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“Give me your second button.”

Shouto turns towards Katsuki questioningly.

“Of?”

“Your uniform.”

“Huh?”

Katsuki looks like he stepped on something cold and slimy, face scrunched up and red and Shouto has no idea what's going on.

“The second fucking button on your damn uniform, is it really that hard to understand!?”

“I understand just fine, but not why you’d want it.”

“Because… you're graduating…”

“In a week and a half.”

“... I don't... want… anyone else to… get it… from you...”

“... are you okay?”

It isn't so much what he's saying, even though that makes no sense to Shouto either, but how he says it. Like he's verbally constipated, forcing the syllables out with such obvious struggle that Shouto sincerely wonders if talking in itself actually could straight up kill a person.

If so, he'd be ready.

He knows CPR.

“I'm fine, senpai.”

He doesn't even bother trying to make it sound like it's anything other than the minimally required formality it actually is to use the honorific, but what stands out about it is he hasn't really used it in a long time. That he reverts back to it makes Shouto tilt his head slightly.

“Then what isn't?”

“You know, if this is your answer, then fuck you. Don’t look down on me.”

“What? You're just shorter than me.”

He can't understand how he'd be looking down on Katsuki figuratively in the first place, which is why it feels as if that couldn’t possibly be what Katsuki means - however, he obviously didn't mean literally either because he clenches his fists around sparks of fire and Shouto crosses his arms.

“There's no way you're this clueless. Don't make it a fucking joke!”

“It’s just a button. What am I missing?”

“You know what, you shitty piece of steaming fucking garbage? Never. Mind.

Puzzled, Shouto lets him stalk off as lunch is drawing to a close anyway, and Katsuki makes it a point to avoid Shouto at all costs afterwards. Seeing as they’re in different grades it really isn’t too hard but Izuku and Ochaco catch on to it either way, observant as hawks. With Tenya running to get the lunchbox he forgot back in the dorms, the three of them eat quietly in the cafeteria until Ocacho breaks the silence.

“Why’s the little bomb ignoring you? He was hanging around you all the time before.”

“No idea.”

All the time was an exaggeration, but it seems he’d zoomed in on Shouto before even coming to U.A, approaching him soon after entering the school himself and demanding his attention, wanting to prove himself against the winner of three consecutive sports festivals (in his grade, it should be noted, and the last time had only been luck; Izuku had slipped on a patch of ice at a bad moment). And Izuku had, apparently, known him back in the day, meaning Katsuki came to find him too - only to run into Shouto again as he did. Katsuki obviously did harbor an obvious need for revenge of some sort towards Izuku for some reason that Shouto couldn’t wrap his head around (something about thinking Izuku was quirkless but then when he wasn’t, feeling betrayed and cheated that he hadn’t been the first from their middle school to join U.A - sort of a reaching reason in Shouto’s opinion since Izuku was two years older and a lot of people would graduate from that middle school and possibly join U.A too… or whatever), but over time he’d focused more on Shouto. The Izuku and Katsuki thing was beyond him, really, but his own relationship with Katsuki was very straightforward to begin with.

And it didn’t ever really change, either.

It isn’t too bad.

At least Katsuki isn’t all bark and no bite - he could give Shouto a nice enough challenge to be interesting to spar with, and even though neither of them are especially good at keeping conversations flowing they could share pretty comfortable silences, winding down after doing whatever workout they’d picked for the day. Though it had been sparring more often than not, they’d started doing other things too over time - like accompany each other as they went on runs.

He enjoyed Katsuki’s company. At least, not having him around is weird, even if it’s just been a few days. He’d grown accustomed to exchanging daily messages of some sort with the guy, and the silence makes things feel a little empty.

“Did something happen?” Ochaco drinks some water, a hint of worry creasing her brow.

“Kind of, but I don’t really get it.”

“What was it?”

Shouto almost kills her when she takes another swig of water just as he says “Well, he asked for the second button of my uniform.” and she chokes, coughing violently into the crook of her arm.

“He did what?!”

“... ask for the second button of my uniform.”

She’s catching her breath, wheezing, and Izuku speaks up in the opportunity it creates.

“He-- wow.” He looks impressed, lowering his chopsticks slowly. “Wait, what did you tell him?”

“No, of course.”

“ ‘Of course’...”

“Oh, Todoroki. Oh, you… the poor thing.” Ochaco shakes her head. “He’s a piece of work but he really didn’t deserve that.”

I don’t know what any of you are talking about.

“Wait, you don't know what it means?”

“It means something?”

Ochaco lets go of her chopsticks and they stay afloat in front of her, annoyed she waves them away and Shouto follows them as they soar towards the ceiling while she’s searching for words, settling for a “I don’t know who I feel more sorry for now.” and Shouto sighs as he drops his gaze to look at her again.

“If you could just explain, instead…”

“It’s a love confession. Of sorts.” Izuku helpfully interects. “When you graduate you can give it to the person you like.”

“So asking for it is like asking for you to like him.” Ochaco sighs. “And you went and told him no, ‘of course’...”

“Well, I didn’t know.”

“You’re popular, so people may ask for the rest of your buttons and stuff too.” She looks around her lunch box, lifting it and the lid, frowning lightly. “If you’ve got anyone you like more than the others then you should consider keeping the second one for that person.”

“Well, it’s a bit dated, so I don’t know if people are going to flock you for that stuff…” Izuku turns to Ochaco, as she’s still searching around her half-eaten lunch. “Uraraka, you sent them flying.”

“My chopsticks?”

“Yeah.”

“Again?! And you didn’t tell me!? Oh, my God…” her cheeks go pink and Izuku laughs softly, in that way that lets even Shouto know who’s getting his second button. Though that much would hopefully be obvious, seeing as Izuku and Ochaco have been officially dating for at least a year. More, but Shouto isn’t sure when they started, exactly.

‘I don’t want anyone else to get it from you.’

Shouto hadn’t realized he could be missing something so vital.

As Tenya comes back, Shouto continues eating absentmindedly, only coming back to reality when Ochaco releases her chopsticks and one of them hits him in the head.

With her profusely apologizing to him, he thinks to himself that maybe it’d be a good idea if he apologized too. The truth of the matter is he graduates the following day, though.

15:45: Bakugou.
15:55: Answer me.
16:12: I have things I need to talk with you about.
16:43: Stop ignoring me.
16:59: Bakugou.
17:44: B
17:44: A
17:44: K
17:44: U
17:44: G
17:45: O
17:45: U
21:34: Okay.
21:35: At least consider finding me tomorrow. I’ll wait behind the dorm.
21:37: Your dorm.
22:01: Please come.

 

-- -- --

 

He’d probably been hit by a faint stroke of luck, getting to know about the entire button ordeal before being absolutely surrounded by people who asked him for it - crying and telling him any button would be fine if the second one was no good. Picking him absolutely clean, there’s nothing left except the second button once he finally gets the chance to try and find Katsuki, politely declining to give it to anyone else because after learning the significance of it, there’s really only one person he’d give it to.

It wouldn’t feel right if it was anyone else.

Sitting underneath a tree behind the dorm building, his phone dies after he spends 20 minutes listening to music and he leans back towards the stem and closes his eyes, his headphones block out sound even with no music playing leaving things comfortably quiet. His jacket flutter open in the wind and it’s a bit chilly, but he’s no too unused to cold. His ice has heightened his resistance compared to the average person. And even as he becomes a little uncomfortable with time, he just uses his left side to keep himself warm until someone tugs his headphones off of his head and a voice snaps him out of his half-sleeping state.

“The fuck are you still here for?!”

“Hmm?”

Katsuki is breathing heavily, doubling over with his hands on his knees, dropping the headphones on the grass.

“I fucking told you I wouldn’t be able to come!”

“Oh? Sorry, my phone’s dead.”

“Since this morning?!”

Shouto hadn’t gotten anything all day, he would have noticed since he’d been getting other messages throughout the entire time he’d been in school. Mostly from his sister, though his mother had messaged him too.

“I guess it didn’t send?” He offers, and Katsuki groans.

“Fuck.” Standing up straight, Katsuki is wearing casual clothes and looks tiny in them. Why he always picked such baggy ones when he wanted to be big and intimidating was beyond Shouto, really. “Well, I told you.”

“It doesn’t matter, I said I’d wait. And you’re here now.”

“That’s-- shitty hair told me he saw you here, so--”

“Shitty hair?”

“Kirishit--ma. Kirishima.”

“The hard guy?”

“... yeah. The hard guy.” Katsuki’s voice goes monotone for a few syllables too many before he switches into something more animated. “So? Why the hell are you even here?”

Getting to his feet is a monumental task that requires a lot more focus than he’d expected, like his limbs had frozen in place despite him regulating his temperature. Once he manages, though, he moves his fingers a little before taking the button still on his blazer, ripping it off, and stretching it out towards Katsuki.

“What the fuck?”

“You were the first to ask.”

“That-- what the fuck?”

“I didn’t know what it meant until yesterday. I wasn’t sure what I’d do if you wouldn’t show up today. Mail it to you, maybe.”

Katsuki’s face grows so red he looks like he may burst into flame any second. Shouto isn’t sure he’s ever seen anyone blush so ferociously in his entire life.

Mail it to me!? Wait, why are you even giving me this?! You know what it means?! You-- you fucking know what it means. Shit.”

Shouto tilts his head a little.

“Do you not want it anymore?”

Giving him a look, Katsuki snatches it out of his palm. His hands are warm enough that the brief moment he touches Shouto’s is enough to leave an almost burning sensation, and his hands are shaking when he clenches his fist around the button. For some reason, it makes Shouto feel like smiling.

“The hell are you smiling for?”

“Nothing, I’m just glad you took it.”

“But you’re only giving it to me because I asked first.”

“When did I say that was the only reason why?”

Katsuki is loud and aggressive but he’s surprisingly earnest and serious, always working a little too hard, his calm and focused profile beautiful whenever Shouto glances over towards it while they drink water after beating the everloving shit out of each other. And he’s caring in his own way, slapping compresses on Shouto’s arms and knees after tackling, grappling, throwing him to the ground but softening the surgery tape keeping them in place out gently, dabbing towels to his nose diligently the three times he’s managed to make him faceplant so hard he started bleeding profusely.

He does everything like he’s trying not to care, but he does.

And when he throws his school books in front of Shouto and starts writing away, splayed across the tatami floor in Shouto’s room like he owns the place, when he falls asleep in Shouto’s kotatsu resting his cheek against his crossed arms, Shouto lets him because it feels natural.

Katsuki takes up space without actually intruding, leaving it empty when he isn’t there.

And when he sends something snappy in the morning as continuation of a conversation they never really had, then something softer in the late evenings, typoing because he’s half asleep and Shouto is the last thing on his mind before he drifts off, when he barges into Shouto’s room five minutes before he leaves for class in the morning with a lunchbox for him despite them living in entirely different dorm buildings but Shouto ‘hadn’t been eating anything but soba for a week, hadn’t he, and Katsuki made too much and honestly just fucking take the damn thing’, Shouto had found himself smiling without realizing why.

Addicting as it is, Shouto would’ve missed it. But maybe he doesn’t have to - at least not all of it.

“You-- asshole.” Bowing his head, Katsuki joins his hands and presses them to the bridge of his nose, hiding behind his hair though probably unintentionally so. “You’re giving it to me because you want to? No way.”

“Yes way.”

“You only want to because--”

“Just take it as it is. I know you know what it means.”

Katsuki inhales, long enough that Shouto feels his own lungs strain, before snapping his head up to look him right in the eye, speaking as he breathes out.

“Yeah. I’m not clueless like some other piece of shit I know.” And there’s wetness in the corners of his eyes that Shouto wants to point out but doesn’t, feeling like being nice for once, things considered. “Wow though, they sure did a fucking number on you. Do you have anything left at all?”

“The button in my pants, I guess? I’ll give that to you too, if you’d like.”

Keep it.

He’s holding the hand with the button clenched to his chest, and Shouto hadn’t doubted it for a second but he really had made the right decision when making sure Katsuki would be the one to get it. That in itself may be apology enough, for the time being.

In a time of changing, growing, where things would be different either way, maybe he and Katsuki can stay the same this way.

And if they end up changing, growing, too, at least it won’t be for the worse.

Watching the wind ruffle Katsuki’s hair softly and his cheeks match the red of his eyes, the thought sounds pretty neat.