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breathe, love

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When Katsuki looks up, breathing heavily from all his exertion, the villain passed out from the shock of the blast, he looks directly into a pair of very familiar, forest-green eyes. A jolt went through him, his breath catching in his chest.

Bakugou! Kirishima calls for him, and he tears his eyes away and stomps back to the rest of his friends. What were you looking at?

Katsuki resists the urge to look back. He wonders briefly if it was a phantom, but he could definitely recognise that face, those eyes, anywhere.

No one, he snaps back, and the police was coming with their flashing lights and taking control over the area. He let the others deal with the niceties while he scuffs the end of his black shoes on the pavement.

Hello, Kacchan.

Katsuki looks up, and Midoriya Izuku was there, smiling brightly at him in a meek, shy way, the same way he'd smiled at him since they were four. His hair was cropped closer to his head, more tamed, and his face was thinner.

Katsuki stares, tracking the differences in his face and body since he had last saw him, in middle-school, and wondered why it still gave him a niggling discomfort, like his body wasn't sitting quite right in his skin, his heart palpitating too fast, his heart racing out of control like an idiot...

Thank you, Deku was saying, awkwardly tugging at the hem of his shirt, the villain really came out of nowhere this time, it's lucky the U.A. students were all here...

What do you want?

Deku blinks at him, the sweep of his lashes across his cheek ridiculously sensual. He glances away awkwardly in a brief moment, hesitating, then gives Katsuki another bright, but awkward smile. I just wanted to say hi... and I wondered if you'd want to... have a tea with me someday?

Katsuki says yes.

*.*.*.*

Kacchan, Kacchan!

What is it, Deku?

Let's tie this long string around our pinkies!

Why, that's dumb. We won't be able to do things if we're stuck together like that.

You see, you see, Okaa-san said that if we had a red-string to tie to our pinkies, we'll always be able to be together!

...

Do you... not want to?

... Idiot. Give it here.

*.*.*.*

Deku was curled up in one of the chairs, Mishima Yukio's Confessions of a Mask in his hands. Light dripped over him, lovely and tender, the ends of the hair paler green. He looks up when Katsuki slides, without a greeting, into a chair opposite him.

Oh, Kacchan, he says, putting down his book and dazzling Katsuki with another bright, happy grin. Hello.

What?

Mm?

Why are you smiling away like an idiot?

Deku's smile comes up, his shoulders coming up in an easy shrug.

I'm just happy to see you, he says. His smile turns a little wistful. How is U.A.?

They talk. Katsuki tells him about his classes, hero training in a curt, quick way, with enough details, and Deku leans his head on his hand, listening intently, his smile unwavering. That smile was terrifying in some ways. Katsuki wanted to see more of it, the feelings that he'd resolutely buried coming to the foreground with it, and he shoves it back into the annoying box where they came from. Go away, he snaps at them, you're unwanted here.

And what about you? You're in...

Horikoshi High School. It's quite nice there.

Nice, huh...

*.*.*.*

When we're older, we'll get into U.A. together!

And we can fight villains together!

You just stay behind me, Deku!

Ehhh? But I want to be beside Kacchan!

Shut up, I'm going to defeat all the villains!

*.*.*.*

But there are some things you can't defeat. Somethings that you can’t simply blow into pieces and say there, that’s it, I’ve won and you can’t bother me. No matter how hard you try. No matter how hard you wish for it.

Somethings haunt you in the shape of the thing you want the most, but can't have. Even if you want so hard it consumes you.

You can't have it, because it would mean you have been wrong, for all your life.

*.*.*.*

They talk, until the street lamps come on, and the sky is a dark, inky blue. Katsuki stretches in his seat, throwing a look at the outside. Deku follows his gaze. The coffee dregs have long since been drained, both their cups sitting cold and empty, but somehow, inside Katsuki is warm and full.

Ne, Kacchan...

What is it?

Let's play a game.

A game?

It's the school holidays right now, right?

... what game?

*.*.*.*

Kacchan... why?

*.*.*.*

Pretend.

What...?

Let's play pretend. For a full week.

... we're not in elementary school, Deku.

I know, but for old time's sake, let's do it.

Pretend what?

Let's pretend to be lovers.

*.*.*.*

Did you hear about Takahashi-kun's brother? I heard he's gay!

Gay? What's that?

It means he likes to kiss boys and hold their hands! It's so disgusting!

Why is it disgusting?

Because boys aren't supposed to kiss other boys!

Ah, but Kacchan and Deku are always holding hands! Are you two gay?!

Shut up! It's not like that, you bastard!

Kacchan and Deku, sitting on a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G~

I said it isn't like that!

*.*.*.*

...I hate pretending.

How about the loser has to do to what the winner wants him to do?

What would I want you to do, Deku?

Give you my All Might collection... run down the street naked... disappear from your life... anything.

Katsuki's eyes narrows. How would you be able to disappear from my life?

Deku raises his shoulders up in an easy shrug. I don’t know, but if you win… I’ll do it.

*.*.*.*

Don't come close to me, Deku!

Why?

Because you make me sick!

*.*.*.*

Why do you want to play this stupid game?

Deku's eyes were guarded, wary, but his smile was still loose and easy. It's an annoying, unsettling look that rubs Katsuki the wrong way. He slides his eyes away, thoughtful.

Why, indeed...

*.*.*.*

Game rules:

  1. For an entire week, players have to pretend to be lovers.
  2. The first person who stops pretending, loses.

*.*.*.*

Pardon for the intrusion...

Oi, stupid Deku, don't just stand there.

Ah, the apartment is so pretty and big! It is really nice, Kacchan...

Deku looks around his dorm with wide, glittering eyes, his smile wistful-looking still. Katsuki grits his teeth, and grabs the bag Deku brought with him to dump it in a corner.

Don't need to say all these nice shit that doesn't mean anything.

But I mean it. These are... your friends, right?

Deku brings up the picture Katsuki stowed halfway behind a pile of books, presses his fingers against their smiling faces, Kirishima's arm slung casually around Katsuki's shoulders, grinning at the camera, Kaminari and Sero on his other side. Katsuki wasn't looking at the camera, but he wasn't scowling. An expression as close to contented happy that Katsuki would show, ever.

No, they aren't.

Sure? Deku laughs, poking the Katsuki in the picture. But you look so happy here.

Are you blind?!

Silence for a brief moment as Deku gazed at the picture, contemplative. He put it down. Turned to Katsuki with wide, guarded eyes.

Ne, Kacchan, you won't back out right?

Katsuki narrows his eyes at Deku.

Don't underestimate me.

*.*.*.*

Ready?

Go.

*.*.*.*

Katsuki thinks he can win this.

Ne, Kacchan, what do you want to do?

... anything.

Then, how about hide-and-seek?

Seriously, Deku, you really are into these childish games, huh?

I'll be the seeker.

Nah, you hide.

But you've always been able to find me, Kacchan.

It's because you're predictable, dumbass.

No, Deku says, and he steps in closer to gently stroke Katsuki's cheek. His eyes were infinite, stupidly breath-taking, terrifying. It's because you know me, Kacchan.

Deku's always been fucking good at playing pretend, playing house, all the stupid, fucking games where you had to act.

But Katsuki wasn't going to lose.

So he turned his head and kissed the palm of his hand, holding onto his wrist and staring straight back at him.

I do, he says, even though he doesn't, not this strange man-child in front of him, in the shape of his childhood friend, but nothing like him, nothing like the crying, scared, timid boy that Katsuki needed to protect, nothing like stupid Deku who ran crying after him and stuck to him no matter what he said or did. I'll always find you no matter where you are.

Deku smiles. He lets go, turning away. Maybe I'll be better this time.

Katsuki's heart throbs. Something feels wrong, desperately wrong, but he doesn't know what it is.

*.*.*.*

Kacchan...

Don't touch me, stupid nerd!

But...

Stay away from me!

*.*.*.*

I'm not going, Shitty Hair. I'm not free.

But it's the holidays, don't be a spoilsport, Bakugou! Everyone is the class is going!

I said I'm not free, stop pestering me.

I'll come over and drag you out—

Don't come! If you dare, I'll really fucking kill you!

Katsuki angrily hangs up the phone, and Deku pokes his head through the door. He, for some reason, is in Katsuki's shirt, the fabric falling loose over his thin shoulders, giving him a rumpled, slept-in look. It made him look like he belonged to Katsuki.

Fucking Deku's really, really fucking good at pretending. It's pissing Katsuki off, and he hates how unruffled Deku seems, even when he's being embarrassing and wearing Katsuki's things like he's allowed. He isn't allowed. But they're playing a game, so Katsuki takes in a deep breath and lets it out.

Kacchan?

What?

... you should go, you know... your friends would want to see you.

Don't eavesdrop, bastard.

It's fine, go and I'll wait for you to come back, okay?

Shut up, I'm not going. Get me the apron.

Deku laughs, raising himself on his toes and kissing his cheek.

You're so sweet, Kacchan, he says, I'm happy. He throws his arms around his waist and nuzzles against his side. I get Kacchan all to myself.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Deku laughs again, and doesn't move away.

Don't worry, he says, his eyes shadowed, his voice light but solemnity underlying it. I'll return you soon.

*.*.*.*

The one who falls in love first, always loses.

*.*.*.*

Bakugou.

What?

Why are you glaring at those two boys?

I’m not, where the fuck are you looking?

Is it because they’re holding hands?

It’s not that! Shut up, go away!

I mean, I think it’s cute, isn’t it?

Cute…?

Yeah. Love is love, you know?

*.*.*.*

Kacchan, wait for me!

Kacchan, not so fast!

Kacchan, wait, I can’t breathe, slow down…

Kacchan, don’t leave me behind…

*.*.*.*

It's natural to wake up to Izuku reading beside him, his glasses perched on his face, turning with a soft, tired smile.

Kacchan's awake.

Fucking idiot, Katsuki rasped. Instead of shifting away, he grabs the book out of his hands. What are you doing?

Reading.

Again?

... reading is good.

Katsuki shoves the book at him, and shifts so he hangs over Deku's lap, eyes fluttering shut again. Then read it aloud. I want to hear.

 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)...

 

It's natural to pull Deku in closer when they're sitting side by side watching a mindless show.

It's natural to bicker and play-fight with Deku when he was doing something stupid, shoving him around playfully with Deku's laugh ringing through his apartment.

It's natural to snort in amusement when Deku is opposite him trying to eat and talk at the same time.

It's natural to catch Izuku when he accidentally tips over nothing.

It's so natural that Katsuki wants to scream and break things and set things on fire. It's not supposed to be like that, he'd say, you're ruining everything, so stop.

Stop.

Stop.

What?

Stop making that stupid face, Katsuki says instead, and he flicks Deku's forehead with a finger. It's just a stupid show.

Ow, Kacchan!

Katsuki is already sick of pretending, and it's only the second day.

*.*.*.*

Stop, stop!

Uwaahhh! Kacchan, stop!

Deku laughs breathlessly when Katsuki finally stops tickling him, his hair wild and rumpled all around his face. They are both tumbling on the ground, Katsuki having pressed Deku down onto the floor, where one hand is pinning Deku’s wrists together. Deku breathes in erratically, chest falling and rising fast, and Katsuki remembers how, since young, Deku's always been weak like that. He’s always stumbling behind him, panting even though they haven’t run that much, and he’d suddenly break out in these fevers and Katsuki had to drag his stupid ass home.

Oi, Katsuki says, tapping at his chest. Breathe.

Deku blinks at him. He smiles, taking in a deep breath and letting it out. I'm okay, he says, and then encircles his wrist with a hand, where Katsuki's hand pressed down his chest. His heartbeat is rabbit-quick under Katsuki’s palm.

Ne, Kacchan... have you ever wondered how is it like to feel a heart stop under your hands?

... why the fuck would I think about something like that?

Like if you trigger an explosion now... right over my heart, how would that feel?

Deku is scaring him. Katsuki pulls back rapidly, as if he was burnt, and Izuku's eyes follow him. He sits up.

What the fuck, Deku? What's wrong with you?

Deku gives a laugh that's most clearly fake. He tugs a hand through his curly hair and shrugs easily.

*.*.*.*

You're a girl, so I'll protect you.

I’m a boy.

But... you're wearing a dress! And you have long hair!

This is... this is because... I get sick easily...

Sick? What kind?

I don't know...

You should just beat the illness up!

… but it’s inside me…

Just get stronger and you’ll be able to do that!

… how?

AHHHH! Just listen to me AND DON’T TALK BACK!

*.*.*.*

Ne, Kacchan. I'm hungry. Let's get some food.

I'll cook.

No, let's go out.

They change and go out, and thankfully Deku doesn't reach down to grab his hand when they're out in public. Katsuki's unsure if he can even pretend to be able to do that, in front of everyone.

Kacchan! I want to eat a sandwich from here!

But you suck at ordering from these places... you always overthink and take forever to decide.

Because they have so many different choices! But you're here so you can order to me. Deku beams up at him, toothy and child-like. Katsuki's heart seizes in his chest, and he feels a blush rising. It annoys him, that Deku can trigger a reaction like this in him.

Kacchan?

Katsuki brushes past Deku curtly and steps into the sandwich shop. Hurry up, then.

Katsuki becomes sullen, and they eat in silence. It makes him uncomfortable. He is supposed to be acting, but whatever Deku is making him feel, all these soft, tender feelings, the fondness, the urge to touch him, touch that smile, is too real, too solid, and it annoys him. So he chomps on his sandwich and refuses to look at Deku.

They exit the store when they are done eating. Deku is hesitating behind him, and Katsuki is irked, frustrated. He stomps away, wanting to get away from everything, but when he tilts himself, Izuku isn't right behind him. When he turned, Izuku had stopped, bent over by the roadside, his hand pressed to his chest. He looks like he is hurting. Katsuki's irritation disappears. He stomps back and hovers by his side.

What's wrong?

Izuku sways on his feet, and Katsuki grabs him before he falls. He leans against Katsuki, stumbling a little on his feet.

Deku!

Izuku takes in deep breath, and another. Then he shakes his head and looks at him, smiling loop-sidedly.

Sorry, he says, choosing to lean longer on Katsuki. I'm just a bit tired.

Say so, Katsuki snaps. He drags Izuku into one of the cafes, sits him down and buys him a cold drink. Izuku accepts it gratefully pressing it against his cheek. He looks a lot more tired now that Katsuki really looked. He has dark eye circles and his skin is pale, too pale, Katsuki can see the green veins under it. His face is haggard, even though they haven't really done anything.

Oi, Deku, are you sure you're okay.

Deku smiles. He presses his fingers against his chest, an odd move that drew Katsuki's eyes down there.

Yes, he says. I'm fine. Then he says: were you angry with me?

No?

Then why were you so...

I said it's nothing. Anyway, drink that.

...You'll make such a good boyfriend, Kacchan.

Katsuki blinks at him, and then smirks. What are you saying, Deku, aren't we dating now?

But instead of laughing, agreeing, like he was supposed to, Deku looks down at his drink. We are, he says quietly, here, now. But we aren’t, really. Not after another 4 days.

Katsuki doesn't know what to say, so he doesn't say anything.

Let's make the best out of it, then, Kacchan.

Deku smiles at him, the smile sitting a little wrong on his lips. They hold hands when they go back home, and Katsuki doesn't even think about the looks they were probably getting, pre-occupied by Deku's words, his smile, his cold, fragile hand tucked in his.

*.*.*.*

Deku, why is your hand always so cold? It’s weird.

It’s weird? I don’t know why either… sorry.

It’s okay! If I hold it it’ll become warmer, you see.

Like with an explosion?

No, you idiot. Like this.

… Kacchan’s hand is so warm… it feels nice.

Shut up, don’t say it like that!

*.*.*.*

Katsuki switches off the stove as the stew boils, and goes to look for Izuku. He pushes the door open to bathroom.

He looks into the tub, where Izuku was laying flat on his back, eyes closed, hands pressed over his heart. His features are blurred in the water, the light shining in patches over his face, ethereal, otherworldly, unreal, his hair floating all around his head, like a sea nymph. The water is glimmering. Katsuki’s heart stutters in his chest, and before he knew it, he’s seated beside the bathtub, pressing a hand on Izuku's chest through the water. Izuku opens his eyes, dark, full of secrets, and sits up. Water sloshes over the tub and wets the bottom of Katsuki's pants. Water drips down Izuku's hair, sliding in rivets over his body as if following the paths of his green veins. They cling lovingly to his skin. His body seems too pale, too thin, the orange sunlight streaming from the window painting his skin in a deeper, amber colour. It’s a nice colour on him. Makes him look more solid, less like he was going to float away or just fade away.

Sorry, am I taking too long?

Nah, it's fine.

Izuku smiles at him, a droplet of water clinging onto his smooth cheek. He cups a bit of water in his palms and watches them flow over his hands.

Do you want to join me?

I'm good. Come here, I'll wash your back.

Like we were younger? Deku says, laughing a little. He draws himself out from the bath and sits on the edge, while Katsuki goes for the wash cloth and soap. Deku's ribs are jutting like ladders against his translucent, freckled skin. Heat is rising in the steamy bathroom, and Katsuki can smell his shampoo in Izuku's hair. It's surprisingly heady, and Katsuki feels like he could get drunk on the smell, the heat, the soft sound of water sloshing against the tub, Izuku’s skin under his hands. Fuck. It’s a damn fucking chore, he’s just fucking pretending. It’s a game, and Katsuki’s just fucking good at this.

You should eat more, you’re all bones, idiot Deku.

I eat enough, Kacchan.

No you don't.

Yes I do!

Katsuki scoffs, but he continues to scrub at Izuku's skin. The constellation of freckles on Izuku's shoulders, the deep dip of his spine and divots in his spine, everything, the quiet sound of the water dripping from the tap, the heat of the bathroom… before Katsuki knew it, he was bent over his shoulder, nose skimming along his skin.

Kacchan? Izuku whispers, turning his head slightly, his hair tickling Katsuki's cheek, and like that, the spell is broken.

Katsuki abandons the wash cloth and grabs the shower head, shoving it at Izuku.

Wash and come out.

... okay...

Katsuki stomps out. Izuku follows him soon, his towel draped over his shoulders. His hair is starting to curl again, even though it is dark with moisture. His skin is still flushed from the heat of the bath. Katsuki doesn’t even want to look at him.

Katsuki shoves the food at him, and Izuku takes it, biting his lip.

Kacchan.

What?

I'll eat more…

So don't be mad?

I'm not mad, idiot.

... okay.

Izuku hesitates, picking up his chopsticks and digging it into his bowl of rice. He eats quietly and cleanly, not looking up.

What?

Why, Izuku says, setting down his chopsticks, does it always feel like we take one step forward and two steps back, Kacchan?

Katsuki would’ve stood up and started an argument, but he’s pretending, so he just — he hates to do it, but he swallows down his irritation. He takes a deep, deep breath, and reaches over the table for Izuku’s hand.

You’re thinking too much, idiot. I’m not angry. He swallows. The lies stick in his throat. It makes him nauseous. Izuku stares at where his hand is covering his. Then he pulls his hand back and picks up his bowl of rice again. His damp hair curls over his eyes, so Katsuki can’t see them.

I see, he says, carefully neutral, and doesn’t say anything else for the rest of his meal.

Why does Katsuki feel so horrible, when all this is is just make-believe?

*.*.*.*

Ew, that’s so gay!

Hey, Takahashi-kun, does your brother wear skirts at home?

Remember to cover your ass around Takahashi!

Ew, don’t go near him or you’ll get gay germs!

*.*.*.*

One thing is certain: Katsuki doesn't know what's real and what's pretend anymore. The words he tells Deku, the things he does, they all come too easily to him, as if he didn't need to force the movements, as if... he was truly just doing what he, Bakugou Katsuki would do, instead of acting, pretending. And that’s wrong, it’s all wrong, because Bakugou Katsuki would never do these things, especially not to Deku.

He would never touch Deku’s hair and ear and watch him fall asleep. He would never lay his head on Deku’s lap and doze off. He would never feel contentment watching Deku eat his food. And he would never feel as if he was drunk on his stupid, fucking, estranged, just-found, childhood friend.

Fuck, Katsuki thinks, but can't seem to stop himself.

Katsuki presses his head on Izuku's chest and listens to his heartbeat, where Izuku's hand runs through his shock of blonde hair.

Your heartbeat's really fast right now.

Because you make my heart race, Kacchan.

That's gross, shut up.

Izuku laughs, gently running his fingers across his cheek. Even if it's true?

It can't be true, idiot.

But it is, Izuku tells him. Being near Kacchan makes my heart beat faster.

Izuku's a filthy, fucking liar. Katsuki bends and kisses him roughly to stop the lies that grate on his nerves, and Izuku gasps against his mouth. Katsuki kisses his neck, resting his lips against his pulse. Izuku's heart thumps madly, wildly against his lips.

Wow, your heartbeat's really crazy.

It is, isn't it?

*.*.*.*

Kacchan… why do you not like me anymore?

I’ve always hated you!

*.*.*.*

There are some battles you can never win. There are some walls you can’t break, no matter how many explosions or curses you lob at it.

There are just somethings you can’t win against.

*.*.*.*

Izuku is curled up against Katsuki's chest, head pressed against his heartbeat. He’s been in that position for at least an hour, but he seems content to just keep the position. As if Katsuki’s heartbeat, the slick pumping of his heart, was the most fascinating thing to him.

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.

What's that?

Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar.

Tsk.

I really like that line, Deku whispers. It's super cheesy and cliche, but... for a heart that can brag about existing is a nice image, isn't it? Being all happy about keeping someone alive.

That's what hearts do.

That's what a proper heart does.

What other hearts are there?

Broken ones. Confetti ones. Paper ones. Bruised ones.

They're all the same.

... I guess so.

Ne, Kacchan.

What?

If  I gave you my heart, would you take it?

*.*.*.*

Kacchan, I'm bored. Let's go out to shop.

I hate shopping.

Please? We've been coped up here for four days already!

We went out for lunch just yesterday.

But it was so short! Let's go shopping.

... fine.

Deku walks out with him, hesitatingly sliding their hands together, but Katsuki pulls his hand away and slides it into his pocket. He sees the way Deku’s face falls, and feels guilty, but immediately feels irritated for feeling guilty. But Deku smiles at him the next time their eyes meet, a little too bright, straining around the edges.

And it makes Katsuki feel worse.

Let’s go into this shop, Kacchan.

Yeah, whatever.

And if Katsuki kisses him at the secluded corner of the bookshop, tilting his face up with a rough hand, it wasn’t because he wanted to see Izuku’s face clear, like bright skies after a rainy day.

And if the way Izuku raises himself on tiptoes to kiss him again as he pulls away sends a blush racing up his neck, it wasn’t because of anything.

Because this was what Katsuki would do, if they were dating. But they are not, so it doesn’t mean anything.

It is just play pretend, after all.

*.*.*.*

Oh, Bakugou! We saw you, we saw you! Who's that cutie you were with? We've never seen him before!

What the fuck.

We didn't stalk you, by the way. We were just hanging out there. You should've told us it was a date instead of being "not free"!

Katsuki takes in a deep breath. It's not a fucking date, he snaps.

... but you guys were standing really close.

… it’s not like that.

… sure, if you say so.

I'm not gay.

... I mean, you know it's fine if you were right?

Shut the fuck up, I'm not!

Sure~

I’m going to kill you.

Okay, okay, chill. Who is he, anyway?

Someone I wanted to protect when I was younger, Katsuki could say. Someone who I'm playing pretend with. Someone who is a good liar. Someone who kisses me like I'm the only thing he ever needs, even though he's lying.

No one, Katsuki says instead. And fuck off.

He hangs up. Izuku was dozing off on the bed, curled up into a tiny comma, his hair splayed across Katsuki’s dark sheets like a halo. He watches Izuku sleep, his breathing loud and heavy and a little rapid, like it takes effort for his heart to work. He cautiously presses his hand against Izuku's chest, feeling it flutter and thud under his hand. What’s wrong with you? He thinks, and why is your heart still going so fast?

Kacchan? Izuku whispers, his voice rough around the edges, eyes fluttering open. He looks tired, a little too fragile, a little too close to the edge… where Katsuki could push him, and he would shatter like glass. Katsuki draws his hand away.

Go back to sleep, dumbass.

*.*.*.*

Kacchan, I miss you.

Don't be gay, fucking Deku. And don't talk to me.

*.*.*.*

Katsuki thinks he is losing this, this supposed game of make-believe love, except it was no longer a game but a battle to win, a desperate struggle to keep his head above water, because Katsuki feels as if Izuku has already pulled away land from under his feet slyly, quietly.

Deku’s good at this. He’s so much better at it than Katsuki’s ever expected. But he should’ve known. Deku’s always been a good fucking liar, always smiling in that stupid, wretched way, even though he was crying, clearly hurting. This game is full of lies and heat and secrets that Deku insists on keeping, all because he’s playing a game, and he’s fucking good at this game.

Katsuki — 0, Deku — 1

Fuck. Katsuki hates him. He hates him so much.

But he can’t stop, he can’t stop this game, not now, not anymore. Not even if his life depends on it.

Because he’s terrified that if he lets go, Izuku would just fade away.

*.*.*.*

Kacchan, if you could fly, where would you want to go?

… somewhere with dragons! That can blow fire and all!

What bout you?

… I want to go to Kacchan. Because Kacchan runs very fast and I can’t keep up…

Stupid.

Why?

Because we’ll always be together.

Even when I’m always chasing after you?

Because you will always chase after me.

But what if… one day, you look back, and I’m not there anymore?

*.*.*.*

Katsuki wakes up in the middle of the night. The bed is mussed and warm beside him. He blinks in bewilderment, rolling onto his back. The door to his bedroom is slightly ajar, and quietly, Katsuki rolls out of bed and pads over to it.

There is the sound of a high, straining voice, cracking in places.

I'm sorry, Okaa-san, I'll come back soon, I promise... I'm fine... I just need to— Deku's voice breaks. I just need a few days, please... I’ll make it in time for the —

… you don’t understand, Okaa-san, Deku says, a sob tumbling out of his mouth. I’m sorry, but I have to… finish this. I’m sorry. I’m fine, don’t worry…

Katsuki stands outside, his chest aching, for some reason. He doesn’t know what to do. He stands outside, his nerves tensed — either fight or flight — he feels his palms sweating, his Quirk triggering from the anxiety racing in him.

All he hears is Deku’s heavy breathing, trying to get his breath under control. He lets out a gasp that sounds like pain.

Please, Deku whispers, quietly desperate, please hang on for a while more.

Katsuki barges in. Deku is standing in front of the mirror, hunched over, his brow furrowed in pain, his hand clutching at his heart.

What are you doing?

Deku spins around. He uses his hand to wipe at his face. Nothing.

Katsuki slams his wrists against the wall, anger running high. His hands are smoking. This doesn't look like nothing.

Deku keeps his mouth shut, his eyes red-rimmed, tear-tracks glimmering on his face.

Deku, Katsuki growls, boring a hole into his face with his glare.

Deku hiccups, more tears streaking down his face. He shuts his eyes and takes a breath. A sob tears from his throat. He raises his head and presses their mouths together in a desperate move.

Please, Kacchan.

Katsuki could never stomach Izuku's tears, the way his inflamed eyes blotting out his features, blurring them to make him even more nondescript, like an unfocused watercolour painting. It pissed him off, made him want to punch something. Roar in anger, destroy everything, everything that made him cry... Katsuki growls, grabs his arms — thin, spindly — and slams him against the wall. He seals their mouths together in a harsh, rough move, their teeth clicking together, and feels Deku's hands curl in his shirt. The kiss tasted like tears, and Katsuki kisses him harder, bewildered and terrified, Deku was scaring him, and he doesn't know what to do.

The game has changed. The rules have changed.

Or maybe Katsuki never knew how to play in the first place. Pretend isn’t his strong suit, after all. Or maybe he’s been playing the wrong game.

Maybe the scorecard actually looks like this: Love — 28, Katsuki — 0

Deku hiccups, and Katsuki drags him onto the bed, where he licks back into his mouth. Everything around him was a little fuzzy, but the taste of Deku's mouth, his heat, his heaving body, was what he could focus on right now.

Deku pants, and looks at him with dark, dark eyes.

Kacchan, he whispers, and flips them over, so he was crouched over Katsuki's body. His fingers trembles as he unbuttons Katsuki's shirt, and he was rushing, out of control, kissing his neck and collarbones, running his hands all over Katsuki's body, sliding down his pants and fisting his half-hard member in his hand. He laves at it briefly, before moving up again?

Lube?

Katsuki points at his bedside table, and Deku reaches over, drizzling his fingers with lube and reaching back, sliding his fingers into himself and giving a loud gasp. He stretches himself cursorily, eyes fluttering shut as his mouth twists into something like pain and pleasure. Katsuki's fingers dig into his hips. He feels like he could get high on this, on Izuku above him, flushed to his chest, making those soft, small sounds, the feel of his flesh and bone under his hand, the way his half-lidded dark eyes seemed dazed. His erection throbs, pressed against Izuku's thigh.

Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan, Deku chants, not even looking at him as he reaches back and holds his cock in one hand, sinking down on his length and it's — it's —

Heat explodes. Stars explodes from behind Katsuki's eyelids, even though he doesn't know he'd closed them. It is something some idiot would say is close to the divine, and Katsuki fervently believes in that in the moment, with Izuku's heat all around him. He lets out a guttural growl, Izuku's skin burning against his, he thinks he'd let lose an explosion from his hand, judging by the faint scent of smoke. It’s lucky that he wasn't holding onto Izuku then.

Fuck.

Katsuki's hips snaps up involuntarily, and Izuku cries out and topples onto his chest. Katsuki raised his legs, cradles Izuku's body in the bow of his hips as he thrusts upwards mercilessly, as if he could fuck the tears out of Izuku. He grabs one of Izuku's hips to stop him from sliding off, the other hand tucked against his cheek so he can stare into Izuku's face, the left-over tears and sweat mingling together, Izuku's eyes squeezed shut, his mouth ajar, a bit of pain furrowing his brow, but more pleasure, where he pants and says Katsuki's name in his high voice, like Katsuki was driving him mad.

Kacchan, Kacchan.

More, more, look at me more... say my name.

Kacchan—! Ah!

Izuku.

Izuku cries out, his fingers sinking into his shoulders, their mouths finding each others, a clash of tongues and teeth and lips, heat bellowing, and Izuku's coming, shuddering under his hands like he was falling apart. Katsuki flips them over again, pressing him onto his already mussed bed as he fucks him harder, eyes roving Izuku's wrung out, boneless, well-fucked state, eyes half-lidded. He comes, stupidly, when Izuku cups his face between his cold hands and kisses him, tinged with desperation and tenderness, and says his name.

Katsuki.

*.*.*.*

Ka- Kachu- Kachuki—

Hah! You’re so stupid Deku, you can’t even say my name properly!

Why are you suddenly crying?!

Because… because…

AHHHHH! STOP CRYING! Just call me whatever you want to!

*.*.*.*

Katsuki hates losing. But maybe he’s already lost, from the start.

The game’s unfair, after all.

*.*.*.*

Why were you crying?

Nothing.

You can't even tell your lover that?

Deku's eyes slides over to him, but his smile is wrong, bland.

I wouldn't want to bother you with something so trivial, Kacchan. He kisses his cheek. Dry and chaste. Don't worry, okay?

Who's worried?!

Deku laughs, but the sound is broken, like pieces of glasses shattered. Katsuki stares at him, unwaveringly. Demanding. Deku looks away, pushing himself up from Katsuki's chest, and immediately Katsuki feels cold, bereft.

I'm going to bathe, Kacchan. Wanna come along?

Deku. Katsuki grabs his hand. Stop fucking pretending to be fine. It pisses me off, so just fucking tell me.

Deku looks at him from the corner of his eyes, suddenly cold and distant, like the moon. It chills Katsuki to the bone.

But this is the game, Kacchan.

*.*.*.*

  1. For an entire week, players have to pretend to be lovers.
  2. The person whose heart breaks first, loses.

*.*.*.*

Ne, Kacchan, I want to dance.

Katsuki frowns. He doesn’t like that sort of thing, but Deku is looking at him with wide, hopeful eyes. He’s been looking more and more tired, staring into space more and more, suddenly bending over like there’s a sharp pain somewhere in him, except when Katsuki catches him, he waves it off nonchalantly. Even though he’s still panting and grimacing in pain, he still smiles like a fucking idiot.

It’s rubbing Katsuki the wrong way, but he’s playing the good boyfriend, so he doesn’t say anything and reaches over to pull Deku up into his arms.

Deku was smiling freely, easily, small-boned and fragile under Katsuki's hands. They swayed to the music, and Izuku's breathing was loud, erratic, too laboured, a little unsettling.

Izuku smiles up at him. Katsuki is getting concerned.

Oi, Deku, are you okay?

Me? I'm fine.

Oi, Deku, do you have asthma or something-

No, no, it isn't that...

Then why are you breathing so hard?

It's the dancing.

Don't fucking lie, we didn't even move that much.

Izuku shakes his head, breathing in from his mouth now. His fingers dig into his shoulders, desperate. He stops moving, pressing his head against Katsuki's shoulder. His breathing is scaring Katsuki by how difficult it sounds.

It hurts, Kacchan.

What? Where?

Deku presses his hand against his chest, bending his head over his shoulder. Here, it hurts.

Katsuki frowns, and he reaches a hand to knead gently at Izuku’s chest. Here?

— yes.

Okay, okay, just breathe deeply. I’ll go get you some water.

No, stay, please.

No, but —

Please, I’ll — I’ll —

Okay, Katsuki panics, listening to how Izuku gasps wildly for breath, his face scrunched up in pain. They slide onto the ground, Katsuki holding tightly onto Izuku. I got it, stop fucking talking.

Izuku’s breath slowly, slowly — it takes much too long, it isn’t normal — gets under control. He looks completely drained in that moment, and he leans his entire weight against Katsuki’s chest, his hands loosening.

Sorry, Kacchan… can I rest…?

Without a word, Katsuki swings him into his arms. He’s too light, way too light, and Katsuki ignores the niggling discomfort and concern as he places Izuku on the bed. Izuku’s eyes are half-lidded, watching him as he pulls back.

Where are you going? Izuku rasps, reaching a feeble hand to grab his sleeve as Katsuki turns away.

Getting you a cloth and some water.

No, just stay, please…

Okay, okay. Just sleep. I won’t go.

Izuku nods tiredly, and his eyes flutter shut. His breath is still quite fast, but now quiet and more even.

Katsuki stays until Izuku falls asleep. Then he carefully runs his hands through his hair, even though Izuku is sleeping and couldn’t see how well he was pretending.

He decides to cook something nourishing for dinner. A good boyfriend would do that, after all.

When the sun sets, Katsuki wakes Izuku up. Izuku blinks at him, squinting a little as he sits up, slowly ambling behind Katsuki to the dining table.

Eat, then you go back to sleep.

I’m sorry, Kacchan… it’s our last day together too.

Katsuki doesn’t look back from where he was filling the bowls of rice.

When the game is over, we can hang out like fucking normal people instead of doing all these extra shit.

Izuku doesn’t reply, and he doesn’t look at Katsuki’s face.

What, you don’t want to be with me unless we’re playing fucking pretend?

It’s not that, Kacchan. Izuku looks at him, but his smile is helpless. I would love to hang out with you too.

Then what’s up with the hesitance?

… it’s nothing.

Still the fucking secrets. Still the same, fucking smile. Katsuki’s so sick of it, but he’s held on until now, and he’s too fucking proud to let it all go right now. It’s all been damn hard work, playing along with this farce of a game. When it’s all over, Katsuki’s going to make sure to laugh at Deku and force him to swear that they’d never do this shit ever again.

And he’s going to force fucking Deku to tell him what’s wrong with his goddamn breathing, when he wins this stupid fucking game.

*.*.*.*

They watch a mindless show on the television. Katsuki has Izuku curled around his arm like a limpet, and he can feel the deliberate rise and fall of his chest against it. Izuku is warm, but his hands, as usual, are cold.

They finish the show and retire to bed, where they keep to their opposite ends of the bed. The clock ticks. Outside, the sounds quieten, and quiet night steals over their house.

They don’t sleep.

When Katsuki finally, finally starts dozing off, he hears Izuku shift, and a warmth against his chest. And suddenly, he’s very awake. His senses tense, but he forces his breath to remain smooth and steady.

Kacchan.

Kacchan?

Are you asleep already, Kacchan?

Katsuki doesn’t move. Izuku exhales carefully like it hurts.

Okay, so… you’re asleep, I mean… so… this is fine. I was planning to leave a letter and all, but… okay, maybe I will, just to say goodbye. I’m too scared to talk to you like that when you’re still awake, Kacchan, so just stay asleep, okay? I mean, you’ve always been a hard sleeper. So this should be safe.

Izuku takes another deep inhale, and exhale. His words are muffled into Katsuki’s chest, so he strains to hear.

When I saw you again, I was quite conflicted, you know? I didn’t think you’d want to see me, or talk to me. I mean, it must be embarrassing, you know? Having someone Quirkless talk to you when you’re surrounded by all those elite U.A. students, and this someone is someone you’ve known during your childhood. You looked very cool, Kacchan. All your friends too. You looked very happy to be working with them… and it took my breath away, Kacchan.

I mean, you’ve always been doing that, since we were 4. You’re dazzling, Kacchan. I know you’ll be a great hero in future. Because you were my first hero. Remember when we were having sleepovers and I was so scared of the dark, and you’d take your torchlight and accompany me to the toilet, and sang outside the bathroom until I came out?

I think I loved you since then, Kacchan.

Izuku sighs, exhaling pain. My stupid heart’s acting up again. Stop, he says, not now. Katsuki doesn’t dare to peel his eyes open to look, but he feels Izuku’s hand reach up to rub his chest. Izuku mulls, quiet for a moment.

I always wanted to ask you, but I never found the opportunity to ask… why did you start hating me? Was it because you hated that a Quirkless brat who followed you around and couldn’t even keep up?

No, Katsuki wants to scream, it isn’t that, you fucking idiot. But Izuku is still talking, so he bites his tongue.

Or maybe… you found out how I felt for you? You are very perceptive, after all. And I guess I wasn’t very subtle. And I mean… we were very young, Kacchan. It’s hard to be kind when you don’t even understand much, right?

Anyway… that doesn’t matter now. I’m leaving, anyway. Izuku pauses. Katsuki fights not to demand for answers: what do you mean, leaving?

I want you to always shine brightly. I want you to save people who you can reach. I want you… I want you to go chase your dreams… I’m selfish, so I want you to be a hero for my sake too, you know? Because I can never be a hero. I’m just a pebble by the roadside. For someone like that, you don’t really need in your life, Kacchan.

He lets out a wet laugh. He is crying, and his breath is short. Katsuki’s chest throbs. It hurts. But he forces himself to listen.

And I’m not even a pretty stone, you know? I’m a broken one.

It’s painful, Kacchan. Even breathing hurts. There’s a sharp pain in my chest that has never gone away. I always thought… I thought it was just because I was sad, really sad…but it turns out that there’s something wrong with my heart. It’s not working properly. It flutters and stutters and does acrobatics in my chest and stifles me and it hurts and I can’t breathe, and I’m scared, I’m so scared…sometimes when I’m sleeping I stop breathing and I wake up choking... It’s scary. And I didn’t want that to happen when we’re… sleeping on the same bed.

So I ended up not really sleeping, this week. Just in case. Besides, I got the chance to watch you sleep. He chuckles softly, the sound catching in his throat. You look nice when you sleep, because you’re not frowning or scowling. It’s very cute. You’ll probably hate me for saying that, but I like seeing your face like that, Kacchan. It’s like a secret, between you and me, a secret you didn’t even know about. Like this poem I really, really like: I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul…. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where…I love you because I know no other way than this: where I do not exist, nor you…

Izuku exhales, soft and tired. He doesn’t move from where he is curled up on Katsuki’s chest, preoccupied with his own thoughts. Katsuki can’t breathe. Izuku’s weight seems to be crushing him down, but he can’t be, because he’s so light.

I love you, he says quietly. Katsuki’s heart gives a painful, anguished squeeze, somewhere happy and terrified. I love you, Izuku tests again. The words disappear into air. I’m in love with you. He laughs wryly, but the sound is full of tears. Being with you makes me so happy, it makes my heart go out of control. You didn’t believe me when I said my heart beats faster around you, but it’s true. It stutters in a different way, in a better way, and it’s a good feeling. It doesn’t feel like my heart would stop, just that it’ll go faster and faster and burst into flames, but that’s fine, because you were holding it all along…

I’m stupid. Sorry. Just… you know when I proposed that game to you? About pretending to be lovers? It was just me being selfish. It was just for my own selfish agenda. I mean… you were always going to win in the end, you know? Because I was never pretending. Not from the start. I wanted to kiss you and hold hands and fall asleep with you and bicker and laugh and eat your food and I wanted you to want me too. At least, even if you were pretending, I’m so happy to have these memories. They’re very precious to me. Thank you for playing along with me, this entire week. I know it’s something you hate doing. But you did wonderfully… I almost believed it, sometimes. You can be good at anything you want to do, anyway. And you’re kind, even though you pretend not to be.

But I know you don’t like boys. Or at least not one like me. I’m Quirkless… and I can’t even breathe properly.

Izuku shifts, and the warmth is gone for a moment. Katsuki was about to reach out a hand and drag him back, thinking he was leaving, but the warmth returns. Izuku’s cheek is pressed against his shoulder. His breath is dry and cool against his neck.

It’s 4.13am right now. In a day, around this time, I’ll be going somewhere far, far away. To fix my broken, malfunctioning heart. I’m not sure if it’s going to work. I might not be able to come back. It’s a lot of science mumbo-jumbo, and I didn’t really want to do it, but… I mean, I have to try, at least. My mother seems to think it’ll work, so I’ll do it for her. Izuku pauses. He seems to the the words hard to say, after. The meds stopped working suddenly, you see. It’s taking everything for my heart to continue working, all this while. I’ve put a lot of burden on it recently… But I think I did a good job.

I wanted to be with you, in these endless numbered days. A tiny infinity. No regrets, and all, you know?

Izuku raises himself on his elbows and kisses Katsuki’s chin lightly. Katsuki fights not to move. Thank you, Katsuki, he says gently, and runs his index finger tenderly over his eyebrow. For all these memories. I’ll keep them close to my stupid heart, okay? He presses a soft kiss on Katsuki’s mouth, and exhales heavily as he pulls away. He rests a light hand on Katsuki’s chest.

Take care of yourself. Don’t overdo it, okay? I’ll always be cheering for you.

I love you.

He lingers. Katsuki evens his breathing. And then the bed creaks. The warmth is gone. A foot landing quietly on the ground. Katsuki can’t bear it anymore, stupid Izuku was talking so much and he wasn’t making any sense. He opens his eyes, sits up in a flash and drags Izuku back, slamming him on the bed. He presses his leg over Izuku’s thighs, immobilising one hand. Izuku yelps in shock, and his eyes widens when their eyes meet.

Where do you think you’re going?

… I just, Izuku swallows. Toilet.

Fucking liar.

Izuku looks away. I am leaving, he says. Then, he whispers, as if he's terrified of the answer. How much did you hear?

Katsuki’s hand tightens around Izuku’s wrist, and he thinks there might be a ring of bruises around it soon. But he doesn’t care. Everything.

Izuku’s face is full of devastation. He experimentally tests his shackles, but Katsuki nearly crushes his wrist. Izuku closes his eyes, struggling for control.

Then let me go. I have to go.

Not until you fucking explained yourself. What were you fucking playing at? Putting on this fake farce, getting all fucking sad and shit, not telling me about your — heart — and fucking deciding everything on your fucking own, who do you think I am?!

Izuku doesn’t respond. His breathing is quick and strained.

Do you really think I’ll wake up and look at the letter you were planning to write and be like — oh okay, I can get on with life after all these stupid games, fuck Deku, let’s forget about him? What sort of person do you think I am?! Don’t fuck around like that!

Then what? Izuku asks, and tears leak down his eyes, what did you want me to say? “Kacchan, I’ve been in love with you all my life, and I’m dying”?! What can I say?

The truth! Katsuki yells back at him, furious and sad and angry that Izuku’s crying like that, that he’s hurting, crying because of Katsuki, that he’s known everything so late. You should’ve told me from the start!

But you wouldn’t have been able to do anything.

It’s not just about your heart. About your — about loving — about loving me, you bastard. When were you planning to tell me?

… but you don’t love me back, Izuku whispers, his eyes glistening with tears in the dim lighting of the room. Why should I let you know when you don’t even love me back?

Enough. I have to go.

Katsuki, I said, let me go!

Katsuki bends down and impulsively kisses that stupid, talking, grimacing mouth, the mouth that’s been saying stupid things and making Katsuki angry, and he stuffs Izuku’s mouth full of words he’s terrified to say aloud and hopes he understands. He pulls back. But Izuku’s face is clouded over, upset.

The game’s over, Kacchan. You don’t have to pretend anymore.

I’m not fucking pretending!

Liar, Izuku whispers. He draws his free hand over his face, trembling, exhaling shakily. It’s okay, Kacchan. Really. I know.

But you don’t, you bastard, you’re just spinning this fucking annoying story in your head and that pisses me off.

Then what? Izuku looks completely exhausted, and Katsuki can’t bear it. He bends and drags Izuku against his chest, caging him against it. He feels Izuku’s fragile, thin body under his hands.

Just — Katsuki’s throat seizes. You can’t just do things like that and leave.

If you’re talking about winning the game—

No, I’m not talking about that! I’m saying—

Izuku leans against his chest, just quietly and patiently waiting.

You can’t go.

I won’t let you.

I have to, Kacchan. I can’t not.

No, I won’t let you go. You have to stay here.

Then who will fix my heart?

Kacchan…

Why? Why did you fucking — fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, how could you just—

… 

They sat in silence for a moment. Until the feel of Izuku’s body inside his embrace, still warm, calmed him down. Until he got his spiralling thoughts under control.

Kacchan.

How long are you going for?

… I don’t know…

You fucking idiot, I fucking hate you. I fucking hate you.

… I know.

NO, not that, not like, fuck, you make this damn fucking hard.

… then what?

You fuck shit up then want to waltz out of my life, do you really think I’ll let it go?

… I’m sorry, but it’s only just a week.

It doesn’t work like that, you fucker.

… what do you mean?

No, don’t, just—

Izuku sighs softly against his chest. I don’t even know what you’re saying, Katsuki…

I don’t like boys. I’m not gay.

… I know…

But you ruined everything. You’re so annoying, I hate you, fuck, but you ruined everything and you can’t fucking just. You can’t spring this on me like that, saying all those things and all and just—

You weren’t supposed to hear it.

Deku…

Kacchan, I can’t breathe if you’re holding me so tightly…

Shut up.

*.*.*.*

I always want to be with Kacchan… Kacchan’s amazing!

… stupid Deku.

*.*.*.*

Katsuki held onto him, not letting him go, thinking and trying to form his jumbled up thoughts into sentences, his fear, his terror, his aching, until the sky brightened outside. Izuku was dozing off already, breathing evenly, but his hand didn’t move from where it was clinging onto his shirt.

Izuku’s breath stutters, and he jolts up, blinking around blearily. Katsuki stroked his ear gently. His heart throbs, wondering why the sound of Izuku’s difficult breathing makes it so hard to hear.

Kacchan? He whispers, and Katsuki exhales. …It’s morning.

Yeah. Breakfast, then.

I have to go… my mother is waiting for me.

Shut up. I said breakfast.

Izuku sighs, but he pulls away and rubs his eyes tiredly.

You know what. You fucking sleep. I’ll wake you up.

No, it’s fine.

Fucking sleep.

Izuku sighs, tired. He pulls away and tucks himself under the sheets, eyes fluttering shut. Maybe a little, then…

Katsuki watches him fall asleep, and then makes the breakfast. The familiar actions calm him down, and when he’s done with the salmon, he feels more ready to talk and figure out a plan of action. He doesn’t want to let him go. He can’t seem to, because, if he did, he was terrified that he would — Izuku would just disappear. And he doesn’t want that. It feels as if like he’s the one with the heart problems when he just thinks about that.

It’s terrifying.

And it isn’t supposed to be like that.

He goes back to the room, where Izuku was sound asleep, his breathing is even but heavy.

Izuku.

He doesn’t stir.

Izuku, he says again, patting his shoulder. Izuku rouses a little, one jade-green eye opening up to look at Katsuki. He sits up and squints, grimacing a little. He covers his eyes, and Katsuki sits closer and presses his hand against Izuku’s cool cheek.

Kacchan.

What’s wrong?

This isn’t like you, Kacchan… you don’t need to—

I’m not fucking pretending, I fucking hate doing that anyway.

Izuku purses his lips, his mouth downturned. But he rests his cheek against Katsuki’s hand. Tired, he whispers, I’m so tired… I’m tired of this, and my stupid, broken heart.

… let’s eat.

… okay.

Katsuki stares at Izuku nibble at his food, and aggressively shoves the fish at him. More, he demands, and a flash of fondness passes Izuku’s face. He finishes all the food, a little slowly, and brings the plates and bowls to wash.

Katsuki hovers behind him. The sound of running water echoes through the apartment. Sunlight that falls over Izuku and makes him look like he could fade away like dust, as if he was becoming light itself. Katsuki winds his arms around his waist and hugs him tightly, inhaling his scent from the side of his neck. Don’t go, he thinks. Stay.

Kacchan?

… Go with me somewhere.

… today…?

Yes, now.

I told you… I need to go…

It’s just for a while.

Izuku nods, and they change. Katsuki impatiently drags him out by the wrist. It’s still early enough, and only a little people milling around, but Katsuki caught a girl pointing her phone directly at him as he passed, and he shot her an angry glare that for some reason, got her to squeal.

Izuku noticed, of course. He’s always good at noticing things.

Kacchan’s popular.

Shut the fuck up.

Where are we going?

Katsuki tugs at his wrist and drags him out purposefully. He walks a little too briskly, but slows down when he hears Izuku start to pant.

Sorry. You okay?

Yeah... where are we going?

Katsuki stops them in front of a store.

Get a piercing with me.

... why?

Just do it!

But I don’t want a piercing…

Fuck, you were the one who wanted to do that stupid thing with the red string or whatever.

... it’s a string… and that was a very long time ago…

Shut up, it’s the same thing!

Izuku looks at him, confusion marring his brow. Why… why are you…

It’s because if you ever tried to run away, I’ll be able to fucking find you and drag you back.

You… you want me… back?

Katsuki swallows. He looks at Izuku’s thin face, his unbelieving, half-open mouth. His infinite, dark fairy-pool eyes. His light, constellation skin. His treacherous heart.

*.*.*.*

Don’t be gay!

Love is love, you know?

Ew, that’s so disgusting!

I love you. I’m in love with you.

*.*.*.*

Katsuki aches. Yes.

Izuku presses his hand to his mouth, and as Katsuki watches, a tear slides down his face.

Why the fuck are you crying?!

Izuku blubbers, tears falling quick and fast down his face, and he raises his hands to wipe his face clumsily.

It’s just… it’s just… I’m so happy, he cries, and Katsuki growls at him and yanks him closer to smother him against his chest.

Idiot, don’t fucking cry, you crybaby.

Kacchan… Kacchan… Kacchan…

So you'll do it.

... yes.

Good.

Katsuki gets his left ear pierced, an emerald stud the colour of Izuku's eyes, and Izuku fingers it with light, tender hands.

You look good, he says, and Katsuki rolls his eyes. His ear throbs, but Izuku is looking at him with bright, awed eyes. He resists the urge to touch his ear, with the piercing.

Your turn.

And Izuku, that idiot, chooses a ruby stud that clashes with his hair.

You look like a traffic light now.

But you're the one with red, green and yellow!

Shut up!

Izuku peers into the mirror and touches his newly pierced ear. Katsuki likes it. He likes it too much. They’re matching, his on his left and Izuku’s on his right, he likes the red on Izuku’s pale skin.

I like it, Izuku says, smiling a little.

Tsk.

Izuku kisses Katsuki's cheek, quick and fast. He rocks back, blushing a little, and hesitatingly slides his hand into Katsuki’s hand. Katsuki bites his lip, and doesn’t pull away.

Izuku’s face lights up, and his face is flushed with a beautiful pink blush. He looks so alive then, and ridiculously beautiful. Katsuki looks away. His heart is racing crazily, and he pulls Izuku closer than he needs to. He presses his hand against Izuku’s heart and feels his crazy, audacious heartbeat.

*.*.*.*

Not a rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.

It is a moon wrapped up in brown paper.

It promises light,

Like the careful undressing of love.

*.*.*.*

Katsuki’s okay with losing this time, he thinks.

*.*.*.*

You better come back.

... I'll try my best.

If you don’t come back, I’ll find you and I will kill you.

Kacchan, seriously…

I mean it.

Izuku smiles at him a little. Okay, he says, and touches Katsuki’s piercing lightly. Wait for me.

Idiot.

... see you soon, Kacchan.

*.*.*.*

Bakugou, what’s with the piercing? You trying to go for the full punk look, huh?

Shut the fuck up.

That’s a very nice green, Bakugou.

Yes.

… why did you get a piercing suddenly, Bakugou-kun?

Katsuki touches his piercing and shrugs.

I lost, he says, and ignores everyone when they stare at him in shock and then screams at him to explain.

It was a battle he was destined to lose. And he’d only ever lose to one person, anyway.

*.*.*.*

Die, villain!

When Katsuki looks up from where he’s blasted the villain into oblivion, a pair of very familiar, forest-green eyes meet his, the very same colour of the earring stud he’s wearing in his left ear.

Ignoring how his other colleagues are calling for him, he blindly pushes past people and walks up to one Midoriya Izuku. His ruby-red earring on his right ear catches the light. He is smiling, his freckled cheeks flushed prettily.

Katsuki’s heart feels like it’s trying to beat out of his chest.

Hello, Kacchan.