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It started the day that Katsuki passed out during an afternoon training session. He couldn't remember most of what led up to it-- caught up in his own motives for reaching the top, pushing himself and breaking his limits just to know that he exceeded. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was routine at this point to pass his limit and rebound in privacy. After years of stretching his boundaries and learning how he recovered in isolation, he was confident in even his most reckless moments. Nothing he hadn’t seen before. And yet, as if on cue, the day finally came when Bakugou Katsuki passed out.

It was standard training, strength building and fine-tuning. He had found a rhythm in his head, a white noise of adrenaline, and took off with it running. It was still the tail end of summer, right after their break, which determined him more than ever to outmatch his competition. Yet, it was still summer. The thought rang in his head. Summer also lent itself to concocting heavy, humid days that weighed down until their full burden was realized, like a creeping disease. In truth, Katsuki loved especially humid days-- they made him faster, more efficient, he needed less of an energy input with how effortlessly he could sweat. At the same time, these days were deceiving, for they blurred his judgement in calling just exactly when he passed his threshold of what his body could handle.

On a turn, he passed that limit before he could stop. It snuck up on him like a train, a tingling fuzz clouding up his mind and body. He tried to skid against the dirt on his heels. Lowered his body to meet more resistance. But there was only less and less control as he crept into whiteness. Hands scrape along the surface, ready to catch his own fall, then slip into air. His perception narrowed down into a constricting lens.

The last things he perceives stick with him. His calloused fingertips grazing the dirt and gravel, digging into dead skin. And above all, that goddamn selfless flash of green, bounding and calling out towards his direction from yards and yards away. For a moment, he forgets to feel shame, and the call of his childhood name brings him home.

Bolts of flickering, trembling green, and then only white. White vision. White room.

*

"--just seems like a fluke. I don’t know. Kacchan's always had control, especially when I don't. He knows his limits better than anyone."

"His vitals seemed to indicate he was entering dehydration. I wouldn't attribute it to more than that," a softer, wiser voice answered.

A pause. "Dehydrated?"

"Yes, dear. It is a heat wave, after all."

"I-I know, he just usually-- his quirk demands so much perspiration that he always made sure--"

"Don't worry yourself so much. The drip is getting him back to where he should be," he hears a tender pat against fabric. "I can tell that you really care for his well-being. Right?"

A nervous laugh.

"And yet all the times you've been admitted here, after all those broken bones, I haven't ever seen him come by to even check on you. It's just interesting to me, that's all."

"It's…" he searches for the words. "...complicated."

"I understand," she concludes. "Regardless of how he is, I wouldn't worry. He should make a full recovery today.”

A weighted pause hangs in the air. “...But perhaps he could use more of someone looking out for him every now and then. Might help prevent something foolish like this."

"Mm," he hums in agreement.

Katsuki stirs in the cot, groaning and shifting onto his side.

"I ought to be going. Thanks so much for your help," the familiar voice rushes through his words, followed by the stir of him gathering his things in a flurry.

"It's my job. Take care, now."

"Sorry for troubling you!" he calls back from the hallway.

Katsuki's comprehension is still foggy as he takes in the words, and can't make much out of them. Feeling gradually seeps through his skin again, a dull ache and sting pulling at his wrist and forearms. He feels utterly drained. The hot, empty ache in his skull of recovering from a fever hangs like a mocking consequence. His eyes blink open with some effort, immediately landing on Recovery Girl's amused expression seated across from him.

"Feeling better?" she grins, tilting her head.

The ringing of a migraine knocks at the back of his eye sockets. He brings a hand up to block out the light from his eyes, meeting resistance as he realizes he's hooked up to an IV drip. "Huh, wait…!!"

"It's just doing what my quirk can't. You need a lot more water in your system. Haven't been drinking enough, have you?"

"No, no, I... had an Aquarius on the way to school," he groans, still trying to cover his eyes. "I always do."

"Right, I mean only water. Your body demands much more than the average person because of your quirk--"

"I know what my quirk demands, lady . I've lived with it my whole life," he grumbles through a peek of his fingers.

"Then start meeting those demands again. You've clearly been slipping up," she scoffs, still with a smile, turning to flip through papers. "I've got to save my energy for those who couldn't prevent it. This was preventable."

Katsuki exhales deeply, running his hands down his face.

"Not to mention you had someone there to catch you. Could have cracked your thick skull wide open."

Humiliation washes over him like a cold shower. The thought of someone having to catch him due to his carelessness is mortifying. He holds back a shiver and mulls over in his head who it could've been, but stops on a dime when the answer is already in his mind, gnawing on him like always. Of course it was him. He probably leapt towards him as soon as Katsuki faltered, his gaze constantly flicking back to him anyway. He wanted to crumble up into a ball.

"Be grateful that someone sees through your harsh exterior. Anyone else would've let you hit the ground."

"Please stop," Katsuki groans, cursing the tubes preventing him from hiding his face in his elbows. "I get it already."

Recovery Girl hums, musing over Katsuki's flustered demeanor. "Right," she pauses to fetch a half-gallon bottle of water, lifting it to the cot's side table. "I want you to drink this by this evening. Every last drop."

He feels a bark of rebuttal creep up his throat, but his shame washes it down. He had no power here, and was relieved that no one else was around to see his vulnerability. All he can do is nod, looking away.

"Start drinking water in the morning, as well. You don't need those sports drinks powering your system," she offers, her tone neutral.

It had never been a problem before, but he'll oblige. Maybe he was getting stronger than he expected, that was all. Definitely was not entirely his fault. He knew his limits. He knew his quirk.

Right?

 

*

That night he chugs the whole carton of water in one sitting, sitting up in bed at seven. He hid it from his mom to avoid confronting his lapse of judgement or to hear things that he already knows. It feels remarkably good, especially in his worn out condition, and he only wishes it could just be cold. If room temperature water could taste like nectar, he can't imagine how refreshed he would feel with a half gallon of chilled, crisp water. He almost laughs at his pathetic and menial desire. As if cold water could really liberate him right now.

Sleep comes easier, but not without being chased by the thought of the only person he knew could've possibly broken his fall when he knew he didn't want to be caught.

The next morning is wrought with a heavy dread. He stops at the vending machine as usual, grinding his teeth when he hesitates to pass Aquarius for a regular bottle of mineral water. Waste of money, he thinks. It's just plain water. When it noisily rolls out, he hisses as he goes to grab it. Fucker wasn't even cold. They must have just refilled the machine.

His head buzzes with frustration, almost crushing the tiny bottle of warm water in his fist as he chugs it nonetheless. It felt as if he was drinking in the thick summer atmosphere around him, and it only weighed him down more.

Katsuki intentionally gets to school early to avoid getting any knowing looks when he enters class. He doesn't want to know who knows what happened yesterday. And he especially, more than anything, does not want to make eye contact with him.

Only Satou and Ojiro are in their seats when he walks in, and they're thankfully too caught up in a conversation to notice him enter. He sulks in his usual desk, turning his head the other way, preparing to snap at anyone who insinuated anything. His energy must be palpable, because as the room fills up no one dares to approach him or ask if he's okay. He notices that the desk behind him is still empty, which is odd knowing the time he usually gets here. He curses himself for paying any attention to his stupid routine.

When Deku does come through the door, Katsuki's blood runs cold. He looks like he had been rushing. More disheveled than usual, anyway. Katsuki anticipates his glance and looks the other way, but feels the other only look for a second, as if just to make sure he's there. He makes his way to his desk, following the same predictable and patterns, until something breaks his expectation and makes him almost choke on his own breath.

Thunk. Deku still passes by without looking at him, but not without setting a thermos on the corner of Katsuki's desk. His mind swirls, grabbing for a potential explanation or a justification for what the fuck he was up to. He can't take his eyes off the goddamn lime green thermos sitting tall in his space, its presence feeling as mocking as Deku's, like he was being looked down upon. Like he was missing something that Deku had caught on to long ago. It made him boil.

After scrutinizing the container for so long, he notices it's piling up drops of condensation, indicating it had probably been chilled overnight. At least it couldn't be fucking soup or something, then. It still wracked his mind, and his thoughts went to Deku probably trying to poison him before he even considered other options.

First, he knew this thermos. It used to be Deku's favorite. Probably. He brought it to school every day when they were little, carried it around on a shoulder sling. It used to clack against Deku's oversized bag with every step he followed behind him, like a bell, always letting him know where he was. Until the day tiny Katsuki ran out of things to pick on Deku for, so he brought up why he would choose a thermos that just made his hair look even greener. It really did distract him. It made everything about his presence more vivid, suffocating. After that day, Deku replaced it with a baby blue one for five years.

Seeing this green tower again sinks an anchor in his chest, and it makes whatever gesture this is twice as gut-wrenching. He's not really sure what to do. He feels caught in a trap, not wanting to acknowledge that he has power over him by accepting this offer, but not wanting to show that he's so controlled by it that he can't even bring himself to find out, either.

He can't focus for the rest of class, like the thermos was emanating a loud ring that he just couldn't silence. Its familiarity conflicts with its interfering, unwelcome existence. The idea that Deku could get him so worked up over a goddamn thermos makes him quake.

It reaches a point where he settles on a decision, after mulling over it for over an hour hoping he doesn't get called on. The only thing he can really do in this situation is drink it in front of him confidently. That would eliminate all his vulnerability and show Deku that he doesn't win here. That Katsuki had definitely caught on to his game.

Katsuki grabs the thermos defiantly, surprised at the sensation of its almost ice cold surface against his palms that had unknowingly been getting clammier all this time. Even the sound of popping the plastic top up is nostalgic, and he hates him for it. He hates that he can break him down without a single word.

When he tilts it to take a sip, he angles his head just so Deku is in his peripheral. He's taking notes on whatever is happening in class, but he feels him glance up curiously as Katsuki shifts, though he doesn't stop writing.  

He freezes on the contact. Inside is water just as cold and crisp as he wanted, as if he had been listened to. Something about it felt carefully attentive. He couldn't let it go. It was more than just bottled water, there was--

Strawberry. When he tastes the hint of fruit, his eyes can't help but dart to glare at Deku. Of course he did. Of course Deku chopped up fruit yesterday to chill in this fucking water overnight. Of course he probably thought about his favorite fruits at the market and remembered Katsuki always picking out just strawberries from mixed fruit in his school lunch. And of course, he knew that Katsuki wasn't drinking enough water.

Realization seeps out of him, and Deku does a bad job of hiding a smirk. Katsuki almost screams.

For the rest of the class, Katsuki doesn't take another sip. He's too shaken by the whole situation. He doesn't want to feel another wave hit him once he tastes the faint flavor of strawberries, like a stupid distant memory.

It's not till he's able to eat at lunch that he's consumed by the need to drink more, and he makes sure that he's sitting away from Deku. When he feels that it's still cold from the insulated sleeve, he's thankful that Deku can't see his face. And when the sweet tinge of strawberries follows in its path, a devastating combo, he is twice as grateful.

He ends up unscrewing the top just to eat the pieces of fruit still left at the bottom. It feels animalistic with how much he's compelled to do so, like he doesn't want anything to remain. The strawberries are remarkably fresh, though he probably should've expected it. After the entire process, he's left brewing over Deku's motives, how much he knows about what happened. But above all, why he would give this much of a shit.

He's not sure how to give the thermos back to him, but he knows that he doesn't want to hold onto it. It feels wrong, especially as a token of something that Deku left behind just because of him. The thermos gives out an energy of something he doesn't deserve. And he hates it.

He settles on walking past a distracted Deku seated with Iida and Uraraka, mirroring his nonchalant delivery from that morning. Katsuki clunks the thermos on the table as he passes, still not looking directly at him. He hears Deku's chatter come to a halt.

"Forgot something," he grunts.

Deku doesn't answer at first, and Katsuki is already walking the other way, but an inquisitive look from his friends prompts Deku to return a soft " thanks " before he's out of earshot. Katsuki doesn't realize he was biting his tongue until he's out in the hall.

The event is more haunting than it really should be. It makes it harder to sleep early that night, harder to get his thoughts straight or to recall anything else that happened.

All he can think about is if it's going to happen again.

 

He's hovering at the vending machine the next morning, even longer than yesterday. He can't help but wonder if Deku is going to bring the damn thermos again, or if it was an isolated incident. Maybe he shouldn't have returned it at all. But how could he stand to take it home?

Katsuki gruffly buys another tiny bottle of mineral water anyway, shaking his head after he downs it in minutes. Another waste. But it wasn't worth counting on Deku if it meant ever passing out again.

He keeps his head down before class, hoping that maybe if he's not looking it won't happen. Tracing circles in an unbroken line on his notes. Like an alarm clock, the familiar thunk of the thermos on his desk turns his curved lines jagged.

"Forgot something," Deku mutters, and Katsuki almost snaps his pencil in two.

Though he feels caught off guard, Katsuki at least revels in the knowing expectation of what's inside. If this routine was some kind of game to Deku, at the very least he didn't have to mull over what he was planning every single day.

He feels more confident in taking a sip with that thought, but nearly chokes when it's not what he expects.

Orange. It was cheekier, a sleight of hand that made him growl. The flavor told him to stay on his toes. Never try to predict his next move. Deku is even worse at hiding his smirks today, and his freckles almost light up. He drowns in it.

Orange whispered that he was invested in this game, and wouldn't quit anytime soon.

Katsuki obliged. He gets to the bottom of the thermos by the end of class. He doesn't want to be busted for eating, so he still waits for lunch to claw the fruit out of the base alone.

Deku feels less distracted when Katsuki walks by his table this time, like he's expecting him to come. Katsuki swears he almost sees him turn before he even says a word.

"Here," Katsuki offers, placing the thermos at his side again. "Don't lose it this time."

Katsuki's already walking away when he hears a "Thanks, Kacchan," and a chortling Uraraka afterward.  He grimaces all the way home.

He had learned now to stop buying mineral water every morning after that. He knew more water in his system wouldn't hurt, but didn't see the point in dropping 200 yen every morning on a comparatively small part of his daily water intake. Plus, he knew Deku, he really knew Deku, and that he didn't ever know when to stop.

Friday was white peaches. The sweetest one yet, curling in his throat on the first unexpected taste. It read comfort, it read silent devotion. It told him that his secrets were safe. No one else has to know what happened. Just me. Deku gives him an unabashed, genuine smile from the desk behind him.   It punches the contempt right out of his gut.

Eating the cold peaches at the bottom makes him feel warm. They felt as tender and sweet as that goddamn smile, and he had no energy left to analyze that thought. He savored them, and wondered how much they could've cost.

When he gives it back later, Deku catches it from behind before Katsuki can set it down on the table. He can feel him grinning without even seeing his face. "I got it," he beams, still hidden. "Thanks, Kacchan."

Katsuki almost dreaded the weekend. Admittedly, anticipating and finding out what Deku would do next wound up to be the highlight of his days, and he felt empty, nearly incomplete without it. What's more, he grew to crave fruit infused water every single day after expecting it to be there. But he could never admit that to himself. He settles for tap water on ice at home, frowning into the glass.

He downs it quickly anyway, laying back with his feet on the table before his mom strikes his ankles with a fly swatter. He had never felt so distracted before in his life.

All he could think about was what Monday would be.

 

*

Monday is cherries. They're quiet, barely there, like a real secret. If Katsuki hadn't been searching for the hidden fruit in their routine, he's sure it could have been overlooked. Deku seems more skittish today, less confident. He definitely won't meet his eyes.

The few cherries inside are pitted, and he appreciates the gesture. Maybe he had watched him recklessly scarf down the fruit in the past, and didn't want to see him choke.

Their exchange that day is silent. Deku catches it again, and offers no words in return. Yet he knows it is far from cold. He can still feel the glow behind his gaze, even when it's not on him.

Katsuki can't help but think of the hushed cherries, their flavor masked by so much water. As he turns to see Deku laughing in his peripheral, he sees a facade that they can't. He knows a secret that they don't.

He's faking it.

Tuesday, Deku is late for class. Truthfully he is still on time, but certainly late for Deku, considering Aizawa had already arrived. He's breathless and apologetic, and he sets the thermos at Katsuki’s desk corner as swiftly and quietly as possible.

The thermos feels lighter than normal, and its contents leave him feeling empty, too. The water is spritzed with lemon. Nothing else gives him a clue to what he's going through, other than the absence of the expectation of fruit. In this case, after such a routine presence it's the absence of fruit that speaks louder. It's clear that something is really bothering Deku, and he hopes that it's not just him that can see it.

He hopes that it's not only him that sees through his fake smiles, his laugh , and hopes that someone has the strength to ask Deku what's wrong. Because God knows he doesn't.

There's no fruit to eat during lunch, so he doesn't bother trying to get himself alone. To their buzzing excitement, he sits with Kirishima and Kaminari, bouncing off each other's words at a pace Katsuki probably couldn't follow even if he wasn't off in his head somewhere else.

Deku is still in the corner of his eye, and he pretends like he didn't sit that way intentionally. He definitely didn't intend to still be able to overhear people talking to him just to get any sort of clue on what's going on with him. Definitely.

Katsuki wracks his mind, eyeing the ways that Deku gives soft sighs, the way he seems to trail off to let someone else talk. He seems utterly defeated, and Katsuki would give anything to know who made him feel his way. Except his own dignity being seen in public asking Deku if he's okay. No one would let him live that down.

“Hey, Bakugou, you even listening?” Kirishima waves in front of his eyes, a sharp grin. He follows Katsuki’s line of vision all the way to Deku’s table, and the grin only gets sharper. “Oh.”

That breaks his daydreaming, and he narrows his eyes. “Hell do you want?”

Ohh,” Kirishima keens, elbowing Kaminari to gesture behind him with his head. It takes a second for it to click, and then he can't stop snickering.

“You guys wanna tell me what's so funny?” Katsuki groans, holding up a fork as an empty threat.

“You're pretty transparent, dude,” Kaminari wheezes in between laughs. He leans in across the table. “I mean, you're looking right at him.”

“I am not looking right at him,” he points the fork directly at Kaminari.

“You've been looking over my shoulder like the entire time. I thought you were just trying to seem cool until I…” Kirishima can't stifle another laugh. “I looked right behind me… sorry.. I'm done laughing--”

Katsuki turns the fork up towards Kirishima now. “Shut it, bear trap, he's gonna fuckin’ look over here.”

That only makes him laugh harder, which sets off Kaminari again too. He clamps his hand over his mouth and uses the other to wave off Katsuki, attempting to apologize. Kirishima curls in on his arms to muffle his laughter. But his act of bending over no longer hides Katsuki from Deku, who glances over at them and makes him clench his fist.

“You motherfucker,” Katsuki whispers harshly, shoving Kirishima’s hardening arm. “Stop before I make you, he's--”

Deku actually gets up, and Katsuki’s eyes widen. He reflexively covers his head and ducks to Kirishima’s level against the table. “He's fuckin’ coming over here, I'm going to kill you, I swear you will never breathe another--”

“Kacchan?” Deku peeps, swiftly silencing the rowdy table. Katsuki almost fully covers his head now, kicking Kirishima under the table with both legs.

All Katsuki can do is slide the green thermos towards him across the table, giving a pathetic, muffled “there.” Deku accepts it quickly, and is off without another word.

Kaminari has to move to the other side to hold back Katsuki from completely lunging over the table at Kirishima, who is only chuckling louder. “Y-you had his fucking thermos?”

Wednesday was the most confusing of all. Not only was Deku at his desk before Katsuki, but there was no thermos. Nothing. He thinks maybe Deku arriving before him made it harder for him to hand it back, but he can't even see it on the floor. Plus, he probably could've just left it on Katsuki’s desk before he got here to completely avoid confrontation.

Katsuki only gets angrier the more he thinks about it. He should've just bought water all this time. He shouldn't have ever obliged in his shitty game. He shouldn't have put so much thought into this. Especially if Deku decided that he could just stop.

His rage boils up so high that he's about to turn and bark something at Deku, until he catches the look in his eyes. Deku’s eyes are trained on the table, distant and cold. He looks drained, like he hasn't slept well.

Most importantly, it seems like something is really wrong.

Katsuki sinks back in his chair, leans against his arms, and plots his next course of action. He was through with waiting for other people to talk to Deku. If no one else was gonna do it, he would fucking have to. He was going to talk to Deku.

Not in person, of course.

Even though there was still no fruit, and not even a thermos in the first place, Katsuki still sat alone in his usual shameless fruit devouring spot outside of the lunch hall. Especially after the events of yesterday. There was seating against the wall just outside the door, and it got little traffic aside from people taking out the trash.

He pulled out his phone, wincing before he even scrolled to the place for Deku’s name in his contact book. It had been a really long time.

It had been so long that they had no message history since he got this phone. It was completely blank. It was nice that it seemed almost like a fresh start, but also made it that much more intimidating.

The amount of courage it took him just to open up the message box only made him angrier, motivating him further. He wasn't even sure how direct or indirect he should be about this. He wasn't sure which was more humiliating anymore.

He inhaled.

[bk]: did you actually lose it this time

He forgot to exhale until he sent it. He wanted to throw his phone against the wall to never feel this anticipation ever again.

When his phone vibrated, he almost jumped out of his skin.

[dk]: Who is this?? Sorry, I don't have your contact saved!!

Katsuki really, really wanted to smash his phone now. Of course he doesn't have his number. Why would he? He got a new phone number when he upgraded and was too chicken to just give Deku his new info out of the blue, or to insinuate that he wanted to talk. It's not like Deku noticed, either, with how little they talked anyway.

Why was he disappointed?

[bk]: its.. katsuki

He watches the typing bubble flicker in and out, and has the compulsion to bite his nails clean off.

[dk]: ?????? Not funny! Who is this actually??

Katsuki sighs with exhaustion, almost wanting to just give up.

[bk]: its actually me deku. dont really know how to prove it
[bk]: oh wait yeah i do

He quickly snaps a photo of his hand aimed at the sky, blocking the sun and flipping it off.

[bk]: thats for not believing me

There's a long pause again, and more flickering of typing that makes him smirk thinking about a flustered Deku rewriting his message over and over.

[dk]: Okay I believe you
[dk]: Mostly… I mean someone could've just taken a picture of your hand but..

[bk]: yesterday was lemon

[dk]: Okay definitely you
[dk]: But why?? I am so so confused I didn't know you had my contact still?? And did you get a new number??

[bk]: yes

[dk]: Are you just asking about the thermos? I'm sorry if it messed up your day or anything I was so scattered this morning and in general and I left it in the fridge and I didn't even think about it until I got here. Please forgive me!!

[bk]: me too

[dk]: What?????

[bk]: ive been like that

[dk]: Like what??

[bk]: scattered, idiot

[dk]: Oh… I'm sorry.. it's my fault you probably need to drink more and it's been so hot it makes everything harder to think and yeah

[bk]: dont worry so much i can handle myself

[dk]: So why did you message me???

Katsuki leans his head against the concrete wall and exhales. He had to think about it himself for a moment.

[bk]: i know something is bothering you

[dk]: Oh
[dk]: Really?? Am I making faces or something?  

[bk]: i dont think anyone else would really notice

[dk]: Huh
[dk]: I see.. sorry… It's just so weird to talk to you like this

[bk]: why do you apologize so damn much

[dk]: Sorry
[dk]: Woops… It’s a habit…!! Anyway I didn't mean to worry you and I promise I'll remember tomorrow ok? ∑(゚Д゚)

Deku clearly attempted to divert the subject, and he didn't really feel like prying him anymore, so he figured he should just drop it.

[bk]: alright


*

On Thursday, when Deku slides the thermos along the desk, they make eye contact. It’s brief, yet it still lasts longer than he can stand. White noise, the rush of water, a vague buzzing in his head drowns out everything else around them. The tension almost turns competitive, weighing on whoever looked away first, and Deku takes the loss with a soft smile. The smile makes Katsuki wonder if he really was the winner in this situation after all.

Katsuki feels genuinely excited to know what flavor awaits him today, like a surprise gift Deku packed that was invisible to anyone else. He was eternally grateful that Deku knew him, really knew him, enough to be as inconspicuous as possible with any public emotional transaction. It really felt like their secret.

When he takes a sip, anticipating at least some ability to read what Deku meant by it, he’s completely blindsided. Cherries, again. They’re stronger this time— and the bottle does feel heavier than normal. Huh. Maybe he had some to get rid of still.

Despite their breach of eye contact earlier, Katsuki still doesn’t have the courage to turn around and try to confront him directly. He’d have to just leave this one to interpretation.

Or.

At lunch, gradually popping the excessive mountain of pitted cherries in his mouth, Katsuki’s eyes dart to his phone on the bench. He did have one in. Even though Deku was even harder to analyze over text, it was the only step that he had the courage to make at this point. It still required so much preparation that he had to set down the thermos to breathe and gather himself again.

Was he really going to text Deku again? Would Deku respond? Of course he would, but would he really respond? Maybe he just feels obligated to carry out this whole thing for the sake of Katsuki’s health or something. The guy had so many friends anyway, it’s not like he’s dying to talk to someone all day.

Especially Katsuki.

He unlocks his phone anyway, and rereads their message history from the other day over and over, trying to figure out what Deku really wanted, here. Did he actually want to be friends again? Did Katsuki want to be friends again? Did he really want to open this door? It felt like a closet of shit they’d let pile up for years, waiting to crush them both if they even tried to peer into it again. And, yet.

[bk]: cherries huh

Katsuki will never get over the way Deku’s typing bubble flickers in and out so fast, like he can almost hear him mumbling out possible responses. He smiles, and immediately hates himself for it. He was making him soft.

[dk]: Are they okay??

[bk]: did you really pit them yourself

[dk]: Maybe. It’s just because those are the sweetest and I can’t ever find them pitted!! So I wanted you to try them but I thought if I put them in water with the pit still in it then you could choke and that would be  ...[1/ 2]

His message really cut off. Unbelievable.

[dk]: terrible!! I didn’t want it to be a burden so I just sliced them last night it’s really not a big deal!! It was kinda therapeutic actually to cut all of them! (´∀`) [ 2/2]

[bk]: idk about this texting thing, i cant interrupt u when you fucken mumble now

[dk]: There was a lot to say!! I’m sorry! We don’t have to keep texting I’m just sitting where I usually am if you need to give the thermos back

[bk]: that was a joke
[bk]: sfine. i’ll come give it back later

Something was weighing on him, yet threatening him with emptiness at the same time, like he really didn’t want the conversation to end. It felt so familiar even though it had been years.

[bk]: but tell me you’re not buying all this damn fruit just for me

[dk]: Oh!! No, I eat it too!! So does my mom

He was definitely holding back, and his flickering typing just made that more glaringly obvious.

[dk]: But I definitely have you in mind when I buy it if thats what you mean. I mean!! I’m not just buying fruits at random! I try to think about it caref

Katsuki squints at where the message cut off, especially when there was nothing indicating it was split into parts. Did he mean to do that? He seems like he would probably proofread his messages.

[dk]: I’m so so sorry my friends took my phone trying to be funny because I look really distracted I guess
[dk]: Kacchan its really nice to talk to you but its hard for me at lunch since I’m at a big table. Do you want to text later? Today??

A pit aches in his stomach thinking of Deku’s lively table, but he tries to shut the feeling down. He really had no place to feel jealous here. Still, he couldn’t help it, and clung to the hope of talking to him later. Maybe. Is that what he wanted?

[bk]: sure np

 

*

That evening, Katsuki held off from lying in bed early and instead propped himself on his couch, waiting for Deku to message him. He felt pathetic. Admittedly, he probably would’ve slept a couple hours ago. He hones in on the glow and noise from the television, praying he didn’t do all this shit for nothing.

Finally, a notification comes up over whatever he’d been absently scrolling through, and he pushes down the way it makes his chest flutter.

[dk]: Are you awake?
[dk]: Oh no, do you still sleep super early??

[bk]: uh yeah

[dk]: I was wondering
[dk]: Have you been drinking water on the weekends…

*

Friday, there’s a distracted buzz in Katsuki’s head over what exactly Deku was scheming for the weekend. Of course, he could’ve just told Deku he makes sure to drink extra water over the weekend while he has the time, but something in him was morbidly curious as to why he was asking. And how he planned to follow it up. In fact, it distracted him so much that he forgot—

Thunk. Deku sets the thermos on his desk before Katsuki realized he was in the room, locks eyes with him, and smiles. Katsuki almost catches the corners of his mouth matching it by reflex before Deku breaks the eye contact, and he wants to fucking melt. Was he really about to smile at Deku? What was he doing to him?

When the fruit inside is oranges, Katsuki buries the theory that Deku was going in a complete reverse order. He would’ve done white peaches today if that were true. Maybe he intended to, but they couldn’t afford them again? Fuck, were they actually expensive ones? They definitely tasted like it. The thoughts course through him all while he absolutely chugs the icy water without thinking.

Maybe it was intentional. He did smile at him, after all, and it felt just as sly as the last time it had been oranges, as if Deku knew something he didn’t. In this case, he did, because Katsuki had no idea what his intentions were over the weekend. He groaned over the rushing of his thoughts, his doubts, his heart, all while sucking the juice from the cold orange flesh like he was a goddamn animal behind the lunch wall.

Saturday, Katsuki sprawls over his made bed all day, anticipation curling in his gut over something that might not even happen, really. It had been mostly assumption on Katsuki’s part, knowing how Deku is, that he would probably pull something selfless and unexpected for his sake, like showing up at his door with a cold bottle of thoughtfully infused water.

A gasp of delight from downstairs wrings out Katsuki’s spine, immediately lifting him to his feet. Shit. Did he actually— really—

“Izuku?!” his mother gleans, with a tone lighter than he’s heard in a long, long time. “My god, is that really you? My favorite!”

“A-ah, good afternoon! I’m so sorry to bother you...“

“You’ve grown so much, look at you!” Mitsuki squeezes his scarred hands, nearly bouncing with delight. “Your quirk finally kicked in, eh? Your mother was always so worried. How is Inko, anyway? It’s been so long! You two boys used to be up to my knees… I thought the little snot had scared you away for good--”

Katsuki sinks behind her buzzing form. “Ma, cut it--”

“Ah, right, I really came by to drop this off…” Deku trails off, shaking the thermos in the hand that wasn't being coddled.

“Nonsense, the both of you. I'm making curry, Izuku, won't you stay for dinner? Did you have plans?”  Mitsuki prods, tilting her head.

“Ma…” Katsuki groans behind her. Mitsuki swats his hand away from interrupting.

“Oh! Well, I…” Deku glances at Katsuki wide-eyed behind her, unsure of what to say. “I didn't have dinner plans, but…”

“Then come in, come in, please! Make yourself at home! You remember where everything is, right?” Mitsuki beams, inching him inside. Deku follows behind with nervous smiles.

The house is strikingly familiar, with only a few shifts of furniture he’d remembered since he was a kid. A warm sensation of the curry still slow-cooking hugs his senses, and kicks Deku with the nostalgia of coming over to eat after elementary school. Mitsuki always insisted on feeding Deku, especially during the harder times for his mom when they were young.

“Katsuki, quit pouting, eh? Be a host,” Mitsuki scolds, ruffling his hair around. Katsuki resists the urge to swat her away and groans an acknowledgement under his breath.

Mitsuki drifts into the kitchen to check on the curry, leaving them both standing at the doorway. Deku’s eyes remain fixed on absolutely everything except for the boy in front of him. He nervously fiddles with the latch on the thermos lid.

“Ah, um, here,” Deku blurts, reaching out between them to hand him the thermos.

Katsuki takes it quickly, still processing him being in his house.

“Sorry, Kacchan, I know you don't want me over--”

“S’whatever. Sorry about my mom,” Katsuki softens. He rubs at the back of his neck, clears his throat.

“You gonna stand there, or…” Katsuki gestures towards the living room.

“Right! Sorry!”

“...Need anything?”

“Uh!”

Katsuki knows his mom is probably listening, so he keeps prodding. “Like, tea or something?”

“Um, sure. Yeah! Thank you,” Deku stammers.

“And sit down, at least,” he huffs, making his way to the kitchen. He takes the thermos with him, wanting to keep it as cold as possible. Deku lowers onto the couch while he's out of sight.

He exhales shakily and tries to relax, despite having been completely unprepared to even set foot in Katsuki’s house today. He was admittedly treating it like a delivery in his head, hoping to drop by to an expectedly unwelcome home and leave it at that. Terse and fleeting. As if he could’ve been anybody. His fingers anxiously rub the familiar texture of the couch upholstery, and the nostalgia induced from such a simple act makes Deku’s breath catch in his throat.

In the kitchen, Katsuki hears his mother hum a sprightly tune while stirring, and the awakened glow behind it all almost creeps him out. She was never this upbeat lately, and usually made Katsuki do a bulk of the chopping, stirring, measuring, any of the menial tasks involved with cooking. Which, in reality, ended up being most of it, aside from tasting.

Katsuki tries not to let his reaction show through him for fear of interrupting her. Seeing her this lively reminded him of better times, and he fought the accompanying rock in his chest. He makes a straight path for the fridge and eyes any space for the thermos to go.

“Isn’t that Izuku’s thermos? Is he lending it to you?” Mitsuki prods, still fixated on the stove, though her tone shifts down as it usually does with him.

“Uh, yeah,” Katsuki blurts, caught off-guard. He lodges it in the door of the fridge next to the orange juice.

“You still have that old red one, y’know, don’t go making poor Izuku do so much for you,” she scolds, though its usual venom dissipates.

“It’s—“ Katsuki isn’t sure if explaining the whole thing would make it sound like he was even more of a burden. He pours out a glass of cold-brewed barley tea for Deku. “He… wants me to use it.”

Katsuki starts to leave the kitchen with the glass, not wanting to explain any more. Mitsuki turns back a bit to call after him.

“Why don’t you show him around, huh? It’s been long enough,” Mitsuki insists. She lifts the spoon out to take a taste from her finger, then jabs it in his direction. “And I swear, you’d better be nice, or you’re not eating a bite of this.”

He grunts in response, giving her a nod too, mostly wanting to get out as fast as he could to escape how flustered the whole situation made him. Their house wasn’t all that big, given it was bigger than Deku’s apartment, but the idea of showing him around felt trivial to Katsuki. He knew it was probably the welcoming gesture that his mother was after. Still, it made his skin crawl.

Katsuki can read Deku like a book. His mind had been racing the entire time he was gone, and his telling, wobbly smile didn’t help his case much. He rests the glass of tea on the table in front of the couch.

“Thank you!” Deku chirps, quickly leaning in to take a sip to show his gratitude.

“Mm,” Katsuki grunts, trying to be warm about it, sitting at the other end of the couch. The tension made him want to absolutely burst. Last time they were both alone in his house, they were able to entertain themselves with fantasy scenarios, toys, games, as if they had an endless supply between them that could never be exhausted. Years and years later, they sit at opposite sides of a stream they used to know how to navigate without thinking.

Deku keeps drinking from the glass to occupy his mouth, and Katsuki itches to remedy the situation.

“Do you, uh, want me to show you around or something?” Katsuki offers, trying to keep his tone as collected and warm as possible. It proved to be a lot harder.

He can’t get over the way Deku attentively straightens when he hears Katsuki’s voice, eyes widening to show interest.

“Ah, yeah! Sure,” Deku hums, trying to hide the way his arm shakes when he sets down the glass.

“I mean, you probably remember,” Katsuki continues, wanting to break the silence as much as possible. “Maybe. I don’t know.”

“A little?” he answers swiftly, looking around the room. “I mean! Everything seemed bigger. Since we were smaller.”

“Right,” Katsuki stifles a laugh. He gets to his feet again to stop himself from sweating. God, he wanted this to end, and yet he reveled in being able to talk to Deku again. He could read the same sentiment from Deku. It really was a mutual torture. “Anyway.”

Deku follows suit and stands up, taking another sip to be as polite as possible, leaving nothing wasted. Katsuki cracks his knuckles to distract himself.

“So yeah, y’know. Living room. There’s a couch n’shit. Alright, actually—“ They both choke on a snicker, and he feels a part of him thaw out. “Okay, fuck that, I’m not gonna be your tour guide, that’s way too much.”

“What else makes up a living room, huh?” Deku teases, obviously relieved to see Katsuki smirk.

Table,” Katsuki drones, Deku laughing after a beat of silence. His genuine laugh makes Katsuki’s ears heat up, and tugs his heart at the thought of how much he really did miss hearing it.

*

The dinner is tense, as expected, and mostly consists of Mitsuki hounding Deku with question after question. Deku obliges, of course, and hardly touches his food without wanting to talk with his mouth full or to make her wait for a response. Katsuki stuffs his mouth as much as possible to avoid speaking or looking at Deku’s mannerisms when he thinks, the way he taps his fingers on his knee, rubs the back of his neck, which Katsuki definitely was not watching in his peripheral.

“...So I’m sure that Mom would be happy to get in touch again, and she could even use the company, probably!” Deku answers what has to be the fifth question about Inko. Katsuki looks up from his plate at the barely dented mound of food on Deku’s plate.

“Ma, let him eat, would you?” Katsuki snaps, his exhaustion seeping through his words.

“Watch your tone!” Mitsuki hisses, waving a hand at him. “And stop hunching over your food like a damned wolf, eh? Anyway!”           

 

*

Deku appears anxious to leave after the dinner, but of course not before he insists on cleaning as many dishes and pots as he can. He emphasizes his gratitude to Mitsuki, thanking her for the meal, and constantly glancing at Katsuki. Before he prepares to leave, he offers a tiny wave.

“Thanks for having me, and, I’m sorry if I intruded or anything,” Deku almost whispers at him, rubbing his neck with undeniable nerves.

“Nah,” Katsuki blurts, hands in his pockets. “Thanks for, uh, cleaning n’ shit.”

“Yeah! Of course,” Deku huffs. They both feel an urgent energy of something left unsaid, things left undone, and they bury it up inside again like an empty routine. He offers one more wave before stepping outside.

*

Katsuki’s lying in bed, again, the chilled thermos between his knees. His head is screaming with thoughts over that night, hearing Deku talk so closely again, watching his eyes always drift back to him, his smiles empty but resolved, as if he gave up on waiting. Heart racing, he remembers he still hasn’t taken a damn sip of the water yet, the entire reason Deku planned on stopping by in the first place.

He breathes deep before taking a sip, and then almost chokes when he inhales sharply through his nose. Once again, it’s those sweet white peaches, nearly warm with flavor among the contrast of the refrigerated water. His head falls back on his pillow. The sweetness hugs his tongue, soft and understanding.

It reminds him of the way Deku made him feel-- his laugh trapping him honey-sweet, overwhelmed in his raw, open devotion to Katsuki’s well-being that never really wavered. All this time. He savors another sip, dizzy with everything he never wanted to confront.

Before he goes to eat the fruit, the thought hits him that Deku won’t have the thermos tomorrow. Did he even plan coming by Sunday at all? He figured Katsuki could manage a day without it, probably. But if he didn’t come by Sunday, there’d be nothing on Monday, which wrought him with the dread of going through the day without that highlight to look forward to.

He has to text him. His hands are still shaking from all the thinking, from the sweetness of the peaches, his real, genuine laugh replaying in his head.

Tomorrow. He’ll text him tomorrow.

 

*

[bk]: hey
[bk]: just to be clear im not asking you to but on the off chance that you are coming over to pick up the thermos
[bk]: can you text me when youre outside so my mom doesnt make a scene again?

[dk]: Haha… oh...
[dk]: On the possibility that I am stopping by I will definitely do that!!

[bk]: thanks

[dk]:  ( ´ ▽ ` )

 

*

[dk]: I’m outside!
[dk]: Possibly!

True to his word, Deku is there, sheepishly waiting at his doorstep. Katsuki ushers him inside silently with Deku nodding behind him. He can’t help but remember the times he secretly let Deku in when they were kids, going straight to his room to avoid being caught. It feels natural now, the same adrenaline in their heels, kicking their shoes off and walking on clouds. Katsuki’s head spins as Deku follows his trail upstairs without missing a beat.

It’s not until Katsuki closes his door behind them that their overwhelming privacy sinks into his skin, and he immediately clears his throat.

“Uh,” Katsuki starts, eyes roaming for something to divert their current predicament with. Avoiding his face as much as possible, his eyes dart to a small box in Deku’s hands wrapped in a gingham patterned cloth. “Holy shit, you still brought something?”

Deku laughs full of breath and nerves, hands already trembling when examined close enough. “Oh! It’s nothing much, I just—“

Katsuki shakes his head, offering a nervous laugh of his own as he sits on the edge of his bed. He drags his hands down his own face. “What am I gonna do with you, huh? You don’t know when to quit.”

Deku waves his free hand frantically, still standing tensely by the door. “No, ah, I swear it’s nothing much! I promise!”

Katsuki still shakes his head, slower now. He tilts his head towards the other end of the bed. “You can sit, y’know, you look like a baby deer or something.”

He visibly flushes at that, shifting to sit towards the opposite side from Katsuki at the bed’s edge. Gaze fixed downward, his fingers fumble along the knotted cloth of the box.

“My room’s pretty plain compared to last time you saw it, probably,” Katsuki grasps for words.

Deku takes the cue to look up from burning a hole into his leg, eyes darting around the walls. “Oh. Yeah, huh,” he muses, before his expression shifts to panic. “ Wait . Did you give away all your All Might merch?”

Katsuki can’t help but laugh at Deku’s genuine fear at that notion. “Rest your nerdy little heart. Sold some of it. The rest’s in storage in here.”

“Kacchan, we bought most of it together, you were as much of a nerd as—“

“Shut up. You’re sworn to secrecy,” Katsuki hushes, failing to mask a smirk. Deku can’t hold the smile back, either.

“...Did you sell your foil cards?”

“You really…” Katsuki laughs openly, covering his own face. He keels over towards Deku’s side. “I can’t believe this.”

Hey , I’m just saying!” Deku gestures at him, instantly more animated. “Remember how many packs we opened for those? And you insisted we split them up? Those are valuable!”

“I know, I know,” Katsuki breathes between laughs. “Of course I kept them. Worked too damn hard for ‘em.”

“Mm,” Deku muses, a deadly grin rising on his face. “Just for the work, huh?”

Katsuki peeks between his fingers, leaning against the sheets. “Whaddaya mean…”

“You only kept those for the effort? Not for any other reasons? Like… the day we got the Golden Age holo foil and spent the whole day staring at it?” Deku prods.

“Huhm,” Katsuki hums, looking away from him. “Yeah, definitely just for the effort.”

“Alright, fair,” Deku starts, still grinning, almost too much power. “So it’s definitely not in your top desk drawer where it won’t get folded up.”

Katsuki’s blood runs cold. How did he know that?

“R-right,” Katsuki feigns defense, hopeless when Deku already saw right through him.

Deku dramatically creeps to his feet, making a beeline for his desk. Katsuki is on his tail in a stride, scrambling for the handle. “So, if I were to open it—“

In a frenzy, Katsuki’s hand clamps over Deku’s on the drawer handle, squeezing to keep it from opening. They both inhale on a gasp, namely Deku, from the accidental heat of Katsuki’s palm radiating against his skin. With heightened silence, neither of them recoil. Katsuki feels his pulse rush in his ears as he fights for control of his own quirk. Gazes fixed on the desk, it becomes a question of who dared to move first.

Deku pulls lightly at the handle, which Katsuki meets with an equal push. They reached a complete stalemate.

“Y-you know, this doesn’t really help your case,” Deku remarks softly, biting the side of his lip.

“Maybe I just. Don’t want you looking in my drawers in general,” Katsuki retorts. He adjusts his grip around the back of Deku’s hand, locking his fingers above his knuckles. Their close proximity lets Katsuki notice him twitch. “Y’know?”

“Kacchan,” Deku smirks. “If it was anything else, you’d already have blown my hand off.”

Katsuki wants to completely curl in on himself, washing over with an undeniable blush from head to toe. He hated how well Deku could read him, wordlessly, even after years of avoiding direct contact with each other. When he catches Deku’s wobbly smile as his fingers press between his knuckles, he figures he can read him all the same. They both apply more resistance to it.

“Listen, I’m not lookin’ to break the handle of my drawer clean off,” Katsuki sighs.

“Sorry,” Deku mutters, fixated on Katsuki’s fingers starting to slide between his. “I’m not gonna use my quirk o-or anything. I was just excited to see the card.”

The guilt dips into his chest, and he resents Deku for the possibility of intending to make him feel like this. It’s true that he hadn’t actually seen the card they both worked so hard to get in years. He considers just giving in. Katsuki hated losing.

Deku’s grip on the handle starts to loosen, which only allows Katsuki’s hand to slide into his more obviously. Deku locks their fingers with cautious intent. There’s an absurd amount of heat between them that Katsuki isn’t sure he can attribute entirely to his quirk.

When Deku’s eyes dart up at him, Katsuki feels like the words kick out of him.

“Did you wanna see it?”

Deku can’t hold the gaze for long, fingers trembling between his, so preoccupied with the unusually gentle touch between them. Like all things in this house, it’s overwhelmingly nostalgic.

“Yeah,” Deku breathes out, barely audible. There’s a palpable vulnerability between them, so raw that it feels as if it could break at any second.

Katsuki nudges their hands off the drawer, and Deku follows the push of the touch without hesitation. Neither lets go. Their grip falls between them, leaving no doubt to its intention. It threatens to crush them with its intensity, at a gesture so delicate.

He uses his free hand to open the drawer in question slowly, revealing the card untouched in the back corner, dazzling vividly under the lamplight. Deku lights up to match it, inhaling with glee at the sight of seeing it again.

“Ah, wow...” Deku swoons, bringing his other hand to his face. “You kept it in such good condition?”

“Well, yeah,” Katsuki tries to brush off Deku’s raw joy in fear of being crushed beneath it. “Of course I took care of it, uh, it’s valuable. And.”

Katsuki reaches for it gingerly, though it is in a plastic cover sleeve, and brings it closer to Deku. “It doesn’t feel like it’s entirely mine. Y’know. We shared the odds and everything. You can look at it, if you want.”

Deku just nods furiously, taking it gently in his hand and tilting it under the light. It glistens in a shimmering rainbow along the gold foil that reminds him of the day they first saw it peek under the wrapping together. He’s clearly trying not to squeal. “Wow…

He fawns over the card a moment longer, and his shaking is undeniable now as it wavers in his hand. The hand holding his starts to shake more too, and Katsuki reflexively squeezes in consolation. Deku looks as if he might burst.

“Th-thank you,” Deku mumbles, reaching to set the card back in the drawer. “Um, I always feel like it’s... kind of silly to care about stuff like that so much, so knowing that you…”

Deku exhales to gather himself, laughing emptily at how exposed he feels. “It’s nice that you still cared all this time. I’m really glad that you kept it, Kacchan. And I know that… it has a deeper value to you, too.”

They remain side by side in front of the drawer, fingers intertwined without facing each other. There’s a heavy weight in the air but Katsuki can’t find the words to break it. Instead he shuts the drawer gingerly, clears his throat, and nods back at him. It’s all he can really do. He’s afraid of formulating words he’s not ready to hear leave his own mouth yet.

Scrambling for something to say, he remembers the wrapped box Deku set down on the bed. “Right, what did you bring?”

“Oh!” Deku flushes, covering his mouth. “It feels really dumb now, after I know you-- I mean, seeing that again was a huge gift on its own--”

“Just show me, Deku.”

“Okay!” he yelps, then faces the visible conflict of reaching towards the bed while still holding Katsuki’s hand, which he really doesn’t want to let go of. Experimentally, he gently tugs Katsuki towards him by their interlocked hands, and he follows. Deku goes completely red.

They guide each other back to the edge of the bed, still holding hands, and Deku wonders how much of his own face he can hide with one hand. The grip encourages them to both meet at the middle instead of opposite ends. When Katsuki’s thumb brushes the inside of his palm, Deku concedes to probably just breaking in half.

“Um, yeah, it’s lame, so don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Deku peeps as he hands the cloth-tied box to him. Katsuki goes to untie the knot, before they both realize they have to let go for him to accomplish that, so Deku swiftly reaches for the other end. “...I can help!”

The gingham cloth tie unravels between them, revealing a clear package of fresh ruby red strawberries. They’re nearly void of imperfections. Katsuki makes an audible, breathy noise.

“I-I felt bad you didn’t have any fruit today so I--”

“You’re gonna kill me,” Katsuki muses, shaking his head softly in disbelief. “I can’t believe… you remember… you’re such a nerd .” The bite is absent from his go-to insult, and it almost sounds endearing, which makes Deku turn even redder.

Katsuki pops open the lid, lifting a strawberry out of the package. He holds it up between them, level with Deku’s head, and closes one eye. “Y’know, there really is a striking resemblance here.”

Deku bursts into a giggle, and lets out a snort that makes him clamp a hand over his mouth. Katsuki can’t help but laugh too. His heart spins loops in his gut. “I’m sorry if-- I’m sorry I’m so... red.”

“I mean,” Katsuki starts between laughs. “They’re my favorite fruit.”

Deku swats his free arm around wildly in Katsuki’s direction, palm open, trying to bury his face in his own lap. He yells with his mouth closed, unable to look at him. “... Stop stop stop, haha, I’m gonna die!”

Katsuki can’t stop laughing, and he leans to lightly tap the berry against Deku’s freckled cheek. “Everything makes sense, huh?”

“Kacchan…” Deku groans, grinning wider than he thought possible. He presses against the cold strawberry on his cheek, radiating heat from his blush. “I’m… melting.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” Katsuki hums, teasing the berry further against his skin. “You guys are twins.”

Deku giggles more and more at that, shaking his head. “I’m not that red!” he debates, feigning a pout. “...Am I?”

“Mhm,” Katsuki teases, smirking. He’s a lot closer now, and their proximity only registers when Deku glances up at him. “Only gettin’ redder.”

“Hah… Are you encouraging my strawberry transformation? Just so you can eat me?” Deku laughs, pushing against Katsuki with empty force, not really wanting him to back up at all. “Is that your plan, huh?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki purrs, making Deku’s cheek squish against the fruit. “Just waitin’ till you’re ripe. You’ve been so damn green all these years, I was waiting on this red.”

“Guess you got me, huh,” Deku quips back, eyes on the berry at his face. “So?”

“You first,” Katsuki insists, and then moves the strawberry towards Deku’s mouth. His eyes go wide, but he takes the hint, leaning to take a bite without completely breaking down at the idea of Katsuki feeding him. “Looked like the best one. So you should have it.”

Deku chews softly, positive that he’s redder than ever before. It really is one of the better strawberries he’s had. They’re both hypnotized at the whole act, and a newfound silence falls over them, though it’s absent of its heavy weight and instead feels light, like something left unexplored, a map left uncharted.

“It’s... really good. Your turn,” Deku mumbles, gesturing at the berry in Katsuki’s hand. He watches Katsuki’s throat bob when he swallows, like he’s preparing for something.

“Okay.”

Katsuki leans in as if to take a bite of the fruit by his cheek, and instead swerves right, gently pressing their lips together. Deku immediately grasps for Katsuki’s forearm in surprise, as if he’s afraid he might float away. It’s short, and lethally sweet, Deku tasting like strawberries.

“You’re right,” Katsuki breathes, feeling himself turn as red as Deku. “That’s a really good strawberry.”

Deku covers his face with both hands now, finally parting their hands.

Kacchan,” he whispers, sounding utterly dazed.

“Hm?”

“I should... go home... before I actually die,” Deku mewls. He struggles to hide the smile behind his fingers.

Katsuki takes one of his hands softly, brushing the unruly hair from Deku’s revealed eyes. “Yeah,” he breathes, unable to help his genuine smile in return. “That’s alright.”

Deku leans into the hand in his hair, humming. “I hope-- ah, um,” he pauses, too flustered to be fully coherent. “I hope the rest of the berries are just as good.”

“Nah, they won’t come close to that one,” Katsuki teases. “But good, maybe. We’ll see.”

He giggles again, squeezing Katsuki’s hand before he shakily gets to his feet, helping him stand up. “I…” Deku searches for words to say, standing over Katsuki seated on the bed’s edge. He settles for darting for one more kiss, squeezing his hand tight. It lingers a bit more than the first one, trying to fit in all the words left unsaid, all the goodbyes left incomplete.

When they part, Deku revels in knowing he made Katsuki’s unrelenting crimson eyes finally soften. He takes the thermos from Katsuki’s nightstand. “I’ll see you... tomorrow.”

“See… you,” Katsuki hums, too dazed to see him out, almost immobilized where he sat. Deku smiles at him from the door, the fullest he’s ever seen, not a trace of emptiness in its wake.

The front door shuts, and Katsuki unconsciously takes another bite from the strawberry, curling onto his back. He couldn’t think of anything else but him. He was absolutely screwed.

 

*

[dk]: Okay just so you brace yourself
[dk]: I’ve never done this one before so don’t spit take in class  (´ ε ` )♡

He’s still reading over the text in his desk on Monday, over and over, ever since Deku sent it before he left for school. He’s thinking of all the possible fruits that he had yet to put in, wondering what the hell it could be. Banana? Probably not. Grapes? Maybe. Cucumber?

Deku comes through the door, glowing anew in a way that makes his heart leap. He beams at Katsuki, tilting the thermos side to side a bit to stir before he sets it on his desk. His heart beats as loud as the thunk on the hollow wood. Their fingers brush with intent before Deku takes his seat.

Katsuki tries to brace himself as much as he could, popping the cap and drinking it in.

It hits him like a truck.

It’s every fruit he’d ever used before-- oranges, cherries, peaches, a hint of lemon, and the undeniable strawberry-- all wrapped into one, overwhelming him as he tries to process it. It’s a flavor he’s never tasted before, while comprised of all the most familiar flavors between them, like something rekindled. Reborn. The gesture swirls in his heart, knowing that Deku wanted him to remember that they didn’t need to abandon anything to go down this new path together.

Katsuki turns behind him to face Deku’s desk, and he lights up at the motion.

“Thanks, Deku.”