god, Izuku’s sped up the thrust of his hand, the hot, wet fist suctioning around a cock just aching for the Alpha on the other side of the cracked and battered door. He couldn’t smell him, but his body knew – knew everything Izuku didn’t want to know.

“Just go,” Izuku breathed out softly, the last thread of himself fogged over in the humid heat rising between them. “Go. Now!”

“You smell like sin,” Bakugou murmured with his own soft moan. Was he touching himself, too? “I wanna lick it off your skin. Every damn inch.”

A low hum threatened to pass Izuku’s lips as he ground his brow hard against the door, his curls clasped to his skull with sweat, his wrist smarting with the relentless pumping.

No,” was all Izuku said, mindless denial as he drove himself higher to the sound of this Alpha.

“Wanna fill that clever mouth with my cock, wanna open you up for me, beg for me.”

“Never.” Izuku bit down on his lip, his gut flaring, rising with the power of his body’s lust. “Fuck.”

Suddenly, Bakugou’s tone swerved toward desperate, blathering, disconnected as if disoriented with desire as deeply as Izuku.

“Gotta see you like this. Gotta touch you, Midoriya, lemme just touch you. Dunno half what I’m doin’ but I’ll do whatever you want, however you want it, just let me – Midoriya?”

Hot, heavy breaths huffing without guile, Izuku jacking his cock with unrepentant cries of need and loud, slick slaps, Izuku meekly moaned the moment Bakugou stopped speaking.

“Keep talking, keep talking, go go go.”

A tick of silence before Bakugou spoke like a man running a marathon.

Fuck. You – you really don’t feel this? You’d break down this door for my cock, wouldn’t you, Omega? Not for any Alpha’s cock, I bet. Mine. Me. You don’t know me. Fuck, I barely know you. But my body – it hurts. It hurts, too. Shit, I can hear you – I can hear you ready to cum for me. Can smell how open you are for me. Pisses me off. I’m weak right now, y’know? Some asshole could stab me in the back while all I can think of is poudin’ you on my dick until you scream.”

Wide eyes huge and blind toward the door, the burning coil within melting through, reading to snap, Izuku reached his free hand around and shoved fumbling fingers into his wide, sopping heat, choking on the pleasure.

Zero, I – I’m gonna –“

“Flood you with my cum, mate you with it. Knot you like you’ve never known. Sit you on my cock for hours.  Fill you up ‘til you can’t walk for it. My Omega, my –“

Izuku’s resounding wail should have set off car alarms. The orgasm smacked him like a sun-flare, devouring, searing him to ash as he collapsed in his own mess at the front door, cheek flat on the blessedly cool hardwood.

Shuddering through errant, popping sparks of lingering ecstasy, Izuku groaned and went dark.

 

“You alive?”

Izuku didn’t open his eyes, but his panic rose up like a fist around his heart.

How long had he been out? He felt sticky and disgusting. By the dried mess in the low trail of dark hair below his belly button, he’d been passed out for long enough.

Cracking one eyelid, Izuku found himself pinned by Natsume’s unblinking stare. The massive orange cat sat on the far counter in the kitchen area, eyes narrowed and awfully darn judgey.

Izuku sighed, and found his voice hollowed out when he spoke.

“Go home, Mr Zero. Please.”

“Call me that again and see what happens!” Bakugou hollered a little too loudly for Izuku’s ears.

Wincing, Izuku pushed himself off from the floor, casting a baleful eye across the state of himself and the floor. Christ, the door. Telling scratch marks branded the entire paintjob.

Unsure of his footing but too stubborn to let himself lay in the filth of being an Omega in heat, Izuku lurched to his feet. His legs wobbled, infuriatingly weak. Izuku slapped a hand on the door and leaned against it for the moment, nude, head hung down between his shoulders, judging his ability to walk and move. Familiar heat was already crawling back up his legs, infusing a warmth that left his traitorous body all too open for people like the one on the other side of the door.

It wouldn’t be the first time Izuku had dealt with a hungry Alpha at his door. Only time and mistakes had taught him to put a lock on it. For both of their sakes.

Mouth dry and teeth feeling fuzzy like a man just out of a long sleep, Izuku scrunched his face in distaste and tried to swallow. Failed.

“How did you get here?” Izuku croaked.

“You should eat something,” Bakugou said immediately, gruff and bossy as hell. “Drink. Shower. I read about this shit. Your Alpha is meant to help you –“

“Did you read that in a magazine, Mr Zero?” Izuku said, his lips quirking. It was kind of sweet. There was something strangely innocent about him. Clueless puppy or something. That couldn’t be less accurate, of course. An Alpha like Ground Zero would not be without a lifetime of undoubtedly needy Omegas, heats, ruts – the works. “I believed that stuff, too. Once upon a time.”

“Shut the hell up and drink some water. Why you gotta mouth off over every damn thing? Fuck, man.”

With a lingering withering stare at the door and the obnoxious Alpha behind it, Izuku wordlessly turned on his heel and took the few steps toward the fridge.

He downed two large bottles of water, inhaled a protein bar that tasted of chewy nothingness as always, and flopped face first down on his couch.

His back and arms burned, a continuous pulse like a fresh, raw sunburn. Evening cast the apartment in damp blues and greys, a lingering bruise. The sound of traffic drifted in from of the cracked window. A frigid breeze swept over his spine, a welcoming respite. Despite the snow outside and the dropping temperature, Izuku had long turned off his heating.

Izuku couldn’t remember the last heat he’d experienced as fierce or fiery as this one.

Hissing at his hips’ involuntary rut against the couch and the way the too-sensitive skin of his cock reacted, Izuku turned his face from its downward, smashed position and blandly stared at his blank television. His faint reflection looked back at him in dim, dark relief.

“Still here?” Izuku said softly.

“As long as you’re like this, I’m sittin’ here.”

Gaze narrowed at nothing, Izuku huffed a breath from his nose like a bull.

“Th-that’s called trespassing and I will call someone about it.”

“Go the fuck ahead. See how far it gets you when the police come to call on a top pro hero.”

Izuku paused, let that sink in. This wasn’t a man afraid of anything. Men like that were the most dangerous. The most appealing. The most fascinating.

“That’s a risky thing to throw around.”

“If it keeps me here, I don’t give a shit.”

Izuku rolled his eyes and shut them tight. He sighed.

By far, this Alpha was the most persistent. While it intrigued him how stubbornly Bakugou remained on his side of the door, even when Izuku was a walking porno, the Alpha was still a danger to him. Like they’d both admitted now, neither of them knew each other. And no Alpha had ever exerted enough energy to, in fact, know Izuku. He was a sex toy and nothing much more.

“Go home, already. I’m – this isn’t something I do – with, you know. Other people.”

“Why?”

The question sparked a million replies. Bakugou had a way of demanding things from Izuku like he deserved them. Seemed like Ground Zero preferred to sear through the exterior of things, right to the truth and heart.

Well, Izuku’s stony walls were tougher than any fire.

“I’m going to go lay down now.”

A pause. Bakugou’s voice, plain and straightforward.

“I can still smell you right here.”

“Well. I’m laying down right here.”

“Good. Me too.”

Izuku stifled a short laugh.

“You’re stubborn.”

Bakugou snorted derisively.

“So’re you, short stack.”

Izuku frowned into nothing, wondering at this situation. Puzzled at Bakugou’s sudden presence. He was so tired. His body, his mind, his emotions. Wisps of concern, of anxiety floated just out of reach, his mind too smoke-choked to grasp just how Bakugou was here, or why his presence momentarily eased the forest fire raging through him.

“You asleep?”

“No,” Izuku said, sure he’d spoken to quietly for Bakugou to hear.

“I’d read to fall asleep when I was a kid.”

“Me too.”

“So, you want me to read to you or what?”

Izuku opened his eyes and frowned at his reflection once more. His reflection was of no help, only mirroring his confusion with the sudden change of pace.

“I-I don’t have an opinion on it.”

“Now there’s a first.”

Izuku made out a shuffling sound, then the unmistakable whisper of book pages. What book would a man like Ground Zero carry around with him?

“I am a cat,” Bakugou said, his tone surprisingly even, almost studious. Not at all embarrassed to be reading aloud in a hallway during an Omega’s heat. Izuku almost laughed out loud. He would have laughed. Definitely. If his heart didn’t hurt so much, all of a sudden.

Yes, this was a very strange heat for him.

“As yet I have no name. I’ve no idea where I was born. All I remember is that I was meowing in a dampish dark place when, for the first time, I saw a human being.”

Izuku drifted to the low lull of an Alpha’s voice, to a story he knew too well. Dipped in and out of Bakugou’s speech patterns, and the way he sounded so unlike his usual crass, uncultured form of speech.

“My master seldom comes face-to-face with me. I hear he is a schoolteacher. As soon as he comes home from school, he shuts himself up in the study for the rest of the day; and he seldom emerges. The others in the house think that he is terribly hard-working. He himself pretends to be hard-working. But actually he works less hard than any of them think. Sometimes I tiptoe to his study for a peep and find him taking a snooze. Occasionally his mouth is drooling onto some book he has begun to read.”

Dizzy and warm and dazed, Izuku’s lips curved as he mouthed the upcoming line in time with his very own pro hero sitting against his door.

“Living as I do with human beings, the more that I observe them, the more I am forced to conclude that they are selfish.”

Chapter Text

A bleary gaze at his phone with gritty eyes told Katsuki he’d been asleep for a little over two hours.

I Am A Cat lay open upon his lap, the words blurred to him. Exhaustion – emotional, physical – settled heavily upon his frame. He’d continued to read to Midoriya for quite some time, occasionally catching the man on the other side of the door murmuring in time with his own recitation. It should only figure that the book which Midoriya had sold to him in a fit of annoyance would be another he’d likely read too many times to count.

Disoriented with a numb ass to boot, Katsuki hissed as he pushed off the floor and stood. He back pocketed the thin book, the spine already conforming from days and days in the same pocket, wherever he went.

Rolling his shoulders with a sigh, Katsuki critically eyed the padlocked door before him. He’d be the first to admit – at least, privately – that he didn’t know shit about heats, other than what he’d read online. But this stuff couldn’t be normal. Katsuki didn’t see a padlock latch drilled into the doorway opposite Midoriya’s. He never heard reports of Omegas in heat running amok. They usually just laid there and writhed around, right?

Was Midoriya keeping someone out or himself in?

Both?

What could any of that mean?

Frowning, Katsuki cupped the padlock in his palm, thumb smoothing over the rough, scarred keyhole. It looked well used. He allowed it to thunk back against the door, his hand resting on the peeling white paint of the door.

Eyelids falling shut, he inhaled deep.

Wet, wild hills and valleys of deep lakes and lush forest closed in on him, same as if he were there. Katsuki could nearly feel the thunder of thick, fat drops dampening his brow, soaking him through as the sky rumbled with impending shocks of lightning. The hairs at his nape stood to attention, his arms prickling. Katsuki shivered, drinking deep of lush green leaves dripping fresh rain, the howling wind at his back, pushing, urging him toward the Omega on the other side.

A flash of fire shot through his groin and seared, springing Katsuki’s eyes open, mouth agape as he dropped to his knees. Clutching his stomach and biting down on a curse, Katsuki clenched his teeth and breathed through the fading brand of heat faded off within the minute.

Swallowing hard and heaving with breath, Katsuki ground his forehead against the door, hands fisted upon his thighs as he rode through the confusion and fury that tore through him.

“What the fuck,” he whispered to himself, licking his cracked, chapped lips as he boggled down at the floor.

The same thing had happened just hours ago. Midoriya’s scent pooling on his tongue – salivating, invigorating, maddening. He had hurt. Had felt the burn Midoriya had described as if they’d been opposite sides of the same coin, tossed into the hearth.

The word RUT smoked and fumed in Katsuki’s gut, a choking smog of flame in his lungs, watering his eyes.

Couldn’t be.  Katsuki took the pills. Best money could buy. He hadn’t rut since his first ever rut, ten years ago.

Katsuki didn’t do that bullshit. Didn’t let it take up his time, his energy. He was a hero, for fuck’s sake. Any hero worth a damn knew well enough that they couldn’t let biology control their ability to perform their duty at peak performance.

Suddenly bemused, his grimace falling to a slack frown, Katsuki flopped back onto his ass, knees bent as he stared blankly at the door.

Wasn’t that what the infuriatingly stubborn man locked away from him had said time and again? His biology wasn’t who he was – wasn’t what controlled him and his life?

Didn’t Katsuki feel the same of himself? At least, when it came to his profession.

And yet, here he was. Hunting down Midoriya’s address, banging and humping at doors like some brainless dick that he absolutely fucking was not – and all the while expecting Midoriya to just, what?

Open the door?

“Shit.” Katsuki raked his hands back through his hair, linked his fingers at his nape as he stared at nothing but saw a whole lot more. “Shit.”

“Zero?”

Katsuki whipped his head up like a beast with blood scented, teeth bared in a silent snarl at the sound of his mate’s hushed voice. Midoriya’s aroma smacked him in the face like a crack of thunder, the feral fringes of Katsuki’s brain instantly registering the smell of Midoriya’s shower, his grassy soap, and the lingering musk of his cum hinting he’d gotten off in the bathroom while Katsuki had been sleeping.

Fuck, if this didn’t piss him off.

“Yeah,” Katsuki managed, his voice a hollow croak as he willed his muscles to lax, his shoulders to sag. “What.”

“When are you going to leave?” Midoriya murmured, no malice in his voice, just something reined in and resigned. A shuffle and a sigh as Midoriya seated himself near the door once more.

Why? Why didn’t he just go into the bedroom and ignore Katsuki completely? And why was Katsuki expecting Midoriya to walk away when he was the invader here?

And why the fuck couldn’t Katsuki find it in him to leave first?

“Don’t know,” Katsuki replied, a scowl twisting up his face with the admission. “You want me to leave? You really wanna be alone through this shit?”

“Better than a stranger.”

“I know you,” Katsuki said lowly. He shifted, rested his back against the door. Knees bent, arms folded across them, his rested his brow and shut his eyes. “Or. Shit. I don’t know. The fuck you choose to do this alone, man?”

Silence spanned, brittle ice sheets across deep water.

“This is the best option.”

“How.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, Mr Zero. And I’m fine with that. The less involved you are with me, the better. For both of us.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki said, tone dry as bone. “We’re regular goddamn strangers on the street at this point.”

“This has all been your doing, okay?” Midoriya snapped, stress souring his scent like an oil spill in the fresh, salty sea. “I didn’t ask you to come. How the heck did you get my address in the first place? You’re taking over every part of my life and – and it’s my life. Not yours. Go home, Mr Zero. Bathe in needy, star-struck Omegas who’d do anything for a single heat with you. You’re famous. What are you doing in a poorly lit, unheated hallway in the dead of winter? What are you doing here, really?”

“I came here because I had to, okay?” Katsuki spat, face still buried in his arms. “You think I want to be here? I’m cold. I’ve had a hardon for hours which, in case you didn’t know, would be like a medical fucking emergency if it weren’t for this specific situation, and I can’t stop thinking about – about –“ Katsuki sputtered, head knocking back against the door as he grimaced and fisted his smoking hands. “About you and how you got here and why and who, who that Chisaki asshole is to you and –“

“Chisaki? How do you know –“

“I came to the store lookin’ for you and that cat-faced asshole was waitin’ for me.”

The soft chuckle up against Katsuki’s back had him bristling.

“Chisaki is… He’s very special to me.”

“Write a fuckin’ romance novel about it, why don’t you,” Katsuki mumbled under his breath. Then, louder, “Why.”

“Why?”

“Why’s he so fuckin’ special?”

“He – hmm.” Midoriya yawned. What time was it? Getting late. Perhaps past midnight. “He showed me how to be a man who doesn’t need a hero in his life.”

Katsuki didn’t like the sound of that one fucking bit. He choked back an insult and managed to speak, quick and sharp.

“What about tall, pale, and purple, then? He’s a hero. He’s in your life.”

When Midoriya spoke, the smile was evident in his lulled voice, and Katsuki saw flames behind his eyes.

“Hitoshi’s my best friend.  Has been since for ten years now. He gets me, I get him. It’s mutual.”

“You two aren’t anything alike,” Katsuki said with a snort.

“Just shows how little you know either of us,” Midoriya shot back, his tongue sharpening along with his scent.

Katsuki blinked against the sucker punch, his heart pinched up in his chest.

“Yeah,” he said, tilting his head further back to stare at the cracked grey ceiling. “I’m getting that. I guess.”

Midoriya didn’t reply to that. Maybe he’d fallen asleep. Maybe the heat was taking him again. From the smell of things, though, the worst of the storm was dwindling.

What had Katsuki set out to accomplish tonight? He couldn’t begin to guess. Instinct had consumed him, had made his decisions for him. He hadn’t been in rut, but he’s still relinquished his control over to the animal and let it run wild until he’d run full force into Midoriya’s door.

In reality, something in him had simply wanted to be near. Needed to be. Even now, his body howled and crooned for the Omega who locked himself away like he was going to hurt the world and vice versa.

“Lemme ask you a question,” Katsuki slurred, biting back a wide yawn.

Midoriya hummed, a noise that painted images of pooled sheets bathed in blue winter light, of freckles splayed across a clean white pillow case, forested curls like down fluff between his fingers.

“One,” Midoriya said, faint and far.

“What’ve Alphas done t’you?”

The hush that hung in the air lasted so long, Katsuki was sure Midoriya had fallen asleep.

And when Midoriya did speak, Katsuki’s chest instantly tightened, his stomach dropping out. The weight of his voice struck Katsuki as an epitaph, like words on a headstone or spoken of someone dead. Katsuki had been to enough funerals to know.

“Sometimes I wonder if I had the ability to go back and change the past, I would. Would I have fought back more? Would I have said something to end it faster? Would I have been strong enough to fight the biology which you seem so insistent governs who we need, what our body desires, and even who we love?”

Midoriya’s short, coarse laugh was a bitter cough.

“My body loved how Alphas made me feel. Not – not in my heart, or in my head – but the way they made me feel, you know? Like I wasn’t going to peel out of my skin. Like they could physically hold me down – keep me from hurting myself, like I seemed to do on every other level since I was practically a kid.”

Midoriya cleared his throat, his voice cracking like an old record player as he spoke.

“The thing about letting an Alpha hold you down? You don’t get a choice when they let you back up.”

A chill cut down Katsuki’s spine.

“And then your body – your instincts, your nature, whatever you want to glorify it as – your body isn’t loud enough to drown out your thoughts, or your feelings. The high you get from sharing that heat, from letting go, doesn’t feel so high when your face is shoved into the mattress and you can’t breathe. Not choking for being unable to physically breathe, but for the way your mind starts hurting you all over again for what you let them do to you. For what you let happen to yourself.”

“Midoriya –“

“I don’t need you,” Midoriya said, soft and sturdy all at once. Two things Katsuki had come to associate with this person. “I don’t need any Alpha. Not in the way I thought I did, as a method to gag the Omega in me. I learned to control myself a long time ago – to take responsibility for what and who I am, a long time ago. If an Alpha never touches me again –” Midoriya chuckled, seemingly in earnest. “If an Alpha never touches me again, I think I’ll be the luckiest Omega in this city.”

Katsuki’s head swam. The implications of Midoriya’s words – a history Katsuki could never have envisioned when he looked at those emotive eyes and found himself time and again face to face with Midoriya’s authentic, almost unbearably honest nature… He couldn’t merge the two. The past Midoriya with the present one.

The list of instances in which Katsuki had began to realize just how naïve he’d been with this person were now innumerable.

Perhaps Katsuki had come here without intention, without thought but for what his body told him. But now he sure as hell knew he’d been here for a reason.

“I believe you,” Katsuki said, low, careful – unsure of his own tongue, as clumsy as it proved to be around his person. “That you’d rather bite off my hand than be touched by it. I don’t get it, ‘cause I ain’t you – but I believe it.”

When Midoriya didn’t reply, Katsuki tried again. Midoriya was tenacious, but so was Katsuki.

“But I’m also not an Alpha who wouldn’t let you breathe. I’m – uh, I’m a certified EMT, y’know.”

Katsuki grinned at the ceiling as the splutter and bubble of increasing giggles echoed from the other side of the door. Midoriya’s mirth trigged his own, Katsuki’s shoulders shaking, his cheeks aching as Midoriya sucked in sobs of laughter, near hysterics that filled the chilly, dull hallway like the first green of spring.

After some time, the two of them trailed off, limp from laughter and late night exhaustion. Katsuki’s head refused to stay upright, and remained lolled to the side against his shoulder, his legs outstretched, crossed at the ankle into the short hallway as he drifted.

He thought Midoriya said something quiet and candy sweet to him, but that was likely a dream.

“I’d better be wildly hallucinating right now,” came a familiar drawl that had Katsuki rocketing from sleep and to his feet in his seconds. Shinsou gawked at him, weighty shopping bags in either hand. “But I’m pretty sure those mushrooms I ate were just shiitake and I’m about to have a headache from whatever the fresh hell is happening here.”

“The fuck’re you doin’ here at, at –“ Katsuki glanced at his wrist, which had no watch. “Ass o’clock in the morning with – with –“

“Groceries. They’re called groceries, and I’m allowed to be here because unlike you, I know where Izuku lives and you don’t. Or, didn’t.” Shinsou remained at the top step, both eyebrows raised, his height allowing him to look right down his nose at Katsuki. “Just what are you doing sniffing around our boy’s door, Sparky?”

“Fuck you,” Katsuki snapped, swiping his parka from the cement floor and going toe to toe with Shinsou’s smug ass. “What are you –“

“Yeah, no, we already had the part of the conversation,” Shinsou said, cocking his head. “Let’s talk about you instead. Before you quietly and politely get the fuck off my BFF’s property the –“

“I’m in the goddamn hallway, you –“

“No one knows Izuku’s address,” Shinsou said, his lithe, lanky form caving inward to loom closer to Katsuki. They locked eyes, and it gave Katsuki just the slightest tinge of a grin to see the Omega in Shinsou flinch at the eye contact. But Shinsou was a professional – a twitch was all Katsuki would get out of him, under the circumstances. “And certainly no fire-wielding Alphas with god complexes.”

“You talkin’ about your boyfriend or me?” Katsuki retorted, his razor thin smile anything but friendly.

Why are you here,” Shinsou said, all levity dropped like a stone, his expression just as hard, merciless.

“That’s between me and M-“

Katsuki’s lips went lax, his eyelids heavy and body like lead.

That motherfucker! He’d tear that snarky sonofabitch a new asshole when –

“Such angry eyes,” Shinsou said in a voice he’d use to subdue a grumpy baby. He stepped around Katsuki’s statue frame and dropped the groceries at the foot of Midoriya’s door. With a sigh, he unraveled his ungodly long scarf and tucked a hunk of it in the pocket of his grey pea coat.

“Let’s try this again.” Shinsou sighed. “Turn around first.”

Katsuki did so, his scent rising up with acrid fury.

“Now now,” Shinsou said placating, patting Katsuki’s cheek with pursed lips and pale, ruthless eyes. “Put that stink away. Rancid garbage fire doesn’t suit you. Someone’s going to call the police. You know this is an O.B. building, right?” Shinsou shrugged when Katsuki inevitably couldn’t respond. “Anyway. Let’s chat. I’m sorry we had to do it this way. I know it’s illegal and all but, um.”

Shinsou smiled and slung and arm around Katsuki, pulling him in close for a too-rough noogie as he spoke with hollow fondness.

“You’re not exactly living up to your squeaky clean record these days, either, huh? So, tell me, Bakugou. How did you know Izuku was here?”

“Chisaki.”

Shinsou rolled his eyes.

“So you went to the shop. Chisaki didn’t tell you shit. He’d rather cut off a finger. So how did you get this address?”

“I called Amajiki.”

Shinsou released Katsuki from his hold and frowned at him, more like a pout as he scratched his jaw.

“And he just… gave it to you?”

“No.”

Katsuki was going to buzzcut Shinsou in his sleep. He didn’t know how, yet, but it would come the fuck to pass.

“Why did he give it to you?”

“I told him in was part of a job.”

Shinsou’s brows dropped low as he seemed to survey Katsuki anew.

“That’s. Not like you.”

Katsuki sucked in a sharp breath as he felt his body release like a marionette cut from strings.

“Yeah, well.” Eyes low, jaw stiff, Katsuki shrugged into his puffy jacket and zipped it in a sharp motion. Why did he feel admonished by Shinsou Hitoshi, of all people? Why did he feel guilty about being here all of a sudden, when he hadn’t up until – well, up until he realized he was doing everything wrong as an Alpha toward an Omega. “I know.”

Shinsou’s omniscient gaze lingered before it fell away. He dug through his jean pockets for some keys, plucking a tiny one from the glob of key chains and baubles as he spoke quietly, casually.

“This is gonna blow up in your face, Bakugou.”

Katsuki couldn’t tell if he meant the misuse of an agency database, his courting of Midoriya, or – or combination of his entire life at this point.

“You don’t know the first thing about what’s going on here,” Katsuki said, watching as Shinsou clicked the latch of the padlock. “He’s sleeping on the floor. Don’t open the door too fast.”

Shinsou looked over his shoulder, eyes narrowed.

“I’ve never seen you serious like this, so I’m gonna throw you a bone here. When it comes to Izuku, stop thinking with your dick. That’s the last thing he’s interested in.”

“I don’t need your advice,” Katsuki snapped, his knees trembling with the mere knowledge of that single lock undone. He couldn’t tear his attention from the doorknob. Midoriya was just on the other side. Sleeping peacefully. Couldn’t he just see him for a minute? Ten seconds? Just –

“I’m not opening this door with you around,” Shinsou said, grave and somehow a little sad in the eyes. Katsuki briefly flashed to their years in 1-A together. Fighting side by side. Bleeding for each other. Killing for each other. Watching one another cry and know there was nothing the other could do but Do Better Next Time.

“Yeah,” Katsuki said, dragging his palms over his face, slapping his cheeks with both hands once. He blinked hard, clearing his eyes as he aimed on last guarded look Shinsou’s way. “Take care of him.”

“Listen,” Shinsou said, mouth sober. “If Chisaki hears about this – or, hell, even Inasa –“

“Inasa?” Katsuki frowned. “Tornado Golden Retriever?”

And an Alpha.

“They’re friends,” Shinsou said, gesturing with a jerk of his head toward the door. “If Chisaki or Inasa hear about this, you’re –“

Enough with the warnings!” Katsuki bit off, his voice rising with heat and force. “Are you the fuckin’ oracle now? You shittin’ tarot cards these days? Your balls turn into crystal all-seeing ones? Lemme sleep on the floor of my stupid, stubborn-ass mate’s hallway, alright? JEEZUS FUCK.”

Shinsou blinked, his nose wrinkled.

“Okay, well.  You both smell like jizz. That’s one thing my crystal balls can’t deduce, all things considering. So maybe you should go home and take a cold shower.”

“I –“ Katsuki growled and spun on his heal, bounding down the steps two by two. “DON’T TALK TO HIM ABOUT ME.”

Shinsou’s heinous laughter mocked him down and out of the building, straight into the cold.

Icy hands in pockets, face burning, Katsuki stepped back further and further. Into the snow, into the center of the empty night street, chin tilted until he caught the window of Midoriya’s apartment.

The light turned on.

Chapter Text

“I’ll neuter him.” Chisaki’s face was as grave as the cemetery Bakugou would inevitably end up in should the two of them meet. Sipping slow from his tumbler of whiskey on the rocks, Chisaki peered up with drunk-flushed cheeks and yellow eyes to match the dim bar lightning. “Disintegrate his balls right in front of him.”

Izuku clicked his shot glass with Hitoshi’s from across the table and knocked their drinks back with a chaser of beer and a hiss between clamped teeth. Scrunching his face up in distaste, Izuku eyed Chisaki with a wary eye.

“That’s – that’s really not necessary.”

“You know what’s not necessary?” Todoroki said around a long slurp of udon, his face aimed down toward his bowl. “Talking about balls while I’m eating.”

Specifically,” Hitoshi added, waving a spicy chicken wing around with a flourish, “Bakugou Katsuki’s balls. Which, need I remind you, Shouto and I have seen our fill of in three traumatizing years.”

“Another shot!” Izuku called out sharply, hand raised to the waitress. His head swam as he plucked a wing from the center platter and shoved the majority right into his mouth.

“And let me tell you,” Hitoshi continued as he chewed. “That guy’s got no shame. I mean, yes, his body is comparable to Atlas or –“

Who’s an Atlas?” Inasa boomed from beside Izuku, slamming down the now empty beer he’d been silently chugging in one full go. “Ground Zero? I’d say he’s more of a Hercules.”

“Hades,” Hitoshi said pointedly.

You’ve never seen Bakugou naked,” Todoroki said, incredulous as he jammed accusatory chopsticks across beside him. He’d had the least to drink and was easily the furthest gone. “You’d have told me.”

“You’d have told all of us,” Chisaki muttered into his drink, swirling his ice. “Whether we liked it or not.”

“You’re the only one I haven’t seen naked, Chisaki,” Inasa said with a sigh, dropping his elbows to the table and plopping his chin atop his fists. They locked eyes from across the table. “It’s a matter of brotherhood, you know? A pack! An Alpha should be familiar with his group’s most basic nature.”

“You hear that?” Hitoshi said, elbowing Todoroki too hard with a lanky arm and pointy elbow. “He’s challenging your position. Let’s fight about that instead.”

“He can have it,” Todoroki said dully, signaling the arriving waitress for one of the shots she brought over. “I don’t want anything to do with Chisaki naked. Unlike some people at this table.”

“Leave me out of this one,” Izuku mumbled, choking back his offered shot without fanfare or tradition. He just needed it.

“We weren’t even dating, then!” Hitoshi squawked, gesturing wildly between the two of them. “You wouldn’t have anything to do with me! He was just there.”

Please,” Chisaki said with a groan as he massaged his closed eyes. “Let’s not –“

The low growl resounding from Inasa’s barrel chest sent warning sparks through the two Omegas at the table. Izuku silently bared his teeth across the food and drink, his lips curling back on years of ingrained, beaten-in instinct.

You!” Todoroki whipped a hand out, slapped it over Inasa’s mouth and the sharp canines pronouncing themselves altogether angry at the mere mention of Hitoshi and Chisaki’s long passed past. “Stop. Eat something and stop making a fool of yourself.”

A handful of seconds with Todoroki’s hand clamped over Inasa’s mouth, and then Inasa’s hackles calmed, his eyes big and apologetic over Todoroki’s fingers.

Hitoshi snickered oh-so-quietly.

“Who’s Alpha now?”

“I’m sorry, Chisaki,” Inasa murmured as Todoroki’s hand fell, metaphorical tail most definitely tucked between his legs. “I’m –“

“A fool,” Chisaki said flatly. “Look what you did to Izuku.”

“No one did anything to me,” Izuku snapped. He aimed calmer eyes and tone toward his gigantic moping friend. “Inasa, why don’t you find yourself a nice Omega to mate with? You deserved someone sweet and good and –“

Not a vigilante,” Hitoshi added with a sober nod, diving in to the wing platter once more.

“Not yakuza affiliated,” Todoroki said, returning to his endless slurps.

“Not about to rip everyone’s asshole out their esophagus,” Chisaki said calmly, finishing his drink off with a final flourish. “But seriously. Someone give me that guy’s address. I’ll make it worth your while.”

“I should go there right now!” Inasa boomed, jerking from his seat to stand with enough exuberance the knock over Hitoshi’s half-full beer. “I’ll have a good talk with him, Alpha to Alpha! An Omega’s innocence should never be assaulted in such a –“

“His innocence or lack thereof isn’t the thing in question,” Chisaki said under his breath. “It’s classic hyper narcissism, inevitably present in a practically worshiped Pro Hero of his caliber and unfortunate presentation.”

Inasa remained standing, half of his winter jacket on one arm as he stared at Chisaki like he’d begun speaking in tongues.

“So, do I – I mean. I should go now, right? Find him.”

“No one is finding him!” Izuku hollered, frantically waving at Inasa. “Sit down, sit! Good, thank goodness. You guys – it’s not – shit.” Izuku heaved a sigh and raked his hands over his booze-numbed face. “I’m furious, okay? He took – he took advantage of the situation, of me, of his work place, too, I guess. But what the heck am I gonna do about it? He’s not going to just stop. I can tell.”

And it only further fuelled Izuku’s indignant flames that he could no longer place just how angry he actually was at that piece of knowledge.

“He thinks I’m something I’m definitely not,” Izuku said quietly. “He thinks I’m a lot of things that I’m not.”

“That’s because you’re more,” Chisaki said, signaling for further drinks. He nudged Izuku’s shoulder with his own – rare physical contact from a man who permanently wore gloves. “Fuck him. N-“

“Literally or,” Hitoshi chimed in.

“Next time,” Chisaki continued with increased force, rocketing a glare across the table. “Next time tell him you’ll file a restraining order. Or, like I said. Give me his address. They’ll never know it was you.”

“It was me who what?” Izuku yelped, looking on with dawning horror. “Chisaki, don’t tell me. Just. Don’t continue with that line of thought.”

“Yeah,” Hitoshi said, following by a wide yawning as he flung his arm over Todoroki’s shoulders and slumped against him. “Don’t make me file a report on your ass.”

“Why don’t you just call him?”  Todoroki looked around as the table fell silent and still. He shrugged, his tone even as his eyes glazed over with alcohol. “What? Calling is good. You don’t have to look at anyone in the face. And he can’t set anything on fire. Or. Not anything near you, anyway.”

Izuku worried his bottom lip with his teeth.

“It’s been over a week and he hasn’t appeared, though. Maybe he has given up?”

“He’s on a mission,” Hitoshi said, mouth full. “They inquired into Endeavor’s agency, but we’re off next week on heat leave, so.”

“I shouldn’t call him if he’s on a mission,” Izuku said quickly. “I’ll just wait and –“

“Here, it’s ringing,” Hitoshi said with a smirk, holding out his cellphone.

What – it’s what? I –“ Izuku fumbled with the phone, tossing it around before he clamped it to the side of his head with both hands like it would slip away. His heart thudded louder with each ring.

“SOMEONE BETTER BE FUCKIN’ DEAD, YOU OVERGROWN TROLL DOLL –“ Izuku winced and held the phone far from his ear, struggling to stand and scoot away from the table and toward the entrance, “- TWO IN THE MORNING AND UNLIKE YOUR UGLY ASS WHO NO AMOUNT OF BEAUTY SLEEP WOULD DARE TOUCH –“

“Zero?”

All sound on the other end went dead.

“H-hello?” Izuku said, needlessly bowing way too many times to the owner at the front of the shop before he tripped out into the thick snow and deep cold. “Bakugou? Are you-”

“Why are you on Shinsou's – no, you’re friends, right,” Bakugou said, his words stumbling as much as Izuku. “I – hello? Hi. Do you – are you okay? Is everything okay? Do you need –“

“I don’t, I’m fine,” Izuku answered quickly, standing in a snow drift with one arm wrapped around his waist. The night was frozen in stillness and silence as he looked around, scrambling to sort out everything he’d wanted to say. “Hitoshi told me what you did.”

“What I did? You were there.”

“So were you,” Izuku said, his tone hardening. He sniffled, his nose already beginning to run. He hated this cold and grey, colorless world. “And you shouldn’t have been.”

“Yeah, well –“

“None of that nonsense.” Izuku paced the front windows of the shop, making the mistake of glancing through the glass to see the entire table of his friends staring at him like a panda at the zoo. “You don’t get to brush this under the rug just because of who you are, Mr Zero. What you did – it violates everything you could have –“

“So I was fuckin’ wrong, alright?” Bakugou’s voice hurled through the phone. “You need me to say it or some shit? Yeah, it was fucked up, but at the time I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I didn’t –“

“There’s always a choice,” Izuku said. His voice dropped, hushed as he tucked his chin against his chest and stared at his bulky winter boots. “I shared things with you. Things I wouldn’t normally have.”

“Well, maybe you needed to.”

Izuku barked a laugh and looked to the sky as he began to pace anew, watching the plumes of his breath escape to the stars.

“You’re full of excuses, Mr Zero. I shouldn’t have expected anything less.”

“And aren’t you, too?” Bakugou snapped back. “Aren’t you full of your own excuses and bullshit and safe little lies? You don’t see me callin’ your gorgeous ass out on every justification you shove in my face.”

Izuku ground down on his back teeth, his ribs aching beneath his skin.

Bakugou wasn’t lying. He rarely seemed to.

Izuku had slipped his secrets beneath the thin gap of the door that night, expecting the worst to come of it. And what had Bakugou done?

Make him laugh.

“You –“ Izuku burped with his mouth shut, a wave of nausea and beer and shots washing over him. “Ugh. That doesn’t. You still don’t have the right to –“

“Are you drunk?”

“I can get drunk!” Izuku said, way too loudly even for his own ears. “I’m an adult.”

“You’re tellin’ me,” Bakugou said softly. “Hey.”

Izuku swallowed hard, feeling sick.

“What,” he managed.

“I really am sorry, okay? I don’t do this shit. Ever.”

“Apologizing or stalking?”

“Both! Jeezus, you’re a hard ass, aren’tcha? Fuckin’ merciless.”

Izuku’s lips couldn’t help but twitch.

Instantly, he frowned.

“Don’t,” he said, stern now as he glanced over his shoulder, noted his friends still watching. He turned away. “Don’t apologize like that.”

Haaah? The hell?”

“Don’t be nice,” Izuku said softly, already pulling the phone from his ear and up to his face to squint out the hanging up button. “It messes me up if you’re nice.”

“Midoriya? Midoriya? IZUKU WAI-“

Burping again, this time louder with a wince, Izuku groaned to himself and stumbled back inside and to his table. He dropped down to the floor seat with a thud and held the phone across the table, wagging it around until Hitoshi curiously nipped it from his fingers.

“So?” Chisaki said.

“Has your innocence been preserved for a future mate?” Inasa said around a huge mouthful of Todoroki’s leftover noodles.

“Intact,” Izuku said, unable to rein in his smile at Inasa’s protective instincts, as misguided as they could be. “Innocence utterly intact.”

“His innocence has nothing to do with where his dick has been or is going,” Chisaki said pointedly. He stared distastefully at the disappearing platter of spicy Korean wings before he sighed and slipped off his gloves to grab one. “Stop acting like his father.”

“It’s okay,” Izuku said, face hot from the booze as he lolled his head against his palm, elbow propped on the table. He grinned across the way at Inasa. “I handled it. Thanks anyway.”

“I mean, if we’re talking innocence here,” Hitoshi said, smirking as he skimmed a look toward Todoroki and noticed him nodding off while sitting up. “I can’t speak for these days, but in UA, Bakugou was pretty damn vocal about having zero to do with nasty, needy Omegas.”

Izuku frowned, his own eyelids heavy but his interest perked despite himself.

“What d’you mean?”

“I guess idle conversation is the last thing you two have been having between being at each other’s throats,” Hitoshi said, lazy eyebrows raised as he took a small sip of beer. “That guy went on suppressants practically the day of his initial presentation. Never dated or wanted to. Thought it was gross or troublesome or whatever.”

Izuku narrowed his eyes, listening hard. He supposed Bakugou did mention something about not being particularly happy with this situation. It was difficult to keep track of it all when most of the time he’d been trying to figure a way to weasel the stranger out of his store.

“Still doesn’t.” Everyone looked at Todoroki, silent. Todoroki blinked tired, blurred eyes and stifled a yawn. “He’s still like that. Midoriya is – he must be special to Bakugou. Logical assumption at this point.”

Something warm and strange and unwelcome nestled in Izuku’s stomach, his face flushing anew.

“You know that’s not true,” Izuku found himself saying, the words slithering up his throat from some deep, dark part of his gut. “It’s never like that. It’s how I smell. You know that. Everyone here does.”

“I’m fine!” Inasa said, his hand rocketing up as if still in class. “I don’t mind, Midoriya! Your scent is safe with this Alpha!”

Izuku smiled into a lukewarm glass of water with the ice long melted.

“I know. Thanks.”

Something about pack mentality, or brotherhood, or whatever bond Inasa felt so vehemently with the four of them. Or perhaps it was simply that Izuku’s aroma was a far mismatch from Inasa’s tastes, and so Inasa smelled him as he was, but felt nothing for it.

“What does Chisaki smell like?” Izuku said, shoulders starting to shake with a bubbled up giggle at the mere thought.

“Cigarettes,” Todoroki and Hitoshi answered in tandem.

Chisaki rolled his bright cat eyes, busy chewing on a chicken wing, bright red sauce sticky on his fingertips. He kept his pinky finger slightly risen back from his hold on the food. His free hand flipped the bird.

“The sky,” Inasa said, leaning across the table, his great height allowing him nearer to Chisaki’s face than was safe. Chisaki chewed, swallowed, and took another bite of food in silence, his eyebrows thin and straight and demeanor unimpressed. “Mountaintops. When someone comes in from a snow storm and they smell like the cold, even though cold shouldn’t have a scent. I half expect you to have wings, Chisaki Kai.”

Chisaki directly met Inasa’s gaze. Head subtly cocked, he dropped the messy bones he held with a clank to the plate below, reached out, and placed his saucy hand on Inasa’s face, pushing him back with just enough force to send him away.

“Gross,” Chisaki said. He got up. “I’m washing my hands.”

Inasa grinned wildly, eyes bright as Todoroki sighed and fumbled a napkin over Inasa’s face.

“Invigorating!”

The table busted into eruptive laughter, and didn’t subside until Chisaki returned and threatened an unholy list of injuries that had them all splitting the bill and layering up in their winter gear.

“Who’s splitting the ride?” Chisaki said, already pulling out his phone to order a car.

Me,” Inasa said, sliding up behind Chisaki as they filed outside, his figuring towering over Chisaki’s slim frame.

“Aside from you.”

“I’m close,” Izuku said as he fitted a thick hat over his head. Mom had knitted it a little too big and it fell over his eyes too many times, but it was warm and soft and reminded him of home all the same. “I’ll walk.”

“We’ll walk you,” Todoroki said, arm in arm with Shinsou.

Izuku quirked a brow, a grin pulling at his chapped lips.

“I’m ten minutes away, guys. I don’t need a hero to walk me home. Let alone two of them.”

“How about two friends?” Hitoshi said with hooded, sleepy eyes. Sidling up and tucking his free arm in the circle of Izuku’s, he nodded at Chisaki and Inasa – the latter who kept his face busy in his phone. “Sleep tight, you two. Don’t let the big Alpha bite.”

Inasa’s face flamed up to the ears.

“Why I – I would never just – just –“

“I’d break his teeth,” Chisaki said with a sigh, shoving the phone in this pocket. He looked up, tilting his head far back since Inasa still loomed protectively behind him. “Car’s on its way. I’m sitting in the front. You practically take up two seats.”

“Goodnight guys,” Izuku said with a silly smile, letting his weight rest against Hitoshi, allowing his head to swim and slosh. “I love you.”

“Get him in a bed,” Chisaki, his attention lingering on Izuku’s stupid expression. A quick flash of an underutilized smile before he slipped a white face mask over his nose and mouth, hooked the elastic expertly over his ears. “Keep your guard up a little better, kid. Otherwise I really will find that address.”

Everyone made their sloppy goodbyes and headed in their separate directions. The crunch of crusted over snow beneath three pairs of boots echoed down the still side street.

“You like him,” Hitoshi said simply.

“What!” Izuku squawked.

Hitoshi,” Todoroki snapped. “Leave him be.”

“I’m just saying,” Hitoshi sing-songed. His voice dropped instantly, sober. “I can’t see I see you two living happily ever after –“

“That’s handy,” Izuku said dryly, “because I literally have zero plans of that in the history of ever.”

“But I don’t know. I’ve been wrong before.”

“Marking the calendar of this admittance,” Todoroki mumbled.

“If you can remember this in the morning, then go ahead.”

“I don’t like him,” Izuku said, not pouting at all.

“You’re curious about him, though. When was the last time you were curious about anyone? I couldn’t begin to tell you. Nothing I ever noticed.”

Izuku couldn’t argue. Hitoshi did notice a lot more than anyone around him would like to admit.

“He’s not some piece of shit Alpha with a bad disposition and zero self control,” Hitoshi eventually added into the silence.

Both Todoroki and Izuku looked at him, narrow-eyed.

Hitsohi sighed.

“Okay. I mean – Shouto can back me up here. Bakugou isn’t a bad person. Not like the scum you fucked with before. This guy idolizes All Might like a father. He never broke curfew, never snuck out of the dorms, never got anything less than top marks. He talks and spits like a delinquent but that’s because it’s the only thing he lets himself get away with.”

“He’s not wrong,” Todoroki said. “We’ve fought alongside him. Lived with him. He’d turn off every light in the dorm before he went to bed and everyone was terrified to turn them back on lest they incur his wrath. People tiptoed to the bathrooms in the middle of the night.”

“Apparently he likes his beauty sleep,” Izuku muttered.

“What?”

“Nevermind. Why are you telling me? Suddenly you want us to date? Do you realize how badly that would end? The guy is a loose cannon.”

“And you’re a fortress,” Hitoshi said pointedly. “Maybe it’s time to come out of the high tower, Izuku.”

“And maybe it’s time you drop me off at my door,” Izuku said tiredly, pulling out the key to the entrance of his building.

Todoroki and Hitoshi surveyed him with equally concerned, pitying looks. Izuku hated that.

“What?” Izuku snapped. “He fucked up, guys. Royally. Not that he hadn’t before. A stranger basically took advantage of me when I was vulnerable. He could have busted that door down whenever he pleased.”

“But he didn’t,” Hitoshi said, Todoroki nodding beside him in solidarity. “I saw him when I came around. Yeah, I was pissed, too, but I was also as curious as you are, I guess. I’ve never seen him so, well, placid about getting a talking-to. There was something weird as hell about it.”

Izuku eyed them both, pointing the key at them.

“Just whose side are you two on?”

“Yours,” Hitoshi and Todoroki said together. Earnest eyes, faces. Izuku’s people, his pack.

“Yeah, alright,” Izuku mumbled, turning to unlock his door and step inside. He stood there, gloved hand on the handle, considering his friends. One of them knew him back to front. Had seen him at his worse. Bruised, bloodied, full of rage. Drunk. Making poor decisions. Dating straight up villains out of some misplaced need for belonging, acceptance, comfort. Hurting himself because he felt he deserved it.

When Hitoshi talked, Izuku couldn’t help but listen.

Izuku breathed a soft sigh through his nose. His voice was serene, tired.

“So what do you suggest I do, then?”

“Give it time,” Hitoshi said. “Hell, it took me five years to convince this one to go out for coffee with me.”

I actually asked you out for coffee,” Todoroki said.

“Uh, yeah, after five years!”

“I don’t even drink coffee.”

“Not every relationship can be perfect.”

Lips curved in affection, Izuku said goodnight and shut the door. Through the glass, he could still hear the two f them bickering and laughing as they wandered away.

Each stair to the third floor felt like increasing lead to his feet. Head bowed with exhaustion and ale, Izuku finally arrived home. He kicked off his shoes while greeting a yeowling Natsume, murmuring comforts and conversation as he dropped his winter layers dead on the floor. Natsume rolled in them, shedding gold and ginger everywhere.

Fully clothed, Izuku dumped himself face first onto the rumpled bedspread and inhaled deep, smelling absolutely nothing.

What did Bakugou smell like? Up until now – up until a week ago, when Izuku was mindlessly jacking off against his own door, he’d never put real thought into it. Why should he have? Bakugou had just been some unhinged, horny Alpha looking for a good time.

Now?

Izuku wasn’t so sure of any single aspect of his assessment on the guy’s character. Unhinged? Bakugou was clearly a well-spoken, intelligent person when he wasn’t screaming bloody murder and slurring like a hooligan. Horny? Sure, but he’d witness Bakugou hold himself better than any Alpha interested in his body.

No, he hadn’t broken down the door.

Looking for a good time?

Hell, they were past a good time. Bakugou wasn’t just torturing himself with Izuku’s presence, but was actively throwing himself in these situations, claiming – claiming what? Mates, bonds, meant to be?

“Fuck,” Izuku said into the blankets.

His lungs startled with an oof when Natsume’s gargantuan body lofted atop his back, kneading through his flannel with full, exuberant nails. Natume was the type to show his love through bullying – bumping his head too heart against Izuku’s. Digging nails into him with extra loving kneads. Biting his ankles wand calves with excitement.

Izuku supposed he knew someone else like that, now.

Give it time.

Izuku rolled over and smushed Natume’s grumpy face in his palms.

“I don’t think there’s another choice.”

Chapter Text

“Cops are here.”

Katsuki didn’t look up from the paperwork on his screen. Kirishima’s excitable scent vibrated the air like tangerine sunshine.

“Like I care. I don’t fuck with cops. They’re ten rungs down the ladder from us, dumbass.”

Detectives, then,” Kirishima corrected with a sigh. He dropped his chin on Katsuki’s shoulder. “You don’t wanna see Momo and Ojiro? It’s been a couple of years since they’ve stopped by.”

Katsuki’s ears pricked, his nostrils flaring as he caught a very distant, familiar pair of scents. Frowning, clicked his laptop closed and shoved back from his chair hard enough to send Kirishima toppling away.

“Them – why? Some kinda serial killer?”

“The Omega Murders,” Kirishima said, his mouth thinning uncharacteristically at the mere mention. Sometimes Katsuki thought he was too sensitive for this job. “I guess there was another. Let’s go.”

Fine, fine.” Katsuki thrust his hands in the pockets of his black khakis and slunk along in Kirishima’s wake. “Ain’t nothin’ to do with us. We fight the living, not hunt the dead.”

“Sometimes you have to do both to be the kind of hero that can sleep at night.”

Sulking, Katsuki followed Kirishima out of the office and down the hall.  When had his friends dared jump ahead of him? Or had he been falling behind all this time? The idea had never occurred to him.

Rapping chapped, bruising knuckles on the conference room door and holding his ear to the wood, Kirishima waited until he heard an affirmative and entered.

“Look who I found,” Kirishima sing-songed in the least professional manner as he shimmied into the room with his hands dramatically splayed to present Katsuki’s entrance.

“I’m not in the mood to break your face today, but I will if I have too.”

Katsuki strolled into the room and gave the pair of Beta detectives a faint wave and something less than as scowl.

Momo remained a towering beacon of poise and Japanese beauty, her dark hair cropped short and sharp since he’d last seen her, with makeup subdued and subtle enough not to enhance her looks any more than her natural features managed. Her navy pantsuit went a long way to concealing those busty assets which she’d accidentally flashed way too many times in battle.

Ojiro was as big and beefy as a nightclub bouncer, and a hundred times smarter than any meathead image he might convey to people who didn’t know better. His familiar, easy smile emerged as Katsuki gave him a sober nod.

“It’s been a while,” Katsuki said by way of greeting as he slumped into a wheeled desk chair beside Amajiki. Kirishima splayed in the one on the far end of him, next to Mirio. “Who needs me involved in this? I got police reports to file.”

Bakugou.” Mirio’s tone was rare enough to bank Katsuki’s irritation. “Anyone seen Camie?”

“Here she is,” Camie said as she glided in without a knock, her hair damp and her skin scenting of blood despite the shower from which she’d evidently returned. Her glittering lavender sweatsuit was her after-shift comfort habit. “Hey, Detectives. What’s up? My day hasn’t been murdery enough by far.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes as Camie took the seat closest to him. When she propped her fuzzy-socked feet atop his lap, he shoved them off, and earned nothing but a giggle.

“Now that we’re all here,” Momo smoothly segued, her voice silky and feminine, “let us indeed talk of death.”

Ojiro dropped a thick file atop the table with a thud. As Momo spoke, he opened the manila folders and stretched a line of graphic photographs, reports, and scribbled notes against the length of the table.

“Five attacks in twice as many weeks, three of them ending in death. The fifth and most recent, a single Omega mother of three and recent escapee of an abusive relationship, was pronounced dead on the scene. Last seen walking home from her second job in the early hours of morning.”

Katsuki didn’t glance at the photos. He didn’t connect to shit like faces, like lives left behind. A hero could drown in bodies like that.

“From those five attacks, three of those victims reported witnessing their attacker.” Momo’s lips twisted while Ojiro tossed forth three substantially varied artist renderings. “How much of this is accurate, I couldn’t say. All three swore by their accounts, and although I have no reason to disbelieve what they’ve seen –“

“It means this isn’t the work of one person.” Ojiro frowned at the disjointed map of death between them. “Perhaps three men, perhaps more. Possible gang activity.”

“Why would a gang go after five seemingly innocent people?” Mirio asked, mimicking Ojiro’s expression, his brow wrinkled as he leaned in close to the photos of viscera and gore. “These people are civilians. They left behind children, families, friends. None of them even have a record.”

Mirio got invested. Mirio was a drowner. Lucky he’d already learned how to hold his breath for so long.

“If anything,” Ojiro added, standing to compile the forms of personal information, “all five have been victims of violence in the past. Regular abuse, restraining orders filed on loved ones, robbery, car-jacking.”

“So?” Camie popped a stick of gum in her mouth that reeked of watermelon. “They’re all weak Omegas. You can’t walk two steps without bumping into half a dozen. What Omega hasn’t been victimized at some point?”

“How can you badmouth your own kind like that?” Kirishima said, standing tall from his seat so he could meet Camie’s unconcerned expression over the heads of Mirio, Amajiki, and Bakugou.

“How can you be that blind to what the world is like outside of our hero schools and agencies?” Camie said with a cocked head and pursed lips, her eyes large and direct, unflinching. “You don’t remember your life before you surrounded yourself with unnaturally powerful Omegas? We’re basically the one percent, Eijirou. The rest of them are weak and meek - borderline useless, sometimes. You know that, right?”

Midoriya’s sweet, stumbling voice snuck into Katsuki’s concentration.

Don’t be nice. It messes me up if you’re nice.

What had Midoriya’s life been like up until now if Katsuki was suddenly his fucking concept of nice?

A week had passed since then – two weeks since the night of Midoriya’s disastrous heat – and Katsuki had neither heard from Midoriya, nor had he made a point of wandering his way back to Parchment. Something about that night – and even the brief phone call – had disabled Katsuki’s balance. Left him unsure if his next step would lead him to new ground or over a cliffside.

“-gou? Bakugou?”

Katsuki blinked at Amijiki’s sincere concern so close to his side. He bristled and recoiled, pushing his foot off the ugly grey carpet to slide back enough for safe distance.

“What?”

“I asked,” Mirio frowned from around Amiki’s shoulder. “What do you think of this? You haven’t said a word. I know you’re not particularly interested in the plight of the Omegas, but –“

“I’m plenty interested,” Katsuki snapped, erratically scooting back to the table to finally face off with the photos, the data. He paused, staring between the three artist renditions.

He stood, massaging his already tired eyes between his fingers as he spoke.

“I think these assholes had plenty opportunity to kill every victim and remain unseen. They’d attacked under the cover of night and appear to be fast, strong, and skilled. Majority left alive and minority left for dead? Ain’t no coincidence. Whoever these people are, they want their faces seen. Why? Fuck if I know.”

Katsuki considered the quiet crowd and shrugged.

“That’s what I got. So, yeah. I’m gonna go take a dump.”

 

Katsuki swallowed a shriek when he left the bathroom and Amajiki was standing directly in the doorway like a pale fucking ghost.

Fuck, man! Let a guy shit in peace.” Katsuki gritted his teeth as he brushed past his boss. The hand that wrapped firmly around his bicep had him reeling, turning. “What? What the –“

“The man you called me about a while ago,” Amajiki spoke over him, his voice forever soft, but now firm with intent. His dark, honest eyes bore into Katsuki’s. There was something about an Omega’s plaintive gaze. Alphas might have been born to lead, but this wasn’t the first time Katsuki had found himself wondering at the compelling, almost persuasive weight an Omega held over their opposite. “Why did you ask about him? The sheer number of juvenile priors he has –“

HAAH?” Katsuki rent his arm from Amajiki’s grasp and took a step forward, teeth bared. “He’s nothing. I made a mistake. What’s with you? Why the fuck you so intense about some –“

“Do you think he’s related to the murders?”

Katsuki gawked, his shoulders gone lax as he took a weak step back.

“I – hah? No! You’re so far off I –“ Katsuki laughed, dragged a hand through his hair as he turned a circle in the hallway. “I’m – that guy wouldn’t hurt –“

“His record details otherwise.” Amajiki looked sad – fuck knew why – as he peered at Katsuki. “He’s not wanted for any outstanding warrants, and has remained clean for some six years sans filing a restraining order a then unknown, but now  currently known villain –“

Stop – stop!” Katsuki’s fist drove through the wall like a bullet train, his roar unheeded as he ripped his hand from the splintering wood and met Amajiki’s expression of mute horror. “Don’t talk about him like you know him. Don’t you dare –“

The wind screamed from Katsuki’s lungs as he dropped to the floor, his ribs clattering with the landing as the whirlwind of Mirio’s inhuman, Alpha snarls thundered through the corridor. Katsuki’s cheek cracked against the ground, his arm hollowing as his bent elbow pressed against his back.

Boiling under the skin, Katsuki struggled against the hold, his teeth snapping, his canines drawing blood on his own bottom lip. The very concept that anyone would come for Midoriya was maddening. Fury was a fire that incinerated any other thought.

Sound muted out and muffled like a blow to the head, like blood flooding his ears, Katsuki screamed against the weight pinning him down. Another Alpha, an Alpha that smelled of rot and sewage, keeping Katsuki’s face to the floor like a weakling, like –

A sharp, searing, branding burn at the nape of Katsuki’s neck, at his hairline. Teeth, sinking in, clamping down and holding.

A flood of relief swamped Katsuki’s limbs, tranquilizing, cooling the flames, loosening his lungs, his quick, shallow breaths. Instant respite, solace from the rage. Silence inside.

Time swayed and swooped over him like something flying far and away. Seconds or minutes could have passed until Mirio released the dominating scruff bite at his hairline.

With Katsuki’s arm suddenly released and the world upended as Mirio rolled him and took his hand to yank him to his feet. Wavering, faint, Katsuki tilted, his brow dropping to Mirio’s thick shoulder.

“What…” Katsuki swallowed, taste blood.

“Bakugou.” Mirio’s tone was gentler than how he’d speak to the dumb babies he met in strollers on the street. “Are you in rut?”

Katsuki straightened, willing his knees to hold him up as he boggled. He could barely think straight. Where was Amajiki? How long had he been scruffed?

Hah? No. Obviously, I am fucking not. I’m just -”

“Take the day off,” Mirio said, his arms folded across his barrel chest, his golden physique filling the hallway like some minor god. His lips curved, no anger in his stupid button eyes. “Get your head on straight. In fact, it’s Friday. Take Saturday off, too. Have a three day weekend.”

“Like fuck I’m gonna –“

“I want to see you back here on Monday,” Mirio said, his smile widening to the freaky thing he did when he used kindness to kill. “Monday. And when I do, I want you clear-minded and ready to explain what’s going on here. If you can’t give me one, then we’ll talk. Either way, go take care of yourself, okay?”

Katsuki’s face screwed up, ugly and disgusted.

Whatever. Fine.”

“Come on now.” Mirio reached out, clapped his big hand on Katsuki’s shoulder with enough force to sway him. His expression was bright and cheerful now as he pulled Katsuki in for a bear hug that went wholly unreturned on Katsuki’s end. “I know it’s hard having eyes on you at all times. You’ve never given the agency any real problems. I know how hard you work for this. So give yourself a break and figure out what you need to figure out.”

“Yeah, yeah. Jeezus, get a fucking talk show already.” Katsuki pulled away, ruffling his hair for lack of anything better to do with his hands as he turned and stalked toward the office for his coat. “Monday.”

“Monday!”

 

Wandering around midday on a Friday with no job or purpose to call his own was fucked up.

With a face like looming death, Katsuki plowed through the crowds, intent on the direction of his home with no idea what he’d do when he got there. When was the last time he didn’t work a Friday? A hospital would no doubt be involved. If he counted every Friday of his years in UA, and never missing a single day of middle school – the last time he’d had a free Friday would have been about thirteen years ago.

Biting back a growl at his own situation, Katsuki powered along, slowing only when the bottom of his boot slid and slicked across an icy patch. Fuck this weather. The New Year couldn’t come soon enough.  Maybe he’d glean some luck from it.

Just what the hell did he have to do to get Midoriya to look at him like he wasn’t the big bad wolf?

Not specific enough. Midoriya had briefly, and oh-so-rarely in their interactions, looked at him like he’d been hungry for a millennium. What Katsuki most desired was to pause those moments and work them open slowly, purposefully, with the intention of widening those instances until a full interaction came to fruition.

Shit.

A bystander bumped Katsuki’s shoulder and he snarled at their vile Alpha scent.

Alphas. Again and again, it came back to them. To him. Just what did Todoroki and Inasa have that Katsuki didn’t? Both heroes and Alphas? Who did they have to kill into order to get into Midoriya’s good graces?

Screeching to a halt in the icy street, Katsuki fumbled is phone from his parka pocket with numbed fingers. Scrolling through his contacts without letting himself turn back, he hit the call button and waiting, dead center amongst the weaving crowds.

“Bakugou?” Todoroki’s voice was always deeper than Katsuki remember. Less sulky teenager and more adult hero. “What have you done?”

ME?” Katsuki screeched as he restarted the rush to his home. “Fuck you! I did nothing!”

“Not from what I heard.”

“Snark me from the start and this conversation is over before it begins, princess.”

A sigh.

“Can I help you with something? I’m in the middle –“

“I don’t care if you’re shaving your fucking pubes right now. I –“

“That was one time.”

I want to talk to you. In person. About a thing.”

“Does this thing happen to dislike you specifically and –“

“And dresses like an eighty year old college professor meets lumberjack? Obviously. Don’t make me say this shit.”

“What do you want to talk to me about? It’s not business. Izuku's been more closemouthed about your mess than you’d think.”

“I need – ugh.” Katsuki felt nauseous, his grip on the phone threatening to crack the screen. “Just let me come over already.”

The pause was too long for Katsuki’s liking. His chest clamped down on his heart.

A sigh from the other end.

“Alright. Don’t expect much from me.”

“As if I would. Text me your address.”

“I find myself filled with instant regret.”

Katsuki pocketed his phone with a sickly sense of mingled dread and anxiety, a nauseous heave in his stomach he only got when he knew he’d have to ask someone for help. Rubbing the back of his sore neck and feeling the indents there, Katsuki hissed a curse and decided on a pit stop home to change into a turtleneck. The weather called for it, anyway.

When Todoroki opened the door to him in the exact same turtleneck, Katsuki instantly wished he had the ability to eviscerate himself on the spot.

Todoroki stood in the doorway, taller and slimmer than Katsuki’s own bulk, the doorknob loosely gripped as he surveyed Katsuki head to toe.

“Well this is –“

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Katsuki snapped as he shoved his way inside and crouched to work at his boots. “Don’t say it out loud.”

“Sorry.” Todoroki’s mild tone still managed to sound wholly unapologetic. His white socked feet padded across the floor toward another room. “Do you want coffee, tea?”

Katsuki scented the air, his nose wrinkled as mingled scents of Todoroki and Shinsou clung to the furniture of the immaculate apartment. The walls were painted in a mellow, warm-toned grey with dashes of muted teals and deep purple peppering the area rugs, accessories, art. The place felt like a weird ass spa. Katsuki half expected lit candles everywhere.

How many times had Midoriya hung out here? Had slept over, splayed out on that deep-cushioned couch of lush leather plum. What did he look like in just his boxers – those thick thighs always hidden in overly baggy corduroys or khakis, then other times straining against taut, worn out denim.

“Bakugou.”

Katsuki blinked out of the daze, top lip curling on instinct of another Alpha invading his thoughts, his space.  He turned, shoulders squared, and frowned when he found a mug of green tea offered out. Meeting Todoroki’s quieted stare, Katsuki took the cup, held it close in both hot palms.

Todoroki gestured toward the living space, taking his spot at the end of the couch, folding his legs in a meditative pose. Katsuki sat across from him, stiff and uncomfortable with everything going on here. He brought the tea to his lips, gaze hard on Todoroki’s unflinching one.

Todoroki inclined his chin, mouth sober in thought.

“What’s wrong with you?” No recrimination in the tone, just socially inept at saying the right thing at the right time. “The last time you asked me for help with anything, you wanted me to construct a workable keg out of ice.”

Katsuki scoffed into his mug.

“It was Denki’s birthday. What the fuck else should I have done?”

“You’re right. My mistake.”

They sat in a silence that made Katsuki want to run rampant and tear the room to shreds. Todoroki’s stare had always been like standing on the other side of a microscope.

“What?” Katsuki snapped. “You ain’t gonna say nothin’?”

Todoroki shifted a shoulder, dismissive, as he glanced at Katsuki’s bitten down nails.

You called me.”

Fuck. He was right.

Katsuki licked his lips, bit down hard on the inside of his cheek before he found Todoroki’s gaze once more.

“What d’you and Inasa have that I don’t?”

Todoroki’s eyes widened before his expression relaxed, his head cocked.

“What do you –“

“Alphas!” Katsuki flailed his free hand, a splash of searing tea soaking through his jeans. “You two fleabags are both Alphas. And heroes! Yet that guy calls you his best friends? What a crock of shit. What did you do? He owe you for something – that why he sticks by you? You save his life or some shit?”

Todoroki’s face screwed up in confusion before he huffed a laugh and shook his head in disbelief.

“Saved him? No. Neither of us have. In fact, Inasa and I have been friends with Izuku for the shortest length of time.” Todoroki frowned, fingers to his lips as he thought. “I started with Hitoshi at twenty –“

“Not for lack of trying on his side.”

“Yes, well, anyway. That was five years ago. Previous to that, Shinsou would invite me to hang out with them about two years prior, just out of graduation. Izuku –“ A sour twist crossed Todoroki’s normally serene features, his eyes flicking aside. The look passed, the conversation veering. “We got along. He was respectful, even kind, if not distant. Like how he would treat a customer, even though he wasn’t yet working in his shop at the time. Inasa simply started tagging along a couple of years later.”

“So, what changed?” Katsuki set his tea on the fogged glass table and leaned in, intent.

“I couldn’t tell you specifically. Trust? The passage of time? My bond with Hitoshi making me less of an inherent threat?”

Katsuki clicked his tongue in distaste.

“That don’t help me for shit. What about Inasa?”

Todoroki’s brow quirked.

“Inasa is harmless. If anything, Izuku attached to him quicker than he ever did me.”

“So why the fuck’m’I talkin’ to you about this,” Katsuki muttered under his breath.

“Because you stink of desperation and hormones,” Shinsou’s sleepy, slurred voice came from behind.

Katsuki’s face was already set in ominous stone when he glanced over his shoulder. Shinsou’s hair wasn’t styled up, instead scraped in a wildly thick bun at the base of his neck. His smarmy grin a mile wide, his eyes sunken deep in shadow, dressed in a familiar 1-A dorm staple of Pusheen pajama pants of days long gone, he was a sight that made Katsuki wish he were blind.

“You’re still alive?”

“I manage.” Shinsou slinked into the room and flopped back to the couch, wedged between his mate and his schoolmate. He looked between both of them, beaming. “Ah, this is nice. Like old times. Except I’m thriving and Bakugou is miserable. What a delight.”

Katsuki glowered at Shinsou’s pale profile.

“I’m not miserable. I’m –“

“Pining. Desperate.” Shinsou’s smile grew wider. He patted Bakugou’s cheek and didn’t flinch when Bakugou snapped at it, canines bared. “Alright alright, relax, Sparky. Let me guess – our dear Shouto has been less than helpful in your plight?”

“I shouldn’t have expected anything more.”

“Hey,” Todoroki said, with such a lack of heat it was basically an admittance of his guilt.

“That’s because you’re asking a guy who notices nothing about nobody.” Shinsou gripped Todoroki’s thigh and squeezed, aiming a fond look his way. “That’s okay. I see enough for the both of us. And let me tell you something,  Mister Number One Hero –“

“This oughta be enlightening.”

“It’s not about what Alphas are doing, it’s about what they’re not doing which earns Izuku’s trust.”

Katsuki’s face dropped.

“Great. Well, this conversation has been helpful. I’ll see my fucking self ou-“

“I’m saying,” Shinsou leaned in, a hand on Katsuki’s knee, lavender eyes sharpening. “Shouto and Inasa never did a single special thing between them.”

“Oh, thanks.”

“Quiet, you. Bakugou, Izuku lives in a state of constant terror of aggressive Alphas. He’s been through some shit – and, honestly, he’s put himself in a lot of those situations out of some confused desire to be near or around a man who will protect him or guide him in a way he never was guided or saved back before we’d ever met. It’s just that a lot of Alphas with those leadership qualities also end up to be douchebag lords.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, but couldn’t argue the fact.

“On top of that issue he has with his scent – well, the fact that Inasa and Shouto never hit on him, expected anything from him, or hell, touched him. That’s what earned his trust over time.”

“So I can’t touch him?” Katsuki’s own voice sounded tight and whiny, even in his own ears. “How can I-“

“That’s not my issue to deal with.” Shinsou offered a squeeze of Katsuki’s knee and released. He looked up, held Katsuki’s attention. A slow smile spread. “Though I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he’d go a little crazy if you entirely restrained yourself. I’ve known Izuku a long time. I’ve seen every shitty relationship come and go. Violently. And I’ll tell you one thing – Izuku wants to be touched. He’s desperate to be touched. He just wants to be touched without the intention of being someone’s prey.”

 

Katsuki had left shortly after, Shinsou’s words weighing on his shoulders. Evening’s early cloak had begun to fall, deep and dotted with freckles of falling snow. Happy couples enjoying the weather skimmed his periphery as he walked with his attention aimed at his boots, dirty in the slush.

Midoriya wanted to be touched but didn’t? Did that make sense?

Katsuki supposed it could. He himself had never experienced the biological drive to touch and be touched by a partner. Even as a teenager presenting as Alpha, he’d stamped down his baser desires with suppressants as soon as he could. Even with suppressants, though, he knew plenty of his Alpha friends still found boyfriends or girlfriends. Still enjoyed sex, enjoyed having someone to depend on and be dependent upon.

Katsuki’s experience had been vastly different, and he’d never given it much thought until now. Until he’d walked into that bookstore and found himself brought to his knees by the most heart wrenchingly powerful scent, Katsuki had lived a life without the desire for any other person.

Now. Now.

The night was sharp with black ice and crisp snow when Katsuki found himself staring up at the light in Midoriya’s window.  He approached the front door with a frown, noting the shiny, new set of outer locks set on the building. That was new.

He checked the names on the side panel, held down the buzzer for Midoriya’s name. The wait wasn’t long before a familiar, sweet and cautious voice came through the scratchy intercom.

“H-hello?”

“Hi. Um.” Katsuki dropped his brow to the glass panel of the door and released a shaky breath, white plumes in his face. “I just – I just want to see you. Can I see you? Please.”

When the wait had grown long enough to be a reply in itself, Katsuki’s shoulders sagged. This had been a ridiculous attempt, anyway. He needed a better game plan. Katsuki turned away.

The door buzzed open.

Chapter Text

Izuku was going to lose.

He was going to lose and he knew it. But the odds had never grasped much hold on him these days. Izuku already knew this life was designed to crush him down. What mattered was how much he fought before the sky and ground fell and rose to paralyze him in between.

“Look at that little bitch bleed!” The crocodile-scaled teenager tossed head back in a hearty laugh, his private school uniform as stained as Izuku’s matching one. The ragged cartilage of the student's ear hung loosely, a scrap of meat discarded at the butcher, the slick of a stranger’s blood a sludge across Izuku’s teeth and tongue.

Looking between them, it was easy to tell who had been admitted on a scholarship and whose rich parents had paid the way.

Well, maybe not exactly right now.

Izuku smiled, a red, dripping scythe, breathing hard through his mouth as his shattered nose blacked out the vision of one eye and screeched like a siren in his ears. He swallowed a thick, soupy glob of blood streaming from his bleeding nose, down the back of his throat. Vaguely, he recognized he couldn’t taste the familiar copper bite.

“Everyone expects me to bleed. What are your friends going to say when they find out an Omega half your size ear-tagged you like some kind of farm animal?”

Crocodile Boy’s henchman, a pig-looking Beta to the other guy’s Alpha, snickered but gave the two of them a cowardly berth.

His schoolmate’s eyes narrowed, pupils shrinking with rage as he launched himself forward. A wave of nausea whirled within Izuku’s skull. The sparks in his eyes were from the beating he’d endured and not from the flying elbow striking him across the eyebrow.

The pavement met the back of his head and Izuku snarled, a new fire flaring through his veins. Something volcanically violent, nothing to do with being Omega, and everything with who Izuku was, fifteen years into this disappointment of a life.

Legs kicking out on instinct, his sneakers met sternum. But his strength couldn’t match up to an angry, newly presented Alpha, and soon wailing fists greeted his gut on a rampant, merciless loop.

“You think you’re better than me just ‘cause you’re smart? Nobody likes you, Quirkless Omega!” Rough, scaly fingers clung at Izuku’s neck, squeezing with every faint slap Izuku flailed forth with his fading consciousness. “Everyone in class hates your depressing attitude! No wonder you don’t have any friends – all you do is sulk around like a kicked puppy. Other Omegas just deal with it and move on, put on a good face, but you –“

“Wow,” came a lazy drawl from nearby. The air shrieked back into Izuku’s lungs. “Isn’t this a hell of a show. What’s goin’ on over here, buddy?”

“That’s none of your fuckin’ –“

Blinking his sight back, the roar in his limbs returning with a fury, Izuku rose up from the cement with a scream and launched a single fist.

The lax expression on his classmate’s face as his tooth went flying was satisfying until he dropped to the ground like a marionette with strings cut. Something wasn’t right with the blank stare in his bloodshot eyes.

Groaning, Izuku rolled to his knees, sitting back on his heels as he winced up at the tall, looming figure casting a vast shadow across the bloody scene. Izuku squinted hard, taking stock of the tall purple hair and pale eyes.

The familiar uniform stabbed him with disappointment, failure. A life without a dream.

“I don’t need saving,” Izuku mumbled around a mouthful of blood that slopped from his lips. He wiped his sleeve across his mouth, jolting when he brushed his swelling nose. “Find somewhere else to play hero.”

The UA student’s eyebrows rose, the dark sunken bruises around his eyes probably nearly as black as Izuku’s actual bruised eyes forming from his injuries.

“Just giving you a breather. Literally. I’m pretty sure you had this handled from start to finish.”

“Don’t make fun of me,” Izuku snapped, wavering to his feet on weak knees before he dropped right back down to pavement.

Shit. His mom was going to be so upset with him. She already cried when he came home like this.

What did she expect? Izuku didn’t have anything left. The very least he could do was physically prepare himself for a life of being the world’s chew toy.

Practice makes perfect. Bloody makes badass. He’d never be the latter, but he would do his best. All Might had always spouted that stuff about being your best version of yourself. Izuku didn’t have that version. Before he’d presented, he’d had a dream of who he could be.

Before he’d presented, he’d thought a lot of different things about this world.

Now, he just needed to work on the scar tissue of his fists.

“Hey,” the guy snapped, the strength in his voice stopping the piggy student in his tracks. “Where do you think you’re going, bacon bits?”

“I’m –“

Izuku’s classmate went still, eyes like empty hourglasses, same as the other bully’s had been. Nifty. Izuku burned with shame. With his ineffectual, useless nature.

“That’s better,” the lavender stranger said with a sigh. He faced Izuku once more and held out a hand, his wide mouth straight and serious. “Don’t worry. This is purely on a non-hero basis. If they were bullying you, you had the right to fight back.”

Izuku considered the slim palm and strong fingers.

“I’m Shinsou, by the way. How’s that nose?”

Shoulders sagging, Izuku took the offered hand and hefted to his feet with a wince. He delicately dabbed fingertips to his mouth, came away with blood he couldn’t tell was from his nose or elsewhere. The hollow behind his eyes pulsed red and black.

“It’s fine.” Izuku shrugged, offered half a smile. He couldn’t tell if this guy was Alpha, Omega, Beta. Tall, lanky, eyes that saw and understood shit. He flicked a wary look back to his bullies, one standing there like a vacant mannequin, the second flat out on his side, tooth missing, blood pooled around his mouth. “Are they going to be okay?”

Shinsou’s striking eyebrows rose toward his wild hairline.

“Do you care?”

“Don’t you?” Izuku frowned at Shinsou’s surprise. He wasn’t some monster – he was just sick of rolling over for Alphas like a bitch in heat. As was universally expected of their entire presentation.

But Izuku wasn’t Omega – he wasn’t Alpha, either. The doctor had recently told him so. He wasn’t anything real. He existed between the cracks – fallen, stuck, forgotten.

“Sure,” Shinsou said, only half convincing in a blasé, tired voice. He eyed the two bullies one last time and added, nice and clear, “Now you two think about what you’ve done. You can move when someone decides to help you out. Let’s see how long it takes.”

When Shinsou faced Izuku, it was to meet Izuku’s puzzled smile.

“Shinsou, huh? I haven’t heard of you.”

“Most people haven’t.”

“Well, I’m Midoriya Izuku. I can assure you no one has heard of me.”

Shinsou flicked a gaze to the bloodied classmate on the ground.

“Not yet, anyway.”

Izuku sucked in a glob of congealed blood from his noise, swallowed it with a scrunched face.

“Well. Thanks. I’d better –“

“Come on.” Shinsou waved a beckoning hand as he began to walk away.

For whatever reason, Izuku followed. Maybe because the guy seemed to respect him immediately, or because he hadn’t butted into his fight. Or perhaps it was the awe from an actual UA student interacting with him like he wasn’t worthless. Like they could have been classmates in a different life.

Whatever it was, Izuku fell into step with him, biting down on the snap of pain from his ribs.

“What year are you?” Izuku asked, long beyond feeling annoyed by having to look up at those taller than him. He could hold his own – well, sometimes. He was working on it.

“First.” Shinsou pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it off. “Keep it. What’re you?”

“What am…” He cocked his head at Shinsou, forehead scrunched. “Um, I’m Omega?”

Shinsou smirked. His voice was very low, melodic, soothing. It was nice to hear him talk.

“Anyone could tell that a mile away. You’re not exactly subtle about it.”

Delicately, Izuku dabbed the handkerchief at this mouth and nose, ignoring the strange looks they got as they headed toward the city.

“Because clearly I look like the type who is interested in personal advertising.”

“I mean, what year are you?”

“O-Oh. I’m the same. First.”

Shinsou frowned as they walked.

“No offense, but if you’re trying to be a bad kid, you don’t look the part at all.”

Izuku bristled, even as he blushed to his toes. He knew very well how he looked. Doe eyes, soft hair, freckles. Compact body, slight stature, big hands and feet like a puppy.

“I’m working on it.”

“Omegas aren’t prone to much muscle definition, you know,” Shinsou sing-songed, his long, lazy strides easy to keep up with for how slow he strolled. “Shitty end of the chew toy.”

“And you’re the expert on Omegas?”

“Well, I am one, so.” Shinsou shrugged slim but sturdy shoulders. “I’d say I know about as much as you.”

Izuku gaped

You’re an Omega?”

Male Omegas were few and far between, about twenty percent of Omegas being male. Let alone a fledgling hero. The odds in UA were undoubtedly even smaller.

That slow, knowing smile spread once more, Shinsou’s pale eyes both unnerving and fascinating at the same time.

“Sure. Your surprise is flattering.”

“Yeah, well.” Izuku pocketed his bruised and bloodied hands, kicking a stone along as they walked toward who-knew-where. “We’re not exactly in high demand.”

“I don’t know about you,” Shinsou said, his eyelids low and sleepy as he stretched his lean arms in a yawn, “but I don’t exactly mind not being able to have screaming mini mes.”

“Maybe you’ll think otherwise when you find someone you love, though.”

Shinsou was silent for a long time after that, his face pensive. Izuku frowned at the line of discussion. The unfortunate truth was that male anatomy did not support what the Omega presentation craved. The slick glands within could produce, as well as the come hither scent, but – nothing would come of it. Male Omegas were not only rare, but inherently useless on that level. They could, of course, father their own children with a female, but that was an entirely different conversation.

“Where are we going?” Izuku looked around, recognizing the area but unsure of their destination. A sting of panic pricked at his chest, his heartbeat squealing into a new gear. If this was some kind of trick, some –

“The ER.” Shinsou quirked an eyebrow. “I get that you’re fine and all, but you look like you went three rounds with a dump truck and ended up in the trash.”

“I’m really fine.” He growing accustomed to the ringing pain in his entire face place. “That’s really nice of you, but –“

“Hey.” Another smile from Shinsou, closemouthed but warm and quietly confident.  “You got a problem with people taking care of you, or is this a part of the bad boy image?”

“I don’t have a bad boy image,” Izuku mumbled, now simply following along. Maybe they’d give him some good medication.

Now we’re on the same page.” Shinsou’s laugh was a little raspy, a little out of use. Izuku tried to be grumpy about the assessment, but couldn’t help but return Shinsou’s grin. He trusted his gut, and his gut told him this person was, despite appearances, was safe and good and humble.

“It really does hurt,” Izuku said under his breath. "A lot."

They both exchanged a look and burst into laughter.

Izuku couldn’t remember the last time he’d enjoyed a stranger so much. The trip to the hospital was actually fun. They talked about school, about their grades, comic books, the best nearby arcades. Shinsou's love for cat cafes.

In the tightly packed waiting room, Shinsou slumped down in the stiffly padded chairs, his long legs stretched out, crossed at the angle. With his arms folded across his chest, he was slunk so low that  his shoulder blades rested against the back of the chair. He looked up at Izuku with eyes like he might sleep any second, yet Izuku got the distinct impression Shinsou listened sharply to everything that came from his mouth. The feeling was foreign – to be listened to, to be acknowledged.

Shinsou breached the subject which tortured Izuku’s days and nights.

“Did you try out for UA?”

Nausea clamped in Izuku’s gut and squeezed, his stomach aching as he smiled thinly.

“I don’t have a Quirk.”

Shinsou didn’t seem to react, his gaze distant.

“Sorry.”

Izuku shrugged.

“Thanks. I’m used to it by now.”

He wasn’t anywhere near used to it. Less than a year ago, Izuku had presented as Omega on the morning of UA admissions. He’d actually planned to go – to throw himself into whatever challenges UA had in store for him that day and at least be able to tell himself he’d tried.

But he’d presented on that damn day. Stayed in bed writhing like some animal hit by a car, mangled up limbs and sweat and scent unruly.

When he’d properly come to consciousness the next evening, he had missed the tryouts. His future had been decided. By his failures, by his biology, by society.

“I actually…” Izuku swallowed, unsure why he was sharing this information with someone he barely knew. Shinsou felt like a listener. “I was going to try out. But I presented last minute and –“

“And it all went to hell. Shit. I’m sorry. I know I said it before, but –“

“It’s okay. I mean, it’s not okay.” Izuku’s laugh was short, harsh. “My mom never believed in me in the first place. She told me her relatives came from a long line of Omegas that had to mate Alphas and Betas into the family. I should have known better. I'd refused to believe in that stuff.”

“Fuck that.” Shinsou’s voice was taut and low, a hush beneath the chatter and groans of folk all around. “Fuck all of those people who tell you that you aren’t worth it, that you can’t do it. No one knows you but you.”

When Shinsou looked at him it was like buckshot to the chest. Izuku swallowed hard, his heart leaping in reply to this totally left-field positive reinforcement.

Right?” Izuku leaned in, crusted-blood face earnest as he spoke with his hands. “It’s like my mom didn’t believe in me before I’d even presented. Like she didn’t think I had it in me to be something better than just –“

“Just an Omega. I know.” Shinsou nodded, his jaw terse despite his relaxed position. “My own foster families kept passing me around because they thought I was going to grow into a villain. All because of my Quirk. Something we all understand, if any of us remember that we have brains at our disposal – all because of a Quirk I had no hand in choosing.”

Izuku felt a stab in his soul for this person, the struggle he persevered through so admirably. He nodded more and more as Shinsou spoke, feeling riled, ready to fight anyone who told him he couldn’t be more than some barren, weak, Quirkless Omega.

“Hey.” Izuku placed his bloody-knuckled hand on Shinsou’s knobby knee with a sober nod. “I understand. But here you are. In the uniform and everything. You are where you were always meant to be.”

Something brightened in Shinsou’s eyes, a grey sky clearing lavender fields. A flash of teeth, a grin that might have unnerved others.

“You know what, Midoriya Izuku? I’m glad I walked in on your disaster life.”

Izuku rolled his eyes, his smile blooming even as he couldn’t find it in him to take offense.

“Yeah. Yeah, you too, Shinsou.”

“Hitoshi. Shinsou Hitoshi.”

The doctor set Izuku’s nose and marveled when Izuku didn’t shed a tear. Izuku didn’t cry over physical pain. The salve was slathered, the bandages placed to Izuku’s eternal discomfort.

He continued to glance at the clock, noting the late time. He and Shinsou had sat in that waiting room for two hours, just talking, listening. Izuku felt a piece of his soul unfurl like a summer cicada from the deep, dark earth.

“Is it normal that I can’t smell?” Izuku said with a frown as he tentatively inhaled.

The doctor frowned, tipping Izuku’s chin to shine one more mini flashlight beam up his nostrils.

“I don’t see anything specific covering the area, but it’s possible you have some bone shards blocking your nasal cavity. There’s also a lot of coagulated blood and swelling up there. You should be alright. Give it some time.”

With a shrug, Izuku slid from the hospital bed and peered over his shoulder. He couldn’t help but smile.

“You coming?”

Shinsou hopped off the countertop, aiming a lazy salute at the doctor’s sour expression as he eased by.

“Hey.” Izuku bumped Shinsou’s arm. “Let me treat you for this. Tomorrow, I mean. Food?”

“Can’t say no to food.” Shinsou had happiness in his voice, even if Izuku kept looking ahead, walking toward the bleeding citrus sunset. “Where do you want to meet?”

“Wherever you’ll meet me.”

Chapter Text

The abrasive entryway buzzer physically jolted Izuku from his reading lull, his eyes bugging as he flinched from his bundle of couch blankets and pressed a hand to his heart. Huffing a laugh at himself and shaking his head, he tossed the soft cover aside and untangled himself from the heavy crocheted blanket of soothing grays and greens.

Thick, burnt orange socks padded toward the kitchen window as he placed a knee on the counter top to leverage himself up, pressing his forehead to the icy glass as he peered into the dusty snowfall and dark.

Frowning and unable to see the visitor underneath the shallow alcove of the building, Izuku sighed and hopped down.

Inspecting the newly installed intercom with a dubious eye, Izuku pressed the talk button.

“H-hello?”

The normally bold, brazen voice coming through the speaker in husky, muted tones melted right through Izuku’s bones, warming straight down to his toes.

“Hi. Um. I just – I just want to see you. Can I see you? Please.”

No bravado, no delinquent’s slur to his words. Bakugou almost sounded young – or maybe he sounded more his age than Izuku had ever encountered.

Izuku’s finger hovered over the entry button, his hand faintly shivering from something other than the cold.

The past weeks had felt like a lifetime. Like the years had shifted his perception, like he’d seen and felt more than should be reasonable in the span of time they hadn’t regarded each other face to face. A handful of weeks ago, Izuku would never have believed such an unsure voice could come out of a man forged of towering, volcanic obsidian, ash, and flame.

And, for the first time, when Izuku thought of Bakugou in the flesh, he did not envision a hulking Alpha of bullying hands and sharp teeth. There was…

There was more.

Shuddering forth a breath, Izuku thumped his brow to the door and squeezed his eyes shut. Without looking, he smashed the button down with his thumb and held it firm, long. And waited.

Forehead still resting on the door between which they’d both done strange and delirious things together but apart, Izuku opened his eyes and stared down at his ensemble.

Chunky woolen socks, his ratty high school gym shorts of faded navy, an oversized, thread-bare sweater that was so stretched out it nearly bared one full shoulder. Izuku sighed. His comfort clothes. Well, nothing could be done of it. He could already hear footsteps up the stairwell – a sound to which an average Omega wouldn’t be sensitive, but an Alpha’s heightened senses would pick up instantly.

Willing aside a nervous trill of high-pitched anxiety at the back of his skull, Izuku opened the door wide and leaned against the frame, arms folded across his middle in a self-hug as he waited. He tipped his temple against the doorway, pulled his bottom lip between his teeth and chewed.

When Bakugou came up the stairs to the right and stood solemnly before him with a brow twisted up like it caused him pain to be this close, Izuku resisted every urge to slam the door in his face.

I’m also not an Alpha who wouldn’t let you breathe.

Maintaining his seemingly relaxed pose against the door frame, Izuku looked up, quietly meeting Bakugou’s eyes. Red – red like pain or red like love? Izuku couldn’t yet tell which inference he could make with this man.

The corners of Izuku’s mouth dipped down as he scanned a tired, worn face, the shadows beneath Bakugou’s eyes, the disarray of his hair, the pallid complexion.

“You don’t look great,” Izuku said by way of greeting.

Bakugou made a sour face, his voice a cranky rasp.

“Your observation is a fucking treasure to me. How’re you?”

Izuku blinked at the question.

“Me? I’m –“ Confused. Anxious. Wondering what this is and why I’m opening my door to you. Why you’re at my door in the first place. Why you won’t give up on me. Why I don’t know if I want you to give up on me. “Why don’t you come in, already? You look like you’re about to drop.”

Before he could read into Bakugou’s shifting expression, Izuku turned and made his way past the living area, to the attached kitchen.

“Tea?” he said over his shoulder.

“Green.” Bakugou said as he slipped off his shoes and shut the door. The click of the lock resounded through the house like a gunshot, despite the dull mumble of the television in the background. “This place smells so much like you.”

“That tends to happen,” Izuku said, lips quirking while his back was to Bakugou.

On more than one instance now, Bakugou had made it clear that while he was undoubtedly attracted to Izuku’s scent, it wasn’t what he was really after. Izuku was beginning to believe him.

He’d noticed the way Bakugou’s hands had fisted upon Izuku opening the door. How Izuku’s aroma must have coiled around him like a noose, yanking him off his feet, demanding control. He’d noticed Bakugou’s nostrils flare and the swell of his pupils.

He’d also noticed how Bakugou hadn’t moved a single inch – hadn’t even shifted from foot to foot or moved a muscle – when standing before Izuku, waiting for an invitation into his privacy.

Izuku had never been very good at ignoring the good in people.

Setting the electric kettle to boil, Izuku turned and leaned against the countertop, his fingers clenched white along the cheap Formica edge. His heart rumbled like distant thunder as he caught Bakugou slipping off his parka, glancing over his shoulder at Izuku with those expressive brows and slash of serious mouth. Their gazes hooked and held, Bakugou pausing before he fully faced Izuku and discarded his coat.

“Where should I put this?”

“Hook by the door.”

Bakugou nodded without a word and returned to the entrance, hanging his jacket beside Izuku’s in a gesture that seemed so domestic it clenched at Izuku’s chest. But a bolt of panic struck when Izuku watched Bakugou notice the fresh nail marks scraped down that side of the door. His strong profile darkened, fingertips briefly tracing the lines.

Before Bakugou could see Izuku watching – or the bright red face he wore – Izuku turned around and grabbed two mugs from a cupboard, busying himself with the tea.

“It’s kind of strange to have you in here,” Izuku said, feeling his tongue go loose with familiar blathering social anxiety, the kind that made him mutter and chat until he forgot to breathe properly. “I mean – hah – very strange. You, uh, your friends – old classmates? My friends? They said nice things about you. Or, well, some of them. I guess growing up together in school would do that. I can’t say Shinsou ever mentioned you in anything but passing when we were teenagers, but he knew I was always kind of uncomfortable hearing anything about UA because I’d so badly wanted to, well – that doesn’t matter. It’s interesting we were always just one person apart from each other and never met, ri-IGHT?”

The end of Izuku’s sentence jumped several decibels as he turned and found Bakugou standing in the kitchen, head cocked as he’d been apparently staring at the back of Izuku’s neck as he fluttered around the kitchen and spilled his brains out through his mouth.

“I think that’s the most you’ve ever said to me,” Bakugou said, the flash of his grin more familiar than the narrow, searching look he’d scrapped. “When you’re not chewin’ my ass out, anyway.”

“Well, you’ve deserved it every time,” Izuku muttered, eyes low as he held out the mug to Bakugou.

Their fingertips brushed, and Izuku swallowed a hot rise of excitement when he noticed his own hands were bigger and than Bakugou’s. Probably something he shouldn’t mention.

“Maybe,” Bakugou said, taking the tea without a thank you. He cupped it both palms, considering Izuku, who was busy burning his tongue on the tea for lack of anything better to do. His nerves buzzed like tall electric utility poles, the air around him vibrating in his ears.

“What, um –“ Izuku set his tea on the tiny round kitchen area table and sat in one of the two chairs, pulling one leg up beneath him. He peered up, regarding Bakugou as he sat across from him, their hands nearly touching across the center of the scarred wood where they held their cups. “What are you doing here, Mr Zero?”

Bakugou’s sharp features went a little hard, his top lip curling back as if to shoot off some automatic response before he shut his mouth and took a sip of his tea. Their eyes met over the rim, watchful and wary in kind.

“I don’t know what to do about you,” Bakugou finally said, a gruff impatience prickling his words. He held up a hand before Izuku could get fired up and shoot back. “I don’t mean there’s any fucking thing to do about you like it’s within my control, alright? You think I don’t know that? I damn well – ugh. I damn well like you because you don’t take any shit. You take care of your own business, your own life. You’re not some needy Omega dragging at my heels, hoping for some idealistic mate to give them six kids and a white picket fence.”

“A fence wouldn’t be so bad,” Izuku said, pointedly eyeing Bakugou up and down. “Keeps out the riffraff.”

Ha.” The corner of Bakugou’s mouth twitched as he brought the tea to his lips once more, the pink in his high, cliffside cheekbones losing their incensed color. He set the mug down with a quiet crack. He looked at Izuku with some expression of displeasure that Izuku couldn’t puzzle out for the life of him. “I want you.”

A fissure cracked up Izuku’s veneer of strength, of independence, of self-instilled loneliness. His fingers clenched around his mug, eyes widening on Bakugou as he powered forth. Bakugou leaned in, intent, eyes like brands, his words searing into Izuku chest.

“I want you, and I’m used to getting what I want. But I don’t want you if you don’t want me back. And I don’t want you just for –“ His cheeks flushed as he flicked his gaze away. “Just for that. You’re – you’re not boring like everyone else. You’re more alive that most people I know, I think. Or something.”

Izuku’s entire face had to be in flame. He knew it. He brought his thumbnail to his teeth on instinct, attention hinged on every movement of Bakugou’s scowling mouth, every flash of honest, impassioned eyes.

“I get that I’m somehow not your type. I mean, I don’t know how the fuck that’s a thing, but I now gather that it is and –“

“What?” Izuku yelped with a surprised laugh that probably shocked them both. He dragged both hands up and over his face, through his mass of curls, smiling in bafflement at this ridiculous situation. “No, I – the problem isn’t that you’re not my type, Mr Zero. That’s not – shit. I’m a mess.”

Izuku dropped his hands to the table and looked up, expression frank and true.

“I’m a mess. And I thought you were one of those guys who had a hand in making me a mess before, but – uh. You’re not, apparently. Not entirely. I can see that you’re trying and –”

Who’s trying?” Bakugou scoffed, slouching in his chair like a sullen teenager, crossing his arms in a way that had Izuku smiling in puzzlement at the range of emotion this man exhibited. He was a livewire, spraying sparks left and right.

“You’re –” Izuku traced a fingertip around the damp rim of his steaming mug, lips faintly curved, lashes lowered as he watched the circular movement. “You’re frightening. Frightening and exhilarating. And there’s no way we’d end in anything but disaster. Don’t you think we’re a little too different, Mr Zero?”

Bakugou straightened then, intent on Izuku’s face as he leaned across the table and gripped Izuku’s wrist in a firm but not painful hold. Slowly, the calloused pad of his thumb snuck forth, painting long, languid strokes along the gland of Izuku’s inner wrist.

Shivers and shocks skated through Izuku’s veins, bursting between his legs. He crossed them quickly beneath the table, his cheeks flushing bright and hot, attention entranced on the way his wrist began to shimmer and softly slick with every deliberate smear of Bakugou’s finger. His breathing went shallow, rushed.

“Hey.” Bakugou’s voice had dropped deep, a thick rolling smoke over Izuku’s clouding senses. Izuku blinked hard, looked up and met eyes more pupil than iris. “Don’t you think we’re not?”

“Not?” Izuku licked his lips, foggy and out of focus as waves of warm bled through his skin. His voice sounded faint and far in his ears. “Not what?”

Bakugou’s smile was all teeth, sharp canines tempting Izuku’s tongue. A sticky-sweet pull like messy candy drew Izuku closer, leaning too far across the table. Was he sitting in his seat any longer?

“Bakugou,” Izuku murmured, eyes heavy as he placed both palms flat on the table and leaned in, chin tilted, mouth expectant. “You’re too much my ty-“

The small table tilted under Izuku’s weight, hot tea sloshed over the rim, splashed Izuku’s fingers, and he was shooting across the room to put his hand under the cold faucet, cursing all the way.

Bakugou was on his heels, swearing in turn as he gripped Izuku’s hand under the flow of water and spread his fingers gentle to glower at the bright red marks.

“Fuck, man. You okay?”

“I’ve had worse,” Izuku said archly. His brain scrambled for clarity, for distance from this man who apparently had the ability to deconstruct him like he was the original architect of Izuku’s body and soul. The knowledge was unsettling and, now that the air of danger of Bakugou as an unknown factor had passed, tempting as all hell. He flicked a look up, considering the way Bakugou grimaced at Izuku’s fingers like they’d done it to themselves.

Which, well, they kind of had done.

“Question,” Izuku said, a little too quietly for his own self-confidence. He needed to be clearer, louder, more assertive. But next to Bakugou, something inside him just wanted to curl up and nest. When those eyes shot toward him like iron brands, that same beast within Izuku rose up in an ineffectual attempt to scent the air. He found nothing – couldn’t begin to know whether Bakugou was putting out lust, anger, affection. “Um. If you don’t like Omegas so much – why me? Why not just find a Beta or –“

“I didn’t want anyone,” Bakugou said, simple, succinct. “Why would I? People are shitty and relationships are a pain.”

Izuku boggled, then snorted a laugh as he pulled away and dried his sensitive fingers on a towel. They were pink and lowkey burned, but nothing major.

“Maybe we are the same in some ways.” Smiling, he looked over his shoulder and caught Bakugou staring again. Izuku blushed and hated himself for it. “What?”

Bakugou’s voice was breathless, and that was new, too.

“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to see your legs in shorts.”

Izuku straight up snorted an unattractive laugh, boggling at Bakugou as if he were ballistic.

What?” Still laughing, he retreated further until his ass hit the back of the couch. He sat upon it, holding the edges, grinning wildly. “Are you kidding me? That’s your big bad Alpha kink? You really are an overgrown puppy, aren’t you, Mr Zero?”

The answering snarl resounded through Izuku’s core, and Bakugou was on him in half a second, not touching, but either hand fisted on the ridge of the couch beside Izuku’s hands, caging him in.

“You have no idea what I want to do to you.”

Izuku swallowed, his legs trembling for reasons he couldn’t untangle were good or bad. They were all so intertwined, still. The fears, the past, the desire, the current.

“I think I might have more an idea than you,” Izuku said carefully, a hushed secret.

Bakugou’s face went blank, then bloomed with recognition – recollection, Izuku assumed, of what he’d shared with Bakugou, that night on the other side of the door.

And, to Izuku’s numbed shock, Bakugou backed off. He took a step away, turned and began to walk the room, looking at photos on the wall.

He stopped dead, staring at the open entryway to Izuku’s bedroom.

“What the actual fuck is that.”

Frowning, Izuku found balance in his weak knees and rounded the couch. He grinned.

“Oh, that’s Natsume. He’s my cat.”

“That ain’t no fuckin’ cat.” Bakugou’s distaste couldn’t be any more prominent than when Natsume lofted onto the ouch, all three feet of him from head to tail, and stood straight and tall, staring. “That’s a lion. Izuku, did you know you’ve got a fuckin’ lion in your house? You won’t go near me but that thing could tear you to shreds in the night and lick your bones clean by morning.”

“He’s not a thing,” Izuku crooned, already in kitty mode as he scooped a silent Natsume up and cradled him like a baby. He was heavy. Like twenty pounds, heavy. “He’s my sweet baby! Aren’t you? Aren’t you?”

Bakugou shifted from one foot to the other, the visible discomfort growing the more Izuku used his warm, doting voice, and the more Natsume refused to look away from the new stranger.

“Natsume,” Bakugou said, sounding the word out. “Like that author you’re always shovin’ on me.”

“Like that,” Izuku said, grinning now that he had a cat as a barrier between them. “How do you like him, by the way? Is I Am A Cat still in your pocket?”

“No,” Bakugou said, patting the ass of his jeans for some reason. He wouldn’t take his eyes off the cat. Izuku had never seen him look so distrustful of a situation. “I didn’t change from work.”

“You came here from work?”

“I made a stop or two before I ended up here.”

Izuku raised an eyebrow at the odd evasion. From what he could tell, Bakugou was a straight shooter and painfully bad at lying. He didn’t even seem to bother.

“Do you like it?” Izuku said as he flopped back on the couch, taking Natsume with him. “Work.”

Bakugou watched as Natsume yowled like a grown man and wormed out of his hold. He padded to the floor and found his way to the kitchen table, the spilled tea. He hopped up and sat there, again, watching Bakugou carefully.

When Izuku thought on it, this may have been the first Alpha he’d ever brought into the house. In fact, Bakugou definitely was the first. He shouldn't even be here.

“I fuckin’ love it,” Bakugou said, and he sounded so emphatic that Izuku knew he could believe it. A familiar tug of jealousy, of regret, yanked at Izuku’s heart like a yo-yo. He hadn’t felt that way in a while, and it surprised him.

“You love it?” Izuku said with a curious purse of lips. “It doesn’t emotionally exhaust you at all? The battles, the killing?”

He folded his legs beneath him, watching as Bakugou sat at the far end of the couch from him. Distance. Interesting – new.

Izuku’s skin betrayed him – itched to have those wide palms and scarred fingers over him. Shit. This was how he’d always gotten into trouble before, wasn’t it? Listening to his body instead of his better judgment. But this time, even his discretion was leading him astray.

“Idiot,” Bakugou said casually, the word holding no meaning or specific insult as he regarded Izuku with bewilderment, “Who the hell loves the killing? It’s not like any of us set out to do so. We’re trained to hit non-fatal spots. And if we do, it’s because the situation is past saving. We aren’t serial killers or some shit. How twisted have you got that in your head? I thought you wanted to be one of us, once.”

Izuku went deer in the headlights.

“Did I say that?”

Bakugou shrugged, narrowly eyeing the cat.

“Sure. Something like that, once.”

“I’m surprised you remember.”

“I’m smarter than you give me credit for. And then smarter than whatever credit you’d give me.”

“Oh man.” Izuku rolled his eyes, but the laugh rolled off his tongue easily. “You’re confident, huh?”

“What’s not to be confident about?” Bakugou asked, eyebrows raised with such belligerent, golden-boy assurance that Izuku wanted to pinch him.

“Your attitude, for one,” Izuku said, smiling widely without even realizing it. “You’re unbearable.”

Expression utterly serious, Bakugou held his arms out, referencing himself for good measure.

“And yet here you are. Bearing me. It’s a Christmas fuckin’ miracle.”

Izuku’s cheeks ached from smiling, from giggling as he looked away, unable to hold back the grin or his cheeks from burning.  Natsume considered him with gold eyes of displeasure. Izuku aimed a look in return. Stop judging me!

“Question,” Bakugou said softly, mirroring Izuku from the kitchen.

Izuku went still, watchful, a deer on the edge of the wood.

“Depends on the question.”

Bakugou nodded.

“Will you go on a date with me?”

Izuku’s skin felt too tight, too hot as he regarded Bakugou with shuttered eyes.

“I don’t date. I’m sorry.”

Bakugou’s eyes narrowed, fiery kilns.

“Why?”

“Why should I tell you?”

“Because I damn well care about you. Can’t you tell? What kinda nerd are you who can’t read between the lines? Hell, just read the fuckin’ lines!”

“I said I don’t date,” Izuku said stiffly, struggling to a stand when his body screamed out warning signals left and right. Angry Alpha, angry Alpha! “I d-don’t need to explain my-myself to you. I don’t – I don’t owe you for being nice to me or interested in me.”

Bakugou stood, towering over him, face full of fury, or something Izuku didn’t know him well enough to read or understand.

Izuku waited for the tirade.

“Fine,” Bakugou snapped. “Whatever. See if I care.”

He turned, going for his winter boots, dropping to a crouch to work the high laces.

Izuku stood there, gawking at Bakugou’s sullen silence. He could still feel the air crackling and sparking with Bakugou’s sudden and intense disappointment.

Where was the yelling – the intimidation?

Bakugou stood and Izuku flinched with the movement, took a step back even though he was already more than an arm’s length away.

Slipping on his coat, Bakugou raised a haughty eyebrow, his mouth set in a thin line as he considered Izuku from head to toe.

“I’m gonna go. Thanks for letting me in. It’s been… somethin’, alright.”

Cemented in place and silent, Izuku watched as Bakugou yanked open the door with too much strength, the hinges creaking against the force. He crossed into the hallway and turned, eyes blazing as they met Izuku’s from afar.

“I still want you, Izuku. And I think maybe you don’t know what you want.”

Izuku couldn’t find it in him to reply. He could only watch Bakugou disappear down the stairs, jumping in place as the bottom floor door slammed behind him.

His own front door still wide open, Izuku dropped onto the couch, head between his knees, and stared at the floor.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale.

How did this man cauterize his bullshit every single time?

Chapter Text

The room spun and quaked with the force of Mina and Jirou’s cacophonous karaoke, and everywhere Katsuki looked, he saw Hello Kitty. Apparently every room had been booked for New Year’s Eve – sans the hot pink, black, and white glitter room adorned with wild rainbow lighting and a disco ball swirling above their heads. If Wonderland were hell, Katsuki imagined it would be something like this.

While the lush, white leather seats were comfortable enough, the room had long grown hot and musty with the force of half a dozen drunkards sweating and singing and slurping heavily alcoholic drinks. The party was in full swing, and midnight loomed over everyone’s head like the glittering disco ball. The entire crowd of idiots began to sing along with Mina and Jirou, a veritable sonic boom of sound.

Katsuki sipped his drink coolly, envisioning the entire ball snapping from the ceiling and shattering across the table before them.

Now that would be a fun night.

The song ended with a round of raucous applause, and Katsuki grinned a rolled his eyes as his friends made a show of accepting thanks for their performance. He wasn’t not having fun or anything – he’d never pass up an opportunity to watch his pack make fools of themselves – but there was something missing.

That which was his.

The conversation a handful of days ago plagued him. He’d had time to turn analyze every spoken word in all directions, to dissect Midoriya’s actions, his voice, the retreat and return of his gaze. Katsuki couldn’t claim any experience in romantic relationships, and he wouldn’t try to, but there was one thing he’d grown to know from the other nights’ conversation.

Midoriya did want him. They desired each other, and for a moment, Midoriya had looked as lost in Katsuki has he was in Midoriya. Whether or not the skittish Omega wanted to fully acknowledge or pursue that ever again was another matter.

Midoriya didn’t just have bruises. He had been eviscerated and sewn up with all the innards misaligned. The more Midoriya let Katsuki see of him, the more the illustration of a man, mangled and left unmanaged in the world, came into color.

All the same, Katsuki’s heart howled for him now, louder than ever. The beast in him bared its teeth for a bite, salivated for that summer storm scent.

The hunger kept him awake. Night after night, Katsuki had gripped his cock in the shadows, bringing himself to hot, sticky climax with the fresh image of those thick, sturdy thighs wrapped around him, welcoming him in. Katsuki had known those legs would be a fucking gift, simply from the look of them in jeans and ugly corduroys. The reality in threadbare gym shorts had been enough to frazzle his thoughts not once, but twice upon their meeting.

What Omega had a pair of thighs like bricks?

Okay, Kirishima was a fucking brick house, but he was a hero. He took an abnormal amount of nutritional supplements, consumed protein like a shark, and was on a regimen of testosterone shots to keep his muscles built and primed for his position as a high ranking Pro Hero. His routine wasn’t unusual for many Omega Pros who depended primarily on strength in battle. Kirishima’s Quirk also primed his physique and strength more than an average Omega.

So what was Midoriya’s Quirk? Omegas didn’t just walk around like Midoriya Izuku. The women were curvaceous and soft in shape, while the men were slim and more subtly muscled. True, male Omegas were few and far between, but Katsuki hadn’t been living under a fucking rock. He knew what a male Omega looked like – had grown up beside shitty Shinsou for years and years.

Midoriya was no average Omega. So, what the hell was his Quirk?

He could only ask. It wasn’t necessarily good etiquette to enquire these days, but since when had that ever dissuaded Katsuki from literally anything?

Katsuki sighed into his drink and finished it off, sinking into the warm slosh of alcohol in his system. He missed that little shit with the deep, wary forest eyes and slow-to-rise sunshine smile. A mind like a lightning strike and a stubborn streak just as bright and blinding.

Asshole. Couldn’t even enjoy a fucking night out these days without it ruined by thoughts of the mate who wouldn’t have him. No one else had to go through shit like this.

“You’re turn!” Mina dropped into Katsuki’s lap in a flurry of fake white furs and painted-on leather pants. She lolled her arms around Katsuki’s neck and grin, her black lipstick framing a demon’s smile. “Sing, Bakuboy, sing!”

Nonplussed and refusing the smile that played at his lips, Katsuki stared her down as Denki and Sero chanted on either side of him like brainless minions.

“I’m not singing,” Katsuki said flatly. “Gotta piss.”

“Don’t break the seal!” Kirishima hollered from down the cushioned seats. Jirou snatched a drink from his hand and took it for herself as he spoke. “You’ll pee the night away if you do!”

“Not all of us have bladders the size of Denki’s brain.” Katsuki promptly shoved Mina to the side and stood, righting his skewed, black dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to elbows. At some point the top two buttons of his shirt had popped open to expose his collar and a faint fuzz of chest hair, but he was too far gone on whiskey to work with that shit. “Don’t destroy the place while I’m gone.”

“I’ll hold down the fort,” Jirou said with a flushed face and glazed eyes.

“Oh yeah,” Katsuki monotoned as he waved a loose hand and saw himself out. “That seems fuckin’ likely.”

The punch of petrichor was a sudden deluge to Katsuki’s senses, an overload that soaked him to the bone and weakened his wobbly knees. He dropped to a crouch with a sudden gasp, eyes wide, head whipping around this way and that to search the dim hallway for the source of the smell.

Mine, the deep growl came from the pit of him. Mine. Where!

Midoriya. Katsuki scrubbed his rough hands over his face and inhaled deep, slow, calming the beast. The hairs on his arms and neck stood to attention, his skin electrified, prickled with Midoriya’s presence. He was somewhere in this place, and Katsuki had to know. Had to see him, smell him, touch –

A low rumble rolled in his throat like distant thunder as Katsuki stood. Inclining his chin, he scented the air, eyes narrowed as he stomped down the hall to the first door beside his group. Face set in harsh lines, he whipped the door open and –

Midoriya paused mid-song – something from an old anime of their childhood – and looked over his shoulder with comically large eyes. He stood on the table, microphone in hand, cheeks pink, hair awry, wearing those ripped to hell jeans, a t-shirt that faded and seeped from green to grey, and a pair of garish red high tops. He was a mess and the most gorgeous thing Katsuki had ever seen. He wanted to throw Midoriya over his shoulder and carry him away.

Bakugou?” The name bounced off the walls psychedelically lit room as Midoriya gawked and spoke directly in the microphone, his voice heavy and subtly slurred. “You look hot.”

Katsuki’s hand subconsciously reached up to touch his hair. Mina had fucked with it for half a damn hour before they’d left. Twin sets of thin braids on either side of Bakugou’s head, from temple to nape, framed his wild hair down the center in a disarrayed faux hawk. Bakugou thought he looked ridiculous, slim braids and all. He wasn’t in a fucking boy band.

But the way Midoriya devoured him with his eyes, a wolf emerging from the forest on the prowl, had him wondering just what he owed Mina to thank her.

“Well this sure is a thing,” was all Shinsou said as he lithely crossed his legs in the booth and took a long, considering sip of his drink. Todoroki waved weakly, his shoulders heaving with a sigh.

“Bakugou Katsuki!” The hulking mountain that was Inasa practically rattled the furnishings as he stood and approached Katsuki in a back-cracking embrace. “What a surprise! Are you here for our Midoriya, because I’m afraid I can’t let you have him. You see, his heart is like a delicate flow-“

“That’s enough.” A sharp, concise voice shoved in on Inasa’s rambling, and then the unholy cat eyes of that creep Chisaki were sneering around Inasa’s arm. “Clearly Mr Big Shot here has the wrong door. Make sure you close it on the way out.”

Flaring with the fight in an instant, Katsuki’s bloodthirsty smile stretched from ear to ear as he leaned into the doorway, peering past Inasa to loom his face toward Chisaki’s.

“Come out into the hall with me and I’ll gladly shut the door. Wouldn’t want to embarrass you in front of your friends. I could snap you in half over my knee.”

“So that’s how you solve all of your battles, huh?” Chisaki snapped back, now rounding Inasa to jut his sharp chin in Kasuki’s face. His angular face and eyes made Katsuki think of hawks, of wildcats, talons. “Abuse of Quirk – indiscriminate destruction? The usual hero playbook.”

“Hey now,” Shinsou said from the other side of the room.

“Like you’re perfect,” Midoriya’s voice cut through as he wedged himself from around Inasa’s otherwise and bumped Chisaki with a shoulder. His chastising look was stony and Chisaki’s was scalpel sharp in return. How the hell were these two friends? “Come on, let me just, uh –“

Midoriya carded a hand through his curls, blinking hard for a second. He was clearly a couple sheets to the wind. When his bright eyes focused on Katsuki, the swell of his pupils could have swallowed Katsuki up.

“Bakugou. Uh. Mr Zero. Hi. What’re you…”

“I smelled you.” Katsuki watched the wary darkness leech into Midoriya’s eyes as he scrambled to straighten his thoughts. “In the hall, in the fuckin’ hall, you idiot. I didn’t follow you nowhere, dammit! I’m just – I’m next door.”

“Next door?” Shinsou popped up from Inasa’s shoulder like a fucking meerkat. “Who? Everyone?”

“Who the hell is everyone?” Katsuki snapped impatiently, barely sparing him a glance. Midoriya’s face was running rampant with emotion, and the booze had clearly loosened his facial control. Confusion, distrust, concern – desire. “Yeah, I mean I guess. Go over there. Kirishima will shit himself.”

“Great,” Chisaki said, immobile at Midoriya’s side. A fucking gargoyle carved of merciless stone. “More heroes.”

Katsuki ran his tongue across his teeth, thumbs hooking in the belt loops as he unfurled his hunched shoulders to full height and considered Chisaki from down his nose.

“For someone who don’t like heroes you sure are fuckin’ with plenty of ‘em, hah, vigilante? Yeah, I looked you up. I heard a’you before. You’re that one who organizes all the anti-Hero marches, running the streets with your yakuza buddies offing villains like you got the right. And you talk about killin’ like it’s something only we do.”

Chisaki shifted to step forward and Midoriya’s arm snapped out across his chest, his scent tart with warning, even though Katsuki knew he had no control over how well he exhibited his fragrance. There was something of a natural leader in Midoriya, which made him all the more intriguing.

The fact that Chisaki did not break past the barrier spoke volumes to their relationship, and it itched between Katsuki’s shoulder blades over just what that entailed.

Chisaki’s voice was smooth as a blade, his gaze blazing gold.

“I deal with the real villains you idiots are too fumbling and stupid to unearth. The people behind me are more intelligent than the entirety of the room beside us –“

Aw,” from Shinsou. “Inaccurate, but –“

“They got work done. Not how I’d do it, but they do it. They aren’t killing for the glory or the gold – they’re doing what they must to make this world a better place. They aren’t flaunting their Quirks like it’s a fucking show. You on the other hand.” Chisaki flicks a thin brow, long eyelashes sweeping low as he surveys Katsuki with a smirk. “You’re just Tokyo’s trophy wife, aren’t you? The pretty thing they put on the magazines. Vacant of genuine talent, vapid –“

“Say that a little closer, you sneaky fuck!”

And Katsuki was launching across the short space, fist flying in tandem with his temper.

Strong, scarred fingers snapped around Katsuki’s wrist in lightning speed, diverting his punch, sending it whistling past Chisaki’s ear. Inasa was wall before Chisaki and Shinsou, and Midoriya keeping hold of Katsuki’s forearm, glare dark as he inserted himself between the mayhem.

Hey.” Midoriya’s fingers were firm and calloused but his grip was not painful as he took a step in, Katsuki’s arms trapped between their chests. Midoriya’s breath smelled like beer and his eyes unfocussed and refocussed on Katsuki’s lips. “Stop. Stop. Ignore him. I hate this stuff. It’s the New Year. Let’s just have a good time.”

Midoriya flung a look over his shoulder, and while Katsuki couldn’t see the face he’s making, Chisaki reacted with a sour expression of his own before slinking back into the room to collect his coat.

“Let’s head into the other room.” Midoriya considered Katsuki quietly as the group behind him broke down mumbling and grabbing their plates of food and drink for travel. “I’d like to know what kind of friends you keep.”

“They’re a lot friendlier than yours,” Katsuki muttered, the place where Midoriya wouldn’t release him growing feverishly hot. That scent was different tonight. Thicker, lush, monsoon wet and dripping. Katsuki shuddered against the onslaught.

“They’re overly protective.” Midoriya shrugged and finally let his hands fall to his sides. When he peered up at Katsuki through his lashes, it was with a curve of some self-deprecating smile. “I have a habit of picking the worst kinds of guys for me. I’m – yeah. Not the best judge of character, sometimes. Or maybe I know full well what I’m doing and I walk into it anyway. Either way, these guys know. Chisaki especially. I think he feels a little guilty because he –“

“As riveting as this is,” Shinsou said, leaning in to take a sip from the straw of the drink Todoroki held. “Let’s get into this UA reunion.”

Chisaki grimaced before he promptly pulled up the white medical mask that hung at his ears, up and over his mouth.

“I’m in hell.”

That was something with which Katsuki could agree.

Then Midoriya was at his ear, a clumsy hand on Katsuki’s hip as he pushed him into the hallway, allowing room for everyone to pass.

“Can I talk to you for a second?”

A coil of bright green vines and supple earth curled around Katsuki, soaked into him, made his mouth water.

“What – yeah, sure.”

Midoriya leaned against the wall behind the open door, using it as a barrier to hide behind while his friends ambled down the corridor. Those doe eyes had returned, wavering between his feet and somewhere over Katsuki’s shoulder. With his hands twisted behind his back and his chin bowed, Midoriya might have been mistaken for a ‘proper’ Omega. Katsuki was glad that he was nothing of the sort.

Katsuki wanted to loft him up by those thick thighs and press him against that wall. Wanted to grind into him, feel Midoriya’s belt buckle imprint cold and merciless against his stomach. Wanted to tangle and lose himself in that scent of secret gardens and fathomless forests. Slide his throat over Midoriya’s, streak his scent across him, rock into him until the snarling beast he’d heard on the other side of the door that night of heat returned in full force to rip at him in turn.

Don’t touch, don’t touch, don’t touch.

Katsuki curled his fingers into fists and cocked his head.

“We standin’ here all night or you gonna make somethin’ happen?”

“I’m sorry about before,” Midoriya spilled out in a rush, his cheeks a bitable shade of strawberry. “About getting, uh, weird all of a sudden. Not that I – not that I want to d-date you or anything, but, uh. The whole –“ Midoriya gesticulated with his hands, his mouth working soundlessly before he found his words, “You know. Romance, sex, whatever. I’m not – I’m not made for that kind of stuff. I did it and I was bad at it and they were really bad at it, and while you seem, um, something. Not awful. While you seem not awful, I’m not – I’m not interested in dating anybody. It’s not just… you.”

Midoriya finished with his voice going small, his gaze finally casting up enough to catch Katsuki’s eye.

They considered each other for a while, Midoriya seeming to grow more uncomfortable and fidgety the longer Katsuki stared, processed.

Eyes narrowed, Katsuki weighed the rejection in a way he wouldn’t have been able to some years ago. While he wasn’t necessarily used to the feeling, Midoriya’s words didn’t speak to him on the level that Katsuki’s cared about.

Midoriya didn’t want to date him. He hadn’t said he didn’t want him. The chemistry, the volatile connection remained. Midoriya’s coy scent still called to him. That strong, stocky body still told Katsuki what his beast needed to know.

But if Katsuki had learned anything, it was that as much of a fan as he was of Midoriya’s body – the Omega was not so agreeable.

“Zero?”

Katsuki snapped his gaze up from where he’d been salivating over the faint flush and pulse of the swollen gland at Midoriya’s throat.

“Nice speech.” Katsuki’s voice was coarse, husky. “You write that on note cards and everything? Come on, they’ll give us shit if we don’t appear. Probably think I’m ravaging you against your will or some bullshit.”

Katsuki placed a hand beside Midoriya’s ear and watched that face go up in flame. He leaned in, a grin slicing across his features.

“Not that what I do to you would ever be against your will.”

With that, he turned and swaggered down the hall, sure that Midoriya would follow.

Katsuki opened the door to a scene equivalent to an old renaissance painting in neon.

On one end, smashed between the wall and Inasa’s sky scraper form, was Chisaki. He drank deep from his glass, eyes a little too wide, pupils like pinpricks as he watched Denki and Kirishima bray off-key and with gusto. Inasa clapped along with meaty hands the size of Kobe steaks, grinning like a madman. Where he got a turquoise and yellow Hawaiian shirt mid-winter was beyond Katsuki.

Beside him, Todoroki looked glazed and sleepy, his hair ruffled and the collar of his shirt popped and skewed as he nodded seriously at whatever Jirou was showing him on her phone. In the time they’d been gone, Jirou had lost her shirt and was down to a black bra and some kind of mind-bending, full bodysuit of fishnet material. Sero had a leg flung over Jirou’s thigh, one arm slung over her shoulder as he peered over her to laugh at whatever he saw on the screen.

Katsuki had long forgotten that Mina and Shinsou had not only been connected at the hip in 1-A, but both went straight into Hawks’ agency to work for several years after graduation. The memories came rocketing back as he watched Mina throw off her shimmering fur coat and fling it over a grinning Shinsou’s shoulders. They spoke close, mouth to ear, hands on each other’s knees like twins.

Upon Katsuki and Midoriya’s arrival, pink and purple heads whipped up with matching smiles of glee. There was something going on there. It was then that Katsuki recalled Mina had been the one to insist on this venue.

“Shinsou,” Midoriya said gravely, only loud enough for Katsuki to hear over the raucous din of song and chatter.

“Fuckers,” Katsuki replied in the same tone. “Motherfuckers.”

Midoriya sighed, shoulders sagging.

“Well. Nothing we can do about it now.”

“Murder?”

“You and Chisaki have more in common than you think.”

“Diggin’ your own grave, shortstack.”

“Excuse me, sirs!” said a server from behind them.

Midoriya startled and slunk past Katsuki, rushing into the room, then stopping dead as he looked around like a lost dog. Katsuki took a step forward to help his mate – since when had that been a thing, the wanting to help some random Omega who could clearly take care of himself – but stopped and stared as Kirishima and Denki basically dropped their microphones on the floor and surrounded Midoriya like a pair of hungry wolves.

“S-sir…”

Katsuki turned on the server with a snarl and snatched the wide tray crammed with an array of bottles, glasses, and an impressive stretch of shots. Fuck. It was going to be that kind of night.

“You can go now,” Katsuki said, teeth bared on Beta, who scattered as fast as he’d appeared.

By the time he’d turned to place the tray, Midoriya had been snugly fit between Kirishima and Denki, dead center of the booth length, Shinsou and Sero sandwiching the former and latter with grins like hyenas.

Midoriya’s smile wavered as he looked from one side to the other, his hands folded neatly on his lap, fingers clenched white and feet pigeon-toed.

A swell of protective scent plumed from Katsuki’s pores, his skin growing hot from the fire in his veins that flared with possessive fire.

Move,” Katsuki hissed, not waiting for an invitation as he promptly smashed himself in between Midoriya and Denki. “What’re you assholes, scavengers? Let him fuckin’ drink.”

“Aren’t you going to properly introduce us?” Mina said, hopping up on heels that teetered. She rounded the table and leaned full across the drinks, buxom tube top doing nothing to keep the girls restrained as she held out a manicured hand to Midoriya and beamed. “Midoriya Izuku, right? Shinsou told me about you a long time ago. I thought you’d be bigger. From Bakugou’s stories, anyway. I heard you punched him! Not many get the pleasure. I’m Mina. Ashido Mina. You can call me whichever.”

Midoriya’s gaze boggled the more Mina spoke, and he ended up simply holding her hand throughout the length of her speech.

“I’m – yes. Hello. Bigger? Why bigger?”

Mina winked.

“Let’s do shots.”

“Uh.”

As Mina held out shots and made a point of greeting everyone properly – a true genial Alpha leader if there ever was one – Kirishima leaned impossibly further into Midoriya’s space, teeth glinting neon pink in the wild lighting.

“Hi, I’m Kirishima Eijirou!”

“I know you,” Midoriya said a little quieter than Katsuki was used to – he’d grown more accustomed to a mouthy, barbed Midoriya. Maybe this was how he was with people who didn’t go right into hitting on him aggressively. What a thought. Midoriya’s curve of lips was tentative but true. “Omega Hero. You don’t see many of them around. Men, anyway. You’re Bakugou’s friend?”

“His very best,” Kirishima said with such pride that Katsuki’s face burned. He gratefully took the shot offered to him, wincing as it burned at the back of his tongue.

Mina dropped to a crouch in her murderous stilettos, leaning slightly against Denki as she placed a hand on Katsuki for balance and met his eyes.

“Not what I was expecting,” she said, low enough not to catch Midoriya’s attention as he traded contact information with Kirishima.

Katsuki flicked a brow.

“What were you expecting?”

“A bear,” Denki said, downing his shot.

Katsuki looked on in mild horror.

“I told you he wasn’t a bear. Die, already!”

“I don’t know.” Mina seemed to mull her words. “He smells off, you know.”

Ashido.” Katsuki’s shoulders widened, his eyes flaring. “Who the fuck d’you think you’re talkin’ –“

“Calm your ass down,” Mina said, nails digging into Katsuki’s knee as he met his eyes in a steady dare. Just try me. “I mean, he’s not… He doesn’t feel like an Omega, does he?”

Katsuki’s brow scrunched. He flicked a look over, noticed Midoriya in deep, earnest conversation with both Kirishima and Shinsou.

“You just met him. Anyway, his nose –“

“Yeah, I know all about that already.” Mina frowned a little as she brushed him off and stood. She considered Midoriya’s profile. “Just different. That would be your type. Hey, Midoriya!”

Midoriya turned, his features less closed off, his expression clearer as he offered her a small smile.

“Yes?”

Kanpai!” She beamed and clinked her plastic shot glass with Midoriya’s, who looked at her like she was an overwhelming solar system and not a single person before he nodded and threw back the shot in tandem with the rest of the group.

The next hour muddled by in a growing haze of glittering disco balls, the white fur coat getting passed around and worn with increasingly bizarre poses for photos, plus a range of musical numbers and tastes that challenged the thousand song library the place had to offer.

As usual, Jirou was the only one with enough emo heart to scream alongside Katsuki when it came to his eventual – forced, pushed, threatened – turn. And while Midoriya did not perform upon a table as he had for his friends, he did go up and do a number after the second shot, his voice a clear bell and his shy smile making Katsuki want to crush him in his palm and keep him in his pocket.

Katsuki learned that Midoriya was a laugher. He hadn’t realized. Denki made him laugh with his antics, Kirishima with his clueless questions, Sero with his well-timed dry wit. Even Mina, whom Midoriya seemed subtly intimidated by, managed to make him sputter into his drink on a dirty joke about Katsuki’s ‘tits’, as she forever called them.

On the occasions in which they’d lock eyes from across the small room, or over the heads of two people ducked down to exchange secrets in the booth, the reaction was ever the same.

Electrical storm, lightning strike. Wildfire.

Romance, sex, whatever. I’m not – I’m not made for that kind of stuff.

Neither was Katsuki made for ‘that kind of stuff’. And yet here they were, starting fires across the floor.

Katsuki needed to breathe.

The atmosphere was wild and free, fun and bubbling like champagne. Katsuki was glad for it. Considering their profession, they didn’t get many opportunities like this.

But this was the longest Katsuki had ever been around Midoriya. Surrounded by his scent, one that cut so clear through the nine other people in the room.

Was this how Mina felt at all times? Could she smell Kirishima’s anxiety, his delight, his calm? Because Katsuki could for Midoriya, and it was driving him to distraction. To hunger.

Murmuring a quick excuse to no one in particular, right in the middle of Inasa’s bawdy power anthem, Katsuki slipped out, leaving his jacket behind as he strode down the corridor toward the entrance of the building. He tangled through the crowded communal bar in the front area, narrowing his eyes dangerously at someone who recognized him and said his hero name out loud. They quickly pretended as if they hadn’t seen anything.

Bursting through the doors and into the frosty snap of night, Katsuki pocketed his hands from the cutting chill and rounded the side of the building. He leaned against the brick alleyway, watched his white breath ribbon toward the stars, and wished he still smoked.

His lungs greedily sucked in fresh air, cleaning erasing the sticky, humid scent of Midoriya close, so close, and for so long. No amount of ice could freeze out the memory of his fragrance, though. Nothing ever would.

Katsuki pressed the heels of hands to his eyelids, struggling for clarity. Would it always be this difficult? Would he forever wonder and wish? Would he ever be able to touch, taste, know? Had he finally met an opponent he couldn’t outsmart or beat?

“Zero?”

Nostrils flaring, gaze like hot coals, Katsuki seared Midoriya with the most unwelcome look he could muster for someone he wanted nothing more than to embrace.

“The fuck’re you doin’ out here?”

“Y-you’re coat? Um.” Midoriya approached, looking as wide as he was tall in an evergreen puffer jacket. He held out Katsuki’s parka and swallowed hard enough that Katsuki could watch his throat click. “You’re okay?”

“You care?” Katsuki said offhand as he shrugged into his coat, thankful for the warmth if not suspicious of Midoriya’s attention. Midoriya didn’t chase people – of that much Katsuki was certain. “You need something?”

“Need?” Midoriya looked around, his large hands looking small and white and cold as he picked at a hangnail. “No. Nothing like that. Just wanted to – I mean, thanks.”

Katsuki snorted and smirked.

“Thanks? The fuck for?”

“Tonight.” Midoriya shrugged, the strong cut of his jaw burying in the collar of his coat. The wind picked up, ruffled his curls. His hair looked black and bright pink in the neon street lights. When he looked up, his eyes glowed in the same shade. “I really had fun with your friends. With you. I don’t really – I like meeting new people, but I’m not necessarily good at it.”

“You sound like you’re not good at a lot of things,” Katsuki said with a huff of a laugh.

Midoriya’s expression tightened and flashed with something more familiar – with the challenge, the fight.

“Excuse – “

“No good at romance,” Katsuki rattled off as he approached Midoriya, hands still in his pockets, but their shoes nearly bumping. Chests close, thick layers of clothes between them as Katsuki dropped his tone to something warm, deep, fireside secrets. “No good at sex.”

Midoriya’s lashes fluttered, attention flitting between Katsuki’s chapped lips, then up to meet his hungry stare head-on. He smelled like dripping sap from thick, groaning trees. Like the shifting wind of an incoming storm.

Katsuki tilted his chin.

“No good at people. No good at this.”

“Bakugou.”

Midoriya’s eyes were already closed. He sounded swept away, lost, a whisper of intent in the single word.

Then crowds were flooding from the doors of countless bars down the snowy strip of street, praising the new year and crowding the cold with racket and rising joy, cheer and laughter. Katsuki looked up, over Midoriya’s head, aghast at the noise, the interruption –

Hey.”

Icy hands cupped Katsuki’s cheeks and yanked him down, Katsuki’s eyes still open in shock as Midoriya pulled him close and met his mouth with a sweet, approving sigh.

Warmth, sunlight, flower buds yet unopened. Reeling, unsure what to do with his hands but place them lightly on Midoriya’s hips, Katsuki’s lids fell closed. Falling, floating, Katsuki held on, weak in the knees and wholly foreign to the feel of another person’s lips on his. When the tip of Midoriya’s warm, wet tongue licked at the part of his lips, Katsuki could only open with a broken groan, welcoming Midoriya’s exploration, his taste.

Katsuki would have stayed here until they were statutes, ice sculptures. But Midoriya parted from him too soon, the kiss quick and done before Katsuki could fight from his daze and process exactly what had happened. Midoriya's cold fingers laced at the nape of Katsuki’s neck, and when he opened his eyes, they were clouded, his mouth cherry bright and tempting, bitable.

“Happy New Year.” Midoriya’s voice was dazed, breath a snowy curtain between them, his expression honest, wide with wonder.

Katsuki couldn’t get his lungs to work. Couldn’t unclamp his fingers from Midoriya’s waist. When had his hands crept up beneath the oversized jacket and found skin?

When had Katsuki’s entire body lit up like fairy lights? His first kiss was done and gone before he could recognize it, appreciate it in full. He was only left with this subtle shimmer, this taste of something he'd missed in that moment.

“Izuku,” Katsuki whispered. “Do you feel it?”

Midoriya’s expression shuttered and he took a step back, away.

“Bakugou, I…”

“You can keep trying to run.” Katsuki took Midoriya’s hand, brought it up, hovering at his own throat. Midoriya stood stock still, face a blank sheet as he quickly looked between his hand and Katsuki’s face. “I’m starting to get it, yknow. I’m not fuckin’ stupid. You want that room to run.”

Slowly, carefully waiting for denial, for retraction, Katsuki swiped the wild pulse of Midoriya’s thick-boned wrist against the hot glance at Katsuki’s neck. Midoriya’s lashes fluttered, his breath shuddering out in erratic puffs of white.

“You want room to run, but you want me waiting when you return, right?”  Katsuki dragged Midoriya’s palm up the jut of his jaw, bared his teeth to scrape the point of his longer canine along the track of blue veins. “Right?”

A deep flush rose up Midoriya’s neck, stained his cheeks with blood, hazed over his eyes as his pupils swelled. He smelled humid and sodden, summer rainstorm soaked. Midoriya swayed, eyelids at half-mast, lashes blanketing the look of lust in his gaze. Fingertips curled, traced the curve of Katsuki’s ear, his cheek, before his hand slipped from Katsuki’s hold.

“Bakugou.” Midoriya took another step in retreat, rubbing his eyes as he mumbled against his palms. “What’re you doing to me?”

“What am I doing – me?” Katsuki sneered at the accusation, bursting into motion as he began to pass Midoriya’s unstable stance. “I can’t be your fuckin’ scapegoat for everything, y’know.”

“I mean. Wait.” Midoriya yanked on the back of Katsuki’s coat, meeting Katsuki’s snarl without a flinch when Katsuki growled over his shoulder. “I’m going back in, too. I just came out to –“

“To give me my coat.” Katsuki said as he rolled his eyes and headed back onto to the main street. “I know.”

“No, I –“ Midoriya tugged harder, and this time Katsuki rounded on him, snapping like a feral dog.

“What? You come out here, you kiss me and push me away and what? Listen, I know you got issues and shit and I didn’t lay a fuckin’ finger on you until you –“

“I really really liked spending today with you,” Midoriya interrupted, dropping his hands to his sides with an almost embarrassed look to the ground. “It was nice. Watching you with your friends, with my friends. Taking jokes, singing, just talking. Seeing you when you weren’t all – well, how you are with me.”

“And how am I with you?” Katsuki spat, folded his arms across his chest.

Midoriya quirked a smile at Katsuki’s sulk.

“Altogether different.”

Katsuki didn’t know what to say to that.

“You’re fuckin’ obnoxious and I want another drink now.”

Midoriya paused for a second before a sputtered a laugh.

“Yeah, alright. I could use a drink, too.”

“You could use some serious help,” Katsuki muttered.

Midoriya laughed louder this time and Katsuki couldn’t help the twitch of his lips.

“Right back at you, Mr Zero.”

“I swear to hell, you’ll die if you call me that again –“

Alright. Bakugou.”

“Good. Better.”

Chapter Text

“How does it feel?”

What?” Face twisted up in concentration as they ran up the icy hill in a steady but fast jog, Mina barely flicked a look to Katsuki. “This? Feels like shit. What the fuck, Bakugou?”

Katsuki kept his head low, his thighs burning with the force of their intensely steep climb. The winter months made their pre-sunrise jogs even more brutal. The ice was a major contender – the merciless wind, too. The slush in their shoes and every other damn thing.

“Since when do you whine? Shut your mouth. How does it feel, your –“ Attraction, desire, empathy. “Your thing with Kirishima? It drive you insane or what?”

“You want me to shut my mouth or answer your question?” Mina asked between huffs of breath, her eyes narrowed on the pavement still lit with streetlamps.

“I hate you.”

They reached a plateau, the street balancing out as they fell into step, their arms and legs in time as they quickened their pace now. The wind cut at his face like needles. Katsuki’s spine dribbled with sweat, and his toes had long clamped up with cold, but it was good. The movement, the unspoken race once they reached the end and both he and Mina scrambled in a last minute competition.

“It doesn’t drive me insane,” Mina said now, her breathing easier, her shoulders lax with the ease of their current pace. “When I’m far from him, he’s just like a song stuck in my head, and when the tune changes I’ll get that something is up. Whether it’s good, bad, whatever. And when he’s close, it’s like when you’re at the club and you feel the music in your veins, your heart, the soles of your feet. The bass, you know. It’s nice. Makes me feel alive, vital.”

Katsuki frowned, his run unintentionally slowing. He didn’t feel anything like that.

Of course, he and Midoriya were far from mated. Barely connected on any level. But when they were together, it wasn’t how Mina described at all.

Midoriya was Katsuki’s environment. Stepping into a room with him was like heaving head-first into a hot house, a greenhouse of Midoriya’s irregular architecture. His emotions, his being, his bones. His scent crafted something around Katsuki and he was half sure there was no entrance or exit to be found. Katsuki couldn’t claim he’d looked very hard, but nothing inside him particularly wanted to.

Three days previous, he’d felt it all. Or, not all. There was no way. But it was as if the booze had knocked loose a bar of Midoriya’s own protective cage, and the outpour had flowed.

Had everyone felt it like Bakugou had? Midoriya’s light summer rain of amusement like a shimmer and a rainbow all at once? The rusty, metallic taste of his distrust, his melancholy and his doubt?

When he’d looked at Katsuki in the snow he’d smelled like log cabin and deep woods, of a door open and the hearth warm and welcoming. He’d invited Katsuki with a purpose, a kiss both too quick and still enough to tell Katsuki what he’d needed to know.

He was so fucking fascinating and it infuriated and thrilled Katsuki in turn. He could live without the obstinacy, but hell, he could live with it, too. If he could just keep Midoriya for longer than a handful of hours. More than just a night.

“Hello?” Mina cut in, amusement and a lilt of knowing to her voice. “Are we still on the same plane of existence?”

Hah? Fuck you, I’m not the alien here. I’m just - hell.”

“Is this about you and tasty little cream puff coming back to the party with his scent all over you?”

Katsuki increased his speed, welcomed the burn in his lungs. The horizon stained bottom-of-the-lake blue, still murky, still only the suggestion of surfacing sun.

“Cream puff is the last descriptor I’d use.”

“But he is tasty,” Mina cooed in a way that rose Katsuki’s hackles.

“Can we stop comparing him to food? I’m not gonna fuckin’ -“

“Eat him?” Mina swallowed hard as she further the pace, her words puffing out breathless now. She clearly hadn’t the energy to grin any longer, but it didn’t stop the delight in her voice. “Aren’t you? I would.”

“Bitch, you said he smelled funny!”

“Funny doesn’t necessarily mean bad. And I said ‘off’, which he does, and you damn well know he does. The why is another matter altogether. I’ve never smelled another Omega like him. He’s like some kind of... Plus Ultra Omega.”

“The fuck do you know about it?”

“Nothing. Just curious about the guy whose managed to get you so wrapped up in him without being particularly interested in you in return.”

“He’s interested,” Katsuki snapped. “He’s not not interested.”

“Not not interested and interested are two different types of interested.”

“Not not punching you and punching you are still damn well gonna hurt.”

“Does it hurt?” Mina asked, with the same ease she enquired with everything. As with her Quirk, the manner in which she burnt down to bone, to the heart of the matter, was expert as ever and fucking obnoxious. “This thing you two have. Don’t have. I have no idea with you. There’s only so much information I can get out of looks across the room.”

Stairs. A vast alignment of stairs loomed in on their approach. Katsuki gritted his teeth through the burning in his thighs as they took the steps two by two, Mina winning the climb by half a second. Katsuki gulped at the hot spit in his mouth and grimaced at the way his guts turned and demanded water.

“Don’t know.” He grimaced against his own thoughtless, telling answer. Because he didn’t know. Not yet. Did this hurt? Would they hurt each other? Was he hurting Midoriya just by pursuing him? Was Midoriya hurting him by ignoring something that meant more to Katsuki than anything had in a long time. Or, ever. Would it all be worth it? “I mean, of course not. Don’t be fuckin stupid. Some help you are.”

Katsuki felt Mina’s lingering, thoughtful look more than saw it.

“Listen. Bakugou. I’m fucking with you. Well, mostly. I don’t want you hurt by some weird albeit friendly and really seemingly cool dude just because this is your first time interested in someone. But –“ Mina had to increase her speed to catch up with Katsuki’s sudden sprint, her voice rising just shy of a full yell as she tried to reach him. “Just because someone smells good doesn’t always make them mate material!”

The route’s end neared. Barreling toward Mina’s apartment building, first place shifting between them.

“Like you can talk!” Katsuki yelled, his throat burning. “You’ve only ever been with hair for brains.”

Rounding the corner and swerving between the innocent bystanders shuffling along the icy pavement to word, Katsuki emptied his mind of everything but the win. His muscles strained, hair whipping back from his face, his fingers clenched in fists as he rocketed toward the building’s entrance.

With a howl of victory, Katsuki slapped the brick of the building and grinned wildly, eyes alight with the chase.

“Suck on that!”

Mina’s smile was thin and placating, an underlying warmth of amusement softening her expression. With legs clearly gone to jelly, she finished the final feet in a wobbly stroll and stopped before him to bend over and grab her ankles in a long, languid stretch. Katsuki rolled his shoulders once and joined her in the stretch, right in the middle of the street.

Someone definitely clicked a photo as they passed, but that was the nature of the thing. Being so admired was the last burden Katsuki would complain about.

“That wasn’t always the case,” Mina murmured, her head still upside down, between her legs.

Hah?” Katsuki relished the limber length of relaxing muscle in his hamstrings, his lower back. They hadn’t walked a cool down. They never did. Neither of them were patient enough to just walk anywhere.

Katsuki stood with a frown, gaze narrowing when he noted Mina’s unnaturally evasive expression. She stood on one leg, pulling the other up behind her, foot touching her backside. She rubbed her lips together, wet them, weighing her words in a way few people ever saw with her. She was the Alien Queen, the party girl, the one hero of them all who attended the most variety shows, interviews – hell, she was in talks to get pulled into her own hero reality show, a first of its kind.

People simply did not see Mina  go serious.

“There was a time once, just out of graduation, when we’d... explored other avenues. You were in America in the time, on that exchange program.” Mina switched legs and rolled her black and gold eyes at Katsuki’s mute horror. “I wasn’t sure, okay. About us, about everything. The thought of being mated to someone forever put the fear into me, even when my body, my instincts, told me this would be a good thing.”

Mina aimed a quick look over her shoulder, find the sidewalk empty and the sunrise barely scraping over the horizon. Katsuki wasn’t sure what the fuck to say to that. Mina and Kirishima had always been A Thing. They’d never not been. To think of them dating other people – or more – was utterly... what-the-fuckery.

“My mind wasn’t so sure. I don’t think my whole heart was in it yet, either. Scared, you know? It was a brief stint, and I met other people whose scents I very much melded with. Doesn’t mean they were perfect for me.” Mina rubbed the arms of her thin running jacket and shivered, her breath puffing out to mask the softness of her expression, but not of her voice. “Maybe it doesn’t mean Kirishima is even perfect for me, either. But it’s who I chose. It’s who my heart wants, over anyone else.”

Katsuki’s features settled into stillness, his brows crunched close, his mouth a thin twist in deep thought. So they hadn’t just… known? Right off the bat? Neither of them?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Katsuki said gruffly, running a hand through hair going icy cold with his old sweat. He gazed off to the side, to the street growing more congested and noisy as the minutes passed and the sun peeked over buildings. “I knew. I knew from the moment I met him and he—and he has me, I guess. I don’t know how, but I know what I know. I never thought about or wanted anyone in the first place. It ain’t convenient, but I can’t ignore it, either.”

Mina blinked up at him, face clear of judgment.

“What do you mean?”

Katsuki scowled and shoved his hands in his pockets. He didn’t want to stand here anymore.

“Whaddaya mean what do I mean? He’s it and that’s it.”

Mina cocked her head, frowning.

“What, really? You’re serious-serious about this? Bakugou, you barely know each other. This is all new for you and -“

“It’s not like I’m in fuckin’ love with him!” Katsuki hissed between his grinding teeth, leaning in on instinct, looking to intimidate over explain himself. But Mina looked as unimpressed with him as ever. He backed off with grumbled and sigh. “But I - shit. I mean. I will be. Your body didn’t tell you that? Mine damn well does. Can’t sleep for it. He’s practically on the back of my goddamn eyelids.”

They looked at each other for a longer time than necessary. Maybe a staring contest, maybe not. Katsuki never knew if Mina was simply matching him as an Alpha or trying to overbear him. He wasn’t sure which he himself was doing, either. As was ever with their friendship.

“If that’s the case, then be careful.” Mina none-too-lightly punched Katsuki’s arm and flashed a short smile. Some kind of anxiety lingered at the tight corners of her mouth. “It sounds like you might have a connection altogether different from most.”

“The fuck’s that supposed to mean?” Katsuki said, relenting to the play fight by lightly shoving at Mina’s shoulder, sending her back a step with an easier, more mischievous grin.

“It means maybe the great and ever-single Bakugou Katsuki has stumbled upon his very own destined mate.”

 

For all intents and purposes, destined mates were basically bullshit.

Saying you believed in that shit past the age of sixteen was as good as saying you believed the fucking… the placement of the planets and stars having a say in your everyday life. Hundreds of thousands of books, poetry, movies, media have been dedicated to the subject, and yet only a handful of people here and there every claimed it really happened to them.

In truth, there were those who did claim destined mates and, in addition, agreed to perform necessary scientific examinations and experiments to test the depth of their connection. The results were always inconclusive with a side of strange and mysterious. The accuracy of the claim was as likely as someone saying they could speak to ghosts.

And while Katsuki was devoutly a scientist and man of facts, first and foremost… He couldn’t say he’d ever discounted those couples. He’d never given it enough thought.

Now, he was giving it damn well plenty.

What he really needed to know was this – did Midoriya feel any of what Katsuki felt? Not the destined shit, but any shit.

Walking into Parchment was like entering a fleecy embrace, warm amber with woodsmoke and evergreen. Katsuki’s cheeks flushed with the familiar scent – still so big, so encompassing, yet somehow fit exactly for him. Katsuki didn’t do anything by half-measures, anyway. Go huge or go home.

Instantly more relaxed than he’d been in three days, Katsuki stood before the rows of books and let his lids fall shut. He exhaled, and the tension seeped from his shoulders, melting to his toes. Some toothy beast within him turned around and around until it finally curled into a crescent, nose tucked beneath its tail, lulled by the aroma of home.

For the second time since he’d stood in this shop, Katsuki opened his eyes and Midoriya was standing there with a curious expression, his lips soft and cherry, eyelashes almost black and heavy over bright, intelligent eyes. His trim hips and sturdy shoulders were on display today with a long sleeved shirt in faded, earthen brown, and some kind of chunky, hand-knit scarf in shades of forest floor. And those legs. The unflattering corduroys were back, but it was too late. Katsuki already knew how unabashedly strong and shapely they were. Fuck.

Katsuki’s brain cells scattered, useless when he really fucking needed them.

“Hey,” Katsuki managed, his face contorting into a deep scowl that had nothing to do with Midoriya and everything to do with his own ineffectual shitheadedness. "You’re here.”

Midoriya’s mouth worked like a fish out of water for a moment. He looked around, hands hidden in his pockets as warily met Katsuki’s ugly face.

“Um, yes? I do tend to be. Is that – bad, or? What – how’re you? I mean –“

Katsuki wanted to lick those lips open and find out how to kiss for real.

“Fine or whatever,” Katsuki said distractedly, his gaze honed in on Midoriya like a mission. He strode forward, tearing up the space between them until Midoriya had backed up against the wall of an end cap. In a gesture that had somehow become second nature when dealing with someone so deliciously compact and perfectly sized to him, Katsuki slapped a hand to the open spot beside Deku’s ear and leaned in, his voice low and direct. “I wanted to see you.”

Midoriya’s pupils swelled, the rise and fall of his chest stuttering as he canted his chin to keep Katsuki in his eye line. The slant of his shoulders remained flat against the surface at his back, but his hips, his fucking hips faintly jut forth, just enough for the length of Katsuki’s thigh to brush Midoriya’s. Even through the thick pants, the heat of Midoriya’s lithe muscle was unmistakable.

Katsuki held his breath, unbearably still as his free hand found the subtle contour of Midoriya’s waist and skimmed the shirt there, lower, lower still until the splay of his fingertips met the goosebumpy skin above Midoriya’s belt.

Then Midoriya was gaping at him through the fog, his eyes painting portraits of anxiety soaked in the sins of partners past, and he was ducking beneath Katsuki’s arm in a swift, practiced motion.

“Ah – is this – is this thing going to become a habit, because… “ Midoriya straightened his shirt one too many times as he stepped away, his hands clinging to the hem as turned, his unhappy curve of lips casting a shadow across his face. “Is that your special move with everyone you pursue or –“

Katsuki folded his arms across his chest and daggered Midoriya with a glare.

“There’s never been anyone,” he said gruffly, side-eying himself.

Midoriya stared and, to the surprise of them both, yelped a short, hysterical laugh. He clamped a palm over his mouth, eyes huge as he quickly dropped his hand. Katsuki flared up red, his lips curled back as he inched toward Midoriya. With comical levels of growing horror, Midoriya flailed ineffectually, stumbling back a step, tripping over his own feet as he gulped.

“Sorry, I’m sorry! I’m not laughing at you, just – you’re – you’re you, so. That doesn’t. That doesn’t compute. What do you mean, anyone?”

Katsuki stopped short, his nose wrinkling.

“Are you stupid? I said there’s never been anyone.”

Midoriya looked at him like those goddamn brainless pigeons with nothing going on behind the eyes.

“Anyone like, that you’ve slept with or –“

“Slept with, dated, kissed.”

Did this really have to be such a big deal? He was a busy fucking guy. One of the busiest in the industry. And who needed any more baggage than his profession already carried?

Midoriya paled swiftly, followed by his neck creeping up with color, passing the hinge of his jaw to stain those freckled cheeks. Weakly he reached out a hand to the side, clearly looking for balance, and when he found none, simply propped his hands upon his hips and marvelled. His cheeks puffed up with a held breath and released slowly, all the while his attention rapt on Katsuki in some kind of dawning realization.

“Kissed. Kissed. Oh god. Oh my god, Bakugou, I’m so sorry that I-“

“Do I look sorry?” This wasn’t going how it was meant to, at all. Nothing with Midoriya ever went how Katsuki planned. A fire lit within his gut, the same that pushed him with mindless ferocity in the direction he chose. “I don’t care that I’m not experienced yet. Kiss me enough and I’ll learn real damn fast how to do it better’n you.”

Midoriya sputtered, helpless with those big lucky clover colored eyes. This was the most flustered Katsuki could remember him, and they were a solid teen feet away from each other. Maybe touch wasn’t the best way through to him. Words seemed to fuck him up a whole lot more.

Midoriya huffed a short, wheezing kind of laugh, shaking his head.

“That’s – that’s an admirable goal, but, uh – I don’t know how wise that would –“

“You don’t want me to kiss you.”

Statement, not question. The beast within sniffed at the air curiously, body alert at the control Katsuki exhibited.

Midoriya opened his mouth, snapped it shut. His frown edged on a disconcerted pout. When he wasn’t be an obstinate mess he was cute.

“Are you always – no. Nevermind. I was going to ask if you’re always this straight forward. I know you are. I mean – do you get less… intense? About, um, about everything? In existence.”

Katsuki puffed up his chest out of habit and cast an arch look down his nose.

“Don’t know what the fuck you mean. I’m just this and this happens to be better functioning than most people in this shitty world, so you should be damn well thankful for me.”

Midoriya’s eyebrows shot up, his blush clearing along with his anxiety-clouded eyes. His lips quirked as he cocked a hip and considered Katsuki from head to crown. The tension in the store racked down half a dozen notches.

“Really? I guess I’ll make note of that.”

“Might as fuckin’ well.”

With one lingering look, Midoriya gave Katsuki a wide berth and disappeared into one row of stacks. Thirsty as hell, Katsuki followed. Doggedly, if he had to use an adverb that would have impressed the local nerd.

Midoriya entered the back room, this time filled with cardboard packing boxes. He promptly sat on one, picked up a razor-sharp box cutter and deftly sliced one open. Katsuki refused to shift from one foot to the other, refused to act like some smitten schoolboy or worse – puppy love.

“You – I haven’t bought a book from you in a while. Got any good shit?”

Appearing considerably calmer and at ease with a weapon within reach, Midoriya plucked a form from the top of the book pile inside, and unearthed a pen from his baggy pocket. He spoke without looking up as he skimmed the list.

“What kind of good shit are you looking for, Mr – Bakugou. Bakugou.”

“That’s why I’m asking you, ain’t it? Something not narrated by a damn feline this time.”

“Unfortunately that narrows it down quite a bit,” Midoriya said, angling his head just enough to grin up at Katsuki, who still awkwardly stood in the doorway. “My degree happens to be in feline fiction.”

“Damn waste of a good education if you ask me.”

“So I’ve been told. I’ll bet you didn’t know Truman Capote was Truman Catpote before his agent told him no one buys books from cats these days.”

Katsuki stared.

“You’re a huge fuckin’ nerd, aren’t you?”

“I mean… I own a bookstore. That speaks volumes. Get it, volumes?”

“Yeah, I got it. What the fuck. Pick me a damn book. Something that’s more like this Midoriya than the one from before.”

Midoriya eyed him, eyes better than emeralds, but more evening lakes, the reflection of green mountains in them.

“Who’s the one from before?” he asked quietly.

Someone a lot more suspicious, a little slower to smile at him, and far too at arms to crack a joke, let alone be silly.

Katsuki shrugged and leaned a hip against the door jam, thumbs hooked in his jean belt loops.

“Doesn’t matter. This one’s better.”

Face tense, Midoriya watched Katsuki carefully for a solid ten seconds. Taut energy crackled between them, high-rise electrical lines sizzling and snapping, just waiting for a storm to send them sparking.

Then he was shaking his head and standing with a sigh.

“Something more like this me, huh?”

Katsuki didn’t move from the doorway. Midoriya had to brush by him this time, his shoulder to Katsuki’s wide barrel of a chest. The scent of Midoriya’s home whiffed by – the orange blossom tea he’d made, and the smell of his old leather boots and that giant fucking guard cat.

Chewing on the inside of his cheek to keep from outright salivating, Katsuki followed, determined not to look at the outrageous curve of that ass like it mattered or anything. Like it had a hold on him or anything. Fuck that ass.

Wait, oh shit, oh –

“Here.”

Katsuki startled from his own personal hell and blindly reached for the slim book held before him. Head bowed so as not to share with Midoriya the red of his face, Katsuki glared at the title.

Heaven Has No Favorites. Sounds fuckin’ morbid.”

Midoriya snorted a dorky laugh and it was strange and somehow addictive.

“It’s less so than you’d imagine. It’s more about… the pretenses we would drop in our lives if we truly realized this was it for us. The people we’d be if we allowed ourselves to have nothing to lose.”

Katsuki lifted a brow at the author. Same as All Quiet on The Western Front.

“Remarque.”

“Eric Maria Remarque,” Midoriya said. “Yeah, I like him. He’s – he’s important to me.”

“Why don’t you marry him, then.”

“Are you jealous of a dead author?”

“This another war book?”

Midoriya’s eyes always said the most, and this time they were openly curious, face open and risen to Katsuki’s.

“Not so much. It’s in the background, the far background. This is more about… Well, Remarche has a way with, I don’t know. Humanity. He makes you see into peoples’ bones. Like he looked at you with an x-ray once.”

Katsuki frowned thoughtfully as he flicked through the pages.

“The way you say the authors’ names and shit. Your accent is weird. You secretly foreign or something?”

Midoriya carded a hand through his mass of curls, fingers catching on them as his apple cheeks colored, bitable as any other part of him.

“I’m – no. I actually, uh, before this, I was like a translator? I mean, I worked within the American Embassy in Tokyo. You have to be pretty fluent for the position. I double-majored in Japanese Literature and English Language.”

A sliver of jealousy splintered through the surprise. The majority of heroes never reached university. It wasn’t within their career path. Although the thought didn’t often arise, there were still times Katsuki wondered how much smarter he could have been if he’d made the time for it.

Being a hero doesn’t work like that, though. Tough shit, move on.

“Translator? Impressive, considering you can barely get out one fuckin’ sentence without mumbling.”

Midoriya’s gaze glinted, that familiar flash of lightning, the challenge which zinged through Katsuki’s blood. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end before Midoriya could even open his mouth.

“And your profession is profoundly astounding, considering your vocabulary never reached past that of a prepubescent thug.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, cocky smile at the sharp edges of his grin.

“First of all, nerd, I am a certified genius. Second –“

Second.” Midoriya’s stubborn chin jutted forth, his face bright and hot with the fight, a finger jabbing into Katsuki’s chest. “Just because I choose a more peaceful life than I once had doesn’t mean I don’t remember how to stand up for myself when I need to. So maybe watch how you talk to me.”

Katsuki looked down to where the single fingertip remained burrowed in the meat of his pectoral. He swallowed at the drool pooling at the back of his tongue and drank up the way Midoriya’s expression melted from incensed to muted embarrassment. Midoriya chewed at his bottom lip, pulling it into his mouth. His fingers fanned out, now a warm hand closed over Katsuki’s heart.

Katsuki’s voice scratched out heavy and hungry.

“Shit, you’re sexy.”

Midoriya looked at Katsuki like he’d grown a second head.

“L–let’s ring up that book.”

Then Midoriya was off like a shot, his frame vibrating with tension. Katsuki followed, a dark shroud pulled over his features.

Oiy. Are we not talking about this shit or what, ‘cause I don’t work like that.”

Midoriya spun from behind the relative safety of the front desk, placed his hands flat atop the surface for some kind of balance, and kept his gaze lowered. Someone else might mistake it for a subservient Omega, but Katsuki knew by now that he was hiding his emotions.

“Maybe I do. Maybe I want to pretend it never happened. Maybe I was just drunk.”

Katsuki placed the book between them on the counter and slowly slid it across.

“I don’t think you do very much that you don’t wanna do. Ever.”

Midoriya snatched the book up and flipped it around to check the price, his risen face stern and closed, his voice clipped.

“Then you don’t know me very well.”

A flash was all Katsuki needed to snap a hand across the space between them, ball a fist in Midoriya’s scarf and haul him in. Midoriya’s flinched and went still, eyes huge, flickering between Katsuki’s bared teeth and his blazing gaze.

“Bullshit, I don’t! I ain’t forgot what you told me through the door that night. Ain’t forgot anything you’ve told me so far. Everything I know isn’t everything I say. But one thing I do know is… All that you been through was before. This is now. And the you now, the you I’m startin’ to know, hasn’t failed to at least try to put my ass in line whenever I’ve been out of it. And you kissin’ me – that was you shovin’ that line well outta the way.”

Midoriya eyes were wet and wide, his lips glossy from biting down and tonguing them. His breath smelled like hot chocolate and marshmallows, his cheeks rosy and chapped from the endless winter hammering them for the past months. He gulped, his gaze lowering to Katsuki’s bared teeth, and Katsuki noticed he had a single freckle on his left eyelid.

“Bakugou.” Midoriya’s voice wavered. He smelled like desire and dread entwined, coiled and knotted and tart enough at the back of Katsuki’s tongue to make his mouth water. “The –  the line is still there.”

“Blurred, if nothing else.”

Midoriya’s throat worked, his jaw stiff as he tentatively wrapped a hand around Bakugou’s wrist. He didn’t squeeze or push or pull. His palms were large and his fingers easily clasped all the way around Bakugou’s bones. His hands were so big – feet, too. So unlike petite Omegas. His gaze grew stronger, in tandem with his tone.

“Not blurred.”

“You sure?” Katsuki said, unexpectedly hoarse.

What was it about this person? He was so desperate not to give in, so scared, and yet – Katsuki felt that tug between them, like his chest were on a string, growing shorter by the day. Midoriya didn’t not feel it. He wasn’t not interested, dammit.

Midoriya’s plush lips quirked, his eyes crinkling in faint humor.

“I have perfect eyesight.”

Neither of them had moved. The edge of the counter was digging into Katsuki’s hips with increasing discomfort. He didn’t dare move. Katsuki rubbed the soft knit of Midoriya’s scarf between his fingers, but kept his hold fast. His tilted his head like he’d learned to the other day – to accommodate, to compromise his position. If nothing else, Katsuki was a dog who could learn some new tricks.

“Guess that means you could end this if you wanted to.”

Midoriya’s grip abruptly clenched. Katsuki’s knuckles brushed across Midoriya’s throat by accident, and the fog in Midoriya’s gaze rolled over, thick and lush.  Breathless, he whispered.

Bakugou.”

“Remember what I said?” Katsuki murmured, the warmth of Midoriya’s lips radiating so close to his. The aroma of wet forest and damp earth rose up like the first rain of a lifetime. “Not gonna stop you from breathin’.”

Midoriya startled back, as if the words struck a raw, bared nerve. His gasp of breath was like coming up for air as he jerked back and out of Katsuki’s loosened hold. He groaned, and stumbled a step back, his shoulders bumped against a wall as he scrubbed his hands over his face and spoke into them in a rush.

“I’m – I’m sorry. I feel like I’m leading you on. I don’t – I don’t mean to. The other night.” Midoriya pinched the bridge of his nose, his voice a rasp. “It’s true that I knew what I was doing, but it was based on instinct, not, you know. Practical decision making.”

Katsuki’s brows flung up.

“There’s a time for practical decision making. I’m not expert, but pretty sure it ain’t when you’re kissin’.”

Midoriya flopped his hands to his sides and regarded Katsuki with some exasperation. At least the fear or whatever that all was had released Midoriya’s previously tightened features.

“That’s one school of thought, yes.”

Katsuki snorted derisively.

“The only good one.”

Midoriya wrinkled his nose and approached now, his movements at ease as he snatched up the book from the counter and punched the amount into the ancient register.
“I’d say mine also bears some respect.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes and waved a hand.

“Yeah, yeah, you got mine already, don’t you? I’m goddamn bleeding respect right about now –” Midoriya hiccupped a laugh and Katsuki narrowed his eyes, hands slapping to the counter once more as he loomed in. “You want a sonnet? You want a novel? I ain’t got time for that shit. Words – they don’t mean a whole lot when your actions speak louder.”

“I – yes. I mean.” Midoriya pressed his lips together, the twitch of his mouth belying his hidden smile. “You’re right. I guess I’m not used to you coming out with such well-thought arguments.”

Katsuki gaped and quickly regrouped.

“You’re a shithead, aren’t you?” he said sourly. “Just been hidin’ it behind those pretty eyes.”

“My…” Midoriya blinked, then bloomed into a smile that scented the room of springtime rain and freshly cut grass. The dimple in his right cheek was absolutely bitable. “You’re funny, sometimes. In a way I probably shouldn’t find funny.”

Katsuki scowled.

“Is that a backhanded compliment? Is that even a version of a compliment?”

“I’m sure your genius intellect will puzzle it out. Can you pay now?”

Katsuki grumbled under his breath as he yanked his wallet from his back pocket and thrust the credit card into Midoriya’s outstretched hand.

“Why did you really kiss me? Just instinct and nothin’ else?”

Midoriya fumbled the card as he swiped it through his register, the bridge of his nose going red as his cheeks.

“We don’t always do what’s right,” he said lowly. “Sometimes the whole charm in life is making the wrong choices.”

Katsuki eyed him suspiciously.

“What’s that?”

“First chapter of this book.” Midoriya shrugged, returning the card and ducking his head to retrieve a bag from beneath the counter. “I used to think that way. Sometimes it sneaks up on me all over again.”

Midoriya held out the bag, his eyes candid, a genuine clear, green lake just begging for a dive.

“You make me feel a little too young, Bakugou. There’s two main characters in this. The racecar driver and the dying woman. I think I used to be one, and now I’m the other.”

Katsuki took the bag, lingering where their fingers brushed.

“Which is which?”

Midoriya’s slow, close-mouthed smile was just another thing to add to his list of mysteries. Little fucker.

Katsuki lingered at the register, middle finger tapping an impatient rhythm on the scarred surface as he considered the small, secretive package before him.

“Translator, huh? A double major? How smart are you?”

Midoriya’s laugh was short and self deprecating.

“Who knows? I don’t use my brain for much these days. Just memorizing books by accident.”

“You don’t miss what you were doing before, then? Probably made more money.”

“I actually worked both jobs for a time. Two years of this place on weekends. The previous owner offered me a job nearly on the spot.” Midoriya reached for a water bottle on the counter and took a long drink, his throat working distractingly. He licked his lips, fumbling the bottle from one hand to the other as he spoke without really looking at Katsuki. “Turns out we knew each other from a long time ago. He was someone who’d helped me out before. When I was at my worst, or uh, something like that. I’m not sure I could necessarily pinpoint the worst when it came to me.”

“You make it sound like you were some kinda criminal. Give your martyr complex a fuckin’ break.”

“My –” Midoriya went electric in a split second, his voice like individual cracks of distant thunder. “You don’t know everything. Not by half. Not a quarter of it. And no, that’s not an invitation to ask, or a foreshadowing of the future. But heck, maybe I was some kind of criminal. Maybe I was a bad kid. Maybe even bad adult for a little while. Don’t think I didn’t hear about you through Hitoshi back when him and I were slumming it. You weren’t a role model during our early teens, either.”

Katsuki grinned on automatic, that bloodthirsty smile reserved for a fight.

“Fuck, you’re defensive. Turned that one around on me real fast, huh? Definitely smarter than you look.”

Midoriya crunched the plastic bottle in one fist, his chin angled, daring him to throw a punch.

“Oh, really? And what do I look like?”

He was beautiful like this. Not cute or sweet or harmless, but absolutely snapping with power, with a tenacity and fearlessness that shook Katsuki to the bone. He wondered if Midoriya would be the same beneath him, or hell, above him. A livewire, sparking and burning in the wake of passion.

Katsuki leaned his elbows on the counter, his own face now tilting up to Midoriya’s. The beast within quickly cringed at being put at a lower level than the Omega now looking down at him. Katsuki’s mouth thinned, his back muscles bunching from the effort not to lunge across the space between.

“Distracting. Your eyes are more a book than any bound one in this room. Just have to learn to read your language. And I’m shitty at languages.”

The tension in Midoriya’s frame drained in a single breath, his expression lax with wonder.

“That was… an attempt at poetry.” His smile was brief and almost shy as he glanced at his feet and mumbled, “Gold star.”

Katsuki shot up, his face hot as he realized what traitorous words had snuck from him. For lack of anything better, he glared.

“Liar. That was shit. Your degrees have been revoked.”

Midoriya’s laugh was a bright, sunshine tenor that reverberated through Katsuki’s chest, clearing the soot and ash from the cavity.

“Go on a date with me,” Katsuki said firmly.

Midoriya clamped his mouth shut, one hand coming up to rub the opposite arm as he distinctly looked over Katsuki’s shoulder.

“That… I can’t. I’m just, I wasn’t lying before. I’m not good at that whole –“ Midoriya gestured between them. “Thing. And if I’m being totally honest, the fact that you are my type is warning for me enough that I’m making all the wrong decisions right now.”

Katsuki stared.

“That doesn’t make any fucking sense.”

Midoriya mirrored him, only unreasonably more obstinate.

“That’s not my problem. I’m not asking you to figure me out. I’m not asking you to fix what I’ve got going on. I’m happy like this. I have friends, a job I love, a home for myself that I enjoy. The rest is –“

“You’re still going to ignore this because of what some other fuckers did?” Katsuki scowled. “In case you haven’t noticed, I ain’t them. And for fuck’s sake, I’m a hero! What the hell am I gonna do to you? You really think I’m gonna hurt you or –“

“This isn’t the place to discuss it,” Midoriya cut him off, that high tower rebuilt. Even when they stood at their full heights, Midoriya remained somehow looking down at him. “Or ever. You’re nice, Bakugou – or, you’re something, anyway. But I’ve made mistakes before and I don’t intend to make them again. I don’t intend to owe my body or companionship to anyone again. I’m sorry I kissed you, but –“

Oiy.” Katsuki snapped in front of Midoriya’s face, watching the darkness clear in favor of surprise. “Already told you I don’t regret that shit. And I sure as hell don’t regret you. Wanna throw you off a fuckin’ building right now, but I’ll damn well catch you before you hit the bottom.”

Midoriya looked blank.

“I – that’s,” he managed hollowly. “I think you have more a way with words than you might realize.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes and sneered.

“Oh goody.” He eyed Midoriya critically. He looked a little dazed, a little confused. That was fine enough. Better than that rock hard wall. “Well. I’ll go.”

“Oh.” Midoriya seemed to shake himself from a thought. He seemed to get lost up in that head of hair a hell of a lot. “Right, yes. I’ll see you – I mean. Goodbye. Have a good evening?”

Katsuki had already turned away, holding up his bag.

“I’ll let you know if I like it or not.”

“Tell me which one of them you like best,” Midoriya called after him.

Katsuki yanked open the door and peered over his shoulder, the wind cutting at his face and whirling his hair into a wild crown as he glanced at Midoriya.

He stood there, hands balled on the counter, face flushed.

Katsuki’s smile was quick and sharp.

“I’m sure I’ll like ‘em both equally.”

Chapter Text

Izuku needed to celebrate, and by celebrate, he meant forget.

Oblivion would be nice. But failing to find that, at the very least, he could sniff out – ha ha, hilarious – some distraction.

With second year stuffed in his back pocket, exams aced, and his place forged at the top of the class twice over now, Izuku was free from school for the summer. He’d find himself a job, of course – hand over half the check to his mother, even when she claimed they didn’t need it as they ate rice and leftovers for the fourth night in a row.

One day he’d be able to take care of her better than this. One day he’d make them both proud. He’d find a way. Eventually. His brain had to be good for something.

But not today.

Tonight, Izuku wanted to fry his intellect to a smattering of brain cells. Just enough to feel good, but not enough to make him feel guilty for doing so.

More than a year later and it still made Izuku’s skin slither and crawl when bystanders wrinkled their nose at him or, worse, devoured his frame with a hot hunter’s gaze. He was on the cusp of seventeen and already he’d dealt with a year of predatory looks, almost entirely from Alpha males. Females from time to time grabbed at his ass or slid their unwelcome fingertips down the small of his back as they stood in line or on the train – even played off their animalistic desire by fluffing his curls and complimenting his face.

But mainly it was men. Men who knew what bodies like Izuku’s were made for. A wet, welcoming Omega body that couldn’t get pregnant, but stayed slick and ready under the weight of an Alpha’s domineering scent.

Izuku was just weeks from seventeen, but his innocence had bled out along with the blood from his nose. That day had turned the tides, and the now the dark side of the moon was the only light Izuku had to lead him.

Izuku shrugged into a worn pair of jeans, threadbare enough to strain nearly white at the knees and thighs. The rip beneath the curve of one ass cheek and at the other knee told a story of jeans that had seen a lot, and none of it good. Izuku skipped the underwear altogether, mostly because he didn’t want to dig through his drawers in the middle of the night and alert his mom with the noise. The night was sweltering, prickling the back of his neck and knees with sweat as he shrugged on a black tank top and tied his red high tops.

Straining for sight in the dark, Izuku eyed himself in the full length mirror. He didn’t much look at himself, but he’d been changing over the months. Bulking up in ways he hadn’t known his body could – growing quicker, more clever on his feet. More confident in his mind. His arms and legs weren’t just subtle. Clear hills and contours of muscle defined his limbs, his broadening waist.

Izuku squinted at his reflection. The doctors still hemmed and hawed over his medications, over suppressants. The market for anything resembling a fix-it for heterozygous alpha was nonexistent. But the side effects of the condition were –

Well, this.

This muscle definition, these thoughts, this rampant, underlying aggression, the oversized scent glands, the big feet and hands.

How much could Izuku trick himself into believing himself to be an Alpha at heart? How much could he trick others into playing along? Why did it have to be a trick when he was as much Alpha as he was simpering Omega?

Izuku frowned, and his reflection replied in turn.

He hated himself.

Scraping palms over his face, Izuku turned and made for his door. He’d long mastered the art of slipping out of the apartment unnoticed. His mother was either sleeping like the dead or working her second job, deep into the night.

On my way, Izuku texted to Hitoshi as he headed toward the train station. The ride was a good thirty-five minutes to the UA area stop, and Izuku took that time to doze. At at this time of night and with so little people in the train car, the majority of strangers shifted to and stuck with the seating at the far end.

Izuku stank.

He heard it enough. Without the use of his nose, he couldn’t gauge how much scent he gave off, or even if he was giving away emotional ‘tells’ in reference to being able to hide if he was nervous, scared, angry. Horny.

Suppressant-level deodorants were popular in most societies across the globe, including masking perfumes, but who had the money? Not Izuku’s family.

He was a raw, open book, and because he was, Izuku had long learned that he was safer staying suspicious and a little angry if it meant his fragrance put the fear in anyone near him. Building up that fury and distrust had been difficult in the beginning. He wanted to smile at people. He wanted to talk to them, connect with them.

Turns out, when you smell like a buffet, just smiling at someone – or, heck, being polite, was some kind of open invitation for… for things that made it easier for Izuku to learn how to be angry and distant. For his own protection.

Feeling his stop nearing, Izuku cracked his eyes open and found himself under the scrutiny of a wide-mouthed bear of a man, eyes black and hard as marbles. He’d sat directly across from Izuku, his smile two parts vicious and one part delighted.

Izuku no longer needed to smell to know a self-important Alpha when he saw one. Only Alphas made direct eye contact like no one would dare challenge them. Only Alphas walked through darkened streets with their backs and shoulders straight and proud. Only Alphas rubbed a hand over their crotch as they watched Izuku’s mute horror dawn.

Fear always came first. Frozen stiff with a sick pit of ice dropping out his stomach. Izuku swallowed hard and watched the man silently touch himself through his jeans before Izuku quickly looked away, ignoring, desperately ignoring.

The doctors had told him it might be like this, but it never got any easier. They’d told him how an Omega’s scent, if powerful enough, could trigger a rut or simply spring an Alpha into an unnatural reaction. How he was a walking sinfest.

Not that they used the words. Hitoshi had coined that one.

Izuku was sixteen. No one should be reacting to him at all, scent or not, instinct or not. It was Izuku’s instinct to curl up in a ball and hide instead of leaving the house – and did he fall into that old habit?

No. He didn’t.

He was teaching himself to work past those Omega compulsions as best as he was able. He forced himself through heat after irregular heat without the help of an Alpha – because he damn well could.

And if he could live his life like a half-decent human being, so could an adult Alpha.

“Buzz off, creep,” Izuku said, his voice warbling too much for his own liking. His hands fisted upon his lap. His eyes narrowed as the Alpha’s smile only grew, his ministrations unending, steady and vile. A trickle of fear tracked cold down Izuku’s spine, even as his face felt aflame with fury, indignation, futility. “I said fuck off, if you want to keep your dick intact.”

The Alpha grunted into a groan, his eyes glazing over until –

The train shuddered to a halt, a sweet, robotic female voice announcing Izuku’s destination.

Izuku didn’t wait. He shot off that car like the devil was on his hightops.

He didn’t stop running. Fear raised his heels, forever prey at heart, never the predator or the hunter or the hero. He didn’t stop running until he was out of the station and slamming into Hitoshi’s familiar figure.

“Hi!” Izuku gasped out, building up the best smile, despite breathing so hard.

Hitoshi scrubbed Izuku’s hair with a slim hand in greeting, his pale, periwinkle eyes widening.

“What’re you running from?”

What rather than who. Funny how that was. Hitoshi always saw more than necessary.

“What?” Izuku parroted, his cheer easier to churn out when he was safe at Hitoshi’s side. “Nothing! I was excited to go.”

“Alright,” Hitoshi conceded with crooked quirk of lips. He slung an arm over Izuku’s shoulders, then cursed when he realized how sticky they both were from the evening heat, and kept Izuku a good foot away as they strolled in the direction Deku led. “So where are we going again? Where do you keep finding these weirdos, Izuku?”

“You mean like you?” Izuku said, smiling in earnest now, brushing off the incident as he did with the mountain of others. He could move on, he could do that, at least. “I told you. Chisaki had my back when these two Alphas cornered me in the ice cream store, of all places. You know how I do the – the –“

“The come hither scent of a hundred horny Omegas? Yes. It’s difficult to ignore.”

“Right,” Izuku said with a sigh, waving his hand in a move-it-along gesture as he continue. “So he just, I don’t know. Tore them apart. I mean, not literally, but he looked like he wanted to. Maybe he would have if I hadn’t stopped him at the last minute. He’s small, but he feels… bigger. Than everybody else. Better. And he’s a Beta – can you believe it? He hates Alphas, like it’s a thing with him or something. He organizes rallies and stuff against mistreatment of Betas and Omegas. He’s got this Quirk where –“

“Are you the head of his fanclub or something?” Hitoshi chimed in, not unkind, just humming with lowkey humor as he ever did. “Or is it more than that?”

More?” Izuku gaped. “No! He’s like, mid-twenties or something.”

“I can handle mid-twenties if you can handle mid-twenties,” Hitoshi said, laughing in full now as Izuku rolled into his own incredulous laughter and playfully roughed him up with shoulder bashes and silly slaps.

“Anyway,” Izuku said with a telling, lingering look at Hitoshi’s smiling profile. “What about Endeavor’s son – I thought you felt about him, you know…”

“I know,” Hitoshi said, his face shutting down at the subject.
Nothing more was spoken on the matter.

They flitted between conversation in high spirits, both of them looking for something more than what was going on their lives to feed the little pockets of emptiness hidden within their body parts.

Izuku knew by now that Hitoshi looked to forget and fill the memory of his villainous father’s ever-looming presence, and the foster families who never accepted him, the schoolmates who expected him to turn out sour and rotten inside. And, in turn, Hitoshi knew Izuku fought tooth and nail to forget the fact that he didn’t have a father who wanted him in the first place – didn’t have a society that wanted him, either, or a partner that would keep him safe and whole.

But tonight. Tonight.

“Are you serious right now?” Hitoshi said, monotone, as he craned his head back to eye the abandoned factory on a bad road industrial drive. “This is party central?”

“It’s not so bad inside,” Izuku assured him with a gleeful grin. His skin was already buzzing with anticipation. “It’s fun and there’s weed and drink and music and Chisaki has his friends who are all kind of scary, but they never do anything to me, so they won’t do anything to you.”

“Too bad I didn’t take a shower in antiseptic beforehand,” Hitoshi muttered as he followed Izuku around the side of the building.

They didn’t have trouble entering. The ambiguously gendered person with hair like arrows let them in upon nodding to Izuku, and for once in his life he felt kind of necessary somewhere, maybe even a little important. It was nice. New.

And Izuku couldn’t help but swell with a sense of belonging when Chisaki saw him from across the warehouse and walked away from someone, mid-conversation and without a word of goodbye, to come and greet him.

“Midoriya, you came.”

“Hey,” Izuku offered a shy smile, unsure still of his placement here. “Chisaki, this is Shinsou – Shinsou, Chisaki. He’s a –“

“I recognize him,” Chisaki said flatly, his voice going dead. “What’re you doing bringing a hero wannabe in here? He’s the next enemy in training.”

“A good evening to you, too,” Hitoshi said, mirroring Chisaki’s tone to a tee. “A pleasure, I know. I’m an honor to be here and so on and so forth. Where is the alcohol?”

Izuku looked between the two and heaved a sigh as he pointed. Hitoshi aimed an arch look Chisaki’s way, looking right down his nose at the shorter man as he passed. Omega be damned, Hitoshi knew how to shut a lesser man down with a single glance.

Chisaki would never be anyone’s lesser man.

“Midoriya. Really.”

“He’s my best friend,” Izuku stressed. “My only friend.”

The weight of Chisaki’s stare did not relent.

“If he causes any trouble –“

“If anyone causes trouble with him, I’d wager it would be you, so let’s all just be good, okay?”

“Good,” Chisaki repeated, his serious mouth twitching. “When you put it that way, how could I be otherwise to your very dear friend?”

“The way you say that terrifies me.”

“Then I’ve still got it. What are you frowning at?”

Izuku peered around Chisaki’s shoulder to where a tall, lanky man leaned against a large stack of wooden crates, far from some of the mingling guests and music. His hair splayed out in an halo of thorny, black spikes, his jacket and pants just shy of ragged and over-worn. His face was shadowed, but Izuku could tell he was looking this way.

“Oh. Dabi.” If Chisaki’s voice could get any more brittle, he’d disintegrate the same as his Quirk. “Don’t bother.”

“Why not?”

Before Chisaki could reply, Hitoshi had returned with a beer in hand and a blank, droll expression he only employed when he was on guard and didn’t want to a soul to read his thoughts. He really was extraordinary.

“Some chick already forcibly showed me her tattooed nipples,” he said. “This is going to be a night, isn’t it.”

“You’re welcome to leave at any time,” Chisaki said.

Hitoshi smiled thinly.

“Aren’t you just the most gracious host?”

Chisaki was sniping something in return, but Izuku was already walking away.

Why? He had no idea – nothing logical, anyway. He just wanted to meet the man who chose to stand away from the rest.

“Hi.” The smile Izuku had revved up faltered, his eyes going too large as he took in the sight of a young man with what looked like scarred, almost necrotic purple skin stapled to his own face. “Oh. You’re, uh -”

“You were watching me,” Dabi said in a voice like burnt out cigarettes and rough leather. His crooked grin stretched the stitches along his cheek. His eye color reminded Izuku of Bunsen burner flame, too hot to touch, while his expression remained somehow approachable.

Charming. He was what people called ‘charming’, right? Izuku wasn’t sure. He just knew that Dabi wasn’t just fascinating to look out – he had a draw to him. A magnetism.

Izuku ignored the heat in his cheeks and hoped his face wasn’t as red as it felt.

“I guess. Um. You’re – you’re Dabi, right? Chisaki’s friend?”

Dabi’s dark eyebrows rose high.

“Friend is a word for it. Inaccurate, but a word all the same. And you? What’s little red riding shoes doing with the big bad wolves?”

“I’m n-not that little,” Izuku said. He was a man here too, wasn’t he? Just because he didn’t look like he’d had his share of fights didn’t mean he hadn’t had them. He just happened to come out on top more often than not these days. “A-and I’m stronger than I look.”

Dabi cocked his head, the slash of his teeth quite white for someone who seemed to have a pack of cigarettes rolled in the t-shirt sleeve against his upper arm.

“Since you look like a privileged schoolboy, I’d say it wouldn’t be very difficult to be stronger than you look.”

Privileged – him? Izuku boggled, then recovered, determined not to show his hand in full around people like this. Weak just wouldn’t do anymore. People who hung out in abandoned warehouses would smell the vulnerability on him more than they ever would his overwhelming scent. Packs like this fed off straggling loners like him.

“I guess you’re pretty strong, then.” Izuku eyed Dabi’s arms, shoulders. Alpha? Beta? He couldn’t tell yet.

Dabi hummed, stubby lashes lowered as he dug the crumpled cigarette pack from his sleeve and brought it to his mouth. His lower lip, gnarled and scarred purple, caught one slim smoke. His movements were all smooth, careless elegance as he pocketed the pack and brought his thumb and forefinger to the cigarette’s tip.

Their eyes held then, blue blue burning blue, and Dabi snapped his fingers. A sapphire flame shot up, lit the tip, and flickered out. Izuku’s breath caught in his throat, oxygen evacuated, his heart stumbling, his gut glowing with the same cherry flame on which Dabi sucked.

Izuku coughed when Dabi blew smoke in his face, and Izuku found that he didn’t even care.

“What’re you looking for, Little Red?”

“Me?” Someone had suddenly cranked the music in the warehouse, a pounding at the back of his skull, at the base of his spine, a deep, insistent thrum between his thighs. Izuku licked his lips, surveying Dabi’s knowing smirk. “What do you mean? I’m not looking for anything.”

Dabi’s laugh was more a dry cough, his cigarette caught in the slender vee of his fingers. They looked long, capable. Capable of things Izuku was sure he didn’t want to know about – and others of which he was extremely… curious.

Kid. People don’t hang out here ‘less they’re looking for something.”

Izuku bristled at the nickname, face scrunched as his shoulders turned in on himself, made him smaller than he already was.

“I-I wouldn’t know what –“

“Chisaki said you’re a scrappy one,” Dabi murmured, as if Izuku hadn’t spoken. Grey smoke flared from his nostrils like a dragon, a thin veil that couldn’t quite mask the cutting turquoise of those lazy eyes. “He wouldn’t mention it for no reason. Am I supposed to be careful of you, I wonder, or challenge you a little? Test those –“ Lazy eyes swept the length of Izuku’s body, lingered at the jut of his hipbones, swept up to linger on his frowning mouth, “boundaries.”

He must be an Alpha. The knowledge liquefied like thick, hot syrup dripping down between Izuku’s thighs.

“I –“ Izuku averted his eyes, his body delighting in this inherent mating dance as he looked to his feet, flicked a glance back up. “I don’t know what Chisaki’s saying about me, but – he didn’t have to save me. I can take a beating just as well as I can take a win. I’m not – I’m not soft.”

“Oh?” Dabi cocked his head, considering. “Aren’t you, though?”

Too quickly, Dabi had Izuku’s wrist in his hold, spider blue veins upward between them, Izuku’s hand curled into an instinctive fist. Realization and horror dawning, Izuku watched with huge eyes as Dabi held the almost extinguished stub end of his cigarette just shy of his pale, exposed skin.

Neither of them moved. Izuku’s heart swelled in his throat, choking him off. His skin vibrated with – with what? Fear, anxiety, desire, the dare.

Find out what I’m made of. I will get back up again. I will always get back up again.

The acrid scent of searing skin came before the pain seized up his arm like a white-hot flare. Izuku gasped like a punch to the gut, gritting his teeth to dust on his tongue, lips curled back against the burn. Neither of them looked away.

Something shifted in Dabi’s expression, dull ambivalence to keen curiosity.

“Well,” Dabi crooned, dropping the stub and guiding Izuku’s open injury to his mouth. He pressed a wet kiss there, blew on it with surprisingly cool, soothing breath, their eyes holding. Scalding waves rolled up Izuku’s arm. “Aren’t you something, Little Red.”

Izuku shuddered a breath, mouth lax as his lashes fluttered, absorbing the pain, the electricity of being alive. He opened his eyes, felt fuzzy, licked his lips.

“Was that a test?”

Dabi smile beatifically, the staples at his cheeks threatening to split.

“And you passed so beautifully. Come here, pretty Omega. You get a prize.”

“Don’t call me that,” Izuku mumbled, still not confident with the request. People saw and smelled what they saw and smelled. I didn’t matter if he asked people to ignore the identifier. Most people never paid attention, anyway.

“Omega?” Dabi said, digging through a pocket of his jacket. He emerged with a plastic baggy, filled with tiny sapphire squares that looked like paper. “Fine. Your kind usually like it. Coddling and shit.”

“Not me,” Izuku said, finding his voice now, riding the charred pain running rampant up his wrist.

“Smart kid.”

“Not a kid, either.” Izuku narrowed his eyes as Dabi placed a singular square on his forefinger, bright blue as his eyes.

“How old are you, anyway?”

Izuku licked his lips slow enough to watch Dabi watch them.

“What is that?”

“What you’ve been looking for.”

Izuku had never encountered anything past occasional weed, when he could find it. He liked the high and heaviness to his limbs, the thrum of peace like his head was cradled against his mother’s chest.

Sometimes that wasn’t enough. Lately, never enough.

Izuku licked a long, flat line up Dabi’s finger, tasted skin and salt and smoke. Heart like a sledgehammer, Izuku kept Dabi’s smirk in his sights and sucked down the digit between his lips in an invitation he’d never given to another.

Dabi curled his knuckle, hooked Izuku’s lip like a caught fish, and pulled him in a breath away.

“You know, Little Red, I think you might be what I’ve been looking for, too.”

 

The walls were breathing. Izuku didn’t know if his eyes were open or not, but he was sure the warehouse ceiling was heaving towards him, great grey pipes reaching out for him like a hundred cradling arms.

Beaming, his smile cutting his face in half all the way around the back of his head, Izuku reached out, out, out, and oh my goodness, did his hand stretch into eternity and grip the fiery stars. They felt like spikes, black and blue shards, vibrating in his hands, which weren’t hands anymore but huge things that held entire galaxies, sparking spirals, constellations shaped like battering rams and swans.

“I’m holding stars,” Izuku whispered, whispered so loudly his ears spilled sparkling moonshine.

“You’re pulling my hair,” Dabi said with a jagged laugh that felt like blue flames licking scars into his skin. Izuku blinked up at him in awe, marveling at the shifting eyes all over his face, his shoulders, his arms. How did it feel to see everything about a person, in every direction, in past, present, future with those orbital eyes?

Oh.” Izuku touched them, sharp eyelashes that could cut. “Oh, you’re beautiful.”

“Red,” was all Dabi huffed, the kanji searing into the air, lingering black and hot. Izuku waved his hand, dispelled the smoke and laughed like shooting stars as Dabi brought his ankles up to rest on those all-seeing shoulders. “Shit.”

Izuku’s body bloomed like the big bang, organic, orgasmic, an ovation from the universe as his core swelled and filled with Dabi, with the dragon man who blew smoke and made words come to life in the air and guarded his hoard of blue eyes and bluer slips of magic confetti.

Dabi licked into his mouth, breathing curses into Izuku’s lungs, omens that opened up behind Izuku’s eyelids and looked out through his eyes, made him someone new, someone different who was just wearing this deceitful skin. Izuku cried out, saw his soul in orange, and dug his nails into the dragon’s back, and prayed in poetry and prose that when he next opened his eyes, he’d be the person everyone was supposed to see.

 

Splayed out on a bare mattress in the backroom of a warehouse, Izuku woke up thirteen hours later, if his two-percent battery told him accurately. He’d missed nineteen phone calls from his mother and eight voicemails. Ignoring them for the time being – or, entirely, because it wasn’t as if he didn’t know what was on them – Izuku groaned and rolled onto his stomach to investigate series of texts from Hitoshi.

He winced at the wide ache bruising from between his thighs to the back of his neck. What had he sucked off of Dabi’s finger last night? Or, heck, had he sucked more than his finger? Almost… almost definitely.

Izuku yelped as his hands went limp and sloppy with exhaustion and his mobile knocked him flat on the face. He sputtered it away and frowned, eyes narrow and gritty, at the seething circle of spreading red in the center of his wrist.

A zing of recognition crackled at his frayed nerves. Izuku bit his lip, angled his arm in the watered down sunshine and afternoon dust motes, inspecting the scabbing wound with a dull, mental distance that didn’t feel at all like his overly anxious skull noise.

Nice.

Remembering the texts, Izuku rolled to his side, screwing up his face at the wake of dried cum and Omega slick crusting the soft hairs along his thighs. Flashes of the night were like a distorted dream, difficult to piece together, but nothing that Izuku necessarily had a desire to compose.

23:43 Hey, where did you go? I’m stuck talking to your “”””FRIEND”””” Chisaki and boy is he a laugh riot. Save me.

24:16 When did this place get so packed? I didn’t know we were going to rave. I’d have worn hotpants. Just kidding. Or am I? But seriously, where are you?

1:04 I may have made out with your “”””FRIEND””””. This is what you get for leaving me alone. I hope you’re having fun, asshole. (The asshole part was not serious, if you dwell on it I will murder you dead.)

1:05 Do not be dead. I don’t trust 99% of the people here. You are the 1%

1:39 If you’re even reading these and I doubt you are by the state of what I just saw, Chisaki helped me find you where you were dancing in the middle of the crowd with no shirt and a guy who looks like he wears other peoples’ skin for fun so ENJOY??? I GUESS??? LIVE YOUR LIFE.

2:07 You’d better be wearing a condom.

2:07 I only say this because I forgot mine and thankfully certain “”””PEOPLE”””” had them on hand in our time of need.

2:08 Am I disappointment of a hero? I feel like this is the last reason why I would be, at least.

3:31 I’ve been waiting around for you, but Skin For Hire showed me you were passed out cold. Chisaki said he’d get you home safe when you woke up. I’m trying to trust that guy. I think he has a soft spot for you. In the creepy platonic way. Is no one immune to the Midoriya charms?

4:17 At the dorms. Text me when you return to the land of the living, you party animal you. Didn't know you had it in you. Not sure if that worries me or what.

“Midoriya,” Chisaki’s smooth voice sounded from the doorway, and Izuku bolted upright, expression aghast as he sat splayed on the mattress without a stitch of clothing to his person.

“Ch-Chisaki, what! Are you! Hello! I’m naked!”

“It’s been known to happen,” Chisaki replied with an arched brow. Those strange gloves and the white flu mask donned his face again, the same as when they’d met, but those feline eyes were expression enough. “Are you – Get dressed so I can get you back to the train in one piece.”

“Yes!” Izuku yelped, jumping to a stand, going red as he realized what he was doing, and awkwardly covered his crotch. “Um.”

“I’ll be out here,” Chisaki said, utterly unfazed as he turned and disappeared.

With a shaky breath and even shakier legs, Izuku dressed, checked his now-dead phone with a sigh, and tied his shoes.

Little Red, that smoked-out voice hovered at the periphery of Izuku’s memory.

The way he’d felt last night. The freedom, the forgetting, the pain, this morning’s ache. Izuku had felt alive, a part of something, desired, even somehow safe, now that he knew the feel of strong arms and body enveloping him.

Last night had been everything he didn’t experience on an everyday basis. Acceptance, excitement, joy, pleasure, acknowledgement, safety. The essence of danger remained, but Izuku lived danger every day that he walked around smelling the way he did. He was growing accustomed to feel of never being relazed.

Wobbling into the main area of the wide-open warehouse, Izuku canted his wrist and glanced at the angry, red wound.

Yeah. He’d be back.

“He did that to you?” Chisaki said, suddenly right beside him – or, not so suddenly, and Izuku had lost himself in a daze. “Piece of shit. You let him?”

Izuku blinked up into those ferocious feline eyes.

“I – I mean, I guess I did. I don’t – it wasn’t bad.”

“You’re going to have that forever, you know.” Chisaki’s voice was low and cool.

Izuku cracked a crooked smile as a familiar dread settled in his stomach.

“It’s okay. I’m fine.”

Chapter Text

“I’m finally happy where I am in life.”

Izuku’s therapist crossed her legs, her face neutral, watchful. Ms Hayate was forever the epitome of bland, in the most comforting, objective kind of way. She’d disappear into a crowd and Izuku kind of liked that about her. Probably due to her utterly non-threatening Beta aura, she’d come highly recommended for trauma victims.

Emerging from the hospital at twenty-one, reeling from the direction his personal life had dived, and determined to change it, Izuku had been pointed to this very office.

Five years later, here he remained.

At Ms Hayate’s lingering silence, Izuku twisted his bottom lip with his thumb and forefinger, gaze focused on the ocean watercolor on the wall. He didn’t like large bodies of water. Unstable, too easy to drown.

“I am,” Izuku repeated, a little stronger. “It’s like I told him, already. I’ve worked hard for a quiet, boring life. I like boring, I want boring. Quiet bookstore, money enough to just get by and save a little, friends who support me, a routine that doesn’t involve random sexual encounters or drugs or fights or flirting with viciously handsome heroes with cocky smiles and sex appeal like a fucking flamethrower or –“

“Mr Midoriya.”

Izuku stopped, eyes large.

“I – yes?”

“Is it safe to say that your life up until the incident with your ex-boyfriend was exciting?”

“Um.” Unsure of where this was leading, Izuku nodded cautiously. “Yes. Exciting is one word for it, I guess.”

“And how did you feel when your life was exciting?”

Izuku frowned.

“Aside from miserable?”

“Miserable was the emotion you were trying to forget or cover up. What did exciting feel to you?”

“Alive,” Izuku said, instantly, the word coming out of some deep, open grave inside. “Exhilarated. I was so angry with how I was treated by the world, but there was also something about taking everyone on every single day that made me feel like, like good and strong and brave and –“ Izuku wrinkled his nose, the curve of his lips sad, “and something like a hero for myself. Or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. I hurt myself – invited myself get hurt, get in fights, everything. But in the end, waking up every day knowing the world didn’t care about me and I could do whatever I wanted without giving a shit what anyone thought… I loved that.”

They were both silent for a while, Ms Hayate giving Izuku the time she’d long realized Izuku needed to process when certain realizations arose.

Quietly, measured, she spoke.

“Do you believe that a person’s life can only be exciting or boring? That there is no safe middle ground?”

“Of course not,” Izuku said with a hollow laugh, the nail of his forefinger scraping at the dead skin of his bottom lip. “That’s silly. Life is made up of a little of everything. It’s just that –“

I don’t deserve it.

I’m scared of it.

I’m afraid I’ll backslide again.

I don’t want to fuck it up when I finally start to get it right.

“It’s just that there’s no… no way of telling how much is too much, is there? What’s the right or wrong amount of – of excitement or sex or pain and pleasure.”

At this, Ms Hayate raised her brows, tucked her short, graying bob behind a small ear.

“Mr Midoriya. The self-control you’ve built within yourself over the years is solid. You are no longer the boy pretending to be strong – you are strong.”

Izuku let the assurance coddle him, warm and soft and sweet. He swallowed against the rising swell of emotion in his chest.

Ms Hayate breathed a soft sigh through her nose.

“Has it occurred to you that it is perhaps not the world that you no longer trust, but yourself?”

 

The deep night wind screeched sharp, icy fingers at Izuku’s face as he ducked further into the nest of his thick scarf and cursed himself for leaving his hat at the shop. Double cursed himself for the way his bimonthly session had ended, his evacuation from the room punctuated with stutters and staccato sentences.

He had a lot to unpack, and a much of it old and musty and unpleasant from his past.

But Izuku had principles, okay?

A vast array of them. Maybe too many, he was beginning to think.

Admittedly, they’d previously grown muddled and mixed during the years in which he’d felt the world had thrown him to the dogs as life’s chew toy. His ideals had been a little gnawed on, his confidence put through the meat grinder, his self-worth left out in the rain and sun-bleached too long.

Regardless. He’d rebuilt. Higher walls, greater fortitude. Ammo.

And his principles – well, they’d been replaced with new, better ones.

Sex or dating or otherwise with Tokyo’s notoriously savage top hero absolutely did not fit within those sturdy, unwavering ideals by which Izuku currently lived.

But then, there was more to it than that. More to them than that. Izuku couldn’t pretend there wasn’t, anymore.

He couldn’t pretend the blame was all on Bakugou, anymore, either. They might not know each other well, but Izuku knew enough to see a man who was throwing a great amount of effort onto the table while Izuku was busy hiding beneath it.

For the hundredth time in his life, Izuku reminded himself that just because a man put effort into him, or showed interest in him, didn’t mean he was obligated out of kindness or fear to reciprocate.

And for the first time, on this lonely street with his face scraped raw with January’s merciless punch and his heart bigger and warmer than it had been in a long time, Izuku realized that what Bakugou had set upon the table might be something to which Izuku could sit down and consider.

Cheeks flushed and not from the cold, Izuku quickly ducked into the glass door of Parchment, cutting off the weather’s howls behind him. Shaking off the cold and shuddering with it, Izuku unzipped his obnoxiously oversized puffer jacket and wandered toward the front desk.

“How many times am I going to have to tell you to keep your shoes off the counter?” Izuku said with the resignation of a battle lost years ago.

Chisaki peered up from his magazine with disinterested, dull gold eyes.  His gaze flicked to his tastefully pristine boots before he wordlessly dropped them down and tossed the aside his reading material.

“I sold some knocked up Omega seven books on pregnancy and raising children. You’re welcome. Too bad she doesn’t know the secret to raising kids is there is none, and she just wasted a shit ton of money she could be saving to divorce the Alpha I smelled on her.”

“Is that all you think about?” Izuku said with a half smile as she shrugged from his coat and playfully threw it across the register to smack Chisaki in the face.

“It’s all this society thinks about, so it’s inevitably on my mind. Used to be on yours, too.”

Izuku flicked a brow at the barb but chose not to rise. Chisaki had his own life experiences and reasons for his opinions. Once upon a time, their ideals had matched. That, or Izuku suspected he’d grown to copy Chisaki’s out of some sense of brotherhood.

Didn’t matter now.

“Eri still here?”

“Manga,” Chisaki said, offhand, frowning down at something on his cellphone.

“Alright. I’ll grab her and you guys can pack up and go before I close up. It’s bitter out there tonight. Be safe.”

“Ditto.”

“Thanks for the help.”

“Always.”

The high, cluttered shelves and stacks warmed Izuku’s bones as he passed between them and their soft gold lighting. Coddled him like the softly beating chambers of a heart, all tender pulse and lifeblood to him. This was a fine home away from the world, and there wasn’t a day Izuku wasn’t thankful to Mr Yagi and his will to pass this store on to him.

“Hey,” Izuku’s voice cracked a little from the lingering cold his chest as he approached.

Splayed out on a pile of beanbag chairs all mashed together into one amorphous blob of comfort, Eri blinked up from a manga she held close to her nose and bloomed into a smile. Her hair was a white waterfall around her, waves and waves over everything and much too long to reasonably handle. Chisaki had grown extremely talented at braiding over the years. He’d watched a lot of tutorials on the internet.

“Uncle Izuku, you’re back!”

“I am back,” Izuku agreed, smiling wide and goofy as he flopped back into one of the bags and dropped his head to Eri’s shoulder to peer into the book. “Nice art. I haven’t read this one yet. This is the female Omega knight, right?”

“Yup! I like it so far. I’ve only had time to read the last five volumes since you left, though.”

“Only five?” Izuku ruffled the top of her head and gave a sheepish grin of apology when she puffed up her cheeks in sweet, baby-faced exasperation. “Sorry, I know, I know. You finish your homework for the night?”

Yeeeah,” Eri groaned, dropping her head back to the beanbag to stare at the ceiling. “Dad always makes me.”

“Well he’s a fine father like that.”

Eri rolled her eyes in true teen fashion and shut the manga with a snap.

“He doesn’t let me go into town with my friends, though. To hang out and shop and stuff. I’m almost fifteen! What did your parents let you do when you were fifteen?”

“Uh.” Izuku patted her knee and lurched up, struggling to stand. “I’ll talk to him for you. Your dad is – he’s very protective of you. He loves you more than most people love anything.”

“The world isn’t out to steal me away, anymore, though,” Eri said under her breath as she stood and collected the stack of manga she’d ploughed through. Her sweet, round face was losing some of its chubbiness, and her eyes were a bright, cracking spark of red that reminded Izuku of someone else who didn’t appreciate being tamed. “And I haven’t even presented. It’s not like he can say he’s protecting me from Alphas or whatever. I just want to be normal. With my friends. They already think he shoves people in the ocean with cement feet for a living!”

Izuku choked at that, sputtering out a coughing laugh as he took the manga from Eri’s hold and briskly began to walk toward the front.

“Thank goodness we both know that’s not true, eh!”

Uncle.”

“I’ll talk to him, I will, I promise!”

Amid the stacks, Eri tackled him from behind, her embrace tight around his waist as she rested her cheek on his back. Izuku’s chest puffed up with happy clouds.

Eri had been six and Izuku had been seventeen when Chisaki had finally revealed her to him. Izuku had been on the outside of what Chisaki had done with the majority of his private time back then, mainly because Izuku had been busy with school during many months. He’d paid attention to the news enough, but that hero stuff had always triggered him into a bad mood back into his teens, and so his knowledge of what had happened back then was limited.

He did know that the Eri he’d met on her sixth birthday – which Chisaki had asked him to attend at his, well, his yakuza compound that equaled a home – that Eri had been timid and shy and traumatized from a life of being passed between the true, evil underworld of Tokyo.

Kidnapped from four, from under the nose of her grandfather, the yakuza head at the time, Eri had disappeared into the ether. Chisaki, while not directly related to her as a father, but more a cousin, had gone on a personal vendetta for her return.

Years and years had passed before Chisaki had commented on those shady warehouse parties full of goons. The entire time, he’d created a name for himself in that seedy community to gain the trust of the people lurking beneath. The raves, the drugs, the crime – Chisaki had concocted it all to draw out those who had taken her.

And he’d gotten Eri back. Part of a city had fallen to its knees for her, crumbled to foundations at the hands beneath Chisaki’s pristine gloves.

And now Eri was here. And she was Izuku’s as much as she was anyone else’s.

“Thank you,” Eri said into Izuku’s sweater.

“Of course,” Izuku murmured, peering down at the brave knight on the cover, wielding her sword. “Always.”

Once Chisaki and Eri had been bundled and shooed out into the night, Izuku locked the doors, put on easy, acoustic instrumentals, and wandered about the shop, tidying and humming as he travelled. Each aisle folded memories in its pages, and it was when Izuku was alone that he was able to revisit them like old friends.

A nineteen year old Izuku, running like the wind from a fight he may have picked himself, bursting through the door of Parchment with a bloody eyebrow and electricity in his eyes. The tall, emaciated man with the kind smile and booming voice handing him a book that would turn the tides of his life. A twenty-one year old fool fumbling into a familiar shop, eyes wide when he recognized the same man behind the desk looking worse for wear, but unchanged in sunshine demeanor and Apollo aura.

Two years of weekends spent here instead of getting into trouble all over again. Small talk, deep talk, books, books, books. Mr Yagi’s funeral – one Izuku hadn’t attended or known about because Mr Yagi was his only connection to the man’s life, and when he’d died, Izuku had only known something was wrong when he came to the shop and it hadn’t yet opened.

Eri running wild through the aisles on an empty Wednesday afternoon, pigtails like silver shooting stars. Eating dozens of tasteless dinners alone in the backroom, content and nested away from the world. Shinsou’s laugh from floor to ceiling. Inasa knocking over the end caps, his shoulders too wide for his own good. The night they spent here one New Year, drunk as fish, and Izuku caught the way Chisaki allowed Inasa to kiss to top of his head when the month turned over into midnight.

Bakugou. Flashes of red and gold and black, setting fire to every comfort and carefully crafted wall Izuku had managed to build over the years. Bakugou, embracing him with a guttural growl of ownership. Bakugou, marking him without permission. Bakugou, asking for more books. Bakugou, canting his chin up as he kept his powerful Alpha body low and prone for Izuku’s appraisal. Bakugou, demanding, asking, pleading.

With a coat to block against the cold, Izuku kicked open the back door, both hands full of recycling and garbage as he stomped into the unlit alley.

Izuku’s Alpha-sensitive ears caught the gargled scream before he could see a thing.

He took off at a sprint, thick thighs shooting him down the side street, jaw clenched against the cold, heart clattering with panic and the raw instinct to save. Bursting from the alley and straight into traffic, Izuku lofted over the hood of a honking car, ear cocked just so to catch another wretched screech cut off quickly. Swerved, dove down another alley and startled when he saw a distant figure crouched over a struggling body, face jammed into the length of their throat.

“HEY!” Strength and power revved through Izuku’s legs as he kicked into high gear and rocketed through the dark. “STOP!”

Horror and confused dawned as, right before Izuku’s eyes, the figure popped out of existence. Izuku stumbled in shock, tripped over his foot, and face planted into the pavement before scrambling to his knees and quickly crawling to the squirming, whimpering victim.

Shhh,” Izuku crooned, eyes bulging as he focused on the young man’s neck wound, his chewed-up wrists. He yanked off his sweater and bunched it, firmly pushing it to the open wound on the guy’s weeping, bloodied neck. “It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here. I’m here. Gonna call for –“

“What’s going on here?”

Izuku whipped a frantic look over his shoulder, his shoulders sagging with relief at the sight of a police officer.

“I saw you run in here like your ass was on fire and – shit. Shit, alright. I’m calling this in. You see anyone? Anyone on the run?”

“I –“ Izuku shook his head, unable to describe what he’d seen while his hands were holding the life into a human. “No. No one’s running. Just – just get an ambulance!”

Izuku ignored the officer from then on, curled around the body of the young man – hell, he could barely be sixteen, if that. Dark, sharp eyes wide and wet with terror, Izuku refused to look away. All he could say, over and over, was –

I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.

 

Yawning, Izuku fought against the weight of his eyelids as he dropped his head back against the wall, the old precinct chair doing no favors for his ass, spine, or comfort. At least it was keeping him awake. Mostly.

He’d given his statement in detail, including his report of the strange, disappearing attacker. The perpetrator had clearly used a Quirk, but what and how would remain a mystery, at least to Deku. Unsurprisingly, the police had firmly refused to discuss anything past his statement.

However, they had allowed him to sit around and wait on a call from the hospital to report the victim’s stability, or otherwise. Izuku knew he’d interrupted the attack, and luck had been on that boy’s side tonight, in at least the sense that he’d get to live.

Izuku hoped, anyway.

So he sat and watched the clock and waited.

Oiy!”

“WAH!” Izuku shot up from his unintentional sleep, flailing, looking around. “What – what? Where am – oh.”

Izuku blinked up with goopy sleep eyes at a towering visage in black from head to toe, raging red eyes and slash of serious mouth.

Bakugou?”

“No shit.” Bakugou folded his arms across his barrel chest and rocked back on his heels, face drawn tight with displeasure as he peered around the precinct. “Hello? I’m fuckin’ here, already. I’m taking this guy home. HELLO?”

Izuku frowned, brain farting as he attempted to keep up with what was happening on this day. Or, night. The clock on the wall marked just past two in the morning.

“I’m – I didn’t call you. I don’t even know your phone number.”

“Yeah, well.” Bakugou cast a long, lingering look over the length of Izuku’s body, not just head to toe, but seemingly inside and out with a single, searing stare. Izuku’s cheeks burned beneath the scrutiny. “I know your name, and when I’m on night shift and hear another Omega attack came up and the one and only witness and rescuer is you -”

With nothing to say in reply, Izuku merely met Bakugou’s gaze with his own bleary one.  They watched each other for a moment before Bakugou’s frame seemed to deflate, arms dropping to his sides, frown softening as he leaned in and reached out.

Izuku went still, alert, attention rapt on Bakugou’s outstretched fingers, and flinched in shock when Bakugou lightly thumbed at the bridge of Izuku’s nose, his chin. Gentle, despite the disgruntled scrunch of his brows.

“You’re all scraped up,” Bakugou rasped. “Looks like you fell in the playground.”

The pad of his thumb grazed Izuku’s lower lip, the touch a shock that sparked heat straight between Izuku’s thighs.

Izuku gasped, tongue flicking out to lick at fizzle along his bottom lip, the tip accidentally catching at Bakugou’s finger before he could remove it.

The reaction was instant.

Bakugou’s pupils blew out, eyes gone dark, hungry, predatory. His tan cheeks flushed, his grip shifting to hold Izuku’s chin tight.

Dizzy, Izuku’s lashes fluttered, too heavy, drugged by something more than simple attraction or fascination. A delicate sigh slipped from his mouth as he leaned in, sliding into Bakugou’s gravity.

A door beyond the front desk opened and they split with a start, Deku knocking his head against the wall as he jerked away, back of his hand over his mouth as Bakugou strode away to the officer. Bakugou’s swagger seemed unaffected, the set of his shoulders calm as he folded his arms upon the front desk and spoke in low tones to the woman on the other side.

Izuku fisted his hands upon his lap and stared straight ahead at the far wall, an aged poster about stranger danger in his sights. He inhaled sharply, nostrils flaring in a failed attempt to catch Bakugou’s scent – to catch his own and gauge how desperate he might have smelled. Impossible, of course. All he could do was shut his eyes and work the calm back into his blood, trust his body to relax and retract whatever desire he was no doubt singing like some siren’s call.

That desire in Bakugou’s eyes.

It hadn’t scared him at all. Not this time.

“I’m not leaving until I find out that boy is stable,” Izuku found himself saying into the nothing.

Of course, Bakugou always seemed to be listening. He looked over his shoulder, eyebrows high.

“You ain’t sleepin’ here all night, nerd.”

“I won’t sleep,” Izuku replied, stubborn set to his jaw as he evenly met Bakugou’s eyes. “I’ll wait.”

Again, they stared each other down. Less like some game of chicken and more like two people learning to read each other’s expressions for the first time.

With a restrained, high noise of frustration behind is clamped teeth, Bakugou whirled back to the officer. He reached back behind the desk, grabbed a scrap of paper and pen, scribbled something down and shoved it in the woman’s face.

“Have someone call me when the victim is stable. Immediately. I’ll know if you don’t.”

He turned back to a perplexed Izuku and gesture in a shooing motion toward the front double doors.

“Happy? Let’s fuckin’ go already.”

Izuku didn’t move.

“But if they call you how will I know if –“

Bakugou scoffed, sauntering over with hands tucked in the pockets of his parka, his expression lofty.

“You think I’m lettin’ you back in your house tonight after an Omega attack happened literal blocks away from your store? After the perpetrator might have seen your pretty little face? I know you ain’t stupid, so maybe you’re just really fuckin’ tired or a lot delusional.”

Izuku stood slowly, head cocked as he considered Bakugou’s demeanor with his own hardening one.

Letting me? Mr Zero, you’re not letting me do anything. I think it’s more than clear I can take care of myself.” Izuku turned and collected his jacket, shifted it onto on arm and the other as he spoke clear and concise. “You have my appreciation for coming to check on me, or collect me, or whatever this is. Your concern, while unnecessary, is thoughtful, but –“

Then Bakugou’s body was pressed against the length of Izuku’s chest to back, crotch to bottom, Bakugou’s mouth brushing Izuku’s ear.

“Let me rephrase in a way you won’t turn to fuckin’ stone over. You’ve just experienced a traumatic incident, you have no one to go home to, and you look half way between passing out and coming out of an adrenaline shock. I’m not… I don’t even know what the hell you think of me half the time, but this isn’t about anything except my need to – let me just –“

With a snarl, Bakugou spun away and Izuku mirrored him just in time to see Bakugou stalk to the opposite side of the room, pulling at his hair for a second before taking a series of sharp breaths. He turned, face taut with something Izuku didn’t recognize in any Alpha he’d previously dated, but knew to be… concern, worry.

“Let me take you home, Izuku. I’ll – I’m not gonna do any- for fuck’s sake, I’ll sleep on the couch! I just… need to know you’re safe tonight.”

Izuku blanked out, his body and brain fizzing and popping light bright, gold champagne bubbles from head to toe, lifting him up, lightening him, buoying his heart with Bakugou’s unfamiliar words.

“Um.”

Bakugou’s scowl deepened.

Um, what? What the crap comes after that?”

“Um.” Izuku flailed his hands a little, looking everywhere but Bakugou as he attempting to collect himself. His tentative gaze found Bakugou’s waiting one. “Okay?”

“Okay,” Bakugou repeated, cautious.

“Okay.” Izuku swallowed, looking down as he zipped up his coat. “But you’re definitely sleeping on the couch.”

“I don’t say shit I don’t mean,” Bakugou grumbled as he held open the glass door for Izuku. “You’ll figure that out if you know what’s good for you.”

Izuku couldn’t help the slow curve of his lips as he passed through, his shoulder brushing Bakugou as he stepped into the cold.

“How you always manage to make assurances sound like threats remains a mystery to me.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Bakugou drawled as he followed. He paused, took a deep breath of the winter air and looked to the smoggy night sky, exhaled through his nostrils like an angry bull. “Let’s go home, already.”

Izuku didn’t like how good those words sounded in his ear, but he followed Bakugou to his car, anyway, and remained silent for the rest of the ride.

 

In possibly the most surreal experience of Izuku’s life – and he’d taken way too much acid and mushrooms in his teen years – he found himself walking into the apartment of a number one pro-hero to spend the night. Said hero who, by all perplexing accounts, was determined to clumsily court him.

Stranger things might happen in the future, but at this point, Izuku had reached his pinnacle.

“Wow,” Izuku managed as he shrugged off his shoes and coat at the entrance. “Your living room is as big as my apartment.”

Sleek, black leather furniture, warm grey walls, a dominant area rug in sharp geometric shapes in shades of fire, pops of orange pillows and throws here and there. Something about the cohesiveness made Izuku think it had something to do with a very persuasive friend or interior designer. Izuku might not know Bakugou deeply, but he was fairly certain the man never actively bought a throw pillow in his life.

Bakugou grunted, hanging his and Izuku’s coats on the pegs beside the door.

“Like your place better.”

Frowning at that, Izuku kept close to Bakugou’s heels, following him into a tidy kitchen with very few appliances on display.

“Why?”

“Why what?” Bakugou filled his sleek, metallic kettle with water at the sink and flicked the switch to boil. “Tea?”

“Why do you like my place better? Yours is huge and, I don’t know. Fancy.” Izuku’s eyes grew large as Bakugou opened a high cabinet stocked from top to bottom with an array of teas. “That’s a lot of tea. You don’t drink coffee?”

“Coffee makes me –“ Bakugou rolled his eyes. “I mean, I don’t need it. Makes me crazy.”

“I’m shocked.”

“Aren’t we fuckin’ hilarious tonight. Do you want the tea or not?”

Izuku shoved in beside Bakugou, his shoulder warm against Bakugou’s as he rose to his toes to frown at the selection. He plucked a box from the center of a stack.

“This onewoah!” Izuku yelped, sending the tea flying.

A hot, calloused hand slid over Izuku’s hip, sneaking beneath the hem of his t-shirt to settle on skin. For the second time tonight, Bakugou’s low, velvet voice sounded in Izuku’s burning ear.

“And since you asked – I like your place because it’s like you. Small, warm, smells like home.”

A long breath shuddered from Izuku’s lungs as he leaned into the touch, lashes fluttering shut as he gave way to the weight of his desire, if just for a moment.

“Bakugou…”

Bakugou hummed in question, mouth skimming the exposed gland at Izuku’s neck, one no doubt beating in time with his pulse and sopping with scent.

“M’not –“ Izuku reached a hand up and back, carded his fingers in Bakugou’s fine hair. “Not small.”

“Could throw you over my shoulder ‘n carry you wherever I damn well wanted,” Bakugou murmured, the flat of his tongue gliding once over Izuku’s gland.

Izuku gasped, breath hitching in his throat, eyes wide and unseeing as a long-forgotten fire flared to life, euphoric and maddening in turn.

“I –“ Izuku keened, both arms up now, fingers linking back at the nape of Bakugou’s neck, welcoming the pair of work-roughened hands rasping both soft and gritty up his waist, down his stomach. “I imagine you could – oh – could do that with anyone.”

No,” Bakugou nipped at Izuku’s gland, licked at blissful sting. “Only you. Only you, idiot.”

Izuku’s knees went weak, would have collapsed with the power of Bakugou’s words, his hands, his body, had Izuku not been holding onto him for dear life, leaning against him in full delirium of whatever the hell this was between them. He’d never – never – felt this physically reactive to another without some kind of drug or drink or stimulant. This was outrageous, unheard of, utterly –

“Wait,” Izuku breathed out, hips arching into Bakugou’s touch, those dangerous fingers halting at the button of his jeans. Izuku spun in Bakugou’s hold, found himself embraced, his palms flat upon that wide, muscular chest as he thudded his forehead lightly against Bakugou’s shoulder. “Wait wait wait.”

A guttural groan ripped from Bakugou’s throat, a ferocity that shook Izuku to the bone, left him trembling and rapt as Bakugou nosed at Izuku’s temple, cheek, chin, and finally claimed his mouth in a sloppy, savage kiss.

The world fell away.

A full, welcoming moan swelled from Izuku’s mouth as he circled his arms around Bakugou’s neck and sunk into him, lavish laps of tongue and five years’ loneliness spilling over and out. Bakugou was so reactive against him, hungry, insatiable, a spark shivering up a length of bright red dynamite. Overwhelming.

Izuku pulled back with a deep wheeze of breath, reeling and holding tight to Bakugou’s shoulders for balance. Bakugou’s arms were like a vice around him, his face burrowed against Izuku’s neck, lips hot and humid against Izuku’s pulsing, sensitive gland.

“’Zuku, Izuku,” Bakugou grated out, muffled by Izuku’s sweaty skin, Bakugou gasping for breath, body practically vibrating beneath Izuku’s touch. “You have no fucking idea how much I –“

He cut himself off, nuzzling at Izuku’s ear in a tender way Izuku couldn’t imagine was possible for an Alpha. Or, well, Bakugou – ever.

“Bakugou, this is, uh,” Izuku swallowed hard, attempted to pull back, and huffed a laugh of surprise when he found Bakugou wasn’t letting go any time soon. “This is, well, yes, okay, I admit that this is really really –“

“Talk too much, say too little,” Bakugou mumbled, notably sniffing and nosing at Izuku’s throat, the side of his face, his hair. “You smell nothing like all those gross, candy-coated Omegas. You smell like, like – I don’t – what are you?”

Izuku stilled, heart quieting beneath the roar in his head.

“Bakugou,” he said softly, gently. Careful, both for Bakugou and for himself, who knew how badly things could turn when an Omega turned down an Alpha. “I should probably, you know. Sleep. On the couch, specifically.”

Bakugou’s hands tightened on Izuku’s bare hips, t-shirt long scrunched up and rumpled. A slither of panic coiled in Izuku’s stomach and he held his breath, waiting for the explosion.

“Right,” Bakugou bit off, clearly unhappy but not saying otherwise. He stepped back, ran a hand through his hair, and raked Izuku with a hungry sweep of blackened coal eyes. “Right. Yeah. I’m – lemme get a pillow and shit. Make yourself tea.”

Floored by Bakugou’s reaction, Izuku sure as hell didn’t make tea. He stood there, staring at the spot where Bakugou had been, listening to him muttering under his breath as he rummaged through a closet in the distance.

Never, never had a rejection, or whatever this was, turned out so smoothly, so reasonably.

Never had Izuku been left so absolutely raw, either. The past version of himself would have jumped Bakugou’s bones at the first taste of him, then had to backtrack trying to get to know him, failed spectacularly at it because he didn’t trust him in the first place and only wanted him for sex, and let the entire situation blow up in his face.

This was altogether different.

“Oiy.” Bakugou popped his head in, frowning hard. “You didn’t make yourself anything? Useless. Well, I got a call from the precinct. The kid’s stable. Don’t know any more than that, and you wouldn’t be privy to that info, anyway. But at least you can sleep now.”

Izuku pressed a hand to his weak heart, the other grappling for the counter for stability.

“Oh, thank goodness. Thank you.” Izuku bit at his bottom lip, considered Bakugou in the doorway, a safe distance away. “Really, thank you. For all of this.”

Bakugou raised an eyebrow, his signature sharp smirk cutting across his handsome face.

All of it?”

Izuku gaped, laughed incredulously as he headed for Bakugou and ducked past him, their hips bumping.

“Unbearable. Absolutely unbearable Alpha.”

“Yeah?”

Something in the crack in Bakugou’s question had Izuku stopping in his tracks, carefully looking over his shoulder. Bakugou remained in the doorway, leaning there like he’d leaned in Izuku’s, always waiting for that invitation, that approval from him. Izuku was beginning to think Bakugou didn’t flagrantly not give a fuck, after all.

“No,” Izuku said, shaking his head once before approaching the neatly made couch. Briefly, Izuku wondered if the pillow smelled like Bakugou, and sighed.

“Izuku.”

Izuku looked up, squinted a bit in the shadows as Bakugou had turned off the lights. Bakugou looked big and sturdy and still. Izuku knew what his raging heart felt like beneath his hands.

“Yes?”

“Sleep. If I feel you worrying from the other room, you’re gettin’ your ass kicked.”

Izuku broke into a smile.

“I’ll try. Goodnight, Bakugou.”

Bakugou paused, face unreadable in the dark, his voice softer than Izuku imagined would be possible for him.

“Goodnight.”

Chapter Text

A snarl on his lips, Katsuki shot up in the dead of night when a sturdy weight shifted at the foot of the bed.

“Woah, oiy!” He gaped, hands up in both defense and to maintain a distance as Midoriya crawled up the bed and between his skewed legs. Despite being enveloped in shadow, the lines of Midoriya’s stocky body were clearly bare, naked from head to toe. Katsuki’s heart jolted in shock while his cock betrayed him with spring of interest. “Oiy, the fuck’re you –”

Shhh.” Midoriya crawled up his lap, those sweet, full lips faintly curved in the dark as he approached on all fours, eyes depthless, voice husky. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay, my Alpha. I just wanna –”

Big hands steadying on Katsuki’s shoulders, Midoriya sat himself on Katsuki’s lap, only the blanket and Katsuki’s boxers separating the two of them. Gaping, Katsuki gazed up as Midoriya tipped his head back, pale length of his neck and swollen glands exposed as he whined a little and shifted his ass to settle the hot line of Katsuki’s cock up with the groove of that tight, naked ass.

Yeah. Yeah, just like that. Shit, why’ve I been waiting?”

Ah – uh!”

Brain backfiring spectacularly, hands totally unsure what to do but hold onto that thick, surprisingly muscular waist, Katsuki blatantly stared down at the sizeable cock between them, dripping in the dark. Omegas didn’t have dicks like that – did they? No way in hell.

Stop thinking about dicks, dammit!

Katsuki jerked his attention up, mouth flooding with saliva as a waft of humid, sticky arousal drowned his nose, down his throat. Midoriya watched him with the eyes of a predator, even as he ground and humped his hips down on Katsuki’s cock through the bedding and whimpered like a beast in heat.

“Midoriya –” Katsuki inhaled sharply, his voice a rasp, fingers digging into flesh. “Midoriya, you – this isn’t – why’re you –”

“Katsuki,” Midoriya murmured at his ear, wet lips dragging to his temple as on hand worked the blanket away from between them. “Katsuki, don’t worry, don’t worry, handsome. You can fuck me – fuck me, okay?”

The length of Katsuki’s cock bumped up against Midoriya’s ass and instantly felt slick and sloppy with the way Midoriya’s exposed hole dripped for him. Katsuki hissed, palming his hands back over each asscheek to knead and spread, one long finger dipping lightly in to check –

Awfuck!” Midoriya shot up with a cry, nails cutting into Katsuki’s upper arms as he rose up with eyes squeezed shut.  As if on instinct, his hips canted back to sway side to side against the pulsing head of Katsuki’s erection until Katsuki got the message, held his cock still, and nearly wept as Midoriya dropped down onto it in one long, smooth slide.

Seated in full, Midoriya opened his eyes, and tears overflowed past his pink cheeks. His smile delirious, hands rising up to dive into his own hair, his body a pinnacle of everything Katsuki ever desired, right there on display, he began to slowly rock his hips.

Heart bursting more than his body ever could, Katsuki looked on in awe, hands reaching out to cup Midoriya’s face into a kiss.

Katsuki woke when their lips touched, his thighs and tangled sheets sticky with cum and sweaty desperation.

Chest heaving, vision wavering and unfocused on the ceiling, Katsuki fisted his hands in a pillow, smacked himself in the face with it, smothered himself hard, and screamed.

Breathing hard into the cotton, body still and mind spinning, he waited, waited until he could trust himself to get up, take a shower, and absolutely not mount the mouth-watering Midoriya waiting in the other room.

Fuck,” Katsuki whispered into the pillow one last time, before he set it aside and glowered into the nothing.

Then, like the dutiful person he was, Katsuki checked the clock, noted six minutes until his alarm, and got up to begin his morning rituals.

Refusing to think of anything but viciously scrubbing himself down, Katsuki showered, fast and efficient. Dressed himself and edged into the kitchen without making a sound to grab a quick breakfast and decidedly not open the incriminating tea cabinet.

And then, because he was a complete and utter fuckhead these days, Katsuki slowly approached the space where soft snores sounded.

Midoriya looked much smaller curled up on the couch than when going toe to toe with him. He couldn’t be more than five and a half feet to Katsuki’s near six, but when he was standing up for himself Katsuki always had the impression that Midoriya filled a room. From the moment Katsuki had walked into Parchment, Midoriya had become larger than anyone in his life.

Was that normal? Was this how bonded fools walked around, day in and out? The fanged, drooling beast in Katsuki left little room to doubt that he was made to mate this man, but he himself as an intelligent, independent person teetered on some tight rope between skepticism and surrender.

Frowning, Katsuki rounded the sofa and without a thought, dropped to his knees before Midoriya’s soft face in repose.

Head cocked, Katsuki’s eyes alone traced the blue dawn blurred lines of Midoriya’s features.  To touch, to kiss, would be both too much and not enough, and all of it wrong where Midoriya’s boundaries were currently concerned.

One day. And when that day did come, Katsuki would consume him. Completely.

What had Midoriya been through? In the beginning, Katsuki hadn’t cared – hadn’t believed the past could pull someone under simply because he’d never experienced it himself. But when he looked at Midoriya, he indeed saw a drowning man, dragged below by the weight onto which he held on.

What would it take to pull him out and breathe new life into those lungs?

Midoriya sighed and shifted, his curls a disarray of deep lake green.

In sleep, Midoriya seemed painfully young. Perhaps it was the exhaustion, but his freckles stood starker on his pale face than usual, the pronounced curve of his cheek squished into the couch cushion where he seemed to have thrown the pillow to the floor during the night. His lips were squished like a fish, parted and pink, muted mauve eyelids flickering in dreams.

One limp hand had shrugged from the sofa to the floor, scarred fingers skimming the carpet. Katsuki lifted it slowly, encouraged Midoriya’s arm to bend, and lay his hand beside his face, palm up. A ghostly, puckered scar in the center of Midoriya’s wrist caught his attention, the defined circle a familiar kind of shape Katsuki couldn’t quite place.

Brow bunched, he leaned in to inspect, took a sniff and found this particular gland to be barely scenting the air, damaged as it was.

Recoiling sharply, nostrils flared in fury, Katsuki stared down the scar like an evil doer. Had Midoriya done that to himself in the past? Because of how he smelled?

A hollow pain sounded in Katsuki’s heart like a wailing howl.

Teeth gritted against the snapping jaws snarling to shake his Omega awake and demand he let Katsuki keep him safe for eternity, Katsuki got to his feet and made for the door, purposefully busying himself with his winter boots.

Bundled for the bitter winter sunrise, Katsuki cast a single longing glance through the crack of his front door. The couch faced away, toward the television and wide set of frost-crusted windows, but he stared at the sofa all the same.

When he came home, Midoriya would not be there. When he came home, that distinctive spring rain scent would be the only thing left to drive him mad.

Pathetic fucker that he knew he was now, Katsuki hadn’t a doubt that he’d spend tonight where Midoriya currently lay. He couldn’t sleep with the man, but he sure as hell could pretend.

Katsuki wasn’t in the mood to interact with the world today. Last night’s fray of frantically rushing to the police station after hearing Midoriya’s name, coupled with the his crumbling control and the first real taste of his spunky little Omega, had all taken their toll.

For the first time in a long time, Katsuki didn’t even want to go into work. Not when Midoriya was filling up his home like a jungle overgrown up the walls, curling over furniture with his humid greenhouse aroma.

Standing on the bleak pavement, assaulted with grey wind and old slush, Katsuki called a damn cab.

With a temple pressed against the icy window, his breath fogging up any view of the sleepy city, Katsuki only saw the inviting line of Midoriya’s pale throat as he reached up for a box of tea, the hem of his shirt riding up to expose a freckled hip. His demeanor had been more at ease around Katsuki than ever before, and that was more intoxicating than Midoriya’s presence. The comfort of sharing a space with one another – the way Midoriya had accepted the invitation to Katsuki’s home, had allowed himself to be rescued, for once.

The simple, quiet banter in the kitchen had suddenly overwhelmed Katsuki more than any scent could. The stress of the evening splintered apart, revealing Katsuki’s raw, ravenous desire to hold on to Midoriya and never let go.

Midoriya sparking off like flint to stone had been another shock to the system. The fire had caught between them faster than he’d imagined in his limited knowledge of these things. He certainly hadn’t expected to go feral so fiercely, so instantly consumed with stripping Midoriya down to his baser instincts.

Katsuki had wanted to drag him to the floor and strip him down to straining muscle and dripping thighs.

Fuck.

When had he become such a pathetic animal?

Since those evergreen eyes and that damp pine scent. Since that smartass mouth and strong, stubborn jaw. Since that sweet, vulnerable side and easy smile revealed themselves.

Double fuck.

When the elevator doors opened to the floor occupied by the agency, it was of little surprise to Katsuki that the area was bustling with the sounds of the recent assault.

Head ducked – he knew they’d smell him out eventually, but he could at least have a few moments to himself – Katsuki edged between the cubicles to find his own, and quickly sat with a silent sigh. He rolled his shoulders, his neck, grimacing as tension cracked and popped down his spine like goddamn crispy rice.

He’d barely finished unwrapping himself from winter layers and draping them over his chair before Kirishima’s obnoxious red head popped up from the cubicle next door. His grin was especially punchable today.

“How ‘d it go?”

Katsuki didn’t rise to it. Rather, he booted his computer up and tapped in a password.

“How did what go?”

He hadn’t been on duty with Kirishima when he’d heard of the attack, but news travelled fast in his hellhole and he had no doubt that every nosy bastard on the floor knew that Ground fucking Zero, of all people, ran to the aid of some guy who didn’t need aid at all. Embarrassing.

“You know.” Katsuki didn’t need to look to see Kirishima’s meager eyebrows waggle. “Our resident rescue agent, Midoriya Izuku. He saved that kid’s life, you know! And then –“ A dreamy sigh. “You saved him.”

“I gave him a ride home, hair for brains,” Katsuki managed between clenched teeth as he pulled up the recently emailed file on the new kid’s case. He skimmed, finding that the fifteen year-old, Izumi Kouta, had been identified, by as yet wasn’t able to speak, due to the damage done on his neck. He was stable, but not in any shape to share any additional information or leads with the police.

“What’re we talking about?” Camie said as she invaded Katsuki’s cubicle and leaned against the flimsy wall with arms folded beneath her breasts, chewing gum. She was already in uniform, probably on first shift, just about to begin. She blew a big pink bubble and popped it with a lashing of tongue, grinning around her full chipmunk cheek. 

“Noth-“

“Bakugou’s sweet on that guy who saved the Kouta kid.” Bakugou whipped around with a death glare in time to see Kirishima wink like the dipshit he was. The guy could barely wink without blinking both eyes. “I heard he rushed to Midoriya’s side the second he heard of the incident. We might finally get him a mate, after all.”
Camie blinked, looking between Bakugou and Kirishima, then back, her cheeks pink.

“Wait, you’re gay?”

“I’m not anything!” Katsuki snapped, slamming both hands on the desk as he stood. “Everyone in this place is like a wild pack of starving mongrels! I gave him a ride home –“ my home, “and nothing else! Nothing happened. Nothing. I don’t even know why I gotta explain this shit to you, like it’s your business for some shit.”

“We just care about you,” Camie said, ruffling Bakugou’s hair and laughing when he snapped at her like a rabid dog. “And for what it’s worth, I believe you. I can’t imagine you of all people getting into it with some low-level, book store owning Omega with a criminal record and no Quirk.”

The world sucked into a pinprick, piercing straight through Katsuki’s chest. A sharp chill snapped through him, a ice-pick to the heart.

“A what?” Katsuki heard his voice echo, hollow in his head.

“It’s all in the attached file,” Camie said with a shrug, blowing another bubble and popping it, loud and abrupt in Katsuki’s ears as a gunshot. “They weren’t going to let him go without checking out that it wasn’t him who did it in the first place, duh.  Look for yourself.”

Bakugou.” Kirishima, from the other side of the wall, voice soft. He spoke only when Bakugou turned and looked up to him, eyes wide and dry. Kirishima frown, concern deep in his cadence. “It’s nothing. Just a run of the mill check. And hey.” Kirishima’s voice strengthened, his attention on Camie, now. “What’s low level about him? I met him and he’s kind of awesome. He’s a manly Omega, I can tell.”

“Manly and strong are totally different things.” Camie inspected her nails as she spoke. “A strong Omega worthy of a top pro hero is, like, one a million. You – me, Tamaki. Heroes need to stick with heroes, you know? Of course nothing happened between Bakugou and that Omega. He’s a nothing in our world.”

“How can you be an Omega and say that kind of stuff all the time, Camie?” Kirishima was practically climbing over his own cubicle wall, the structure shuddering as he probably stood on his chair from the other side and leaned over it to point over Bakugou’s head. “You of all people should know what it’s like to be us! Omegas need our protection more than most in this society. We’re already born with a stigma we have to escape.”

Camie looked on, unimpressed. Another bubble snapped.

Bakugou couldn’t say a word. His brain was reeling with ‘a criminal record and no quirk’, over and over, his hands shaking on his lap, beneath the desk.

And anyway, Katsuki knew what formed Camie into this. They’d been friends for a long damn time. Longer than she and Kirishima, who had only really begun to know each other in their years within the agency.

Camie was a victim of, what she considered, a weak Omega. From what she’d divulged to him on more than one drunken night out, as a child she’d been extremely close with her Omega mother. Her Alpha father had knocked them both around on his whims, which had been often. One day, the violence had gone too far, and her mother had been murdered while in a weakened state of heat.

According to Camie, they’d had numerous chances to escape, to free themselves of the tyranny of her father’s fist, but her mother never took it. She’d been too meek, too soft and dependent on her Alpha. And instead of throwing her hate toward Alphas, Camie had bludgeoned the blame over her dead mother’s head. On Omegas, too, and their inherently weak wills, and how their nature turned on them to their own detriment.

The bias had only strengthened as her work as a hero exposed her to the abuse Omegas suffered in society, time and again. They were the ‘weaker’ gender, and didn’t fight back as much as she felt they ‘should’.

Camie’s was just one more story in a million across the world.

There was nothing unusual about her view. That didn’t make it correct, but for her and many others, their experiences validated their beliefs, and Bakugou knew he’d never be in a place to convince Camie otherwise.

Kirishima, on the other hand.

“We’re supposed to be saving those people, not begrudging them their safety! They’re our kind and –“

“Okay, one,” Camie held up a manicured finger, her slim eyebrows raised, “I will save anyone who needs saving. That’s what we do here. And two, they’re not our kind. They might be yours, but they’re certainly not mine. I’m like my own breed of Omega, and I’m proud of that. It’s also not my responsibility to convince you of what’s right in front of your nose day in and out.”

“And what’s that?” Kirishima said, an edge to his voice rarely heard. He too had a childhood of wondering what he was supposed to make of himself, scared and without confidence for what he could become.

Camie shrugged a toned, strong shoulder.

“That Omegas have always needed more protecting than anyone, and because of that, they’ve come to expect that someone else will fight their battles for them.”

Kirishima’s face went the color of his hair.

That is –“

Alright, alright, you fuckers!” Katsuki stood, his frame bulking up with pheromones, aggressive and dominant as he glared at them both. “I’m calling bullshit on this conversation. As long as we’re all doing our jobs, this ain’t the time or place to get into shit like this. Now get outta my sight and smell.”

“No skin off my back,” Camie said, voice unaffected and cheerful as ever as she flashed a smile and flounced away. “Stay warm on patrol, boys! You’ll freeze your dick off out there.”

Kirishima seemed to instantly deflate as he sunk down behind his wall.

Pausing with a sigh, Katsuki tamped his temper and rounded the cubicle. He frowned down at Kirishima, who avoided his eyes in favor of his lap.

“I’m sorry,” Kirishima murmured. “I got too heated and that wasn’t cool. I’m so embarrassed.”

“The fuck?” Katsuki rested a hand on Kirishima’s head. “What’s not cool is being ashamed of standing up for your side. Camie is always gonna be Camie, but that doesn’t mean you need to stand down to her. Fuck that. You do you.”

Kirishima peered up with wet eyes, lips faintly curved.

“Bakugou –“

“Bakugou?” Tamaki’s timid voice interrupted as he popped his head around the corner. “M-may I speak to you, please?”

Katsuki grimaced as he lightly pushed his palm off Kirishima’s forehead and followed Tamaki’s retreating back. Without words, he followed Tamaki into his office with a rising sense of something’s off.

“Um,” Tamaki began, turning around as soon as the door shut at Katsuki’s back. He looked everywhere but Katsuki. “I need to, well, about the recent Omega incident.”
“What about it?”

“Do you – do you want to sit?”

“I’ll stand.” Katsuki folded his arms and inclined his chin. “What about the Izumi kid?”

“Midoriya Izuku, a-actually,” Tamaki said softly, though his voice had reigned in to something steadier. Different from the days of UA. “The man who saved him. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that name, nor the first time in which his uh, file, ended up in my possession.”

Triple fuck.

Katsuki didn’t shift, but rather maintained a steady eye contact with his superior. He knew it put the pressure on the Omega – didn’t much care.

“Yeah?” Katsuki said blandly.

“I – yes.” Tamaki nodded and scooted around his desk to life a manila folder and flicked through it. “Midoriya Izuku. Age twenty five, no siblings, father unknown, grew up in a low income apartment complex. Top of his class through grammar school, middle school, and accepted into a top ranking high school on grades alone, once again top of his class.”

Katsuki’s inner beast hummed with pride at his mate, but his face remained stoic with a scrape of a scowl across.

“He excelled in college as well.” Tamaki cleared his throat, a heavy pause as he flicked a look up and quickly back down. “And then, there is his record.”

“Is this seriously pertinent to anything revolving around the Omega killer, because if it’s not –“

“Please,” Tamaki said with that silent steel of his. This time, he held Katsuki fiery gaze. “H-hold on. There’s – there’s this. Several instances of aggravated assault, dating back from age fifteen until eighteen or so. Charges pressed against, um, well – a now well-known villain, some seven years back. And a restraining order pressed against one Bubaigawara Jin, after the man in question sent Midoriya to the hospital with what seems to be attempted murder upon him. Bubaigawara ultimately disappeared and has never been found. Midoriya’s record is clear from that point onward.”

Tamaki cleared his throat, and the oppressive silence that built up within Katsuki was like the aftermath of a sonic boom. Ringing echoed in his ears.

“What the fuck,” Katsuki scraped out, his voice distant in the drum of his blood. “What the fuck, Tamaki? Are you – the hell does this have to do with me?”

“Well, I –“ Tamaki finally met Katsuki’s intense stare, his mouth a thin line and the papers in his hands faintly shaking. “In theory, Midoriya is the one who saved that boy. He is also the one I remember you calling me about out of nowhere, looking for information while off duty. I’d thought you were on to something at the time. And now my question remains: After your previous inquiry and now the connection between Midoriya and Izumi, do you have reason to believe he may be somehow connected to these murders?”

Katsuki gaped.

“WHAT?” He harsh, high laugh squeaked out of him as he placed his hands on his hips and looked to the ceiling with a second hysterical laugh. “I’m sorry, what the fuck did you just say to me? Midoriya? Midoriya Izuku involved in the fucking Omega murders?”

Hackles rising along with the flames in his eyes, Katsuki closed in on Tamaki with a crazed, sharp smile.

“Are you fucking joking, Tamaki – are you? Because you sound off your goddamn rocker right now. That guy is a goddamn advocate of freedom for Omegas. He’s a nerd and a bookstore owner who has been bullied his entire life for being an Omega and wants nothing more than to be left alone. Even from me.”

Tamaki doubled back, the forms between them held up to his chest like a shield until he ran into the ledge of his desk. His eyes were huge, scrambling over Katsuki’s features as his hormones screamed distress.

“Stay away from him,” Katsuki rumbled, a deep, low, Alpha’s command. He’d never used this influence on a coworker before, but the beast inside was snapping at the bone cage of his ribs to protect his mate at all costs.

Suddenly, Katsuki held his hands up and took a step back, releasing a shaky breath as his head spun. His voice released gruff and tired.

“The connection is zero. There is no connection except for the one between him and me. I called that night to learn where he lived and how to find him – that’s it. That’s all there ever was. The rest is coincidence.”

Then tension sapped from the room and left Katsuki drained as he watched Tamaki’s pale jaw clench and his head cock to the side. While his voice never rose, the weight the carried could sunk straight through Katsuki’s stomach.

“Bakugou, I – I’m not sure where to begin right now. But I will end it with this. I feel it’s time you take a break from the agency.”

Katsuki blinked, his gut dropping out. His short laugh was hoarse and lifeless.

“Sorry, what?”

Tamaki licked is lips quickly, gaze averting to the floor and back as he seemed to arrange his thoughts.

“That is – you’ve um, this is the second time you’ve been hostile towards me in a work environment. You, a hero who should know better and, well, be a paragon of an Alpha. And – and second. This whole thing with – well,” he gestured to the papers in his no longer shivering hand, “if what you’re saying is true – and I can tell that it is – then… Then you abused company policy by using our private database for your personal needs. And that’s just –“

Tamaki paused, the tender expression in his eyes entirely welled up with pity, and boiling Katsuki  with mortification.

“I humbly insist that you take a month’s leave of absence, enforced from today onward. The information will not reach the press, nor will it ever leave this floor. Only those on a need to know basis will be informed and –“

“Fuck you,” Katsuki whispered, throat choked and dry. His fists tightened. “Fuck you. I’m the best you’ve got.”

Tamaki glanced over Katsuki’s shoulder.

Katsuki snapped a look around to see Mirio passing by the office window and smiling cheerfully with a big wave.

“I don’t think so,” Tamaki finally said, somber. “You may go. Please don’t make a scene – it’ll be worse for you in the long run. I don’t… I don’t want this to be difficult for you, Bakugou. What I want – we want, as a team – is for you to find some peace and steadiness within yourself. Is that – does that make sense?”

This time it was Katsuki who couldn’t look him in the eye. Head bowed to prevent his burning face to be seen by all, he exited the office without a word, collected his things, and left.

It wasn’t until he was standing in the middle of the slushy sidewalk, his jacket unzipped and flinging in the harsh wind, that Katsuki realized he didn’t know what to do with his life if it wasn’t this. Or who he was, if it wasn’t that.

And so he called the only person who already knew that he’d fucked up in spades.

Buh?” the drowsy voice answered.

“It’s me,” Katsuki rasped. “I fucked up.”

Shinsou’s voice instantly cleared.

“At least bring me a coffee.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki croaked. “See you soon.”

 

Twenty minutes later, Katsuki was frowning at a Shinsou draped in the doorway like the frame was the only thing holding him up at this hour.

“You could at least put on some fucking pants,” Katsuki said as he pushed past Shinsou in boxers and an oversized t-shirt.

“Who is doing who a favor here?” Shinsou replied crispy as he nipped the coffee from Katsuki’s fingers and slumped toward the living room while Katsuki removed his shoes and jacket. He called out, “Shouto’s not home, so whatever’s going on, it’s safe with me.”

“Yeah yeah,” Katsuki said under his breath, finally following.

He flopped onto the other end of the couch from where Shinsou stretched his lanky legs out to cross his ankles atop the coffee table. He took a quiet sip of coffee, his eyes falling closed for a moment.

“What’s going on?” he mumbled into his cup.

Katsuki bit back any number of instinctive retorts and distractions. Instead, he propped his feet on the table, too, and stared at his black socks.

“You know the – the thing when Midoriya –“

“Specify on an exponentially smaller level.”

“I’m fucking getting there! Shit, man. When I found out where he lived that one time.”

Shinsou hummed in agreement and nursed his coffee.

Katsuki cast a sidelong glance his way and lowly spoke.

“They suspended me for a month.”

Shinsou stilled, mouth on his cup, eyes straight ahead.

And then his shoulders sagged as he sunk back into the couch, long hands curved around his drink. When he looked at Katsuki, his eyes were infuriatingly unreadable as ever.

“That’s not unreasonable.”

Katsuki fumed.

But –“

“But it’s the first dark mark on the history of your record, and that’s sucks, even if you deserve it.” Shinsou shrugged and returned to his coffee. He swallowed and sighed. “What’re you going to tell Izuku?”

Katsuki balked.

“Uh. I’m not.”

“That’ll go over well,” Shinsou muttered into his drink.

“That’s fuckin’ rich when Midoriya hasn’t told me shit about himself. Nothing that matters, anyway. Had to find out from a goddamn email attachment and my coworkers. Sick of it.”

Shinsou perked up at that, lavender eyes sharpening to greyer steel.

“What do you mean by that? Find out what?”

“Uh.” Katsuki violently gestured with great, encompassing sweeps of his arms. “Everything? That he’s Quirkless, that he’s got a criminal record – that he was almost murdered? Nothing – I’ve heard none of this shit! And here I am, practically on my fucking knees for him, prostrating myself like some – some –“

“Omega?” Shinsou supplied, voice brittle and sharp.

Katsuki whirled on him.

“Don’t start puttin’ words in my mouth or it’ll be my fist stuffed in there next.”

“Your dirty talk is so on point,” Shinsou said in a monotone. “But seriously, Bakugou. Don’t you think there was a reason he hasn’t told you yet?”

“What the fuck reason would that be!”

“I don’t know – maybe what he’s been impressing on you all along? That you two need to get to know each other on a vastly deeper level than just your base instincts and interests.”

Katsuki opened his mouth and snapped it shut again, his shoulders coming up to his chin defensively as he crossed his arms and slumped into the couch.

“Shit,” was all Katsuki had to say to that.

Shinsou wasn’t wrong. And neither was Midoriya, not really. Heavy stuff like that was his to tell, including the reasons and stories behind it all. It took everything inside of him not to rush back home in case Midoriya was still on the couch, and demand answers.

As Shinsou had said, that would go over well.

Katsuki’s heart hung low as it dawned on him how far the two of them needed to go.

If Midoriya would allow it.

“Your mood is blacker than my coffee,” Shinsou said after a long, comfortable silence borne out of ten years of blood, brotherhood, and battle.

“Don’t sound so happy about it and die already.”

“I’m just relieved to see someone finally turn your world on its head. It’s about time.”

“Sounds pretty shitty to me.”

“It’s shitty until upside down becomes your new right side up.”

Katsuki flashed a glare.

“You write this crap in your diary or something?”

“I’m merely a natural talent with prose,” Shinsou said with lofty eyebrows and a wide, thin smirk.

“I’d love to punch you right now,” Katsuki deadpanned.

“It’s a gift.” The humor in Shinsou’s eyes faded toward the indecipherable as he glanced at Katsuki. “You’re really not going to tell him about the suspension?”

“If I tell him, then he'll realize the severity of what I did, it'll bring that shit back up, and we’re back at square one.”

Shinsou considered him.

“If you say so.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Now I remember when I stopped hangin’ out with you.”

“Because I’m all knowing and you’re a simpleton?”

It was lucky for Shinsou that he had time to set aside his coffee because Katsuki launched at him.

 

Katsuki knocked on the window of Parchment’s darkened front door, squinting through the glass at the half-light glowing from within. Someone was still home.

He grinned when Midoriya approached from the stacks, wrapped in some kind of giant, chunky knit cardigan of deep, brick red. Midoriya gaped as soon as he made out Katsuki’s face and rushed to the door, dropping his keys twice before he managed to get it unlocked and opened.

“B-Bakugou? What the heck are you – get in already, it’s cold!” All maternal fussiness, Midoriya shooed him inside and locked the door behind. Midoriya was still fumbling for his keys, faced away, when Katsuki approached him from behind, crotch to the strong swell of Midoriya’s ass, nose to the top of his curls to inhale that deep forest aura.

Mmm, missed you,” Katsuki mumbled into thick hair that smelled as green as it looked.

Midoriya froze before he turned, both hands slapping to Katsuki’s chest to push.

Oh no, we’re not going there again,” Midoriya said firmly, the wrinkle of his brow so damn cute.

Katsuki whimpered once and Midoriya startled, taking a step back with a puzzled half-smile.

“Wait. Are you drunk? Did you just come from work?”

“Shinsou’s.” Katsuki scowled. “He kept me there all day. Lonely bastard. Then the alcohol. I didn’t see it coming.”

Midoriya’s eyebrow quirked, his posture easing as he took a relaxed step into Katsuki’s space, his smile widening.

“And you call him a friend. That guy’ll drink anyone under the table. I don’t know where it all goes.”

“Fucker,” Katsuki said emphatically, reaching out to brush the curls from one of Midoriya’s bright eyes. “You’re real pretty.”

“Thanks,” Midoriya replied without inflection, unimpressed.

“Not like girl pretty,” Katsuki said, getting up close to frown at Midoriya’s features. “You’re just – I dunno. You. You turn my upside down into right side up.”

Midoriya sputtered a laugh and shook his head as he took a step in retreat.

“Your what? I’m what? Bakugou, as nice as it is to see you since last night –“

“Last night,” Bakugou spat, suddenly infuriated. “You saved that kid. You’re amazing. Everyone should recognize that.”

“I’d rather not be recognized for anything at all.” Midoriya chuckled in good natural, a large, soothing hand rubbing up and down Bakugou’s arm. Despite the parka between them, Bakugou still shivered. “Relax. I’m just glad the boy is stable and healing up. I hope he’ll be okay in the long run. Attempted murder –“ Something dark flashed in Midoriya’s eyes. “Attempted murder is not something you just wake up and get over.”

Katsuki bit off a number of telling things he could say.

“If he’s anywhere as strong an Omega as you, he’ll be fine.”

Midoriya’s smile was puzzled, eyes curious.

“Am I missing something here? I know you’re tipsy, but why the compliments? I don’t – that’s not really, um, my thing.”

“You’ll take them and like them,” Katsuki snapped, yanking at Midoriya’s arms to haul him in. To his dulled sense of shock, Midoriya yelped but did not push back, only rested his forehead on Katsuki’s heart. “I’m – I just – I’m just pissed off you probably think you can’t trust me with yourself when I’m here promisin’ that you can.”

Midoriya didn’t reply to that, but turned his head so his cheek rested flat on Katsuki’s coat. Without a word, he slipped his hands in Katsuki’s jacket pockets and rocked into him, just a little. Katsuki’s felt his cheeks flush as he tentatively put his arms around that strong, stocky frame, and linked his fingers at the small of Midoriy’s back.

“That’s a nice thing to say,” Midoriya finally whispered. His back rumbled with a silent, shaking laugh. “You’re awfully nice for a jackass.”

“Say that to my face, short stack,” Katsuki said, not letting go.

They remained like that for a time, rocking slightly, Midoriya’s breathing slow, his scent more mellow, early morning dew and fog.

“Bakugou,” Midoriya murmured.

Katsuki hummed, cheek pillowed atop Midoriya’s warm head, almost drifting while standing.

“Thank you for taking me home last night. And thank you for stepping away when I asked you to.”

Katsuki grunted.

“And…” Midoriya inhaled, deep and slow. “I think you may be someone I can trust in the future. But it’ll take… time. I’m not – I’m not brave like I used to be.”

“No,” Katsuki said, pulling back enough to meet Midoriya’s clouded eyes in the soft lowlight glow of a shop closed. “You’re brave like you are now. And there’s no one else I’ve met who’s brave to the point that it pisses me to the fuck off.”

Midoriya cracked a grin at that, hands rising to wedge between them, fingers spread across Katsuki’s chest.

“Alright. Well, now I’m going to bravely ask you to go home before I start something I can’t finish.”

Smoke signaling a fire filled up Katsuki’s lungs, mouth instantly watering as his gaze sharpened on the delicious curve of Midoriya’s mouth.

“Can’t finish,” Katsuki rasped, “or won’t?”

“A little bit of both,” Midoriya said with a hint of something dark around the edges. He backed off, hand trailing down on of Katsuki’s arms until their palms met, fingers linked. “It's been a long day. This morning feels like forever ago. Yesterday, even longer.”

Katsuki nodded, refusing to release Midoriya’s hand.

“Can I walk you home?”

Midoriya opened his mouth, then shut it and paused before he solemnly nodded.

In the end, they walked hand in hand to Midoriya’s apartment, chins ducked into their coats against the wind and cold. There had been no kiss goodnight, and Katsuki hadn’t pressed for it. The way Midoriya held his gaze on the doorstep had been enough to warm him through and fill him up.

And that – that was something altogether upside down.

Chapter Text

“You encourage a dog to keep sniffing at your door, eventually he’s going to think he has a right to walk in.”

Chisaki sliced open a cardboard box with concise precision.

Eyebrow raised, Izuku leaned back in his ancient, creaky office chair, hands folded on his lap as he considered his friend.

“Is my asshole a door in this analogy?”

Chisaki’s pause was minute before he dug through the box, checking off orders on a clipboard.

“I’m saying that your judgment is clearly becoming clouded for another one of your Alpha bad boys.”

Izuku’s lips twitched in humor, even as his heart clenched.

“He’s a hero, Kai.”

Chisaki’s eyes glinted with razor sharp warning when he looked up.

“And up until recently, you were just as aware as I am that they are an overall menace to our society. So few of them do good, while the others abuse their power and privilege, destroy buildings in the wakes of their battles, leave citizens homeless – hell, the majority of them don’t even patrol the most crime riddled neighborhoods of the city because they know they can’t do shit for the area. That’s where my people run the joint – that’s where you used to walk the streets with me as a disenchanted kid who’d been crushed by the very same society that you’re now wanting to fuck with.”

Chisaki stabbed the box opener into an unopened parcel beside him and met Izuku’s livid gaze dead on.

“Or get fucked by.”

A dozen replies shocked through Izuku in an instant, all of them products forged from a lifetime of self defense and futile fury. As a teenager, Izuku might have lashed out with too much passion, even cried. Now, his brain snapped into overdrive faster than his fists. Their gazes clashed in a silence screaming with shared history.

Izuku chewed on the inside of his cheek before he allowed himself to speak.

“Are you saying this because you feel like you’re going to lose me or because you wish you were brave enough to get out of your own head and let Inasa in for once?”

Izuku swore he could see his own breath for the chill dropping in the room.

“I’m saying this,” Chisaki said, clipped and concise, “because the last guy you dated raped you and tried to stomp your skull in half, Izu-“

“Do you think I’ve forgotten?” Izuku’s words cracked as he abruptly stood, face hot, his innards writhing as he loomed over Chisaki. “You think I need you to remind m-“

Chisaki went to his feet just as quickly, pale face cold as stone and words pelting just as hard.

“I think you need to be reminded who you are and why you are this way.”

“And what way am I?” Izuku spat, stepping into Chisaki’s preciously guarded space, their chests bumping. “Since you know me so much better than I do, why don’t you enlighten me, Kai? Because –“

“You aren’t safe from yourself!” Chisaki’s voice broke as he reached out, gloved hands gripping Izuku’s face like he wanted to physically shake some sense into him. He looked manic, the same as when Eri had gone missing and he wouldn’t sleep for searching her out. “Why can’t you find someone who’s not an Alpha, Izuku? You’re not Omega – you’re not Alpha, either – you’re your own fucking person in this world and I can’t watch you go for another savage, self-important piece shit of who will use you up like some bitch in heat!”

Fuck you!” Throat wrecked and raw, Izuku shoved Chisaki toward the door, stopping forward for another shove and a third, teeth bared. “Fuck you, Chisaki Kai! You’re scared. You’re scared I’ll leave you behind and you’ll be the only one in group stewing in misery and judgment. Have you ever taken a good look at yourself in your life? When was the moment when you decided you’d never let anyone in, huh? When was the moment you decided Alphas were the root of your every problem? Because I remember my moments – clearly, like they were yesterday. And I’m battling them now. For the first time in my life, through all the therapy and drugs and bullshit, I’m here, finally staring my demons in face and saying – let me take you on until you no longer own me.”

Panting, hands fisted, face balled into a twisted flesh of fury, Izuku reached past the frozen statue of Chisaki and turned the doorknob at his side, creating a space for Chisaki to escape.

“What owns you?” Izuku said, hoarse and hollow, limbs vibrating with arrested tension. “You talk about freedom. You throw marches for it, for the rights and equalization of other presentations alongside Alphas. You and your thugs track down Alpha criminals in the night and throw them to sea for a long dive like you have a right to take a life because you have something to be angry about. And –“

Izuku shoved Chisaki out the office doorway, leaving them on either side of the entry, eyes locked. Shocked, lightning gold to volatile, poison ivy green.

“And you let all of that get in the way of someone I have seen moon over you for years. The most kind, gentle, honorable Alpha you’ll ever meet. You’d rather be lonely and let that thing inside own you instead of letting someone into your heart.”

Storming steps thundered down the aisles, Inasa’s great and powerful strides approaching.

Chisaki was already looking away toward the noise, color high in his cheeks when Izuku strode past, his mouth near to one pale, porcelain ear.

“Who’s really getting fucked? Me or you? Because I’m finally learning to take the lead with my life and you’re still letting old problems drag you by a leash.”

“What’s going on here?” Inasa boomed, his hulking figure coming into view, his face a mask of concern. His nostrils flared and he stopped dead in his tracks, eyes trained and dark on Izuku. His features went stern and stormy, quick as a change of wind. “You’re fighting. You smell like aggression. Aggression on my –“

“Wait.” Chisaki’s voice was quiet and sharp like a knife-cut through the tension. His slim hand slapped on Inasa’s barrel chest, fingers splayed. His slight figure stood before Inasa’s towering one, and though Izuku couldn’t see Chisaki’s face, he could tell there was something different in the way he carried his normally stiff, formal stature. “This is between us. It’s fine, it’s –“

“I know you can take care of yourself but you can let me –“

“Thank you.”

Inasa went still, eyes widening as color instantly swept across his cheeks.

“I – wh – no! Don’t thank me, I care about you and what’s going on over h-“

“Yoarashi,” Chisaki said, cool and collected, his hand unmoving. “Let’s talk.”

Inasa gaped, speechless.

Despite the electricity still buzzing in Izuku’s blood from the confrontation, his lips couldn’t help but curve as he snuck back into the office and shut the door behind him. He didn’t want to intrude on the conversation, and by the sound of things, perhaps progress was on the horizon.

Faced with a cluttered office, the fight instantly drained from Izuku’s limbs. Eyes falling shut, back against the door, he slid down to the cold, tiled floor and brought his brow to his bent knees.

Izuku hadn’t missed this clouded exhaustion and adrenaline drop of his temper. Hadn’t wanted to lose his temper in the first place.

But Chisaki had touched something within him, or perhaps rebuilt for him a past with which Izuku had been struggling to leave behind for a long time. The realization had begun to rise that Izuku couldn’t move on with his life without recognizing those occurrences which ran his life on a daily basis. The anger, the confusion, the abandonment, the ostracization – they all stemmed from fear.

Fear of being alone, of vulnerability, of honesty, of being present to his life now instead of holding onto his past and shoving it at people like it would prove why he was the way he was.

Being around Bakugou, a man who lived so wholly in the now, and was so unapologetically himself, for better or worse, and even more honest with the desire and effort he put forth toward Izuku – it was opening his eyes. The world looked clearer, brighter, less drab and pointless. Izuku didn’t like to consider himself depressed – he was thankful for a lot of the things for which he’d worked over the years. He had friends who made him laugh, and a lifestyle that didn’t enhance his anxiety.

But monotony and tedium and safety had run Izuku’s life for five years. Being around Bakugou had made him realize that, too.

Izuku released a long, shuddering breath, but did not cry, his eyes pressed hard into his bony knees as he worked through slow breaths.

He was tired of being scared. Tired of being angry and pretending he wasn’t. Tired of being tired. Tired of being so safe that nothing new could ever burst through the walls he’d built around his lifestyle.

Chisaki wasn’t wrong in his worries. But when it came to verbalizing his concerns, Chisaki was bottom of the barrel. He went for the kill rather than the capture, and Izuku didn’t take well to being dominated on any level.

Well, most levels.

Deciding there was nothing to be done about it, Izuku got to his feet and dusted off his corduroys, his mouth grim. This fight wasn’t his and Chisaki’s first, and likely wouldn’t be their last. There was something of a brotherhood there, of family. In the beginning, it hadn’t been as such. After Dabi… things had changed. Izuku knew that Chisaki blamed himself being so distracted with finding Eri, with entrenching himself in circles of shady people, that he’d left a young and impressionable Izuku to the wolves.

Izuku didn’t blame him. Never had. He preferred to take responsibility for his actions.

Which was why Izuku had instantly flared into fight mode at Chisaki’s insinuation that Izuku was letting himself get fucked around by another poisonous Alpha.

Because he wasn’t.

He didn’t have to prove it to anyone else, but it would be nice if one of his best friends believed in him, anyway.

With a deep breath, Izuku regarded the stack of boxed books and went back to his work, alone.

Knowing Eri was at the front desk – Izuku had kept his promise to get her hired somewhere, albeit it ended up here – Izuku wasn’t concerned that Inasa and Chisaki were feasibly somewhere else, having a private conversation. Or making out. Knowing Chisaki, though, almost undoubtedly not making out.

The last time Izuku could even remember Chisaki showing sexual interest in another person was Hitoshi, and that was a weird point in life for the both of them. Hitoshi had been beaten down by literal years of pining over Todoroki, and looking for someone to get him through heats. Chisaki had found Eri and seemed somehow directionless and unmotivated at the time, so Hitoshi had been a distraction. Emotionally, nothing had ever come of their short year of mutual benefits.

Inasa was different. He’d stormed in at Todoroki’s side somewhere around Izuku’s freshman year at university, larger than life and bursting with boundless energy. He’d met Chisaki at Izuku’s birthday night out, and the hearts in his eyes had been instantaneous. Chisaki’s cold nature had been like Inasa sticking his hot tongue to the frozen flagpole.

Inasa had been and remained fascinated with Chisaki’s causes. Hadn’t taken offence to Chisaki’s biased nature toward Alphas, and had never hesitant to stick up for his fellow Alphas, as well as sing his own praises and good character when necessary. He believed in Chisaki’s goals to life up the lower class, to spend his days following the wake of battles and using his Quirk to piece together damaged homes, family businesses in streets. He cheered on Chisaki with an enthusiasm that rarely wavered.

Chisaki didn’t know what to do with that. The tenacity and optimism with which Inasa lived his life was unfathomable to Chisaki, and yet, Izuku got the distinct feeling that Chisaki was increasingly warming to him as the years passed. Even, perhaps, intrigued by what made Inasa tick.

 So, let them talk. If anything good could come of Izuku’s explosion, he hoped it would be something to the benefit of his close friends. That would be enough.

A heavy knock jolted Izuku from his wandering thoughts and his repetitive box opening.

“Midoriya!” Inasa might have been standing a foot from his ear for how loud he spoke. “I have consulted with Chisaki, and while your argument remains a mystery to me due to Chisaki’s impressively honorable nature, I can only conclude that you are upset with something regarding my dear friend Bakugou Katsuki and –“

Izuku opened the door, unable to hold back his chuckle as he eyed Inasa’s flushed face with amusement.

“You two really are friends, huh?”

“We are!” Inasa nodded vehemently, his dark eyes sincere. “We have fought alongside each other many times. I would die for him!”
Imagining Bakugou standing beside him, red-faced and denying every word of this conversation only made Izuku smile wider.

“You’d die for a dog running across the street, Inasa.”

“Well.” Inasa sputtered, struggling with that one. “So would you!”

“Got me there.” Izuku jerked his head to reference the office. “Come on in and we can talk, if you’d like.”

“I would, very much, thank you!”

Izuku flopped back into his seat, chest warm and full just watching Inasa frown at the corkboard pinned with photos of the lot of them, plus Izuku’s mother, and the errant article featuring his bookstore.

“I’m sorry we fought,” Izuku said soberly, referencing him and Chisaki. “He’s… worried about me. I think he thinks I’m desperate enough to go back to living how I did before. Or maybe that I’m just blind to my weaknesses like I was when I was young.”

Inasa’s features drooped.

“Midoriya –“

“But I’m not blind,” Izuku said, steel beneath his soft tone. His hands clenched on his lap as he met Inasa’s sympathetic gaze. “I think I’m seeing properly for the first time in a long time. And it makes me want to run headlong into life. Is that… do you think I’m being rash?”

“Rash?” Inasa sat himself down on box and frowned, running a massive palm over the shaved curve of his skull. “No. Rash feels somehow irresponsible, doesn’t it? You’re one of the most trustworthy people I know. No, Midoriya, you are transforming into a more powerful version of yourself – yes, that’s it!”

Inasa stood as quickly as he’d sat, sparkling with his own revelation. He stomped forward, both hands on either armrest of the chair, caging Izuku in with rising exuberance.

“Like a breeze on one side of the world encountering turmoil, rain, and drastic weather in its travels, becomes a mighty whirlwind on the opposite end of its journey! You have been changing every time I’ve seen you, Midoriya!”

Izuku beamed, heart warm and big in his chest.

“You really think so? I’ve been so confused. I still am. I feel like something about Bakugou pulls me to a place within me that I’m both scared of and what to take head-on, but –“

“Bakugou Katsuki is as honorable and trustworthy as you, Midoriya!” Inasa nodded, the weight of his frame pushing Izuku’s chair back through the small office space. “Perhaps you’ve finally met someone of your own caliber. I myself have never met someone so impassioned by their life’s work as Chisaki, despite our being on opposite ends of the spectrum with our personalities. Isn’t that wildly exciting? Don’t you hear your blood rush in your veins when you’re around him? Doesn’t he make you want to be better and better and better?”

Gaping, Izuku nodded and nodded some more as Inasa’s speech rose with fervor.

“Yes!” Izuku managed, leaning in to Inasa’s space, their faces aligned. “Yes to all of that, I do! I’m just – he’s terrifying, isn’t he? Not as an Alpha, even, but as a person and –“

“He’s a fearsome adversary, to be sure.” Inasa said, dropping his hands to straighten and node with faux sobriety. “Yes, of course. But think of it this way. Bakugou is not your adversary. He’s on your team. And when that ferocity and passion is backing you up – I will tell you from personal experience – he will make you feel like you can accomplish anything by his side.”

Floored, Izuku could only slump back in his seat and stare into the nothing, the power of Inasa’s words flowing through his blood like new life.

Of course. Of course.

Izuku had every right to be frightened and wary. He had every right to assume the man perusing him might turn on him for the worst. He’d never had an intimate relationship that proved otherwise to him.

And it was terrifying to turn his past upside down and give life an entirely new perspective.

Maybe that was what Bakugou had meant, several nights ago. Making his upside down his right side up. Maybe –

“May I have your phone?”

Izuku blinked at Inasa’s offered hand. The guy could be a professional shovel, hands alone. Huge.

“Um, yes, but also why?” Izuku asked as unearthed it from his pocket.

“I think you need his phone number,” Inasa said, only after he’d nipped the phone from Izuku’s hand.

Izuku’s eye bulged as he popped up from his seat.

“Wait, what? No, I – no, you can’t! He’ll – he’ll think I asked for it or I’m desperate or –“

“Midoriya.” For once, Inasa looked fed up with him, his expression that of a parent looking at their obnoxious, naughty child in the candy aisle. “No one who knows you thinks you’re desperate for anything.”

“Uh.” Izuku chewed on that one, not sure if that was an accidental insult or a compliment. “I mean, I guess?”

“Here.”

Izuku snatched up the phone like Inasa was going to call him or something. He frowned at the contact name.

“Ka… Kacchan? What – why Kacchan?”

“It’s cute, isn’t it?” Inasa looked delighted. “That’s what the children and young people call him. I always wanted to call him that so familiarly, but I know –“

“He would set your clothes on fire,” Izuku said, deadpan. “We both know this.”

“Y-yes.”

“So, why?”

Inasa’s smile was something altogether more imposing than anyone else Izuku knew.

“Maybe Bakugou could do with feeling a little cute around you. And maybe it’s a breakthrough in familiarity you need to feel comfortable.”

Izuku nearly snorted aloud, but stopped himself with a frown as he considered that night a half a week ago. The way Bakugou had called him pretty, and blushed, and held him in the strong, surprisingly quiet link of his arms, the warm cocoon of the bookstore breathing slow and soothing around them.

Maybe he was a little cute. Sometimes.

“Maybe,” Izuku repeated, staring at the name in phone and marveling at the trajectory of his life.

A breeze turned to a whirlwind, huh?

“Anyway!” Inasa smacked Izuku on the shoulder hard enough to stumble him forward a step, then went in for his signature bone-crushing hug. “This was a good talk. I love you.”

Izuku couldn’t help but laugh as he patted Inasa’s back.

“I love you, too.”

 

It wasn’t until two days later, six days since their last interaction, that Izuku lay upon the snarl of lush blankets and downy pillows of his bed that Izuku decided to stop frowning at his damn phone like it had reached out and stolen his nose between two fingers.

He was naked, skin too flushed and sensitive for clothes from the moment he’d stepped through the door at the end of his day. Heat was coming once more, and Izuku couldn’t stop wiggling his toes and chewing on his lips, a rising swell of sensory overload building pressure beneath his skin. Tomorrow would probably be trouble, but he reckoned he could eke out one more day of work before he was wild with it.

Didn’t help that he couldn’t stop thinking about the dream he’d had on Bakugou’s couch, the night of the Omega attack. The entire experience had been surreal, like Izuku had somehow been in control of his actions. He’d heard of lucid dream, but had never put it into practice.

He blamed his body for being affected by the hormones no doubt pulsing from the very walls of that apartment. As much as Izuku believed in autonomy of the body and mind – there was only so much he could mitigate when he passed out.

“Kacchan,” Izuku mumbled, putting the sound on for size as he stared at the numbers on his screen. “Kacchan? Way too cute. Gross, I’m gross. Ugh!”

He rolled, muffling his groans in a pillow, drifting as the day’s exhaustion and anxieties whittled away at his energy.

Having Bakugou’s number turned the tables of their relationship, or whatever this was. This new dance. Before, Bakugou had been the one to pursue, to take the next step and the next within the course of their dance. Now, Izuku had a level of communication Bakugou did not yet have.

To text him would be to open up a new layer of connection. To text him would be admitting not just to wanting him, like he’d wanted Bakugou in the kitchen or in the bookstore, but was interested him on an entirely different level.

“Coward,” Izuku mumbled into the pillow, unconsciously rubbing his cheek against the clean, brushed cotton.

Propping up to his elbows and blowing an errant curl from his eye – haircut direly needed – Izuku thumbed through his meager contacts and selected Kacchan.

Hi, Izuku wrote while he held his breath, Read any good books lately? –M

The reply came so quickly that Izuku startled, so sure Bakugou would be too busy for something like texting.

>> Midoriya?

>> Inasa gave me your number. I hope that’s okay.

>> Sure. What’s wrong?

Izuku didn’t know why he was smiling at the screen, but he couldn’t yield to any other expression.

>> Nothing! Wanted to say hi, I guess. Didn’t seem fair that I knew your number and you not know mine.

>> I’m shit at texting.

>> So am I.

>> Great. We have a singular thing in common and it’s crappy communication.

>> Must be why we get along so famously.

>> I want to see you.

Izuku bit his lip, considering. Tomorrow would be risky – for the both of them. At work, on the cusp of heat? Bad idea.

>> Come at your own risk.

Izuku was an absolute dumbass.

>> Ominous motherfucker. And everyone thinks you’re so cheerful.

Izuku pressed his face into the comforter and laughed, almost giddy with it.

>> No, I mean heat soon.

Bakugou didn’t reply for so long that Izuku started to nod off, phone cradled in his palm. When the shallow vibration had him fluttering his lashes, Izuku squinted at the screen and smiled.

>> I’ll see you tomorrow.

Chapter Text

“I ain’t a fuckin’ charity case,” was the first thing Katsuki said when he answered the phone to Sero. At this point, he was just answering calls for lack of anything better to do, and that in itself was a horrifying realization. Three days of nothing could do shit to a person.

“How crazy are you going right now?” Sero said, without missing a beat.

“I’m fine,” Katsuki snapped. “Some time off ain’t nothin’ to me.”

“I think you’re going to have to work on your character’s motivations if you’re going to be putting on such a poor act.”

Katsuki flopped back in the couch and stared blandly at the skyline. He should be roof-hopping right now, hot on the heels of some douchebag with a mediocre Quirk.

“Fuck you.”

“Yeah, yeah. You found anything to do with yourself?”

Katsuki sat up in his seat, eyes narrowed at Sero’s tone.

“What you got?”

Going to the gym for three days straight could only take so much time out of the day and Katsuki was mad with it.

“Heard talk Uraraka is doing some kinda basic hand-to-hand combat classes for kids in local schools. Maybe give her a call and see if you can partner up. Despite your situation not being public, it would do you good to be seen helping kids instead of blowing holes in buildings and causing third degree burns to baddies.”

“You’re just jealous because all you can do is a little light bondage to them and hope for the best.”

“Wow, you caught me,” Sero deadpanned. “Anyway, give her a call. Unless marinating in your own self pity is your new thing. And in that case, I totally support an endeavor you’re so clearly excelling –“

“Fuck off, I’ll call if I wanna call!” Katsuki barked in the phone as he hung up.

Resisting the urge to throw the phone across the wall, he grit his teeth and stood, walking up to the wall-encompassing window. The world was a free fall at his feet, an eerie fog cast across the city, separating his high-rise floor from the world below. Being a hero often entailed separating one’s self from the bigger picture, from the rest of humanity.

Hell, more than once they’d been drilled on the awareness of a medical condition known as ‘compassion fatigue’. Heroes, firemen, the police, nurses, doctors, first responders. The horrors they faced, day in and out – the pain and suffering they witnessed in men, women, and children – it could sap them of empathy, of feeling. Could numb the heart and even cauterize a person from the human condition with lengthened exposure to trauma.

Katsuki had been living this life for eight years. Three years in UA, five years in Tokyo as a professional.

The things he’d seen –

“Little brats, huh,” Katsuki mumbled to himself as he stared at the phone. With a sigh, he scrolled through his contacts and hit the call button.

“Bakugou?” Ochako answered on the fifth ring, sounded breathless. “What’s the matter, what –“

“Why’s there anything the matter, for fuck’s sake! S’the matter with you ?”

“I have an alligator man thrown over my shoulder now and a car just exploded.” Ochako didn’t even sound out of breath, just concerned. “It’s not like you call to catch up on a gossip, so I answered. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing!” Katsuki snapped on automatic, pressing his brow to the icy glass and frowning at the greasy stain his forehead left when he pulled back. “Sero told you’re doin’ a thing. At schools or whatever – self-defense.”

Ochako grunted and something unearthly snarled at her.

“This really isn’t a good time.”

“Just – I wanna do some shit for the kids too or whatever,” Katsuki tumbled out in a mess, his brain scrambling. “For publicity, y’know. Apparently I need more a’that shit.”

Ochako laughed, sounding almost hysterical, and Katsuki held the phone from his ear as metal grated on metal.

“This must have an amazing backstory,” Ochako said, the steady clap of feet in a run. “I’ll bite. What do I get out of it?”

Katsuki sputtered.

“You? My company !”

“That’s never been a prize to me,” Ochako replied breathlessly. She was whispering now. “Which is especially why I require compensation.”

“You’re a fuckin’ miser is what you are!”

Katsuki paused, teeth clamped down like a trap, his tongue refusing to relent to favors or pity.

Well, if there was one thing he and Ochako had never given each other, it was pity. So there was that.

“Gift card to that confectionery you like, the one by the big fountain.”

“How much?”

Something crunched, wet and unpleasant on the other end and Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Ten-thousand yen, alright? Fuck me, it’s not like you can’t afford this sh-“

“Deal.”

A mighty roar rose up and Katsuki’s fingers itched to join in. Instead, he grunted when Ochako made a quick goodbye with a promise to text him details.

And then he was alone in his hollow apartment once more.

Katsuki swiped a hand down his cheek, grimacing at the prickly shadow beneath his palm. At least he’d have reason to get up tomorrow. Watching television at home sucked .

He stared at the phone in his hand, fancy as fuck and rarely used unless someone called him first or he had to check the weather and set an alarm. A dark swell expanded within the chambers of his heart, filling previous empty spaces with something heavy and lead, a black ache of pure longing that wished for Midoriya’s phone number. Just to call. To check in and see how he was faring some days after the incident with the omega killer, to gauge the ground on which Katsuki stood with him after the scene in his kitchen and then in the book shop.

Katsuki missed that little fucker.

What the hell was this? To be enveloped in such an uncomfortable feeling for which he had no escape or solution. When had he ever felt the desire to check in with another person? When had he ever cared deeply enough to step out of his own world in an attempt to step into another’s?

Since Midoirya Izuku and his infallible goodness.

Katsuki, too, knew himself to be a good, but on a different level. He was a lawful good of spitting in the face of villains and protecting the world at large, while giving very little thought to individual people affected by the broad scope of his heroism.

Midoriya – he was something altogether different. Some kind of chaotic good that inspired and pushed and dared others to match up with his raw honesty and emotion. Midoriya fed feelings into the atmosphere like some kind of minor god, intoxicating everyone around him into being their truest, best self.

Katsuki didn’t have that. Never looked to have it, either. But seeing it play before him – well. Katsuki was half-drunk on it.

Instead of flopping face-down on the sofa and hoping to catch the lingering musk of Midoriya in the material, Katsuki tossed his phone to the coffee table and made for the gym bag eternally at his front door.

If he couldn’t fuck out the frustration, he’d continue to punch it out. Patience wasn’t Katsuki’s expertise, but nor was it his weakness. He would wait.

 

“You haven’t been to the office in six days,” Camie’s voice startled Katsuki as he exited the agency building where the gym was located on another floor. He looked over his shoulder, expression collected in a grimace as he eyed his friend leaned up against the building. Her large, hooded eyes scanned Katsuki as she took a drag of the cigarette caught in the vee of her slim fingers. “Sneaking in and out of the gym, though. What’s the deal, babe?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes and slunk over, plucked the cigarette from her mouth and flicked it into the night.

“That shit’s gonna kill you before anything else, blonde for brains.”

Hmmm .” Camie smiled, slow and sure. “I doubt it. Where have you been?”

“Undercover,” Katsuki replied without slipping up in the slightest. “The fuck’s it t’you? I don’t run this place, Tweedle-Dee and Dum do.”

“I hadn’t heard anything, is all.” Camie pushed off the wall and cocked her head to meet Katsuki’s eyes. Her thick hair blew in the wind, blonde strands catching on her candy lip gloss. “We miss you. Who else is going to, like, break up the fights that are totally not my fault?”

“Or you could just not start them,” Katsuki said shortly, dropping his hands into his pockets. His eyes narrowed as he caught Camie’s syrupy honeycomb scent waft over to him, warm and sweet and gold. His nose wrinkled but he said nothing, accustomed to the smell if not personally fond of it. “The fuck’re you doin’ out here, anyway?”

“Catching a break between paperwork,” Camie replied with a shrug, taking another step in as she looked up and chewed on her bottom lip. “You look tired, babe. Come get a drink with me – or three.”

“A drink’s gonna make me less tired?” Katsuki scoffed, but the beast inside him had risen its head in curiosity, roused by the thick, dripping scent coming off of Camie in unusual waves. A chill crept down his spine, one that set his body on subtle alert. “I’ll pass. Get some sleep or whatever.”

“Hey.” A hand on Katsuki’s forearm, another familiar touch over the years. Katsuki frowned down at Camie’s pouted expression. “Like, seriously. I miss you. When was the last time we hung out?”

Probably not since Katsuki had met Midoriya. Months and months. He hadn’t really noticed. Where work was involved, friendships had always taken a back seat with him. And, as for Midoriya, well - this was something altogether more consuming. A part of Katsuki now registered why Mina and Kirishima had always been distracted with each other during high school.

“Sorry,” Katsuki bit off, the word uncomfortable on his tongue. “Another time. Got a lot of shit goin’ on. I’m heading home.”

“Bakugou,” Camie murmured, hand reaching out and smelling of honeysuckle and sugared lemonade. “Come home with me instead. I can help you relax.”

Katsuki paused, eyes growing slowly wider as realization set in.

“What the fuck?” He took a step back, nose scrunching at the too-sweet scent threatening to overwhelm his sense. “Are you joking right now? What the - hell no, Cam. I’m -”

“We’ve been together a lot of years, B.” Camie’s expression of confident determination didn’t waver at Katsuki’s initial rejection. She moved in but bowed her head in an Omega gesture of subservience, one hand reaching forth to loosely link her fingers in Katsuki’s shock-limp hand. “You never considered how good we’d be together?”

“As a team , sure.” Katsuki replied carefully. He’d had dozens and dozens of propositions over the years, but never one from someone he knew intimately, a friend. And entirely out of the blue, by his reckoning. Maybe Camie’s heat was coming up, but it sure didn’t smell that way. “But no, there ain’t any way I could - with you. And there’s already… someone.”

Camie squeezed Katsuki’s hand a little too hard and released. She still looked down, but her shoulders had gone stiff, her stance still.

“That puny Omega guy who saved the kid.”

“Don’t  matter who,” Katsuki said, taking another step back as he readjusted the strap of his gym bag and looked to escape. “Forget about this shit now. I don’t wanna hear about it again.”

“Wait, Ba-”

Eyes firmly ahead, Bakugou retreated in a way he’d never walk away from a fight or challenge. But this was neither, and truth be told, he was actually uncomfortable in his skin for just about the first time ever. When in doubt, address the situation head on and leave no room for discussion.

It always worked for him.

So why did he feel so fucking guilty?

Katsuki sighed as his phone buzzed and checked the message. His soul soared.

>> Hi. Read any good books lately? -M


Would walking into Parchment ever get easier?

With his mouth watering, hands growing sweaty, Katsuki inhaled deep of the soaking, green hothouse aroma practically dripping from the walls. As he hung up his coat on a handy rack standing at the entrance, his skin prickled, the hairs on his arms standing on end. His body immediately set on edge.

Fuck. Midoriya near his heat was an understatement. By the smell of him, he was more than halfway to the plunge.

What the fuck had Katsuki been thinking in coming here?

Right. He was desperate and pathetic.

Katsuki considered Camie from the other day, how she’d offered herself to him. How much different was he from that, these days? Maybe he should have gone easier on her. Not that Midoriya had been gentle with him in those early weeks.

Not that Katsuki hadn’t deserved it, either.

And then, like a shock of dark clouds parting for the shy sunshine, Midoriya was approaching from the far aisle in a boxy sweater of thick, bold yellow and cream stripes. His jeans were something slim and faded to pale sky blue, his hulking hiking boots still very much like Katsuki’s own.

But holy hell, when those pouted lips of sober curiosity freed a wide, welcoming smile of recognition, Katsuki had to — had to glance away from the cheerful, blinding vision before him.

“Bakugou, you came!”

“Say that shit like I wouldn’t,” Katsuki muttered as he brought a hand up to brutally clasp at his nape, almost a self-scruff to calm himself. Midoriya’s approach only brought that inviting jungle scent in tow, succulent and pumping with delectable, accumulating heat. “Told yer ass before, I’m a man of my word.”

Midoriya paused mere feet away, his lips glossy and eyes lush as the greenery of which he smelled.

“I guess I didn’t know when you’d come and I thought it was too desperate to ask. It’s almost closing time and - and I’m talking a lot. How are you?”

There was something a little loose about his gait, even his stance and the way he linked his fingers at the small of his back to peer up at Katsuki all lacked Midoriya’s characteristic anxiety and keenness of senses. He seemed open and even a little drunk in the way he smiled dreamily up with half-mast bedroom eyes and that dimple in his right cheek.

Katsuki boggled down in mounting horror, his hands clawing their way into his pockets by way of self control.

What the fuck had he been thinking ? Everything he’d read of Omegas in their pre-heat state illustrated them as bursting with welcoming scent. Even more evident was the chemical shift in their bodies that made them more attractive - shinier hair, brighter eyes, clearer skin.

Fuck, even the shadowy eyebags and pale complexion had cheered up.

“Y-you’re, ah—“ Midoriya flicked a look to his booted feet and back up, all long kohl eyelashes and creamy moon cheeks. “You’re staring. Is there something weird on m—“

“You look and smell like the first day of spring and I want to pluck every single one of your flowers until you beg me to stop.”

Midoriya’s gaze snapped to meet Katsuki’s, a crack of lightning between them signaling a summer storm. The smile was gone but the lingering burn from that strike of intensity sizzled between them.

“You do have a surprising way with words sometimes,” Midoriya rasped, voice like sandpaper, eyes glistening with a dare that couldn’t be farther from classic Omega posturing. “This wasn’t a good idea, was it? I’m a little dangerous right now.”

Katsuki blinked. A grin caught at his lips.

“You? Right now ? Freckles, I think I can handle a hormonal shortstack like you —“

He saw the teeth first.

A gasp hooked Katsuki’s throat as Midoriya hauled him in by the hoodie and bit down on Katsuki’s bottom lip. Pain sang through the sensitive flesh as Midoriya used it to drag Katsuki down to his level, fingers fisting in Katsuki’s hair, a helpless little moan shining a bright shock through Katsuki’s body as Midoriya devoured his mouth into a feral, dizzying kiss.

Midoriya was merciless, gulping for air and thrusting his tongue into Katsuki’s mouth with skills Katsuki had never encountered or gained, and so could only allow himself to be swept up in the storm. One hand held on for dear life in the thick curls at Midoriya’s nape, the other banding tightly around Midoriya’s waist to keep him close, Katsuki bowed in as much as he could to comply with his Omega’s demands.

But the predatory, toothy Alpha inside him snarled for freedom.

“‘Zuku,” Katsuki muffled against Midoriya’s aggressive, moaning mouth. “Lock the door.”

“Huh?”

Midoriya looked up, face pink, lips wet, eyes a fogged over forest, scent dewy and damp. With his hands linked at the back of Katsuki’s neck, and the slow, drugged blinks of heavy lids, Katsuki’s heart leapt with the realization that his Omega was lost in him. Power pulled hot and long in Katsuki’s gut, his crotch bulging against Midoriya’s thigh between his legs.

Vicious Alpha claws ripping at Katsuki’s ribcage, he took a calming breath and leaned in, his mouth a whisper over the corner of Midoriya’s. He tasted raw, like unadulterated skin and salt and sweat, no artifice or tricks. And when Midoriya hummed and angled his chin to press a small, quiet kiss to Katsuki’s lips in return, Katsuki’s heart splattered at Midoriya’s feet with firm finality.

Mine.

Everything in his sinew and bones and teeth and toes wanted to say it out loud. The part of him separate from his body - that corner of his mind not clouded with the pliant, willing Omega in his arms - told at him not to. Not now, not yet.

Fuck the door,” Katsuki rasped, legs tangling with Midoriya’s much shorter ones as he walked Midoriya back, back into the stacks, snug between the haven of books and love notes and war stories. Midoriya was already laughing into his mouth and pressing himself into the science fiction section, one leg hiking up Katsuki’s hip as Katsuki’s large hand gripped the muscular underside of Midoriya’s thigh. “Fuck it.”

Bad dog,” Midoriya murmured breathlessly against Katsuki’s jaw before he hauled him in to claim once more. The words seeped through Katsuki’s system like a drug, loosening his throat as he growled against Midoriya’s mouth, both hands coming around to grip that high, firm ass and loft him up against the shelving.

That compact, powerhouse body felt like home against his own. Finally, finally a willing, volatile Midoriya was pressed into him, other leg wrapped around Katsuki’s waist as two hands fisted in Katsuki’s hair to hold him tight in a series of frantic, sloppy kisses. The aggression, uncharacteristic of any Omega ever , seeped from Midoriya’s pores, his throat musky with rising wet dirt smell and a roaring thunderstorm.

And Katsuki was drowning, fast.

Touch , he needed to touch this little livewire, to hold on and mark him until everyone knew this one was his .

Starved and desperate, Katsuki’s hands found the smooth, quivering skin beneath the sweater, Midoriya’s flesh feverish to the touch, and so fucking responsive when Katsuki’s grip rounded to his ass and yanked him in tighter. Midoriya’s legs clamped around Katsuki’s waist, his back digging into falling books, a high whimper sounding from Midoriya’s throat as he rubbed his face over the pulsing gland at Katsuki’s neck, smearing that potent Alpha scent all over his lips and cheeks. Their tangled smells rose in waves, like heat off black, searing asphalt, a fire that choked and made Katsuki dizzy as he dove in to catch that vocal mouth in a delirious kiss.

More whimpers and cries swallowed up as the air of urgency grew, Midoriya rolling his hips in a quick, jerky rut against Katsuki’s stomach, driving Katsuki to distraction while he was damn well busy yanking Midoriya’s sweater up to his armpits. It caught there, bunched up where Midoriya refused to release his hold around Katsuki’s neck, nor drag his mouth away from the feast of Katsuki’s lips, teeth, tongue.

Off ,” Katsuki snapped, jerking at the offending article again as he nipped at Midoriya’s lip, his longer, sharper canine catching on the plump, supple pink. An answering shudder ran through Midoriya’s shivering form and he was releasing, tearing his sweater from freckled shoulders and tossing it into the abyss. Books hailed down, merciless and ignored.

Katsuki paused to marvel, breathing hard, his lungs burning, eyes raking every contour and plane of Midoriya’s frame. Strong, such strong shoulders hiding beneath those dumpy clothes. Freckles fanned a heaving chest, dotting down faintly defined abdominals. A thick perfume of deep pine and raging river swamped Katsuki’s senses, his skin burning. Swallowing hard, blood a drum in his ears, Katsuki met Midoriya’s eyes.

What he saw had his mouth thinning.

Heavy eyes, cheeks red as his parted lips, curls stuck to his brow in a sweat, Midoriya reached up and behind him, scarred fingers gripping the ledge of shelf above his head. His body presented itself with the natural arch of his spine, his cock a brand through Katsuki’s clothes. Eyes in a clash, the tip of Midoriya’s tongue snuck out to trail his swollen top lip.

Katsuki bit the inside of his cheek and tasted iron.

“Wanna fuck me?” Midoriya mumbled, his words nearly a slur, voice dropping an octave. “‘S been a few years but, um -” Using the shelf for leverage, his arm muscles bulging as he used it to hold him a little, Midoriya writhed his hips in long, easy rolls. “I still know what t’do.”

Katsuki’s dick brushed Midoriya’s welcoming ass with each movement and Katsuki ground his back teeth hard enough for his jaw to ache.

The entire fucking world was testing him.

“Mid-” Katsuki hissed as Midoriya released the shelf and slumped forward to mouth at his ear. “‘Zuku, Izuku , hey - fuck . You - you’re - this isn’t the way we should be -”

Hmmm ?” Without warning, Midoriya wiggled from Katsuki’s hold and dropped to his knees, doe eyes wide and practically sightless when he peered up. Busy hands skimmed up Katsuki’s sweatpants to knead at his weakening thighs. “Bakugou?”

“Fuck.” Katsuki’s traitorous hands brushed through those curls once, twice, before he stole them away and took a step back. The beast inside bared its teeth and tore at his innards, a very real pain sharp in Katsuki’s gut as he resisted the animal call within. “Izuku, we can’t. You’re - not when you’re like this. Or, shit, not the first time anyway. You’d fuckin’ hate me, and I ain’t gonna take advantage of you when you’re practically gagging for -”

“Well, fuck you .” Midoriya was on his feet in a snap movement, faster than Katsuki expected every single time. The shove came before Katsuki could register and he stumbled back into the stacks, a livid and wild-eyed Midoriya coming at him with a snarl. “You want me, you don’t want me, you want me - make up your mind , Alpha! Who d’you think you are , huh? Think I can’t get myself another one like you to satisfy me? Because I could walk out onto the street and have three Alpha’s on me in -”

“STOP.” Katsuki’s arms crushed around Midoriya in a steel hold, face buried in a bizarre scent of attraction and aggression all at once. Something wasn’t right here. Omegas in heat didn’t just fly into furies. Omegas in heat didn’t bite or growl or - “Stop, Izuku. You ain’t right, y’know? Think. Think .”

A struggle ensued, but Katsuki was stronger, his Alpha will to protect his mate overriding everything else. He’d never experienced an instinct like this in his life, not for any bystander or victim he’d ever saved. Midoriya forged steel in his bones and brain, everything built to keep Katsuki’s Omega from doing something careless and stupid.

When Midoriya finally stilled, it was to nose at Katsuki’s throat once more, tongue lapping long, flat stripes with his raspy tongue.

“No!” Frantic, eyes a little wild, voice thin with barely restrained control, Katsuki pushed Midoriya at arm’s length, grip tight on Midoriya’s shoulders.

“Hey!” The rage had drained from Midoriya’s expression, his features lax and seductive as he pouted at Katsuki, straight brows scrunched and adorable. “Don’t you want me?”

“NO. I mean, fuck yes , hell, every day , but - not, not like this right now. Shit .”

What the fuck was he meant to do ? Why were they not trained for this shit? Confident in his skills as a hero as he was, how could Katsuki get Midoriya home safely without the entire world, including himself, wanting to jump the most delicious Omega to ever walk the planet?

Who the hell was safe from Midoriya in this kind of situation?

Katsuki’s expression soured.

“I need to use your phone.”

“What? No.” Midoriya frowned and folded his arms across his bare chest, the muscles in his biceps slightly bulging.

Katsuki released Midoriya’s shoulders like they were on fire, not trusting even that level of contact now. His cock had barely calmed, still hung heavy and half-full between his legs as he scowled at the stubborn Omega before him. It didn’t help that Midoriya’s scent had only strengthened, greenhouse thick and wet. Katsuki raked his hands through his hair and growled, frustrated and brief.

“Much as I don’t wanna say it, I don’t trust me to take you home. But you’re in heat now. You need that gloved asshole to come get you.”

Midoriya frowned, considering him. The color was still high in his cheeks, but his gaze appeared more focussed, his pupils no longer blown-out black lakes. Everything in Katsuki screamed to throw him over his shoulder and fuck him until he couldn’t think a single thought but for his Alpha.

“Shit,” Midoriya said quietly. “Yeah, ‘kay. Phone. Come on.”

Keeping a safe distance, Katsuki followed Midoriya to the office. His back was just as freckled as his shoulders, the movement of his muscle and sinew making Katsuki’s salivate, desperate to touch, to sink his teeth into the flushed flesh. Every inch of Midoriya was taut and fit and compact enough to carry away to -

“I’ll just call him,” Midoriya murmured before slipping into the room.

Katsuki didn’t follow. He needed a moment. They both did.

Some part of him had anticipated this. A large part of him. What he hadn’t anticipated was the the utter wrongness that coursed through him like warning when he saw Midoriya out of his mind and high on biology. While Katsuki wasn’t humble enough to think Midoriya wasn’t attracted to him - they wanted each other as much as the other, dammit - Katsuki wanted Midoriya to look at him and want him without the influence of a mating drive behind him.

He wanted the passionate, stubborn, intelligent, and kind Midoriya to look at him exactly as he was, shitty flaws and ego and all, and still want him .

And up until a few minutes ago, Katsuki hadn’t realized he’d needed that at all . Hadn’t known he’d even cared like that, on that level. The knowledge had been instantly sobering, even when Midoriya had been wrapped around him and ready to ride.

“He’s coming.”

Midoriya’s voice startled Katsuki, who’d been leaning against the wall, glaring, unseeing, at the cookbooks.

“Ah...” Katsuki’s gaze lingered on Midoriya’s collarbones, drifting to secure on the subtle curve of Midoriya’s scent gland on his throat. He wanted to bite. His mouth watered. “That’s -”

“Bakugou.” Midoriya approached him with those large, wary animal eyes, slow and careful until their toes nearly touched. That tight little body literally radiated heat, the sun and Katsuki the vulnerable planets caught by its gravity. Large hands skimmed at Bakugou’s waistband, Midoriya’s gaze flicking down when Bakugou’s inhaled sharply. Midoriya cleared his throat, his voice husky as he continued to watch his fingers play at the hem of Bakugou’s shirt. “Won’t you take me home? Isn’t that what we both want?”

“I don’t think it is,” Katsuki found himself saying, inwardly outraged at his own fucking noble mouth.

Midoriya’s attention shot up, the ferocity of earlier returning, searing into Katsuki’s own stubborn stare.

“What the hell do you want from me, then?” Midoriya snapped, sounding choked and somehow near tears.

Katsuki frowned and reached out, palming the burning curve of Midoriya’s cheek. He grit his teeth when Midoriya instantly murmured nonsense, eyes falling shut as he angled his face, lips mouthing against the pounding pulse at Katsuki’s wrist.

“I want you ,” Katsuki said quietly. “Idiot. Just you, as you are.”

Midoriya’s lashes fluttered and lifted, revealing a question in that expressive face which Katsuki couldn’t begin to decipher or answer.

“Who are you really, Bakugou Katsuki?” Midoriya murmured into the thin skin and veins connected to Katsuki’s heart. “You surprise me at every turn.”

“Believe me,” Katsuki said dryly, his voice cracking with the effort it took not to move an inch, “the feeling’s fuckin’ mutual.”

“I want you,” Midoriya whispered fiercely, those doe eyes going dark and direct again.

The words cut through Katsuki like an arrow to the heart, the sting palpable and real as he held his breath and watched Midoriya skim his teeth over the blue veins and slick gland  at his wrist. This wasn’t part of any Omega mating ritual, was it? Katsuki knew enough to know he was staring in the face of someone utterly unique. His heart pounded with exhilaration, his thighs trembling with the effort to keep from pouncing.

“You damn well know I want you,” Katsuki breathed out in a rush, his hand fisting when Midoriya attempted to lick up the center of his palm. “ Fuck . You’re not making this easy, are you, freckles.”

“I’d be your first.” Midoriya guided Katsuki’s wrist along Midoriya’s jaw, tucked it beneath to slick over the gland at his throat, combining their scents, soft-marking each other for days upon days to come. The knowledge that Midoriya would spend his heat absolutely stinking of Katsuki had him unconsciously baring his fangs, silent and salivating to sink his teeth into flesh.

“I’ll make it good f’you,” Midoriya slurred, his breath shuddering out as his body shivered with each caress over his neck. His eyes were barely open, but still trained on Katsuki all the same. “Kacchan.”

Katsuki’s eyes bulged, his frame freezing in mingled horror and hot, bright shocks of arousal flashing straight to his cock.

“W- what .”

“Isn’ that what your fans call you?” Midoriya had crept into his space somehow, both hands riding up Katsuki’s shirt, playful fingers splayed across his skin as Midoriya went to his tiptoes to lick at Katsuki’s throat. “I think I’m becoming a fan, too.”

Holy fuck , okay -” Resolutely, Katsuki held Midoriya at arm's length, gaze frantic as he turned Midoriya and walked him backward into the office. “Okay, shit, I don’t - no. No . You’re staying the hell in there until that shitbag shows up and I’m - I’m staying out here .”

Midoriya gaped.

“But -”

Katsuki shut the door in his face and promptly slammed his forehead against the wood, hands fisted on either side as he breathed through the raging erection in his sweats and the howling in his chest.

Stuck on the other side of the fucking door again .

The only difference was Katsuki knowing it was for the best this time. But he needed to turn Midoriya and take him against the wall. How easy it would be to part those thick thighs and shove right in to a hole that would no doubt be luscious and wet for him, to pound that electric body until Midoriya’s legs dripped and ran with his cum. He needed -

“Kacch-”

“YOU’RE GONNA REGRET SAYING ONE MORE FUCKIN’ WORD.” Katsuki slammed a fist against the wood, the door frame cracking beneath the weight of his desire. “Just try me right now, dumbass! Try me . I’m doin’ the right thing here and you’re about as helpful as a sledgehammer to the balls!”

The resounding silence was better for the both of them all around.

Ten minutes felt like an eternity before Chisaki strolled in looking like some fashion model reject, the black flu mask across his nose and mouth only highlighting those piercing amber eyes. Katsuki continued to lean against the door, arms folded, shoulders stiff and body on guard. Despite the Beta being the furthest thing from a threat, the idea of another person touching his Omega suddenly made his stomach drop with nausea.

Katsuki curled a lip in disgust  upon Chisaki’s approach.

“He’s in there.”

A thin, sharp brow quirked up. Chisaki’s hands were in his pockets, but his stance was ramrod straight and on edge.

“What did you do to him?”

“Didn’t do shit to him,” Katsuki snapped, keeping his voice low and even as he could. He wasn’t here to start a fight, for once. Midoriya was his main concern. “He went all heat crazy the second I got here and shoved him in the room to keep him from doin’ something stupid.”

Chisaki’s long, considering gaze held weight. Katsuki refused to look away from their stare-off.

“I told him to call you,” Katsuki said, finally.

Chisaki cocked his head.

“Thank you,” he replied. “I’ll take it from here. You can go.”

Katsuki hesitated, considering saying goodbye to Midoriya. Realistically, though, he didn’t know how much longer he could stay in a place so drenched with siren Omega scent without losing his mind entirely. He wasn’t even annoyed to be dismissed so quickly by Chisaki - he just wanted to get out of here before he physically could no longer leave.

“Take care of him,” Katsuki mumbled as he passed by Chisaki, bumping his shoulder hard on purpose.

“There’s no one better to do it,” Chisaki replied airily, the inherent intimacy of his and Midoriya’s relationship clear in a single sentence.

Katsuki gritted his teeth and saw himself out. If he paused to pick up the sunshine striped sweater and breathe it in deep before he tossed it on the counter, how could anyone blame him for that?

Out on the frigid night’s street, Katsuki fumbled with his phone and tapped out a quick message.

>> When this is over, go on a date with me.

Six strenuous days passed before he received a reply.

>> Okay.

Chapter Text

The ground rose up to meet Katsuki, his world upending as his back slammed into the practice mat. Gritting his teeth, Katsuki stared at the gymnasium ceiling while a dozen shitty middle-schoolers exclaimed in glee. When he’d offered himself up to Ochako in self-defense training, being her official punching bag hadn’t been what he had in mind.

Yet, here he was, rolling from the floor to his feet to scowl at the wide, glittering eyes of the future.

Why the hell did people want to actually have these things, anyway?

Well, it had been something to do over the past weeks. His ego wasn’t so huge that he couldn’t take a fake beating for the sake of kids learning safety measures for the future. Their world wasn’t a kind or benevolent one. These children couldn’t know when the next villain would crush their school by accident as part of a larger battle, nor could they know if the shopping outing in the heart of Tokyo would lead to Red Riot and Ground Zero being thrown through the window of mannequins as they picked an outfit for a birthday party.

Uncertainty was the only certain part of this existence. Over the days at Ochako’s side, the reality of her goals with these children became more real to him.

Didn’t mean he had to love getting thrown over her shoulder twenty times a session.

As the two of them spread the kids into rows and walked along to correct form and footing, Katsuki allowed his mind to drift toward the rest of his day.

He’d told Midoriya to wear something comfortable. Of course, the nosy little shit had poked and prodded through text as to why and what for and what kind of shoes should I wear , and a dozen other niggles that apparently anxious fuckers like him actually worried about.

No wonder the guy’s big, gorgeous eyes carried shadow beneath the delicate, pale skin beneath. Did Midoriya even sleep through a night for all the worry he brought into his own life? There were simpler ways to live, but Katsuki was growing to accept that Midoriya’s insecurities had been scarred into his soul much longer than Katsuki’s short presence in his life could just go ahead and heal or save.

Katsuki was no expert in mitigating distress, but for Midoriya he would damn well try.

Anyway, he got the impression that Midoriya was more anxious about seeing Katsuki for the first time since his heat than simply their official first date. They hadn’t been face to face since Midoriya had literally dropped to his knees to suck his cock in the middle of his unlocked work place.

The memory, already over a week old, still spiked Katsuki’s pulse. Those thick thighs wrapped around his waist had been heaven, the thick, overwhelming hothouse scent of his mate dewy on his own skin like sweat. Breathing and thinking had been near impossible, then, the Alpha in him driven to claim, to simply rail Midoriya’s willing ass right through the book shelves until they’d fucked on a heap of sharp, angular books and pages smelling of parchment and Midoriya.

But Katsuki hadn’t, and they didn’t, and Katsuki was okay with that on a mental level, while his body still reacted with instant lust and fury at his personal betrayal. Katsuki was fairly certain he’d never experienced self-loathing until now. There were a lot of feelings he hadn’t encountered up until Midoriya. Whether that was good or bad remained in the air.

“You’ve been off your game for days,” Ochako said as she literally hurled a water bottle at his head from close range. Katsuki caught it inches before it collided with his face and didn’t miss Ochako’s rosy smile. Somehow, their relationship had grown into a game of chicken in which they one-upped each other in strength until one of them got annoyed enough to call the other out. Sometimes it would be years before one of them snapped.

“What game?” Katsuki drank, eyeing the kids who’d begun to file from the gym. “Don’t need no game to let your ass step on my foot and knee me in the crotch in front of a bunch of eleven year-olds. What a need is a restraining order.”

Ochako pouted a little.

“Jerk. Your distracted, though. You go from scowling like a murderer to smiling like a shark in the span of minutes, and I think you’re legitimately scaring the children.”

“They should be scared,” Katsuki mumbled, turning away to pick up his duffel and hopefully hide the concern crossing his expression. Had he really been that obvious? At least Ochako’s Beta nose wouldn’t pick up -

“Just tell me one thing,” Ochako said, suddenly right behind him and close enough to physically startle Katsuki as he whirled with a snarl.

What ? What is it? Fuck, why do you c-”

“Is it a guy?”

Katsuki stilled, his ears going hot. He and Ochako had never, not once in all the years, talked about relationship shit together. They just weren’t those kind of friends. Let alone a friend who would know he was gay or not or whatever.

“A guy?” Katsuki croaked, brain frantically attempting to catch up with the line of questioning.

“I mean.” Ochako shrugged a little as he unpinned her bangs from atop her head and smoothed them out, her gaze averted and her voice soft. “I think almost every girl in the class had a crush on you at some point during those three years. Especially when your mouth was shut.”

“Well, excuse the fuck outta me for -”

“But you were never interested, were you?”

“It wasn’t not interested, I just didn’t give a shit about dating, period ,” Katsuki hedged. He didn’t want to get into this here, or anywhere , with anyone . “It’s obnoxious and messy and -” Katsuki clenched his teeth in time with his conflicted heart. “Complicated.”

Very complicated.

Something in Ochako’s face lightened, her eyebrows climbing in time with her slow, sweet smile.

“I knew they would be a guy.”

With that, she turned and picked up her bag, a flounce in her step as she made for the double doors to the parking lot.

Sputtering, Katsuki frantically followed, his shoulder ramming into hers without delicacy.

“I haven’t - I haven’t said there’s a guy! I never have! How the fuck -”

“Okay, okay.” Ochako chirped cheerfully as she smacked him none too gently on the back, shocking a rush of air from Katsuki’s poor lungs. “There’s no guy. You just uncharacteristically vacillate between grumpy and dreamy multiple times in an hour because of other deep, personal issues.”

“I don’t have issues , you goddamn witch!” Katsuki held the door for Ochako and stomped after her, the February wind cold and damp and refreshing on his burning face. “I’m balanced as fuck. And if there was a guy, I wouldn’t been mooning over him like some oxytocin-high Omega with a hard-on!”

“Gosh, that’s a lot of information about something you’re not , Bakugou,” Ochako replied happily as she approached her car. She turned, her round face bright and cheerful against the grey sky. “Well, forget I said anything. I’ll see you next week?”

“I’ll see you in hell !” Katsuki snapped as he turned and skulked away.

He swore he heard Ochako’s wind chime laughter carry on the breeze. Damn it all.

 

Was he really that obviously in… in a state of total fucking goneness for Midoriya that even Betas noticed the change in him? Was he really so different now?

“Bullshit,” Katsuki muttered as he shouldered through the rush hour crowd, his fists bunched into the pockets of a leather jacket he’d finally been able to free from his closet. He’d layered a hoodie beneath due to the undeniable chill in the air, but he’d just missed his worn, black leather, and would pull it out at the soonest instance of melting snow.

And maybe Midoriya would like it on him. There was that.

Shifting from one orange sneaker to the other in the cold, Katsuki buzzed at Midoriya’s apartment and waited. Through the intercom, there was a quick, breathless, “Coming!”

The short word, the sound of his mate’s voice after more than a week, ticked Katsuki’s breathing up a notch, his blood running just that bit faster, his lips parting as he instinctively scented the doorway and inhaled the lingering aroma of Midoriya’s summer warmth. The taste of him pooled on Katsuki’s tongue, a memory unfurling with Midoriya’s scent.

The door flew open and Midoriya stood there, cheeks flushed, hair a soft cloud that framed a tight, anxious smile and the worry in his eyes.

“Hi,” Midoriya whispered, his deep green puffer coat zipped right up to his stubborn chin. That clever tongue wet his bottom lip before he chewed down on it.

Fuck, he was cute .

Katsuki already knew it wouldn’t do to share that particular piece of opinion with his Omega.

“Hi,” Katsuki rasped, his nails cutting into the palms of his fists he kept firmly in his pockets. If he touched Midoriya now, he didn’t know if he could stop himself from hauling his mate over his shoulder and dashing right up the stairs to his apartment. “You’re nervous.”

Midoroya’s gaze widened just a little before he glanced at the ground and huffed out a short laugh. He swept by Katsuki as he spoke in a mollified tone.

“I think mortified is the word you’re looking for. The last time I saw you I basically threatened you to have sex with me or else I’d run into the street and find someone who would.”

Katsuki fell into step with Midoriya, a deep frown pulling at his mouth.

“That was the heat. That ain’t you.”

Midoriya stopped on the empty sidewalk, his face unexpectedly hard and guarded, like those first weeks he’d circled Katsuki with caution.

“And what if it were?”

“If it were what?” Katsuki looked around, saw no one, and hunched in to bring their faces closer. “Midor- can I call you Izuku yet?”

Midoriya blinked in obvious surprise.

“I - yes? Okay.”

“Izuku,” Katsuki said, relishing each syllable on his tongue, watching the way Midoriya’s pupils swelled in reaction. “I ain’t one for pretty words and shit -”

“Sometimes you are,” Midoriya said with the barest hint of a smile.

“Fuck off, just listen.” Katsuki allowed himself a hand on Midoriya’s shoulder, feeling only the downy softness of the puffy coat and hating that he could meet skin.

“I don’t care what kinda stuff you got into before we knew each other, alright? I don’t know why the hell that needs to be said, but apparently it does, so here it is. Some real hard shit went down in your life. I’m gettin’ that. But I think you seriously underestimate the amount of fucks I do not give about your past. Did you screw like twenty dudes in the past?” Midoriya made a face and opened his mouth, but Katsuki placed his thumb over Midoroya’s top lip and forced it down and closed, his finger lingering there as he spoke quick and harsh. “Trick question - I don’t care. I mean, I want to rip out every single one of their throats, but I don’t care that you did it. You’re mine now. You’re mine .”

Katsuki’s fingers unfurled, his palm cupping the line of Midoriya’s jaw as he took in Midoriya’s slack, speechless expression. Despite himself, Katsuki cracked a smile.

“Fuck, if you killed a guy tomorrow I’d probably help you hide the body.”

With eyes the size of dinner plates, Midoriya gawked, utterly still and barely breathing.

“I - um.”

Katsuki waited, his features stiff and stern as he watched Midoriya tangle with too many emotions to unravel. He was learning how to be better at waiting.

Midoriya’s mouth worked around words that didn’t come yet, and when he did spoke, his voice sounded like he’d been screaming for an hour.

“Bakugou.” Midoriya gazed off to the side, thought it did nothing to release the tension coiled between them. “You realize you just professed your ownership over me before our first date, right?”

Katsuki didn’t react at first, because frankly, he didn’t think he’d heard the little bastard right. But the silence extended and the words sunk in like the knife Midoriya apparently had ready at a moment’s notice to jam into his fucking chest.

A swell of possessive fury slapped Katsuki in the face and washed over his head, drowning him in the rejection. Alpha fangs bared on instinct, Katsuki swooped in, his teeth grazing Midoriya’s ear as he felt the man jump with the sudden intimacy.

“I -” Katsuki stopped dead and yanked back with an expression of disgust. He was holding Midoriya by the arms, though he couldn’t recall having grabbed him, and while Midoriya’s eyes looked fogged over and heavy with lust instead of fury, Katsuki was distracted by something else altogether. “Izuku. Why the fuck can’t I smell you?”

Midoriya didn’t reply as he tipped into Katsuki’s frame, his face tilted up to gaze at Katsuki’s with eyes only half-cleared. He shook his head a little, as if trying to shake some sense into himself, his voice husky and summer night hot.

“What? I - oh, the blockers. I wore the blockers, y’know. S’expensive stuff, but I didn’t want - didn’t want someone interrupting our -”

“Blockers?” Katsuki top lip curled at the very thought.

“Yeah.” Midoriya closed his eyes for a moment, took a breath, and when he opened them, his expression was keener. He rubbed his hands over his face as he took a step back. “I can’t afford to wear them every day like I did in university, when the government gives you that stuff for free just for being a poor student. But I thought today would be worth it. Why?”

“I don’t like it,” Katsuki said, suddenly bringing his arm around Midoriya’s and tugging him along down the sidewalk. They’d be late for their reservation now. “I hate it. Don’t do that.”

“Uh, well, first of all,” Midoriya began, the familiar lightning snap returning to his voice as he walked in double time to keep up with Katsuki’s loping strides, “Fuck you very much if you think I’m going to wear or not wear anything you do or don’t approve of. I’ve done that and regardless of whatever romantic proclamations you insist on making in the middle of the street - which, by the way, is totally unfair, because how could any person turn you down when you’re so, you’re so -”

“Perfect?” Katsuki said as he dragged Midoriya across the street.

“Infuriating!” Midoriya was keeping up now, his cheeks red from indignation or something else, his arm tight around Katsuki’s as they hurried along. “You’re cocky and infuriating and so damn sure I’m just going to fall for you and -”

“The last thing you breed in me lately is confidence,” Katsuki said flatly. “You’re about as predictable as typhoon season.”

“Well, stop being so damn convincing, then!” Midoriya huffed out a breath and Katsuki didn’t bother to hide his smirk as they shoved between a couple who weren’t holding hands tight enough. “How can you say you don’t care about my past? You should care. It made me into this mess you’re apparently set on - on -”

“Courting,” Katsuki supplied simply.

“Why do you want this ?” Midoriya sounded frantic now, his free hand waving as he ranted in a quickly rising voice. “Why me? Wow, I smell nice, great. Now you don’t want me to wear the blockers or else you’re not as attracted to me because I don’t smell -”

Katsuki stopped so short that his hold on Midoriya’s arm nearly sent Midoriya flying back to the ground in his near sprinting walk. Midoriya whipped around, eyes hard and jeweled with emotions Katsuki couldn’t begin to understand. The little shit had two dozen too many of them.

“Come here,” Katsuki hissed, banding an arm around Midoriya’s waist to haul him in tight. People passed around them, seemingly unconcerned with the scene. Or perhaps it was the stench of fury rising up around them. Midoriya glared up, but his gaze kept falling to Katsuki’s sneering mouth, and that told Katsuki enough. “ You can’t smell me . That mean you’re not attracted to me?”

Midoriya’s attention whipped away from Katsuki’s lips, those pupils eclipsing big and black.

“No,” he whispered. “I’m, I’m very - you’re - how could I not be?”

“Then how the fuck do you think I wouldn’t be attracted to you ?” Katsuki bit off, tamping down his temper as best he could. “Are you stupid or has everyone in your life just fucked you up that much? I hate those blockers because I can’t smell my mate and I should be able to have at least that if I can’t - if I can’t -”

Katsuki released Midoriya from his hold, his face sober with the thought that Midoriya’s past really was one of the things dragging them down. Bits and pieces of knowledge, plus police reports and personal files didn’t tell the story that Midoriya obviously had to tell. If he couldn’t get through to this man, how could they ever be more than this endless push and pull?

“Think whatever you want, then,” Katsuki snapped. He jammed a finger in Midoriya’s chest, who was looking at him like he was a damn alien. “Think whatever you want about me or you or us. I’m still gonna be here. Idiot . Now let’s go, we’re late.”

To Katsuki’s pleasure, Midoriya remained silent the rest of their walk. They didn’t link arms or hold hands, but Midoriya kept close, their arms brushing as they travelled the bustling pavement.

Every time Katsuki was with Midoriya, he ended up simultaneously more sure of his attraction to the soft and strong, volatile Omega, as well as more perplexed by the complexity of this person. Midoriya Izuku was both exhausting, a challenge, and utterly worth it, all in one.

“We’re here,” Katsuki said gruffly as he held the door for Midoriya to enter.

Frowning as he unzipped his jacket, Midoriya approached the counter alongside Katsuki. Then, just as if they never argued at all, his face lit up. Whipping around to face Katsuki, Midoriya beamed, surprise written clear across his features.

“Are we wall climbing ?”

“I hope you dressed like I told you,” Katsuki said by way of reply as he critically eyed Midoriya’s red high tops and the simple, dark grey sweats that tapered to the ankle.

Midoriya was already shedding his coat to reveal an equally red, long sleeved shirt that actually clung to his taut waist and thick shoulders rather than draping loosely from it. Katsuki’s blood surged in reaction to the color, and the way that it traced the shape of Midoriya’s body. There was something deep and dark in Katsuki’s primal belly that coiled tight with the knowledge that an Omega so clearly relished the lurid color red.

Stores catering to Omegas were seas of pretty pastels or calming coastal colors of grey, misty purples, or deep ocean blues. More daring or shy Omegas might tend toward black.

But red . There was something about his Omega in red.

“I’m ready!” Midoriya declared, rocking on the balls of his feet with a building abundance of energy. Katsuki briefly wished he could smell his happiness.

“You ever done this before?” Katsuki asked as he waved with a scowl at a worker who hadn’t yet come up to help them.

“Nope,” Midoriya cheerfully replied as he rolled his sleeves up strong forearms. “But I’ve always wanted to. Why’d you pick a place like this for a date? For me, anyway. I’m basically the poor man’s librarian.”

Katsuki allowed himself a slow, considering sweep of Midoriya’s body, making sure to linger at Midoriya’s slowly blushing face. His voice emerged lower than he’d anticipated.

“Nerd or not, ain’t nothin’ weak about you, is there?”

Midoriya looked away quickly, then back, his teeth briefly chewing at his bottom lip again.

“M-most people don’t see me that way anymore.”

“Well.” Katsuki flicked a brow, face stern as he slipped from his leather jacket and watched Midoriya follow the stripping motion. “Guess I’m the only one lookin’ hard enough.”

A current of something thrilling and tense jolted between them, and for a split second Katsuki caught Midoriya’s scent. Just a high, sharp ping at the back of his teeth, like electricity in the air.

Once they were properly greeted by an employee and directed to the lockers to stow their belongings, the two of them were shown around the different difficulty levels of climbing. The main arena, the one in which they’d walked into, held majority of levels one through three, which, while Katsuki was plenty familiar with this shit, Midoriya was soaking up everything like a schoolboy.

“We can’t allow you to go right into the level four or five area,” the employe said, almost a little sheepish as he quickly deferred his glance away from Katsuki and toward Midoriya. Katsuki could only assume the guy recognized him and had a hard time telling a top hero that he couldn’t do something. “If you can demonstrate your ability to successfully climb the level three, then we can move into the expert ranges.”

Midoriya didn’t appear offended in the slightest, whereas Katsuki boiled under the skin at the insinuation that his mate would be anything less than a stellar example of a man.

“Those, right?” Midoriya said, gesturing to a set of four tall options. Two of them jutted forth at an angle toward the top, a climber not simply picking boulders to haul themselves upward, but having to enable enough balance to adjust for tilting back, too. Katsuki cocked his head, fascinated with the keen, steely look that took over Midoriya’s demeanor as he scanned the walls from bottom to top.

Midoroya took a breath and aimed a smile at the employee - Katsuki cut back his possessive growl before it went full blown, but earned wide eyes of terror from the guy and a quelling, parental look from Midoriya.

“Ignore him,” Midoriya said breezily. “I’m ready.”

“Uh.” The employee looked between them both. “Okay. Let me set you up with a harness.”

Midoriya wrinkled his nose.

“I don’t want a harness.”

“You’ll take the harness,” Katsuki said.

Midoriya slowly inclined his chin, his expression utterly unamused.

“I don’t want the harness,” he said lowly, his voice carrying a command element that set off goosebumps along Katsuki’s skin.

There wasn’t anything Omega about the way Midoriya carried himself now, and with the blockers sprayed firmly into his pores, it was impossible to tell his was anything but - but what? Anything but an Alpha? The very idea trembled Katsuki’s knees with something warm and jelly-soft.

Katsuki cleared his throat and glanced at the employee.

“He doesn’t need the harness.” Katsuki looked to Midoriya, one hand protectively wrapping around a sturdy, totally not-delicate or Omega-like wrist. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

Midoriya grinned.

“I have a very high pain threshold.”

Katsuki’s nostrils flared in instant response, instinctively checking the air for invitation or seduction, his teeth baring in a dead silent snarl when he found nothing.

“I hate the blockers.”

Midoriya’s smile only widened, something akin to glee lighting those expressive eyes.

“Maybe I should wear them more often, then.”

Katsuki literally fucking whined . And hated himself.

“C-come on over when you’re ready,” the employee mumbled from their periphery. Katsuki had entirely forgotten about the guy.

With a sulking slouch to Midoriya’s bouncing step, they made their way to the seemingly most difficult wall. Multi-colored boulders stretched to the high ceiling - it was a long way up, and many of the foot and hand-holds were smaller and more erratically shaped and spread out than with easier walls.

Indoor rock climbing wasn’t simply a test of strength, but a challenge of the mind and body. Katsuki loved it, and had long ago graduated to outdoor rock climbing as a rarely-indulged hobby.

He’d taken Midoriya here for more than one reason. He already knew his Omega was a bundle of physical, crackling energy and power - that much had been evident from day one, and the knowledge continued to arouse every nerve in Katsuki’s body the longer he saw Midoriya in action. In addition, a part of Katsuki - the competitive, winning Alpha within - wanted to measure Midoriya’s mettle.

Just how daring was he? Could he match up to a power Alpha like the almighty Ground Zero?

Of course he couldn’t. But Katsuki had the feeling Midoriya would give him a damn good run, and that was better than most.

“Don’t let those short little legs get the best of you,” Katsuki said with a cocky smirk, his hands on his hips and chest puffed out as Midoriya approached the wall up close.

Midoriya cast an arch glance over his shoulder.

“Oh!” Katsuki called out, grinning wider. “And don’t you dare use a Quirk or you’re done for.”

Midoriya’s eyebrows jumped near to his hairline, something off-balance flashing across his expression before he was offering one of his tight, anxious smiles of which Katsuki wasn’t a fan.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Midoriya said softly.

Midoriya was already shimmying up the wall while the shock of what Katsuki said settled into his bones. What the fuck had he run his off for? Camie’s words from the very day he’d been suspended from work smacked him clear across the face. .

“I can’t imagine you of all people getting into it with some low-level, book store owning Omega with a criminal record and no Quirk.”

That entire day had been such a devastating fucknado of shit that the initial shock of her words, of Midoriya’s file, had never had the chance to properly sink in. As soon as Katsuki had been reeling with the new knowledge, Tamaki had called him into the office to question Midoriya's possible involvement in the crimes.

Had Midoriya’s lack of Quirk ever been brought up in the last three-ish months they’d known each other? Katsuki thought he recalled asking once, but the topic had been bowled over by something else of greater importance at the time.

While it was true that society frowned on open, nosy discussion of peoples’ Quirks - it was like asking what underwear someone was wearing - it was odd that even now, Midoriya hadn’t brought it up.

Then again, when was a good time for that? When was a good time for any of the shit Katsuki surreptitiously knew about Midoriya to air out in the open? Maybe it was up to him to create some kind of comfortable, safe environment for that.

Shit. When the hell had he started to sound like such love-struck loser ?

The victory bell jangled, and Katsuki blinked back to attention in time to see Midoriya wave from the top, one hand holding tight to the ledge as he stuck his tongue out at Katsuki and pulled at his bottom eyelid with a finger. Katsuki’s own laugh surprised him as he flicked the guy off and watched him proceed to climb down the wall with quick, nimble steps that spoke of experience that he apparently did not have. Midoriya was a natural athletic talent.

Katsuki wanted to claim him so fucking badly.

“I told you he didn’t need a harness,” Katsuki smugly said as he swept past the employee waiting at the base. Midoriya hopped to the ground and turned, biting down on a wide smile that failed to hide anything at all. “You did good.”

“High praise,” Midoriya said, his face like absolute fucking sunshine, and Katsuki wanted to tear into him and watch him fall apart beneath his body. “What’s next?”

“Level four,” Katsuki said tightly, diving his hands into his sweatpants pockets, which had quickly become his best coping method for not hauling Midoriya into his arms and onto his cock at any given moment. He himself might not know the first thing about properly fucking, but the Alpha animal in him sure as hell did, and that was giving him all kinds of trouble lately. Especially when he knew how Midoriya’s body felt against him, those hips writhing against him in delirious desire.

Shaking his head, Katsuki trailed behind Midoriya and the employee, who was taking him through safety measures and talks of the harness as they went into another room. There were more people in here than in the low level area - all of them Alphas or Betas, from Katsukis quick evaluation of the room.

Suddenly, Katsuki was really glad for those blockers. If anyone so much as took a sniff of his mate, he’d tear their balls off and skewer them atop Tokyo Tower.

“Hey.” Midoriya bounded up to him, his cheeks practically glowing, his hands linked at the small of his back as he presented himself and his tilted chin up to Katsuki in the first Omega posture since they’d arrived. Something about it had Katsuki repressing a fond smile, his fingers twitching to run through those curls. Midoriya looked happy. “So, are we going to race?”

Instantly, the tender swell in Katsuki’s chest popped into confetti, excitement sparkling in his belly as he offered a toothy, merciless smile.

“You can try, shortstack.”

The next level of climbing was dramatically more difficult from the wall Midoriya on which had just excelled. As the employee hooked them up to their harnesses, Katsuki watched Midoriya scan the wall with a fearless glint in his eye. The wall was far from flat - it jutted forth at random intervals, and the rainbow boulders with erratic and far apart. This time, Midoriya’s legs genuinely would put him at a disadvantage.

Somehow, Katsuki had a feeling it wouldn’t wholly deter his stocky little Omega.

“Ready to weep?” Katsuki said with a feral grin. To his surprise, Midoriya mirrored the smile with his own bared teeth.

“I’d never cry over you , Mr Zero.”

And then the first of way too many races leapt from the starting line.

Katsuki won the first by a landslide. He was able to use the furthest rocks to his advantage with his longer reach, but the challenge remained because he wasn’t familiar with the wall’s terrain, and he had to concentrate on what was coming. Midoriya was a pressure from below, his shoulder muscles visibly bunching beneath his shirt, and doing a good job of distracting Katsuki when he’d glanced down.

Midoriya didn’t say a word upon his loss. But as they repelled back to the floor, Midoriya held up a single finger. Katsuk didn’t have to guess what he meant.

Again .

Midoriya was faster this time. Much faster. Katsuki found he had to launch himself from one step the other, his hand slipping more than once on a boulder he pushed himself toward without knowing that he could actually snag it. The force of Midoriya’s determination crept up behind him like a heatwave, his short, quick breaths growing louder in Katsuki’s ears the closer he crept.

Katsuki rang his bell first, but Midoriya was barely seconds behind him. They paused at the top, both of them a little out of breath now, considering each other with twin manic grins. Midoriya lifted his shirt, exposing the hard, fit lines of his stomach as he wiped at his brow with the hem.

Again .

They went twice more, and by that time, Katsuki was not only feeling the burn of Midoriya’s determination to win, but the blockers were very evidently sweating off of Midoriya’s skin with each pass of the wall. With a mouthful of Midoriya’s hot, damp greenhouse scent, Katsuki had the hardest time yet on the fourth go around.

It didn’t help that Midoriya seemed to have devised his own way dominate the wall to the will of his shorter frame. From what Katsuki could make out from the corner of his eye, Midoriya was practically bounding like a bunny off the boulders, using the sheer force of his powerful calves and thighs to launch himself up, his large, strong hands clamping down on the highest boulder he could reach. He’d then swing his body to the left or right to catch a boulder with one foot, and rocket himself up all over again.

Katsuki may have one round four by a hair, but his muscles were clenching and his blood pulsing erratically in response not just to the released scent of hard, earthy determination - but the pure willpower Midoriya was exerting to go up against one of Tokyo’s top heroes was utterly fucking intoxicating. Distracting .

“Hey,” Midoriya panted, his exhausted grin painted in place. One would think he’d been winning all this time. “Let’s switch sides.”

Hah ?” Katsuki boggled. “You just got the hang of your side.”

“And so have you. It’s boring like that, so let’s switch.”

“B-” Katsuki gawked as he mindlessly followed orders. “Boring? You’re bored ?”

“Not bored,” Midoriya said, smiling up at the new wall that Katsuki had been previously running. “It’s just more fun this way. Come on, don’t be a stick in the mud.”

Me ?” Katsuki heard his voice crack and hated himself. “ I’m not -”

“Let’s go!”

Midoriya shot off like lightning, his smaller frame and muscular limbs doing well to jump, push, and pull himself up with nimble accuracy. Katsuki followed almost as quickly, stumbling a little because he hadn’t yet eyed up this track. He’d been so concentrated on his own - but what if Midoriya hadn’t been? What if he’d been taking notes every time Katsuki had been forging ahead of him.

“You little shit !” Katsuki screamed up at him, his blood only boiling with further fury and - and rampant desire, as he watched Midoriya power up the boulders like he’d been doing it his entire life. “You tricked me!”

Laughing all the way up, Midoriya was the first to ring his victory bell by a three second discrepancy. He sat at the top, legs dangling over the side, beaming like he’d won the Olympics.

“Fucked you good, didn’t I?” Midoriya rasped out, his voice a little wheezy from exertion. His temples dripped sweat down to the damp line of his throat, and Katsuki followed every wet trail, his own scent steaming off of him with unchecked lust.

“You wanna fuck me that much, huh?” Katsuki met Midoriya’s darkened eyes and smirked. Their mingled scents smelled like a wildfire together, and the smoke making him punch drunk. “You’re really pushin’ your luck with me, y’know.”

“How.” Midoriya leaned in over the edge of the wall on which he sat, the ground far beneath them, ignoring the employe who yelled up at them to please for the love of god, come down now .

“Tease,” Katsuki bit off, still holding the line of his rope tight as he precariously stood on two tiny boulders.

“You’re easy to tease,” Midoriya said, his smile predatory and, once more, wholly unlike an Omega’s style of flirting. He was fucking delicious . No Omega had ever been attractive to Katsuki, and now he understood why. No average Omega could beat him in a test of athleticism, nor could they look him in the eye and dare him to pounce.

“Think so?” Katsuki said conversationally, his tongue tracing the sharp point of his canine. “Wait ‘til the next time I get you alone, Omega.”

Midoriya hummed and leaned in, their faces close, the employee now screaming from the ground.

“We’ll see about that.”

The unmistakable crack of a punch sounded from the ground, and they both whipped their attention to a far wall where two Alphas seemed to have jumped each other in a rage.

“You two need to leave!” The employee hollered from the ground, his tone genuinely angry now. “That Omega’s scent is driving our clients crazy!”

Katsuki looked to Midoriya, who was gaping, despite his eyes lit bright with humor.

“Wh- what ?” Midoriya squeaked, a laugh eking out before he smacked a hand over his mouth.

One of the Alpha’s picked up the other and launched him into the wall, then threw himself atop the guy’s prone figure.

“Oh my god!” Midoriya spurted another disbelieving laugh. “Oh no! This hasn’t happened to me in so long, I’m sorry!”

“YOU TWO REALLY NEED TO LEAVE,” came from below.

Equally shocked and delighted by the mayhem at their feet, Katsuki shared Midoriya’s grin.

“Guess we’ve outstayed our welcome.”

Short minutes later, they burst from the front doors laughing, Midoriya’s face buried in Katsuki’s shoulder, both arms wrapped around one of Katsuki’s as they dragged each other down the sidewalk in hysterics.

“That’s awful!” Midoriya managed around a wheeze. “I feel so bad - I did that to them!”

We did that - and who cares?” Katsuki sucked in a shallow breath, his face aching from  smiling more than he could ever remember. “Let ‘em have some excitement in their lives.”

“A fist fight broke out because we wanted to fuck!” Midoriya blurted out, his entire face red with both mortification and silliness, his shoulders still shaking as he clamped his lips together to keep from bursting into another laugh.

Katsuki only need share a long look with him before Midoriya’s eyes watered up and he blew up into another fit of laughter. He stumbled back, slouching  against a shop window, his hands dropping to his knees as he caught his breath.

Hands on his hips, Katsuki tilted all the way to the side, until his face was coming up to MIdoriya’s lowered, tearful one.

“What’s so funny about wanting to fuck me, haaah ?”

Midoriya sputtered as he straightened, his hands gesturing vaguely at Katsuki’s everything.

“You’re you and I’m - I’m just me . That’s the biggest joke of this century!”

“Hey.” Katsuki caught both of Midoriya’s wrists, their faces near enough that Katsuki could see the mossy crown of softer green that haloed Midoriya’s pupils. “Ain’t nothin’ funny about you and me, got it? Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise. I’ll bust their skull in.”

Midoriya licked his lips and swallowed, gaze gone suddenly quiet and watchful. He cracked a smile, something just shy of weak and vulnerable.

“I’m not sure who’s more a reformed hoodlum between us - you or me.”

“Definitely you,” Katsuki said, the corner of his lips quirked.

Now you’re getting to know me.”

Katsuki hesitated, the slightly sweat-off blockers carrying the a distinctive come-hither scent, a crooked finger from a thick, lush bed of grass and flowers. Midoriya probably didn’t even know he was inviting Katsuki in right now. Or maybe he did, by the way he brought his hands up to cup Katsuki’s face.

“Your ears are cold,” Midoriya said softly, expression tender and somehow sleepy, or perhaps that was relaxed. This warm hands cupped around Katsuki’s ears, and Katsuki felt something so unfamiliar and soothing radiate through him. This wasn’t the licking flame of lust, nor the sharp, metallic tang of blood at the back of his mouth that howled to claim. This was something altogether more… wholesome . For lack of a better word.

Katsuki didn’t know what the fuck do with that.

“S’cold,” Katsuki said.

“And yet you wore only a leather jacket and a hoodie.” Midoriya’s chapped lips curved, his fingers curling around Katsuki’s ears, almost as if holding onto him by them. “It’s meant to snow again next week.”

“You like this jacket.”

“How do you know?”

“I’m never not looking at you,” Katsuki rasped, unsure of where his voice had gone as he lost himself in a scent that made him think of fireflies and singing cicadas, tall green grass whispering in a breeze calling for rain. “I know when you see something you like.”

Midoriya’s eyes widened, his hands falling to his sides, his smile going tight as he glanced away with blushing cheeks.

“I told you before. Don’t be so nice to me.”

Katsuki raised a brow.

“Then shut up already and take my compliments. I’m fuckin’ wooing you over here.”

“Sorry,” Midoriya mumbled, still looking away.

Katsuki bit back a snarl in favor of a sigh as he ruffled Midoriya’s hair and giving him a shove.

“Whatever. Come on, let’s find some food.”

“Ah.” Midoriya scrambled to catch up with Katsuki’s legs, dutifully zipping up his jacket as they went. “Don’t waste your money on anything expensive. I don’t have any opinions on food.”

“Who the hell doesn’t have opinions on food?” Katsuki asked incredulously, then he remembered. “Oh. Right. You can’t taste much, can you?”

Midoriya shrugged, keeping up with Katsuki’s stride now.

“I can’t taste anything, really. It’s fine. After ten years, I’m pretty much used to it.”

“And you really can’t smell anything?” Katsuki ventured, hoping for even a shred of a chance.

Midoriya shook his head.

“Sometimes I think I can smell you, for a split second or something. But it’s almost like my brain is trying to trick me by inventing a scent in my head from something a smelled a long time ago. I can’t actually smell you, no. I think I can’t even remember what things smell like, anymore.”

Katsuki didn’t allow his shoulders to slump, didn’t need to add to Midoriya’s situation.

“That sucks.”

Midoriya huffed a soft laugh.

“Yeah, I guess. I try not to think about it.”

“How do you stay so fit, then?” Katsuki grabbed Midoriya’s hand, their fingers interlocking. “You don’t look like any Omega I know. What kind of sports did you do?”

Midoriya snorted.

“Sports? None. I was scrawny and useless, up until I presented. Afterward, my orientation made me even more vulnerable than before, and I started going to the gym, trying out my strength on people, getting into fights and whatever. I was bullied pretty badly.”

“That makes sense,” Katsuki conceded, because it did. He certainly knew he’d taken a few - or many - ignorant potshots at both Shinsou and Kirishima over their years in UA. “Omegas usually can’t build up muscle like you, though. Not without enhancers. Kirishima is ‘roided up to high hell just to keep his physique.”

Midoriya hummed without comment for a moment.

“Well, I’m definitely not on enhancers. I pretty much live on heavy duty protein drinks to keep up my strength, and I don’t miss out on eating, like… naughty food, because I can’t taste it anyway.”

Katsuki frowned, his hand unconsciously squeezing Midoriya’s.

“That sounds fuckin’ miserable, dude.”

Midoriya’s shoulders tightened and his smile was thin.

“Yeah, well. I’ve got the depression to prove it, I guess. But what can I realistically do?”

“I’d pay to get your nose fixed,” Katsuki said casually, tilting his head to watch Midoriya’s face as they walked.

Midoriya outright laughed at that, his eyes large and a little panicked as he attempted to tug his hand from Katsuki’s and failed.

“Uh, um, that’s - no . That’s nice, but - but no, I couldn’t have you just do that for me and - no.”

“What?” Katsuki asked, dead serious. “You afraid of living your life or some shit? If you could smell again, what would happen? You wouldn’t be as depressed. You’d know that I’m your mate. Your life would be a hundred times better. Almost like a new start.”

The more Katsuki spoke, the more terrified Midoriya looked by the prospect.

“I - I -”

“Are you so scared of leaving your safe little bubble of nothing happening that you wouldn’t even take a helping hand out, hah ?”

Midoriya’s expression shut down as he yanked his hand from Katsuki’s and thrust them into his pockets, his profile gone stony.

“Safe is the best thing that’s ever happened to me” he mumbled.

“The guy who climbed a rock wall without a harness sure don’t believe that bullshit.”

Midoriya whipped around to say something, but a screech of high-pitched, female voices resounded from across the busy street.

“OH EM GEE, IS THAT GROUND ZERO?”

“Ah fuck ,” Katsuki sighed, eyeing the girls waiting at the crosswalk to get to their side of the street. He looked at Midoriya. “Run.”

The fact that Midoriya shot off like a bolt, his laughter trailing behind, only furthered the freefall of Katsuki’s heart as he followed behind. They were approaching Midoriya’s neighborhood now, and he let Midoriya take the lead, ducking into an alley to emerge onto another busy shopping street.

Midoriya spun, his smile once more the sun as he jokingly jogged backward now that they were in the clear, his posture loose and easy and free of the darkness he seemed so often to carry.

He bumped into a woman and flailed his arms out, apologizing as he steadied himself and blushed deeply, his expression sheepish as Katsuki approached him with a laugh.

“You fuckin’ nerd.” He flicked Midoriya’s forehead and smirked when he got a glare in return. “Nice evasive maneuver. That come from years of delinquency, too?”

“I have a lot of unnecessary talents honed by years of poor choices,” Midoriya said with a stink face.

Katsuki knew he shouldn’t find this knowledge as arousing as he did.

“Look.” Midoriya gestured at the 7-11 across the street. “Let’s get food.”

Katsuki’s brows shot up.

“I know I ain’t practiced in this whole dating thing, but I’m pretty I can do better than a convenience store for you.”

Psh .” Midoriya patted his arm and led him toward a crosswalk. “It’s not about the money. I told you that kind of food is wasted on me. I can at least enjoy spicy noodles burning my tongue.”

“You like spicy?”

“Love spicy.”

“Me too.”

Midoriya bumped his shoulder against Katsuki’s as they walked, a small curve to his lips.

“Maybe one day I’ll cook my death curry for you.”

“I’ll wait for that.” Katsuki said as casually as possible, hoping not to sound desperate.

Midoriya held the door open for Katsuki and they ducked inside.

“Oh, here,” Midoriya said with a note of what Katsuki now knew to be mischief. Katsuki followed him into another aisle and glowered when a black and red snapback landed on his head. He slouched there with a growing scowl as Midoriya snickered and brought a pair of sunglasses to his face, as well.

“There.” Midoriya was biting back a smile, that little shit. “No one will recognize you now.”

“The fuck is this?” Katsuki whipped the hat off, took one look at it, and sent Midoriya a withering stare. “I’m not wearing that damn shark teeth’s merch, you little -”

“Alright alright, we can compromise.” Midoriya dug through the hat rack and came out with a hot pink one with a purple leopard print bill.

“Not that alien bitch’s either!” Katsuki sputtered. He did, however, keep the sunglasses on. Maybe they would help.

“What about for me?” Midoriya asked, his eyes playful as he found a Ground Zero hat and fitted it over his curls. “ Kacchan .”

Katsuki was suddenly extremely grateful for the sunglasses, as they hopefully hid the majority of his lust while the blood from his head flooded straight to his cock. Gritting his back teeth, Katsuki reached out and flicked the hat down so it tipped over Midoriya’s eyes.

“Be careful with that,” Katsuki rasped as he swept past and around the corner. He took off the glasses and set them on a random shelf.

“W-wait!” Midoriya’s sneakers squeaked on the tile as he spun to follow. A yelp rang out, and before Katsuki could fully turn, the sound of a crash and scatter filled the store.

“Oh, no no no!” Midoriya dropped to his knees, his face red as he began to collect and re-stack what was once a pyramid of neatly patterned ramen cups.

Oiy.” Katsuki crouched across from him and picked up a cup, considered it, and set it on the toppled tower. “You’re a mess, ain’t ya?”

“Sorry,” Midoriya mumbled, eyes lowered as he erratically stacked more cups. “Sorry sorr-”

Hidden behind the half pyramid, Katsuki cupped a hand around Midoriya’s nape and pulled him in to claim those soft, worry-bitten lips. Midoriya startled, but almost instantly relented, the tension in his neck smoothing out, his mouth angling against Katsuki’s with a soft puff of breath from his nose. He seemed to melt, his tongue just sweeping across Katsuki’s top lip, the scrape of teeth that followed jangling Katsuki’s nerves and taunting the thing he kept chained inside.

The kiss broke slowly, Midoriya’s scent soaking wet, dripping and dewy as his heavy eyelids just barely lifted. He licked his lips, seeming to savor the flavor they created together, despite being unable to taste.

“Why -” Midoriya swallowed, his voice gravelly as he remained still, one hand balanced and hot on Katsuki’s knee. “Why do you really like me? I’m a mess.”

Katsuki couldn’t breathe, his lungs too full, the desire licking across his skin from that saturated scent.

“I like -” Katsuki broke the tension, looking down to pick up two ramen cups, stacking them as he spoke quietly, his face heating. “Uh. I like who I am with you or whatever. I like who you are with me, too. Better than when we first met, even.”

Midoriya stared at him, face unreadable. When he spoke, his voice cracked.

“The me I am with you is the me I wish I was more often.”

Katsuki caught his eye, held the gaze with a fire of intensity that burned hot and primal within his gut.

“So, be with me more often.”

Midoriya returned his gaze steadily, but never actually replied. They continued to stack the pyramid together until it was complete, and went about gathering food and eating at the counters against the window, watching the masses pass. The air between them was oddly calm, that comfortable kind of stillness Katsuki normally felt with his family or his pack, lounging a day away without having to speak too much.

“This is a game me and Shinsou used to play together,” Midoriya said suddenly, tapping his chopsticks against his bottom lip as he watched the bystanders hustle past. “You look at everyone and pick the person you’d be if you could choose.”

“Whaddaya mean?” Katsuki bit aggressively into an onigiri and chewed. “Why would I want to be any of those extras?”

Midoriya snorted a laugh and shook his head.

“It’s not about that. Whoever is in front of you are your options - you have no choice. You’ve got to pick someone to be.”

“That’s easy. I’d be none of them and they’d all want to be me.”

Midoriya sputtered, his smile perplexed, his scent closer to floral than usual.

“You’re unbearable, you know that? Fine, I’ll go first.” Midoriya stared out the window, eyes a little narrowed, lips pursed in thought. “That kid.”

Katsuki followed Midoriya’s line of sight and raised his eyebrows at the little boy, no older than five. He looked average, totally unremarkable. His mother and father each held on of his hands, and the string of a cheerful blue balloon was tied around his wrist. His parents would loft him up from time to time on their journey, swinging him back and forth to his joy and laughter.

“You’d be a baby,” Katsuki said flatly. He grunted when Midoriya smacked his hand with his chopsticks.

“Asshole!” Midoriya said, humor high and bright in his voice. “It’s not about being a baby. Look how happy and simple his life is. He’s probably more thrilled about that balloon than an adult would be getting a new car. Everything gets numb and less special the older you get. He’s got both parents and they clearly love him. His clothes look warm and clean, his haircut is new. His life is just -” Midoriya shrugged, his scent growing heavier, soft night rain at the cold windows. “Simple.”

Katsuki ate his food without replying, his brow marred in thought as he watched the little boy disappear down the road. What kind of life did it take to be jealous of something so… ordinary? Two parents, a warm coat in winter, a haircut. Katsuki’s heart clenched.

“What’re your parents like, then?” Katsuki found himself asking. He was one-hundred percent positive he’d never asked such an inane but personal question in his entire existence.

“My mom’s an amazing, hardworking woman,” Midoriya replied, the tug of his lips fond before he took a sip from his straw. When he didn’t say anything else after a good thirty seconds, Katsuki got the picture.

“Must have been hard to raise a little shit like you.”

“Tell that to your parents,” Midoriya said with a short laugh. He didn’t look sad anymore, though. “I mean, yeah. I didn’t make it easy on her sometimes. Picking your sixteen year old up from the police station while he’s high and petting the walls is not the ideal situation.”

Katsuki wouldn’t know the first thing. He’d never been in a lick of trouble in his life, aside from the shit villains got him into. Something about Midoriya’s sweet soul, steel bones, and sunshine smile paired with a past wild enough to have its own police file was… provocative. Sexy.

Who the hell had replaced Katsuki with the mooning loser he’d become?

“When’d you straighten out?” Katsuki asked, unwrapping a sandwich.

“When I started working at Parchment, I guess. I was getting chased down by a couple Alphas who I’d mouthed off to and hid inside the shop. I guess I was barely eighteen, something like that. I hadn’t started university, anyway. The owner kind of…” Midoriya’s lips quirked. “Adopted me or something. Nicest man I ever met. He was the one who first gave me All Quiet on the Western Front.

“I remember you mentioning that the first day we met.”

“That’s not creepy at all,” Midoriya teased.

“Fuck you,” Katsuki muffled around a mouthful of food.

“Anyway, after I read it felt a less bitter about… a lot of things going on in my life. Finally let go of the anger that I couldn’t be a hero -”

“Why couldn’t you be -” Katsuki’s eyes widened a fraction when Midoriya shot him an indecipherable look. 

“I’m Quirkless,” Midoriya said simply, but his eyes betrayed him. They were hard and poised for a battle.

Katsuki nodded slowly, careful of his mouth.

“Well. That’ll do it.”

Midoriya’s expression turned questioning, his straight, serious brow low and scrunched as he obviously attempted to read into Katsuki’s words.

“Yeah,” he said finally, turning away and back to his food. “It will. So, anyway, I ended up working there part time while going to university. Even after I became a translator, I worked there on weekends. Not even for the money, just for Mr Yagi’s company and influence.”

“Mister -” Katsuki cut himself off. There was a lot of Yagis in the world. Okay, there weren’t , but - that couldn’t be possible. He brushed the thought away. “Well. I guess ‘cause of that guy it’s how we ended up meeting.”

“I suppose so.” Midoriya got a far away look, lips soft and curved once more. Through this date alone, it was becoming clearer to Katsuki that Midoriya’s default truly was something much more accessible and enthusiastic than how he’d been acting with Katsuki during a great majority of their initial meetings. He was affectionate and playful and bounced back from pessimism remarkably quick.

“Well, here’s to Mr Yagi,” Midoriya said wryly, clinking his cheap cup against Katsuki’s, “And the luck that Shinsou never introduced us when I was an even hotter mess than I am now.”

“You’d have hated me even more back then, anyway,” Katsuki said with a wolfish grin.

“I don’t know about that,” Midoriya said, his voice dropping an octave to that unexpected sex voice he reserved for times when he looked at Katsuki as if he’d devour him in one big bite. “I was a lot more… liberal… with my desires back then.”

Fuck .” Katsuki’s hand fisted on his thigh beneath the counter, his back teeth biting down against a flood of saliva as he pierced Midoriya in place with a sharp, hungry stare. “Be careful with that mouth, Izuku.”

Midoriya’s hand slid over Katsuki’s upon his leg, the rough pads of Midoriya’s fingertips tracing the mountains of his straining knuckles as he held Katsuki’s fierce glare.

“You make me forget to be.”

Every nerve in Katsuki’s hand was apparently connected directly to his cock, because he could feel his sweatpants shift and rise as he lengthened and thickened in instant response. Katsuki’s free hand gripped the edge of the counter like a lifeline as he desperately attempted to quell the fuck-me scent radiating off him in technicolor Alpha waves.

He was not doing well.

“We need to leave,” Katsuki said tightly, his voice taut and stressed. “Unless you want me to fuck you against the damn window.”

Katsuki got a front row seat to Midoriya’s pupils blowing black, his lips flushing plump and pink, his scent soaking through his clothes in record time.

“Not the worst thing that could happen,” Midoriya murmured, husky and unholy.

“Come back to my place,” Katsuki said in a rush, the hand beneath the counter snatching Midoriya’s wrist, his thumb swirling the quickened pulse, massaging the swelling gland there and releasing a fresh wave of scent.

“Izu -”

Katsuki’s phone rang so loudly that they both jumped in their seats, eyes huge and rapt on each other.

“Ignore that,” Katsuki managed. “Let’s g-”

The phone rang again. And again.

With a warning growl, Katsuki checked the caller ID, his face falling. Exchanging a quick look with a concerned Midoriya, Katsuki stood and stepped away as he answered.

“I’m gonna feed you your own cock for dinner if this isn’t important,” he snapped.

“Good afternoon to you, too!” Mirio greeted cheerfully. “How’s your date going? I hope I didn’t interrupt anything heated.”

Katsuki spun in a circle, literally looking for that bag of dicks to be sticking his punchable face out from a rack of chips or something.

“The fuck’re you talkin’ about?”

“Bakugou,” Mirio said, his friendly tone unchanged. “Have you checked the internet in the past few hours?”

Chapter Text

Another emptied aerosol of Plus Ultra Scent Suppressant Spray clanked into the garbage as Izuku sighed and despondently stared at the pile of three in the bin. Frowning, he crouched to open the cabinet beneath the bathroom sink and pulled out a fresh can. Thank goodness his healthcare covered the sprays as long as he remained a student.

Meeting his tired eyes in the mirror, Izuku inclined his chin and coated his neck in the odorless spray. Then he sprayed again for good measure. Armpits, crotch, wrists. Every day, three times a day. Most Omegas did it in the morning or before bed and were good to go. Izuku needed to keep a can in his backpack.

Clad in underwear alone, Izuku padded quietly from the tiny bathroom of the dorm apartment to his equally minuscule bedroom. His Omega roommates were still asleep, and Izuku liked it that way. He took the earliest morning classes possible because less people attended those courses, and by lunch, he was often finished with his day when the majority of students began to flood onto campus.

The less people around, the less harassed him, and the less Izuku’s temper roused. He hadn’t been born with the disposition, but sometimes a person had to cultivate it to survive.

But after his chance meeting with Mr Yagi as he escaped some Alpha pursuit by way of a tiny, cluttered bookshop, life had taken a turn. Dabi’s battle with Endeavor a year ago, resulting in his exile to some kind of mental health facility up north, had done wonders for Izuku, too.

He and Chisaki had taken to the streets to rebuild the burnt-out husks of buildings themselves and provide support for families and business owners in ruins. Izuku didn’t have to, but there was a part of him that still shouldered the blame for not being something more to Dabi than a fuck buddy. Someone who could have listened to the guy, or maybe even helped him so that his downfall hadn’t involved trying to literally murder his father on the streets of Tokyo.

Well, Izuku couldn’t win every battle. Or any of them.

Anyway, the temper and tough act weren’t often required. Izuku was working on that.

Tugging on bland jeans and a t-shirt, Izuku sat at his bedside and tugged on his socks, wincing at the subtle tang of pain from his throat. Frowning, he rubbed at the side of his neck and winced at the ache that bloomed with the touch. A quick glance in his full length mirror sobered his expression.

The bruises banding around his neck lingered from two days ago, faded to a vile array of purple blended into green.

Izuku sighed and stripped the shirt. Dug out a grey turtleneck and struggled to get it over his head.

It wasn’t the first time. He didn’t feel much of anything about it. He’d had worse from Dabi, that was for sure. The burn marks were still stark, circular, and white along his inner thighs, his one wrist.

At least bruises faded. Izuku carried no animosity toward them or the man who caused them. There were consequences to being attracted to strong Alphas with big, beautiful hands.

The wardrobe change and unintentional moping made set Izuku off schedule from his usual departure time. Seven minutes later than he’d prefer, he was racing from student housing and down the street.

The psychology building was in Izuku’s sights when his phone buzzed in his back pocket. Slowing into a swift walk, he checked his phone and quirked a smile before he answered.

“What’s up?” Izuku said by way of greeting, a little breathless from his run across the quad.

“You sound rushed,” Hitoshi said with an undeniable smirk in his voice. “Are you late?”

“You’re saying this as you call me , knowing very well when my classes start.”

They talked nearly every day, and Hitoshi knew every class Izuku attended.

“Then I guess you should be walking faster.” Hitoshi laughed at Izuku’s replying curse. “So, listen. Let’s meet tonight. You, me, Todoroki, and his friend Inasa.”

Izuku stopped on the vast, wide staircase of the building’s entrance and promptly sat on a step. He’d been waiting for this invitation, but his stomach still sank at the idea. Todoroki Shouto? Top Three of UA, famous pro-hero, and flawless brother of Dabi - Izuku’s very own ex-boyfriend, and a guy who had been way too old to have any business going around with a sixteen through eighteen year old?

There was no way that meeting could go in any direction but south.

“Ahh… No, thanks.”

“I’m sorry,” Hitoshi said, sounding dry as sand. “I forgot to frame my request as a question. Let me try again. Let’s meet tonight.”

Izuku snorted.

“You’re an asshole.”

“It’s my winning formula. But seriously - when are you going to meet my boyfriend? Who’s the asshole here?”

Izuku winced and didn’t argue the point.

“I feel like I’ve had enough experience with the Todorokis. For a lifetime, possibly.”

“Uh, excuse me. Scarface the Sadist Boyfriend was not an accurate Todoroki family experience.”

“I haven’t heard great things about Endeavor, either.”

“He’s a pussycat. You should see him with Hawks. The guy is whipped. Probably literally.”

Izuku rubbed vigorously at his closed eyes with thumb and forefinger.

“There’s something inherently wrong with everything that just came out of your mouth.”

“You’re one to talk. How much older than you was Dabi? Hell, Jin?”

“Not that much older! Hawks is like Endeavor’s kid’s age. He’s Dabi’s age!”

“The man is a genius. He has the number two hero under his thumb and runs his own agency. He’s teaching me so much.”

Izuku grinned and picked at the frayed edge of his ripped jeans.

“About manipulating Todoroki family members?”

“How do you think I finally snagged him?”

“Not with your winning formula, that’s for sure.”

“Did I hear something? Sounds like a baby whining in the wind. Anyway, are you coming tonight? Don’t tell me you’re not curious. I’ve been talking about the guy for -”

“Five grueling years.”

“Yeah, and you were fucking his brother for two of those years.”

“On and off! Not consistently!” Izuku squawked as he stood up and traversed the stairs. He really was going to be late.

Inconsistent fuckery. I’m sure that makes all the difference. I had to deal with that shit, though. You owe me. Come meet my boyfriend.”

Izuku sighed as he shouldered through those entering and leaving the building.

“You don’t think he’ll have a problem with me ?”

“Aside from what I’ve told him about you, I doubt he even knows who you are. It’s not like Dabi was attending family dinners and showing them pictures of you two at an amusement park.”

“Gee, thanks.”

Hitoshi sighed.

“Stop being bitter and come meet him, already.”

Izuku chewed at his bottom lip, nodding quickly to an Omega he recognized from another class. He was being an awful friend, especially considering all that Hitoshi had been dragged into during their high school years. Izuku was turning a new leaf, wasn’t he?

“I - fine. Fine.”

“There we go,” Hitoshi said, that smug smile of his shining through his words. “I already made reservations, anyway. I’ll text you the details.”

“Oh good,” Izuku mumbled. “Can’t wait.”

“Just don’t wear those jeans with the slutty ass-cheek rips.”

“W-what!” Izuku yelped, fumbling with the phone, nearly chucking it down the hallway in horror at the mention of those things. He’d thrown them out long ago.

“I know that’s what you used to get all the guys.”

Hitoshi was cackling like a loon when Izuku promptly hung up on him, his face tomato red.

“That guy,” Izuku muttered, pocketing his phone as he trudged down the corridor.

“Hey, shorty!”

Before Izuku could react, strong arms banded around his waist from behind. His feet rose from the ground, the hallway spinning as his breath caught in a gasp and a laugh.

“Stop, stop!” Izuku sputtered and smiled as he attempted and failed to wiggle from Jin’s hold. Apparently his boyfriend was in a good mood, and a good mood for Jin meant a good day for Izuku. A tight knot in Izuku’s chest went a little lax as his feet found the ground and he turned to meet Jin’s wild grin. “Hey you.”

Jin’s windswept blonde hair spiked out in all directions, his pale eyebrows almost imperceptible as they lowered, those storm-cloud eyes taking Izuku in from head to toe, a look of appreciation and downright adoration clear on his expressive face. He wasn’t more than half a head taller than Izuku, but his frame was big and bulky, muscular and imposing.

From the moment they had met, Izuku had been intrigued by the man with a murderer’s aura and an exuberant clown’s personality. He certainly kept Izuku on his toes. Their relationship was anything but boring.

“You look cute, real cute.” Jin placed a loud, theatrical kiss atop Izuku’s head, then ruffled Izuku’s curls, and slung an arm around his shoulder, dragging him in the direction of their joint class. “What’s with the turtleneck, though? Ain’t cold enough for that shit.”

Izuku’s smile flinched and tightened as he stared straight ahead, concentrating on keeping up with Jin’s strides.

“Uh.”

Izuku had long stopped pointing out the deep bruises Jin left on him from time to time. He always denied being the cause of them, anyway - or he simply didn’t remember doing it.

Izuku couldn’t blame him. Jin was a passionate Alpha, and on top of it, also had a tenuous hold on his emotions. The medication he took to regulate his mood swings and dissociative identity disorder were unreliable at best... ineffective and detrimental at worst.

In the past nine months, Izuku had been at the brunt of both ends of the spectrum.

Izuku wouldn’t blame him.

“You study for today’s quiz?” Jin asked as they rounded a corner. Someone who looked suspiciously like a trout bumped into Izuku’s shoulder and Jin snarled at them loud enough to make Izuku flinch. “Watch where you’re goin’, fish face! You got eyes on either side of yer head - how’d you not see him? I ate salmon for breakfast, but you can bet yer ass I’m still hungry! I’ll get my grill - you want me to get my -”

Izuku yanked on Jin’s wrist and dragged him away.

“Leave him alone,” Izuku said with an exasperated laugh, his cheeks red with embarrassment and resigned amusement. “You’re ridiculous. And yes, of course I studied. Why, did you make the quiz extra hard?”

“Nah.” Incident already forgotten, Jin scratched at his nose vigorously, an anxious movement Izuku had long learned to ignore. “Made it extra easy, just for you.”

“I hope you didn’t!” Izuku said, torn between believing Jin and not. He wouldn’t put it past him.

Jin had been a teacher’s aid in Izuku’s general psychology course last semester, and again in his current abnormal psychology course - some of the only electives in which Izuku had been invested, outside of pursuing his language degree. To look at Jin - heck, to hear him even speak - wouldn’t tip a person off to Jin’s intelligence. From what Izuku had pulled out of Jin over the course of less than a year, Jin had grown up in hard times. Poverty, the foster care system, abuse, loneliness, unchecked mental illness.

There were parts of Izuku’s bleeding heart that empathized and cried for Jin, wanted to be that safe haven for him where they could both lick each other’s wounds. And other, darker parts of Izuku that leaned into the familiar rough edges and sharp corners of Jin’s personality, no matter how they cut or scarred him.

What was a relationship without the inevitable pain, anyway? This was the nature of human connection.

“Come to dinner with me tonight,” Jin said suddenly, ignoring Izuku’s concern over the quiz. Selective hearing was certainly a talent of his.

“Tonight?” Izuku parroted, eyebrows scrunching as he bumped into Jin’s side to avoid a flock of students. “I can’t.”

Jin turned with Alpha speed, one hand flat beside Izuku’s ear, Izuku’s back suddenly pressed against the cold brickwork.

“Why?” Jin frowned, eyes flickering dark as he loomed in further, inhaling deep of Izuku’s throat but likely coming up with nothing due to the blockers. There was something about the spike of Izuku’s scent in alarm that turned Jin feral in seconds, and the Alpha had always seemed somehow addicted to it. “What’re you doing - with who? I wanna treat you, dammit. Lemme do something nice for you.”

Body stiff and on alert, Izuku eyed his boyfriend critically.

“Something nice? Why?”

Jin’s gazed flicked almost imperceptibly to Izuku’s covered throat, and the hand bruises he apparently did recall lay imprinted beneath.

“I can’t do something nice for my cute little boyfriend? What am I, a thug? I ain’t poor. I can afford it. You don’t wanna go out with me? It’ll be fun. You know we always have fun. I -”

“Jin.” Izuku laid a hand on Jin’s chest, his voice firm as he met eyes getting wider a more manic by the second. “I’m just meeting Shinsou and some friends tonight. It’s no big deal. We can go out on the weekend, maybe.”

“Maybe is the pussy’s no.” Jin leaned in further, his shoulder muscles bunching brilliantly and so damn distracting as he skimmed his lips just behind Izuku’s ear, where the skin was paper thin and delicate, nerves singing with the barest touch. “I wanna see you every day, y’know? I need you.”

Without warning, Jin’s teeth pinched at that very flesh; a sharp, brutal nip that burned and drew blood. A spot shy a few inches of Izuku’s gland - not quite a marking, but enough to surge a fresh wave of liquid heat and drowsy decadence through Izuku’s body as he sagged against the wall and sighed, his head lolling for better access.

If anyone looked beneath the curls, they’d see half a dozen of these drugging little marks behind both ears. Jin knew just the spot to bring Izuku to a high, to keep them linked just enough that Izuku never wanted to leave.

“My Omega,” Jin murmured into Izuku’s throat, the flat of his hot tongue lapping at the slowly seeping blood. “I’ll let you go to your thing tonight. Come home to me, though.”

“Hmmm?” Izuku blinked heavy eyes, unable to register Jin’s words. Surely he didn’t mean going to Jin’s place after dinner. Jin lived far from campus and Izuku’s housing unit. If Izuku were to make his classes the next morning, he’d have to wake up at the crack of dawn just to get to his earliest one.

“My place. We’ll play.” A big, strong hand clasped at Izuku’s hip bone, bruising force along with the smile Jin pressed into Izuku’s temple. “I’ll make it worth your while. All the good stuff, y’know? Jenga. Shogi.”

“‘Kay,” Izuku managed with a huff of laughter, his body reacting in all the ways he fucking hated about himself. His nerves and hormones were a bundle of betrayal. Why couldn’t he say no when it mattered?

“Now.” Jin pulled back, his winning smile always one to coax out other peoples’ smiles in reaction. Mischief glinted in his eyes. “You’re gonna be late for class.”

Izuku stared for a moment, foggy and knees wobbly. Then Jin’s words cut through the haze and he yelped, jumping to panic as he sputtered, pushed and jostled at Jin’s chest.

“Asshole, you’re late too! Let’s go, let’s go!”

Jin’s laughter follow Izuku’s rush down the hall.

No, they were never boring.

 

Izuku’s anxiety was shot so high through the roof that it was probably taking down airplanes.

Standing in front of the glowing sign of the bar, he self-consciously adjusted his turtleneck and leather jacket. The jacket was a remnant of his earlier days, but tonight it gave him a sense of security and power that he’d carried as a rowdy, much angier teen. A part of him felt he needed that armor to meet a man who was undoubtedly better than him on every level.

Count on Shinsou to have the highest standards and unrelenting tenacity to not only single out one of the most promising Alphas in Tokyo, but wait on them for five years until said Alpha came around. Shinsou was nothing if not patient, clever, and convincing.

A small, admittedly bitter, part of him also niggled at the back of his throat, like something disgusting and dark he couldn’t quite cough up. Being best friends with Hitoshi was one thing. They’d met long ago, and Hitoshi had been a support system for him, a sounding board, a place of emotional safety and even empathy as a fellow male Omega. Befriending him had always made sense.

But Izuku wasn’t cut out for hanging out with heros, as if he was one. If anything, Izuku was positive that sitting at a table with three freshly graduated, thriving heroes in their second year of success in the outside world, was enough to make Izuku feel as big as an ant and about as useful.

If he’d had a Quirk, he’d have been one of them. He’d have shared their experiences, their lives, their joys and failures.

He’d have been important.

As of now, Izuku was a nobody, and that wasn’t likely to change at any point in his life.

Izuku might have worked his way through his anger at not being a hero. Mr Yagi had helped him along that path. And he even might have been finding some level of peace in the realization that perhaps the lifestyle wouldn’t have been a place where he could excel. He couldn’t know.

What he did know was that the last thing he needed were two more friends who so wholly outshined his very existence. Izuku was so tired of being dull.

Pushing through the doors with a steadying breath, Izuku reminded himself he’d come out of far worse situations unscathed, and that meeting a hero boyfriend fell far down the list of things he needed to worry about.

He wished he was better at believing the stuff he told himself, though.

Hearing his name called through the clash and chatter of voices and music, Izuku spotted Hitoshi waving through the crowd. He wiggled through patrons that were annoyingly taller than him, smiling and muttering his apologies as he went, until he arrived at the small, tall table and four stools. One of them was free, one occupied by Hitoshi, and the other two taken up by a guy who was the definition of a mountain, and the other radiating a jaded, sleepy energy of someone who had no right to be a top pro-hero.

Well, at least Hitoshi and his boyfriend had that in common.

Of course, Izuku would recognize Inasa and Todoroki anywhere. So would most of Japan.

“You came,” Hitoshi said with a slow grin, patting the table where a drink for Izuku was already waiting. “I was half sure you’d chicken out.”

“I don’t chicken out on anything,” Izuku mumbled without conviction, then offered the two strangers at the table a nervous smile. “Um. Hi. I’m, uh, Midoriya Izuku. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

“My greatest pleasure to meet you!” Inasa boomed from beside him. Before Izuku could dodge, a massive palm flung out to smack him jovially on the back. Izuku felt his lungs rearrange in his body. “Our dear Shinsou has told us so many wonderful things about you! You are much smaller than I envisioned!”

“Ah.” Izuku quickly looked between Hitoshi and Inasa and shrugged, his smile going shy. “I think anyone must look small to you.”

“Of course not!” Inasa looked affronted. “I see peoples’ spirit, and yours I’d say is magnificently large!”

“At least something about you is magnificently large,” Hitoshi said with a snicker, earning a dirty look. “Hey, you have to go easy on me today. My boyfriend is here.”

As if showing off a prize on a game show, Hitoshi gestured at Todoroki’s figure with an arm, sweeping his hand up and down to gesture to all of him. Izuku couldn’t help but relax and smile at Hitoshi’s obvious joy. The guy wasn’t exactly known for exuberance.

“Hi,” Izuku said a little too quietly, his arms breaking into goosebumps at just how familiar the turquoise of one eye was to him. Something about the severity of Todoroki’s mouth, too, and the strength in of his shoulders, the way he held himself.

Dabi.

“Hello,” Todoroki said, perfectly polite but giving away nothing. He waved, almost like a little kid instructed by his parents. “Nice to meet you.”

“You too!” Izuku said, voice cracking a little from the strain of being polite. He quickly took a sip from his waiting drink and coughing, wheezing around the strength of the alcohol. Eyes watering, Izuku turned an incredulous look to Hitoshi. “ Why .”

“Just getting you loosened up,” Hitoshi said, smiling into his own glass.

“Like, on the floor loosened up or socializing on an average level with others loosened up?” Izuku managed, taking a second bracing drink despite himself and hissing through his teeth.

“If you end up on the floor I shall lift you up!” Inasa declared, holding out his drink to the center of the table. “Cheers to new friendships!”

Izuku weakly clinked glasses with everyone and wished for the release of death.

“So,” Izuku began, making eye contact with Todoroki and wondering if the guy was going to fall asleep any moment. He didn’t have the eyebags Hitoshi sported, but he looked bored as hell. “You guys have all known each other for five years now, I guess.”

“I didn’t meet our charming Shinsou until third year,” Inasa said, more than half way through his pint of very dark beer. “He refused to speak to me even then, because I was the opposition in a mock battle. He proceeded to use my voice to convince me I was hearing things in the midst of battle until I punched myself in the ear until I lost consciousness - but he was a daringly clever opponent!”

Todoroki might have huffed a laugh into his own glass as he looked down and away with a long drink, Hitoshi only smirking and scratching at the short stubble of his jaw.

“You need to stop introducing me as the guy who made you punch yourself unconscious. It’s not good for either of our images.”

“An honorable loss carries no shame!” Inasa announced before finishing off his pint.

“Mercy is not one of Hitoshi’s strengths,” Izuku added with a more natural curve of lips as he nursed his drink.

“It’s so much easier to be malevolent,” Hitoshi said with a shrug, meet Todoroki’s eyes with a glimmer of humor.

Izuku’s demeanor relaxed a little more as he amiably considered Todoroki’s silence.

“And what are you , Todoroki?”

Todoroki frowned a little and shrugged.

“I don’t know. Efficient? I don’t think about it, I just do what needs to be done.”

“I think you mean ruthless precision,” Hitoshi interjected with a smirk.

“As expected of a top hero!” Inasa exuberantly waved at a waitress and gestured for more drinks all around.

Todoroki didn’t seem to argue with his boyfriend’s assessment. Instead, his eyes found Izuku’s from across the tiny table, and Izuku found himself unable to hold the gaze for reasons he didn’t want to explore.

“And you, Midoriya?”

“And me what?” Izuku smiled, gesturing to himself with chagrin. “I’m just Midoriya.”

“There’s nothing just about you,” Hitoshi said, his brow marred with something like annoyance or maybe disappointment. He eyed Izuku with that hard, searching stare of his as he sipped his drink. He swallowed and carefully said, “Izuku could outsmart and out-heart any of us on our best day.”

Izuku stilled, eyes large, and felt himself got hot and red from neck to hairline. He sputtered a laugh and waved off everyone’s attention, his voice too loud and strained.

“What are you saying? Knock it off. Are you trying to brainwash them into liking me, huh? Where’s that second round?”

Hitoshi’s eyes narrowed.

“Izu -”

“You’re an Omega, too, aren’t you?” Todoroki asked, no inflection of judgement in his voice. Of course he wouldn't. He’d chosen Hitoshi, after all.

“Yeah,” Izuku croaked. “Something like that.”

“You smell different, though.”

Izuku stilled. Flicked a look to Hitoshi, who gave a subtle shrug and looked just as surprised as Izuku. Very few people on this planet knew of Izuku’s condition, and even less of them could smell him out as not entirely Omega. And for fuck’s sake, Izuku was wearing his blockers! Or, hours ago he’d put them on, anyway. Maybe they’d begun to wear off.

“What do I smell like?” Izuku said slowly.

Todorki’s mouth down-turned, his nostrils flaring.

“An odd Omega. Is it part of your Quirk? Is it scent-related?”

“I - no.”

Again, Izuku looked to Hitoshi with a SAVE ME written across his face. Hitoshi caught the message and reached out, petting a palm down Todoroki’s neck, his pale, unnerving eyes warming to his boyfriend.

“Hey, who’s hungry?”

Me ,” Todoroki and Inasa said in surprising unison.

Izuku laughed despite himself.

“And you two are best friends, right?”

“Something like that,” Todoroki said as Inasa gave an enthusiastic, “YES!”

“And then there’s Bakugou,” Hitoshi added, wiggling his eyebrows at Todoroki.

“Bakugou is barely a friend,” Todoroki said with a flat look.

“That’s Ground Zero, right?” Izuku asked, smiling when the waitress returned with a fresh round of drinks. They all paused to make appetizer orders to snack on, and once the woman had whisked away, Inasa was the one to jump back in.

“Bakugou is difficult to befriend, but worth the patience.”

“He seems like a jerk,” Izuku said with a shrug, sipping on his second strong drink. It didn’t knock the wind out of him this time, though.

“Does that make him your type?” Hitoshi shot back.

Izuku rolled his eyes.

“I only date nice guys now.”

“Is that what you’re calling them?”

“He is a jerk,” Todoroki said, back on Bakugou as sipped his drink from a straw, looking a little cross and a lot perplexed. Apparently this Bakugou guy had it in him to cause Todoroki a serious conniption at the mere mention. “Worse now, with all the publicity he gets.”

“I don’t know,” Hitoshi said, leaning back in his chair to idly swirl his drink. “He certainly doesn’t appreciate his fans. He just wants that label of number one.”

“He’ll never get it,” Todoroki said dismissively. “Not enough people go for brutes like him.”

“Now he really sounds like your type, Izuku.”

Hitoshi earned a none-too-gentle punch in the arm for that one and wheezed comically.

“How do you handle being surrounded by so many Alphas?” Izuku asked Hitoshi while grinning at his evident pain. He deserved it.

“My patience is the ultimate virtue,” Hitoshi said with a put-upon sigh.

“Virtuous is the last way I’d describe you,” Todoroki mumbled, and this time Izuku outright snorted with laughter, earning a softer, more accessible look from Todoroki.

“It’s like becoming a part of a pack,” Inasa said, taking his second pint a bit slower as he mused with gentleness in his eyes. “You begin to see your classmates less as their orientation and more as a family group. The Alphas become your protection rather than your threat.”

Izuku wouldn’t know the first thing about that. Alphas had been nothing but threatening to him. The only reason he’d agreed to meet with these two were because of his blockers, and at the insistence from Hitoshi time and again that they were good people.

“More like siblings,” Todoroki said.

“You’d know better than us,” Hitoshi said, and Inasa nodded. Clearly, everyone else here was an only child.

“Are all four of you Alphas?” Izuku asked, his blood warming nicely as he drank.

“No. My sister is a Beta and the rest of us are -” Todoroki narrowed his eyes, his straw pausing halfway to his suddenly thin mouth.

Izuku frowned, head cocked curiously.

“What’s wrong?” Izuku asked.

“Nothing,” Todoroki replied swiftly, taking a long sip from his drink, his gaze shifting to the bar, where the bartender was exhibiting some kind of trick that involved spinning bottles and fire.

Confused, Izuku shrugged it off.

Food arrived quickly after and the conversation flowed. Inasa and Izuku kept up the majority, with Hitoshi as the peanut gallery, of course, and Todoroki quiet and watchful. Izuku seemed to catch Todoroki’s eyes on him more often than not, and the way his gaze drilled into him sent Izuku’s instincts on blast.

Their table was eventually abandoned in favor of the dance floor, and an Izuku three strong drinks to the wind had plenty moves to show off. Breathless with laughter and way too hot in his jacket and turtleneck, Izuku stumbled to a side wall and stripped his coat, leaning against the blessed surface to rest his feet a little. He hadn’t danced in maybe a year or more - possible since his days clubbing with Dabi.

Izuku waved with both hands, grinning ear to ear as Inasa and Hitoshi gestured they would bring back drinks. When he turned to face Todoroki, his smile fell right off his face at the expression he met.

“How do you know about my brother?” Todoroki’s voice was almost conversational except for the ice that italicized his every word.

“You’re -” Izuku sputtered, his eyes huge as he looked around like the devil in question were going to come out and threaten him not to say a word. “You’re who? Brother? I don’t - I mean, I don’t know any of your -”

“You’re a crappy liar.” Todoroki’s mismatched eyes speared him like sharp twin blades. “Earlier. You asked if all four of us were Alphas. There are very few people who know of four, and you sure as hell wouldn’t be one of them. Did Shinsou tell you? If he did -”

Izuku’s laugh was a little hysterical as he crossed his arms and gripped his own elbows. Todoroki was a tower above him, a glittering splinter of ice and fury, barely banked.

“No, no of course he didn’t! Hitoshi isn’t like that, and if you knew him even a little, you’d know -”

“Don’t even begin to tell me what I know about him.” Izuku swore he felt the air around them heat, the oxygen in the room thin out. “I’m trying to figure out what you know and why, and what you plan on doing with that information.”

Izuku’s shoulders went tight, his face hard and stubborn as he evenly met Todoroki’s glare. The viciously loyal undercurrent in his blood roared to life, some aspect of him protective of Dabi despite everything they’d inflicted upon each other. On top of that, Dabi had been notoriously closed-mouthed about his family. He’d only ever gone off about them on two occasions, when monumentally drunk and fucked up, mired in misery.

“Just how much of your brother’s business is really yours, Todoroki? He stayed out of your life for the exact reason that he didn’t want you to become involved in the life imposed upon him. Now he’s holed up somewhere, secreted away from society more than he’d already been before, and -”

“How do you know him?” Todoroki’s eyes looked wild, the veneer of control splintering, the bleed-out of desperation and something deeply sad resonating in Todoroki’s dark voice. “ Tell me . I want - I need to - to know just what the hell he did with his life up until - until -”

Their stares held, Izuku’s hackles settling as the depth of Todoroki’s emotion washed over him. He fought back a shiver, the intensity of Todoroki’s aura all to familiar in it’s own way.

The two might have been some kind of Cain and Abel, but they were still brothers of the same blood. And Izuku had seen behind Dabi’s scars once or twice. His and Todoroki’s looked the same.

“He was your big brother just like anybody else, huh,” Izuku murmured, looking down to his feet.

“How do you know him,” Todoroki said again, this time so quietly that Izuku could barely make it out beneath the booming music. “You don’t look like someone who would have associated with Touya.”

Izuku looked up with a frown. Touya?

Of course. Dabi had never mentioned his own name.

“We - I -” Izuku’s face went up in flame, his gaze scattering away from Todoroki’s searching expression.

“I see,” Todoroki bit off.

“So what?” Izuku fired back, squaring his shoulders. “So what if we did?”

“So, nothing.” Todoroki shrugged, his control seeming to slip back like a coat he donned before leaving the house. “That part is none of my business.”

Izuku chewed on his lip, looking over his shoulder to note Inasa and Hitoshi paying for their drinks. They’d be back in moments.

“Listen,” Izuku said, leaning in closer. Todoroki imitated Izuku with a frown. “I can’t - there’s not much I could tell you. We weren’t close in the ways that you might think we were close. We might not even have gotten along. When I look back, I’m not even sure.”

Todoroki’s mouth quirked very faintly. Izuku found himself shocked by the barest hint of levity.

“That sounds like him with anybody , Midoriya. Even when he was young.”

Izuku blinked and huffed a short laugh, his hand ruffling the back of his head as he looked away, cheeks flushed.

“Yeah, well, regardless. We weren’t close. But if you really want to know, or if you have questions, I’m sure we can, you know, get together or -”

“Thank you,” Todoroki said, looked stern and sincere and somehow soft all at once. “I’d like that.”

Izuku balked a little at the immediate acceptance. He hadn’t expected that.

“Okay, well. Sure. Can I - can I ask you one thing, though?” Todoroki said nothing, which Izuku took as an allowance. Izuku licked his lips quickly. “Ah. Do you - do you know how he’s doing?”

Todoroki’s eyes darkened.

“I haven’t been allowed to see him.”

Izuku opened his mouth but shut it again, thinking better of it. It had been more than a year, hadn’t it? How could his own brother not be allowed to visit?

“But I hear he is healing,” Todoroki finished quietly.

Once more, their gazes locked, and Izuku saw someone less than the perfect pro-hero he’d imagined he’d butt heads with.

“Oh,” Izuku breathed. “In what ways?”

Todoroki’s lips curved.

“You are a very kind person, aren’t you Midoriya?”

“Uh.” Izuku knew his eyes were like saucers. “I don’t - know? Am I?”

Todoroki never had time to answer. Inasa pounced on them both with the force of a whirlwind, his giant arms wrapping them both in chokeholds as Hitoshi approached with drinks and laughter. The night raged longer and harder than expected, and it wasn’t until Izuku flopped face-down on his own bed in a drowsy, drunken stupor, that he remembered he was meant to meet Jin at the end of the night.

Ah, well. He could handle a few more bruises.

Chapter Text

“You went on an official date with one of Tokyo’s top heroes and I had to find out through Twitter? The next day?”

Despite the tinny speakerphone reception, Hitoshi sounded just shy of genuinely vexed by Izuku’s behavior, like a parent attempting to chastise a child despite their own amusement. Izuku could barely roll his eyes as he remained on the floor, struggling through simultaneous bicycle crunches, well into his fourth rep of fifty. He’d learned long ago that burning off energy through exercise kept his more aggressive Alpha instincts exhausted and in control. His Sunday routine was especially vigorous, and sweat glistened across the firm rise of his pectorals, the hollow of his throat gleaming and pooled with beading damp.

Entirely comfortable with Izuku’s lack of response and rhythmic grunts of effort, Hitoshi plowed forward.

“Bakugou must be really hung up on you, really stupid, or a terrifying mix of both right now for him to have taken you out so publicly. Who goes on dates in the middle of the day? Nights - nights are for dates. No one takes someone to their apartment at three in the afternoon for first time sex. You want your body hidden and mysterious so that when they wake up the morning after the deed and look at you naked in earnest, they’re already stuck with you.”

Izuku flopped out and allowed himself thirty seconds of rest before he went into his final fifty. His core burned pleasantly, the endorphin high of his workout truly settling into his bones with fissures of sunshine and spark.

“Remind me why you spent so many years of your life criticizing my sex life when this is your enlightening view on romance.”

“Hey. For once in your life, you’re lucky you’re a nobody and no one has recognized your face, yet . And I say yet with a very meaningful, lingering gaze.”

“Oh, lingering.”

“Yes, lingering. I linger on the yet because now that your pretty face has been plastered across the internet, television, and gossip mags for the past three days, some asshole is going to walk into your quaint little haven, recognize you, and your life is never going to be the same.”

Izuku finished his reps and went into a languid stretch, pulling one knee flush to his chest, relaxing into the pull in his thigh. He frowned at the once-white, now yellowed ceiling.

“I can handle myself.”

“I know it. Can you handle the entire public, though?”

“I guess I’ll find out if or when it comes to that,” Izuku said simply, switching to his other leg. Maybe it was the workout keeping his mind focused and calm, or he was simply resigned to the mayhem to come after Bakugou evacuated the 7-11, but Izuku wasn’t necessarily worried.

How bad could it really be? He was totally uninteresting. No one would have much to say about him, even if they did learn his identity. Which they probably wouldn't.

Hitoshi was silent for a moment, the depth of his thought process louder than the heavy thrum of Izuku’s heart as he rolled over and arched into a cat stretch, his spine and core practically sighing into the movement.

“Was it really that good of a date? You two went to the convenience store to eat. I know that shit was your doing.”

“Hey, 7-11 single handedly fed me through university,” Izuku shot back, moving to a slow stand, his arms rising above his head as he groaned. “Don’t act like you don’t love it, too.”

“Bakugou’s loaded. If you’re going to date the guy, at least drain him while you’re at it.”

“You know that’s not me.”

“Yeah, I know. Probably why he likes you so much. That and your ass.”

In the privacy of his home, Izuku peered over his shoulder to check out said behind, his pout thoughtful. Bakugou wouldn’t be the first Alpha to be after one thing, but the date and their experiences over the past month or so had begun to turn the tides of Izuku’s conviction that Bakugou was nothing but heat-chaser.

“So…” Hitoshi sounded entirely untrustworthy in that moment. “You two are a thing now?”

Izuku grabbed a cold, tasteless protein drink from his fridge, cracked and turned the top. His heart did a little trip and fumble that had nothing to do with the cool down from his exercise.

“Uh. I don’t… I mean.”

“For someone who reads so many books, you sure do lack a decent vocabulary for an average conversation.”

“There’s nothing average about any conversation with you or about this,” Izuku said, drinking deep from the plastic bottle by way of not having to answer.

“Hey.”

Alerted by the drop in Hitoshi’s tone, Izuku looked to the phone on his counter in curiosity.

“What?”

“Are you scared?”

Izuku stiffened, licking his lips as he waded through the depth of the seemingly simple question. He knew to what Hitoshi referred. The fear of an Alpha taking the lead, of one taking advantage - hell, of even being touched by one.

After his hospital release over five years ago, there had been no reaching him. No sexual desire or need for company could overpower the fear embedded in Izuku’s bones. No Alpha would ever touch him again.

Izuku had resolutely decided to live alone forever.

“No,” Izuku found himself saying, surprised by the ease of which he could deny it. “No, I’m not scared of him. There’s - sometimes his intensity is -”

“Yeah.”

“And he comes on, uh, strong,” Izuku said with a half-laugh, shaking his head to himself. “But he does - he does respect my boundaries, when I even remember I have them. He makes me forget a lot of things, Hitoshi. I don’t… I don’t know whether that’s good for me or not. The last thing I want is to forget where I came from, or how I got here.”

They both knew, in sickening technicolor violence, how Izuku had gotten here. For how long he’d laid in a pool of his own blood on the floor of his dorm room,  the wide, motionless eyes of an all too familiar dead man staring at him as Izuku lost consciousness.

“I don’t think you could ever forget, Izuku.” Hitoshi’s voice was gruff and low with concern and his own emotions, ones he rarely released. Izuku had never seen his best friend cry. “Listen, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past -”

“Nothing was ever on you,” Izuku interjected, his voice clipped and severe. They’d never had the conversation, but he knew all the same. Hitoshi had never had to say it. “I was on a path before you even met me. You can’t shoulder the weight of everything I did to myself.”

“That night at the warehouse,” Hitoshi said, voice cracking to Izuku’s absolute shock. “I shouldn’t have let you out of my sight. But I was seventeen and pissed off, unrecognized by a lot of my peers in UA, but most of all by Shouto. I know now that he was going through his own shit at the time, but it never made me any less pissy about it. I wanted to let go, same as you. Chisaki was my first try at that kind of distraction that night, and all the while, you -”

I was making my own stupid decisions, yes. You weren’t my guardian,” Izuku stressed, forgetting his barely-started shake as he set it aside and paced to the window, looking out across the street at another apartment. An old lady was sweeping freshly fallen snow off her little balcony. Izuku sighed. “You’ve always had my back, Hitoshi. The warehouse wasn’t on you, and the way my life fell into a pattern afterward wasn’t on you, either.”

“I should have known with Jin -”

“There was nothing you could have known.” Izuku’s lips thinned, the small of his back sticky and cold and uncomfortable with drying sweat beneath his skimpy tank top. “There was so much I’d purposefully kept from you, back then. You were happy with Todoroki, and a hero like you deserved to be, and I - I was just treading water. Jin was funny and exciting and challenging and so nice when he was nice… and not when he was not. No one had ever shown him how selfless love or kindness or patience worked in the long run, and I hadn’t been the person to teach him back then, either. I tried to stitch him -” Izuku’s breath caught in his throat despite himself, but he trudged forward, his chest tight. “I tried to stitch him back together, but I hadn’t really seen all the places he’d been falling apart. Hadn’t seen all the places where I was still torn up, too.”

Izuku inhaled deeply, an onslaught of memory threatening beneath the unsteady, building waves rising up his throat.

Jin in hysterics, sitting on the edge of Izuku’s bed, hands quaking as he sucked on a fifth of cheap whiskey. He’d drunk down so much of his own blood in the process, the slice down the center of his forehead streaming down his clothes like he’d been eviscerated in half, flooding his quivering mouth whenever he opened it to breathe or to drink.

Izuku had never told anyone, not even Hitoshi or the police, that he’d very literally stitched Jin up before the man and his double had closed in on him in some twin high of mania, rampant desire, and Alpha ownership. Never told a soul how his fingers had shook, the hooked needle piercing holes in Jin’s blood-sloppy brow, Jin sobbing through the ordeal as the uninjured Jin slouched in the corner, sneering and laughing and berating him for his weakness.

Despite all that Jin had done to him - and escaped, on top of it - there had been something so rawly personal and painful in the man in that moment. Izuku would never have the heart to give that piece of Jin away to another.

“Anyway.” Izuku exhaled, shaky and slow as he managed a small smile for no one but himself. “How did this turn into something other than a bitch session about Ground Zero and his mediocre mystery date?”

“You’re a pain,” Hitoshi said, but his voice sounded off. “But I’m happy for you two. Wouldn’t have seen it coming a mile away, but then again, I’m no Nighteye.”

“I don’t even understand that reference.”

“Nevermind. Are you -”

Izuku’s door buzzed and he jumped near out of his skin, eyes huge, anxiety trembling in his veins in an instant.

“Hold on,” Izuku said as he climbed onto his kitchen counter and peered out the window. He never liked to answer his intercom first. What if it was someone he didn’t want to know he was home? “Someone’s at the door.”

“Paparazzi?”

Izuku softly gasped, his smile blooming without his control over it as he recognized the wild array of blonde standing on the stone stairs.

“No,” Izuku said breathlessly. “Definitely not. Hitoshi, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Wait, is it -”

Izuku stabbed randomly at his phone until it hung up, his bare feet squeaking on the hard wood as he raced across his apartment to thumb down the buzzer with too much force. Whipping open his own door, Izuku shivered at the gust of winter cold air that assaulted him from the corridor, his skin breaking out in goosebumps. It was then that it dawned on him how scantily he was dressed.

At the gym, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Thin, breathable black sport shorts and an ancient tank top with the sleeves cut out down to the sides, his muscles and ribs exposed from beneath his arm.

And he probably stank. Not even in the “good” way.

“Shit,” Izuku whispered between clenched teeth as he pawed at the plain, unadorned hair clips that kept back his sweaty bangs.

Wait. Izuku dropped his hands to his hips, pouting without realizing it. Why did he even care? This was his home and Bakugou was definitely intruding without a text or a call.

But this was the first time they’d see each other since their date had been ripped apart by the media shitstorm, and Izuku was gross and unattractive as he could get without having just crawled out of a dumpster. With a sigh, he despondently let it go and listened to Bakugou round the concrete stairs before appearing at his door.

“Oh,” Izuku murmured, instantly dazed.

Izuku ate up the vision of Bakugou before him, rocking back on his heels for a moment as if suddenly struck across the face by the impact of the Alpha’s handsome magnetism.

Why did this feel different from all the times before? Was it because Izuku had grown more attracted to Bakugou’s actual personality and power than before? Now that it was much more than a physical, biological attraction, it made Bakugou all the more captivating to him?

“You look nice,” Izuku managed, because Bakugou hadn’t actually said a word. His hands were bunched in his pockets, his parka hiding his hunched form, but the clear jut of his jaw was stiff and the tendons in his next stood stark against his tan skin.

“Nice?” Bakugou croaked, his voice unusually dry, his eyes a scalding red as his gaze traced Izuku in that slow, hungry way he had. Izuku’s spine fizzled and popped like bright sparks. “I look the same as every day.”

“I guess,” Izuku said, wondering why he didn’t just ask Bakugou inside already. There was something about the way Bakugou was already looking at him that perked his senses, left him licking his lips and trying to scent the air with flared nostrils. “Do you… What’re you doing here?”

“My PR firm told me I shouldn’t see you if I didn’t want this to snowball into something bigger,” Bakugou said tightly, his stare now intentionally lingering at Izuku’s damp collarbones. He swallowed, his voice scratchy. “So I told them to fuck off. And here I am.”

Izuku’s pulse spiked, his stomach growing hot and effervescent, like fireworks. No Alpha had ever, ever , put themselves out for him. No one had altered their lifestyle or risked something important for him. And certainly no Alpha had so boldly risked the gossip of an entire country as a solid ‘fuck you’ to anyone who might find Izuku’s existence distasteful.

And Bakugou was standing there so casually, saying just that. All of it, because of him, for him.

“Are you…” Izuku fidgeted from one foot to the other. “Isn’t this too much of a big deal just for one date caught on camera?”

One pale eyebrow shot up, Bakugou’s grin finally claiming the sharp, rugged lines of his face.

“You don’t realize how big a deal I am, do you? Did you even go on Twitter yourself? The news? This is the first time I’ve been romantically linked with someone since I was noticed at the Sports Festival at fifteen. As much as it pisses me off, people are invested in me and what I do.”

Bakugou leaned into the doorway, his dusky lashes lowered as he lingered on Izuku’s parted lips.

“And now I’m doing you.”

Izuku very nearly swayed into Bakugou’s allure, so tempting was that wide slash of mouth, so prone to feral smiles and sharp-toothed snarls.

“Oh, really?” Izuku murmured, the beginnings of a liquid pull arrowing down between his legs. He met Bakugou’s stare and found it dark, hungry. Izuku rubbed his lips together before he spoke, his voice husky. “Are you sure you know how to achieve that, Mr Zero? To do me, I mean. Because you’re not exactly there, yet.” Izuku did angle his chin now, his lips a whisper over Bakugou’s jaw. Some sane part of him wondered what he was doing right now. “Do you need… guidance? Alpha.”

The blush slammed so hard into Bakugou’s cheeks that Izuku’s field of vision flooded red. The low, thunderous growl that crescendoed from the deep center of Bakugou’s chest had Izuku’s eyes wide and wary while his heart betrayed him, eking out some meager howl it hadn’t released in years.

“Midoriya Izuku,” Bakugou rasped, without touching, without crossing the threshold of Izuku’s sacred, safe doorway. “Let me in .”

Izuku’s arms banded around Bakugou’s neck without a coherent thought, hauling him in with ravenous moan as he dragged Bakugou down to his height and took that hot, delectable mouth.

The door slammed behind them with a force that clattered the photo frames on the walls.

A gasp caught in Izuku’s throat as his world spun, Bakugou side stepping, reversing their positions until Izuku’s back met the door. One powerful hand clasped Izuku’s wrists together, nimble fingers cuffing them above his head like a prisoner awaiting torture.

Izuku parted his damp, bruised lips, lids shut as he waited for the onslaught of Bakugou's mouth. When it didn’t come, his eyes popped open, the question on his tongue drying up when met with the concentrated ferocity of Bakugou's stare.

“There you are,” Bakugou whispered hoarsely, pupils like a bloody eclipse.

Izuku shuddered, exhale unsteady.

“What -“

“You weren’t really here last time,” Bakugou said quietly, a simmering heat on his voice and unwavering gaze. His fingers tightened around Izuku’s wrists his hips flexing taut against Izuku’s thin gym shorts. “Out of control. But now you’re under mine.”

Izuku’s eyes flashed with insolence as he jerked his arms to no avail.

“I’m not under anyone’s control.”

But Bakugou was barely listening. He loomed in, nosing at the line of Izuku’s throat, a low, inhuman rumble rising from the deep.

Izuku felt dizzy, dazed with the hot, heavy proximity of Bakugou’s body in a way he’d been too distracted for back during his heat. He’d been dripping then, an almost instant reaction to Bakugou’s presence in his bookshop. Now, with Bakugou’s lengthy canines scraping across the pulsing swell of one gland, Izuku felt his knees weaken, a swell of heat dripping a damp, growing stickiness between his legs.

Again, Izuku inhaled on instinct, the animal brain of him jolting with some phantom scent. It hadn’t been the first time Izuku had experienced this ghosting of something fierce and fiery lingering at the back of his throat, only for it to dissipate like so much smoke. A wish, a false memory, a dream of something that wasn’t.

Still, the result melted Izuku’s bones, his frame slumping against Bakugou’s as wet, open-mouthed kisses smeared into messy bites. Only vaguely did he register Bakugou’s mouth venturing lower, lower past his shoulder until his nose nestled into Izuku’s post-workout sweaty armpit, nuzzling at the fuzz there before inhaling deep and long, with the hard edge of a growl.

Izuku’s eyes popped open, his breath catching, chest stuttering as he darted a glance over. Only one of Bakugou’s hands linked Izuku’s wrists above his head, the other dragging down Izuku’s side, ducking into the large gap of what barely constituted as an armhole. That hot, calloused palm scraped down the dips of his ribs, squeezed at the small of his hip and held fast, as if to steady Izuku from moving as Bakugou buried his face deeper in Izuku’s armpit, nose pressed flushed with his skin.

The unbridled, loud, hoarse groan Bakugou released was further gone than Izuku had ever heard from him, and despite himself, the very idea of it spiked his blood straight to his thickening cock.

“Wh-what-”

“Oh, fuck.” Bakugou inhaled again, his hot, humid breath panting over the thin, sensitive skin of Izuku’s armpit before the wide, wet stripe of Bakugou’s tongue licked at him once, twice, the third time longer and broader and slower. Shock railed through Izuku’s frame, stilling him utterly as he gawked, his face aflame, his erection absolutely wretched with want, obscenely tenting his shorts.

But Bakugou barely seemed to notice . With chin inclined to lengthen his throat, lips parted with a mindless moan as he smeared the now-glistening, slick gland flush to Izuku’s armpit. Izuku’s thighs quivered in response, his balls high and tight with the knowledge that their scents together like this must be absolutely torrential  with bare-toothed, white-knuckled desire.

Shit.” Bakugou’s hold loosened on Izuku’s wrists above their heads, but Izuku couldn’t do more than let his hands fall into his hair and grip tight. Another ravenous, appreciative slide of tongue and Bakugou was burying his face in the damp hair there and inhaling like a man intoxicated.

“Want you,” Bakugou murmured into Izuku’s skin, his hands trailing Izuku’s body in reverence until they nipped at his waist, thumbs bruising at Izuku’s hip bones. “Want you now.”

“Kat-” Izuku slammed his head back against the door when Bakugou shifted his attention to a nipple barely covered by his workout shirt, Bakugou’s hot mouth closing over the peaked nub right through his clothes and sucking hard. “Ohfu --Kacchan!”

Bakugou’s entirely body startled for the briefest, sweatiest second before a thunderous growl rose from his chest, his hands scooping up to great handfuls of Izuku’s ass and lifting him high. Izuku didn’t even have the chance to wrap his legs around Bakugou’s waist before he’d turned them both and physically thrown Izuku onto the couch.

Had Izuku been any less blinded and deafened by lust, he would have laughed at the entire desperation of the moment. As it was, his arms splayed over his head, his chest heaving, legs parting like melted butter and Bakugou the hottest knife as he forged his place between the vee of Izuku’s thighs.

“Holy shit.” Awe colored Bakugou’s voice, his eyes large and blown out as his calloused palms caressed the thick, stocky length of Izuku’s legs, from knee to the strained erection leaking dark against his shorts. “Holy - I love them. They’re mine.”

“Them?” Izuku couldn’t manage the slipperiest handle on what they were talking about. His hips flexed up in blind need, unattended by a man in over five years, his body snarling and whimpering and begging to be fucked and filled until he all but flooded the couch.

Legs,” Bakugou snapped, as if it should be obvious, his hungry gaze eating up every inch of Izuku’s thighs, along with his travelling hands.

Izuku blinked heavy eyelids, dazed and somehow delighted all at once as he smiled.

“Sorry, I only put them out on loan.”

Izuku barely had time to register the flare in Bakugou’s severe gaze before that hard, burning body laid flush atop his own, pressing him hard into the cushions. A tight, knotted scar of something old and battle-formed pulsed painfully in the dead center of Izuku’s chest, catching his breath as he gaped at the man above, the one looming over him with an Alpha’s frenetic, fervid desire.

Izuku knew how an Alpha’s want played out, how it ran rampant once released.

Swallowing against the sudden gnarl in his throat, Izuku reached up with open arms, a short gasp skipping between them when Bakugou brought his cheek to Izuku’s palm, an almost tender gesture were it not for the way their hips had begun to grin in tandem. Bakugou’s thick sweatpants did little to hide the bulge between them, either.

“Baku-”

“Liked the other one better,” Bakugou murmured, his lips and teeth at Izuku’s wrist, the scarred one. Izuku suddenly wanted to snatch it back, didn’t want Bakugou to be reminded of just how fucked up he was, or have to explain why.

Izuku huffed out an anxious laugh despite himself. A strange tension was building in his ribcage, like Bakugou’s weight above him was something altogether more stifling, crushing. The last time a body had pinned him prone like this had ended in blood and -

“Kacchan,” Izuku murmured, feeling his face flush as he lowered his gaze. His tongue was starting to feel clumsy, his breathing shallow, the knot above his heart multiplying and building like a thickening film around his lungs, climbing up his windpipe the longer the Alpha’s frame kept him pinned. “I-”

“I dream about you,” Bakugou rasped against Izuku’s exposed collarbones, Bakugou’s mountainous chest and shoulders anchoring Izuku deeper into the couch where it was harder to breathe, harder to think. “Can’t stop. Pisses me off, but I - nothing like my dreams are like this. Like you smell, like you feel. You drive me fuckin’ crazy.”

Izuku licked his dry lips, both arms banding around Bakugou’s neck, fingernails digging into Bakugou’s back like a lifeline, a raft, a rope.

He was not drowning, dammit. This wasn’t drowning and there was no blood or pain.

Dead dead eyes not-staring into Izuku’s own before the darkness had claimed him. Bakugou nipped at Izuku’s ear, and the pain that rocketed through the thick, cavernous scar hidden in his curls screamed.

Izuku choked off a short noise, squeezed his eyes shut as he held on tighter to Bakugou’s warmth instead of scrambling out of his embrace like he fucking wanted to .

“I-I-”

You want this.You want this.

Don’t you want this?

Bakugou pulled up short, the overwhelming heat of his body all but gone as he sat back between Izuku’s legs, entire frame on grave alert. If it weren’t for the situation, he might have looked cute for how harried his hair and clothes were.

“Izuku?” he said sharply. “Izuku, what? What the fuck’s -”

“Off,” Izuku wheezed, his heartbeat like slamming fists on a door he’d never wanted to open again. Had kept safe from everyone, including himself, for five years. He wrenched up, nearly knocking heads with Bakugou, looking around wildly. “Off, get off!”

“Wait, wait , I’m sorry, what’s happ-”

Couldn’t breathe, Izuku couldn’t breathe. Both feet found the blessed floor, solid, dependable. Grounded. Izuku could hear his heart and his lungs and his blood in his ears, could see his nails caked in blood and flesh and as he shut his eyes, rested his brow against his knees.

“Shit.” Bakugou’s voice was out the door and down the stairs, far far away, where he should have been all along. Izuku flinched when the unexpected palm painted warmth down his curved, curled in spine. “Shit, okay. It’s okay. I’m gonna find you some sugar or caffeine or something. Just - just don’t move.”

“Don’t plan on it,” Izuku said in a choked off, tiny voice, his eyes squeezed shut.

You wanted this, you idiot. You were supposed to want this by now!

Izuku’s laugh was short and hysterical, high and cut off by a half-broken sob, retched from his guts like vomit.

Who the hell would ever take on a job like him? When he led someone on like this, only to surprise them both with a reaction he hadn’t anticipated in the slightest.

Hands wracked with tremors dropped off the couch and reached down at either side of his feet, fingertips also touching the floor, also grounding. He tapped his nails on the hardwood, again and again, an SOS for - for -

The burly meow of Natsume stormed into the room, a chorus of familiar, comforting sounds in a chattering path toward him. The couch cushion sank beside him and a warm, furry weight with a calm heartbeat and thrumming purr settled on Izuku’s back.

Natsume was heavy, but in a good way. Safe, a part of him. One of the only good parts of him.

Izuku inhaled. Exhaled.

Footsteps neared.

“Hey - ah, shit, you little fucker.”

Izuku didn’t have to look to know that Bakugou and Natsume considered each other in distaste. The gargantuan, ginger-blonde cat and his rival had too much in common to really get along.

Despite himself, Izuku felt his lips curve. His fingertips continued to brush the cool surface of the floor, his body tuning in to the hum and whir of Natsume’s purring. They’d been through this many times before, but it had been a while. And Izuku had certainly never been through this, specifically.

“Can I - I’m sitting by you,” Bakugou firmly corrected himself before he sat on the couch. His body did not touch Izuku’s. “I got you a soda. Your fridge is pretty fuckin’ empty. I know you don’t cook and survive off that protein drink shit, but at least consider your damn health.”

Izuku brought his arms up to wrap around his head, forehead still to his knees, his breathing slowed as he spoke into his clammy skin.

“Pretty sure I have other aspects of my health to be more worried about.”

“Yeah, well.” Izuku could feel Bakugou shift on the couch. It was so odd to sense hesitancy in the Alpha. “Some shit can’t be helped. Think I haven’t seen this a dozen or more times in my line of work? Hell, they force us into quarterly psych evals for a reason. I barely passed one of my own, back when I was younger.”

When Izuku didn’t reply, only continued to breathe, Bakugou actually sighed, flopping back into the cushions.

“Told you this before, but apparently I gotta say it again. I ain’t stupid, ‘Zuku. I know you're not like this for no good reason, even if you’re maybe givin’ yourself a hard time over it.”

“You don’t know anything,” Izuku mumbled lowly, both a warning and a lament.

Bakugou was silent for a long time. When he did eventually speak, his timber of his voice was almost unrecognizable, uncharacteristically gentle.

“You’ll tell me when you’re ready.”

Despite himself, Izuku snorted a laugh into his arms. A real one. Carefully, his body somehow tender and skin thin from head to toe, he turned his face, cheek pillowed upon his arms as he considered Bakugou with one open eye.

Bakugou looked tired and gaunt, somehow. Like the incident had affected him, too. He didn’t seem to realize Izuku was watching him now, as he was busy frowning at the soda and turning the sweating can in his hands.

“What if I’m never ready?” Izuku said hoarsely, startling just a bit when Bakugou looked up sharply and met Izuku’s eyes with keen intelligence and stubbornness.

“I ain’t stupid and I ain’t goin’ anywhere.” Bakugou raised an eyebrow and offered out the can. “How’s that for fuckin’ your world view right up the ass?”

Izuku blushed instantly, but didn’t understand why. Maybe it was Bakugou’s honesty, so raw and ripped open for Izuku to see the innards of him and how his heart worked.

When would Izuku be brave enough to do the same?

With a sigh, Izuku sat up carefully, allowing time for a grumbling Natsume to alight from his back and settle on the arm of the couch. Gingerly plucking the soda from Bakugou’s hand, careful not to touch yet, Izuku cracked the top and took a long drink. The sugar helped his nerves and the adrenaline come-down, the sparkling, cold, carbonation perking his drowsy, trauma-induced senses.

The only sound between them was Natsume’s purring and the distant cars outside. Bakugou didn’t seem to push any further discussion, content to sit back and wait. Izuku would have never pegged Bakugou in a hundred years as the type who was good at waiting, but it seemed to be all he did in reference to Izuku. Or was that just an allowance for him, specifically?

“Bakugou,” Izuku murmured, staring down at his legs, where he cupped the chilly can in both hands atop his thighs.

Bakugou grunted.

“I’m -” Izuku took a breath. “I’m sorry. About all of this, and me, from the beginning to now. I really am. There’s - there’s a lot you don’t know about me, and I lot that I don’t know if I could ever share with you and -”

“For fuck’s sake, this ain’t a goddamn drama show!” To Izuku’s shock and but not displeasure, Bakugou ruffled Izuku’s hair, letting his hand travel down Izuku’s back with a gentleness contradicted by his voice. “Save the speeches and fuck yer sorries. I’m real damn tired of them. Just let me - let me be here, alright? Asshole.”

Izuku felt his heart subtly unknot and loosen, the pressure in his chest easing as he peered over his shoulder with a lopsided smile.

Me, an asshole? That’s rich.”

“I am fuckin’ rich,” Bakugou said with a gloating grin full of teeth and sharp canines. “Which is a good reason to let me take you on a real proper date next time.”

Instantly wary, Izuku eyed him with overt suspicion.

“What does a proper date entail? I told you, no fancy food. It’s a waste.”

“Nah, not like that. Gimme your time on Valentine’s Day, though.”

Izuku scoffed before he could hold it in, now leaning back into the couch cushions and accepting the arm Bakugou slung around his shoulders.

Valentine’s Day? I didn’t peg you for one of those-”

Oiy, like hell I am! I’m just sayin’ it’s a day that would make sense to take your ungrateful ass out -”

“I’m grateful,” Izuku murmured, tilting his chin to earnestly look up into Bakugou’s eyes. “I’m very grateful. For you, for this. Even if I might not deserve it.”

Bakugou’s pale eyebrows bunched, his face screwing up ugly in the way he got when he was thinking very un-ugly, almost beautiful thoughts that he couldn’t put to words.

“I’ll decide what you deserve.”

Izuku’s brow climbed.

“Big words for a guy who’s never dated anyone before.”

“Trust me,” Bakugou said, leaning in to press his brow to Izuku’s. “I fuckin’ set the learning curve.”

Izuku allowed his gaze to drop, let himself lean in for a slow, savoring kiss of tender lips alone.

“I bet you do.”

Bakugou kept his word and stayed, despite the fact that he and Natsume continued a stare-off through an entire movie on television. Izuku fell asleep somewhere around the beginning of the second one, his cheek flat against Bakugou’s chest, and maybe Bakugou’s breathing and heartbeat really could be as nice as his cat’s. Time would tell.

Somewhere in the early evening, Bakugou slipped away. A vague memory of lips to Izuku’s temple and the cloud of a thick comforter draping over his body the only signs that Bakugou had been and gone.

It wasn’t until the next day, after all thoughts and hearts had settled, that Izuku realized he might be the more inexperienced of the two when it came to a real relationship. And didn’t that just turn his upside down into right side up.