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Paper Moons and Glass Stars

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Katsuki walked along the sidewalk, surroundings bathed in the multicolored neon glow of various businesses that lined the street. The night was cool, a gentle breeze carrying the distinct smells of alcohol, vomit and sex. All of which pooled together, flooding his senses as he scrunched his nose in disgust. Now Katsuki wasn’t against partying, in fact he thrived with a few shots of hard liquor burning through his veins accompanied by the deep thrum of music.

But with the beginning fame of being a new (hot as hell) pro hero who, with his debut landed nicely in the top ten, brought along unwanted solicitations. Everywhere he went, men and women tried to gain his affections by using a variety of tactics. From flustered confessions, unwanted gropes and freaky packages at his doorstep, Katsuki had experienced it all. The past two years melded together into the reason he could never truly let loose while surrounded by swarming, writhing bodies of complete strangers. Which was why he was extremely apprehensive when he got a call from Kamari telling him he “absolutely” had to go out with them tonight to “a new fucking awesome club that’s to die for” and “c’mon Katsuki don’t be a dick, just trust me”. Despite his avid refusal to come, Katsuki had somehow ended up to where he was now; walking down the neon lit street with the dumbasses he called friends talking animatedly on either side.

            “No! Strawberry ice cream is the shit! I will fight every one of you over its superior flavor!” Kirishima passionately cried, nearly bumping into a lamp post as he stared at the trio he was currently in a heated debate with.

            “Obviously mint is the best, you ignorant sluts,” Ochako declared, staring down Kaminari who had opened his mouth to protest, “Todoroki back me up.”

            “I rather think that vanilla reigns supreme.” Cries of protest rose up throughout the group. Before he got dragged into the conversation, Katsuki decided to redirect them to the original reason they were all there.

            “Where the fuck is this club you won’t shut up about?”  He barked out, trademark frown painting his features as he looked down at the man with terrible hair choices that persisted since UA. Kaminari looked back at him, an excited grin spreading across his face as he raised his hand, pointing enthusiastically down a nearby alley. The guy was practically jumping up and down, body radiating electric delight. Katsuki followed the direction of his outstretched arm, eyes landing on a neon purple crescent moon hanging softly above a set of double doors. The muffled bass of some unknown song reaching their ears through the concrete walls of the single level building, the outside so non-descript that a passerby wouldn’t even know it was a nightclub. They skipped to the front of the line, Kirishima flashing a pearly white VIP card, matching purple crescent shape indented onto a single side.

 The metal doors opened, immediately enveloping Katsuki in a wave of sensations as he walked down a single flight of stairs. Music pulsed and weaved throughout the building, mingling with the smell of sweat and alcohol that permeated the air; less offensive than the scents that filled the streets outside. The main floor sunk several feet into the ground, a raised bar stocked with every type of alcohol to his left. The crowd of people were currently swaying around the main stage taking up the entirety of the back wall, a scantily clad dancer twirling around the pole in an impressive stunt that warranted a few cheers from the audience. They had arrived right as the set ended, causing the mass of people to spread about; some getting refills on drinks while others regrouped around forgotten tables.

They slid into a booth, Todoroki appearing with a round tray covered in shot after shot of clear alcohol. Cheers broke out as they saw the vodka, each of them grabbed a small glass. Heads tossed back in near unison as they downed the intoxicating liquid, grimacing as it scorched their throats.

“So what’s so fucking great about this place? It just seems like a higher tier strip club…” He slowed, a wide grin filling Kaminari’s face, mirrored perfectly by Kirishima. “Oi, what the fuck is with those looks?”

“Oh you’ll see Bakugou, you’ll see.” The duo laughed, high fiving at the expressions of excitement, anger, and well-known neutrality pasted on the three.

 

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            They had been there for over an hour, and Katsuki was reaching his wits end. The shots could only do so much for the withering control on his emotions. He was about to express his impatience when Kaminari shot up, pulling excitedly on his red and black plaid sleeve.

            “What the hell is up with you?” He grumbled, standing. The rest of the group quickly following suit as he was pulled towards the direction of the stage, which was already crowded with eager looking faces.

            “It’s about to start and we need to get a good spot!” He yelled over the music, glancing back only briefly to make sure everyone was trailing close behind. Weaving through the crowd, Katsuki caught bits and pieces of thrilled whispers swirling through the heated air.

            “Isn’t Bunny’s performance next?”

            “God, an ass that could make Jesus himself sin-”

            “I forget to breath every time he walks on that stage.”

            “-thighs that could kill a man-”

            “Tonight is a completely new set, right? I wonder what it’ll be-”

Kaminari slowed to a halt, twenty feet from the stage. Hand dropping from where it had gripped his arm, turning to look at the group, eyes alight.

            “Ladies and gentlemen, I present the reason you were all dragged out tonight.” A sweeping bow finished the statement before he straightened, face donned in an anticipatory filled grin. As if on que, the lights dimmed causing a hush to fall over the crowd, everyone’s attention being drawn to the stage which was now illuminated in soft, violet light. An enthusiastic voice cut through the music spilling from the speakers, causing everyone to perk up, listening intently.

            “How are all you party people doing tonight?” The deep voice was answered by cheers of excitement, people whooping and hollering; cash ready in their hands to rain down on whoever this performer was. Who in the fuck was the next performer?

            “Well, I’m here to introduce the dancer you’ve all been waiting for, the star of Paper Moon: Bunny!” Katsuki was taken back as the crowd quite literally exploded, their eagerness a palpable thing filling the air. His intrigue was peaked at whoever the hell this fucking Bunny person was, especially if they elicited this type of a reaction from a crowd with just their name. A song started pouring out around them, the beat steady and rhythmic. It bled into them, sinking into their skin and down to their bones, settling heavily into their chests.

Suddenly a figure walked out on to the stage, lacy black underwear hugging tightly to the round curve of his ass. The sheer piece of fabric promoting the defined V that disappeared down his front, leaving little for the imagination. Black velvet stilettos adorned his feet, silver spikes running their way up the heel and onto the back of the shoe. But the show stopper of his outfit was the bondage-esque piece that decorated his chest. Strips of leather wrapped around his torso, leaving his pink nipples bare to the raging crowd. The lengths of leather cording his body were held together by a single strip that ran right down the center of his chest and up to his delicate throat, where it connected to a leather choker, a silver ring nestled right in the center. The entire thing was a masterpiece of tightly bound sexy that just screamed for him to be dominated or to be the dominator, but never fully committing to either. This grey zone of in-between was the place he thrived; keeping the crowd rapt with desire, gazes unable to leave the strong contours of his body.

Without realizing it he had wandered closer, a strange need pulling him forward to get a better chance to take in the full glory of the man up on stage. Katsuki’s eyes raked up every inch of exposed flesh and taught, toned muscle hidden beneath flawlessly milky skin. It was then he noticed the dusting of freckles painting constellations down his neck and across his collarbones, disappearing under his tantalizing outfit- and holy fuck were those nipple piercings? Lips parted in awe as he took in the glinting metal, the boy finally reaching the pole. It felt like years had passed since he had stepped confidently on to the stage, but it had only been a few beats of the song resonating deep within his chest.

The moment the boy grabbed the pole with one hand, pelvis grinding on the cool metal, back arched and head thrown back Katsuki decided to drink in the features of his face. His delicate qualities were framed by soft green curls that fell gently into his eyes and a rather boyish face in comparison to, well, fucking everything. Emerald eyes were hooded in blatant lust that sent the audience into a frenzy as he squatted, legs spread wide. One hand gripping the pole above his head as the other trailed its way down his chest, stopping just before he reached the bulge located between his legs barely hidden beneath black lace. Katsuki had the nagging feeling that the dancer on stage looked familiar, but he couldn’t quite place why. He watched, thunderstruck as the boy climbed his way up the pole in mere seconds, contorting his body in ways he didn’t even know were possible let alone so fucking attractive. He was suspended off the ground, held up solely by the pure strength of his thighs. Slowly he slid down to the stage, landing gracefully on his knees while seamlessly going into another body roll against the pole. His hand brushed away the curls that had begun to stick to his forehead, a sheen of sweat glistening under the violet light.

Enraptured, the audience cheered in a wild frenzy as the dancer got on all fours, crawling to the edge of the stage nearest Katsuki. The crowd surged forward, each individual wanting to touch the person who had stolen their breathe away, or just to shove bills into black lace and leather. Or both. Definitely both. The greenette spun around, still on his knees, before slowly standing up; back delicately arched, legs spread just enough to show off his perfect curves. A hand corded through soft hair as he cast a glance over his shoulder, a suggestive smirk blessing the crowd as they threw bill after bill at him. If they had run out of money they rained him in shouted compliments, some more vulgar than the rest.

 As he was about to walk back to the pole after a series of squats, a rough hand attached to an even rougher looking man reached up and grabbed a fistful of the dancer’s ass. Without missing a beat, he spun around, locking the man’s wrist in a vice grip that was obviously painful even from Katsuki’s removed point of view. The dancer snarled in the man’s face before taking a step back, seemingly done with the confrontation. As the man let down his guard, cradling his injured hand, a perfectly sculpted leg raised to deliver a beautiful roundhouse kick to the center of his chest; spiked stiletto flashing dangerously. Katsuki winced, but felt no sympathy for the sleazy man as he was dragged off by security. It was silent, except for the music that continued to fill the club until a single cheer became a roar, the torrent of cash seemingly doubled.

Katsuki watched him finish the rest of his set, a current of emotions running through his mind. As he walked off the stage hips sashaying, he threw one last sultry look over his shoulder. As if it was fate, or the universe flipping him off, his eyes met those of forest green and he felt his heart stop although he wasn’t sure why. No one he knew was a stripper, so why couldn’t he shake the idea that he knew him? One last wink was sent his way before the man disappeared from the stage, crowd still reeling from the performance. They couldn’t get enough of the dancer who was an alluring mix of raw strength and grace, innocence and erotic sensuality. They were addicted and couldn’t wait for their next hit. He found his way back to the group, all of whom were gushing over the performance of the dancer they only knew as “Bunny”.

            “Bakubro! What’d ya think? This place is pretty great, right?” Kirishima asked, cheeks flushed presumably from the new shot glasses that littered the table.

            “I don’t know about you, but I thought that performance was pretty hot. I mean, did you see that outfit?” Ochako said, arms gesturing to what he could only assume was meant to be the leather straps that none of them could get out of their minds.

            “Right! And the way he just fucking kicked that guy!” Denki threw his arms into the air, the movement causing him to lose his balance, almost toppling from his chair. “Every single time he performs the club is packed and the crowd just goes bat shit! I’ve never seen anything like it!” The group nodded enthusiastically, eyes distant as they relived the performance, remnants of adrenaline still thrumming through their veins. They continued to talk, Katsuki barely following the conversation until Ochako gasped, eyes flashing in the way they did when she had a terrible idea and wanted to share it with everyone.

            “No. I’m not doing it.” He growled instantly, downing one of the two remaining shots on the table, relishing the way it burned.

            “But I haven’t even said anything yet, you big jerk!” She whined, slapping his bicep in annoyance. He rolled his eyes, committing himself to adamantly refuse whatever devilish plan she had concocted this time.

            “At least hear me out,” She planted her hands firmly on the table, face down, “How about we do some sort of contest and whichever one of us loses, has to get a private lap dance by whoever the next available person is!” The table was silent for a few contemplative seconds, before a chorus of agreement rang around the table leaving him as the only one who hadn’t given a response. A heavy sigh left his chest as he considered his chances. Maybe it was the odds stacked in his favor, or the alcohol loosening his inhibitions as he came to a decision.

            “…Fucking fine I’ll play your stupid game, round face.”

 

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Their howling laughter filled his ears as he glared down at the straw in his hand as if it had personally murdered his entire family. Of-fucking-course the one time he decided to go and join in one of her games he had to up and lose. And now he had to suffer the consequences of his ill-timed decisions. He watched as Kirishima, that bastard, walked away and reserved a private room for his “session”. He downed the only remaining shot on the table, slamming the glass back down wishing he had a few more running through his system. Letting out an exasperated sigh, he followed after that obnoxious yet unmistakable red hair; the cat calls of his companions chasing him as he weaved through the throng of bodies. He reached the doorway blocked off by a velvet rope where a horned girl in a skin tight, scarlet one piece and matching strappy heels led him down a dimly lit hallway lined with individual, curtained rooms. She showed him to one tucked in the back corner, heels clacking softly on the concrete floor. Begrudgingly, he sat down into the plush couch, the only thing that filled the faintly illuminated room besides the various soft shades of purple fabric draping the walls and ceiling.

            “Just wait right here, they’ll be with you shortly.” The curtain swished closed, leaving him alone in the room. Muffled music providing the only distraction from his simmering anger and annoyance at his predicament. Maybe he could slip out right now and tell those dickmunchers he went through with it.  He was about to stand up and carry through with his spur-of-the-moment plan but was rudely interrupted by a familiar, pale figure gently closing the curtain behind himself as he entered the room. Katsuki’s brain temporarily short-circuited as he, once again, soaked in the appearance of the seductive dancer that had everyone star struck and craving more. He was even more gorgeous up close, and Katsuki found himself looking into those familiar, eyeliner enhanced eyes. Eyes that eerily reminded him of…oh. Oh. The world came crashing down around him in vivid clarity as he realized this wasn’t the first time he had looked into those ridiculous depths of green. The overwhelming urge to smack himself for not noticing the second he had walked out on stage barely suppressed. How could he have not recognized that mop of messy, green curls and scatterings of freckles? He was the number four fucking hero after only graduating two years ago, and somehow he hadn’t realized the boy grinding away on the pole was one he knew.

            “Deku.” The utterance was barely above a whisper, but echoed as if he had screamed it at the top of his lungs. He expected the same shock he had experienced to appear on his face, but was instead met with a hand pressed firmly to his chest as the boy- no, as Deku straddled his lap bringing them chest to chest.

            “Kacchan, it’s been awhile.” A scoff escaped him at the casual tone from the figure currently sat in his lap. He had to stop himself from laughing at the situation because honestly what in the actual loving fuck.

            “Can we fucking talk first before, ya know-this?” He gestured roughly to what little space was between them.

            “Oh so you want me to grind on you?” Amusement filled his tone as a gentle laugh danced around the room, breath feathering lightly against his cheek.

            “You wish you shitty nerd.”

            “Uh-huh, sure. You wanted to talk?” He sat back on his haunches, tongue flicking out to dampen his lips and Katsuki gaped, the brief flash of silver pierced in the muscle derailing his train of thought. Was this really the nervous ball of anxiety he had known throughout his childhood?

            “Yea what the shit is this?” A soft sigh met his question as Izuku slid from his lap, sinking into the couch next to him. Seconds passed before the leather clad dancer spoke.

            “That’s one hell of a story, too long for a lap dance,” He gazed at Katsuki, eyes calculating as he considered the rest of his response, “How about I tell you over coffee? There’s a lovely place I know of that has drinks to die for.” Expectant eyes looked up at him, waiting for his answer.

            “Fucking whatever, but I’m not getting any of that sweet shit. It’s nasty as hell.”

            “Alright, give me your phone. I’ll give you my number.” Hand held out expectantly until Katsuki placed his phone into the outstretched palm. He watched as delicate, calloused fingers deftly typed in his contact info before sending himself a quick text.

            “Well, I have other customers to get to,” passing Katsuki’s phone back, he stood raising his arms above his head as he stretched, “It was nice seeing you again, Kacchan.” He said softly, looking back over his shoulder one last time before the curtain swished shut. How was he supposed to explain this?

 

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            Turns out he didn’t need to explain much. As he left the hallway, the group immediately jumped him with a torrent of questions about ‘Bunny’.

            “What was he like? Was he nice?”

            “Is he even hotter up close?”

            “Are his lap dances as good as his performances?”

            “You have to give us every detail!”

            Katsuki sighed, too drained to get mad at the fact that he’d obviously been set up. A small grin he couldn’t stop spread across his face, stunning the group into silence.

            “Hey Denki, shock me to see if I’m dreaming cause I’m pretty sure Bakugou just smiled.” Ochako whispered, her shocked tone mirroring the expressions on all of their faces.

            “Is the world ending?” Todoroki asked, the usual stoic expression erased from his face, replaced with thinly veiled humor as he savored the scene.

            “Go suck a dick, Half-n-half.”

            “Sorry, not my thing though I’m sure you wouldn’t mind-” His sentence was cut off by Katsuki unceremoniously covering his mouth.

            “Dude, what the hell happened?” Kirishima said, asking the question they were all dying to know the answer to.

            “I’ll tell you when I’m sat on a couch in my own home.” Katsuki relished the irritated cries of “c’mon!” considering it a small form of revenge for the whole situation.

 

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            “…So you’re telling us that your childhood friend, who you haven’t seen in seven years is the outrageously popular and attractive stripper, Bunny, and your first reunion was him giving you a lap dance and his number.” Todoroki bluntly summed up, his friends not knowing whether they should laugh or cry.

            “He didn’t give me a lap dance, he just sat in my lap.”

            “Same difference.” Kaminari said from his place on the hardwood floor. The group was gathered in Katsuki’s living room, spread out upon the couch and rug covered hardwood. They had forced him to spill the entirety of his story the second he sat down, only giving him a second to relax into the comforting cushion, coffee in hand. He told them the tale of the short lived lap dance from his once best friend. As he started talking, the words just flowed freely as he told them his and Bunny’s complicated history. How he and Deku had been best friends, nearly inseparable until that fateful day he had been officially diagnosed as quirkless. He told them how he had turned cruel, striving to protect the boy the only way his naïve self knew how: by crushing his only dream of becoming a hero. Ochako had cried for the bright, young boy who was told he couldn’t be what he wanted simply because he had drawn the short straw in the game fate had decided to play. He told them how he regretted his actions once he realized his mistakes during his stay at UA, but missed his chance to apologize because the boy with soft green curls had moved after their first year of middle school without a word.

            They had sat in stunned silence, soaking in all the information that had poured upon them like a waterfall. Heavy and chilling, but carrying the promise of something more. And now here they were, telling Katsuki to grow up and text Deku first.

            “It’ll give you the chance to apologize! Isn’t that what you wanted?” Ochako said softly, brown doe-eyes wide with unrestrained emotion.

            “Yeah Bakubro! Realizing your mistakes is the true markings of a man!”

 

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            The group had left over an hour ago, bathing his apartment in glorious silence. Shuffling to his room, Katsuki unceremoniously collapsed into the soothing warmth of his bed. He adopted the routine of picking up his phone, typing out and deleting various texts to Deku before huffing and tossing it back onto the bed. Just as he finished one of these cycles, a gentle ping echoed through the room. His hand shot out lightning fast, eyes registering the text from none other than Deku himself.

 

Hey, I know you’re probably asleep but I’m free Monday at 12:30pm. Let me know if this works!

 

            The address of the coffee shop was attached, and Katsuki was surprised at the proximity to his apartment. The text itself was…strangely professional. He didn’t know what he was expecting but it wasn’t this. Still wrapping his brain around the formal text, Katsuki almost missed the next ping within the swirling whirlwind of thoughts.

 

I really enjoyed seeing you today, Kacchan.

 

             A small grin painted itself on his face as he read the message. That was more like it.

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki stood outside the quaint coffee shop, the glass windows reflecting his conflicted visage back at him. Tauntingly throwing his emotions back in his face. Stupid fucking glass what did it know? This morning he’d confidently gotten dressed, throwing on his favorite sweater and jeans before marching down to their meeting point ready to face the world- or in this case, Deku.

Deku. The boy who’d been his best friend before his dumb ass decided to bully him relentlessly over something he couldn’t control. Something that didn’t even matter when compared to the blindingly bright and kind person he was. He was the boy who wanted to be a hero and save the world, while harboring a secret (adorable) passion for dancing. He could hide it all he wanted, but Katsuki heard it from his mom when the nerd decided to start taking dance lessons.

 He was seeing the innocent boy who moved away, life carving him into a man with steely resolve who didn’t take anyone’s shit lying down. A man who’d learned to shed that innocence for the sake of survival. He was Deku, but not the one he knew seven years ago. Oh, and don’t forget he became a fucking god of stripping. So yeah, no pressure.

All his confidence from that morning had slowly turned into uncharacteristic uncertainty the closer he got to the coffee shop. He was motherfucking Ground Zero for crying out loud! The hero who had fought, defeated, and almost died at the hands of psychotic villain after villain, but getting an afternoon coffee with the boy he hadn’t seen in years was the event that sent his nerves into a fraying, tattered mess. Of fucking course. Because that made sense.

A sigh passed his lips- he’d been doing that a lot recently- as he took the final step forward, hand wrapping around the cool metal of the door knob when he was interrupted by a familiar figure calling out to him. At least he was wearing significantly more clothes than the last time they’d seen each other.

“Kacchan! Fancy seeing you here.” Deku, the little shit, said while casually strolling up to his left, smile blinding as he stopped next to him. It was then Katsuki noticed the boy was several inches shorter, the towering height from the club gone and replaced by scuffed, well-worn combat boots. His face turned to its usual scowl, eliciting a chuckle from the green haired asshole.

“You planned that, didn’t you?” He said, voice unimpressed and laced with mild annoyance. Izuku placed a hand crisscrossed in faint scars over his chest, feigning mock hurt.

“What, me? How dare you accuse me of unoriginality! I’m hurt Kacchan.”

“Oh? Well you’ll be in fucking tears when I shove my foot up your ass.”

“Oooh kinky. I didn’t know you were into that kind of thing.” Izuku said, smirk playing across his lips. Katsuki scoffed, quickly ending the conversation by pulling open the door- which he definitely had not been stressing over mere seconds ago- entering the coffee shop, stomp to his step. The boy at the register, who had ears and eyes like a cat, glanced up at the delicate jingle of the door, eyes lighting up as he saw the two. He waved excitedly, causing Katsuki to slow in confusion. Was he waving at him? He didn’t know anyone who worked as a barista, let alone one who barely looked like he was in high school. If he waved back and it wasn’t for him, he’d look like a moron. Fuck situations like this-

“Midoriya! It’s good to see you again!” Oh thank fuck, but now the waiting game- Cat eyes landed on the blonde- wait for it- a small grin splaying across his face, lips peeling back to show pointed teeth. Wait for iiiiit, “And who’s this cutie…Holy shit.” There it is. Katsuki straightened his posture, shoulders back and chest out. Lips twisted in a confident smirk as the boy struggled to form sentences for the pro hero, yellow eyes bigger than saucers.

“Oh my god, Oh- holy shit! You- you’re Ground Zero! The number four hero!” Suddenly his face paled, hands coming up to cover his mouth. “I-I just called Ground Zero a cutie. The Ground Zero. I’m going to go crawl in a hole and die.” Izuku’s uncontrollable laughter rang out through the coffee shop as he doubled over, clutching his stomach.

Katsuki sent him a glare that made villains cry, but the dancer merely brushed it off as he straightened, cheeks flushed. Deku turned to him, a serious look barely masking the smile he was struggling to hold back as he looked him dead in the eye.

“What drink can I get you, cutie?” He deadpanned, swiftly dodging a kick aimed at his shins.

“Oi, you little fucker-”

“Oh, hush now Kacchan, there are children present.” Said child was watching the exchange in bewilderment from his safe spot behind the counter. Their bantering continued until the flustered barista cleared his throat.

“I-uh, what can I get you to drink?”

 

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“I can’t believe you gave him an autograph, Ground Zero.” Izuku said playfully, sipping from the steaming mug of hot chocolate held between his hands.

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean-”

“I thought any of your remaining positive emotions withered away and died.” It took Katsuki a solid three seconds before he realized the greenette was joking, miniscule smirk giving him away. “I was going to throw them a funeral, flowers and everything. I’d even cry.”

Katsuki sent him a glare as he leaned back into the soft curve of the wooden chair, “Oh fuck you, I’ll have you know I am bursting with positive emotions.”  He murmured into his mug, humming contentedly as the bitter taste of coffee hit his tongue.

Once the barista had finished sputtering “Oh my god, thank you so, so much!” at least half a dozen times over the signed napkin, the duo had wandered to a small table tucked in the corner. A large window filled the wall to their left, giving way to the streets and people who walked them. Quiet settled between them, not entirely uncomfortable but unfamiliar all the same.

“So…You said you wanted to talk?” Izuku’s confident tone had turned more reserved, quiet. Reminiscent of the boy he once was. He was gazing out the window, thumb rubbing absent-minded circles into warm porcelain, sunlight filtering softly through green curls. As if in slow motion, emerald eyes flitted their gaze towards him, swirling with emotions he couldn’t quite understand.

Katsuki nodded once, waiting silently for the boy to collect his thoughts, knowing he’d speak when ready. The blonde brought the red coffee filled mug to his lips, smooth aroma filling his nose as Deku took in a stabilizing breath. He began speaking, words soft but unwavering. A voice hardened by the cards life had dealt him.

“Did Auntie tell you why we moved?” Katsuki shook his head, but quickly elaborated.

“The old hag never said anything out right…but a few months after you moved, I heard her talking on the phone to your mom about money. That’s why you moved, right?” Izuku nodded as he listened to his words, chin resting on his hand.

“My mom was working two jobs while trying to raise a kid as a single parent. The bills kept coming no matter how much we ignored them, until it was too much. She couldn’t afford the rent anymore, so we moved. It would’ve happened sooner or later whether it be by choice or force.” A bitter smile befell his face as he recounted the memory. He took a sip of hot chocolate, licking whipped cream from his lips.

“We moved to a shitty apartment in a sketchy neighborhood, everything was about the same except for a new school. The kids were mean and I’d come home bloodied and bruised which caused my mom to worry. But she’d hide her tears and try her best to make me happy. I hated seeing her like that but I never really got the guts to stand up for myself. I was a kid, and I was…afraid. Afraid of the repercussions, of more pain…” He slowed, emerald eyes distant and dark. Katsuki waited, worried that any prodding might cause him to stop, scare him away like a startled animal.

“It stayed that way until the first year of high school. School had been going for a few months and the bullying continued, got worse even. One day those assholes even broke my jaw. Of course that just turned into more bills that got tucked away, hoping they’d magically disappear. My mom had to pick up another job even though I could see how tired she was…”

“One day I got called out in the middle of class by a teacher I’d never seen before, who told me my mom was in the hospital… She’d gotten mugged on her way to work by three guys who beat her into a coma when she refused to give them her purse.” By the end of the sentence, his calm voice was tinged with violent fury. Katsuki’s mind reeled in mirrored anger. Inko was one of the nicest people on the planet and the idea of anyone wanting to hurt her was unfathomable.

“Do you know how much life support costs? At fifteen I had to decide if my mother was important enough to keep alive. I got two jobs to cover the costs, but there was barely enough left to pay rent. And, god, Kacchan I was just so angry. Angry at the world for hurting an innocent woman, angry for being born useless. So, I started fighting back. I broke bones, made them bleed. School was a pain and just another bill to pay, so half way into my second year I dropped out, got another job.” The remains of his drink now sat cold and heavy at the bottom of the mug. Izuku stared at it intently, as if it would whisper to him the secrets of the universe.

“One day I was walking home from a graveyard shift and saw a woman being mugged. She was screaming for help, for anyone, but no one listened. She was ignored. All I could think about was my mom…screaming, crying. I was filled with blinding rage, and the next thing I knew the men were on the ground, bloody and unconscious.” His hands tightened, turning white around the chipped, blue mug. Katsuki took in the various faint scars covering his knuckles, each one now more significant, telling a story of pain.

“The woman cried, begging to repay me and I- I don’t exactly remember. I was exhausted and running on adrenaline. All I remember is her mentioning dance, and I told her I’d been dancing since I was five. She offered me a job at a new place she was opening up and said she could train me and the pay was good…So I said yes. She taught me for a few months and I performed for the first time when I was eighteen. I’ve been there ever since.” ‘Shocked’ couldn’t even begin to describe the emotions storming through Katsuki’s mind. Dumbfounded? Speechless? Furious at all the bullshit that made this boy lose his shine?

Ruby red raised to meet those of emerald, and he said the first thing that came to mind. “I’m sorry.” The shocked look on Izuku’s face almost broke him from his thoughts. Almost.

“W-what? Why? You didn’t do anything wrong-” Katsuki interrupted his words with the soft slam of his mug on the table, leaning forward as he did so.

“Just- fuck. I have every reason to apologize. I was a dick when I was a kid, did shit I’m not proud of. You talk like it never happened but it did. I won’t try to justify my actions with some shitty sob story, but I…I realized what I did was wrong. And- fucking hell I hurt you Izuku. I’m just as bad as those guys you talked about and maybe if I didn’t have my head up my ass I could’ve helped and none of this would’ve happened.” His sudden apology came to a stop, the words blanketing them in heavy silence. A silence broken by the kind voice he remembered from his childhood.

“Yes, what you did was wrong but the intent behind it was different. You can deny it all you want, but I knew you never really wanted to hurt me. You just couldn’t express it properly.” He paused, voice gaining a sharp, reprimanding edge. “And don’t you dare blame yourself for all the shit that happened in my life. Even if you were there, nothing would’ve changed. Don’t try to tell yourself otherwise because you’ll fall in a hole that’s nearly impossible to climb back out of. Trust me, I would know.” He said, tone final and leaving no room for argument. Silence, a reoccurring partner in their conversation, fell once again. Katsuki sat quietly, thinking. He watched Deku fiddle with the long sleeves of his maroon sweater, a nervous tick he’s had as long as he’d known him.

 This time, Katsuki was the first to break the silence. “So, do you normally have to roundhouse kick people in the chest?” A snort escaped from Deku, hand coming up to stifle his laughter.

“Only the douchebags who think that being on stage translates to consent. Those guys? I’d give them a roundhouse kick any day of the week.” It was Katsuki’s turn to muffle the barking laugh that escaped his chest. The serious mood had lifted, leaving in its place light-hearted banter of friends catching up after years apart.

 

____

 

“Close your eyes!” Izuku called from the other side of the cloth curtain. Once they had finished their drinks, the two decided to go and explore the shops that lined the street. After exploring the shelves of a used book store, the green haired boy had dragged him to a clothing store across the street. All the while talking animatedly about needing an outfit for a new set.

And now they were here, Katsuki leaning against a wall as Deku changed into the items he had sneakily grabbed, wanting it to be a ‘surprise’.

The swish of the lavender curtain being dramatically opened filled his ears, the excited “Ta-Da!” the que to open his eyes- which quickly widened at the sight before him. Izuku’s arm was bent and resting on the beam of the doorway, the other hand resting on the curve of his hip. An oversized, dusty pink fur coat adorned his body, one shoulder gently slipping off to hint at the pale expanse of skin beneath.

“So, what do you think?” He gazed at Katsuki expectantly, the pink a soft contrast to his curls, emphasizing the delicate dusting of cinnamon freckles on his cheeks. “Cause I’m trying to go for that ‘bad bitch’ vibe, ya know?”

“Oh my god.” Katsuki said, voice imbued with amusement, “Yeah you shitty nerd, it works.” Izuku’s face lit up with a smile bright enough to rival the sun. He stepped forward excitedly, bringing the coat to wrap tightly around himself; posturing to look like a rich widow on a shitty sitcom airing at 3am.

Izuku coughed, voice taking on one of the best British accents he’d ever heard. “Oh Kacchan darling, will you fetch me some champagne?”

Katsuki threw his head back, deep melodic laughter waltzing around the changing room. “Get fucked six ways to Sunday buddy.” Izuku giggled, a devious smile painting his face.

 “Oi, what the hell is that look for-”

“Hey Kaaaachan, try these on.” He said, interrupting the blonde by shoving a bundle of clothes (where the fuck did those come from) into his arms, before equally shoving him into the changing room previously occupied by the sly asshole closing the curtain.

“Oh hell no! Deku, you little-! I’m not wearing any weird shit you gave me!” Katsuki yelled, even though a thin piece of fabric was the only thing dividing the two.

“Will you just look at them first before losing your shit? I promise you’ll look good.”

“…Fucking fine…” He mumbled, looking down at the two garments in his arms- instantly promising himself not to like the clothes, to deny them just to see the other frown. He promised because he knew it wouldn’t be hard, that little twerp couldn’t give him anything he’d actually like, right?

 

____

 

Katsuki was fuming as he swiped his card, effectively purchasing the two items he’d been given- goddammit. When he’d put on that denim jacket, collar lined in fur, paired with ripped black skinny jeans? No matter how much he wanted to, and god he wanted to, even he couldn’t deny the fact that he looked fine as hell. The fact that the nerd had a decent taste in fashion was annoying but not all that surprising. His mind flashed back to the leather and lace outfit he’d worn a few nights ago, further cementing the idea that Deku was no longer the boy who wore anything as long as it was clean.

 Katsuki finished paying, glad to finally be liberated of pastel hell. They walked out of the store, bags in hand as Deku talked animatedly about anything and everything, hands gesturing enthusiastically through the air with every word. Suddenly the curly haired boy stopped, words halting mid-sentence as emerald eyes widened behind round, rose colored sunglasses.

“Wait, hold the fuck up. Do you remember that All Might cartoon we used to watch?” Izuku asked, jumping excitedly at the memory of the terrible animated series they had rushed to watch together every Saturday afternoon.

“You mean the one that got cancelled after a season? Hell yeah, I own that motherfucker.” Izuku’s head whipped at lightning speed to look at him, and Katsuki was mildly surprised he didn’t get whiplash. “I live nearby if you want to come over and watch it.”

No way…wait, wait, wait! That sounds like I said no to coming over!” Arms flailed frantically in front of his face, words fast and concerned, “Shit I meant I can’t believe you own it! I didn’t even know they sold it because it wasn’t the…best production quality.” Katsuki snorted not only at his familiar antics, but because that was the understatement of the year. The two had watched it almost religiously despite the fact.

“So do you want to come over or not, shitnerd?”

“Of course! You said you live close by, right? Did you walk here?” He nodded, gesturing down the street they were currently walking.

“Just a few blocks that way.” Even though he lived close by, he never knew this area of small eclectic shops existed. With hero work and training, most of his free time was spent staying home relaxing. He never really went out and explored the surrounding area. Izuku nodded, beginning another current of words as they made their way to his apartment. When they arrived, well… describing the greenette as shocked would be the second understatement of the day.

“…You know, I kinda forgot you’re a rich as hell pro hero.” He mumbled, eyes landing on the fancy sign of the building renowned for housing elites and top heroes. Walking past the glass doors and into a white marbled lobby, Katsuki looked over his shoulder at the thunderstruck form still standing outside.

“You haven’t even seen the inside yet, Deku.” He said playfully, nodding to the receptionist behind a dark stone desk with flower vases on either end. Izuku’s eyes shone as he shot through the door, quickly falling in step with Katsuki. They stepped into the elevator, air thick with the others excitement as he pressed the softly glowing 20, three floors from the top.

They stood shoulder to shoulder, the gentle crescendo of some unnamed classical song filling the comfortable ebb in conversation. Digital numbers slowly changed, digits increasing as they neared his floor. A gentle ping signaled their arrival, heavy metal doors sliding open to give way to the expansive apartment. The view caused Izuku to stop in his tracks, eyes roving over the beautifully open space.

The elevator opened up into the living room, directly across from a floor to ceiling glass wall overlooking the city. White walls contrasted dark hardwood floors, hallways to either side leading to more rooms and a bathroom. A massive kitchen stretched to his right. Everything was so open and so expensive looking that Izuku felt he’d dirty anything just by being there.

Katsuki watched as Izuku spun in place, voice bouncing off the tall ceiling. “You get a whole floor to yourself?”

“It’s a perk of being in the top ten.” He said, slipping off his heavy duty combat boots before turning towards the kitchen. “Do you want anything to drink? Eat?”

“Uhh, tea sounds good.”

“Oh god don’t tell me you’re one of those assholes who like fruity tea, cause boy.” The kitchen fell silent. He could hear the flustered shuffling of Deku only paces away. Katsuki stilled, turning his head to take in the boy staring him down defiantly.

His eyes widened, smirk splitting the canvas of his face. “You are, aren’t you!”

Izuku huffed, humor swimming in rebellious eyes. “So? You look like a guy who drinks flavorless old man tea.”

“I do fucking not.”

“You do! But, I accept you and your nasty tea drinking habits,” He paused, eyes mischievous, “…cutie

“Oh for fucks sake! Are you ever going to drop that?” He shook his head vigorously, green curls flopping against his forehead. Light, bubbly laughter escaped from Izuku’s chest, filling the room with its gentle lilt. The blonde quickly stifled his own with a quick cough into his elbow, unable to hide the smile creeping its way across his face.

“Let’s just fucking watch the show, nerd.” Katsuki grumbled, leaving the kitchen and walking towards the shelf directly under the flat screen tv mounted on the wall. Fingers skimmed past the colorful spines of various movies and shows, shouting triumphantly when he found what he was looking for.

“Get your ass over here so we can watch this shit!” Izuku obliged, residual laughter slipping past his lips as he removed his boots, placing them next to the much bigger pair. He plodded over as Katsuki pressed play, the familiar theme song filling the room as he sat next to the curly haired boy humming along. Katsuki knew all the words but he refused to sing, no matter how much Izuku begged. He was Ground Zero, he could resist for twenty-five episodes.

 

____

 

Katsuki lost his battle at episode ten. He hadn’t even realized he was softly humming along to every rise and fall until Izuku cheered. By episode fifteen he’d thrown all the fucks he gave out the window, confidently belting out the lyrics in perfect harmony with Deku. His simmering anger was quickly drowned out by shitty plot twists and bright laughter.

The day may have started out a nerve wracking mess swiftly followed by a tragic backstory worthy of a comic book character, but it had turned out…good. Enjoyable even. The nerd had even declared it could be a new start, that he forgave him for all the shitty things he’d done. That fact alone made Katsuki convinced this was a dream.

Everything was drenched in the gentle glow of the television, colors shifting across the walls in abstract streaks. A beautiful sunset kept them company, painting the sky in vibrant hues of orange and lilac as they sang along once again.

 Katsuki was- well fuck he was happy sitting on the plush couch, laughing his ass off with someone laughing just as hard as him.

Katsuki was happy, a feeling he didn’t quite want to end.

Chapter Text

The last episode came to a dramatic end, the duo cheering as the animated All Might rushed into the den of villains, valiantly kicking all of their asses. The sun had finally set, stars glittering like jewels strewn across a dark velvet sky. A yell of surprise accompanied the outro, the sudden noise causing Katsuki to jump in alarm.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” He asked, trying to ease his racing heartbeat by clutching tightly at the pillow in his lap.

“Shit, shit, shit-! I have to get to work!” The fluffy blanket previously wrapped around his shoulders was flung away as Deku rushed towards the elevator. “I’m gonna be late, and the next train isn’t for- fuck, thirty minutes! If I sprint I could probably make it-”

“Whoa hold the fuck up, It’s miles away! I can give you a ride, but only if you calm the fuck down.” Frantic hands stilled, mumbling fading as wide green eyes turned to look at him, brimming with hope and confusion.

“A-are you serious? Do you even have a car?”

A wild grin spread across Katsuki’s face, crimson eyes deep and shining as he stood, strong arms crossed proudly over his chest, soft city lights a beautiful contrast to his solid form. “Oh, I have something even better.”

 

____

 

An ecstatic yell was caught in the rushing wind, muscled arms tightening their loose circle around his waist, the anchor keeping him in place. When Katsuki had shown Izuku his motorcycle, an aerodynamic black beauty built solely for speed, the greenette had been mildly apprehensive. The idea of speeding down roads draped in the colors of night while only wearing a helmet wasn’t the most appealing. But, with the worry of missing his set looming ominously overhead, he threw caution to the wind and straddled the machine directly behind the waiting blonde.

Quickly he relaxed, the blurring lights of night life scenery blending together into a beautifully abstract painting. A painting filled with the exhausted student walking back from night classes, barely able to keep their eyes open. A parent clocking into another late night shift with shitty pay. Friends wasted and stumbling from neon lit bars, fights breaking out a few feet away in dimly lit alleys they dared not look. It was a painting so raw and unrefined, a picture of bitter honesty that stole his breath away.

All too soon the rushing in his ears subsided, the shmear of lights shifting back into the familiar transparent glow of the streets near his work. He sighed, resting his helmeted head against the broad shoulder of the hero before him. Closing his eyes, he savored the memories of the day during the last few minutes he had with the other.

He had panicked that fateful night a few days ago, adrenaline still fresh in his veins, pumping rhythmically with the final beats of the song as he sashayed off the stage. In the spur of the moment, he decided to cast one last sultry look over his shoulder to the screaming crowd. He expected the yells, sea of excited faces surging forward, entirely too willing to throw their cash at him. What he didn’t expect was the familiar shock of ashy blonde hair and striking red eyes standing near the back of the crowd.

When he was enveloped in the privacy backstage away from prying eyes, he let his emotions bubble over, heart racing for a reason entirely different than adrenaline. Why was he here? How? Did he recognize me? What the fuck I just stripped in front of Kacchan.

The fog of his panic was cut through by the familiar voice of Mizuki, strappy red heels clacking on the concrete floor, signaling her approach.

“Izuku dear, someone booked you for a lap dance, room 12. He’s hot as fuck but seemed kinda scary. Yell if you need help.”

A soft laugh escaped his lips as he brushed the hair away from his face, back leaving the wall. “You know I can take care of myself, I’ve done it before.” She sent him a pointed look, a perfect eyebrow raised in annoyance. He smiled, knowing she was only worried about his safety. “I’ll call. I promise.”

Relief spread across her face, soft hand gently squeezing his bicep. “Thank you…I just worry about you sometimes, ya know?” Izuku nodded, placing a consoling hand on her shoulder.

Mizuki shook off the gloomy atmosphere, replacing it with something much lighter; more upbeat. She smacked his lace covered ass cheering “Go get ’em Bunny!” as he walked towards the door. He shot her a genuine smile, before walking out into the hallway lined with curtained rooms.

Hottie room 12…Hottie room 12. He repeated the mantra to the beat of his heels, stopping in front of the designated curtain. Taking in a deep breath, he slid the material back, eyes immediately falling on the relaxed figure of a person he’d never forget. You have to be fucking kidding me.

He watched with suppressed amusement as crimson eyes widened in surprise, raking up his entire frame before stopping at his face. Soft lips fell open, expression a perfect picture of utter shock. God, he wished he had his phone so he could take a picture.

“Deku?” The name was barely a whisper, uttered on nothing but an escaping breath. This moment was too good to pass up, so Izuku made the quick decision to mess with the blonde. He walked forward, tantalizingly swaying his hips before bringing himself to straddle Katsuki.

“Kacchan, it’s been awhile.” He struggled to keep his tone as neutral as possible, acting as if they were friends meeting up for a simple Sunday brunch.

Izuku laughed at the memory, body shaking with amusement as the motorcycle turned onto the street of the club. “Go around back, it’s where employees enter.” He half yelled over the purr of the engine.

Katsuki nodded, pulling into the narrow alley between the two buildings, slowing to a halt before a door similar to the one out front. He unwrapped his arms from the toned torso of the other, swinging his leg up and over the side of the motorcycle. Standing, Izuku pulled off the helmet, revealing a bright smile as he shook his ruffled hair back into place.

He stood awkwardly, shifting his weight back and forth between his feet. The hero watched silently as he sorted through his thoughts while fighting the urge to rush inside. He settled on a happy medium while stepping forward to hand back the shiny black helmet.

“I really have to get going, but uh thank you so, so much for the ride.” Spinning on his heel, he walked quickly to the door, pausing just as his hand touched the handle. “I’ll definitely make it up to you, cutie!”

“OI, YOU MOTHERFUCKER-!”

He stuck out his tongue, silver stud flashing dully under dim streetlights as he waved goodbye, the closing of the door promptly cutting off the angry yells of Katsuki.

 

____

 

Katsuki pulled up to his apartment complex, cutting the roar of the engine as he parked. Annoyance and anger still simmering through his veins as his brain repeated Izuku’s last word like a broken record. He wasn’t fucking cute; He was hot as hell! Ground Zero wasn’t known for being a ‘cutie’, goddammit!

He got off, removing his helmet before angrily running a hand through spiky, ash blonde hair. The only thing missing was a slow motion panoramic while sexy music thrummed in the background. Tucking the helmet under his arm, he strolled into the building, making it halfway to the elevator before being bombarded by a familiar shock of dyed red hair.

“Bakugou, you asshole! Why didn’t you answer your phone!”

“The fuck are you talking about, shitty hair?”

“I texted you- god, forget it! Did I just see you with Bunny? Why didn’t you tell me-!”

“Because I knew you,” he interrupted, gesturing to the entirety of Kirishima before pointedly jamming his finger into his sternum. “Would go and bitch to everyone else and never leave me, or Deku, alone.”

“Ouch, that’s cold bro…Sooo are ya gonna tell me how your date went?” The red head waggled his eyebrows at the playfully abrupt question, nudging Katsuki with his shoulder.

“It wasn’t a date, you dick. We just caught up.”

“Aaaaaand?”

Katsuki scoffed, heavy boots echoing as he marched towards the elevator. “Fuck this. I’m not talking to you while we stand like some lame extras in the middle of a lobby.” Stepping past the open metal doors, he barked at the man still standing awkwardly on the marble floor. “Are you coming or not, shitty hair?”

Features lit up as he jogged after Katsuki, standing excitedly next to him in the confined space of the elevator. The soft ping of the doors opening sounding more like a death toll, ringing for the end of his enjoyable day.

The inhalation of breath was his only warning of the onslaught of questions ready and loaded to be shot his way with little to no regard for his exhausted state. “I swear to fucking god, if so much as breathe a word before I sit down with a cup of coffee in my hands, I will blow you to fucking pieces.”

An exasperated sigh was his only response as Kirishima slipped off his shoes, before sitting in one of the stools at the breakfast bar. He watched silently, head pillowed on folded arms as the blonde made his way through the kitchen, deftly making coffee in a pattern so familiar he could do it in his sleep. Soon the bitter black liquid filled his mug, warmth radiating through the porcelain into his palm as he picked it up. The gentle clack of ceramic against marble counters filled the silence, quickly followed by the methodical sipping of scorching liquid.

Katsuki swallowed, using a few seconds to prepare himself for the following conversation. “You can speak now…” sighing, he quickly added, “Don’t make me regret this.”

Kirishima shot up, back straight as he slammed his palms excitedly against the counter. “Okay, right! Where do I begin?” Eyebrows creased as he sifted through the myriad of questions filling his mind, trying to choose one to begin with. “Uh, where did you go?”

“A coffee shop.”

“Oooh that’s sweet. What’d ya talk about?” A grin found its way across his face, lips peeling back to reveal his set of sharp, shark-like teeth.

“We caught up, talked about…things we missed.” Hands tightened around the mug, fingers whitening with his grip, ever-present anger beneath his skin coming to a boil. Memories of the conversation in the coffee shop playing through his mind on a movie reel he couldn’t stop. He simply couldn’t fathom the hardships Izuku must have, and is still going through.

“Woah dude, what’s up with the look like someone killed your dog?”

“He’s just…Sometimes life decides to fuck people over, ya know? Even if they’re annoyingly nice and optimistic.”

A low whistle escaped the red head as he took in the serious tone, deciding it wasn’t his place to pry. “So, you had your coffee date-”

“It wasn’t a date, asshole-”

“So, then what? Did you come here, have a heart to heart?” Kirishima completely ignored the fiery glare meant to pierce his soul, continuing his rambling interrogation.

“We went shopping and then binged an old cartoon we used to watch when we were younger.”

“Awww man, that’s so sweet! I didn’t think you had a single, positive bone in your body!”

The immediate silence was disturbed as the elevator door opened, revealing a flock of excited faces he wasn’t expecting to see. As soon as there was enough space, they all pushed through like excited puppies meeting a new person.

Katsuki glared at Kirishima, instantly pinning him as the culprit. “That’s it, you’re dead to me.” The blonde said, voice completely serious as he sipped his coffee.

Kirishima whined at the jab as the group gathered around them. “Aw c’mon man! They wanted to know how your reunion went just as much as I did! You can’t blame me!” Katsuki’s hard glare softened with the chorus of agreement from the people surrounding them. All too soon the scowl was back as the influx of questions enthusiastically filled the kitchen.

“Bakugou my man, you met with Bunny! How’d it go?”

“What’d you do? Did you get to apologize?” Pikachu and round face both yelled simultaneously, faces much too close to his own. Behind the duo was a stoic half-n-half and…Ashido?

He nodded at her, question spilling from his lips before he could stop. “Why the fuck are you here, Pinky?”

She placed a hand on her hip, head tilting to the side. “You think this boy is the one who found that gem of a club?” She gestured to Kaminari with her free hand, “No, honey. I found that place.”

Kirishima and Kaminari nodded fervently, “Yeah man! She was like a goddess giving us mortals a gift in the form of alcohol and great dancing.” Eyes were starry and distant as they remembered their first time seeing the club, seeing Izuku perform.

“You know he seems pretty nice, I wish I could meet him.” Ochako said innocently, cheek resting on her palm. Ashido’s black and yellow eyes widened, wicked smile painting itself across her face. Oh god he knew that look. Nothing good comes from that look.

“Heeeey Bakugou darling, how about we ask the lovely Bunny out to a movie?”

 

____

 

Katsuki sat on the couch, cup of coffee long forgotten in the excited faces watching as he dialed the familiar number. Don’t pick up, for the love of god don’t pick up. But alas, luck was not on Bakugou Katsuki’s side that day.

 A cheery voice poured from the speaker, mildly out of breath. “Hey Kacchan, what’s up? Did I forget something at your place?”

Whispers of Did he just call him ‘Kacchan’? And What the fuck he was here? It took me three months to be let in! Exploded around him at the question.

“No you didn’t leave any of your shitty things here. I just…” He paused, barely able to hiss out his next sentence through pursed lips. “I have some friends who want to meet you.” Silence stretched on the other line. Katsuki would’ve been convinced Izuku had hung up if it wasn’t for the muffled, rhythmic beat of the club barely heard through the quiet.

Suddenly his voice, disbelieving, broke through the music. “You have friends?”

Howling laughter erupted around Katsuki, Pinky clutching her stomach as she cackled “Oh my god! I love him already!” before doubling over, head bumping against Ochako’s thigh. Everyone was in a similar state, even Todoroki was struggling to hide his laughter.

“I fucking hate you, Deku.”

Fake crying could be heard through the phone, the image of Izuku wiping away imaginary tears flashing annoyingly through his mind. “You’ve grown so much.”

“Fuck. Off.”

“Why do they want to meet me?” Remnants of amusement slipped into his tone as he quickly moved to the reason he was called so late at night.

The group pushed even closer to Katsuki, yelling and clambering to be heard over one another by the famed Bunny, childhood friend turned stripper. Because, you know, that was an everyday occurrence.

“Because you seem like a nice guy!”

“You’re a cutie not afraid to talk back to this hot head.” Ashido softly smacked Katsuki upside the head with a perfectly manicured pink hand, earning herself a signature glare and “what the fuck was that for!” hissed over the others.

“You know what Blasty McSplode was like as a kid!”

“I’m curious.”

“Your dancing could make God himself weep with joy.”

Holy shit.” Bright laughter burst from Izuku, the sound making all of them quiet with awe. The group waited as the sunny sound subsided, breathing becoming more even as he calmed down. “Yeah, sure I’ll meet your friends. Just tell me when and what you wanna do. It sounds fun.” His undeniable smile could be heard through the phone, weaving itself between his words like colorful embroidery, each hue coming together to create a masterpiece.

Cheers broke out around the room, Kaminari and Kirishima even hugging in celebration. While they were distracted he quickly murmured “I’ll text you the details, nerd.” Before quickly hanging up.

Pocketing his phone, Katsuki’s gaze slowly fell upon each person before him, crimson eyes serious as elbows came to rest upon his knees. “If you fuck this up, none of you are seeing him ever again.”

“Aww look at him! He’s protective!” Kaminari crooned, causing everyone else to once again fall into the evil clutches of laughter.

Katsuki sank back into the comfort of the couch, exasperated sigh escaping his chest. “I fucking hate all of you.”

“You love us, don’t even try to deny it.” Todoroki said, humor lacing his usually monotone voice.

 

____

 

The apartment was quiet, the band of rowdy heroes long gone. Katsuki laid in bed, swathed in the comforting warmth of his blankets. Exhaustion tugged at eyes fighting to stay open as he stared at the phone in his hand, a quick message displayed on the screen. The debate of whether or not it was decent enough warred in his mind, fatigue finally winning as his thumb tapped ‘send’.

The dickmunchers want to see a movie on Thursday at 5pm

He waited, the dark of his room filled with the quiet hum of city life stories below. After a few minutes, a vibration jolted him from the sleep he hadn’t realized he’d fallen in to.

That works! Your friends seem nice; I can’t wait to meet them, see you then!

A second buzz followed almost immediately after the first.

Good night, Kacchan.

Without even realizing it, a soft smile found its way to his lips as he read over the text, quickly responding before his mind could scream at him to stop.

Good night, Deku.

 

____

 

Once again Katsuki found himself waiting restlessly for Deku, but this time his nerves were acting up for a completely different reason. There was no way this couldn’t end in disaster. As he brooded, the group of people he barely tolerated talked animatedly as they waited near the doors of the movie theatre, cobblestone patio lined in flowering bushes. The table they were seated at was shaded by a large umbrella, uncomfortable metal chairs offering the only place to sit.

“I totally think we should see an action movie! One where the bad guy gets his ass kicked!” Ochako said, shadow boxing punches she used when taking down villains, nose scrunched in mock aggression.

“Oooh, or something sweet and sexy.” Ashido said, chin resting on the heel of her hand, unique eyes blinking slowly. The group nodded in thoughtful consideration, before turning to look at the only person who hadn’t offered up their opinion. The blonde bristled at the multiple pairs of eyes suddenly on him, expectant.

Bakubro, what about you?” Katsuki scoffed, arms folding across his chest as he leaned back, feet propped up on the table.

“I don’t give two shits. As long as something explodes.” He huffed, glaring into the glass tabletop as if its entire existence was offensive. That shitty nerd was late.

“Of course you’d say that, Kacchan.” A voice said next to his ear, breath tickling against the exposed flesh of his throat. Speak of the devil. Katsuki stiffened, abruptly aware that he hadn’t even noticed Izuku’s approach.

A squeal to his right broke him from his train of thought. “Oh my god it’s really him!”

Izuku smiled brightly, waving at the group of heroes. “Hi! I’m Midoriya Izuku, It’s nice to meet all of you!” The heroes waved back, each of them going around the circle to introduce themselves to the dancer.

“I’m Kaminari Denki! Bro, you’re a fucking legend.”

“It’s so nice to finally meet you Midoriya! My name is Uraraka Ochako!”

Next up was shitty hair who flashed his biggest, award winning smile at the greenette. “What’s up dude! I’m Kirishima Eijiro!”

“Aren’t you a hottie! The name’s Ashido Mina.”

Last but not least, all eyes fell to the man with dual colored hair, who nodded once. “Todoroki Shoto. It’s nice to meet you.”

Katsuki watched as Izuku took in the group, eyes widening with every new name. Lips parted in shock, gaze turning to Katsuki as he whispered, “Holy shit, they’re all pros, right?”

“Hell yea, I went to UA with these assholes.”

“Don’t be rude, Kacchan.” The curly haired boy giggled, hand coming up to stifle the sound, the other smacking him lightly in the chest. Katsuki smirked, standing from his seated position on the unpleasant metal chair. Arms lifted above his head in a stretch, shoulders popping at the satisfying movement as the tension in his muscles eased.

The duo walked a few paces behind the rest, strolling slowly into the building. Katsuki took in the profile of the other, soaking up the changes once again. Puberty had hit Izuku like a fucking freight train going at top speed, making his jaw more defined, cheek bones more prominent. The fact that attractive was a label he never considered correlating with the other throwing him off. “Do you have anything planned after this?”

Izuku’s eyes drifted up slowly to meet his, forest green bright joy. “No, just work. The usual.”

“Do you want a ride?”

A massive grin spread across the greenette’s face at the chance to experience the rush, wind roaring in his ears, purr of the engine thrumming through his body. “Hell yea.”

Their conversation halted as they walked through the glass doors, senses immediately hit with everything ever associated with movie theatres. The strong, buttery smell of popcorn wafting through the air, accompanied by the musty smell of old carpet from the 70’s, the pattern an affront to their eyes. Warm light mixed with the occasional neon sign filled the space in a mixed, dappled glow. Posters for new movies adorned the walls, announcing everything from cheesy romance films to the goriest of horror.

The group was back to debating which movie they wanted to see, somehow dragging even Izuku and Katsuki into the conversation, one much more willing than the other. Eventually they settled on something that, in some magical way, hit all the criteria they put on the table. A film with a villain who gets his ass kicked with a little romance sprinkled on the side, a symphony of explosions gloriously filling the background.

They purchased the tickets, practically running to the snacks as if they’d be stolen any second despite the virtually empty theatre. Izuku grabbed a soda, sipping it contentedly as he made his way to the cashier, ending up right behind…Ochako was it?

“Midoriya!” She waved at his approach, rosy cheeks glowing with her smile.

“Ochako, right?” her brown bob swayed as she nodded, brushing against her chin. “You’re also Uravity, right?” Hair waved even faster, keeping in time with the movement of her head.

“You’re an amazing hero, and your Zero Gravity quirk is so cool and versatile! Especially the ways you utilize it, coming up with ways to take advantage of its unique attributes! Like with that creepy octopus villain a few months ago! Swooping in, kicking his ass and going right to picking people out from the rubble! If there were any problems I’d have to say your hand to hand, but even that’s improved dramatically ever since the first sports festival at UA-”

“Deku, you’re doing that weirdass mumbling again.” Katsuki growled, suddenly appearing at his side. Out of all the things that could’ve stayed the same, it’s the fucking muttering.

“Don’t worry about it! I think it’s pretty cool!” Round face giggled, popping candy into her mouth. Izuku laughed, hand coming up to rub awkwardly at the back of his neck.

Katsuki placed a firm hand on the smaller boys’ shoulder, the warmth of his skin seeping through the fabric of his mustard yellow sweater. He turned him towards the rest of the group, who were currently handing their tickets to a bored looking ticket checker, face screaming the desire to be somewhere else.

They meandered slowly until they found the right theatre, the search continuing as they found their seats tucked into the backrow. Katsuki sat down, somehow ending up with Izuku to his right and Kirishima his left. He munched on popcorn quietly as the previews played across the screen, barely listening to the conversations going on to his left.

His concentration was broken as a pale hand entered his line of sight, fingers dipping into the bag of popcorn seated on his lap. He smacked the offending hand away before it could grab any of his popped goodness, smirking at the yelp following the action.

“Get your own, shitty nerd.”

The greenette held the ill-treated hand to his chest, “But Kacchan! Sharing is caring.” The appendage made its way back to the lip of the bag, this time successfully grabbing a few pieces without being whacked away. Izuku let out a content hum as he popped a piece in his mouth, savoring the buttery flavor on his tongue. “Thank yoooou.”

Katsuki leered, “You better fucking be.” Just as the lights dimmed, before turning off completely. The only source of light coming from the giant screen before them, final previews playing across it. Fuckin’ Finally. The opening of the movie lit up the dark room.

Katsuki got sucked into the plot of the film despite himself, wincing every time the heroine got thrown down and mentally cheering as she got back up, ready to fight ten times as hard. Watching as she willingly bled, broke bones and got bruises for a cause she believed in rang true within his chest.

He was so focused in fact, that he missed the popcorn thief continually reaching over and devouring the majority of his snack. It was only when the movie rolled to a close, heroine walking dramatically away from a massive set of explosions, that Katsuki realized his popcorn was gone and he had nothing to do with it.

“Deku, you little shit!” He hissed, fiery eyes landing on the boy feigning innocence.

“What’s wrong?” Izuku said, voice dripping with obviously synthetic ignorance. “You let me eat it, I don’t see what the problem is…”

“Don’t pretend like you don’t know-” His angry rant was cut short by the simultaneous ringing of Ochako’s and Kirishima’s cellphones. Katsuki didn’t even glance back, already knowing what it meant. A declaration ringing out the end of their little meet and greet.

“We gotta leave man, sorry to cut it short…” Kirishima said regretfully as he hurried towards the stairs and down to the exit.

“It was nice meeting you Midoriya! I hope we can hang again!” Ochako yelled as she ran down the stairs, following quickly behind the red head. Izuku waved goodbye, features creased in mild confusion at their rushed exit.

“Hero work. The job’s 24/7 even with days off.” Katsuki murmured, curly hair flopping as he nodded in understanding, eyes hardening at the statement.

“I hope they’ll be okay…” Izuku murmured, Katsuki the only one catching the more subtle, deeper anxieties that filled his words.

“Don’t worry about it, those two are strong. There’s a reason they’re in the top ten.” The blonde said, voice softer and more reassuring than he’d heard in years. He stood up, Izuku quickly following suit as the remainder of their group left the building, wincing at the sudden onslaught bright light, even as the sun faded. They quickly said goodbye, the others needed on standby. Just in case.

The duo watched as they walked away, before Izuku turned to face the other. “Don’t you need to go with them?”

Crimson eyes glanced down, meeting those filled with concern. “It doesn’t seem like it’s that bad yet, and the others will take care of it. I got some time.” A smirk split its way across his face as he shoved his hands deep into pant pockets. “You still need a ride?”

Chapter Text

The hospital looked the way it always had, wide windows reflecting the morning light. Instead of heading towards the main building, Izuku walked to the smaller one tucked away on the back of the property where the rooms were larger and homier, tall trees providing relaxing scenery from the windows. Inside, white walls stretched throughout the building, fake plants and murals adding the occasional splash of color.

As he walked, the rubber soles of his combat boots squeaked against the tiled floor, eyes trying their best to avoid peering into the rooms he passed on the way to his destination.

A familiar round woman waved at his approached, pitch black hair pulled into a tight bun resting at the base of her skull. “Midoriya! I haven’t seen you in a while! Where have you been?”

Izuku smiled brightly at the nurse, hand raised in a small wave. “I just pulled some extra shifts, nothing new.”

She sighed sadly, pink cheeks turned serious as her eyes bore into his soul. “You work too much hun, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you take a break since they day I met you.”

“I’m just doing what I need to.” Izuku began his trek down the hallway once again, smile dazzling as he waved goodbye.

The nurse sighed as she watched his retreating form, broad shoulders carrying a weight so heavy it was a marvel he hadn’t been crushed. “I can’t even imagine…”

 

____

 

 

A floor to ceiling glass wall guarded by two soft chairs marked the end of the hallway, and the purpose of his early morning trip. He slowed, stopping before the light wooden door marked Midoriya, Inko. Izuku took in a calming breath, scarred hand opening the door to reveal the familiar scene waiting for him inside.

Warm yellow sunlight poured through the window, casting the soft grey walls in a welcoming glow. Stepping forward, the movement felt loud and clumsy, glaringly out of place in the open room. the only other noise came from the ever-present machines, a metronome declaring with every beat that his mother was alive. Alive, alive, alive.

Izuku pulled up his usual chair, cushions dark green and well worn. He took a few moments to soak in the appearance that had become his reality all those years ago. At the very least he was grateful that the nightmarish tubing was gone, leaving in their place a simple oxygen tube beneath her nose.

 A year or so after the incident, the doctors had sadly told him that, while most of her physical wounds had healed, the damage and trauma dealt to her brain was extensive. They were unsure if she would ever wake up, and if she did…well, she wouldn’t be the same.

He reached forward, warm hand grasping his mother’s cold and ghostly pale one. “Hi, mom.” A small, sad smile made its way to his face. “It’s me, Izuku.”

No matter how many times he came to this room, sitting in the soft chair, he never quite got the hang of how to start any sort of conversation; even if it was one sided.

“I know it’s been awhile, and I’m sorry for that…I was busy with work, had to pull a few extra shifts here and there at the club and the restaurant.” He squeezed her hand softly, taking in her relaxed features. Straight, dark green hair pooled around her head on the pillows, the warmth of her cheeks gone and replaced by a pallid complexion.

The comfortable silence stretched between Izuku and his mother, rapid fire thoughts slowing into something comprehensible, a story he could tell of the past few weeks.

“I ran into Kacchan the other day-” He chuckled warmheartedly, gaze falling to the tight knit of the light blue hospital blankets. “I can just imagine you frowning all ‘now Izuku, are you sure that was a good thing?’ but he’s changed now, mom. I mean, it has been- what, seven years?”

Fondness laced his voice, light and melodious, floating throughout the room. “He’s a pro hero now ranked number four and, honestly…he’ll probably be number one in a few years. People have always had a hard time seeing past his…rough exterior, but he’s mellowed out and he does whatever he can to help others, even if it means putting himself in danger.”

“Well, I ran into him at work and- god, you should’ve seen his face!” Laughter bubbled from his chest, vying for the spot of ‘most dazzling’ against the sunlight streaming through the window. She doesn’t even know what I was wearing. If she saw that…

“I think it was the first time I’ve seen any emotion besides anger on his face! It honestly made my day. After that we talked, and got coffee at that place I told you about, catching up on…everything we missed.” Clearing the sorrow that threatened to steal the words from his throat, Izuku turned to gaze out the widow, taking in the trees and blooming greenery of the hospital garden.

“The weirdest thing was that he actually listened. The Bakugou Katsuki let me talk without interrupting once. Not a single yell, grunt, sneer, nothing. That alone should tell you he’s changed. Then we went shopping and decided to go over to his place and watch that old All Might cartoon. You remember right? That one we used to watch together all the time when we were kids.” A small smile returned to his face, curving up at the corners ever-so-slightly.

“I had a lot of fun, and then a few days later I met his friends which was insane! They’re all top pros like Uravity, Red Riot, Chargebolt, Pinky and even Shoto! It was kind of intimidating at first…but they’re all super nice and they wanted to meet me which was even more crazy in its own way because it’s not like I’m anything special.” He rushed, barely having enough air to finish.

His next words were barely above a whisper, grip tightening reassuringly around her hand. “I’m glad I ran into him, mom.”

Izuku caught sight of the clock in the corner of his eye, mood immediately dampened at the time displayed. He stood, leaning forward to place a gentle kiss to his mother’s forehead. “I’m sorry it was short, but I have to catch my shift at the restaurant. I’ll be back soon, I promise.” He traced years upon years of well-known steps back to the door, turning around to gaze one last time at the frail looking figure seemingly swallowed by the bed. “Love you.” The door closed with a muffled click, the sound registering to no one.

 

____

 

Flashes of red and blue highlighted the surrounding buildings as Katsuki pushed through the throng of curious bystanders. He paused at the barricades keeping gawking faces at bay, nodding once as he inconspicuously flashed his hero identification to an officer barring his confident march onto the scene. Normally he could stomp past, hero costume enough to grant him access to any situation, but today he’d been specifically asked to show up in regular clothing.

He sauntered up to the tense form of Tsukauchi, whose hands were buried deep in the pockets of a long beige coat. The man had been the one to request Katsuki come to the scene, having worked well with him in the past. “What’s the situation?”

A grim aura enveloped the hero as Tsukauchi turned to face him, expression set in hard lines as he sighed. “Hostage situation…Today at 10am a low rank villain known as ‘Manticore’ entered the bank, taking everyone hostage in exchange for 2 million in cash. He said we have a little over an hour before he starts killing them one by one. Not the smartest move, but effective nonetheless.”

Katsuki felt his expression mirror the officers, anger sharp as the wheels in his mind cranked through different scenarios. “What’s his quirk?”

“It’s a mutant type registered as ‘Scorpion’. The name pretty much says it all: he has a scorpion tail that can do scorpion things.”

“Poison and everything?” Tsukauchi nodded in confirmation. Shuddering, Katsuki gazed despondently at his shoes, “Fuckin’ hate ones with poison. It’s a pain in the ass.”

“Well, hopefully you won’t have to fight him long enough for anything to happen.”

The blonde gazed at him knowingly, smirk appearing on his face as the reason for his outfit suddenly clicked into place. “You have a plan don’t you, old man.”

The officer’s dark eyes gleamed with…something. “You’re always a quick one, Ground Zero.” He gestured for the other to step closer, pulling a neatly folded blueprint from his pocket, turning to flatten it out on the hood of his car. Dark lines marked the layout of the building standing before them, whispering secrets lost in time. “Alright, here’s the plan…”

 

____

 

Before it became a bank, the small building used to house a modest café. The shop had needed a decent sized basement to hold a freezer and stockpile ingredients, so the owner had a small one commissioned to be built. A few years after it closed down, a large banking company bought the property, swiftly deciding there was no need for the cramped room, but unwilling to pay remodeling costs. Over time, it quickly turned into a forgotten storage space filled with lost things. Even the employees forgot it existed, the basement slowly disappearing from their minds with each new generation of workers.

The place had been rediscovered when the police dug up the blueprints, along with a few window wells that provided a perfect place for a strategic, covert entrance. The whole operation balanced precariously on the back of stealth, one wrong move could send the villain into a wild panic, the bank into a bloodbath. If he acted like he had his first year at UA, he had no doubt everyone would die.

It had taken years of trial and error in tandem with immense self-control (hell, he’d even gone to a therapist), to find ways to get past the red haze of anger and impulse, brushing it away in favor of deep breaths and calming logic. This change had saved him more times than he cared to admit.

Currently Katsuki was walking quickly through an alley, footsteps echoing off dark brick walls. The sky was unusually bright and cloudless, a blatant contrast to the situation at hand.

Tsukauchi’s composed voice filled his ear, giving precise directions through the earpiece. “Take the next left and it’ll be on your right. There should be a window well at the back.”

“I see ‘em. Now time to kick some ass.” Cracking his knuckles as he walked over on silent feet, jumping down into the steel plated well guarding dusty glass that hadn’t been cleaned in years. He kneeled on the blanket of rotting leaves, paying no mind to the cold seeping through the fabric of his jeans. Katsuki raised his arms, steady palms placed dead center against the window, forehead scrunched in deep concentration as he focused solely on the grainy texture of dirt and grime against fingertips. After several seconds, the glass began glowing a molten orange, slowly dripping from the metal frame, each drop hissing against the damp ground beneath his feet.

A tense minute passed before the majority of the glass was in a hardened pool, an opening big enough for his body appearing before him. He wiped sweaty palms on his pants, crouching forward to peer into the dark basement. The space was small and musty, unmarked boxes lining the walls. Muted sunlight poured through the windows, highlighting dust and cobwebs floating through the air.

Hopping down, the blonde landed in a crouch, clouds of dust blooming like flowers from the concrete. He quickly made his way towards the stairs tucked in the corner, taking them two at a time. The door was just as neglected as the rest of the room; creaking softly as he pushed it open, sound sending a burst of adrenaline through his veins as it tore through the air like a gunshot.

Once he calmed his nerves, crimson eyes scanned their new surroundings. The door had opened up into an even smaller supply closet, cleaning supplies flanking him to either side. The synthetic smell of chemicals burned his nose, acrid air coating the back of his throat.

Katsuki crept forward to slowly open the second door, thanking the fucking universe when it opened on silent hinges. Ashy blonde hair smothered by a hood peered around the metal, calculating gaze taking in the silent hallway. Based off of the blueprints…he should head left, a fact that he quickly followed, clock counting down on his deadline, each minute pushing one person closer and closer to an untimely death. He had to hurry, but couldn’t rush past vital cautionary steps. One misstep could ring the ominous bells of execution.

The further he walked down the tiled floor, the clearer the situation became. Katsuki slowed as he approached the final corner keeping him hidden from the lobby. Crouching, body concealed by the teller’s counter, he examined the situation hoping to create the best plan of action. One where no civilians got hurt, where everyone made it out alive.

Manticore stood in the center of the room, tail pulsing menacingly at every whimper and sigh. It was obvious he was on edge if the sweat slicking his brow was any indication. He began pacing the width of the room, mumbling incoherently. Trembling people sat against the walls, flinching every time the villain got close.

“Those stupid police! What’s takin’ them so long?! Those bastards better not be plannin’ something…” A SLAM bounced through the tense atmosphere as his tail tore into the wall with unrestrained anger, paint and dry wall crumbling to the ground. Cries of terror accompanied the violent action, sick harmony causing a little girl to burst into tears, her mother trying her best to calm her down.

He spun towards the frantic woman, annoyance radiating off of him in harsh waves. “Hey bitch! You have three fucking seconds to shut your brat the hell up before she loses her tongue!”

The threat only made the little girl sob harder as she clung to her mother, fat tears rolling down flushed cheeks. Hushed reassurances could be heard as shaky hands tried to soothe the child. If Katsuki was going to act, he had to do it fast.

The woman’s eyes swam with unshed, fear filled tears as Manticore raised his tail, readying a killing blow. Everything played out in cinematic slow motion, heartbeat sounding in his ears as the woman shielded her child, eyes screwed tight in preparation for pain- for death. Katsuki’s body acted on instinct at the sight, heart aching for the need to save; to protect those in danger no matter the consequences.

Shooting forward in a dead sprint, the hero slammed his shoulder into soft stomach, Manticore gasping in pain as the air was knocked from his lungs. The conflicting duo were airborne for a split second before they came crashing down, sliding across the marble flooring in a battle of opposing strengths. A blaring miscalculation made itself known when the scorpion tail twisted around and over the villains’ shoulder, razor sharp point lodging itself into the soft flesh below the junction of Katsuki’s shoulder and collarbone.

Grunting in pain, the hero wrapped his hand around the offending appendage, letting off a massive, finely tuned explosion. Manticore screamed in agony as the exoskeleton was burned away, blisters blossoming across the sensitive pink skin hidden beneath. A decent sized chunk was missing directly under his palm, flesh scorched black around the edges. The smell of burnt tissue clung unpleasantly to his senses, causing a nearby business man to gag.

Katsuki ripped the sharp tip from his body, harsh pain barely registering as he glared down at the villain whose face was twisted in a convoluted cocktail of rage and pain.

You motherfucker!” the man roared beneath him, animalistic grunts echoing as he unsuccessfully attempted to escape the iron grip holding him captive against the cool tile floor.

“You’re the sick fuck who tried kill an innocent kid.” He hissed, fist raised and ready to bring down fiery judgement. He filled it with every ounce of anger and hatred towards the douchebag as he punched him square in the jaw, head cracking back against the ground.

Chest heaving, Katsuki spoke for the first time in what felt like years. “Oi, Tsukauchi. Manticore is out cold.”

“Great job, Ground Zero. Reinforcements will be there in a few seconds.”

Pain slowly ebbed past the vestiges of draining adrenaline, the warm blood soaking through his hoodie faintly registering. The wound throbbed with every movement, every breath, lightning bolts of agony shooting through his body. He could barely think around the tidal wave of pain crashing down around him.

“Hey, uh, it’d be real fucking dandy if you could bring a medic.” His voice sounded weak, the crack near the end sending his mind reeling. Urgent yells of “Go, go, go!” created comforting static through the raging fire coursing through his bloodstream. Was he burning? No, he…he’d been stabbed…by…by…Fuck it was getting harder to breathe, as if someone was pouring cement down his throat.

A shifting haze of utter numbness blanketed Katsuki’s surroundings as the indistinct forms of police officers burst through the door, glass cracking with the force. They split up, current duty being to the hostages and their safety. Medics followed soon after with Tsukauchi in tow, footsteps muted through the cotton building in his ears. Black creeped at the edge of his vision, snake-like tendrils slowly stealing away bits and pieces of consciousness, colors losing their vibrancy.

Dull crimson eyes could barely track the concerned face of Tsukauchi, suddenly kneeling before him, mouth moving but lacking words - lacking sound.

Oh god where was the sound? The feeling? He couldn’t hear the relieved cries of the mother behind him, sobbing out thanks for saving her daughter. Couldn’t feel the floor digging uncomfortably into his knees. Even the pain in his shoulder was a distant memory, figments of broken recollection. The dark tendrils consumed what little remained of his awareness, a subdued thought coming to the forefront of his mind, sarcasm bright and heavy in his chest. Oh right. Poison.

 

____

 

Izuku sighed as he slipped through the employee entrance of the restaurant: a small, family owned place that had been the only one willing to hire a fifteen-year-old high school dropout. Back then he’d been depressed and angry at the world, willing to fight every and anyone, all aspects that deterred anyone from giving him a job. They preferred to look the other way, ignoring his pain.

But money was the blood running thick through society’s veins, and Izuku was drenched in dark crimson, iron filling his throat. The need for money pulled him down into its hellish depths, ripping his breath away without remorse. His whole life revolved around money, or lack thereof.

One day, on a last ditch attempt and failing hope, he wandered into the front doors of the small business. The owner was an ancient woman known only as Ai, kind face mapped in deep wrinkles and long grey hair pulled back in a loose braid. She had assessed Izuku with a single glance of hard, caramel eyes and hired him on the spot. To say he’d been surprised was an understatement. She had him start that very day by washing dishes and doing heavy lifting, quietly watching as he worked. That was it. He showed up every day for a month, working under silent scrutiny and monosyllables.

When he walked in on the day marking the beginning of his second month, he’d been worse for wear. Cuts littered bruised and bloodied knuckles, light purple marring his cheek as blood dripped down his chin from a split lip. On the walk over he had to mentally prepare himself for the heated words and unavoidable loss of his job, mind already cycling through replacements.

Standing quietly in the back, he’d waited in uneasy anticipation for the inevitable wrath to rain down in heavy blows. As familiar footsteps came to an abrupt stop, his shoulders tensed, barely able to tear his eyes away from the scuff marks on his shoes to glance at the small woman. Ai had taken one look at him, expression swimming with concern as she sat him down before quickly leaving without a word.

She returned on quiet feet, sitting down heavily with a box in her lap. Flipping the metal clasps, the container opened to reveal an array of medical supplies; some easy to identify while others were completely foreign. Rolls of gauze and disinfectant appeared in weathered hands as she leaned forward, gently taking his hands in her own.

Tenderly, as if handling cracked glass, she wrapped his hands and wiped away blood, the sight bringing back warm memories of his mother. Every movement was filled with so much care and attention that he didn’t even notice he was crying until calloused hands cupped his face, warm thumbs wiping tears away from damp cheeks.

He fell into her strong embrace, burying his head into her shoulder without any regard to the tears staining her shirt, sobs muffled by the fabric. They stayed in that comforting position until he’d calmed, face dyed in rosy tones of embarrassment as he pulled away. Squeezing his shoulder, she left without a word.

Ever since then, Ai had been a pillar of moral support willing to hold him up when he threatened to fall. She would patch him up when he got into fights, listening when he needed to talk, giving a shoulder and consoling embrace when he cried. As thanks, he busted his ass in the restaurant, quickly moving from dishwasher to busboy to waiter. It didn’t seem like much, but the raise in pay was a benefit he couldn’t deny.

And here he was, years later, greeting Ai at the door with a hug, her small frame barely reaching his chest. She gazed at him with perceptive eyes overflowing with knowledge and experience only she seemed to bare. “How’s your mother?”

Izuku’s face reflected a deep sadness that permeated his being, suffusing his life in a cloud that couldn’t be shaken. “The same- good. She’s good.” She nodded, turning on her heel and walking away, his signal to get to work. Chuckling at her familiar behavior, Izuku tied the black apron around waist, the few seconds providing a reprieve to calm and collect his thoughts for the awaiting customers, praying none of them would be complete and utter assholes. Izuku didn’t tolerate shit, especially when it came from someone being disrespectful towards himself or others he cared about.

He didn’t need another incident like two years ago: he’d broke a customer’s nose for harassing a waitress, first telling him to back off, hoping it’d end with nothing but harsh words. But then that douchebag had reached forward and groped her, despite the tears in her eyes, drawling a disgusting ‘But she led me on’. Izuku had responded with a perfect uppercut, savoring the crunch of his nose and screech of pain, warm blood coating his knuckles. He threw the man out with a warning to never come back, eyes colder than the arctic tundra.

Oh, he was more than willing to punch another dude, but absolutely despised seeing the other employees harassed, wouldn’t - no, couldn’t stand by and watch.

Izuku walked out onto the floor, bracing himself for his day long shift. It wasn’t unusual for him to show up when the place opened, only to leave when the sun had set; giving quick goodbyes before hurrying to catch the train headed towards Paper Moon. His financial situation wasn’t as terrible as a few years ago, so now he had a little leeway in the demanding schedule. Although it was always nice to have a little bit saved for emergencies.

The first half of his shift passed by in a blur of smiling customers and piping hot food, a routine of ‘smile, get their orders, give them food, smile again’ so ingrained in his system he practically did it on impulse. In the blink of an eye, he was back in the quiet of the break room, chugging a bottle of ice cold water, bowl of light ramen Ai had made steaming hypnotically on the table. A small television sat in the corner, news channel playing the usual spiel, monotone words white noise in the back of his mind. That was until a familiar name grasped his attention with icy hands, tearing past flesh and bone to wrap tightly around his lungs, squeezing without remorse.

“Today at 10 o’clock, a villain wanted on multiple accounts of robbery and murder entered a local bank, taking everyone inside hostage. With a known dangerous quirk, famed hero Ground Zero was called to the scene. He quickly neutralized the situation, bringing the villain to justice and civilians to safety without any casualties. Ground Zero himself was injured, but the extent is unknown as he was quickly rushed to a nearby hospital…”

Izuku stared at the screen in disbelief, roaring panic cutting out any sounds as footage from the incident played across the screen. No, no, no, no, no not again. He couldn’t go through this again. Trembling hands pulled out his phone, struggling to type in his password. He finally unlocked it, dialing the number at lightning speed. Pick up, pick up, pick up. God, please pick up-

“Deku-?” The word was hoarse with exhaustion, sending alarm bells ringing in his head.

“Where are you?” His words were tight with emotion, apron thrown haphazardly on the table as he moved towards the door.

“Hey calm down-”

“What hospital Katsuki.” His voice was low, hitting a serious tone that even the blonde couldn’t ignore.

A soft sigh traveled over the phone before he spoke. “The one on 9th, with all the bigass windows and the statue of a naked guy.” Thank fuck, it was close. He could run there in a few minutes.

Izuku nodded muttering a quick, “Alright, be right there.” Before hanging up, intent to leave. He glanced at Ai, who gave a single nod from the doorway when she saw the emotion twisting his face. Grateful at her understanding, Izuku gave her a tight hug before rushing out the door. He bolted down the street, shoes slapping against the pavement as he wove through people strolling casually past the shops, gazing longingly at the items inside.

He thanked whatever gods were out there as he reached the hospital in record time, rounding the final corner with a new burst of speed. He rushed up the final stretch of concrete, heading right past giant glass doors. Bee lining for the registration desk, he must’ve looked a sight; cheeks flushed from sprinting, eyes as big as saucers swimming with worry.

He slammed shaky hands on the counter, taking in the man with pure white hair and matching eyes. “Please, I-I’m here for Bakugou Katsuki.”

Izuku couldn’t read the man’s blank stare, a fact that almost pushed him over the edge, growing static thundering in his mind. Several tense seconds passed before he nodded, standing up and walking down a nearby hallway, gait so smooth one would think he was floating. Quickly the curly haired boy followed after, mentally thanking the man for not calling security on the crazy guy asking for a hero by name.

The walk to his room seemed to take hours, heartbeat racing every second of the journey through never ending hallways. The nurse stopped and gestured to a door, Izuku barely giving him time to move out of the way before rushing past. Eyes immediately landed upon Katsuki and the large bandage wrapped around his bare shoulder and upper torso. His complexion was pale, sheen of sweat painting his forehead as he sat on the edge of the bed, eyes hard with emotion. He hadn’t noticed the opening of the door or the entrance of a familiar figure.

Izuku walked over until he was standing in front of the other, knees brushing against knees. “Kacchan.” It was barely a whisper, but the name held more relief than Izuku cared to admit.

Katsuki’s eyes were wide with surprise, small smirk tugging on his lips. “When you said you’d be right here, I didn’t think you actually meant it- whoa hey, are you alright?”

Nodding was the only thing he could manage with thick emotions clogging his throat, tears streaming down his cheeks. Shaky hands came up to cover his face, a sob shaking his shoulders.

He jolted as warm hands gently pried away his own, ruby eyes overflowing with concern. “Oi, what the fuck is up with you?” The question lacked any edge, soft tones welcoming in the space between them.

“I-I…” Sucking in a shaky breath, his gaze dropped to the stark white bandages standing out against his chest, the sight causing panic to flare up once again as the image dug up old memories. “I saw the news a-and I thought…I thought-” His voice stumbled as the rest of his words refused to leave his tongue.

Katsuki took in the distant expression on his face, instantly grasping the unspoken words. His body reacted instinctively, pulling Deku closer until his head rested upon his shoulder, large hand cording through soft curls. “Hey, it’s alright, I’m fine. That weak ass motherfucker couldn’t do any real damage; I am Ground Zero after all.”

A soft chuckle broke through the sniffling, breath feathering against his throat. “Yeah, I forgot you’re a cocky asshole who would refuse to die even if Satan himself challenged you.”

Barking laughter bounced off the walls, the rumble echoing in Izuku’s ear. “I’m a badass hero, you dare to even think that bitch could beat me? He has hooves and what? A bigass fork?”

This time Izuku’s bright laughter danced around the room, dousing everything in sunny warmth. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“It won’t leave any permanent damage, just a gnarly scar. The poison will take a day or so to fully leave my system, and I can’t do any excessive movement for the next few days while I heal.”

The mop of curly hair shot up from his shoulder, serious look smoldering in his eyes. “Poison?! What the hell!” Katsuki shrugged nonchalantly with his one good shoulder, earning himself a dagger filled glare. “Wait so how are you supposed to cook? Clean? Do anything?”

Katsuki froze, face becoming eerily blank. “Shit…I didn’t think about that…”

“I’ll help you.” Crimson eyes snapped up to look at his face, eyes scrunched up in scrutiny. “I may not look it, but I can cook pretty well.”

Katsuki sighed, entire being screaming We don’t need help! Needing help means you’re weak. He ignored the thoughts, brushing them aside for the more rational part of his brain. “Fine…But if it sucks I’m kicking you out.”

Izuku wiped away any remaining tears, miniscule smile painting his face. “Alright, alright. Let’s go to the grocery store when they let you out.”

Chapter Text

“The mild ones.” The duo currently stood in the middle of the chip isle, surrounded by a myriad of colorful bags holding crispy goodness in every shape and flavor…and Izuku was currently on the receiving end of a disbelieving sneer in the middle of junk food paradise.

“I did not just hear that.”

Cocking his head, Izuku raised a single, dark eyebrow in confusion. “What, ‘the mild ones’? They’re good!” The blonde scoffed, disbelieving sneer only growing. “Hey! Don’t give me that look!”

A purple bag covered in bright orange flames was shoved in his face, the word ‘EXTREME’ emblazoned in vivid yellow across the front. “The mild ones are weak. This,” Katsuki pointed forcefully to the bag “is the good shit.”

Face crinkling in disgust, Izuku stared at the bag as if it had burned him. “How the hell can you eat those and not die?? My mouth cried when I had one once.”

“Because you’re a bitch.” Katsuki said playfully, smirk tugging at his lips.

Reaching forward, Izuku grabbed the crinkly green bag that wouldn’t assault and destroy his taste buds. “Well, this bitch is gonna enjoy mild chips without shame.” The blonde’s chuckle rumbled lowly as they placed their differing bags into the shopping cart already filled with various ingredients for dinner.

Earlier, he’d tried prying details from Deku on what he planned to make, but had gotten the simple answer of ‘It’s a surprise’ along with his infuriating, shit-eating grin. A look that, surprisingly, made him grin rather than the annoyance he’d usually feel if it were anyone else.

It didn’t take him long to piece together the dish with each new item placed in the cart. “Oh fuck yes, are you making curry?”

“Uh, yeah…” Izuku looked away shyly, hand absentmindedly rubbing the base of his neck, slender fingers winding through silken curls. “It was your favorite when we were younger, right?” A small blush dusted his freckled cheeks, the image a sinful package of adorable that should be illegal.

“You remembered?”

“Well, yeah. When my mom made it you would literally scream.” He giggled, voice dripping with amusement at the memory of four-year-old Katsuki standing victoriously on the soft cushions of the couch, head thrown back in a joyous howl simply because he was getting to eat his favorite food.

“Your mom’s cooking was a fucking blessing. It could cure depression. End cancer. Bring a man back from the brink of death. Hell, it could probably make the toughest villain weep with joy.” Katsuki’s voice was serious, eyes holding a reverent shine as they reminisced.

“Did you ever try her desserts? She was like a goddess of baking; it was even better than her cooking, I swear to god.”

No! How could she hold out on me like that!” His yell bounced down the aisle, earning them a wicked glare from an old man debating heavily between identical bags of chips.

Bubbly laughter burst from Izuku’s chest, the sound so pure Katsuki was convinced his heart stopped to listen and bask in the warmth. “Yeah…I miss it sometimes.” The tone had turned nostalgic, tinged dark with sadness. The blonde took in the distant and dull mossy eyes, mouth turned downward in a slight frown. As he watched, a small idea began to form in the back of his mind, burning brighter and brighter with each passing second.

“Hey…” Izuku looked curiously up at him through thick lashes. “When I can, ya know, move my arm…Do you – fucking hell, do you want to bake with me or something, shitty nerd.” He could feel the gentle flush of embarrassment creeping up his neck, praying the other couldn’t see it. Silence stretched between them as Izuku gazed at him with wide eyes, surprise evident across delicate features.

Katsuki suddenly found his attention drawn to his scuffed up boots, worn leather a stark contrast to the dirty tiles beneath them. “If you don’t want to just say so…” The words were soft and insecure, a cushion for the upcoming blow of rejection – a blow that never came.

“I would love to, Kacchan.” It was barely a whisper, but the happy melodic tone caused crimson eyes to tear themselves away from the floor, taking in yet another blindingly bright smile. A warm hand placed itself against his forehead, Izuku’s face twisted in mock concern, plump lips turned in a pouty frown. “Are you feeling okay? You’re being unusually sweet…”

Katsuki huffed a quick “Go fuck yourself, freckles” before stomping off to grab some juice and hide his growing blush. Leaving behind the comforting touch and pleasing voice that struck to his very core. Fuck that stupid nerd for being adorable and fuck apple juice- that shit was every possible form of nasty; it looked gross and tasted even worse. It was as if Satan himself pissed in a bottle and decided to sell it because why not.

Bright laughter followed his retreating form as they made their way to check out, the cashier a middle aged woman who smiled mirthfully at their playful bickering, rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth flashing under fluorescent lights. Izuku started up a casual conversation with her, babbling on excitedly about her quirk and what it could do, a discussion which Katsuki actively ignored in favor of putting their now bagged groceries back into the cart.

Shark mouth waved goodbye as they left, face flushed cherry red from the sudden attention. The other checkers were trying their best to hide uncontrollable giggles at the boy who closely resembled an over excited puppy meeting someone new, eyes bright with curiosity and wonder. Katsuki snickered as the shorter of the two waved back, flashing a bedazzling smile that instantly had every person swooning, tasting their first hit of what made Izuku unique; basking in the high.

The gentle caress of a cool breeze against his cheek was a welcome relief as they left the small store, sunset painting the sky in gentle shades of purples and pinks. Izuku swatted away his hand as he reached forward with the intent to lift one or two of their four bags, earning himself a glare that eerily reminded the blonde of an angry mother hen. “You can’t lift anything, remember? Do you want to fuck up your arm for groceries?”

Never one to back down, Katsuki said “I have two arms, genius” fully embracing the asshole personality he’d been cultivating since the day he was born, gracefully entering a stare down between himself and Izuku – the boy with anger and overwhelming care storming throughout the depths of his gaze.

Slow enough to make even a sloth cry, he grabbed the bags with his good hand, smirking when the only sign of disapproval was a small frown, eyebrows furrowed in frustrated defeat. Katsuki’s grin grew in triumph at the view before sauntering off in the direction they had come a mere hour before. They walked the short distance back to his apartment, long shadows reaching lazily across the pavement for anything they could touch.

The tall windows reflected the vibrant peachy colors of sunset, draping the apartment building in the richest silks of royalty. Izuku barely contained his shock at the impressive sight, only slightly gaping at the tall building and pristine marble flooring. He’d probably never fully get used to it.

 

____

 

Thin plastic crinkled as the bags were placed on the kitchen counters, Izuku immediately getting to work by sorting through the items and putting the things not needed for dinner away. Katsuki was gently shoved in the direction of the nearby breakfast counter and accompanying stools with a “You’re injured, relax a little.” But…Katsuki wasn’t sure he knew how to relax. Ever since he became a pro, relaxation became a thing of the past, replaced by being constantly on edge – body pulled tight like a bowstring ready to fire. Even his days off were dampened by perpetually looking over his shoulder, waiting for the phone to call him to battle, not knowing if it would be his last.

So when told to relax, his mind drew a blank. Nothing. Not a single hint or tip, his brain giving him the middle finger and telling him to fuck off. So…Katsuki opted for the next best thing: sitting on the cushioned stool, chin pillowed on the palm of his good arm while he traced Izuku’s steps through the kitchen as he began to cook. How he expertly chopped up vegetables and prepared the meat, swaying softly to the music pouring from his phone and out into the open space, filling the room with its soothing cords and melody. The way firm muscles moved under tight clothes as he danced between steps of the recipe, gently humming in perfect harmony.

It was a sight that caused Katsuki’s shoulders to ease, entire body loosening in…what? Comfort? Contentment? Happiness? Whatever it was made his heart throb, fond smile painting its tender curves upon his face. Izuku did an elegant twirl on his way to the stovetop, bright carrots finding their way into the two separate pots that smelled absolutely heavenly.

He glanced up, emerald eyes making quick contact with contrasting ruby. The fact that he was being watched only seemed to spur on his performance to a more courageous degree. He sang louder while moving gracefully around the kitchen with an array of spins and delicate footwork. It was the exact opposite of the performance at Paper Moon, but both screamed ‘Izuku’ despite their obvious differences.

“Alright! They should be done! The one on the left is yours, I made it extra spicy just the way you like it! The other is meant for normal people.” Practically jumping up and down, the greenette handed him a bowl with steaming white rice filling half. Scooping up the rich curry had him drooling, the scent of meat and spices alone almost bringing the hero to his knees. “Eat it while it’s hot!”

Sitting at the table, Katsuki wasted no time to shovel a spoonful of scalding curry into his mouth, flavor after harmonious flavor coating his tongue were well worth the burn. Soon after, a whole new burn joined the first, but far more delightful as his lips tingled from the heat. Stifling a moan, he scarfed down the rest of his portion before eagerly getting more. The only thing he’d eaten today was breakfast and shitty hospital food, so something this delicious was a godsend he’d gladly worship. Instead of eating this bowl like a starved man seeing food for the first time in days, he savored each bite as if it were a religious experience. Honestly it felt like it was.

“Shit, Deku this is fucking amazing! Where the hell did you learn to cook like this?” He yelled out his praise for the entire building to hear before shoveling more into his mouth, eyes closing in bliss.

Blushing at the praise, Izuku looked down at his meal. “My mom started teaching me when I was…seven or eight, maybe? We never ate out and she was worried that I wasn’t eating enough because she had to work late most days.” He glanced up and was met with a surprisingly soft look. “I’ve also worked at a restaurant for the past few years so I picked up a few tricks here and there.”

“Wait…” Blonde eyebrows scrunched in confusion “I thought you only worked at the club?”

Izuku shook his head, sending dark green curls bouncing. “I work at the restaurant and the club. Even though Paper Moon pays well, a little extra cash never hurt anybody. Plus, the people there are like family.”

“Sooo what’s it called?”

“Why, are you going to show up one day?” Amusement swam in mossy eyes at the idea of the famous Ground Zero deciding to show up at the small shop. People would freak, customers and employees included. Katsuki shrugged nonchalantly in response, curiosity barely disguised behind his air of indifference.

Covering up a snicker with a small cough, Izuku relented. “It’s called Lotus Café.”

A wicked smirk appeared on the blonde’s face, sharp canines flashing dangerously. A small ball of regret began to form in Izuku’s chest, knowing days full of pestering filled his future. “I am going to fuck with you so hard.”

“I will kick your ass if I have to.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Just eat your vegetables like a good boy or else you’ll find out.”

 

____

 

The question was hesitant, barely heard over the running tap as they did the dishes, standing side by side. “You need to change your bandages, right? Can I help?” His tone was like stone, solid and unwavering in preparation for the unavoidable argument heading towards him like a bullet train. Katsuki impulsively barked out a harsh “Hell no!”, mouth moving faster than his brain. The bowl he was aggressively drying clanked against the stack of identical others as he put it back in the rightful cupboard, slamming it closed.

“Oh? So I’m assuming you’ll be able to rewrap your bandages one handed? Impressive, I don’t know anyone who can do that well, if at all.” Izuku said dryly, taking Katsuki’s actions in stride.

Aaand now he’d dug himself into a hole where he had to admit he was wrong, that he’d acted rashly. Good fucking job Katsuki.

Maybe…maybe he could dig himself out without damaging his pride. Okay, yeah…yeah! He could do this, be smooth. Just say ‘fine, you can help’ or whatever the fuck. But don’t be a dick.

“I don’t want your bitch ass to fuck it up.” Goddammit you traitorous slut.

“Uh huh. I’ve bandaged more injuries than you can count, Ground Zero.” The name was wielded like a weapon, cold and unyielding as it sliced with deadly precision through his thin rebuttal. A short lived stare down began, Izuku’s face stern as a hand came to rest on the curve of his hip. Katsuki huffed in exasperation, reluctantly ending the silent battle with a quick nod of approval.

A blinding smile full of relief spread across Izuku’s face in response, so wide Katsuki worried he’d split in two. “Thank you. Now, go sit down.” He purposefully walked a few steps before coming to a sudden halt, shoulders rising and falling with a dramatic breath. Spinning on his heel, Izuku sheepishly turned to look at the blonde. “I- uhh…where do you keep your first aid stuff?”

Chuckling, Katsuki slowly unzipped his hoodie revealing the expanse of bandage covered flesh. “In the bathroom. First door on the right down the hall to your left.” The sound of footsteps slowly faded, briefly replaced by the muffled sounds of cupboards opening and closing. While the other was busy, he put all his focus into the current task at hand: getting out of his jacket. Katsuki easily got his uninjured arm free but the other…well let’s just say it was less than easy and a whole lot of pain. How had he even put it on in the first place?

Katsuki hissed “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” through clenched teeth when he twisted a little too quickly, the sudden movement jostling everything in a way that caused pain to bloom across his shoulder. 

“Here, let me help.” He hadn’t even heard the curly haired boy approach, let alone get close enough to touch. Warm, calloused hands held his arm in place, slowly but surely removing the current bane of his existence practically pain free. Bright white bandages were stained pink with blood, the color growing darker the closer it got to the worst part of the slowly closing wound.

Once the warm material was gone, Katsuki quickly sat down on the stool as goosebumps appeared across his flesh, ready for the experience to be over. He’d never had anyone’s help when he was injured before, let alone someone so willing to help without a complaint. It was new and unsettling, and he wasn’t quite sure how he felt about the riling emotions growing in his chest, intertwining intensely with bone and tissue; suffusing him with something…bright.

“Hurry the hell up, Deku.” Those warm hands were back, sending shivers down his spine as the old bandages were carefully unwrapped with gentle care. Strong arms snuck under his own to remove the gauze from around his torso, the action bringing them flush against one another, back to chest. The moment which should’ve been short lived, lingered with gentle, feather like brushes of fingertips against ribs before Izuku pulled away, quickly and efficiently removing the remaining gauze.

Twin circular gashes mirrored each other on either side of his shoulder, painful proof the stinger had torn through layers of soft tissue and muscle. The flesh was puckered and half healed, edges heavily bruised as veins turned dark from poison branched out beneath pale skin, an intricate spiders web of dusky blue. Izuku’s eyebrows drew together with worry at the sight, faint remnants of panic echoing in his chest.

“This might hurt.” Before the other could pull away in question, the greenette quickly cleaned the exposed wound, following all the instructions the doctor had given them before they had left the hospital. A hiss muffled by a tightly clenched jaw was the only sign of pain to his sudden administrations. He skillfully reapplied the layers of gauze and bandage in a way that could rival even professionals. “All right, we’re done! Does the patient want some candy? A sticker?”

Katsuki stood, attempting to use his height to intimidate the other, despite knowing full well it was a flimsy ploy to hide his racing heart and flushed cheeks. What the fuck was wrong with him?

“Thanks.”

Izuku stood in stunned silence, teasing coming to a withered stop as his brain stuttered to a standstill. Slow and thick like molasses, his thoughts began working through the shock. “Holy shit. Holy shit! Did you just say thanks? Am I dead? Has the world ended? Or is this some really weird dream-?”

“Why does everyone assume the world is ending when I’m nice?” Katsuki huffed, arms folding across his bare chest defensively as full lips fell in to a subtle pout. Izuku giggled at the sight so different from the one he’d known years ago.

“It’s just new is all.” A sad glare appeared at the words. “New is good…it’s nice.” His signature smile lit up the room, sending the blonde’s pulse stampeding through his veins. Maybe it was leftover adrenaline from the bank? Did pain meds usually do this? Well, whatever it was…it was fucking annoying. Stomping past the literal ball of sunshine, he marched over to the colorful array of dvds. He needed a distraction.

“Do you want to watch a movie or something Deku?”

 

____

 

“Are you crying?” Katsuki asked, humor suffusing his tone like honey. “It was just Nemo.”

“Fuck you,” glistening tears were wiped away as sniffles filled the room. “Nemo is an emotional rollercoaster you dick.”

Rumbling laughter reverberated around the room, growing louder every time the blonde glanced over at the other. The image of Izuku wrapped up to his neck in the fluffiest blanket he owned, tears staining freckled cheeks with equally adorable sniffles all because of an animated fish? It was too good to pass up.

“Don’t laugh.” A full pout added to his image of a fluffy bunny, which only added fuel to the fire of his poorly stifled hysterics. Hey, at least he tried. Kind of.

“I-I’m,” A bout of laughter interrupted his words, barely resisting the urge to double over and bury his head between his knees. “I am absolutely not.”

A smile, although much smaller than his own, appeared on Izuku’s face. “Uh-huh. And I and absolutely not a stripper.”

The following silence stood no chance against the rushing tide of laughter, tears streaming down flushed cheeks as they clutched at their sides. Their happiness was contagious, and soon the entire floor was drenched with the warm glow of happiness and joy. The walls stood straighter, colors becoming more vibrant as house plants perked up. It was a moment that, when compared to the larger scheme of things and how many individual people with their individual experiences were shoved on this planet, seemed rather insignificant. But that was a worry for the future, because in the cheerful radiance of the living room nothing else seemed to matter.

 

____

 

[Three weeks later]

 

A familiar ringtone cut through the blaring music of his home gym where Katsuki was currently lifting weights. Placing the heavy metal back on the floor, he wiped sweat from his forehead before answering. “What the fuck do you want Tsukauchi?”

“I always seem to forget just how lovely it is to talk to you, Bakugou. We need you down at the precinct as soon as possible. You have another package.”

A tired groan escaped his lips at the oncoming exhaustion, both mental and physical that he knew he couldn’t escape. Fingers pinched the bridge of his nose, anger and annoyance simmering dangerously beneath the surface like magma, ready to explode with the smallest of tremors. “I’ll be there in ten.”

Hopping in the shower, Katsuki quickly washed away the sheen of sweat slicking the surface of his skin. He was out in a flash, throwing on the nearest pair of black jeans and matching tank-top, grabbing the denim jacket Izuku had chosen before getting into the elevator. Ever since that fateful purchase, the jacket had become a constant when he was going out, men and women alike complimenting how good he looked. Katsuki normally got double takes, but with this? People gave him triple or fuck, he even got quadruple takes because his ass looked fine. The elevator moved at its usual, snail worthy pace, each passing second marked with growing agitation and apprehension.

The police precinct was a little over a block and a half away, so Katsuki decided to walk down the nearly empty street glazed in an early morning haze. Unsurprisingly, not many people were out shopping at 7:30 in the morning. The only people he passed on the sidewalk were dead eyed office workers and people hiding yawns behind hands as they finished their night shifts.

The modest, two story brick building came into view as he rounded the final corner, a grounding breath filling his lungs before he pushed the glass doors open, walking into the office space buzzing with activity. A few lower ranked heroes were scattered around the open space, talking quietly to police officers about their respective cases. Clicking keyboards and printing papers crammed the space with a gentle, fluctuating rhythm.

“Bakugou, over here!” Slowly, head turning to level a sharp gaze at Tsukauchi who was clad in his usual attire: a white collared button up shirt and black slacks paired with dark brown leather shoulder holsters. Just because society had become reliant on quirks didn’t mean other weapons had disappeared, they were just less well known – fading from people’s memories. Tsukauchi waved, gesturing towards his office door. Once sure the hero was following, he quickly entered the room and closed the door behind the ashy blonde, a fact that signaled the seriousness of the situation. Inside, a large oak desk was centered against the opposite wall, small window sills home to varying types of potted plants. Neatly organized files sat tucked away in a large cabinet to his left. A large manila envelope sat on the nearest corner of the desk, ‘Ground Zero ♥’ scrawled in looping cursive across the top.

Ever since he had gotten a bloody human ear in the mail (which was absolutely terrifying), Katsuki – along with the approval of Tsukauchi – decided it would be best to have any and every piece of ‘fan mail’ delivered to, and checked by a special unit in the police station created specifically for situations like his. They never really dealt with anything too serious, but apparently Katsuki’s powerful quirk and abrasive personality was a big turn on for everyone he’d rather avoid. The things deemed safe and unsuspicious were sent to his apartment, while the others were dealt with. In more extreme and worrisome cases they would call him down. Apparently this was one of those situations.

Katsuki nodded towards the outwardly harmless package. “What is it this time?”

The detective sighed, expression darkening at the question. “Take a look for yourself. Ohayashi said it wasn’t anything biological, chemical, or mechanical.”

“So why the fuck was I called in then?” A small silence stretched between them, a fact that only put him more on edge. Tsukauchi always had something to say, whether it be blindingly blunt or annoyingly sarcastic.

“Just look at them.” The words were heavy and grave, weighing like a ton of bricks thrown to the back of his mind as he stepped forward, grabbing the envelope. Katsuki tore it open, revealing dozens upon dozens of neatly stacked pictures tied with a blood ribbon in a perfect bow.

Pulling the stack free, he was immediately met with a blurry photograph of himself fighting a villain. It was a few months old, and the fight itself had been a boring one that ended in only a few measly seconds. The next few followed a similar pattern of hero work and mundane tasks: walking down the street, eating at a restaurant, walking into his apartment, getting on his motorcycle, etc.

But then…then the pictures began to change.

Flipping past a picture of himself slouched against a wall, he was met with an image that shot ice through his veins, heart coming to an abrupt stop. The first picture was from the coffee shop, Deku and himself sitting across from one another, steaming mugs in hand. Katsuki’s head was tossed back as he laughed at something the other had said. But that wasn’t the part that made his hands shake with mild tremors, with fear.

Where Izuku’s freckled face should’ve been – bright and flushed with happiness – a dark, angry scribble marred the photograph. It was done so violently and repeatedly that the paper had begun to tear.

“What the fuck?” He flipped through the rest, each one an eerie echo of the first. Katsuki and Izuku shopping, going to his apartment, Izuku clutching tightly to his waist as they sped past on his motorcycle. There were pictures from the movie, pictures of them leaving the hospital and wandering the aisles as they looked for groceries. Hell, there were even pictures from two days ago. In each and every one, Izuku’s face was marked out with malicious intent.

Katsuki couldn’t think. He was feeling too much all at once while simultaneously feeling nothing at all. The pictures burned hot and heavy in his hands, so he angrily tossed them back down on the desk, contents splaying out across the smooth surface.

What did this mean? Were they after Katsuki or Izuku? The letter was addressed to him, so maybe it was a threat? Are they going to go after him? Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! He needed to calm down, needed to think. How can I be a hero if I didn’t even notice some creep following us around-?

Silencing his frantic thoughts with a shake of the head, Katsuki stood straight and squared his shoulders. How the pictures were taken didn’t matter, they were in the past. All that mattered was stopping whatever would happen in the future, which obviously involved one annoyingly optimistic, curly haired idiot.

Izuku.”

Chapter Text

His fist cracked angrily into the villain’s jaw, the action filled with every ounce of frustration itching beneath his skin. An accompanying explosion sent her yellow eyes rolling back into her skull, body dropping heavily to the pavement. Deafening cheers erupted from the massive crowd at his victory, cameras flashing as reporters rushed forward, microphones and pens at the ready once the girl was restrained. He answered the questions with practiced responses, mind in a completely different place – going over and over his conversation with Tsukauchi yesterday morning.

After seeing the pictures, his immediate response had been one of panic, the urge to rush to Izuku and keep him by his side until the threat had passed, protecting him from anything and everything practically overwhelming. But Tsukauchi had fucking told him with his annoyingly patient tone – like a father scolding his child, ‘Don’t act rashly, rushing in could make everything worse. We don’t even know if it’s an actual threat, but we’ll assign a few officers to keep watch on him.’ Katsuki had scoffed in disbelief, knowing that his place was far safer than anything a few measly officers could provide.

After a heated argument on that very topic in which he had no problem in (very loudly) vocalizing his thoughts, he’d finally relented by slamming the door as he left the building.

The only consolation was the fact that he was seeing Izuku at Paper Moon tonight, since the boy had excitedly called him with the news that he’d finished the final touches on a new set. Katsuki planned to tell him about the situation later tonight, hoping the news would convince him to be safer, more cautious. A request he knew would be hard lived, especially since Izuku was still the selfless bastard he’d always been.

Fuck, at least let him be safe.

 

____

 

Walking down the neon lit street and once again jumping the massive line waiting in front of the famous club sent a wave of déjà vu crashing down on Katsuki. It’d been a little over a month since the last time he was here, but this time he was actually excited to be surrounded by pulsing lights and the smell of alcohol, along with the annoying shits he knew as friends.

“Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!” Mina and Kaminari’s cheers were barely heard over the pounding music as they bee lined right to the purple lit bar the second they stepped into the building. Kirishima and Todoroki followed him to a nearby table, Ochako sacrificially left behind to help the other two dorks carry the massive amounts of alcohol they had bought. The colorful liquid enticingly displayed as it was set down on the table, a rainbow of bad decisions. The group clinked their glasses, downing the burning contents with a grimace.

“Izuku’s performance is soon, right?” Round face asked, cheeks red from coughing after her baby pink shot.

Katsuki nodded, checking his phone. “Yea, in about ten minutes.”

“Do you know what this performance is going to be like? It’s always a big secret, and always something new that makes the crowd go crazy.” Kirishima asked, eyes swimming with lethal curiosity. His mind flashed back to the dusty pink fur jacket, jaw immediately clamping shut as he erased any emotion from his face.

“Nope, not a clue.” The group eyed him suspiciously, none of them believing his half assed statement.

“The asshole totally knows.” Todoroki said, downing a purple shot and making a face at the unwelcome fruity flavor. The group of betrayers nodded, all agreeing and immediately losing their precarious title as friends in his mind. Served them right.

His brows furrowed in annoyance, the urge to argue barely suppressed. He didn’t want to ruin Izuku’s performance just because he couldn’t keep his ridiculous ego in check. They pestered him for details like needy toddlers, which he refused just like the press: monosyllables and disinterest until they grew frustrated and gave up. Not the best for his image, but it kept the pesky motherfuckers off his back.

“C’mon angel face! Give us a hint! Even just a little one would be good!” Katsuki answered Mina’s cry by knocking back a green shot, the taste of apple filling his mouth. He leveled her with a silent stare, lips glued tightly shut.

She huffed disappointedly just as he checked his phone for the second time. “Well, would ya look at that. I don’t have to tell you dicks anything, you’ll find out for yourselves.” They all perked up as he stood, following behind like obedient ducklings as he headed for the darkened stage, an excited crowd already gathering. He pushed his way to the very front, stage so close he could touch it by barely lifting his arm. The lights dimmed until it was almost black, familiar voice announcing ‘Bunny’ and earning a roar from the audience as the stage was basked in a dusky silver glow.

The first few beats of a song rang out slow and heavy through the mass of sweaty bodies, a silhouette appearing in the middle of the stage. He strutted forward with undeniable confidence, head held high as he stared down the crowd with sultry eyes. Katsuki felt himself smirk, a sense of pride blooming in his chest at the sight only a few feet away.

Izuku’s chest was bare, pale chest and muscle on display for the sea of screaming people. A skin tight, silvery thong with crisscrossing straps graciously led the eyes to the generous curve of his ass and seemingly endless legs, stopping at feet adorned in classy silver pumps. To top it all off and bring everything together was the oversized jacket, dusty pink fur shimmering under the silver light. Katsuki whistled, heart stopping when Izuku looked his way, bottom lip caught between his teeth as he winked at the blonde.

He was definitely not turned on right now.

Their group cheered and whistled throughout the set, doing their best to scream louder than the pressing crowd; and were succeeding.

“You go Bunny! Make that pole your bitch!”

“I fucking love the jacket! It’s hot as fuck!”

“I wish I was that pole right now!”

“You could kill me with your thighs and I wouldn’t even care!”

Izuku must’ve been the god of acting because the boy didn’t even falter at their obnoxious shouts. His aura remained untouchable, a person who everyone wants to be with – craves to be with – but can never truly have. He spun expertly around the pole, twirling and twisting and grinding before dropping to the stage into a perfect split. The crowd went absolutely bat shit, and while Katsuki was beyond impressed he was also feeling phantom pains just by witnessing the stunt. How could he do that and not curl up into a ball and die?

The feeling was interrupted as Izuku crawled slowly across the stage, headed straight for the blonde, eyes hooded in desire. The dancer stopped a mere foot away, jacket slipping off his shoulder as he reached out to hook a finger beneath his chin and pull him forward. Katsuki complied with ease, putty under the greenette’s captivating gaze. He pulled and pulled until his hot breath ghosted gently across his face, lips almost brushing. The crowd faded away, music muffled as the only thing on his mind were the deep emerald eyes and soft, pink lips right before him.

He was so close, if he even so much as breathed they…would…

Just as their lips were about to touch, Izuku pulled away, mischievous look glinting in his eyes. He crawled back a foot or so before spinning on his knees, slowly standing with his back delicately arched. It was a move he’d used before, but now the experience was on a completely different level, one he couldn’t help but enjoy. It was a display the entire crowd could see, but felt more like it was for him rather than a writhing sea of strangers.

Katsuki watched in a haze as Deku finished the rest of his performance, heels clacking as he walked off stage. The haze clung to him as they made their way back to the table, the blonde unable to process a single word of their conversation.

“-kugou! Bakugou, can you even hear me?” Shitty hair waved his hand in front of his face, expression a mix of concern and amusement. “Did you die during the performance? Cause if Midoriya did that to me…well I wouldn’t complain.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” He grumbled, mind still faraway and occupied with thoughts about stupid forest green eyes and stupid lips and that stupid outfit.

The red head bumped his shoulder playfully against his own. “Well it just seems like a lil somethin’ somethin’ has been developing between you two.”

A small blush dusted his cheeks. “Fuck off, it was just part of the performance to get the crowd riled up.” He downed another shot, hoping the blue liquid would calm his nerves.

“Awww our emotionally constipated baby is still the same, wouldn’t know attraction even if it decked him in the face.” Ochako said, earning herself a fiery glare that held little of its usual flame.

He was about to start a usual heated argument packed full of denial when Half n’ Half decided to butt his two-toned head into the conversation. “I’m not surprised you haven’t realized it, but I think Midoriya really likes you, and you really like him.”

“Go fuck yourself icy hot.” His blush was back with a vengeance as the group nodded in vigorous agreement with Todoroki, all giving their unwanted opinions about…feelings. Katsuki droned them out until it was time to leave, gladly waving goodbye to their shrinking forms bathed in shifting neon lights.

He hung back in the alley of the employee entrance, waiting for Izuku like he’d promised. Leaning casually against the adjacent brick wall did little to stem the emotions bubbling up in his chest – in fact, the quiet brought them to the forefront of his mind to mull over since he had nothing better to do.

First, there was the apparent feelings everyone said he had and that he tried his best to brush aside. They bloomed wildly throughout his being like obnoxiously bright flowers filling a meadow, all for the curly haired dork with an adorable face that could turn sinfully seductive in less than a second. He knew he enjoyed being in his company – a rare feat for even those he was closest – and every time he laughed or smiled fireworks went off in his chest.

Next there was the case of the stalker, a situation that sent pure, ice cold panic shooting through his veins. Weirdly enough, Katsuki knew he’d be much calmer if it was just a simple death threat, they were surprisingly easy to handle. But this situation was so much more complex, more dangerous. This person was patient to an alarming degree, willing to hide in the shadows until an opening presented itself to do…well that was the big, shadowy unknown: their ultimate goal. This unfamiliar terrain of not knowing put the blonde on a knife’s edge of anxiety and impatience. He knew better than most that there were things much, much worse than death.

The idea of losing Deku was one that tore his heart into tiny pieces, painfully grinding them into the dirt for good measure.

He couldn’t imagine going to sleep without the usual ‘Good night, Kacchan’ Even though it was cheesy as hell. He couldn’t picture – no, couldn’t go back to a life where the nerd was no longer a part of it. Couldn’t stand not being able to see his bright smiles and hear his excited ramblings, hands gesturing enthusiastically through the air. The idea of never being able to see the boy with stars laden, steely emerald eyes was one he absolutely couldn’t stand. He’d fight tooth and nail to make sure it never happened.

The sound of the metal door creaking open snapped him from his thoughts, eyes slowly focusing on Deku whose slender frame was bathed in the soft yellow glow of the street lights above. His dark green hair was a tousled mess, crimson hoodie hiding strong muscle beneath layers of warm fabric.

It was this insignificant moment, so common place it would make people cry from boredom, that Katsuki was hit with a realization like a bullet to the heart as he gazed at the tired figure with an exhausted smile playing his lips, trying his hardest not to yawn.

I fucking like Midoriya Izuku.

The thought echoed in his mind, loud but…not unwelcome. It didn’t send him reeling, but instead fit nicely into a space he didn’t know existed in the deepest parts of his chest that screamed to be filled.

I…like Deku. I like Deku.

A smile grew on his face as he rolled the sentence over his tongue, words sweet like honey.

“Kacchan? Are you alright?” Wide eyes gazed at him through thick lashes, nose scrunched up in concern. “You look a little flushed, do you have a fever?”

The innocent words almost sent Katsuki into a fit of scoffing since the cause of his blush was standing mere inches away, freckled constellations scattered across pale flesh. “I’m fine, Deku.” He choked out, trying his hardest not to laugh.

Izuku nodded, not entirely convinced with his soft-spoken and amused answer. He stared at the blonde for a few silent, calculating seconds before turning to walk towards the motorcycle parked several feet away. The second reason for Katsuki coming tonight blared brightly in his distracted mind, warning bells ringing violently in his ears, declaring the possibility of an oncoming storm. “Wait…Wait!”

The greenette turned, body language screaming concern at the emotion weaving its way through his words. “Is something wrong…?”

Katsuki stepped forward, bringing himself close enough to the other so he didn’t have to yell. “I, um…well, you know how I have a lot of fans?”

Izuku rolled his eyes, smirk pulling at his lips. “Yea Mr. Zero, you’re a badass hero who has a shit ton of fans, I know.”

In any other situation, Katsuki would’ve thrown his head back and laughed. But this wasn’t that. Izuku caught on quickly when his face stayed stoically serious, waiting for him to continue. “Well, some fans can be fucked up. And I mean fucked up, Deku. I’ve gotten more human body parts in the mail than any person ever should.”

Izuku whispered a soft ‘What the actual fuck?’, eyes wide with shock.

Katsuki cleared his throat, knowing he still had a mountain taller than Everest to climb if he wanted to get through this conversation. “Sometimes…sometimes people decide to go after things close to heroes – things they care for.”

Without a second of hesitation, Izuku’s face hardened with unwavering resolve. “Is someone you know in danger? Is it anyone I’ve met because I swear to god I will kick ass if I have to-” Katsuki smacked his hand over his rambling mouth, words interrupting his delicate train of thought. He couldn’t fuck this up, because fucking it up could mean this dorks life, or worse.

“Just shut up and listen, alright?” He took a calming breath through his nose. “There were pictures – pictures of us. This sick fuck followed us around and I didn’t even…” He paused, barely keeping his raging guilt and anger in check.

“They’re after you, Deku.” The atmosphere was tense as he removed his hand, revealing a small frown of contemplation.

“Alright.” Katsuki did a double take at the calm answer, having wholeheartedly expected anger and bitter words at the news.

“What-?”

“I said alright.” The smaller of the two shrugged, giving off an uncaring air. “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to deal with creeps.”

Words refused to form past his shock, the only noise he could make being a strangled groan of frustration. “You don’t fucking understand! These people aren’t your usual run of the mill trash! They’re willing to do anything to get what they want, even if that means hurting you!” He jabbed his finger forcefully into the greenette’s sternum.

“So? I can take care of myself, Kacchan.” Arms folded defensively across his chest, angry huff escaping frowning lips as he looked away.

“These aren’t your useless high school dicks, Izuku! Why won’t you understand that!?” His voice had raised from a whisper to a livid half-yell, wary of anyone listening in. Why was he being so obstinate? Couldn’t he understand he was in danger?

“Well I’m not like I was then, either.” Izuku said, voice harsh with hurt.

“That – it doesn’t matter if you fucking got stronger! You’re still vulnerable.”

Vulnerable? Don’t try to hide behind subtle words, Kacchan. I’m quirkless and you still see that as a defect – see me as weaker no matter what I do.”

“Hey, don’t try to fucking twist my words into something they’re not! I’m trying to help you, dumbass!”

“Why do you even care? You’ve barely known me for over a month! Why does it matter, huh? Please, great Ground Zero,” He gestured furiously at the blonde, acidic sarcasm dripping from every word. “Tell me your reasoning cause I’m really fucking curious as to why you think you have the right to tell me what to do.”

Katsuki froze, his retort turning to ash on his tongue. He knew the answer to the question, but…could he muster up even the smallest amount of courage to tell him?

Izuku scoffed bitterly at the hesitation of his response, angry tears appearing in mossy eyes. “God I fucking knew it. You just feel guilty about what you did when we were younger and see me as some – some goddamn pity project.” He brought up the sleeve of his hoodie, scrubbing angrily at the tears staining his cheeks.

“Woah Deku, what the fuck?? I don’t see you like that-”

“Then why?! Tell me why.” Izuku’s voice cracked with emotions he’d never fully understand, stare unwavering as he watched Katsuki, who gulped at the overwhelming tide of feelings – his and Izuku’s mixing together in a convoluted, swirling mess.

“I-I…” He took a moment to strengthen his resolve into corded steel. “I’m scared.” Izuku looked a couple shades passed shocked, never knowing the hero to be one to admit fear, something he wholeheartedly believed to be a weakness. He stayed quiet as the other continued, afraid that any words would frighten him away like a wild animal and prematurely end their conversation.

“Scared of what this means, of losing you. God, the idea of you being gone…yeah you’ve only been back in my life for a month but – holy fuck this is cheesy – but imagining you gone makes everything seem…I don’t know. But it would suck ass if I couldn’t see your smile again.”

“W-What…?” The tears had stopped, replaced by a look of utter disbelief.

“I fucking like you, Izuku. You dense piece of adorable trash.”

“Oh.”

Oh? I confess my feelings and all I get is an ‘Oh?’ You’re one cold hearted bitch.” His voice held no edge. Instead it was filled with amusement meant to mask his heartbroken pain, a wavering shield held together by nothing but quickly fraying string.

“That’s not what I meant.” Katsuki paused, crimson eyes gazing expectantly at the other, a small spark of hope igniting in his soul. “I meant that I didn’t expect you to feel the same way. Honestly I didn’t even know you felt attraction because you never dated anyone or had any crushes so I just kinda thought…” He shrugged, unable to meet the ruby gaze burning a hole into his face.

“Oh.”

Izuku’s face morphed into one of playful annoyance, small smirk painting his face. “Who’s the cold hearted bitch now?”

A barking laugh echoed down the alley as Katsuki threw his head back in shaky relief. “Now you know how it feels, you ass.” He pushed his ashy hair away from his forehead, gazing fondly at the other. With the sudden rollercoaster of emotions, he wanted nothing but comfort – to hold the boy before him as a way to convince himself this was real and not some twisted dream he’d wake up from, only to be left empty handed and broken hearted.

 Without thinking he grabbed a fistful of crimson hoodie, gently pulling Izuku into an emotion filled hug. Izuku froze in shock at the sudden action, but quickly relaxed into the comforting embrace, burying his head into the nook of his neck and shoulder, arms looping lazily around his waist.

They stayed in each other’s arms for what felt like hours, quietly enjoying the warmth shared between them.

Oh so reluctantly, Katsuki pulled away but kept in contact by weaving his fingers with Izuku’s, squeezing reassuringly. “C’mon, I’ll take you home.” He tried to walk forwards, but the heavy weight of an unmoving body pulled him back. Stumbling, he turned back around, single eyebrow raised in question.

“Can I…” pausing, the dancer looked down at his boots as if they held all the answers to his problems. “Can I spend the night at your house…?” A blush erupted across Katsuki’s cheeks, flesh burning at the array of suggestions lacing themselves across the underside of the question.

Izuku seemed to realize his mistake as a mirroring blush doused his face in tomato red. “W-Wait! I didn’t mean it like that! Not to say that I don’t want to do that but like – we just – what even are we? Oh god what if I just made everything weird and ruined anything between us and I need to go crawl in a hole and die–”

Katsuki tugged once again on their intertwined hands, breaking whatever panic the other was building himself into. Big green eyes filled with worry locked onto his own, so the blonde said the first thing that popped into his mind.

“Date me.” The fiery blush was back on Deku’s face, and Katsuki couldn’t stop himself from finding it absolutely adorable.

A gentle squeeze to his hand with a quiet “Okay” was enough to send spikes of utter happiness piercing through the duo as they got into their familiar position on the motorcycle; although this time Izuku’s arms around his waist felt a little more intimate, more warm.

Katsuki wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else.

 

____

 

“Um…can I use your shower? I’m all gross from the club and glitter is a bitch if you don’t wash it off.” Katsuki gave an affirmative grunt, mind occupied with the bright vegetables he was currently chopping. The soft pattering of feet and the rush of water against tile was the only sign that Izuku had left the kitchen. He sang quietly along with the song filling the open space with its light melody, swaying gently to the beat as he worked through the simple steps of the memorized recipe, improvising when he felt it would be done better a different way.

One thing that Katsuki couldn’t do, and would never ever admit to being unable to do even if you had a gun to his head, was dance. Sure, he was the fucking master of swaying from side to side, but his dancing skills abruptly ended when he attempted to do anything more. If he tried to be smooth and graceful, he always ended up looking like some wooden doll with a drunken puppeteer and knotted strings. He could be more graceful than a seasoned dancer when fighting while cloaked in the heavy silks of battle, but trying to translate that into actual dance never ended well.

So he stuck true to his trusty swaying while browning the beef for their stew, chunks of meat hitting the hot pan with a satisfying sizzle. The distant sound of water shutting off was a sudden reminder that Izuku, the boy he’d confessed to, was in his home. He should be used to it by now since they’d done this on multiple occasions, but now…now he’d faced those pesky emotions invading his life and hadn’t been pushed away, but embraced.

His warmhearted thoughts were interrupted by a figure appearing in his peripheral vision. “Kacchan…I stole some of your clothes, I hope that’s okay.” The greenette stood next to the breakfast bar, fingers playing nervously with the hem of the oversized black sweatshirt with ‘MORE ISSUES THAN VOGUE’ emblazoned in white across the front. Tight grey joggers tied the comfortable outfit together, Katsuki mildly annoyed that the curly haired boy looked better in his clothes than he did.

That emotion was quickly stamped out by the satisfaction of seeing Izuku in his clothes, though. It was like he was declaring to the world that he was his, even if no one other than the blonde knew.

“It’s fine…” Ruby eyes raked slowly one last time over the outfit. “You look good, shitty nerd.”

A wicked grin and pleased blush combo that should be illegal appeared on Deku’s face, impaling Katsuki with a critical hit. He closed the space between them on silent feet, stopping when they were shoulder to shoulder as he leaned into him lightly, peering curiously at what was cooking in the large pot. “Oooh stew. And it smells amazing!”

Katsuki smirked, knowing for a fact his cooking would have the other weak and trembling at the knees. “Well you better buckle the fuck up buttercup, because this masterpiece is done.”

 

____

 

The duo sat on the couch, Izuku’s curly hair lightly tickling his cheek as his head rested on Katsuki’s shoulder. The credits for the action movie rolled slowly across the screen, illuminating the dark room in its shifting light. It was 2am, and the boy on his shoulder had succumbed to the inviting temptation of sleep over an hour ago.

Raising his hand, he gently shook him awake, savoring every bleary eyed look given to him as Izuku clumsily rubbed the sleep from his eyes with a sweater paw. “Is it over already?”

“Yeah, you fell asleep, shitty nerd. Do you want to go to bed?”

Green curls bounced as he nodded, silently holding his arms out like a child asking its mother to be carried. “God, you’re so demanding.” Katsuki huffed teasingly, slipping an arm around his back and under his knees. Deku responded by draping his arms loosely around his neck, head pressed into his shoulder, a happy hum escaping his lips as he was carried down the hall towards the guest room like a princess.

Opening the door was a feat in itself, the hero thanking whatever gods there were that he had fucking fantastic legs as he squatted far enough to barely turn the door knob with reaching fingers, muscles burning with the strain. He placed the boy dozing in his arms onto the soft bed, regretfully pulling away to cover him in the fluffy comforter.

As he turned to leave, a gentle grip to his sleeve stopped his retreat. Emerald eyes glazed in a cloud of sleep held him captive along with one of the sweetest smiles he’d ever seen. “G’night, Kacchan.”

The blonde froze, heart swelling with the sudden realization that this was the first time he’d heard those words out loud, and they were so much more satisfying than he imagined, dissolving on his tongue in a dizzying array of flavors; and now that he had a taste he wasn’t willing to let it go.

Before he realized what he was doing, Katsuki leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to the pale skin of his brow. “Good night, Deku.”

 

____

 

A furious scream tore relentlessly through the quiet, echoing off dusty walls and heard by no one but the person who made them. The sounds of shattering glass replaced the yells, dark crimson dripping on concrete floors like an abstract painting gone wrong.

“Dammit, dammit, dammit!” A sleek black camera was slammed down onto the table, small screen illuminating the grainy wood. It showed a picture of two men, one blonde and the other with unruly curls, in an embrace much too intimate for them to handle.

“Ground Zero is mine! That – that slut won’t steal him from me!” Long fingers tugged aggressively at deep, sapphire hair. Almost instantly, the destructive action came to a stop, face twisting into a wicked smile that promised nothing but pain and despair – a harbinger of misfortune.

“He has to go…” Lips peeled back menacingly, revealing pearly teeth. “I…I have to make him go...”

Chapter Text

Izuku’s days always started the same. He’d wake up to the gentle warmth of sunlight pouring through his bedroom window, eyes cracking open to take in his small apartment doused in golden light, dust sparkling dully as it floated through the air.

But…this wasn’t his familiar, one room apartment cluttered with the usual clothing items for his shows – past, present, and future ones he was excitedly hoping to do. No, this room was spotless minus the potted plants sitting happily in the sun. The cloud-like queen sized bed was surrounded on three sides by soft grey walls, the fourth and final being a floor to ceiling glass window that showed the slow weekend city life basking beneath the afternoon sun hanging high in the sky.

Ah…He was at Kacchan’s…

Memories of the previous night flooded his mind like some cheesy romance film, causing a flaming blush to overcome his cheeks. Had it been real? Was it all some amazing dream made up by his emotionally deprived mind?

Shoving his face into the comforter softer than a pile of marshmallows did little to help the obnoxiously bright smile taking over his face. No…the sound of Kacchan humming in the kitchen along with the symphony of clanking pans was enough to banish the thoughts from his mind. Last night had happened which brought a whole tidal wave of emotions crashing down – most good, but all heavily tinted in something dark and heavy. Like pristine snow turned a dirty, muddy brown.

The stalker loomed in the back of his mind, keeping to their army of shadows like a sadistic general planning a violent massacre. They were a massive unknown, a razorblade hidden in an apple that would shred his throat into ribbons until he could no longer scream, only drown as blood filled his lungs.

He was afraid. Afraid of what would happen to Katsuki, afraid of the future currently saturated in an ominous black that crawled forward to steal more and more of the vibrant colors filling the world around him until nothing was left. Strangely enough, he wasn’t afraid about his own wellbeing. If risking his personal safety was the price to pay for those he cared about to live freely, Izuku was more than willing to sacrifice whatever he could…because it was one of the only things he could do.

Izuku sighed, brushing away the negative train of thought by snuggling further into his cocoon of warmth, hoping he could get a few more blissful minutes of sleep. His heavy eyelids drifted shut, muting the gentle sunlight pouring through the window. He hadn’t felt this comfortable in who knows how long, soaking up the tranquil atmosphere.

An atmosphere that was rudely interrupted by a series of sharp knocks on the door followed by the familiar angry voice he knew held no malice. “Deku! Get your lazy ass up!”

Izuku giggled, stray curls falling into his eyes as he lifted his head. “You love my ass and you know it!”

The door creaked open, a head of spiked ash blonde hair peering around the heavy wood. Dark crimson eyes raked over his disheveled form, lingering on the pale flesh exposed as the oversized black tee slipped from his shoulder. “Come and eat breakfast shorty.”

“Carry me?”

“Fuck you, you have fucking legs.”

“Awww, c’mon!” His full laughter followed Katsuki down the hall as he marched towards the kitchen, Izuku following slowly behind as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Mouthwatering smells drifted lazily through the air and only got stronger the further they walked.

The dark wood of the table was covered in a simple meal of miso soup, rice, grilled fish and fluffy omelets cut into cute, bite sized pieces. Izuku’s chest tightened at the warm feeling spreading through his body, memories of his mother shuffling through their tiny kitchen filling his mind.

“Come now Izuku, you don’t want your breakfast to get cold.” She smiled warmly down at her son, eyes sadly taking in the bruises – new and old – that littered his face an arms, knowing there were more hidden beneath the fabric of his dark uniform. She had thought that moving might’ve improved the bullying, but instead it seemed to only get worse with as he came home with bruises, then open wounds and smeared blood which quickly escalated to broken bones. The memory of her baby walking through the door half-conscious, jaw dark purple and broken, haunted her mind every time she closed her eyes.

She gently placed a hand on his head, fingers weaving through soft green hair so much like her own. The action grounded herself in reality – a reminder that her son was okay, that he was so, so much stronger than he looked after everything life had thrown at them. They were survivors, and she made damn sure her baby would grow up happy and healthy no matter how many jobs she had to work. She’d sell her soul to the devil in a heartbeat if it guaranteed his happiness.

“Alright!” He flashed her a bright smile reserved solely for her, knowing the action took away some of the burden weighing down on her shoulders, the dark bags under her eyes a stark reminder of the fact. He sat down at the box that functioned as a table, taking a deep breath filled with the soothing aroma of his mother’s cooking. “Thanks for the food! It looks delicious as always!”

His smile was contagious and soon a matching one graced his mother’s features. “Hurry and eat now, you don’t want to be late for school…and I need to get to work.” Her voice was exhausted as she sipped at the steaming miso soup filling the old, chipped bowl. He hated seeing her like this – pale and drained of her usual cheery attitude, she’d even lost weight to a worrying degree – but knew there was nothing he was currently able to do that would help relieve any of her stress. A fact that angered him beyond belief. He was nothing but a burden to his mother that was driving her to an early grave.

 All he could do was smile and be grateful for the fact that she put enough time and effort aside to make sure he was well fed and happy, taking time every now and then to actually cook, even though he knew it was time consuming and she had to leave her job early to do so.

He finished up his rice and stood up, brushing away the nonexistent dust from his black pants. Walking the few steps forward, he wrapped his arms around his mother, trying his best to communicate how grateful he was through the tightening of his arms around her frail shoulders.

“Thank you, mom.” The whisper was quiet and packed full with emotion he couldn’t convey as arms circled around his waist and squeezed gently. He’d learned to read her like an open book and knew almost instantly when she was sad, and he always found a way to make her smile. His mother’s soft laughter was muffled by his shirt as she patted the small of his back, pulling away.

She quickly wiped the tears from her dark green eyes, flashing him a small smile filled with overwhelming sadness for her son that had to grow up too fast in a society that viewed him as lesser, as a mistake and openly abused him because of it.

Izuku placed a quick kiss to her forehead, pulling away completely to go grab his bright yellow backpack sitting like a guard by the door. “I’ll see you at 12, right?”

“Don’t you dare stay up and wait for me! You need your sleep young man!”

Izuku laughed at her playful scolding as he opened the door, the muffled sounds of the city pouring into the hallway. “Alright, alright!” He turned around, waving goodbye to his smiling mother. “Bye! Love you!”

“I love you too dear!”

If he had known that would be the last time he’d see her bright eyes and summer like smile, he would’ve never left.

A soft, sad smile painted his face as he pulled out a chair and sat down, wondering where in the world he should start. Everything looked heavenly and he knew for a fact they would taste even better. He picked up his chopsticks and gazed at the table, conflicted.

“They’re not going to bite, you know.” Izuku jumped at the sudden voice, eyes wandering up to look at the one who said them. A smirk painted his attractive face, deep crimson eyes swimming with amusement.

“I-I know that!” He looked down at his steaming bowl piled high with white rice, voice soft and melodic with indecision. “I just can’t choose…” He knew he sounded pathetic, and the barking laughter of Katsuki made his cheeks burn.

“Here.” A slice of fluffy, yellow omelet balanced between chopsticks was held a few inches in front of his face, wobbling with even the slightest movement. It was offered by none other than a flushed Katsuki, whose chin was pillowed on his palm as he waited for a reaction, hopefully a positive one.

Izuku raised his eyebrow in question, a teasing smile pulling at his lips which earned an exasperated huff that caused his blonde hair to flutter. “Just fucking eat it before I make you.”

Giggling, he decided to make the best of the situation. After all, moments to screw with the blonde were few and far between and who was he to waste such a golden opportunity offered on a shining platter? And, after all, he looked adorable when he was flustered. Shoving down the embarrassment growing in his chest, Izuku came up with a quick plan with the simple goal of making the other speechless and unsure of how to react – something he’d become adept at over the years.

 He leaned forward, propping his elbows on the table to make his shirt slide further off his defined shoulders, revealing the dusting of cinnamon freckles on milky skin. Gazing at the other with hooded eyes, he slowly opened his mouth to envelope the offered food, watching as the hero tracked every tantalizing movement. Chewing slowly, he savored the delicious flavor and hummed softly in what could only be translated as a PG moan to show his approval, making sure his sultry eyes never left the blonde’s. Swallowing, he slowly licked his lips, deliberately making sure his silver piercing flashed tantalizingly in the light before pulling his bottom lip between his teeth; adrenaline spiking as ruby eyes darkened at the action. At the very last second he decided to throw in a flirtatious wink because why the hell not?

He watched as the blonde gulped, eyes trained on his now glistening pink lips. “I-uh…Holy shit.”

Izuku couldn’t help but snort at the shocked look replacing his usually harsh face. Red eyes narrowing accusingly as he clutched at his stomach, doubling over in a silent fit of laughter. “You sneaky little bitch.”

“Who, me?” He placed a hand over his heart, feigning shock. “I thought you enjoyed it.”

“What! No way!” Katsuki slammed his palms onto the table, making the dishes shake. Rosy cheeks got darker and darker as he tried to stifle his laughter behind his hand.

“Whatever you say, Kacchan.” Izuku said teasingly, popping another slice into his mouth. Humorous eyes watching as the hero angrily shoveled rice into his mouth and stared indignantly at his bowl of soup as if it was the cause of the entire situation. Perhaps it was.

 

____

 

They sat on the couch, Katsuki’s head resting in his lap as a riveting baking competition played on the tv. Izuku gently ran his fingers through surprisingly soft hair, snickering as a man used salt instead of sugar in his two-tiered lemon cake. He was fucked and it wasn’t even the second round.

“Hey, Deku…?” The soft-spoken question of his name broke his concentration from the now crying man on the television, bringing his gaze down to the half lidded, relaxed blonde using his thighs as a pillow. He hummed in acknowledgement, waiting for him to continue.

“If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?” Izuku let a breathy huff of amusement escape past his lips, hands still cording through silky blonde hair. Just dive right into a heavy subject why don’t you.

“Hmmmm…” Gazing thoughtfully out the massive windows, he knew the answer to the question. He had known it since he was 13 and finally accepted the fact that pursuing a career in heroics was nothing but a dead end that would keep knocking him flat on his back, laughing menacingly as he cried. “I really wanted to be a professional dancer, you know? To leap across the stage as people watched in wonder thinking holy shit! That was amazing!” His free had gestured enthusiastically, slicing through the air. “I…wanted to inspire people.”

This time a chuckle escaped his chest. “I guess I got that with Paper Moon but just not in the way little thirteen-year-old me imagined.” He felt Katsuki’s rumbling laughter join his own as his shoulders shook against his thighs.

Once he calmed down, crimson eyes gazed curiously up at forest green. “What do you mean ‘wanted’? Can’t you still do it?”

Izuku shook his head, sadly watching as the judges spit out the overly salty cake, chugging water to get rid of the offensive flavor. “I’m too busy. I have my jobs, and we can’t forget those wonderful bills which can still be a bitch to pay, so I definitely don’t have enough for further schooling, which is fucking expensive and – hell I didn’t even finish high school!” His voice was resigned, but held a smoldering anger at the way life had decided to fuck him over. “Assuming that-that maybe sometime in the future I’m able to afford it, by the time I got my degree and employed I’d probably be too old to even have a proper career…It’d be a waste…”

Emerald eyes distantly took in the ever impressive apartment, mind far away and racing through his thoughts and feelings. “So…I’ll take what I can get at Paper Moon. The job is great and the people are lovely and supportive.” A small, sad smile tugged at his lips, the only thing betraying his complex emotions.

Without a second thought or hesitation, Katsuki sat up, wrapping his long arms around the curly haired boy. He pulled him backward until he was laying down with the smaller of the two resting on his chest, earning a startled squawk from Izuku who was stiff with surprise at the sudden action, but he quickly settled into the comforting warmth.

“Just do whatever the fuck makes you happy.” The statement was said confidently into his hair, holding every ounce of faith and trust Katsuki had in him to do what he thought was right. Happiness bloomed in his chest, warm and addictive like biting into a cookie fresh from the oven, melted chocolate coating your tongue.

He buried his head into the crook of Katsuki’s neck, relaxing completely into the protective embrace. “I’ll try.”

“Oh and by the way,” a harsh flick was delivered to the space between his eyebrows, causing him to huff at the sudden pain. “You already inspire people, Deku. Myself included. You’ve been through so much shit and yet…somehow you’re still an annoyingly optimistic ball of pure fucking sunshine.” Izuku’s eyes were wide with surprise at the sudden motivational speech…even if it was delivered in that special Katsuki way. “So don’t you dare act like you’ve done nothing with your life because that’s complete bullshit.”

Izuku, unable to answer past the thick emotion clogging his throat, simply hummed into the crook of his neck and listened to the steady heartbeat sounding in his ear.

The tv played gently in the background, a calming white noise that filled the massive space and wrapped casually around the pair sprawled lazily on the couch, napping peacefully in each other’s arms.

 

____

 

The walk back to his apartment was far less lonely with the looming figure of Katsuki walking beside him, fiery scowl deterring anyone and everyone from getting close. Izuku couldn’t stop himself from giggling at the sight since the blonde had an uncanny resemblance to a big, fluffy protective dog loping up the creaky metal stairs of his apartment building.

Katsuki eyed him suspiciously at the sudden sound, eyebrow raised in question. “What the fuck are you laughing about?”

“Oh, it’s nothing…I’m just happy you decided to walk me home. It’s sweet.” He bumped his shoulder playfully against the others, laughing at the pink blush dusting the back of his neck.

“Fuck off, you sappy nerd. If I didn’t do this, your dumb ass would get killed and then that’d be on my head.”

“Right, right whatever you say. Either way I’m glad, Kacchan.” He stopped in front of the weathered wooden door of his apartment, chunks of faded blue paint peeling off or missing completely. The metal numbers had long fallen off, dark stains the only proof they were there in the first place.

Everything was its familiar old, falling apart self except for envelope taped to the door, a stark contrast to the rundown building. “For the slut” was written neatly in crimson across the center, marring the flawless white with dark looping cursive.

His hand tentatively reached forward to take the letter, tape taking flecks of ancient paint with it as it was pulled from the door. He sent a cautious glance to Katsuki, taking in the deepening of his scowl and smoldering eyes, entire body tense as a bow. Everything about him – everything about the situation screamed that something was wrong and it made his hands tremble slightly as tore open the envelope, half expecting it to hold something bloody and dismembered.

Instead he was met with a spotless, precisely folded piece of paper. He stared at the square for what felt like hours, mind going a mile a minute in an endless cycle of ‘what ifs’ laced with his fluctuating anxiety.

They knew where he lived? How? How long have they been following me? Oh god do they know about Ai and all the people working at the club-?

A warm hand to the small of his back was a sudden anchor he hadn’t realized he needed. “Let’s go inside, yeah?”

Izuku nodded silently, tucking the unopened letter into his pant pocket before unlocking the door to his small apartment. He slipped off his shoes and jacket, shuffling past the faded couch and into the kitchen only big enough for two people and the bare essentials. The simple routine of making tea was enough to sooth his trembling hands and gave him time to collect his jumbled thoughts.

Placing the set of mismatched mugs on the scratched coffee table, he sat heavily next to the blonde on the surprisingly comfortable cushions of the couch.

He sipped the steaming liquid quietly, savoring the crisp fruity flavor as he pulled the letter from its pocket, the paper seeming to weigh a thousand pounds as it sat in his pale, calloused hands. Subconsciously, he leaned into the warm side of Katsuki as he slowly unfolded what seemed like the beginning of an end. A cataclysm that held the lives of innocent people in its hands, ready to crush them without remorse until they were no longer recognizable – bloody pulp smeared violently across the pavement.

The final fold was smoothed out, gentle crinkle far too loud in the tense quiet that filled the apartment. When he finally looked down, well, Izuku wasn’t quite sure what he had been expecting…but…it wasn’t this.

Instead of some long, angry rant that demanded his demise, he was met with the exact opposite. A single sentence filled the page, but it was enough to send a feeling of unease straight to his core, blood running cold.

“Watch your back little bunny, for the Jackal is out to play.”

The words were written in the same blood red as the front, the color a foreboding message all on its own. Katsuki swore softly under his breath, quickly taking out his phone to call what Izuku assumed to be the detective who he’d mentioned was in charge of their case. He hung up after a few tension filled seconds before turning fully to look at him, ruby eyes calculating and filled with a swirling sea of concern and anger towards the situation and himself for seemingly being the cause.

“Is this what I think it is…?” Izuku’s voice was quiet and uncertain, but it did not waver with fear. Instead it was strong, matching the cold steel that now filled his emerald eyes, a look that showed he was immoveable in the coming storm.

Katsuki nodded stiffly, eyes grim and alight with a driving passion to protect the boy sitting before him who suddenly seemed far more fragile than a piece of glass that could shatter at any moment. A boy he’d lost once and refused to lose again. “It’s a declaration of war.”

 

 

Chapter Text

The letter was only the beginning, a subtle warning towards the days to come. Over the past two weeks, Izuku had gotten something every other day – always left taped to his front door, each one washing him in a feeling of dread that clung heavily to his skin.

Today should’ve been the same as all the rest, but as Izuku warily approached his door after a twelve-hour shift at the café and helping out at the bar at Paper Moon he was met with…nothing. The same old wood and cheap paint was the only thing that met his weary eyes, a fact that sent a jolt of relief spiking through his chest. There was no eerily clean white paper marred with deep crimson. No words that sent his heart racing.

Was it finally over? Had they given up?

His keys jangled softly as he unlocked the creaky door, kicking off his shoes and unceremoniously throwing his coat over the back of the faded couch. He shuffled towards the kitchen on a half-awake mission to make some tea when he suddenly stopped, face twisting in confused horror at the small package on the coffee table. He took in the pristine white box and blood red ribbon, breath halting heavily in his throat. He spun on his heel, eyes frantic and body tense as he searched every shadow for even the smallest movement.

H-How had they gotten in? Were they still here? Why? What was so different this time?

He slowly approached the table, fingers fumbling with his phone as he dialed the familiar number. It barely rang once before a familiar, gruff voice poured out through the speaker.

“Hey babe, what’s up?” Izuku’s heart would’ve skipped a beat at the nickname but it was currently frozen in the firm grip of dread that kept on getting stronger until it felt like the organ would burst. He stood there silently, eyes trained on the package as if it would disappear the second he looked away. “Deku? Is something wrong?”

He was jolted out of his haze by the concerned question floating through his haze. “I…uh. Um they got inside, Kacchan.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you know how I’ve been getting more letters? I thought there was going to be a new one today but there wasn’t so I thought ‘Hey maybe they’ve given up’ but when I walked inside…” His voice got quiet as glanced around the apartment once again. “When I walked inside there was-is a package on the table a-and…”

“Did you open it?” His voice was low and laced with concern as he waited for a reply.

“No, not yet.”

“Good, I’ll be there in ten.” The sound of papers being shuffled filled his ears, only to stop when the blonde remembered who he was talking to. “Do not even think about touching it until I get there. Got it?

Izuku let out an exasperated sigh. “Yeah, yeah I’m not three, you know.”

A soft chuckled echoed across the line, followed by the sound of a slamming door. “You know sometimes I wonder…”

“Hey! I am not-! He hung up on me. Of course he did.” He huffed softly, falling heavily into the couch, eyes staring down the unassuming box with a suspicious glare, mind racing over every and any possibility of what it could hold.

It couldn’t be anything big, the box itself was only large enough to hold a deck of cards. Is it dangerous? Or is it just more pictures? Maybe they ran out of envelopes…? But why in the fuck did they need to put it in his house?? Just to show that they can? Is it another threat or a warning to something bigger-?

A quick knock on the door caused his train of thought to crash and burn, a fact that he was actually quite grateful for. He got up and walked to the door, footsteps muffled by floral socks. Opening the door revealed a familiar shock of blonde hair and smoldering eyes that swam with concern. Without even saying a word he pushed past Izuku, body tense as he searched every nook and cranny of the cheap apartment. Izuku quietly sat back down, watching in mild amusement but desperately praying that he found nothing.

Once Katsuki had finished looking through every single drawer in the tiny kitchen, he finally sat down next to his boyfriend, ruby eyes burning holes into the package sitting on pale wood. Izuku, after taking a slow breath, reached forward and picked it up, surprised that it weighed practically nothing. He pulled at the ribbon, crimson silk falling to his lap as he lifted the lid, heart racing at the possibilities – all of which turned to dust as he gazed down at the two things tucked nicely into the container.

In his hand sat a small flash drive and…what looked like fine…string? He peered closer, eyes widening at the sudden realization that it was actually long dark hair tied together by the ever present red ribbon, a color he was beginning to hate. Katsuki gently took the flash drive from the box, eyebrows furrowed as he looked it over – as if simply staring it down would reveal its contents.

“We’re going to Tsukauchi. We don’t know what’s on this or if there’s anything else hidden in the box…” Pained eyes filled with thinly veiled fear gazed at Izuku “And I’d rather be safe than sorry, ya know?”

Izuku nodded, understanding the tightrope they were walking and could topple off of with even the smallest misstep, plummeting to their deaths. He gently placed the flash drive in the box before once again covering everything with the pristine white lid. Standing, he brushed nonexistent dust from his jeans before slipping the box into his jacket pocket.

Giving Katsuki a long look filled with fiery determination, Izuku squared his shoulders and opened the door, a man ready to face whatever the world had decided to throw at him this time. He was tired – tired of being seen as weaker simply because he lacked something so superficial, tired of rolling over when things got too rough. Tired of letting people kick him when he was down just because they were more fortunate in their comfortable, protected lives. Izuku had seen things those people could never imagine; hell, he’d even done things he wasn’t proud of simply because he’d needed to survive. He was a man forged of scars and pain, and one ready to fight if it meant protecting those he cared for.

“Alright, let’s go.”

 

____

 

 

The police station was far less fancy than Izuku had pictured with it’s simple brick walls and tall glass windows, but it held an air about it that promised to bring justice to those in need. Officers were bustling about despite the late hour, some even talking to the occasional hero- Oh my god was that Eraserhead!?

Izuku stopped, eyes wide with awe as he took in the scruffy underground hero. He was in all black, the iconic white scarf that doubled as a capture weapon and yellow goggles hanging loosely from his neck, looking almost identical to the first time he’d seen him all those years ago. Well that had been in a dark alley so it’s not like he had the best reference. The hero looked like he hadn’t slept in days, the dark bags under his eyes and steaming mug of coffee in hand a testament to the fact.

“Oi, Deku what the fuck-oh.” Crimson eyes followed his own to the figure currently going over a manila file and its hidden contents. He grabbed his arm, quickly tugging his awe shocked form towards an office tucked away in the corner. “Why the hell is that bastard here?”

“Wait, you know Eraserhead? He’s not very well known since he stays out of the spotlight as an underground hero, but he’s made more arrests and saved more people than most of the heroes in the top ten! He’s amazing!” Wide, doe eyes looked at Katsuki curiously. “How do you know him, Kacchan?”

“That dick was my homeroom teacher at UA.” Although his body was tense as he moved away, his tone was one of respect and admiration. That guy must be absolutely terrifying if even Katsuki recognized him.

He knocked once on the office door before practically kicking it open without an ounce of hesitation, revealing a rather unamused man sitting at a dark wooden desk surrounded by stacks of files, the current ones open with their contents splayed across the surface. He glared at Katsuki, a face that said he’d dealt with the fiery blonde enough to build up a wall that refused to take shit from anyone.

“Bakugou, what brings you here?” His voice was tired as he looked back down at his paperwork, quickly scrawling down information pertaining to whatever case he was working on.

“The Jackal left something.” It was a simple statement that rang like a gunshot throughout the quiet of the room. The man, who he could only assume was Tsukauchi, stopped what he was doing as he looked back up at the pair, just seeming to realize that there were two people standing in his office. He set down his pen, shuffling the papers on his desk into a neat pile he tucked back away in their proper folder, making sure he gave them his full attention.

Katsuki turned to Izuku, giving him a small nod to let him know it was his turn to finally show what they’d rushed all the way here for. He took a step forward, pulling the small box from where it’d been sitting heavily in his pocket and setting it on the desk. The whole action was extremely anticlimactic, and Izuku wondered if they’d overreacted by coming to the police.

Tsukauchi gave the small box a once over before removing the lid, face scrunched into a small frown as he looked at the contents. He sighed, glancing up at the pair as if deciding his next plan of action. It was silent as he dialed up a number on the old phone on his desk, the dial tone ringing throughout the room before it was cut short as someone suddenly answered, their low ‘Hello’ practically dripping with boredom.

“Ohayashi? Could you bring me one of our spare laptops?” A muffled response drifted across the receiver. “Yeah I need it ASAP…Thanks.” He hung up, black eyes contemplating as he rested his elbows on his desk and chin on his hand. Katsuki pulled out one of the two chairs, sitting down and unceremoniously pulling Izuku in to the other. They didn’t have to wait long for a sharp knock on the door to signal the beginning of finally getting to learn what was on the flash drive.

“Come in, Ohayashi.” A stick thin man in jeans and a t-shirt opened the door, brown hair cut short and close to his head. His eyes stood out the most past round wire-rimmed glasses, the whites replaced by an electric blue that seemed to glow with energy that was only interrupted by the pitch black of his iris. He had a laptop tucked under his arm as he strolled into the office, placing it gently before Tsukauchi.

He turned to leave, but froze when his eyes landed on the open box on the desk. His gaze flickered back and forth between the box and Izuku, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“Ohayashi, what’s wrong-”

“Why…is your hair in a box…?” His question made everyone look at him in confusion, the earlier feeling of dread pooling in Izuku’s chest until he couldn’t breathe.

The hair was too long to be his, and it was straight…Maybe it has something to do with the color…No, lots of people have dark hair but…

A thought struck Izuku painfully through the heart, one he’d been trying to avoid since he first saw the things tucked away almost lovingly in the box, an arrow meant to pierce him straight through and leave nothing left but heavy despair that clung to his lungs like tar.

If it’s part of his quirk, it’s possible it can’t distinguish between genetics and close family members…a-and that means…

“Can you-” Izuku cleared the panic that threatened to steal the words before they even left his tongue. “Can you see what’s on the flash drive…?”

Tsukauchi nodded, opening the laptop and reaching for the small piece of plastic sitting innocently in the box. “Thank you, Ohayashi. That’s all I need.” The man bowed, silently leaving the room with one last glance towards the greenette. Izuku could feel Katsuki’s gaze burning into the side of his head, so he stretched out his hand as a reassuring invitation for the other, which was accepted after a long, calculating stare; loosely intertwining their fingers together with a comforting squeeze.

“Alrighty, it looks like a video.” The duo stood, walking around the desk to stand on either side of the detective, still hand in hand. They leaned forward as he pressed play, hearts racing in tired, drawn out anticipation.

It started out shaky, pointed towards the tiled floor as ‘The Jackal’ walked down a hallway. Their far too upbeat humming could be heard over their echoing footsteps as the angle was adjusted, showing a sterile white hallway lined with doors and the occasional shitty mural to add a much needed splash of color to break up the never ending white.

Izuku took half a step back, eyes wide with realization as he slowly connected the dots, unable to tear his gaze away from the screen.

The Jackal slowed, stopping before a familiar door. The camera zoomed in on the metal name plate stuck to the middle of the wood. Olive fingers reaching out to gently trace each letter.

“Midoriya Inko, huh? That’s a pretty name.” The voice was obviously masculine, but no one could be sure in a world of quirks that offered almost any and every power a person could think of, including the alteration of one’s voice, features and even gender. It was useless information in the growing sea of unease – of the unknown.

They pushed open the door, the gentle beep of a heart monitor barely heard as they stepped into the room, softly closing the door behind them, the muffled slam ringing a finality that promised nothing but pain. Izuku felt his heart stop and breathing grow more erratic as the video panned to the unconscious form of his mother laid out – god, she was so vulnerable – on the hospital bed. He heard Katsuki take in a sharp breath beside him, his strong hand suddenly squeezing his own in a soothing embrace.

“Oh Bunny, Bunny, Bunny.” The Jackal said disapprovingly as they approached Inko “If only you had stayed away from what’s mine.” they gently traced her cheek with their knuckles, the image far too kind for the person committing it. Izuku felt rage boiling in his veins at the idea of those disgusting hands being anywhere near his mother.

The hand disappeared, the sound of rustling fabric as they searched their pocket suddenly cut short as it reappeared, this time with a curved knife gripped loosely in hand, razor sharp edge flashing dangerously in the warm afternoon light. “Well, since you won’t listen to me when I ask nicely…” They twirled the knife expertly between their fingers, camera jostling as it was placed it on the small table next to the bed, giving a perfect view as they leaned forward, face skillfully hidden by a dark hood. They brought up the knife to her pale face, the sharp edge tracing a deadly trail down her jaw, a small trickle of blood welling up and dripping down her neck.

“I’ll just have to get more serious.” Humming, they grabbed a handful of dark, silky hair, tying it together with a crimson ribbon before cutting it free. Waving it in front of the camera, they tucked it away into the large pocket of their hoodie. They lifted the camera from its spot on the table, leaving the room just as fast as they came.

“You better hide, Bunny.” The camera cut to black and the video ended.

They sat in a stunned silence, Izuku’s body waging a war between panic and overwhelming rage. It decided to choose the best of both worlds, sending his hands trembling and breathing even more erratic than it already was.

How DARE they!

Going after his mother was a low blow he wouldn’t stand by, and it only served to cement the anger growing in his soul. He turned to Katsuki, eyes ablaze and mind full of static.

Was his mother okay? God, he had to go see his mother! If they were willing to go after her, who else was a target? Who else would become a sacrificial warning until The Jackal got what they wanted? Kirishima? Kaminari? Ashido? Ochako? Ai? Mizuki? Todoroki? Anyone could die at any moment all because of this-this asshole-!

“-zuku! Hey! Earth to Izuku! Are you alright?” A firm hand to his shoulder was an anchor he used to reel in his unruly emotions, wide eyes blearily focusing on the blonde before him. A blonde whose eyes reflected the same rage bubbling deep inside. He was pulled into his warm chest, Katsuki’s chin resting on his shoulder.

“Calm down, all right? Tsukauchi already called in to send some officers to the hospital and left to go talk to someone to keep watch on you, even though I won’t let you leave my sight.” His hands sat protectively on Izuku’s waist, and Izuku’s own rested gently on Katsuki’s shoulders.

The greenette gently tapped him on the nose. “Don’t be silly. You’re a hero and the public needs you. They’re more important than me.”

Katsuki opened his mouth to protest, but was cut off by a voice weighed down by exhaustion. “Break it up, lovebirds-oh, hello Bakugou.”

Izuku would’ve laughed at Katsuki’s stiff, upright response to the man standing in front of them if he wasn’t too busy fanboying for the second time that day. Eraserhead stood before them in his full, deadpan glory.

“Eraserhead?! Wait-what-why? Oh my god.” The hero turned his gaze from his former student to the man next to him, calculating eyes causing Izuku to do a mental double take on his entire appearance. Did he have something on his face? Glitter? He must look like an exhausted fucking mess that could rival the hero only a few feet before him.

“Tsukauchi asked me to join the case and keep watch over Midoriya.” Said boy almost combusted on the spot, mind trying to process the fact that one of his favorite heroes knows his name. Logically he knew the man had probably learned it from the detective, but he pushed that aside into the recesses of his mind. Does he remember me? He could dream, couldn’t he?

A mischievous glint flashed in the man’s eye as he turned to his student. “So Bakugou, who’s this?” It was then the duo noticed they were still in each other’s embrace, but Izuku couldn’t find it in himself to be embarrassed. Maybe after years of stripping for strangers he’d built up some sort of immunity.

However, this wasn’t the case for Katsuki. A blush dusted his ears and dyed his cheeks in rosy pink as he stared at his teacher, but he didn’t pull away. A fire burned in his eyes. “Sensei, this is...” He glanced at Izuku for a fraction of a second “My boyfriend.” Pride bloomed in his chest at the confession, knowing the blonde had never called him that before, at least out loud.

“Oh, so you actually found someone willing to deal with your shit…Mic owes me twenty dollars.”

Hah?! You and that microphone fucker made a bet on me?! Izuku couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped past his lips at the flustered look on the blonde’s face.

His fiery gaze softened as he looked at the greenette, lips quirking in a small smile. “Oi, what the fuck?” A soft flick to his cheek only made him laugh harder, barely able to get his words out past each bout of giggles.

“Y-You look like an angry puppy!” He doubled over, the image far too much to handle.

“Hey! I do fucking not!” Unable to answer, Izuku simply nodded, cheeks flushed bright pink, the color only making his freckles that more obvious.

“If I’m a puppy, what does that make you, huh?! A goddamn baby deer?” Even through his anger, Izuku could see the smile he was trying to hide along with the amusement tinging his voice.

“I hate to interrupt this touching moment, but we need to plan so we can ensure the safety of everyone.” Their heads snapped in near perfect harmony towards the man they almost forgot was there, the situation that was briefly forgotten in their laughter hitting them full force.

“Midoriya, you should plan on being moved to a safe house-”

Katsuki took a step forward, subconsciously placing himself between the two, teeth bared as he practically growled. “He’s staying with me.”

“Bakugou, please think about this logically-”

“My head is clearer than a fucking summer’s day. I live in a motherfucking building with top notch security and at least one hero on every floor. So I’d say it’s pretty goddamn logical to have him stay with me.” Eraserhead levelled him with an ice cold stare that made Izuku reconsider his life choices, and he wasn’t even in the direct line of fire.

“Do you want him to die?”

“What?! No! Of course not-!”

“Then use your brain, kid. You’re a pro and know better than most the things at stake here – the things you could lose.” The following silence could be cut with a knife as the blonde stared down his former teacher, face set in determined lines.

Please Aizawa.” The man’s eyes widened in surprise, obviously taken aback by the emotion filling his voice. “Just-fuck. Let him stay with me, but if there’s even a hint of danger you can move him to whatever fucking safe house you want…Just let him stay with me.”

Izuku was convinced the man would argue until he forced Katsuki to submit, but was pleasantly surprised when he nodded his consent. “Fine. But I, and several officers, will be on watch 24/7 and no matter how much you bitch about it, it won’t change.”

Well that was anticlimactic.

Izuku would never admit it, but the idea of being locked away in some random safe house with people he didn’t know made his skin crawl. He’d much rather stay with someone he knew and trusted – he’d much rather stay with Kacchan.

 

____

 

Packing his things was an easy affair, he’d always had an emergency bag packed with the essentials ready to go ever since he was a teenager. Izuku had learned the hard way that if you weren’t prepared for the worst, the world would kick you in the ass and laugh as you fell to the ground, hands scraped and bleeding.

He left his apartment and walked down the creaky metal stairs that threatened a collapse with every step, not even looking back once as he slung his leg over the purring motorcycle and wrapped his arms around the man in front of him. A man that had quickly become a symbol of comfort and strength and…home. He rested his head between strong shoulder blades, enjoying the feeling of muscles moving beneath thin fabric.

“Let’s go.”

 

Chapter Text

Shouta was tired.

He’d been awake for over 48 hours working on a drug bust that haunted his mind, ending like all the others before it: blood, violence and death. The smell of iron still clung to his lungs like a bad cold he couldn’t shake, screams and yells bouncing throughout his skull like a ricocheting bullet. All he wanted to do was speed home and sleep for ten years surrounded by his rescue cats, comforting purrs drowning out all the memories in his head trying to painfully crawl their way to the forefront, leaving nothing but a bloody mess in their wake.

Was that too much to ask?

But instead he was living on nothing but black coffee and a prayer as he mindlessly filled out the paper work at the police station, the sounds of fingers forcefully clacking away at keyboards and faint conversations sending his already frayed nerves into a burning mess. He downed the remainder of his now lukewarm coffee, immediately getting up to refill the far too small paper cup. Taking the scalding liquid like a shot was enough caffeine and mild pain to clear the vestiges of sleep from his mind as he sat back down at the desk he’d temporarily taken over, preparing himself to remember everything that had happened mere hours ago.

He sat atop the building, eyes trained on the rickety warehouse sprawled out before him. The sun was just beginning to set in the west, sky dappled in a myriad of dusty golds and pinks interrupted by cotton candy clouds. It was a scene far too beautiful for the monstrosities taking place in the building just a few meters away.

An unfamiliar voice crackled in his earpiece, breaking through the surreal quiet. “Alright Eraserhead, operation beta is a go. The assault team is heading towards the front while you infiltrate from the back.”

“Copy that.” He pushed his yellow goggles over his eyes, rising to stand from his perch on a windowsill, freezing when the voice filtered through once again, only this time more hesitant – as if they were unsure about what they were going to say.

“Be…Be safe, Eraserhead.”

He chuckled softly at the sentiment, realizing the speaker must be new to the force. The thought made him think of all his students whose hands would tremble and voice shake on their first few jobs as they got a taste of the true horrors that came with the profession. Horrors that no one talked about, preferring to hide them away or water them down until they were easier to swallow. He couldn’t help but reassure, to sooth the poorly hidden anxiety. “Don’t worry kid. It’ll be alright.”

God, he must be getting soft.

Leaping from buildings and swinging from his scarf was a feeling that never got old, and this time was no different. The wind rushed through his tangled hair, brushing it away from his face with gentle fingertips. Twisting gracefully through the air, he landed silently on a steel balcony that led to a catwalk spanning the length of the building, rails painted in the splotchy browns of rust.

He crept along, startled yells and the sounds of fighting distant and far away as the assault team made their move. It signaled the beginning of an end, a year’s work of recon and painstakingly gathered intel coming together to form this final moment, bringing even a sliver of light into the world for those who had been shoved cruelly into shadow.

A startled yell to his left sent him into action, body low as he ran towards the woman with her hand raised accusingly towards him, another yell ready to leave her lips. With a swift kick to the ribs, she was launched into the wall behind her, head snapping back and cracking into the concrete with a sound that would make an average person cringe. Her unconscious form slid to the ground, keeping his arrival a secret for the time being.

He needed to hurry. The clock was ticking and he was running out of time to complete his true objective. Jumping from the balcony, he landed like a cat on the concrete floor, rolling to lessen and distribute the impact. Recalling the blueprints, Shouta made his way towards a door hidden by stacks of boxes with faded labels written in a foreign language, knowing it was the only entrance to the basement below – to the horrors hidden beneath his feet.

The next few minutes were nothing but a blur as he carefully raced down the stairs while still being as silent as possible. Flickering fluorescent lights lined the stairwell and highlighted the grimy hallway, each measured footstep sending adrenaline racing through his veins. Rounding the final corner, Shouta stopped in his tracks, breath frozen in his lungs at the sight before him – a sight he had mentally prepared himself for but nothing was compared to the real thing.

Everything hit him in waves.

First it was the smell. The stench of shit, piss, vomit, and the all too familiar iron tang of blood hung heavy in the air that blanketed everything in an overwhelming haze that made him gag. The longer he stood, the more he realized there was a second, more pungent layer to the assault on his nose – the acrid smell of rotting flesh, of death.

The next wave was one that sent his heart clenching in anger at the cruelty and unfairness the universe seemed to dole out in excess. Floor to ceiling cages lined the walls on either side, each one filled with at least two to three people; all of which had eyes darkened with the ghosts of things they’d seen and been forced to do. Dirt and blood littered their torn clothes and faces, not a single one exempt from whatever abuse had been given far too freely. They were all gaunt and malnourished, ages seeming to range from being nothing more than children to those in their mid-twenties.

He knew why these people – these innocent bystanders who should be out enjoying the sun and living their lives – were bound up in cages and treated as if they had no worth. They were the key to the rise in illegal drugs entering the country, even if it was against their will. These people, with their dead eyes and extinguished hopes, were used as drug mules for villains who only seek their next profit with greedy fingers, not a single care towards the lives it would take and the havoc it would leave in their wake.

But the worst…the absolute worst part was tucked away in the shadowy corners of several cells, as if to give them a sense of peace, of privacy, in the veil of darkness. Thin bodies were pushed as far away from the living occupants as possible, casting light on to the reason the room reeked of death: rotting corpses in various states of decay were left in the very place they died, no longer holding onto the frail value they had clutched with trembling fingers when they had been alive. They were cast aside and seen as lesser than the grime that slicked the floor beneath his feet, left to die afraid and alone in a hell they had been forced to endure until their minds and bodies eventually decayed.

If only he’d been faster, gathered intel more efficiently these people wouldn’t have had to suffer. They wouldn’t have had to die without knowing if they would ever be free, able to bask under the golden morning light and breath in fresh air without constantly looking over their shoulder knowing a single misstep could cost them their lives.

If only Shouta had been a better hero-

A gentle tap to his shoulder and the smell of fresh coffee broke him free of his raging thoughts and guilt, exhausted eyes meeting equally dark ones filled with a knowing look.

“Looked like you were running low.” The detective said softly, freehand gesturing to the steaming black liquid filling the flimsy paper cup he hadn’t even realized was empty.

Nodding his thanks, Shouta placed his scattered papers in a neat pile that slid far too nicely into their respective folder considering the material they contained, captured in his messy scrawl. The detective still stood before him, body language hesitant, as if he wanted something but wasn’t quite sure how to ask.

Might as well end his misery.

“Is there something you need, Tsukauchi?”

A soft sigh of relief escaped his lips, a fact that made the hero’s mouth quirk into a subtle grin. They had known each other for years, but the man still wasn’t quite sure how to approach the man who seemed to be in a constant war with his heavy eyelids. “Uh, yes actually…” He looked down at the scuffed surface of the desk, an apologetic look painting his face. Shouta knew that look, and the faint dream of passing out on his couch was dashed away like ash on the wind.

“Well I know you just finished up a case, but I have a new one for you- a special request. You know I would normally never ask this of you considering the situation but…you’re the only one I trust to handle it.” He paused, voice sincere and honest in an endearing way only Tsukauchi could manage.

Shouta was so caught up in mourning for his lost sleep with the acceptance of the request that he almost missed what the man muttered under his breath. “You’re probably the only one who knows how to handle him.”

The feeling of apprehension that had been stewing in his gut was only agitated by the words, having long ago accepted the fact that his quirk and take-no-shit attitude meshed together to form a formidable web against those who were quick to bare their teeth – a fact that had become quite handy throughout his teaching career.

“So what’s this special request?” He asked, pushing the uncomfortable chair back as he stood, knees and back popping in relief.

Tsukauchi turned towards his office, deep voice explaining a situation that could be the plot of a thriller, dramatic music and all. He explained the letters and the video, all of which were blaring warnings for this ‘Midoriya Izuku’ that seemed to worsen as time passed. No one should be put in situations like this, where people’s lives fell into the twisted, bloodied hands of someone who only had ill intentions.

Tsukauchi stepped to the side as they reached his office door, a mischievous glint sparkling in his eye as he told him to go introduce himself to the people he’d be protecting for who knows how long. It was a look that made him wary as he wrapped his hand around the handle, door opening on silent hinges to reveal the cozy office dotted with happy plants. It held an atmosphere that calmed the emotions in his chest, the fatigue in his muscles seeming distant; a faint memory in the back of his mind that he’d deal with later.

In the middle of it all stood the couple he’d just been informed about in a comforting embrace. The taller of the two had his hands planted gently on the curve of the others hips, face masked behind wild green curls. He could hear their soft murmuring, but couldn’t quite make out the words being said.

There was nothing Shouta enjoyed more than interrupting a touching moment he probably wasn’t supposed to see.

He took another step into the room, announcing himself with a monotone “Break it up, lovebirds-” which turned into quickly masked surprise as a familiar pair of fiery crimson eyes met his own as the greenette turned around in the blonde’s arms. “Oh, hello Bakugou.”

The shorter of the two, who he could assume to be Midoriya, muffled an excited squeal as his eyes went starry and bigger than dinner plates. “Eraserhead?! Wait-what-why? Oh my god.”

That…was a surprise. It wasn’t every day someone recognized him for his hero persona considering he did his best to stay out of the spotlight. He even refused to have his picture taken or to be mentioned in the press, preferring to stay unknown for the sake of preserving information on his quirk – information that, if leaked, could result in a massive hindrance of his hero work and even the loss of lives. Things he wasn’t willing to trade for the sake of fame. So how did this person know enough about him to recognize him in an instant?

Dark eyes narrowed as he took in the boy, seeing him in an entirely new light. He was short, wild curls brushing against Bakugou’s chin. At first glance he seemed weak beneath the baggy sweater that practically swallowed him whole, but Shouta could see the rippling muscle beneath the dark jeans that clung to his legs, broad shoulders strong and defined. But what stopped Shouta in his tracks and made him do a double take were his eyes. They were eyes he’d seen on fellow heroes – dark and filled with ghosts that told a story of things he’d seen and been through. But behind it all stood a steely, razor sharp resolve that would take no shit and deal out punishment without hesitation if it meant protecting those he cared for. It was a stark contrast to his soft features and happy demeanor, a fact that kept Shouta on his toes, never fully letting down his guard even if the boy didn’t seem like an immediate threat. It never hurt to be too careful.

He shifted his stare from Midoriya to his former student, hiding his smirk when he realized they hadn’t left each other’s embrace, and they themselves were oblivious to the fact. Ah, young love. He quickly explained the reason he had rudely interrupted their movie worthy moment, watching as the greenette’s eyes somehow got even bigger.

In the haze of his exhaustion and seeing a student that had been nothing but a joy to teach, Shouta felt the overwhelming need to mess with the explosive blonde and knew just the way to do it. “So Bakugou, who’s this?”

The following reactions were pure gold, and the exact opposite of what he expected. Midoriya stayed completely impassive while a rosy blush dusted Bakugou’s cheeks. The same teen who had claimed love was nothing but a distraction and anyone in a relationship should go die was standing before him, arms wrapped around his boyfriend as. He. Blushed.

No one would ever believe him no matter how hard he tried.

A small sense of pride bloomed in his chest at the healthy character development of one of his most concerning students. When he’d walked into UA that first day, Shouta had his doubts about the boy who was quick to anger and violence becoming a hero, or even making it to graduation. It seemed like he cared about nothing but himself, an ego bigger than Japan sitting heavily on his shoulders. But soon he, and the rest of 1-A, realized the raging inferno he surrounded himself with was nothing but a defensive wall meant to hide and protect the insecure boy beneath.

Soon the class began opening up to the blonde, and he to them until they formed a bond that seemed nearly unbreakable. A bond that was put to the test the day Bakugou had been kidnapped, leaving everyone in a grieving panic as they limped back through the forest. It was a day that was a dark patch in his mind, the entire ordeal stained black with spilled ink. The class had rioted against the order to stay put and leave it to the pros, the need to protect their friend more important to them than the fact they could ruin their futures as heroes. Behind everyone’s back they planned, and successfully executed a rescue operation for their fellow student – for their friend.

But Bakugou had come back a different person, bloody and bruised with vacant eyes. He had been in the hospital for weeks, physical wounds long since healed leaving him with raw, open wounds that no one could see. When he finally came back to class, he was quiet and reserved, his usual explosions and cocky snarls lost, leaving the classroom feeling empty – less bright without his scalding flames and personality. He was a shell of who he used to be, coals cooling and fading. It was only until they were well into their second year that the embers slowly turned into flickering flames which gradually returned back to their former glory. But Shouta still saw the shadows lurking in his eyes, the scars marring his flesh a constant reminder of his failure to protect his students.

So seeing Bakugou smile as he playfully argued with the shorter boy sent relief coursing through his veins. Knowing he had found someone he could trust and open up to lifted a weight from his shoulders that he didn’t know was still there, lurking in the recesses of his mind. A feeling that only grew as the blonde stepped forward protectively, demanding to keep Midoriya at his apartment. It was a demand that went against every heroic, logical fiber in Shouta’s body, but the raw emotion being directed at him made him reconsider and eventually relent.

God, he hoped he wouldn’t regret this.

 

____

 

Shouta was full of coffee and regret, images of a comfortable bed haunting his mind and whispering his name like some fucked up fever dream. Admittedly, there were worse things he could be doing rather than sitting on the couch as sounds of laughter and cooking drifted from the kitchen along with mouthwatering aromas.

The last time he’d had a home cooked meal he’d been dragged to Hizashi’s house after days spent relentlessly working on a case until he’d fainted from exhaustion, and was unceremoniously thrown on the couch with an exasperated ‘Jesus, you work too much, Shouta. Learn to take care of yourself before you end up in an early grave.’ It was a statement that still rang true to this day as he put more time and effort into his job, sacrificing his well-being for the lives of others.

“Oi, old man why the fuck are you still awake?” Glancing up, his eyes levelled with those of Bakugou who was currently leaning over the marble breakfast bar, dish towel slung over one shoulder. Shouta quirked an eyebrow, wondering why in the world the other cared.

“You look like you’re going to keel over and die any second, and I don’t want your corpse on my couch.” He paused, face set in determined lines that wouldn’t take no for an answer. “We’ll wake your ass up when the food’s done.” He turned back around, signaling the end of the conversation.

Shouta watched for a few more seconds, soaking up the undeniable dynamic the two in the kitchen seemed to have. Midoriya was humming softly as he chopped up and prepped ingredients which Bakugou quickly cooked together, quietly harmonizing with the other as they bumped shoulders. They didn’t talk, simply communicating through body language like a couple that had been together for years. It was the happiest he’d seen the blonde since…Well, since forever.

He closed his eyes, sighing softly as his tired body relaxed into the cushions.

 

____

 

A gentle hand to his shoulder shook him awake, Shouta’s body immediately assuming the person was a threat by going into survival mode. He shot forward and onto his feet, fist swinging without hesitation towards the person standing before him – a person who caught his fist with ease and quickly twisted his arm behind his back until his elbow and shoulder screamed in pain.

“Aizawa, calm. Down.” As his brain slowly woke up from his half-conscious dream haze, his body relaxed and mortification grew in his chest like vines on an abandoned building. The tension bled from his shoulders, a signal for the other to let him go. He gently shook his arm, easing his aching muscles back in place.

Turning around he fully expecting the imposing build of Bakugou, but was instead met with a wild shock of green curls and freckled skin. Midoriya…was able to immobilize him? Who was this kid?

Suddenly his actions hit him full force, the realization that he attempted to injure a civilian smashing into his lungs like a battering ram, leaving his ribs shattered and broken. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“It’s alright. I know you didn’t mean to. It’s my fault for shaking you awake, so don’t blame yourself!” He gave him a blinding smile that left him bewildered, turning away and walking towards the table set for three. “Dinner is done; I hope you like katsudon!” Midoriya gave another impossibly bright smile, causing Shouta to wonder if he was actually made from pure sunshine.

He sat down, ignoring the curious crimson stare burning its way into the side of his head as he took in the delicious looking meal before him, stomach growling softly at the sight. Using his chopsticks, he picked up a bite that had something of everything in it, praying he wouldn’t die as he lifted it to his mouth. The taste practically exploded on his tongue, juicy pork working in prefect harmony with the rice and egg. It was a comforting flavor that spread warmth throughout his chest, temporarily easing his body and mind.

Okay, maybe this wasn’t so bad.

 

____

 

Stars dappled the velvet sky like diamonds sewn into a tapestry, twinkling down upon the sleeping city as Aizawa sat on the balcony wrapped in the warmth of his yellow sleeping bag. The wonder duo had gone to bed several hours ago, shuffling to their separate rooms with half lidded eyes they could barely keep open. Now, as he was alone in the comforting quiet, warm breeze dancing past in a gentle waltz he couldn’t help but think about the events of the day, marveling at the emotional marathon he’d run in a dead sprint that left him drained and exhausted. He ignored the painful thorn in his side that was the drug bust, instead turning his mind to look over his current mission: to protect his former student and number four hero, and his curious partner.

Midoriya was…complex. At first glance he came off as quiet and weak, but upon closer inspection he was so much more. He was layered in lean, rock hard muscle that was meant for flexibility and strength with a resolve and determination that could make even the strongest hero submit beneath his scarred hands. A man that was able to take him down in a matter of seconds without an ounce of hesitation, keeping a cool head all the while flashing a dazzling smile. It was obvious he’d lived a hard life that left him covered in scars Shouta would never grasp completely no matter how hard he tried. He was a multi-faceted anomaly he had yet to understand.

A movement to his right caught his eye, and Shouta had to stop himself from snorting a quiet ‘speak of the devil’ at the flash of dark green. He hadn’t even noticed him approach, cloaked in the shadows of night.

Midoriya sat down next to him, chin resting on bent knees folded against his chest. He gazed silently out onto the city dappled in the soft glow of street lights, a contemplative look painting his features. They sat in silence for who knows how long, a moment broken by his soft voice.

“Do you remember me?” It wasn’t hesitant or weak, just a simple question that brought with it more questions. He turned to look at the greenette in a new light, startled by the intense gaze that seemed to glow under the starry sky. Glancing over his face once again, Shouta noted the faint feeling of…something bubbling in his chest that he wasn’t quite able to put his finger on.

“Sorry, I don’t think I do.” He received a small smile, curly head pillowed on arms that rested upon folded knees.

“That’s alright. It was a few years ago so I didn’t really expect you to.” Forest eyes flickered back to the city, faraway and distant as he remembered what Shouta couldn’t. “I just…wanted to say thank you. If you hadn’t showed up, I’m not sure I’d be alive.”

Midoriya stood, brushing the creases from his fuzzy pajama shorts that ended just above mid-thigh. “Good night, Aizawa.” He walked back into the apartment on silent feet, leaving the hero to his own devices once again, the unique sounds of the city at night floating up from the streets below.

What a strange boy.

 

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki’s eyes shot open, body covered in a thin sheen of cold sweat as his chest heaved, heart trying to painfully beat its way out of his ribcage. He sat up, bedsheets slipping from his bare torso to pool around his waist, hands gripping the smooth material until his knuckles were white. He took in the familiar surroundings of his room hoping to ground himself in reality; to prove that he was no longer trapped in that windowless room where the passage of time was marked with violence and spattered with blood.

Tired eyes took in the array of posters – from heroes to American rock bands – plastered neatly on grey walls, many of which had followed him from when he was a kid and throughout UA. He slowly took in each color muted by the moonlight filtering dully through the white curtains covering the massive window, each one pulling him from the reoccurring nightmare that had plagued his dreams. It was one that had started ever since he’d been rescued from the league of villains, but had changed from a nightly routine that left him terrified and unable to breathe to something that slipped in every now and then.

He hadn’t had the nightmare for over half a year, but the recent events had sent them flaring up to an almost weekly event. But the one thing that made it different, that made it so much more terrifying from all the previous was that the dream no longer centered around himself, bloody and broken while strapped to that chair. His unmistakable, spiky ash blonde hair had changed to wild dark green curls, freckled skin stained crimson with blood. Izuku’s screams haunted his mind, even though he knew the boy was safe and sound only a door away.

Katsuki sat for who knows how long, heart beat still mildly erratic but far better than what it had been as he took steadying breaths through his nose and out his mouth. He was fighting the overwhelming urge to go and see the greenette, to hold him in his arms to prove to himself that he was okay, that nothing bad had or will happen to him. Not as long as he was there.

…Fuck it all.

Kicking off the covers, he quietly walked over and out his bedroom door, making sure it shut with as little noise as possible. He strode out with a confidence he didn’t feel, slowing at the sight of the plain looking door across and to the left of his own. Doubt and hesitation creeped into the edges of his mind, making his hand hover above the wood, ready to knock.

Was this weird? They had done things like this before but…it felt different? God it was just some stupid fucking nightmare, he didn’t need to bother Deku with that shit…he’d handled it on his own just fine up to now.

A soft sigh escaped his lips, broad shoulders slumping at the war of indecision raging in his mind. It shouldn’t be this fucking hard.

He leaned forward until his forehead rested lightly against the wood, the cool material a welcome reprieve against his fiery skin. Eyes fluttered closed as he took a deep breath, doing his best to ignore the horrible flashbacks playing through his mind like a movie he could never unsee – each gruesome moment carved painfully into his brain, leaving jagged scars and memories that would never fully disappear in their wake.

Soft footsteps broke through his thoughts, crimson flickering over the form that stood quietly to his right, delicately attractive features painted with concern. “Kacchan? Is something wrong?”

The haze was gone in an instant, replaced by the adorable sight before him. Izuku stood there in an oversized, dark blue t-shirt that gave a preview of his collarbones and the pale skin dappled in cinnamon constellations. A pair of black and white stripped shorts that didn’t even reach mid-thigh hung from his waist, leaving smooth, muscled legs that could kill a man out in the open for the world to see.

Katsuki would be lying if he said the view didn’t send his heart racing for reasons completely opposite of his blood chilling nightmares. No, this was a fantasy he was more than willing to drink up like a man who’d been wandering the dessert for days with nothing but the clothes on his back.

Izuku was beautiful.

“Do…you want to come in?” The small, almost imperceptible smirk on the others lips made Katsuki realize he’d been standing and staring silently for who knows how long. He tried to find the words to answer, but they all got caught in his throat as they struggled to get out, leaving him with nothing but the option of nodding soundlessly.

Izuku let out a breathy giggle as he stepped in and pushed open the door, revealing the cozy guest room draped in the dusky blue tones of night. Flowy white drapes were pulled aside, twinkling stars and the soft city lights filling the large window like a renaissance painting. Izuku was silhouetted as he crawled under the rumpled sheets on the bed, holding up the corner in a silent invite for him to join.

Katsuki vigorously beat back the nervousness creeping at the edges of his mind, reminding himself that not only was his boyfriend willingly letting him into his room, but wanted to cuddle and he didn’t even need to ask? It was a situation that folded out far better than he could’ve hoped, so he wasn’t going to let pesky doubts weigh him down and stain everything grey.

Before Izuku could change his mind and kick his ass back out into the hallway, Katsuki quickly strode across the soft rug and slipped in next to the other, leaving a semi wide gap between them. An awkward silence spanned the space between them, emerald eyes filled with ever growing humor catching his own before flitting away to something that wouldn’t stare back.

The entire situation was so ridiculous that Katsuki couldn’t help but snort, rolling over until he was flat on his back and sinking into the cloud like pillows.

“What’s so funny?” The greenette had propped himself up, head resting on his hand as his slender fingers wove through tousled curls. Forest eyes filled with mirth crinkled at the edges as he gazed down at Katsuki, lips curling in a relaxed smile.

“We’re like teenagers; not knowing what to fucking do or say,” he gestured to the space between them. “Being awkward as hell.”

A melodic giggle that could rival a fucking angels’ danced around the room, drenching everything in a warm glow. It was a sound that Katsuki wanted to hear again and again, knowing he was the only one who could cause something so sweet.

“God you’re right! It’s like I’m fourteen again.”

“I’m not even surprised, you’ve been an awkward fuck since the day you were born.”  A wicked smile spread across his face as a too-good-to-be-true image popped in his head. “What were you like when you were a teen, shorty?” His tone was nothing short of playful as he watched the growing blush on the other’s cheeks.

The rosy flush continued to grow along with the pause between them, Izuku’s soft lips opening and closing like a fish as he struggled to find words. “I-didn’t I already tell you?”

Katsuki tapped his nose, hand falling in the space between them. “I got your tragic backstory, not what you were like.” His fingers picked at the crumpled white sheets as he sorted through his thoughts. “I’m curious.”

A tentative hand was placed over his own, calming his fidgeting as their fingers were laced together. “On one condition.” A small feeling of dread pooled in Katsuki’s stomach at the sly smirk on Izuku’s face. “You have to tell me what you were like.”

“And if I don’t want to?”

“Oh, I’ll just go ask your lovely hero friends.” He leaned over Katsuki towards his phone on the bedside table. “I have all their numbers I can text them right now-”

Panic flared throughout his veins, every embarrassing, drunken thing he’s ever done flashing through his mind as the universe laughed at him in the background. He tugged the other back and away from his destination with their clasped hands, unwillingly causing him to fall on his bare chest. “Don’t you fucking dare.”

Eyes glinting with mischief flashed in the dark as Izuku lifted his head from his sprawled position, grin growing exponentially. “And why not? Do you have something to hide, Kaaaachan ̴ ?”

“No, you little shit. Don’t change the subject.”

Another melodic giggle filled the room as he lowered his curly head until it was on his sternum. Katsuki reluctantly undid their woven fingers, but happily replaced the contact by wrapping his arms around the greenette’s slender waist, hands finding warmth on the exposed skin as his t-shirt rode up his back.

“Alright, alright. But a deal’s a deal, you gotta tell me what you were like.”

An amused huff left his lips, the air ruffling green curls. “Fuckin’ fine.”

 

____

 

Izuku relaxed into the body beneath him, reveling in the warmth of skin against his cheek, steady rhythm of Katsuki’s heart sounding in his ear. He sucked in a soft breath, wondering where in the fuck he should start.

“Uhh well when we first moved I was shy beyond belief. I didn’t talk to anyone, especially when the bullying started.” A bitter chuckle escaped his chest. “I’m pretty sure they all thought I was mute until I snapped one day and told them to fuck off…let’s just say that didn’t end well.”

The hands around his waist tightened ever-so-slightly, whether in anger or reassurance he wasn’t sure. “I used dance as an escape even though we couldn’t afford lessons, so I mostly taught myself from things I’d seen and from videos online. It made me happy to be able to be good at something.” He breathed in slowly through his nose, ignoring the painful emotions throbbing in time with his heart.

“After…after the incident with my mom any threads of patience or hope I had snapped, I guess. I was angry at the world, angry at myself for not being there for her when she needed me the most. I think that’s when I stopped believing or wanting to be a hero.”

“You know it wasn’t your fault, right?”

Izuku jumped, not quite expecting a response of any kind. “I do now, but back then I was just a mess of self-hate with no method of expressing myself so I lashed out. I…I got in way too many fights and left most covered in blood and bruises. When money got tight and I couldn’t afford the apartment anymore, one day I just left – started living in abandoned buildings or the cheapest place I could find, stealing food only when I was desperate because it tore me up every time I did it. I even got arrested once, you know.”

You got arrested? You, the boy who literally missed almost an entire day of school because you found a missing kid and spent a fucking lifetime calming them down before taking them to the police station?”

“You remember that?”

“Course I fuckin’ do, Deku. I remember lots of things.” Katsuki’s features turned soft and eyes distant as he reminisced. “Like that time you tried to help me when I fell in the river, your muttering in class…”

A small silence grew between them before it was broken by a statement he wasn’t expecting, but sent him laughing nonetheless. “You know, when I found out you started taking dance lessons, I was so angry. I thought you were trying to one up me; prove you could do something I couldn’t.” A chuckle rumbled through his chest, the comforting feeling reverberating through Izuku’s entire frame. “So one day – Jesus I can’t believe I’m telling you this – one day I thought ‘why the fuck not?’ and tried to pull off this hella complex move – I think it was called a pirouette? I fell and broke my arm like a complete asshole.”

Izuku’s head shot up, cheeks flushed with amusement as he struggled to get his words out between each bout of laughter. “That’s why you broke your arm?! By doing a-a pirouette?! Whenever I asked you always told me to fuck off or that you got it by beating up some older kids! I-I can’t believe that’s how you did it!”

“I cried like a bitch too; had snot running down my face and everything as my mom drove me to the hospital. She never lets me live it down to this day.”

“Is that why I’ve never seen you dance?”

“You’ve never seen me dance because I literally can’t. The second I try to do anything more than swaying the world decides to fuck me over.”

Izuku’s shoulders shook with uncontrollable laughter as image after image of Katsuki trying to dance and failing miserably flashed through his head. Knowing that the blonde wasn’t blindingly successful at everything he did and was willing to share it with him sent a warm feeling blooming in his chest like a meadow in spring.

After his fits of laughter subsided, he poked Katsuki square in the chest, determination trickling through every fiber of his being. “A deal’s a deal, babe.”

A quick flick was delivered to his nose before the deep voice he’d grown to adore filled the room with its deep and melodic cadence. “Well you already know I was a complete and utter dick in middle school. That only got worse when I was accepted into UA with the highest practical score which launched my ego into fucking space. I thought I was better than everyone and kept getting into fights. Aizawa threatened to expel me more than once; and that was only in the first two months of school.”

A shuddering breath filled Katsuki’s lungs, pulse picking up speed beneath Izuku’s fingertips. His eyebrows furrowed in concern as he watched the hero struggle to find his words.

“Do…you remember the whole incident with the training camp? It was all over the news and everyone was talking about it.”

“The one where villains attacked your class, right? Wasn’t a student kidnapped?”

A suffocating atmosphere blanketed the duo in a heavy silence that sent dread pooling in Izuku’s stomach, an acrid taste filling his mouth as he attempted to brush away the horrifying realization creeping at the edges of his mind like a bramble digging in its thorns until he was trapped and could no longer move.

“It was dark as hell, and people were panicking…and before I knew it they had snuck up behind our group and everything was – it was…” He took in a sharp breath, arms tightening around Izuku’s waist. Crimson eyes squeezed shut as small tremors ran through his hands. After a few tense, worry filled seconds his eyes slowly opened, revealing a whirlpool of dark emotions as he began to speak, words quiet and hesitant as if it was the first time they’d been spoken.

“There was this girl – a villain about my age named Toga and she was fucking batshit crazy; had this creepy obsession with blood and making people bleed…and she used me as an outlet but always made sure I stayed conscious and never did enough damage to kill me.” His words were breathy and rushed as if this was his only chance to talk, breaking every now and then as his eyes glistened with a hint of tears that refused to fall. “It was hell. But sometimes…sometimes it feels like everything after the rescue was worse. I had nightmares and couldn’t sleep, people kept asking me questions, I was afraid to even show the smallest emotion because I thought I’d be punished…thought I would wake up one day and be back in that room.”

Izuku laid his head back down on his shoulder, fingers gently tracing the scars that marred his flesh in a constant reminder of everything he’d been through. Everything he’d survived.

“I still have nightmares, sometimes.” Izuku could hear the unsaid statement in the whisper behind layers of fear and anxiety, a silent sentence that made his heart ache.

“I’ll always be here, you know.”

A warm hand came up and threaded through his hair, fingernails scraping softly against his scalp and sending tingles down his spine. He could feel his eyelids getting heavy as they slowly drifted shut.

“Always?” It was barely a whisper, woven tightly with uncertainty and doubt.

“Always.”

Just before he drifted asleep, Izuku could’ve sworn he felt the gentle press of lips against his forehead.

 

____

 

The hot soapy water splashed as he cleaned their dishes from breakfast, Aizawa standing to his left where he dutifully dried and placed them back where they belonged.

“So you’re telling me that after we visit his mother, your boyfriend still wants to go to work? Even though he knows the dangers?”

Katsuki nodded at his former teacher, intense gaze taking in the less than pleased look gracing his perpetually tired face. “He already called the café he works at and has the next two weeks off, but he wants to keep working at Paper Moon so he doesn’t feel like he’s trapped in some fucking cage, ya know?”

The crease between Aizawa’s eyes lessened by a fraction as he put the last bowl away, porcelain clanking softly against the cupboard. The soft pattering of Katsuki’s shower could be heard echoing down the hall in melodic tandem with Izuku’s muffled singing; a sound that caused his mouth to quirk into an uncontrollable smile as joy built in his chest, the tension in his shoulders melting away into nothingness, leaving him relaxed beyond belief.

“Well, we can have two of the officers on guard go with him-”

“I can do it myself; you don’t need those shitty extras watching Deku.”

The mildly annoyed look on Aizawa’s face turned into one of complete exasperation. “Did you forget that The Jackal is not only a threat to Midoriya, but to you? Or did your explosions destroy the few remaining brain cells you had?”

The blonde bristled, standing intimidatingly over the other man ready to argue until he was blue in the face. But the second he opened his mouth, the scathing retort burning on the tip of his tongue died faster than embers smothered by a torrent of rain as remnants of their past conversation echoed through his skull.

“Do you want him to die?”

He’d just gotten Izuku back into his life, why would he ever want to lose him? To lose the one person who made him laugh like a fool and heart beat in a wild rhythm that would make any heavy metal band jealous just because his massive fucking ego got in the way? Never. He’d rather die before any harm came to the obnoxiously bright ball of pure sunshine.

“Fine, but not those asshats outside; I saw them leave to get food and then sleep when they were supposed to be on watch.”

An angry huff escaped the older man’s lips, although he wasn’t quite sure who it was directed at. “Fine, not the asshats outside.” He pulled his dark hair back and away from his face into a loose ponytail that rested along the back of his neck. “Who would be worthy of thou, oh great Ground Zero?”

Katsuki snorted at the nearly palpable sarcasm dripping from every word until it filled the kitchen, thick enough to be cut through with a knife. A few seconds passed as he swallowed past the lump of pride lodged in his throat, actively avoiding eye contact with the man who had not only seen but helped him through his worst times – almost like a second father.

“I’d be fine if it was you.”

A heavy but not uncomfortable silence spread over the duo made up of almost near opposites, Aizawa’s usually expressionless eyes widening to show his shock at the sudden honesty and display of emotion.

“Alright, but only if you buy me a drink after.”

A rumbling laugh bubbled deep inside Katsuki’s chest until it had no other option but to escape. “Oh, there’ll be plenty of drinks old man.”

 

____

 

The air was cool against his damp skin as Izuku stepped out from the shower, shivering as he wiped the water from his body before quickly putting on a tight, black and white floral button up with short sleeves and ripped jeans.

He walked out to the kitchen, hair freshly blow dried only to find Kacchan and Aizawa in a tense stare down, which ended with a few words he couldn’t hear and a soft chuckle from his boyfriend that brought a smile to his face. It was nice seeing him so relaxed and trusting around the older hero, the dark emotions that swam in his eyes only hours ago long gone and replaced with something bright and happy. It was obvious the man had been an unshakable pillar support for Katsuki – revealing the man to be a teacher who put up a gruff demeanor to hide the soft side that loved and cared for each and every student that walked through his doors as if they were his own.

Izuku walked up to the duo, bare feet silent against the wood floors as he loosely wrapped an arm around Katsuki’s waist.

“What’d I miss?”

The blonde gave him a tender smile as he finished wiping out the sink, tossing the dishrag onto the granite counter. “We were thinking about going to visit your mom.”

Izuku’s eyes lit up with pure joy and utter relief, mind instantly going a mile a minute. “Really?! I thought I couldn’t go because it was too dangerous and the stalker might still be there and well, that isn’t good and yesterday you literally had to stop me from running there-”

A warm, calloused hand was placed over his speeding mouth, cutting off whatever words were next. “Deku, calm you shit, alright?” He nodded enthusiastically, body humming with the idea of seeing his mother. “The police spent the day keeping watch on her and sweeping through the area, and we just got the call that it was all clear. Your ass is safe baby.”

Izuku practically jumped in delight, bolting to put on his boots and Katsuki’s dark blue zip up hoodie hanging by the elevator. The doors opened as if they had been expecting his mad dash, and he spun around to see the fiery blonde throwing on the jacket he’d picked for him that shopping trip that seemed so long ago, eyes bright as a smirk tugged at his lips. Aizawa stood stoically in the kitchen not having moved an inch, shaking his head as he dried the last few dishes, the faintest of smiles on his face.

Katsuki slipped into the elevator just as the door closed, looking down at the greenette with eyebrows raised expectantly. “How were you planning to get there huh? Run all the way there in the rain?”

“It stopped raining a while ago…” He brought a hand to his chin, stroking his imaginary beard as if he was deep in thought. “And I could always take your motorcycle.”

The heavy metal doors opened into the lobby drenched in the soft greys of a storm, the sidewalks practically abandoned of life as people decided to stay in the warmth of their homes. He turned around to see Katsuki standing stiffly in the elevator, eyes wide and disbelieving.

“Kacchan? What’s wron-”

“You fucking wouldn’t.”

Izuku gaped at the man before him, slightly taken aback by the sudden defensive, almost motherly display over his motorcycle. “Wait what…?”

“You wouldn’t dare lay a single fucking finger on Susan.”

He went to plan a witty comeback, but any words were wiped from his tongue as his mind came to a standstill, trying to process what he’d just heard.

“Wait, what the fuck? You named your bike Susan?

“Why the hell does that matter? Do you even know how to ride a motorcycle? What if you crashed, huh? You and Susan could’ve been injured.”

“I know how to ride a motorcycle, Kacchan.” Izuku deadpanned, not entirely sure how to feel about being on the same level of an inanimate machine.

With eyebrows furrowed, the hero took a step forward. “You do fucking not.”

“Yes I do?”

“Prove it then, shorty.”

Izuku rolled his eyes, a feeling of déjà vu sweeping through his body as memories of stupid competitions between them just like this played like a shitty teen drama. “Really? Now you suddenly trust me? What are you, five?”

“Are you scared, Deku?” He poked him playfully in his chest, eyes ablaze with a roaring forest fire.

Placing a hand on his hip, the greenette straightened to his full height as determination flared hot and bright in his stomach, spreading through his veins until he was sure he’d burn from the inside out. He hadn’t fought tooth and nail ever since he was a boy to lose now.

“Bring it, bitch.”

 

____

 

“Oh. My. God.” Katsuki took off his helmet, wild grin plastered across his face. “You really – how fast were we going? It felt like we were flying.” He tucked the helmet away, bouncing on the balls of his feet as if he was itching to hop back on and continue to the ends of the earth.

“So you believe me now?”

“I always believed you, I just wanted to ride on the back for once.”

A few seconds of silence passed as Izuku went over the conversation that had led to this predicament and realized he’d been played like a goddamn piano. “…You’re a sneaky little shit, you know that?”

They began walking to the familiar building hiding away in the back of the hospital property behind a curtain of trees. “Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet, Deku.”

Their conversation was cut short as a police officer with the body of a man and the head of a cat with light colored fur approached them. “You must be Midoriya and Bakugou, correct?” They nodded in confirmation, Izuku filled with wonder as he got lost in his observations of the man.

Was it just his head that was transformed? Was he born this way or did it manifest when he got his quirk? Did he also have other cat-like attributes such as claws? Could he retract them? Did he have a tail or enhanced senses? Would it be rude to ask…?

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both! I am Tamakawa Sansa, an officer who works closely with Tsukauchi. If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to your mother.” He bowed before quickly spinning on his heel, marching gracefully past the glass doors leading to the expanse of plain white hallways Izuku knew like the back of his hand after the years spent wandering when things got to be too much.

They came around the final corner and any semblance of restraint Izuku had mustered up disappeared in an instant as he bolted in a dead sprint towards the door at the end of the hall, sliding to a stop and pausing for only a second to practically throw open the door as a surprised yelp from Tamakawa followed his sudden, unexpected dash along with the hurried footsteps of Katsuki hot on his tail.

The sight that met him eased the racing of his panicking heart and days’ worth of anxiety, simultaneously sending molten anger shooting through his veins. She looked like she always had, peacefully laying on the hospital bed as grey light filtered through the window. The only difference being a white bandaged taped to her cheek, small yet undeniable proof of the danger she’d been in, unable to do anything.

All because he was incapable of doing anything right, of helping those he truly cared for.

He felt tears stinging the corners of his eyes, guilt building up and sitting like a pile of bricks on his chest.

He’d failed her again…how could he still be so useless?

None of this was your fault, Deku.” A light smack was delivered to the back of his head as Katsuki stood beside him, face twisted in pure, almost motherly anger that was being directed right at him, the intensity making Izuku take a step back. Shit, did he say that out loud?

“You’ve always been by her side, doing and sacrificing more than anyone I know. The people who’re at fault are the pricks who hurt her, not you.”

Sighing, the greenette stared down at his shoes and the smooth tiled floor beneath them, unable to meet his gaze. “I-I know but sometimes…sometimes I wonder if it would’ve turned out better if I’d had a quirk…or if maybe she’d had a different kid. Maybe my dad would’ve stayed and money wouldn’t have been a problem-” He cleared his throat which seemed intent on closing. “a-and she’d be happy and healthy…”

Before he could say anymore and fall any further, warm arms pulled him into a firm chest. It was a protective embrace that stopped his tunneling thoughts, pulling him from the waves before he could drown.

“I know your mom, Izuku.” His voice was soft as a hand corded through and played with the curls at the base of his skull. “She would never, ever wish for anything different. She loves you for you and everything that you are, and I’m sure as hell she’d be the happiest person in the fucking world if she could see you and everything you’ve overcome – how strong you are.”

The tears were back as they stained dark circles on to the blonde’s shirt, a mixture of sniffles and embarrassed giggles floating around the room as he pulled away, watery gaze meeting the steady one mere inches away. “Who knew you could be so soft?”

Katsuki snickered, playfully ruffling the greenette’s hair into an even wilder mess. “I can be soft you ass.”

“Yeah, like a teddy bear that explodes.” They both laughed, and Izuku could’ve sworn his mother’s ever constant heartbeat sped up if only for a moment.

He stepped forward towards the dark green chair he’d sat in so many times, brushing a stray hair from her pale face. Turning towards Katsuki, a tender smile pulled at the edges of his mouth at the man standing awkwardly in the middle of the room.

“I wanted to do this under…better circumstances but, well” He gestured with his free towards the fragile woman laying before him, the other holding her cold hand, thumb stroking her knuckles. “I know you already know her but, this is my mother, Kacchan.”

Katsuki gulped, the thinly veiled apprehension clear as day on his face.

“Hello, Auntie.”

 

____

 

They left the hospital with a light feeling in their chests, an unknown weight freed from their shoulders. They casually strolled back to where they parked, in no hurry to get there as they took a detour through the garden and trees whose colors were far more vibrant from the freshly fallen rain. The sun was just beginning to set, an oil painting of orange and pink hues smeared across the sky, interspersed with clouds that could put cotton candy to shame. The duo had been there far longer than it had seemed, time passing in a blur of easy conversation and ever present laughter.

They walked in a comfortable silence, arms brushing as they walked past vivid flowers and various shades of green, none of which could compete with the depth of color in Izuku’s eyes. It was a color that could never be replicated, one that belonged to him and him only; something completely and utterly Izuku.

God, he was so fucking whipped.

Their arms brushed against each other once again, and Katsuki decided to throw all fucks out the window of a seventy story building as he laced his warm hand through those that were always a little bit cold no matter the temperature around them. He expected to be pushed away and rejected at the sudden contact, but instead received a small squeeze of reassurance as the greenette moved closer, smile on his face.

The tall trees cleared, giving way to Susan parked in the distance, a familiar figure leaning against the hood of a cherry red car pulled up directly behind her. They slowed to a snail’s pace, the greenette’s nose scrunched up like a rabbits in confusion.

“Why is Aizawa here…?”

“Oh, the old man said the only way you could work tonight would be if someone went with you.” He tugged on their linked hands as he picked up their pace to something more akin to a tortoise. “I obviously offered up myself because I am an undeniable badass.”

“Obviously.”

“But he said I couldn’t go alone so he’s tagging along.”

“Does he know where I work? That I’m a stripper?” Katsuki huffed out a quick ‘nope’, popping the P with a quick shake of his head. A wicked glimmer flashed behind his eyes at the statement, something that was a change from when the meek boy he knew when they were kids but a development he enjoyed nonetheless.

“Oh, this’ll be fun.”

 

____

 

The music pounded painfully in his ears as scantily clad bodies walked past him towards the stage and others towards the raised, fully stocked bar backlit with soft purple lights. God, he wanted a drink…maybe three.

When they had pulled up to the shockingly plain looking, single-story building Shouta hadn’t been expecting it to be filled with people swaying to music that thrummed through his chest as they threw their cash at people twisting their way around slim metal poles. Of all the places that he could’ve guessed Midoriya worked at…well, let’s just say this was far, far from the top of his list.

“So, what does Midoriya do here exactly? Is he a security guard?” He tapped his fingers on the glossy black surface of the booth they were tucked in near the corner of the club, loud music grating in his ears.

Bakugou hid a snicker behind a cough into his elbow, a mischievous look painted across his face. “Nope.” He glanced down at his watch, the glimmer in his eyes only growing. “It’s your first time here, why don’t we catch one of their shows? It’s famous for their dancers…Well, one in particular.”

He smirked as he stood, not giving him a chance to refuse as he turned towards the quickly growing crowd around the main stage. His tall frame and unmistakable hair snaked its way through the bodies until he was up against the stage, Shouta following close behind but with caution to his step. Was it really necessary to be this close? Couldn’t they have stayed in their booth where there was no pressing crowd of sweaty bodies and the music was far less loud?

The lights suddenly dimmed and excited chattering about the upcoming performance spread through the crowd, all holding a reverent tone for whoever this person was.

A nudge from his right caught his attention, along with the now bright eyed man who held just as much, if not more excitement in his body than the entire throng of people around them. He gestured to the stage with his chin just as everything was illuminated with a soft violet light. His lips parted as if to speak, but whatever he was going to say was cut off by a voice that could rival Hizashi’s.

“How is everyone doing toniiiight!” The sea of people burst with incomprehensible screams. Shouta reconsidered all his life choices that led him to this point.

“That’s how I like it! Now without further ado, let me introduce the shining, sexy star of Paper Moon: Bunny!”

If Shouta had thought the crowd had been loud before, now they were absolutely deafening. He winced at the noise, only mildly grateful that the music pouring from the speakers calmed them down. He watched with apprehension as the dancer walked out on stage, spiked stilettoed footsteps hitting each beat of the song.

He was in black lace with a leather, bondage chest piece that showed of the silver studs pierced through his nipples and the expanse of pale, freckled skin. His body was muscled in a way that allowed for the strength and flexibility his dances required as he twisted and contoured above the ground with nothing but strength of his body keeping him from falling.

His eyes finally moved to the dancers’ face, and Shouta couldn’t believe his eyes as some of the pieces of the mysterious puzzle that was Midoriya Izuku click into place, while completely new ones made themselves known. He watched as the greenette finished his set, sending a sultry wink to Bakugou as he exited the stage – the same blonde who was sending him a smug smirk.

“He’s not a security guard.”

Shouta rolled his eyes, turning to retreat back to their table. “No shit.” He only managed to take a step before a heavy hand was on his shoulder, stopping him from going any further.

“You can wait out here, I’m gonna go and watch the back.”

“There’s a back?”

“Yeah, where the hell do you think they give the lap dances?” There was a shine to his crimson eyes that made Shouta pause.

“We’re here to work, Bakugou.”

“I know; I know…But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun.”

“Bakugou-”

“I’ll see you when his shift is over.” He spun on his heel and walked to the hallway tucked away by the edge of the stage, far too much bounce to his step.

Shouta really wanted that drink.

 

____

 

Katsuki nodded to the security guard standing next to the open doorway leading to the familiar hallway lined with curtained rooms. Just as he stepped past, a woman in a midnight blue corset and garter belts with matching heels cut off his path. The bone white horns curling from her pin straight raven hair were unmistakably those of the woman who was here the very first time.

“Are you the ‘Kacchan’ Izu’s been talking so much about?” A sly smile made its way to her face as she shamelessly checked him out, delicate hand resting on her hip. “If you’re going to be keeping watch, we’ll need you to blend in a bit more…” She bit her lip, a small hum slipping past her teeth.

“My name is Bakugou, who the fuck are you? And why do I have to change? So you can check me out even more?”

“Oh, you can call me Mizuki baby doll. And you don’t want the dancers to be uncomfortable while they work, do you?” She turned around and began walking to the end of the hall, only slowing to throw a wink over her shoulder. “And what’s the harm of browsing the menu? It’s not like I’m planning to take a bite, you are Izu’s after all, and I’m his friend. I could never hurt him like that.”

The suspicion slowly leaked from his body at the words filled with pure and utter honesty, sapphire eyes proving she truly cared for the greenette and his safety – something they had in common. He followed her down the hall past all the curtained rooms until they reached the very end where a solid wooden door was tucked into a small alcove between the wall of the building and the final room to his right, big red letters marking it as the employee entrance.

Mizuki quickly opened the door and strode through, Katsuki right behind her as they walked past a small rest area lined with a big, L shaped wine colored couch. A doorway directly across from the couch covered by sheer material led to the stage he had seen Izuku dance on multiple times, and he caught a glimpse of a girl completely upside down before he was whisked away to one of the last rooms.

“This is the locker room. Dancers can keep some of their outfits here, but most keep the majority at home.” She rifled through a nearby locker and pulled out a black, long sleeved button up. “You already have dark pants and good shoes, so you just have to change into this. It seems like it’ll be your size but tight clothes never hurt anybody.”

She held the item of clothing as he sighed and quickly removed his shirt, hungry gaze pinned on his chest as he held his hand out expectantly. After a few seconds and a raised eyebrow, she handed him the shirt which he put on at lightning speed, leaving the top two buttons undone and sleeves rolled to his elbows. Mizuki let out a disappointed huff as his exposed skin disappeared behind the black fabric like a child having their favorite toy taken away.

With a final, dramatic sigh she walked back the way they came until they were back where they’d started. “Just stand here in the back and look intimidating; not that you’ll have to try hard.”

She adjusted his collar, absentmindedly patting his chest when it was to her liking. “Izu is one lucky guy…”

Katsuki let out an affectionate chuckle. “I’d say I’m the lucky one. I don’t fucking deserve him, he’s too…well he’s Izuku.”

Mizuki chuckled as she began to turn away. “I don’t know if anyone does. But he chose you, Bakugou. That’s gotta count for something, right?”

She gave him one final wink and a soft smile before disappearing down the hall, the clack of her heels fading until they were gone completely. A warm feeling that had been a near constant in his life ever since Izuku reentered grew and grew until Katsuki felt like he could power an entire mansion and then some. He was…Happy. Beyond happy. And it was all thanks to the man currently striding down the hallway in the outfit that started it all.

Deep emerald eyes lined with smoky eyeshadow and black eyeliner met his own, widening in surprise at his apparent and sudden employment as a security guard.

“Kacchan? Why are you here?” Just like with Mizuki his eyes shamelessly took in the way the shirt hugged the muscles he’d spent years cultivating, but this time he felt a pang of excitement shoot through to his core at the sight of his lustful gaze.

“I’m just here to make sure you’re safe, shorty.”

“I am literally taller than you right now.” He walked over until there was only a few inches between them, raising his hand above his head and then across to Katsuki’s to prove his point.

“No, your hair is taller than me, it gives you at least a few inches.” He pushed back Izuku’s curls, lingering for only a moment before his hand fell to rest on his cheek. The greenette leaned into the touch, eyes fluttering closed.

“You’re out here because you have a client, right?” He nodded, eyes still closed. “Well, yell if any assholes try something, alright? I’ll kick the shit out of them until they cry.”

Izuku let out a soft laugh, breath feathering against his wrist. “I will, promise.” A quick, delicate kiss was given to the palm of his hand before he stepped away. Goosebumps covered his arms as his warmth retreated, leaving him with a yearning to grab him and hold him close; body heat intermingling and becoming one.

He was halfway down the hallway when he spun around, practically emanating a playful aura. “You know, you never got your money’s worth last time…we might have to fix that.”

A grin spread its way across the blonde’s face until he was sure he’d split in two. “I might have to hold you to that, Deku.”

A beat and then two passed without a word from the other and Katsuki feared he might’ve gone a touch too far.

“I hope you do.”

Oh.

Oh.

He really was the lucky one.

 

____

 

The lights to the apartment flipped on, the faint silhouettes of three figures filing into the living room sending scalding anger burning everything away until every other emotion was swallowed up and turned to ash.

How dare that slut still be in Ground Zero’s – their Ground Zero’s home?! And for a week! How dare that piece of garbage slither his way into the hero’s life and cling to him like a leech, sucking away everything good that made the man who he was? The longer he stayed the more Ground Zero began to change, his iconic attitude and rage turning into a dull simmer, fiery personality more subdued. He was tainting the perfect man with a beautifully dangerous quirk, and they had to save him before too much damage was done – before Ground Zero got turned into one of those useless heroes who had no spine or individuality until they disappeared into disarray and fell apart.

Ground Zero had to be saved, and it had to be soon…the leech worked faster than they thought with his sly manipulation and synthetic smiles and laughter.

A malicious smile spread across their face like a jagged scar as a plan began forming in their mind.

There was only one plan of action that would ensure the safety of Ground Zero and his standing as a unique, vibrant hero.

Bunny needed to go, simple as that.

And he needed to go soon. He needed to go now.

 

 

Maybe they could teach him a lesson, while they were at it.

Chapter Text

Friday, 8:30am

 

Izuku was bored.

He was tired of being trapped in the massive apartment, someone always hot on his trail – watching to make sure he hadn’t disappeared into thin air the two seconds they happened to look away. He couldn’t even go say hi to Kirishima and Ochako on the lower floors without Katsuki or Aizawa (or both. The memory alone makes him cringe) breathing down his neck the entire time!

It felt like he was locked in; a bird stuck in a cage. Don’t get him wrong, Izuku loved every second he spent with Katsuki, but he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t getting…antsy.

He just wanted to be able to walk outside, sunlight kissing his cheeks as he strolled down the sidewalk without a care, not having to constantly look over his shoulder. Izuku couldn’t wait for this whole shit show to end, happily leaving it in the dust to be swept away in the wind and lost forever.

Maybe he could sneak out for a bit…? He wouldn’t leave the building, maybe he could go say hi to Ochako? He’d leave a note so they wouldn’t worry and he was more than capable to take care of himself if anything went wrong-

“Don’t even think about it, you little shit.” The sudden voice and flick to his ear made him jump, but nothing could match the terror that shot through his veins at the deadpan face of Aizawa only a foot or so away.

“Think about what-ow!” His hand came up to rub the spot on his cheek that had been dealt another one of the hero’s painful flicks.

“Don’t pretend like you don’t know,” He turned from his place on the balcony, folded arms resting on the rail as his dark eyes gazed at the people below. “Especially since you just said all of that out loud.”

Of course his muttering came in to kick his ass.

Izuku let out a small huff of annoyance, chin coming to rest on his folded arms draped on the balcony railing. “Fine.”

A weirdly comfortable silence settled between them as they gazed out on a city draped in the warmth of the morning sun. A silence that was only broken by a whisper so quiet Izuku wasn’t quite sure it wasn’t just a figment of his imagination as it disappeared on the gentle breeze passing by.

Please let this end well.”

 

____

 

Saturday, 1:10pm

 

Izuku sat on the couch, legs lazily resting across Katsuki’s lap, the blonde’s fingers tracing gentle patterns up his bare calf until he reached his knee, then back down in languid arcs. Izuku hummed contentedly as the warm afternoon sky filtered in through the window, turning the page of the book he’d borrowed as the tv played quietly in the background.

Everything was serene between the two, a peaceful atmosphere that was only broken up by the muffled snores coming from the man curled up in a yellow sleeping bag beneath the kitchen table attempting to get a much needed power nap.

Adjusting his position into something more comfortable, Izuku slid further down the couch until fingers drifted lightly against his thigh. “Why doesn’t he sleep in one of the guest rooms? It seems like a bed would be more comfortable than the floor.”

Katsuki scoffed, fingernail gently scraping against the side of Izuku’s knee. “Hell if I know. The bastard’s been doing that shit since before I was in UA. After a while you learn to ignore it.”

A few seconds passed as he fought the rising laughter in his chest, quickly losing the war as he attempted to muffle a snicker by bringing the open book up to cover the lower half of his face. “H-He looks like a giant caterpillar…”

Bright laughter filled the room, unknowing of how soon their little bubble filled with happiness would burst; leaving nothing but remnants of what was in its wake; shredded pieces that would take who knows how long to put back together.

 

____

 

Saturday, 2:09pm

 

 

Izuku stood in front of the fridge, eyes raking over the almost barren shelves. Apparently after a week of living together three grown men could eat their way through every little thing that was in the spacious apartment, all the while ignoring their dwindling supplies hoping the other would go through the burden of getting more.

What are they, fucking five?

With a heavy sigh he closed the refrigerator door, the muted slam bouncing off the granite counters as he shuffled over and began slipping on his shoes, scarred fingers deftly tying up the black laces. Standing, he smoothed out his loose fit blue jeans before slipping his arms into Katsuki’s denim jacket, light fur tickling his freckled cheeks.

Izuku spun towards the elevator, excited to go and buy fresh food that would be miles above the questionable frozen meal he’d eaten the day before. He didn’t know how long it’d been there, tucked away into the back corner before being forgotten like a dream you can’t quite remember.

Izuku’s eager march to freedom and food was cut off by a heavy hand falling on his shoulder, effectively stopping him from moving any further.

“Deku, where the fuck do you think you’re going?” The words were whispered dangerously close to his ear, causing a high pitched squeak to slip past his lips as his eyes widened like a deer in headlights.

“Oh uh, hi Kacchan!” He turned slowly, hands raised in surrender before him as he plastered a smile on his face that oozed synthetic innocence. And he was so close to escaping. “I was just going to go stop at the store since the fridge is literally a barren wasteland.”

A blonde eyebrow raised in question, scarlet eyes swimming with concern as his grip softened. “You were going to go alone? When you could literally be injured or even killed whenever?”

Izuku’s mouth opened into a soft ‘O’, the surprise painting his face enough for Katsuki to know he’d forgotten. “You have to be with either me or the old man at all times, you know that.” He flicked him between the brows, the action eliciting another squeak from the greenette.

Izuku’s eyes were downcast as he stared at his scuffed shoes, nervously shifting his weight back and forth between them. The past week had been soft and lovely to the point that the serious undertones of their situation had been lost beneath the candied fluff.

“I’m sorry, Kacchan,” His eyes flickered up for a second before falling back down. “I’m just…It’s hard being stuck here, ya know? I was just excited at the thought of going outside that I just…forgot, I guess.”

Katsuki’s fiery gaze softened to something more akin to smoldering embers as he took in the dejected curve to his shoulders. Maybe…just this once.

“How about we ditch this fucking place and get some food, yeah?”

Izuku’s head shot up, face surprised and eyes wider than saucers. “Wait are you serious-?”

“You bet your ass. I’ll leave the old man a note to let him know where we’re going and that I’m with you, which should be good enough for him.”

The greenette was practically jumping up and down by the time he finished talking, barely restraining himself from bolting to the elevator and out onto the streets. He watched impatiently as the blonde slipped on his shoes before scrawling out a quick note for the man still sleeping under the table.

After a few more seconds and a quick glare for ‘stealing his jacket’, the duo was in the elevator and through the lobby before strolling languidly down the street towards a small restaurant they’d been to once before. It was only a block away from the nearest grocery store, which was perfect for their current plans.

Izuku’s hands slipped from his pocket to fall at his side, quickly lacing his fingers together with Katsuki’s much warmer ones. A light squeeze to their linked hands sent a blinding smile across his face, matching the much smaller one pulling on the blonde’s lips.

God, he was so fucking whipped.

 

____

 

Saturday, 3:00pm

 

Izuku’s stomach growled as the steaming food was placed before them, mouth watering at the fact that he was going to eat something that hadn’t been living in a freezer for years. And it wasn’t just anything he was going to eat, it was the best dish ever created.

Katsudon.

Picking up his chopsticks, Izuku readily dug in like a man who hadn’t eaten in days, practically moaning as the harmonious flavors exploded in his mouth. Even the soft chuckle from the man across from him was only enough to make him send a quick glare before diving back in.

The flavors were so nostalgic he could cry as he scooped up a little bit of everything for the perfect bite; memories of his mother floating peacefully about through his head, her soft smile and delicate laugh always accompanying the dish.

 

. . . . .

 

Izuku unlocked the door to their new apartment, exhaustion weighing heavy on his shoulders. The kids at school had decided to be extra mean today, and he had the bruises to prove it; purple marks and blood tucked nicely away beneath his uniform so no one would see – so no one would ask questions. He didn’t want to worry his mother when she got home, she already had enough on her plate with all her jobs and the bills she tried to hide behind a reassuring smile.

The old wood creaked as he pushed it all the way open, the sound twice as loud as he quickly closed it, nimble fingers doing the three locks on the door. He tossed his backpack carelessly to the side and kicked off his red sneakers, wanting nothing more than to get a snack and take a long nap.

Izuku shuffled down the hall and turned into the kitchen, coming to a sudden halt at the sight before him: his mother stood there, frilly apron tied around her waist as she hummed along to some pop song filtering through the radio. It was then Izuku noticed the delicious smell wafting throughout the small apartment.

“M-Mom?”

She quickly spun around, hands coming together excitedly as a beautiful smile painted her face. “Izuku dear! I didn’t know you’d be home so soon!”

“Why are you home so soon? Don’t you have work?”

“I came home early because it’s your birthday, silly.” She stepped forward, hand affectionately running through his hair. “And I didn’t want you to spend it all alone, so I decided to surprise you!”

Izuku stood there in shock, having completely forgot today was something important, let alone his birthday.

His mother quickly walked back to the kitchen, scooping up two bowls that were the source of the delicious smell making his stomach growl, warmth filling his chest at his mother’s happy grin and rosy cheeks.

Katsudon.

“Happy birthday, Izuku!”

 

. . . .

 

“What’s that look for?” The question knocked him from his reverie and back into the present, but the sound of his mother’s summery laughter still lingered in his ears.

“Nothing, just thinking.” Katsuki’s eyebrows furrowed in concern, entire body subconsciously leaning forward, prompting him to elaborate. “Katsudon is my favorite…My – My mom made it every year for my birthday, always finding time no matter how busy she was.”

“Your mother is the kindest person I know; she always has been.” The blonde’s hand reached forward until it engulfed his own, thumb rubbing comforting circles on his knuckles.

“Did you know that she always made sure to leave food out for the stray cats?” Katsuki shook his head, small smile pulling his lips into a gentle curve, food long forgotten. “Or all the times she cooked when you came over and dealt with your shit.”

“Hey! What do you mean she dealt with my shit?! I wasn’t that bad.” Izuku gave him a pointed look, hiding behind his glass of water as he took a long, long sip to avoid the crimson gaze currently burning holes into his face.

“Deku-”

“Sooo, how’s the curry, Kacchan? Is it better than mine?”

The blonde playfully rolled his eyes, squeezing his hand before returning to his meal. “Nope, your curry beats this curry’s ass.”

 

____

 

Saturday 4:49pm

 

The duo wandered through the grocery store, cart filled with everything and anything they’d need to survive another week, and Izuku would be damned if he had to eat another sketchy tv dinner.

They were currently meandering their way through the aisles towards the lines to check out, in no rush to get back. They gazed at the colorful bags of junk food and lines of fizzy sodas in every flavor imaginable, debating between which they should get and which Aizawa might like.

“I think we should get him the strawberry flavored one. Or the lime.” Izuku said, hand holding his chin as he pondered over the flavors.

“Those shit stains barely have any caffeine. If you show him those he will kill you.” He propped open the glass door with his hip, leaning forward to grab a few brightly colored energy drinks. “These increase our chance of survival…maybe we’ll live till Tuesday.”

Maybe? What the hell does that mean?” Katsuki gave him a wry grin, putting their drinks in the cart before continuing on their roundabout adventure through the store, Izuku close behind with a mask of amusement tinged with the mildest whispers of concern on his face. Who knew what a tired, angry Eraserhead was capable of…

They passed the baking aisle and Izuku came to a sudden stop, pulling on Katsuki’s sleeve. He turned around, questioning look on his face as he followed the greenette’s gaze.

“Do you remember when you promised me we would bake? After your shoulder healed and everything.” Izuku gave a glance swirling with dark emotions and past memories to the raised pink scar hidden beneath his layers of clothing.

“You wanna bake something, shorty?” Izuku nodded excitedly, green of his eyes lightening like sunshine filtering through forest leaves.

“How do you feel about brownies?” He began walking towards the things he’d need to complete his glorious creation, elated spring to his step. “Oh! What about chocolate chip cookies? Or we could do cupcakes?”

Katsuki followed behind his boyfriend, happiness blooming in his chest as he watched him debate between brands of cocoa.

“Why don’t we make all three?”

Izuku whipped around, wild curls bouncing as a blinding smile painted itself on his face – a smile he wanted to see every day.

“God, this is why I love you.”

Katsuki froze, ruby eyes widening in surprise, mind immediately going into overdrive and short circuiting.

Did…did he hear that right? Or was his mind just creating things he so desperately wanted to hear? If that was the case his brain was an absolute fucking asshole.

Bitch what???

His mind looped those words over and over, an exquisite soundtrack he never wanted to end.

W H A T ?!

Love, love, love, love, lovelovelovelovelovelovelove – oH MY GOD.

A flush crawled its way up his neck as he struggled to reign in his rampaging thoughts, but it was nothing compared to the rosy blush staining Izuku’s adorably freckled cheeks – a blush that told him he wasn’t dreaming.

“Oh, um I mean like – fuckIdon’tknow-”

Izuku’s flustered rambling was cut off as Katsuki took a step forward, gently cupping his cheeks as a smile threatened to split his face in two.

“Kacchan…?”

“Shut up and let me kiss you, Deku.” Katsuki whispered gruffly before bringing their faces together in a sweet kiss that tasted like the chocolatey dessert they’d just eaten. It only lasted a second, but was enough time for the two to savor the taste of each other’s mouths; the feel of lips on their own – gentle and delicate as if they were afraid to press forward and shatter the moment like a rock through stained glass.

The greenette’s lips were soft memories scorched into his brain like a brand as he reluctantly pulled away, only to have his lips captured in another kiss he readily leaned in to – this one longer and so, so much sweeter – as Izuku went up on tippy toes to meet him, chasing after the broken contact.

Katsuki smiled into the kiss, his happiness infectious as Izuku quickly followed along with the smallest of giggles that feathered against his nose. He rested his forehead against the dancer’s, curly hair tickling his skin as he closed his eyes, breathing in the calming scents of rain and pine mixed with the smallest hint of something floral that always seemed to surround him.

The blonde’s hands fell from his face to a more comfortable position on the curve of Izuku’s waist, thumbs brushing against warm skin as they slipped beneath his shirt. A small peck was placed on his nose, the action causing him to huff in amusement.

They were like an old, sappy as fuck married couple…making out in a supermarket.

Both of them were grinning ear to ear as they slowly pulled away, the world around them melting away until only the two of them existed, a bubble almost bursting with happiness. It was all Izuku needed to know the other felt the same way, even if he hadn’t exactly planned, well, any of this out.

They finally pulled away after who knows how long, staying hand in hand as they walked down the aisle to find the ingredients for everything they’d need to make their feast of sweets.

 

____

 

Saturday 6:27pm

 

Katsuki entered the elevator just behind Izuku, both of their arms full with bags containing their variety of groceries. The shorter of the two hummed the tune of some pop song he vaguely knew was popular when they were younger, slender finger pressing the button to his floor. They stood in a comfortable silence as the floors slowly rose until stopping on 20, the digital numbers glowing a soft red.

The heavy metal doors slowly slid open, and almost instantly Katsuki was on edge. Something was wrong but he didn’t quite know what that was. It was like an itch at the back of his mind that he couldn’t scratch, a memory he couldn’t quite recall but desperately wanted to remember.

He quickly placed his bags on the counter, not caring when one fell over letting bright fruit spill across the granite. Izuku put his own bags next to the others, picking up on the blonde’s sudden tense shoulders, entire body a bow ready to snap.

“Aizawa? Are you here?” Katsuki took a few cautious steps forward, eyes roving his surroundings to check the room and hallways for any dangers. “You better answer me you old bastard or I swear to god-”

He froze, heart stopping at the sight before him. Aizawa was sprawled across the floor, shattered porcelain and spilled coffee covering the floor adjacent from the couch. His skin was pallid as a feverish sweat covered his forehead, slight tremors running through his body every few seconds.

Katsuki rushed forward, panic and adrenaline spiking through his veins like ice. He only made it half way before a terror filled shout echoed across the room.

“Kacchan! Look out!” He spun towards Izuku, time moving in slow motion as the greenette ran towards him, hand outstretched. He heard hurried footsteps behind him but was too late to react as something small and sharp pricked his neck, sending his nerves alight as if he’d been burned by a roaring fire.

He tried to grab the olive colored hand still hovering near his throat, needle held tightly between their fingers, but realized his arms wouldn’t move – nothing would move. Seconds later his knees gave out, body falling limply to the floor like a bag of rice. Katsuki tried to get up once again to fight the asshole in a hoodie standing above him, but it was as if his body wouldn’t listen to his brain.

Why couldn’t he move?! What the fuck was in that needle? He was going to kill this asshole the second whatever the hell this was wore off…

A blur to his right caught his attention as Izuku sped into his line of sight, surprising the figure above him with a lightning fast jab to his throat followed by a powerful kick to their knee. They howled in pain as they fell to the floor, coughing as they grasped at their leg.

A flash of silver caught his attention, and Katsuki cursed every god he could think of for paralyzing his jaw so he couldn’t let out a warning scream, watching in horror as The Jackal pulled a dagger from a hidden strap on his ankle. He shot forward almost faster than Izuku, burying the knife deep in his outer thigh before violently ripping it back out. His light jeans were quickly turning dark red, a jarring stain that only continued to grow as the seconds passed.

Izuku forcefully clenched his jaw, eye twitching as he sucked in a sharp breath through his nose – the only sign that he was in pain. He shot forward, footsteps ringing out ominously across the apartment. Izuku delivered a heavy blow to The Jackal’s face, the satisfyingly meaty crunch of his nose filling the silence as dark crimson blood gushed down his chin and into his mouth, coating the greenette’s scarred knuckles.

Katsuki watched in awe as his boyfriend kicked ass better than some of the pros, hope blooming brightly in his chest, spreading from limb to limb.

This shitty stalker couldn’t take Deku down! They’d get out of this just fine and Katsuki would drag this fucker’s ass to the police station so he got what he deserved…

The greenette tried to go for another final blow, but his knees gave way before he could even wind back his arm. He collapsed to the floor, struggling movements becoming lethargic until they came to a complete stop. Katsuki would’ve gone into an even deeper rage filled panic if it wasn’t for the gentle rise and fall of his chest.

“That slut was faster than I thought, the little shit almost broke my knee.” The voice was a gravelly hiss, the light bruise slowly painting itself across his throat marring his voice. Blood coated his face and mouth as his sleeve came up in a half assed attempt to wipe it away, but only succeeding in smearing it across his cheek. “He’s gonna pay for that and breaking my nose.”

The Jackal turned and kneeled next to Katsuki, hand coming out to gently caress his cheek.

It was then the blonde got the chance to finally see what this shit stain who’d been tormenting their lives looked like, burning it to his memory so he’d never forget.

The man was taller than Izuku but shorter than Katsuki, olive skin dappled with dark blue freckles that matched their eyes and neat sapphire hair draping across his forehead. His eyes were filled with something dark and deranged, a sick affection he didn’t want anywhere near him or Izuku. He looked to be around, if not a little bit older than Katsuki; like any average person trying to get through life – well, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was a motherfucking stalker.

“Oh, Ground Zero…” His fingers traced up the side of his face until they affectionately combed through his hair, an almost tender look on the Jackal’s face. “I never wanted to hurt you,” Turning slightly, he sneered down at Izuku’s paralyzed form only a few feet away. “but this leech has changed you. So I decided that, in order to save you, he needs to go. Trust me, it’s for the best.”

His hand lingered for a few more seconds before he stood, limping over to Izuku’s prone form. He bent over, easily throwing the curly haired man over his shoulder.

“See ya later, Ground Zero.”

With a final wave he walked to the elevator as casual as can be, doors closing on his smirking face.

 

 

Chapter Text

Tsukauchi rushed from the police station, mug of steaming coffee forgotten in his office as it sat untouched upon his desk along with the scattered papers of whatever case he’d been working on. He threw his trench coat over his shoulder as he ran to his car, a set of police officers and heroes already on their way to the scene.

Please let them be okay.

His heart had stopped the second his phone rang, acidic terror shooting through him like a bullet to the heart; burning everything it touched as he got the out of breath, panicked news of the attack on Ground Zero.

“S-Sir, it’s The Jackal. Ground Zero’s residence was attacked and Midoriya Izuku has gone missing…There’s been some casualties.”

He drove as fast as he dared, not quite fond of the idea of crashing on his way to a scene, but a small part of him wished he’d never arrive. It was always the worst when someone close to him fell prey to a horrible situation, twisting everything into a painful mess that left him feeling awfully nauseous. The worry in his chest only grew exponentially as he saw the flashing police lights highlighting the tall buildings in red and blue while rushing paramedics wheeled a gurney inside.

Tsukauchi took a few seconds to school his expression into one of calm before exiting his car, briskly walking towards the group of pro heroes standing on the sidewalk talking amongst each other in hushed whispers. Not a single one was in their iconic hero outfit, having rushed out from their homes while still dressed in civilian clothes and pajamas, minds filled with nothing but concern for their friends.

Pinky saw him first, straightening her shoulders before lightly tapping her companions and nodding in his direction. They all had serious expressions painting their faces, eyes swimming with worry. Uravity and Chargebolt shuffled to the side, opening up a space big enough for him to join their disheveled circle.

He cleared his throat, voice giving no hint to the roiling emotions in his chest as he joined the heroes. “What happened?”

Shoto stepped forward, face completely neutral as his heterochromatic gaze gave the detective a tired once over. The only thing giving way to the anxiety he felt was his unkempt hair – a salt and peppering of red and white peeling back his fracturing mask of professionalism to reveal the simple stance of a worried friend.

“I had received a text from Midoriya saying I should come over around nine to try the things they were going to be baking. When I showed up I found Bakugou and Aizawa immobilized in the living room; Bakugou was conscious and the paralysis was wearing off but Aizawa was completely unconscious. Midoriya…” He paused, gaze falling to the pavement. “Midoriya was missing. I called the police, an ambulance for Aizawa and then these guys,” he gestured to the heroes standing beside him, all stoic as they listened. “And now you’re here.”

Tsukauchi nodded, eyebrows furrowing as he realized something Shoto hadn’t mentioned. “I heard there were casualties? Was that a mistake?”

The heroes all stared at him sadly, obviously knowing the answer to his question. This time it was Chargebolt who spoke up, emotions much easier to read as he fiddled with the hem of his brightly colored short sleeved shirt.

“There were two police officers stationed to watch over the building, keeping tabs on who came in and out. Apparently one left to get food from a nearby corner store while the other stayed in the car, and I guess The Jackal saw that as prime time to attack. The driver’s side window was broken and there were signs of a struggle, and the other was found in an alley near here.” Golden eyes found his own, zeroing in with a seriousness that went completely against Chargebolt’s go getter hero persona. “The fact that he knew they were there and what they looked like despite being undercover…this guy is smart. He even broke into the building unnoticed.”

A heavy quiet blanketed the space between them, the sounds of sirens and people walking past white noise in the background as their minds mulled over the chilling facts laid out before them like a line of rotting corpses.

“He’s dangerous…But we fight dangerous villains for a living. So I’m going to kick his ass into the sun for hurting Bakugou and sweet little Izuku.” Pinky said, arms folded defiantly across her chest. Uravity let out a small snort, the confident declaration lightening the situation as their small group donned faint smiles.

“Yeah well, you’re going to have to get in line sweetie. I think Bakugou gets first dibs on any ass kicking.”

Pinky’s eyes widened, mouth widening with a sudden realization. “Have any of you talked to Bakugou yet? Last I saw him he was talking to the police but he looked…broken.”

A somber silence fell over the group as they thought about the pain their friend must be going through, but knew they couldn’t rush him all at once. The blonde was like an injured animal when he was distressed or hurt, willing to thrash and bite when he got overwhelmed until he simply shut down. It was a dance all of them knew by heart, some of them better at it than the others.

“We’ll go.” It was Red Riot who spoke, large hand placed on Uravity’s shoulder. Without any hesitation the group nodded at the decision, watching as the duo got cleared to enter the building and check up on their friend, hoping with every fiber of their beings that he would be okay.

 

____

 

Katsuki sat on the couch, head in his hands as police officers and paramedics floated in and out of his awareness in a colorless, empty smear. He barely registered Aizawa being carted away, body limp as they strapped an oxygen mask to his face. Everything was filtering through a static haze that made the world feel like it was miles away.

He was numb.

How could he let this happen? He was the number four hero and he couldn’t even protect the one person he cared about the most. The one person who made his heart flutter like a child’s and smile more in their short time together than he had in his entire life was…gone. He should’ve been able to fight and stop everything from happening, but instead he’d been taken down as if he was still the naïve fifteen-year-old stumbling through that dark forest while Izuku was injured and taken away.

Izuku…

Katsuki’s heart clenched painfully in his chest, and he could feel the prick of tears at the corner of his eyes. His trembling hands threaded through his hair, fingernails digging harsh crescents into his scalp until he could focus on nothing but the stinging pain. His breathing was getting more and more erratic as the seconds passed, almost as if the air was actively avoiding his lungs just to make him suffer.

He was so fucking useless-

“-kgou!”

“Katsuki, stop it!” Soft yet strong hands wrapped around his wrists and pulled his hands away from his skull before they caused any more damage. He looked up blearily, mind vaguely registering the familiar forms of Ochako and Kirishima standing before him, faces contorted in thinly veiled alarm.

Why were they here?

“Hey, focus on me, alright?” Ochako pulled his trembling hands to her chest, big brown eyes crinkling in concern at the blood beneath his nails. “Talk to me, Katsuki. Don’t bottle it up like you always do…please.”

Katsuki focused in on the worried, almost pleading tone of her words along with the far too quiet and serious looking Kirishima to her left. They’d been with him for years, constant companions on the highs and lows of the shitty rollercoaster that was his life. They stuck around despite his abrasive personality, never flinching as he screamed insults and launched explosions to hide the open wounds just below the surface.

“I’m…fine.” His voice was scratchy with disuse and heavy with unsaid emotions he could barely contain; the fortified walls he’d spent years building quickly cracking and turning to dust. He thought he’d wrapped everything up nice and pretty in iron chains, but who knew that a certain man with a mop of curly green hair was the key.

Ochako gave him a disbelieving look as she raised a single, perfect eyebrow. “Oh? If you’re so fine, then why are you crying?”

Katsuki’s eyes widened as he suddenly became aware of the hot tears painting tracks down his pallid cheeks. The tightness in his chest grew and grew until it was overwhelming. He opened his mouth to speak, lips quivering as he attempted to force back any more tears that threatened to fall.

“I-I…Izuku h-he…” A broken sob escaped his lips as a new wave of tears turned his vision into an incomprehensible smear of color. “H-He’s gone.”

Ochako bit her lip to muffle the pained whimper at the sight of her friend so completely and utterly wrecked. She hadn’t seen him this empty but so completely overwhelmed since their time at UA. The fiery blonde was like a glass star; burning brighter than anything imaginable but one wrong move could send him shattering into thousands of shards across the floor.

But like all broken things, you just have to pick up the pieces and start again.

“Oh honey.” She pulled him into her strong embrace, one arm holding his quaking form in place while the other comfortingly stroked through his soft hair. “He’s gonna be just fine. Midoriya’s been a fighter his whole life; there’s no way in hell he’d let this stop him.” Katsuki’s own arms hesitantly wrapped around her waist, hands finding purchase on the tight material of her dark tank top.

Kirishima sat on the couch next to the blonde, leg brushing against his own as he placed a reassuring hand on his back. “Midoriya isn’t going to just roll over and let that guy do whatever he wants. We’ll find him, Bakugou. And then we’ll kick that fucker’s ass until he’s nothing but a stain on the pavement.”

All the emotions Katsuki struggled to suppress behind his crumbling defenses finally broke free as he sobbed into Ochako’s shoulder, body heaving as he struggled to breathe.

Please, please, please be okay Izuku.

 

____

 

Everything was dark. Broken bits of sound filtered through only to be quickly forgotten as they were swallowed into the void that seemed to fill his skull. He could hear his mother singing as visions of Katsuki’s face frozen mid laugh flashed across his mind, the echo of their kiss replaying like an old, grainy film.

Slowly the images faded, replaced by heavy static across his vision as his eyes struggled to open. He was met with an empty room and blank, light grey walls. A shuttered window was to his right, slivers of soft pink light peeking through the blinds and painting faint pastel lines on the floor.

It was morning…? Where…was he?

He tried to dive through the fuzzy haze masking the memories in his mind, but only came up with Katsuki lying on the floor, unmoving. It was an image that sent his heart racing, ice cold panic pooling in his stomach like toxic lead, chilling him to his core. It felt as if he’d been standing in a blizzard in nothing but a shirt, shivering as ice cold winds and snow dissected him with razor sharp precision; reaching in past broken ribs with frozen hands to take ahold of his heart and refuse to let go, no matter how much he begged and screamed.

The longer he sat, the more his memories came filtering in slowly like molasses being poured from a jar. Muted feeling came back with the memories, and he could barely stop himself from letting out a pained huff as he tried to move his legs, desperate to get out of the oppressive nothingness filling every wall like a disease.

He only made it a few inches off the chair he was sitting in before stopping abruptly, the rough crimson rope secured around his ankles keeping him in place like an animal being prepped for slaughter. Izuku’s hands were in a similar state; tied behind his back and to the chair, ensuring he couldn’t move or escape like he oh so wished he could.

Fuck, fuck, fuckitty fuck fuck fuck.

In the midst of his mind racing through the pros and cons of possible scenarios, the door to his left creaked open, revealing the absolute prick who was the cause of this entire situation – a catalyst that fucked over the perfect chemistry he and Katsuki had going. A cheshire grin spread across his face, eyes glinting with nothing but pure sadistic, malicious intent. He closed the door behind him, the ominous click of the lock sending ice cold terror curdling in his stomach.

“I caught you, Bunny.” He quickly covered the space between them until he was standing only a foot or so away – close enough that he could smell the overpowering scent of lavender that clung to him like a dung beetle on a pile of shit. The only consolation was the limp to his step and the bruises marring his throat and obviously broken nose. It was nice to know he hadn’t been taken without doing some damage.

The Jackal leaned down, face uncomfortably close as he removed his hands from the depths of his jacket pockets. “Why don’t we have some fun?”

Izuku felt a shiver go down his spine, but it wasn’t one of fear. It was a feeling that sent his resolve hardening into something unbreakable, determination pulsing through his veins. He knew Katsuki would rip the world to shreds trying to find him, never stopping until he was back in his arms. So all Izuku had to do was stall. Stall and survive while being as much of a thorn in this asshole’s side as possible.

“Go fuck yourself, you massive bag of limp dicks.”

The backhanded slap rang out across the room as Izuku’s head whipped to the side at the force, chair rocking before settling back in place. The familiar iron tang of blood filled his mouth, and he knew he’d have a nasty bruise painted angrily across his jaw before the day was over.

“You don’t get to fucking talk unless I let you.” The man hissed while painfully grabbing his chin with an iron grip, forcing the greenette to stare directly into hate filled eyes. Izuku smiled his classic, shit eating grin before spitting right in The Jackal’s face.

The glistening glob sailed through the air in a beautiful arc before landing perfectly on the man’s cheek. It was dyed pink with blood as it dripped down his face, and Izuku couldn’t help the feeling of satisfaction that bloomed brightly in his chest at his captor’s disgusted shriek; frantically wiping the offensive splatter from existence with his dark sleeve.

The feeling was cut short as the man shot forward, wrapping a powerful hand around his throat. Izuku tried to pull away, but could only get so far while tied to a chair. He took a deep breath before the hand cut off his airways, praying that he’d somehow make it out alive. If he did…well maybe next time he won’t spit in a psychopath’s face…maybe.

The black static he’d just been freed from was back at the edges of his vision, gaining ground by the second as they stole more and more of the world away from him. The light headedness was getting to be too much to bear, but he refused to give the man before him the satisfaction of watching him squirm with discomfort. Just before everything went black he flashed him a bright smile, refusing to submit.

Anger filled those sapphire eyes, making his smile just that much sweeter as everything faded away.

Izuku could already tell he was going to have a great time. He only wished that Katsuki would rush in and cut this lovely experience short.

 

____

 

“Based off of your description and the poison we pulled from your bloodstream, we’ve identified the suspect as Matsui Hayato; twenty-seven and recently quit his job at Essential Pharmaceuticals a few months ago. He sold his house and fell off the grid around the time you received the first set of pictures.” Tsukauchi quickly flipped through the manila folder, eyes scanning over the vital information stored in the scarce pages. “He has no record to speak of and, up until now, seemed like any regular guy walking down the street.”

The detective slid the open file in his hand across the desk, the picture paper clipped to the corner a few years old but undeniably The Jackal. His sapphire hair was cut close to his skull and a pair of rectangular glasses sat on the bridge of his nose. The twisted look in his eye that had been almost overpowering the day before was faint but still there, lurking in the depths waiting to suffocate its prey.

A fire burned angrily in his chest, and Katsuki barely restrained his raging impulse to blow up the flimsy file until it was nothing but ash floating through the air. The steadying presences of Ochako and Kirishima on either side of him were the only thing stopping the blonde from following through with his destructive urge.

“What’s his quirk? It has something to do with whatever the hell he injected into us, right?” His fingers were still stiff even though it had been almost a day, and Aizawa was still in the hospital under observation.

Tsukauchi nodded once before reaching over to flip the page, finger tapping lightly on the desired information.

“It’s known as ‘venom’ and is registered as a toxin he can produce in his saliva almost identical to that of Tetrodotoxin. It was one of the main focuses of his research with Essential Pharmaceuticals – how it could treat diseases like cancer or help with chronic pain. Apparently he figured out how to produce different strains that isolated specific qualities, such as the paralysis you experienced last night or the tremors and temporary blindness Eraserhead suffered.”

Poison. It just had to be poison. He was so fucking tired of poison this and poison that.

“Of course it is deadliest in its original form; which is 1,200 times more toxic than cyanide so be wary when you fight him. You could die in seconds.” Tsukauchi’s face was somber as he finished, leaning back heavily in his leather chair with a soft sigh and a much needed sip of coffee. He had dark bags under his eyes and the usually put together appearance he strove for was a level of disheveled Katsuki had never seen – he wore the same clothes from yesterday, shirt wrinkled with the top buttons undone and hair a mess. The detective looked almost as exhausted and drained as Katsuki felt.

“How can we fight him if we don’t even know where that asshole is? For all we know he’s holed up somewhere we’ll never find. We don’t even have a single lead for fucks sake.” Katsuki’s voice was laced with anger, his previous despair swept away and thrown into the trash. Wallowing in emotions that would only weigh him down wouldn’t bring Izuku back, and Katsuki would be damned if he never saw those emerald eyes filled with joy and mischief ever again.

Tsukauchi leaned forward until his elbows were propped on the desk, rare grin pulling at his face. It was actually quite terrifying to see the fierce glint burning in the depths of his dark eyes like ruthless fires from the deepest depths of hell.

“Well, that’s where you’re wrong, Bakugou.”

 

____

 

Izuku jolted awake, head pounding painfully with every steady beat of his heart. He could feel the bone deep ache in his throat, and was almost certain that if he had a mirror there would be a handprint bruised into the delicate flesh like a brand. He carefully moved his stiff jaw back and forth, wincing with every miniscule movement that pulled on the injured tissue.

At least he wasn’t dead.

The light slipping past the blinds had shifted, staining the wooden floors in a gentle golden hue of afternoon light. Small, exhausted tremors shook his body in harmony with the persistent growl of his empty stomach. The last time he’d eaten anything must’ve been the katsudon at least a day ago, if not more. He wasn’t quite sure how long it’d taken them to get here coupled with how long he must’ve unconscious.

In the rare moment of solitude, he tested the strength of the bonds around his wrists, trying to make as little noise as possible as he twisted and pulled at the rough material, wincing as it tore away at his skin. He felt the ropes catch on the edge of the metal chair and the tiniest, hope filled plan formed in his mind.

With his limited range of motion Izuku worked and worked until he was sure his wrists were stained red and sticky with blood. He didn’t even know how fast it was working – if it was working at all – but he kept going despite the pain radiating up his arms and pulling at his overextended shoulders.

He knew that he couldn’t just sit there, waiting for someone else to save him. No, Izuku had learned a long time ago that he was his strongest ally; the one person he could trust completely. Next in line came Katsuki, and the greenette had no doubt the blonde would come bursting in with his fiery explosions at the ready like a fearsome angel of vengeance bringing a hellish reckoning down upon The Jackal’s head.

He heard the faint approach footsteps and immediately relaxed his arms, not wanting to give away his flimsy plan. He took a moment to breath in the familiar, calming scent of Katsuki’s jacket that he still wore, making a silent promise that he would make out of this situation alive and see him again.

Izuku dropped his gaze to the floor, pretending he was just waking up in order to hide the fire burning in his eyes. The click of the lock echoed through the room, followed by the same confident footsteps he’d heard before. After a few minutes of tense silence, he finally looked up and almost wished he didn’t.

The man stood before him, jacket replaced with a black shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He had a heavy duty apron on with matching gloves, the ever present manic gleam in his eyes sharp enough to cut through flesh as if it were butter. He kneeled before Izuku, smile splitting his face like a jagged scar.

“You know, I used to work in a lab – doing tests with my quirk to find different uses and applications. But really it was all to make myself stronger; to prove to people I wasn’t weak or dangerous. That I could help people.” He sighed, a reminiscent look gracing his face. Izuku just wished he would fuck off to a different dimension.

The silence blanketed them once again as the man got lost in his thoughts, and the greenette could only watch as emotion after emotion flitted across his face faster than he could count. What felt like minutes ticked by, and Izuku was about ready to make a noise when his stomach beat him to it. A loud, deep growl filled the tense space between them, causing sapphire eyes to look at him with the force of a steel studded whip.

The Jackal resumed his speech, not even aware of his massive lap in thought. “When we finished creating a new drug in the lab, we had to move on to testing. Most of the people I worked with hated this stage and would pass it onto interns or break down crying but I could never understand why – they were just animals.”

An olive hand dusted in blue freckles reached forward, fingers finding their way into the wound on his thigh as he squeezed. Izuku could barely stop the pained gasp that escaped past his lips, riding the fresh waves of agony.

“Do you know what animals we used?” Izuku barely heard the man through the static of pain and adrenaline thumping with every panicking beat of his heart threatening to tear its way free from the confines of his ribs.

Another violent squeeze sent a scream tearing its way up from his throat, muffled by the harsh clench of his jaw. He could feel hot blood welling up from the injury, replacing the rusty stain taking up over half of his thigh with a fresh coat of dark crimson. His breathing was shallow and erratic as he tried to fight his way through the pain, chest heaving with every strained intake and exhale.

Do you know what animals we used?” It was a deadly hiss laced with the promise of nothing but never ending pain if he disobeyed a second time. Izuku hesitantly shook his head, curls sticking to the sweat that’d broken out across his forehead. Dread congealed in his stomach with every second that passed, only tempered by his unshakeable will to survive and kick this motherfucker into the sun.

If it was even possible The Jackal’s sadistic grin grew as he gave one final squeeze before whispering a single word that made Izuku long for the warm sheets of his bed, wrapped in the protective embrace of the man he loved. Anything but here.

Bunnies.

Chapter Text

“What a shame Bunny, what a shame.”

Izuku tried to shake off the fog that clung to his mind like a cold that just wouldn’t go away, clammy tendrils stealing away and slowing down his thoughts as dark curls stuck to the sheen of sweat across his forehead. He felt like his entire body was trapped in the depths of hell while simultaneously being submerged in subzero water until his lungs seized up and stopped all together.

Through bleary eyes he watched as The Jackal placed an empty syringe on the table he’d wheeled in however long ago next to the two other empty ones, uncontrollable tremors running through his body as he tried not to gag at the overwhelming smell of lavender flooding his senses. He hadn’t minded it before all of this, hell he even liked the soft scent when he had the rare luxury to splurge on bath bombs and salts after a rough shift, but now even the smallest whiff sent his entire being reeling with revulsion.

“I thought there’d be a bigger reaction, but it seems you’re much more resilient than you look.” He picked up the metal tray with a sigh, turning smoothly to walk towards the door, sans the slight limp that always made the greenette beam with sick satisfaction. “I’ll be back in a few hours after I make some adjustments.”

The resounding, heavy slam of the door signaled Izuku’s relieved sigh, nausea curdling in his stomach and making his head pound with every frantic beat of his heart. It’d been at least a day since the creepy motherfucker whispered his plans in Izuku’s ear, and at least a day of random syringes interspersed with backhanded slaps, pain, and sarcastic comments meant to get under The Jackal’s skin.

But throughout it all he worked relentlessly on the binds wrapped tightly around his wrists, fighting through the pain as fiber by measly fiber was slowly sawed through. Each broken strand was one step closer to freedom – to Kacchan and the comforting warmth he didn’t know he’d grown to love so much.

He’d get out of here.

He had to.

 

____

 

The slam of the door jolted him awake from the sleep he unwillingly fell into, entire body sore with a bone deep ache that felt like it would haunt him for years; clinging like vines that tore their way through flesh and muscle until they wound around his core. Emerald eyes filled with disdain tracked the predatory movements of the asshole stalking towards him, mentally preparing for another round of needles and god knows what they caused. A small bolt of surprise shot through him when he noticed the metal tray he’d learned to loath was nowhere in sight, instead replaced by a smug look and hands shoved into jacket pockets.

“What the fuck do you want?” Izuku spat, something hateful burning deep within his eyes, the forest fire only a small glimpse of the acre upon acres of feelings twisting his soul. He tensed in anticipation for the violent backlash that always followed whenever he spoke, shoulders easing only slightly when none came. Instead Izuku was met with an arrogant cat-like smirk as The Jackal leaned his back against the wall.

“Now, now there’s no need to get feisty. I just had some time before the next serums were done and I thought we could have a civil conversation.”

Izuku rolled his eyes, the action well worth the throbbing it sent off at the base of his skull. “Oh? Are you going to monologue you’re fucking sob story for why society wronged you and forced you into being a complete and utter psychopath-?”

Izuku saw the flash of metal before the stinging pain registered in his mind, quickly followed by the warm trickle of blood down his chest. A neat, deep slice ran diagonal down his chest; starting just below the far end of his collarbone and ending just as it touched his sternum. He hissed softly as his nerves lit up like a Christmas tree, molten pain spreading like lava from the wound – far more painful than any regular cut should’ve been.

What was up with this guy and poison knives? Was it a kink or something cause c’mon! Wasn’t being stabbed once enough??

“A leech like you has no right to talk…maybe I should get you a muzzle so you’ll finally shut up and listen.” Sapphire eyes burned dark and heavy like a trash fire, black smoke swirling in the depths and suffocating anything that tried to grow, face twisted into something mean and almost feral as he stared him down with contempt.

Izuku went to give another snarky reply, only to find that his jaw would barely move. In fact, it seemed like his entire body had decided to give up on him and take a day off. A wicked grin spread across The Jackal’s face as he resumed his lax position against the wall, arms folded across his chest.

“Well now that the toxins are kicking in, I have quite a bit of time on my hands. But where do I start?” A conflicted look painted his face, dark eyebrows furrowing as if he was suddenly faced with the world’s hardest dilemma; one where it was life and death. A few tense minutes passed before he shrugged, looking fondly at the window as his mind drifted back and pulled up memories like a child flipping through an old photo album.

Izuku groaned internally, mind screaming relentlessly into the void half wishing it would scream back so he wouldn’t be stuck here with this motherfucker. Did he somehow tape a sign to his back saying “hello yes drop your villainous monologue, I’m all ears!”? Or did the universe realize they were lacking on his yearly dose of pain and suffering so they decided to up their game? Whatever it was, Izuku was fucking done. He’d fight every villain with nothing but his bare fists if it meant this asshole would turn around and leave the room without saying another word.

“I guess I’ll just start from the beginning. It was Ground Zero’s first sports festival…”

God fucking dammit.

 

____

 

“Hayato! Hurry downstairs or you’ll miss the opening ceremony!” His mother’s voice was packed full with excitement as she situated herself on their couch, an array of food and drinks spread out across their coffee table. His sock covered feet shuffled easily over the wood floor until he plopped down heavily onto the soft cushions with a dramatic sigh, wishing he could be anywhere else.

“Why do we have to watch the sports festival every year? It’s always the same pretentious, self-righteous asshole’s with fancy quirks trying to prove that they’re better than everyone else by kicking them to the dirt.” Every word was a venomous dagger meant to pierce the heart of society, but they just brushed it off to the side and ignored it like everything else that wouldn’t benefit them.

His father scoffed, the corners of his mouth curling in amusement as he briefly removed his arm from its place on his mother’s waist to ruffle is sapphire hair. “Stop being so pessimistic and just enjoy the show, Hayato.”

With another sigh he reached forward for a can of soda, popping the lid and taking a sip of the bubbly sweetness as the first year students shuffled onto the massive field. All eyes were on the famous hero class, news of their fight against the villains having saturated the media for weeks with their valiant skills and heroic drive to survive. Who knew what a class of golden eggs like that would do to the competition? The expectations were impossibly high and heavy on these teens shoulders, and Hayato couldn’t help but grin at the idea of them failing. It would serve them right.

They all looked like prideful kids who knew nothing about the world and waded through life with ease and a VIP pass due to their “hero like” quirks. Fucking typical. His mind drifted as Midnight walked on stage and did the whole welcoming spiel, already wishing he could just go back to his room. Would his mom notice if he slipped out-?

“– I’ll be number one.”

His head whipped around at the confident declaration, mind hyper focusing on the stoic blonde whose crimson eyes held nothing but utter belief in the fact that he could come out on top with a massive margin and a line of defeated students at his feet.

He'd be lying if he said it wasn’t interesting, mind already relishing the image of such a cocky child losing and on his knees as he cursed at the world for his “misfortune”.

With each passing second the harsh feeling in his chest hoping the boy would fail slowly withered away until it was replaced completely with something…new. It was a foreign feeling that made it impossible to tear his eyes away as the blonde came in first during the obstacle course and fought like a wild best during the cavalry battle, eyes burning with a sole focus to win, win, win. His feelings were so raw and unrefined no one could deny his drive to become a hero.

For the first time Hayato found himself silently cheering someone on, wincing when he got hit and celebrating when he beat down the competition with barred teeth and curses that would make his grandma blush. It was so un-hero like he couldn’t tear his eyes away as he watched with reverent eyes to see what he pulled next.

But the best part was the main event that everyone waited for with bated breath: the battle tournament between the top students. Hayato hadn’t realized he’d sat forward with his elbows resting on his knees, sapphire eyes glued to the confident back that seemed more than willing to take on the world however he pleased; an iron will and personality that refused to bend beneath the scrutiny and resentment of the public.

He was only fifteen, and yet the boy was beyond strong. His quirk was magnificent, violent flowers blooming in reds, yellows and oranges across the screen; more than capable of killing in an instant but never quite reaching that point. The ferocious scream that escaped his throat as he defeated the Todoroki boy who refused to use his full power resonated in his chest, eyebrows furrowed in understanding. How painful and unfair it must seem for a boy who’s giving his all to win against someone who obviously doesn’t care. It wasn’t fair for someone so violently beautiful – so overwhelmingly strong yet precise like a refined, seasoned dancer – to win against someone who treated it like child’s play. It was a disgrace. He should’ve felt honored to even fight someone so talented.

His mother’s voice broke him from his thoughts, but only made the dark feelings in his chest grow.

“Oh my, those children were beyond impressive! I’m sure they’ll all make amazing heroes…well maybe not the blonde one with the explosions I can’t believe they let someone like that win, let alone into the school. He has quite an attitude problem and a terrible mouth.” She turned towards him, placing a warm hand on his knee, beaming smile on her rosy face. “Whoever raised him did a terrible job, good thing you turned out well though huh, Hayato.”

With one swift movement he jerked his knee from her grasp and stood, shoulders hunched as he radiated anger. How could she be so insensitive and rude? Couldn’t she see how strong the blonde was not only with that quirk but his resolve too? The entire audience had booed his victory, and the so called heroes had even shackled and muzzled him because he was a beautiful outlier that didn’t fit into their picture perfect, family friendly mold.

“H-Hayato…?” Her smile slowly fell away into something hurt and confused, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.

“I’m going to my room.” Spinning on his heel, he marched towards the stairs leading to his room, unable to stay around his parents any longer.

“Honey, what about dinner?”

“I’m not feeling well.” The slam of his door echoed throughout the house, the only other sound being the soft hum of the television going over some highlights with Present Mic’s over enthusiastic announcing. He quickly opened his laptop, fingers on a mission to find out all he could about the blonde boy with crimson eyes. Hayato didn’t even have to look far, stories already popping up about the events during the sports festival.

Bakugou Katsuki.

He soaked up everything he could like a sponge, a man desperate for any scrap of information he could find. He picked apart every story about USJ and the villain attack, even going back to the slime villain incident; the feeling in his chest only growing along with the image of Bakugou – he was a standard he could only dream of reaching, an icon he’d never be able to touch with his unworthy hands.

 

He was beautiful.

 

____

 

Izuku’s muscles had decided to start working again sometime around the halfway point of this saga he was being forced to listen to, and he couldn’t help the soft, shuddering laugh that escaped his throat.

“What, you experienced your first gay crush and decided to go ape shit? Sorry if I can’t fucking relate.”

He should’ve expected the punch to his stomach, but it still left him gasping for air and taste copper in his throat. Didn’t anybody teach this guy that violence isn’t a proper way to express your feelings?

“I’m not. Finished.” The Jackal hissed, smirking at his pained expression before sliding to sit down on the floor, getting comfortable for more thrilling story telling. Yay.

“After that I followed his progress throughout UA, went to the next two sports festivals and went out to see him while he was interning but I never built up the confidence to actually say hi or anything…I thought he’d think I wasn’t strong enough and unworthy or that my quirk was evil like everyone else. So I stuck to the sidelines, I was more comfortable there.”

His face was overtaken with an expression Izuku could almost mistake as…soft but nothing could change the fact that he was tied to a chair, bruised and bleeding with a massive headache being forced to listen to a stalking, kidnapping violent prone psychopath.

“Ground Zero was the reason I decided to go and work at a pharmaceutical company under the guise of looking for cures and all that shit. In reality I just wanted to find ways to make myself stronger, to get one step closer to being worthy of him. I’m the only one who knows the true Ground Zero.”

Izuku laughed again, another bout of spasms wracking his arms as he swallowed down the taste of blood. “Kacchan isn’t some-some deity who was blessed with a powerful quirk that he could control right off the bat. He worked day and night to get where he is until he couldn’t even walk and his hands bled just to make sure he wouldn’t hurt anyone and reach his goal of becoming number one. He never rolled over and gave up; no, he worked harder than anything you’ve worked on in your life,” Izuku’s chest heaved with the effort of fighting the nausea coiled in his empty stomach like a snake, adrenaline pumping like fire through his veins and muffling the raging panic as he realized there was no going back, so why not jump off the deep end?

“because when I look at you all I see is a sad little man who got kicked in the ass once by life and refused to brush of the dirt and get back up. You couldn’t handle one little misstep and decided to throw a tantrum and bitch about it like a child.” The words were practically dripping with every acidic feeling boiling in his chest, hoping they made their way to the jackal and left him with nasty, bleeding burns that he’d feel for months.

A suffocating silence that hung threateningly in the air like a ton of bricks ready to fall and crush whoever was beneath them filled the room that now felt far too small as The Jackal stood, face disconcertingly blank like a fresh canvas. He radiated something thunderous and dark like a hurricane hurtling towards the shore to wreak havoc and death like a reaper descending to earth.

“The other serums should be done by now, Bunny.”

Izuku shivered at the oppressive feeling of his name being wielded like a dagger, having learned that nothing good ever followed it. He sat up as straight as his bound hands would let him, staring down the blue prick with the unbreakable resolve he’d built up over the years of hardship and pain that made this situation seem like child’s play – his mama didn’t raise no quitter and he wasn’t about to start now.

“Bring it, bitch.”

 

____

 

Shouta’s head was pounding like he’d stayed up for a week straight and decided to drink an entire bar dry and then some because why fucking not. His body ached with even the smallest movement, and the sunlight pouring through the window made him tightly shut his eyes closed and hiss like a stray cat. Trying to sift through the memories blurred through his mind was like trying to gaze at a picture drifting to the bottom of a pool, features and details distorted with every ripple on the surface.

“Bout time your bitch ass woke up.”

Exhausted eyes slid over to the familiar form lounging in an uncomfortable looking hospital chair, arms corded in muscle crossed loosely over his chest. His usual ashy blonde hair was a mess as it fell into his face, dark bags staining his eyes like bruises. A light stubble graced his chin, tying the whole look together into such an exhausted and distressed state he hadn’t seen the man fall in to in years. It was all Shouta needed to know that something terrible had happened from the beginning of his murky maze of memories to now.

“You look like shit.” Shouta’s voice was raspy like he’d decided to swallow a handful of gravel, throat beyond dry as he was suddenly, painfully aware of the bone deep thirst penetrating his entire body.

“You don’t look much better Mr. let’s-stay-unconscious-for-three-fucking-days.” The crimson glare wasn’t even half as sharp as he was used to, the daggers merely glancing from his flesh and leaving shallow wounds in their wake. It was unnerving to be given a window back into those years at UA so interwoven with something dark that the days had shifted from their bright hues to something muddled and dull.

But there was something different this time – a set to his shoulders and glint to his eyes that were leagues beyond the teenager he’d once been – showing that the man before him wasn’t ready to give up and throw in the towel. Katsuki would fight dirty and claw his way to victory if it was the last thing he’d do, even if he was bloodied and broken during the process. It made Shouta’s cold stone heart warm just a little bit at how mature he’d become, knowing it was thanks to years of hard work and a certain dancer with wild green curls.

The thought of Midoriya brought a sudden foreboding feeling of dread weighing like lead coating shaky lungs, eyes widening a fraction of an inch at a foggy memory he really wanted to be some twisted figment of a fever dream.

“The Jackal took him.” Katsuki sighed, trained eyes taking in the smallest shift of his expression. It was one of the things that made him such an amazing hero, but had been and still was a pain in Shouta’s ass.

“Fuck Bakugo I’m-”

“Shut the fuck up.” The fire in his voice wasn’t one aimed to scar, but instead a steady heat meant to burn away the unwanted weeds that had started to grow in the corners of his mind; stealing sunlight from anything positive that tried to grow. “This shit wasn’t anyone’s fault except for that crazy motherfucker, and I’m going to kick his ass so hard he’ll never be able to walk straight.”

A few seconds passed as the blonde’s resolve settled warmly in the room, carrying a hidden bite that promised to draw blood.

“I’m going to kick his ass and I’m going to get Deku back.”

 

____

 

 

 

 

Izuku screamed.

 

Chapter Text

Tsukauchi walked quietly down the stairs, footsteps weighed down by the bone deep exhaustion that permeated his entire body like a disease. He’d been working almost nonstop with Bakugou and some other heroes along with his trusted investigation team at the precinct trying to weave anything from the threads they’d been given. He slowed when he reached the steel door locked by a keypad which he quickly typed the code into, pushing it open to reveal the room that housed people and equipment that were irreplaceable.

Ohayashi sat in one corner, fingers typing at lightning speed as various pictures and accompanying information from the case flashed across the large computer screen. On the other end of the room sat the blonde who had decided to make the precinct forensics lab his second home, crimson eyes staring intently at the black and white footage playing like the world’s most boring movie on the precinct issued laptop. A cup of the blackest coffee Tsukauchi had ever seen sat steaming on the table next to him, the sight of which made him cringe in faint revulsion at the drink that looked like it would make even the toughest villains cry.

“Have any luck yet?” He asked, pulling up a nearby chair and sinking into the plush, cloud like material. Why was it that the forensics and tech departments always got better stuff? After a few hours he was sure his own chair was on a mission to sever his spine.

“I don’t got jack shit.” A scarred fist smacked onto the table, making his coffee shake and papers slide from their neat stacks. “This blue motherfucker just sneaks into the building like the prick that he is and just – just fucking takes Deku and forces him into the trunk of his shitty car.”

Tsukauchi hummed in acknowledgement, subconsciously reaching forward to fix the papers that had slipped out of place. “How much footage from the nearby buildings and streets have you gone through so far?” He gestured to the laptop and the two piles of CD’s and tapes next to it, the pile of ones he assumed to be completely scanned through with the blonde’s hawk like attention much smaller than the other.

“Probably about 40% of it…” A soft sigh escaped past his lips as he leaned heavily back into his own chair, contentedly sipping on his cup of death. As the warmth of the liquid eased some of the tension from his shoulders, it was then Tsukauchi noticed the dark bags staining the skin below his eyes like bruises, exhaustion seeping its way into the hero’s body like a parasite whose only goal was to take, take, take. “I’ve been up all night going over it, looking for anything ever since I got back from the hospital.”

“Bakugou, that was over a day ago. How long have you been up, exactly?”

Ruby eyes widened in surprise, flitting quickly to the clock on the wall to his left, hands ticking away the seconds like a metronome. “…Fuck…” Bakugou sank further into his seat, staring daggers into the laptop as if the silent threat would cause it to magically manifest all the answers they needed. Tsukauchi sighed, knowing the man was a workaholic but he’d never seen him like this.

Love could do that to a person.

“Bakugou, you’ll never find him if you can’t function because you wore yourself down until there was nothing left. Midoriya deserves you working at 100% and nothing less.” He placed a warm hand on his broad shoulder, soft smile laced with concern painting his face as he stood. The blonde’s face twisted up in protest, but Tsukauchi was quick to shut it down before it even began. The detective had far too many years of experience under his belt in dealing with Ground Zero.

“Get some rest. Or I’ll have to kick you out and ban you from the case for being compromised. Working like this is more detriment to you and those who need saving than it is productive.” Tsukauchi took a few steps towards the man across the room, only turning around for a split second to give one last look to Bakugou who had his arms folded and a pout on his face like an angry toddler.

“There’s a bed in the other room, feel free to use it.” Ohayashi’s monotone voice broke through the silence, fingers still beating their hypnotic rhythm against the keyboard.

“I will, once I finish this tape-” Tsukauchi shot him a dangerous look, dark eyes filled with a fire ready to lash out and force the man to sleep whether he liked it or not, but Bakugou rushed to cut off his angry tirade. “There’s only an hour left, and I promise to sleep by then.”

A tense silence fell on the room as Tsukauchi felt that Bakugou wasn’t lying, giving a small huff and a nod as confirmation before sitting down next to Ohayashi and pulling out the ever growing file on Matsui Hayato and the case, along with a much smaller but surprisingly substantial file on Midoriya Izuku – a procedure they had to do to make sure they covered all their bases.

He’d gone and double checked to make sure he had the right person, eyes not believing the person made out of absolute sunshine had a record of all things. But it was the same mop of surprisingly long curly green hair framing a pale face dusted in freckles, emerald eyes dark and holding something far too mature for someone his age. His lip was split and a faint lavender bruise stained his jaw as he stared down the camera.

The actual record was leagues away from the worst he had seen – only racking up to one instance of petty theft as a minor. But the most surprising part by far was that Eraserhead had been heavily involved in the case and made sure the boy had only gotten a night in a holding cell along with an apology to the owner of the shop. At least that was all that was on record. Knowing Shouta the man had probably made the boy promise to “change his ways” or something else worthy of being in a drama, especially since the man has always had a soft spot for children.

Why hadn’t the hero mentioned he’d known the boy when this whole thing began? Had he simply forgotten about the small case in comparison to all the heavy duty situations and villains he’d had to deal with-?

“HOLY SHIT!”

Tsukauchi jumped at the sudden scream that could make a banshee cower in shame, the picture of teenage Midoriya fluttering to the tiled floor.

“Bakugou what the hell-”

“I found him.” The blonde had stood up, chair clattering to the floor as the wheels spun aimlessly in the air. His shoulders were tense and radiated something predatory; a lion ready to pounce and protect the one he cared for. “I found that motherfucker.”

 

____

 

As the days had trudged on, Katsuki had felt like Izuku was getting further and further away, lost in the darkness that threatened to steal everything with its twisted fingers. But here he was, four and a half days after that night staring down the car that was the key to finding that blinding smile and infectious laugh.

He tracked the car as it wove through neighborhoods and down back streets, staying away from the main roads and throughways. But it wasn’t enough to escape the watchful eye of Ground Zero, who poured over every video like it was a lifeline – and in some ways it was. Each grainy video that showed even the smallest glimpse of that shitty car was another plank in the bridge he needed to get to the other side and bring the whole situation to a close.

After four hours (and still no sleep) the blonde had narrowed down the location to a rural, poorer area to the north of where he lived; information that was so vital he could cry as he squashed down the urge to go sprinting off into the sunset and tear apart every building to find Izuku. No, he needed to be patient and cunning to trap The Jackal in a snare that would leave him bloody and broken. He’d become the apex hunter willing to track his prey to the ends of the earth until he got what he wanted, blood staining his hands and face as he stared him down, waiting for the moment he realized he could no longer escape his fate.

Grabbing his keys Katsuki marched towards the door, ready to sit down in Tsukauchi’s office and plan their next move – an idea that was quickly cut short by a steady hand on his chest. His lips curled back in a snarl that died in his throat at the bedraggled person before him who looked like they had crawled through hell and needed to sleep for twenty years after the harrowing journey.

“Aizawa what the fuck are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in the hospital.” Katsuki would be lying if he said he was surprised to see the man, having known the hero to be one to throw his wellbeing out the window for the sake of others.

“I got a call from Tsukauchi. He said you’re being a little shit and refusing to take care of yourself.” Dark eyes bore into his soul which was probably 99% coffee at this point, picking away at him with nothing but concern and disappointment as if he was a child that had gotten into a fight.

Katsuki looked away, suddenly finding the complex equipment to his left far more fascinating than their current conversation.

“Don’t be a dumbass and make a simple mistake because you weren’t functioning at your best.” A steady hand came up and flicked him between his brows to emphasis Aizawa’s point. “If you really care about that man you’ll walk over to that room and sleep before I make you.” His eyes glowed red and the ever present capture weapon suddenly seemed far more ominous as the blonde had a sudden flashback to being a student at UA, in a situation similar to this one.

Sighing in defeat, Katsuki walked to the door tucked away in the corner knowing from personal experience that the man could, and would force him to sleep – experiences he never wanted to go through again, thank you very much.

“Fuckin’ fine old man.” His voice was soft and held zero bite as he pulled the door open on creaky hinges, instantly face planting into the soft pillows and melting into the mattress as his exhaustion hit him full force. He’d been running on nothing but steam for who knows how long, ignoring the physical and mental strain he was forcing upon himself until the point of collapse.

“I’ll wake you up once we have a plan and a task force. If you so much as try and work before then I will personally kick your ass into the next generation.”

Katsuki tried to tell him to fuck off, but his brain was no longer working enough to form words in favor of shutting down so it came out as an incoherent, mumbled mess into the pillow.

Aizawa slowly closed the door, the blonde already fast asleep before it clicked shut and drenched his exhausted features in darkness.

 

____

 

Everything was dark, the plain room with grimy concrete floors illuminated by a single flickering bulb that hung above his head, swaying back and forth on some non-existent wind. His hands were painfully cuffed behind his back as shadowy figures danced menacingly at the edge of his vision, their voices muffled as if he was sitting on a bottom of a pool trying desperately to listen to the people above.

His head felt fuzzy as if someone had reached into his skull and stolen his brain, forcefully replacing it with handfuls of cotton all the while laughing at his discomfort. A nagging feeling tugged at his subconscious like a child trying to get their mothers attention, filling him with the unsettling feeling that he was forgetting something important – something life changing that would fill the terrifying void in his chest.

What was it?

 He jumped at the sudden sensation against his cheek, head lifting slowly as if it weighed a thousand pounds to find nothing but air. The phantom touch continued to cup his jaw, warm thumb brushing tenderly across his cheekbone as another combed gently through his hair. He couldn’t help but lean into the touch, craving more of the calming warmth that spread through him like syrup.

The door he hadn’t noticed before drifted open, revealing an inky blackness that only made the shadows grow and dance demonically across the walls and floors like twisted creatures reaching for prey that was just out of reach. He was sure they would swallow him whole and drag him down to whatever hell they came from if given the chance.

The phantom hands that had been his anchor suddenly disappeared, leaving him adrift in a stormy sea to fend for himself against the ominous waves of panic that threatened to drag him down into their murky depths.

Suddenly the metal bonds around his wrists slackened before falling silently to the hard floor, giving him an out from the muffled voices that only grew and grew until he was sure his ears would bleed from the overwhelming cacophony of indecipherable words and screams.

He needed to get out.

He needed to find whatever it was that made his heart ache more painfully than anything he’d ever felt before.

He just wanted it to be quiet for only a moment so he could clear the fog from his mind and think.

He wanted it to stop, why couldn’t it just stop?

Shut up, shut up, shut up-!

“Kacchan.”

The melodic voice was distant but sliced through the angry noise around him like a knife through butter, silencing them instantly and drenching the room in an eerie quiet that left his ears ringing from the sudden lack of sound. Where had he heard that voice? And why did it remind him of a meadow full of blooming sunflowers on a perfect summers day?

His heartbeat picked up at the empty blackness in his mind where he knew memories should be, a missing puzzle piece that would complete the picture but was nowhere to be found. Hands that were covered in in dirt and dried blood came up to fist handfuls of his hair until pain ran up and down his scalp and his eyes screwed shut in frustration and desperation.

Why, why, why, couldn’t he remember-?

The phantom hands were back, gently grabbing his own and pulling them away before they could cause any more damage. His heartrate slowed as comforting circles were rubbed into his knuckles, warmth spreading throughout his body and easing all the aches and pain he’d grown numb to.

“Kacchan.”

His eyes fluttered open at that familiar voice, now so close and clear he could’ve sworn the person was standing only a few feet away. Bright white flooded his senses, causing him to wince at the sudden drastic change in his surroundings. Slowly he adjusted to the never ending sea of uniform white, head swiveling to his left to take in the unsettling sight. A gentle squeeze to his hands that felt far too real had his head whipping forward, ruby eyes widening at the sight before him.

It was the most beautiful man he had ever seen, dressed in the same outfit from all those months ago in the coffee shop. Curls framed his face covered in a constellation of adorable freckles he wanted to map and count over and over again. A soft smile pulled at his gorgeous face as he leaned forward on his tippy toes, placing perfectly soft lips onto his own in a kiss that tasted like the sweetest honey, a sensation he could’ve willingly drowned in for a lifetime. He eagerly kissed back, his pain and desperation melting away with every second that passed until nothing but contentment remained.

Far too soon the man pulled back, their hands still clasped together in a comforting embrace.

“Deku.” The single word was gravelly and painful as if he’d swallowed a handful of nails, leaving the distinct coppery taste of blood in his mouth. It was a single word that seemed so insignificant, but was the missing piece to fill the void in his mind, slipping in and fitting snugly to bring the whole situation to sudden clarity.

“Deku.” His voice cracked with urgency, eyes wild and body tense as he gazed around for that hated mop of blue hair and that shitty smile that tore everything away from him and laughed as it burned and turned to ash on the ground. They needed to get out of here – wherever here was.

“Oh, Kacchan.” He froze at the sad tone, gaze finding its way to deep emerald glistening with unshed tears. “If only you could’ve saved me.”

“What do you mean, I- you’re right here-” Suddenly the man – no, Izuku – was ripped away with a terrifying strength, flying through the air before landing with a sickening thud. He slowly pushed himself up with trembling arms, breathing ragged and heavy as he took one limping step forward, suddenly burdened by a jagged wound to his thigh that stained the pristine floor with its splattering of dark crimson.

“K-Kacchan, how could you do this to me?” The pain in Izuku’s voice tore his heart to shreds, leaving nothing but a broken mass of tissue in his chest.

“I- what do you mean? I’ve been looking for you day and night nonstop-”

“Don’t lie to me!” Izuku screeched, blood staining his lips and dripping down his chin. “You left me there in-in that hell to rot! To be tortured and abused and forgotten by people who I thought cared – by you!” His angered screams echoed throughout the never ending space, repeating his words like a ricocheting bullet that ripped through him again and again. With every passing second a new wound appeared on his pale skin, a violent painting of flowers blooming in purples and blacks and crimson.

A broken sob escaped Katsuki’s throat as Izuku stumbled and fell to his knees only a few feet away, no longer able to stand on his own. His eyes were dull and lacked the determination and iron will that always filled them, instead giving way to the man who was shattered viciously into a thousand tiny pieces that fell like deadly rain upon the earth.

“Why couldn’t you save me, Katsuki?” A single tear dripped quietly down his cheek, mixing with all the blood that stained his flesh until it was lost amongst the red. His head was jerked back by that same invisible force, revealing a throat stained with bruises that were in a pattern easily recognized as the shape of a hand meant to bring nothing but pain.

“I-I’m sorry Izuku I’m so sorry.” He took a step forward only to be stopped by that same sweet voice that woke him up in the mornings as golden sunlight poured from their windows and bathed the greenette in an ethereal glow; as if the gods themselves had decided to bless him with their power.

“Don’t cry, no one’s ever wanted to save me anyway.”

In the blink of an eye a perfect slice was torn without hesitation across his exposed throat and through the delicate layers of flesh and tissue by the same unseen attacker, ripping his life away in a single moment and drenching his clothes and the floor in sticky blood.

Izuku!” Katsuki fell to his knees before the love of his life, cradling him to his chest as he crumpled forward like a puppet cut from its strings. His hand corded desperately through soft curls, the other wrapped tightly around his waist to stop him from being torn away again, mind too preoccupied to care about the blood that soaked his clothes and pooled around them.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god.” His vision blurred into a smear of red and white as tears poured down his face, the only sound being his heart wrenching sobs that shook the two of them.

Izuku was gone.

And everything was red.

 

____

 

Katsuki woke up with a terrified scream, thrashing at the hands that held him down on the mattress. Sparks flew from his palms, the smell of burned fabric wafting through the air along with the muffled yells he couldn’t make out past the blinding terror racing like ice through his veins and freezing up his lungs until he couldn’t breathe.

“Bakugou! Bakugou snap out of it! You’re safe, everything is fine you just need to focus!” Red eyes blurred by his tears slowly came into view, stealing away his quirk so he wouldn’t cause any more damage than he already had. “Just breathe Bakugou.”

Strong arms pulled him up and held him close, steady heartbeat sounding in his ear like a tether meant to ground him to reality. He sucked in uneven breaths, trying his hardest to ward of the gruesome images of Izuku less he fall down the spiral again and again until he couldn’t crawl his way back out. Katsuki gripped at the soft material of the other’s shirt, hands trembling uncontrollably as tears stained the dark fabric on their shoulder.

A surprisingly gentle hand rubbed soothing circles onto his back, the other holding his head in place. It was a position he’d been in many times during high school and had thought he’d grown out of long ago.

After what felt like hours his tears slowed until they eventually stopped, hands dropping limply to the mattress, head still buried in Aizawa’s shoulder.

“Do you wanna talk about it?” The question was soft, drifting through the quiet like smoke from a cigarette. Katsuki tensed up, a fresh wave of emotions threatening to overflow and drag him down to the depths as it stole away his breath. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, I just want you to know I’m always here for you.”

The blonde let out a small huff of laughter, shoulders easing once again. “You’re cheesy as fuck, old man.” His voice was hoarse from crying, and the all too familiar pressure of a headache was building in his skull. Aizawa’s soft laughter reverberated throughout his body, grounding Katsuki even further in reality while simultaneously wiping away some of the horror that still clung to him like razor sharp thorns digging into flesh.

“You’re a little shit, you know that?” He ruffled his already messy blonde hair, amusement dripping from every word.

Katsuki sniffled, heart rate finally slowing to something more manageable. “Haven’t I always been one?” Aizawa laughed again, the sound rare but nonetheless comforting. Silence fell between them, but neither of them tried to move from their position silhouetted by the dim light pouring in from the open door.

After a few minutes Katsuki was composed enough to pull away, tired eyes taking in the disheveled hero. A new bruise was darkening on his jaw, a mark undoubtedly earned as he attempted to restrain him during his nightmare. “Why are you here anyway?”

A single dark eyebrow raised at the question before he sighed and his shoulders slumped. “I said I’d come wake you once we had a plan, but when I got here you were thrashing and setting off your quirk and,” he paused for a moment, eyes going dark. “You were screaming like you’d had your entire world torn away from you.”

Katsuki swallowed thickly past the whirlwind of emotions in his mind, eyes mapping the intricate designs his explosions and sparks had scorched permanently in the sheets. Picking at a fraying strand with shaking hands, he let out a quiet exhale.

“U-Uh…yeah. It…It was about…” Vivid memories of skin bruising and blood spilling flashed through his mind, making him shudder. “It was about Deku.”

Aizawa nodded, eyes softening at the confession. “I thought so, you called his name when you were asleep.”

Katsuki laughed humorlessly, dream Deku’s words echoing through his mind.

“Why couldn’t you save me, Katsuki?”

Out of all the dreams he could’ve had where the feisty greenette decided to make an appearance, he had to get the most traumatizing one that tore at all the weak spots he buried deep down where no one else could see – no one besides dream Deku who turned out to be an asshole that decided to point them out and make them fester.

A few more seconds of self-deprecating silence passed before a point he had missed in their conversation became blaringly obvious.

“Wait…does that mean we have a plan?”

One of Aizawa’s famous smirks that had sent students crying in fear pulled at his face, dark gaze burning with a fire that could rival Katsuki’s.

“Hell yeah we do.”

 

____

 

“This plan sucks ass.” Katsuki huffed, cool breeze nipping at his nose as he buried his hands in his jacket pocket.

“You’re just mad because all the shops we’ve been to have been a bust.” Kirishima said, playfully bumping his shoulder with the blonde’s. Tsukauchi had decided to assemble a small but powerful team of pros to split up in pairs and ask around with a picture The Jackal, and katsuki had the pleasure of getting stuck with shitty hair; a chatterbox who never seemed to have an off button but somehow brightened everything he passed with his optimistic attitude.

“I’m not mad just…frustrated, ya know?” He sighed, kicking a stray pebble on the cracked sidewalk. “Every second that passes is another that he’s stuck with him.”

A comforting hand patted his shoulder as they approached their second to last stop for the day: a rundown convenience store with flickering neon lights in the windows. The entire town looked like it had seen better days, small neighborhoods lined with rickety houses that needed a fresh coat paint.

“We’ll find him Bakubro, I promise.”

“Yeah, yeah let’s just get to work.” The off key, mechanical chime of a bell rang throughout the store as he pushed open the door excitedly claiming beer was half off, announcing their entrance to any and everyone in the store who was willing to care.

The gruff, white haired man who stood behind the counter gave them a toothy smile, hand lifting in a small wave. “How can I help you boys tonight?”

Kirishima flashed him one of his famous sunshine smiles as he approached with a bounce in his step, pulling out a small picture from his pocket along with his hero license. “We just have a few questions for you regarding this man, if you don’t mind.” He slid the two items across the faded counter, resting his hip against the old material.

“Do you recognize this man?” His voice was warm and welcoming, trying his best to coax an answer out of the man currently giving him a wary look. His lips pursed into a thin line, all that Katsuki needed to know he wasn’t going to give answers easily.

Stepping forward, Katsuki stood side by side next to the red head, glaring at the shop keeper. “He’s very dangerous and we need to find him as soon as possible.” He tapped one slender finger on the picture of the sadistic fuck he wanted to beat into a pulp. “And interfering with an investigation is justifiable for arrest.”

The man’s shoulders slumped, aggressive glint in his eyes fading until it was almost extinguished completely. “No need to get feisty now. How would you act if strangers walked in asking about a man you know?”

Katsuki leaned forward, chest tight as he rested his elbow on the linoleum. “You know him?”

Thick fingers with graying hairs on the knuckles reached out and picked up the picture between his pointer finger and thumb, brown eyes flickering back and forth between the glossy paper and the heroes before finally settling on the blonde with a steady gaze.

“I do. His name is Matsui and he comes here at least twice a week. He’s quiet but never caused any harm.”

Katsuki’s chest tightened painfully, heart caught in a dangerous dance with hope. “Do you know where he lives? A person’s life could be in danger.”

The man nodded slowly, placing the picture back on the counter. “I sure do. It was a big commotion when he decided to move here and buy an empty plot of land on the outskirts of town to build a house – a nice one at that. He should be coming around in about an hour actually, he’s like clockwork.”

Katsuki quickly pulled out his phone and dialed Tsukauchi’s number, stepping away from Kirishima who was thanking the man for his cooperation. The phone rang for what seemed like ages before it stopped, the familiar voice pouring into his ear.

“Bakugou-?”

The blonde quickly cut him off, voice deadly like a knife as it sliced through the air, pulse counting down the seconds until he got to hold Izuku in his arms.

“We got him.”

Chapter Text

Hayato was irritated beyond belief. He couldn’t remember a time, couldn’t remember a person who wiggled their way into his mind and played his nerves like a piano, testing every key to see what sound it made. How could a single man be so impossibly infuriating?

Not only did that little shit refuse to break no matter what he did – hitting, kicking, testing– but he seemed to have a never ending arsenal of sarcastic replies hidden away in that annoying little skull. Every single word he spoke made the anger in his veins boil over like magma; an unstable volcano intent on destroying everything in its path. Good thing Hayato planned to get rid of him after the next, and final batch of serums he’d been slowly perfecting.

Surprisingly the man had been a treasure trove of information as he refused to give in to the pain, but all things lose their interest eventually, and Bunny was very near his expiration date.

The door to his house closed with a soft click, automatic lock sliding easily into place as he walked quickly down the steps to a sidewalk that led into town, ready for his weekly visit to the small store near his home. It was a quaint place that had everything he needed, and the employees never pried too far into places they shouldn’t look; living in an ignorant bliss that kept them safe and alive.

A soft breeze ruffled through his hair as he strolled, the calming sounds of nature filling the air doused in the golden light of sunset that lit the trees and town ablaze. The bell of the shop interrupted the picturesque quiet with its metallic ping, giving way to an interior filled with rows upon colorful rows of food and supplies.

“Matsui! How have you been?” The familiar form of the store owner greeted him, wrinkled face pulled into a soft smile.

“I’ve been good Yamazaki,” he wandered closer to the counter, eyes raking over the array of chips and candies lined up in neat, little multicolored rows. “I got a pet recently but he keeps acting out…I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should return him.”

“Oh, a pet? How exciting!” A genuine smile pulled at the old man’s face, eyes crinkling as he leaned on the counter. “What kind?”

Hayato had to fight the urge to grin, sick sense of joy blooming in his chest and twisting its way around his ribs. “I got a bunny.”

“A bunny huh?” One of Yamazaki’s tanned hands came up to rub his chin. “I pegged you for more of a cat person.”

Humming in acknowledgement, Hayato leaned down and grabbed a few flavors of chips, more than ready to leave the conversation and efficiently move around the store to grab his usual things. These trips were never long winded or complicated; they were planned and calculated to take up as little time as possible, and this was about as much interaction he could stand before every word sounded like nails scraping down a chalkboard.

Just as he straightened and began to turn away, Yamazaki awkwardly cleared his throat in a way to show he had more to say. Hayato plastered on a fake smile, annoyance threatening to wipe it away to something sinister as thoughts of smashing the man’s head repeatedly into the register flashed therapeutically through his mind. The counter needed a new coat of paint anyway, who said it couldn’t be crimson?

“Is something wrong?”

The older man looked down at his hands, fingers fiddling with a neon pink lighter he’d plucked from the others that sat off to the side. “It’s just…well…” His voice faded off as he seemed to struggle with his thoughts, brain warring between continuing and holding his tongue. “There were two men here earlier – pro heroes asking about you and saying all kinds of things…”

Hayato’s heart froze with the imminent sense of danger clawing away at any bit of flesh it was given, a greedy little thing that only wanted to take and take and take until nothing was left.

Yamazaki continued, glancing up from the counter to search his face with eyes tinged with desperation and fear. “They must’ve been wrong right? Those things they were saying, you’d never do anything like that – Matsui?”

His chips lay abandoned on the tiled floor, chime of the door coupled with a yell of surprise signaling his almost frantic exit as he quickly traced his steps back home; all the while trying not to seem too suspicious – too rushed. The second the words had left Yamazaki’s mouth like a poison arrow to his chest, he knew that his time had been cut short and the final act was about to begin.

 

And it’d end with Bunny dead at his feet.

 

____

 

Katsuki sat in the passenger seat of Kirishima’s car, impatience growing with every minute that passed. He’d wanted to hunt down that motherfucker the second he had the chance, but had been oh so nicely reminded that “we’re pros Bakubro, we gotta wait for backup.” Katsuki had just as kindly told the red head to take his words and shove them up his ass because Izuku was so close, yet it felt like he was leagues away, and waiting for backup wasn’t going to change that fact.

The longer they sat here, god knows what could be happening to Izuku…

“Hey, hey, hey there he is!” Shitty hair excitedly patted his arm with every word, pointing with his other hand at the prick who was about to get his ass beat.

“Cut that shit out man!” Katsuki aggressively pulled his hand down with an exasperated sigh, watching with barely restrained anger as the door of the shop swung gently closed. “Do you want us to be noticed before we know where he’s keeping Deku? I mean can you be any more obvious-

“Dude shut up.”

“Bitch what the fuck did you just say-?”

“You can fight me later all you want but will you please just shut up and watch the cashier tip off the guy who has been stalking you for who knows how long and kidnapped your boyfriend??”

Katsuki glanced up at those words, petty anger quickly fizzling out like a firecracker doused in water. Out of all the bullshit that could happen today, the man who’d given them priceless information had to blab to the very person they were after.

“…Oh…” With an angry huff he crossed arms clad in new and improved gauntlets over his chest, the sleek bracers lighter but far more deadly than the previous. He was geared up and ready to test them on a certain blue haired fuck who was currently looking around like a cornered animal; eyes wide and searching as the cashier continued to talk. “Shit you right.”

The feeling of something being off – of being wrong – curdled sourly in his stomach, turning over the minimal dinner he’d been able to force down. It was a feeling that only grew as The Jackal hurried out from the store, a sinister purpose hidden in every step.

“Okay here’s the plan: we follow that motherfucker back to his lair and I blast him into the sun and save Deku.”

Kirishima’s eyes were a mix of mirth and seriousness as he turned to the blonde, some old rock song softly spilling from the radio and filling the car. “Blasty we have to follow protocol-”

“Fuck protocol Kiri! I’m not risking Deku’s life just because protocol dictates that we have to wait for the others! What if he dies because we spent too long waiting?!” His voice rose with every second until he was yelling, words laced with unsaid emotion as his fist slammed into the window, punctuating his point.

“Look I’m sorry man-”

“I can’t lose him, not again. Not when he’s this close.” The blonde’s voice had dropped to nothing more than a whisper, crimson eyes looking desperately at his friend.

Kirishima sighed in defeat after a few silent seconds, thumb beating rhythmically against the steering wheel as a new song played. “Five minutes.”

Katsuki’s eyes widened, the blossoming hope he’d been nurturing in his chest coming to full bloom. “What…?”

“We’ll follow him and wait five minutes, and if backup hasn’t shown up by then we can go in – we can say we heard something or some shit if anyone asks.”

In an instant Katsuki was reaching over the console to pull the other man into an awkward hug, arms wrapping around his stupidly wonderful head. Solid, grounding arms quickly squeezed around his waist, the only response he needed to his silent thank you.

“Now let’s follow this bitch.”

 

____

 

Izuku Listened to the muffled click of the door above him as it locked behind The Jackal, giving him a free moment to tear his way through the fog filling his head and the bonds restraining his wrists. Only a few more strands needed to be broken to loosen them enough to finally be free from this hell hole.

His arms ached with even the smallest movement, muscles fatigued and wrists far past chaffed. But none of that mattered when he was so close, labored breathing sounding twice as loud in the empty room.

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!

Each minute that passed seemed to mock him, laughing as the seconds slipped through his fingers like sand through an hourglass – small trickles he so desperately wanted to catch and keep close to his chest wishing time would stop, but could only watch in horror as they escaped and disappeared into nothingness.

“Goddammit did he buy super rope or something cause honestly-oh.” The sudden slackening of the painful ties around his wrists cut off his words, relief pushing the last dredges of exhaustion from his mind as he brought steady hands to rest in his lap. His wrists were coated in blood fresh and old, skin torn away and sensitive from the harsh ropes.

“Fucking finally.” He whispered, stifling a groan as he slowly stood, one hand braced on the back of the chair for support as his legs trembled; getting used to the sudden weight. Izuku reveled in his small achievement, basking in the warmth before thinking about the hopefully less time consuming task laid out before him: Getting out of wherever he was, along with finding out where he was – all within a very limited time span.

Pushing open the door, Izuku peered into the empty hall brightly lit with florescent lights, two doors identical to his own lining the other side along with a set of stairs at the very end. “Time for an adventure…” He whispered, shuffling out into the hallway on quiet feet, hyper focused on any and every noise. He made it past the first room before the sound of footsteps above made him freeze, eyes widening in surprise.

Had it really taken him that long?

In a split second decision he pulled open the second door, closing it softly behind him in the hopes that it’d buy him enough time for, well…anything. With the few seconds he had, Izuku glanced around the room for objects that could pass as a weapon – anything that could slow him down for even a fraction of a second.

White shelves filled with complex looking equipment and vials lined the walls, along with a desk tucked away in the corner strewn with papers. The room was illuminated by the same florescent lights as the hall, dousing everything in an eerie, sterile hue. He quickly rifled through the drawers, slipping scalpels and syringes into his jacket like a pickpocket stealing cash.

One could never be too cautious; something he’d learned the hard way so many years ago.

The sound of angry yelling signaled that his time was coming to an end, so in his final seconds as the door knob began to ominously turn, steady fingers grabbed the nearest item in an unwavering grip. He took the few steps back into the doors blind spot, brain working overtime with plan after plan as he tensed – prey turned hunter lying in wait to tear The Jackal to shreds.

“Where did that little shit go?! I’m going to make his life nothing but pain once I find him-”

The second the door opened to reveal the furious form of the sadistic fuck who’d kept him locked up for days, Izuku swung; cutting off his words as the steel tray he’d been holding smashed with a satisfying bang into his face.

The Jackal stumbled back, blood gushing into his mouth and down his chin from a freshly broken nose, skin already red and bruising. He snarled like a rabid animal, teeth stained red as he tried to work past the pain, scrunched up eyes filling with involuntary tears. But the greenette wasn’t going to wait for him to break through the distracting, shock induced daze; he wasn’t a dumbass who missed the small moments the universe decided to give him.

Izuku shoved past him into the hall, moving as fast as his adrenaline charged body would let him, only one frantically calm thought echoing through his mind like a broken record: escape, escape, escape.

He made it halfway up the stairs before an iron grip painfully grabbed a handful of his hair, ripping a small yelp from his throat and hair from his scalp as his getaway was cut short. Izuku was yanked backwards and off his feet into a sudden freefall, eyes going wide as time seemed to slow, frantic heartbeat sounding in his skull. It was quickly cut off by his body landing harshly on the hardwood floor with a grunt of pain, old and new wounds throbbing with the force.

He rolled as best he could with the impact, shoulder aching in a way that promised nothing short of a nasty, dark bruise. Crouching low as The Jackal stalked forward, his hand wrapped around the cool metal in his pocket. After another speeding beat of his heart Izuku shot forward, feigning a sprint back to the stairs before whipping to the right, stabbing the scalpel deep into his thigh with a violent twist of his wrist before ripping it back out. Payback, Bitch.

“You motherfucker!” The Jackal screeched, hands coming down to squeeze his leg, struggling to process the quickly growing dark patch that spread like spilled ink across his jeans.

Taking advantage of his pain once again, Izuku snaked like a shadow behind the man, dropping to his knees before slashing him harshly across the back of his ankle; an action that earned another satisfying scream as The Jackal fell to his knees. The greenette shot back up and out of the man’s reach, taking a few stumbling steps backwards until his back hit the wall.

The psychopath’s sapphire eyes whipped towards him, single glare conveying all the venom and hate that plagued his heart and mind. “I’m going to skin you alive, and send it in a pretty little package to the person you care about most-”

“God, do you ever shut up you blue freckly fuck? I’ve had to listen to you for who knows how many days and I’m so fucking tired of it.” Izuku ended his statement by stepping forward and shifting his weight equally between his legs, driving home his words with a lightning fast kick to The Jackal’s head.

He didn’t even wait for him to collapse before rushing back up the stairs, adrenaline slowly fading to leave nothing but pain and bone deep exhaustion in its place. But he couldn’t stop until he was free – until he filled his lungs with fresh air and sunlight kissed his skin.

He couldn’t stop.

The stairs were blocked by another door that had been conveniently left open, revealing another small hallway that spilled out onto a stylishly minimalistic living room. Izuku leaned heavily against the wall, legs suddenly made of jelly and lungs feeling as if they’d been coated in concrete.

…He…couldn’t…stop…

“F-Fuck.” He panted, bringing his arm up to wipe away the sweat gathered on his brow only to see the bloodied scalpel still clutched in his now trembling hand. Uncurling his fingers, it fell to the floor with a soft clatter that sounded dull to his ears until settling a foot or so away.

Was he going to die here…?

“I’m so sorry.” He slid a few more inches down the wall, the edges of his vision being stolen away by darkness. The sudden sound of breaking wood and shattering glass filled the eerily silent house, making Izuku jump as images of an enraged Jackal flashed like a horror movie through his mind, no matter how irrational the thoughts actually were. Fingers slipped back into his pocket for one last ditch effort he knew he wouldn’t come back from, but he’d sure as hell go down fighting. Multiple footsteps echoed until they got closer and closer, sounding their own count down like a metronome.

Any second now…

“Deku…?” The footsteps froze with the shocked whisper, causing Izuku to lift his head that suddenly weighed a thousand pounds. “Deku, oh my god!”

The greenette took in the form of the man he thought he’d never see again, face far more beautiful than he remembered. His blonde hair was disheveled and fell in his face, dark bags sitting beneath eyes that burned like a forest fire, roaring flames consuming everything in their path. He was a strong, capable, beautiful mess; an angel that had appeared to sweep him away and tell him the past few days had been nothing but a nightmare.

Izuku had half a mind to consider the blonde was just an apparition – a cruel hallucination conjured up by his mind or the remnants of drugs still coursing through his body. His eyes fluttered closed, dreading to open them only to have Katsuki disappear like smoke on the wind.

Please, please, please be real.

Izuku felt familiar real arms pull him gently into an equally real, warm chest, steady heart a stark contrast to his own. His head fell forward to rest on his sternum, wrapping him in the sweet, smoky scent that only belonged to one person. A quiet calm washed over the frantic thoughts swirling like demons in his head, a soothing feeling he could only define as safe. With the last dredges of his energy Izuku raised up his hand and cupped Katsuki’s jaw, thumb caressing his cheekbone.

“Hey there, cutie.”

 

____

 

Katsuki sat in the passenger seat of Kirishima’s car, leg bouncing up a storm as he stared down the little electronic clock on the dash.

Three more minutes…Three more fucking minutes…

Ruby eyes occasionally shifted to the dark brown door The Jackal had disappeared behind, as if daring it to suddenly reveal the horrors that it’d been hiding.

Two more minutes.

“Dude you gotta chill, he’s gonna be fine.” Kirishima said, his confident tone doing practically nothing to sooth the anxiety pushing against his ribs until he was sure they’d crack beneath the pressure.

“He’s been kidnapped by a psycho he’s not gonna be fine.”

A few beats of silence passed before Shitty Hair sighed for the billionth time. “Okay, true but the guy is a fighter, no one can deny that. We’ll find him and we’ll bring him home.”

One minute.

“I know.” Silence blanketed the air once again, but it was a silence filled with anticipation as the seconds ticked by.

Three.

Katsuki adjusted the bracers on his forearms.

Two.

They rested their hands on the car doors, bodies tense like bows drawn and ready to fire.

One.

“Let’s go kick some ass.”

Zero.

The doors clicked open and in an instant they were charging forward, sticks snapping underfoot as they reached the lone house tucked away in an alcove of trees. Explosions rocked the frame of the door as Kirishima’s hardened shoulder smashed into the wood, the powerful combination knocking it clean from its hinges and shattering the glass to either side. They walked in side by side, eyes scoping for any possible threats before splitting up to sweep the closest rooms.

“The kitchen is clear.” Katsuki whispered, taking a step back to regroup with the other.

“So is the bedroom.”

They slowly moved forward as a team, prepared for a knife wielding stalker to manifest from the shadows. “How far out is backup?”

“Tsukauchi said they’d be here in seven.”

Humming in confirmation he rounded a corner, taking in the sparsely decorated yet infuriatingly classy living room. He took in the bookshelves lined in thick medical textbooks, crimson eyes immediately catching on a familiar sight that stole the breath from his lungs.

“Deku…?” Kirishima whipped around at the sound of his voice, eyes equally wide at the sight before them. Izuku was leaning against the wall, skin sporting bruises new and old coupled with smears of dried blood that flaked away and stained his clothes. He looked seconds away from collapsing, entire body wracked with small bouts of tremors.

Pride joined his worries as Izuku lifted his head, emerald eyes filled with a passion to survive that had only gotten stronger over the past few days. It gave way to the unbreakable resolve and determination neatly cultivated behind a sea of vibrant green he’d missed so much.

“Deku, oh my god!” His body moved before his mind could catch up, throwing caution to the wind hoping Kirishima would pick up the slack as he moved towards the greenette, overwhelmed with the urge to protect what he’d lost. Katsuki pulled Izuku into a gentle embrace, wary of the injuries he could and couldn’t see. A trembling hand, wrist raw and bleeding, cupped his cheek as he gazed down at the man in his arms whose face was painted with an exhausted smile.

“Hey there, cutie.”

Oh, this little bitch.

If Katsuki hadn’t been overwhelmed with a weird mixture of joy and deep rooted concern he would’ve torn Izuku a new one, but all he could manage was a soft chuckle as his vision blurred with tears.

A small ball of panic slammed like a battering ram into his stomach when Izuku’s eyes fluttered shut and went completely lax, until the blonde took a few seconds to calm down and think, coming to the realization that he’d just fallen asleep – which only brought up the questions he’d stored away, questions about what happened, what Katsuki could do to help. But those were for a different time, right now all they needed was an end to this whole ordeal. In one smooth movement Katsuki slipped a hand under the greenette’s knees while the other supported his lower back, head resting peacefully against his collarbone.

“Are you good to check the basement? Or do you want to wait for Tsukauchi?”

“I’ll go, I have a feeling I won’t have to do much anyway,” He walked past Katsuki, briefly touching his shoulder. “You go take care of him.”

Nodding once, he walked back the way they came, stepping easily over the destroyed door and out into the fresh air. The sky was a rich, velvety purple as the sun set, stars dotting it like jewels on an ancient tapestry that whispered the secrets of the world. Sirens could be heard in the distance, and in the moment it was the sweetest sound he’d ever heard.

In the few minutes they had, wrapped in the calming aura of nature who caressed them with a soft breeze, Katsuki placed a tender kiss to his boyfriend’s forehead; an undeniably warm, mushy, determined feeling saturating his entire body down to his very core.

The ambulance appeared over the top of the hill, bringing with it an unwavering resolve that he’d never leave the man in his arms, sticking with him through thick and thin – good and bad. He’d be there for the arguments and the laughs, the lazy mornings drenched in gold after a night staying up to stare at the stars. He’d be the support the greenette needed, a shoulder to cry on and a person to confide in. But most importantly he’d be there with his whole heart and all the love he could give.

“I’ve got you, Izuku.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Izuku had always hated hospitals, from the sterile smell that clung to his nose to the ever present thrumming of machines and the pitying looks of doctors and nurses. But above all else, Izuku hated the feel of hospitals – the lurking knowledge that clung to the shadows, whispering that something was wrong, wrong, wrong. No one went to the hospital because they wanted to, they went because something had happened.

That fact had proven itself more than once throughout his life.

Exhaustion permeated his bones as his eyes struggled to open, as if they suddenly weighed a thousand pounds. Florescent lights sent pain stabbing through his skull like a knife, twisting and turning until the dull pounding in his head grew tenfold, eliciting a small groan of “fuck” that was nothing more than a whisper. He would’ve done more, but his throat felt as if he’d swallowed a handful of glass, deciding to chase it with a nice shot of sand.

His entire body ached as if he’d been hit by a truck not once, but several times; as if the driver wanted to make sure he’d be a smear on the pavement. It felt as if none of his body had been left unscathed, as if each and every fiber had been torn to shreds and messily hewn back together. It…hurt. If he didn’t feel more dehydrated than a man lost in the desert, he’d probably cry.

Izuku quickly closed his eyes, reveling in the small moment of relief the darkness provided. Florescent lights had never been his favorite, the bright light always jarring and washing everything out, but after his time spent with The Jackal – wait!

His eyes shot open despite the pain, freezing panic shooting through his veins. His arms tensed as they struggled to push him up, muscles trembling with fatigue as his mind screeched with an overwhelming sense of danger, escape, danger, escape, escape, escapeescapeescapeESCAPEESCAPEESCAPE-

Where was he?

Izuku’s head swiveled back and forth, eyes wide with fear yet blind to the world as he struggled to breathe.

 

ֿ.̬̺̳ͅH͕͔֥֦ׅ֣֚֚֚֚֓֙֠͟͠E֣ׅ֚֔﮾︡˞S̗̖̜̭C̢̫̰̮̽Ö̵̧̤̱́M̳̹̝̿̽I͇̤̜͕̓͂N͓͕͙͈͗͊̈́͘͜ͅĢ̵̪̦͂͛͗͐͌̈́͆F᷂᷿͖̤᷈͒̽͑͘O̵͙͔͕͈̗̝̩̲͆͌͗͐͞R̖̝̻̽̾͌Y͇̬̿Ơ̫̤̣̔̓̑̐̾̕Ư̡̢̗̙͔͖̐̈̂·.̬̺̳͔̞̝ͅ"̲̹̤̘̜͊͘ ̟̲̮̟͍

 

He just wanted to see Kacchan again, it’s all he wanted.

 

.̬̺̳͔̞̝ͅ"̲̹̤̘̜͊͘ ̟̲̮̟͍͔̂̐̾Ḧ̛͔͖̙̳̔͠E̼̳͉͒̽̾̔̑͌͌̕ͅS̞̙̗͍͌̂̄̚G̨֛֖֧̞̬͉֚҇֓֞̕Ōֱ͈̫֪̉̄֗֕֔֟֕Iְַ̘̙̯֮֒֗֡֩̆Ṋ̵ֱֶ̡̦֑֥֚̐֕֗֯֞֫֨Ġֱֳֻֿ̣̗̫̜̟֥́֕֔֒֬֙֘Ţֽ̡̥̪̩̜֧֛֗֒֞֡֫Ǫֻ̧̛̳֤֢̠̞̰̜̿֕֓֒̚Ȟ̛̜̤̣֣֢֛̍֯֜֕֓Uֶָ֦֛֤̙̩̳֭֮֝̈̅R̵ִֶָ̨̦̮֗֕֒Tֲִֵַ̻͎͉֞֜֝֯Yְֱ֛֪͙͖͓͔֭֕֓֩֗֫͒͘͠Oֶֶֻֽ֖̭̬͈֮֨֞֔֕֓֯֬֫Uֳִֶָ֦֣֢̲͍̫̤̭֭֔֗͂̈́·.̬̺̳͔̞̝ͅ"̲̹̤̘̜͊͘ ̟̲̮̟͍

 

He doesn’t want to die, he never wanted to die like this.

 

He doesn’t want to die.

 

He doesn’t want to die.

Hedoesn’twanttodieHedoesntwanttodieHedoesntwanttodieHedoesntwanttodie-

“-eku! Deku it’s alright, you’re alright! I’m here and you’re safe, just breathe, okay?” Warm hands gently grasped his own, a stabilizing pressure in the whirlwind of his mind. “Just copy me, okay? Just breathe.

Izuku struggled through stuttering gasps, lungs protesting any semblance of control he tried to grasp, tearing at the reins until his palms were red and blistering from the force. He floundered through the oppressive waves until he was sure his body would give out, until slowly the storm petered out and sunshine broke through the clouds. Tears stained Izuku’s cheeks as his surroundings slowly came into focus, the sterile white and smell of chemicals terrifyingly similar to the hell he’d just escaped; yet entirely different the more he calmed down.

As the seconds passed and the speeding beep of the heart monitor slowed, the greenette finally brought his eyes up to the man he was convinced was a dream. Deep crimson swirled with emotions so deep he couldn’t begin to understand, all consuming as they pulled him into their familiar, fiery depths. They were weighed down by dark bags from sleepless nights and stubble lined his chin, ash blonde hair a wild mess – but despite all that he was a vision to behold; a man signifying the finish line to his ordeal, a man who meant nothing but safety.

“K-Kacchan…?” His sand papery throat protested the word with painful coughs, body trembling weakly with every inhale and exhale. A paper cup was pressed against his mouth, ice cold liquid feeling like heaven as it slipped past his lips and down his throat. He gulped it down until there was nothing left, sighing with exhaustion as Katsuki placed the cup back on the bedside table.

Katsuki.

The tears were back, but they were no longer ones of terror as his vision blurred, warm ruby being the one thing that held him steady. Relief crashed over him with the sudden realization that everything was over, that he was free from that dingy basement and that shitty chair and needles and pain-

He shook himself from that negative train of thought that threatened to run him down, exhausted body slumping forward until his forehead rested in the crook of Katsuki’s neck. The comforting smell of burnt sugar and cinnamon washed over him, strong arms tentatively wrapping themselves around his waist, not wanting to send him into another panicked spiral. Izuku melted into the security and warmth he radiated, basking in the feeling of home.

A few minutes passed in drifting silence, the passage of time marked by the gentle sounds of machines and people passing in the hall. He was the most relaxed he’d been in days, the tension he’d housed in his body slowly ebbing away until he was putty in his boyfriend’s arms. A deep seated soreness lived in every nook and cranny of his body, but it was a feeling easily ignored in favor of listening to the steady ba-dump, ba-dump of the blonde’s heart.

“You good, shorty?” Katsuki murmured, hands tracing gentle patterns and shapes up his spine. Izuku hummed in confirmation, far too tired to do much else. “You should lay back down, your body is still healing. Recovery girl did what she could with the state you were in, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need rest.” His voice was low and soothing, like tea and honey on a cool winters day. Izuku didn’t want to leave the embrace of the man he thought he’d never see again, far too content and sleepy to move.

His hands came up to weakly grasp the soft material of the blonde’s shirt, doing his best to convey the emotions roiling in his chest. Katsuki laughed softly, breathe feathering through his curls. Arms tightened around his waist, the gentle tremors running through his hands the only thing Izuku needed to know he felt the same desire.

Suddenly those gentle hands were shifting him to the right, before easing him back down into the soft hospital mattress – cushions a blessing compared to sitting in a chair for days. Katsuki squeezed in beside him, broad shoulders a protective wall from the rest of the world. Izuku felt the final vestiges of tension leaving his body as his eyes fluttered closed.

Soft lips pressed to his forehead, warm hand resting on his hip. “Good night, Deku.”

Izuku couldn’t fight the smile making its way across his face. “Good night, Kacchan.”

 

____

 

Katsuki laid there, watching as Izuku’s breathing evened out and he slipped off and away into the world of dreams, worry lines smoothing until they were nothing but a memory. A heavy sigh wracked his lungs, shaking in tandem with the trembles in his hands. Fighting the tears threatening to spill down his cheeks, the image of Izuku wide eyed and gasping for breath unable to scream haunted his mind – an image tattooed on his eyelids, flashing every time he closed his eyes.

It’d been so sudden, so silently violent and full of terror as he was ripped from unconsciousness, but unable to escape the twisted things that lurked in his mind. Katsuki never wanted Izuku to feel that way, never wanted this cruel, fucked up situation to happen. No one deserved to go through that – something that could only be described as a hell where you weren’t sure you’d survive another day, let alone another hour – and yet here he was, lying next to the man he loved but couldn’t protect.

Fuck.

Katsuki angrily wiped at the tears that slipped down his cheeks, taking a moment to breathe in and steady his emotions that wanted to run wild. He laid there for a few more minutes, running his fingers through soft curls and simply basking in the fact that he had Izuku back in his arms.

A gentle knock on the door earned an exasperated sigh from the blonde, debating on whether or not he should get up. After a few more seconds he stood, silently walking to the door ready to fight whoever was on the other side that had the audacity to ruin the moment. He wrapped his hand around the handle and pulled open the door, ready to whisper yell (cause he wasn’t that much of a dick to scream in a hospital) the emotions boiling in his chest away, but the words died on his lips at the woman in a white coat standing in the hall.

“Dr. Ishikawa.” Katsuki said, anger ebbing away until it was nothing but an echo in his veins.

“Bakugou, how are you?” She asked, tucking her clipboard under her arm with a kind smile that reached her chocolate eyes.

Katsuki sighed for what felt like the thousandth time that night, running a hand through his already disheveled hair. “I’m…tired, but a good tired. Izuku he…he woke up.”

Her face lit up with excitement and joy for the blonde, who’d practically been living in the hospital for the past few days like a guard dog at Midoriya’s side. Katsuki stepped aside to let her in to the room, knowing now that she had important things to take care of. “He’s sleeping right now, but if you need me to I can wake him up.”

She waved her hand dismissively as she approached the bed, checking the various machines for who knows what before writing little notes down here and there. “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure he’s exhausted after all he went through. I’ll come back in the morning and ask my questions then.”

Katsuki nodded, knowing the coming conversation would be a hard one, but was a necessary evil. They needed to know what happened to prepare for the backlash, and how to make sure Izuku got better no matter how long it would take. The blonde also couldn’t deny the curiosity sitting deep in his core, hungry for any piece of information – any way he could help.

“Bakugou…”

He turned his attention from where he’d been staring holes in the floor to Dr. Ishikawa, who’s eyebrows were furrowed in concern as she looked at Izuku. “Yeah?”

“When he was first brought in his blood work and toxicology were a mess, and if it wasn’t for the syringes in his pocket he’d probably still be unconscious.” She bit her lip as she paused, turning to look up at Katsuki. “Yes, we don’t know the specifics but that doesn’t mean we won’t do our best for him and you.” Determination burned brightly in her eyes, and for a moment she was a mirror image of the expression he’d seen on Izuku so many times.

“Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me, Bakugou. I’m just doing what’s right; something you can understand, can’t you Ground Zero?

“Oh, fuck off.” Katsuki said with a laugh, earning one in return. The tightness in his shoulders eased just a little, the mood seeming just that much brighter as she left with a smile and a wave, leaving him alone once again. He slipped back in the bed next to Izuku, pulling the blankets up over their shoulders.

Things were going to be okay.

 

____

 

The second time Izuku woke up was vastly different from the first. Sure, he was still sore and it felt like there was a weight pressing down on his chest…..waaaaait. Eyes bleary with sleep cleared with a few hurried blinks, following the warm arm draped across his torso to the equally warm body lying next to him. The exhausted lines that had been so prevalent in his face the night before were gone, replaced by something smooth and peaceful; face softer and reminiscent of his younger days.

Izuku’s emerald eyes drank in every curve and sharp plane of that ridiculously attractive face, still not entirely sure it was real; that this man had somehow stumbled into his life like hurricane, all fire and confidence and just the right amount of charming. He was just like they were when they were children, but so, so different in all the right ways. He was Katsuki, and somehow the hero wanted to be with him.

It was fucking wild.

His gaze slipped down the curve of his neck to broad shoulders honed to handle the brunt of his explosions, dark shirt slipping just past his collar bones to reveal the smallest hint of the scars that danced across his skin. Scars that spoke of all he’d been through to be the man he was today, to be the hero selflessly saving people at the risk of himself. If relationships were a game of poker, Izuku had somehow gotten a royal flush.

“Like what you see, shorty?”

Izuku let out a squeak of surprise, shivering as the husky voice drenched in sleep flowed over him. He was suddenly aware of the crimson eyes boring into his own, amused smile gracing his features. The greenette felt his face twisting to mirror the expression, mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Hmmm I’m not sure…I’ve seen better.”

An offended noise sounded in the blonde’s throat, calloused finger coming up to bop him on the nose. “Rude. I’ll have you know men and women and everyone in between would love to have a piece of this.” He gestured to his body with his free hand, amused smile turning to a cocky smirk.

Izuku countered with a sultry smile he’d spent years mastering, walking his fingers up that broad chest. “Oh really? Then I must be lucky since it’s all mine.”

Katsuki leaned forward, mouth opening to deliver his equally coy reply but was abruptly cut off by a high pitched squeak near the door. The duo’s attention was torn away from each other and shifted to the furiously blushing nurse standing in the door way, awkwardly fiddling with her hands.

She cleared her throat after several uncomfortable beats, unable to meet their eyes for more than a few seconds. “Uh, Midoriya, I um…brought you some breakfast? Do you want um pancakes or miso soup and rice porridge?” Her voice was high with embarrassment – an emotion Izuku hadn’t felt in years. He couldn’t be embarrassed in his profession if he wanted to make cash and bring in repeat clients and customers.

He flashed her a reassuring, bright smile, wanting the nurse to know she did nothing wrong. He thought for a moment between the two choices, deciding he wasn’t quite sure he wanted something heavy like pancakes. “I’ll have the miso soup and porridge, if you don’t mind.”

Her shoulders eased at his words as she ducked out of the room, returning a few seconds later with a tray in hand. She set it on the bedside table with a smile before scurrying out, probably wanting to leave them alone as soon as possible. Izuku almost felt bad for her, but his amusement far outweighed that fact.

A deep chuckle sounded beside him, growing louder and louder till Izuku joined in, cheeks rosy with laughter.

Did you see her face?” Katsuki barely managed to gasp out, arms wrapped around his heaving torso. Izuku buried his head in the blonde’s shoulder, silent laughter bringing tears to his eyes, wincing at the strain to his sore ribs.

“S-She was so surprised but so sweet I can’t oh my god.

Their laughter slowly petered out until they were blanketed in a comfortable silence, which was only interrupted by the sudden growl of the greenette’s stomach.

Katsuki chuckled affectionately once again, running a calming hand through his curls. “You should eat before it gets cold.”

Izuku nodded, sitting up with a wince as the blonde propped up the pillows behind them after raising the back of the bed. He grabbed the tray of food and placed it on the table spanning across the bed, flipping on the tv to some generic comedy show. The greenette leaned against the other, finding solace in the familiar warmth he always exuded like a personal furnace. A strong arm held him close by the waist, an anchor that refused to let him go adrift in his mind.

He finished the last bite of the porridge and placed the empty bowl to the equally vacant one that used to be miso soup, feeling more full than he had in a while. He relaxed further into the comforting hold, content to sit there for days if he could.

But alas, it seemed as if the world was intent on ruining every moment they had.

Another woman stood in the doorway, donned in the pristine white coat of a doctor. She rolled her eyes as she entered the room, strolling leisurely towards the pair.

“Bakugou you bitch; you’re not supposed to get in bed with a patient.”

“Oh go eat a dick, Ishikawa. Me being here isn’t hurting anybody.”

“Yeah but you made one of my nurses so flustered she had to take a break.”

“That’s her fault for not knowing how to knock.”

Izuku watched the exchange with a bewildered expression, wondering what the fuck was happening and if maybe, just maybe, he’d somehow been transported into an alternate dimension. The conversation got more and more ridiculous the longer he watched, and it almost pained him to stop the free entertainment. Just as they were broaching the topic of which ice cream flavor was better (mint chocolate chip, obviously), Izuku decided to bring them back to reality.

He stuck his hand between them with another of his signature smiles, catching the attention of them both and stopping the collision he was sure was about to happen.

“Hi! I’m Midoriya Izuku, it’s nice to meet you!”

The brunette looked shocked for a second before giving him her own smile, shaking his hand with a firm grip. “I’m Dr. Ishikawa, I’ve been taking care of you for the past two days.” She lowered her hand and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I was personally called in by this asshole since I’m the only one he trusts to stitch him up after a mission.”

Izuku’s mouth formed a small ‘o’ as the pieces clicked into place, suddenly having an ocean’s worth of respect for the woman. If anyone could stand Katsuki for that long and earn his trust, they must be a god tier level of a human being.

“Well thank you for taking the time to take care of me.” He said genuinely, leaning back against Katsuki’s side once again.

“It’s my pleasure to meet the guy who has Bakugou wrapped around his finger, but I have to ruin the moment even though it pains me to do so.” She paused, staring at Izuku with apologetic eyes. “I need you to answer some questions regarding your…experience.”

Izuku felt his smile drop as panic pooled in his gut, unwanted memories fighting their way to the surface. He’d tried his best to avoid looking in the mirror, but it was near impossible to miss the bruises marring his flesh and the stitches across his chest and thigh. He didn’t want to remember why they were there or who caused them, he just wanted to leave them in the past and move on; only coming back to them when he was ready.

“I understand that it’s painful to talk about, but it’s important information that could be vital in your treatment. The more we know the better we can treat you, and the faster you can be discharged.”

The greenette nodded, unknowingly turning further into Katsuki’s hold. The blonde held him close, kissing his temple as he gave a shaky smile, fisting the blankets to hide the trembling of his hands.

“You can take your time, but just explain what he did. You don’t have to be specific I just need the general idea to confirm our suspicions and plan how to go forward.”

He nodded again, resolve strengthened by the soft whisper of “I’ll be right here” in his hair.

The dancer cleared his throat, wondering where to begin. “Well…after he took me I woke up tied to a chair a-and-” He cleared the sudden lump in his throat, eyes wandering to take in the trees strategically placed before the windows. Their leaves were just turning vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange, filtering the warm morning light as it poured into the room.

“U-Uhm, well…he kept injecting me with these…syringes? I don’t know what was in them exactly besides the fact that it was different variations of what he used on Kacchan a-and Aizawa.” Izuku took a shuddering breath, fighting the nausea building in his stomach and pounding in his skull. “I’d black out or get these…tremors or just couldn’t move, and it always felt like I was overheating? I-I don’t know…There’s bits and pieces I can’t remember.”

He rubbed subconsciously at the small prick like bruises lining the inside of his arms, evidence he wished would disappear. He moved to playing with the white bandages wrapped around his wrists, feeling Katsuki stiffen with anger as the seconds passed. He was grateful the blonde didn’t explode, unsure if his on edge heart could take it at the moment.

“I…I would talk back when I could, and that – that made him…mad.” Izuku whispered the last word, hand coming up to brush against the angry bruises coiled around his throat like a python strangling its prey.

“That sick fuck.” Katsuki snarled next to him, earning the smallest of flinches from Izuku. His face fell at the movement, anger ebbing away to be replaced by concern. “Fuck, I’m sorry Deku.”

“It’s alright, Kacchan. It just surprised me, that’s all.” Katsuki pulled him into a hug, which Izuku gladly relaxed into. They sat there quietly as the quick scratch of a pen filled the room along with the occasional curious hum.

“Well that’s enough for now, I’m sorry for making you remember things you’d rather not.” She clicked her pen a few times before tucking it away, looking pointedly at Katsuki. “You take care of this cinnamon roll, alright? He needs stability and you can be the one to provide it, cause no one understands better than you.”

“Yeah, yeah I got it.” He said affectionately, waving her away.

She made it to the door before turning on her heel, dark eyes making their way to emerald. “And Izuku? You’ll get better, it just takes time. Don’t keep it bottled up or anything, that’s one of the worst things you can do.”

Dr. Ishikawa left with a flutter of her coat and the gentle closing of the door, leaving them alone once again. They sat there in their embrace, neither willing to move. The greenette felt his eyes beginning to drift closed, but was pulled from the tempting throes of sleep by a certain caramel voice he’d grown so fond of.

“Hey, shorty?”

“Hmmm?”

“Do you…Do you wanna talk?”

“I…I don’t know. There was a lot that happened and I wasn’t sure if I’d even make out alive – If I’d get to see you again or say goodbye. Nothing was…concrete? I could die any second; that’s the environment I was living in.” He nuzzled into the crook of his shoulder, feeling safe in the arms around his waist. “The only thing I could think about every day was ‘I have to get back to Kacchan’. You were my driving force.”

“Well I’m here now, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Chapter Text

Izuku sat on the edge of the hospital bed, room dappled in golden afternoon light as he signed the final line of his discharge paperwork with a flourish. They had kept him for two weeks under observation, making sure his wounds healed and that there were no sudden negative reactions to the toxins that had been forced into his system. While there had been some scares, it seemed as if the skies had finally cleared and sunshine was gracing his world once again.

The first two days had been hell, his body deciding to go through some twisted version of withdrawal that threw the doctors for a loop as they scrambled to figure out which way it’d go. Every minute was a guessing game, waiting to see if he’d simply vomit once again or have a seizure. For Izuku everything passed in a haze of discomfort, his body shifting back and forth between extremes almost as if it was hellbent on giving him whiplash with no time to recover, laughing at his pathetic attempts to prepare for what was to come next.

Katsuki had stayed by his side throughout it all, whispering encouraging words strewn with expletives, always ready to hold his hand and offer something – anything the greenette could anchor himself to.

After the third day Izuku was nothing more than a ball of exhaustion, an empty husk with nothing but the desire to sleep the day away and heal over the rollercoaster of events that had thrown him around like a ragdoll. He drifted in the grey, dreamless expanse of nothingness for what seemed like years, letting the hours pass him by like leaves caught on the wind.

Once everything had finally seemed to calm down, Izuku was faced with the sudden realization that he was going to be stuck in the hospital until deemed fit to leave, nothing but staff, Katsuki and his newly assigned therapist for company. That was days upon days of daunting free time he’d never had before, and the very idea sent pangs of anxiety racing up his spine. What was he even supposed to do? He’d already counted the seventy-two tiles lining the ceiling in neat little rows ten times over forward and backward.

Katsuki was his savior once again, bringing anything he thought the greenette might enjoy – books, crafts, a sketchbook and multicolored pens, sewing, etc. If you can find it in your nearby craft store, he’d probably tried it.

They’d finally given him the okay this morning, and Izuku had practically jumped at the chance to escape the endless white walls and floors and the smell of antiseptic that clung to his nose. Sure, the staff were more than kind and made sure he was comfortable, and even joined in on some of his winding conversations once in a while to shake things up. Despite all this, Izuku couldn’t fight the itch at the back of his mind begging him to leave – a feeling that he tried to ignore by doing anything and everything; hell, he’d even picked up knitting (and was quite good at it thank you very much) despite the mild tremors that seemed to constantly run through his hands.

Izuku passed the clipboard with his discharge papers back to Dr. Ishikawa, bright smile lighting up his face as he slowly stood, wincing at the tightness in his thigh and soreness of his ribs. Katsuki passed him his crutches before swinging a duffle bag over his shoulder, just as eager to leave the place as he was.

“Now Midoriya,” Dr. Ishikawa said sternly, hand on her hip as she stared the duo down. “Don’t forget to take your meds every night with food, and don’t you dare slack off on your stretches or your therapy sessions.” She flashed him a warm smile that reminded him of sunflowers and summer days, face softening as she stepped forward and pulled him into a comforting hug he hesitantly returned.

It only lasted for a few seconds before she pulled away, giving them one last look before settling on the blonde who met her gaze head on. “You have my number, don’t be afraid to call me if anything happens alright?”

“I will.”

“Oh, wow I never thought I’d see the day where you didn’t immediately tell me to fuck off!” She said, voice laced with dramatic pride as she reached up and ruffled already messy blonde spikes. “I’m so happy I could cry.”

Katsuki immediately pushed her hand away with an equally playful sneer, already making his way to the open door. “Let’s ditch this place, Deku.”

Izuku nodded as he slowly followed after, unable to stop the giggle that escaped his chest at the middle finger Katsuki flashed at the woman before leaving the room.

 

____

 

They shuffled back into Katsuki’s apartment, the beginnings of exhaustion pulling at Izuku’s mind until he was sure every stitch would unravel leaving colorful threads knotted across the hardwood floor. They had decided to go to the store on the way home, picking up the essentials and anything Izuku’s heart desired. Now all he wanted to do was flop down on the couch and cuddle with the man diligently putting away groceries, maybe watch a movie…or two.

He was about to do just that when he heard a soft thud coming from the hall, warning bells sounding like sirens in his ears. His body tensed as he rested his crutches against the table, holding one menacingly in both his hands like a bat.

“Kacchan, did you hear that?”

The hero was next to him in the blink of an eye, staring down the hall with a calculating gaze. “I’ll go check it out, stay here.”

“But Kacchan-”

Katsuki shot him a sharp look, effectively cutting off whatever protest he could muster. His face softened with understanding as the seconds passed, calloused hand coming up to brush a curl from his face. “I’ll be fine, babe,” He sent him a cocky wink before turning away, smirk pulling at his lips. “I am Ground Zero after all.”

Izuku chuckled lightly as he watched the man peer into different rooms, before disappearing into the one he knew was Katsuki’s. Anxiety grew in his chest like twisted vines as the seconds passed, and all he could do was wait, nervously tapping his fingers on the wood of the table. He hated it.

“Oi Deku! Get your ass in here!”

Izuku jumped at the loud voice, taking a moment to calm his racing heart before grabbing his remaining crutch and making his way down the hall, wondering what could’ve caused the noise. A mouse maybe? A really big mouse?

“Kacchan? Are you okay-?”

“WELCOME BACK MIDORIYA!”

The greenette jumped for the second time that day, eyes wide at the people piled into the master bedroom – from Katsuki’s friends who quickly accepted him, to Mizuki and even the small form of Ai standing proudly in the front. Hell, Aizawa was even in his sleeping bag tucked away in the corner. They all had massive smiles on their faces, and some were even holding presents. Izuku didn’t know how to react to the emotions overflowing throughout his being, brain short circuiting as he stared wide eyed.

“W-What?”

Katsuki walked forward from where he’d been leaning against a wall, smile on his face as he ruffled Izuku’s already messy curls, placing a gentle kiss on his forehead.

“Welcome home, Deku.”

Home.

A quick intake of air caught in his throat at the word, tears blurring his vision as he went up on his toes and captured Katsuki’s soft lips with his own, smiling into the kiss at the whoops and hollers of their friends in the background.

Yeah, he was home.

Pulling away, but keeping an arm around Katsuki’s waist, Izuku flashed the biggest smile he could muster.

“Why are you guys in our room?”

 

____

 

Music thrummed through the room along with the chatter and laughter of friends, each one happy and having a great time. Izuku was sat on the couch, slotted comfortably between Katsuki’s legs, back pressed against his solid chest with the blonde’s own resting against the curved arm. He held a glass of water in his hand, sipping idly as he watched people laugh and drift like clouds across the spacious living room. It was weird to see such different worlds colliding in hectic harmony, colors meshing together to create a beautiful painting that brought a smile to his face.

He was happy. Truly, utterly happy. It was a saccharine warmth that made its way into every crevice of his body, making his movements slow and lethargic with relaxation. He hadn’t felt this way for…years. The last time he can remember had been way back when he was four, just before he’d figured out he was quirkless. He’d been exploring the forest with Katsuki, sunlight dappling his face in warm golden tones and shifting shadows through the leaves. They’d been hand in hand, filled with wonder and ready to take on the world with smiles and the uncrushable desire to strive forward and be the best.

So much had happened since then, so much had changed. Their lives were a turbulent storm of emotions and sometimes Izuku was convinced he’d drown, but now the sea was finally calming down with sun breaking through the clouds. He took the same hand he held so many years ago, long fingers intertwining with his own as it rested on his shoulder.

“You alright, shorty?” Katsuki’s breath ghosted against his ear, low enough for only him to hear.

He nodded, giving a reassuring squeeze to his hand. “Yeah, just thinking is all.”

“Thinkin’ bout what?” The hero’s remaining free hand ghosted past his hip, warm fingers slipping beneath his shirt to settle like an anchor on his ribs.

Izuku relaxed even further into the blonde, head resting against his shoulder. “How I’m happy.” He muffled a yawn with his hand, eyes suddenly feeling heavy as exhaustion weighed down on him like a ton of bricks. He could feel the soothing rumble of Katsuki’s chest as he spoke, but was too tired to actually grasp the words leaving his mouth.

It was only when the music was turned down to nothing but a gentle murmur that he realized his eyes had fallen shut, and somewhere in between the guests had quietly left until only he and Katsuki remained.

“C’mon nerd, let’s get your ass to bed.” Strong arms snaked beneath him, scooping him from the couch bridal style, taking extra care to make sure his still healing body was comfortable. The greenette curled into the warmth of his boyfriend, every muscle like putty in his hands as he was gently placed on the familiar sheets of his bed. He distantly registered the sound of shifting feet like someone getting ready to leave, and – in a sudden bout of panic in his fatigue addled brain – Izuku’s hand shot out and grabbed onto something soft against his fingertips: Katsuki’s sleeve.

“Stay.” He whispered, eyes half open and heavy with sleep as he gazed up at the silhouette above him, framed in delicate light that softened his features and made him seem almost angelic; a being he was lucky to witness, let alone hold in his arms and call his own.

“Are you sure?” The blonde’s voice was velvety as it drifted throughout the quiet of the room, sinking past his bones to settle in his chest like a lullaby. Izuku hummed in approval, feeling the bed dip as another body slipped in next to his own. Familiar arms found their place around his waist, a comforting weight that kept him grounded – a reminder that someone loved him despite all the flaws he had in abundance, and Izuku loved him back just as much.

As the stars hung heavy in the sky like precious jewels hand-picked by the gods, the two fell asleep in each other’s embrace, both realizing without a doubt that they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

 

____

 

As a pro hero, Katsuki had heard enough screams to last him a lifetime. There were the ones so wrought with pain and fear your heart couldn’t help but ache, and there were the ones calling out for help that were like a shot of pure adrenaline; making you work faster, pushing you to be better. None of these, however, held a candle to the strangled whimper that tore its way from his boyfriend’s throat like a razor through delicate flesh, eyes glassy and unseeing as he stared holes into his trembling hands.

They had just finished cleaning up breakfast – Izuku cleaning and Katsuki on dryer duty – when the greenette decided to wash his hands, only to freeze as if his world had collapsed.

“Oi, Deku? Are you alright?” The blonde asked, concern growing in his chest and worming its way between his ribs like a parasite with every passing second that remained unanswered. “Deku, what’s wrong?”

He brought up his hand and waved it in front of his slack face, knowing that touching the man would probably cause more harm than good. “Izuku…?”

The motion seemed to crack whatever daze he’d been in as emerald eyes slowly made their way up to meet his own, deep green brimming with unshed tears. It was as if the second reality came crashing back down the damn broke, sending Izuku into a fit of heaving sobs that had his shoulders shaking uncontrollably until he was sitting curled up on the floor, back against the counters.

“Hey, hey, hey its alright. It’s just me, you’re here in my kitchen cause we were doing dishes. You’re safe and no one will ever hurt you ever again. You’re safe.” He repeated the grounding exercise his therapist had taught him over and over until it seemed like the other had calmed down, holding out a tentative hand palm side up. Izuku stared at it warily for half a second before taking it into his own, scooting forward until his head rested on Katsuki’s shoulder.

“You up to explaining what just happened, freckles?”

A beat passed before the greenette hesitantly nodded, body heaving with his shaky inhale. “Yeah but- um…” A self-deprecating laugh slipped past his lips, “It’s kinda stupid when I say it out loud.”

“It’s not fucking stupid if you had this type of reaction. It could be the smallest thing, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.”

“Who knew you could be so kind – the great Ground Zero: a sweetheart.” Katsuki could feel the embarrassed flush making its way up the back of his neck, and was suddenly very happy the other man was tucked against his shoulder and couldn’t see.

“Oh, shut up and tell me what happened you dork.” Izuku laughed softly at that, warm breath ghosting across his collarbones.

“It was uh, it was the soap…”

Katsuki turned his head to look at the small, unassuming bottle with a light purple label, wondering how something like that was the reason for the last twenty minutes. “The soap?”

Izuku hummed in confirmation, taking a moment to take another calming breath. “Yeah…he-” his voice caught in his throat, words snatched away from the tip of his tongue. “He always smelled like lavender. I think it was a lotion or something maybe? And I- I know it’s stupid and irrational and shouldn’t even be a thing but I just smelled it and all I could think about was that room and that chair and the pain god I was so scared Kacchan.” Scarred hands fisted the material of his shirt, trembling ever so slightly. “I was so scared.”

Katsuki rubbed a soothing hand up his spine, tracing gentle patterns that had no rhyme or reason. “It’s not a stupid reason, and it’ll never be one.”

 

____

 

The next day every soap in the apartment was changed to citrus.

 

____

 

“Hey, Kacchan.” Two soft pokes were delivered to his cheek, the offending hand sleepily swatted away. “Wake uuuuuuup. I had an idea.”

Katsuki blearily cracked his eyes open, glancing at the digital clock mocking him from the bedside table. “You had an idea that was so important you had to wake me up at three in the fucking morning?” The blonde gave his best glare to the man lying next to him, curls adorably tousled from sleep.

“Yup!” Izuku said excitedly, popping the ‘P’ as he threw the comforter off and away from their bodies. “Now get up, we have work to do!” In a blink the greenette was up and out the bedroom, letting the open door wash the bedroom in golden light.

“Fuckin’ fine.” Katsuki murmured as he reluctantly stood, not caring in the slightest that he was only in a pair of dark boxers. “Shit better be worth it.”

He shuffled out of their room and followed the soft humming of his boyfriend to the kitchen, eyes widening at the array of ingredients and supplies laid out on the counter tops. Izuku stood proudly in the center of it all like a conductor commanding a symphony, confident demeanor offset by the fact that he was in nothing but one of Katsuki’s oversized sweaters and underwear.

“…Are we baking?”

“Mhm! I thought that since we weren’t able to before, that we could maybe do it now?”

It was then Katsuki noticed the dark bags beneath his eyes, the only sign of a fact he’d been suspecting over the past week. His features softened as he brought up a large hand to ruffle the unruly curls into a bigger mess, small smile pulling at his lips.

“Fine, but it better be fucking good.”

Izuku bumped his hip with his own, sly smile on his face. “Only the best for you, Kacchan.” They stared at each other for a silent second before the greenette spun on his heel, marching towards the mixer and army of ingredients lined up next to it, a battalion ready for war. “Now, let’s get started cause we have a lot of shit to do!”

 

____

 

“Now you see, the secret to having bomb ass brownies is using real chocolate and cocoa powder.” Izuku explained as he mixed in the chocolate with the butter they’d just melted. Already the smell filling the kitchen was heavenly, and they still had two more desserts – cupcakes and cookies – to make. Katsuki watched as Izuku gently folded in the rest of the dry ingredients, entire body relaxed with the comforting motions. In a moment of distraction, the blonde’s hand shot forward, pointer and middle finger dipping into the batter before skillfully swiping it across the other man’s cheek. His eyes were comically wide as he processed the brown smear across his skin, eyes glinting mischievously.

Oh shit, this can’t be anything good. Katsuki thought, accepting his fate as a dead man with open arms.

Izuku maintained eye contact as his own arm reached forward, three fingers scooping up a hefty amount of batter before oh so slowly smearing it from his jaw and down his chest.

“Bitch.” Izuku whispered softly, fighting the grin that threatened to take over his face.

“Hey, I’m not the one who wasted so much batter.”

“But you started it-!”

Katsuki leaned forward and caught his protest with his mouth, lips melding together in a way that just felt right.

When they finally pulled apart, Izuku gazed up at him with a half-lidded expression that sent the hero’s heart jackrabbiting against his ribcage, beating a staccato rhythm that was unfamiliar but exhilarating all the same. He was so distracted he missed the sly hand coming up, wiping another line of batter across his forehead.

“You’re still a bitch.” The greenette whispered playfully, leaning forward to peck the tip of his nose before turning around to continue with the desserts they’d briefly forgotten.

 

____

 

“Tell me again why we decided to make three different kinds of things instead of just one?” Katsuki mumbled, sprawled out on the couch as their baking adventure drew to a close. Izuku crawled up next to him, resting his head on his shoulder, legs a tangled mess.

“Cause they’re delicious.” He said like it was obvious and a completely justifiable reason for not getting any sleep (it was). A soft yawn escaped passed his lips, eyelids heavy with sleep as he nuzzled closer to the blonde who was stifling a yawn of his own.

“Night, Deku.”

“G’night, Kacchan.”

Within seconds the duo was fast asleep, the light of dawn peeking past the closed blinds to paint their embrace in warm rosy tones.

 

 

Chapter Text

The familiar thrum of music reverberated through his chest, racing along in harmony with the steady beat of his heart. It’d been far too long since he’d stood backstage, the roar of the crowd only increasing as his set was announced.

“You ready, Izu?” The greenette turned towards the familiar figure of Mizuki, clad in a lacy, baby pink teddy that left very little to the imagination.

Izuku shot her a confident smile, the beginnings of the song for his new set echoing throughout the club. “Hell yeah.”

He stood from the cool metal bench in the locker room, heels clacking on the tile floor as he walked out the door and down the hall towards the stage, Mizuki a comforting presence at his side. His nerves were alight with anticipation, and suddenly he felt like a teenager again, prepping for his very first gig where the crowd was bigger than just Mizuki. Despite the mild anxiety, Izuku was more than ready to get back to doing something he loved. It’d been a tough few months where his body protested every movement, tremors shaking his hands throughout every exercise prescribed by his physical therapist. And don’t even get him started on the war that’d been raging in his mind like a ragged minefield threatening to go off with a single misstep. He was still learning how to navigate, taking small hesitant steps one at a time, but he’d be damned if he never figured it out.

It's not like he was alone anymore, anyway.

 

____

 

Katsuki found himself in a sea of sweaty bodies once again, chest pressed against the edge of the stage. An ember of excitement was smoldering fiercely beneath his ribcage, threatening to burst into an all-out forest fire as Izuku’s words – whispered like honey in his ear as the blonde sucked a hickey to life on his collarbone – echoed throughout his skull.

“Keep your eyes on me, Katsuki.”

He knew the greenette had been excited about this set, but beyond that was a mystery shrouded in lace and glitter. The man had kept him in the dark, giving him nothing but sly smirks and teasing remarks that left him craving more.

And now, after months of waiting, he was finally getting to see what Izuku had worked so hard on, finally getting to quench the thirst that had left him parched.

His eyes zeroed in on the stage as the deep sultry notes of the music started, reverberating through his soul with every beat. The crowd roared as the lights dimmed, dousing the crowd in hazy lilac and rose tones, revealing the tantalizing silhouette he’d grown to love.

No matter how many times he’d seen it, Katsuki could never grow tired of the moment Izuku stepped forward, long sculpted legs walking perfectly to the beat of the song. Hungry eyes raked up his form, taking in the all black ensemble from soft, velvety stilettoes to lacy black thigh highs and matching thong. Garter belts kept everything from slipping as he moved, long sleeved mesh crop top clinging to every dip and curve of his defined chest. Plump lips were painted a delicious crimson with a smoky eye to match and eyeliner sharp enough to kill a man. And at this point, Katsuki would happily be slain by Izuku’s hand.

The hero watched, enraptured as his boyfriend spun around the pole, holding himself up with nothing but the strength of his core and thighs, before effortlessly switching to his arms. He twisted and contorted in ways that left the audience breathless, hoping to catch the dancer’s attention with wads of cash and compliments shouted over the lyrics of the song. But emerald eyes burned for the attention of only one man, contrasting gazes meeting in sporadic bursts that had fireworks exploding in his chest.

Izuku was beautiful and strong with a determined streak to be reckoned with. He was intelligent and funny and kind, and far too forgiving in Katsuki’s opinion. Izuku was all these amazing things, and somehow, he chose to stick by the blonde’s side – a decision he’d never stop appreciating.

Katsuki’s attention was drawn back to the performance as another roar tore itself through the audience as Izuku began his signature crawl across the stage, hungry look in his eyes as he licked cherry red lips. Hands reached out to tuck bills into any fabric they could reach, tracing over freckled skin with reverence, as if the man before them was a deity who’d disappear in an instant.

The blonde smirked as Izuku slowed to a stop before him, lying on his back while slowly thrusting his lace-clad hips in the air, hands running down his chest to tease at his pierced nipples before drifting down the planes of his exposed stomach, stopping mere centimeters above his crotch before making their way back up. Katsuki stood there, captivated by the man before him as he rolled to his hands and knees, back deliciously arched and legs spread, ass in the air like one of the world’s finest feasts.

Izuku moved up from his knees to a squat, straightening his legs with his back still curved before standing fully, snapping his garter belt while flashing the crowd a flirtatious smirk. As the last verse of the song blasted through the club, the greenette lifted a leg corded in thick muscle, pressing the toe of his black stiletto directly into Katsuki’s sternum. Not one to pass up a chance quite literally given to him, Katsuki gently grabbed his ankle and gave a quick, playful bite to his fabric covered calf. Izuku’s eyes darkened with a lustful expression the blonde had grown to crave as he walked back to the pole, finishing off his set with a complex array of moves and a kiss blown to the crowd.

It was safe to say this was Katsuki’s favorite performance yet.

 

____

 

“Hey there, cutie.” Izuku said, arms coming to wrap around the slim waist of his boyfriend. A quick flick was delivered to his temple, along with an angry pout.

“Bitch what did I say about calling me that? ‘Sides, I ain’t cute.” Katsuki huffed, shifting in place so he could wrap his own arm around the greenette.

“Oh, is that so?” Izuku couldn’t fight the laughter bubbling up from his chest, fond smile pulling at his face. “Well then, handsome. Why don’t you take me home?”

A smirk took over the blonde’s face, along with the faintest dusting of a blush along his cheeks. “Fuck yeah I’m handsome,” crimson eyes glanced down at him, brimming with affection. “And don’t you forget it, shorty.”

Izuku gasped dramatically, placing a hand over his heart. “I could never forget, Kacchan!” A small bundle of satisfaction bloomed in his chest as the blush on Katsuki’s cheeks darkened, along with unintelligible embarrassed grumbling as they made their way to the sleek black motorcycle parked a few feet away. He slid in place behind the blonde, happily wrapping his arms around his torso and resting his head between toned shoulder blades. His eyes drifted shut, taking a moment to let his body relax on the drive home.

Home.

It was still such a foreign word laced with layer upon layer of complexity to Izuku, sitting heavy in the air whenever it was spoken. When he was younger it was a word that left him feeling warm, the smell of Katsudon filling their small yet comfortable apartment. After they’d moved it’d started getting burned and torn around the edges, with his mother always absent and a school hell that left him bloody and bruised. Then his mother got hurt, and in an instant his home and every good thing with it burned to a pile of smoldering ash, leaving him covered in burns that never seemed to heal. Izuku was even convinced that he’d never have that warmth again, never have a place where he felt comfortable and loved.

But then, in a twist of fate that could make a romance movie jealous, Katsuki had fallen in his lap – or, well, Izuku into Katsuki’s. And now that warmth was back ten-fold, leaving him sweet and gooey like chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. It was first class, emotional whiplash that left him a reeling mess on the floor, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The duo pulled up into the parking garage of their familiar complex, exhaustion slowly seeping into their bones on the elevator ride up. The heavy metal door slid open with a soft ding, interrupting the comfortable silence between them. Izuku stepped forward, turning to the man right behind him.

“I know it’s late but…I was thinking of taking a bath.” He stepped forward into the others space, looking up to meet crimson eyes. “You’re always welcome to join…”

Warm, calloused hands found their way to his hips, slipping beneath the loose material of his shirt to rub soothing shapes onto his skin. They slipped down to grab his thighs, lifting the greenette in the air with nothing but pure, attractive strength until he could wrap muscled legs around Katsuki’s waist. A giggle bubbled up from Izuku’s chest, affection burning bright throughout his being as he draped his arms over the blonde’s shoulders.

“I mean, who am I to turn down such a tempting invitation?” Katsuki murmured, voice deep and gravelly in a way that sent shivers racing down the dancer’s spine. Big hands inched up until they cupped his ass, giving it a generous squeeze as he walked down the hallway, footsteps echoing on the hardwood floors. Katsuki shifted all of Izuku’s weight to one arm, muscles flexing at the strain as he opened the bathroom door and flicked on the lights.

Could he have asked Izuku to do it for him? Yes. Did he like to show off from time to time? Abso-fucking-lutely.

The blonde placed him gently on the counter, slotted between his open legs. His lips were captured in a searing kiss, chests pressed flush together as rough hands found their way up Izuku’s shirt once again, counting his ribs before dipping back down. Every graze of his fingertips left a trail of electricity in their wake that sent shivers down his spine.

Never one to be outdone, the greenette curled his pointer fingers into the belt loops of Katsuki’s tight jeans and yanked, earning a surprised gasp from the hero – the only opening Izuku needed to slip his tongue past the blonde’s lips and deepen the kiss. His blunt fingernails dug crescents into the soft flesh of Izuku’s hips, leaving a delicious sting that had blood roaring through his veins.

All too soon Katsuki pulled away, lips bruised and slick with spit from their impromptu make out session. “Fuck…” His hands fumbled as he stepped to the side, blindly turning on the shower before slipping back into his rightful place between Izuku’s thighs. The blonde bent down to nip at his collarbone, leaving a trail of soft kisses and hickeys up the column of his throat before stealing his lips once again.

Izuku pulled at the soft material of Katsuki’s shirt, suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to feel the press of skin against his own; the fast beat of a heart beneath his palm. A deep rumble reverberated through the chest before him as Katsuki seemingly took all the time in the world to pull off his shirt, revealing inch by tantalizing inch of tanned muscle, thoroughly enjoying the way emerald eyes hungrily raked over every bit. Izuku reached forward to feel – to run his hands down anything and everything he could touch – but his boyfriend stepped out of range with a sly smirk, eyebrow raised as he wagged his pointer finger in front of his face.

“Nuh huh shorty, this isn’t a one-sided show.” He gestured to Izuku’s clothes, intent so obvious he could reach out and grab it from the air. “Off.”

With the patience of a rampaging lion Izuku tore of his shirt, throwing it to the side to land somewhere unknown on the floor, pants quickly following. He slid off the counter and flashed a sultry look over his shoulder, fingers toying with the elastic of his underwear.

You gonna join me handsome?”

Katsuki flashed him a predatory smirk and eyes dark with lust, a look that promised he wouldn’t be able to walk in the morning.

Not that Izuku was complaining.

 

____

 

Izuku adjusted the tie of his suit, wide eyes taking in the array of pro heroes around him in the massive building. There was Fat Gum and Midnight and – oh! Was that Hawks?!

“You look like a kid in a candy shop.” Murmured Katsuki, breath ghosting against his ear and arm a protective weight around his waist.

“I’m surrounded by pro heroes! Who wouldn’t be at least a little excited?” He was practically bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet, face bright with childlike joy.

“Fuckin’ nerd.” Katsuki said, voice heavy with affection.

“Don’t act like you’re any less of a nerd than me, Kacchan,” Izuku said, finger gently poking into his sternum. “I’ve seen your collection of All Might comics…and merch…oh and that one plushie-”

A warm hand covered his mouth, cutting off his bright laughter, but unable to hide the pleased crinkle of his eyes. “And you’ll keep that a secret unless you want me to explode your ass, Deku.” Katsuki whispered, amusement taking the edge from his threat.

Izuku grinned, standing on his tippy toes until his lips brushed the shell of his boyfriend’s ear. “Oh? That sounds kinky, I can’t wait Katsuki.” A surge of pride raced like fire through his veins at the stuttered breath of the powerful man beside him, adams apple bobbing as he swallowed thickly, grip tightening ever so slightly around his waist. He’d never get over the fact that such a simple phrase or expression could have the man on his knees, and vice versa. It was a power high that sent shivers down his spine, arousal heavy in the air.

“You little shit-” Katsuki rasped, voice husky and pupils blown wide as his tongue darted out to wet petal pink lips. He was cut off by the dimming of the lights, the familiar voice of Present Mic pouring throughout the large building.

“Could all the guests please make their way to their seats, and the designated heroes to the back rooms! The official hero ranking event will begin shortly!”

Katsuki sighed, reluctantly pulling away from the greenette. Izuku could feel the nervous energy radiating from the blonde, despite the confident face he always wore like a mask, protecting himself and keeping everyone at a safe distance. Taking a small moment before he stepped away, Izuku grabbed his hand, lifting the appendage do deliver a feather soft kiss to his scarred knuckles.

“You’ll do great, I know it.”

Katsuki gave him a small smile, the tension in his shoulders easing minutely. “Thanks.”

“Now go kick ass.”

“Of fucking course I will, who do you think I am?” Katsuki scoffed, that familiar smirk playing on his face as he turned away and walked towards a door tucked away in the corner, guarded by a man who looked to be made of nothing but corded muscle. They exchanged a few words before the shiny black door was opened and Katsuki walked inside, disappearing behind the reinforced steel. A small sigh escaped Izuku’s lungs as he drifted with the crowd, everyone filing in to the massive, two-tiered auditorium that curved around a wide stage draped in crimson satin curtains. He made his way towards a woman manning a small hallway that forked off the left of the main seating area, flashing her a bright smile along with the special pass tucked safely in his breast pocket. She gave him a silent nod, skin shimmering ever so slightly under the dim lights as she led him away, carpeted floor slowly inclining before they stopped at a door marked with nothing but a number one right in the middle.

“These are your seats, if you need anything else just let me or any of the other staff know.”

“Oh-um alright. Thank you.” Izuku stammered, an embarrassed flush creeping its way up the back of his neck.

“I hope you enjoy the show…” She went to turn around, but paused as indecision tore at her frame. “It may seem unprofessional of me, however…In all the years I’ve worked here, Ground Zero has never brought a special guest. Not even his parents or a friend. I think…I think that makes you quite special.” With that she turned away, lilac curls bouncing with every step. Izuku stood there dumfounded, mouth gaping like a fish out of water as his cheeks slowly dyed themselves a rosy pink. His heart fluttered at the outright confirmation of their relationship, making him feel like a love-struck teenager all over again.

With a shake of his head he pushed open the door, eyes taking in the small balcony suite that was nestled a few feet below the second tier, giving him a perfect view of the stage while curtains to either side hid him from any prying eyes. A mini bar backlit with warm lights was tucked in the corner, and Izuku took a moment to pour himself a small glass of scotch as his eyes took in the rest of the room. The floor was a rich hardwood, softened by an ornate rug with a small, two cushion couch right in the middle, midnight blue velvet soft beneath his touch as he sat down.

The unintelligible murmurs of the crowd floated up to his perch, the volume only growing as more and more people made their way inside, everyone dressed to the nines. Just as the voices were growing to an all time high, the lights shut off completely, causing an anticipatory hush to fall over the building, Izuku included. A spotlight suddenly flipped on, focusing on the form of present mic, usual hero attire replaced with a fashionable suit.

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND EVERYONE INBETWEEN, ARE YOU REAAAAAADY?”

The audience roared back, a mix of hollering and clapping that only quieted as the hero raised his hand.

“AS YOU ALL KNOW, TONIGHT IS THE HEAVILY ANTICIPATED HERO BILLBOARD AWARDS!” The crowd rose to a crescendo once again, somehow growing louder every time. “I HOPE Y’ALL ARE READY BECAUSE TONIGHT IS GOING TO BE ONE FOR THE BOOKS!”

The curtains dramatically rose, revealing bright silvery lights shining from the back of the stage, silhouetting the powerful figures of the upcoming top ten. Izuku couldn’t stop the snort escaping his nose, finding the scene oddly familiar to his routines at Paper Moon.

“BEFORE WE CAN GET TO THE MAIN EVENT YOU’RE ALL ITCHING FOR, LET’S HEAR A WORD FROM A RETIRED PRO WE ALL LOVE AND ADMIRE, ALL MIIIIIIIIIGHT!”

The tall, lanky form of the former number one hero walked on stage with a wave, iconic smile on his face as the crowd went absolutely bat shit crazy. Izuku felt the familiar flame of admiration for the hero burning deep in his chest, fanning the embers of a dream long abandoned. Present Mic pulled the emaciated hero into a jovial hug, slapping his back a few times before stepping away, handing him a microphone with an encouraging smile and two thumbs up.

All Might’s gentle laughter reverberated through the room as he lifted the microphone to his face, turning fully to face the crowd. “It makes me beyond happy to see all the faces that came out tonight, supporting the heroes who sacrifice so much to make the world a better place…” He paused, electric blue eyes taking in the audience before he cleared his throat and continued. “I know that, since my sudden retirement, it’s been anything but easy, however the new generation of heroes took that weight upon their shoulders with raw determination and smiles on their faces, despite the toll it may take – the blood and tears they would shed. And I can say without a doubt that I’ve never been prouder to see them rise above it all and do better than I ever did. That’s why I have been given the absolute honor of announcing this year’s top ten!”

Izuku sipped at his drink, feeling warm and fuzzy at the acknowledgement (from fucking All Might) that all the hard work he’d witnessed Katsuki and his friends go through every single day was worth it. Every bruise and drop of crimson were worth it when the end goal left people feeling safe in their homes. That didn’t mean being a hero was easy by any means, the greenette had held his boyfriend as he cried for those he couldn’t save often enough to know that it was a profession that wore away at your soul.

“So, without further ado, let us begin!” Orchestral music drifted around the massive room, fading to a quiet hum as the former symbol of peace began to speak again. “In tenth place, we have the wonderful hero known throughout the country for her daring marine rescues: Froppy!”

A bright light lit up one of the silhouettes, revealing the small hero who waved happily while the rest remained shrouded in darkness. Izuku clapped as more and more heroes were revealed, whooping when Kirishima was announced in eighth and Ochako in seventh. Finally, only three figures remained, and the greenette was practically bouncing in his seat with his drink empty and long forgotten in favor of finding out the top three. The crowd seemed to be following a similar mindset, the entire building thrumming with anticipation as All Might paused dramatically.

“The hero in third, is one known for his smile and desire to save one million lives: Lemillion!”

Izuku felt his heart skip a beat, hands trembling ever so slightly with excitement. No matter how the next two places turned out, Katsuki would have placed higher than he ever had before – all it would take was a single moment, a simple sentence, to determine whether or not his dream was finally in his hands.

“And now, for the final two – the top heroes of our society risking hand and foot every day to defeat the evil lurking in our streets. Now, for the current number one hero, the man known for his explosive personality-” Izuku launched himself across the minimal space towards the balcony, practically dangling off the railing as tears gathered in his eyes, “-and absolute voracity on the field: GROUND ZERO!”

The light highlighted the final two figures, illuminating the cocky smirk gracing his boyfriend’s face, an expression that was barely holding back the tidal wave of shock and joy and pure, utter happiness. The audience practically lost it at the announcement, the cacophony of clapping and screams turning to an outright standing ovation almost drowning out All Might congratulating Todoroki for getting second place.

Izuku barely registered the stray tears dripping down his chin as he sprinted from the private booth and down the hall, idly flashing his pass to the intimidating guard from earlier. The second the heavy door was opened wide enough for him to slip through he was off again, dress shoes clacking loudly on the wood floors as he whipped around another corner, a familiar shock of ashy blonde hair catching his eye.

“Kacchan!” He launched himself like a bullet into the man’s chest, wrapping his arms round his neck and legs around his waist as the hero spun him around, both unable to contain the bright laughter escaping their lips. “You did it! I knew you could, and you’re the youngest ever to be number one!” His feet touched the ground a few seconds later, but the duo remained in their embrace. “I always knew you were amazing, ever since we were kids.”

“God you’re a fuckin’ sap, you know that?” Katsuki murmured, voice thick with emotion. He’d vehemently deny the fact that tears were gathered in the corners of his eyes, blinking rapidly to clear his vision. It felt as if everything had finally aligned, somehow giving him not only his life long dream but the person he loved and could wake up to every morning. It was a blessing he’d never take for granted, since he knew all to well how easily it could shatter.

So, fuck that bullshit where he sits hesitantly by the sidelines waiting for something to happen. Katsuki was going to embrace the moment and every little thing it could give him, like granules of sugar dissolving on his tongue.

“I love you a lot, even if you are a fucking dork.” He said, resting his chin upon Izuku’s head, green curls tickling his cheeks.

A rosy blush spread across the dancer’s cheeks, highlighting every freckle in gentle tandem. “I love you too, cutie.”

“Oh, you son of a bitch-”

____

 

The couple walked up the wooden steps, warm autumn breeze caressing their smiling faces as anticipation built up like a tidal wave in their bellies. Multicolored flowers bloomed vibrantly in front of the porch, the front yard dappled in golden light and shifting shadow from the tall maple tree in the front yard.

Katsuki looked down at him with a small, nervous smile, ruby eyes glittering with excitement. “You ready, shorty?”

Izuku interlocked their fingers, turning to the door before them that embodied a new chapter of their lives – a house for just the two of them. “Let’s do this.”

The keys jangled softly as Katsuki unlocked the door, swinging it open to reveal the place they had been in only a week prior to sign the final papers. The house was modern but homely and inviting with big windows that let the light filter throughout the living room and kitchen. Izuku pulled the blonde passed the piles of boxes and furniture they’d already moved in, excitedly talking away at everything they could do, all the possibilities that were open to them.

“-and we can put plants in the kitchen and you can finally grow that herb garden you always wanted! And we can paint this wall with something cool toned – a light blue maybe? And the throw pillows on the couch could have some blue in them too to tie everything together. Oh! Is it alright if we turn that one room next to the bathroom down here into a small library…? I’ve always wanted something like that, but, well, it’s not like I had the space or money to do it.”

Izuku paused in his tracks halfway up the stairs, suddenly realizing the possible implications of his words. “uH not that I’m with you just for the money – I mean at this point I hoped that’d be obvious that I’m with you cause you’re an amazing person and-”

Katsuki cut him off with a gentle kiss on the tip of his nose, smirk pulling at his lips and ears tinged the softest shade of pink. “I know you’re not just here for my paycheck dumbass, I would’ve kicked your ass to the curb a million years ago if you were so you can chill. Now help me unpack some shit and you can go back to telling me all the places we can put plants, alright?”

The greenette nodded enthusiastically, making his way up the rest of the stairs to the second floor. The master bedroom was large, with their new canopy bed already set up and boxes stacked in the corner. Big windows let the afternoon light fill up the room, making everything feel fresh and cozy. A walk-in closet was set into the far-right wall, a large bathroom with beautiful white tile right next to it.

It wasn’t the couple’s first or even second time seeing the room, but every time without fail it took their breath away. Sure, Katsuki’s old place had been wonderful in its own way but this…this was something that was completely and utterly theirs. The blonde wrapped his arms around the dancer’s trim waist from behind, delivering a tender kiss right where the junction of his jaw met his ear.

“Let’s get down to business, nerd.”

Izuku hummed in agreement, reluctantly pulling away from their embrace to approach the pile of boxes. There weren’t many, but just enough that it only took an hour or two to put their clothes away, pictures on the walls, sheets and pillows on their bed and anything else in their new place. The duo took on the kitchen and part of the living room next, working well into the night as stars glittered in the sky. They practically collapsed in their room, deciding to use the rest of the week to finish unpacking and to take a visit to their local hardware store to build the shelves for Izuku’s little library…and who knows, maybe the greenette could convince him to buy some plants.

 

____

 

“Kaaaachan, come back! I need your help!” Izuku said, tugging on the blonde’s arm as he tried desperately to escape.

“I’m not fuckin’ helping you pick between two identical shades of red, dipshit. Just grab one, it’s just a house warming party they’re not gonna care about the tablecloths.” Katsuki groaned, looking over the two packages. They had this exact conversation at the store, and in a fit of frustration he’d just bought both cause they’re both. fucking. red.

“It might just be a house warming party, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look good.” He said, the smallest of frowns pulling at his plush lips. It made Katsuki’s heart crumble into a billion pieces and his already flimsy will bend like a straw. Stupid feelings.

“Fucking fine…” He sighed, running a hand through his hair as he stared intently at the identical packages. “I like the one on the right, I guess.”

Izuku took a few seconds to contemplate the decision, before reaching forward to grab the tablecloth with a nod of approval. “Good choice, a darker color will provide a good contrast.” He spun on his heels towards the two tables set up in the backyard, shaded by the tall trees around them. Katsuki decided to push away the mind fuck of the past few minutes to the depths of his subconscious as he walked inside, grabbing the bowls and plates of food he’d spent the past two days making.

The sound of the doorbell had the greenette jogging from the backyard through the house, opening the door with a flourish and a bright smile as he greeted the first arrival.

“Kiri! It’s so nice to see you!” He said, immediately being enveloped in a one-armed hug.

“It’s good to see you too! Your house is amazing!” Kirishima gushed as he stepped into the entryway. “Oh! And I got you guys a housewarming gift!” He added, hand coming up to scratch the back of his head.

Katsuki listened with a fond smile as Izuku babbled his thanks and how nice it was, practically sensing that the nerd’s eyes were misting up with happy tears. Their little back and forth conversation of compliments was interrupted by another ring of the doorbell, causing Izuku to continue his impromptu role of host.

Katsuki only had a seconds warning before an arm was slung over his shoulder, the annoyingly vivacious red head he called his best friend grinning at him mischievously.

“Soooooo how are things with Midoriya hmmmMMm?” He half whispered, playfully bumping his hips against Katsuki’s own.

The blonde glanced away, unable to hide the look on his face. “Things are…fine.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold my ass. Fine translates to the ultimate level of fucked up, are things really that bad with you guys?”

“Wait-what the fuck shitty hair? Things are great with us -” He paused, suddenly finding interest in his scuffed-up boots as his brows furrowed in frustration. “I’m the one with a problem…”

“Oh, can you not get it up or something? Don’t worry that’s perfectly natural-”

“Will you shut the hell up before I break your spine and use your corpse as a fucking mop? I can get it up more than fine thank you very much.” He hissed, threat lacking any real venom as the sound of Izuku’s melodious laughter echoed down from the second floor. “This is a different dilemma – or, well, question? I just don’t fucking know how-”

He was cut off by Mina and Ochako bounding into the room, all smiles and giggles in their shorts and tank tops. They rushed towards the two like sharks sensing blood, grins sending a feeling of foreboding weighing heavy in his chest, and all he could think was a simple uh oh before they pounced.

“Heyyy do I sense some gossip? The good shit? The tea? My reason for living?” Pinky practically purred, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet.

“What, no-”

“Don’t try and deny it, Blondie, we could smell it the second we walked in.” Round face said, face mildly threatening as her hand rested on her hip.

“What the fuck? Are you two dogs or some shit?”

“Nuh huh, don’t try to avoid it mister. Fucking spill.” She demanded, her entire aura practically screaming that she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“Uh, well, you see-”

“Hey what’s up you beautiful bitches? How have you been, tell me every nasty detail it’s what I thrive off of.” Denki said, literally sliding into the conversation in a pair of bright yellow crocs, cut off jean shorts and a silky, short sleeved cheetah patterned button up with only the bottom three done up.

“Get the fuck out of my house with that abomination.” Katsuki said, gesturing to Denki as a whole because every single thing was a monstrosity on its own, let alone in some nightmare fuel mashup that would haunt his dreams till he died.

“Nope! Not until you tell us whatever’s going on, Bakubro.” Kirishima said in a sing song voice, clearly pledging his allegiance to the other assholes he used to call friends.

“Traitor.” He murmured accusingly, silently accepting his fate of suffering the universe had none too kindly thrown at him like a fisherman casting out his net.

“Okay, like I was telling shitty hair before someone-” he glared pointedly at the two women who held no shame for their actions, “-rudely interrupted me, I have a…dilemma. About Deku.”

Their expressions were various ones of curiosity and concern, but they all stayed silent, patiently waiting for Katsuki to continue. He took a few seconds to calm the sudden racing of his heart, nerves going haywire with anticipation.

“I…I want to ask him to marry me, but…I’m not quite sure how? Like I know he’s not into big public things and thank fuck cause neither am I, but I don’t want it to be some shitty proposal? Ya know? He doesn’t deserve that.”

The group was silent for a beat, eyes wide and jaws slack like fish struggling for air. After a second passed, they exploded in a whirlwind of whispered questions and congratulations, even though he hadn’t even fucking asked the question yet (he wouldn’t deny that it gave him a much-needed boost of confidence and soothed his nerves – their undying faith in the fact that Izuku would say yes).

“So, do you want ideas?” Todoroki asked, scaring the shit out of everyone as he appeared from the shadows like some eldritch being.

“Uh, yeah if you have any.” Katsuki said over the whispers of ‘what the fuck’, actively denying the fact that he had jumped a bit in surprise.

“Well, I agree with you on not doing anything public or with a crowd, Midoriya isn’t that type of person.” Todoroki said, earning nods of agreement from the rest of their group.

“Yeah! I feel like Mido would kick your ass if you did a public thing, so maybe do something like…cooking him his favorite meal?” Ochako said, hopping up to sit on the counter, feet swaying before bouncing against the cupboards.

“Do you know where you can get a hundred doves? Now that’s some romantic shit right there. Oh! What about a panther? That’s romantic and sexy.”

“Denki, no.” Kirishima said, looking like a disapproving parent as he started pulling the electric blonde towards the backyard. “Bakugou, just…do something to show you care, that you listen to things he says and does. Do what you do best: be yourself and I know you’ll figure something out.”

Katsuki felt warmth blooming in his chest at the words, soothing over any anxieties that had been slowly festering like open wounds. He opened his mouth to thank his best friend, but froze as an idea hit him like a sledgehammer through drywall.

“Oh shit, I think our boy has something.”

 

____

 

Katsuki waited nervously by the door, watching small snowflakes drift lazily past to land on the grass and disappear. It was late February, and even though the weather was warming up there were still days where clouds covered the skies and temperatures liked to dip into degrees that were less than comfortable, in his opinion.

“Sorry, I realized I should probably grab a jacket.” Izuku said, smiling adorably as he rushed down the stairs in one of Katsuki’s sweaters. “So, where are we going?”

The blonde stared at him, unamused as he linked their hands together, quickly opening the front door. “I already told you it was a surprise, shorty. You’re just gonna have to wait and find out.”

Izuku huffed as he pulled their hands apart to slip on a beanie, quickly rejoining them a second later. “I know, but that doesn’t stop me from being curious.”

“Well you’re gonna be curious for awhile cause I got a thing or two planned.”

Izuku paused their journey down the quiet street, looking up at him with wide eyes. “There’s multiple things? What type of adventure are we going on?”

Katsuki tugged him gently until they were moving again, shoulders bumping as their breath puffed like smoke in the cold air. “A fucking good one, that’s what.”

Izuku’s laugh drifted through the air, twisting and turning with the snowflakes as they fell from the sky. They walked down the street in comfortable silence, taking in the neighborhood around them that they were just getting used to, everything drenched in the golden light of late afternoon. They turned one last corner and emerged on a side street near the main road, lined with cute little shops and people drifting up and down the sidewalk peering in.

Another minute passed before Katsuki paused, turning to Izuku with a mischievous grin. “Close your eyes, shorty.”

The greenette shot him a suspicious look, earning him a huff of exasperation before he slowly closed his eyes. Katsuki tugged gently on their linked hands, guiding him some where down and to the left, footsteps pattering quietly on the concrete.

Suddenly they stopped, the blonde separating their hands only to replace it a second later by wrapping an arm around his waist. “You can open your eyes now.”

Izuku was half tempted to keep his eyes closed just for a little taste of revenge, but decided against it as the anticipation roiling in his stomach finally won out. The sight before him was a simple one, yet sent spikes of confusion shooting through his veins. Before them stood a small, two story building with big glass windows in the front letting them glimpse the expanse of hardwood floors and walls lined with mirrors. Above the door “Glass Star Dance Studio” was printed in bold yet elegant writing.

“Why are we at a dance studio…?” Izuku whispered, worried that if he spoke too loudly the delicate feeling blooming in his chest would shatter into a million pieces.

“It’s not just any dance studio,” Katsuki murmured, pulling him infinitely closer, “It’s your dance studio, if you want it that is.”

Izuku stared at him with wide eyes slowly filling with tears, brain somehow running a million miles a minute and short circuiting at the same time. His…?

Apparently, the silence had sent Katsuki spluttering, cheeks dyed red as he looked at their shoes. “I just, remember you saying how you wanted to teach but didn’t know if you ever could so…now you can.”

“Oh, Kacchan,” Izuku cried, voice breaking as he practically threw himself into his boyfriend’s arms. “It’s perfect.”

He could feel a few stray tears painting their way down the curve of his cheeks as Katsuki pulled him closer, the rapid beat of his heart ricocheting like a bullet in his ear.

“Do you wanna go inside?” The blonde murmured into his hair, fingers gently cording through the baby hairs at the back of his neck.

Izuku nodded eagerly, furiously wiping the tears from his face with a smile. “I’d love to.”

Katsuki pulled out a set of keys from his pocket, stepping forward to unlock the glass door before them. The building was even nicer than it appeared with a small waiting area off to the left, lined with plush chairs for parents to sit and watch their children. The duo walked down a small hallway to the right, leading to another, slightly smaller room separated from the rest. He pushed open the door and once again had to stop himself from crying at the sight of rows of poles spaced evenly apart, bolted securely to the hardwood floor and ceiling.

“I was thinking that, if you wanted, you could teach normal and adult classes – expand your audience to include more people.”

Izuku walked forward to wrap his hand around one of the poles, physically unable to put his emotions into words. How was he even supposed to begin to explain how grateful he was to have the fiery hero in his life, the boundless happiness he’d given him over the last two and a half years despite the ups and downs. He was practically bursting with emotions that swirled in his core, the most prominent being the simple fact that he loved this man with every fiber of his being.

“There’s one more thing to show you.”

Izuku whipped around so fast he was sure he’d given himself whiplash, slack jawed as he looked at Katsuki. “There’s more?”

“I told you there were multiple things, dumbass. Let’s go.” He held out his hand for the greenette, leading him back the way they came until they were out on the street once again. He locked the door before turning on his heel, making his way down a side alley big enough for a small car that wrapped around the back of the studio.

A steel staircase made its way up the back of the building, leading to a door on the second story. Katsuki once again led him up, unlocking the unassuming door before stepping aside to let him in.

“No fucking way.” Izuku gasped, taking in the tiny office slash apartment nestled above the studio. It had three rooms, the biggest being a living room with a small table and couch with a kitchen tucked against the far wall. The other two were a small office with a big window that overlooked the street and an adjacent bedroom.

“I know that no matter what I say, you’re going to overwork yourself sooner or later and I’d rather have you sleeping somewhere safe than passing out on the street.”

“Awww, he cares.” Izuku said, closing the distance until there wasn’t even an inch between them. He stood on his tippy toes, capturing the hero’s lips in a tender kiss.

Katsuki pulled away after a few seconds, delivering another small kiss to his forehead. “I always have.”

“Wow, that’s gay.”

“We’ve fucked – I’ve literally been inside you.”

“And that’s super gay.” Izuku giggled, features soft with happiness. He sighed with content as he leaned forward until his head was resting on Katsuki’s sternum, feeling more balanced than he had in years.

“I still can’t wrap my head around all of this if I’m being honest, it doesn’t quite feel real.” He laughed softly, the tears he suppressed so far overwhelming him all at once.

Katsuki squeezed him tighter, rubbing comforting patterns up his spine. “What’s wrong shorty?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I just – you’ve done so much for me and keep doing things for me and sometimes I just wonder why, ya know? I know I shouldn’t but-”

His boyfriend held him closer, heart rate picking up ever so slightly. “The reason why…is cause you mean so much to me and – this is cheesy but fuck everything – I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Deku.”

Rendering the greenette speechless seemed to be the current trend of the night as he stared up at Katsuki, tears having frozen along with his stuttering lungs. It didn’t help when the blonde dropped to one knee, sheepish smile on his face.

“I don’t have a ring or necklace or anything since they’d get in the way of our jobs but…will you marry me, Izuku?”

The tears only fell faster down Izuku’s cheeks as a bright smile that rivaled the sun spread across his face. “Of course I will.”

 

____

 

 

Izuku laughed happily next to his husband, hands intertwined as they watched people dance across the small courtyard. It’d been a chaotic day with a whirlwind of emotions that’d put any rollercoaster to shame, but the greenette wouldn’t change it for the world. He loved the man next to him with every fiber of his being, and knew without a doubt the feeling was reciprocated one hundred percent.

The duo sat comfortably at their table beneath the night sky, drenched in the soft saccharine glow of fairy lights woven throughout the branches stretching above their heads. The wedding had been a small one with just their family and friends, something close and intimate that only a few would know about. They had done all the planning throughout the months together, not one thing decided solely by the other. It was a perfect mesh of the two – representation of who they were and who they’re going to be.

Izuku had known he was going to cry and accepted that fact without shame, but when he’d stepped up next to Katsuki in their matching white suits and said their vows; the greenette cried even harder when he saw twin tears rolling down the blonde’s cheeks, dripping down the sharp plane of his jaw.

And now here they were, Izuku’s head resting on his husband’s shoulder as their guests enjoyed the drinks and music.

“Hey Kacchan,” Izuku murmured, thumb rubbing soothing circles into the other man’s knuckles. The hero hummed softly in confirmation, wrapping his arm around the greenette’s waist. “Do you wanna get out of here?”

Katsuki looked down at him with a smirk, crimson eyes seemingly on fire beneath the golden lights. He stood beside him, holding out his hand for the dancer to take. “Let’s go shorty.”

They practically ran to the sleek motorcycle parked amongst the other cars, laughing the entire way as they slipped on their helmets and reeved the powerful engine. They were still giggling as they pulled up to their home, lips locked the instant the door closed behind them, Katsuki slamming him into the nearest wall.

Izuku keened into the kiss as a powerful hand grasped his thigh, teeth nipping playfully at his bottom lip. His scarred, nimble fingers were quick to undo the buttons keeping him from that delicious chest, revealing inch by tantalizing inch of muscle. The second he was done, Izuku leaned forward and peppered kisses along the blonde’s throat, sucking a dark bruise on his pulse point, earning a deep moan that was rich like chocolate.

“Fuck – baby I want you so bad-” The harsh ring of Izuku’s phone cut off his husband, sending a spike of annoyance like a lance through both their chests. “I swear to God I’m going to murder whoever that is, heroics be damned.” Katsuki grumbled, resting his head on the greenette’s shoulder, hot breath ghosting over his skin.

“I’m sorry,” He said breathlessly, reaching quickly into his pocket to silence the stupid thing, only to pause at the number. “It’s the hospital, I forgot they called every Thursday to give me updates. It should be really quick, okay?”

A small kiss to his shoulder and an incomprehensible grumble was his only answer, pulling a small giggle from his lips as he answered the phone. “Hi, this is Memorial Hospital, am I speaking to Midoriya Izuku?”

He instantly recognized the voice of the doctor who’d been assigned to his mother’s case almost a year ago, coming to him like an angel with hope in the form of a new drug – ironically derived from some of the findings in The Jackal’s home.

“This is he, is everything alright?”

“Yes, in fact everything is more than alright. I’m calling to update you on her condition.”

Katsuki moved his hands from his thighs to the dip of his hips, rubbing soothing patterns into the skin. “How is she? Any changes?”

Izuku could hear the smile in the woman’s voice as she spoke, professional tone replaced with unadulterated joy.

“Well, you see Mr. Midoriya…she’s awake.”