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Deku is fucking weird. Katsuki doesn't try to be particularly observant when it comes to that nerd, but he thought it was pretty clear after their fight that he was going to, albeit grudgingly, respect All Might's decision to acknowledge Deku, if nothing else. He knows, deep down, that he will need to change.

Doesn't mean he's going to like it.

And yet.

First week was smooth sailing. They did house arrest shit and Katsuki kinda nitpicked his sloppy moves, NOT because he wanted to help, but because can All Might's successor really suck at his own moves? Deku smiled to himself afterwards when he thought Katsuki wasn't looking and that's all and well or whatever, but Katsuki isn't trying to make up here. Whatever delusions Deku develops in his little scheming mind are the furthest of interest from Katsuki's desire to get better. And stronger.

And yet.

He notices.

Deku wakes up one morning with red-rimmed eyes and a rosy nose. He comes down for breakfast, and he looks like total shit. Uraraka asks him if he's sick or something. Glasses checks his temperature, and Deku (obviously) lies and says allergies. Bullshit. Deku's been crying their whole childhood, Katsuki would know that face from every angle.

And then, Deku sees him in the hallway, and his expression has a minute change that only Katsuki can see. It's not particularly obvious to people who haven't known Deku for ten years. His face doesn't fall, and his shoulders don't slump, but the bastard's gaze drops to the floor, and his eyes relax around the edges, like resignation. (Like the way he knows he can't win a fight without some self-respect.)

As far as he knows, he didn't say any shit to make Deku cry.

Not Katsuki's problem.

#

"Bakugou, did you do something?" Kirishima asks after lunch.

Katsuki makes a questioning scoff in the back of his throat as he finishes his warming up for his run.

"Like, Midoriya--"

"No," Katsuki cuts him off. "Whatever it is about Deku."

He takes off, and Kirishima thunders after him with a slighted cry at his early start.

"I didn't finish!"

"You were gonna ask if I made him cry, right? Well I fucking didn't. I haven't even talked to him since house arrest ended." Katsuki scowls at him when he catches up. "Get off my case. And don't assume, shitty hair."

Kirishima opens his mouth, and then closes it.

"What," Katsuki says, irritated.

"Nothing."

"As if. Spit it out."

"Bakugou, you," Kirishima sighs. "I don't want to pry...but you seem kinda bothered though?"

The hell does he mean. "The hell do you mean. I'm like this every day."

"Well, sure, you're always in a crappy and vindictive mood—"

"You bastard—"

"—but, I dunno, usually you at least taunt me before we run. Like 'I'm gonna kill you!' or 'Choke on my fucking dust and die' or something like that. And you obviously saw Midoriya this morning. Hence. You're weird right now, and it might be connected."

Fuck observant bastards. He doesn't need a second Deku to analyze his every breath.

"Who uses the word hence in the twenty first century," Katsuki spits abruptly, and powers into a sprint.

"Bakugou!" Kirishima yells. "All Might uses hence all the time!"

#

"Bakugou-kun," Uraraka sighs when he reaches the end of his run.

Kirishima's still further back. He smoked Kirishima so hard on their fourth lap that his muscles ache with absolute exhaustion and exertion. His lungs burn for oxygen. He's probably going to regret running so fast later, when he cools down and his thighs really start bitching.

"No," Katsuki says to her in advance, catching his breath and wiping his mouth. "I did jack shit to Deku. Bye." He straightens up and makes to brush past.

"No one's saying that you did," Uraraka says.

Katsuki doesn't have a response to that.

Uraraka continues, "I just wanted to ask if you had any tips to cheer him up? Since you guys were kinda childhood friends."

Katsuki knows when he's being sussed out. Uraraka isn't being overt, but that question is totally out of the blue considering Katsuki's obviously and literally never cheered him up in their entire lives. "Uraraka, I don't know what you want," he says flatly. "But I'm not helping you with this crap. He's your problem, not mine."

Uraraka blinks and then frowns at him. Her fingers curl into quavering fists, and she shakes like she's outraged.

"Can't you at least show some compassion?" she accuses. "He's not a problem! Don't you even consider him as a colleague? You can't even worry about him at all? You knew him all these years and you've never been kind to him once!"

That's absolutely right. Katsuki crosses his arms over his chest. And Uraraka has officially been demoted to Round Face until further notice because Katsuki's (unexpected) anger bubbles beneath his skin.

"If you knew that already, then don't waste my fucking time," Katsuki says coolly. "Don't come here expecting things that you shouldn't."

"He's never," Round Face breathes, voice watery. It sounds like a hiccup, and Katsuki tenses up. "He's never said anything bad about you, ever. Whatever I expected, you've made it clear that I can't, Bakugou-kun." She stomps off into the dorm's double doors.

Katsuki tries to count to ten. He makes it to twenty without pause and he's still angry.

Kirishima, finally caught up, runs up to him and then bends over. "Bakugou," Kirishima groans, panting. "You monster, how did you even run that fast?"

"Fuck you," Katsuki replies, a low hiss, and runs past him.

"Again?" Kirishima demands. "Dude!"

#

If he hadn't gone for that second run, he wouldn't made it back in time to run into Deku on his way out to his own run with Todoroki. Fuck that, he's not scared. Just because Deku's being all weepy doesn't mean he has to do anything. It doesn't have anything to do with Katsuki anyway.

Deku kinda sneaks a glance, like he thinks Katsuki isn't looking. This isn't unusual. But what bothers him is the way he's being checked, like Deku's afraid. Even though he boasted so loudly back then, 'I'm not scared of you anymore, Kacchan!' exactly like someone who was scared. And what really pisses him off is Todoroki just outright stares at him, like he's trying to puzzle Katsuki out with his stupid mismatched eyes.

Katsuki has literally not talked to Deku since their shared house arrest. If Deku's upset it can't possibly be because of him, and he's tired of everyone assuming that it is. He has not done anything. Like, okay, maybe he yelled on their last shared day because Deku was sopping dirty mop water all over the bathroom tile. But that was called for, the moron should've said if his arm was bothering him, like a freaking normal person. Katsuki will honest to god never even remotely begin to consider the prospect of respecting Deku ever if this is what's got him all teary eyed like a baby.

Crap, his internal monologue went on so long that he realizes he's still glaring at the two of them. Deku's staring back at him, but strangely not really seeing.

Todoroki sighs and angles his head away. Deku nods meekly and looks away.

Katsuki literally cannot read him right now. Apparently he's never been able to, but at least he can recognize when Deku's bothered and hiding it. Because of him.

What the fuck did he do, Katsuki wonders, still standing there as they move past.

Deku turns back and blinks.

Shit, that was out loud.

Katsuki scowls. "What the hell is wrong with you?" He pauses, and even he can realize that what he's just said came out very bad. "Get that look off your stupid baby face," he continues. His tact is truly unstoppable.

Deku opens his mouth and does not respond. His aforementioned stupid baby face looks astonished. Todoroki looks vaguely impressed, like he genuinely did not think Katsuki was capable of this level of cruelty.

"Sorry, Kacchan," Deku answers. "Thanks."

"Why," he asks, appalled.

"For being concerned," Deku says and then he turns away for real this time.

His powers of self-delusion are so strong that Katsuki is rendered speechless.

"Who's fucking concerned," Katsuki says, long after they're gone, but can't shake the feeling of somethig being very, very wrong.