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The Way You Used To Do

Chapter Text

From the moment Midoriya felt the bone of his forearm snap as he fell full-weight on it, he knew he was doomed.

By now, he was used to having his bones break all the time – ever since he welcomed One For All into his body, feeling its power course through his veins as easily and as often as it snapped his limbs like twigs, he grew accustomed to the pain and the discomfort. However, habit didn't make the pain any easier to handle, and he didn't manage to hold back a startled yelp at the same time the "crack!" of his arm snapping filled the dark alley where he and Kacchan had been cornered.

"Stand up, idiot!", Katsuki shouted, standing in front of Izuku in a way that could have been interpreted as protective, had this not been Katsuki and Izuku, and sparing the fallen boy a quick glimpse over his shoulder before turning his focus back towards the threat ahead of them. "He's closing in", Bakugou warned, even though he didn't have to. Izuku might have had his vision blinded by a white flash of pain when his arm broke, but he could damn well see the man standing at the exit of the alley now, blocking their way out.

This had been supposed to be a simple patrolling activity, designed by UA to help training heroes to learn the protocols and nuances of patrolling. There weren't supposed to be any real villains at the area, just a couple of robbers or small criminals that students could handle with ease. However, Class 1-A seemed to have a special – and very much cursed – talent for making villains show up in places where there should be none. They should have all seen it coming, if Izuku was being honest with himself. A bit of pessimism wouldn't go amiss in these types of preparation.

He wished he could say it was fate who planned for him and Katsuki to be paired up and go on the first patrol round together, but it had been none other than Aizawa sensei. According to the teacher, this patrolling exercise was to be seen as a very profitable opportunity for both Midoriya and Bakugou to bond with each other, or "finally sort their shit out", as Kirishima put in a less elegant manner. Ever since their fatidic fight which resulted in house incarceration for both of them, Izuku and Katsuki hadn't actually spoken to each other more than they already did before, but they hadn't not spoken either. It was a complicated matter related to a complicated relationship that went a lifetime back and that certainly would not be simply solved by a talk with All Might and a simple week. Aizawa sensei seemed to be aware of that, Izuku was aware of that, Katsuki was definitely aware of that. But part of being a pro hero is being able to cooperate with your partners, even if they're not from the same agency, and if Izuku and Katsuki ever wanted to get anywhere near becoming number 1, they would have to learn how to deal and work with each other.

Yeah. Izuku definitely could see where Aizawa sensei was coming from when he paired him up with Kacchan. It didn't mean his arm hurt any less from being shoved to the floor by his alleged partner, though.

"Oi, shithead!", Katsuki called again when Izuku failed to respond. He had his arms stretched out beside his body in a position that was at the same time defensive and offensive. The man standing at the exit of the alley seemed unbothered by this display. "Who do you think you are to ignore what I'm fucking saying?"

"I'm not ignoring you", Izuku said through gritted teeth, taking a deep breath past the pain which was still pulsing like a hellish fire through his injured arm. Clutching the limb close to his chest and taking a series of deep breaths, he got back to his trembling feet and stood beside Katsuki, hating that he was being forced to hunch forward in order to bear the pain. To his left, Katsuki seemed unaware of the fact that he had just broken Izuku's arm by shoving him out of the way in an attempt to prevent them both from getting hit by one of the villain's energy beams.

"Sure seems like it, Deku", Bakugou snarled, scoffing at Izuku's shaking form and spitting the nickname with venom in his tone. He sounded more pissed off than usual, but Izuku opted to ignore that. "Stop hugging yourself and tell me what that guy's quirk is", he ordered, his tone leaving no place for a discussion. Izuku turned his head towards him with an exasperated expression.

"How should I know?! I'm not a m-mind reader!", he protested nervously. "You're the one who dodged his attack, you tell me what his quirk is!", he added, sounding braver than he actually felt. Had this interaction taken place a year before, he would have cowered back beneath Katsuki's intense, death-bearing glare and quite possibly apologized for his harsh words. Now, all he did was glare back, defiance etched in his features even though he was trembling from head to toe with pain.

"What's the point of your stupid notebooks then, if you can't even tell what that asshole's quirk is?", Katsuki argued, and honestly, it was so half-hearted it ended up sounding like he spat the words only for the sake of arguing. "You know what, forget it. Leave it to me, you jerk", he huffed under his breath, clicking his tongue with disdain at Izuku and focusing his attention back on the villain, who hadn't moved from his spot at the exit of the alley.

"You think this is a test?", Izuku asked hesitantly, the words sounding uncertain to his own ears. "Maybe he was sent by Aizawa sensei –", he tried to argue, but Katsuki was quick to interrupt him.

"Only if Aizawa sensei finally got sick of your tiring nerd bullshit and decided to give you a quick, pointless ending at the back of a dirty alleyway", he scoffed, annoyed. "That guy there was aiming to kill. You used to know better than that, Deku", he added, which for some reason upset Izuku more than any of Katsuki's previous malicious comments.

"S-Sorry", he apologized, not because Bakugou was being mean but because he was right. He wasn't thinking straight, and the pain in his arm was probably the major contributor to that. Possibly noticing for the first time something wasn't quite right with Izuku, given the boy’s ludicrous and uncharacteristic suggestion, Katsuki finally turned his head in order to stare him for a bit longer, truly looking at him this time, instead of simply glancing. After a few seconds of assessment that felt way more intimate than they should, Katsuki finally spoke up.

"If you can't help, then don't", he said harshly, but Izuku could tell there was something in his eyes that strayed from annoyance or defiance. It almost sounded like Katsuki was trying to be responsible, rather than just put him down for once. "Stay back and let me handle this. I've got it", he said the words of reassurance in a dry tone.

"Kacchan –", Izuku tried to protest, but Katsuki pushed the boy back behind himself before he could continue, a bit too roughly.

"Shut the fuck up, shitty Deku", he scowled, going back to sounding like his usual self, as if the rare moment of level-headedness had been nothing but a slip. "Bad enough you got yourself injured before the fight even started", he accused, taking a step away from Izuku and towards the villain. As Izuku blinked in surprise at the words, Katsuki gained his distance, approaching the villain faster than the boy’s pain-addled mind could comprehend.

"You're the one who broke my arm!", Izuku accused back, but Katsuki paid him no mind, halfway across the alley already. "Kacchan! Wait!", he shouted after his friend, following him close while still clutching the injured arm to his chest. Katsuki paid him no mind and continued forwards, where the villain remained impassive and unmoving.

"Move", Katsuki growled angrily at the villain blocking their way, standing mere feet away from the masked man. "Or I'll move you", he added with a dangerous smirk, igniting some explosions at the palm of his right hand as if to make a point. Midoriya caught up with Katsuki and stood beside him, staring at the villain with apprehension in his eyes.

“When I was told I would be facing training heroes tonight, I expected something…”, the villain said in a scornful tone, eyeing Katsuki and Izuku from head to toe. “… grander”, he concluded with something akin to disappointment in his voice. Izuku’s heart froze and he didn’t even have to look at Katsuki to know this wasn’t going to end well.

“Eeh?!”, Katsuki growled with indignation, already starting to fume. Izuku let go of his injured arm and closed his good hand into a fist at his side, already allowing One For All to flow through his body in anticipation. It was obvious that a confrontation was about to ensue.

“Kacchan”, Izuku said with a warning in his voice, never removing his eyes from the villain.

“I’ll show you something grand, you bastard!”, Katsuki shouted right before sucker-punching the villain, explosions erupting from his hands and sending them both flying back. Izuku raised his good arm to protect his face from the blast, being shoved back by the sudden air dislocation caused by the explosion. Thankfully, he didn’t fall back or lose balance, which enabled him to jump at the villain right before he managed to retaliate Katsuki’s blow. Hitting the man’s face with a well-given kick, which had been perfected thanks to his Shoot Style, Midoriya fell back to the floor at the same time Katsuki launched himself towards the villain, a loud cry of “DIE!” echoing through the alleyway as he struck the man with a series of explosions.

The villain was busy enough with Katsuki’s powerful blows to focus on Izuku, who took the distraction to head towards the exit of the alley. He would never, in a million years, leave Kacchan behind or turn his back to a fight, but he needed to see if Aizawa sensei or anyone with a higher rank than them in UA were around. Much to his dismay, there was no one to be seen on the street, which made him recur to the communication device he and Katsuki had been provided with right before they left for their round.

“Does anyone copy?!”, Izuku shouted frantically into his communicator, over the loud sound of Katsuki’s explosions and screams of “die!”. “Aizawa sensei! We are under attack! There's a villain here! Do you co– Kacchan, watch out!”, he cut himself off as he saw the villain was about to use one of his energy beams to hit Katsuki. Neither of them knew what the energy beam did – it looked like Aoyama’s navel laser, but it emerged from his hands and was tinged in a red hue. Izuku figured it was better for them not to find out.

His reflexes reacted faster than his mind and Izuku grabbed the lid of a nearby trash can, sending it flying towards Katsuki and managing to make the metal serve as a shield right before the villain’s energy beam hit the boy in the stomach. The villain seemed surprised by this, whereas Katsuki only looked offended.

“You think I didn’t see that coming?”, he shouted angrily at Izuku at the same time he aimed another well-pointed explosion towards the villain. “I told you not to get in the way, shitty nerd!”, he dodged one of the villain’s blows.

“We need to work together!”, Izuku pointed out, stepping back into the fight even though his broken arm was hanging limply beside him. “That’s the whole point of this exercise, isn’t it?”, he gave Katsuki an almost pleading look, to which the boy responded with an unreadable expression in his angry eyes.

“This ain’t an exercise, kiddo”, the villain said with a smirk, dodging Katsuki’s attack with grace and attempting to retaliate to it. The boy jumped back before the villain’s hands could grab him. “I have orders to kill”, he smirked, right before attempting to attack Katsuki again.

“Who sent you?”, Izuku asked at the same time he propelled himself forwards with One For All, hitting the villain on the stomach with a powerful kick and launching him towards Katsuki, who, predicting Izuku’s movements, made an elaborate maneuver across the air and finally knocked the villain down with a precise explosion. The man fell to the floor on his stomach, battered, and as he weakly attempted to get back to his feet, Katsuki simply placed a foot on his back, pushing him back towards the floor and pinning him there.

“Was that grand enough for you?”, Katsuki asked with scorn, scoffing. The villain writhed pathetically as he attempted and failed to move.

“Who sent you?”, Midoriya insisted, stepping closer to the fallen villain and panting slightly. He wouldn’t dare to say it out loud lest he increase Katsuki's anger, but he was quite proud that their synchronized attack had actually worked. All Might was right – if they worked together, they could become the best heroes in Japan. “Why are you attacking UA students in training?”

“You’re with the League, aren’t you?”, Katsuki asked, scowling with disdain and pressing his foot down harder on the man’s back. “You guys are all about boasting, not as much about accomplishing your goals. That Shigaraki sent you after me again?”, he raised an eyebrow.

“No”, the villain said, but much to Izuku’s confusion there was actually… humor in his voice? “But I’m sure he’ll thank me for finally getting rid of your annoying ass”, he added.

Everything happened at once.

Thanks to the enhanced perception One For All granted him, Izuku was able to read the villain’s intentions before they happened. Time slowed down around him as the man raised his hand and reached for Katsuki’s leg. Izuku could tell Katsuki had captured the movement as well, but the explosive boy's reaction to it was slow, too slow. The villain’s hand was glowing. He was about to grab Katsuki. There was no telling what he would do. Katsuki wouldn’t be able to dodge or stop him in time.

“Kacchan!”, Izuku screamed as he used his power to launch himself towards his friend, pushing him away from the villain before he managed to grab the boy’s leg. He enclosed his good arm around Katsuki’s waist as he used the momentum from his jump to push them both away from the villain’s grasp, flying midair. Before they hit the ground, something hot and painful hit Izuku’s back, burning him so intensely he couldn’t help but to cry out.

Katsuki collided with the brick wall behind them harshly, knocking his skull with such force he blacked out. Izuku should have controlled the intensity of his jump better, but in his rush to get Katsuki out of the way, he ended up overdoing himself. When Katsuki regained his senses, god knows how long later, Izuku was lying on the top of him, face buried in his chest and not moving.

Katsuki groaned in discomfort and took a hand to the back of his head, not surprised when it came back covered in fresh blood. There was a constant throbbing in his temples now, his vision blurry and swimming. He felt a bit nauseous, but swallowed past the lump in his throat as he tried to move. Izuku’s deadweight was pinning him down, but Katsuki didn’t need to move much to notice that the villain was gone, the alley empty of anyone other than himself and Midoriya. Who still wasn’t moving.

“Hey”, Katsuki called with annoyance, shaking one of Izuku’s shoulders in the hope that he would wake up and get the hell off him for once. “Wake up, shitty nerd. Nap time is over”.

No response. Izuku continued to lie very still, body splayed on the top of Katsuki’s, pinning him down. His arms were spread limply beside him.

“What the fuck are you doing, Deku?”, Katsuki asked, shaking him again. The annoyance in his voice was growing with each passing second. “Get the fuck off. I might still be able to catch him”, he tried to push the boy away and free himself. Izuku simply rolled limply to the side when Katsuki pushed him, limbs splayed in an unnatural manner on the floor and head lolling uselessly to the side once he was off Katsuki. It was only then that it dawned on him.

Deku’s eyes were open.

His face was slack, stuck in a ridiculous expression that was a mixture of pain and surprise, lips parted slightly and eyes half-lidded. Beneath the lids, Katsuki found a familiar green which lacked it’s even more familiar liveliness. No, Deku’s eyes were cold and empty, deprived of its usual spark and emotion.
Deku’s eyes were dead.

“D-Deku…?”, Katsuki said, voice hoarse and barely above a whisper. He was aware that his eyes were very wide, and that his face had probably been overtaken by a horrified expression. His hands hovered above Izuku’s body, mere inches from touching it but never actually making contact, as if he was afraid of what would happen if he did. On the floor, Deku continued to stare at nothing with parted lips and dead eyes. “This is not the time for jokes, you idiot”, Katsuki said, suddenly angry. In fact, anger seemed to be his first response to everything. “Stop fooling around. You’re wasting my time”, he added, hoping that the reality of the situation would make Deku quit playing games already and get back on his feet. There was a chance they could still catch the villain and figure out what his quirk was. There was a chance…

Oh, god. Deku had gotten hit by the villain’s quirk, hadn’t he?

He had pushed Katsuki out of the way and got hit himself.

God fucking damn it.

“Deku, wake the fuck up”, Katsuki ordered, grabbing the front of Izuku’s ridiculous uniform and shaking the boy. The way Izuku’s head simply lolled lifelessly in accord to Katsuki’s jolting movements was sickening, to say the least. “I’m serious, you asshole. Get up. Wake up. Come on”, he slapped a hand at the unmoving boy’s cheek, in the hope that it would urge some life into him or at least snap him out of his shock. Deku always responded to his aggressions, even if it was to needlessly apologize.

“Wake up”, Katsuki ordered, getting angrier by the second. His hands tightened into fists and he wished to beat the bloody life out of Deku, because he couldn’t be dead. There was no way in hell Deku was dead. Not like that. Not after all the trouble he went through to achieve and nurture his quirk. Not like that. “You goddamn piece of shit, wake the hell up!”, he found himself shouting at Deku’s face, never ceasing to shake him. He grabbed Deku’s shoulders and squeezed tight, aiming to hurt, aiming to make him react in some way. Any way. He jolted the boy again, making his limp head rattle. “Is this what you’re gonna do, huh?!”, Katsuki yelled angrily at the boy in his grasp. “Is this how you’re gonna go? You gonna let yourself be taken down by some D-lister? Is this the heir to All Might’s power?”, he accused angrily, not caring that someone could be hearing.

There was no one around. They were alone.

He was alone.

Deku was dead.

“Is this what you fucking wanted?”, Katsuki abruptly let go of Izuku’s body, making it fall back and collide heavily with the floor. His eyes were still open. His fucking green eyes. “Are you happy now? I bet you’re fucking having a laugh right now, huh?”, he sniffed. There were tears pooling in his eyes, but Katsuki knew better than to let them flow. There was no reason to. He didn’t even like stupid Deku in the first place, right? There was no point in crying for him. The nerd got what was coming for him, what Katsuki always warned him about.

God. He was dead. Because of him.

He felt nauseous. He felt sick. he probably had a concussion, which he convinced himself to be the reason behind his growing tears. Because there was no way he was crying because of Deku. Not Deku. Anyone but Deku. He wasn’t crying.

“You goddamn idiot”, Katsuki shook his head, voice breaking. Furious at the irrational display of weakness, he grabbed Deku by the shoulders again, having to control himself not to let explosions erupt from his hands in his emotive state. “You goddamn idiot! Why did you have to do that for, huh? Why did you have to play the martyr like you always do, fucking Deku? You fucking piece of shit, I hate you!”, he screamed at Izuku’s pale, slack face. “I hate you! You fucking moron, I hate you! I told you to stay the fuck back, I told you I had it! Why did you have to go and do that for, huh? I don’t fucking need you to save me! Stupid piece of shit!”, he shoved Izuku away from him, not bothering to look at the probably gruesome result of his harsh shove. Katsuki didn’t think he would be able to bear seeing Deku’s body splayed all twisted and askew on the floor like he was a doll. Like he was a… a deku.

Instead, he buried his face between his knees and shoved both hands at his hair, tugging and pulling at the strands at full strength at the same time he ignored the blood coating his fingers. He had hit his head. He had a concussion. There was a chance, albeit small, that he was just hallucinating this whole thing, that Deku was playing a sick prank on him, that this whole situation was just a bad dream resulting from that sicko’s quirk. He tried to regain his composure and squeezed his eyes shut for several moments, calming himself down. When he opened his eyes, it would all be gone, right? He just needed to think. He just needed… he just needed…

He opened his eyes, slowly turning his head to the side. Deku was lying still on the floor in the same position Katsuki had shoved him, on his side, arms stretched in front of him, legs twisted.

Lips parted.

Eyes open.

Face pale.

Katsuki stared at Izuku’s dead body, who seemed to be staring right back at him.

Katsuki stared.

Katsuki stared.

Katsuki gagged.

He turned as far away from Izuku and spilled the contents of his stomach on the floor, feeling dizzy and sick. He couldn’t tell if his nausea had been caused by his concussion or by the sight of a dead Izuku in front of him. Because of him. As much as he had always hated the nerd, he had never really wanted him to die. Not because of him, at least.

He crawled his way back to Deku’s side, sitting cross legged beside him and staring. His surroundings began to lose color and he was pretty sure he could feel the blood tricking down his neck and his back, from the injury on his head. That probably explained why he felt so dizzy, so lightheaded. So groundless. So lost.

He passed out at some point, never leaving Izuku’s side. He vaguely remembered the sound of a girl screaming and of orders being shouted, but by the time Uraraka, Iida, Todoroki, and Aizawa sensei arrived at the scene, Katsuki was too far gone to pay them any mind.

“Bakugou”, the Half’n’Half bastard appeared in front of him, crouched so that he was directly in Katsuki’s field of vision. He was still sitting cross-legged beside Deku, since the little shit was refusing to wake up. Katsuki, in his concussion-addled head, figured he would just have to sit beside the stupid nerd until he decided naptime was over. “Bakugou, are you with me?”, Todoroki frowned, actually looking concerned.

“Deku-kun! Deku-kun!”, Round Face was screaming and sobbing from somewhere. Katsuki didn’t really mind her.

“He’s unresponsive”, Todoroki told someone behind Katsuki, not looking at him. “He must have a pretty bad concussion, if the amount of blood is anything to go by”.

Suddenly, Aizawa sensei appeared beside Todoroki, the impassive look on his face replaced by something more somber that Katsuki couldn’t quite name. He assessed his student for a few silent moments before finally addressing him.

“What happened?”, he asked simply. Briefly. Katsuki simply stared at him.

“We need to take him back, sensei!”, Uraraka sobbed loudly. “Recovery Girl is back there, she can fix him! We need to move Deku-kun!”

“Sensei, I agree”, Iida said, even though the grief on his face was evident. “There may still be… a chance, however small, that Recovery Girl…”

“Don’t talk like that, Iida-kun!”, Uraraka protested desperately. “She can fix Deku-kun! I know she can!”

“Stop it…”, Katsuki muttered, so low and so hoarsely that no one seemed to hear him.

“No one touches Midoriya until she arrives. I have already contacted her”, Aizawa sensei instructed, gesturing at the way Izuku’s body was lying all twisted and askew on the floor. “His spine could be broken and we wouldn’t want to aggravate it by moving him in the wrong way. Some things, not even Recovery Girl can fix”.

Right. All those people were bigger idiots than Katsuki first thought.

“But sensei, the longer we take to move Deku-kun…!”, Uraraka tried to protest.

“Stop”, Katsuki said, firmer this time. Half’n’Half seemed to hear him this time, but simply spared him an enigmatic look before turning to Uraraka. He seemed to be avoiding looking at Izuku's twisted body ever since he arrived, now that Katsuki thought about it.

“She’s right, I could try to slide him over there using my ice”, Half’n’Half suggested. “The longer we stay here waiting, less are the chances he’ll –“

“Not you too, Todoroki-kun!”, Uraraka cut him short before he could resume that thought. “We need to believe in Deku-kun! If anyone can get out of impossible situations, it’s him! I know he’ll make it! ‘Deku’ means he can do it!”

“Fucking stop it already, Round Face!”, Katsuki exploded, startling everyone around him. Uraraka turned to face him with wide, shocked eyes, as if she was noticing his presence there for the first time.

“Bakugou”, Aizawa sensei said, a warning in his tone. He reached out a hand to touch Katsuki’s shoulder, but the boy flinched away from the contact.

“Don’t”, he shook his head, ignoring how dizzy the movement made him.

“Bakugou-kun, I…”, Uraraka said, tear tracks evident on her red cheeks. She stared at Katsuki with the utmost confusion. “I don’t…”

“Stop it. Don’t call him that”, Katsuki said simply, offering no further explanation. “Just fucking don’t”, he scoffed bitterly, lowering his head. He swallowed dry, the disgusting taste of bile lingering on his tongue. He was getting dizzier and dizzier with each breath he took, reality feeling detached.

“B-But… I thought…”, Uraraka trailed off, unsure of what to say. Katsuki’s eyes were starting to droop and, from the look of him, it didn’t seem like he would be able to stay awake for much longer, if the gruesome state of his head was anything to go by.

“He didn’t break his spine” Katsuki announced simply, not meeting anyone’s eyes. He didn’t think he could if he wanted to. “You can move him. Not that it’ll be of much use, anyway”, he scoffed.

“Bakugou”, Aizawa sensei called again, sounding more serious now that his student had finally broke out of whatever trance had been preventing him from speaking moments before. “What happened?”

Katsuki’s head snapped up painfully at his teacher’s tone, anger, frustration and grief evident in his hazy crimson eyes. His face was paler than usual, but there was still an undying fierceness in him that didn’t seem to be leaving him anytime soon.

“He called you and you didn’t come”, he accused childishly. “That’s what happened”.

Everyone stared at him. The blood running down his neck and the way his eyes didn’t seem to be able to focus on anything only made the scene worse.

“He’s a fucking moron with no self-preservation whatsoever”, he added bitterly. “That’s what happened”.

Todoroki turned his head to the side and sighed, and Katsuki couldn’t tell if that was because he agreed with what he was saying or because he simply didn’t want to have to deal with Katsuki when he was like that. Aizawa sensei kept his eyes fixed on the explosive boy.

“I was here”, he added finally, a lump appearing in his throat. “And the guy was going for me. That’s what happened”.

Nobody said a word.

“If…”, Iida, the brave soul, was the one to finally break the almost tangible silence in the air, nervous. “If Bakugou is right and his spine isn’t broken, we should… We should move him”, he suggested finally.

Aizawa, eyes fixed on Bakugou, simply nodded.

“Ochako. Use your quirk to make Midoriya float. Todoroki, you guide him to the medical area”, he instructed simply, not looking at any of them as he spoke. His eyes were fixed on Katsuki and Katsuki alone. Katsuki, on the other hand, had his attention fixed on Izuku, and on the way his limp body began to float and the Half’n’Half bastard urged him towards the street, head turned away so that he wouldn’t have to face the unmoving boy and an alien look on his face making his brow twist. Something angry and irrational boiled inside Katsuki and, before he knew better, he was on his feet, swaying dizzily and pathetically as he tried to adapt to the blood loss and failed.

“Oi, Half’n’Half”, he called after Todoroki, who spared him an unreadable look. Katsuki was hardly able to stay on his feet and he knew he was about to collapse any minute now, but he still pointed an accusing finger at Todoroki and gave him the nastier glare he could muster. “If you hurt Deku, I’ll kill you”.

Katsuki was too out of it to notice the confused, pitying looks Uraraka and Iida sent him. None of them had the heart to correct him or judge him for his words, since he was clearly affected by blood loss and… by whatever it was he had witnessed in that alley. Todoroki simply nodded his head in acknowledgement to Katsuki’s words before resuming his task of taking Izuku to the Medical Area.

And then Katsuki collapsed.

Aizawa sensei managed to grab him before he could hit the floor, passing one of Katsuki’s arms around his shoulder and sustaining his weight into an upright position. Katsuki wanted to protest, but found he lacked the strength to. Everything around him was gray and swimming, and his tired eyes could no longer focus on anything. He felt a twist of embarrassment as his bloodied head lolled onto Aizawa sensei’s shoulder, but his limbs felt like lead and his tongue felt like cotton. He wouldn’t be able to deny his sensei's help, even if he could speak. Black and white spots danced in front of his vision, and he vaguely wondered how much blood he had lost.

And then.

“Oh my god, Kacchan! Are you ok? Kacchan, what happened to you?!”

There was only one person in the world who called him that.

Katsuki's droopy eyes widened slightly in shock and he used the last of his strength to turn his head around towards the source of that familiar voice, but just as his eyes connected with freckled cheeks and green, worried, lively eyes, his consciousness finally escaped him and he collapsed onto Aizawa sensei’s arms as his knees gave out.

Chapter Text

When Katsuki woke up, he didn’t remember what had happened to him.

There was some sort of bandage enveloping his head and a constant, dull throbbing making it hard for him to focus on his surroundings, and when he finally dared to blink his eyes open, the bright light sent a stab of pain across his skull. He hissed loudly, squeezing his lids shut and grinding his teeth. God, he hated concussions.

He didn’t remember how he had gotten himself concussed, though, which was why he attempted to open his eyes again. Knowing what to expect this time, the pain wasn’t so unbearable. He blinked his crimson eyes several times until they finally regained focus, and found himself staring up at the unmistakable ceiling of Recovery Girl's medical center.

“Kacchan?”, a hesitant voice called from somewhere beside him. Katsuki felt annoyance blossom in his chest but turned his head towards the nerd, already putting on a scowl. Deku's face lit up in relief once Katsuki's eyes focused on him, sighing and allowing his shoulders to drop. “Oh, you’re awake again”, he breathed out, a shy smile appearing on his lips. He looked pale.

“What do you mean ‘again’?”, Katsuki growled, voice hoarse and throat aching. He shifted on the bed with difficulty, pushing himself into a more seating position. Izuku looked like he wanted to help him, but changed his mind before he could. “Fuck, my throat is sore. Is there any water around, nerd?”,  he glared at Deku, who looked away with an embarrassed expression.

“How are you feeling?”, Izuku asked instead of answering Katsuki’s question. He didn’t meet his eyes as he spoke.

“Shitty and thirsty”, Katsuki spat out simply, already feeling grumpy and annoyed. The throbbing headache he was being forced to deal with wasn’t exactly helping with his already sour mood. “You gonna grab me that water or what?”, he asked in an angry tone, because he was physically incapable of saying things like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to Deku, of all people. However, his venomous request only made Izuku blush and turn his head further away, some color finding its way to his deathly pale face. Katsuki didn’t like that. The whiter Deku's face looked, the more his ridiculous freckles stood out.

“Kacchan, I –“, Izuku found the courage to start, but was interrupted by the door of the room opening. Katsuki had been expecting to see Recovery Girl coming in, but the sight of his parents making their way to his bed placed a frown on his face and sent a twist to his heart. They wouldn’t have come unless something serious had happened.

“Katsuki", his mother greeted, running a hand through his hair and staring down at him with a grim face. His father took the empty seat beside the bed and grabbed one of his hands, giving him an almost apologetic look. Katsuki frowned in confusion.

“What are you two doing here?”, he asked, sounding a bit more aggressive than he had intended. His mother looked like she wanted to slap him for his insolence, whereas his father simply squeezed his hand.

“How are you feeling, son?”, he asked, offering Katsuki a smile so fake that something dreadful gnawed at the explosive boy’s insides. What the hell was going on?

“Shitty and thirsty", he repeated the same thing he had told Deku, sparing the boy a pointed glare that read ‘see? Maybe they’ll do something about it, unlike you, shitty nerd'. Deku continued to eye him with a pale face and attentive eyes from where he was standing right beside Katsuki’s mom, unusually silent.

“I’ll grab you some water”, his mom announced simply, turning on her heels and disappearing from Katsuki’s vision. His father sighed audibly and lowered his head, looking conflicted. The sight made a renewed sense of anger and impatience sparkle inside him.

“Ok, what the hell is going on?”, he asked when his father gave no indication he was about to speak up. “And seriously, don’t sugarcoat me. You know I can handle it, whatever this is”, he added matter-of-factly. He looked at where Deku was still standing behind his father, searching the nerd’s face for any indication of what was wrong, but the boy continued to look at him in silence, face full of sharp attention. His father stared up at him with that annoyingly apologetic expression again.

“What do you remember from yesterday, son?”, his father asked, cautious. Katsuki sighed and rolled his eyes, but he put a special effort on remembering what he could.

“I went out patrolling with shitty Deku", he said after a few seconds of concentration, pointing Deku with a glare. “We found a villain or something. I’m guessing I must have hit my head fighting him, because that’s all I can remember. It was probably Deku's fault", he snarled at the boy. His father frowned and looked over his shoulder at where Katsuki was staring, a concerned look on his face. He was probably worried Katsuki had hurt Deku's feelings or some crap. Deku, on the other hand, looked unbothered by the accusation.

“Katsuki, we…”, his father started at the same time his mother entered the room again, a cup of room-temperature water in hands. She handed it over to her son without a word, staring at him as he took a sip. Katsuki twisted his nose.

“It's warm", he complained, staring down at the cup as if it had personally offended him. The water did soothe his raspy throat, but he would rather have it cold.

“It's room-temperature", his mom corrected with impatience, crossing her arms above her chest. “Now shut up and drink it. You said you were thirsty. Cold water will only damage your throat further”.

“Fine, whatever”, he mumbled with annoyance, downing the rest of the water. His father sighed and used the interruption to recompose himself. Once Katsuki was done with the water, he handed the glass back to his mother, who took it silently. “So?”, he urged when neither of his parents gave any indication of telling him what had happened. “Are you gonna spit it out or what?”

His father spared his mother a knowing glance and turned back to him with another sigh, never letting go of his hand.

“Son, we… We're really sorry", his father said, in that teary-eyed, wobbly way Katsuki most certainly didn't inherit from him, thank fuck. "But your friend, Izuku, he's...", he hesitated for a moment, as if trying to find the right words for that situation. Katsuki frowned. "He's gone, son", he concluded, giving Katsuki's hand a squeeze. Behind him, his mother stood, face almost as impassive as ever.

Katsuki could do nothing but blink up at them for moments that feel like an eternity, eyes darting between both his parents in obvious confusion, disbelief, and, more than anything, indignation. He had never been a big fan of being made fun of.

"What the fuck are you two talking about?", he asked, sounding angry but not as aggressive as he would have liked to. "The damn nerd is standing right beside you!", he pointed at where Deku was standing beside his mother, looking even more pale, if that was even possible.

His parents exchanged a worried look, which sent a renewed wave of fury across Katsuki. What, they thought they knew better than him? They thought he was crazy? Why the fuck did they have that pitying look on their faces?

“They can’t see me, Kacchan”, Deku said simply, almost apologetically. “So far, I think you’re the only one who can".

“We understand this is difficult for you", his father continued, overlapping Deku's apology without paying any mind to the boy. Katsuki's frown deepened. “We also know your relationship with Izuku hasn’t been on the best of terms, but… He’s gone, son. He was brain dead when he arrived here. The only reason why they didn’t shut off the life support is…”

“Inko and All Might didn’t allow it", his mom concluded when his father trailed off. She looked sad, but her expression was more angry than anything. “They refuse to give up hope, but to all effects, the kid is gone”, she stated simply. Truthfully.

“Ok, whatever this is, you gotta cut this shit right now”, Katsuki scoffed impatiently, pointing at Deku again. “If Deku is dead, how is he standing right there? I’m not a fucking basket case, I know what I’m seeing", he added, ignoring the jolt of fear that coursed through his heart at the possibility that he was actually starting to lose it and that Deku was actually dead.

“Son, like I said, we know this is hard", his father said again, ever the compassionate, comprehensive man. “You hit your head pretty badly, you witnessed the whole thing first hand. We understand. You can take all the time you want to recover. Aizawa sensei told us that you won’t be punished for not attending classes until you’re better. But the worst course of action you could take right now is denial", he said condescendingly. Katsuki fumed at this.

“It's not denial, he’s right there –“, he shouted angrily, but his mother interrupted him before he could have a full-on angry breakdown that was very usual to the Bakugou family.

“Look, kid, we get it. You treated Midoriya like shit and now he died to save your ass. It’s an awful situation, you must be feeling like crap and all that. But pretending it didn’t happen won’t help anyone, especially not you", she said with honesty, in that crude way that was so natural to her. “The fastest you accept what happened, the fastest you can move on".

“What the fuck do you mean he died to save me, old hag?!”, Katsuki asked, indignity evident in his tone. “I don’t need to be saved by that piece of shit!”, he pointed an accusing finger at Izuku, who took a careful step closer to the bed. “Deku! Fucking talk to them already! Why can’t they fucking see you?”

“I don’t k-know”, Izuku said in that wobbly way Katsuki loathed so much. His lower lip was quivering nervously. Behind Izuku’s approaching form, Katsuki’s parents exchanged another look, as if trying to decide whether their son had lost his mind or not. “But, Kacchan, you need to calm down or you’ll make your concussion worse –“

“Don’t tell me what to do, nerd!”, Katsuki protested angrily, shoving the blankets off his legs and throwing them off the bed, ready to stand up, march his way down to Deku, and see for himself whether he was actually dead or not.

“Katsuki, you need to stay in bed!”, his father shouted in alarm, trying – and failing – to hold his son back. Katsuki got to his trembling feet and swayed for a second before regaining his composure and resuming his march out of the room.

“Kacchan!”, Deku called after him in that exasperated tone of voice that got to Katsuki’s nerves every time. “You’re going to hurt yourself! Can you just listen to me for once?!”

“Shut the fuck up, Deku!”, Katsuki said over his shoulder, never ceasing his march.

“Katsuki, get back here right now!”, his father tried to grab him, but his mother stopped him with a warning hand.

“No, don’t. Let him see it for himself”, she advised, eyeing her son with a stern look. “Maybe it’ll help him wake up and face reality at once”.

“Where is he?”, Katsuki demanded with a growl, to which his mother rolled her eyes.

“Third room to your left”, she provided simply, earning a distraught look from her husband. “And brat", she added before Katsuki could resume his march. He looked at her over his shoulder, ignoring the way the movement made his head sting. “We all know you’re strong, but don’t let this take you down”.

Katsuki didn’t bother to reply as he continued his march to Deku's room and shoved the doors open without knocking.

The first thing he saw was the hunched, sobbing figure of Izuku's mother beside the bed, and the way her head snapped up abruptly at Katsuki's sudden intrusion. Behind her, All Might stood in his puny form, the grieving look on his face making his sulky cheeks look even more sunken.

Then, on the bed, lied Izuku. Covered in all sorts of wires. A tube shoved in his mouth. His scarred hand covered in bruises. His left arm enveloped in a cast.

Face pale.

Hair disheveled.

Unmoving.

A spark of memory appeared in Katsuki’s head, of half-lidded green eyes and parted lips and death. He shuddered.

“Young Bakugou", All Might said sternly. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

Instead of responding, Katsuki took a tentative step towards the bed, horror etched on his face. Turning his head to the side, he found Deku standing right beside him, a similar look on his own face. How could it be that Deku was lying unmoving on the bed and standing beside Katsuki at the same time? Maybe he was, in fact, losing his mind.

“I hadn’t seen it yet", Izuku whispered quietly beside him, eyes wide and teary. He looked worried.

“What?”, Katsuki asked, frowning. Why hadn’t Deku tried to see his own body before this?

“I said: ‘shouldn’t you be in bed’?”, All Might repeated, assuming Katsuki’s question had been directed to him. “You’re not looking well, young man. You should rest and regain your energy to recover”.

“No, not you", Katsuki waved a very impolite, dismissive hand at the man, eyes focused on Deku standing beside him. “Why didn’t you come here before?”

“I tried”, Izuku admitted, stepping closer to the bed and looking like he wanted to grab his own hand, but was afraid to do so. “But every time I tried to leave your side, I got pulled back. Like a magnet”, he whispered, awe etched on his face.

“That doesn’t make any fucking sense", Katsuki scoffed. “Why me? Why can’t anyone else see you?”

“I don’t know", Izuku admitted quietly. “Maybe it was because you were the only other person there when I was hit?”, he suggested half-heartedly.

“Young Bakugou", All Might called, concern evident in his features. Inko was also staring at Katsuki as if he had grown a second head. “Who are you talking to?”, he asked, cautious. Katsuki huffed through his nose.

“To fucking Deku”, he explained, trying his best to sound certain, instead of delusional. “He’s standing right beside me".

“W-What?!”, Inko startled, green eyes widening and lips quivering in a very Midoriya-like way. All Might placed a hand on her shoulder to ground her. “You can see him? Where? Where is my baby?”

“Mom", Izuku stepped in front of his mother, tears already pooling on his big, expressive eyes. He crouched in front of her, placing each hand on her knees affectionately. “Mom, I’m right here", he said pleadingly, as if begging her to see him.

“He’s crouching in front of you", Katsuki informed coldly, watching the scene in front of him with impassive eyes. The sight of Deku's dead body on the bed was still unsettling, even if he was still breathing with the aid of the life support.

Inko blindly reached for her invisible son, her hand running right through him. Izuku was as intangible as Mirio and as invisible as Hagakure. The only one who could see him was Katsuki.

“Your hand just ran through him", Katsuki announced in a flat tone, making Inko withdraw her hand from where it was stretched as if it had been burned, a horrified look on her face.

“Izuku! Did I hurt you?!”, she asked frantically, eyes darting across the empty space in front of her in a desperate, fruitless attempt to find her son. Izuku lowered his head and shook it, shoulders slumping in disappointment.

“No. I didn’t feel anything”, he admitted, not bothering to look at Katsuki. He sounded miserable.

“He’s fine", Katsuki relied the information to the desperate mother, but sighed and rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Look, I’m done playing carrier pigeon for you lot. Can anyone tell me what the fuck is going on?!”, he asked with exasperation. Izuku stood up from his mother's feet and went back to looking at his body, a pensive look on his face. All Might looked conflicted, at the same time Inko continued to look around the room helplessly, as if hoping Izuku would appear magically any moment now.

“Young Bakugou…”, All Might finally said, voice heavy and constricted. “Are you sure…”, he hesitated for a moment. “Are you sure you are seeing young Midoriya?”

“Uh, yeah?”, Katsuki said as if he was talking to a child who asked too many questions. An offended look passed his face. “What, you think I’m a nutcase too?”, he scoffed angrily, recalling his parents' reaction mere minutes before. “I don’t know how or why, but I’m apparently the only one who can see and listen to the damn nerd, which is just my fucking luck, right? Of all the people in the world who could be haunted by Deku’s shitty ghost, it had to be me?”, he scowled bitterly, clicking his tongue. “Tch. I have no reason to make this up, why the hell would I want people to believe I’m the only one who can talk to Deku? That’s just – are you fucking kidding me right now?!”, Katsuki asked with exasperation as he saw what Izuku was trying to do. The boy was trying to lie down on the bed, clearly thinking that if his soul lied on the top of his own body, he would be able to reconnect with it somehow.

“What? What is going on?”, Inko asked, green eyes widening again, and Katsuki low-key wished she would stop doing that, because the look was familiar in an uncanny way that made him shiver.

“Young Bakugou?”, All Might urged, equally curious. Katsuki paid them no mind, approaching the bed with an angry look on his face.

“You really think you can reenter your body like that, you moron?”, he scoffed. “What, you just gotta lie down there and wait until your shitty soul is pulled back into your stupid-ass tiny body? Un-fucking-beliavable, Deku”, he shook his head in disapproval.

“My body isn’t tiny!”, Izuku protested, sitting up on the bed and making the sight before Katsuki’s eyes something uncanny to witness. At the same one Deku lied down covered in wires on the bed, another paler, slightly more transparent Deku sat down, making it look like his soul was actually leaving his body. Katsuki twisted his nose, not really comprehending why the sight made his heart speed up.

“Get the fuck out of there, having to see one of you is already enough", he gestured frantically at the boy. “Shit, never in my life I thought I’d be forced to deal with two Dekus. I’m pretty sure this is a nightmare designed to especially torment me", he huffed. Izuku rolled his eyes but hopped off the bed anyway, looking upset.

“Whatever, it didn’t work anyway", he muttered sadly. “But I figured it was worth a try”.

“Young Bakugou, I have to ask you not to speak in that way in front of Mrs. Midoriya", All Might scolded at the same time as Izuku spoke, making it difficult for Katsuki to pay attention to the both of them at the same time. “Please, show some respect for a mother in this moment of difficulty”.

“Of course it didn’t fucking work, if it was that easy your crappy ghost wouldn’t be standing around and making people think I’ve lost my damn mind!”, Katsuki decided to answer Deku, because if there was one thing in which he excelled at was teasing the boy. At least that was the only familiar territory he seemed to be able to trade at that time. He was being forced to deal with ghosts, near-death experiences, and the slight possibility that he was actually descending into insanity, but in the middle of all this mess, teasing Deku and calling him names was the only familiar ground where he could step on.

“Well, I’m sorry, Kacchan, but I’m not loving this situation, either!”, Izuku protested, looking exasperated. He scratched the back of his head nervously and looked at where his mother was still sitting, face more distraught than before. “Mom", he tried calling her attention again, to no avail. “Mom! Please, hear me!”, he begged, growing frantic. Katsuki scowled again.

“She can’t hear you, dipshit", he reminded Izuku with a frown.

“Mom!”, Izuku tried again, shoulders slumping when his mother continued unaware of his presence.

“Young Bakugou", All Might called him again, unaware of how frantic and loud Izuku was growing. The boy's high-pitched voice was not only aggravating Katsuki's headache, but it was also getting to his nerves. “No one is questioning your sanity, but we should be careful not to give Mrs. Midoriya false hope –“

“No!”, Inko protested, cutting the symbol of peace off mid-speech. “I believe Katsuki. I have to believe him", she added in a wobbly voice, lowering her head.

“I know”, All Might nodded solemnly. “And I want to believe him too, but Mrs. Midoriya…”, he sighed heavily, full of grief. “Young Bakugou went through a traumatic experience –“

“I’m not traumatized!”, Katsuki immediately protested. He didn’t even remember what had happened; how could he be traumatized?

“ – and this could all be nothing more than an unhealthy way his mind found to cope with what he was forced to witness", All Might concluded, unbothered by his student's interruption.

“Ehh?”, Katsuki growled, indignant. Even All Might, symbol of peace, hope personified, refused to believe him? Was there a chance he was actually crazy?

“We need to convince them we're saying the truth, Kacchan!”, Izuku cried desperately. “They can’t keep believing I’m dead!”

“They can’t keep believing I’m crazy", he snapped his head towards Izuku's distraught face, twisting his nose. Izuku looked at him with wide eyes that were identical to his mother’s, but nodded after a beat.

“Look", Katsuki took a deep breath to calm himself – not that it was of much use –, pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes for a moment before addressing All Might again. “Yeah, I get where everyone is coming from. I wouldn’t believe it either if some bastard woke up after bashing their head, saying they were seeing the ghost of someone who is brain dead. But, one, I don’t really remember what happened to Deku, so me seeing the shitty nerd can’t be a coping mechanism; two, I don’t even like Deku, so there’s no reason I'd be traumatized if he died”, he ignored the way Izuku flinched beside him, “and three, I don’t think I’m crazy either, because this idiot literally tried to reenter his body by lying down on the top of it, and there’s no way my subconscious would ever come up with something so stupid, so he can’t be a hallucination", he pointed out sternly. All Might seemed to be trying to figure out whether Katsuki’s points made sense or not, and the hope in Mrs. Midoriya’s eyes simply increased. Izuku fidgeted with the hem of his shirt as he nervously awaited for a response.

“We need to tell him something only I would know”, Izuku concluded when All Might said nothing. Katsuki rolled his eyes again.

“Listen, shitty Deku, I’m not going to act as your personal messenger while you’re in this ghost-like state, you hear me?”, he complained.

“But you’re the only one who can see me!”, Izuku protested, indignant. “We need to find a way to get me back into my body!”

“I don’t give a shit! I’m not a delivery boy, if you want to have your messages relayed, you get yourself a Ouija Board or something!”, he shouted at the boy, well aware that, for any outside viewer, it looked like he was shouting at thin air. He wasn’t really succeeding at not looking insane.

“What is Young Midoriya saying?”, All Might asked, and even though he still sounded like he thought Katsuki’s story was too unbelievable, there had been a shift in the look in his eyes that indicated there was a chance he was giving the boy a vote of confidence.

Katsuki groaned in annoyance at the question, knowing that, if he didn’t answer it, he would not only be seen as an uncooperative child, but his attitude would also be consistent with the one of a crazy person. He turned his head to look at ghost Deku, who had an expectant look on his face, and then to Deku’s body lying on the bed, still and pale. His eyes finally found Izuku’s mom, and the tear tracks on her cheeks, and even though the sight didn’t exactly soften his heart, he found himself unable to turn his back when he knew there were things he could do to help. What kind of hero would he be if he refused to aid those in need, even if it was shitty Deku with his annoying voice and wobbly lips?

“He said we should tell you something only he would know", Katsuki responded with a huff, not meeting All Might's eyes. He glimpsed at Deku only to find a wide smile on his face, gratitude etched in his expressive eyes. “Don’t look so smug, nerd", Katsuki growled with an annoyed look, turning his head so that he wouldn’t have to face that bright smile. “I’m only doing this so I can get rid of you faster”, he muttered, even though it ended up sounding half-hearted.

“I know”, Izuku agreed easily, and something about the way he agreed with that made Katsuki frown. “If I’m going to say something only I would know, it can’t be in front of my mom", he added pensively before Katsuki could try to read the look in his eyes. “You and All Might are the only ones who know about One For All, and she would freak out even more if she found out…”

“Then why don’t you just say something she would know about instead?”, Katsuki asked with an indifferent tone, shrugging.

“Kacchan!”, Izuku protested, eyes widening.

“What don’t I know about?”, Inko’s head shot up, eyes suddenly sharp with attention. “Mr. Toshinori?”, she turned her head to look for answers in All Might’s face when Katsuki didn’t answer her question.

“She can’t hear me, but she can hear you!”, Izuku said, sounding almost offended. Katsuki turned his head away from the boy, having the decency of looking embarrassed for his slip but putting on an angry scowl to hide that.

“Look, this isn’t easy, ok?!”, Katsuki argued defensively. “It’s really fucking hard to know what parts of your useless rambling I should tell them or not, and I told you I’m not a delivery boy. If you don’t want me to reply to the shit you say without thinking, then turn on your brain-to-mouth filter for once!”, he ended up yelling angrily again.

“Now, now, let’s all calm down, ok?”, All Might said, gesturing with his hands in an attempt to ease Katsuki’s increasingly sour mood.

“Don’t tell me to calm down, you bony bastard!”, Katsuki protested. “Just tell me how the fuck we can put Deku back into his shitty body so he can get the hell off my case!”

“You won’t be of any help if you keep yelling at people!”, Izuku snapped, annoyed with Katsuki’s familiar grumpiness.

“I won’t be of any help if you keep blabbering on my ear!”, Katsuki responded, so intense that his voice could probably be heard all over UA.

“Just tell my mom to go grab a coffee or something so that I can convince All Might I’m not really dead!”, Izuku shouted back.

“You tell All Might that yourself, you shitty nerd!”

“I would if I could, but unfortunately I’m stuck with you as my only way to communicate with people!”

“Well, and I’m stuck with you as the shittiest fucking ghost in the history of haunting!”

“What on earth is going on here?!”, a new voice entered their discussion, and Katsuki turned on his heels to find Recovery Girl standing at the door, Katsuki’s parents lurking anxiously behind her and trying to peek inside the room. He opened his mouth to answer, Izuku with a similar look beside him, but it was All Might who broke the silence.

“We apologize for the disruption, Chiyo", he said, walking past Katsuki in order to greet the small woman. “But there are some news I believe you need to know about”.

“The only thing I need to know is why one of my patients is out of bed, screaming like a spoiled child in the room of my other patient”, she replied angrily, glaring disapprovingly at Katsuki.

“I…”, Katsuki tried to say, obviously taken aback by the interruption, but All Might was faster than him once again.

“Young Bakugou believes there is a chance we might save Young Midoriya's life", he announced, and the way he said the words – sounding almost hopeful – differed so much from his disbelieving tone from just a few minutes before that the contrast made Katsuki frown.

However, Recovery Girl was not so easily convinced. Her face fell into something akin to pity and her shoulders slumped as she shook her head in disappointment.

“We talked about this, Toshinori", she said, sounding like she was scolding the symbol of peace. “The diagnosis has not changed –“

“I can see him", Katsuki interrupted before she could continue, looking more serious than he ever had in his life. Recovery Girl turned to him with a puzzled look. “Deku. He’s standing beside me right now", he added solemnly. Recovery Girl watched him with sharp eyes.  “I know how this sounds", he continued, feeling the need to fill the uneasy silence in the room. “But I’m not crazy. I don’t know what happened, but for some reason, Deku is still around, and I’m the only one who can see him. Unfortunately", he added the last part with a twist of his nose, just because it had been a few seconds too long since he last teased the boy. He looked at Deku from the corner of his eyes to see his reaction, and found him biting his nails nervously, eyes glued on Recovery Girl’s tiny form.

“Tell them I think the villain’s quirk made my soul disconnect from my body", Deku had the audacity to phrase it as if Katsuki was there to obey his every command.

“Shut the fuck up, you damn nerd", Katsuki simply growled. “I told you I’m not your personal messenger”.

“I had my doubts as well”, All Might told the healing heroine, clearly trying to mediate the situation before Katsuki ended up sounding too much like a lunatic. “But, if you think about it, Young Bakugou’s story is not too impossible. Young Midoriya was hit with an unknown quirk, but he didn’t die”, he tried to argue.

“He is brain dead", Recovery Girl pointed out sternly, sparing Inko an apologetic look for her straightforwardness.

“Precisely!”, All Might exclaimed. “Why did his other organs not shut down?”

“Because Mrs. Midoriya refuses to turn the life support devices off", the healing heroine replied matter-of-factly. All Might sighed.

“Yes”, he sighed tiredly. “But what I mean is", he pointed at Midoriya’s body lying on the bed. “It is not impossible that the criminal’s quirk caused some sort of separation between Young Midoriya's body and his… soul, for the lack of a better word”.

“That’s what I said!”, Izuku exclaimed triumphantly. Katsuki felt the irresistible urge to punch the nerd in the face, but did nothing.

“So you really believe Bakugou sees and communicates with Midoriya’s… soul?”, Recovery Girl asked, one eyebrow perking up in disbelief.

“I didn’t put much faith in it, until I witnessed their discussion first hand", All Might explained, and Katsuki finally understood why the symbol of peace had finally stopped looking at him as if he was fit to be tied. “Though I could only hear Young Bakugou's side of the argument, it felt very similar to the conversations he usually shares with Young Midoriya. It did not look like the result of a hallucination, or of a similar condition”.

Recovery Girl clicked her tongue, looking at Katsuki with a pensive look and analyzing him from head to toe. After a few moments of silent assessment, she pulled a nearby chair towards the explosive boy and pushed him down on it without a word.

“What?!”, he asked, taken aback by the sudden course of action.

“Sit still", she commanded, fishing a tiny flashlight from her pocket and pointing it at Katsuki's eyes. The bright light made him flinch, and he heard Izuku hiss from somewhere behind him. After checking his pupils, Recovery Girl continued to examine him closely, testing his reflexes, checking his head injury and asking him a couple of questions to verify his cognitive abilities. By the end of it, Katsuki was fuming on the chair, putting an especial effort on not allowing the tiny explosions at the palm of his hands to become too massive. He hated being examined. He hated people touching him without a good reason.

“Well?”, All Might asked when Recovery Girl stepped away from Katsuki with a conclusive look on her face.

“His head injury looks better”, she announced. “He is still concussed, but it’s nowhere near as bad as when he arrived. He is aware of his surroundings and seems very lucid to me”, she sighed. “But there is still a chance he could be hallucinating. It is not unprecedented for people to see deceased loved ones after they die tragically. It’s a common symptom of trauma”.

“Deku is not a loved one!”, Katsuki immediately protested, unable to keep one of his hands from giving off a series of loud popping explosions at his urgency to defend himself. “And I’ve told you I am not traumatized! I’ve got no reason to be! I don’t give a shit about the damn nerd!”

Recovery Girl gave him a knowing look. Katsuki felt his stomach churn.

“I was the one who tended to you when you arrived last night", she said simply, calmly. “I know what I saw”.

“Ehhh?!”, Katsuki protested furiously, not understanding why the woman’s words pissed him off so much. “Then you're the one who’s batshit crazy, you old hag!”, he accused.

“Kacchan!”, Midoriya exclaimed, horrified.

“Bakugou!”, All Might reprehended indignantly, so furious at the boy's insolence that he puffed into his tall, muscular, All Might form. “It is not acceptable for you to disrespect an old lady like that!”

“Leave it, Toshinori", Recovery Girl said with indifference, pulling yet another chair closer to the boy and hopping onto it. Her tiny legs dangled from the seat. “Anger is also a common response to hearing the truths you don’t want to admit".

“Now you fucking listen to me –“ Katsuki stood up from his seat, pointing an angry finger at the impassive old woman.

“Now, now, Young Bakugou", All Might, still in his muscular form, grabbed Katsuki’s shoulder with more strength than necessary and pulled him back into his seat, holding him there.

“It's also one of the seven stages of grief”, Recovery Girl added simply, almost absentmindedly.

“I am not grieving the damn nerd!”, Katsuki protested.

“Denial is also one of the stages", she hummed pensively, paying the angry Katsuki in front of her no mind. She looked like she was trying to reach a conclusion.

“I’m not denying anything! I’m telling you that Deku is standing right here!”, he pointed at where Izuku was standing, even though he knew no one else could see him.

“There is one way to figure out whether Bakugou needs a psychiatric intervention, however”, she continued, as if Katsuki was as invisible as Izuku. She looked at All Might, a mysterious look on her face. After a few moments of staring at each other in silence, All Might reverted to his thin, bony form with a puff.

“Young Bakugou", he said firmly with a heavy sigh. There was anticipation in his tone. Katsuki turned to stare at him, the man's hand still pinned on his shoulder. “Can Young Midoriya hear us, even if he can’t talk to us?”

Katsuki turned to look at Deku, even though he already knew the answer. The boy nodded promptly.

“Yeah, he can hear you”, Katsuki scoffed.

All Might leaned forwards and whispered something in Katsuki’s ear. After a few seconds, he stood back up, giving the explosive boy a serious look.

“You must follow these instructions to the letter", he reinforced out loud, squeezing Katsuki’s shoulder pointedly.

“Even the whispering part?”, Katsuki groaned, complaining. All Might nodded.

“Everything", he confirmed. Katsuki groaned, sighed, rolled his eyes, and did all sorts of childish complaints before standing up from his chair and heading towards the door.

“Come on, nerd", he called when Izuku didn’t follow. Pushing the door open, he held it for Izuku, even though the boy could probably just phase through it in his ghost-like form.

“Where are we going?”, Izuku asked, nervous. He glanced back at his mother, who was still sitting at his bedside, holding one of her son's hands with an expectant, teary-eyed look on her face. He looked unwilling to leave her.

“Just shut up and follow me, asshole", Katsuki huffed out an angry breath. When Izuku remained glued to his feet, he rolled his eyes again and left the room, allowing the door to slowly close behind him. Izuku spared his grieving mother one final longing, conflicted look.

“I’ll be right back, mom", he promised before following Katsuki out.

“Kacchan! Wait!”, Izuku called after him as the explosive boy headed back to his own hospital room. He didn’t bother to deny his relief as he saw his parents were no longer there, having probably grown tired of waiting for his return from Izuku’s deathbed. Once Izuku stepped into the room after him, Katsuki closed the door and sat down on the bed, Izuku following him close and sitting beside him.

“Look", Katsuki said angrily – but when didn’t he sound angry? –, not meeting Izuku’s eyes or even bothering to look at him. “I’m just doing what All Might told me to do. And the only reason I'm doing this because the sooner we figure out what the hell is wrong with your nerdy ass, the sooner I’ll stop having to act as your personal assistant, you hear me?”, he huffed. Izuku lowered his eyes, a spark of disappointment flashing across his face.

“Alright, Kacchan", he agreed easily. “What did he tell you to do?”, he asked curiously.

If Izuku didn’t know better, if he hadn’t known that the person sitting beside him was Katsuki Bakugou, he would have sworn on his mother’s life that Kacchan was blushing. But there was no way that could be, right? If there was one person who never blushed, that person was Kacchan.

Katsuki leaned forwards towards Izuku, and the boy could feel his heart rate picking up, even though he was a mere astral projection. What the hell was Kacchan doing?! The explosive boy turned his head so that he could whisper something in Izuku’s ear and, despite knowing that this Izuku was nothing other than a ghost, a projection, an intangible spirit, Katsuki could have sworn he could feel the tickle of Izuku’s curly hair brushing against his cheek, at the same time Izuku could have sworn he felt the warmness of Katsuki’s breath making his neck tingle.

Katsuki hesitated for a few seconds, his lips hovering just beside Izuku’s ear.

“You need to activate One For All", he whispered, voice low and soft in a way that Izuku had never heard it in all the years they had known each other. Even if there had been anyone else in the room with them, no one other than Izuku would have been able to hear Katsuki’s words. Those words were meant for him and him alone.

Katsuki’s voice had always been as loud as his explosions. Now, it was soft and gentle like a breeze. Izuku had never thought such a sound was possible until he heard it firsthand, and it was endearing.

Izuku allowed his eyes to flutter close and the power of One For All flow through his body.

Once he was sure he had successfully activated his power, he stared down at his arms, but much to his surprise they looked as normal as ever. No bright lines crossing them. No green sparks. Nothing. He could feel One For All spreading across himself, but saw no signs of it. He turned his head to look at Katsuki, a confused frown on his face, only to find the same baffled look on his friend's face.

“Does that mean –“, Katsuki started, an unusual look of terror flashing in his eyes, but before he could finish that thought, a piercing scream made the two boys snap their heads towards the door.

“Izuku!”, Inko was screaming and sobbing from her son’s room.

“Midoriya, my boy!”, All Might shouted triumphantly.

Izuku and Katsuki turned their heads towards each other in perfect synchrony, eyes wide in anticipation. It was Katsuki who acted first, jumping off the bed and running back towards Izuku's room, only to find the boy's body still lying in the same position on the bed, but with green lightning enveloping his form. He had activated One For All.

“I’m alive”, ghost Izuku whispered from behind him, sounding more baffled than anything. Katsuki turned to face him, and Izuku met his eyes. “Kacchan, I’m still alive!”, he repeated emphatically, as if that information was a surprise to him. There was a wide smile blossoming on his lips.

“Heard you the first time, nerd", Katsuki bickered, turning his head away so that Izuku wouldn’t be able to see the tiny smirk that appeared on his own lips.

“Young Bakugou! You were right!”, All Might cheered, pulling Katsuki into a tight embrace. “Young Midoriya still lives!”

“Of course I was right", Katsuki growled, but didn’t break from All Might's embrace. “I told you I wouldn’t make something like this up".

“The fact that Midoriya managed to activate his power proves that he is not brain dead, and since he activated it away from his body after you instructed him to, we can assume you are not clinically insane”, Recovery Girl tapped Katsuki on the shoulder, as if congratulating him for not being a total nutcase. There was a hidden teasing in her voice. “However, I would still like to keep you under observation", she added mischievously. “You suffered a nasty head injury and lost way too much blood".

“I feel fine", Katsuki protested, even though it wasn’t quite true. He felt tired and achy, his headache getting increasingly worse by the second.

“I believe our priority should be figuring out what exactly happened to Midoriya, now that we know he is still around us", Recovery Girl announced. “However", she added, sending a knowing glance towards Katsuki as if reading his thoughts. “Mr. Bakugou is still recovering and shouldn’t have stayed so long out of bed. Go back to your room and get some rest", she instructed him. “I will go see you in a moment".

“But…”, Inko protested, tears running down her face. “If Izuku is alive… shouldn’t we… shouldn’t we work on making him better at once?”, she suggested meekly.

“We still don’t know what exactly happened to Young Midoriya. I will speak to Aizawa sensei and see if we can collect all the existing information on any possible quirks that could cause this”, All Might announced. He placed a comforting hand on Inko’s shoulder. “Mrs. Midoriya, I promise you that I will do everything in my power to bring your boy back”.

“Thank you", Inko sniffed and sobbed, jumping from her seat and pulling All Might into a tight hug which surprised even the man. “Oh, thank you! And thank you, Katsuki!”, she rushed to Katsuki’s side, pulling the boy into an equally tight embrace. He sighed, uncomfortable with all the uninvited touching he was having to go through on that day. “Thank you for helping my baby!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever", he mumbled, glad to be released from the tight grasp as Inko took  a step back, tears still running down her chubby cheeks. Katsuki looked away, not willing to face the greenness of her eyes. God, what was it about Midoriyas and their stupid fucking eyes? Katsuki wanted to say he hated them, but they evoked a completely different feeling, which seemed to be unnamable.

“To bed with you, now, Bakugou", Recovery Girl ordered him, actually pushing him towards the door. “You need all the rest you can get to recover and help us figure out how to help Midoriya. We will still have to make some research on the quirk affecting him, so you go catch some winks”.

“Fine”, he huffed simply. Without bidding any of them goodbye, or even looking back, he turned on his heels and left the room. Now that he stopped to think about it, and now that he was sure he wasn’t batshit, he could finally realize how ridiculously tired he was. He thought about asking Recovery Girl for some pain killers to help with the painful throbbing of his head, but the idea of having someone fussing over him at that moment wasn’t exactly endearing. He would probably be fine after he caught some sleep.

He hadn't expected Deku to follow him to his room.

“The fuck are you doing here?”, Katsuki asked, sparing Deku one quick, disinterested glance before throwing himself down on the bed and passing an arm over his eyes unceremoniously.

“I…”, Izuku hesitated for a moment, standing awkwardly in front of the bed. “I thought I’d check on you", he explained half-heartedly.

“Tch. Check on me? You’re the one with a foot in the grave", Katsuki scoffed. “Or a whole body, all things considered”.

“Yeah, but…”, Izuku swallowed dry. He dropped his head before gathering the courage to look up again. Most of Katsuki’s face was hidden away by his arm. “You should ask Recovery Girl some medicine for your headache”, he suggested finally, firmly.

“I don’t have a headache”, Katsuki lied in a flat tone without missing a beat.

“Yes, you do", Izuku argued as quickly.

“And how the fuck would you know that, shitty Deku?”, Katsuki scoffed, sounding tired and petulant. If anything, the throbbing in his head was killing him slowly and painfully, but he would never admit it out loud to anyone.

“I… just do", Izuku shrugged helplessly. Katsuki finally lifted his arm so that he could peek at the boy, suspicion etched all over his crimson eyes. He studied Izuku’s face for a long time before speaking up.

“The fuck you talking about?”, Katsuki asked, defensive. Izuku immediately blushed.

“Nothing! I j-just mean you keep squinting at the light and… and… your scowl looks worse than usual! And Recovery Girl said you took a bad hit, so it only makes sense your head would be hurting!”, he argued. Katsuki narrowed his eyes for a moment as if trying to figure out whether Izuku was lying, but ended up resting his head back on the pillow and throwing his arm over his face again.

“Whatever. I’ll just sleep it off", he said finally, as flatly as before.

“Kacchan –“, Izuku tried to protest.

“Listen, Deku", Katsuki sighed tiredly, keeping his arm over his eyes. He sounded uncharacteristically tired, but familiarly pissed off. “Just because I’m helping you doesn’t mean we're besties. That means we don’t get to braid each other’s hairs, we don’t get to talk about our feelings, we don’t get to have sleepovers, and you definitely don’t get to fucking tell me what to do. Are we clear?”

Izuku lowered his head, sighing. He looked to the side, a frustrated frown on his face.

“Yeah”, he said simply, sounding almost disappointed.

“Now shut the fuck up and let me sleep”, Katsuki added with a growl. “And don’t just fucking stand there and watch me napping like some creepy weirdo. Go find something else to do", he instructed.

“But no one else can see me", Izuku protested miserably. What was he supposed to do?

“Precisely. Go peek at the girls’ bathroom or something", Katsuki grinned. His mouth and the tip of his nose were the only visible parts of his face, since they weren’t buried on the crook of his arm.

Kacchan!”, Izuku exclaimed, offended.

“I’m just teasing you, shitty Deku. I know you wouldn’t do that", if anything, Katsuki’s grin only widened at the protest. Izuku blushed, thankful that Kacchan wasn’t looking at him to see that.

“You wouldn’t, either”, he stated simply, not looking at Katsuki. Even though he had expected the words to come out as petty, they ended up sounding more meaningful than he had first intended it.

“Nah", Katsuki responded simply, arm hiding his eyes from view. He said nothing else, and the subject dropped.

Long moments of silence passed, Izuku watching pensively as Katsuki’s breathing gradually evened out. He didn’t know whether the explosive boy was asleep or not when he decided to speak up again, approaching a matter that had been bothering him ever since Katsuki had first woken up in a lucid state.

“You really don’t remember what happened yesterday?”, Izuku asked, a melancholic tone in his voice. Katsuki sighed so loudly it sounded like a hiss.

“Fuck, you’re still there?”, he raised his eyebrows, as if surprised by Deku’s audacity to defy his order. “No, I fucking don’t. Just drop it. Remembering what happened or not won’t change the fact that you’re halfway dead", he scoffed. “No use living in the past”.

“Alright”, Izuku agreed simply. He didn’t know why Katsuki had forgotten, but maybe it was just a side effect to the head injury. Recovery Girl had said he was still concussed, after all.

Another series of silent moments passed, no other sound other than Katsuki’s breathing filling the room.

“Kacchan", Izuku called quietly after a while. Katsuki’s growl was animalistic.

“Oh my fucking god, I swear I’ll march down to your room and smother you to death with a hundred pillows if you don’t shut the fuck up right now, Deku”, he threatened in annoyance, covering his face with both hands and looking like it was taking every ounce of his self control not to explode Izuku’s ghost into the afterlife.

“I just wanted to thank you", Izuku continued, unbothered by the violent display. In fact, he was almost used to it. “For, you know, helping me. I know you don’t want to. And… I know you don’t have to. So thanks", he said with sincerity.

“Of course I have to, you goddamn moron", Katsuki growled, turning abruptly and very exaggeratedly on the bed so that he would be lying on his side. It was almost as if he was trying to show Izuku that he wasn’t up to conversation. He placed his pillow on the top of his face in order to block the light from his sensitive eyes, and quite possibly to also block the sound of Izuku’s voice from his sensitive ears. He sighed before concluding: “What kind of hero would I be if I didn’t?”

Izuku watched him with adoration in his eyes. Katsuki continued to bury his face in the pillow, annoyed and unaware of the way Izuku was looking at him.

“Kacchan”, he whispered in admiration.

“Just let me fucking sleep, ok? This whole proving-I'm-not-a-basket-case thing tired me out", Katsuki grumbled grumpily, punching the remaining pillow beneath his head as if to soften it, before dropping heavily on it. “Go find someone else to bother and get the hell out of here".

Izuku lowered his head. He knew he wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, even if he wanted to.

He stayed there in silence, sitting on the farthest corner of Katsuki’s hospital room and very pointedly refusing to look at him. He failed to notice the way Kacchan’s constant grimace was replaced by a peaceful, relaxed expression that was so unusual to see on his face, once he succumbed to deep slumber.

Chapter Text

Katsuki woke up feeling dizzy and disoriented, having to dedicate a few moments of sluggish blinking to remember what had happened to him and where he was. He sighed heavily as the events of the past day became clear in his mind, groaning in discomfort and squeezing his eyes shut before reopening them. With a sigh, he turned on his side on the bed, ignoring the way his scalp stung ever so slightly at the movement. His head was still feeling hazy from sleep and the remains of his concussion and, for a moment, he feared everything he remembered had been nothing but some creepy, weird dream. However, as he spotted damn Deku in the bedroom with him, looking just as pale as Katsuki remembered last seeing him, he admitted to himself that everything had, indeed, and unfortunately, happened just as he recalled.

At the farthest corner of the room, Izuku sat, arms crossed above his chest and head low as he dozed off, standing vigil in Katsuki’s room. His green bangs were hiding his freckled face away from view and his position on the cold, harsh floor looked uncomfortable, but his breathing was steady and slow. Katsuki clicked his tongue and let his head fall back against his pillow, looking at anything but the shitty nerd sitting on his floor.

“Idiot", he mumbled, voice hoarse from the lack of use. He felt just as thirsty as he had when he first woke up and heard the news from his parents, but this time, he wouldn’t wait for anyone to do him favors. He kicked off his blankets – when had he covered himself with them? – and stood up from the bed, glad to find he didn’t feel as dizzy as he had a few hours before. Or had it been a day? He couldn’t really know. Glancing at the window beside the bed, Katsuki found the sky to be dark and covered by stars.

He walked over to a little round desk near the door in order to grab himself a cup of water from the jar sitting there. After downing a whole cup in one go and relishing on the feeling of having his throat soothed, Katsuki realized how badly he needed the bathroom, after staying in bed for god knows how long. Sparing the sleeping Deku one final look and a scoff that only half-attempted to be disdainful, he walked out of his hospital room and headed to the common bathroom on that floor, not consciously realizing that he clicked the door behind him as silently as he could.

Katsuki was more than startled when, after he did what he had to do in the bathroom, he stepped out only to find Deku sitting just outside, still looking very much asleep and in the exact same position as Katsuki had left him back in the bedroom. Staring at the boy for a few confused moments, Katsuki finally snorted through his nose and downright scowled at Izuku.

“What the fuck?”, he said loudly, assuming Izuku was awake. He had to be, right? He had followed Katsuki all the way to the bathroom like a lovesick puppy! Like he always does, Katsuki’s mind provided, but he waved the thought away. “The hell are you doing, Deku? Not only I’m the being forced to deal with your annoying ass, but you’re gonna follow me around all the time now, too?”

Izuku jolted awake at the loud sound of Katsuki’s voice shouting at him, looking around frantically and in confusion before finding the blond boy standing angrily in front of him. His shoulders slumped in relief and he leaned back against the wall for a moment, heart racing inside his chest. After a few seconds of breathing heavily due to the startle of being shouted awake, Izuku frowned slightly, taking a more careful look around and opening his mouth several times as he struggled to find the words he wanted to say.

“… Kacchan?”, he settled for saying, and honestly, why the fuck was that the first thing Izuku always chose to say to him? It was getting on Katsuki’s nerves and doing weird things to his stomach. It was probably just anger, he told himself. “What happened?”, the boy added hesitantly, not seeming to recognize his surroundings.

“What happened is that you decided to follow me all the way to the bathroom like some creepy son of a bitch”, Katsuki provided, glaring at Deku as he slowly got to his feet and scratched the back of his messy hair in awe.

“Oh… So it works the other way around, too”, he commented simply, eyes widening slightly before returning to normal, as if he had just reached an obvious, yet incredible conclusion.

Katsuki hated when he did that. He hated when he could see in Deku’s eyes that he was unmasking secrets that Katsuki himself would never be able to figure out. It made a twisted mixture of admiration and envy sparkle and explode inside of him and, more often than not, he externalized the feeling as nothing other than pure fury.

“What the fuck do you mean by that, you shitty nerd? Just spit out whatever weird ass reason you had to follow me before I punch your teeth in”, he barked in his usual furious tone. Izuku flinched – flinching when Kacchan screamed at him was muscle memory, even if their dynamics had changed, now – and lowered his head before seeming to remember he didn’t have to cower down because of Katsuki anymore. Lifting his head up with bravery, but still bearing an apologetic look on his face, Izuku offered an explanation.

“While you were asleep the first time, I couldn’t get too far away from the bedroom”, he said. “I told you that. I was drawn to you like a magnet”.

“Which doesn’t make any fucking sense”, Katsuki pointed out, ignoring the way his chest felt weird at the way Izuku phrased it. Probably anger.

“I agree, and I don’t know why this keeps happening, either”, he nodded his head, his eyes assuming that distant look they always did whenever Izuku got lost in deep thought. “But either way, I never managed to get too far away from you. I thought it only happened when I was the one who tried to get away from you, but it seems that the same happens when you’re the one who tries to get away from me”, he explained, and fuck, Katsuki could literally feel the blood being drained from his face at the words. “I didn’t even feel myself getting dragged behind you until you woke me up – I’m – I’m sorry, Kacchan”, he added, noticing the horrified/angry look that was taking over the boy’s pale face.

“So you’re saying”, Katsuki started. His voice was hoarse, there was a vein popping on his temple, and it looked like it was taking him every ounce of his self-control not to blow the entire medical bay up as he spoke the words through gritted teeth, hands squeezed into fists that were barely containing the explosions in his palms. “That I can’t get away from you. Even if I try to”, he concluded, snarling.

“I – I really don’t know”, Izuku raised his hands at him as if trying to calm a feral animal. “But I think so. I’m sorry, I – I don’t know how this works”.

“So not only I’m the only one who can see and talk to your annoying ass”, he repeated his words from before, teeth still gritted and vein threatening to explode beside his head, “but I’m stuck with you 24/7?”

“I w-wouldn’t phrase it like that”, Izuku tried to offer meekly, a small, hesitant smile appearing on his lips as if he was attempting to make Katsuki see the bright side of things. As if there was a bright side of things in the first place. “I mean, I can get a few feet away from you before I get pulled back. So, when you go to the bathroom or – or when you need some p-privacy, I won’t pry, I swear, Kacchan”, he promised. Katsuki had to smother the need to punch the wall behind Deku’s head and quite possibly Deku’s head with it.

“Oh, so it’s all settled now? You won’t watch me as I change my clothes like some sort of Grape-Boy-like freak, so it’s all good, eh?”, he spat out sarcastically, taking a step closer to Deku. “Who cares if I wish I could be a fucking planet away from you, at least you won’t peek while I take a shit! God fucking damn it, Deku, I swear to god there’s no way this whole situation isn’t a fucking nightmare”, he growled. Izuku looked slightly hurt, but mostly offended, at the words.

“As I told you before, I’m - I'm not loving this either”, Izuku said, frowning and looking braver than he had a mere moment before. His knees were still a bit wobbly, as if he was trying to force himself to be strong, but he tilted his chin up defiantly. “Until we figure out a way to p-put me back in my body, I’m afraid we’ll... We'll have to find a way to deal with each other”.

“I don’t want to deal with you, damn Deku!”, Katsuki all but shouted, ignoring the fact that he was standing in the middle of the hall of Recovery Girl’s medical bay, and to any outside viewer, he was alone, since no one else could see Deku. “I never fucking wanted to do that and I certainly don’t want to now!”

“Well, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to!”, Izuku argued, taking a step closer to Katsuki in defiance. He was no longer shaking. “You said it yourself. The sooner you help me, t-the sooner I’ll leave you alone, right? So just deal with me for a couple of days and then I’ll be out of your case!”

“A couple of days is two days longer than I’m willing to look at your dunce face!”, Katsuki protested. “Fuck!”, he shoved his sweaty hands on his hair, throwing it back in annoyance. “Of all the fucking people in the world, it had to be you, hadn’t it?”, he scowled. Izuku closed his mouth, but stared at Katsuki with an offended frown.

“Sorry for saving your life, Kacchan”, he ended up saying after a few moments of silence, sounding hurt and frustrated. “I wish I could say next time I’ll let you get hit, but we both know that’s not true”.

The words only made Katsuki fume further, and shit, the vein in his temple would definitely burst now, from the way his whole face scrunched up in indignant fury. One of his hands set off an explosion that turned out a bit bigger than Katsuki was comfortable with in a closed environment.

“What the fuck do you think you’re saying, nerd?”, he all but snarled, hands tightening into fists. “I don’t know what you heard from that old hag and bony Might, but you didn’t fucking save my life”, he looked ready to attack Izuku at any moment now, even though the boy was a ghost. “I don’t fucking need you to save my life. I never needed that”, he shook his head and pointed a finger at Izuku, remembering the incident with the slime monster. It felt like it had happened decades ago. “So shut the hell up and forget whatever it was these people shoved into your potato brain. I don’t owe you anything”, he snorted. “I don’t fucking owe you anything, Deku”, he repeated for good measure. Izuku stared at him with an unreadable expression.

“I know you don’t”, he replied simply, looking uncomfortable. “I’m – I’m not charging you, Kacchan”.

“It sure as hell sounds like you are”, Katsuki pointed out with a scoff. Izuku simply sighed, allowing his shoulders to slump in resignation and turning his head to the side.

“Look”, he said after a few more moments, sounding tired and… something else that Katsuki didn’t really understand. Comprehension, perhaps? “I’m just saying everything will be easier if we cooperate with each other. You don’t want to be stuck with me, and I don’t want to be disconnected from my body. We have the same goal”, he shrugged, “which is finding a way to fix this. If we work together, I’m sure we can do it, Kacchan”.

“Cut this positivity bullshit”, Katsuki gave Izuku one final snort before turning on his heels abruptly and heading back towards his bedroom. He was surprised no one had rushed over to see why he was shouting and setting off explosions in the middle of the night; he didn’t want to push his luck and be caught by Recovery Girl.

As he marched back, he didn’t bother to see if Izuku was following him, now aware that, even if the boy didn’t want to tag along, he would be forced to, since they were stuck with each other for some reason.

“Let’s just find a way to shove your shitty soul up your ass and make sure it sticks in there before you drive me really nuts this time”, he said above his shoulder after a while. Izuku’s eyes widened and a vigorous blush made its way to his freckled cheeks.

Kacchan!”, Izuku protested at the aggressive – and very graphic – description Katsuki had just given.

“What? You said it yourself that’s our common goal”, Katsuki grinned wickedly, turning his head so that Izuku wouldn’t be able to see it.

“Not with those words!”, Izuku pointed out nervously, catching up with Katsuki and reentering the room alongside him.

“Whatever, nerd”, Katsuki scoffed, slamming the door shut and heading back towards his bed. He sat down on it cross-legged, a pensive look on his face. Izuku liked it when Kacchan was pensive. He often came up with great ideas and the anger was smoothed out of his face when he dedicated his attention to his thoughts. He stood in front of Katsuki, an awkward look on his face and clearly not knowing what to do with himself, as the boy continued to stare at nothing in particular. “We’re gonna need to stablish some ground rules if I’m gonna be forced to do this”, Katsuki finally said after a while, giving Izuku a serious look as he leaned back on his arms. “First – no peeking. If I tell you not to look at something, you’re not fucking looking. The list of things I don’t even need to tell you not to fucking look at includes, but is not limited to: me going to the bathroom, me changing clothes, me sleeping, me showering, and whatever shit is too personal to have your creepy nerd eyes all over me. Clear?”, he raised an eyebrow at Izuku.

“K-Kacchan, w-why would I want to watch y-you shower –“, Izuku stuttered nervously, face flushing a bright red.

“Shut up, Deku!”, Katsuki interrupted. “Second – no. Fucking. Mumbling. I swear to fucking god, if I have to deal with your shitty mumbling sessions at all times every fucking day, I will make sure you won’t have a body to return your soul to. You get it?”

“But I…”, Izuku tried to protest sadly, but ended up lowering his head. “Fine, I get it”, he accepted with resignation.

“Third – I’m not your personal fucking assistant. I’m not gonna relay your messages or have whole conversations in your place just because you’re a shitty ghost, now. If you have something important to say that you think can help you get the hell back where you belong and leave me the fuck alone, then go ahead and say it, but otherwise you’re gonna zip it and keep your thoughts to your shit-brain. You hear me?”

“So basically you want me to close my eyes, shut my mouth and just follow you around silently without doing or saying anything until we figure out a way to put me back into my body?”, Izuku asked with a frown, sounding slightly offended. Katsuki simply grinned widely.

“Bingo”, he smirked. “You can go ahead and start training, now. Go stare at that wall over there and count down from a hundred billion while I take another nap and figure out what the hell to do about you. Good luck”, he nodded at Izuku, unceremoniously hopping down on the bed and lying back down again. “And count it in your head, Deku, not out loud. Remember rule number two”, he advised.

“You’re… going to sleep again, Kacchan?”, Izuku asked with a frown, completely ignoring most of what Katsuki had said and sounding actually concerned. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“What is it to you? It won’t interfere with your counting”, he said simply, bitter. Izuku took a step closer to the bed.

“I’m not counting”, he said simply, but waved the thought away quickly enough. “It’s just… I mean, you’ve been sleeping for almost a day, now”, Izuku explained, worried. “I think you should talk to Recovery Girl –“

“Rule four”, Katsuki interrupted him before he could continue. “No shoving your nose on things that aren’t your damn business”.

“It is my business!”, Izuku immediately protested. “You’re my f–“, he started, but cut himself off midway as if thinking better about what he was about to say. He looked away from Katsuki, embarrassed, and hesitated for a few moments before continuing. Katsuki eyed him with a curious, yet impassive glance. “You're… Well. I… I don’t think you should be sleeping this much”, he settled for saying, sounding like he was hiding something.

“I only have to sleep this much because you tire me the fuck out”, Katsuki rolled his eyes, even though he was still suspicious of Deku’s odd behavior. “Now shut the hell up and get started on that counting".

“Kacchan, I’m serious”, Izuku said with a tired sigh, looking frustrated. He didn’t meet Katsuki’s eyes. “You should be getting better already”, he added in a low voice.

“Who says I’m not?”, Katsuki raised an eyebrow at Izuku, arms folded beneath his head in a carefree way.

“I can tell you aren’t”, Izuku shook his head, worrying at his lower lip. “Just - Just promise me you’ll talk to Recovery Girl in the morning, ok? Y-You took a nasty hit to the head, it’s better to be safe than sorry”.

Katsuki eyed him silently for several moments, but Izuku didn’t properly look at him until he spoke up.

“You know, Deku”, Katsuki growled through gritted teeth, looking angry and slightly disgusted. “One of the things I hate the most about you is your shitty, unjustifiable god complex. You’re always going around, meddling with things that aren’t your business and expecting people to be grateful and lick your boots for shoving your nose where you aren’t called. Guess what?”, he scoffed. “I don’t fucking need you to save me, and I definitely don’t need you to go around with that smug look on your ugly face as if you’re some sort of god sent savior or some shit. So just get over yourself and deal with the fact that you’re not fucking better than me, and you never will be", he shrugged.

There was a pregnant silence in which Izuku simply stared at him, mouth hanging open and eyes looking sad and unexplainably hurt. Katsuki opted to ignore his kicked-puppy look and turned on the bed so that his back was turned to the boy.

“You… really think that of me?”, Izuku asked miserably after an eternity, voice small and wobbly. Katsuki sighed heavily and rolled his eyes, even though Izuku couldn’t see it.

“Yeah. Now shut your damn mouth and let me take my nap in peace. And you’d better not stare at me while I sleep", he reminded the boy, ignoring the way Izuku had sounded as if he was about to burst into tears like a crybaby.

“Kacchan, I would never… I… I don’t think…”, Izuku started, but before Katsuki could even complain, or protest his words, or turn to glare at him, he trailed off on his own, lowering his head in disappointment and letting out a shaky breath before sitting on the floor, back as turned to Katsuki as Katsuki’s back was turned to him.

None of them spoke another word for an eternity. Katsuki was on the verge of succumbing to the deep, pleasant slumber that had been overcoming him when he heard a tiny, barely audible “Goodnight, Kacchan", which sounded a bit drier than usual.

Katsuki didn’t reply, even if his chest felt weirdly constricted for some reason.

 

 

 

When he woke up, the first thing he saw was shitty red hair and a smile that was way too wide for that early hour in the morning.

“Bakugou! You’re awake!”, Kirishima exclaimed happily as soon as crimson eyes focused on him, voice a bit too loud for Katsuki’s sensitive ears. He suppressed the urge to punch Kirishima's sharp teeth in, only because the boy seemed ridiculously happy to see him awake.

“For fuck’s sake, tone it down a million, Shitty Hair", Katsuki complained through gritted teeth, shoving his arm into the crook of his arm to block the brightness of the light filling his equally sensitive eyes. “The fuck you doing here?”, he growled grumpily.

“We came to see you!”, Kirishima replied in the same excited tone from before, but he had lowered his voice upon Katsuki's request. The plural pronoun made Katsuki frown in confusion before he removed his face from behind his arm and found, in horror, Discount Pikachu, Raccoon Eyes and Tape Guy standing behind Kirishima, all bearing very excited looks on their faces. “Recovery Girl said you’re finally allowed to get visitors, since you’re being cleared out soon! So the Bakusquad decided to stop by and see how their grumpiest member was doing after such a nasty concussion!”, Kirishima explained.

“Pay up, Sero", Mina instructed, offering the boy her outstretched hand without taking her eyes off Katsuki. “He didn’t punch Kirishima in the first ten seconds”.

“That’s not fair!”, Sero protested, even though he shoved his hand in his pocket and handed Mina the payment of their bet. “He’s still kind of sleepy. Just give it some time and I'm sure –".

“Shut up, idiot!”, Katsuki immediately protested, angry. “I’m not sleepy!”

“Ah, there he is!”, Kaminari jested, much to Katsuki's increasing dismay. Not only did he have to deal with shitty Deku, now these jackasses thought they could mock him?

“And I fucking told you to stop calling yourselves ‘Bakusquad', it’s ridiculous and fucking embarrassing!”, Katsuki continued his shouting session, glad to realize he was already feeling much better and well-rested than he had in the night before, even if his eyes were still a bit sensitive to light and loud sounds made his head throb.

“Ah, don’t pretend you don’t like it we named our friend group after you", Mina rolled her eyes, dangerously indifferent to Katsuki's natural rage. “You love being the center of attention”.

“That’s because you’re all a bunch of extras, so it wouldn’t make sense to name the group after anyone but me", he scowled at the pink girl, who very maturely showed him her tongue. “It doesn’t mean it’s any less ridiculous".

“You know you love us”, Mina said simply, throwing her phone in the air and snapping a picture so quickly it threw everyone off their guards. “Surprise selfie with concussed Bakugou!”, she announced, laughing.

Eeh?!”, was the only thing Katsuki could muster as a response before Mina snapped the picture and caught him frowning mid-scowl. The way Recovery Girl had wrapped a bandage around his head injury made his hair look ridiculous, and the way Mina had managed to capture his face right before it became fully twisted in indignation only added to the comic aspect of the selfie. She was laughing loudly as she showed the photo to Kaminari, but Katsuki, on the other hand, was kicking off his blankets and throwing himself off the bed.

“Delete that, Raccoon Eyes!”, he hollered, making the girl yelp and immediately flee the medical room without thinking twice, phone clutched tightly in her hands. “I’ll kill you!”, Katsuki screamed, trying to chase after her.

“Run, Mina!”, Kaminari shouted after the girl, while Sero doubled over from laughing and Kirishima tried to hold Katsuki back. “Run for your life!”

“Let go, Shitty Hair!”, Katsuki fumed beneath Kirishima's grasp, looking furious. “I’ll kill her and you're next on the line!”

“Kacchan, you should get back to bed!”, Izuku protested from somewhere in the bedroom, and Katsuki snapped his head back to find the boy standing at the opposite side of his bed, looking very worried. Had he been there all along? “You’re going to make your head worse!”, Izuku added pleadingly.

“What did I fucking say about minding your own business, shitty Deku?”, he pointed an angry finger at Izuku, redirecting his anger towards the boy since Kirishima wouldn’t let him go after Mina and shove her phone down her throat.

“Holy shit", Sero whispered from behind him, all humor gone from his voice. Katsuki turned around, hating the way he could feel a blush rising to his cheeks, and pointing his three remaining friends with very intense glares that dared them to call him crazy.

What?”, Katsuki asked sharply, snarling. Kaminari and Sero took an instinctive step back, but Kirishima continued to stand by him, one of his hands still holding his forearm.

“You're… You’re really seeing him?”, Kaminari was the one who verbalized the question they were all asking themselves, a half-dumbfounded, half-terrified expression on his face. “Midoriya?”, he explained, as if he thought Katsuki might not understand who he was talking about. Katsuki felt like giving him a flying kick.

“All Might explained the situation to us before Recovery Girl let us in", Kirishima stepped in before Katsuki could do anything, “But… I don’t know. I guess we weren’t so sure”, he shrugged almost apologetically. Katsuki pointed him with a sharp glare.

“What, you all thought I lost my mind because of the fucking head injury?”, Katsuki asked with disdain. “Get in line, assholes. Everyone thought that”, he scoffed.

“But, I mean…!”, Kaminari exclaimed, looking improperly excited. “You can see and talk to him when no one else can! How cool is that?!”

“Not at all, dude", Sero nudged Kaminari’s side warningly, earning a confused look from the electric boy. “Midoriya almost died. Technically, he’s a ghost, now. And Bakugou is the only one he can talk to”, he added with a grimace. Kaminari’s eyes widened in realization and he hissed.

“Oh, no”, he groaned in sympathy.

“Yeah. Poor Midoriya”, he groaned, shaking his head grievously.

What?!”, Katsuki shouted in indignation. “I’m the one who’s stuck with him! How is he the poor one, you seaweed-haired bastard?!”, he surged towards Sero with murderous intent, Kirishima holding him back again.

“He’s stuck with you too!”, Sero tried to explain nervously, cowering behind Kaminari and using him as a shield. “It works both ways!”

“He’s right, you know”, Izuku mumbled from where he was still standing, but Katsuki paid him no mind and the others couldn’t hear him.

“I’ll let you know it’s a fucking pleasure to be stuck with me, you goddamn stupid son of a bitch! I’m fucking amazing!”, Katsuki screamed violently.

“Clearly", Kirishima said under his breath, earning a giggle from Izuku. Katsuki turned abruptly to face the ghost boy.

“You think this is funny, shitty nerd?! You got something to say?! Huh?!”, he shouted. Kaminari, Kirishima and Sero’s eyes darted nervously from Katsuki to the empty spot he was staring at.

“This is so weird, man", Kaminari was the one who commented. “I mean, it looks like you’re talking to the wall. If All Might hadn’t told us about what happened, I'd definitely think you’ve gone nuts”.

“Like I said, get in line", Katsuki scoffed, sitting back down on his bed and glaring at his friends. He hated this situation. He hated that he was the only one who could see and talk to shitty Deku, he hated that he looked like a lunatic whenever he spoke to shitty Deku, he hated that shitty Deku had gotten them in this situation in the first place. Rubbing his face with a tired hand, he sighed, desperate to change the subject to something that wasn’t shitty Deku for once. “So the old lady said I’m going to get cleared out?”, he raised an eyebrow at them.

“Soon", Kirishima nodded. “But she didn’t say when. How are you holding up anyway, man? We were super worried about you".

“Yeah, when Uraraka and Iida came back and Aizawa sensei showed up all covered in blood, we all freaking lost it", Kaminari offered. “Especially after we saw the scene you made at the emergency room".

Katsuki sighed loudly and threw his head back in exasperation, ignoring the way it made the cut in his scalp sting. Why did everyone keep going back to that fucking subject? Couldn’t they just drop it? Recovery Girl had said something about tending him and knowing what she had seen, and now Dunce Face was talking about it too as if his arrival at the medical bay had been some sort of big event. What the fuck had he done anyway? He couldn’t remember anything that happened after they found the villain in the alleyway, and not knowing something that everyone else did was quite frankly driving him mad.

“Listen, I don’t know what the fuck you all are talking about", he admitted, keeping his angry façade up as if to let his friends know that, even though he was admitting he didn’t know something, it didn’t mean they were any better than him. “Everyone keeps talking about what I did or didn’t do, but the last thing I remember is fighting that shitty villain during the training and that’s it”, he looked up at Kirishima, knowing that, since he was Katsuki’s closest friend, he would probably be able to read, just by looking at his eyes, the request he wasn’t willing to verbalize. Just tell me what the hell happened, since no one else will.

Kirishima read Katsuki’s eyes with close attention, trying to decipher the look etched in crimson. After a few moments, he looked back at Kaminari and Sero, who were still standing behind him, unaware of the silent exchange.

“Hey”, Kirishima said, feigning absent-mindedness. “Uh, Mina's been gone for a while, right?”

“Of course", Kaminari giggled. “She took a photo of Bakugou in a hospital room. She’s probably all the way across the world already”.

“Or she’s just visiting Midoriya in the next room, like she said she would", Sero added with a shrug.

“Why don’t we all go see Midoriya, then?”, Kirishima offered with a bright smile. “Bakugou can see him, but we can’t. I’m sure he’d like us to visit".

“I really would, even if I'm not actually there! Thank you, Kirishima-kun!", Izuku commented from behind Katsuki, the excitement in his voice indicating that he had completely misread Kirishima’s intention. Katsuki didn’t even have to look at the brat to know there was a wide smile painting his face.

“You really are an idiot", Katsuki huffed, not bothering to look at the boy as he spoke. Kirishima gave him an indignant look.

“Hey!”, he protested.

“Wasn’t talking to you", Katsuki replied with indifference, clicking his tongue. Kirishima stared at the empty space behind Katsuki with a puzzled look but, finding nothing, turned back towards his friends.

“Anyway”, Kirishima continued with a nervous smile. “Why don’t you two go ahead to Midoriya’s room? I’ll be right behind you, I just gotta give Bakugou some of the chocolate Recovery Girl asked me to", he lied. Kaminari frowned.

“But we didn’t even see Recovery Girl today”, he pointed out. Kirishima stared at him with a disbelieving look and an awkward silence took over the room, until Katsuki broke it by grunting and grabbing his pillow, furious at Kirishima's shitty skills at lying.

“Just get the fuck out of here, Dunce Face!”, he screamed, launching the pillow at Kaminari with his full strength.

“Aah!”, Kaminari yelped in terror right before the pillow hit him square in the face. Losing balance, he almost fell on his butt, but Sero grabbed him and propped him up by the elbow, helping him stay on his feet.

“Let's go, Denki”, Sero said, urging the boy towards the door of Katsuki’s room as he spared Kirishima a silent, comprehending look.

“That was mean, Kacchan", Izuku commented almost sadly from the other side of the bed. “They came to visit you, you shouldn’t kick them out like that”, he added reprehensively. Katsuki rolled his eyes, opting to ignore the boy.

“See you later, then, Kiri”, Kaminari waved at the pair sadly, Sero’s hand still nudging him gently, albeit a bit urgently, towards the door.

“I’ll catch up with you guys in a sec!”, Kirishima shouted after them just before Sero closed the door with a knowing glance. As soon as they were gone, Kirishima immediately turned to Katsuki. “Fine”, he said simply, sitting on the bed beside his friend. “What do you want to know?”

“Let’s start with the reason why everyone keeps acting as if they know something I don’t when they talk about whatever the hell happened at the fucking medical bay", Katsuki snorted, sitting cross-legged on the bed. Kirishima clicked his tongue and looked away, looking pensive.

“Kacchan, maybe –“, Izuku tried to say but, unaware of his presence, Kirishima started to speak.

“Ah. Ok, I think it’s better if I start from the beginning", he shrugged, shifting on the bed so he could face Katsuki better. “So, everyone got worried when you and Midoriya disappeared, right? You guys weren't answering the coms and you were gone forever, but I guess everyone just assumed the radio silence was because you were probably at each other’s throat or something. Not even Aizawa sensei thought much of it until we heard Midoriya’s SOS message", he explained. Katsuki groaned loudly.

“I asked what happened at the medbay, not a full-on mission report, hair for brains", he protested with impatience. Kirishima ignored him.

“Anyway, Ochako, Iida, and Todoroki were the first ones to get to your location, along with Aizawa sensei. They… they were pretty shocked when they came back. Even Aizawa sensei wasn’t… Well, you know how he is, but even he was different. None of us really saw you or Midoriya arrive, you were sent straight away to Recovery Girl and we were still at the training waiting area. We were told to go back to the dorms and wait there, but when Ochako and the others came back… she spilled everything", he gave Katsuki an almost apologetic look. “She said Midoriya was… dead, or halfway there anyway, and that you were in shock because you had watched everything happen and…”, he grimaced in anticipation for Katsuki’s reaction.

What? Just say it!”, Katsuki urged when his friend hesitated for too long. Kirishima winced, but continued.

“She said Midoriya had died because he took the villain’s blow in your place", Kirishima offered in a small voice, definitely hesitant and almost apologetic. Katsuki fumed.

This shit again?!”, he protested in rage. “I already told everyone that's not what happened!”

“Didn’t you just say you don’t remember anything from after you met the villain?”, Kirishima asked, a genuinely confused frown on his face. This only made Katsuki angrier, because it was true. He didn’t remember what had happened. He didn’t remember if the shitty nerd had really saved him or not.

But the scarce possibility that he had made Katsuki furious.

“Just shut the hell up and continue the story!”, Katsuki shouted, not willing to admit he was contradicting himself.

“How can he continue the story if he shuts up, Kacchan?”, Izuku asked from behind him, and the glare Katsuki directed him was so intense that it could have burned holes through Izuku’s very soul.

“Anyway”, Kirishima continued before Katsuki had the chance to tell Deku to go fuck himself. “No one really bought the part of you being in shock, but everyone freaked out at Midoriya dying, so we waited until Aizawa sensei was gone from the dorms and sneaked out to Recovery Girl’s bay so we could see what had really happened. Ochako and Iida stayed back, they were so distraught, but Todoroki came along. When we got there…”, he trailed off again, earning an annoyed sigh from Katsuki.

“Are you going to keep making these dramatic pauses every time you’ve got something important to say, dumbass?”, he asked with a scoff.

“Kacchan", Izuku said, a warning in his voice. Something about the way he said the name made Katsuki look at him again. He read Izuku, finding something akin to worry and fear in his ridiculously green eyes, urgency written all over his body. He swallowed dry a couple of times, as if gathering courage to speak. “I don’t think you should –“, he tried to say, but unaware of Izuku’s words or his interruption, Kirishima continued.

“You were freaking out", he said sternly, giving Katsuki a hesitant look, “when we got there. And I’m not saying usual-Bakugou-angry freak out session, I’m saying I-just-saw-someone-die-for-me freak out session. It was pretty scary", he added, looking pale.

“Huh?”, Katsuki asked, Izuku forgotten behind him as he focused his entire attention on what Kirishima was saying.

“No one knew what to do", Kirishima continued, speaking faster as if he just wanted that subject to get dealt with as soon as possible. “You were fighting everyone who tried to touch you and you were bleeding out. You nearly exploded Aizawa sensei’s hand when he tried to grab you. In the end, All Might had to hold you down in his muscular form and… uh…”, he hesitated again, scratching the back of his neck. “You – you started crying", he said, not meeting Katsuki's eyes.

What?!”, Katsuki asked, mortified.

“Look, if it makes you feel any better, it didn’t look like you were crying”, Kirishima added quickly, as if sensing Katsuki’s growing rage. “Most of the class thought you were just screaming or… lashing out. You started to apologize to All Might but no one could understand anything you were saying, so before anyone else saw your tears I kicked them out with Todoroki’s help", he said.

“You let that Half’n’Half bastard see me cry?!”, Katsuki protested, furious. Kirishima raised his hands as if trying to calm a feral animal.

“He didn’t tell anyone! I made him promise he wouldn’t”, Kirishima reassured him. “And he was there for Midoriya, not you, so he didn’t think too much of it”.

“How fucking reassuring”, Katsuki growled sarcastically, turning to face Izuku. “What about you? Were you there too?”, he asked, a bit too aggressively.

“Y-Yes”, Izuku nodded hesitantly, looking nervous. “But Kacchan, I swear –“

“So you saw this whole shitshow?”, he interrupted, getting angrier by the second. “You saw everything and you didn’t fucking tell me about it?”

“You wouldn’t have believed me if I did!”, Izuku pointed out with exasperation. “Plus, what good would it be if I told you? It wouldn’t change anything that happened and it would have only made you embarrassed”.

“The good would be that I would have been able to make up some sort of excuse as to why I freaked out over you!” Katsuki shouted. “Now everyone thinks I give a shit about your whiny ass!”.

Izuku paused, staring at Katsuki in disbelief for a moment.

“And that’s just terrible for you, isn't it?”, Izuku retorted, much to Katsuki's surprise, eyes clearly hurt and glistening. “We’ve known each other since we were four, but god forbid people assume you care about me", he mumbled.

“Yeah, because I don’t!”, Katsuki growled. “I was probably crying because of the head injury, not because you’re a simple-minded bastard who almost got himself killed by a D-lister!”, he shouted.

“Bakugou”, Kirishima reprehended, even though he was only hearing one side of the conversation.

“Well, too bad, Kacchan, because I care about you!”, Izuku shouted back with tears in his eyes, sounding frustrated. “I always did and I always will, no matter how many times you step on me or put me down! I know you think horrible things of me, and I don’t know what I could have possibly done to make you think them, but I thought we had cleared things up after our fight! Apparently, I was wrong, since you continue to see me as this horrible, fake person, while, to me, you're nothing less than the very incarnation of victory!”

“Bakugou, he did take the blow for you”,  Kirishima said, completely unaware of everything Izuku was saying. Katsuki turned his head towards the red-haired boy. “We saw the footage with Aizawa sensei”.

A long silence stretched in the room, awkward and tense. Katsuki didn’t dare to look at Izuku. He didn’t dare to breathe.

“What?”, he asked lowly, voice hoarse.

“Aizawa sensei let me and Todoroki watch the footage video with Recovery Girl”, Kirishima explained, one of his hands still reaching to Katsuki as if attempting to calm him. “I’m telling you I saw it with my own eyes. You knocked the villain down, but he was about to strike you and you didn’t see it. Midoriya did”.

Katsuki turned his head to face Izuku, who had his head bowed and tilted away so that Katsuki could see nothing other than pursed lips and freckled cheeks.

“He shoved you out of the way, which was how you got concussed. He jumped at you so hard you slammed your head on a wall”, Kirishima continued, following Katsuki’s gaze for a moment before setting his eyes back on the blond boy's face. “And the villain’s quirk hit him on the back. You were out cold for more or less three minutes, then you woke up and shoved him off you. It took you some time to realize he…”, he took a harsh intake of breath, looking at the empty spot beside Katsuki again. “Well”.

Katsuki continued to look at Izuku, whereas Izuku continued not to look at him.

“I didn’t tell anyone about it”, Kirishima reassured him after a few moments of silence, assuming that was the reason behind Katsuki’s unusual quietness. “Todoroki won’t, either. Aizawa sensei gave the rest of the class a summarized version of the story, and left out the unnecessary details. All they know is that Midoriya got hit by a quirk that detached his soul from his body, since apparently that’s… what happened”.

Katsuki continued to stare at Izuku.

“Uh…”, Kirishima hesitated, at a loss for what to do upon his friend's unfaltering silence. Seeing Katsuki stare at nothing like that was freaking him out a bit, if he was being honest. “I… Are you okay?”

“Why didn’t you just say something?”, Katsuki asked, apparently snapped out of whatever trance he had been stuck in by Kirishima’s question. Izuku shifted awkwardly on his feet.

“I didn’t want you to know”, Izuku said quietly. His head was still hanging low, eyes refusing to meet Katsuki’s as his green bangs hid them away from view.

“Why not?”, Katsuki asked. He still sounded angry, but also softer, somehow. Kirishima’s eyes darted between Katsuki and the empty space Katsuki was staring at, a worried frown etched on his brow.

 “You didn’t need to bear this burden”, Izuku whispered. Katsuki stared at him for a few more moments before scoffing and shaking his head.

“What the fuck are you talking about, shitty Deku?”, he snarled, voice very low and menacing. “Why would having you act as an unsolicited human shield be a burden to me, eh?”, he asked, sounding just a bit too defensive.

“Bakugou… don’t do that”, Kirishima sighed heavily and shook his head in disapproval.

“I didn’t want you to blame yourself for what happened!”, Izuku protested in a high pitched voice, equally defensive. Katsuki finally threw himself off the bed in rage, taking an angry stomp towards Izuku.

“You think way too much of yourself, nerd!”, he growled. “Why the fuck would I blame myself for your shitty life choices?”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right!”, Izuku threw his hands in the air in frustration, apparently done with Katsuki’s constantly sour temper and need for conflict. “Okay, I did it. I took the blow for you. And I would do it again without thinking twice about it!”, he said the words as if he was sure nothing could anger Katsuki more. Katsuki fumed.

“Shut the fuck up you goddamn piece of shit!”, Katsuki yelled. “I don’t fucking owe you anything! I didn’t ask you to save me and I don’t owe you for it!”

“I never said you did!”, Izuku yelled back. “Despite what you think of me, I saved you because I care about you, not because I was looking for a reward!”

“Well, good for you, then! Because you’re not getting a thank you card or a grateful kiss on the cheek”, he snarled cruelly, vaguely aware that he was probably overreacting, if the way Kirishima was awkwardly staring at him was anything to go by. Despite this knowledge, he couldn’t quite bring himself to stop. He could never bring himself to stop when he got like this. “I’m not gonna call you a hero or praise you for something you chose to do on your own!”

“And I am not asking you to!”, Izuku said each word emphatically as if he thought Katsuki was a moron and goddamn it, he was about to punch this ghost in the fucking face. “How hard is it to get into your thick head that I didn’t do what I did because of second intentions?”

“The fuck did you just say to me?!”, Katsuki whispered dangerously, hoarsely, the vein in his temple going back to popping out violently. “Did you just call me a thick head?!”

“Oh, shit”, Kirishima muttered, standing up from the bed as well as looking conflicted. His eyes darted towards the door every other two seconds, desperate to get away before things got ugly. “I’d – I’d better go”, he announced nervously, but the words fell on deaf ears.

“Look, Kacchan, I’m sorry that me trying to prevent you from dying makes you so angry”, Izuku settled for replying instead, looking upset. “I wasn’t trying to get credit for it”, he shook his head. “I wasn’t trying to prove I’m better. I was just trying to protect you. Only that!”, he exclaimed, as if begging Katsuki to understand. He had a pleading look in his eyes and in his tone of voice. Katsuki gritted his teeth.

“You goddamn piece of shit”, he growled, shaking his head and stepping closer to Deku. Kirishima looked like he didn’t know whether he should stop Katsuki from attempting to punch a ghost or just flee from the scene at once. Katsuki stood right in front of Izuku with burning, crimson eyes. “What in fuck’s name were you thinking, throwing yourself in front of a villain with an unknown quirk?!”

Kirishima and Izuku froze, staring at Katsuki with blatant confusion.

“Wha–“, Izuku tried to say, but before he could get the words out, Katsuki exploded in furious shouting.

“Because if you weren’t trying to get credit for it or shove it in my face, then that means you actually threw yourself in front of the blast without knowing what the fuck it would do to you!”, he accused, taking another angry step towards Izuku. “What the fuck is wrong with you, shitty Deku?! Did your mom drop you on your head when you were a baby?”

Izuku continued to stare at Katsuki with wide eyes, parted lips, and a dumbfounded face that showed just how he was completely taken aback by the shift in that conversation. Kirishima looked equally confused.

“Kacchan –“, he tried to say, hesitant, at the same time Kirishima said:

“Bakugou –“

“Just shut the fuck up, the two of you!”, Katsuki yelled, running his fingers through his hair while trying not to accidentally blow up his own head. “God fucking damn it, of all the people in the world I could have ended up stuck with, it had to be the dumb piece of shit with a god complex and no self-preservation skills”, he growled angrily.

“Kacchan, just calm down –“, Izuku took a tentative step towards Katsuki.

“Don’t fucking tell me what to do, you damn nerd!”, Katsuki interrupted him, pointing an accusing finger at the boy. “You can’t even fend for yourself, don’t assume you know what’s best for me!”

“Bakugou, just take a breath and sit down before Recovery Girl makes you stay here longer!”, Kirishima argued, reaching a calming hand towards his friend. Katsuki growled lowly at the back of his throat, huffing out a breath and hesitating for a moment. When Kirishima took a hold of his arm, meaning to lead him back towards the bed, Katsuki yanked himself away from his friend’s grasp like a stubborn kid, but after a few moments of ponderation he threw himself on the bed, sitting with his legs criss-crossed and his shoulders hunched as a small sign of displeasure.

Izuku blinked slowly at Katsuki, looking a bit hurt by the fact that he had listened to Kirishima and not him, but he opted to say nothing.

“You have to calm down, man. Your head’s still healing and you can’t keep shouting so much at a medical bay”, Kirishima sat back down beside Katsuki, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. Katsuki immediately shrugged away from the touch.

“Tch. Yeah, whatever, shit hair”, Katsuki scoffed but agreed. Izuku frowned at this, looking almost offended.

“That’s what I’ve been telling you!”, he protested, stepping in front of Katsuki’s field of vision as if to draw his attention.

“Shut the fuck up, nerd”, Katsuki snapped at him. “You don’t get to tell me what’s best for me after you nearly got your ass killed over nothing”.

“It wasn’t over nothing”, Izuku’s frown deepened, stepping closer to Katsuki.

“Well, I can look after myself and I don’t need your shitty help!”, he protested, crossing his arms above his chest and giving Izuku a disapproving glare. “I was probably going to dodge anyway, so you just got ourselves into this situation over nothing!”

“You see? That’s why I didn’t tell you anything!”, Izuku pointed out. “You never believe anything I say, but as soon as anyone else says it, you believe them! Just ask Kirishima-kun if he thinks you were going to dodge or not, from what he saw in the footage!”, he gestured at where Kirishima was sitting, looking uncomfortable and confused.

“As if shitty hair would be able to tell”, Katsuki snorted through his nose, earning an offended frown from Kirishima.

“Wait! Are you two talking about me?”, he exclaimed, half-indignant and half-curious.

“Shut up”, Katsuki rolled his eyes, sounding a bit too defensive. He didn’t want to hear from his best friend that Deku was right, so it would be better not to ask in the first place.

“What is Midoriya saying? I want to know!”, Kirishima protested, curiosity overcoming indignation. Katsuki’s defensive tone only contributed to that feeling.

“Ask him if you were going to dodge!”, Izuku urged, taking advantage of Kirishima’s curious question.

“I already told you a hundred times that I’m not your fucking delivery boy!”, Katsuki responded, standing up from the bed again in his anger.

“Don’t you want to know?”, Izuku raised a defying eyebrow at him, the fucking brat. The way he spoke the words, as if he thought Katsuki was a fucking moron, as if he thought he had any right to act so smug and superior, as if he was right and Katsuki was wrong – all of that made a familiar mixture of emotions that only Deku could cause appear inside his chest and explode before he knew better.

“God, Deku, it’s like you’re fucking begging me to deck you every time you open your damn mouth!”, Katsuki said as he succumbed to old habits and pushed Izuku away, in the same way he had done so many times over the course of the many years they had known each other.

Except his hands didn’t run straight through Izuku’s ghost form, like he had expected them to.

His hands hit Izuku’s shoulders, shoving him away so harshly the boy fell on his butt with a yelp, looking as surprised as Katsuki was.

Katsuki had touched him.

Izuku blinked up at him from the floor, green eyes wide and mouth hanging open like a fish’s. Katsuki continued to stare at him in horror, and the look on his face sent a wave of fear through Kirishima. He had never seen such a look on Bakugou’s face before.

“What? What’s going on?”, he asked nervously from the bed, completely unaware that Katsuki had just touched Izuku even though he was a ghost. “Bakugou?”, he urged nervously when he received no reply, worried that something horrible had happened.

Instead of responding, Katsuki simply grabbed Kirishima by the hand, eyes never leaving Izuku’s form on the ground. He dragged Kirishima towards where Izuku was sitting, crouching down beside the fallen boy and dragging Kirishima down with him despite his confused yelps of protest. He led Kirishima’s hand towards Izuku’s shoulder, but the red haired boy’s hand just passed straight through Deku as if he was a hologram.

“Could you feel that?”, Katsuki asked, a serious, cautious look on his face that contrasted harshly from his eruptive anger from a few moments before. It looked as if he was finally allowing logic to take over anger, assessing the situation carefully and trying to reach a conclusion as to what the heck was happening. Kirishima frowned.

“Uh, no, I didn’t feel anything”, Kirishima said simply, staring at Katsuki with worry. Katsuki let go of his friend’s hand dismissively, eyes never leaving Izuku.

“Wasn’t talking to you”, he said simply, sustaining Izuku’s terrified gaze. Crimson and green were permanently locked, unable to break away.

“N-No”, Izuku responded hesitantly. “I didn’t feel anything”.

“Bakugou?”, Kirishima asked, confused and having no clue of what was happening as he kneeled on the floor beside Katsuki.

Katsuki slowly, carefully placed his hand on the top of Izuku’s, tentative at first, as if he feared his touch would go right through the boy as Kirishima’s had, but then hesitant once he was able to feel the skin of Izuku’s knuckles beneath the tip of his fingers. He looked at the place where their skins touched with attention before meeting Izuku’s eyes again.

“And this?”, he asked again, face impassive. Izuku looked like he was trying really hard not to blush. Kacchan didn’t sound soft, but he didn’t sound as angry as before, either. He sounded careful and analytic. “Can you feel this?”

“Y-Y-Yes”, Izuku said, voice wobbly with emotion. “I can feel it! I can feel you, Kacchan!”, he exclaimed, right before he launched himself onto Katsuki, enveloping in a tight hug and burying his face on the boy’s neck as he broke into sobs. He wasn’t completely unreachable. He could still be touched.

All Katsuki could think of was the way he had felt Izuku’s hair tickle him when he whispered in his ear on the previous night. The way his hair was tickling him on that moment, as he hugged Katsuki, was very similar. The damn nerd needed to get himself a haircut. He had assumed the tickle from the previous night to be a mere fruit of his imagination, a stupid way his brain found to compensate the paradox of Izuku being there and not being there at the same time. He had never considered the possibility that he could touch Izuku and have Izuku touch him back.

Even though Katsuki’s first instinct was to shove Deku away and mock him for hugging him and crying on his shoulder, something prevented him from doing so. In fact, he didn’t even complain about the hug – he merely stayed crouched there, arms hanging limply beside him as Izuku clung to him and sobbed, overwhelmed by the emotion of the discovery he was still tangible. Katsuki knew he should probably hug Deku back, but he just… couldn’t. He didn’t understand why, but he couldn’t. Maybe he just wasn’t a hugger. Maybe there was another unfathomable reason behind it.

“Bakugou?”, Kirishima asked, still very confused and not knowing what to do, seeing the uncomfortable – and slightly embarrassed – expression that had overtaken Katsuki’s face upon being hugged by the person he considered a rival.

“I…”, he hesitated, taken aback by the course of events. Never had he expected that he would actually be able to touch Izuku. Never had he expected that he would actually be able to reach him. That Izuku was still reachable. He didn’t know what that meant. In fact, if anything, he was afraid of what that meant. The words died on his tongue. There was no way he could explain what was happening, the unwanted intimacy of the touch he was sharing with Izuku, without making it sound even weirder than it felt.

“I can feel you!”, Izuku exclaimed again, breaking their awkward hug but letting his hands linger on Katsuki’s arms, as if he didn’t dare to break the contact now that he knew he could make it. His face was flushed and wet with emotion, and Katsuki finally broke away from Izuku’s overwhelming gaze, turning his head.

“Yeah”, Katsuki said, face blank and eyes distant. He looked troubled. For the first time in his life, he had no clue of what to do. No clue at all. “Yeah, I can feel you, too, Deku”, he settled for saying, nowhere as angrily as he had intended – not that it really mattered.

Chapter Text

Katsuki blinked blankly at All Might, Aizawa sensei and the principal of UA sitting in front of him.

Beside him, he could spot, from the corner of his eyes, the way Deku was fiddling with the hem of his shirt, so obviously nervous that it made Katsuki want to deck him. He continued to stare at his teachers and the principal with impassive eyes as he tried to make sense of what he had just been told. Of what they had just been told.

“So”, Katsuki finally said after what felt like an eternity of awkward silence. His eyes squinted as he said the words, marking his disbelief and, most of all, his discomfort with that situation clear. “What you’re saying is that… Deku’s soul is…”, he trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. All Might looked slightly embarrassed and almost sorry for him, so it was Aizawa sensei who responded, as serious as ever.

“Bound to yours”, he concluded, crossing his arms above his chest. Deku emitted a sound that was suspiciously like a muffled yelp from beside him, but Katsuki knew better than to even acknowledge it. “This is all theoretical, however. We won’t know for sure how this quirk works until we actually capture the villain who did this”, he shrugged. As if the subject they were discussing wasn’t a big deal. As if Deku’s soul being literally bound to Katsuki’s was just occupational hazard.

“And how close are we to capturing him?”, Deku asked anxiously, leaning slightly forwards in anticipation, at the same time Katsuki asked:

“But what the fuck is that supposed to mean, bound?”

Aizawa sensei, having only heard Katsuki’s question, sighed heavily and leaned back on his chair, looking like he wasn’t in the mood for dealing with his student’s moody attitude. This time, All Might was the one who answered him, looking like he was trying his best not to make Katsuki freak out because of the information he was about to hear. The fact that he was even trying only made Katsuki’s desire to blow up the entire room increase.

“From what we could gather from your testimony, the surveillance images of the alley, and quirk records, the villain’s blow detached young Midoriya’s soul from his body, as you know”, he started. “We found past quirks that behaved in a similar way, so that is not impossible. However, since you can see and interact with young Midoriya when none of us can, we reached the conclusion that your souls must have been connected to each other in a way. It was probably not the villain’s intention to do so, but given that he opted to run away instead of killing you off while you were both unconscious, we can only assume that something must have gone wrong. We also have records of soul-binding quirks, but they are extremely rare and…”, he trailed off again, lowering his head slightly. Katsuki definitely didn’t like the look of that, or the path that conversation seemed to be taking.

“And what?”, he urged, a bit too aggressively, especially given the fact that he was talking not only to a teacher, but to All Might.

“The aftermath is often…”, Aizawa sensei spoke up instead, staring deeply into Katsuki’s eyes. “Unpleasant”.

“U-Unpleasant?”, Deku muttered hesitantly from beside Katsuki.

“The hell is that supposed to mean?”, Katsuki growled, even though he was also feeling… weird. He couldn’t quite describe the sensation, but there was something cold weighting down on the pit of his stomach.

“We don’t want to rush into conclusions”, Principal Nezu interrupted, sounding as calm and gentle as ever, which contrasted with All Might’s grim expression and Aizawa sensei’s sulking look. “All quirks are different and none behaves the same. We shouldn’t measure our chances at success based on previous attempts when it comes to this type of situation, especially when there are such singular differences amongst quirks. For now, you must focus on catching up with the two days’ worth of classes you lost. We will update you on the progress of our searches for the villain and inform you should anything change”, he offered Katsuki a small smile, which the boy certainly didn’t repay.

“But you said soul-binding quirks are rare”, Katsuki said, ignoring Principal Nezu’s obvious dismissal. “Which means you couldn’t have found many occurrences. This can only mean –“

As – the Principal has said”, Aizawa sensei cut Katsuki short, giving him a warning glare. His teachers may have already gotten used to his disrespectful behavior, even if they didn’t condone it, but talking back to – or even worse, ignoring – the Principal of UA was not something Katsuki would be able to get away with, concussed or not. “You should focus on making up for the lost time. We are more than competent to track this villain down and restore Midoriya’s soul to his body on our own, Bakugou”, he added, as if predicting that Katsuki would want to take part into the investigations.

“Yeah, but how can I concentrate on studying and making up for the lost time when I have a mumbling nerd glued to me 24/7?”, Katsuki complained, sparing the still nervous Deku beside him one quick disapproving glance. He turned back to Aizawa sensei before Deku could protest. “I’d be more useful helping you track this villain down. We all know I’m on top of my class, so missing a few days won’t affect shit for me. Plus, I’ve faced this guy before”, he pointed out, hopeful. He didn’t think he’d be able to just sit down and wait until someone captured the villain for him, especially when he had shitty Deku glued to him like a flea. More than that, even – Katsuki couldn’t stand the thought that a stupid villain like that had almost taken him down, and that someone else would get to do the honors of capturing him. He convinced himself that this wasn’t just a matter of getting rid of Deku – this was a matter of defending his honor, too.

“Young Bakugou, you are still injured”, All Might pointed out calmly, protesting Katsuki’s demand as he had expected to, so, before he could continue, Katsuki interrupted him.

“Recovery Girl said I’m getting cleared out –“

Soon”, Aizawa sensei cut him short again, pointing Katsuki with a slightly more irritated glare. Principal Nezu watched the exchange with his same usual peaceful expression, but something about his eyes made Katsuki feel uneasy. “Not now. Recovery Girl said you would be dismissed soon. And we need to work on capturing this villain immediately, or as soon as possible”, he sighed. “Besides, we wouldn’t allow a first-year student to take part on such a dangerous mission, especially when another student’s life is on the line”, he concluded, his tone leaving no space for refutation.

Katsuki squinted his eyes, suspicion mixing with the cold feeling on his stomach. There was something else going on – something they weren’t telling him. Of course, it wasn’t exactly best-case scenario to have one of UA’s students lying brain-dead in a hospital bed after a villain attack during a training session, but Katsuki could see no reason behind Aizawa’s sensei and Principal Nezu’s desperate rush to find the villain and shove Deku’s soul back into his body. Katsuki could understand All Might’s urge to do so, now that he knew about the man’s weird relationship with the nerd, but the two other’s… There was something off about it. Katsuki was sure they couldn’t be in a rush because they took pity on him being stuck with Deku for longer than necessary. There was something else behind it, especially because Aizawa sensei said Deku’s life was on the line. The hell was that supposed to mean? As far as Katsuki knew, Deku’s soul had been set lose, yeah, but he wasn’t under any imminent risk of dying for real. Was he?

… Was he?

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”, he asked, making sure Aizawa sensei could read the suspicion etched in his crimson eyes. None of the three men replied, so he continued. “Why immediately? The fuck do you mean Deku’s life is on the line?”

“Shouta”, Principal Nezu said simply, a hidden warning in his tone.

“It is better for them to know –“, Aizawa sensei tried to protest with a sigh, but Principal Nezu stood up, calmly making his way around the table separating him from Katsuki and standing in front of the boy, right beside Deku. Katsuki stared at the small Principal with respect, but didn’t allow his glare to falter.

“Young Bakugou”, Principal Nezu said, voice calm. “You should return to the medical bay. You still need to rest if you plan on recovering and returning to your classes as soon as possible. We will inform you should you be needed, or should any news regarding the villain arise”.

“Yeah, ok, but what should me and Deku know?”, Katsuki turned to look at Aizawa sensei, who had a very serious expression on his face. Now that Principal Nezu had stopped his teacher from saying what he wanted, Katsuki could clearly see that Aizawa sensei had been subtly dropping hints from him to catch on, almost as if he wanted to help Katsuki figure things out on his own. The man turned his head away from him, but Katsuki wasn’t letting the subject drop that easily. “Sensei?”, he urged.

“Young Bakugou”, it was All Might who responded, standing up from his seat and walking towards him, just as Principal Nezu had. “Listen to the Principal. Go back to the medical bay and rest. We can talk about this once you are fully recovered”.

Katsuki glared at the superhero with the fury of a thousand suns, mixed emotions filling his chest. He was desperate to know what the precise hell these people meant by saying Deku’s life was on the line. He wanted to figure out what having the shitty nerd attached to his soul like a flea meant. He needed to know why they were keeping secrets, why Aizawa sensei was trying to drop hints for him, why Principal Nezu seemed so adamant at getting rid of him before he could learn too much.

But, at the same time, there was a silent pleading in All Might’s eyes, a silent warning in Aizawa sensei’s, and an unreadable look in Principal Nezu’s. As much as Katsuki hated it, his only course of action was to fall back. Even though he was stubborn and hot-heated, he knew better than to go against the Principal of the UA, who could expel his ass in the blink of an eye if he wanted to.

“Fine”, he huffed out a grumpy, disrespectful breath, standing up from his seat and shoving his hands into his pockets in annoyance. There was a constant grimace on his face, but that was nothing new.

“Don’t worry, Young Bakugou”, All Might said, passing an arm around Katsuki’s shoulder and tapping it paternally. Katsuki told himself that he was definitely not freaking out inside for having All Might half-hug him like that. “We will not keep you in the dark. We just ask that you rest and get your strength back, while trusting us to deal with the fight this time”.

“Heh. Whatever”, he scoffed, forcing himself to shrug All Might’s protective arm off before he could actually feel embarrassed by it. Pointedly not looking at Deku, Katsuki turned his back on the three men in the room and, without bidding his goodbyes or being formally excused, walked out of Principal Nezu’s office without glancing back. None of his teachers scolded him for it.

He didn’t need to turn and look to know Deku was tagging along – it wasn’t like the nerd had any other choice. However, even without looking, he could just tell that Deku was probably freaking out over all the information they had received in the past few minutes. Their souls were bounded, and there seemed to be a death clock looming over Deku’s head. Katsuki could almost hear the whirring of wheels inside Deku’s brain, if the way he kept muttering under his breath was anything to go by.

“What the fuck did I tell you about muttering, you damn nerd?”, Katsuki asked after a while, without looking at Deku, continuing his calm walk towards Recovery Girl’s medbay. The boy’s muttering, along with his constant crying, had always pissed the hell out of Katsuki, and he was sure he would probably descend into actual madness if he was forced to hear it 24/7. Dealing with the shitty nerd being glued to him 24/7 was already too much.

If Katsuki was being honest, he wasn’t particularly looking forward to returning to the heroine’s white rooms and wrinkled kisses – if there was something he wanted to do was to lie down on his own bed, of his own UA room, in the peace and quiet of his private space. Alone. No annoying Deku around, no annoying parents, no annoying teachers, no annoying friends, no annoying villains. He’d only been glued – he refused to use the word bound – to Deku for a couple of days, and he was already desperate for space.

Deku, however, was either too busy with his ponderations to hear Katsuki’s scolding or downright ignored him, which only made the explosive boy’s anger increase. He stopped on his tracks in the middle of the corridor, so abruptly that Deku, distracted, bumped into him with a surprised yelp (Katsuki decided not to dwell on the fact that touching Deku felt especially weird now, not because of the touching itself but because he was the only one who currently could). Taken away from his own loud thoughts and looking up at Katsuki with wide, green eyes, Deku stared up at him with confusion, as if trying to figure out why they had suddenly stopped.

And fuck, now that Deku’s eyes had locked with his, Katsuki couldn’t look away. He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t look away.

“Kacchan”, Deku frowned slightly after several awkward, silent seconds passed and Katsuki did nothing other than stare at him with what looked like a death glare. “Is everything all right?”

Kacchan!

The huge, expressive eyes assumed a worried glance and Katsuki couldn’t take it anymore. There was something unsettling about those eyes, but he couldn’t – for the life of him, he couldn’t – he couldn’t – remember – …

Dead.

Deku’s eyes had been dead.

The memory came to him as if in a flash, a spark, something that was sudden and abrupt and that was gone as quickly as it started. He didn’t know what caused the flashback or if it would have even happened had he not stared into Deku’s eyes for so long, but now all he could see were half-lidded, dead eyes that were vacant, expressionless, empty, dead, dead, dead, dead. He didn’t know why it upset him so much. He couldn’t understand. He didn’t understand. He’d fantasized about killing Deku so many times – why did the sight upset him so much, now?

What had changed?

“Kacchan!”, Deku exclaimed, his worry increasing a tenfold as he noticed the way Katsuki’s eyes widened and his face paled as if he had seen a ghost. His gaze was distant, as if he was stuck in a memory, but the way his breathing pattern suddenly increased showed that there was something making him distressed. Instinctively, Deku reached towards the boy in front of him, grabbing one of his arms in a desperate attempt to help him. “Kacchan! What’s wrong?!”

Touching Katsuki – or rather, squeezing one of his arms – seemed to be what it took to break him from his trance, and in a moment, his eyes had regained their sharpness and focus. Staring deeply into Deku’s eyes for what felt like an eternity, Katsuki yanked his arm away from Deku’s loosening grip and scoffed at him, pointing him with a disgusted, disapproving look that didn’t feel entirely wholehearted, neither to Katsuki nor to Izuku.

“Don’t touch me, scum”, he growled in his usual tone, staring at Deku for a few more seconds as if he wanted to be sure of something before turning on his heels and resuming his walk. “And stop fucking muttering. It’s driving me crazy”, he added over his shoulder, not really bothering to look directly at Deku as he spoke. He shoved his hands into his pockets again and hunched over, resuming his walk back to his room at the medical bay. Izuku stared at Katsuki for a few confused seconds before following him, as he had done all his life. Apparently, some things never changed.

If Katsuki hadn’t been able to take his eyes off Izuku a few moments before, now he seemed to be avoiding him like the plague. The two boys walked side by side towards the medical bay in a trek that felt longer than ever, the tense silence between them weighting heavy on their shoulders. Izuku had no idea what had upset Kacchan so much or why he had reacted in such way – it was usual for him to be aggressive to Izuku, especially when he touched him, but there was something different about his reaction his time. If Izuku didn’t know better – if Izuku hadn’t known Kacchan for his entire life – he would have described him almost as…

Almost as scared.

If anything, the thought of Kacchan, of all people, feeling scared, made Izuku pretty scared, too.

Lowering his head and fiddling with the hem of his shirt awkwardly, Izuku struggled to keep up with Kacchan’s quick pace. Seeing the brave, relentless boy look so disturbed by something he couldn’t name made anxiety creep up inside of him, and the need to mutter his thoughts aloud became almost irresistible. There were just so many thoughts in his head. He knew better than to do that, though.

Izuku knew Katsuki didn’t like him. The thought hurt him like hell – he learned how to deal with this feeling after he made friends for the first time in his life at the UA, but to know that Kacchan, his childhood best friend, his parameter for victory, hated him, still stung after all those years of bullying and violence. Izuku couldn’t help but to admire Kacchan, despite of everything that had happened between them. He only wished the feeling was requited.

But the fact was Kacchan hated him, no matter what Izuku’s wishes were, and being stuck with him, of all people, was probably a nightmare for the explosive boy. As much as Izuku wished Kacchan would at least tolerate and respect him, he didn’t want to impose himself onto the boy like that. And, despite of it not being his fault, imposing his presence onto Kacchan was precisely what he was doing. The least he could do was to respect the boy’s wishes and not mutter, since Kacchan despised it so much.

But still. So. Many. Thoughts. He needed to let them all out in some way.

“W-What do you think Aizawa sensei meant?”, Izuku asked hesitantly, already panting from having to walk so fast in order to keep up with Kacchan. “When he said a student’s life was on the line?”

Instead of responding, Katsuki simply scoffed, avoiding to look at Izuku’s general direction. Izuku stared at him for a few moments, hoping that the boy would answer his question, but Katsuki simply continued to walk. They entered Recovery Girl’s med bay, and headed towards the elevator. Izuku tried to press the button to call for it out of habit, frustration filling him when his hand phased right through the wall. Katsuki couldn’t help but to roll his eyes at the sight, pressing the button himself and waiting for the doors to open.

“I – I didn’t think I was in danger of – of actually… you know”, Izuku shrugged, giving another go at making conversation with Kacchan. The boy continued to stare straight ahead in silence, hands shoved in his pockets and face grim with annoyance. “Sure, it’s horrible that I’m stuck out of my body, but – I thought we just needed to capture the villain. I didn’t think that I’d –“, he trailed off again, lips sealing shut. He realized with a twist in his chest that he never even considered the possibility that he was under risk of dying. It was obvious, now that he thought about it – his soul was literally disconnected from his body. That’s as close to dying a person can get without actually kicking the bucket, right?

But now, as the threat of actually losing his life, of ceasing to exist, of… drifting off. It was real. It was very real. And it made dread appear at the bottom of his stomach.

He didn’t want to die. He was All Might’s successor. He was meant to be the new symbol of peace, now that All Might couldn’t be anymore. He didn’t want to disappoint his mentor. He didn’t want to go without at least passing One For All for the next successor. He didn’t want to leave his mom.

Oh, god, his mom. What would she do if he died like that? Who would take care of her? Who would comfort her? How could he leave her? And All Might, and his legacy; how could he go without ensuring it would live on? How could he be such a disappointment –

“Quit the bullshit”, Kacchan broke him off his thoughts, speaking for the first time since he abruptly yanked himself away from Izuku’s touch. He still wasn’t looking at him, and when the elevator pinged open in front of them, he stepped in unceremoniously, Izuku following him close. He was watching Kacchan like a hawk, confused and afraid, but it took him a few silent moments before he continued speaking. “I’m not gonna give you a hug, or pat your back, or tell you everything will be ok. I’m not one of your shitty melodramatic friends. If you’re looking for comfort, go bug someone else off”.

Izuku frowned. That – that wasn’t what he was trying to achieve. He was just voicing his thoughts. Had his sudden fear of dying been that obvious?

“S-Sorry”, he ended up saying, even though he wasn’t entirely sure what he was sorry about. “That wasn’t – it wasn’t what I meant”.

“I don’t care what the fuck you meant, just quit being such a cry baby over everything for once in your damn life”, Kacchan growled, tilting his head away from Izuku. A long silence stretched between them – Izuku had no idea what he could say without giving the wrong impression. The elevator door opened, and they both stepped out. They were nearing Kacchan’s bedroom.

They entered it silently, Kacchan holding the door for Izuku in order to close it after him, since the boy wouldn’t be able to do it himself – his hand would phase right through it. Once the door was closed and whatever little privacy Katsuki could maintain was preserved, he kicked his shoes off and threw himself on the bed. His head didn’t hurt as much, thankfully, and he sighed in relief.

Izuku lingered awkwardly in the middle of the bedroom, not knowing what to do with himself. Even though he was a ghost, sleeping on the floor was making his back grow achy and his shoulders become sore, but he couldn’t tell Kacchan that. He would just be accused of being a cry baby again. So he simply sat on the floor beside Kacchan’s bed as he had been doing for the past days, crossing his legs beneath him and trying to decipher what Aizawa sensei had meant by everything he had said during their meeting.

He hadn’t expected Kacchan to speak up again.

“You’re not dying, Deku”, he said quietly, calmly. There was something weird about his tone of voice and, if Izuku bothered to turn his head around, he would have been able to see Kacchan’s face. He didn’t do that, however. It didn’t feel right. Instead, he simply sat on the floor and stared straight ahead. “So quit dwelling over it. They’re probably just trying to get your shitty ghost back into your body as soon as possible before the media blasts their asses. They’re not the only ones looking forward to do that”.

Izuku gave off a tiny chuckle at the comment. It was so like Kacchan to say something like that.

“Y-Yeah”, Izuku agreed. “You’re probably right”, he admitted, even though he knew that Kacchan probably wasn’t, despite of everything.

“I know I’m fucking right”, Kacchan scoffed, shifting on the bed. Izuku heard the sound of covers being pulled as Kacchan nestled himself to sleep.

“You’re going to sleep again, Kacchan?”, he asked, doing his best to keep the worry off his tone. He knew Kacchan needed to rest, but he also knew he had been sleeping too much. It made him worried.

“None of your business, you damn nerd”, Kacchan responded simply with his usual growl. “Just stop overthinking about the meeting and keep your nose off what I do. I’m not letting you die, so just chill out”.

Izuku’s eyes widened slightly. Had he heard it right?

He continued so stare straight ahead at the floor, a blush creeping up to his cheeks. He couldn’t look at Kacchan. The silence between them was verging on unbearable.

“Don’t think too much of yourself”, Kacchan scoffed after what felt like an eternity, sounding a bit too defensive. “There’s no way I can beat your shitty nerd ass if you’re dead, so I’m not letting that happen. You don’t get to take the easy way out against me, dumbass”.

Izuku smiled, even though his face was red. Yeah, that made more sense.

“Don’t worry, Kacchan. I can’t surpass you if I’m dead either, so that’s not happening”, he said simply, almost teasing, hugging his knees to his chest. He was used to the lack of physical contact – he spent most of his life without friends, and the only person who ever hugged him was his mom. He knew how to do without touching. But still, back then – he was able to touch people if he wanted to. Now, the only one he could touch was Kacchan, and Kacchan – well.

Angry with Izuku’s comment but too tired to blast his nerdy ass into the afterlife, Katsuki simply launched one pillow at the boy. It phased right through Izuku and plopped uselessly at the floor, neither of the boys making any sort of effort to pick it back up.

 

 

 

 

 

Katsuki was cleared out of the infirmary on the following day, receiving advice from Recovery Girl not to exert himself for at least a week and return to her if he felt anything out of the ordinary. Apparently, the hit he had taken to the head – thanks to Deku launching himself at Full Cowl towards him – had been really serious and, if it hadn’t been for Recovery Girl’s powers, he would have probably been in a coma. He wanted to scream. Hah. Him, getting in a fucking coma because of shitty Deku. What a fucking joke.

It would have been a fucking joke, had he heard it a year back. Now, Katsuki knew full well that Deku had enough power to yank his spine off his body using only one hand, if he wanted to. He would never admit it out loud, but that didn’t change the fact that he knew it.

Since Recovery Girl cleared him out in the nighttime, Katsuki decided he could stall for time for a bit instead of heading straight to the students’ dormitory. He didn’t want to have to deal with shitty hair and dumb Pikachu spamming him with questions he didn’t want to answer, or with the attention he was sure he’d receive. He didn’t think he would have a better mood to deal with it in the morning, but at least he’d be more well-rested. He was sure a good night of sleep in his own bed was bound to make him feel better. Despite of looking comfortable, the medical bay’s bed was killing his back. It felt constantly achy and sore, as if he had been sleeping on the floor, instead of a mattress.

Deku followed Katsuki around quietly as he paced through the UA grounds, hoping no one would find him and tell him to go to the dormitory. All he wanted was a few moments of peace, of quiet, or privacy – or, at least, as much privacy as he could get with Deku attached to him like a flea. God, it was pissing him off so much. He tried not to think about it, and even though Deku was at least respectful enough to stay quiet while he walked around, Katsuki still couldn’t ignore green hair and lively eyes whenever he turned his head to the side.

It was almost midnight when Deku finally spoke up, having miraculously broken the record and managing to stay silent for almost two hours straight.

“Kacchan”, he said quietly, almost as if not to startle Katsuki. He sounded hesitant. “Aren’t you feeling tired?”

“Hah”, Katsuki scoffed, a mocking grin appearing on his face. “Walking around for two little hours makes you exhausted, nerd?”, he teased. Deku blushed and looked defensive all of a sudden.

“What? No!”, he protested. “It’s just you’ve been really tired lately, and sleeping a lot, so I figured you would want to head straight to bed once you were cleared out of the medical bay”, he justified, frowning. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, but you forgot to take your shitty friends into account”, he explained. “I’m not really in the mood of dealing with a bunch of people hovering all around me and asking me stupid questions”.

The answer Deku gave him was certainly not what he had been expecting.

“T-They’re… They’re your friends, too, Kacchan”, he said, frown deepening, sounding almost pitying. Rage boiled inside of Katsuki, and he turned his head to glare at Deku with a disgusted scowl appearing on his lips.

“God, you’re pathetic”, he accused. “Get the hell away from me with this sentimental bullshit”.

“But they are!”, Deku protested, following Katsuki when he turned on his heels and marched away. “Really, I mean it. I’m sure they must be worried about you, and if they ask you questions, it’s because they care! That’s a good thing!”

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about”, he scoffed. He couldn’t tell why, but Deku’s words were making him angrier than usual. “But there’s nothing good about having a bunch of assholes cornering me and pissing me off, so shut the hell up”.

“I really don’t get you sometimes, Kacchan”, Deku pushed, walking alongside the boy and looking serious. “Why are you so afraid –“

He was cut off by Katsuki stopping abruptly and turning on his heels, one of his hands shoving Deku back with such harshness that the boy lost balance and fell on his butt with a yelp. Katsuki stood in front of him, staring down at his surprised form with a murderous glare and balled fists.

“I thought I told you to mind your own fucking business”, he hissed, fury so evident in his voice that Deku’s eyes widened. “I’m not afraid of any fucking thing, so just shut the fuck up and keep your stupid advice for your damn self. If you were so good at making friends, you wouldn’t have spent most of your life as a friendless loser”, he spat, accusing. The moment when Deku’s eyes turned from shocked to hurt was almost tangible, and Katsuki convinced himself that the twinging feeling inside his chest was disgust, and not guilt, at the expression that took over the fallen boy’s face.

“That was unnecessary, Kacchan”, Deku’s breath was shaky and heavy, as if he was fighting back tears. He leaned his hands on the grassy floor and got back to his feet, standing up in an awkward position. A spike of pain went up Katsuki’s spine, making him bite back a hiss. If this weird ass pain didn’t disappear after he slept on his proper bed, he would be forced to talk to Recovery Girl.

“Yeah?”, Katsuki raised one eyebrow, ignoring the pain and closing the space between himself and Deku. Deku didn’t flinch back as he usually would, which unsettled Katsuki. After they entered UA, Deku seemed to lose his fear of him – if anything, the little shit grew braver and braver every day. This drove Katsuki crazy. The need to put Deku back into his place was more overwhelming than ever. “I think it was necessary as fuck. Because you seem to be under the impression that we’re friends now, just because I can’t get rid of you, even though I have told you time and time again we’re anything but. So it’s about time you wake the hell up to reality and stop pretending you care just because you want me to pretend I care in return. I told you I ain’t gonna comfort you, I ain’t gonna braid your hair and I ain’t gonna give you a get-well-soon hug, so stop trying so hard, you desperate piece of shit”, he spat venomously.

His heart hurt, his head hurt, his back hurt, and he felt more tired than ever. Suddenly, his pleasant walk across the empty grounds of the UA didn’t seem so pleasant anymore, and even going back to the dormitory to face his horribly loud, nosy friends seemed like a better option than having this conversation with Deku. Leave it to fucking Deku to ruin one of his favorite habits, god damn it. He hated him so much, his heart felt like it was breaking.

Fuck, now that he thought about it, his heart really did feel like it was breaking. What the fuck was that about?

Deku was hiding his face behind the crook of his arm as if he didn’t want Katsuki to see him crying, so Katsuki complied to his wish. A lifetime of seeing Deku cry was already enough, and he turned on his heels to march to the opposite direction from where he had been heading. Heading towards the dormitory, it didn’t take Katsuki too long to hear the sound of Deku following him, clearly not due to his own will. However, to his surprise, he was soon stopped on his tracks as an unseen force pushed him back the way he came, so abruptly he lost balance. Looking back, he found Deku standing up and staring at him with a shocked look.

Had he just – ?

“If we’re soulbound, then it must work both ways”, he said with curiosity, cleaning his running nose with the back of his hand and sniffing. Deku’s face was damp with tears, but he looked hurt and determined at the same time. Katsuki got back to his feet, ignoring the pain on his back and glaring daggers at the boy in front of him. “I’m not going anywhere, Kacchan”, Deku had the audacity to announce. He sounded familiarly relentless.

“We’ll see about that, you damn nerd”, Katsuki growled in an animalistic way before taking several steps back as abruptly as he could, rejoicing in the way Deku was forced forwards, in his direction. Before he could continue, however, Deku planted the heels of his feet on the floor and brought Katsuki to another abrupt stop.

“If I have to follow you around, then you’ll have to follow me around, too”, Deku announced stubbornly, making Katsuki’s blood boil. “We need to talk about this, for once".

“You’re the one who’s supposed to follow me around, asshole!”, Katsuki spat, taking another abrupt step away and dragging Deku with him again in the process. Deku, in his turn, took a step to the opposite direction, dragging Katsuki with him by their invisible bond. It was like a stupid game of tug-of-war, except the rope was invisible and they were both aggressively desperate to win. “Quit doing that!”, Katsuki protested, furious. “I’ll fuck you up if you do it again!”

“Just tell me one thing, then!”, Deku said seriously, eyes unrelenting. The green glistened in the darkness of the night, and Katsuki did his best to ignore the weird feeling that appeared at the pit of his stomach at the sight. “One thing, then I’ll stop resisting”.

“You’re not in the position to bargain with me, you dumbfuck!”, Katsuki snarled, trying to walk away again. Deku prevented him from doing so, which infuriated him even more.

“I just want to know why you think that of me”, Deku said, ignoring Katsuki’s response. The boy sounded tired, all of a sudden. As if he was done being mistreated by Katsuki for no reason – and he sure as fuck had taken his time getting fed up. “Why you always think the worse about me”, he added, tilting his head slightly to the side. Katsuki could tell that Deku was being serious about this whole “let’s talk our feelings out without punching each other for once” thing, but, unfortunately to all parts involved, he was having none of it.

“I think the worse because you’re the worst!”, Katsuki accused, managing to take several steps and drag Deku behind him before Deku halted him and dragged him back.

“I’m serious, Kacchan!”, Deku shouted, suddenly impatient. “You always think I’m trying to use you! You always accuse me of thinking I’m better than you, or of thinking things that are not true. You just said I was pretending to care about you! I know you know that’s not true!”

“You don’t know anything, damn Deku”, Katsuki growled, furious, struggling to get the hell away from Deku and failing miserably. His hands were starting to pop with tiny explosions as he failed to control his increasing rage, the sweet smell of nitroglycerin filling the night air.

“Yes, I do”, Deku talked back to him. God, Katsuki missed the time when Deku was afraid of him and actually respected him enough to keep his damn mouth shut. “You have to know that’s not true. Kacchan”, he shook his head, voice more honest than Katsuki had ever heard it. “I gave my life for yours. Do you really think I did that because I was pretending to care? Or because I wanted recognition? Or because of any of the other reasons you came up with?”

“Shut up!”, Katsuki growled, not liking the turn this conversation was taking. He didn’t want to talk about any of it – his meaningless antagonism towards Deku, his bullying, his abuse, his shitty way of dealing with the stuff he was never taught how to handle, and the way it all resulted on Deku sacrificing his own life for his sake anyway. Did the stupid brat have no self-preservation whatsoever? Why the fuck would he throw his life on the line for someone who called him useless and beat him up?

What upset Katsuki so much was that, even back when he was quirkless, Deku was already a nobler hero than he would ever manage to be. And that infuriated him to no end.

“It was because I care about you, and I didn’t want you to die”, Deku continued, staring deep into Katsuki's eyes. He took a step closer to Katsuki, meaning to close the distance between them. There was a pleading look in his green, alive eyes, as if he was silently begging Katsuki to understand. “Is that really so hard to believe?”, he added quietly.

Yes”, Katsuki scoffed without missing a beat, without pretending he was even considering attending to Deku’s request, angry, raw, and sincere. He didn’t want to have this conversation, but now that Deku had probed at his open wound, he might as well address the subject – the dreaded subject that had been pissing him off for years now, and that had taken him a long, long time to come to terms with. “Yes, it fucking is hard to believe”, he emphasized, hating the way his words sounded self-deprecating.

“Why?”, Deku asked, sounding desperate to understand. Why is it so hard for you to believe that I care about you when all you’ve done your entire life was bully me and treat me like shit, right? God, Deku had to be fucking kidding him. He took another step closer to Katsuki, but Katsuki didn’t take a step back. “I don’t understand, Kacchan. I respect you and admire you. I – I understand if you don’t respect me or admire me. I never asked you to. I – I haven’t earned it yet, not really. But that is still a long way away from thinking – from thinking those things you think of me. I don’t understand why you think I would be – using you or – or this other stuff you say sometimes. I don’t understand why you close yourself off from your friends. I – I just –“

“Bakugou?”, a new voice cut Izuku off before he could finish his question. Both Izuku’s and Katsuki’s heads immediately snapped towards the sound, only to find Tokoyami standing several feet away from them in the darkness of the street. The realization that he could only see Katsuki, not Izuku, and that, to him, it probably looked like Bakugou was struggling and arguing with thin air, made everyone involved feel incredibly embarrassed.

“What the fuck are you doing out here, bird-brain?”, Katsuki scowled in annoyance, trying to hide his embarrassment behind anger (as usual). Tokoyami seemed unaffected by the boy’s harsh words, continuing to stare at him with his usual neutral expression.

“I could ask you the same”, Tokoyami said simply. “Shouldn’t you be at the medical bay?”

“I got cleared out tonight”, Katsuki scoffed. “Not that it’s any of your business”.

Izuku sighed heavily and lowered his head, shaking it slightly in disapproval.

“See, this is exactly what I was talking about –“

“God, just shut the fuck up”, Katsuki groaned, closing his eyes for the briefest of seconds before he could lose his cool for good. He ignored the pop-pop-pop his hands were emitting despite of his best efforts.

“I didn’t say anything”, Tokoyami raised an eyebrow, assuming Katsuki’s scolding had been directed towards him.

“Not you”, Katsuki sighed. He was so fucking tired of having to explain who he was talking to all the time just because shitty Deku had gone and made himself invisible to everyone else.

“Oh”, Tokoyami said simply, staring blankly at the direction he assumed Izuku was standing. “I see”, he added simply. Comprehensively. “Well, why didn’t you head back to the dormitory once you got cleared out? Our friends are worried about you”.

Deku pointed Katsuki with a look that said “see? I told you they cared” at the same time Katsuki pointed Deku with a look that said “see? I told you they would all ask too many fucking questions as soon as they laid eyes on me”.

“I didn’t go back because I didn’t fucking feel like it”, Katsuki walked towards Tokoyami, Deku being dragged abruptly behind him by an invisible cord. Since their discussion had been interrupted by Tokoyami, it made no sense for Izuku to keep struggling against the force that drew him to Kacchan, so he allowed himself to be dragged along by the explosive boy. Katsuki's words were unnecessarily harsh and impolite, but that was nothing new. “Does that answer your question?”

“I can see having your skull cracked did nothing to change your sour mood", Tokoyami commented absentmindedly, walking alongside Katsuki (and, by default, Deku) as the explosive boy caught up with him. They reentered the main road that led back towards the dormitory together. “Still, I’m glad to see you back on your feet”.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Pidgeotto”, Katsuki scoffed, shoving his hands into his pockets. Deku pointed him with a disapproving look which had so much judgement in it that Katsuki couldn’t simply ignore. “What?”, he asked, head snapping towards Deku. “You want me to give bird-brain a hug too just because he’s nosy?”, he snarled. Tokoyami watched the interaction with nothing other than silent interest, eyes widening a little in surprise as he watched Katsuki address… nothing.

“He was being nice to you”, Deku pointed out as if it was obvious. “It wouldn’t hurt to be nice back”.

“Yes, it would”, Katsuki rolled his eyes as he kept on walking alongside Tokoyami, talking about him as if he wasn’t even there.

“No, Kacchan, it wouldn’t!”, Deku exclaimed with a chuckle, as if Katsuki’s lack of proper manners was extremely endearing to him. “Why don’t you just try it?”, he raised one eyebrow, as if he was suggesting something as simple as changing clothes. As if Katsuki was actually capable of doing that.

The fact that Deku was able to do something as simple as being nice so naturally, as if it was second nature to him, while Katsuki struggled to even say “thank you” made him want to blow a hole on the concrete beneath his feet.

“Who the fuck do you think you are? Just shut the hell up and remember your place", Katsuki growled, turning his head towards Deku and speaking in a low voice as if he didn’t want Tokoyami to hear him – or see him talking to a ghost. Probably reading the silent warning in Katsuki's crimson eyes, Deku opened and closed his mouth as if he still wanted to say something, but ended up sealing his lips with a frustrated look – which seemed almost disappointed.

“So”, Tokoyami said after a few moments of awkward, silent walking. “How's Midoriya holding up?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes so hard he almost managed to see his own brain. He couldn’t really blame Tokoyami for asking about Deku’s well-being, instead of his – for all bird-brain knew, all he’d get in response was another bitter remark if he as much as dared to ask about how Katsuki was doing. Little did he know that, when it came to Katsuki, getting a bitter remark as a response was the only possible outcome.

“Tch. From the way he keeps blabbing in my ear, you would never guess this asshole is in a coma”, Katsuki scoffed, shrugging. Tokoyami nodded and hummed low in his throat, going back to being silent. Deku lowered his head slightly beside him as they walked, but didn’t say anything.

They were nearing the dormitory now and, even from the ground floor, the three boys could see that some of the lights were still on, ergo, some of their friends were still up. Katsuki sighed, bracing himself. Maybe if he offered one quick, rude enough response, they would leave him alone for the night. It was just a matter of scaring them into giving him personal space.

Tokoyami had his eyes glued on Katsuki, full of attention, and before the latter could burst through the door unceremoniously like he always did, he reached out and grabbed one of Katsuki's arms. Snapping his head towards Tokoyami with an indignant look, which contrasted with Deku's surprised one, Katsuki didn’t remove his arm from Tokoyami's grasp as he normally would. Instead, he simply stared, waiting for an explanation that justified that unusual touch.

“I could distract them”, Tokoyami explained quietly, the look on his face unreadable. “So you won’t have to deal with them tonight”.

Eh?”, Katsuki frowned, confused by Tokoyami's unprecedented display of kindness towards him. “Why the hell would you do that for?”

“You just look like you could use the rest”, Tokoyami shrugged. “Or like you will blow up half of the dormitory if someone as much as looks at your general direction”.

Those were fair reasons, if he was being honest. He could definitely use the rest (not that he would ever admit it), and he wouldn’t underestimate the possibility that he would end up blowing the dormitory up if he had to deal with obnoxious questions about Deku. He studied Tokoyami's face for a few moments, suspicion embedded in his eyes, before nodding slowly. Tokoyami let go of his arm and Katsuki lowered it, allowing bird-brain to take the lead and open the door in his place. Katsuki wasn’t one to allow other people to hold the door for him, but given the fact that his other option was to face a hundred questions about Deku, Deku this, Deku that, he permitted himself this one exception. Tokoyami walked in just as Katsuki managed to spot the backs of Mina's, Kaminari's and Jirou's heads. He announced something loudly, something about seeing some weird animal on the streets during his midnight walk, and the attention this raised was enough to make the three people rile up and start discussing the fictitious event as if there was no tomorrow. Katsuki took advantage of the fact that they were completely focused on Tokoyami to sneak in and rush to the stairs as fast as he could, climbing his way up to his floor. Deku trailed after him obediently.

However, such a sudden movement after spending days in the infirmary wasn’t exactly good for Katsuki's back, which started aching terribly with each step he took. Every muscle in his body was trembling from the effort it took climbing the stairs, which made him feel more pathetic than ever. One hit to the head and now he couldn’t even climb some fucking stairs? That was ridiculous. He was Katsuki Bakugou, for fuck's sake. He wasn’t about to be taken down by some fucking stairs.

“You okay, Kacchan?”, Deku asked, worry evident in his tone as he watched Katsuki stop mid-climb and lean slightly on the wall beside him. He was hunched over in a weird position, as if his back ached terribly. His hands balled into fists upon Deku’s words.

“I’m fine”, he growled through gritted teeth, his angry tone telling Deku that he would have his face blasted if he asked anymore questions. Just as Katsuki managed to pull himself together and stand with his back straight again, Tokoyami appeared at the bottom of the stairs. He studied Katsuki with a conflicted look before slowly, calmly continuing his way up and standing before the panting boy.

“Do you need me to get Recovery Girl?”, he asked simply. Not are you okay, or do you need help or any other bullshit Deku would probably feed him. No, Tokoyami was straightforward and didn’t beat around the bush. He saw Katsuki had a problem and asserted what would be the best way to deal with it, whereas Deku would have fretted and flooded him with questions and touched him. God, he couldn’t stand Deku touching him. He low-key wished he had ended up stuck with Tokoyami’s soul instead – at least it would have been more tolerable.

“I’m good”, Katsuki said through gritted teeth, ignoring the way his head was beginning to throb. God, the old lady had told him this would happen – she had spent a long, long time babbling about side effects, recovery time, and not feeling like himself for a while – but he hadn’t actually taken her seriously until now.

Apparently not even him was immune to the aftermath of a concussion. Still, he couldn’t let anyone know that. He pulled himself together again and climbed the rest of the stairs Tokoyami lingering beside him as if he was ready to catch him if he fell. However, once he realized Katsuki was managing well enough on his on, even if still a little hunched over, he decided there wasn’t much left for him to do there.

“I imagine your discomfort is expectable, after the blow you took”, he said. “But I do think you should talk to Recovery Girl if it continues”.

Katsuki raised his head, anger showing in his crimson eyes. He didn’t know why he was feeling angry. Tokoyami simply stared back at him, untroubled by Katsuki’s glare.

“You don’t have to worry”, Tokoyami reassured him, even though Katsuki hadn’t asked for it. “I won’t tell anyone about this”.

Before Katsuki could offer a response, Tokoyami turned around and walked away.

Katsuki watched as Tokoyami walked further away from him in the corridor, the distance he was putting between them gradually increasing. Beside him, Deku stared at him with expectation. Katsuki sighed and rolled his eyes. The nerd really wasn’t dropping it, right?

“Hey. Bird-brain”, Katsuki called just as Tokoyami was about to turn the corner. Tokoyami stopped on his tracks and looked at him, his face neutral apart from a sparkle of curiosity that took over his eyes. He waited silently for Katsuki to continue.

Maybe Deku would get off his back for a while if he did it. He was well aware that Tokoyami didn’t have to help him, and yet he had done so anyway.

Katsuki didn’t ask for it, though. He didn’t owe him, or anyone. So why show gratitude for something he hadn’t requested?

Still, would it really hurt?

Fuck Deku.

“Thanks”, Katsuki said simply. Emotionlessly. His face was tilted to the side and his eyes refused to meet Tokoyami's as he said the dreaded word. It didn’t taste as sour in his tongue as he had expected it to, and the fact that it didn’t made him angry. Tokoyami nodded his acknowledgement.

“You’re welcome”, he said, and just like that, disappeared at the end of the corridor as he went back to his room.

From downstairs, Katsuki and Izuku could still hear the discussion Tokoyami had stirred, realizing that the raven boy had probably left it without neither of the three riled up friends realizing.

Turning around to finally head towards his own room, Katsuki spotted a wide, proud smile overtaking Deku's face, two ridiculous dimples appearing on freckled cheeks. His desire to wipe that stupid look off Deku's face was smothered by another feeling he couldn’t really find a name for. He decided to roll his eyes in annoyance just not to lose the habit and shoved his hand on Deku’s hair, ruffling the curls as roughly as he could before playfully shoving Deku away.

“Don’t look so smug, nerd”, Katsuki scoffed, walking past Deku without meeting his eyes. “I just did it so you’ll get the hell off my case”.

Did it hurt, though?”, Deku raised an eyebrow at him as if he had just made a terrific point. Katsuki fiddled with the inside of his pocket as he searched for the key to his bedroom.

“Don't push your damn luck”, he growled under his breath. His head was starting to throb harder now that the promise of rest was just one door away, almost begging him just to fall on his bed and sleep. “Just because I was nice to him, it doesn’t mean I’m gonna be nice to you. At least he did something to earn it”, he pointed out.

“Oh, sure. All I did was save your life”, Deku had the nerve to be sarcastic. He had the nerve to shove it on Katsuki's face and be sarcastic and chuckle while he was at it. Katsuki’s fury burst like a dam.

Giving up on his search for the keys, he slammed Deku on the wall beside his door and pinned him against it with one forearm pressed to his chest. Deku's eyes widened in shock at the sudden movement, gasping and yelping in a way that sent a shiver down Katsuki's aching spine.

“Next time you wonder why I can't stand your fucking guts, make sure to remember how you gave me a lame speech about not doing it for recognition only to shove it at my face a minute later”, he growled, his face dangerously close to Deku's as he pushed him against the wall.

“S-Sorry, Kacchan”, Deku said, sounding sincere and confused. He even managed to look guilty – though there was no fear in his eyes, not even when Katsuki pressed harder against him only to see if he’d be able to earn that reaction. “I didn’t mean it like that. It was just a joke”, he raised his hands as well as he could with Katsuki pinning him against a wall, as a peace gesture.

“I don’t fucking think so”, Katsuki scoffed. “Jokes are supposed to be funny, and I'm not laughing. If you think you are so much better than me, at least have the balls to say it to my face, instead of pretending you don’t ”, he snarled.

“I don’t”, Deku said, eyes sparkling with a desperate need for comprehension. “I mean it. I’m not better than you”, he shook his head and swallowed dry. “But I will be”, he added confidently, tilting his chin up slightly in defiance. There was a familiar determination in his green eyes as he said the words, and even though Deku's sincerity decreased the sourness in his mood, it wasn’t enough to make him loosen his grasp against the boy.

“We'll see about that, shitty nerd”, Katsuki smirked dangerously, crimson eyes sparkling with challenge.

“But I mean it, Kacchan. I didn’t mean to shove it on your face, or anything like that, I swear”, Deku added, looking serious. “It’s just – you – you ruffled my hair, and I thought – you know. That you –“

“That we were friends?”, Katsuki scoffed, raising a mocking eyebrow at the boy beneath him. Deku’s face fell in something akin to disappointment, but he still nodded his head.

“Something like that”, he muttered, lowering his gaze with shame. Katsuki sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Look –“, he started, but a sound coming from the stairs caught his attention. Shit. He had almost forgotten about his shitty friends arguing downstairs, and the way he had been arguing with Deku in the middle of the hallway had probably caught some attention. Before anyone could reach the floor and find him there – before he was forced to deal with people and throw Tokoyami’s distraction on the trash –, Katsuki struggled to find his keys inside his pockets as fast as he could. “Shit”, he muttered under his breath as the footsteps on the stairs got closer.

“Kacchan!”, Deku called. Katsuki lifted his throbbing head to find the boy standing at the top of the stairs – probably the maximum distance he could get from Katsuki without dragging him along – and staring down, probably to see who was coming. “It’s Kirishima-kun!”, Deku announced.

“Oh, fuck”, Katsuki growled, because if there was one person who was even more annoying than Deku when it came to asking him questions and fretting over him, that person was Kirishima. He liked the guy – pretending to just tolerate him was way past Katsuki now –, but his lively personality would be just too much for him on that moment. Triumphantly finding his keys, Katsuki shoved them on the door and shoved it open at the exact same time Kirishima’s head popped at the stairs.

“Bakugou?”, he asked, sounding surprised to see him there. No one other than Tokoyami knew he had been cleared out from the medical bay. “What are you doing there?”, Kirishima frowned, concerned.

“Before you lose your shit, I didn’t run away, I got cleared out”, Katsuki explained, stepping inside his room. “Now I want to sleep, so goodnight”, he continued over his shoulder. He was in the middle of the process of closing the door of his bedroom when Kirishima basically manifested himself in front of him, having probably rushed his way from the stairs. Deku appeared right behind him, probably pulled by Katsuki as he entered the room.

“Wait!”, Kirishima held the door with one hand before Katsuki could close it, looking worried. “I mean – how are you, man? How’s your head? Why did you get cleared out at midnight? What did Recovery Girl say? Will you be ok? Is Midoriya ok? What are y–“

Before Kirishima could continue his endless torrent of questions, Katsuki rolled his eyes and slammed the door close at full force without bidding his friend another goodbye.

He could have tried to be nice to Kirishima in the same way he had been to Tokoyami, but he didn’t want Deku to get too spoiled.

Chapter Text

He turned on his side, hoping the new position would soothe the pain on his back. It worked for a few minutes, until it started hurting again.

Katsuki sighed.

He shifted on the bed and turned on his other side, never opening his eyes. The new position offered him relief, but again, it only lasted a few minutes.

Another sigh.

He lay on his back. On his stomach. On his side again. And then, on the other side. He placed a pillow beneath his back, then he threw it halfway across the room when it didn’t help with the pain. In the end, he was lying flat on his mattress, no pillows, no cushions, nothing. Still, his back ached as if he had carried the weight of the world on it for the past three days.

“God fucking damn it!”, he ended up growling through gritted teeth, the worry that he might wake Deku up not even crossing his mind as he buried his face on the crook of his arm and screwed his eyes shut. He ended up falling asleep at some point after the outburst, and when he regained consciousness, there was a streak of bright yellow light breaking the darkness of his room and his back still fucking hurt.

He hated the idea of going back to Recovery Girl. He had just been allowed to return to his classes and to his normal life – or at least as normal as it could get when there was a ghost pissing him off every second of the day –, he didn’t want to head back to the infirmary less than one day after being released. He would just take some pain killers and stretch when he had free time. He was sure this stupid back ache was a result of him lying idly in bed for days.

The pain in his head was almost entirely gone, and the light didn’t bother his eyes as much as it had a couple days prior. Turning on the bed in order to get up and ignoring the way his sore back protested at the movement, Katsuki found Deku sitting by the window, glancing at the world outside with something akin to longing in his eyes. He didn’t notice Katsuki had woken up.

“Oi, Deku”, Katsuki called, voice hoarse from sleep. He rubbed his eyes and stretched his shoulders in an attempt to make the pain better. Deku turned his head to stare at the waking boy, heavy bags beneath his eyes and shoulders hunched, as if he was extremely tired. Katsuki grimaced. “Yikes. You look like shit”, he commented instead of saying whatever he had meant to say, earning a frown from Deku.

“So do you”, he commented, sounding sincere, rather than teasing. Averting his attention from the window, he shifted so that he could take a proper look at Katsuki. “Did you have trouble sleeping, Kacchan?”

“What does it matter to you?”, Katsuki responded simply, standing up from the bed and doing his best not to let Deku see how much the movement was hurting him. He walked towards his bathroom, dragging Izuku with him in the process. He shut the door to prevent shitty Deku from sneaking, even though he knew the boy knew better than to do that. As he attended to nature’s call, a sudden thought occurred to him. “Don’t you feel the need to use the bathroom too, shitty Deku? Even in the state you’re in?”, he asked from inside the bathroom. It took Deku a few moments to answer.

“I think everything would just… phase through me”, he responded, voice muffled by the door. Katsuki rolled his eyes as he flushed the toilet.

“I fucking know that, nerd. That’s not what I asked”, he replied, running the sink and washing his hands. “I asked if you feel the need, not if you can or can’t go”.

“Oh”, Deku replied, and Katsuki could clearly picture his stupid freckled face flushing. “I… I don’t think so. Not so far, at least. I think – maybe my body is – ah, you know –“, he started to stutter, probably embarrassed to talk about that kind of subject with Katsuki, who rolled his eyes again.

“I don’t care”, Katsuki cut him off before he could continue embarrassing himself. “If you have to go to the bathroom, use the common one downstairs. I don’t want you using mine”, he announced. Deku didn’t reply.

He poured toothpaste on his toothbrush and brushed his teeth, rubbing with as much strength as he could and screaming an eventual “DIE” or “FUCKING GERMS” in the process. When he stepped out of the bathroom after rinsing his mouth, Deku looked at him with what seemed to be like a humorous expression, as if he had been laughing his ass off just a moment before spotting Katsuki.

“The fuck is so funny?”, he asked, walking right past Deku and grabbing himself some clothes. He really, really needed a shower. Deku lowered his eyes, but took a peek inside the bathroom anyway, spotting Katsuki’s abused toothbrush.

“Kacchan, you shouldn’t brush your teeth so hard”, he commented, the hint of a laughter hidden behind his voice. Katsuki glared at him.

“Don’t tell me what to do, asshole”, he growled, walking into the bathroom again and closing the door at Deku’s face. “While you’re busy treating those disgusting cavities you must have, I’ll be sitting at home enjoying my perfectly healthy teeth”.

“But when you brush your teeth too hard you wear out the natural protection –“, Deku tried to argue, only to be interrupted by Katsuki yanking the bathroom door open and popping his head out to glare at him. Deku noticed he was already shirtless, his well-defined abdomen standing out against the pitch-black of his sweatpants. Deku blushed and quickly averted his eyes from Katsuki’s midsection.

“The fuck did I just say about telling me what to do?”, Katsuki growled angrily. “Don’t go around giving your stupid ass advice to people who didn’t ask for it. I’m going to take a shower now, and if I hear one single word from you while I’m at it I’m going to shove your head into that toilet so hard you’ll end up stuck in the piping. Are we clear?”, he raised one inquiring eyebrow at Deku, who sighed and slumped his shoulders.

“Ok, Kacchan”, he mumbled, stepping away from the bathroom door just as Kacchan slammed it close hard enough to wake up everyone in the dormitory.

Izuku paced around the room, thankful that Kacchan’s bedroom was small enough for him to wander around without ending up being pulled back towards the bathroom door while the other boy was still inside. As he heard the sound of water running he felt more relaxed, knowing that as long as Katsuki was taking his shower, he was free to do what he wanted. Well, at least he was free to do what he could do, given his current limitations.

As much as Izuku wanted to take a peek at Katsuki’s stuff, he knew better than to do that – not only because his hands would phase right through things, but also because it was impolite to pry. He settled for taking as much information as he could without having to touch anything – he noticed how minimalistic the bedroom was, with only the essential furniture and decoration, and how everything apart from the bed was meticulously organized. There was a working desk by the window, a rolling chair, a minifridge, a small wardrobe and some trailing equipment piled up at the corner of the room.

The working desk didn’t have any photo frames – it only seemed to contain Katsuki’s notebooks, some reading books, his laptop and a pencil case. A small plant pot was set as close as possible to the window, but Izuku didn’t know enough about plants to be able to tell if that was real or plastic. The thought of Kacchan watering plants and taking care of them seemed strangely endearing to Izuku.

There wasn’t much he could see from the wardrobe or the minifridge, since he couldn’t quite open them to peek inside. The training equipment seemed very similar to Izuku’s own – some dumbbells, a few weights to be tied around the ankles, a punching bag (though Izuku couldn’t really figure out where Kacchan hung the bag from or why he even had one in the first place, since there were plenty available on their gym). After taking this quick assessment of Katsuki’s room, Izuku decided there was nothing left from him to do. He was about to go back to sitting by the window, like he had been doing before Kacchan woke up, when his eyes found the boy’s unmade bed.

After sleeping on the floor for so many days, the sight of that soft, comfortable mattress was so inviting that Izuku almost drooled. His back was killing him. He could barely sleep anymore because of it, and he was sure, at that moment, that if he lay down on a proper mattress, even if for a few minutes, even if for just the time it took Kacchan to finish his shower, the pain would probably be relieved.

Still, it felt weird – almost uncanny – to lay down at a friend’s bed without their knowledge or permission. On the top of everything, this was Kacchan’s bed, and he would probably fulfil his promise of shoving Izuku’s head in the toilet if he walked out of his shower and found Deku, of all people, lying down on his bed.

Still, his back was so achy. It was so sore. Maybe he could just lie down for a few minutes and, as soon as he heard Kacchan walking out, he could stand up and pretend it had never happened, right?

No, he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t lie down on Kacchan’s bed without permission! It was weird!

His back throbbed as if protesting. It’s aching so bad. It would be just for a few minutes. Just so I can stretch out and relieve the pain. Just for a bit.

Izuku sent the bathroom door a wary look, almost as if afraid Kacchan could know, somehow, what he was up to. Hearing the sound of the water still running and a few indiscernible growls from Kacchan, Deku sighed and decided that yeah, maybe just a couple minutes wouldn’t hurt, and it wasn’t like Kacchan ever needed to know what he had done.

He approached the bed hesitantly, as if afraid Kacchan would burst out of the bathroom any second with murder in his eyes. The water kept running.

Izuku sat down at the edge of the bed, holding his breath. His shoulders were tense and his ears were sharp, attentive to any indication that Kacchan had finished his shower. None came.

He slowly lay down on the bed, biting his lower lip in nervousness and stretching out on the mattress. His whole body was tense because of the apprehension he was feeling, but his muscles immediately relaxed as soon as he was spread out on the mattress.

The surface was so soft that it felt like it was swallowing him whole, and Izuku finally let out a relieved shaky breath, melting into it and closing his eyes. It felt like the tension that had been giving him pain dissipated, and the relief that took its place was so intense and sudden that he felt lightheaded. He was so content and relieved for something as simple as lying down that he didn’t even bother to put any thought into why his body hadn’t phased through the bed. In fact, if Izuku thought about it, he may have passed out for a couple of minutes from sheer exhaustion thanks to the overwhelmingly pleasing sensation of not being in constant pain anymore. It wasn’t until he heard a loud bang coming from the bathroom and a muffled scream of “FUCK!!!” that he reopened his eyes. It sounded like Kacchan had slipped and fallen.

“K-Kacchan…?”, Izuku asked hesitantly, propping himself up from the bed in high alert as soon as he heard the sound. When no reply came, he frowned, concern replacing whatever relief he had felt just a moment ago. “Kacchan? Are you okay?”,  he insisted, which probably caused the other boy to become very annoyed.

I’m fucking fine, mind your own business!”, Izuku heard Kacchan’s muffled voice screaming from inside the bathroom. He didn’t sound like he was in pain or in any sort of imminent threat, which made Izuku relax a bit again. Kacchan was tough. If he said he was fine… then Izuku knew better than to meddle with his life.

A memory of a young Kacchan staring up at him with a flushed face and unfocused eyes, slapping his hand away when he offered to help, losing balance and almost falling back to the floor flooded Izuku’s head. They had been young, no older than 11, and Kacchan had long since stopped referring to Izuku as his friend. When Izuku found him after school, he was sitting propped up against a wall, chin glued to his chest and limbs askew, looking like he had fallen and tried to lean his weight on the wall in order to get up, failing in the process.

Izuku remembered freaking out over the fallen Kacchan, only to have the boy attempt to punch him in the face for fretting too much (Kacchan never got the hit – he was too dizzy to do so –, but the fact that he had tried was enough to make Izuku feel a little heartbroken). Still, even after Kacchan slapped his hand away and bit out a series of angry remarks (don’t fucking touch me, I’m fine, don’t need your help, shitty Deku, stay the hell away from me, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine), Izuku still passed his arm around his shoulder and dragged him to the infirmary. The fact that Kacchan didn’t offer any resistance to being dragged is what’s always freaked Izuku out the most about this story, even to this day.

He wasn’t allowed to linger at the school’s infirmary with Kacchan after his mother arrived, saying hello to Izuku and calling him a brat (even though he was way politer than her son would ever be), and ruffling his hair in that same playful way Kacchan did with him sometimes. A couple of days later, Izuku went back to ask the nurse what had been wrong with his friend, since the boy hadn’t been to school since he was taken into her care. He learned that Kacchan had a severe infection, probably due to some cuts on his hands, and that he would have to stay away from school until he recovered.

Kacchan returned to school a week later, looking and acting like his normal self. When a series of curious students asked him what had happened, why he had missed a week worth of classes, why he had disappeared without a trace, Kacchan announced that he ended up hurting himself while fighting a bad guy on his way back to school – that he had overused his amazing quirk but that he was fine now, nothing to worry about, because his metabolism was superfast and he wouldn’t be taken down so easily by some D-lister.

Sometimes, Izuku still remembered the way his heart nearly stopped upon seeing a fallen Kacchan on the middle of the hallway. He remembered how pale his face had been, how unfocused and lost his eyes had looked. He remembered the way Kacchan clung to the front of his shirt as he dragged him to the infirmary, whether in anger or in desperation, Izuku couldn’t tell, not even years later. He remembered looking into Kacchan’s crimson, rageful eyes when he returned to school, finding no trace of gratitude – not that he expected any – or remembrance inside them. For all Izuku knew, Kacchan had no idea he had been the one to find him and take him to the nurse – he had asked for secrecy, knowing that Kacchan would hate him even harder if he found out it had been Izuku who saved his life.

Izuku wished he could have kept this time a secret from Kacchan, too.

He remembered the way Kacchan had beat him on the same day he returned, tearing one of his favorite notebooks apart and exploding the abused pages before slam dunking it into the trash. He remembered the way Kacchan had mocked him, his friends hovering behind him and laughing loudly as Izuku tried to protect his head with his arms. He remembered expecting a blow, only to look up and find Kacchan walking away, bragging about his quirk and not even sparing the fallen Izuku another glance, as if he was nothing, as if he was a deku.

Funny enough, he didn’t remember seeing any of Kacchan’s friends around the hallway when he found him fallen there. Kacchan was probably thankful that there was no one else around to witness his moment of weakness, but Izuku thought it was a bit sad to be as lonely as Kacchan seemed to be sometimes, even when there were dozens of people around him offering him incessant praise.

 

 

 

 

 

He must have passed out from tiredness again, because when he opened his sluggish eyes, Kacchan was already out of the bathroom and wearing fresh clothes, taking something from inside his wardrobe and staring at Izuku from above his shoulder with an unreadable look – one that was suspiciously not angry.

It took Izuku’s sleepy brain a few seconds longer than it should to realize that Kacchan was not only looking at him, but seeing him lying down on his bed without permission, and as soon as that realization dawned upon him, Izuku was shoving himself as far away from the mattress as he could, eyes widening and a series of muttered apologies rushing out of his lips before he could really think about it.

“Sorry Kacchan I didn’t mean to I was just really tired and I didn’t have anything to do because I can’t really get too far without dragging you with me and it would have been weird if I had tried to sneak out and ended up dragging you out of your shower or having you naked in the middle of the hallway also your bed is really comfortable and inviting so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to just rest for a bit while I waited for you but I didn’t mean to fall asleep I swear it just happened but it won’t happen again I didn’t even know I was asleep until I –“

Izuku’s ranting was cut short when Katsuki crossed the distance between them and shoved his palm against Izuku’s lips, a serious glare in his crimson eyes. He held his hand there as if he wanted to ensure Izuku wasn’t going to continue his blabbering as soon as his lips were free. His hand smelled sweet like nitroglycerin.

“I can’t tell whether you’re an actual moron or just disrespectful as fuck”, he commented. Izuku, unable to respond due to Katsuki’s hand sealing his lips closed, merely stared up at him with big confused eyes. Katsuki, for once didn’t look angry, just annoyed. “What the fuck did I tell you about ranting?”

Izuku made as if to respond, which resulted on Katsuki pressing his hand harder against his lips.

“Don’t answer that, shitty Deku”, he scoffed, taking a step closer to Izuku. Their bodies were almost glued to each other’s in the small bedroom, but Kasuki stood tall and intimidating above him. He continued to glare at Izuku for several moments, looking like he was trying to decide what to do with him, until he finally let go and removed his hand from Izuku’s face, shoving the boy slightly away in the process. He turned away from the Izuku, who was starting to blush, and went back to doing whatever he had been doing before Izuku woke up. “But I do agree with you –“, he continued, not bothering to look at Izuku as he spoke, “my bed’s fucking amazing. I wouldn’t sleep in it if it wasn’t”.

Izuku suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. Classic Kacchan.

“Still, I don’t give a rat’s ass whatever shitty reason you had for sleeping in it”, he shrugged, much to Izuku’s surprise. He had actually thought Kacchan would blast his ass into the atmosphere if he caught him sleeping on his bed – and yet, he seemed to be untroubled by it. Now that Izuku paid attention, he could see that Kacchan was standing up straighter and looking more well-rested. “You look like you could use the rest, if the ugly-as-fuck bags beneath your eyes are anything to go by”, he spared Izuku a quick glimpse from above his shoulder. “Also, I’m feeling better after the hot shower I took, so I’ll be benevolent and won’t kick your ass this time. But if you ever tell anyone about this –“, he turned just so that he could point a threatening finger at Izuku.

“I won’t!”, Izuku immediately responded. “I – I promise”.

“Yeah, you won’t if you know what’s good for you”, Katsuki scoffed, turning his back on Izuku again and shutting the door of his wardrobe.

“I – I thought you would be mad at me”, Izuku admitted, frowning as he watched Kacchan gather his things into his backpack and get ready for class. “For – s-sleeping in your bed uninvited”, he shrugged awkwardly. Katsuki stopped what he was doing – shoving his notebook inside his backpack – and looked at him again, a cold, calculating look in his crimson, burning eyes. There was something off about this whole interaction. Kacchan looked calmer than usual and, after knowing the boy for so many years, calm Kacchan could only mean trouble. Izuku low-key wished the boy would go back to screaming and pushing already – having him stare at Izuku with such a calculating look in his eyes was uncanny.

“Like I said, you look like you could use the rest”, Kacchan said, almost as if he wanted Izuku to read some hidden meaning into his words. His eyes were studying the boy in front of him with sharp attention. “Also”, he shrugged after a few moments, closing his backpack and throwing it over his shoulder. “There’s a theory I want to test”.

“A – A theory?”, Izuku asked, frowning. He followed Katsuki as he headed to the door. “What do you mean?”

“You’ll find out when it’s time”, Katsuki said without looking at him, stepping out and holding the door open for Izuku. Once the ghost boy was out, Katsuki closed the door to his bedroom and locked it with his personal key. He had really nosy friends. “Oh, and don’t talk to me when we’re in public”, Katsuki added as an afterthought, throwing the key up and catching it midair before shoving it into his pocket. “No one else can see you, so it will look weird if people see me talking to nothing. I don’t want any more extras thinking I’m a nutcase”, he grunted, going down the stairs. “Also, you’re annoying as fuck and I don’t want to hear your voice”, he added just not lose habit. This time, Izuku did roll his eyes.

Izuku was about to explain to Kacchan that he didn’t really think he would manage staying quiet for so long, especially since they would be attending class together and he always had hundreds of questions, but his thoughts came to a halt when he realized the common room and the kitchen were empty. That was weird. Their friends should at least be up and about, but there wasn’t a single soul to be seen. Trying to keep up with Kacchan’s fast pace in order to avoid being dragged by their invisible bond, Izuku managed to catch a glimpse of the watch hanging on the kitchen wall. They were an hour early to class.

“Kacchan”, Izuku frowned, struggling to keep up with his fast pace. “Why are we going to class so early?”

“None of your business. Now shut the fuck up”, was Kacchan’s simple response. Izuku decided not to push it. As much as Kacchan’s calmness was unsettling, he found out he didn’t want it to go away just yet, and asking him questions was bound to annoy him and shove him right back into his usual sour mood. Therefore, Izuku did his best to stay quiet as they slowly strolled across the UA headquarters.

The stroll took longer than Izuku expected it to, and it took him longer than it should to realize that Kacchan was actually enjoying it. Staring at his friend’s grumpy face, Izuku came to understand that Kacchan had left the dorms early just so that he could take his time making his way to class. The possibility that Kacchan was just trying to avoid their friends asking questions for as long as he could didn’t go unconsidered by Izuku, but now that he put some thought into it, he couldn’t remember one single day when he had arrived to class and Kacchan hadn’t been there. He was always the first one to arrive.

A soft smile appeared on Izuku’s lips. It felt nice, getting to know the nuances of Kacchan’s personal habits like that. They had known each other for a lifetime, and there were still so many secrets to unfold.

Izuku wished he could unfold them all. He wished he could actually be friends with Kacchan.

What?”, Kacchan’s harsh tone broke him out of his thoughts. Izuku looked up at him, confused.

“Huh?”, he ended up asking, not really understanding the reason behind the boy’s question.

“You were smiling like a fucking idiot and then you started to look like someone shoved shit inside your nose”, Kacchan scoffed. He didn’t look interested on the reason behind Izuku’s sudden sadness, just curious about it.

You seem to be under the impression that we’re friends now, just because I can’t get rid of you, even though I have told you time and time again we’re anything but.

Izuku turned his head away so that Kacchan couldn’t see the sadness in his eyes, shrugging like the subject wasn’t important. He knew precisely what would happen if he told Kacchan the truth – that he was upset because, no matter how hard he tried to be close to Kacchan, he always ended up shoving him away like he was nothing, like he was a deku, and that broke Izuku’s heart – Kacchan would mock him, or call him a sentimental loser, or quite possibly beat him up. He was better off being quiet.

Kacchan continued to stare at him for a few moments, waiting for a response, but when Izuku offered none, he scoffed and rolled his eyes.

Tch. Whatever”, he shrugged, and picked up his pace. Izuku was forced to follow him, noticing how Kacchan seemed much better in comparison to the night prior. A few hours before, he could barely go up the stairs without help – now, he was almost jogging his way to class, Izuku struggling to keep up with him.

When they arrived at the classroom, it was – as expected – empty. Kacchan made his way to his assigned seat and Izuku sat directly behind him, fingers drumming hesitantly at the surface of his desk. He couldn’t bring any material with him, since everything other than Kacchan just phased through him, so there was no way he would be able to take notes during class. He could only hope one of his friends would be considerate enough to take notes for him while he was in his situation – surely, Kacchan wouldn’t bother, so Izuku wasn’t going to ask him. Still, it was a bit unsettling, being in class and not bringing any notebooks or pens with him. He felt stripped bare, as if he was an outsider, or as if there was something very important missing – quite possibly, his body. He wasn’t even in his uniform, for god’s sake – he didn’t feel like he belonged in that room.

Now that Izuku thought about it, the clothes he was wearing weren’t his hero costume, either – he figured it would only make sense for his soul to be wearing the last clothes his body had been wearing when they were disconnected. However, that wasn’t the case. The clothes he was wearing were casual, something he would wear on his everyday life – a T-shirt that was years and years old and that had been given to him by his mother, and a pair of jeans that All Might had given to him after his own got destroyed beyond repair during one of his many training sessions with One For All. His shoes were the same as always – the only thing in his life that didn’t seem to change.

Even though he didn’t know why, it bothered him that he was wearing these clothes, and not his hero costume. He loved the shirt, and the pants All Might gave him, but it didn’t make any sense. He should be in his uniform, which were the last clothes his body had been wearing during the fight, or at least in the hideous hospital gown that Recovery Girl had shoved on him back at the medical bay. It wasn’t logical for him – for his soul – to be dressed like this.

Perhaps it had to do with emotional attachment? Maybe he loved these clothes so much – one, a gift from his mom, the other, from All Might, and the shoes were beyond description – that his soul had immediately gone for them – or a representation of them – when it needed. Still, it didn’t make any sense. What did emotional attachment have to do with anything? Why would it interfere with the clothes he was stuck with? That wasn’t logical at all.

A sudden thought occurred to him.

If emotional attachment was an actual factor that interfered with what his soul could or could not do, why was it that he could only touch Kacchan, and nobody else?

“If you think I won’t punch your teeth in if you keep up with this muttering, you’re dead mistaken”, Katsuki growled furiously from the seat in front of him, not turning around to face Izuku as he spoke. To be fair, Izuku hadn’t even realized he was muttering – which was something that happened more often than he liked to admit.

“S-Sorry, Kacchan”, Izuku stuttered nervously, face flushing a bright red thanks to his sudden epiphany. Surely, he liked Kacchan a lot, despite of all the mistreatment he received from the boy – still, was it enough to make him the only person his soul could have contact with? What about All Might and his mom? They hadn’t been able to touch him.

No, this couldn’t be it. The reason he could touch Kacchan had to do with the villain’s quirk, and that alone. Whatever he may or may not feel had nothing to do with it. His admiration for Kacchan wasn’t bigger than for All Might, and he didn’t love Kacchan more than he loved his mom! That was absurd!

His stomach twisted. Was it really that absurd? Could he love Kacchan more than he loved his mom? Even with all the bullying and name-calling and abuse?

No! That just wasn’t possible. There was no one he loved more than his mom!

But what if they were different types of love? The love he felt for his mom and for All Might was fraternal, but there was no reason why his love for Kacchan would be so. Maybe different types of love earned different results? Was that why his soul was wearing things that his mom and All Might had given to him, even if they couldn’t see him? Was that why he could touch Kacchan? No, that couldn’t be it. It had to do with the villain’s quirk. It couldn’t have to do with his love for Kacchan!

Izuku’s eyes widened and the red in his face was thoroughly renewed as he came to the realization that he did not, not even once, doubt that he loved Kacchan in the first place, however that love may present itself.

Where did his admiration end and his love begin? Everything was so confusing that his mind felt like it was spiraling, stuck in a whirlpool of confusing emotions and feelings that he couldn’t figure out and that strangely didn’t feel entirely like his own. He didn’t even notice when Kacchan stood up from his seat angrily, shoving one of his hands on the front of Izuku’s shirt and yelling something at his face.

“I’M THIS CLOSE FROM DUCTAPING YOUR STUPID GHOST MOUTH SHUT YOU PIECE OF SHIT, I CAN BARELY STAND YOUR MUTTERING ON A NORMAL DAY BUT I REFUSE TO BE THE ONLY ONE FORCED TO HEAR IT! YOU EITHER SHUT THE HELL UP FOR GOOD OR IMMA SHOVE YOUR SHITTY HOSPITAL BLANKET DOWN YOUR BODY’S THROAT SO HARD THAT IT WILL COME OUT YOUR ASS!”

A noise at the door caught their attention, making Izuku and Katsuki turn towards it at the same time. There, stood Todoroki, looking as neutral as ever and suspiciously untroubled by the fact that he had just walked in on Katsuki screaming at nothing in the middle of their empty classroom.

They stared at each other for a long time, Katsuki’s eyes widening slightly as if in embarrassment for being caught in such a position, while Todoroki managed to look unconcerned and disapproving at the same time, if that was even possible. After a few awkward seconds, in which Katsuki continued to cling to the front of Izuku’s shirt while Todoroki continued to stand unmoving by the door, the explosive boy finally let go of Izuku, shoving him back and standing up straight with a furious look.

“The fuck you looking at, Icy Hot?”, he shouted, irritated. Much to his annoyance, Todoroki simply ignored him and stepped into the room, heading for his seat in absolute silence. “Yeah. Go the fuck ahead and ignore me, you bastard. See if I care”, he growled. Todoroki took his seat calmly and only then raised an eyebrow at Katsuki.

“It’s hard to think you don’t care when you keep screaming over everything”, he commented with indifference, no mocking or teasing in his tone – he was merely making an observation. However, the coldness of his remark only made Katsuki angrier, and tiny explosions began to pop at his palms. Izuku, completely forgetting his own embarrassment from the weight of his epiphany, immediately placed himself between Katsuki and Todoroki, even though only one of the boys could see him do that.

“Kacchan!”, Izuku shouted, outstretching his arms as if to shield Todoroki from the boy’s possibly incoming explosions.

“Get the hell out of my way, Deku”, he snarled, averting his eyes from Todoroki and towards the boy standing in front of him. “If the Half’n’Half bastard wants beef with me, beef’s what he’s gonna get”, he tried to walk past Izuku – to do what, he didn’t know; it wasn’t like he could simply murder Todoroki in the middle of their classroom –, but the boy blocked Kacchan’s way once more.

“Just – go back to your seat, Kacchan”, Izuku pleaded, not wanting his friend to get in trouble over nothing. “Aizawa sensei will arrive any minute now, and you’ll get in trouble if he sees you fighting –“

“How is Midoriya holding up?”, Todoroki interrupted, unaware that Izuku had been speaking in the first place. He continued to stare up at Katsuki with indifference, which only served to annoy him, but it was his question that annoyed him the most, for some reason. Not the fact that he had ignored Katsuki’s anger to ask him something, but the question itself.

“Why the hell do you care, asshole?”, Katsuki asked, managing to take a step past Izuku and towards Todoroki.

“Because he is my friend”, Todoroki explained simply, as if that was obvious. Katsuki did his best to ignore the way Deku’s face became all flushed at the remark, closing his hands into fists. “Also, he didn’t look exactly healthy back in the medbay. I wanted to make sure you aren’t putting too much strain on him”.

“What the fuck do you mean, Icy Hot bastard?!”, Katsuki exploded, offended. “How the fuck would I be straining him?!”

“You were just yelling at him”, Todoroki commented absentmindedly. “Though I am sure we have all grown used to your moods by now, I don’t think this is earning a positive effect on Midoriya. Recovery Girl said his charts have been acting weird”.

“How the hell do you even know that?”, Katsuki snarled, subtly defecting Todoroki’s accusation. “You’ve been standing vigil by the nerd’s bedside or something?”

Todoroki averted his eyes from Katsuki, even if he didn’t look embarrassed per say.

“I have been visiting him”, Todoroki admitted, managing to look as casual as ever. “We all have”.

Katsuki rolled his eyes and huffed out of his nose as if he thought that was the most ridiculous thing that could ever happen. He turned his head to look at Deku, who looked very flustered and very sad at the same time.

“T-T-Thank you, Todoroki-kun”, he said, voice barely above a whisper as he lowered his head in embarrassment. Todoroki, obviously, didn’t hear him, and Izuku knew better than to ask Katsuki to relay the message to him.

“We are all worried about him”, Todoroki added after Katsuki did nothing other than glare at Deku’s general direction. “Since you are the only one who can communicate with him, I think you could at least do something to ease your friends’ worries. It would cost you nothing”, he concluded. Katsuki snarled.

“Don’t tell me what to do, Icy Hot”, he spat, turning on his heels and heading back towards his own seat.

“Bakugou”, Todoroki called, standing up from his chair calmly. Katsuki stopped on his tracks, looking at the boy from above his shoulder.

A long time passed without neither of the boys saying anything, a tense silence stretching between the two of them while Izuku could do nothing other than watch. Todoroki looked like he was trying to decide whether he should speak up his thoughts or not. It felt like an eternity before he finally continued.

“I know you worry about him too. I believe it would be good for him to let him know that”, he ended up saying, looking as neutral as ever. Katsuki, on the other hand, snapped so hard at the statement that there was smoke coming out of his palms.

“Oh, yeah?”, he snarled, marching his way back to where Todoroki was standing, looking ready to attack. “You saw one shitty footage and you think you know me? You think you know shit about me and Deku, you Half’n’Half asshole?”, he grabbed the front of Todoroki’s uniform and pulled at it angrily.

“Kacchan!”, Izuku protested, eyes widening in surprise at the turn of events. “Let him go!”

“You’re not a difficult person to read”, Todoroki said simply, unbothered by Katsuki’s sudden movements. He slapped the boy’s hand away from his uniform as if it was nothing and continued to stare at him, this time the hint of a glare appearing in his eyes. “I couldn’t spend hours analyzing your personality based only on what little interaction we’ve had so far, but I am not going to do that. I am not telling you this for your sake – it’s for Midoriya’s”, he added coldly. “He admires you and looks up to you, we all know that. You may not admire him at all, but I do know you at the very least don’t want him to die. Whether you like it or not, you are stuck with him until the villain is captured, which gives you part of the responsibility for his well-being. If you mistreat him, the after effects show on his body, and if anything happens to him because you were too much of a dick to actually be thankful to the person who saved your life – you will have to answer to a lot of people who care about him. Not just me”, he concluded. Izuku’s face was as red and bright as a tomato.

“Are you threatening me?”, Katsuki scoffed, a wicked half-grin half-snarl appearing on his face. “Am I supposed to be scared at your little display of heroics?”

“No”, Todoroki responded. “I was simply stating a fact”.

“Listen to me, asshole”, Katsuki took a step closer to Todoroki, who continued to look unbothered. “Deku isn’t a fucking helpless maiden who needs a loser like your double-colored ass to defend his honor. If he’s got a problem with me, he can tell it to my face”, he snapped his head to the side to stare at the flustered Deku, pointing a finger at him. “You hear me, douchebag? Say it to my face if you’ve got a problem with me!”. Izuku’s eyes widened even further and he nodded his head frantically in agreement.

“That’s reassuring”, Todoroki commented, his tone so plain that no one could tell if he was being sarcastic or actually serious.

“I don’t give a shit what you think”, Katsuki snapped his head back at Todoroki. “Just stay out of my fucking way and stop telling yourself you know anything about me and Deku. Stupid piece of shit”, he muttered under his breath as he walked away from the boy once again.

“I was serious about informing Midoriya’s friends of his state”, Todoroki added, but this time, Katsuki didn’t stop or look back.

“I’m sure you were”, he said simply, throwing himself on his seat and putting both his legs above his desk in a disrespectful manner. Todoroki looked like he wanted to say something else but, before he could, Iida and Uraraka entered the room, their heads turned towards each other’s as they spoke in a low voice. Uraraka was the first one to see Katsuki sitting there, and her big eyes widened as they found him.

“Bakugou-kun!”, she exclaimed, rushing towards him and leaving a confused Iida behind. Katsuki rolled his eyes and sighed, but did nothing as the girl approached him. Iida was fast behind her, actually speaking up before she had the chance.

“Bakugou! How is your head?”, he asked, standing beside the girl.

 “How is Deku-kun? Is he okay? He looked a bit tired when I visited this morning…”

“Were you cleared out by Recovery Girl? I didn’t see you return to our dorms. You didn’t run away from the medical bay, did you?”

“Please tell Deku-kun I have been taking notes for him so that he doesn’t fall behind when he is out of the medical bay! I would have taken notes for you too, but Kirishima-kun said he would do that…”

“I have been taking notes for you and Midoriya as well! As class representative, that is my duty! I also need to know how your head is doing! Ensuring the well-being of my colleagues is my responsibility, and I need to know in case I need to call for Recovery Girl’s assistance –“

“Is Deku-kun ok? Did he have any ideas how we can –“

“I must ask you to inform me should you feel any discomfort or something unusual –“

“ – said you could touch, so I’m sure there are a lot of things about this villain’s quirk we still need to figure out –“

“ – only in case of an emergency. Are you sure you should be in class so soon? Kirishima said –“

“ – but I’m sure Deku-kun can figure it out! If there’s someone –“

“ – either way, don’t hesitate to call. We are all –“

“Kacchan, are you okay?”

“ – maybe give him some space…”

“ – I mean, if you want to, you can take a look at my notes too, there’s no problem –“

“Yo, guys! Blasty’s back! Did you know that?”

“Oh, shit, I hope he didn’t run away –“

“ – my personal number, so that won’t be a problem in case you feel ill –“

“ – just tell Deku-kun we miss him and we wish him best! I – I hope he gets –“

“Kacchan, you’re scaring me!”

Everything went silent.

Katsuki opened his eyes.

(When had he closed them?)

He was panting, standing up, hands leaning heavily on his desk, which had its sides scorched – probably thanks to Katsuki’s palms. His head was pounding and sweat was rolling down his temples, sweet and cold. His stomach was churning. He was feeling way too many emotions at the same time. His hands were starting to pop. He needed to get out of there.

He looked up. Round Face and Four Eyes were staring at him, her with terrified eyes and him with a concerned look. Behind him, Todoroki was eyeing him with similar concern, even if it was better hidden in his stoic face. Closer to the door were Sero, Kaminari, and Kirishima, all looking equally scared and worried about him. His head turned to find Deku, who had a hand on his shoulder. Katsuki didn’t remember when Deku touched him, but he was almost sure it was at the same time when the noises finally died down.

At the front of the room, there were a chair and a desk, completely destroyed and still fuming. Katsuki didn’t have to put much effort into realizing he had been the one to do that, even though he couldn’t remember doing it.

His crimson eyes ran across the room again. Too many people. Too many questions. Just as he had expected. Just as he had dreaded.

Without thinking too much about it, he picked up his backpack, which had been silently scorched by his explosions, threw it over his shoulder and headed towards the exit. Round Face and Four Eyes stepped aside to let him go through, and Katsuki didn’t meet their eyes as he went. His heart was still pounding. His fight-or-flight instincts had been activated, even though he couldn’t figure out why.

Just before he walked out of the door, without looking at anyone’s faces, he said simply:

“You. Shitty Hair. With me”.

He didn’t look behind him to see if Kirishima was following him.

(He didn’t look to see if Deku was following him either, but he didn’t have to).

He headed to the gym, trying his best to calm his frantic mind and ease his screaming thoughts, controlling his breathing in order to make his heart stop trying to rip itself off his chest.

 

 

 

 

 

“Bakugou, Aizawa-sensei will arrive any minute now –“, Kirishima tried to protest as he entered the gym right after Katsuki. Deku was standing hesitantly between the two of them, not sure of what to do with himself. He couldn’t get his eyes off Katsuki, worry etched in green.

“I fucking know that, and he won’t kick you out for missing two minutes of his class or some shit. I just need you to do something, then you can go”, Katsuki replied with annoyance, throwing his backpack on the floor and turning around to face Kirishima. Given the fact that Katsuki-asking-for-a-favor was something extremely rare and quite possibly unprecedented in human history, Kirishima placed his backpack on the floor as well and nodded, determination clear in his eyes. This was probably a very serious subject, and given the scene Katsuki had just made back in the classroom when he started exploding things with that panicked look on his face, Kirishima wasn’t about to walk out on his friend just because of his fear of being late to class.

“All right, bro”, he said simply, slapping his hands together and nodding emphatically. “Whatever you need”.

“Punch me in the fucking face”, Katsuki said in a deadpan.

Silence.

“Uh… What?”, Kirishima asked after several moments.

“You heard me, asshole, and I ain’t repeating myself”, Katsuki scoffed, turning to look at Deku. “Remember I told you you’d find out about my theory? This is the time, so pay fucking attention”, he gestured at Kirishima to approach. “Come on. Deck me as hard as you can”.

“B-Bakugou, I think you should talk to Recov–“

“For fuck’s sake, can you all just stop trying to push me back to the old hag for once and quit the bullshit?”, he interrupted, annoyed. “Just do as I fucking said, c’mon! I know you and half the class have been dying for the chance of punching me, so if you’re too much of a pussy to do it, I’ll just call in someone else”, he grumbled.

“Kacchan, maybe you should –“

“Shut up, shitty Deku. Are we doing this or what?”, he raised his eyebrows at Kirishima.

“Dude”, Kirishima said, frowning and shaking his head. “I’m not punching you”.

“Why the fuck not?”, Katsuki scoffed.

“Because you’re not well”, Kirishima took a step closer to him, looking deeply concerned. “You just got cleared out of the hospital after spending days there because of a severe concussion. You look like you just had a panic attack and you destroyed a desk out of nowhere. You look like you haven’t been sleeping for days. I – I’m just not doing it, man. You’re not ok”.

“Don’t tell me what the fuck I am”, Katsuki grabbed the front of Kirishima’s shirt and shoved him hard. “Just punch me in the fucking face”, he said through gritted teeth, trying to strike Kirishima and force him into a fight. Kirishima skillfully dodged the blow, his skin hardening on instinct.

“Bakugou, stop”, he protested, blocking another well-aimed blow.

“Kacchan, what are you doing?! Stop!”, Izuku protested, throwing himself on Katsuki and trying to pull him away from Kirishima.

“Get off me!”, Katsuki yelled, shoving Deku back.

“Dude, just stop it!”, Kirishima said, trying to hold Katsuki down as well. Katsuki punched him, hitting his shoulder and sending the boy back with a surprised yelp. “Stop trying to fight me! I’m not punching your face!”

Katsuki got back to his feet from where he had fallen to his knees, still frantic and disoriented. He ran the back of his hand on his upper lip to clear the sweat away, glaring at Kirishima.

“I’m not fucking crazy, you moron”, he said, sounding slightly more lucid than before. “I’m just trying to figure something out. About the connection I have with Deku”, he explained. Deku’s eyes widened.

“W-What? What are you talking about, Kacchan?!”, he asked, clearly nervous.

“Yeah? And decking you helps you do that how, exactly?”, Kirishima asked, fists raised ready to defend himself from another possible blow.

“If I’m right, then you’ll see it”, Katsuki argued. “If I’m wrong – well, then you’ll be about the only person in the world who’s had the satisfaction to actually punch me in the face”, he smirked. Kirishima didn’t seem to find this humorous.

“That wouldn’t be a satisfaction, man”, he frowned. “You’re my friend. It’s one thing to spar with you, but punching you in the face after you just got cleared out isn’t the same”.

“God, you’re such a fucking coward”, Katsuki scowled. “I should have asked Pikachu instead”.

“Dude! I’m not about to get my ass suspended for making your concussion worse!”, Kirishima tried to defend himself, looking offended.

“You think so much of yourself, huh, Shitty Hair?”, Katsuki growled, approaching Kirishima again. The boy tensed up, as did Deku. “You think one of your shitty punches is gonna do what? Send me to the hospital? As if”, he scoffed.

“Kacchan”, Izuku said with a warning in his voice, realizing what Katsuki was doing. He was provoking Kirishima into punching him.

“You wish you had enough power to do that”, Katsuki scoffed.

“Dude. Stop. I’m not falling for that”, Kirishima shook his head again, looking skeptical.

“You keep blabbering about how you’re going to support me and be there for me as if you were my friend or some shit but the moment I ask you for a favor you bail”, Katsuki growled.

Kacchan”, Izuku said, sounding infinitely more serious. “Don’t do this. Kirishima-kun is actually your friend –“

“I should have asked someone who actually has balls. God, Half’n’Half was probably dying to punch my teeth in but I decided to waste my time with you”, he shook his head.

Kacchan!”.

“Bakugou”, Kirishima said, looking suspiciously hurt by that conversation. “Stop it. I’m not hurting you”.

“I don’t even know why the fuck I let you hang around me, if you’re such a weak-ass –“

Katsuki didn’t have the chance to finish the phrase as a fist collided with his face and sent him falling on his butt.

He took a hand to his aching jaw with a victorious smirk, but, to his surprise, Kirishima was standing exactly at the same place, looking like he hadn’t moved an inch. His eyes were wide in confusion and surprise as he stared at the fallen Katsuki, clearly clueless to what had happened.

Turning his head, Katsuki found Deku fallen on the floor right beside him, one hand cradling his own jaw and the other still balled into a fist.

Deku had been the one who punched him, the little shit.

But most importantly, just as Bakugou had expected to prove, Deku was also feeling the pain from his own punch.

His theory was right. The bond connecting was also making them feel each other’s pain.

Which was probably why Katsuki’s back wouldn’t stop fucking aching and the little piece of shit didn’t even consider bringing up the amount of pain he had been in, forcing Katsuki to deal with it as well!

“You bastard!”, Katsuki yelled, not at Kirishima but at Deku.

“Sorry, Kacchan, but I couldn’t let you be so mean to Kirishima-kun –“, Deku tried to explain, looking angry and determined, but Katsuki interrupted before he could continue his lame speech.

“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were in fucking pain?!”, he shouted. “I’ve been dealing with your shitty backache the entire goddamn time because you just couldn’t put some use into your trap for fucking once!”

“Dude”, Kirishima said with an anguished expression on his face. This was the second time he bore witness to a one-sided argument between Katsuki and an invisible Izuku. “I have no idea what’s going on”.

“W-What? What are you talking about?!”, Izuku asked, equally confused.

“If you feel the pain I feel, then I feel the pain you feel, too!”, Katsuki pointed a finger at him. “If you had just said something about your shitty back we could have done something about it instead of you having me walk around like fucking Quasimodo this entire fucking time!”

“Wait”, Izuku frowned, retrieving his hand from his aching jaw and frowning. “Your – your back was aching too?”

Yes, dipshit”, Katsuki shook his head in disbelief. “God, you’re such a dumbass. And you probably haven’t been sleeping because of it, which means I haven’t been sleeping because of it, and know we’re both sleep-deprived losers because of your inability to communicate!”

“Hey!”, Izuku protested, offended. “You are the one who tried to talk Kirishima-kun into punching you in the face to prove a point when you could have literally just asked me if my back was aching!”

“Shut the hell up!”, Katsuki responded, feeling embarrassed by the truth behind Izuku’s point but not willing to demonstrate it.

“Bakugou, seriously, this talking-to-Midoriya-as-if-there’s-no-one-else-around thing is really confusing”, Kirishima protested. “I have no idea what’s going on right now. Did Midoriya just punch you in the face? What do you mean you are feeling each other’s pain?”

 Katsuki ran both hands across his face, angry, and scratched his scalp before getting back to his feet with a muffled scream of anger. Kirishima was staring at him with a half-hurt, half-concerned look, and Katsuki rolled his eyes in annoyance before approaching him again.

“Look, Shitty Hair, I’m gonna make this quick because I’m not in the mood for this Q&A bullshit everyone seems to be pulling at me”, he said, straight to the point. Izuku, who had also stood up and was approaching the pair, pointed him with a disapproving look, which made Katsuki roll his eyes again. “Fine. Kirishima. Whatever”, he sighed. “Yeah, I get this whole Ghost Deku thing is confusing as hell and probably makes me look like a fucking nutcase, but I’m having a hard time catching up too, ok? You’re not the only one who’s confused as fuck. I just found out the reason why I’ve been feeling like death warmed over these past days is because Deku has been feeling like that, and we apparently share pain, too, because the shitty-ass quirk that connected our souls is literally the worst thing ever. And yeah. Me and Deku are soulbound or some bullshit”, he added upon Kirishima’s very shocked look. “What I mean is – Deku is a fucking asshole –“

“Hey!”, Izuku protested.

“ – who didn’t tell me he was feeling like shit –“

“You would have told me to shut up if I had said something!”

“ – and now I can’t figure out if what I’m feeling is what I’m feeling or if it’s what he’s feeling”, he turned his head to glare at Deku, who fell silent for once. “I can’t do anything without this asshole trailing behind me –“

“Not out of my own free will”.

“ – and he keeps talking over me because he’s a piece of shit who knows you can’t hear him and he thinks that makes the interruptions excusable”, he glared at Deku again.

“Sorry”, Izuku lowered his eyes, falling silent.

“Anyway. You should get going to class now”, Katsuki scoffed, earning a surprised look from Kirishima. “Aizawa sensei is probably already there”.

“Wait. You’re not going?”, he asked with a frown.

“Nah, I’m gonna talk to Recovery Girl”, Katsuki explained, looking grumpy. He didn’t want to go back to the old woman’s infirmary so soon after being released, but now that he knew the cause behind his discomfort – and now that he knew that the discomfort wasn’t a result of his own weakness, but of Deku’s – he didn’t feel as uncomfortable asking for her help. Still, the remark earned a shocked look from both Kirishima and Izuku alike. Angry, he protested: “What? Isn’t that what both of you assholes wanted? I’m finally figuring my shit out and I’m going to talk to the old woman and take care of myself. You two should be throwing a fucking party instead of giving me those looks”.

“Kacchan, taking care of yourself is not something awardable. It’s a basic requirement”, Izuku pointed out with an almost sad look, even though there was a hint of a humorous smile on his face.

“Shut up, Deku!”, Katsuki shouted at him.

“Why would we throw you a party for something you’re supposed to do, bro?”, Kirishima raised an eyebrow. Katsuki fumed, while Izuku chuckled out loud.

“You make sure your shitty soul gets stuck to Shitty Hair’s next time, dumbfuck”, Katsuki shoved his fingers on Izuku’s curly hair and ruffled it aggressively before pushing his head away. Izuku yelped in half-surprise, half-pain.

“Why? Does Midoriya agree with me?”, Kirishima grinned, pleased with himself. “I’m sure he does”.

Of course he does”, Katsuki rolled his eyes, bending over and picking up his backpack from the floor. Kirishima caught the cue and did the same. “You’re both dumb pieces of shit with pigeon crap for brains”.

“Kacchan! Don’t be rude!”, Izuku protested.

“Oi, dude. That’s rude”, Kirishima pointed out.

“For fuck’s sake”, Katsuki groaned, rolling his eyes. “Why did I have to end up with two morons who think alike?”

“Aww, we’re your morons!”, Kirishima explained, passing one arm over Katsuki’s shoulders. “Fist bump, Midoriya!”, he announced, stretching his fist in front of his body and waiting with expectation. Midoriya returned the fist bump, but there was no way Kirishima could know that. He looked at Katsuki with a questioning grin, and Katsuki, who did nothing to shrug off from Kirishima’s embrace as he would have done with anyone else, merely rolled his eyes in silence. “Oh, c’mon! Is he fist bumping me back?”, Kirishima asked with a stupid grin on his face.

“No”, Katsuki lied, a wicked smirk on his lips as they walked out of the gym, still stuck in Kirishima’s half-embrace. “He said he refuses to fist bump someone with such an ugly hair”.

“Hey! That’s not true!”, Izuku protested, desperately trying to connect his fist with Kirishima’s even though his hand continued to phase on the top of the other boy’s. “K-Kirishima-kun! Don’t believe him! I don’t think your hair is ugly! Ahhh! Kacchan, that’s really mean!”, he protested as he continued to try to fist bump Kirishima without success.

“Ok, I don’t believe you”, Kirishima simply chuckled. “Midoriya would never say that. Hey, Midoriya, my man, if you can hear me, I know you don’t think my hair is ugly!”, he reassured, speaking in a loud voice as if Izuku was standing at a great distance.

“He’s right beside you, asshole”, Katsuki pointed out with an eye-roll. “You don’t have to yell”.

“Ah, sorry, I couldn’t tell”, Kirishima said, looking around the hall as if he expected to find Izuku there any moment now.

“It’s ok, Kirishima-kun!”, Izuku said solemnly, bowing several times.

“It’s really weird, you know?”, Kirishima pointed out pensively, retrieving his arm from Katsuki’s shoulders so that the two of them could walk better. “Knowing he’s here, but not being able to see him. I hope they find the villain who did this soon”.

“Tell me about it”, Katsuki mumbled.

“You must be having a hard time putting up with Bakubro, buddy”, Kirishima said, trying to look at Izuku as he spoke but ending up looking at the extreme opposite direction. “Stay strong. We’re gonna help you through this”.

“Stop talking to the wall, dipshit, he’s on your left”, Katsuki scoffed. “Also, why does everyone keep saying he is the one having a hard time?”, he protested angrily.

“Because, as Denki says, you’re a nasty explodoboy with the temper of a pissed off feral cat and the manners of a needy puppy dog”, Kirishima pointed out, successfully dodging out of the way of Katsuki’s hands trying to strangle him for saying that. “Hey! I’m just quoting! It’s just a quote! His words, not mine! Ahhh, I’m sorry!”, he cried.

“I want to see him say that to my face! I’ll kill him!”, Katsuki shouted loudly, his hands popping with tiny explosions.

“Okay, okay, I’ll have to go now, Bakugou, because if you don’t murder me, Aizawa sensei will”, Kirishima said, clearly desperate to get away from that situation and taking several steps back, hands raised in a defensive gesture. “D-Do you want me to tell him anything?”

“Just say I went to the old woman for painkillers and that I’ll be there for class tomorrow”, Katsuki growled, even though he was still very angry. “And don’t tell anyone about the punching thing”, he added seriously. “I don’t want anyone hearing about that”.

“All right, all right”, Kirishima said, continuing to take several steps back away from Katsuki as one would do with a feral animal. “Uh, is it okay if I stop by your room later? To see how you’re doing?”, he asked, his cheeks burning slightly at the request. Katsuki stared at him with suspicion. “I mean, it’s just you were talking about pain, and, and shared pain and stuff, and we still haven’t properly talked about what happened because when we were getting there you started hugging Midoriya and stuff –“

“It wasn’t a hug, dumbface!”, Katsuki shouted in protest, angry, while Izuku blushed and shook his head frantically (even though Kirishima couldn’t see him).

“Fine, yeah, sorry, you started not-hugging him, anyway, I – I just wanted to talk? You know? See how you’re holding up?”, he offered with a tentative smile and a shrug. “Maybe without having a door slammed on my face this time?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, annoyed. If he was honest, he didn’t want to talk to anyone about what had happened, but at the same time, Kirishima was the only person so far who actually seemed more concerned for how he was holding up in this whole shitty situation, instead of asking about Deku all the time. He obviously cared about Deku too, but he was also the only one who could see how poorly Katsuki was dealing with everything.

“Whatever, Shitty Hair”, Katsuki shrugged, not meeting Kirishima’s eyes. “See if I care”.

Kacchan”, Izuku reprehended.

“Fine, you can stop by or whatever, suit yourself”, he corrected, telling himself that he was only doing this to make Deku get off his case, only that. No other reason behind it. Nope. “But if I’m sleeping you better not wake me up, or you’ll get something way worse than a door slammed on your face”, he added with a scoff, just not to lose habit. Izuku sighed, but didn’t protest.

“Okay”, Kirishima raised both hands in defeat, looking actually surprised and pleased that Katsuki had agreed to his request. “I’ll be on my way now, man. See you later?”

“Tch”, was Katsuki’s only response. Shitty Hair waved him goodbye – which he didn’t return, since he had his hands shoved in his pockets – and disappeared at the end of the hallway, heading for class.

Any desire Katsuki may have felt for going back to class died after the accidental shitshow he had pulled earlier. He hadn’t meant to freak out so hard – and now that his theory was proven right, he had a hunch about why the freak out session had been so bad.

“So”, he asked Deku as they walked on the opposite direction from Kirishima, heading for the exit of the building and to Recovery Girl’s infirmary. “Since when have you had this?”

“T-This what, Kacchan?”, Deku asked, sounding genuinely clueless. Katsuki scoffed.

“This panicking shit. Anxiety, or whatever the hell you like to call it”, he replied.

“I – I don’t”, Izuku frowned. “I – I d-don’t have anxiety, Kacchan”, he pointed out, sounding concerned.

“Yeah, right”, Katsuki chuckled humorlessly. “Look, shitty Deku, as much as I hate it, and as much as I hate to say it, we’re gonna have to be honest with each other from now on. I’m not gonna feel like shit for a week because you’re too much of a lil’ bitch to tell me you’re not feeling good. So you’d better go ahead right now and tell me everything that’s bothering you and causing you pain so that I can ask for the old woman for a way to fix it and stop feeling like crap because of you”, he instructed.

Izuku was silent for a bit upon Katsuki’s request, pensive. He only spoke up once they stepped out of the building and the warm sun connected with their skins – or rather, Katsuki’s skin. The light just phased through Izuku’s form, making him look more like a ghost than ever.

“Uh, I think my back is what’s bothering the most”, Izuku admitted, not quite looking at Katsuki’s face as he spoke. “Sleeping on the floor is terrible, and it hurts a lot because I’m not really used to it. I haven’t been able to sleep much because of it, which is probably why you’ve been so tired, too”, he pointed out with an apologetic tone in his voice. “I… I think that’s it. I’ll let you know if I think of anything else”, he promised, finally meeting Katsuki’s eyes.

“Yeah, you better do that”, Katsuki scoffed. “Otherwise, I’ll kick your ass”.

“Doesn’t that mean you’ll kick your own ass?”, Izuku asked with a tentative smile.

“Shut your smart mouth”, Katsuki growled. “Damn right I’ll kick my own ass if it means you’ll get dragged down with me”.

“You’re so competitive, Kacchan”, Izuku chuckled.

“Hell yeah”, Katsuki pointed Izuku with an evil smirk. “That’s why I’m gonna surpass you and become number one while your sorry ass struggles to be at least recognized by the media”.

“We’ll see about that”, Izuku replied with a determined look. “I’ll remind you you said this when I become number one”.

“Keep dreaming, Deku”, Katsuki chuckled. “Keep dreaming”.

 

 

 

 

 

“Here’s another rule for your shitty notebook, nerd”, Katsuki said. “You paying attention?”

“Always”, Izuku said without thinking. “But you don’t have to say it, Kacchan, I think you made it pretty clear –“

“Shut up. It’s my turn to talk”, Katsuki interrupted, pointing at the pile of pillows carefully placed in the middle of his bed. “Since the old woman said you need to sleep on an actual bed so that none of us gets fucking backpains like a pair of old-ass losers, I am mercifully allowing you to sleep on my bed, since I know it’s fucking amazing”, he announced.

“Wow”, Izuku said in a deadpan, unimpressed. “Thanks, Kacchan”, he added sarcastically.

“You keep that fucking attitude up and I’ll shove your bony ass back into that floor, no matter how bad it hurts my back”, Katsuki threatened. He picked up two of the pills that Recovery Girl had given him and dry swallowed them. They were supposed to help with the pain and relax his muscles, with the possible side effect of making him groggy and sleepy.

“Fine, fine, go on”, Izuku chuckled, rolling his eyes. “What’s the rule?”

“The rule is that you don’t fucking cross the pillow fort”, Katsuki said, continuing to point at the pile of pillows. “You cross the pillow fort limit, I blow your soul up so hard you’ll end up back inside your body. You touch me while I sleep, I blow your soul up so hard the pieces won’t be able to find you body. You stare at me while I sleep or as much as breathe next to me – well, I guess you already know what happens”.

“You blow me up in some gruesome, graphic way”, Izuku sighed tiredly.

“Damn right I do”, Katsuki said, plopping down on his side of the bed and lying down with his legs crossed. He placed his hands beneath his head and stared up at the ceiling. “That side is yours. This side is mine. Don’t even dream about sleeping on my side, or I’ll blow you up. We clear?”

“Yes, Kacchan”, Izuku said, removing his ridiculous red shoes and laying down on the bed next to Kacchan. The pillow fort the boy had built contained so many pillows and was so tall that Izuku couldn’t see his face unless he sat or stood up. For some reason, Izuku felt more comfortable that way. It was probably the closest thing to privacy they could get, after closed doors in a close range.

Izuku sighed in relief. Kacchan’s bed really was amazing. He had only lied down on it for a few moments, but his back already felt way greater. He ended up relaxing, staring up at the ceiling and allowing his thoughts to wander. The room was silent and there were birds chirping outside, but the noise was pleasant. The light from the late morning was entering Kacchan’s room through thin streaks that managed to bypass the closed curtains. It felt like an eternity before Izuku broke the peace in the room.

“So, we’re going to take a nap now?”, he asked quietly. Katsuki sighed.

“I was almost managing to get one, but you had to interrupt me, didn’t you”, he growled. “Yes, we are getting a nap. The pills Recovery Girl gave me made me fucking sleepy, and I won’t be able to do much myself until your crappy back gets better”.

“Huh”, Izuku mumbled with curiosity.

“Huh what? What is it?”, Katsuki growled again, sounding exponentially annoyed.

“You didn’t call her ‘old woman’ this time”, Izuku commented absentmindedly. From his isolated side of the bed, he couldn’t see Katsuki’s reaction.

“That’s because she gave me good pills that make my back stop fucking hurting, something you’re failing to do”, Katsuki replied bitterly. “Just shut the hell up and go to sleep. I need your back to get better so that mine can get better, so start working on that and count sheep or some shit”.

“But it feels wrong, you know? It’s not even lunch time yet, and we’re… just sleeping”.

“I sure as fuck am not sleeping right now. Who’s to blame for that, huh?”

“Sorry. I just… can’t help thinking about some stuff”.

“Then think in silence. I’m trying to take a fucking nap so I can stop walking around like a pathetic slug”.

A pause.

“Why do you think I’m wearing these clothes?”

“Deku, I swear to fucking god –“

“No, I mean it. I should be in a hospital gown, right? Or at least in my hero costume. It makes no sense that I’m wearing these regular clothes when I wasn’t anywhere near them at the time I – … Well”.

Silence.

“Yeah. That’s really weird”.

“I was thinking that maybe it has to do with emotional attachment, because my mom gave me this shirt and All Might gave me these pants and, well, I don’t have to say anything about the shoes, do I?”

“What about the shoes?”

Silence.

“You’re a piece of shit”.

What? Why?!”

“You already started talking, so tell what the fuck it is about the damn shoes or leave me the fuck alone already”.

“You – don’t remember?”

“Do I sound like I fucking remember?”

“You gave them to me. Or – well. Your mom gave them to me when she came over to talk to my mom. She said you had bought them to me. As a late birthday gift. They’re just like the ones I used to wear when we were kids, but I outgrew them and mom couldn’t really afford new ones”.

Silence.

“That’s lame”.

“Hm?”

“I don’t remember that”.

“Clearly”.

“Don’t get fucking sassy with me”.

“Sorry. But yeah. I still don’t know why I’m wearing these clothes”.

“It doesn’t really matter, does it? Better than having you walk around naked”.

“I suppose… Still, I found it a bit curious”.

“There are lots of curious things about this whole shitshow, Deku. I don’t think your fucking clothes are the creepiest part”.

“You’re right, I guess”.

“I’m always fucking right”.

Silence.

Silence.

More silence.

“Why are you emotionally attached to the shoes?”

“Huh?”

“You said you think you’re wearing these clothes because of emotional attachment. Then why the fuck are you attached to the shoes?”

A pause.

“Because Kacchan gave them to me”.

A scoff.

“That wasn’t me, asshole. That was my mom. Are you saying you’re emotionally attached to my mom?”

“N-No… But she said it had been you. I believed her”.

“Why the fuck would you believe her? That was clearly a lie, Deku. Why the hell would I bother giving you a birthday gift, let alone a pair of expensive shoes? I could barely tolerate you”.

“Oh. Well… I don’t know”.

Another scoff.

“I guess I wanted to believe it?”

“That’s pathetic”.

“Yeah. I know”.

Silence.

“I suppose it was considerate of her, though. To get me a birthday gift”.

“It was ridiculous”.

“It was nice. I like them”.

“Clearly. You never wear anything else”.

“Because they’re great! They’re comfortable and they look good –“

“I bet they smell”.

“They don’t smell!”

“They can’t not smell. You wear them all the time. Of course they smell”.

“They don’t smell! Stop saying that!”.

“Smelly feet”.

“I think the pills Recovery Girl gave you are turning your brains into mush”.

“Then they’re turning your brains into mush, too. We’re in this shit together”.

“Yeah. I do feel kind of tipsy”.

“You’re pathetic”.

“Stop saying that. It’s rude”.

“It’s the truth”.

“I may have been pathetic once, but I’m not anymore. I’m getting stronger”.

“Not with those smelly feet, you aren’t”.

“Stop saying my feet are smelly! You haven’t even smelt them!”

“I’ll be damned if I plan to”.

“Then stop!”

“Fucking make me”.

“God, those must be some really good drugs”.

“If they were good I’d be asleep by now, instead of listening to your crap”.

“Sorry. I’ll let you sleep now”.

“Fucking finally”.

Silence.

Silence.

Silence.

“I think it’s nice when you’re nice to people”.

“I swear to god, I am going to murder the hell out of you”.

“I think you hurt Kirishima-kun’s feelings today, even if he played it off. I think the things you told him hurt him, even though you were just trying to provoke him”.

“I don’t remember asking for your fucking opinion”.

“He cares about you. He’s your friend”.

“Here comes the fucking friendship expert again. You’d better shut the hell up before you regret it”.

“I’m just saying it because I know you care for him, too. You should probably apologize”.

“Like hell. Honestly, heart-to-heart is over. Mind your damn business and go the hell to sleep. Or don’t – just stop talking and leave me the hell alone”.

“Why do you find it so hard to just be nice? I know you can be!”

Silence.

“You used to be”.

“What, when we were four? Fuck off”.

More silence.

“I just… I want to help you, Kacchan”.

“Who says I need your shitty help, asshole?!”

“Not needing help doesn’t mean you can’t get it anyway”.

“Let me know how much this unwanted little therapy session will cost me when you’re done. I’m gonna go to sleep now”.

“Just apologize to Kirishima-kun! It will be good for him! And… for you, too”.

“Apologize for what? I didn’t do anything wrong”.

“You said mean things about him not being your friend. I could tell how much it hurt him”.

“He’s tough. His power is literally to resist things. I don’t need to apologize for shit, he knows how I am and he’s willing to take it”.

“But why should he? Why can’t you just be nice?”

“Because I’m not fucking nice. I’m strong, and I’m tough, and I’m fucking awesome, but I ain’t nice. And I’m not gonna be just because your touchy feelings get upset every time I yell at you. Don’t like it, go haunt someone else. Otherwise, deal with it”.

Silence.

“Okay”.

“Good. Now shut the hell up before I rip your tongue off”.

“Good night, Kacchan”.

“It’s not even noon yet, dipshit”.

“Uh… Sleep well, then?”

“Tch”.

 

 

 

 

 

From: Bakubro

Listen asshole

From: Bakubro

I was just trying to rile you up

From: Bakubro

So that you’d punch me in the face

From: Bakubro

No need to get all touchy feely about this shit ok

From: Bakubro

You’re my friend and all that cheesy crap you like to say

From: Bakubro

I was just provoking you so don’t read too much into it

From: Shitty Hair

??????????

From: Shitty Hair

Nani????

From: Shitty Hair

Wait, did Midoriya tell you to apologize

From: Shitty Hair

Is that what this is about

From: Shitty Hair

Because that’s really sweet bro

From: Bakubro

You’re so embarrassing

From: Shitty Hair

Aww you’re growing

From: Shitty Hair

Like a blooming bakuflower

From: Bakubro

I’ll murder you and your entire family

From: Shitty Hair

Whoop there he is

From: Bakubro

Don’t know why I even bothered

From: Bakubro

Bye

From: Shitty Hair

Bro we talked about just sayin “bye”

From: Shitty Hair

I never know if it’s passive aggressive or not

From: Shitty Hair

Are you actually leaving

From: Shitty Hair

Bakubro?????

From: Bakubro

Stop calling me that

From: Shitty Hair

Ahh so you weren’t leaving

From: Shitty Hair

See, I can never tell

From: Bakubro

I was leaving, your stupidity made me come back

From: Shitty Hair

Rude

From: Shitty Hair

But really

From: Shitty Hair

Thanks for apologizing??

From: Shitty Hair

It means a lot

From: Shitty Hair

You’re the best bro

From: Bakubro

I already know that

From: Shitty Hair

Tell midori we miss himmmmm

From: Bakubro

Tell him yourself

From: Bakubro

Bye

From: Shitty Hair

Are you leaving for real now?

From: Shitty Hair

Hey

From: Shitty Hair

Bakubro?????

From: Shitty Hair

Oh dang

From: Shitty Hair

Well at least you’re polite enough to say ‘bye’ I guess

From: Shitty Hair

I’ll stop by later!!

 

Katsuki put his phone away and went to sleep, the painkillers preventing him from dwelling too much on what had happened throughout that day and why there was a tight feeling inside his chest that didn’t seem to be just a mirror of Deku’s feelings.

Chapter Text

Katsuki woke up feeling incredibly well-rested, even though his tongue was slightly dry from dehydration and his head felt a bit mushy still. He couldn’t tell if the feeling had to do with the medicine he had taken or with the prolonged sleep. Either way, he decided to open his eyes and ready himself to get up – every unnecessary moment he spent on his bed was wasting time he could use to train and get stronger.

His lids parted and the first thing he saw was a pile of pillows right in front of him. One of his arms had crossed the limit established by the pillow fort and the tips of his fingers were brushing something ticklish and soft. Katsuki realized with horror that this something his hand was touching was Deku’s hair, and withdrew it as quickly as he could, memories about what had happened flooding his head. Fuck. He had almost forgotten about shitty Deku getting his soul stuck to his, about the shared pain shit, and about the sharing-a-bed shit (which he convinced himself was the worst part).

Peeking over the pillow fort and doing his best to hide his embarrassment about having been the one to break the no-trespassing rule instead of Deku, Katsuki saw the boy was still fast asleep, unaware of Katsuki’s accidental touch. Izuku was lying on a fetal position as close as possible to the edge of the bed, as if he was trying his best to stay as far away from Katsuki as he could. With a huff and an annoyed “Tch”, Katsuki sat up on the bed and rubbed at his eyes, thankful that they didn’t need each other to be asleep in order to get some rest. At least, something.

He had been so exhausted when he built the pillow fort that he didn’t consider the fact that Deku didn’t need to use the bathroom, but he did. And he had stupidly chosen the wrong side of the pillow fort to sleep on – his side was where the mattress met the wall, meaning he would either have to slide himself all the way to the foot of the bed in order to get out or just hop over Deku while the boy slept.

Katsuki decided sliding to the foot of the bed was too risky – he would certainly end up making the mattress rattle and possibly wake Deku up. He didn’t give a shit about disrupting the boy’s sleep – if they had been in any other situation, he might have actually put an effort into purposefully waking Deku up. The problem at hands were: 1. Deku needed rest in order for Katsuki not to feel like shit all the time, so waking him up wasn’t best case scenario; 2. Being stuck with a rambling Deku all the time was annoying as hell and Katsuki wasn’t about to throw away one of his rare shots at having some private time for himself. While Deku was asleep he could finally have some peace and privacy, even if it wouldn’t last as long as he wished, so waking him up was equivalent to jeopardizing his only shot at that.

Fine. No rattling the mattress, then.

God, he fucking hated this. He couldn’t even get out of his own bed without having to worry about it. He wished Deku would get out of his case already.

Katsuki carefully removed the pillows separating his side from Deku’s side, so that he would manage to pass above the boy more easily. Izuku continued to sleep like a deadweight, probably exhausted by the past days and everything that had happened. Katsuki found himself staring at the way Deku’s mouth was slack and open, soft little snores escaping every other breath. He looked so relaxed and his expression was so plain that, if it hadn’t been for the soft rise and fall of his chest, Katsuki might have thought he was – he was –

His heartrate picked up for some reason at the thought. Memories of dead eyes and limp limbs flooded his brain and made Katsuki’s hands tighten into fists, his body entering fight-or-flight mode even though there was no threat there in the dark bedroom. He hated this – these sudden spikes of fear and adrenaline that came accompanied by confusing flashes of memory, things he couldn’t make sense of, things he couldn’t comprehend. He had his suspicions about what those flashes were, but thinking about the possible reasons behind them made him angry and confused.

Kirishima said he had freaked out when he thought Deku was dead. Katsuki knew it in his heart that couldn’t be true – he barely tolerated the brat on his best days, and hated him on his most. There was no way he would lose it if he thought the shitty nerd had died.

But then, why did the sight of dead, half-lidded, green eyes and an emotionless expression on that freckled face made his chest tighten so hard and his lungs lose all breath?

God, he was losing time. He didn’t want to think about that. He didn’t give a shit about that. He couldn’t give a shit. He didn’t have to. Fuck. He was losing focus. Feeling angry even though there was no actual reason to, Katsuki got rid of the last pillow that made the fort and carefully positioned himself above Deku so that he could get out of the bed without moving it too much.

He positioned each of his hands on each side of Deku, doing the same with his knees. This way, he was on all fours above the sleeping boy, his arms and legs spread so that he didn’t touch Deku. He was on the process of carefully raising his right arm and right knee in order to finally hop off the bed when Deku’s eyes blinked open, unfocused and sluggish, probably still more asleep than awake.

“Kacchan”, he sighed, voice hoarse and low, looking exhausted. Katsuki froze.

“You’re dreaming”, was all he could think to say, because convincing the stupid fucking nerd that Katsuki being on all fours above him was nothing more than a dream was way easier and less embarrassing than explaining why it had actually happened. “Close your eyes”, he added, desperate for Deku to sleep again before he could regain full consciousness.

“’Kay”, was Izuku’s sleepy response, right before he shut his eyes obediently and sighed contently. “Bye, Kacchan”.

Katsuki waited for a few moments to make sure Izuku was back to sleep before finally resuming his arduous task of getting out of bed. He carefully positioned both his knees on Izuku’s left side and triumphantly stood up, letting out a shaky breath of relief. If the nerd questioned him about what had happened later when he woke up, Katsuki could always argue that it had been just his stupid imagination making things up. Either way, he would make shitty Deku take the other side of the bed next time.

He went to the bathroom to attend to nature’s call and grabbed a bottle of water from his minifridge on the way back. Shitty Hair would probably stop by any second now and Katsuki would be damned if he allowed himself to be caught in bed with shitty Deku, of all people. He trusted Kirishima with his life at this point, but he also knew the boy well enough to know he wouldn’t be able to keep something like that as a secret.

Just as Katsuki had imagined, it didn’t take too long for a soft knock on his bedroom door to call his attention. He stood up from where he had been sitting by his studying desk and opened the door quietly, still careful not to wake Deku up. Ideally, it would be better for him and Kirishima to talk on the hall – this way, Deku would continue to sleep and wouldn’t be able to eavesdrop their conversation in case he woke up. However, if they did talk on the hall, one of his shitty friends was bound to eavesdrop. Katsuki decided to silently nod at Kirishima, indicating that he could enter his bedroom. He was one of the only people Katsuki had ever allowed in.

“So, Bakubro, are you gonna tell me what –“, Kirishima started to speak in a very loud voice, which made Katsuki shush him violently as he closed the door behind him with a click. Kirishima frowned in confusion, unaware of the sleeping Izuku on Katsuki’s bed, and Katsuki slowly made his way to him in order to explain in a very low tone.

“Shut the fuck up and don’t be so fucking loud”, he whispered, nodding at the bed. Kirishima followed his gaze, but continued to look as confused as before, since he could see nothing. Katsuki’s friend looked like he was about to burst with hundreds of questions, but managed to stay obediently silent, for once.

Izuku had shifted positions in his sleep at Kirishima’s noisy voice – now, he was lying on his back, his mouth wide open with one streak of saliva rolling down his cheek and one of his arms dangling off the mattress, his hand almost touching the floor. There was no way that position was comfortable and the last thing Katsuki needed was a sore shoulder, so with a sigh and an eyeroll, he grabbed Izuku’s arm and carefully placed it on the top of the boy’s chest. Izuku sighed contently again and hummed low on his throat, shifting again and lying on his side, his back turned to Katsuki and Kirishima. Apparently, the stupid nerd moved a lot in his sleep.

When Katsuki turned to face Kirishima, he found wide eyes and a smug expression on his friend’s face, as if he knew a secret that Katsuki didn’t. Rolling his eyes again – this time, with a considerably grimmer expression than before – he grabbed Kirishima by the elbow and dragged him to the farthest corner of his room, so that they could speak in a low voice without risking waking the shitty nerd up. Kirishima followed obediently, allowing Katsuki to drag him along when he sat down on the floor, his back leaning on the wall behind him. They were both sitting by the bedroom door, now – the highest distance Katsuki could get from Izuku without inevitably dragging him along.

Before Shitty Hair could even open his mouth to speak, Katsuki started, meaning to end this as quickly as he could. It was bad enough to be stuck with Deku all the time – the last thing he wanted was to talk about it, on the top of having to deal with it. However, he knew he owed Kirishima at least some explanations – for example, he didn’t want his friend to think that he had let Deku into his bed out of anything other than their mutual need for rest.

“Imma say what you want to know and you’ll shut up and listen, got it?”, Katsuki said, voice barely above a whisper as if not to disrupt Deku. Kirishima gazed at him with wide, curious eyes, but nodded his head. “If you have any questions, shove them up your ass. You interrupt me, I’ll kick you out”, he added. Kirishima looked less happy at this, but sighed and nodded again.

Katsuki huffed out an annoyed breath and leaned his forearms on his knees bent in front of him, supporting his head on the wall behind him. He stared off at the distance when he begun to speak.

“From what we know so far, the villain’s quirk removed Deku’s soul from his body and bound it to my soul. No one has any idea how it fucking works, so if you plan on asking me about that, don’t. All I know is that the reason why I’m the only one who can see, talk, and touch him is because his soul is bound to mine, and until we find the asshole who did this, I can’t get 50 feet away from him without dragging him along. It’s like there’s an invisible cord tying us together or some shit. I can’t even take a shit without having this asshole wait for me at the door”.

Kirishima looked shocked at this and, from the way his lips looked wobbly out of a sudden, Katsuki suspected he was holding back a laugh. Getting angrier at this, he bared his teeth, which caused the expected result and had Kirishima bow his head in a silent apology.

“Anyway. I’ve been feeling like shit these past days because, apparently, I can feel Deku’s feelings, too. I started to suspect this yesterday, which was why I asked you to punch me earlier. This fucking sucks, because he’s a crybaby and a loser who gets upset over everything, and, for all the annoying-ass mumbling he’s constantly doing, he never says the important stuff. He’s been sleeping on the floor ever since we got stuck together, which has been fucking with his back and, as a result, has been fucking with my back. That’s why he’s on the bed now. And why we’re not gonna wake him up”, he concluded with another annoyed huff. This time, Kirishima smiled.

“Aw, Bakugou. I almost thought you cared!”, he commented with humor in an equally low voice, but Katsuki could identify the teasing behind his words. He glared at his friend and snarled.

“I don’t give a shit about him, ok?”, he said, sounding a bit too defensive. “I just need him to be rested and not in pain so that I can be rested and not in fucking pain. This isn’t some sentimental bullshit or whatever it is you’re thinking. I just need him to be ok so that I can be ok, too”.

“You do know that sounded sweeter than you intended, right?”, Kirishima raised his eyebrows playfully. It took all of Katsuki’s self-control to prevent his fisted palms from popping with loud, angry explosions.

“Shut the fuck up”, Katsuki growled with annoyance. Deku shifted on the bed again, turning so that he was facing Katsuki and Kirishima. He was still fast asleep. “I’m not fucking sweet. Now, if that’s all you wanted to know, you can piss the fuck off and get out of my room”, he added, readying himself to get up and go back to his feet.

“Hey”, Kirishima grabbed one his arms before he managed to get up, looking slightly worried and hurt. His voice was still low, but he sounded like he was having a hard time controlling the volume. “That wasn’t all I wanted to know, man”, he pulled Katsuki back so that he was sitting down again. “I mean, how are you? With everything that’s happening? How’s your head?”

“It’s fine”, Katsuki scoffed, not meeting Kirishima’s eyes. “I’m ok. Just pissed as fuck about this being-stuck-with-Deku shit. I just want to get rid of him already”.

“Yeah, I can imagine that”, Kirishima nodded solemnly. “Of all the people you could have ended up stuck with, it had to be him, hadn’t it?”

“Just my fucking luck”, Katsuki shook his head slightly. “I just want to get my privacy back, you know? But Aizawa sensei and the fucking principal keep telling me to stay out of it and let them handle it. That’s probably because they’re not the ones who have a fucking nerd glued to their ass mumbling in their ear 24/7. Now I can’t even fucking punch Deku for not shutting up without feeling the hit, too. This fucking sucks”, he vented. Kirishima was possibly one of the only people Katsuki felt like he could vent to without feeling like a loser about it.

“I think this time you should let them handle it, bro”, Kirishima suggested, shrugging. “I mean, if no one’s sure of what the villain’s quirk can do, it wouldn’t be safe for you to go after him on your own. Especially after what happened”.

Katsuki snapped his head to look at Kirishima, a furious, indignant glare on his crimson eyes.

“The fuck do you mean by that, Shitty Hair?”, he asked, offended. Kirishima raised his hands in defeat, trying to indicate he had meant no harm with his words.

“I’m just saying that guy could have killed you, man. He almost killed Midoriya. I – I know you probably don’t feel the need to go to the medical bay because you can see him all the time, but… He’s not looking so good, Bakugou”, he added almost grimly, a worried look on his face. Katsuki frowned. “I don’t know what he’s looking like to you, but the Midoriya who’s back there, lying in bed... He looks more dead than alive”.

“That’s fucking expectable since his soul is literally not in his body”, Katsuki pointed out as if Kirishima was stupid, frowning. Why did those words bothered him so much?

Why did the image of a dead Deku bother him so much?

Katsuki ended up wondering if Deku’s eyes were open back where he was lying on the infirmary and he shivered, shaking the thought off his head.

“But it’s different”, Kirishima shrugged, looking disturbed. “I mean, he’s not dead… And we know you can see him, you know? He’s sort of… still around, even if we can’t see him. But when I went there to visit him yesterday, I don’t know… It felt like he wasn’t going to wake up”, he concluded, not meeting Katsuki’s eyes. For some reason, those words pissed him off harder than anything Kirishima had said so far.

“Get the fuck away from me with that bullshit”, he growled. “Of course he’s fucking waking up. You think I’m gonna spend the rest of my life having shitty Deku glued to me? If they don’t find a way to shove his soul back to his body, I’ll do it myself”.

“It’s not that, man”, Kirishima shook his head again. Katsuki didn’t like the way his friend was looking so sad all of a sudden. “I mean, what if he doesn’t wake up and he – you, you know. What if he just… dies?”

Katsuki squinted his eyes at Kirishima, suspicion etched all over his face. When the boy said nothing else, he leaned towards him.

“Talk”, he instructed sharply. Kirishima met his burning gaze quickly before averting his eyes.

“I mean, I don’t think it’s doing wonders to his body to have his soul away from it for so long”, Kirishima shrugged. “This was just something we and the guys have been discussing. He’s looking worse with each passing day, Recovery Girl says his charts have been acting crazy, and… This is just – unnatural, you know? I don’t know how this whole soul thing works, I don’t think any of us do, but it isn’t supposed to be like this. It – it isn’t supposed to be disconnected from his body, or connected to you. I mean – don’t you feel like this is wrong? Feeling his pain and… well”, he trailed off, sounding like he didn’t want to continue. Katsuki stared at him.

“Go on”, he encouraged, managing to not sound so angry. Kirishima eyed him hesitantly.

“You’re not looking so great, either”, Kirishima continued, sounding concerned. “I don’t know when you last looked at yourself in a mirror, but don’t seem to be doing so great, man. I’m worried about you – we, we all are worried about you”, he pointed out, but Katsuki scoffed. “I’m – just saying this because Tokoyami pointed something out yesterday during lunch and it made me even more worried”, he continued, making Katsuki frown.

“What did bird-brain say?”, he asked. Kirishima hesitated again, but didn’t wait for Katsuki’s encouragement to continue.

“He said he thinks Midoriya is – well”, he sighed. “He thinks Midoriya is consuming your lifeforce. In the sense that your body has two souls attached to it, when it should have only one. It’s overloading you”.

Katsuki continued to stare silently.

“I mean, you do look tired –“, Kirishima tried to continue after a while , but Katsuki interrupted him.

“I’m fine”, he said simply.

“Bakugou –“

“I said I’m fine”, he repeated. He didn’t know why he felt the need to defend himself so vehemently from Kirishima’s accusation, but he just did. “I’m not overloaded. I told you – I was just feeling like shit because I didn’t know me and Deku were sharing pain. Now that I know that, I can make sure it won’t happen again. Which is why I have the shitty nerd on the bed right now”, he pointed out. Kirishima gave him an almost sad look, but decided not to argue.

“Well, I hope you’re right”, he shrugged.

“When am I not fucking right?”, Katsuki raised an indignant eyebrow at his friend, earning a small smile from him.

“Yeah, yeah”, he admitted, slumping his shoulders in defeat. “Ok”.

They fell into an uneasy silence after that, the two friends sitting together on the floor, their backs leaning on the wall behind them. Kirishima was idly tapping his fingers on a notebook sitting on his lap, while Bakugou had his forearms leaning on his knees while he stared straight ahead in deep thought.

Bird-brain’s theory didn’t make any sense, because now that Deku was sleeping on a bed, now that he was well-rested and not in pain anymore, Katsuki felt great. The nap he had just taken had revigorated him, he was feeling more like himself than he had in the past three days, and he didn’t feel tired at all. Having Deku’s soul attached to his was annoying as fuck, but not because it was drawing out his lifeforce or some shit. It was annoying because it was Deku glued to Katsuki.

What, his shitty friends thought he couldn’t take it? They thought he was a weak-ass loser who couldn’t handle Deku for a few days without becoming weak? Fuck them. Katsuki would prove them wrong. He would prove them all fucking wrong. Maybe the shitshow that had been his return to class encouraged them to think Katsuki wasn’t coping well, but he’d show them. He’d show them just how well he could handle this whole thing without breaking. He wouldn’t break.

He would return to class. He would become top of his class. He would show them he had all the means to be the best, even with the extra weight of Deku’s shitty soul attached to him.

And, as soon as he had the chance to slam dunk Deku’s annoying-ass ghost back into his pathetic little body, Katsuki would do just that. Not because he couldn’t take the extra weight, but because Katsuki couldn’t stand him. Only that. He couldn’t stand Deku.

It was easier to believe that. It was simpler. If he just believed the mixed, confusing feelings that bubbled up inside his chest every time he thought about Deku consisted of anger, and only anger, his life became 100% easier.

(It really didn’t, though, but Katsuki didn’t like thinking about it).

Kirishima knew better than to insist in that subject which was clearly annoying his friend, so instead he simply grabbed the notebook he had been tapping on and handed it over to Katsuki after a few moments of silence, offering him another small smile. Katsuki took the notebook with a confused angry look, waiting for an explanation.

“I’ve been taking notes for you”, Kirishima explained. Katsuki vaguely remembered hearing Round Face say something about that during his panic attack back at the classroom. “You only lost a few days of class, but knowing you, I’m assuming you don’t want to fall behind. I – I did ask Yao-Momo for help, so don’t worry, the notes aren’t just mine”, he added. Katsuki felt something warm in his chest at Kirishima’s words, but continued to stare at him with a straight face.

“Thank god”, he commented, a playful, evil smirk blossoming on his lips. “If it had been just your shitty notes, I would have probably ended up as the last of our class”, he teased. Kirishima looked slightly hurt for a split second, but as soon as he noticed the teasing edge in Katsuki’s tone, he grinned and playfully shoved him away.

“You’re an asshole”, he said, chuckling as lowly as he could as if not to wake Izuku up.

“And you still can’t get enough of me”, Katsuki shrugged with a smug look on his face. Kirishima knew that was his way of saying thank you – not only for the notes, but for worrying about him. Katsuki felt like he was the only one who did.

“But really, man”, Kirishima added, a bit more seriously but still smiling. “If you need anything – if, if you feel anything – just talk to me, ok? It’s ok to feel bad in the situation you’re in”.

“Don’t ruin the fucking moment, Hair-For-Brains”, Katsuki rolled his eyes in annoyance, leaning his hands on the floor in order to get to his feet. Kirishima wasn’t fast enough to stop him this time and, once he was up, Katsuki offered him a hand to help him get up as well. Kirishima took his hand and was on his feet in the matter of seconds. “I told you, I’m ok. As long as the shitty nerd isn’t tired or in pain, I’ll be fine. All I gotta do is stop punching him and shoving him around. It’s gonna be difficult, but not impossible”, he concluded, placing the notebook Kirishima had handed him on his studying desk.

“But really, man”, Kirishima insisted. “If there’s anything I can do –“

“There’s actually something you can do”, Katsuki interrupted and crossed his arms above his chest, giving Kirishima an annoyed look. “Tell your shitty friends to stop crowding me and asking me a hundred fucking questions at the same time. I can barely stand them on a good day, and all the crowding makes Deku anxious. That’s why I freaked out today – all the shitty nerd’s anxiety ended up being inside me”, he admitted, not meeting Kirishima’s eyes, even though there was still a glare on his face.

“Oh”, Kirishima exclaimed simply, as if the thought hadn’t occurred to him. “Oh, ok. I’ll tell them to give you space”, he nodded solemnly.

“Tell them to stay the fuck away from me unless they have something useful to say”, Katsuki corrected, earning an eyeroll from Kirishima. “Now get the hell out of here. I have to study for tomorrow”, he walked over to the door so that he could open it for Kirishima.

“You’re going to class tomorrow?”, Kirishima asked, looking surprised. Katsuki sighed.

“Yeah, of course I am. I already missed enough fucking classes”, he said, twisting the doorknob and pulling the door open. The light from the hallway flooded the otherwise dark room and Izuku instinctively buried his eyes on the crook of his arm, still fast asleep on the bed.

“Alright”, Kirishima agreed, walking out of the bedroom but lingering by the doorframe. “Hey, and if there’s anything you need –“

“I know”, Katsuki interrupted.

“I’m serious, man”, Kirishima insisted. “Just text me, ok?”

Fine, Kirishima”, Katsuki rolled his eyes, sighing. Kirishima’s face lit up in joy upon the use of his actual name, but before he managed to ruin the moment again, or before he could spot Katsuki’s face blushing in embarrassment for the accidental slip, the explosive boy shut the door silently on his friend’s face. His desire had been to slam it like he had done the other day, but the longest Deku slept, the more time he would have for himself. Kirishima had enough decency not to knock again.

Katsuki made his way back to his studying desk, sitting by it and pulling his curtain slightly open just so that a streak of light would make its way in and illuminate the notebook enough for him to read it. Since it was late afternoon, Katsuki knew the daylight wouldn’t last for long. He would have to turn his lamp on in a while, but that would be a problem for later.

Sighing, he opened his drawer and fished out his pair of reading glasses – he only ever wore them when he studied in his bedroom, since it made him more comfortable and helped him concentrate. Once he adjusted the glasses on the bridge of his nose, he opened Kirishima’s notebook and gave the notes an overview, just so that he would know what he was dealing with before he got started. He could easily differ between Kirishima’s and Yaoyorozu’s notes – the former’s were messy, quick and often too general, while the latter’s were neat, concise and straight to the point. Still, Katsuki couldn’t say he wasn’t thankful to both of them for taking the time to make the annotations for him. Not that he would ever express his gratitude out loud.

His phone pinged with a new text, which reminded him to set the device on silent mode. Grabbing it, he found the text to be from Kirishima, and rolled his eyes in annoyance.

 

From: Shitty Hair

You called me Kirishima!!!!!!!

From: Bakubro:

Stop making it fucking weird

From: Shitty Hair

Sorry

From: Shitty Hair

But really

From: Shitty Hair

If you want to you can call me Kirishima

From: Shitty Hair

Or Eijirou

From: Shitty Hair

Whatever suits you

From: Bakubro

Ok Shitty Hair

From: Shitty Hair

Noooooo

From: Shitty Hair

What about your progressssssss

From: Bakubro

Let me fucking study

From: Shitty Hair

Ok Bakubro

From: Shitty Hair

Text me if you need anything!!

From: Bakubro

Ok Shitty Hair

From: Shitty Hair

:-/

 

 

 

 

 

Everything was pleasant and warm and fuzzy and wonderful, until it wasn’t.

He dreamt of his mom’s soft, gentle hands running through his hair, his curls, caressing them in the way she knew he loved and making him feel safe, protected, good, and then it was All Might, not his mom, pulling him into a tight embrace and telling him he was proud, he had made it, he could be a hero, he could carry his legacy. Uraraka and Iida had been there too, chatting with him in the grassy floor of UA’s garden, which looked so pretty in the spring, with the petals from sakura flowers floating in the air and dropping at their feet, the sun streak warm on their faces and making Uraraka’s cheery face look even prettier. Iida’s glasses became bright and white from the sun, and Izuku asked him why he didn’t take them off, only while they were in the brightness, only for a moment. Todoroki came over later, Tsu following close behind him with Kirishima, Kaminari, Yao-Momo and Mina. They all sat together on the grass and had a great time, chatting and laughing and having fun. Izuku had never felt more loved – after spending his whole life without friends, only being mocked and shoved and bullied, it sure felt wonderful to feel loved for once.

Then Todoroki asked him to wake up, and Tsu said she believed in him, and Uraraka cried and cried and cried, her sobs mingling with his mom’s until All Might said they should let him rest and Uraraka protested saying he was in a coma, what more rest could he need? Iida pointed out that she shouldn’t talk back to a teacher and she cried harder, but in a moment they were gone, and Izuku was all alone in the grassy garden, the sun still shining brightly and making the scars on his right arm stand out. He felt lonely, but he couldn’t move, and instead he simply lay there, waiting for his friends to return, waiting for his mom to talk to him again. He missed her voice, he missed her touch, he missed her motherly gaze and her gentle hand running through his curls affectionately, he missed her so bad, he just wanted to see her for a bit and tell her he was sorry for making her worry so much, he didn’t mean to, it wasn’t his fault…

He woke up with a jolt, his loud gasp breaking the silence in the room. It took his sleep-addled brain longer than it should to make sense of his surroundings, but once he realized he was in Katsuki’s room, he allowed himself to fall back on the bed, closing his eyes and attempting to ease down his rushed breathing. Once his chest was rising and falling at a normal speed, Izuku reopened his eyes, searching for Kacchan.

He found the boy to be sitting right beside him, by his studying desk. He was leaning over two notebooks, reading one and taking notes on the other. He didn’t turn to look at Izuku and, if it hadn’t been for his next words, Izuku wouldn’t have known if Kacchan was even aware he was awake.

“You had a nightmare or some shit?”, Katsuki asked, never ceasing to take notes or turning to look at him. Izuku swallowed dry, not knowing how to respond. Surely, he woke up in a fright, but he didn’t have a nightmare. In fact, his dreams had been perfectly pleasant so far, but he guessed being alone was what resulted on his panic.

Of course, he was used to being alone. He had been alone for his entire life. But still, his mom was the one person who had always been there for him. When the entire world rejected him for being quirkless, his mom had been the only one to be there for him, even if had been to hug him and apologize.

In the dream, she disappeared, along with all of Izuku’s friends. She hadn’t been there. All the people who he had grown to love – Uraraka, Iida, Todoroki, his friends, all of them – had disappeared. He had been entirely, utterly alone – and he found there was nothing in the world that terrified him most, at least in that moment.

Izuku tried to imagine himself telling Kacchan that – explaining that he had a perfectly pleasant dream that ended with him being all alone. Explaining that was the reason behind his abrupt awakening. Explaining he was afraid. Explaining that, even if Kacchan was constantly by his side, constantly yelling at him, he still felt almost as lonely as he had felt his entire life. He wanted to explain he missed his friends, he missed All Might, and, most of all, he missed his mom. He wanted to explain that his chest ached every time he thought about her, every time he pictured her crying by his hospital bedside.

He tried to imagine Kacchan’s response. None of the possibilities that crossed his mind were pleasant.

There was no use opening up about his feelings. He was already feeling bad enough on his own – he didn’t need Kacchan to call him a pathetic loser or a crybaby on the top of everything else. He decided to change the subject.

“You’re wearing glasses”, Izuku replied obviously after a few moments in silence. Katsuki set his pencil down and turned his head towards Izuku in order to give him the most unimpressed look ever.

“I’m glad to know your brain still works, even if it seems to be as fucking dull as ever”, he said simply, before picking his pencil up again and going back to taking notes. Izuku sighed – he knew that, no matter what he said, he was bound to receive a rude reply from Kacchan. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up on the bed.

“How long was I out for?”, he asked, noticing that the curtain on the window had been drawn, but that the sky outside was dark and starry. The only source of light in the room was coming from a lamp on Kacchan’s study desk.

“The whole day”, Katsuki said, not looking at him. “It’s almost 8 p.m. now”.

“Really?”, Izuku asked, surprised, eyebrows shooting up to the root of his hair.

“Do I look like I’m fucking joking?”, Katsuki scoffed, grumpier than necessary. “Yeah, you slept the day away. You were tired as fuck. I, for one, am glad you did. I would tell you to do it every fucking day, but that would mean I’d be stuck in the bedroom with you”.

“At least I feel better”, Izuku said, not sure what else he could respond. He began to stretch while he spoke, noticing the considerable improvement of his back and his shoulders. “How is your back?”

“It’s ok, now”, Katsuki said simply, as if he didn’t want to get into that subject.

“What are you doing?”, Izuku asked, leaning over in order to get a look at the notebook Katsuki was reading. Katsuki scoffed with annoyance.

“This is why I wish you’d just sleep the day away every fucking day”, he commented. “You’re more tolerable when your trap is shut”.

Izuku decided not to respond, even though he felt the deep urge to apologize. Years of being bullied did that to a person, but now he knew better. He had only asked Kacchan a simple question. If he was too grumpy to answer it properly, that was his problem, not Izuku’s.

Still, he wished he and Kacchan could talk. Just have normal conversations, chat with each other, communicate. They never seemed to be able to communicate unless it was through punches and screams. Now that he knew they shared their pain, Kacchan would probably avoid hurting him, lest he hurt himself, too. The screaming sessions would probably continue, though, and Izuku didn’t want that. He just wanted to be able to be himself without getting yelled at every other minute.

He missed his mom. He missed Uraraka, and Iida, and Todoroki. God, he probably even missed Mineta, if that was even possible. Even though the boy only talked about perverted subjects, at least he talked instead of shouting at Izuku.

“Ok, what?”, Kacchan all but threw his pencil at his desk with such intensity that it bounced off and fell to the floor. He turned around in order to glare at Izuku, looking furious, and the tone in his voice made the boy flinch, despite of himself. Old habits die hard. Noticing his display of weakness and feeling embarrassed by it, Izuku regained his composure and stood up straight, staring down at Katsuki with a serious look.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”, he said sternly. Even though he was feeling well-rested and overall better about himself, he was also feeling very miserable about his mom and his friends, which made him feel not-at-all in the mood to deal with Kacchan’s sour temper.

“Cut the crap”, Katsuki stood up from his chair and removed his glasses, placing them on the desk. He took a step closer to Izuku. “I told you that because of this shared-feelings bullshit, you’ll have to tell me when you feel like shit, because I’m not about to be all miserable and moping because your stupid ass was too much of a wuss to tell me something’s wrong. I ain’t repeating myself, so just tell me what it is so we can fix it”, he demanded. Izuku felt embarrassed.

“It’s nothing”, he said simply, swallowing dry. How could he tell Kacchan without being ridiculed? How could he be honest without being yelled at?

Bullshit”, Katsuki growled, taking another step closer to him. “And you know it”.

Izuku turned his face away so that he wouldn’t have to look at Katsuki, biting his lower lip and staying in silence.

Fine”, Katsuki huffed after Izuku gave no indication he was about to continue. “See if I fucking care”.

He sat back on his chair, picking his pencil from the floor and going back to writing. Izuku sat down on the bed and tried to focus on feeling better for Kacchan’s sake, but the more he tried not to think about his mom, the more he thought about her. The more he thought about her, the more it hurt. Before he knew it, Izuku’s eyes were overflowing with tears and his face was stuck in a permanent grimace as he tried his best not to cry. It didn’t take Kacchan too long to get up from his seat again, looking furious, and Izuku found his crimson eyes to be filled with tears as well. His shock overrode his sadness for a moment, because he didn’t remember ever seeing Kacchan cry.

No, that was a lie. He had seen Kacchan cry, but only once.

(Why was I the one who ended All Might?)

“Just fucking stop that already!”, Katsuki demanded, voice breaking, and Izuku was too busy staring up at him in shock to formulate a response. The boy sniffed and ran his hands over his eyes in order to wipe the tears away, looking confused, angry, and miserable, all at the same time. Izuku got to his feet and reached a hand towards him, withdrawing it before he actually managed to touch Kacchan.

“Kacchan”, was all Izuku managed to say, hand still lingering in the empty space between them, a concerned look on his face. Katsuki turned away from him, breathing heavily, looking like he was having a breakdown. Izuku couldn’t remember ever seeing Kacchan so frantic, and felt guilty for being the one responsible for that. It became clear to him in that moment that Katsuki did not have the emotional capacity to deal with his own feelings and Izuku’s at the same time, especially since he had probably never experienced anything like Izuku’s feelings of misery and loneliness in his life. Perhaps that was the reason why an emotion that felt slightly uncomfortable to Izuku presented itself as something huge to Katsuki.

Izuku thought back at Kacchan’s freaking out at the classroom, before. Izuku had been excited to see his friends, miserable for being unable to communicate with them, and nervous about all the questions they were making. He was feeling all those things at once, which meant Kacchan had been feeling all those things at once, too. Kacchan, who had never had real friends until UA, who had never felt misery and sadness in the same way as Izuku had, who had never felt nervous about anything. It was only natural his body panicked upon having all those unprecedented feelings shoved upon him in an unhealthy mix. The guilt in Izuku only increased, especially because in the same way Katsuki could feel what he felt, Izuku could feel Katsuki’s confusion and anger bubbling up in his chest.

Izuku took a deep breath, closing his eyes and doing his best to concentrate and be rational. He could still hear Kacchan’s heavy breathing from somewhere near him, but did his best to focus. He was going to see his mother again. He was going to see his friends. He would find a way to get back to his body and leave this situation behind him. All Might and Aizawa sensei were working on fixing things. They were pro-heroes. They would be able to help him. Kacchan would be able to find a way, too. It was going to be fine. There was no reason to be sad about it. There was no reason to be nervous. He was ok. He was well-rested. He was going to be fine. He was going to be fine.

They were going to be fine.

Izuku opened his eyes again. Katsuki’s face was red and he looked angrier than usual, but he was staring at Izuku with a weird expression, as if trying to read him.

“I – I think I figured out what was wrong”, Izuku explained hesitantly, not sure how to put it into words. “Does it feel better, now?”

“Kind of”, Katsuki admitted, saying the words as if they tasted sour on his tongue. “But this can’t keep fucking happening, especially when we’re out in public, shitty Deku”, he added, sounding almost resentful, as if he thought Izuku was doing it on purpose.

“I’m sorry”, he said, felling rightful this time. “I’ll try to keep it at bay”.

“Are you going to fucking tell me what this shitshow was about or what?”, Katsuki demanded again, sounding furious but looking shaken. Izuku noticed his hands were trembling slightly, but decided not to comment on it. He figured that Kacchan deserved to know what had caused him to feel so emotional, even if Izuku didn’t feel particularly comfortable sharing it with him.

“I was just – I was –“, he tried to say, but it came out as a stuttering mess. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, he decided to start again. “I did have a dream. But it wasn’t bad, it was just… weird”.

Katsuki continued to stare at him as he waited for him to continue, crimson eyes so intense that Izuku felt his skin crawling. Still, he forced himself to go on.

“I was with my friends. My mom was there, too. Everything was ok, and I was happy…”, he explained, not meeting Katsuki’s eyes out of embarrassment. His fingers played absentmindedly with the hem of his shirt. “But then, everyone disappeared. I was completely alone. I think I got nervous because of this. I mean, you’re the only one who can see me and who can talk to me, and if you stopped doing that… What would I be? Just a ghost, stuck in the void, screaming without being heard, existing without being seen. I think I’m scared of being stuck like this forever, and… I think I’m scared I’ll end up all alone. Away from my body, from everyone I love… A-Away from you”, he admitted, finally raising his eyes to look at Kacchan’s face.

There was a pregnant pause during which Katsuki absorbed everything Deku was telling him and thought about it. It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again, looking way more well-composed than he had been a few minutes before.

“Tch. You really think I’ll let that happen, stupid Deku?”, he scoffed, but there was no mocking or teasing in his tone. If anything, he looked uncannily serious. “I told you. There’s no way I’ll surpass you if you’re dead. No one will praise me for being better than a dead guy. So I’m not letting that happen”, he said. “There’s no point in surpassing a ghost, either. So I’ll find a way to shove you back into your body if it’s the last thing I do, you hear me?”, he raised his eyebrows.

Izuku gave Katsuki a tiny chuckle, smiling softly. Yeah, he should have known Kacchan would say something like that. He tried to pretend that Kacchan cared and that was his stupid way of trying to comfort him without being too obvious about it, but deep down, Izuku knew he was being honest. Kacchan didn’t care about him. He only cared about surpassing him. As much as Izuku wished that they could be friends, he also knew that they weren’t. They had crossed the event horizon of friendship a long time ago. They had already passed the point of no return.

“You’re still sad”, Katsuki interrupted his thoughts, making Izuku look up at him again. Katsuki was staring at him with intense crimson eyes.

“Yes”, Izuku admitted tiredly. What was the point of lying? Kacchan would feel the truth, no matter how much he denied it.

“Look, nerd”, Katsuki sighed, sounding more mature than Izuku remembered hearing him. That was enough to make him pay close attention. Katsuki ran a tired hand across his face and leaned forwards on his chair, his knees supporting his elbows and he hunched over. “I don’t know how the fuck this connection between us works, but what I just felt – it was real. I still think you’re a fucking crybaby and you get way too upset at the smallest things, but I’m gonna be honest with you. I don’t want to feel like that. I’m aware this is selfish as fuck, but it is what it is. Just tell me what the problem is so we can do something about it and I can go the fuck back to studying”.

Izuku eyed Kacchan with wary eyes. He couldn’t say he wasn’t thankful for his honesty, at least.

“I miss mom”, Izuku admitted, shrugging and averting his eyes from Katsuki. “I miss Uraraka-san, and Iida-kun, and Todoroki-kun. I miss my friends. I miss All Might. But – I – I think I miss my mom the most. I wish I could see her”.

“Tch”, Katsuki said, scoffing and turning back on his chair so that he was facing his desk again. Izuku had to admit that was a politer response than he had been expecting.

They were silent for a while. Katsuki didn’t go back to studying, but he wasn’t looking at Izuku, either. Izuku simply sat at the edge of Katsuki’s bed and stared at the floor, starting to get lost in deep thought. He could hear the sound of his friends chatting in the common room downstairs, and the sound of crickets outside Katsuki’s window.

It felt like an eternity before Katsuki stood up again, closing both notebooks and the window. Izuku eyed him with curiosity, not moving from his spot on the bed as Katsuki removed his shirt and his sweatpants, opening the door of his wardrobe and standing only in his boxers. He turned his head to send Izuku a glare from above his shoulder.

“Don’t fucking stare, creepy nerd”, he growled simply, which made Izuku immediately turn his head away in embarrassment. Izuku heard the shuffling of drawers being opened and clothes being wore, but he didn’t dare look.

“W-What are you doing, Kacchan?”, he asked eventually, eyes closed and head turned towards the door. He suspected he might have been blushing, but couldn’t tell for sure.

“We’re going downstairs”, Katsuki explained briefly, as if that information was all Izuku had to know.

“What?!”, Izuku exclaimed, confused. “W-Why? What for?”

Katsuki sighed loudly at this, and Izuku didn’t have to open his eyes in order to picture the way Kacchan must have eyerolled.

“Didn’t you just say you miss your shitty-ass friends?”, he asked with annoyance. “I’m taking you downstairs so you can see them. This way, you won’t feel like shit, which means I won’t feel like shit. Now shut up and tag along”, he instructed, making his way to the door.

“W-Wait, Kacchan!”, Izuku protested as Katsuki pulled the door open unceremoniously and walked out. “I thought you had to study!”, he called after him.

“I do, but I can’t study while your lame feelings nag at my brain. It’s distracting as fuck”, he huffed, closing the door with his key and shoving it at his pocket. “Also, I’m almost done anyway. I can finish it later”.

“A-Are you sure?”, Izuku asked, nervous. “I mean, if you want to, you can finish studying –“

“Listen, shitty Deku”, Katsuki said, stopping on his tracks and grabbing one of Izuku’s forearm with more strength than necessary. He loosened his grip as soon as he felt the pain erupt on his own forearm, but Izuku never protested. “The last thing I want to do is go downstairs and socialize with a bunch of extras who can barely stand me. But if I don’t do it, you’ll keep moping in my bedroom, I’ll keep feeling like shit, and neither of us will get anything done because we’ll be too busy crying over each other’s feelings. So I’m looking at this like when you need to swallow a gross medicine in order to get better quicker. We’ll go to the common room, I’ll endure a few minutes of conversation with that bunch of dumbasses, then we’ll get back here and you’ll stop. Being. So. Fucking. Sad. Ok?”, he tightened his grip on Izuku’s arm as if to squeeze a response out of him. Izuku merely stared at him with wide eyes and nodded. “Good. Now let’s get this over with”.

Izuku followed Katsuki silently as they made their way down the stairs, staying a few steps behind him and trying his best not to let his excitement take the best of him. Even though he knew Kacchan was only doing that so that he would stop feeling bad himself, Izuku was still grateful to him.

All conversation in the common run was cut short as soon as Katsuki stepped in, a grumpy look on his face and his hands shoved in his pockets. He didn’t meet anyone’s eyes as he stopped in front of the couches where everyone was gathered, head turned to the side and shoulders hunched over. The first one to greet him was Kirishima, who hopped off the sofa looking much like an excited puppy.

“Bakubro!”, he exclaimed, making his way over to Katsuki. That was the cue everyone else needed to greet him as well.

“He finally stepped out of his cave!”, Sero cheered.

“Bukubro! I missed you! How are you doing?”, Mina was right after Kirishima, throwing herself on Katsuki and hugging him briefly. Katsuki stood exactly where he was, hands still shoved in his pockets and not returning the hug, but he didn’t shove the girl away, either.

“Hey, Kacchan! How’s the head?”, Kaminari asked. Izuku’s face immediately scrunched up in a frown.

“W-What did Kaminari-kun just call you?”, he asked Katsuki, receiving no response. If anything, Katsuki seemed to avoid his eyes after the question.

“Bakugou! It is good to see you”, Iida was the next to greet him, gesticulating widely. “Are you feeling better? How is your concussion?”

Probably noticing the way Katsuki was shrinking further into himself as if he was trying his best to keep himself from exploding the entire room into oblivion, Kirishima remembered his friend’s request and stood in front of him almost defensively, an apologetic smile on his face and his arms raised carefully as if to indicate for everyone else to step back.

“Hey guys, how about we give Bakugou some space, huh?”, he suggested, gesturing for everyone to stay away. Iida was the only one who obeyed, immediately stepping aside so that Katsuki could walk through if he wanted, whereas Mina and Kaminari stayed exactly where they were. Kirishima gave them a serious look and nodded to the couch, urgency written in his eyes. “C’mon, guys. Back off a bit, ok?”, he added in a lower tone so that only the two friends could hear. Mina frowned and stepped away too, pulling Kaminari along with her when the boy did nothing.

Only when the path was clear and no one else was asking him questions did Katsuki walk further into the room, still not meeting anyone’s eyes and throwing himself on the sofa, as far away from everyone else as possible. On the same sofa as him sat Sero and Round Face, whereas on the other there was Frog Girl, Earphone Girl and Yaoyorozu. Kaminari took the seat next to Jirou, whereas Mina and Kirishima took the floor directly in front of them. Iida, on the other hand, chose to remain on his feet, even though Katsuki couldn’t tell if he had been there from the beginning.

“So, Bakugou”, Mina asked carefully, breaking the otherwise silent room. “Are you hungry?”

Upon the girl’s question, Katsuki’s stomach grumbled, and he realized for the first time he hadn’t eaten in a long time. For the past few days, he had waited until it was far deep into the night before he grabbed himself something to eat, meaning to avoid meeting people on his way to the kitchen. Having slept most of the afternoon away and done nothing other than study once he woke up, Katsuki didn’t even consider grabbing himself a bite until Mina suggested it.

“I’ll make us something”, Katsuki announced simply. He supposed that counted as an apology for freaking out on them and exploding shit back at the classroom, even though it hadn’t been his fault. Plus, this was a far better option than just sitting there at the couch – this way, he could do something he enjoyed (cooking) and avoid talking to everyone at once. Mina and Kaminari cheered happily at the announcement – they adored Katsuki’s cooking, as did everyone else with a functional tongue –, whereas Kirishima simply eyed him with suspicion. Katsuki simply stood up from the couch and made his way to the kitchen, Deku following him close behind.

“So”, Katsuki asked once he reached the kitchen. “What do you feel like eating?”

“Are – are you asking me?”, Izuku frowned, confused, standing beside Katsuki with a confused look and sending eventual glances back at the common room, as if he longed to go back and stay near his friends.

“I’m sure one of them is about to burst in any second now and beg to talk to you as if I’m some sort of walking Ouija board or some shit, so quit trying to go back there. You’re gonna end up dragging me with you”, Katsuki scoffed, not looking at Izuku as he assessed the ingredients available in the fridge. “And yes, I’m not out of my fucking mind just yet, so you’re the only one I could have been talking to. What d’ya want?”

Izuku frowned slightly, re-approaching Katsuki.

“Does it really matter?”, Izuku asked. “I mean, I won’t be able to eat it”.

“But I will”, Katsuki shrugged, putting an apron on and grabbing a knife, even though he hadn’t picked any ingredients yet. “If I can feel your stupid feelings, I’m pretty sure you can feel mine, too. Maybe if I eat something you like, your shitty-ass brain will get less sappy over everything”.

Izuku couldn’t help but to smile at this, looking at Katsuki with fondness.

“Are you really that driven to make me happy, Kacchan?”, he asked, no malice in his voice. Katsuki’s grip on the knife grew harder.

“You’re basically begging me to find out if I can stab you with this knife right now”, he said through gritted teeth, sending Izuku a death glare.

“Fine, sorry”, Izuku chuckled, lowering his head. “I – I like katsudon”, he shrugged, not meeting Katsuki’s eyes. “Can you make that?”

“I’ll see what I can do”, Katsuki scoffed, going over a mental list of ingredients and checking if they were all available in the kitchen.

Just as Katsuki had expected, it didn’t take too long for someone to come after him in the kitchen. To no one’s surprise, that someone was Round Face, who looked very embarrassed to be there alone with Katsuki and who wasn’t meeting his eyes. Back at the common room, their friends’ conversation had returned to top volume.

“U-Uraraka-san!”, Izuku exclaimed in embarrassment, eyes widening as his friend entered the kitchen hesitantly.

“See? Told you it was only a matter of time before one of the fuckers showed up”, Katsuki said without looking at her, grabbing the ingredients he needed from the bottom of the fridge. Uraraka’s eyes widened upon the comment, since she hadn’t heard Izuku’s side of the conversation. It was still a bit hard for 1-A to get used to see Katsuki talking to thin air and remembering that was Izuku he was speaking to.

“H-How is your head, Bakugou-kun?”, Uraraka asked politely, standing in front of the kitchen counter on the opposite side from Katsuki, who rolled his eyes.

“Tch. Don’t pretend you care, Round Face. Just ask what you want to know”, he said, straight to the point.

“Ahh, Kacchan! Don’t be rude!”, Izuku protested, blushing.

“I wasn’t pretending. I really do want to know”, Uraraka protested, looking offended. “Even if that is not the only reason I am here”.

“Yeah, I know why you’re here”, Katsuki scoffed, starting to prepare Deku’s damn katsudon. “My head is fine”.

“That’s good to know”, Uraraka continued, polite. Katsuki sighed.

“Yeah. Now, what do you want?”

“Kacchan!”

“I want to know about Deku-kun”, Uraraka said, a tiny blush appearing on her face as well, even though her eyes were determined.

“He’s fine. He’s standing beside me, blushing like a motherfucker and telling me to stop being rude. I think I’m gonna ignore that last part”, Katsuki shrugged, not looking at Uraraka as he spoke.

K-Kacchan!!!”

“He – He’s blushing?”, Uraraka’s eyes widened. “W-Why?”

“I dunno, he probably has a crush on you or something”, Katsuki scoffed with an evil smirk, only to immediately feel like he had been punched in the gut. Looking at Deku, he found the boy to be looking extremely pale with wide eyes, starting at him as if he couldn’t believe Katsuki had said something like that. Given the rising anxiety inside Katsuki’s own chest, he decided it was time to stop teasing Deku, lest he became the one to feel the aftereffects of his own words.

W-What?!”, Uraraka exclaimed, face gaining a bright red tone. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“I’m just fucking with you, Round Face”, Katsuki said, ignoring the way Deku was burying his face between his hands beside him. “Anyway, if that’s all you want to know, you can fuck off, now”.

Oh my god”, Izuku groaned pitifully, voice muffled.

“I – I don’t –“, Uraraka stuttered, still taken aback by Katsuki’s statement and blushing violently. She took a few seconds to regain her composure before continuing, frowning at Katsuki’s cooking. “A-Are… Are you going to make katsudon?”, she asked, awkward, clearly trying to change the subject and ease the tension in the kitchen. Katsuki rolled his eyes again.

“I don’t do small talk”, he said simply, continuing to look anywhere but her.

“It’s not small talk”, Uraraka protested, sounding offended again. “It was a serious question”.

“Yeah, I’m making katsudon. Great observation skills. If you don’t have anymore relevant questions, you can fuck off and tell the next person who wants to know about Deku to come in”, Katsuki dismissed her. Uraraka looked angry, all of a sudden, her face returning to its natural color.

“Is this what we are to you?”, she asked, indignant. “A line of people you have to deal with before you’re allowed back to your room?”

Katsuki halted his knife cutting in order to stare up at Uraraka, an annoyed look on his face. She didn’t wait for a response before continuing.

“Kirishima-kun has been worried sick about you. So have Mina and Kaminari-kun, and Sero-kun, and Iida-kun. We all have worried about you. We worry about Deku-kun, too, but one thing doesn’t erase the other. If you don’t care about those who aren’t close to you, at least respect those who are. We are not costumers or fans waiting in line to see you. We are your colleagues and friends”.

Katsuki huffed out an annoyed breath, going back to cutting the ingredients. Uraraka continued to stare at him.

“Whatever, Round Face”, he muttered. Uraraka sighed.

“If you want to be like that, fine”, Uraraka said, looking resigned. “But I want to make sure you are being nice to Deku-kun”.

“The fuck do you care? Do you have a crush on him?”, Katsuki said, more out of anger than anything. Round Face was annoying the fuck out of him, so he might as well annoy her back.

“Kacchan, please, stop doing this”, Izuku asked, sounding pained. “Just talk to her normally. Tell her I’m doing fine and that I miss her and Iida-kun!”

The blush returned to Uraraka’s face as violently as ever, but she didn’t stand down.

“H-He’s my friend”, she tried to protest, but the stuttering removed all certainty she might have tried to put in her voice. “And, knowing you, I can’t be sure you are not mistreating him”.

“I’m cooking katsudon”, Katsuki pointed out, raising a triumphant eyebrow at her. “Do you count that as mistreating him?”

“Kacchan, please –“, Izuku tried again.

“Shut up, Deku”.

“What is he saying?”, Uraraka asked, her attention perking up at the mention of Izuku.

“What does it matter to you?”, Katsuki immediately responded, more out of instinct than anything else. Frustrated, he settled the knife down and turned to Izuku. “Look, this isn’t working out. Your friends are too damn annoying. Isn’t just looking at them enough? Do I really have to interact?”, he asked, tired and annoyed. Izuku looked upset by this.

“I didn’t ask you to do this, Kacchan”, Izuku pointed out, frowning. “You’re the one who offered to do it. And you’re the one who’s being rude to them for no reason!”

“Yeah, because I thought that you just seeing them would be enough to make my stomach stop hurting so much, but now it’s getting even worse!”, Katsuki protested angrily. “Can’t you just get your shit together, stupid Deku?”

“How am I supposed to get my shit together when you’re the one who’s fucking teasing my friends and making stuff up instead of being useful?!”, Izuku exclaimed angrily, his face scrunched up in rage. Katsuki’s eyes widened in shock, and it took Izuku a few seconds longer than he should have to realize what he had just said.

“What happened? What’s going on?”, Uraraka asked, nervous, noticing the obvious change in Katsuki’s face.

“Did you just – did you just curse at me?”, Katsuki asked, eyebrows perking up. Izuku blushed and covered his mouth with both hands, eyes so wide they looked like they were about to pop out of his skull.

“Oh my god”, Izuku said, voice barely above a whisper and sounding horrified. “Oh my god, mom, I’m sorry!”, he exclaimed, even though his mom was nowhere around. For some reason, Katsuki found the whole thing – Deku cursing for what was probably the first time in his life and then immediately apologizing to his absent mother as if he was a 4-year-old – extremely funny. Before he knew better – before he even remembered Round Face was standing there as a witness – he burst out in a laughing fit that was harder than any he could remember having. Uraraka seemed a mixture of horrified and uncomfortable to witness that, feeling as if she was intruding a deeply private moment. Besides, Katsuki was looking a bit maniacal like that, talking to an invisible person, holding a knife and laughing his ass off in the kitchen while he cooked katsudon at 8 p.m. She unconsciously took a step back.

“Oh my fucking god”, Katsuki laughed, pointing at Deku. “Oh my fucking god, that’s ridiculous. Oh my god”, he bent over, trying to catch his breath.

“Kacchan, stop laughing! It’s not funny!”, Izuku protested, mortified.

“It’s fucking hilarious, Deku”, he continued laughing, unaware of the retreating Uraraka. “Is this – is this the first time you ever cursed? Like, the first time ever?”, he asked, looking at Izuku as if he was the most pathetic person he had ever seen. Izuku blushed.

“It’s not my fault! If you can feel it when I’m sad, then I can feel it when you’re angry, too! It was your anger talking! Just like when you cried earlier!”, he accused.

“Oi! Don’t ever bring that up again!”, Katsuki immediately became defensive, pointing his knife at Izuku. “That only happened because of your shitty feelings!”

“Well, I can tell you the same! That wasn’t my fault!”, Izuku protested, also defensive. He looked deeply ashamed and embarrassed, hiding his face behind his hands again. “Oh my god, please don’t tell my mom. And – oh, my god, please don’t tell All Might, Kacchan!”, he begged.

“Oh, I’m definitely telling All Might”, Katsuki grinned evilly, going back to chopping ingredients off. “It’s the first thing I’m gonna tell him the moment I see him”.

“Nooooo”, Izuku moaned pitifully, continuing to hide behind his hands.

“Anyway, if you have a better plan about talking to Round Face – hey, where the fuck did she go?”, Katsuki asked, finally noticing Uraraka’s absence. The kitchen was empty of anyone other than himself and Deku.

“Oh”, Izuku said, almost disappointed. He looked around, as if hoping to find Uraraka hiding somewhere. “I didn’t see her leave”.

“Tch. Whatever. Better for me”, Katsuki scoffed, absentmindedly preparing their meal. He hoped it would be enough to feed everyone in the common room.

“I think them talking to you isn’t a good idea, Kacchan”, Izuku pointed out hesitantly.

“Fucking finally. Can we go back to my room, now?”, Katsuki huffed, unimpressed.

“No – I mean”, Izuku corrected himself, looking a bit embarrassed. “It’s because, when they talk to you, it’s not me they’re talking to. So maybe – maybe I could tell you what I want to say to them, and you can relay the message? Just this time?”, he asked, hope evident in his big, green eyes. Katsuki stared at him for a moment before scoffing.

“Told you I’m not your fucking delivery boy”, he said, going back to looking grumpy.

“I know that, Kacchan”, Izuku sighed impatiently. “But it would be better than having you argue with everyone who tries to talk to you! This way you can just reassure them I’m fine, and then they’ll stop asking questions”.

Katsuki was silent after huffing out an annoyed breath, continuing to prepare the katsudon without meeting Izuku’s eyes. He had a grumpy expression on, eyebrows scrunched up in anger.

“Uh… Is everything ok?”, Kirishima’s head popped up in the kitchen, like he didn’t want to walk in all the way. “Ochako came back looking terrified and she said you were laughing manically while holding a knife”, he explained, looking half-concerned. Katsuki glared at him.

“’M fine”, he grumbled with annoyance, not looking at Kirishima.

“Ok…”, Kirishima said hesitantly, slowly backing away and disappearing.

“Tch. Can’t even laugh in peace without these fuckers meddling in my business”, Katsuki complained, continuing to cook.

“I don’t think Uraraka-san had ever seen you laugh before”, Izuku pointed out, supporting his cheek with one hand as he leaned over the counter and watched Katsuki cook.

“So what? It’s not a big deal”, Katsuki scoffed.

“You did look kind of terrifying”, Izuku shrugged.

“I’m always fucking terrifying”, Katsuki protested. “That’s the whole point of me”.

“No, it’s not!”, Izuku chuckled.

“Shut the fuck up. What do you even know about me?”, Katsuki scoffed. Izuku looked a bit sad and nostalgic at the words.

“I think it’s safe to say I know a lot”, he said in a small voice.

“Tch. As if”, was all Katsuki responded. Izuku decided not to argue.

Katsuki continued to cook the katsudon in silence, neither him or Deku engaging in conversation again. They could still hear the muffled chatter coming from the common room, but now the voices were lower, probably so that the two boys wouldn’t be able to overhear what they were saying. Katsuki decided to wait in the kitchen for the meal to get ready, not wanting to spend more time than necessary with his friends. He began scrolling through his phone absentmindedly while he waited for the katsudon to cook.

“So”, Izuku said after minutes of absolute silence, still leaning over the counter beside Katsuki. “Have you considered what I said?”

“There’s nothing to consider”, Katsuki responded simply, without looking up from the phone.

“Kacchan”, Izuku said seriously. “You didn’t come all the way down here just to cook our friends a meal and then leave. You – You said you wanted me to stop feeling sad”.

“Just so I stop feeling sad, too”, Katsuki pointed out, sounding way too defensive. Izuku sighed.

“Yes. But – saying that stuff to Uraraka-san and not talking to anyone isn’t helping”, he admitted.

“So what, shitty Deku? I’m not your servant boy. I’m not here to attend to your every fucking wish”, Katsuki placed his phone down angrily, glaring at Izuku. “So my attempt at making things better didn’t work. Then what? Why don’t you just try sucking it up and dealing with it like a man instead of crying like a little baby over everything that goes wrong in your shitty life?”, he replied angrily.

Realization dawned on Izuku at Katsuki’s unprovoked rage.

He only realized it because of the twisting feeling in his gut, the painful squeezing of his chest, and the frantic beating of his heart. There was no reason for Izuku to feel any of those things, so that could only mean he was mirroring Katsuki’s feelings. Everything suddenly made sense.

“You’re scared”, Izuku pointed out blatantly, looking surprised. Katsuki froze, glaring at him. If looks could kill, Izuku would have been fulminated on the spot.

“I’m not scared of anything”, Katsuki growled through gritted teeth, furious. “Shut the fuck up. You don’t know what you’re talking about”.

“Kacchan”, Izuku insisted. “I can feel it”.

“That’s your own fucking fear you’re feeling, then, you stupid ass”, he protested, getting up and walking away from Izuku. The boy stood up as well and followed him.

“I have no reason to be scared right now”, Izuku shook his head, feeling particularly brave. “You have”.

Katsuki turned on his heels, looking like he was close to smacking Izuku, but the boy continued, unfaltering.

“You think they’ll think less of you if you help me. You think they’ll see it as a weakness if you help the one person who has been nothing but your rival so far”, Izuku said before Katsuki could do anything. “But that’s not true. They’ll see it as kindness”, he pointed out with a hesitant smile.

“That’s worse”, Katsuki scowled. Izuku frowned.

“What? Why?”, he asked, confused. Katsuki scoffed at him and shook his head.

“If there’s one thing I’m not is kind, shitty Deku”, he said with a humorless smile. “You, of all people, should know that”.

“Ok, you do have a point”, Izuku admitted, nodding. “But people can change. I’ve changed”.

“Oh, yeah?”, Katsuki scoffed again. “Well, I don’t want to change”.

Izuku grew silent at this, staring at his childhood friend.

“You think what? Because we share a bed and I’m cooking for you that changes what we are? We aren’t friends, Deku. We’ll never be. We’re nothing but rivals who happened to get stuck together and now are surviving together. Once you get back to your body, everything will go back to the way it used to be. I won’t cook for you anymore. I won’t share a bed with you anymore. Hell, I probably won’t even talk to you anymore. I’m only doing those things because I have to – because I’m meant to, not because I want to. Because I’ll get a fucking headache and feel like shit if I don’t. Is that what you wanted to hear? Is that what you wanted to know?”

Izuku just stared at Katsuki.

“We used to be”.

“What?”

“We used to be. Friends, I mean. To this day, I never really figured out why we ever stopped”.

“Well, rack your fucking brains”.

“Yeah, I supposed you’re right. We stopped being friends because you had a quirk, and I didn’t”.

Katsuki glared at him.

“Yeah”.

“And you thought you were better than me. That I wasn’t worthy of your friendship”.

“Fucking right”.

“And you didn’t want anyone to know you used to be best friends with a quirkless loser”.

A scoff.

“But guess what, Kacchan?”, Izuku said, sniffing, holding back the tears that were pooling in his eyes. “I have a quirk now. And I’m making it my own. And, one day, the quirkless loser who you were ashamed of and who you abandoned will be better than you. And I’ll never, ever shove it in your face, because I don’t want to be a hero in order to surpass you or to be better. I want to be a hero to save people. Can you say the same?”

Silence.

The conversation in the common room continued.

It felt like an eternity of tense silence between them.

“You’re crying again”, Izuku said simply, turning away from Katsuki with the saddest expression on his face. Katsuki took a hand to his face and found it to be wet with tears. He stared in surprise and confusion. He hadn’t even realized he had been crying – only that his chest felt weirdly numb.

He stared at Izuku for several moments, confusion not evident on his face but clear in his eyes. Had he really hurt Deku that bad? Was a series of words capable of making Deku feel as bad as he was feeling on that moment? Was talking about their childhood so painful that it made Katsuki cry without even realizing it, just because he was mirroring Deku’s pain?

He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to speak about it. The best course of action would be ignoring all that shit, eating his food and going back to the peace of his room. But still, Katsuki couldn’t help feeling guilty about the way he was feeling. He was only feeling so bad because Deku was feeling bad. Because he had made Deku feel bad.

Or maybe it was Deku’s accusation that was making him feel like an utter piece of shit.

I don’t want to be a hero in order to surpass you or to be better. I want to be a hero to save people. Can you say the same?

Could he say the same?

Katsuki didn’t know.

The katsudon got ready and Katsuki wiped his face away of any possible traces of tears on his face, not looking or speaking to Deku as he carefully grabbed the bowl and made his way back to the common room. He fucking hated himself for crying and ending up looking like a weak-ass loser, but managed to convince himself that all the crying was Deku’s fault, not his. Their friends’ chatter was interrupted by his arrival and they all cheered upon seeing him bringing them food, Yao-Momo and Tsuyu offering to go grab the plates and cups for their dinner. Katsuki placed the bowl in the center of the dining table and sat down on the farthest corner possible, vehemently ignoring Deku standing up in silence beside him.

Yao-Momo and Tsuyu came back with what was necessary and they all settled in order to eat. Katsuki realized Uraraka was avoiding looking at his general direction, whereas Kirishima didn’t seem to be able to take his eyes off him. Maybe he knew something was wrong. Maybe he knew how shitty Katsuki was feeling.

That wasn’t possible, though. Not even Katsuki knew how he was feeling.

Was his pain Deku’s? Or was it his own? He had no fucking idea, and no way to tell, either.

They began to eat, everyone continuing to chatter lively as they went, miraculously not asking Katsuki anymore questions or pressing him into talking. They could probably see it in his face that he wasn’t in the mood for conversation. He would probably feel the need to thank Kirishima for that later, if he was the type of person to display gratitude.

Behind him, Katsuki could hear Deku sniffing as he tried to hold back his tears. Katsuki didn’t have to look at Izuku to know that he was crying, because his chest was aching and throbbing with each breath he took.

Sighing, Katsuki finished his meal as fast as he could, trying not to think too much about how delicious it tasted. He cleared his throat, interrupting Kaminari in whatever shitty story he was in the middle of making up. All eyes turned to look at him, even Uraraka’s, however apprehensive they were. He, on his turn, didn’t meet anyone’s face as he spoke, choosing to stare at the table instead.

“Deku wants to say some shit for you all”, he announced crudely, not even looking at Deku. “Since he can’t say it directly and none of you fuckers have any idea what you want to ask him in the first place, I’ll just tell you what he wants to say. Who do you want to start with?”, he turned his head to look at Deku, careful to keep his face impassive and neutral.

Deku stared back at him with surprise in his wet eyes. He hesitated for a few moments, looking like he was trying to decide whether Katsuki was playing a prank on him or not, before managing to muster a response.

“U-Uraraka-san”, he said. Katsuki suppressed the urge to roll his eyes and listened to the words Deku wanted him to relay.

“He wants to apologize for what I said to you in the kitchen and let you know that those words were entirely mine, not his”, Katsuki told Uraraka with a bored expression. “He misses you and Four Eyes – fine, fine, Iida – and he wants you to know he’s very grateful for everything you’ve been doing for him so far, even though none of you have done shit – ok, this last part was me, not him. He wants you to know he’s ok, and told you not to worry about him, no matter how bad his body looks. He says you don’t need to be nervous because he’ll find a way out of this, things will go back to normal soon, blah blah blah. Fine, is that all? Who do you want to declare yourself to next?”

This went on for some minutes, Izuku telling Katsuki what he wanted his friends to know and Katsuki doing his best to relay the messages without altering them too much. His friends listened with sharp attention and seemed to get emotional by Deku’s words – Uraraka started crying at some point and Kirishima was obviously fighting back tears. When Deku made Katsuki tell the boy that he thought it was manly to cry, Kirishima burst like a dam, making Katsuki roll his eyes and bury his face between his knees.

Once they were done, Katsuki felt exhausted. Looking up at Deku, he found the boy had heavy bags beneath his eyes, face paler than usual. It dawned upon Katsuki that maybe bird-brain’s theory made sense – maybe Deku was drawing his lifeforce out. But maybe, just maybe, he was drawing Deku’s lifeforce out as well.

They couldn’t keep going like this.

After everyone hugged – thankfully, they were all smart enough to not try and hug him – and cried like pathetic babies about Deku, Katsuki bid his sharp goodnight to his friend and headed back to his bedroom. He could tell Deku was still sad, but it was a different kind of sadness, now – a lighter kind of sadness. A sadness he would deal with later, when he was well-rested and not feeling like literal shit.

They walked all the way back to the bedroom in silence, entered the room in silence. Katsuki changed his clothes in silence. Deku lied on the bed in silence. Only after Katsuki went to the bathroom and came back ready to get to bed that he realized Deku was lying at the edge of the bed again.

“Move over”, Katsuki instructed, grabbing the pillows he needed to form a pillow fort.

“What?”, Izuku asked dryly, not understanding the command and clearly still upset about their discussion in the kitchen, even though Katsuki had done what he had asked and spoken to his shitty friends for him. What more did Deku want?

“Sleep on the other side of the bed. I can’t get out easily from there if I need to use the bathroom. You don’t need to use the bathroom, so move over”, he instructed as patiently as he could, which was saying much about how benevolent he was feeling on that moment.

“But you said you would blow me up if I slept on your side of the bed”, Izuku frowned, genuinely confused. He still looked upset, and, for some reason, that annoyed Katsuki. Whatever resemblance of patience he had managed to muster had lasted for precisely 3 seconds, and it was entirely gone now.

“Well, I’m fucking taking that back now”, Katsuki scoffed, losing his temper. “Move or I’ll move you”.

“Fine”, Izuku agreed, moving over to Katsuki’s previous side of the bed. He looked like he didn’t want to argue anymore and, before Katsuki had even put up the pillow fort, he was already lying as closely to the wall as possible, his back turned to his childhood friend.

Once he was done establishing the limit on the middle of the bed, Katsuki lay down on his back and stared up at the ceiling. Peeking over at Deku’s side, he found the boy in the same fetal position, back turned to him, face hidden by his green curls. Somehow, Katsuki could tell he wasn’t asleep.

They stayed in silence for a long time, just breathing and staring at nothing for what felt like an eternity. Katsuki was the first one to break the silence.

“I don’t do apologies”.

A scoff.

“I know that”.

“Shut up”.

“You’re the one who started it”.

“Whatever. What I mean is – I don’t apologize”.

“I said I know that”.

“Are you gonna let me say what I want to fucking say or will you keep being like this?”

Silence.

“Look. I was an asshole as a kid. I’m still an asshole, but – I didn’t know”.

“Know what?”

“How much I hurt you. I mean, I did those things to hurt you, but not to hurt hurt you, you know?”

“… No”.

A sigh.

“Look. I’m not good at this. Can’t you at least put a fucking effort into understanding?”

“I’m trying, but it’s not my fault you’re not good at this”.

“God, you’re so fucking annoying”.

A spike of pain in Katsuki’s heart.

Stop doing that”.

“I’m not doing it on purpose!”

“Sure feels like it!”

“If you don’t want to feel pain, then don’t make me feel it”.

Silence.

“Listen, Deku – what I’m trying to say is: I didn’t know how much I hurt you until I felt it first hand. I don’t know what I was trying to do, but I didn’t mean for you to be in so much pain. So my bad, I guess”.

A humorless chuckle.

“Really? ‘My bad’?”

“I don’t know what you want me to say”.

“I don’t know. A proper apology would be nice”.

“I told you I don’t fucking do apologies”.

“Then you’re going to have to do better than ‘my bad’”.

“Tch. You think way too much of yourself”.

“You told me to kill myself”.

Silence. A renewed spike of pain, older this time.

“Do you remember that?”

Silence.

“Yeah”.

“Yeah”.

“I didn’t mean it”.

“I don’t think it really matters what you meant, Kacchan”.

A flash of anger and resentment.

“You know, you seem really eager to be friends with the guy you keep insisting hurts you so much. If I was that much of an asshole, if I hurt you so bad, then just leave me alone and stop insisting on this friendship bullshit”.

Pain.

“Fine”.

A smothering feeling. Tears in his eyes.

“Listen, shitty Deku. I don’t want you to die. I never did. I was just more of an asshole than I am now. I said shit without thinking first. I still do, sometimes, but – I’m not like that anymore. Or at least I’m trying not to be”.

“Yeah, I know that”.

“Then just let it go, ok?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean, you sassy son of a bitch?”

“It’s easier if I just forgive you without you actually having to apologize. But even if I do that, the pain won’t just go away”.

“Of course. Because it can’t be that fucking easy with you, can it?”

“Yeah”.

A scoff.

“How long have you been feeling it?”

“Hm?”

“This pain”.

“I don’t know. It gets better, sometimes”.

“When does it get worse?”

Silence.

“When you’re mean to me for no reason”.

“So all the time, then”.

A tiny chuckle. With humor, this time.

“Not always. Sometimes, when you’re not really thinking about it, you can be nice”.

“Not to you, though”.

“No. Not to me”.

Silence.

“But you’re nice to other people sometimes. Kirishima-kun, mostly. You’re friends with him. I think it’s good”.

“Huh”.

Pain.

“Just talk, Deku”.

“I just… I used to think we stopped being friends because of you. Because you couldn’t be friends with anyone. I was hurt, at first, but as we grew up, I… I thought you were the problem, not me. Even as amazing as you are”.

A pause.

“But you’re friends with Kirishima-kun, and with Kaminari-kun... So maybe the problem was me all along. And – and, today, Kaminari-kun called you Kacchan”.

“He only does it to piss me off”.

“Well, I don’t”.

A scoff.

“I really don’t”.

“Why the fuck else would you call me by my patronizing childhood nickname?”

Silence.

“See. It’s to piss me off”.

“It’s not. I swear”.

“Then just tell me why”.

“I can’t”.

“Why not?”

“It’s embarrassing”.

“Fuck you”.

Silence.

“I’ll tell you about it someday”.

“Whatever, shitty Deku. Until then, I’ll keep thinking it’s to piss me off”.

“Ok”.

Silence.

“I think I’ll go to sleep, now”.

“Whatever”.

“Goodnight”.

“No ‘Kacchan’, huh?”

“Do you want me to call you Kacchan?”

“No”.

“Ok, then. Goodnight, Kacchan”.

“Now you’re just being a piece of shit”.

“I think I can have this one after what you said tonight”.

A sigh.

“Not dropping it, huh?”

“You haven’t apologized yet”.

“And I won’t”.

“So I’m not dropping it, either”.

“Bitchy”.

“Rude”.

“Whatever”.

“Goodnight”.

“Whatever”.

Silence.

“Did you feel better?”

“Huh?”

“After I ate the katsudon. Did it help?”

“A bit, yeah. You cook really well”.

“I know that”.

A sigh.

“I’ll cook it more often, then”.

“I suppose it’s easier than apologizing, huh?”

God. Fuck you. Shut up”.

Silence.

More silence.

“You’re such a fucking loser”.

More silence.

“What, you’re not talking to me anymore? Is that your level of bitchiness?”

“I thought you wanted me to shut up”.

“Fuck you”.

“See?”

A sigh.

“Look, Deku. I’ll try to be better, ok? I can’t promise I will always get it right, because you’re annoying as fuck, but – I don’t want to feel that shitty way anymore”.

Silence.

“And it wouldn’t be heroic for me to let you feel that way, either. So – if I’m being an asshole – just tell me”.

“You were an asshole tonight”.

A sigh.

“You do know ‘asshole’ counts as a curse word, right?”

“It’s your anger manifesting on me”.

“You tell yourself that. Your mouth is getting rotten. Like mine”.

“No, it’s not!”

“Trashmouth”.

“Don’t call me that!”

“I’ll tell your mom all about it”.

“Don’t you dare!”

“Will you forgive me if I don’t tell her?”

Silence. Sadness.

“No, Kacchan. I’m sorry, but it’s… It takes more than that. I wish I could. I mean, I don’t blame you for it, and I think I probably forgave you already, but – you keep – you keep doing this… stuff. And saying stuff. About us not… Well. It hurts. I can’t just… let it all go, you know”.

Silence. Disappointment.

“It was worth a try”.

“I suppose”.

Silence.

“I’ll find a way to make it up to you, then”.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Because I feel like it. Don’t fucking question me”.

“You could just apologize. It’s simple like that”.

“I’ll apologize when I’m dead”.

“Or when I am”.

“Quit being so fucking sappy. You sound like that emo bird guy. I already told you you’re not going to die”.

A chuckle.

“Thanks, Kacchan”.

“So we’re back to Kacchan, huh?”

“Ugh”.

“Go to sleep, nerd. I need to be well-rested for class tomorrow”.

“Fine. You too”.

“Don’t tell me what to do”.

Chapter Text

Izuku woke up.

He thankfully didn’t have any weird dreams that night, probably because of the exhaustion he had been feeling before he went to sleep. His arguments with Kacchan always left him emotionally tired afterwards, making his bones feel heavy and his brain feel mushy, but the intensity of his exhaustion had only increased after his soul became attached to the boy’s.

For most of his life, all Izuku could do was pathetically attempt to defend himself – or, sometimes, others – from Kacchan’s unjustified anger. He would cry and shake and his voice would crack more often than not, but he would still try. Of course, before he inherited One For All, there wasn’t much he managed to do, and Kacchan would end up either giving him a beating or scolding him so hard his words hurt more than his fists. Izuku supposed that was the reason why he always felt so tired after their conflicts – the emotional toll Kacchan’s abuse used to take on him was too heavy for him to bear.

After he made himself stronger and more confident about himself, Kacchan’s words still hurt, but not in the same way they used to. Whereas Izuku felt fear and pain back in the days he was a wimpy, defenseless nerd, now he could only feel grief whenever Kacchan was unnecessarily mean to him. Grief for what they used to have, before Kacchan’s quirk manifested and an uncrossable bridge appeared between himself and Izuku alongside it; grief for what they could have had if he had been born with a quirk of his own or if Kacchan’s parents had managed to control their son before his head grew too much. Either way, Izuku felt tired whenever there was conflict between himself and Kacchan – if before he felt tired because of his fear, now he felt tired because of his sorrow.

Kacchan’s words fueled his desire to become number 1, too, but Izuku couldn’t deny that their main effect was hurting him.

Still, as his eyelids parted and he instinctively stretched his shoulders, he rejoiced on how well-rested he felt. His back no longer ached, his muscles were relaxed and he felt a renewed energy inside him.

Then he felt something on his head.

Slowly turning to look what was touching his scalp, Izuku found himself baffled at the realization that it was Kacchan’s hand.

He couldn’t see Kacchan’s face, as it was buried in one of the many pillows that made up the fort he built, but his hand and half his arm had reached across the tall fortress of pillows and his fingers were tangled in Izuku’s hair, as if he had fallen asleep in the middle of playing with his curls. Izuku froze, not sure of what to do in this type of situation. He was sure it must have been an accident, but he was also sure that, if Kacchan woke up and found his hand in Izuku’s hair, he would certainly find a way to put the blame on stupid Deku or whatever it was he felt like calling Izuku on that day.

He didn’t know why his heart was racing so fast at the discovery, but what he did know was that he should get out of that situation before Kacchan woke up.

Izuku moved slowly, carefully, in order not to wake Kacchan up (because of course he was still asleep; there was no way in hell he would voluntarily bury his hand in Izuku’s hair while he was awake), gently removing himself from Kacchan’s touch and sitting up on the bed. He was surprised when the mattress didn’t rattle with his movements, but then he remembered he was a ghost, and he couldn’t really interact with anything or anyone other than Kacchan.

It didn’t really make sense that his back needed a soft surface for him to sleep on, but his weight and his form didn’t interact with the mattress in any way. How could he touch something without being able to change it? Izuku sighed as he got to his feet. The quirk he had been hit with was truly remarkable, and way more mysterious than he liked.

He wanted to speak to All Might in private, to have a conversation with his mentor without anyone else present. He wanted to ask about the investigation, about how close they were to catching the villain – but he knew that there was no way to communicate with anyone without Kacchan’s intervening. And All Might wouldn’t be able to answer any of Kacchan’s questions, even if they were coming from Izuku – that would be breaking protocol. All Might was often willing to break protocol for Izuku – not that either of them would ever admit it –, but breaking it for Kacchan was an entirely different story.

Despite of Kacchan’s reassurance that he wouldn’t allow Izuku to die, he couldn’t help but to worry about Aizawa sensei’s words from their last reunion. Especially when another student’s life is on the line. What had he meant by that? Was his life in risk? Was that why he was feeling more tired with each passing day? Uraraka and Iida had said his body wasn’t looking so good, and even though Kacchan had been trying to make him more comfortable, he wasn’t… feeling so good, either.

Maybe he just missed his mom. She always knew how to make him feel better. She always had the right thing to say, the right place to touch, the right way to hug him. Izuku wished he could see her. Maybe then she would be able to help him with the tiring, heavy sadness that sad deep in his chest.

He sat by the window and stared outside, watching as UA came to life with the rising sun. None of their friends were up yet – Izuku suspected Kacchan was always the first one to wake up –, but it was nice watching the way everything gained color and the birds begin to chirp. It was nice to see how the world kept turning, even though his body was stuck to a hospital bed with no prospect to wake up. It was nice.

It also made him feel ridiculously small, but he didn’t really mind.

It didn’t take too long for Kacchan to wake up, growling low in his throat with a hoarse voice and shifting on the bed. Izuku didn’t turn to look at him as the boy stretched and sighed, but his head soon perked up above the pillow tower, looking around the room and finding Izuku sat by the window. His hair was messy in a way that could have been described as adorable, if this wasn’t Kacchan he was talking about.

Kacchan didn’t bid him good morning, talk to him, or even acknowledge him at all. He simply sat up, stretched some more, got to his feet and headed to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Izuku sighed, leaning his head on the window frame and watching the birds that were flying away in the distance. He knew that the wind was blowing, but he couldn’t really feel it.

He didn’t move from his spot by the window as Kacchan returned and began to dress himself for class. Izuku could see him change clothes through his peripheral vision, but stayed where he was. As he had done on the previous day, Kacchan gathered his material and placed everything he would need inside his backpack, but, unlike Izuku had expected, he sat by his studying desk, instead of heading out. Izuku frowned.

“Kacchan?”, Izuku asked, looking at him for the first time ever since he woke up. Kacchan didn’t look at him, simply opening the two notebooks he had been using in the previous night and grabbing his pencil so that he could take notes. Upon his lack of response, Izuku shifted so that he could look at Kacchan better. “What are you doing?”

“Take a fucking guess”, Katsuki bit angrily, not looking at Izuku.

Oh. So they were back to their usual banter, if that could be even called as such.  Izuku leaned over and tried to see what Katsuki was doing from up close, trying his best to hide his disappointment at the unnecessary aggression. He had thought at least… something would change after their conversation from the previous night. Kacchan had promised he would try to be better, after all.

Upon Izuku’s analytical silence, and probably also remembering his promise, Katsuki continued, still sounding grumpy but not as much as before:

“I’m going to finish this before we go to the damn class”.

“I thought you wanted to arrive first”, Izuku commented, focusing on reading the content of the notebooks. There seemed to be a mix of notes on the pages – the neat ones were certainly from Yaoyorozu, whereas the messy ones could be from any of Kacchan’s friends. Izuku figured Kirishima must have stopped by at some point on the previous day, probably when he was still asleep, to deliver the notes.

“From the shit that’s been going down for the past few days, I think it’s pretty safe to say the universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what I want”, Katsuki said grumpily, continuing to write. Izuku opted not to respond, and instead continued to read both Kirishima and Yaoyorozu’s notes, as well as the ones Kacchan was currently taking. This was probably the only way he would be able to get in touch with their studies while he was trapped out of his body.

Katsuki hadn’t been lying in the previous day when he said he had been almost done with studying before they went to the common room. Less than twenty minutes passed before he was finished with his notes, closing the notebooks and shoving them inside his backpack before standing up and throwing it over his shoulder. He didn’t indicate for Izuku to follow him or shot any other bitter remark at him – instead, he simply made his way to the door, put his shoes on by the doorframe and walked out, holding the door open for Izuku as he always did.

Izuku sighed, but followed. Kacchan was acting weird.

It was only expectable that their relationship got even more turbulent after their messy discussion from the previous day – Izuku had been painfully honest, finally mustering the courage (and the anger, even if the feeling had been Kacchan’s, and not his) to speak of truths which he hadn’t dared approach until then. Of course, everything must have been a bit shocking to Kacchan – he was used to Izuku shaking and trembling in fear beneath him, not talking back to him and throwing painful accusations on his face.

Izuku had expected Kacchan to be angry. After all, they had finally talked about the day when he told Izuku to kill himself – Izuku had shoved it on his face. He had accused him and admitted to all the pain Kacchan had ever made him feel. Not only that – he had made Kacchan feel his pain, even if it hadn’t been his intention. If Kacchan wasn’t going to change, Izuku had expected him to at least be angry, furious, or more bitter than usual.

But he was just – quiet. Apart from the few grumpy statements he had offered Izuku while he was studying, he hadn’t said anything else. From the way he was walking five steps ahead of Izuku with his hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders hunched over, he didn’t look like he was about to start conversation, either.

Huh. Weird.

“Hey, Kacchan”, Izuku called, rushing his footsteps in order to keep up with Katsuki. He was concerned, but he also wanted to test whether Kacchan would respond as he normally would. “You okay?”

Silence. They began to descend the stairs.

“You’re acting a bit weird”, he insisted, walking alongside Kacchan.

More silence. They walked out of the dorm building.

Izuku frowned, all thoughts about testing responses evaporating from his mind. Something was definitely not right. His concern overwhelmed any other feeling, and thoughts about tests were obliterated from his mind.

“Seriously, Kacchan. Is everything all right?”

Silence. Izuku sighed.

“Is this about yesterday?”

He started to feel angry – a possible sign that he was probably annoying Kacchan. But he needed to know.

“Just tell me what it is. I know you’re angry, but I don’t know why”.

“Tch”.

Kacchan”.

Silence.

“If you’re going to be like that, then fine”, Izuku ended up spitting out before he could think better about it, angry. It was only after he spoke the words that he realized he hadn’t meant them, but he was feeling too angry and irritated to take them back.

Was that how Kacchan felt all the time?

They walked the rest of the way to the classroom in silence, Izuku allowing himself to fall back again and walking a few steps behind Katsuki. When they walked in, Todoroki, Iida, and Uraraka, as well as Yao-Momo and Jirou were already there. They seemed surprised to see Katsuki arrive after them for what was possibly the first time ever. Katsuki, on the other hand, didn’t look at any of them as he made his way to his assigned seat, but Izuku stared at his friends with longing and sorrow, wishing desperately to be seen and feeling bad that he couldn’t be.

He spared a glimpse at Katsuki, noticing he was already on his seat with his notebook open in front of him. His friends had bid him good morning, to which he responded with a simple huff and a nod. Izuku didn’t feel like taking his assigned seat behind Kacchan just yet, but he also felt weird walking away from Kacchan to be with his friends. First, because his friends couldn’t see him, so it would be weird and probably a little creepy if Izuku just stood beside them listening to their conversation. Second, Kacchan had been his sole companion for the past days. For some reason, it felt like betrayal to choose other people’s company rather than his, even if he was being an ass to Izuku. Being an ass was just Kacchan’s modus operandi, right?

Izuku’s eyes darted between Kacchan, who was sitting in silence with his back turned to him, and his group of friends, who were gathered at the back of the room speaking in a low voice. He bit his lower lip, trying to make a choice. His eyes found Kacchan again. Kacchan didn’t look at him, or even seemed to remember he was there in the first place.

Fine. It couldn’t hurt to just hang around his friends for a little while, right?

Izuku approached his friends slowly, even though there was no reason to – they couldn’t see or hear him. Yao-Momo and Jirou had left their assigned seats in order to listen to Iida’s and Uraraka’s conversation, whereas Todoroki was on his assigned seat, from where he could still participate if he wanted to (even if he didn’t look like he wanted to).

“I mean, he does look more tired with each passing day”, Yao-Momo was saying with a concerned look on her face. “If Tokoyami-kun is right –“

“Let’s hope he’s not”, Jirou intervened, bearing a neutral face. Izuku could still see the concern in her eyes.

“We should talk to Aizawa sensei about this”, Yao-Momo continued, nervous. “I’m concerned about them. Especially since last night. We all heard their discussion in the kitchen. Even if Bakugou talked to us afterwards, and delivered Midoriya’s message…”

“If we talk to Aizawa sensei, Bakugou-kun will explode us into little pieces”, Uraraka commented, sparing the subject of their conversation a hesitant look, as if she wanted to make sure Katsuki hadn’t overheard her. Her usual cheeriness was absent from her face.

Izuku frowned. What were they talking about?

“I believe Kirishima-kun has spoken to Bakugou about the subject”, Iida intervened.

“Yeah, but he didn’t believe him”, Jirou pointed out. “Said he was fine. You know how he is”.

We know how he is, but this doesn’t mean anything”, Uraraka said, looking like she had made a choice. “We can’t just let them… do this because Bakugou is stubborn. We have to do something”, she looked at Yao-Momo. “I agree with you. I think we should talk to Aizawa sensei, even if Bakugou-kun does blow us up”.

“We can speak to him after class”, Yao-Momo nodded, still looking worried. “After Bakugou has left. I think it’s better if he isn’t present at the time”.

What are they talking about? Why are they so worried? What will they tell Aizawa sensei?

“I cannot say I agree with leaving Bakugou in the dark about this, especially since it is such a personal subject”, Iida frowned. “But if he is being so stubborn and Midoriya’s life may be in danger because of this…”

What?

“… then I will go with you to speak to Aizawa sensei”.

“It’s not just Midoriya’s life”, Jirou corrected. “It’s Bakugou’s, as well. He’s wasting away”.

Izuku turned to look at Katsuki. He was sitting in the same position, hunched over and silent. He frowned.

“What do you think, Todoroki-kun?”, Uraraka leaned forwards on her chair so that she could take a look at Todoroki, whose view was blocked by Yao-Momo and Jirou sitting in front of him. Upon the call of his name, he turned to look at Uraraka, his face as neutral as ever. “You are the one who has been visiting Deku-kun the most! And we know how attentive you are to these kind of details. Do you think Tokoyami-kun’s theory is right?”, Uraraka elaborated.

What is this theory? What are they talking about?

“I don’t believe I’m qualified to say whether Tokoyami is right or wrong”, Todoroki said, looking pensive. “But I can say Midoriya is looking weaker every day”.

“What about Bakugou?”, Jirou asked, sparing Katsuki a quick glimpse as if to make sure he wasn’t overhearing their whispered conversation, just like Uraraka had done a few moments before.

“He’s looking better than before, I believe. But still, more worn out than his usual. Maybe having two souls attached to his body is taking its toll on him”, Todoroki commented. Izuku’s eyes widened.

Was that what they thought? That Kacchan was getting weaker and tired because he was being forced to carry Izuku around as well? Was that what they were going to tell Aizawa sensei?

“Kirishima-kun said he’s been trying to be nicer to Deku-kun, so maybe there’s been improvement in both sides”, Uraraka said, frowning. “And, until yesterday, I hadn’t expected Bakugou-kun to just tell us about Deku-kun’s feelings like that. Maybe spending time together is being good for Bakugou-kun, but… Still…”, she hesitated, biting his lower lip. “We need to find this villain soon”.

“Yeah”, Jirou agreed, looking mournful. “I don’t like it that Midoriya’s soul has been disconnected from his body for so long. This can’t be healthy”.

“I don’t like it that the teachers aren’t telling us anything, either”, Yao-Momo complemented, hugging herself. “They should at least let Midoriya’s friends know how close they are to helping him get better”.

“Maybe they aren’t”, Todoroki added ominously. All eyes turned towards him. “Close to helping him”, he clarified sternly. “Maybe that is why they aren’t telling us anything”.

“That is a severe lack of faith in the competence of our school, Todoroki-kun!”, Iida reprimanded vehemently.

“It’s the truth”, Todoroki continued, unfaltering in the face of Iida’s disapproval and picking at one of his nails with apparent indifference. “UA has been receiving daily criticism from the media for the several disasters that took place ever since we began studying here. First, an attack inside their private quarters, then Bakugou getting kidnapped by the villains… You would think they would want to reassure the public and the media about Midoriya’s condition as soon as they could, and that is what they have been doing. However, we are seeing no results, only promises. Even if they say they are close to a capture in the news, Midoriya is still wasting away in a hospital bed. That indicates that they are desperate to maintain their image, but nowhere close to arresting the villain who did this. If they were, they wouldn’t waste so much time giving interviews and making press conferences – they would be busy working on a capture”.

Everyone fell silent. Iida lowered his head. Izuku felt himself grow pale.

“Perhaps making Aizawa sensei, and thus the board of teachers of the UA, aware that Bakugou is becoming overloaded by the connection he shares with Midoriya, we can force their hand into working harder on a capture rather than focusing on their publicity”, Todoroki concluded stoically.

“You really think Aizawa sensei is more worried about publicity?”, Yao-Momo turned towards Todoroki. There was no malice or judgement in her tone, only sincere curiosity.

“No”, Todoroki replied without missing a beat. “But Principal Nezu certainly is, and he is the one responsible for making the decisions”.

Everyone fell silent again.

“Well”, Iida broke the silence after a few moments. “It is settled, then. After class, we will speak to Aizawa sensei and inform him of our concerns regarding Bakugou’s well-being”.

“And Deku-kun’s”, Uraraka added, even though she didn’t really have to.

More of their friends were arriving and the class was almost full. With the increasing number of people who could end up overhearing their conversation, his friends fell silent and the subject was concluded. Izuku decided to make his way back to his own assigned seat, a blank, almost frightened look on his face as he took his chair.

Was he… Was he overloading Kacchan? By simply being there? Was Izuku putting Kacchan’s life on the line along with his own by being attached to his soul?

Was he… Was he harming Kacchan?

He thought back to the previous day, to the terrifying image of Kacchan crying and his voice breaking just because Izuku was feeling a little sad. He thought back to how utterly tired he had felt after their argument in the kitchen, and how Kacchan had looked exhausted as well. He thought back to the way Kacchan only walked and sat with hunched shoulders, instead of his usual straight-back, better-than-you stance – almost as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

In a way, he was. He was carrying a whole life on his shoulders.

Was Izuku draining him like a parasite? Was he making Kacchan waste away? Was he killing Kacchan?

“Cut that out”, Katsuki muttered without turning to look at Izuku, who was sitting behind him. Izuku raised his head abruptly, surprised by the sudden interaction.

“W-What?”, he asked, confused.

“You’re fucking mumbling again”, was Katsuki’s simple response over his shoulder. Izuku fell silent and Katsuki went back to reading through his notes. Aizawa sensei would arrive any moment now.

“Kacchan”, Izuku called, concerned. If there really was a chance he was hurting Kacchan, he needed to let him know. Katsuki didn’t respond, so he leaned over his desk and whispered on his ear with urgency: “Kacchan”.

Told you not to talk to me in public”, Katsuki growled low, turning his head slightly towards Izuku and speaking through gritted teeth. “Don’t want anyone thinking I’m a nutcase”.

“Is that why you weren’t talking to me before?”, Izuku frowned. “But wait, you weren’t talking to me as well back in the bedroom, where no one could see you, so that can’t be it, can it? If that was the only problem, there would be no reason for you to ignore me when we were alone, so the nutcase –“

Cut. That. Out.”, Katsuki growled again, managing to sound more dangerous this time.

“S-Sorry”, Izuku apologized, sincere. “But I want to ask you something”.

“Save it for when we’re not in a room full of people and when I’m actually in the mood to put up with your shit”, was Katsuki’s whispered response. There goes his promise to try and be better, Izuku thought, taking a deep breath.

“But it’s serious”, Izuku added.

“I don’t give a fuck. Now shut up”, Katsuki huffed. Izuku shrunk on himself.

He hesitated for a second before mustering his courage and taking a deep breath.

“Do you think I’m killing you?”, he asked in a small voice, sounding almost shy and apologetic. For some reason, that seemed to be enough to catch Katsuki’s attention in a way that none of his other attempts had, because he immediately turned on his seat, looking at Izuku with suspicious, narrowed, sharp eyes. All conversation in the classroom died, since everyone realized Katsuki was interacting with an invisible Izuku. They’re probably thinking he’s going to freak out like yesterday, Izuku realized.

Instead of freaking out, Katsuki stood up from his seat abruptly, grabbing Izuku’s forearm and dragging him out of the classroom, royally ignoring all the eyes that were glued on him. Once he was outside, he shut the door close behind him, even though Aizawa sensei hadn’t arrived yet. He shoved Izuku against the wall and crossed his arms above his chest, a no-shit expression on his face.

“All right. Talk”, he instructed aggressively. Izuku blinked blankly, taken aback by the sudden development of actions.

“I – I don’t –“, he stuttered nervously. Katsuki sighed and rolled his eyes.

“You obviously overheard something you shouldn’t have when you were eavesdropping on your shitty friends’ conversation like a creepy son of a bitch”, Katsuki pointed out, earning a blush from Izuku. “So talk. The fuck did those bastards say that got you so worried?”

“I’m – I’m not sure they want you to k-know –“, Izuku tried to say, only to have Katsuki angrily place one of his hands on the wall directly beside his head, pining him and preventing him from walking away.

“Too late”, he barked. “You already came to me with that nonsense, so you might as well spill it”.

Izuku stared up at Katsuki, noticing the slight purplish tinge beneath his eyes and the way his shoulders were hunched. Almost as if guessing that Deku was paying attention to his tiredness, Katsuki stood up straighter and took in a deep breath, getting a hold of himself.

“If you don’t tell me, shitty Deku”, he said in a low, threatening voice, leaning closer to Izuku and pressing him harder against the wall. “Imma walk right back in and ask your shitty friends all about it, whatever it is. And I’ll make sure to let them know you were the fucking snitch, since you were eavesdropping on them”, he smirked victoriously upon the frightened look that overcame Izuku’s face. The fear was soon replaced by indignation.

“I wasn’t eavesdropping”, Izuku protested, but the defense sounded weak to his own ears.

“Yeah?”, Katsuki scoffed. “So what do you call listening to a conversation you weren’t invited to, without anyone knowing you’re listening in the first place?”

Izuku’s mouth opened and closed several times as he tried to come up with a response, making him look like a fish out of water. Katsuki scoffed again and shook his head.

“Just tell me about it, fucker. If you didn’t want me to know, you wouldn’t have asked me what you did”, he pointed out. Izuku lowered his head and sighed in defeat.

“They want to talk to Aizawa sensei after class”, Izuku said, not meeting Katsuki’s eyes. “They think – uh… They think you’re overloaded. B-Because of… me. Because you have two souls attached to you”, he concluded sadly, lifting his gaze to meet Kacchan’s eyes with an apologetic look. Katsuki’s face paled considerably, which made Izuku frown.

Realization dawned on him.

“Did you know that, Kacchan?”, Izuku asked, a mixture of worry and an accusation hidden in his tone. Katsuki averted his eyes from him, looking grumpy. Izuku grabbed one of Katsuki’s wrists before he could turn away. “Kacchan. Did you know that?”, he asked seriously. How could Kacchan have known something like that and not told him?!

“Don’t fucking grab me like that; who do you think you are?”, Katsuki asked angrily, yanking his hand away from Izuku’s grasp. Izuku didn’t have the time to feel sad at the sharp statement – all he could feel was anger – all-consuming, overwhelming anger. He couldn’t tell whether it was coming from Kacchan or from himself.

“How could you not tell me about it?! You knew I’m harming you and you said nothing?!”, he accused, his voice coming out louder than he had intended. In all honesty, Izuku wasn’t used to having angry outbursts – those were Kacchan’s area of expertise, not his. Katsuki glared at him.

“You’re not fucking harming me, dipshit”, Katsuki said, running a tired hand across his face before shoving his hands into his pockets. “Don’t believe anything you hear just because it was one of your stupid friends who said it”.

“So you knew!”, Izuku accused again, upset. Katsuki rolled his eyes. Weirdly enough, he didn’t seem to be as angry as Izuku was feeling.

It had been the same when Izuku felt sad before. Katsuki had ended up dealing with most of the sadness, while Izuku only felt a mild discomfort. Now, Izuku was feeling most of the anger, whereas Katsuki only felt mild annoyance. It was an uncanny exchange.

“Look”, Katsuki said as patiently as he could, still rolling his eyes. “Kirishima stopped by yesterday to lend me the notebook. The one I was studying today”, he shrugged. “He mentioned the dumbass theory bird-brain had come up with, but there was no point telling you because it’s not fucking true”.

“But it makes sense”, Izuku protested, cutting in. “You couldn’t have just kept something like that from me –“

“Oh my god, shut the fuck up!”, Katsuki shouted. The anger was drained from Izuku so fast that it made him dizzy, and it appeared to have gone all the way back to Kacchan. “I can keep whatever the fuck I want from you, you bastard! Stop thinking you can tell me what to do!”

“It’s my soul we’re talking about!”, Izuku half-shouted. “It’s your body! Any information you decide to keep from me could result on both of us dying –“

“That’s not fucking happening –“

“You should have told me about it, Kacchan!”

“What for, huh?”, Katsuki exploded. “For you to bitch and moan at me like you’re doing right now? For you to keep whining like the pathetic asshole you are? For you to spend the entire fucking day sobbing on me because of this shit? Ok, now you know, Deku. There’s a chance you’re draining my fucking lifeforce away with every little breath your shitty soul takes. What are you gonna do, huh? Are you going to detach yourself from me, now?  Are you gonna find a way to shove yourself back into your body? What the fuck are you gonna do?”, he shoved Izuku hard, making the boy’s back collide with the wall behind him. Katsuki felt the impact too, and finally realized what he had done – and how hard he had lost his cool.

Izuku stared up at him with big, wide, tearful eyes that were accompanied by a wobbly lip. Great. He was going to fucking cry again?

Why wasn’t Katsuki crying too, then?

He supposed he was too angry for crying. Had their feelings evened out?

No, there was a deep, smothering feeling squeezing his chest and giving him pain. He was feeling Deku’s sadness. Suddenly, he didn’t feel in the mood to be angry anymore.

“I didn’t fucking tell you about it because there’s nothing you can do”, Katsuki continued, the words coming out through gritted teeth as he did his best not to lose his temper. “There’s nothing I can do, either. We don’t even know if that theory is right. For all I know, we could be feeling so fucking exhausted because you keep having those stupid emotional breakdowns all the time and they’re fucking tiring me out. Either way, it doesn’t really matter if you’re draining my energy”, he snorted. Izuku frowned.

“It… doesn’t?”, he asked hesitantly.

“No, it doesn’t, stupid Deku”, he scowled. “Because – and I can’t fucking believe I’m about to say this shit to you –, until we find a way to put you back where you belong, you ain’t going anywhere. You hear me?”, he stared at Izuku with intense eyes, as if to show him he was being serious.

Izuku, for one, didn’t know what to say or how to react, so he simply stared up at Katsuki, eyes wide and confused. For all the name-calling and abuse he insisted on giving Izuku, even in his soul-like state, he seemed pretty keen on not allowing him to die.

Maybe it was guilt – after all, Izuku was only in this situation because he had saved Katsuki from the villain’s attack. Maybe it really had to do with wanting to be better than Izuku when they became heroes. Maybe it was something else, something that Izuku couldn’t quite name. Either way, one thing he could tell for sure – Kacchan’s eyes were sincere, as were his words. Izuku nodded, deciding to trust the boy’s confidence – if there was one thing in the world that was unfaltering, it was Kacchan’s trust in himself.

“What were you even going to do anyway, you piece of shit?”, Katsuki scoffed, shoving Deku away in an almost playful manner after the boy agreed with his words. “You can’t get rid of me that easily”.

“Bakugou”, a voice called from behind them. Katsuki startled, not having heard anyone approach them, and turned around only to find Aizawa sensei standing in the middle of the hallway, intense gaze fixed on him. He couldn’t tell how long the teacher had been there, or how much of the conversation he had heard.

If he had listened to anything, he didn’t show. Instead of saying anything else or even scolding Bakugou for not being inside the classroom and waiting for him, Aizawa sensei simply stepped closer to him, an intrigued look on his face.

“How is your concussion?”, he asked, sounding genuinely interested, even though his face had an extreme opposite expression.

“Better”, Katsuki responded, staring back at his teacher with a similarly intense look. “Sensei”, he added politely as an afterthought, after a few seconds of delay and a meaningful nudge from Izuku.

“So I’m correct to assume you’re not about to blow up anymore of my class’s furniture today?”, Aizawa sensei raised an eyebrow at him, a knowing look on his face.

“That was an accident”, Katsuki lowered his head with a grumpy look, feeling embarrassed but not willing to go into anymore details. Aizawa sensei stared at him for a few more seconds before stepping aside.

“Don’t take too long to go inside”, he instructed, not looking at Katsuki and reaching for the door handle. “Your current situation does not give you a free pass to do whatever you want”.

“Sensei”, Katsuki called before Aizawa managed to open the door, a serious look on his face. His teacher turned his head to look at him, and he took a deep, calming breath deeply before continuing. “After class, some of my friends will talk to you. Don’t listen to them”, he said, hoping that Aizawa sensei would manage to catch the seriousness – and the sanity – behind his gaze. “They don’t know what they’re saying”, he concluded.

Aizawa sensei stared at him as if trying to read him like a book. He didn’t nod, shake his head, or give Katsuki any sort of indication that he had heard his request before opening the door and walking inside the classroom.

“Kacchan”, Izuku grabbed Katsuki’s wrist again before the boy could follow their teacher inside the room. The door clicked closed quietly behind Aizawa sensei, leaving the two boys standing outside. This time, Katsuki didn’t shrug away from Izuku’s touch, waiting for him to continue instead. “I don’t think it’s such a bad idea for them to talk to Aizawa sensei”, Izuku said, looking serious and concerned. “If the theory is true –“

“It’s not true”, Katsuki cut him short.

“ – if it is”, Izuku continued. “I don’t want to risk your life”.

“And you’ll do what? Just walk off and die?”, Katsuki snorted a humorless laugh, mocking. Izuku continued to stare at him with a serious look, neither agreeing nor denying. For some reason, this pissed Katsuki off beyond compare and he snarled. Was the nerd really considering allowing himself to die just so that he could save Katsuki?

That wouldn’t be a first, though.

Katsuki growled in anger at the thought. He yanked himself away from Izuku’s grasp again.

“That’s not fucking happening”, he spat bitterly, never meeting Izuku’s eyes.

“Why would you put your life on the line like that for me?”, Izuku asked, genuine confusion evident in his frowning face. He still sounded a bit angry, but more lost than anything.

“I could ask you the same fucking question”, was all he said before shoving the door to their classroom open and walking in, giving Izuku had the time to protest. All the boy could do was follow.

 

 

 

 

 

“I swear to god, you’re becoming more unbearable with each passing day”.

“It’s not my fault we missed so many classes!”

“Actually, it is, shitty Deku”.

“I thought we’d gotten over that. I saved your life”.

“No, you fucking didn’t. And stop trying to shove it on my face”.

“Anyway, I still have way too many questions. Are you sure we can’t stop by Aizawa sensei’s office after lunch? I just need you to ask him a couple questions about quirk th–“

“I told you that’s not fucking happening. You already mumbled way too many questions in my ear during the fucking class and made me look like a stupid idiot. Now shut the fuck up before I shove a sock down your throat”.

A pause.

“… Do you think you could do that?”

“I’m pretty sure I already did at some point of our lives”.

“No, I mean. In my current state. Do you think you’d manage to shove a sock down my throat while I’m like… this?”

Katsuki looked at him.

“Are you saying you want me to try?”

Silence.

“You’re such a fucking weirdo, Deku”.

“I’m just saying it would be interesting to know!”

“You’re basically just saying you want my sock down your throat. That’s weird as fuck”.

“It doesn’t have to be your sock! It could be anyone’s sock! I actually think it would be better if we tried several different socks for better results”.

“Get the hell away from me, you creep”.

“I mean it! I’ve been thinking a lot about it, actually”.

“About my sock?”

“About touching things. So far, I know I can touch you, and your bed, and your pillows. I didn’t manage to touch anything else from your room, but when I touch you, I can feel your clothes. Is it because the clothes are on you? Or would I manage to touch them if you’re not wearing them? I wanted to try, but I couldn’t open your wardrobe because my hand kept phasing through it”,

“You tried to open my fucking wardrobe?!”

“For research purposes, Kacchan!”

“I’m going to fucking kill you!”

“Aren’t you curious to know?!”

“I’ll kill you!”

“I mean, what is the limit to what objects I can touch and interact with? I can sleep on your bed and I can lean my head on a pillow –“

“Fucking mumbling son of a bitch –“

“ – but I can’t move it or grab it, for example. I can sit on places if I want to, but I can’t actually move anything. If you’re unconscious, would I be able to drag you?”

“Deku, for fuck’s sake –“

“What would it look like to other people? Can I only move you when you’re awake?”

“Stop. Fucking. Talking. About it. It’s fucking weird”.

“Don’t act like you don’t want to know, too”.

“Fine. You want a sock down your throat? You want a fucking sock down your throat so bad??!!”

“Uh… Bakugou?”

Katsuki snapped his head to the side to find Kirishima, Kaminari, Mina, and Sero standing in front of him, all of them bearing similar expressions on their faces. They were holding trays with their lunches, but Mina’s was shaking really bad from the way she was trying to keep herself from laughing.

Katsuki took into consideration what that scene may have looked like to them. Katsuki, sitting (apparently) by himself at one of the lunch tables, his food untouched in front of him. Him, reaching across the table and grabbing an invisible shirt that belonged to an invisible nerd, shouting threats about socks in throats in the middle of lunch while his other hand popped with tiny explosions. He probably looked more like a lunatic than he would like to admit.

“The fuck are you all looking at?”, Katsuki asked, letting go of Deku, who fell heavily against the chair without moving it out of place. Fine, maybe it would actually be interesting to investigate what objects Deku could or couldn’t touch. Fuck the damn nerd and his contagious curiosity.

“Nothing”, Sero said. His face was serious, but Katsuki could tell he wanted to laugh. “You were just… uh…”

“Shouting about socks. In the middle of the hall”, Kaminari concluded. Mina barely managed to keep it together and emitted a high-pitched whine as she failed to hold back laughter.

“Yeah. And what is it to you?”, Katsuki replied angrily, unwilling to admit that the scene he had made must have been weird as hell to outside viewers. “Don’t like it, go find somewhere else to sit”, he growled, starting to eat his food.

His friends sat down in silence at his table, all of them exchanging looks among themselves. Only after they were all settled did Katsuki look up at Izuku, who had a half-apologetic, half-amused look on his face.

“The fuck are you laughing at?”, Katsuki asked him, angry, forgetting his unwillingness to speak to Deku in front of other people. Deku’s insolence always managed to make him lose his temper. He thought he could mock Katsuki for losing his temper? When he was the one who pissed him off in the first place? “Stay in your lane, nerd”, he warned.

“Sorry”, Izuku smiled nervously, looking like it was taking all of his self-control not to burst into laughter. “But… Are we trying the sock theory later?”

“Don’t call it that”, Katsuki growled while he chewed his food.

“You shouldn’t speak with your mouth full, Kacchan”.

“You shouldn’t shove your nose on other people’s businesses, Deku”.

“But are we doing it later?”

“Fine. Can’t say I won’t be pleased to shove a sock down your fucking throat”.

“Ok, what is it, man?”, Kirishima interrupted their conversation, looking conflicted. Facing him, Katsuki found a similar look on each of his friends’ faces. “What is it about the sock?”

“Yeah, bro. We can only hear your side of the conversation, and it’s weird out of context”, Sero nodded his head.

“Is it a weird sex metaphor?”, Kaminari asked with a perverted look, making Katsuki’s face immediately scrunch up and his eyes widen in rage.

What the fuck did you just say? Get the hell out of my table, you sick weirdo!”, he shouted, furious. Izuku blushed violently.

“You’re the one who keeps talking about socks and throats!”, Kaminari protested, sounding frightened. Katsuki stood up.

OUT”, he shouted. Kaminari only had the time to flinch, grab his tray and stand up before Katsuki’s hands popped with tiny explosions. He didn’t look back as he took a seat in a faraway table with Mineta and Shoji.

“Ok”, Kirishima continued when Katsuki sat back down. “But what is it about the sock?”

“None of any of your damn businesses”, Katsuki grumbled angrily, continuing to eat his food and not looking at Deku.

They managed to eat in silence for a while, Mina and Sero talking about something Katsuki didn’t bother paying attention to while Kirishima alternated between making a comment here and there in their conversation and looking at Katsuki with worry. Izuku, on the other hand, remained very silent after Kaminari’s comment, getting lost in thought again and staring off at the distance while Katsuki ate.

“But I do want to know whether or not I can touch your clothes once they’re off your body”, he commented absentmindedly, probably not thinking Katsuki would hear him. Katsuki tightened his hands into fists and snarled.

Stop saying it like that”, he growled as lowly as he could, not meaning to draw his friends’ attention. “It’s fucking weird”.

“S-S-Sorry”, Izuku said, remembering his own embarrassment. “I didn’t mean to”.

Whatever, just shut the fuck up”, he growled. It didn’t take him too long to finish his food after Deku shut his mouth, and, as soon as he did, he stood up unceremoniously.

“Hey, Bakubro!”, Kirishima called as soon as Katsuki got on his feet. “Where are you going?”

“Yeah, man! We haven’t talked in so long!”, Sero protested.

“I talked more than enough with you lot last night”, Katsuki grumbled, grabbing his backpack and walking away without a second glance. He didn't see Izuku's disappointed glance.

“So, Kacchan”, Izuku said, going back to his rambly mode as soon as they were away from people – and, more precisely, Katsuki’s friends. “Are you sure we can’t stop by Aizawa sensei’s office on our way back? I have at least five questions I wanted to ask about today’s lecture and I wanted to get them done with while they’re still fresh on my –“

“You’d said two questions”, Katsuki interrupted him without looking at him.

“Huh?”

“Before. You said it was a couple of questions. Now you’ve upped it to five”, Katsuki pointed out.

“W-Well… I thought… Maybe I could convince you… If there weren’t too many questions…”, Izuku admitted shyly, following Katsuki close on his tracks.

“Fuck, you’re ridiculous”, Katsuki scorned with a scoff. “It doesn’t matter the number of questions, Shitty Deku. I’m not asking him your questions and that’s final”.

“But Kacchan –“, Izuku tried to protest, but Katsuki cut him short again.

“If you really want to understand it that bad, I can explain it to you later”, he offered. Before Izuku could get sentimental about the unprecedented offer to study with Kacchan, he added: “but only if you shut the fuck up about it and get off my ass for the rest of the day. Also, if you ever mention this to anyone, and I mean anyone, ever –“

“You’ll explode me in some graphic way. I know”, Izuku concluded. “But are you sure you can help me with this, Kacchan?”, he added hesitantly.

What? Don’t patronize me, you fucking idiot, of course I fucking can”, he protested angrily. Izuku raised his arms in defeat, showing he meant no harm.

“That’s not what I meant! It’s just you lost as many classes as I did!”, he explained meekly. “I didn’t think you would have caught up already”.

Of course I caught up already; what the fuck do you take me for?”, he scowled. “I’m not stupid like you”.

Izuku tightened his lips and stared at Katsuki with an offended expression.

“Ok. Remember last night when you told me to speak up when you’re being an asshole?”, Izuku asked, balling his hands into fists. “You’re being one right now”.

“I also remember I told you that ‘asshole’ is a swear word. You kiss your mother with that mouth, shitty Deku?”, Katsuki smirked wickedly. Izuku blushed.

“S-Stop it! It’s your fault I keep cursing so much!”, he protested, embarrassed. “If you could stop feeling so angry all the time –“

“I wish you’d stop being such a sentimental nerd loser all the time, too, but I ain’t getting what I want, am I?”, Katsuki shouted angrily in the middle of the hall. A few passerby gave him weird looks, since they couldn’t see Izuku, but Katsuki ignored them, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking grumpy. “Also, you’re only supposed to tell me I’m being an asshole when I don’t know I’m being one”, he added in a considerably lowered voice.

What? So you were doing it on purpose?!”, Izuku exclaimed, which earned an eyeroll from Katsuki.

“The fuck do you think?”, he huffed.

“That’s mean, Kacchan!”

“Tch. You just get way too upset over small things”.

“Calling me stupid isn’t small!”

“It sure as fuck is. I’ve called you worst things”.

“Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean you calling – wait”, Izuku frowned, interrupting his own thought process as he realized where they were. In front of them was the door to Aizawa sensei’s office.

Izuku turned to look at Katsuki with admiration, surprise, and gratitude in his eyes, beaming up with excitement. Had Kacchan actually listened to his request? Had he brought him down to Aizawa sensei’s office for him to ask him the questions he wanted? Was this Kacchan’s attempt to be better showing?

“Don’t look so fucking excited”, Katsuki said simply, his voice and face as grumpy as ever. “You’re waiting outside”.

Izuku’s face dropped as if he had been punched in the stomach.

“B-But…”, Izuku stuttered, confused. “How will you know the questions I want to ask him if I wait outside?”

“That’s not what we’re here for, dipshit”, Katsuki sighed with annoyance, turning to face Izuku. “I don’t want you meddling with my business this time. Wait outside while I talk to him”, he instructed again. Izuku frowned.

“Why? What are you going to tell him?”, he asked, allowing his curiosity and worry to take the best of him. His eyes widened. “Is this about Tokoyami-kun’s theory?”

“Deku, I’m trying really hard not to punch your teeth in every time you open that damn trap of yours, so shut the fuck up before I stop being calm”, Katsuki snarled.

“You call that being calm?”, Izuku asked in a small voice, frowning, at the same time Katsuki all but pounded at Aizawa sensei’s door in a very impolite manner. Their teacher’s voice came from inside the room, sounding as bored and stoic as ever and instructing for whoever it was to come in. Katsuki turned to look at Izuku one final time before opening the door, a warning in his eyes.

“If you know what’s good for you, you won’t come in, you hear me?”, he raised his eyebrows at Izuku, sounding threatening. “Unlike your shitty friends, I’m the only one who can tell when you’re eavesdropping, so don’t even think about trying it”.

“Kacchan –“

Stay here, Deku”.

And before Izuku could say anything else, Katsuki opened the door, stepped inside, and slammed it closed.

Izuku wanted to lean his head against the door and listen; he wanted to phase himself through the wall like Mirio senpai and find out what Kacchan could possibly be so secretive about. He was usually so blatant and honest – more than necessary, most of the time –; Izuku couldn’t figure out what could have caused the change in demeanor.

He never denied he was going to talk about Tokoyami-kun’s theory. Maybe Kacchan had grown fed up with Izuku’s soul using him as life support and decided to ask Aizawa sensei for a way to get rid of him? Maybe Izuku’s accusations and angry remarks had hit a bit too close to home and ended up encouraging Kacchan to try and find a solution to separate them faster? Kacchan had sounded ok before they went to sleep on the previous night – he had even managed to sound friendly, something Izuku had never witnessed before! Why, then, was he displaying such a sour mood ever since he woke up? Why did he want to talk to Aizawa sensei alone, why didn’t he want Izuku to listen to their conversation? Why was he being so angry? His mind was rushing at lightspeed and Izuku was aware he was probably mumbling, but he couldn’t bring himself to stop. The only person capable of hearing him wasn’t around to tell him to shut up, anyway.

Izuku realized he was scared. He had told Kacchan about his fear of ending up alone in that soul-like state before, but if Kacchan was really trying to get rid of him despite knowing of Izuku’s fear… He didn’t know what to think about that. He didn’t know how to feel about that. All he wanted to know was what Kacchan was telling Aizawa sensei, and how much their conversation would affect him.

It felt like an eternity until Kacchan stepped out of their teacher’s office, looking as indifferent and as grumpy as ever. He lowered his gaze to find Izuku sitting at the floor right beside the door, an anxious, anticipative look in his eyes as he mumbled to himself. He sighed.

“You have any idea how fucking hard it was to speak to Aizawa sensei while you were making me freak out like that?”, he complained, starting to walk away and giving Izuku no choice but to follow. Izuku’s eyes widened in realization and shame – he had forgotten that they were sharing feelings now, and that  he had probably made Kacchan feel all the stages of his own anxious thoughts.

“S-Sorry, Kacchan”, Izuku said, catching up with him and bearing a worried look. “I was… I just… I didn’t know what you were telling him, so I got nervous”.

“Yeah, I could feel that, you damn nerd”, Katsuki rolled his eyes, not looking at Izuku. “But it was a good thing that you’re a wimpy ass loser, after all. Having me lose my shit for no reason in front of sensei helped me build my case”.

“Huh?”, Izuku frowned, confused. “What are you talking about, Kacchan? What case?”

Katsuki was silent, not looking at Izuku as they made their way back to the student’s dorms.

“Kacchan?”, Izuku insisted when he received no response. Katsuki remained silent, staring straight ahead and acting as if Izuku wasn’t there. Izuku sighed and tried again, curious and nervous. “Kacchan, are you going to tell me?”

More silence. They arrived at the dorm building and made their way up the stairs, Katsuki continuing to ignore him.

They entered Katsuki’s bedroom and he unceremoniously removed his uniform coat, his shirt, and then his pants, dropping them in a heap on his bed and turning his back to Izuku so that he could pick up some new clothes from his wardrobe. Izuku did his best not to stare – after all, it would be weird if Kacchan caught him with eyes fixed on his nearly naked form –, so he just sat on the bed and looked at his own knees instead. He suddenly noticed that Kacchan’s uniform was sitting right beside him.

Would he be able to touch the fabric, now that it was no longer in contact with Kacchan’s body? He spared the boy a wary look, as if to make sure he wouldn’t catch him red-handed in his attempt to find out. Seeing Kacchan still had his back turned to him, Izuku slowly reached across the bed so that his fingertips could find the fabric of the uniform –

“Don’t you fucking dare, creepy nerd”, Katsuki warned without turning to look at him. Izuku flinched and retrieved his hand as if it had been burned, blushing. He didn’t know how Kacchan knew what he had been planning to do, but decided not to question him about it – he knew he would probably receive no answer.

“Uh, Kacchan…”, Izuku hesitated after a few silent moments of awkwardness. “Are we… going somewhere?”, he asked, noticing Katsuki had picked up his jeans and a going-out shirt, instead of the sweatpants he normally used when he didn’t plan on living the dorm building. Again, he was left in silence as Katsuki put on his black T-shirt before bending over in order to wear his pants. Izuku averted his eyes again.

Katsuki zipped his pants and walked into the bathroom, this time not closing the door behind him as he usually did. Izuku stayed sitting on the bed, taking the opportunity to touch Kacchan’s uniform now that he wasn’t looking. His hand phased through the material and he sighed in disappointment. So he could only touch the clothes while Kacchan was wearing them.

Kacchan brushed his teeth (Izuku knew because of the way he kept growling and shouting about germs) and washed his face in order to get rid of the tiredness before walking back out. He put on his shoes and stood beside the door, staring at Izuku as if he expected him to simply hop off the bed and follow him like a loyal puppy. Izuku stared back, not moving.

“Are you coming or what?”, Katsuki asked after a few moments of silent staring. He sounded annoyed, but Izuku didn’t allow that to throw him off his balance.

“Where are we going?”, he asked simply, opting to be straightforward rather than passive-aggressive. Katsuki sighed, rolled his eyes, opened the door, and walked out. Izuku was inevitably dragged behind him by the invisible bond that tied them together, yelping in surprise. He had almost forgotten that Kacchan couldn’t get too far away from him without bringing him along in the process.

Katsuki waited until Izuku was out of the bedroom before walking back and closing the door behind him. Without sparing the confused boy a single look, he went back on his way across the hall and towards the stairs. Izuku stumbled his way after him.

“Wait, Kacchan! Tell me where we’re going!”, he asked, having his words ignored again. Izuku’s wish was to plant both his feet on the floor and stop Kacchan from walking away as if Izuku was a dog meant to follow him, but they were in the middle of descending the stairs, and if he stopped so abruptly he could end up making Kacchan fall. Therefore, he followed, a grumpy look overtaking his face and getting mixed with the confusion already etched there.

As soon as they were out of the dorm building and away from any possible curious ears, Katsuki stopped on his tracks and turned to face Izuku with a serious, mildly annoyed look on his face. Izuku froze on his tracks, ears sharp with attention and eyes wide in surprise.

“Listen, shitty nerd”, he said simply, his voice coming out in that usual angry-ish tone that seemed to be a constant for Katsuki. “We’re going out. I don’t want you asking me any questions about it, or we’ll turn the fuck around and go back to the dorm. You’ll understand once we get there. Now shut the hell up and follow me”.

Katsuki’s words were so shocking that Izuku didn’t immediately follow him when he started walking again, which resulted on him being pulled and dragged once Katsuki got too far away. He stumbled and struggled to catch up with the boy again, bearing an even more confused look on his face once he did.

“W-What do you mean, ‘out’, Kacchan?”, he asked, despite of Katsuki’s warning. “Are we allowed to do that? Shouldn’t we stay in UA grounds, especially after the villain attacked us? Kacchan! Kacchan, wait!”, Izuku called after him when his questions went unanswered and Katsuki picked up his pace.

Kacchan, Kacchan, Kacchan, that’s so fucking annoying”, Katsuki stopped on his tracks and turned on his heels in order to angrily glare at Izuku. He grabbed one of Izuku’s wrists and dragged him along so that he didn’t fall behind again, resuming his rushed walk towards the main exit of UA grounds. “Use your brain for once in your shitty life and put two and two together”, he scoffed angrily. “The fuck do you think I was talking to Aizawa sensei about?”

Izuku’s face fell in realization.

“Oh”, he said simply, feeling embarrassed about his own obliviousness.

“Yeah. Oh”, Katsuki mocked him, rolling his eyes. “Now be quiet and tag along. I’m tired of having to drag your heavy ass around. Don’t make me regret this, shitty Deku”, he warned as they stepped out, letting go of Izuku’s wrist and trusting him to keep up on his own.

No alarms blared and no security tried to stop them as they walked out of the UA as Izuku had expected. His eyes kept darting around with worry and wariness, as if villains were about to jump out of the shadows and attack them any minute now. He did his best to stay quiet as Kacchan had ordered him to, but there were way too many thoughts and questions in his head for him to be able to keep his mouth shut. Five minutes into their walk – towards the train station, as Izuku came to realize –, he broke the silence.

“Are you sure we should be out here, Kacchan?”, he asked nervously, his eyes continuing to dart to any possible places from which villains could emerge throughout the street. Izuku could be many things, but he wasn’t a coward; still, it was always better to be cautious rather than reckless. “I mean, the villain who we fought is still missing, and he – he could be after us. Wherever we are going, I don’t think it’s worth being captured for! Plus, we’re going to miss the afternoon classes –“

“Shut up”, Katsuki interrupted him. “I know what the fuck I’m doing”.

“Yes, I trust you, Kacchan”, Izuku clarified, because the last thing he needed was for Katsuki to think he was overestimating him or putting him down again. “But I don’t trust the villain. You’re not even in your battle gear!”

“I don’t fucking need my battle gear”, Katsuki scoffed. They arrived at the train station, and Katsuki silently entered the platform without even looking back to see if Izuku was following him. Izuku, on the other hand, hesitated – he wasn’t used to taking the train without paying for his passage. But no one else could see him, or even know that he was there. Before Kacchan could get too far away again, he followed him, phasing through the turnstile and feeling like a criminal.

He silently made his way over to where Kacchan was standing and waiting for the train, a guilty look on his face. Katsuki still wasn’t looking at him. They were silent for several moments.

“What the fuck is it?”, Katsuki ended up asking after a while, feeling the guilt radiating from Izuku – quite literally, in this case, since he could actually feel the guilt. Izuku blushed. “Just spit it out, nerd”, he insisted when he received no response.

“It’s – it’s nothing”, Izuku said simply, turning his face away so that Katsuki wouldn’t be able to see it. Katsuki rolled his eyes so hard he almost managed to see his own brain.

“Listen, dipshit. I’m not one of your melodramatic friends who’s gonna insist on this kind of shit if you put up this shy embarrassed baby act. If I ask you something and you don’t answer it straight away, then boo fucking hoo for you. I don’t have time or patience to waste on begging you to talk to me. I’d rather die before I do that”, he scoffed. Izuku lowered his head and bit his lower lip, but stayed silent.

He knew what would happen if he told Kacchan he was feeling guilty because he didn’t pay for his passage. He would never hear the end of it. You’re a f****** ghost, you sh**** *** loser. Why the f*** would you pay for the f****** passage?

Their train arrived and they stepped inside silently, not looking at each other. This was the same train they used to take home, back when the UA Heights Alliance didn’t exist. Of course, they never talked to each other – or even looked at each other – when they were in the train together, but they still lived in the same neighborhood, and the way to their homes was still the same. Except Katsuki was always several steps ahead of him, and Izuku never dared approach him.

Now, they were still silent in the train, and still ignoring each other, but at least they weren’t wagons away from each other anymore. They were standing side by side. Izuku supposed that was a small improvement, even if it didn’t feel like much.

We aren’t friends, Deku. We’ll never be. We’re nothing but rivals who happened to get stuck together and now are surviving together. Once you get back to your body, everything will go back to the way it used to be.

Oh, right. He had almost forgotten about that.

Katsuki sighed tiredly at the wave of sadness that must have coursed through him – it sure as hell coursed through Izuku –, but said nothing, standing by his promise that he would never beg Izuku to talk to him. Izuku, on the other hand, simply tried to wave the memories of their argument away from his mind and concentrate on other things – for example, their destination.

He didn’t have the chance to formulate a coherent thought, though, because as soon as the train started moving, he was catapulted out of it.

It only made sense, if he put some effort into understanding. He was a ghost. He could stand and sit on places, yes, but he had never tried to find out how his body reacted to breaking inertia. The train started moving, and he didn’t have a physical body, anymore – so he simply stayed where he had been standing, and the train moved on without him, having nothing to block him or keep him inside. From Izuku’s perspective, he was catapulted out of the train, but the correct assessment would confirm that, in fact, he simply stayed where he was while the train phased through him.

Still, at the loss of the train’s flooring, Izuku ended up falling on the tracks and staying behind, while Katsuki remained inside the train, which was moving away without one of them.

Izuku screamed as the bond connecting him to Katsuki didn’t allow him to stay behind and started to drag him behind the train, making his back scrape painfully against the floor. He could feel Katsuki was trying to pull him back, but he was probably also feeling Izuku’s pain, which made the whole matter way more difficult. Izuku tried to get on his feet and run after the train in order to lower his pain, but finding his footing was hard when he was literally being dragged by a speeding vehicle.

However, Katsuki’s endurance was truly admirable. Before the train arrived at the next station, he found a way to pull Izuku back in. Since they had been standing at the back wagon when the train started moving, Katsuki simply crossed his way to the next wagon, and the next, ignoring the weird looks people were giving him (for walking as if he was dragging a phenomenal weight behind him – which he was, but they didn’t know). The bond connecting them ended up pulling Izuku back into the train when Katsuki reached the second wagon, and he fell to the floor shakily, clearly in pain and in shock for everything that had happened in less than a minute.

He should have known this would happen. It only made sense – this was physics –, but he had been so distracted by Kacchan and their destination that he didn’t realize it until it was too late. Katsuki, on the other hand, simply made his way back to the last wagon where Deku was fallen and crouched down beside him. He wished he could say he was thankful that there weren’t that many people in that wagon to witness him talking to someone invisible, but the truth was he didn’t care. He didn’t even know those people. He didn’t care if they thought he was batshit. All he could focus on in that moment was Deku, who was breathing heavily through his nose and had tears running down his cheeks.

Katsuki wished he could call him a crybaby, but he could feel the pain Deku was feeling. He wondered if he would have teased Deku, if he hadn’t been feeling his pain, too.

Katsuki carefully lifted the back of Deku’s ridiculous All Might shirt in order to take a look at his back, only to find it perfectly fine. So he could suffer from physical harm but it left no marks behind? What kind of weird fucking quirk had Deku been hit with?

Katsuki noticed a fresh, nearly bright scar crossing the entirety of Deku’s back, but it didn’t seem to be a result of being dragged by the train. His main instinct was to touch the pink flesh, but he was already drawing too much attention by crouching down over Deku like that in the middle of the train. Katsuki had a vague impression that the scar was a result from the villain’s attack which had separated Deku from his body, but he decided he could investigate the matter further some other time, when there weren’t dozens of eyes glued on him. He lowered Deku’s shirt.

“Can you stand?”, he asked, grabbing one of Izuku’s elbows to offer him support. The train reached the station, coming to a halt, and Izuku would have slid out of it and into the tracks again if it hadn’t been for Katsuki’s hand holding him down. He yelped in discomfort as his back was dragged across the floor, and Katsuki bit his lower lip. “Come on, Deku. We’re gonna end up making a scene. Just stand up. I’ll help you”, he offered again. Before Izuku could protest or even say anything at all, Katsuki placed the boy’s arm behind his shoulder and hoisted him up, ignoring the pained sound Deku made at the movement.

Katsuki was also feeling the pain, which made it more difficult for him to support Izuku’s weight, but he managed to place his own back against the wagon’s wall and embraced Izuku, who instinctively buried his face on Katsuki’s chest. He clung tightly to Katsuki for a moment, as if afraid to let him go, until he realized what he was doing and attempted to pull back in fear. Katsuki, despite of himself, held Izuku in place, not looking at him.

“This is the only way you won’t phase through the train when it moves”, Katsuki explained simply, his arms enveloping Deku and holding him close. He could see all the eyes in the wagon locked on him, but convinced himself that he didn’t care. For those people, he was hugging air like a lunatic. For him, he was preventing himself from feeling the pain of having his back scraped on the floor as he was dragged by a train. For Deku – he didn’t know what the hug meant to Deku.

If he was honest, he didn’t know how to feel about the hug, either, so it was easier to convince himself that it was just to preserve his own well-being.

“Kacchan”, Izuku said, voice muffled by Katsuki’s chest. Katsuki repressed a shiver as the boy’s hot breath contacted with his skin through the fabric of his shirt. “People must be staring”.

“Tch”, Katsuki shrugged with indifference. There was nothing else he could say.

Sure, he could break the hug, but that would mean risking Deku being yanked out of the train again as soon as it started moving. So he wasn’t breaking the hug. He only had to endure it until they arrived at their station, which was just three stops ahead. He could take it. He would have to.

I’m only doing this for me, not for him, Katsuki told himself. I don’t give a shit about him. I’m just not in the mood to feel that kind of pain again, so I can’t risk it. I can’t let him go.

He tried to erase the piercing sound of Deku’s pained scream from his mind and failed.

“How’s the pain?”, he asked, voice barely above a whisper. Izuku couldn’t look at him – his face was still buried in Katsuki’s chest and his hands were clinging tightly to the back of his shirt. Katsuki already knew the answer to his question – he was feeling the pain himself, after all –, but asking Deku about it still felt like the right thing to do in that situation.

“It’s – It’s n-not that b-bad, now”, he stuttered. Katsuki knew he was lying, but said nothing. “I’ve been through worse”.

“Yeah, of course you fucking have. You break your bones every other damn day”, Katsuki scoffed tiredly. Feeling that sort of pain and dragging Deku back into the train had taken its toll on him, and his limbs were starting to feel heavy, as were his eyelids. All he wanted to do was lie down and take a nap, but he couldn’t do that until he accomplished his goal for the day.

Maybe doing this hadn’t been the best idea. Maybe they should go back while they still had access to the train station. Maybe he should just give the fuck up on this stupid attempt at making Deku happy, even if it was just a bit. What good had come out of it? Katsuki had ended up hurting him more than anything.

From the look of it, Katsuki always ended up hurting him more than anything.

“Kacchan”, Izuku called, face still buried in his chest. His voice sounded small, but it also sounded like he was trying his best to sound strong and brave.

“Hm”, Katsuki growled, indicating for the boy to continue.

“Thanks for pulling me back”, he said sincerely. Katsuki frowned. All thoughts of tiredness and desistance went forgotten by his mind.

“You think I’d just let you be dragged by the fucking train until we arrived?”, he asked, sounding almost offended. Izuku didn’t respond, which only made Katsuki even more furious. Did the shitty nerd really think that of him? Katsuki may have hated him, but he wouldn’t allow anyone to suffer like that. That was why he wanted to be a hero, for fuck’s sake. “Yeah. Ok”, Katsuki huffed, indignant by Deku’s lack of faith in him.

May have hated him.

Huh. He hadn’t realized that until then. When exactly had he stopped hating Deku?

“I – I’m sorry”, Izuku said, sounding honest. “Of course I didn’t think that. But still – thank you”.

“Whatever, shitty Deku”, Katsuki scoffed, not wanting to deal with that sort of bullshit.

“You know”, Izuku continued, even though Katsuki was definitely not in the mood for that conversation. He sighed to indicate his displeasure, but Izuku kept talking. “I don’t really get how this soul thing works. Why did the floor hurt me? Wasn’t it supposed to phase through me?”

“You’re literally standing on the floor right now, asshat”, Katsuki pointed out, annoyed. “You don’t phase through it. Or through my bed”.

“Yeah, I – I suppose”, Izuku swallowed dry and nodded. “But still. How did my back look?”

Katsuki tightened his lips into a straight line.

“It was normal. It only had one big ugly ass scar, but it didn’t look like it was from now”, he said sternly.

“Really? What did it look like?”, Izuku’s eyes widened against Katsuki’s chest, clearly unaware of his own scar.

“Ugly. And big”, Katsuki provided simplistically, repeating his words from before. Izuku sighed in frustration. “It looked like it was from the villain’s attack”, Katsuki added as an afterthought after a few moments.

An awkward silence fell between them, Katsuki continuing to hold him as the train moved and Izuku continuing to bury his face on Katsuki’s chest, even though he didn’t really have to. They were almost arriving at their stop.

“I’ll take a better look at it later, when we’re not surrounded by a bunch of nosy extras who think I’ve lost my damn mind”, Katsuki continued after a while. He could feel Deku relax in his hold at the words.

“S-Sir…?”, someone slowly approached Katsuki in that exact same moment – which was probably the universe’s way to mock the fuck out of him –, sounding hesitant and worried. Katsuki turned his head so that Izuku’s wild curls didn’t obstruct his view (he urgently needed a haircut), and found a woman in her mid-40s clutching her purse tightly and eyeing him with concern. She looked like she was afraid to approach him.  “Are you… Are you okay?”, she asked, frowning, and nodding at him. Katsuki was once again made very aware that, to other people, he looked like he was hugging and talking to air. For some reason, the woman’s intrusion made him angry and annoyed.

“Yeah”, he said sharply, trying to indicate the conversation was over. The woman stayed where she was.

“We all saw you were talking to yourself, and…”, she continued, making Katsuki’s blood boil. “I – I know someone who can help you, if you need”.

“I don’t need your help”, he snapped, making the woman flinch and widen her eyes. He wasn’t anywhere as rude as he could have been, but given that this was a complete stranger in the middle of public transport, Katsuki decided that he was better off not telling the woman to go fuck herself (for now).

“I was just –“, she tried to say, but Katsuki cut her off.

“Don’t care. Bye”.

The woman blinked at him several times, looking conflicted and almost offended that Katsuki denied her so easily, before turning on her heels and going back to her seat. Katsuki noticed that she – along with several other passengers – kept sending him wary looks when they thought he wasn’t looking. This was pissing him off really hard.

“How do you come up with so many swear words?”, Izuku asked after a little while, breaking Katsuki away from his thoughts of anger and murder. He blinked several times, trying to understand what could have possibly caused Deku to reach that train of thought.

“The fuck are you talking about?”, he frowned. “I didn’t even swear at her”.

Izuku gave him a tiny chuckle.

“Not her. You called me an asshat. Before that, you called me dipshit. And usually… you call me other things. That I’m not going to repeat”, he concluded. Katsuki smirked, even though Izuku couldn’t see it from where he was hiding his face away.

“Yeah, because saying ‘dipshit’ and ‘asshat’ is ok, but saying fuck isn’t”, he teased.

Kacchan”, Izuku groaned in disapproval.

“Just grow some fucking balls and say ‘fuck’ again”, Katsuki provoked him.

No!”, Izuku immediately protested, sounding mortified.

“You had no problems saying it last night, nerd”.

Izuku buried his face deeper into Katsuki’s chest, cheeks burning with embarrassment.

“The situation was different and you know it. I was contaminated by your anger”, he tried to justify, voice muffled.

“Heh?! Contaminated?”, Katsuki growled, offended. He sounded like he was about to explode into an angry fit.

 “That’s not what I meant!”, Izuku added desperately, sounding even more embarrassed. Katsuki suddenly broke their hug and Izuku’s chest tightened – he hadn’t meant to offend Kacchan, he was just speaking without thinking first! He really didn’t want to throw all the progress they had made in the trash like that. But then he realized the train doors were open and Kacchan was already walking out, a hand tightening around Izuku’s wrist and dragging him out as well. They managed to step out just as the train’s doors were starting to close.

They stared at each other for a moment as the train departed and they stood on the station. Katsuki was staring into Izuku’s green eyes with an unreadable look, and Izuku had no idea what he was thinking. Usually, Kacchan was an easy person to read – there was not much else into him other than anger and an unfaltering desire to be the best in everything he did. Now, there was something else in his crimson eyes – something that Izuku couldn’t really understand. It didn’t look like anger, though.

After what felt like an eternity, Kacchan let go of Izuku’s wrist, so abruptly that it looked like he had been burned by the boy’s skin. Before Izuku could even attempt to think of anything to say, Katsuki announced:

“That was enough touching for today”.

And he turned on his heels and walked away.

Izuku followed.

 

 

 

 

 

“So…”

Silence.

“You’re going to tell me where we’re going?”

“One more fucking question about this and we’re taking the train back to UA. And I won’t hold you this time”.

“You mean you won’t hug me?”

Eh?!”

“Oh, c’mon, Kacchan. Don’t act like that wasn’t a hug”.

“I don’t know what the fuck got into your brains, but that wasn’t a hug. I was just keeping you from being fucking catapulted out of the train because your shitty soul can’t cling to anything else”.

“Why were your arms around me, then?”

What?”

“You didn’t have to embrace me like that. Just standing in front of me and serving as a shield was fine”.

Awkward silence. Katsuki looked angry.

“You could barely stand on your fucking wobbly feet”.

“I would have managed it”.

“No, you wouldn’t. You were whimpering like a bitch”.

“Don’t say stuff like that!”

“But you were. You would have fallen on your ass if I hadn’t held you up. And I didn’t want to feel that kind of impact”.

“Uh. Right”.

They continued to walk side by side on the empty street, streaks of sunlight passing through the leaves and making Izuku’s hair shine in all different tones of green. Katsuki pointedly didn’t look at him, and did his best to ignore his thoughts about cutting the damn curls and taming them down. Deku’s hair was so fucking messy – how could it not bother him?

“Why do you find it so hard to show affection?”

Katsuki narrowed his eyes. He had not seen that coming.

“Are you fucking serious right now, shitty Deku?”

“I mean it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you be affectionate towards someone before, and I’ve known you since we were four”.

“Shut the fuck up”.

“All you ever do is scream at people and be rude”.

“You see what the fucking problem is? I tell you to shut up because I don’t want to talk about this shit, and then what do you do? You go right the fuck ahead and keep talking anyway. And if I end up shutting your ass down and shove some truths on your face, you get all upset and teary-eyed like some weak-ass loser. Make up your fucking mind, because I’m getting done with this shit”.

Silence.

“Fuck, I knew I would end up regretting this. I don’t know why I even fucking bothered”.

“Sorry”, Izuku apologized, sounding sincere. “I’ll try to be… Less… Mumbly”.

“Just shut the hell up altogether”.

Silence.

“But, if you ever want to talk about it –“

Deku”.

“I’ll – I’ll be –“, he hesitated, sighing. “You can talk to me. If you want”.

“There’s nothing to talk about. Some people have the fucking patience to deal with this sort of bullshit, some people don’t. I’m the kind of the people who don’t”.

“It’s not bullshit, Kacchan”.

“I say it is”.

“But it isn’t!”

“Don’t think I won’t kick your ass just because I can feel what you feel. You’re really pissing me off right now”.

“Fine”.

More silence. From what Izuku could tell, they were headed to their neighborhood. Was Kacchan paying a visit to his parents?

Now that Izuku got to spend more time with Katsuki – more time than they had ever spent together throughout their lives, even though they knew each other from early childhood – he could finally attest something that had been really nagging him for a while. Kacchan was never affectionate. To anyone.

Izuku had low-key expected to find some affection between Kacchan and Kirishima-kun, since the two of them were so close, but there was nothing in their friendship other than playful, friendly banter. Izuku could tell that Kacchan liked Kirishima, even if he constantly called him names and referred to him as “Shitty Hair” most of the time. There was a sort of boyish friendliness between them – or manly friendliness, as Kirishima would call it –, but when Kacchan looked at Kirishima, there wasn’t fondness or affection in his eyes.

Izuku had never heard Kacchan say he loved someone, or express anything other than mild-annoyance towards a person at best. Even though that was just Classic Kacchan, the thought still bothered Izuku. Had he never loved someone? He wanted to know, but knew better than to ask.

Izuku tried to imagine himself referring to his mom as “old hag”, as Kacchan referred to his mom, and found that he couldn’t, not even hypothetically.

A weird noise called his attention and Izuku looked above his shoulder, spotting a quick shadow disappearing into a corner they’d just turned. Immediately alert, Izuku tightened his hands into fists, eyes becoming sharp.

“Kacchan”, he whispered, still looking behind his shoulder but never ceasing to walk. Katsuki didn’t pay him any mind. The shadow emerged from the corner and reappeared on the street, following them. From the distance, Izuku couldn’t make out a face or recognize the person. “Kacchan”, he whispered again, more urgently.

What?”, Katsuki asked, sounding annoyed.

“I think we’re being followed”, Izuku said with another whisper, still looking above his shoulder. Katsuki frowned as if he thought Izuku was crazy and looked above his shoulder as well, following Izuku’s line of sight. Izuku could tell that, even though Kacchan didn’t look like he had believed him, he had still tensed up and tightened his hands into fists as well, as if ready to engage in combat at any moment.

Then Katsuki relaxed, sighing in a mixture of relief and annoyance and turning back around.

“That’s just UA’s guard”, he said calmly – or as calmly as he managed to be, being Kacchan. Upon Izuku’s confused look, he rolled his eyes and added: “Aizawa sensei wouldn’t fucking let us come out without someone watching over our asses every fucking second. So he sent some people to escort us or whatever the fuck it is these clowns are doing”.

“Wait”, Izuku frowned. “They’ve been following us since we left?”

“Yeah”, Katsuki nodded. “I thought even your monkey brain would have realized it by now. No wonder you’re the one who ended up with the soul detached from the body”, he scoffed mockingly. Izuku sighed, but decided not to retort, lest he be accused by Kacchan of throwing things on his face again.

“I didn’t realize”, Izuku commented, at a lack of things to say.

“Clearly”, Katsuki clicked his tongue.

“Sorry if I was too busy getting dragged by a train to pay attention to the bodyguards following us, Kacchan”, Izuku sighed in annoyance. Katsuki scowled.

“Fuck, stop being so overdramatic”, Katsuki scowled. “Also, you’re catching my sarcasm and I don’t like it. Stop”.

“I wish I could”, Izuku groaned with sincerity. He really wasn’t having a good time picking up Kacchan’s mannerism. “I’m not a fan of feeling so angry all the time”.

“I’m also not a fan of feeling like my eyes are about to run a fucking cascade all the time, but which one of us is complaining about it, huh?”, Katsuki retorted grumpily, putting an end to the discussion. Izuku fell silent, sparing the person following them one last look above his shoulder before turning back, feeling at least relieved that they weren’t actually being followed by villains.

He should have realized Aizawa sensei wouldn’t be so reckless to the point of allowing two victims of a recent villain attack – one of which was still in a coma – to wander off around the city without protection. What he couldn’t realize for the life of him was why on earth Aizawa sensei would let them go out in the first place – what could possibly be so important that he would allow Katsuki to skip his afternoon classes, get out of UA grounds and be escorted around?

To Izuku’s surprise, the answer wasn’t as far away as he had thought. They didn’t turn on the corner that lead to Katsuki’s apartment, which had been his first and primary guess. If they weren’t in the neighborhood to see Katsuki’s parents, then what was this about? Where were they headed to? Izuku’s instinct was to ask Katsuki about it, but he knew better than to play with his luck. He didn’t doubt Kacchan’s nerve to simply turn around and leave before they reached their destination just because Izuku was annoying him.

They walked into a familiar street, then into a familiar compound. It was only when they walked into a too-familiar building that Izuku’s eyes narrowed in suspicion and realization, and he turned towards Kacchan with a questioning look in his eyes. A look that was almost hopeful.

Kacchan stared back at him, intense crimson eyes unreadable. They weren’t looking as angry as they usually did.

Izuku said nothing and continued walking.

They only came to a stop when they arrived at a too-familiar door, and by that time, Izuku’s eyes were already full of tears – tears of disbelief, of gratitude, of surprise. He couldn’t believe Kacchan had gone through all this trouble for him. He couldn’t believe Kacchan, of all people, had actually done this.

Katsuki kept his eyes fixed on Izuku as he raised his fist, knocked on the door, and waited.

Izuku wanted to sustain Kacchan’s gaze, but failed as the door rattled and opened, revealing the confused, tired, worn-out figure of his mom.

Katsuki’s eyes were still fixed on Izuku.

“Mom!”, Izuku breathed out with pure joy, looking at his mother with wide, bright eyes. Inko, however, couldn’t see him, focusing on Katsuki instead.

“K-Katsuki-kun?”, she asked, frowning, worry evident in her eyes. To have a visit like that unannounced… She comprehensively thought something must have gone wrong with her son. “What is it? Is everything all right?”

“Yeah”, Katsuki said simply, hands shoved in his pockets, not looking at her directly but no longer looking at Izuku, either. “I heard you weren’t allowed to visit anymore, so I brought Deku over. Can we come in?”, he asked, sounding way politer than Izuku was used to hearing him. If this had been any other moment, he would have felt impressed, but the sight of a polite Kacchan was subdued by the sight of his mother, who he had missed so much, standing in front of him.

“Oh”, Inko exclaimed in surprise, her shoulders sagging in evident relief that nothing bad had happened to her son. “Oh, of course, dear. Come in, come in”, she stepped aside so that Katsuki could enter the apartment. He walked in, stopping in the middle of the living room and looking around with nostalgia on his otherwise grumpy face. Izuku, on the other hand, couldn’t take his eyes off his mom, desperately trying to touch her but failing to every time.

Katsuki could feel Izuku’s frustration for not being able to interact with his mother deep in his chest, but he could also feel a deep sense of joy and utter happiness that he didn’t recall ever feeling before in his entire life.

Katsuki didn’t dare look at Izuku, lest the boy notice the sadness this realization etched into his crimson eyes.

Chapter Text

 

Inko’s hands were shaking a little as she placed a tray with hot tea in the small table in front of Katsuki.

He didn’t look at her or at Deku. In fact, he didn’t even look at the tea – he was too busy trying to avert his eyes from them as subtly as he could.

Katsuki couldn’t say he was exactly comfortable at Deku’s apartment. The last time he had been to that place, they had been four and he had just found out about his quirk. They hadn’t known Deku was quirkless yet – and, once they found out, Katsuki never came over again.

He’d been there hundreds of time before that, though. Hundreds of times. He had memorized Deku’s apartment, probably, and seeing it all again, after so many years, was unsettling.

Everything was still the same. It was very weird, seeing that the apartment had remained a constant whereas their relationship had changed so much.

(But whose fault was that?)

The thing about their relationship was – it had never been a friendship. Not from Katsuki’s point of view, at least. Deku was just one of the many people who admired him for being amazing and who kissed his ass for being the best. He was nothing but a little, meaningless fanboy, like all the others. Surely, before they became old enough to have quirks, Deku had been Katsuki’s favorite playmate from their neighborhood – even though he made fun of Deku and called him names in order to earn a laugh from the other kids, Deku had always been the one to come up with the best games. Sometimes, he’d climb on Katsuki’s shoulders – since he’d always been stronger – and they would pretend to be Fourth Kind; sometimes, he’d try to carry Katsuki, fail, and agree to be the victim while Katsuki pretended to be All Might, ready to take him in his arms and carry Deku away to safety while he laughed loudly like the number one hero. Sometimes, Katsuki would pretend to be himself, rescuing Deku from mean imaginary villains with his imaginary quirk (since his own hadn’t manifested yet).

He never allowed Deku to rescue him, though. Either they were heroes together, like when they pretended to be Fourth Kind or when Deku made up quirks of his own, or Deku was the victim. Never Katsuki.

Once Deku became quirkless, that all changed. Deku went from being Katsuki’s favorite playmate, even if he was just another of many, to being nothing more than a pathetic little boy who wasn’t even at the same rank as Katsuki.

And yet, Deku had stayed.

He was the only one who stayed.

Throughout Katsuki’s life, he had many friends. All of them temporary, of course – nothing but extras desperate to share a bit of the spotlight that was constantly shining over Katsuki. For a long time, Katsuki thought Deku was one of those desperate losers seeking for what little scrap of momentary fame they could get – but that was until Deku got a spotlight of his own. A spotlight that outshined even Katsuki’s.

The thought still enraged him. To know that Deku, who’d been nothing but a little pebble until a year ago, was shining as bright as him, who’d been the best for all his life…

“So, Katsuki-kun”, Inko broke him away from his thoughts, sitting beside them on the couch from a polite enough distance. Katsuki looked up and met her eyes for the first time since he had arrived, trying his best not to let the anger from his introspection show so blatantly on his face. He didn’t know why being over at Deku’s made him so angry or brought back so many memories – all he knew was that he wanted to leave as soon as possible, despite all the trouble that it took to get them there.

Inko’s eyes were green and big. Very expressive. Exactly like Deku’s.

It bothered Katsuki, for some reason.

(He knew the reason, he just didn’t want to think about it).

(Dead, expressionless eyes, half-lidded, staring at him. Askew body. Lifeless body).

He suppressed a shiver.

“Yeah?”, he replied, sounding bored. He’d never been the best at behaving near older people, even though he was usually the best at everything he did. Deku was sitting right beside him, so close that they were almost touching. Almost.

“H-How… How have you been?”, Inko asked politely. Katsuki could tell that, even though her question sounded sincere, she was just using it to establish a conversation and reach the subject she truly wanted to discuss – her (shitty) son.

Katsuki sighed internally, doing his best not to be rude to Deku’s mother. The boy might be a wimpy ass nerd loser, but if there was something Katsuki knew for sure, was that he really did love and respect his mother. He would probably get all whiny and angry if Katsuki offended her in any way, and that was the exact opposite of the result Katsuki was trying to accomplish with this visit.

The thought made him feel weird, but he didn’t know why.

 “It’s just, the last I saw you, you had a pretty bad concussion, and since you didn’t visit Izuku after that –“, Inko continued after Katsuki didn’t respond.

“I’m fine”, Katsuki cut her off (as politely as he could – which was not very polite for normal standards, but considerably so for Katsuki standards). Inko didn’t seem troubled by the interruption, and simply nodded.

“That’s good. I’m glad you’re fine. My Izuku would have wanted you to be”, she smiled sadly, misery and something akin to bitterness evident in her eyes. The similarity to Deku’s kicked-puppy expression was so uncanny that Katsuki found himself staring for longer than he should have. Before it got too weird, he bent over and grabbed his tea, holding the cup in his hand and waiting for the beverage to cool down a little.

“Kacchan”, Deku addressed him for the first time since they arrived at his home, as if he had just remembered Katsuki was there. Katsuki had found Deku’s silence so far very rude and frankly annoying, but opted not to say anything in order not to sound needy. Instead of giving Deku a passive-aggressive answer like he wanted to, he simply turned his head towards the boy, in silence. “M-Maybe you should… You know. Remind my mom that I’m here? And that I can hear her?”, he suggested hesitantly. Upon Katsuki’s frown of annoyed confusion, he added: “I d-don’t want her to say anything embarrassing”.

“Eh?”, Katsuki asked, intrigued. He could feel Inko’s eyes glued on him, paying attention to his interaction with her invisible son, but he didn’t have the mind to focus on her. “The hell is that supposed to mean?”, he scowled at Deku.

“Y-You know how moms are!”, Izuku tried to explain, sounding way too defensive for Katsuki’s liking. He wanted to say he didn’t know, but decided to stay quiet. “They like to tell baby stories and that sort of stuff. M-Maybe she’ll do something like that if she thinks I can’t hear her”.

“Huh”, Katsuki scoffed, turning back towards Inko, whose eyes were still fixed on him. He decided not to relay Deku’s message just yet, curious of what Inko may end up telling him.

“Is that Izuku? Is he talking to you?”, she asked, as if she thought Deku was some sort of entity that only spoke at determined times. Katsuki sighed and took a sip of his tea before responding. He had zero patience or tolerance to speak about this subject, especially to Deku’s mom, of all people, but he reminded himself that he was doing it for a greater good.

He was doing it so that he could feel better, and sleep better, and stop feeling so miserable all the time. Because he needed Deku to be happy so that he could be happy, right? That was the only reason why he was doing it. The only reason.

Also, he had come all the way to Deku’s shitty home. Katsuki could be many things, but when he put his mind into doing something, he never half-assed it. If he was going to make Deku happy, he was going to make him happy as fuck. And if to accomplish that he would need to waste time chatting with his wimpy mom, then he would do it like a fucking pro, no matter how annoying that was.

That didn’t mean he had to go all happy-go-lucky on her. Nah. Some things, he simply couldn’t change about himself.

“He’s always talking to me”, Katsuki explained, placing his tea back on the table and leaning back on the couch in a very impolite manner – his arms half-stretched as he leaned his elbows on the backrest and one of his legs crossed in a spread-out way. “I can see him as if he was in his body. He’s not transparent or anything”, he shrugged. He could tell Deku was nervous beside him, but didn’t bother looking at him. Inko’s eyes widened and she nodded her head in understanding.

“Oh”, she said, surprised, taking one hand to her chin. “I didn’t know that. I thought – I’d pictured him… Floating, like a ghost, you know?”

“Nah”, Katsuki shrugged again, looking away from her big green eyes and bearing his usually grumpy expression. “Nothing like that. It looks just like Deku, except he can’t touch anything other than me”.

“He – can touch you?!”, Inko exclaimed, eyes widening even further. Katsuki wished she’d stop doing that with her fucking stupid green eyes, but didn’t comment on it. Instead, he gave her a questioning look.

Why did no one tell her about any of this? Katsuki couldn’t have told her himself, since he hadn’t visited Deku at the medical bay ever since the day he woke up, but All Might and all the special board of the UA knew about that information. Why hadn’t it been shared with Deku’s next of kin?

Katsuki’s original plan had been to go to Recovery Girl’s medical bay so that Deku could see his mom and quit whining about missing her, but one quick text conversation with Kirishima let him know that Mrs. Midoriya was no longer allowed into the UA infirmary.

Text conversations were probably the last scrap of privacy Katsuki had left, since Deku was glued to him 24/7 now and could listen to almost everything he said and heard. So, taking advantage of the sigil from Deku’s nosy nature that his phone’s texts provided him, Katsuki asked Kirishima why Inko had been banned from visiting, but not even the boy knew. All he could tell was that the Half’n’Half bastard – who, apparently, was the person who visited Deku’s shitty body the most, for some reason, only after All Might – had told them that Inko hadn’t been around at the infirmary for a while, and that when he asked Recovery Girl about it, she said the woman was no longer allowed to visit. Being the useless loser he was, Icy Hot didn’t even consider asking the old woman about the reason behind the ban, leaving all of them in the dark.

Katsuki wanted to know, but he knew it would probably be impolite to ask Inko about it directly. He didn’t really give a damn about being polite, usually, but he knew how to be subtle around figures of authority – or, at least, more subtle than he usually was.

“Yeah. I’m the only person he can touch”, he provided simply, not looking at Deku or at his mom. He was feeling extremely uncomfortable, but he forced himself to meet her eyes as he continued: “Didn’t they tell you about that?”

Inko nervously sustained his gaze and Katsuki forced himself not to look away. He hoped she would be able to spot the hidden question in his eyes.

She lowered her head and played with the hem of her skirt as she avoided Katsuki’s eyes, looking grievous. She didn’t look ashamed or guilty, which Katsuki supposed was a good sign – that probably meant the ban hadn’t been her direct fault.

“I – I haven’t been receiving much information about Izuku’s condition recently. You and the other kids probably know more about him than I do right now”, she shrugged miserably. Deku perked up on the sofa beside Katsuki, looking indignant.

“What? Why not, mom?”, he protested, even though his mother couldn’t hear him. Katsuki rolled his eyes at the stupid emotional outburst, but did his best not to slap Inko’s ghost-son in front of her as she continued.

“I – I didn’t do anything, if that’s what you’re wondering about. It’s just –“, she hesitated. “The principal and the board of teachers decided it would be better if no outsiders were allowed into the UA grounds, to preserve Izuku’s privacy and prevent a possible villain invasion. I – I couldn’t sleep there, because of my job, so I had to keep going in and out –“

“But you’re my mom! They shouldn’t keep you from seeing me!”, Deku protested again.

“ –  and they claimed that this flux wasn’t safe for the school security, which… Makes sense, of course. This is why I got so worried when I saw you at my door”, she offered Katsuki a small shy smile, that somehow looked resentful. “If they didn’t allow anyone in, I assumed they wouldn’t allow anyone out as well, especially since… Well”, she trailed off with a small sigh.

She looked worn out. There were heavy bags under her eyes and her hair looked more disheveled than Katsuki remembered it. She used to be taller, too, now that he thought about it. Taller and prettier. He vaguely recalled referring to her as ‘Aunty Inko’ when he was a kid, but the memory felt like it was from a different lifetime. A different person.

“We didn’t come alone”, Katsuki explained. Somehow, he felt like that information needed to be shared with her. “Our sensei sent an escort of UA guards to keep an eye for us on the way here”.

Inko eyed him with a weird look in her eyes, even though there was a fraction of gratitude in them. She stared at Katsuki for a few moments, taking a sip of her own tea before speaking her mind.

“I… don’t understand, Katsuki-kun”, she admitted. Get in the fucking line, Katsuki wanted to reply, but held his tongue. “Why go through all the trouble of coming over if nothing’s wrong with Izuku? Don’t get me wrong –“, she added quickly.  “I am really thankful for the visit, but… I –“, she swallowed dry, hesitant. “If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect this from you”.

Yeah, there went all his attempts at keeping his cool.

Eh? The hell is that supposed to mean?”, he protested before he knew better, a direct result of his short-fused temper. Inko didn’t falter upon his abrupt reaction, but rather tilted her chin up in defiance, the hand holding her tea cup tightening its grip until her knuckles were white. She looked like she was trying her best not to lose composure, but there was a clear grudge in her eyes that she had been hiding for the sake of politeness until now.

“There’s no need to pretend, Katsuki-kun”, she said, setting her cup down on the table and intertwining her fingers on her lap. She looked like she wanted to cry, even though she was… angry? Upset? Irritated? Katsuki couldn’t tell for the life of him what that tiny woman was thinking. “I know you don’t like my Izuku, even though he’s done nothing but admire you his whole life”, she accused.

For some reason, the words felt like a punch to his stomach, and Katsuki couldn’t tell if the feeling had been his own or just a mirror of Deku’s, who was looking very pale and very nervous beside him.

“I’ve lost count of how many times I had to call Mitsuki because my boy came back home all battered and bruised”, Inko shook her head in disapproval. “He never told me who hurt him, but I knew it was you. The simple fact that you call him that horrible nickname, Deku, inside my own home – is a strong point that supports my confusion. So let me ask you – why are you truly here?”

Katsuki stared at Deku’s mom. She looked nervous – not afraid, but shaky about confronting Katsuki like that. She also looked like she had meant to talk about this subject for a long time now, but never had the chance to. Most of all, she looked strong. Strong as fuck. Way stronger than Katsuki would have expected a tiny, chubby woman with no relevant quirk and teary, baggy eyes like herself to be.

Her lower lip was wobbling and her eyes were full of unshed tears – uncanny. fucking. resemblance. –, but there was a familiar determination on her face that told Katsuki there was no way out of this but answering with sincerity. But just how fucking weird – and horribly egoistic, if he was being honest – would it be if he straight up told Inko Midoriya that the reason he was there was because he could feel it when her son was in pain, and Deku had been feeling miserable lately because he missed her, so Katsuki decided to beg Aizawa sensei for a special license to go visit her so that the shitty nerd would finally quiet down and stop making Katsuki’s chest feel so fucking tight all the time?

He couldn’t just say that. He knew how bad it would sound. But what other choice did he have?

Katsuki sucked at lying. He didn’t like it. And, most of all, he wasn’t about to throw all his principles out of the window just so that he could please shitty Deku’s mom with an answer that would make him sound less like a piece of shit.

Everyone already thought he was a piece of shit. Inko Midoriya certainly thought so, too. Why bother pretending he wasn’t one?

“I found something out. About the quirk that’s connecting me and Deku”, he started, not meeting her eyes. Instead, he simply stared to the side, his trademark grumpy look still coloring his face and his eyes narrowing in annoyance.

“The soulbonding quirk”, Inko nodded in acknowledgment. “All Might told me this much”.

“Yeah. The quirk connects us in a way that we can’t get away from each other”, he continued, still avoiding her eyes. “And we can also feel what the other is feeling”.

Inko was silent. Katsuki wanted to look at her to see what her reaction was, but found that he couldn’t. For some reason, he couldn’t look that woman in the eye anymore.

That was ridiculous. What was she going to do to him? Katsuki forced himself to stop being such a pussy and glared at her with anger, even though she had done nothing to earn it.

“So Deku’s been feeling pretty miserable lately, because he misses you and all that shit. So I decided to pay you a visit”, he continued with a shrug, hoping Inko would not read in between the lines of what he was saying. Unfortunately, he had no such luck.

“So you’re only doing this”, she said, voice heavy with disapproval, “because you can feel what my son is feeling. And, since he was feeling miserable because he missed me… You didn’t want to feel miserable too?”

Katsuki lowered his head, looking angry. He didn’t respond, or even nod his head.

Inko was silent for a long time. Katsuki could tell Deku’s eyes were darting nervously between him and his mom, but he didn’t bother looking at the nerd. He didn’t want to see what expression he would find in those godforsaken green eyes.

“Well…”, Inko said after a long while, sighing and standing up from her seat. Katsuki looked at her, surprised to find not anger on her face, but calmness and a bit of sadness. “Thank you for being honest with me, Katsuki-kun”.

She took his cup and placed it along with hers on the tray before taking it and heading into the kitchen without saying anything else. Katsuki could still see her, since it was an open kitchen, but her back was turned to him and the distance between them was so great that she may as well have been in other room.

Katsuki hadn’t been expecting that sort of response. He slowly tilted his head so that he could read Deku’s face and find out if that had been a normal reaction for his mom, but he looked as confused as Katsuki felt. The water from the sink started to run and Inko didn’t give any signs that she was about to leave the kitchen any time soon.

Maybe she just needed some time to think. Her son had been turned into a ghost and glued to the guy who spent years bullying him. Now said guy was in her house years after last visiting, telling her about sharing feelings with her ghost son and being able to touch him when no one else could. That was a whole fucking lot to process. It was only natural that she would need some time to herself.

Katsuki realized with surprise and shock that, if this had happened a month before, he would have burst into the kitchen in anger, screaming about not wanting to be ignored.

He didn’t want to think about what that change in behavior meant.

He stood up from the couch, feeling too restless to just sit still and wanting to occupy his mind with something other than this kind of thoughts. Surely, he was feeling tired as fuck after the whole train shitshow, but something about his conversation with Inko had bothered him and he didn’t want to end up falling asleep on the couch or getting too lost in deep thought. He’d better get moving.

Deku stayed on the couch as Katsuki paced across the living room, checking photo frames, furniture and decoration items without putting any mind into it. His head was rushing with thousands of thoughts per hour – an influence from Deku’s shitty mumbling habits, he was sure – and he couldn’t really focus on anything.

Maybe Inko thought it was unfair that her son had ended up glued to a person that hated him, instead of someone who loved him, like her or All Might. And it really was unfair. Didn’t she understand that Katsuki didn’t want this? That he wasn’t having a great time with this situation, either? That the last thing he wanted to be doing was to stand in the middle of this woman’s fucking living room while she did the dishes, feeling inadequate and like an intruder in a house that once had been like a second home to him?

Katsuki ended up finding his way to a half-open photobook sitting on the dinner table behind the couch. Inko had probably been taking a look at it before Katsuki arrived.

He looked at her. She didn’t look at him, too busy chopping vegetables and looking like she was getting started in the process of cooking something.

Katsuki grabbed the photobook and threw himself on the couch impolitely, startling Deku. As soon as Izuku saw what Katsuki was holding, his eyes widened, and he tried to jump off the couch to prevent Katsuki from looking through the photobook. Katsuki, on the other hand, skillfully placed both his legs on the top of Izuku’s lap as he half-lay, half-sat on the couch, weighting the limbs down and preventing the boy from standing up. Deku struggled against the weight of Katsuki’s legs, which earned an evil smirk from explosive boy.

“Wait, Kacchan!”, Deku protested as Katsuki opened the book and started to go through the photos glued on the first page. “You shouldn’t look at that without permission! It’s not polite!”, he pointed out, ending up sounding a lot like Iida, if Iida was a desperate, nervous nerd who was blushing really hard in fear of Katsuki seeing his baby pictures while he struggled to get free from beneath Katsuki’s legs.

“Since when do I give a shit about being polite, nerd?”, Katsuki scoffed, continuing to go through the album. Deku tried to remove it from Katsuki’s hands and failed, his own hands phasing through the material of the album as he fruitlessly tried to pull it from Katsuki’s grasp.

The first pages consisted of nothing other than pictures of Deku as a baby, bald and ugly as fuck but already bearing those ridiculous freckles on his face. As the pages went by, Deku’s growth became evident – green curls emerging from the top of his head, little baby teeth growing in his mouth and those stupid, big green eyes staring straight into Katsuki’s soul. He looked up from the picture to find Deku staring at him nervously and biting at one of his nails. He was watching Katsuki like a hawk. With those same eyes.

“S-See? There’s nothing there but baby pictures, Kacchan”, Deku said nervously, not understanding why Katsuki was staring at him with such intensity but clearly trying to talk him into dropping the album and putting it back into place. “You don’t – You don’t even like babies! Why don’t you just put that away?”

“Shut the fuck up, Deku”, Katsuki scoffed, averting his gaze back to the album on his lap. “I want to see what you’re so scared about me finding out, so shut it and be a good leg rest”.

“I’m – I’m – I’m not scared! T-There’s nothing for you to f-find out!”, Izuku stuttered. “I j-just don’t think you should waste your time on something like this… And how are your legs so heavy?”, he complained, still trying to lift Katsuki’s legs from his lap.

“I’ve been working out since I was a brat, unlike you”, he huffed with indifference. There was a hint of bitterness in his tone as well. “Also, what the fuck else am I supposed to spend my time on? Your shitty mom is doing whatever the hell she’s doing in the kitchen, and I didn’t come all the way here just to leave after five minutes of crap talk. I’m hungry as fuck, so Imma eat whatever the hell it is she’s making, then we can go. Until then, I’m going to stare at your ugly baby face”, he scoffed with indifference.

“Don’t call my mom shitty”, Izuku protested in a serious, offended voice, making Katsuki roll his eyes really hard.

“Whatever”, he sighed, turning several pages with boredom. Baby Deku, baby Deku, baby Deku – was that all this album consisted of? What was so interesting about baby Deku that made him mom take a hundred fucking pictures of him? Some of them were even from the exact same angle, snapped on the exact same moment! Katsuki couldn’t understand it.

His mom barely ever took photos of him – all the ones he had were enough to fill up one single album, from age 0 to 15. Deku, on the other hand, probably had an album for each year of his shitty, uninteresting life.

As Katsuki reached half of the album, Deku (finally) started to grow up. Now he had teeth, hair, and that stupid ass grin on his face. There were pictures of him in the park where he and Katsuki used to play as kids, pictures of him at the beach, pictures of him in his bedroom. There was a picture of him, wearing his All Might hoodie and standing beside a tall All Might figurine at a shopping mall; a picture of him, wearing the same hoodie, hugging an All Might doll to his chest on the beach; a picture of him, wearing a similar All Might hoodie – but not the same one – and posing in All Might’s traditional heroic pose.

“Finally reached the All Might phase”, Katsuki told Deku with a scoff and a smirk on his lips. Deku, on the other hand, blushed and hid his red face beneath the crook of both his arms, looking embarrassed and shrinking away as far as possible from Katsuki with his legs pinning him into place.

Beside each photo, there was an annotation – probably from Deku’s mom – explaining the context of the picture, the place where it had been taken, and Deku’s age. Katsuki alternated between chuckling, scoffing, rolling his eyes, and smirking as he read the descriptions:

Izuku – age 1. Having fun at the beach with mom!

Izuku – age 1. Just said his first word! I think it was “mom”!

Izuku – age 1. Went to the mall for the first time!

Izuku – age 1. Went to the park for the first time! He didn’t like the sand, even though he didn’t seem to mind it at the beach!

Izuku – age 1. Won his first All Might figurine! He wanted an Endeavor one, but there weren’t any at the shop! Now he never lets go of it!

Izuku – age 1. Playing in the park with All Might doll!

Izuku – age 1 and a half. Won his first All Might hoodie! He never takes it off anymore!

Izuku – age 1 and a half. Playing in the park with All Might hoodie and doll! He likes the sand now!

Izuku – age 1 and a half. Taking a bath with All Might shampoo!

Izuku – age 1 and a half. Taking a nap at the couch after watching an All Might video!

Izuku – age 1 and a half. Mom gave him another All Might hoodie so that she could wash the first one!

Izuku – age 1 and a half. Mom gave him another All Might hoodie so that she could wash the first and the second one!

Izuku – age 2. Izuku’s second birthday!

Izuku – age 2. Izuku with his collection of hero figurines! His favorite is All Might! He doesn’t care about Endeavor anymore!

Izuku – age 2. Fourth All Might hoodie Izuku won for his second birthday! Little boys grow so fast!

Izuku – age 2. Izuku and his drawing of All Might!

Izuku – age 2. Izuku posing as a hero!

Izuku – age 2. Izuku watching All Might save people on TV! He doesn’t understand, but he does the All Might dance!

Izuku – age 2 and a half. Playing hero with mom! Izuku to the rescue!

Izuku – age 2 and a half. Izuku singing the All Might theme song in the bath!

Izuku – age 2 and a half. Fifth All Might hoodie!

Izuku – age 2 and a half. Izuku and his collection of All Might dolls!

Izuku – age 3. Izuku’s third birthday! He had an All Might themed party!

Izuku – age 3. Izuku and his drawing of his hero agency for when he grows up! He wants it to be called “All Might’s Agency”, even if mom told him that he should pick his own name!

Izuku – age 3. Izuku playing in the park with some friends!

Izuku – age 3. Izuku and a tiny turtle he found in the sand! Cute!

Izuku – age 3. Izuku at the beach with mom! He loves it, even if there’s more trash than there used to be!

Izuku – age 3. Izuku on a train ride with mom!

Izuku – age 3 and a half. Playing hero with mom again! He can’t decide what his hero name will be!

Izuku – age 3 and a half. All Might Jr. and his increasing All Might doll collection!

Izuku – age 3 and a half. Small Might helping mom cook dinner!

Izuku – age 3 and a half. Mighty Boy drawing in his bedroom after a nap!

Izuku – age 3 and a half. Mighty All Man taking a bath on his own! (Mom kept an eye out all the time to prevent accidents!)

Izuku – age 3 and a half. Izuku fell asleep while playing!

Izuku – age 4. Izuku’s fourth birthday! All Might themed again! He didn’t want to eat the cake not to cut All Might’s face!

Izuku – age 4. Made some new friends at the park!

Izuku – age 4. Sixth All Might hoodie! It’s his favorite so far!

Izuku – age 4. Learning how to use the computer! He doesn’t know how to type yet!

Izuku – age 4. Izuku’s new heroic pose!

Izuku – age 4. Izuku doing groceries with mom!

Izuku – age 4. Izuku and his best friend Kacchan!

Katsuki’s eyes were glued to the photo and the caption, his fingers gripping at the album with more strength than necessary. It was a picture of him and Deku at the park where they had met, hugging each other and smiling widely at the camera. It was just the two of them. Izuku looked happy. Katsuki looked happy. They were both wearing identical All Might hoodies, which made them look fucking ridiculous. Katsuki turned to look at Deku, but found that the boy was still hiding his face away in embarrassment, not even aware of what photo Katsuki was looking at.

He averted his eyes from the picture uncomfortably and turned the page.

Izuku – age 4. Playing with Kacchan in the park!

Izuku – age 4. Learning how to read! He is really dedicated!

Izuku – age 4. Izuku and his drawing of himself, Kacchan, and All Might!

Izuku – age 4 and a half. Izuku playing with his new All Might themed ball!

Izuku – age 4 and a half. Izuku learning how to type on the computer!

Izuku – age 4 and a half. Izuku and Kacchan doing the All Might dance choreography!

(Katsuki blushed at that one and quickly turned the page).

Izuku – age 4 and a half. Izuku eating katsudon for the first time! He wanted to eat it because it had “katsu” in the name, like his friend!

What the goddamn hell was that supposed to mean?! Katsuki skipped several pages just because of that.

Izuku – age 4 and a half. Seventh All Might hoodie!

Izuku – age 5. Izuku’s fifth birthday! Kacchan came over and helped Izuku cut the All Might cake without worrying about the face! That’s what friends are for!

Izuku – age 5. Izuku at the beach with Kacchan and his parents!

Izuku – age 5. Kacchan came over to show Izuku his quirk! Explosive!

Izuku – age 5 and a half. Izuku playing in the park!

Izuku – age 5 and a half. Izuku making his new super hero pose!

Izuku – age 5 and a half. Izuku helping mom make All Might themed biscuits!

Izuku – age 5 and a half. Eighth All Might hoodie!

Izuku – age 5 and a half. Izuku playing with his new All Might figurine!

Izuku – age 5 and a half. Izuku’s first notebook! He knows how to write now!

Izuku – age 6. Izuku’s sixth birthday! Mom helped him cut the cake this time, since Katsuki-kun couldn’t come over!

Izuku – age 6. Izuku taking notes on his notebook! Such a clever boy!

Izuku – age 6. Ninth All Might hoodie!

Izuku – age 6. Trying to guess what his quirk will be with mom!

Izuku – age 6. Izuku playing doctor before his appointment tomorrow! What will his quirk be?! Looking forward to it!

Izuku – age 10. Izuku and mom at the beach

Katsuki frowned at the huge time lapse. For someone who’d been registering her son’s development so closely, Katsuki found it weird that Inko had stopped it so suddenly and for four years. He was almost at the end of the photo book now.

Then he realized it. That was the last photo she had taken of Deku before they found out he didn’t have a quirk.

Katsuki stared at that wide, sincere smile on 6-year-old Deku’s face. Fuck. He had no clue how much his life was about to change, right?

How fucking sappy. Katsuki kept looking through the album.

Izuku – age 12. Mom’s birthday with Izuku

Izuku – age 13. Izuku’s birthday

Izuku – age 14. Izuku’s birthday

Izuku – age 15. Izuku’s birthday

Katsuki’s frown deepened. Deku looked like a completely different person in these photos – no longer the cheery, lively, grinning little boy he had been as a kid, but a gloomy, bony, miserable shadow of himself. The smile he was giving the camera looked sincere, but also… Weird. It lacked Deku’s usual cheeriness that pissed Katsuki off more often than not. He looked… miserable.

Katsuki kept going through what was left of the album.

Izuku – age 15. His quirk manifested!!! Really happy!!!

(It was a picture of Deku making his All Might pose, looking so terribly different from the previous photos – not only because he was happier, but because he looked buffer – that Katsuki found his eyes widening in surprise. He didn’t think he had ever noticed the difference, since he saw Izuku every single day at school. Now that he saw the pictures together – from age 14 and age 15 –, he could see how much muscular mass Deku had gained in half an year).

Izuku – age 15. IZUKU GOT ACCEPTED INTO UA!!! REALLY HAPPY!!!

(Deku holding his letter of acceptance and smiling so widely that his freckles almost disappeared).

Izuku – age 15. Izuku’s first day at UA!

Izuku – age 15. Izuku wearing his hero costume!! Mom loves that he loved it!

Izuku – age 15. Izuku at the Sports Festival! He was amongst the 8 best!

(It was just a picture of the TV).

Izuku – age 15. Izuku and All Might! A dream come true!

Izuku – age 16. Izuku’s 16th birthday! Friends Uraraka, Tenya, and Shouto came over!

Katsuki scoffed, feeling something ugly blossoming in his chest. He didn’t know why the picture bothered him so much, but decided it would be better not to dwell on it. He moved on.

Izuku – age 16. Izuku and All Might at his 16th birthday! He came over as a surprise!

Izuku – age 16. Izuku and his new uniform!

Izuku – age 16. Izuku and his best friends Uraraka and Tenya!

Katsuki scoffed again. The photo album had come to an end, so he closed it unceremoniously, tossing it at the coffee table. He finally turned his head to look at Deku, who was still hiding his face, looking very embarrassed. His face was so red his freckles disappeared, but he had uncovered his eyes in order to look at Katsuki, apprehension evident in them. He had stopped struggling against Katsuki’s legs.

“I don’t know what the fuck you were so embarrassed about, nerd”, Katsuki commented, feeling grumpier than when he arrived. “There was nothing compromising there. Just some dumbass baby pictures and kid’s stuff. The fuck does your mom take so many photos for, anyway?”, he scoffed.

Izuku uncovered his face and sat up straighter on the couch beside Katsuki, his face still red. He didn’t look at Katsuki as he responded, staring at his own knees instead while his fingers played with the hem of his shirt absentmindedly.

“Ah, s-she… She used to take a lot of pictures to send to my dad. But she kept copies and decided to make a photobook with them”, he shrugged. Katsuki blinked blankly at him.

Now that he thought about it, Deku’s father wasn’t in a single picture he’d seen. In fact, Katsuki couldn’t remember ever meeting Deku’s father in the first place. He wanted to ask Deku about it, but sparing one single look at him and feeling what the boy was feeling, Katsuki immediately knew this wouldn’t be a good idea. This was a subject that they shouldn’t talk about, unless Deku talked about it first.

Whatever, who gives a shit about the shitty nerd’s dad anyway, Katsuki told himself mentally as he threw his legs off Deku’s lap and stood up from the couch abruptly, deciding to ignore the fact that he, indeed, gave a shit, only if it was out of curiosity.

“Anyway, I don’t know why the fuck you were making such a fuss about”, Katsuki said, closing the photobook and walking around the couch in order to place it back at the dinner table. “There weren’t even that many naked baby photos –“

He was cut off as something fell from inside the album and to the floor. Deku’s eyes widened so hard at this that they looked about to pop out of his skull, and before he could protest – or better, dive into the floor and keep Katsuki from taking whatever it was that had fallen from the album – Katsuki bent over and picked it up himself. It was an envelope which appeared to contain several sheets of paper inside.

“Oi, oi, what is this?”, Katsuki chuckled and offered the terrified Izuku an evil smirk. The boy stared back at him, his face redder than before – if that was even possible –, and Katsuki waved the package at him playfully, teasing. “Is this what you didn’t want me to see?”, he grinned wickedly.

“Just put it back, Kacchan!”, Deku called out, looking serious. The way he was blushing violently obliterated any possible trace of seriousness he may have mustered into his voice.

“Or what? You’ll tell your mom?”, Katsuki provoked, raising his eyebrows at Deku and giving him a smug look. He felt like the 4-year-old who bullied Deku all over again, but he didn’t mind. Inko didn’t even hear the taunting from where she was concentrating on cooking. “Whatever this is, it can’t be worse than seeing your ugly baby butt in the shower”, Katsuki placed the photo album back where he had taken it from and made his way back to the couch with the envelope. He threw himself instead of properly sitting down, but didn’t pin Deku with his legs this time.

“I didn’t ask you to see those photos! You’re the one who wanted to!”, Deku protested, looking frantic but sitting very still beside Katsuki. “Wait!”, he grabbed Katsuki’s wrist right as he opened the envelope, ready to remove its contents. Katsuki stared up at him with a no-shit expression. “I just – I don’t want you to see it. Ok, Kacchan?”, Deku told him with a serious frown. Katsuki wanted to mock him or tell him something in the lines of I don’t give a fuck what you want, but given the fact that he could feel Deku’s anxiety, he decided to give him a chance to explain.

“Why?”, he scoffed with narrowed eyes.

“Because it’s embarrassing!”, Deku whined as if it was obvious, voice high pitched. Katsuki rolled his eyes and yanked his hand out of Deku’s grip before removing the contents from the envelope without further ado. Not a good enough excuse, that one.

“I’ve known you since we were four, Deku. I’m pretty sure I’ve already witnessed your peak embarrassing moments”, he said as he took a look at the papers from inside the envelope.

First, there was a series of drawings from Deku. They looked like a compilation – some were very childish and bore barely discernible shapes, while others were more elaborated and colorful and had clearly been made by an older Deku – probably from when he was around 5 or 6 years old. The first drawings, from when he was younger, all depicted the same subject – All Might. Whether it was just a blue block with two yellow strings on the top or a more recognizable drawing of the number one hero, it was evident that he was the main subject of most of Deku’s drawings.

There were some drawings of Deku and his mom, Deku and All Might, and Deku and Katsuki, but they were all childish and badly-done. Katsuki wanted to mock Deku for his clear lack of art skills as a kid, but Katsuki’s own drawings used to be pretty bad at that time, too (not that he would ever admit it).

However, to his surprise, All Might stopped being the subject of Deku’s drawings all of a sudden. From the dates Inko had written at the corners of the drawings, Katsuki figured Deku must have been around 6 years old at that time. Was that the same time he found out he was quirkless? Was that the same time Deku stopped taking pictures?

Instead of All Might, he had started to draw Katsuki.

It was way too fucking weird to see how accurately Deku had predicted how Katsuki’s hero costume would turn out to be – he had gotten almost everything right, except for the grenades and the headwear. Even so, there were drawings over drawings of Kacchan, many of them which included Izuku either watching him from the distance or praising him, but never standing close to him. In fact, now that Katsuki bothered to pay attention to it, there were more drawings of himself than of All Might.

He turned to look at Deku again. Katsuki had no idea what his own face looked like on that moment – was it angry? Surprised? Horrified? Figuring his feelings out was already a hard task to him, but it became even harder after Deku started shoving his own confusing emotions into the mix –, but Deku cringed as soon as his head snapped to the side, probably afraid of his reaction.

Katsuki was about to ask Deku what the fuck that was all about when Inko finally returned from the kitchen, after what felt like an eternity but could have only been minutes. She was wearing an apron and her forehead was sweaty, but she sat down on the couch and sighed heavily.

“Well, now we just have to wait for it to cook”, she announced, running the back of her hand across her forehead and only then noticing the several sheets of paper on Katsuki’s lap. She looked surprised for a moment, before eyeing Katsuki with curiosity.

“Oh”, she said simply. “You took the photo album?”

“Yeah”, he admitted, not knowing whether he should feel embarrassed or not about being caught red-handed. He didn’t feel embarrassed, but should he?

“Ah, that’s ok”, Inko waved a hand at him, looking tired. “I just like seeing his pictures, you know? It helps me when I miss him”, she sighed. Katsuki clenched the hand that was grasping the drawings, not knowing how to proceed and not caring that he was probably crinkling them.

Katsuki wanted to ask Inko about them, since she was more likely to give him a satisfying response than Deku, but he also didn’t want to know. Something told him he wouldn’t want to know why Deku drew him so much as a kid.

“He was such a cheerful kid”, she commented with nostalgia, a sad look contrasting with the smile on her lips and clearly oblivious to Katsuki’s internal conflict. She reached over and took the drawing Katsuki was holding from his hands – it was a drawing of him, shouting and making an explosion with his hands while he fought a poorly drawn villain and Deku cheered on the background. Inko stared at the drawing with emotion in her eyes. “He used to love playing heroes and making up hero names for himself. After he got diagnosed…”, she trailed off, sadness overtaking her features. She set the drawing down on the coffee table with a sigh. “There wasn’t anything he could have done other than reach out for the closest thing he had to a hero. I think he wanted you to be the hero he thought he would never get to be, you know?”, she looked up at Katsuki.

He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know how to react. The mother of the guy he had spent most of his life bullying and putting down was telling him that said guy saw him as a hero. As his hero.

When, exactly, had Katsuki been a hero to Deku? When he pushed him down and laughed at him for being weak? When he beat him and mocked him for being defenseless? When he bullied him and told him he was a good for nothing, a waste of space, a pathetic loser?

When he told him to jump off a building?

Why the fuck did fucking Deku admire him so much, when Katsuki never gave him any reasons to? What the fuck was wrong with him?

He snapped his head to look at Deku, this question evident in his crimson eyes. Deku, however, refused to meet his gaze, refused to look at him, refused to do anything other than hide his face away in embarrassment. Fucking coward.

“But now my Izuku has a quirk, and he is going to be the hero he’s always dreamed of being”, Inko continued upon Katsuki’s silence, unaware of the weight her words were taking on him. “And – And I’m sure he is going to be the best”.

Katsuki’s hands clenched into fists.

Izuku finally looked at him, his face still red but his eyes wide with a silent warning, a silent plea at his mother’s words. Please don’t fight her. Not on this. Not this time. She’s having a hard enough time as it is.

Tch.

“Deku –“, Katsuki started, but upon a disapproving look from Inko at the use of the nickname, he cleared his throat in annoyance. God, the little asshole had already taken that as his superhero name. Why did it still bother his shitty mom so much? She should just get with the program. “He – wants you to know that he thinks it sucks they aren’t letting you see him anymore”, he said. Did Deku actually ask him to tell her that? No. Was it a good way to change the fucking subject before Katsuki exploded himself? Absolutely. “And that he misses you”, he added stoically after a thoughtful pause, looking at Inko’s general direction but not meeting her eyes as a grumpy expression overtook his face.

Inko offered Katsuki a small smile.

“I – where is he?”, she asked hesitantly, shyly. Giving her a look that could be interpreted as weird, Katsuki nodded at the direction where Deku was sitting right beside him, and Inko got up and made her way there.

“Mom”, Deku said sadly, outstretching his arms towards her like a fucking baby. His hands phased right through her, as expected. Inko, unaware, hesitantly stretched her own arms to the direction which Katsuki had pointed to, her eyes blankly searching for her son and failing to find him.

“I-Izuku?”, she asked, eyes darting madly across the empty space in front of her. Katsuki watched the scene beside him with a scowl. “Can you hear me?”

“Y-Yeah, mom, I can hear you”, Izuku said, looking at her and trying to embrace her. “I’m right here”.

“Yeah, he’s right there”, Katsuki provided grumpily, not moving from where he was sitting. He was still clutching the rest of the drawings in his hands, and he took the opportunity of Inko being distracted to put them all away in the envelope again. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to see the rest of them. He carefully placed the envelope on the coffee table in front of them and settled back against the couch, still looking profusely annoyed and bored by the ridiculous interaction that was taking place beside him.

Inko got to her knees in front of the couch and stared straight ahead, even though her eyes were trying hard to see her invisible son. Izuku attempted to hold her hands and failed.

“Izuku, baby”, she said with emotion, mustering all the strength she had to smile. “I want you to know how proud I am of you. Despite of all the frights and worries you give me, I’m – I couldn’t be prouder of you. Whatever that horrible villain did to you, I’m sure – I’m s-sure All Might and the teacher at UA will fix it”, she nodded her head with determination. Tears finally escaped her eyes and rolled down her chubby cheeks, and Katsuki found that Deku was crying too, his face stuck in an ugly grimace. He rolled his eyes in annoyance.

Huh. Weird. Even though Deku was crying, Katsuki himself wasn’t. If anything, he felt happy.

From what Katsuki had understood so far, every single emotion Deku felt was capable of making the shitty nerd cry, if it was felt with enough intensity. However, the only feeling from Deku that was capable of making Katsuki cry was sadness and variations thereof.

He should probably start taking fucking notes about this kind of shit. If Deku’s sad, I’ll cry. Gotta hug hold Deku whenever we’re somewhere with inertia or else he’ll stay behind. Seeing his mom and his friends, and eating katsudon, makes him happy. A ridiculous amount of All Might hoodies would probably have the same effect.

“So hold on tight, ok?”, Inko continued, her eyes looking at Deku without seeing him. “Mom’s here for you whenever you need her. I’m – I’m sorry I can’t touch you or talk to you. But everything will go back to normal soon, I promise. You’re a very brave, strong boy and I’m sure you will get out of this. You have to, ok?”, she smiled past her tears. Deku sobbed, throwing himself on her for a hug and phasing right through her.

Katsuki sighed.

“He’s trying to hug you”, he announced with boredom, because it was kind of pathetic seeing Deku struggle so hard when his mom wasn’t even aware of his efforts. Inko looked up at Katsuki from where she was kneeling and then back at where her son had been sitting, looking conflicted. She stretched her arms.

“Izuku”, she cried, voice tight with emotion and her face scrunched up and more tears flowed on her face. “Izuku”, she wailed.

Mom”, Deku wailed back, trying to hug her. Katsuki wanted to jump off the window head first.

Inko continued to try to hug Deku even though she clearly had no idea where he was at, and Deku continued to try to hug her back, even though he was intangible. To Katsuki, who was the only person who could see them both, the scene was laughable, at the very least.

He didn’t feel like laughing, though.

“Is this right? Am I hugging him?”, Inko asked, staring at Katsuki with those big teary green eyes. Katsuki sighed and really, really wanted to offer her a rude retort, but it was clear that it wouldn’t take much for this woman to downright hate him for any small thing he did, and he didn’t want to be kicked out only to have Deku be all gloomy at him for a week. Mentally rolling his eyes, he said shortly, with a bored look:

“Almost”.

It was a lie, but she didn’t know that, and Deku had no ways of telling her.

“This isn’t working”, Deku lowered his head sadly, giving up on the hug altogether. He got back to his feet in silence.

“He’s standing up, now”, Katsuki announced, hating himself and wanting to scream as loudly as he could. Since when had he become a fucking narrator? God, he wanted to leave. Inko stared at him with confusion and stood up herself after a moment, allowing her arms to drop by her sides. She looked around with expectation, but her eyes couldn’t find Deku. A twinge of sadness appeared in Katsuki’s chest, and he couldn’t prevent himself from rolling his eyes this time.

“Look, nerd, I didn’t come all the way over here to have you feel even sadder”, he protested with annoyance, standing up and placing himself directly in front of Deku. “You’re here, she’s here – you already knew you wouldn’t be able to touch her, so why the fuck be so upset about it?”, he pointed at Inko, who seemed offended at the amount of curse words. “Just enjoy that you’re with your mom or whatever and stop moping over it”, he pushed Deku towards Inko and sat back on the couch, crossing his arms above his chest.

Deku stared at Katsuki with sad eyes, but he eventually tightened his lips into a stern line and nodded, agreeing. He forced a fake smile into his lips – Katsuki knew it was fake because whenever shitty Deku smiled for real his eyes shined brightly and little wrinkles appeared on each side of his eyes – and stared up at his mom, who had sat back down on the couch as well and was looking as miserable as Deku had been a moment before.

“Katsuki-kun”, she said, looking serious and sad at the same time. Katsuki narrowed his eyes at her with annoyance. “I want you to promise me something”.

Katsuki said nothing, staring at her instead. For some childish, irrational reason, he felt furious at Inko for feeling like she had the right to demand anything from him – or, at least, for feeling like she had the right to speak to him in that motherly demanding tone. Inko took a deep breath and bit her lower lip before continuing, her hands gripping at the hem of her apron tightly.

“I have taken you into my house after all those years”, she said, looking serious and intense. Her lower lip was wobbling and her eyes were still teary, but her voice was firm. “I have accepted you here after everything you’ve done to my Izuku”.

Yeah, but just because I brought your shitty son over and you have no other ways of talking to him, Katsuki scoffed silently, thinking to himself.

“And that was not just because you can see and talk to him”, Inko added, as if reading Katsuki’s thoughts through his eyes. Katsuki looked away in anger. “But because I respect you as the young hero you are turning out to be. I am sure that, with the proper guidance, you will leave your boyishness in the past and become the amazing person my Izuku always knew you could be”, she tilted her chin up in defiance, sniffing.

Katsuki suppressed a scowl at the words. He didn’t want Deku’s admiration. He didn’t need it, he didn’t deserve it, why did people insist on shoving it to him?!

He felt angry. He felt furious. He wanted to leave. Noticing this, Inko reached over and held his hand in her own. Katsuki stared at her in surprise and confusion, suppressing the urge to break the contact.

“Because of this, I beg of you”, she continued, looking desperate, now. “Treat my Izuku right. I know he isn’t your favorite person, and that you probably wish you hadn’t ended up in this situation with him, of all people, but… As a mother… I’m asking you”, tears started to roll down her cheeks again, “don’t mistreat my boy. Don’t – don’t think of his happiness as your happiness. Think of it as his own”, she sniffed. “For the time you are stuck together, and until the heroes find a solution… Please. Take care of him”, she begged.

Katsuki stared at her. He didn’t know what to say.

“I know my Izuku”, she continued, shaking her head slightly. “He probably feels like an intruder, and he will go out of his way to make sure you are comfortable, despite of his situation”.

Katsuki turned his head to look at Deku, finding an embarrassed, shocked look on his face as he stared at his mom, unaware of Katsuki’s gaze on him. Inko continued, drawing Katsuki’s attention back.

“Just – please, make sure that he is comfortable and happy. I can’t stand the thought of my baby being unhappy after everything he went through in his life”, she sobbed, letting go of Katsuki and burying her face in her hands.

Katsuki continued to stare. He was terrible at comforting people.

“Ok”, he replied after a few moments of complete silence that were only broken by Inko’s eventual sobs. Katsuki hated how uncertain he ended up sounding.

He was confused. There were too many emotions coursing through him at the same time. His own, Deku’s, there was no telling one from the other anymore – and it was overwhelming as fuck. He could barely think straight.

He would sleep so hard as soon as he got back to the dorm.

“Thank you, Katsuki-kun”, Inko wiped her tears away with the back of her hands (even though it was useless; new tears just flowed again and replaced the ones she had wiped). She looked up at her with sincerity and a smile that finally seemed to reach her eyes. “I am counting on you”.

Katsuki simply nodded sharply and turned his head away again, glaring at the coffee table.

“A-And –“, Inko continued, sounding almost embarrassed. The small smile hadn’t left her lips yet. “We haven’t seen each other in years but – I think it’s being nice to you”.

“Huh?”, Katsuki frowned at her, not following.

“Spending time with Izuku”, Inko concluded shyly, not meeting Katsuki’s eyes. “You seem… different. In a good way”.

Katsuki’s hand immediately popped with a tiny rage-induced explosion, even though he hadn’t meant to. Inko’s eyes widened in surprise and she gasped.

“Oh!”, she exclaimed, embarrassed. Noticing the absolute rage that had taken over Katsuki’s face, she stood up from the couch slowly, her hands raised in a gesture that indicated she had meant no harm and an awkward smile on her face. “I – I’ll see if the food is ready”, she excused herself, rushing back to the oven. Katsuki stayed where he was, glaring at the coffee table and snarling.

“Kacchan”, Deku tried to say, which only earned another pop from Katsuki’s hand. He backed off.

Shut. Up”, Katsuki growled angrily through gritted teeth.

“Here it is!”, Inko announced cheerfully, placing several bowls on the dinner table and gesturing at Katsuki to come. He stood up from the couch and made his way over to the table, sitting down heavily on the chair and still looking enraged.

He didn’t know why Inko’s comment had bothered him so much, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it. What the fuck had she meant being around Deku was making him different in a good way? He didn’t want to be fucking different – and he would be damned if he ever wanted to be like Deku.

Maybe he was getting too soft. Maybe shitty Deku was making him that way. Apologizing to people, thanking people, being all polite and posh to Deku’s mom – maybe he should put an end to all that shit before people got the wrong impression of him. Before people started thinking Deku was making him a better person or whatever the fuck this all seemed like. He didn’t need Deku for shit, and he certainly didn’t need to be better. He was already the fucking best.

“I made katsudon!”, Inko announced cheerfully – or at least more cheerfully than she had been when Katsuki first arrived. “It’s my Izuku’s favorite ever since he was small. I – I don’t really know how the connection between you two works, but… I hope it makes him happy?”, she offered hesitantly.

“It does! Thank you so much, mom!”, Izuku exclaimed. Katsuki wanted to punch his fucking teeth in and make him stop looking so much like a nice guy.

“Do you…”, Inko asked hesitantly when Katsuki gave no signs that he was about to eat the food. He was still sitting with his rage-scowl on his face, hands tightened into fists on the top of the dinning table as he did his best not to explode anything. “Do you not like katsudon, Katsuki-kun?”, she asked with uncertainty, probably assuming that Katsuki didn’t like that dish and that was the reason why he wasn’t eating.

Katsuki took a series of deep breaths to prevent himself from telling Deku’s attentive, loving mom to DIE!!!, and slowly started to eat, his angry scowl still on his face. Inko wasn’t satisfied by this.

“I-If you don’t like it, I can make something else”, she told him, nervous and clearly not understanding the reason behind his anger. “I only made it because Izuku –“

“I like it”, he interrupted her, tone sharp and words angry. He ate the katsudon methodically and more angrily than he had to, which probably contributed to Inko’s feeling that he didn’t like the food.

“Oh… Ok”, she blinked blankly at him, starting to eat as well.

A long silence stretched between them. Deku was miraculously silent as Katsuki ate, probably enjoying the katsudon he wasn’t even eating.

“I didn’t mean to upset you”, Inko broke the silence after a few minutes of silent eating, looking embarrassed. “I just meant that being so angry all the time can’t be good for you. This is why I think having Izuku around can help you. He is a very calming person”.

Katsuki raised a disgusted eyebrow at her, looking at Deku’s mom as if she was crazy.

“Deku? A calming person?”, he asked, incredulous.

“Well, he can be very frantic sometimes”, she admitted in defeat, a small, fond smile on her lips. “But he is also great at being comforting. Whenever I am nervous or distraught… no one can calm me down like Izuku can”, she concluded.

“Which probably happens a fucking lot”, Katsuki muttered under his breath as he chewed.

“I’m sorry, what was that?”, Inko asked, tilting her head towards him. Katsuki wasn’t sure whether she actually hadn’t heard him or if she was just playing dumb to make him repeat his words.

“Nothing”, he huffed, continuing to eat and not looking at her.

“Izuku also feels the need to save everyone”, Inko continued. “And he’s so good at forgiving people. I’m sure he’s been trying to help you manage your anger, hasn’t he?”, she asked fondly. Katsuki was a hair’s breadth away from blowing the table along with its damn katsudon up. Deku’s shitty mom was exactly like shitty Deku – couldn’t drop a subject that made him uncomfortable if her life depended on it.

“Can you two stop talking about me as if I’m not here”, Izuku groaned miserably, hiding his blushing face behind his arms.

“I don’t need to manage my anger”, he ended up growling, glaring at her and hoping the angry look would serve as a warning. “Can’t you see how fucking calm I am?”

Inko chuckled, probably assuming Katsuki was joking.

“Just…”, she trailed off, her smile slowly withering from her face as she gave Katsuki a sad look. “Can you really keep you promise to be good to him?”

“Yeah, I already promised it”, Katsuki ended up losing his patience, muttering angrily. Inko raised her eyebrows at him, and decided to say nothing else.

Katsuki finished his katsudon, pushing the bowl slightly away from him on the table and crossing his arms again as he waited for Inko to finish her own. Once she was done, she collected the bowls and looked at him.

“How did you like it?”

Katsuki didn’t look at her and continued to glare at the table.

“Not spicy enough”, he grumbled.

Kacchan”, Deku reprehended.

Fine. It was good”, he added, still sounding angry. Inko hummed in content and took the bowls to the sink so that she could wash them.

Izuku nudged him with his elbow. Katsuki turned to glare at him and Izuku nodded at his mom, raising his eyebrows and giving Katsuki a disapproving look.

“If I say ‘thanks’ she’ll think it was because her stupid son is so good at being good that he immediately makes people better just by being around them”, Katsuki complained, clearly bitter. “Which isn’t fucking true, by the way”, he scoffed. Izuku sighed and rolled his eyes, but Inko didn’t hear them.

Izuku squinted his eyes at Katsuki, waiting.

“Not happening, shitty Deku. Give it up already”, Katsuki scoffed.

Izuku continued to stare.

“Fuck off”.

“Stop swearing in my house!”

“Your mom doesn’t seem to mind”.

“She’s just too polite to complain about it!”

“Then she’s a loser, just like you”.

“Ok, Kacchan, I’m serious now. Don’t say that stuff about my mom”.

“Wow, Deku. You sounded really frightening. I’m shaking in fear right now. Are you gonna beat me up?”

“You’re – You’re –“

“I’m what?”

“You’re an ass!”

“Oooh. Let’s see how your mom likes knowing her son is cursing so much”.

“She’ll never believe you”, Deku smirked victoriously.

“You’re so pathetic, have I told you that?”

“Several times over”.

“Good. Don’t forget it”.

“Whatever. Just thank her for the katsudon. It was so good!”

A pause.

“Was it better than mine?”

“What?”

“Her katsudon. Is it better than mine?”

Hesitation.

“You fucker. I’ll never cook for you again”.

“But I didn’t even say anything!”

“Your silence said enough”.

“That’s overdramatic, Kacchan”.

“Shut the fuck up. You’ll never taste my katsudon again”.

“But it’s my mom’s cooking! You can’t compete with that!”

“Of course I fucking can. I’m the best of the best. What did she do right that I didn’t?”

A pause.

“Just fucking say it already”.

“She… doesn’t put so much… uh… spice…?”

“Fuck. Off.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just yours was too spicy! It have me heartburn for a day!”

“You’re lying”.

“I’m not!”

“I didn’t feel any heartburn, so you’re fucking lying”.

“Because you’re used to it! Or maybe you eat so much spice that you’re constantly having heartburn and you can’t tell the difference anymore!”

“Fuck you. You’re just a wimpy little loser who can’t handle some pepper”.

“If it had just been pepper it would be ok, but you poured hundreds of different spices on it!”

“No I didn’t”.

“Yes, you did! I was there when you were cooking!”

“You call six spices hundreds? What a fucking loser”.

“I’m not used to that many!”

“Too bad for you, then. I ain’t cooking you any fucking katsudon ever again”.

“Don’t be like that! You were the one who asked about it!”

“And you were the one who tossed the chance of ever tasting my amazing cooking on the trash forever”.

Kachaaaan!”

“No use whining about it, now”.

“Don’t be like that!”

“Go to hell”.

“Stop being jealous of my mom!”

“What the fuck? I’m not!”

“Yes, you are! Just put less spice on the next time –“

“Don’t tell me what to do, and especially don’t tell me how to fucking cook –“

“I’m just trying to give you some helpful advice!”

“Keep your shitty advice for yourself, you babbling fucking nerd!”

“I really don’t know what my mom meant when she said you’re different, because I don’t see any improvement! You just keep yelling at me whenever I open my mouth like you always do!”

“That’s because I repeatedly tell you to shut the fuck up and you repeatedly refuse to listen!”

“Katsuki-kun”, Inko approached him with a frown, having finished with the dishes. She was frowning and bore a confused expression on her face. “Is everything alright? Are you two having an argument?”

“No”, Katsuki said with a scowl at the same time Deku exclaimed “Yes!”

Inko continued to stare at him with confusion and something akin to disapproval in her eyes. Katsuki rolled his eyes and scoffed, standing up from his seat by the dinner table. Deku stared at him with a grumpy expression that had nothing to do with Katsuki’s own but still managed to give off the same emotion.

“We weren’t having an argument”, he reassured Inko, standing awkwardly in front of her before gesturing to the door. “I think we should get going, now. Aizawa sensei told us not to stay out to long”.

“We’re going already? But I didn’t even take a look at my bedroom!”, Deku whined.

“And what the fuck are you supposed to do at your bedroom, cry like a baby while you try to pick up things and fail?”, Katsuki growled at him, forgetting Inko was there for a moment. Deku did cringe at Katsuki’s loud tone, but continued to stare at him with defiance. Inko, however, was giving him a very disapproving look.

“I’ll see you to the door”, she said sternly, looking offended and tired. Katsuki huffed and shoved his hands into his pockets as he followed her, glaring at everything he could get his eyes on. Stupid house. Stupid furniture. Stupid Deku.

“Kacchan”, Deku followed him close, an urgent look in his eyes. Katsuki didn’t look at him, so he continued. He looked reluctant, as if he didn’t want to ask Katsuki for a favor so soon after their discussion, but it wasn’t like he had any other option. “Before we go… Can you say something to my mom?”

He didn’t offer Deku any sort of response other than a nod so subtle that it could have been missed by a less attentive eye. They reached the door and Inko opened it slightly, blocking Katsuki’s way and worrying at her lower lip as if there was more she wanted to say, but didn’t know how.  He took the opportunity of her hesitation to relay Deku’s message.

“Deku wants you to know –“, he started, but upon Inko’s increasingly disapproving glare he stopped, rolled his eyes, and sighed heavily. “Whatever. He wants me to tell you not to worry about him. He’s not in pain, he’s doing okay, and we’ll find a way out of this. He also rambled a lot about you taking care of yourself and sleeping more or some crap – okay, some thing like that. Anyway – he wants you to know he loves you, etc.”, he concluded, bearing a half-bored, half-grumpy look. Inko eyed him with apprehension.

“Thank you, Katsuki-kun”, she said, bowing her head slightly. “For bringing my Izuku to see me and for relaying his message to me”.

“Don’t mention it”, Katsuki said, trying to walk past her in order to leave. God, was he tired.

Inko grabbed his wrist before he managed to walk out of the apartment, in a very similar way to how Deku usually grabbed him. Katsuki’s primal instinct was to pull away aggressively, but he managed to control himself before he ended up doing something rude. He stared – or rather, glared – at Inko, and she stared back with a weird expression in her eyes that was very similar to the one she had wore when she asked Katsuki why he was truly there.

“I know you’ve already promised to take care of my Izuku”, she started. Irritation boiled deep in Katsuki’s chest, and one of his hands tightened into a fist. How many times was she going to ask him the same thing over and over?

“Yeah”, he said bitterly, through gritted teeth. Couldn’t she just stop staring at him with those big fucking eyes?

“But if – if you don’t”, she said, in a tone that was probably supposed to be threatening. “If I hear you mistreated him, or made him suffer, I’ll –“, she bit her lower lip, lowering her head and shaking it with the weight of her emotion. She looked like she was forcing herself to say the words, hesitating for a moment before raising her head again and staring deep into Katsuki’s eyes. Fuck. “I won’t forgive you this time. And – and I – I won’t let it go as easily as I did b-back when you were in school. I won’t”, she tilted her chin slightly up as if to emphasize the seriousness behind her words. “I’ll inform the school board of it and – and y-you’ll have to face the consequences”.

Katsuki continued to stare at her, not sure how to feel about that.

“Mom”, Izuku whispered softly, almost in admiration. Katsuki wanted to punch him in the stomach, but restrained himself.

“Ok”, Katsuki responded after a few seconds of silence. What else could he tell Deku’s mom in that situation? Go fuck yourself for trying to defend your son?

He kind of did want to say that, but stayed quiet.

Inko nodded simply, stepping to the side and letting go of Katsuki’s wrist. His path was clear, but, for some reason, he couldn’t move. He was glued to his feet.

“Kacchan?”, Deku asked, frowning.

Katsuki stared at the floor, so many feelings coursing through him that he couldn’t make out one from the other.

I think I probably forgave you already

I won’t forgive you this time

It’s easier if I just forgive you without you actually having to apologize. But even if I do that, the pain won’t just go away –

Why the fuck did the Midoriyas insist on forgiving Katsuki for things he hadn’t asked their forgiveness for?

He never asked them for anything. He never asked Deku to forgive him for his shitty behavior back at school; he never asked Inko to forgive him for the way he treated her shitty son. He never asked them. He didn’t owe them. He may have been a piece of shit to Deku back at school, but that was in the past. And what’s in the past stays in the past. Katsuki couldn’t change any of that now, and there’s no use whining about stuff you can’t change. All he could do was try not to be as shitty to Deku as he used to be, even though the nerd with his annoying antics made this task extremely fucking hard.

But if it was truly all in the past, why was Deku still hurt? Why could Katsuki feel the pain emanating from him?

His mind wandered back to Deku’s drawings of him. Deku’s admiration for him, Deku’s near adoration for him, even though he did nothing, nothing other than hurt him and put him down. Tell him horrible things. Do terrible things to him.

Was Deku fucked up in the head or something? Why the hell would he admire Katsuki, after everything he did? He knew he was fucking amazing and admiration for him was something he was extremely used to, but never in his life had he bullied someone as hard as he bullied Deku.

Why did Deku fill made him feel repulse when he only ever made Deku feel admiration?

When did he actually start hating Deku?

“Uh, Kacchan…”, Deku tried again, giving Katsuki a worried look. Blinking blankly and snapping back to reality, Katsuki looked Deku and then at his mom, who had a similar concerned look on her face. He felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by the attention – even though it was something he was used to, but not in that way –, and promptly shoved his hands into his pockets as he turned his head away.

“Thanks for the food”, he said simply, as if he hadn’t just been silently glaring at the floor in deep thought for god knows how long. “I’ll see if I can bring Deku over again”.

Before Inko could say anything – or even give him another disapproving look for the use of the hated nickname –, Katsuki turned on his heels and left, Deku trailing behind him.

“Kacchan?”, Deku asked again as they were leaving, that stupid, unreasonable fucking concern etched all over his voice and his face. “Are you ok?”

“Just leave me the fuck alone, Deku”, was all he bothered to say before engaging in a very silent, very grumpy travel back to the UA.

Deku, for the first time in his life, knew better than to push it.

 

 

 

 

 

He didn’t say anything as they took the train back to the UA and held Izuku in his arms again, or when they arrived at UA, or when they headed to the dorms, or when he entered his bedroom. The first time Katsuki talked to him after they left his apartment was to say “I’m going to take a nap”, before plopping down on the bed and falling asleep in the matter of seconds.

Izuku couldn’t say he blamed him. He was feeling very tired himself, and the first train ride to his apartment had been extremely exhausting. If their theory that going through extreme, intense emotions was the cause of their exhaustion was right, then the conversation they had had with his mom was probably what had taken its toll on Kacchan. Now, he was fast asleep on his bed while Izuku watched the steady rise and fall of his chest, as well as the way the explosive boy’s mouth hung wide open and soft snores came out of his parted lips.

Izuku smiled softly with fondness. Kacchan rarely slept with his mouth open and he certainly didn’t snore, so the fact that he was doing so could only mean that he was extremely tired.

Izuku’s smile faltered as he realized that it was his fault Kacchan was tired.

Tokoyami-kun’s theory started to make more sense to Izuku now. And if he was really draining Kacchan…

But what could he do? He didn’t know how to get back to his body. He would if he could. But at the same time, he didn’t want Kacchan to take the most of it just because he was too helpless to find a solution and save himself.

Helpless. Defenseless. Deku.

Izuku sighed. He had loved seeing his mom, and he had loved that Kacchan had actually taken the time and put the effort of taking him there. He knew Kacchan had only done it so that Izuku felt happier, which by consequence meant he would feel happier, but still.

It had been nice. It had been really nice. The combo of seeing his mom + eating his mom’s katsudon would have been enough to make Izuku hop around like a bunny.

He didn’t feel like hopping, though. There was a sort of melancholy inside him that Izuku wasn’t entirely sure it was only his own.

Why was Kacchan sad?

He ran a hand across his tired face and then combed his hair back with his fingers. His hair was growing a lot. He didn’t know what he could do to make it better and prevent it from falling above his eyes.

Actually, he didn’t know how to make anything better.

Watching Kacchan sleep (and picturing in his mind the way his guttural voice would sound as he screamed “stop staring at me, nerd, that’s creepy as f***!!!”), Izuku tried to think of what possible reason could have made him feel such melancholy. Izuku could feel it himself, mirroring Kacchan’s emotions, and he knew the sadness wasn’t his, this time.

He had been embarrassed about Kacchan seeing his pictures and his drawings, but he also felt that this was something they needed to talk about. He was afraid of what Kacchan’s reaction would be if he brought that subject up, though. He had looked so upset and angry when he saw the drawings – knowing he was feeling so sad, Izuku didn’t want to bring the subject up himself.

But he really wanted to know what was going through Kacchan’s mind. Just looking at him, Izuku had no idea.

He was also worried about his mom. She had been right – there was no logic in not allowing her into the UA, but allowing them out. Sparing personnel to follow them around and protect them in the open, where they were way more vulnerable to possible attacks, sounded a lot more troublesome than simply allowing his mom inside the school grounds, where it was safe and protected. Something told Izuku the reasons behind her banishment were way deeper and more complex than she had been told by the teachers. Maybe this was their way to keep her in the dark and not stress her out about Izuku’s situation.

But then, that would mean Izuku’s situation was a lot worse than he thought it was. Aizawa sensei’s words returned to his mind and he found himself getting more and more worried. Another student’s life is on the line.

What weren’t they telling his mom? What weren’t they telling him? Was his life actually on the line?

He stretched and sighed, deciding there was no use in dwelling over such a subject for the time being. He wouldn’t be able to do anything about it until Kacchan was awake, and he certainly wasn’t about to go and wake the boy up. Izuku had also been drained from his energy after the train incident, and, despite his worry and the thoughts rushing through his mind, was feeling tired enough to take a nap as well. After all, it would be no good if just Kacchan rested and he didn’t, like they had been doing back when Izuku was sleeping on the floor. They both needed to be well rested so that they could –

So that they –

Oh.

Oh.

A sudden thought blossomed in Izuku’s mind.

Maybe they weren’t only sharing feelings.

Maybe they were also exchanging them.

Thinking about it, Izuku found that it made sense. Whenever he felt overwhelmingly sad, Kacchan cried. Whenever Kacchan felt overwhelmingly angry, Izuku cursed and yelled. And whenever one of them had been tired, the other took the worst of it.

Their problem so far was that they hadn’t been finding balance. Either Izuku felt too sad, and the sadness ended up manifesting itself in Kacchan, or Kacchan felt too angry, and the anger manifested itself in Izuku. When Izuku felt upset or normally sad, Kacchan didn’t cry, and when Kacchan felt his usual grumpiness and annoyance (rather than burning rage), Izuku didn’t yell.

This was why it didn’t matter if just Kacchan was happy or just Izuku was happy – they both needed to be happy. Izuku imagined their emotions as being water inside a cup that was inside a larger cup. If the water in the first cup overflowed, it ended up leaking into the larger one. And Izuku was used to dealing with his own sadness – just as Kacchan was used to dealing with his own anger. But that didn’t mean Izuku knew how to deal with Kacchan’s anger, or that Kacchan knew how to deal with Izuku’s sadness. These were both alien feelings for them, feelings that weren’t their own, and that consequentially ended up upsetting them more than they upset their actual owners.

They needed to find balance for the cup not to overflow. They needed to control their emotions. Not only Kacchan needed to control his anger – Izuku also needed to control his misery whenever he thought about his body and his friends. Whenever he thought about his mom.

The hard part would be convincing Kacchan he needed to control his anger. From what Izuku could tell, he was already having a hard time controlling himself around him and probably thought that giving in to Izuku’s requests for him to be politer and gentler to people were signs of weakness. Izuku could tell Kacchan all about his theory, but he wasn’t sure the boy would listen to him. When had he ever?

Still, this was a better solution than the outcome of Tokoyami-kun’s theory. If they found a way to balance their emotions so that they didn’t end up overwhelming one another, they could finally stop feeling so tired all the time. Izuku knew how much Katsuki hated having to take power naps all the time – he could feel it himself. And even though he didn’t have much to do, being a ghost and all, Izuku also felt pretty sick of having to sleep all the time.

He stood up and made his way to the bed, carefully climbing beside Katsuki, even though he knew his phantom body wouldn’t be able to rattle the mattress. Relief immediately coursed through Izuku as he lay down, the soft mattress of Kacchan’s bed soothing his aching back.

His back wasn’t hurting so bad, now, but it was still a bit sore after the train stunt. As Izuku closed his eyes, allowing his thoughts to flow freely and lull him to sleep, he made a mental reminder to ask Kacchan to take a look at the scar in his back when they both woke up.

Izuku was so tired he didn’t even realize Kacchan had forgotten to put up the pillow fort to separate them.

 

 

 

 

 

Katsuki woke up with a silent gasp.

As soon as his eyes opened, he forgot all about the dream, but his heart was still racing and his fists were still clenched. His mind may have been erased of whatever his subconscious came up with to frighten him, but his body was still showing the signs of the fight or flight instinct his dream had activated.

He took in a deep breath to calm himself and assessed his surroundings. He was in his bedroom, the curtains were closed (so he couldn’t tell what time it was) and there was a curious lack of pillows separating his side of the bed from Deku’s.

As his sluggish mind regained proper consciousness and got rid of the sleep that addled it, he realized that Deku’s face was buried in his chest.

What the fuck.

Katsuki lowered his face in order to see better what the hell was going on, and found that not only was Deku’s face buried in his fucking chest while he slept, but his arms were also thrown around Katsuki’s torso, holding him in a – a cuddle? Katsuki didn’t want to fucking call it that. Hell no.

He knew it. He knew it that the moment he removed the fucking pillow fort, the nerd would take advantage of it. Katsuki had been too tired to even think about putting it up before he fell asleep, so the damn nerd had to go right the fuck ahead and hug him, right? He had to fucking break into Katsuki’s personal space like that, the little piece of shit.

(Katsuki promptly ignored the fact that he, in his sleep, had also thrown an arm around Deku’s torso, keeping him in place. Before the boy could wake up and realize this, he slowly removed his arm from the top of Deku, looking suspiciously flushed).

He needed to get the fuck out of that bed before Deku woke up and realized the embarrassing situation he had put themselves in. He needed to get the fuck out of that bed before Deku woke up and felt smug about cuddling Katsuki. He was sure as hell the nerd would try to shove it in his face, like he always did.

However, staring down at Deku’s sleeping face, Katsuki found himself unable to move.

The boy’s lips were slightly parted and he looked peaceful. His freckles stood out on his face as he slept, hair messily falling over one of his eyes and almost all the way down to his cheek. The fucking nerd needed to get a damn haircut, stat. He was starting to look ridiculous with his curls looking like that.

Deku’s breathing had even out during his sleep and it was mimicking Katsuki’s. Way too fucking weird for his liking, but he found that he didn’t have it in him to wake Deku up. Because at least he was breathing. At least his chest wasn’t as still as it had – as it had been –

Katsuki took a deep breath and calmed himself. He didn’t know where those memories were coming from, but he wanted them fucking gone.

He decided not to wake Deku up.

Because he needed to be well-rested. That was all. For Katsuki not to be tired, Deku couldn’t be tired, too. That was the only fucking reason he wouldn’t wake him up. That, and because he didn’t want the nerd to find out they had ended up accidentally cuddling like a pair of – a pair of –

Honestly, fuck Deku.

Katsuki gently removed Deku’s arm from where it was drooped above his waist and carefully put a pillow beneath his hair to replace his chest – just because he didn’t want the nerd to wake up; otherwise he would have let his ugly head drop down like a sack of fucking potatoes, he would. Deku had the audacity to fucking whine at Katsuki’s absence – what the fuck was that about?!?!?! –, but he didn’t wake up, rather snuggling closer to the pillow and burying his face on it instead. He sighed heavily in content and kept on sleeping.

Katsuki found himself staring, until he realized he was fucking staring, and turned away so angrily that, if looks could make things blow up, his entire studying desk would have been obliterated in that exact same moment.

What the fucking fuck. What the fuck.

That was all Katsuki could think.

What the fuck. What the fuck?! What. The. Fuck.

what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck.

He was feeling a lot of things at the same time. Where was that all coming from, for fuck’s sake?! He could tell the things he was feeling weren’t a mirror of Deku, because Deku was fucking asleep, and he didn’t look like he was having a nightmare or any of that shit.

So why the hell was Katsuki feeling so scared?

And, most importantly, what was he scared of?

He didn’t want to know the answer to the question. He didn’t want to know any fucking thing at all. He didn’t want to know why waking up to find out he and Deku had fucking snuggled in their sleep as if it was the most natural fucking thing in the world had made him feel so – so fucking – lost? Vulnerable? Confused? Angry? Fucking batshit?!

Katsuki tightened his hands into fists and growled in anger in frustration. Just what the fuck, Deku. Why was his damn heart racing?!

Before he could think better, he grabbed his phone and texted Kirishima. Kirishima knew about feelings. He was about the only person Katsuki actually trusted.

From: Bakubro

Loser

From: Bakubro

Are you there?

From: Shitty Hair

Hey bro

From: Shitty Hair

How are ya?

From: Shitty Hair

Why weren’t you at the afternoon classes? Did smth happen?

From: Bakubro

Shut up

From: Bakubro

None of your business

From: Shitty Hair

:/

From: Shitty Hair

Is everything alright tho??

From: Bakubro

Yes

From: Bakubro

No

From: Bakubro

I don’t know

From: Shitty Hair

Ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh

From: Shitty Hair

Is this one of those rare Bakugou-talks-about-his-emotional-constipation moments???

From: Bakubro

Fuck you

From: Bakubro

Don’t know why I even bothered

From: Shitty Hair

Noooooo

From: Shitty Hair

Come back

From: Shitty Hair

Bakugou I was jokingggggg

From: Shitty Hair

I’m sorry

From: Shitty Hair

You can talk to me

From: Shitty Hair

You know that bro

From: Shitty Hair

Sorry for the joke I know this is hard for you

From: Shitty Hair

Bakugouuuuuuuu

From: Bakubro

Never mind, Kirishima

From: Shitty Hair

I love it when you call me Kirishima but not in that tone :/

From: Bakubro

This is a fucking text conversation

From: Bakubro

There is no tone, dumbfuck

From: Shitty Hair

Yes there is :/

From: Shitty Hair

And you’re upset :/

From: Shitty Hair

And I’m sorry :/

From: Bakubro

I’m not fucking upset

From: Bakubro

I just changed my mind

From: Bakubro

So never fucking mind

From: Bakubro

Just stop by later to give me the notes for today’s afternoon classes

From: Shitty Hair

Will you tell me what’s wrong when I stop by? :/

From: Bakubro

No

From: Bakubro

And stop using that fucking upset face

From: Shitty Hair

:/

From: Bakubro

I’m gonna block you

From: Shitty Hair

Noooooooo

From: Shitty Hair

Ok I’ll stop :D

Read at 19:24

 

From: Shitty Hair

Hey u still there?

From: Shitty Hair

Hey bakubro

From: Shitty Hair

Heyyyyyyyyyyyy

From: Shitty Hair

:/

From: Bakubro

What do you want

From: Shitty Hair

Just tell me what’s wrong!! You can trust me! I wont make jokes anymore I promise

From: Bakubro

Go die in a corner

From: Shitty Hair

Rude

From: Shitty Hair

C’mon bro we’re bros!!! bros share feelings with each other

From: Shitty Hair

It’s manly

From: Bakubro

stfu

From: Shitty Hair

You can tell me anything you want

From: Shitty Hair

Is it about Midoriya?

From: Shitty Hair

Are you two finally figuring your shit out?

From: Shitty Hair

Is that why you didn’t go to class?

From: Bakubro

I’m feeling really pissed rn so unless you want me to go all the way over your ugly bedroom and blow you face off just leave it alone

From: Bakubro

I was gonna tell you before you pissed me off

From: Shitty Hair

Nooooooooo

From: Shitty Hair

God damn my timeless sense of humor

From: Bakubro

Quit the fucking drama

From: Bakubro

I’ll tell you about it later when you’re not being so fucking annoying and when I know you won’t go around running your damn mouth about it to everyone

From: Bakubro

It’s no big deal so stop making such a fucking fuss

From: Shitty Hair

Ok :/

From: Shitty Hair

Thanks for trusting me bakubro!! I won’t let you down!

From: Bakubro

What are you a fucking car salesman

From: Shitty Hair

Someone’s cranky

From: Bakubro

Fuck off

From: Shitty Hair

You know you love me

Read at 19:32

Chapter Text

Izuku woke up to a bang and loud whispers.

He squinted his eyes and lifted his head from the bed, vision still blurry from sleep and mind confused and sluggish. He could see Kacchan’s silhouette standing in front of the door, his back dark in contrast with the bright light coming from the hallway. In front of him there were two other people that, Izuku couldn’t be sure, but looked like Kaminari and Mina. He frowned.

“If we go, will you get the fuck away from here and leave me alone?”, Kacchan asked in what Izuku assumed was supposed to be a low tone, but his whispered voice was so loud that he might as well have been speaking normally.

“Don’t be so grumpy about it! It’s going to be fun!”, Mina responded, her whispering voice considerably lower than Kacchan’s (but still loud enough for Izuku to hear it from the bed). Kacchan tried to close the door, but Kaminari kept him from doing so by placing his foot in front of it and blocking the way.

“You don’t even have to cook if you don’t want to, man”, Kaminari added. “I was kidding when I asked”.

“But if you do want to, that’d be great”, Mina interrupted him. “Just saying”.

“You can just come over and hang out with us! Sero and I are providing some booze; you can’t miss it!”

“That’s not even fucking allowed, dunce face”, Kacchan retorted, sounding impatient. “You all really think Aizawa sensei is going to let a bunch of underage students get wasted at the dorm in the middle of a school night?”

“He doesn’t have to know”, Kaminari said, a subtle – yet fearful – warning in his tone. “As long as no one tells!”, he added conspicuously.

“And how the fuck are you supposed to buy booze with those baby faces, huh?”, Katsuki scoffed, shaking his head in disapproval. “Y’all are underage”.

“Don’t worry about it, we got it all settled!”, Kaminari placed a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder as if to tranquilize him. Katsuki immediately shrugged away from the touch and gave Kaminari a warning glare. “Just make sure you come and have some fun with us! You spend all the time locked in your room, man!”, he added despite of the look in Katsuki’s face.

“Yeah!”, Mina exclaimed in agreement. “It would do you and Midoriya good to have some fun!”

“What does the Hand Guy have to say about that?”, Kacchan scoffed.

“About the party?”, Kaminari frowned.

“About the booze, shithead”, Katsuki sighed.

“Why are you so worked up about the booze, man?”, Kaminari frowned, smiling at the same time.

“Iida-kun doesn’t have to know, either!”, Mina responded, mischief in her tone. “As long as we are subtle about it!“

“Since when have any of our shitty friends ever been subtle, Raccoon Eyes?”, Kacchan pointed out with annoyance.

There was a pause. Izuku couldn’t quite see anyone’s faces from where he was still lying on the bed.

What?”, Kacchan added angrily – and possibly a bit louder than he had intended – when neither of the friends at his door said anything else. “Why are you giving me those damn looks?”

“N-Nothing, it’s just –“, Mina started, her voice sounded suspiciously wobbly. Izuku couldn’t tell if she was actually about to cry or if she was faking it for dramatics. “Y-You said ‘our’”, she sniffed.

Huh?”, Kacchan asked, that familiar tone in his voice that warned whoever was speaking to him to be careful with their answer if they didn’t want any explosions to take place.

“You always say ‘your friends’”, Kaminari explained.

“And now you said ‘our’!”, Mina exclaimed cheerfully, even if her voice was still wobbly.

“That’s some real development, Kacchan!”, Kaminari added, giving Katsuki a thumbs up.

Instead of responding, Katsuki simply ignored Kaminari’s foot serving as a door holder and put all his weight on it, trying to push the door close. Mina and Kaminari struggled together to keep it open, but they were slowly losing against Katsuki’s resolve.

“Just come over! Pretty please!”, Mina asked, her voice squeaky as she put all her strength and effort into keeping the door open for just a few more seconds. “Kiri will be so upset if you don’t!”

“His fucking birthday only in a week, so I don’t know why the hell you’re all so desperate about it already”, Katsuki grunted as he continued to push the door. Izuku figured he probably wasn’t putting all his strength into it, otherwise Kaminari’s foot would have been crushed already.

“Because usually he’s the one who convinces you to socialize!”, Kaminari protested through gritted teeth as he struggled against Katsuki’s strength. “And it’s a surprise party, so he won’t be able to invite you himself! Someone had to do it for him!”

“We knew we would need time to talk you into going”, Mina added. “So better start already, heh?”

 “I’ll only go if you get the fuck out of my room”, Kacchan said and, with a strong push, he successfully shoved Kaminari and Mina away from the door.

“But we’re not even insiiiiide!”, they protested at the exact same time Katsuki slammed the door closed on their faces. Izuku flinched in surprise at the loud sound.

Katsuki stomped his way back to his studying desk angrily, sitting on his chair and not looking at Izuku as he turned his laptop’s screen back on and continued whatever he had been doing before Kaminari and Mina knocked on his door. It didn’t take him too long to address Izuku, never looking at him.

“I know you’re awake, nerd”.

Izuku felt himself blush and was thankful for the darkness in the room that prevented Kacchan from noticing the pink tone of his cheeks. The only source of light was coming from the laptop and from Kacchan’s lamp beside it.

“How do you know that?”, Izuku asked with curiosity. Was it because of their bond? Could Kacchan simply feel that Izuku was awake, too? If that was the case, then could Izuku feel when Kacchan was asleep/awake? Were they able to wake each other up? Had Izuku woken up because Kacchan was awake too? No, but if that was the case, then they would have to fall asleep at the same time, right? And Izuku knew that wasn’t true. Maybe the bond didn’t work for falling asleep, but it did for waking up? But then, it was normal for him to wake up before Kacchan, without having him wake, too, and the other way around was also true. Maybe this was a new development in the quirk that bond their souls? Maybe they were becoming more dependent? Maybe Kacchan –

“There’s no way you’d still be asleep after I slammed the fucking door like that”, Katsuki explained matter-of-factly, cutting Izuku out of his mental rambling.

Oh.

Ok, then. That made more sense.

“I – I actually woke up before that. You whisper really loudly”, Izuku admitted, sitting up on the bed and rubbing his eyes with sleepiness. He tried to remove his hair from the top of his eyes, but his green curls just fell back down, blocking his vision. He tried again a few times before giving up with a resigned sigh.

“No, I don’t”, Katsuki scoffed, sounding almost offended. “Your ears are just way too fucking sensitive”.

“No, they’re not!”, Izuku protested with humor in his voice.

“You’re not making any sense, dumbass. How can it be loud if it’s a whisper? Stop embarrassing yourself”, Katsuki reproved. He still wasn’t looking at Izuku, eventually typing something down in his laptop and scrolling through some text that Izuku couldn’t make out from where he was sitting on the bed. Kacchan was wearing his reading glasses, so he probably couldn’t notice Izuku staring at him through his peripheral vision, right?

“It’s only funny because whispers aren’t meant to be loud, but yours is”, Izuku explained, crossing his legs on the bed and staring at Kacchan’s face, which was glowing white due to the light of the monitor in the dark.

Izuku was still struggling to get used to seeing Kacchan wearing glasses. They had known each other for so long, and yet it took Izuku 15 years to find out Kacchan wore them… But again, the distance between them had always been too far for Izuku to find that sort of detail out.

He lowered his head as he remembered his drawings, his pictures, and the look in Kacchan’s face. It was embarrassing.

“Maybe I was just trying to wake you up on purpose so that you’d get your lame ass out of my bed. How about that?”, Kacchan scoffed. Izuku looked up at him, squinting his eyes.

Why wasn’t Kacchan looking at him?

It was usual for Kacchan to ignore him or act as if he wasn’t there, but he rarely avoided looking at Izuku. Usually, when he was angry, he glared or fulminated him with his crimson eyes. When he really wanted to ignore Izuku, he didn’t look at him, but didn’t talk to him, either. Now, he was speaking to Izuku normally, but never meeting his eyes. For some reason, it bothered the boy.

Izuku thought back to the events from the previous day. Even though Kacchan seemed troubled by the pictures and he drawings he saw, and even though he had been uncannily silent on their trip back to UA, he had still looked at Izuku. Sure, Katsuki didn’t have many reasons to, since he barely spoke a word to him after they left his apartment, but still… it hadn’t been like this. Now, it looked like he was downright avoiding looking at Izuku’s general direction whatsoever.

Maybe he had thought better about the pictures and the drawings? Maybe he was only now feeling embarrassed, or angry, or upset by them? Maybe he woke up before Izuku did and mulled things over? Maybe he realized, finally, just how cruel he’d been to Izuku and how everything he did throughout their childhood had upset him and left a mark on him?

No, that wasn’t Kacchan. Kacchan wasn’t evasive – he was conflictive. If there was a problem, he either screamed about it, fought about it, or – in rarer stances, such as the one from two nights before – talked about it.

Izuku thought back to the heart-to-heart hey had shared on that day after the fight in the kitchen. Even though Kacchan had still acted like his short-fused, angry self, he had also sounded more… Empathetic. Comprehensive, perhaps? He never actually apologized to Izuku, but he promised to try and be better. If he had managed to talk to Izuku about their discussion and clarify things two days before, why wasn’t it he doing it now? They didn’t actually have a discussion, but still, Izuku felt the urgent need to talk about their visit to his mom. About the train ride, about the photos and the drawings, about their childhood. He needed to talk about it. He wanted to.

But how could he talk to Kacchan without being yelled at? Without yelling back? Now, after spending days and days and days glued to Kacchan and having no one else as company, Izuku understood more and more why Kacchan had decided to fight him instead of properly asking him about One For All and All Might. It was sad, but it seemed like they were only able to communicate through violence. Through screaming. Through punches. Through fights. Izuku tried to imagine himself telling Kacchan “hey, I think we should have a chat about the visit to my mom” and found out that he couldn’t.

Did Kacchan feel the same way? Was that why he wasn’t looking at him?

Maybe Izuku had said something in his sleep that added to the weight of Kacchan seeing his drawings. Izuku knew he was a mumbling person, and he also knew he talked in his sleep, so maybe that was it? But still, the idea of having Kacchan giving him the cold shoulder over something he said in his sleep felt weird. It would be more likely for him to tease Izuku, or confront him about it. Act coldly to him, by replying to his questions but not meeting his eyes? Not so much.

Kacchan only ever ignored Izuku when he despised him.

Was that it? Had Kacchan gone back to despising him? Had he gone back to thinking Izuku was a useless, weak, pathetic little nerd who amounted to nothing? Had he gone back to thinking Izuku was nothing more than a pebble, and not a worthy rival? Had seeing Izuku’s drawings – Izuku’s weakness, Izuku’s vulnerability – really earned that effect in Kacchan?

Why did he care so much about what Kacchan thought, anyway? Izuku felt embarrassed to realize that minutes had passed since Kacchan last spoke up, and that he had spent this entire time lost in deep thought and quite probably mumbling to himself. He looked up expecting to see Kacchan’s death glare and an angry snarl on his face as he told Izuku to stop f****** mumbling, but Kacchan was still staring at his laptop with indifference, not even aware of Izuku’s crisis.

Izuku felt embarrassed. He was freaking out so hard about Kacchan, and Kacchan wasn’t even acknowledging his general existence.

Why did he want Kacchan to acknowledge him?

For years, as they grew up together, there was nothing Izuku wanted more than for Kacchan to acknowledge him. Not notice him – he already noticed Izuku enough, pushing him into lockers, burning his notebooks down, mocking him and humiliating him –, but to acknowledge him. To see him as his equal. To see him as a worthy rival.

Now, that had finally happened. Kacchan still cursed at him, and yelled at him, and talked to him as if he was inferior, but Izuku could notice how their relationship had changed. How their dynamics had changed. Because even if Kacchan still did all that – like he did to all the students at UA –, he clearly saw Izuku for what he truly was, now – someone capable of surpassing him. Someone capable of becoming number one hero in his place.

Izuku didn’t want Kacchan to go back to seeing him as a quirkless loser.

Maybe that was why he was freaking out so hard? They had been making progress, the two of them, even if it was painfully, painstakingly slow. Izuku didn’t want all that progress to go to waste – he didn’t want to go back to stage zero. He didn’t want his dynamics with Kacchan to go back to what they used to be, not now that they were sharing the same rank, not now that they were finally headed to something that resembled more an actual friendship than any interaction that they had shared in the past 11 years.

Izuku stared at Katsuki, noticing the way the white light of the laptop screen was reflected in his crimson eyes, noticing the way his eyebrows weren’t creased in anger or annoyance while he was distracted, noticing the way he was tapping a rhythm on the desk with the pencil he was holding, noticing the way he looked beautiful and different in glasses, younger, nerdier, cleverer. Kacchan had always been so clever, Izuku hadn’t thought it possible for him to look even more so. He wouldn’t have been able to witness any of those things a month before, or a year before. Even though it was a sad conclusion, he realized he was only now getting to know the real Kacchan, even though they had met over a decade ago. All because of a villain’s quirk. All because of an accident.

He ended up staring at Kacchan for a long time, just taking him in. Analyzing him down to the smallest detail, assessing him, studying him. Remembering him. The way he squinted his eyes in order to read something he hadn’t understood. The way he gave a tiny scowl whenever he read something he disagreed with. The way he constantly changed his facial expression according to the different emotions he felt, the way he was so sincere and honest with his thoughts.

Kacchan was an open book that Izuku didn’t know how to read.

Maybe Izuku thought too much about things. Maybe he overanalyzed too much. Maybe he should try to have a more objective thinking, like Kacchan did. But the truth was that Kacchan always wore his heart on his face, but Izuku just didn’t know how to interpret it.

Kacchan had known that taking Izuku to see his mom would make him feel happier. He had known that telling Izuku’s friends what he requested would make him feel happier. Those were things Izuku had commented without any expectation that Kacchan would actually deliver – especially the part of taking him to see his mom, as a surprise –, and that Kacchan had done anyway. And yes, maybe he had only done it out of a selfish attempt to preserve his own happiness, but still. He had paid attention to Izuku. He had listened to what Izuku said and thought of the best way to put that information into use.

He didn’t know why he wanted to be friends with Kacchan so bad. Kacchan was right to feel confused about Izuku’s wish – all he ever did was mistreat Izuku throughout their whole lives. Rationally, there should be no reason for Izuku to want to be closer to him – if anything, he should want to stay as far away from Kacchan as possible. And yet…

Who was he kidding? He knew exactly why he wanted to be friends with Kacchan.

Kacchan was amazing. He was arrogant, rude, insolent, and a downright asshat, but he was spectacular. The way he controlled his quirk, the way he thought quickly in battle, the way he had mastered his physical abilities, the way his resolve to be the best was unfaltering… Even though his arrogance was ugly, he wasn’t entirely wrong to feel arrogant per say. The way he acted about it was… reproachable, but it wasn’t misguided. Kacchan thought he was the best, and he truly was.

(For now.)

Izuku had told him as much during their fight at the training grounds, but he wasn’t sure Kacchan had entirely comprehended that, to Izuku, he was a picture of victory much closer to him than All Might had been. He was a hero Izuku knew, a hero Izuku could touch and talk to.

And his mom hadn’t been wrong. After finding out he was quirkless, Izuku projected all his expectations of heroism onto Kacchan.

Izuku knew where people were coming from when they compared Kacchan to a villain, or said he acted like one. Kacchan’s temperament wasn’t the best, and he was way more aggressive than the average pro. Still… There was no denying that, as All Might himself had said, Kacchan had everything he needed to become an amazing hero in the future. He had the quirk, the technique, the will, the determination… While people who didn’t know him thought he was better off as a villain, Izuku knew it in his heart that Kacchan could be nothing else if not a hero.

Izuku realized that the bedroom lights were out. Kacchan was apparently having a hard time with the bright light from the laptop screen, if he was wearing his glasses. He could have turned the bedroom light on. If he really didn’t care about Izuku, if he really only cared about his own well-being, he might as well have done that.

And yes, Kacchan would probably argue that he didn’t turn the light on because he needed Izuku to be well-rested and sleep well so that he didn’t feel tired, but… The tiny spark of hope that Kacchan actually cared about him, even if just a little, had already blossomed inside Izuku’s chest, and it would be hard to put down. Kacchan didn’t have to hug him in the train. He didn’t even have to take Izuku all the way to his apartment – he could have just asked someone for Inko’s number and called her from the comfort of his bedroom. Izuku would have probably found a way to talk and interact to her more like this, even if he thought seeing her was more comforting than using Kacchan as his personal messenger.

Either way, Kacchan was not just trying to make Izuku happy. He was trying to make Izuku very happy.

Did Kacchan think he would also feel happier this way? Or was this out of his inherent need to be the best at everything he did?

Was this a proof that he actually cared about Izuku’s well-being, and not only his own, as he constantly claimed? Or was it too much of a stretch?

“The fuck are you staring at?”, Kacchan broke him away from his thoughts, still not looking at him. Izuku blinked his eyes blankly, feeling like he had been caught red handed. He blushed, once again thankful for the darkness in the room.

What could he possibly answer? He didn’t know why he had been staring at Kacchan for so long, drinking in every detail he could. Did he fear their relationship would actually return to cold glares and sheer rivalry after he returned to his body, and thus was taking every opportunity he could to get closer to Kacchan or, at least, remember details about him? Or was there something else to it?

“Don’t pretend you weren’t staring, nerd, I can feel your damn eyes all over me like a creep”, Katsuki scoffed when Izuku didn’t say anything.

He needed to change subjects. At once. It would be weird to explain his reasons to Kacchan, and if he didn’t say anything, he would just become more suspicious. Ahh! Why was Izuku always so awkward?! He wished he didn’t get distracted and lost in thought so often.

“I – I was w-wondering”, he started, embarrassed. “If you – uh – could, could take a look at my back”, he swallowed dry. Nailed it!, he thought to himself.

“Eh?”, Katsuki frowned, making a tiny crease appear between his brows but still not looking at Izuku. Why doesn’t he want to look at me?

“You – you – you said there was a s-scar”, Izuku explained, nervously shoving his curls behind his ears several times (since they continued to fall down his face as soon as he placed them back). “On my back. You – t-thought it was from the villain attack? Maybe it can help us figure something out about the villain’s quirk”, he suggested.

Kacchan was silent for a while, his eyes staring at the laptop screen. Somehow, Izuku knew he wasn’t reading it, but rather thinking about his request.

“Tch”, was all Katsuki said before putting his pencil down and standing up from the chair. He turned the light in the room on without warning (making Izuku squint his eyes at the sudden change of brightness) before making his way over to the bed. Izuku’s heart began to race, for some reason.

Katsuki stopped in front of Izuku, staring down at him with his arms crossed above his chest. Izuku, who was still sitting crossed-legged on the middle of the bed, stared up at Katsuki with expectation in his eyes. Katsuki still wasn’t looking at him, his head tilted slightly to the side and bearing a glare on his face.

“Take your shirt off”, he instructed simply, in a tone that left no place for a discussion. Izuku’s heart rate doubled, but he did as Kacchan said. He turned on the bed so that his back would be turned to Katsuki and removed his shirt, feeling nervous.

Since his back was turned to Katsuki, he couldn’t see what he was doing. He decided it would be too awkward if he turned his head to look, so he stayed frozen in place, waiting. The hands holding his shirt were gripping the material so tightly that his knuckles had gone white.

Izuku heard some shuffling and then the mattress rattled, indicating Kacchan had sat down behind him in order to take a proper look. He swallowed dry in anticipation.

The tips of Kacchan’s fingers touched his back – Izuku assumed he was touching the skin surrounding the scar – and goosebumps ran all over his body, making him suppress a shiver. For someone as feral as Kacchan, his fingers had a gentle touch – so gentle that Izuku never expected it from him. Amazing how the digits which could create destructive explosions could also feel so soft again the exposed skin of his back.

Then, Kacchan’s fingers touched his scar directly and searing pain immediately burst through Izuku, breaking him away from his thoughts and making him black out.

 

 

 

 

Katsuki hissed as he jumped back several feet, clutching his throbbing hand close to his chest. At the same time, Deku screamed as if he was in terrible pain before his eyes rolled back into his head and he plopped down onto to the bed lifelessly, looking like a puppet whose strings had been cut. He simply lay there, face pale, eyes half-lidded and white, lips parted, face vacant of any expression, limbs askew beside him…

And, to Katsuki’s horror, he remembered.

He remembered everything.

 

 

 

 

 

“Deku”, a voice, far away, an echo. “Deku, holy fuck, wake up…”

Someone shaking him. It didn’t hurt as much as he thought it would. He frowned.

Deku. Don’t you fucking dare, just wake the hell up, you fucker –“

Someone tapped his cheek, trying to urge him into awareness.

Deku!

He didn’t remember ever hearing so much desperation in that too-familiar voice.

He parted his eyelids slowly, in confusion.

Katsuki’s eyes were wide, his brows stuck in a worried expression that immediately dissipated as soon as Izuku’s eyes focused on him. He let go of Izuku then, making the boy plop down on the bed in confusion and dizziness. What had happened?

“You goddamn son of a bitch”, Katsuki said, something akin to betrayal in his voice. He sounded out of breath, as if he had just run a marathon, his voice high pitched and constricted. “Don’t fucking do that again, what the fuck were you thinking? You piece of fucking shit!”

“Wha’…?”, Izuku slurred, frowning and looking around in confusion. He tried to blink past the dizziness for a few moments and make sense of his surroundings before sitting up on the bed. His tongue felt like cotton and his brain felt like mashed potato. “Wha’ happ’nd?”, he asked, squinting up at Katsuki and having trouble focusing on his face.

“You fucking passed out”, Katsuki breathed out, looking like he was struggling to regain his composure. He ran a shaky hand across his face in a failed attempt to calm down. Izuku continued to stare up at him in confusion, especially because there was accusation in Katsuki’s tone, as if he thought Izuku had passed out on purpose just to piss him off.

“Wha’…?”, he asked again, feeling like his brain was still in the process of rebooting.

“I touched your fucking scar and you fucking passed out”, Katsuki pointed at him. Izuku noticed his hand was trembling a bit, but decided not to comment on it. He couldn’t remember ever seeing Kacchan so distraught before in his life. His frown deepened.

“Kacchan”, he asked, concern evident in his tone. “Are you ‘kay?”

“Why the fuck are you asking me that for?”, Katsuki scoffed, angry, but also sounding – and looking – frantic. “You’re the one who was fucking unconscious for five minutes!”

“Five…?”, Izuku asked pensively. Why did he pass out in the first place? He remembered asking Kacchan to check his back, but nothing after he removed his shirt. Had the touching caused him to pass out? If so, then why?

And why was Kacchan so nervous in the first place?

“Kacchan”, Izuku called, swallowing dry and feeling more awake than a few moments before. He assessed Kacchan with sharp attention – shaking hands, panting, a glare that was a mixture of angry and nervous. He looked like he was about to either fight or fly. Izuku threw his legs off the bed and stood up, approaching the boy with an outstretched, reassuring hand. “I – I think you should sit down. You – you look like you’re about to –“

“Don’t fucking tell me what to do”, Katsuki spat with pure rage, slapping Izuku’s hand away from him and panting heavily. He was clutching one of his hands close to his chest. “Stay the fuck away from me”, he added in a guttural voice, lowering his head and bending over, as if he was having more trouble breathing with each passing second.

“Kacchan –“

“Stay the fuck away from me, Deku!”, he repeated with a wheeze, trying to catch his breath. His eyes were still wide, as if he had seen a ghost, but he quickly squeezed them shut. Izuku couldn’t tell if he had done that because he was in pain or because he wanted to concentrate on calming down.

“What happened? I don’t understand”, Izuku admitted, standing at a safe distance from Kacchan but still holding out his hands in front of him, as if ready to catch the boy should he lose his footing. “You look nervous, Kacchan, please, just sit down –“

Shut the fuck up”, Katsuki shook his head, his voice a mixture of a guttural growl and a gasp.

“You look about to fall over, Kacchan…”

“Shut the fuck up…”

“Kacchan, please, I’m worried…!”

Shut the fuck up…”

“Kacchan, you have to breathe…!”

“Shut the fuck up…!”

Kacchan, watch out!

“Kacchan…”

Kacchan!

“Oh my god, Kacchan…!”

Kacchan!

Matte yo, Kacchan!

Kacchan!

“Shut the fuck up!!!”

“Agh!”

Katsuki panted heavily, finally raising his head and focusing on the here and now. Deku was fallen on the floor, his brow crunched in hurt and betrayal, his eyes wide and teary, and a hand clutching his nose. Katsuki could see the blood seeping from his nostril and in between his fingers.

He found his own hands clutched into fists, one of his knuckles throbbing. His teeth were gritted and his heart was racing.

Had he – had he punched Deku?

His head was spinning and he couldn’t breathe. Too many thoughts. Too many memories. His own nose was aching painfully from the way he had decked Deku, mimicking the boy’s pain.

He hadn’t meant to. He really hadn’t meant to this time.

Fuck. Never in his life did he think he would actually feel sorry for punching Deku.

Deku was still staring him as a scared animal, a hurt animal. He wasn’t moving.

Katsuki stared back at him with horrified eyes, and he panted and panted and panted.

After everything, he’d punched Deku.

Why did he? He couldn’t… He hadn’t meant to. He really hadn’t.

“Kacchan…”, Deku tried to say, voice constricted by pain and muffled by the hand holding his bleeding nose.

“I – fuck, I didn’t – I didn’t mean –“, Katsuki panted, his chest heaving more and more with each passing second. All he could remember was his first fight against Deku, back at that ridiculous training practice, when Deku defeated him and made him look like a fool in front of everyone. He had hyperventilated so hard back then, and it took All Might to calm him down, because Deku was strong, Deku had a quirk, Deku could defeat him, Deku could crush him into a million little pieces –

And Deku had jumped in front of a villain attack to save Katsuki, Deku had given his life for his without thinking about it, after everything Katsuki did to him, after everything Katsuki said to him, quirkless loser, useless, quirkless, Deku, why don’t you take a swan dive off the roof of the building…

There was no All Might to calm him down this time.

He could remember everything.

And Deku – he had just passed out, he had screamed and passed out because Katsuki touched him, because of Katsuki, and he had looked dead, as dead as he had been back in that alley, because Katsuki remembered, he remembered it now, he remembered what had happened to Deku because of him, he remembered his own rage and anger and guilt and sheer desperation for seeing Deku’s body looking all askew and lifeless, and those big fucking green eyes staring at him with nothing in them, nothing in them, nothing in them –

Deku was still staring at him, eyes big and wide and teary, but he was hurt, he was confused and betrayed, because Katsuki had punched him, Katsuki had fucking hurt him again, and why did he care anyway, this was just stupid fucking Deku, Katsuki didn’t care about him, shouldn’t care about him, couldn’t care about him, he was above it, he had to be, he had to be the best, he couldn’t care for Deku, his enemy, his rival, his – his –

He dry heaved. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He had to calm down.

“Kacchan!”

He had to breathe. He had to breathe. He was looking like a loser. He was looking weak and pathetic and he couldn’t look like that, especially not in front of Deku. Not fucking Deku. Not fucking Deku.

Katsuki turned on his heels and rushed to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him so loudly that the entire dorm probably heard it. Izuku was immediately rushing to his feet, chasing Katsuki and ignoring the blood on his nose and his hands.

“Kacchan! Are you ok? Kacchan!”

Katsuki looked at himself in the mirror. What a fucking mess.

He rushed to the toilet and vomited, coughing and choking and spitting and feeling disgusted. He leaned on the toiled and panted, trying to catch his breath. He needed to calm down. He needed to think rationally.

So ok. Touching Deku’s scar caused Deku enough pain to pass out and made Katsuki remember everything that had happened and that he had forgotten. He remembered the fight, the way Deku shoved him away and took the blow in his place, and waking up to find Deku dead. He remembered freaking out really hard over a dead Deku. He remembered fucking losing his shit, like Kirishima said he had. Like he had refused to believe.

He didn’t know why. He didn’t even like Deku. Was it out of guilt, for having gotten him killed? Was it out of anger, for being saved by Deku, of all people?

Was it out of something else?

He lost his breath again. Ok. Ok. Too many feelings to think about. Too many feelings to compute. Better leave it for later.

He got to his feet and ran the sink, rinsing his mouth and then washing his face. He needed to breathe, organize his thoughts, and calm down. No use freaking out over shitty Deku.

Fuck, but Katsuki had punched him.

He hadn’t meant to. He probably did it out of instinct, he had been freaking out so hard. It had been a fucking accident.

What kind of hero would he be if he lost all control when a person who he didn’t even like died because of him? If he punched people because he panicked? If he couldn’t get a grip of himself?

Fine, ok. Breathe in, breathe out. He washed his face again, trying to cool his head. In, out. In, out. In, out. He gripped the sink hard and looked at himself in the mirror as he breathed. In, out, in, out, in, out.

How fucking ridiculous.

Katsuki didn’t know how long he was in the bathroom for, but he assumed it was a long time. He did his best to keep his head clear and functioning as he turned the sink off and straightened his back, still controlling his breathing. Running the back of his hand beneath his nose and sniffing, he swallowed dry and decided he had regained his composure enough to step out.

He opened the door and the first thing he saw was the stupid nerd, snapping his head as soon as he heard Katsuki, looking up at him with those big fucking eyes of his. He looked more worried than Katsuki had ever seen him, dry blood coated on his nose and upper lip, running down his chin.

Fuck.

Katsuki’s heart gave a twinge of pain and guilt. Izuku probably felt that, too, and Katsuki found himself embarrassed about it.

“Kacchan”, Izuku said, getting to his feet from where he had been sitting patiently beside the bathroom door. “Are you ok? Are you feeling better?”

Katsuki stared at him, crimson locked on green. God. Why was Deku like this? Why was he fucking like this?

“Your mom was right about you”, Katsuki said, mustering all his self-control to sound as neutral as possible as he walked past Deku. “You really are a fucking loser”.

“Uh, my mom never said that”, Izuku frowned.

“Yeah, but she asked me to take care of you because you have no self-preservation skills whatso fucking ever, and she was right about that”, he explained, his back turned to Deku as he sat back down on his rolling chair and ran his fingers through his hair. “Hence, you’re a loser”.

“Kacchan –“, Izuku tried again, approaching Katsuki and outstretching a hand towards him again.

“I fucking punched you, Deku”, he said through gritted teeth, head bowed and hands clenched into fists. “And don’t tell me it doesn’t fucking hurt or whatever bullshit you’re about to shove at me to make me feel better, because my nose is throbbing and stinging as fuck”, he scoffed. Izuku lowered his hand and stared at Katsuki’s back.

“Yes”, he nodded, looking serious. “But I know you didn’t mean it. I can feel your guilt it, too”, he explained. Katsuki didn’t want to admit it to himself, but he felt relieved at these words. At least he wouldn’t have to apologize for punching Deku, since the nerd knew it had been an accident. “And I could also feel how distraught you were”, Izuku added. “Can you please tell me what happened?”

Katsuki was silent. He didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to open up.

“From what I got, you touched my scar and – and for some reason, I blacked out –“, Izuku started, clearly nervous and trying his best to keep up with what was happening.

“Yeah, you screamed. It probably hurt you”, Katsuki interrupted him. After a few silent moments, he added: “It hurt my hand, too”.

“O-Okay”, Izuku nodded with determination. “So I think it’s safe for us to assume that the scar is definitely connected to the villain’s quirk”.

“Yeah”, Katsuki huffed, his back still turned to Izuku.

“But I don’t think hurting your hand is enough to make you that upset, Kacchan”, Izuku added hesitantly when it became clear Katsuki wouldn’t say anything else. Katsuki sighed. “You hurt your hands all the time when using your quirk. So can you please tell me what else happened?”

Katsuki gritted his teeth. Stupid fucking nosy Deku.

“I’m not fucking upset”, he growled, hiding his embarrassment behind anger as usual. He turned on the chair to glare at Deku, hoping the look in his eyes would be enough to make the shitty nerd drop the subject. “Just fucking leave it”.

Izuku looked at him like he wanted to protest, but something changed in his expression and he allowed his shoulders to slump in defeat. He threw himself down on the bed and sat directly in front of Katsuki, looking like he wanted to argue.

Kacchan had complained about Izuku not dropping subjects that made him uncomfortable, and Izuku was pretty sure that Kacchan was uncomfortable in that moment. So… perhaps it would be better to talk about that later. Even if curiosity was driving him crazy. If Kacchan could try to be better, then Izuku could too, right?

“How’s your back?”, Katsuki asked before Izuku could change his mind and keep asking him questions. “Does it hurt?”

“No”, Izuku shook his head, looking up at Katsuki. “It – I don’t even remember it hurting, to be honest. Do you have any idea why this happened?”

“No”, Katsuki admitted grumpily, even though he hated admitting not knowing something.

“I think we should talk to someone about this”, Izuku said. “Aizawa sensei, or – or All Might. Will this happen every time you touch the scar? Does it have to be an intentional touch? What if you accidentally bump on my back and –“

“Ok, just because I accidentally punched you, it doesn’t give you a free pass to go back to your fucking mumbling sessions. Zip it”, Katsuki interrupted him with an angry look. Izuku’s mouth hung open for a few seconds before he snapped it closed and looked away from Kacchan.

“Uh…”, he said awkwardly after a few moments of silence. “What about your hand?”

“What about my hand?”, Katsuki asked tiredly.

“You said it hurt. When you touched the scar. Does it still hurt?”

Katsuki scoffed.

“No”.

“Oh. Good”.

An awkward silence fell between them.

“So… What did it look like?”, Izuku asked.

“Hm?”

“The scar. I can’t see it”.

“It looks… big”, Katsuki shrugged. “Like someone sliced your back with a big ass sword or something. It looks fresh, too”.

“Huh”, Izuku nodded. “Weird”.

“Yeah, let me tell you about fucking weird”.

“Do you think it’s in my body, too?”

What?”

“The scar. I mean, if it’s in my soul… It’s probably in my body, too”.

“I don’t fucking know”.

“Do you think we should ask Recovery Girl about it?”

“What difference will it make?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What’s the fucking difference if the scar is in your body or not? It won’t change anything”.

“Well… Yeah… But don’t you want to know?”

“No”.

“Why not?”

“Just because, shitty Deku”.

“I don’t understand”.

“Get in fucking line”.

Awkward silence.

“Kacchan…”

“Look”, Katsuki sighed tiredly, rubbing his palm on his face before continuing. “If you couldn’t fucking tell by now, I’m not in the mood for conversation”. With that, he turned back towards his laptop and went back to what he had been doing before.

Izuku lowered his head and swallowed dry, looking determined.

“I don’t think you should, uh…”

What, Deku?”

“It’s just… You look tired. Maybe you should rest a bit?”

“I basically just woke up”.

“But –“

“I have stuff to do”.

More silence.

Izuku was at a loss for words. Nothing had gone as he had planned. If anything, things were even more complicated, now.

Why was everything so complicated with Kacchan?

He sighed, taking a hand to his nose. It felt broken and it was still throbbing. He ended up letting out a hiss as his fingers contacted with his puffy skin.

Weird. When he was literally dragged on the floor by a train, his back received no tangible damage. Why was he bleeding and hurting after Kacchan punched him? Why wasn’t the skin of his back all scraped and bruised, but his nose was bleeding because of Kacchan’s fist?

Was it because it was Kacchan?

“Stop poking it, loser”, Katsuki had tilted his head towards him, watching him with sharp attention.

“Uh, sorry”, Izuku retrieved his hand from his nose, embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to hurt you”.

“It’s not that”, Katsuki squinted his eyes at Izuku before pointing him with a disbelieving scowl and shaking his head in disapproval. “Fuck, you’ll really put everyone else before your own well-being like a fucking moron, won’t you?”, he scoffed. Somehow, the reprimand was different than Kacchan’s previous one. It sounded a bit more… caring? No, that wasn’t it. It sounded almost guilty.

Izuku didn’t understand.

“It’s – it’s just – I thought –“, he tried to justify. Katsuki stood up from his rolling chair and sat on the edge of the bed beside Izuku.

“Yeah, I know what you thought. Just shut up”, he instructed sharply. Taking his fingers to Izuku’s chin, he lifted the boy’s head up to take a look at the nose. “It’s broken”, he announced after a quick inspection.

“Yeah, I know that”, Izuku sighed, feeling embarrassed by the proximity and close contact to Kacchan. The fingers tilting Izuku’s chin up were incredibly gentle for such an aggressive person.

“Stop acting so fucking smart about it”, Katsuki huffed in annoyance, still inspecting the nose.

“I wasn’t!”, Izuku protested. “It’s just – you have a mean swing. There’s no way it wouldn’t be broken”, he explained with a shrug. A quick, barely noticeable, look of intense guilt flashed through Kacchan’s crimson eyes, and Izuku finally realized what his words must have sounded like to the boy. “S-Sorry!”, he quickly added. “That wasn’t what I meant! It’s – it’s just – I mean –“

“Just stop”, Katsuki cut him off sharply, letting go of his chin. Before Izuku could say anything else, Katsuki pinched the bridge of his nose between two strong fingers. Izuku yelped in pain and surprise, pulling back from the touch.

“Ouch! What was that for?!”, he protested, protecting his broken nose behind two hands and looking offended. Why would Kacchan deliberately hurt him like that?!

“I’m setting it back into place. Or do you want your nose to be crooked for the rest of your shitty life?”, Katsuki responded in a deadpan, as if that was obvious. Izuku frowned.

“You can’t just grab my nose like that! I wasn’t prepared!”, he continued, still shrinking away from Katsuki’s hand. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Look, shitty Deku, I don’t have all day. Just stop whining and let me do this”, he said impatiently.

“No!”, Izuku protested again, leaning away from Katsuki’s hands even further. “Do you even know how to reset a nose?”

“Of course I fucking do”, Katsuki huffed out of his nose, getting more annoyed with each passing second. He’d been managing to keep his cool until now, probably out of the guilt for what he had done to Deku and the memories that had flooded his head, but he was way too short-fused to keep up the gentle act for very long. “Stop squirming. It will be over in a second”.

“No!”, Izuku exclaimed, swatting Katsuki’s hand away.

“So you break your damn arms all the fucking time without saying a word about it, but as soon as I try to reset your damn nose you get all whiny?”, Katsuki scowled at him. “How the fuck does that make sense?”

“I never broke my nose before!”, Izuku justified, involuntary tears from the broken nose pooling in his eyes.

“That’s actually surprising”, Katsuki nodded, impressed. However, he didn’t waste time in sliding closer to Deku and trying to remove the boy’s hand from his own face.

“No! Kacchan, stop!”, Izuku yelped, struggling against Katsuki’s hands.

You stop, damn nerd”, Katsuki growled, successfully pulling one of Deku’s hands away from his face and pinning it to the top of the bed, only to have him replace it with his other hand. Katsuki snarled. “Just let me do this already! I can’t hold you down and reset your nose at the same time!”

“Then don’t! I don’t want you to!”, he cried.

“You’d rather have a crooked nose, idiot? Stop! Struggling!”

“Noooooo! Get off!”

“I’m trying to do you a favor, you fucking moron!”

“How do you know if my nose will even be crooked? Do you think your punch affected my physical body?”

“This is not – stop squirming, god damn it – This is not the time to discuss your fucking theories, Deku”.

“I want to know before you do this! Let’s go to the infirmary so that I can check my body ooooOOOOOOOUCH!”

Crack! Katsuki leaned back on the bed, triumphant. He had managed to set Deku’s nose back, despite of the boy’s struggling. Deku sat with both hands clutching his throbbing nose, turning on the bed so that he would be lying in a fetal position, eyes squeezed shut and a grimace on his face. Katsuki smirked at him before standing up.

“There. Consider this my apology for punching you”, he said victoriously. Deku parted his eyelids slightly in order to point Katsuki with an indignant glare.

“You just hurt me even more!”, he protested. “How is that an apology?”

“It hurt for a second, you whiny baby. If you’d left it as it was, it would have hurt for a lot longer”, he explained, sitting back down on the rolling chair and resuming his reading on the laptop. “Plus, I could feel your pain, too, so we’re even”.

“No, we’re not!”, Izuku cried, adjusting himself on the bed and still clutching his nose with one hand.

“Yes, we are. Now shut the fuck up, I’m trying to read”.

“How do you even know how to reset a nose?!”

“I’ve broken mine enough times to learn it”.

“What? Really?”

Yes, Deku. Can you shut your trap now?”

“But how?”

“How do you think, dumbass? Training”.

“Huh. That’s weird. I never broke my nose while training”.

“That’s because you never trained as hard as I did”.

A pause.

“You really think so?”

“I know so. While you were busy being a pathetic wimp I was working hard to get where I wanted”.

Izuku blinked several times over. In a way, Kacchan was right. He only ever started working out and training hard after he met All Might… Whereas Katsuki had probably been training his whole life in order to get in shape and be able to control his quirk.

Kacchan’s amazingness wasn’t a natural trait. It was due to his own effort and determination.

Izuku understood better why he admired the boy so much. He also found that he could understand better why Kacchan seemed to resent him. Despite his arrogance and horrible personality, it was undeniable that he had trained hard his whole life in order to get into UA, while Izuku… Izuku went from nothing to being his rival in less than a year. Despite all their differences, despite all the years Izuku struggled and dreamed to become a hero, despite Izuku’s own pain – he thought he could understand a bit of Kacchan’s anger, now.

Kacchan had always put a special effort to be the best. Izuku – Izuku didn’t have a quirk, so he never trained. There was no reason for him to. It probably pissed Kacchan off to see someone he deemed effortless get at the same stage as he was without having to go through the training and preparation that he did.

But again, Kacchan didn’t know what it was like to be quirkless. He didn’t know how hard Izuku worked to be where he was. He didn’t know about the intensive training with All Might, and he thought Izuku’s notebooks were just a pathetic waste of time, when in fact was one of the things that made him have a whole new perspective on quirk theory and practice. Kacchan may have trained hard, but that didn’t mean Izuku didn’t do that, too. They just trained in different ways, at different paces.

“I worked hard, too, you know”, Izuku said, defensive. Katsuki stopped scrolling and turned to look at him, something weird in his eyes. “You know Dagobah?”

“The beach park?”, Katsuki asked. Izuku nodded.

“Yes. It was filled with trash that came from the sea and that people threw there once it became too polluted”, he explained.

“Yeah. The place became shit in just a few years”, Katsuki scoffed, eyeing Izuku with suspicion.

“I cleaned it up”, he said. Katsuki frowned.

“What?”, he asked after a few seconds.

“I cleaned it up. It was part of All Might’s training to pass One For All to me”, he explained.

“You cleaned up that entire beach?”, Katsuki scoffed in disbelief, a small mocking smirk appearing on his lips.

“Yes”, Izuku nodded, unfaltering. He felt like Kacchan needed to know that. He needed to understand. “I spent the entire time before the UA entrance exam doing that. And training. Every day. Every free time I had, I – I trained. Night and day. So that I could be worthy of inheriting All Might’s power. So that I could be worthy of getting where I am. So that I could be worthy of being at the same place as you”.

Katsuki continued to stare at him.

“I – I may not have trained for as long as you did”, Izuku continued, serious. “Or as hard as you did. And – I may have been born quirkless. But I didn’t get where I am without effort. A – A lot of people helped me, that’s true, and without them… I wouldn’t be where I am”, he admitted. “But I worked hard. And I tried hard. Maybe not as hard as you did, but – but I still tried my best”.

Katsuki simply stared.

“I felt like you should know that”, Izuku concluded, feeling awkward. Katsuki said nothing for a long time.

“You should clean your nose up”, was what he finally responded after what felt like an eternity. “There’s still blood in it”.

Without another word, he turned back towards his computer and went back to reading.

Izuku sighed. To be fair, he wasn’t really expecting a proper response from Kacchan.

But there was something in his crimson eyes. Something that told Izuku that he was thinking about what he had said. Perhaps he was reconsidering his biases?

Izuku could only hope so.

He stood up from the bed, meaning to head to the bathroom, until he remembered he wouldn’t be able to run the sink on his own, or even touch the water in the first place. He looked at Kacchan hesitantly.

“Uh… I – I don’t know how I can clean myself up”, he admitted. Kacchan sighed, impatient.

“Just use your shirt or whatever”.

“What?! No! It will be all bloodied!”

“So what? That’s not even your real fucking shirt, just a soul version or whatever”.

“Still, I’ll have to walk around with blood on my shirt all the time until we figure out how to put me back into my body!”

“So what? No one can see you, anyway”.

“You can!”

“I’m not bothered by it”.

“But I am!”

“Well, then what the fuck do you want me to do? Clean you up?”

Upon Izuku’s silence, Katsuki turned on the rolling chair to glare at him.

“No fucking way”.

“Kacchan, please! I don’t want to go around looking all bloodied!”

“I don’t give a shit. I’m not doing it”.

“Come on! You were the one who punched me! And the one who told me to clean up!”

“I didn’t fucking mean to punch you, asshole! I told you that!”

“I know, but still!”

“No. Not happening”.

“Please!”

No”.

“All you have to do is rub some water on my face! I can’t do it myself!”

“Not my problem”.

“Come on, Kacchan!”

“Shut the fuck up”.

“Please!”

“Stop it already. I’ll punch you again”.

“It’s not my fault you made me bleed!”

“Fuck, you’re so fucking annoying”, Katsuki stood up from his seat abruptly, grabbing Izuku’s wrist and dragging him aggressively towards the bathroom, using more force than necessary. Izuku yelped in surprise, but didn’t resist.

Katsuki ran the sink and grabbed Izuku by the hair on the nape of his neck, making the boy shiver as he pulled on the curls. Katsuki shoved his head closer to the sink unceremoniously, as if he wanted to get that over with as soon as possible, and pooled water on his free hand.

He splashed the water on Izuku’s face, rubbing it until the blood was cleared out. Once Izuku’s face was clean, Katsuki turned the water off and let go of him more roughly than necessary. Izuku found himself staring up at Katsuki with blown pupils and parted lips, eyes wide. His face was dripping wet.

What?”, Katsuki asked, grumpy. “You wanted me to clean your shitty face up, right? There, it’s clean. Will you let me study now or do you have any more fucking requests?”, he added sarcastically. Izuku simply stared at him.

He was feeling weird. Why was his heart racing so much?

And why did he want Kacchan’s fingers on his hair again?

Despite of the roughness… it had felt really nice.

Izuku thought back to the day he had woken up to find Kacchan’s fingers tangled in his hair while he slept. Did Kacchan enjoy playing with his curls as much as Izuku liked having them played with?

Why on earth was he thinking about that anyway?!?

What is it?”, Katsuki insisted when Izuku continued to stare at him with something akin to surprise in his face. “Quit with that fucking look”.

Izuku simply continued to stare. He noticed Kacchan had removed his glasses at some point, but he couldn’t remember when. He found himself surprised that he wanted Kacchan to put them back.

“Weirdo”, Katsuki commented upon his silence, giving Izuku one final scoff before turning on his heels and leaving the bathroom. Izuku stayed there, glued to his feet and trying to make sense of his emotions.

Something weird was going on in his chest.

He only hoped Kacchan wasn’t feeling it too.

 

 

 

 

 

“Can you tell me where we’re going?”

“No”.

“Why not?”

“God, are you fucking five? Just shut up and follow”.

“But I want to know! You’re being all mysterious about it!”

“You’ll know when it’s time”.

“Why do you always say that?”

“Because I always tell you to shut your trap and you never listen”.

“Ugh, fine, Kacchan”.

Silence. A few people walking by them on the hall were giving Katsuki weird looks, but he was past caring about that. These bunch of extras most likely already knew that he had a stupid ghost attached to him; then why give him those judgy looks? Fucking losers.

“Why do you have scissors on you anyway?”, Izuku asked after less them a minute, making Katsuki point him with a victorious glare.

“You just can’t help yourself, can you”, he scoffed.

“It’s not my fault if you never tell me anything and I have to keep asking about stuff!”

“Just admit you’re nosy”.

“It’s not nosy to want to know why you are carrying scissors in school grounds!”

“I’m not going to kill anyone, if that’s what you’re so fucking worried about”.

“I know that; if you were to kill someone, you wouldn’t need scissors”.

“I’ll take that as a compliment”.

“It kind of is, but – but that’s not the point. You still haven’t told me what the scissors are for, and – wait. Isn’t this the way to Recovery Girl’s medical bay?”

“Take a fucking guess”.

“What are you going to do with those scissors?!”

“What do you think, nerd? Use your brain for once”.

Hesitant silence.

“Kacchan, I appreciate it, but – but I – I don’t really –“

Stop fucking stuttering and just spit it out, loser. I fucking hate when you go all trippy over your words because you don’t have the balls to speak your mind”.

Izuku glared at him.

“You’re being an asshole”.

“I’ve already told you that you only need to tell me that when I don’t know I’m being one”.

“Then stop being one on purpose!”

“Don’t fucking tell me what to do!”

“Fine, then I’ll just let you know that I don’t want you to cut my hair!”

Ehh?! Why the fuck not?”

“Because I’m going to look ugly!”

“Joke’s on you, shitty Deku, you’re already ugly”.

“Hey!”

“What, you don’t think I have the skills to cut your fucking hair? Is that it?”

“Well, yes!”

“Now you’re just asking me to put another use to my damn scissors”.

“I just mean I’ve never seen you cut anyone’s hair! How do I know you won’t mess mine up?”

“There’s no way it’ll be more messed up than it already is, loser; you can barely see with those bangs in your eyes”.

“Just ask someone else to do it, then!”

“Like hell I will. I can do it myself”.

“But I don’t want you to!”

“Do I look like I give a shit?”

“I do! It’s my hair!”

“Well, too bad for you”.

“Why do you even care about my hair so much?!”

Izuku hadn’t meant to ask that, but in the heat of their discussion, his brain-to-mouth filter was compromised. They both stopped in his tracks.

His eyes widened in embarrassment and he stared at Kacchan with apprehension and anticipation, expecting an explosive reaction. Instead, Kacchan became very silent, pointedly avoiding Izuku’s face and glaring at his opposite direction.

“I was just trying to do you a favor, you dumbass”, Katsuki scoffed, sounding angry and… something else that Izuku couldn’t quite name. “But I guess it’s my own fault for trying to please an ungrateful asshole like you”.

Katsuki turned on his heels in order to walk back the way they’d come from, but Izuku instinctively reached out for him and grabbed his wrist, making him stop in his tracks. Katsuki didn’t look at him, but didn’t shrug away from the touch, either.

Could it be? Had this actually been Kacchan’s attempt to… do something nice for Izuku? With no personal interest? For the first time ever?

A deep sense of guilt invaded Izuku’s chest at this. Maybe Kacchan just didn’t know how to be nice, and this was his (failed) attempt at being so? Maybe he just had to be assertive about everything in his life? If Izuku was being honest, he had sincerely thought that Kacchan was going to give him a horrible haircut just so that he could make fun of him afterwards, but maybe… Just maybe, Kacchan had actually been honest about his endeavor. And if that was truly the case – Izuku wanted, with his whole heart, to believe it was –, then he owed Kacchan an apology for being so dismissive and rude to his offer, even though it wasn’t his own fault it had been so badly delivered.

“Kacchan”, he started, hoping the boy would be able to make out the sincerity in his tone. “I’m – I’m sorry”, he lowered his head in shame, never letting go of Katsuki’s wrist. “I thought – well. I didn’t think you were serious. I thought you were trying to make fun of me”.

Katsuki was silent for a while.

“Tch. Whatever”, he scoffed before shrugging away from Izuku’s touch, resuming his walk to the opposite direction from the medical bay.

“No, Kacchan, wait!”, Izuku called after him. God, he had screwed up, hadn’t he? Kacchan’s first attempt of being nice and he… dismissed him as if it was nothing. Knowing the boy, Izuku was sure that he would be too proud and stubborn to ever try being nice to him again, if he didn’t fix this now. “Wait!”

Matte yo, Kacchan!

What?”, Katsuki stopped on his tracks and turned on his heels so abruptly that Izuku collided with his chest. He lost balance and would have fallen on his ass if Katsuki hadn’t reached out a hand and grabbed him by the front of his shirt, giving him the support necessary to regain his footing. Once Izuku was standing on his feet again, Katsuki promptly shoved his hands into his pockets and glared at the boy in front of him.

“I’m sorry”, Izuku said again, a serious look on his face. “I didn’t mean to dismiss you like that”.

“Just fucking forget about it”, Katsuki scowled, ready to turn on his heels again. Izuku could feel the anger coming from Kacchan and invading himself, making him feel annoyed and short-fused. Damn. After everything that had happened, Izuku completely forgot to tell Kacchan about his theory – about them needing to balance and control their emotions in order to be happy.

It was a bit too late, now. He would have to remember about that later, because on that moment, he could feel Kacchan’s anger invading him and making his brain-to-mouth filter become even less existent.

“Look, it’s not my fault I thought that, ok?!”, Izuku called out after him, his hands tightening into fists. “You’re the one who’s never lost an opportunity to make me feel bad about myself!”

Katsuki stopped walking again and slowly turned his head to look at Izuku, anger and disbelief etched in his crimson eyes. Izuku continued to glare at him, internally telling himself to calm down, take a breath, don’t let his anger contaminate you, don’t say something you’ll regret later, be mindful of Kacchan’s feelings. At the same time, however, a small voice inside his head was overruling his best attempts at being considerate by constantly screaming DIE DIE DIE DIE in a loop. Was this how Kacchan felt all the time? Was this why he had such a hard time controlling his sour temper?

Katsuki was still staring at Izuku, as if waiting for him to continue. If Izuku’s theory was right, then he was the one who ended up bearing all of Kacchan’s anger, and Kacchan himself was probably feeling it in a lower intensity. Still, rational thought and attempts to control himself left him as his mind was overcome with thoughts of resentment and self-righteousness.

“It’s only natural I thought you’d want to humiliate me, so stop being so stubborn about it just because I misunderstood your intentions!”, Izuku added angrily, despite of himself. God, Kacchan’s anger was really hard to control. He was probably scowling, or making an angry expression – either way, the muscles in his face hurt for doing something he was so unused to. “Just go back to the infirmary and cut my damn hair already! And next time you want to do something nice for someone, don’t be such an asshole about it! There was no way I could tell you wanted to do me a favor when you kept calling me names and telling me off like that!”

Katsuki stared at Izuku with a mixture of confusion, annoyance, and horror. Probably too overwhelmed by these feelings to continue feeling so angry, Izuku felt Kacchan’s rage leave his body so fast that he became dizzy, as if his blood pressure had dropped suddenly. He panted and blinked his eyes several times in order to get rid of the black spots dancing in front of them, before looking up at Kacchan, who still had a very uncomfortable expression on his face.

“What the fuck?”, was all Katsuki managed to say, his voice barely above a whisper and a confused scowl on his face.

“S-Sorry”, Izuku said, bending over and leaning his hands on his knees. He was feeling very exhausted after such an emotional outburst. Kacchan’s anger was a heavy weight to bear, even if just for a few minutes. “I ended up with all of your anger again”.

“Yeah, I could fucking tell that”, Katsuki said, still wearing that confused, horrified scowl on his face and staring at Izuku as if he had grown another head. “It was creepy as fuck”.

“Well”, Izuku took a deep breath, leaning on the wall beside him so that he could stand up straight and running the back of his free hand beneath his nose, which was still stinging. “That’s what you look and sound like all the time”.

“No, it’s fucking not”, Katsuki gave him a humorless chuckle.

“Yes, it is”, Izuku protested, his tone leaving no place for an argument. Katsuki opted to argue anyway.

“No, it’s not, because my face actually knows how to look angry”, he pointed out, giving Izuku an almost impressed look. He looked very taken aback by everything that had happened in the course of the past two minutes. “You were just spitting rage at me while looking like you were about to cry”.

“I wasn’t looking like I was about to cry!”, Izuku protested.

“Yes, you were”.

“No, I wasn’t!”

“I was the one who could see you stupid face, so shut the hell up. Just face it – you don’t know how to look angry”, Katsuki rolled his eyes, grabbing Izuku by his elbow – in a way that was nowhere near as aggressive as it could have been – and dragging him along the hall. They were headed back to Recovery Girl’s medical bay, and Izuku felt a righteous sense of triumph overcome his tiredness. Was this all it took to successfully communicate with Kacchan? Yelling angry truths at him?

“Of course I know how to look angry!”, he protested, offended. He glared at Kacchan and scowled. “See? I’m doing it right now!”

Katsuki observed him for a few moments, studying his face.

“You look like you haven’t been able to take a shit in a week”, was his conclusion.

Kacchan!”, Izuku protested. “That’s not true! I know how to look angry!”

“No, you don’t. You have too much of a baby face to do that”.

“I don’t have a baby face!”

“Yes, you do. It’s fucking ridiculous”.

“Stop saying that!”

“But it’s true, asshole. It sucks that my anger ends up inside someone who doesn’t know how to use it”.

“You don’t know how to use it either!”

“The fuck did you just say?”

“You always end up losing your patience for no reason and yelling at people all the time! Everyone knows you’re short-fused. You lose control of your anger really easily, so you don’t know how to use it, either!”

“I don’t fucking lose control of anything, dipshit. Everything I do is coldly calculated. And that’s rich coming from the guy who just lost his shit on me five minutes ago”.

“Because I was mirroring your anger! It wasn’t my fault!”

“Are you saying it was my fault, shitty Deku?”

“Yes! I was only angry because you were angry!”

“And I was only angry because you’re a piece of shit who will spend hours whining about me being mean to you or whatever and then tell me the fuck off the moment I try to do something nice!”

“I’ve already told you I didn’t know what you meant! I couldn’t tell you were trying to be nice!”

“That’s because you’re a fucking blockhead with no functional brains!”

“No, it’s because you’re always angry about everything, and telling me you will do something I asked you not to do despite what I want is not being nice! It’s being an asshole!”

Katsuki glared at him, but said nothing. Incredibly, he looked willing to listen to Izuku for once. Was this a rare instance of a situation where Katsuki had acted like an asshole without it being on purpose? Was this Izuku’s first actual chance to let Katsuki know he was being an asshole, like he had requested?

“I appreciate you wanting to cut my hair for me”, Izuku continued, trying to be more patient. Kacchan clearly had a hard time understanding his point, and yelling at him was earning no results. “But you can’t just tell me you will do something I don’t want you to, despite me not wanting you to, and expect me to be thankful for it. I know you wanted to do something nice, but it doesn’t matter if you think it’s nice. I have to think it’s nice, too!”

“You don’t think me taking the fucking time to walk all the way over here just to cut your shitty hair is nice?”, Katsuki asked, annoyed.

“I think it is, now that I know you were serious about it!”, Izuku quickly explained. “But… Before, for example. You reset my nose without giving me the time to think about it, even though I was in pain! You can’t just do something I don’t want you to and call me ungrateful for not liking it!”

“I can do whatever the fuck I want”, Katsuki growled angrily, but it sounded more out of the need to be right about everything than out of the belief that he was actually right.

“Kacchan”, Izuku sighed. “I’m serious”.

Katsuki pointedly avoided looking at him, looking grumpier than ever. Izuku took the silence – rather than a series of screamed curses – as an indication to continue.

“Look”, Izuku tried again, forcing himself to be patient. He was glad he and Kacchan were talking for once, instead of going straight for throwing punches. “I couldn’t tell you were actually willing to cut my hair, because you didn’t sound like you were. You – you sounded like you wanted to make me look ugly, with a messed up haircut. This is why I told you I didn’t want you to do it! Not because I didn’t want you to do me a favor, or because I thought I didn’t need it, but because – because I thought you didn’t mean it!”

Katsuki squinted his eyes, tilting his head so that he would be able to silently glare at Deku.

“You don’t have to be so defensive all the time”, Izuku added, offering Kacchan a tiny, tentative smile. “No one will judge you for being nice every now and then. People may comment on it because they’ll notice the difference from your previous behavior, but – no one will judge you. Or mock you”.

“I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about me”, Katsuki responded simply. “If I did, I would be just as much of a loser as you are”.

“Then would it hurt you to try and be nicer to people? If you don’t care what they’ll think of it?”

“What fucking difference does it make, if I don’t give a shit what they think in the first place?”

“The difference is that they would be happier”, Izuku told him with seriousness. “And I have a strong feeling that you would be, too”.

Katsuki studied Izuku’s face for a long time.

Lost in green, expectant eyes.

He wanted so hard to have something to say. Some retort. Some way to win that argument.

He turned away, unable to face Izuku anymore.

“Tch. Whatever. Let’s get you that fucking haircut”.

 

 

 

 

 

“You can’t give him a haircut”.

"What?! After all that trouble?!", Izuku exclaimed.

“What the FUCK? Why the fuck not?”, Katsuki shouted.

“Watch your language, young man”, Recovery Girl reprimanded, poking hard at Katsuki’s foot with her cane. She was standing in front of Izuku’s room, blocking the way. “And you can’t compromise his physical integrity in any way. That is why”.

“How the fuck is giving – ouch!”, he hissed as Recovery Girl poked his foot again at the swear word. “How is giving him a haircut compromising his physical integrity?!”

“We still don’t know everything there is to know about the quirk that disconnected Midoriya from his soul”, Recovery Girl explained. “Because of this, I don’t want to make any drastic changes to his body or his appearance until he gets back into it. We don’t know how his soul could react to that”.

“That doesn’t make any f---freaking sense”, he corrected himself before he ended up swearing again. Recovery Girl squinted her eyes at him. “So you can poke needles and all that shit into him but I can’t cut his hair?”

Recovery Girl sighed and lowered her head. She looked… almost troubled, somehow. As if she was bearing a burden that she couldn’t share with them.

Izuku frowned. What was really going on?

“Kacchan”, he said, never taking his eyes off the old lady. “Ask… Ask her if we can go in”.

At the same time, Recovery Girl added:

“If you have any complaints about this, talk to Eraser Head or All Might”, she said tiredly. “This was a UA board decision. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have patients to tend to”, she announced, turning to walk away.

Katsuki spared Izuku a look, bearing the same suspicion in his crimson eyes. Before Recovery Girl could leave, Katsuki called after her.

“Hey. Old lady. Can we go in?”, he asked, a bit too loudly. She turned to look at him, a hesitant expression on her face. Katsuki continued, forcing himself to sound polite: “I mean, Deku’s dying to see his body – no pun intended – and he’s been pissing me off about it for days, now. Maybe he’ll finally calm down if we just –“, he reached for the doorknob that led to Izuku’s room, but Recovery Girl stopped him, not being subtle about it at all.

Ok. Something was definitely going on. Katsuki had put on that little act instead of just kicking the door in because he wanted to see the heroine’s reaction… And it had worked. She clearly didn’t want him inside Deku’s room. This wasn’t about Katsuki giving him a haircut, compromising physical integrity or whatever bullshit she had fed him. This was about seeing Deku.

Why didn’t she want him to see Deku?

“Ok, what the hell is going on?”, he asked, hand still gripping the doorknob but not turning it. Recovery Girl stood in front of him, a serious glare on her face.

“Kacchan”, Izuku warned, worried. “Be careful”.

“Midoriya is not receiving any visitors now”, Recovery Girl explained, stern. “As I said, if you have any complaints, talk to Eraser Head or All Might. They will be able to help you more than I”.

Katsuki stared at her, studying her face and searching for any indications of what was really happening. Recovery Girl stared back at him with stern eyes, unfaltering beneath the boy’s glare.

“Kacchan”, Izuku said again, afraid that Katsuki was about to make a (rather explosive) scene and yell at the tiny old woman. Recovery Girl might look small and fragile, but Izuku was absolutely sure that Katsuki wouldn’t get away with disrespecting her. Plus, it was clear she didn’t want to – or perhaps couldn’t – talk to them about what was really happening. The best course of action would be to back off. “Let’s just go. We can talk to All Might about this”, Izuku added, watching Katsuki with worry.

Katsuki continued to stare at her.

“Even though it is Saturday, I am sure you must have afternoon classes, don’t you, Bakugou-kun?”, she asked pointedly. “You would better get going, lest you be late”.

“Yeah”, Katsuki said simply, suppressing a scoff and still studying Recovery Girl’s face.

“Kacchan”, Izuku called silently, tugging at Katsuki’s sleeve as if to urge him into moving.

“Well?”, Recovery Girl raised an eyebrow when Katsuki stayed glued on his feet.

“When will he be able to get visitors again?”, Katsuki stared at her, face impassive and eyes attentive. “Can I come back later?”

His question was clearly a test. He had no intentions of coming back later.

Recovery Girl sighed again, looking grievous and shaking her head. Her shoulders were slumped and she wore a disapproving look on her face. Neither Katsuki nor Izuku were sure if the disapproval was entirely aimed towards them. She didn’t look Katsuki in the eyes when she responded, sounding almost ashamed:

“Just ask one of your teachers about this, young man”.

And then she walked off.

As soon as she was out view, Katsuki twisted the doorknob to Izuku’s room in the infirmary and tried to open it.

It was locked.

Chapter Text

“Do you see anything?”

“No, lean me in a little deeper”.

You can phase through walls, idiot, my hand can’t”.

“But I can’t see anything!”

“That’s not my fucking problem!”

“This was your idea, why are you complaining about it?!”

“Because you’re a fucking loser who can’t do anything right!”

“I don’t want to end up getting locked inside! What will you do if that happens? Just sit outside waiting forever without being able to walk away?”

“There’s no way you’ll end up locked inside, asshole. UA barely knows anything about the quirk that got you like this, how the fuck will they know how to lock you in?”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a little cautious about this!”

“There’s nothing wrong with me launching you in, either”.

“Kacchan, don’t you dare –“

“Oops! My hand slipped”, Katsuki announced in a monotone.

“Waah-chan!!!”

Katsuki, who had been holding Izuku’s hand while the boy leaned into the wall of his own medical room, released his grasp, making Izuku phase all the way through and fall inside the room. Izuku had been afraid to somehow end up locked in if he phased all the way inside the room, which was why he had Katsuki hold his hand outside while he tried to take a look at his body. Katsuki, on the other hand, knew there was no way Izuku would manage to assess the state of his own body if he just watched it from the door. Plus, if UA didn’t know how to fix him, it was extremely unlikely they knew how to lock Deku up in the first place, right?

Surely, they were being fishy as fuck about this whole Deku thing, and it was pissing Katsuki off. But they couldn’t see Deku’s soul, or touch him, or talk to him. They may be doing some messed up shit with his body, but they probably didn’t know how to control his soul. Katsuki knew the school would have shoved it back into Deku’s body and ended this entire gig if they knew how.

Deku’s head emerged from the wall, the rest of his body remaining inside the medical room, in a way that much resembled Mirio. However, he had an upset expression on his face.

“Why did you do that for?”, he complained.

“To make you stop being such a coward and get this shit over with quickly”, Katsuki crossed his arms above his chest. “Now that you know you’re not locked in, go check your shitty body out before the old lady comes back and catches me creeping in front of your room”.

Izuku pointed Katsuki with a disapproving look before emerging back into the wall, disappearing from his view.

The medical room was empty, except for Izuku’s body and the equipment required to keep him alive. Izuku felt really weird and extremely uncomfortable as he was painfully reminded of all the equipment it took for him to keep living – a respirator, intubation, series of IVs connected to him, and all sorts of machines he didn’t know how to name.

In his soul-like state, he felt just fine – or at least, as fine as Kacchan felt. Either way, no matter how Kacchan felt, Izuku never felt like he was dying, or about to die, in any way. Now, staring down at his body, he was met with the horrifying realization of how close he was to death’s door.

The weirdest part about this wasn’t even staring down at his own self lying unconscious at a hospital bed, which said a lot about his state. The weirdest part about this was how unlike himself he looked.

His body looked pale, thin, and as fragile as paper. Izuku was suddenly convinced that, if Recovery Girl was to turn down the air conditioner one notch, his body wouldn’t be able to survive the temperature change. He looked absolutely, horrifyingly terrible. The IV drip connected to his hand was probably his only sort of nourishment, and Izuku could see, with a painful twinge of his chest, how much muscular mass he had lost over the past week. It had only been one week since he got in a coma, and he already looked… half-dead.

It would certainly take him a ridiculous amount of time and training to make up for the lost muscles once he got out of this situation. But, from the look of his body… it would take him way more than a week to get out of that bed. His skin was so pale it was almost translucent; the skin around his eyes was purple and sunken; his hair had grown and it was falling over his eyes without any brightness or life. His arms and hands were so bony he looked like a skeleton already. He was thin. He was so thin. Looking at himself in that state, Izuku lost all certainty that he would ever get out of this situation.

Taking a step closer to the bed in order to examine himself, Izuku found that his nose was perfectly normal, unaffected by Katsuki’s earlier punch. He tried to shove his body to the side a little so that he could see if there was a scar on his back, but his hand just phased through the fragile flesh. Weird how he could always touch Kacchan, but he couldn’t touch his own body.

It was uncanny, seeing himself like that. So far, Izuku had been certain that All Might, the hero of heroes, would find a way to save him and put him back where he belonged. Hell, he had been certain Kacchan would find a way, even if it was just to get rid of Izuku’s soul. But from the way things were looking… Izuku wasn’t certain of anything anymore. If anything, he looked like he was about to just… die, any second.

He ended up staring at his body and at his heart monitor for a long time, waiting for the moment his heart would give out. That was bound to happen, right? He looked so weak, so sick. He was sure his heart was about to give out any second now.

The sound of the machine aiding his breathing was sickening. The way his own chest rose and fell mechanically, just because of external aid, made his phantom skin tingle and the hairs at the back of his neck get up. The anticipation was killing him – the anticipation of seeing his own heart flatline. Out of a sudden, he could no longer stand being there, in the same room as his own body. He could no longer stare at himself. A deep sense of repulse invaded him, and Izuku walked back and phased himself out of the medical room so fast that his feet were acting before his brain caught up with his actions. Before he knew, he was already standing outside, face pale and eyes wide, his throat dry and his heart racing. He knew none of these feelings had any effect in his body – his heart monitor had been beating as normally as before.

He had never felt as disconnected from reality as in that moment.

“What?”, Katsuki grabbed both of Izuku’s shoulders, shaking him a little as if to catch his attention. Izuku’s lost, scared gaze met Kacchan’s, and he knew that it would be no use lying to him – not only could Kacchan feel exactly what he was feeling, but he could also see the fear etched in Izuku’s face. “What is it, Deku?”, Kacchan urged, shaking him again when Izuku didn’t respond.

“I – I don’t –“, Izuku swallowed dry, not knowing how to put what he had seen into words. “I – I’m –“

“Ok, just take a fucking breath before I end up freaking out with you”, Katsuki instructed, letting go of Izuku’s shoulders but grabbing one of his wrists and dragging him away from the door of the room. “Think you can calm down enough to form coherent sentences ‘til we get back to my room?”, he asked, sparing Izuku’s terrified face a quick glimpse as they walked towards the exit of Recovery Girl’s medical bay.

“Y-Yeah”, was all Izuku managed to spit out before he sealed his lips and fell into contemplative silence.

He thought he would be looking bad – after all, his soul wasn’t in his body and he was in a coma –, but he hadn’t thought it would be that bad. Now he could understand Uraraka’s and Iida’s concerns a little better. And now that he thought about it properly, he wondered how long had it been since any of his friends visited. He knew his mom hadn’t been over in a while – he would have to ask her how long when he had the chance –, but had her ban been extended to his friends, too? Was the door locked only for Kacchan, or were his friends unable to see him as well? Was the deplorable state his body was in the reason for the ban? Was UA attempting to preserve his family and friends by not letting them see him? But then, why make up so many excuses?

They had told his mom that she couldn’t see him because her going in and out of UA grounds all the time increased the risk of a villain attack. Recovery Girl had told Kacchan he couldn’t see Izuku’s body because cutting his hair would compromise his physical integrity (which they both now knew to be a lie). If they were just trying to protect Izuku’s loved ones, there would be no reason to lie about it, right?

Unless his body’s decay was more serious than Izuku thought. Unless… Unless there was something very wrong with him, something that UA couldn’t afford his friends and family finding out. Unless…

Izuku didn’t want to think about that.

“Just breathe, Deku”, Katsuki instructed him, ever so aggressively, and only then did Izuku realize he was beginning to hyperventilate. The hand wrapped around his wrist grew tighter, as if meaning to ground him to reality. “We’re almost there”.

“Hey, Bakugou!”, Kirishima called after them as they rushed by him at the entrance to the dorm building, Katsuki leading the way and all but dragging a stumbling Izuku after him. Despite of the half-concerned, half-angry glare painting Katsuki’s face that screamed ‘do not interact’, Kirishima looked and sounded as cheerful as ever. “I can give you those notes now if you –“

“Not now, Kirishima”, Katsuki barked without looking at his friend, entering the building in a rush and disappearing before Kirishima could say anything else.

They rushed the way up the stairs, ignoring all the people that crossed ways with them (which was a lot of people, since it was a weekend, and no one had classes for the time being). Kaminari had the audacity to follow them after Katsuki ignored him, which resulted on the explosive boy screaming a series of very graphic threats while Izuku continued to struggle to breathe behind him. Katsuki’s hand never let go of Izuku’s wrist, pulling him along once Kaminari ran away in fear and finally, finally entering his room. Only when they were inside did Katsuki let go of the boy, who stumbled his way to the bed and sat heavily on it, biting at one of his nails as he got lost in deep thought.

Katsuki locked the door behind them and made his way over to Izuku, shoving his hands into his pockets and glaring down at him. Despite of the anger on his face, there was also worry, which was a rare sight for him.

“So?”, he asked, catching the nervous Izuku’s attention and make him look up at Katsuki with apprehension in his eyes. “What’d you see in there that got you so worked up?”

“M-My body”, Izuku managed to force out, making Katsuki sigh heavily and roll his eyes really hard.

“That’s fucking expectable. Are you going to give me more details as to why my fucking heart is racing as if I’d just ran a marathon or what?”, he spit. Deku took a deep breath in order to calm his heart, and his leg started bouncing rapidly as he tried to organize his thoughts and let out all the anxiety he was feeling somehow.

“Ok. So, I’ve been in a coma for a while now”, he began, making Katsuki tilt his head as if that was an obvious information.

“Yeah”.

“And that means I was supposed to look… bad, right?”, he continued, hesitant.

Yeah”.

“But – I didn’t – I didn’t look bad”, Izuku looked up at Katsuki, honest apprehension etched all over his expressive eyes. “I looked worse than bad”.

“I don’t know what the fuck that’s supposed to mean”, Katsuki shrugged, eyeing Izuku with the same impassive expression.

“I looked dead, Kacchan”, Izuku said, voice almost wobbly. Kacchan frowned at him. He looked bothered by that, but tried to act as if he wasn’t.

“That’s also fucking expectable”, he shrugged again, feigning indifference.

“You don’t understand”, Izuku said with frustration, his voice raising as he stood up and began pacing around the room, looking nervous. “If – if anything goes wrong – if the power goes off for some reason, if someone as much as – as – pokes my body – I’m – I’m pretty sure –“, he trailed off, shaking his head and running a shaking hand through his messy hair. Katsuki approached him, a serious look on his face.

“Tell me how bad we’re talking”, he instructed, soundly strangely calm.

Really bad”, Izuku said, not looking at him as he paced the room and bit his nails. “I mean, really, really bad. I don’t think my body was supposed to be looking that bad after such a short period of time".

“So you think something’s wrong”, Katsuki concluded.

“Well”, Izuku shook his head again. “They’re not letting my mom in. Recovery Girl didn’t want to let you in. We don’t know if we’re letting anyone else in –“

“Which is suspicious as fuck”, Katsuki pointed out.

Yes. I mean – they’re not even being subtle about it. And Recovery Girl gave us that terrible excuse and told us to talk to one of our teachers… So maybe they want us to find out what’s going on, but can’t tell us directly?”, Izuku suggested, turning to look at Katsuki.

“Like Aizawa sensei saying that back at the meeting”, Katsuki provided, looking away with a grim expression. Izuku felt his face pale even further. “He’s too smart to just let something fishy as that slip out, so it had to be on purpose”.

“To give us a hint?”, Izuku frowned.

“Maybe. Probably to give us an idea of what’s going on without directly telling us about it”, Katsuki took a pensive hand to his chin. “They’re a bunch of cowards who don’t have the balls to break the damn rules and just straight up tell us what’s going on”.

“You go to sleep at 8 p.m.”, Izuku pointed out, raising an eyebrow at Katsuki and making the boy snap his head towards him with a furious look on his face.

“What the fuck does that have to do with anything, shitty nerd?”, he yelled, angry.

“You can’t complain about the teachers not breaking the rules when you don’t break them either!”, Izuku explained, raising his hands in a gesture that indicated he meant no harm with his words.

“I can complain about whatever the fuck I want!”, Katsuki yelled in response. “Also, my sleep schedule doesn’t have anything to do with fucking rules, it has to do with maximized potential! And I break a damn lot of fucking rules!”

“Like which ones?”, Izuku shrugged.

“Well, I’m just about to break my no-punching rule right now and deck you in the face again!”, he announced, jumping at Deku.

“Hey!”, Deku yelled in response, dodging Katsuki’s blow and immobilizing his arm. Katsuki easily got free from the hold and pushed Deku away, holding his arms in front of him in a ready-to-fight gesture. “Can we please focus on the problem at hands?”, Izuku asked, frowning and not believing Kacchan actually wanted to fight him at a time like that. Katsuki came at him again, and Izuku barely managed to dodge the attack this time. “Kacchan!”

“What? Are you afraid to fight, shitty Deku?”, Katsuki scoffed, coming at him again.

“No, I’m just trying to focus on the fact that my body is withering away, and we have no idea what’s actually going on!”, Izuku protested, trying to immobilize Katsuki again. Katsuki got free by shoving Izuku away hard, making the boy collapse on the top of the bed.

“Well, and I’m trying to make you stop focusing on it, because I’m fucking tired of feeling anxious as fuck”, Katsuki announced, placing himself on the top of Izuku on the bed and immobilizing his arms and legs with his elbows and his knees. Izuku’s eyes widened slightly as he felt Katsuki’s weight pinning him down to the mattress.

“And y-your way to distract me is by fighting me?”, Izuku protested, heart racing. Kacchan’s face was extremely close to his, the boy’s breath tickling his lips. He tried to wriggle himself free of Kacchan’s hold and failed.

“Well, that’s what I do when I’m feeling anxious about shit that I can’t solve right away”, Kacchan scoffed, purposefully tightening his grip on Deku’s wrist. “I fight to release the tension. I fight to release the fucking stress. Maybe it works out for you, too. So why don’t you put some actual effort into your skinny butt for once in your life and see if you can finally beat me?”

“I don’t want to fight you!”, Izuku protested, frowning angrily. “I want to figure out what’s going on with my body!”

“You’re not gonna fucking figure anything out unless you take a break and calm the fuck down”, Katsuki tilted his head at him. “Pacing in my bedroom and looking like you’re about to break down into a sobbing fit isn’t gonna do anyone any good. What’s your plan, anyway? Walking into the UA board and screaming at the principal?”

“That sounds more like your plan”, Izuku said. “My plan is asking All Might about what’s really going on!”

“And he’s going to tell you that why?”, Katsuki provoked.

“Because he wouldn’t keep something like that from me!”, Izuku replied.

“Because you’re his heir, right?”, Katsuki scoffed again. “You’re his little chosen one. The inheritor of his power”.

“Yes!”

“Then prove it”, Katsuki smirked. “Because, from what I can tell, you’re nothing but the fucking loser who’s incapable of getting free from a simple immobilizing maneuver. Even a baby –“

Katsuki was cut off as Izuku headbutted him, making him release his grasp for a few shocked seconds and giving Izuku an opportunity to break free. Izuku turned on the bed and, using his legs, quickly made Kacchan lose his footing and fall. Before the boy could get up, Izuku launched himself at Katsuki and pinned him down instead, his knees holding Kacchan’s legs in place and one of his elbows pressing against Kacchan’s neck on the floor.

There. Can we focus on my problem now?”, Izuku asked, giving Katsuki a serious look. Katsuki gave him a look that was full of rage for having been caught off guard, before grasping the arm that was pressing down on his neck with both hands. Izuku felt the palms grasping him increase heat until they were glowing, burning the skin of Izuku’s arms right before smoke erupted from it. Izuku quickly removed his arm and Kacchan took this chance to free himself from his hold, turning quickly on the floor before getting to his feet and aiming a fast kick at Izuku’s head. Izuku barely had the time to dodge the blow before Kacchan was investing again.

Before Izuku had the time to protest again, and before he knew better, he and Katsuki had engaged in a sparring session inside his bedroom. They never hurt each other too much, since they could literally feel each other’s pain, but it was enough to put their physical abilities and fighting proficiency to test. The sparring couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes, but by the end of it, Katsuki’s rolling chair had been knocked down, his mattress was a complete mess, the door of his wardrobe was open, and Izuku was lying on his back on the floor, panting heavily as Katsuki sat on the top of him, each of his knees on either sides of Izuku’s body.

“What a great heir All Might chose”, Katsuki accused, painting as heavily as Izuku. He smirked evilly at the boy pinned beneath him. “Can’t even beat me at a fucking sparring session”.

“I wasn’t using One For All”, Izuku justified, face flushed and sweaty. His hair was blocking his vision, but he couldn’t swipe the curls away, since Katsuki was holding both of his hands above his head.

“If you need your fucking quirk to beat me in a one-on-one, then you’re not that good of a fighter”, Katsuki shrugged.

“Funny of you to say that”, Izuku accused tiredly, not even struggling against Katsuki’s grasp anymore. He could recognize a defeat when he saw one. “I thought quirks were everything to you”.

The smugness and the victory in Katsuki’s face evaporated at the words, leaving back a serious, unreadable expression.

“The hell does that mean?”, he frowned at Izuku, not letting go of him. If anything, his grasp tightened, as if to prevent the boy from escaping that conversation.

“Well”, Izuku averted his eyes from Katsuki, tilting his head away. His curls did the job of hiding his eyes away from view. “You stopped being my friend after you found out I was quirkless”.

“Yeah, and?”, Katsuki raised an eyebrow at him. Izuku tilted his head again to face Katsuki, resentment in his green eyes, which were half-covered by his hair.

And you stopped being my friend because you thought that me not having a quirk meant I wasn’t at the same rank as you”, Izuku accused. Katsuki’s frown deepened.

“Yeah, and you weren’t”, he agreed without missing a beat. Izuku pretended the confirmation didn’t hurt him.

“Because if I didn’t have a quirk, I didn’t have any value”, he continued. “So that’s why I’m a little confused by you saying that I’m not good in a fight for relying on my quirk. Didn’t you do exactly that your entire life?”

Katsuki’s face fell upon Izuku’s words, and Izuku had to admit he felt a little bad for how accusatory he ended up sounding. He didn’t want to start yet another beef with Kacchan – he was just stating facts. Maybe their sparring had done them some good by balancing their emotions out, but now Izuku felt too tired and worn out to be careful with his words. Plus, when it came to Kacchan, it was always better to be honest than to be evasive.

Katsuki, however, was looking very troubled on the top of Deku, as if he had never thought about that before in his life. As if Izuku had just told him a hidden secret of the universe that had never crossed his mind, and that was only now unraveling a whole bunch of opportunities he had never gotten in touch with before. Without saying a word or even trying to defend himself, he slowly let go of Izuku’s wrists and unpinned him from the floor, staying on the top of him with a pensive look on his face. Neither of the boys moved, Katsuki sitting on Izuku and Izuku not moving from beneath him.

They stayed like that for what felt like an eternity, but couldn’t be more than seconds. Izuku was the first one to move, running both hands across his tired face and swiping his curls away from the top of his eyes with his fingers.

“Can we please focus on the fact that my body looks half-dead now? The sparring helped, but I’m still worried”, he asked tiredly, staring up at Katsuki. The words seemed to finally urge some life into the boy, who realized he had been sitting on the top of Deku for too long and moved, getting back to his feet. To Izuku’s surprise, Katsuki offered him a hand to aid him up, which he promptly accepted.

“I’m going to take a shower”, Katsuki announced simply, not meeting Izuku’s eyes. “Then we can figure out what to do about your shitty body”.

Without waiting for a response, Katsuki grabbed himself some fresh clothes and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Izuku wanted to say something else, but he didn’t know what. Instead, he simply sat at the edge of Kacchan’s bed and waited, trying not to think too hard about the deplorable state his body had been in and about the rush of confusing emotions that were flashing through his chest.

 

 

 

 

 

Katsuki was in the middle of his shower when he heard a knock on his door.

“I’m in the fucking shower!”, he screamed from inside the bathroom, aware that Deku wouldn’t be able to get the damn door for him. However, a couple of seconds later, another series of knocks came, more urgent. “I’M IN THE GODDAMN FUCKING SHOWER!”, he screamed louder, hoping that would make whoever the hell it was go away and leave him alone.

More knocks.

“God fucking damn it”, he growled furiously, rinsing the remains of the shampoo off his hair and turning the water off. He walked out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and yanked the bathroom door open, while a series of urgent knocks continued to come from his bedroom door. As he walked out of the steaming bathroom, he ignored the way Deku’s eyes widened and his face became flushed as he spotted the half-naked Katsuki, and he headed to the front door while muttering: “This fucking dorm better be on fucking flames right now for this asshole to be in this much of a fucking hurry”.

He yanked his door open with a furious scream of WHAT?, only to be faced with the figure of Icy Hot, who stared at him with surprise – or as much surprise as his stupid neutral face could muster – before studying Katsuki from head to toe as if he had any sort of right to analyze him. Katsuki snarled, but Todoroki simply raised an eyebrow at him, untroubled by the fact that he was wrapped in a towel with his hair dripping wet.

“I need to talk to you. Can I come in?”, he asked neutrally and, without waiting for any sort of response, walked past Katsuki and walked straight in. Katsuki fumed, having to muster all his self-control not to blow up the door handle. He slammed the door close behind him with more strength than necessary, marching towards Todoroki, who had the audacity to look like he was judging Katsuki’s bedroom for the messy state it was in after his sparring session with Deku.

“What the fuck do you want that’s so fucking urgent?” Katsuki growled, snarling at the boy in front of him. Todoroki turned to face him, analyzing him for a moment.

“Does your bedroom always look like this?”, he asked simply, untroubled by Katsuki’s anger.

“No. If that’s all you came here for, the fucking door is right over there”, he growled again, nodding at the door. Todoroki sighed.

“That’s not why I’m here”, he said, staring at Katsuki. “I’m here because of Midoriya”.

“Who?”, Katsuki crossed his arms above his chest, squinting his eyes at Todoroki.

“Don’t act stupid. This is serious”, Todoroki replied. Katsuki snarled again.

“Who the fuck are you calling stupid?!”, he yelled, looking like he was about to jump at Todoroki. Izuku launched himself from the bed and placed himself between Todoroki and Katsuki, his eyes darting between the two boys before focusing on Kacchan.

“Kacchan”, Izuku called. “Just calm down and listen to what he has to say”.

“Don’t fucking tell me what to do, shitty Deku”, Katsuki swatted Deku’s hand away from his chest and took a step closer to Todoroki. “And Icy Hot better tell me what the fuck he’s here for if he doesn’t want me to blow his multicolored ass up”, he added, glaring at the boy in front of him.

Todoroki was looking at the spot where he assumed Izuku was standing, eyes unable of seeing him. Upon Katsuki’s words, however, he turned his eyes back towards him.

“I heard you went over to the infirmary today”, Todoroki started, making Katsuki’s eyes narrow.

“Who the fuck told you that?”, he asked, suspicious.

“Some friends saw you heading in and out of there”, Todoroki explained rapidly, as if that wasn’t the point. “Were you allowed in Midoriya’s room?”

“What the hell does it matter to you?”, Katsuki asked childishly. He couldn’t tell why, but Icy Hot really pissed him off, in the same way Deku used to do.

In a way Deku does, he mentally corrected himself. Deku still pissed him off, right? It wasn’t like Katsuki was growing used to having him around and actually enjoyed his company, right?

Right???

“It matters because Midoriya is my friend and I worry about him”, Todoroki said simply.

“T-Todoroki-kun”, Izuku whispered simply from where he was standing beside Katsuki, admiration and fondness in his tone. Katsuki’s hands tightened into fists and he scowled so hard all his teeth were exposed in an ugly, angry snarl.

“Two days ago, I tried to visit, but Recovery Girl forbade me”, Todoroki continued, ignoring Katsuki’s anger (as usual). “Uraraka and Iida told me the same thing happened to them, and as you know, Mrs. Midoriya hasn’t been allowed to visit, either. Were you allowed in?”, he repeated his question.

“Kacchan”, Izuku stepped in before Katsuki could tell Todoroki off again. He was starting to feel Kacchan’s (unjustified) anger seep into him once more, but did his best to control himself and think rationally before both of them ended up losing their temper. “Just tell Todoroki-kun what happened. He could help us figure out what’s going on”.

“You’re not the fucking boss of me”, Katsuki snapped his head towards Izuku, angry. Izuku tightened his hands into fists and took a deep, calming breath before he ended up headbutting Kacchan again. That had hurt.

Just. Talk. To. Todoroki-kun. Kacchan.”, Izuku said through gritted teeth, trying to think happy thoughts and ignoring the anger invading him and contaminating him.

“What is Midoriya telling you?”, Todoroki asked, eyes darting between Katsuki and the empty space that Izuku’s ghost was occupying, invisible to his eyes. So far, Todoroki seemed to be the best one at guessing Izuku’s location even though he was unable of seeing him.

“None of your damn business, Icy Hot”, Katsuki said angrily, crossing his arms above his (still wet) chest. He hated having to tell anything to that Half’n’Half bastard, but, much to his dismay, Deku was right. If their shitty friends had been telling the truth, then Icy Hot was the one who visited Deku the most. Maybe he could help them figure out what was going on, as much as Katsuki absolutely despised that option. “But no. The old lady didn’t let me in. Deku did phase through the wall and took a peek at his body like the disrespecting outlaw he is, though”, he added, pointing Deku with an evil smirk. Izuku’s eyes immediately widened, whereas Todoroki looked surprised and stood up straighter.

“You’re the one who talked me into doing that! I wanted to leave!”, Izuku protested.

“He did?”, Todoroki asked, attentive. “How was he?”

“Why do you care so much?”, Katsuki squinted his eyes at Todoroki, ignoring Deku.

“Because, as I said and you apparently didn’t comprehend, I’m Midoriya’s friend”, Todoroki answered, sounding slightly annoyed. Katsuki fumed, resulting on Izuku immediately holding him from behind and stopping him from jumping at Todoroki, even though the only thing keeping him from full-on nakedness was a single towel.

“If you came here to be fucking sassy you’d better walk out the door before I blow you up so hard they’ll never find all the pieces!”, Katsuki shouted, trying to reach for Todoroki and failing. Todoroki’s eyes widened as he witnessed Katsuki being held back by an invisible force.

“It really is uncanny”, Todoroki narrowed his eyes, leaning forwards to take a better look at the way Katsuki’s struggling body was prevented from advancing by an invisible Midoriya. “The power he has over you”.

What?! No one has any fucking power over me!”, Katsuki struggled harder against Izuku’s arms, feeling even more furious. Izuku’s grasp on Kacchan’s thin waist was faltering, but he did his best to keep him from murdering Todoroki (or trying to).

“Kacchan, stop struggling!”, Izuku shouted angrily, through gritted teeth. Kacchan’s anger was definitely in him now, and the only reason he wasn’t letting go of the feral boy was out of spite. “Just answer Todoroki-kun’s questions and let him speak!”

“I won’t tell him shit if he keeps putting up this smug act at me!”, Katsuki protested. “And get your shitty nerd hands off me, Deku, or I swear to fucking god I’ll kick your ass!”

“Let him go, Midoriya”, Todoroki said stoically, the first person to directly address the ghost-Izuku without hesitating or asking Katsuki about it first. For some reason, that infuriated the explosive boy even more. What, the Icy Hot bastard didn’t think he needed Katsuki’s help to talk to Deku? He thought he could just walk up into his room uninvited and talk to the nerd’s shitty ghost as if Katsuki was a mere intruder? Katsuki would fuck him up. Katsuki would fuck him the fuck up. “I can take him”, Todoroki added as calmly as ever, and ok. That was definitely the last straw.

Katsuki’s hands popped with explosions that he put no effort into controlling and he all but launched himself at Todoroki, Izuku still clinging to his back and being dragged behind him. He gave off a feral scream as he attacked, Todoroki looking ready to take him, but Izuku managed to stop Katsuki by throwing his full body weight on the top of the boy and making them both fall to the floor. Todoroki took a step to the side and watched the scene with slight surprise, since in his point of view, Katsuki had just fallen on his own.

“Kacchan, stop!”, Izuku said, sounding almost as angry as Katsuki felt. “Just listen to what Todoroki-kun has to say!”

“Get the fuck off me!”, Katsuki shouted, shoving Izuku to the side roughly. Todoroki sighed.

“I’ll just say what I need to say”, he announced, not looking intimidated when Katsuki got back to his feet. Izuku held one of Katsuki’s wrists before he could invest against Todoroki again. “I think UA is not telling us everything there is to know about Midoriya’s state. Uraraka and Iida think so as well. We have been noticing an increasing decrease of his health with each passing day for the past week, until we were banned from visiting. You don’t have to tell me what Midoriya saw in his room today for me to assume that he’s probably gotten worse. I have been thinking about the reasons why UA wouldn’t let Midoriya’s friends and family visit him and I’ve reached a conclusion”.

“Which is?”, Katsuki raised an impatient eyebrow at him. Todoroki gave him a serious, almost reproaching look.

“They don’t want you to know”, Todoroki said simply. Katsuki frowned.

“Well… That’s obvious, right? They don’t want anyone to know”, Izuku frowned in confusion, turning to face Kacchan. Katsuki, however, had a very serious, displeased look on his face, which earned on Izuku’s confusion increasing. “Kacchan…?”, he asked hesitantly, noticing Katsuki had clearly interpreted Todoroki’s words in a way that he hadn’t.

“Shut up, Deku”, Katsuki said simply, eyes still glued on Todoroki, who continued:

“They’re aware, better than anyone, of your explosive temperament. So what’s happening to Midoriya must be really serious, if they don’t want you to know”.

“I get not telling you, but why not tell anyone else?”, Izuku asked Katsuki, still frowning. “I mean, my mom had the right to know –“

“They’re not telling anyone because they don’t want to risk anyone telling me, Deku”, Katsuki responded simply, eyes still glued on Todoroki. “And if they don’t want to risk me knowing, then it must be serious as fuck”, he turned to stare at Izuku, an unreadable look in his eyes.

“I agree”, Todoroki nodded, stern. “If they don’t want you to know, then whatever is making Midoriya bad so fast is probably serious enough for even you to want to step in”.

Eeh?!”, Katsuki asked, offended. Izuku’s grasp on his wrist tightened.

“Ok, but why not tell my mom? She deserves to know!”, Izuku pointed out. “And I doubt she would tell you about it. I sort of get them not telling my friends about it, since they could end up telling you… But leaving my mom in the dark is cruel!”

“The shitty nerd is right”, Katsuki turned back to Todoroki. “His mom doesn’t know anything about it, and she’s not exactly fond of me. She wouldn’t tell me anything, so why not let her know of her son’s state?”

“I don’t know”, Todoroki admitted. “All I’ve told you is speculation. There’s no way to be sure about what’s really happening, unless we… do something about it”, he added. Katsuki narrowed his eyes at him, at the same time Izuku’s eyes widened.

“What do you mean?”, he asked, even though Todoroki couldn’t hear him.

“The fuck do you have in mind, Icy Hot?”, Katsuki raised an eyebrow at him. Todoroki sighed.

“Uraraka and Iida, as well as some of the other people in class, think it’s best if we confront Aizawa sensei about it, since he’s part of the UA board”, he started, not sounding too fond of that idea.

“But you don’t think that’ll work”, Katsuki affirmed.

“No, I don’t”, Todoroki nodded briefly. “I think Aizawa sensei won’t risk you getting involved, if it really is that serious”.

“So what do you have in mind?”, Katsuki urged, yanking his wrist away from Izuku’s grasp so that he could cross his arms above his naked chest. Todoroki eyed him for a few seconds, as if trying to decide whether he should speak up or not. Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Look, you already came all the way here and made me cut my fucking shower short. You might as well just speak the hell up already”.

“I was thinking of a more decisive solution”, Todoroki said, serious. “Something that no one else will be up to, probably”.

“Which is?”, Katsuki tilted his head impatiently as an encouragement for Todoroki to continue.

“Sneak into a board meeting and listen to what they say”, Todoroki concluded.

Katsuki stared at him for a long time, eyes narrowing. Izuku looked nervous beside him.

“You can’t do this”, Izuku said nervously, eyes darting between Todoroki and Katsuki. “If you get caught, you could be expelled!”

“You and Midoriya have a distance limit, don’t you?”, Todoroki continued, unaware of Izuku’s objection.

“Kacchan, you can’t do this. It’s too risky. And if you get expelled, we’ll not only be even farther away from my body, but you’ll throw away your chance of being a pro hero! No other school will accept you! It’s better if we stick around and find what’s going on some other way –“

“We do”, Katsuki said, completely ignoring Izuku’s objections and seriously listening to Todoroki’s proposal.

Kacchan!”

“So we could stay away at a safe distance from the room where the board holds their meetings, and Midoriya could sneak inside without them knowing about it, right?”, Todoroki added, and Izuku could see it in Kacchan’s crimson eyes, he could see how seriously he was considering that proposal.

“Kacchan”, Izuku stepped in front of Kacchan, rather than standing beside him, blocking Todoroki from his view and looking extremely serious. “I’m more curious than you, trust me, and this is my life on the line. But I won’t let you throw your career on the trash just because of me”.

Katsuki scowled at Izuku and scoffed with indifference, looking at him as if he was a ridiculous little thing who had just stepped in his way.

“You think way too much of yourself, shitty Deku”, Katsuki accused, making Izuku angrily shake his head.

“Why can’t you just listen to me?!”, he protested.

“If I know Midoriya, he is probably complaining about this being too risky”, Todoroki continued, making Izuku blush slightly. “But we don’t have to do this recklessly. Based on the maximum distance that you can get between each other, we can find an empty room on the floor beneath the board meeting room, and sneak Midoriya in through the ceiling. If they are patrolling the place to prevent you, or any of us, from sneaking around, they will probably patrol the floor of the meeting, and not the floor beneath”.

 “You’ve been putting a lot of thought into this”, Katsuki accused, glaring at Todoroki.

“I’m concerned about Midoriya’s state”, he replied simply, giving no further details. Katsuki scoffed.

“This is still too risky”, Izuku shook his head, biting at one of his nails and looking conflicted. “I don’t like this plan; it could backfire and you two could end up being expelled! I don’t want you to risk your futures for me!”

“We’ll think about it”, Katsuki said simply, continuing to ignore Izuku.

“No, we won’t! I’m not doing it!”, Izuku protested.

“Good. I didn’t expect you to agree to this right away, anyway”, Todoroki admitted. “Talk to me when you’ve made up your mind”.

“Fine. Was that all you wanted to talk about?”, Katsuki asked, rather impolitely. Todoroki seemed untroubled by this, and nodded, looking ready to leave.

“Yes, that’s all. I’ll leave you alone, now”, he announced, walking past Katsuki again and heading to the door. Before he could open it, however, Katsuki interrupted him.

“Hey. Icy Hot”, he called, making Todoroki turn to face him. Katsuki stared at the boy with a mature seriousness in his eyes, which contrasted heavily with his usual poorly-managed anger. “You said no one else will be up to this shit. What makes you think I will?”

Todoroki simply stared at him for a few moments, as if lost in deep thought.

“As loyal as our friends are, I don’t believe they’re ready to risk their futures as pro heroes this way”.

Katsuki chuckled humorlessly, disbelief and mockery evident in his tone. He gave Todoroki a bitter smirk as he responded.

“What, and you think I am ready to risk mine? For Deku?”

Todoroki continued to stare at him.

“All I can tell you is that I, for one, know Midoriya’s life is worth the risk”.

The smirk disappeared from Katsuki’s face. Todoroki twisted the doorknob, walked out, and closed the door behind him without saying anything else.

Katsuki stared at Izuku, and Izuku stared at Katsuki. Neither of them knew what to say.

“Fucking Half’n’Half weirdo”, Katsuki said simply, walking back towards the bathroom. Izuku followed him before he could close the door.

“Kacchan. We need to talk about this”, he said, a serious look on his face.

“There’s nothing to talk about”, Katsuki said with a bored expression.

“Yes, there is!”, Izuku protested. “I’m not allowing –“

You don’t have the right to allow any fucking thing, you damn nerd”, Katsuki interrupted with a sharp glare. Before Izuku could present any protests, he added: “And you’re right”.

“I… am?”, Izuku frowned, taken aback by hearing such words from Kacchan.

“Yeah. Icy Hot’s plan is too risky. I’m not doing it”, he announced simply. Izuku’s face fell and he blinked in surprise.

“Oh”, he said, face blank. “Oh, okay”.

“What? You really think I’m gonna risk my fucking license for your nerdy ass?”, Katsuki raised an eyebrow at him, giving him one pitiful scoff. “C’mon, Deku”.

“No, I mean – you – you’re right”, Izuku nodded, forcing himself to look serious and convinced as he met Katsuki’s eyes again. “It’s too risky. You shouldn’t do it”.

“I know”, Katsuki gave him an unimpressed look. “Now can you let me finish my fucking shower in peace or do you plan or staying in the damn bathroom to watch?”

Izuku’s cheeks burned in embarrassment and he took a series of steps back until he was standing out of the bathroom, an apologetic look on his face.

“Oh, right, s-sorry, Kacchan”, he apologized, unable to meet Katsuki’s eyes.

“We’ll talk to All Might later”, Katsuki announced without looking at Izuku, his tone sounding almost as if he wanted to reassure him. “See if his soft spot for you makes him run his mouth about what’s really going on”.

“O-Okay”, Izuku nodded. Without further ado, Katsuki closed the bathroom door, leaving Izuku alone with his thoughts.

Izuku sat back at the edge of the bed, his mind rushing at hundreds of miles per hour. Had he really expected Kacchan to risk his future as a hero just because of him? They were in better terms now – they were not actually friends, but they were more… used to each other’s presence? –, but that didn’t mean Kacchan was willing to sacrifice his life-long dream just to have an idea of what was happening to Izuku.

As much of a bad boy as Kacchan liked to act, Izuku knew he wasn’t the rule-breaker type. He may be rude and insolent, but ever since they had been accepted into UA, he had never actually done anything that could have given him any risk of being expelled. Back when they studied together at their regular school, he had been a bit of a punk… bullying people (mostly Izuku), hanging out with the wrong sort of people, getting himself into some small trouble that wouldn’t end up in his record… Now that they were at UA, it was almost like he was trying to keep himself out of trouble. Going to bed early was only one of the many things Kacchan did that broke his image of a bad boy.

Izuku should have expected Kacchan not to want to risk his license for Izuku, of all people. He barely even tolerated Izuku, right? It made no sense to expect Kacchan would actually risk throwing his dream in the trash because of him. If anything, now Izuku felt a little pathetic and embarrassed for begging Kacchan not to accept Todoroki’s invitation. He should have known there was no way he’d accept it in the first place, right?

Still… he couldn’t deny that he was a little disappointed that Kacchan had so easily turned the proposal down. He couldn’t stop thinking about Todoroki’s words…

I, for one, know Midoriya’s life is worth the risk.

Kacchan had known Izuku his whole life. They knew each other since they were little kids. They grew up together, they had a story together, even if it wasn’t the best or the healthiest one.

Todoroki had known Izuku for less than a year. He wanted to be a hero just as much as any of them. And he was easily willing to throw his future away for the hypothetical chance of figuring out what was wrong with Izuku. He wasn’t risking his future to save Izuku – he was risking his future for a chance of saving him.

Izuku lowered his head, forcing himself not to feel sad, lest Kacchan find out about his upset mood. He had begged Kacchan not to accept Todoroki’s suggestion. He had insisted that he didn’t take part in Todoroki’s plan. Why was he so sad that Kacchan had listened to him for once?

This was for the better. If Kacchan didn’t get involved, Todoroki wouldn’t be able to go forwards with the plan, and therefore neither of them would be under any risk of being expelled. Izuku should be happy, right? Neither of his friends would be risking themselves because of him. He should be happy.

But he couldn’t help but feeling hurt.

He reached the conclusion that this was because of Kacchan’s rapidness to decide Izuku wasn’t worth the risk. It took him what? One, two minutes of thinking to decide Izuku’s life wasn’t worth losing his chance of becoming a hero for? And Izuku couldn’t blame him, didn’t want to blame him, but still, a deep, hidden, utterly selfish part of himself wished that Kacchan would at least consider, would at least have the slightest, littlest desire to risk his license just to save him. This ugly, selfish part of himself wished that Kacchan cared enough about him to consider – even if he didn’t actually go through it! – to risk himself just to save him.

Izuku knew this was just a dream.

Because as much as the years passed, as much as the distance between himself and Kacchan got smaller and smaller, as much time as they spent (forcefully) together, Izuku knew they were too far gone. There was no way they could go back, there was no way they could reverse the event horizon they had crossed back when Kacchan found out Izuku was quirkless. Any chance of having a friendship with Kacchan died on that day. Any chance of having anything with Kacchan died on that day.

And yes, it was stupid, and pathetic, and ridiculous, and meaningless for Izuku to want Kacchan to love him in the same way he loved Kacchan, because they had passed that point of no return a long, long time ago. It didn’t matter how hard Izuku admired him, and looked up to him, and worried about him, and cared for him – Kacchan would never return those feelings, because to him, Izuku was nothing but a rival. They had been friends once, a long, long time ago, and then Izuku became nothing, and now Izuku was something, something Kacchan used as encouragement, something Kacchan used as a way to push himself harder and farther, something Kacchan used as a stepping stone. Besides that… Izuku had no use to him, and he was definitely not someone worth risking himself for.

He wished he didn’t feel as upset as he felt on that moment. He had known about all that, right? He had always known. He was the one who begged Kacchan not to risk himself in order to save him.

But what bothered him, he figured, was that Kacchan never wanted to save him in the first place.

He ended up crying silently, despite of himself, feeling his heart break all over again. This was stupid. He felt stupid. He tried to control his pain so that it wouldn’t be too overwhelming and so that Kacchan wouldn’t feel it as well, because the last thing he needed on that moment was for the boy to burst out of the bathroom screaming demands for Izuku to tell him what was wrong. What could he possibly say in response?

What could he possibly say to Kacchan at all?

Izuku didn’t even find himself astonished by the realization he loved Kacchan. He had always known that, right? He had to know, at some level, and he had to love him, at some level. There was no way he would have stuck around and kept admiring the person who bullied him and put him down if it wasn’t out something as strong and as twisted as love. It wasn’t good, and it wasn’t healthy, but it was there, and Izuku could do nothing about it. He couldn’t even tell if his love for Kacchan was the same one he had for his mom, or for All Might – but it was definitely there, and it was definitely love. If it was something new or something different… he didn’t know just yet. He didn’t think he wanted to find out. What for? Kacchan would never love him back – neither as a friend or as… as something else.

All he could do was hope Kacchan would stop breaking his heart at some point.

He was getting better, but not quite there just yet. Not quite there.

 

 

 

 

 

Katsuki could feel the tears rolling down his cheeks, but preferred to pretended they were just water from his boiling-hot shower.

He had more important things to focus on instead of Deku’s sappy feelings, he told himself as he rinsed the hair conditioner from his hair and focused on the sensation of his skin burning, which was better than the sensation of his heart breaking. He had a lot of important things to think about.

How to find out what the hell was going on with the nerd and fix him before something bad happened to him was the top priority on his mental list.

Deku had felt so distraught and nervous when he’d been inside his hospital room. Katsuki had felt all of it. He had experienced all of it, and he thanked whatever fucking deity was out there for Recovery Girl not letting him inside that hospital room. He wasn’t sure he would have handled it, seeing Deku’s body – especially after Deku’s own description – and not losing his shit again. Not with the memories in his head. Not with the images in his mind.

Katsuki didn’t want to feel anything like Deku’s fear again. He didn’t think he quite wanted Deku to feel it, too, even if he wouldn’t tell him as much.

 

 

 

 

 

Katsuki didn’t confront Izuku about the crying as he stepped out of the bathroom, now fully dressed in fresh clothes and a trail of steam following him into the bedroom. Izuku didn’t mention it either, or address him at all. He was trying to hide it, but Katsuki could tell he had been crying.

(He didn’t have to look at Izuku to know that much, though).

Since he had already told the nerd where they were going after he was done with the shower, Izuku followed him silently out of the room when Katsuki opened the door, no questionings. Katsuki found it weird, but decided he wouldn’t complain about small miracles. He’d been asking Deku to shut his trap, and he was finally attending his many requests. That was good, right? It didn’t matter that his chest was fucking heavy with sadness, this. Was. Great.

They would have enough time to talk to All Might before the afternoon classes began, and maybe Katsuki could even manage to grab lunch before that. He wasn’t hoping to get much out of the number one hero, though. His soft spot was for Deku, not Katsuki, and he couldn’t really see Deku’s stupid puppy eyes, even though Katsuki was sure he could imagine them. Still, trying his chances with All Might sounded like a better plan than Icy Hot’s suicidal mission of getting expelled for one piece of information. If Deku’s life was really under some sort of risk, then All Might would be the first person to want and help him, right? Maybe if Katsuki acted more patient, more well-composed and less-short fused, they could mange to talk All Might into spilling the beans.

All Might wasn’t in his office, which was bad for Katsuki’s plan, but he was in the teacher’s room when Katsuki peaked inside. With him were Present Mic and Midnight, the rest of the teachers being nowhere to be seen. Present Mic didn’t notice Katsuki’s head on the door, but All Might and Midnight did. Thankfully, Katsuki didn’t have to knock on the door, step inside, or even announce his presence before All Might was on his feet and walking towards them. Midnight didn’t say anything as he left, but she kept her eyes glued to him like a hawk as the hero walked out of the teacher’s room and closed the door behind him.

“Young Bakugou”, All Might greeted him in his true form. Even though Katsuki hadn’t grown exactly used to seeing All Might so bony and lanky, he could notice that the man’s eyes were more sunken and he looked more tired than usual. “How can I help you? Is everything all right with you and Young Midoriya?”

“Can we talk?”, Katsuki said instead of offering All Might a proper response or a greeting. The concerned frown that flashed over the man’s face made Katsuki feel victorious – maybe, if he was concerned enough about the situation, he would fill Katsuki in about what was truly happening. “I mean, somewhere private”, Katsuki added, hoping the mystery in his tone would convince All Might that this was something serious.

All Might sighed and looked around, as if checking for any witnesses. He looked hesitant for a moment before gesturing for Katsuki to follow him and heading back silently to his own office. Izuku was still very silent beside Katsuki as they followed the number one hero, but he looked a bit less miserable than before. It was amazing how seeing All Might, even in his natural, bony form, completely cheered Izuku’s mood up.

They entered All Might’s office and Katsuki sat down directly in front of him, Izuku sitting beside him. Now that they were alone and in private, Katsuki could tell just how utterly exhausted and miserable All Might looked. As if he hadn’t taken a break for the entirety of the past week.

“So, Young Bakugou”, All Might encouraged when Katsuki stayed silent in front of him, his eyes darting across the office and taking in every bit of information there was to take. “What did you want to talk about?”

Katsuki glared at All Might, still feeling angry at his – and UA’s – secrecy despite of the man’s clear misery. He leaned back against the couch in a comfortable position, looking like he was at his own home.

“I want to know what’s really going on with Deku”, Katsuki said, his tone of voice leaving no place for discussions or bullshit. Maybe he shouldn’t be so direct with a teacher, especially when said teacher was also the number one hero, but he had been way more disrespectful to All Might before.

All Might sighed and lowered his head, facing away from Bakugou as if to prevent the boy from looking into his eyes and realizing there was something wrong. But the joke was on him – everyone already knew there was something wrong. There was no use hiding the truth from them anymore.

“I went over to the infirmary a while ago”, Katsuki continued, his voice heavy with suspicion, when All Might didn’t say anything. “Recovery Girl didn’t let me in Deku’s room. Deku’s shitty friends told me the same thing happened to them. And when I visited Deku’s mom this week, she said UA wasn’t letting her in anymore. Something fishy is obviously going on here, and since I’m the one who’s stuck with carrying Deku around like a babysitter, I think I deserve to know what it is”, he concluded. His eyes were fixed on All Might, but All Might only looked at him when he was done talking.

“I understand your demands, Young Bakugou”, he agreed, nodding solemnly. “And I agree that neither you, your friends, or Mrs. Midoriya should be kept in the dark. However…”, Katsuki clicked his tongue and scoffed with indifference before All Might even had the chance to feed him whatever bullshit he was about to make up. “I’m going to ask you to trust the school on this matter. We are working incessantly –“

“I don’t care”, Katsuki interrupted, leaning forwards on the couch. “We all know Deku’s body is getting worse with each passing day”, he opted to hide the fact that Izuku had phased through the wall to see his own body, just in case All Might spilled that information to someone and resulted on Katsuki being banned from going to the infirmary. “And since his ass is stuck to me, I have the right to know what’s really going on. I’m tired of being told to ‘trust the school’ without being given any damn actual reason to”.

All Might’s lips formed a thin, stern line and he looked to the side again, looking conflicted.

“Listen, Young Bakugou –“, he started, and Katsuki immediately suppressed a sigh. “I want you to know what is really happening, but I can’t tell you all the details. Right now, UA is coordinating an undercover, very secret mission to retrieve the villain who attacked you and Young Midoriya. Not even the media has been informed, despite of the pressure they are putting on us for a solution. If we tell anyone about the details, we could end up compromising the operation and not catching the bandit”.

“I’m not asking you to give me the war plans or some shit”, Katsuki shook his head. “Just to tell me why the hell no one can see Deku’s body”.

All Might lowered his head again. There was a weird, paradoxical look of determination and hesitation in his eyes.

“All I can tell you is that Young Midoriya’s body is getting more compromised with each passing day. The state of his health is deteriorating, which is why we are doing our best to capture this villain as soon as possible. The reason why we kept his mother and his friends from seeing him…”, he sighed heavily, as if he was carrying the weight of the world in his shoulders. “Is because his immune system has already been compromised. We can’t risk him catching an infection, or…”, he trailed off. Katsuki decided he didn’t need to continue.

So Deku’s absolute distraught upon seeing his own body hadn’t been an exaggeration. He really was looking that bad. Katsuki was once again glad that Recovery Girl didn’t allow him into the room… the last thing he needed was more memories of a dying Deku to haunt him.

He turned his head to look at Izuku, whose eyes were wide and whose brow was scrunched up with fear and concern. His fingers were idly playing with the hem of his shirt as he stared up at All Might, looking like there was nothing in the world he longed for more than a hug from his mentor. Katsuki sighed.

“He’s right beside me, you know”, he told All Might, looking serious and still angry. “You don’t have to talk as if he isn’t here”.

All Might looked surprised and embarrassed for a moment before giving Katsuki a small apologetic smile, scratching the back of his neck and looking like he had been caught red handed doing something wrong.

“I’m sorry, my boy”, All Might said, and both Katsuki and Izuku knew who he was addressing now. “I believe I spent so much time with your unconscious body that I…”, he trailed off again.

“You look tired, All Might”, Izuku said, concern etched in his tone. “Are you taking care of yourself?”

Katsuki turned his head to give Izuku an incredulous look.

“Do you want me to ask him that? Because there’s no way I’m asking him that”.

“He needs to look after himself, Kacchan!”, Izuku protested, still worried. “Look at him! He looks like he hasn’t slept in days!”

“Yeah, because he’s busy trying to save your ass”, Katsuki pointed out.

“I know that”, Izuku responded, a bit more bitterly and aggressively than Katsuki had expected. “That’s why I’m so worried”.

Without saying anything else or insisting, Izuku turned his head away and crossed his arms above his shoulder, looking pissed. Something definitely was going on with him. Katsuki would have to ask about it later.

“Fine”, Katsuki sighed in resignation and gave All Might a bored, bitter look. “Deku wants to know if you’re taking proper care of yourself”.

All Might smiled again at this, even though he looked sadder than anything else. A clear and deep look of fondness smoothed out the rough edges surrounding his eyes and he shook his head slightly, looking like he wanted to scold Izuku for worrying about everyone except for himself, but he didn’t have the heart to.

“Ah, my boy”, he commented with fatherly affection, sounding proud and disapproving at the same time, if that was possible. “You never change, do you?”

“No, he doesn’t”, Katsuki responded before Izuku could say anything, giving All Might a no-shit look. “He keeps playing the self-sacrificing act even though he’s the one with his foot half-kicking the damn bucket”.

All Might studied Katsuki silently for a few moments before speaking up again.

“You still have a long path to go, Young Bakugou”, he commented. “If you really think Young Midoriya’s altruism is an act. You, of all people, should know from first-hand experience that being selfless is something that he cannot help but doing”.

Katsuki looked away from All Might at the words, feeling angry for being embarrassed. He could recognize there was truth behind the number one hero’s statement, but was too stubborn to acknowledge it in front of him.

“E-Even – Even if what he said about my immune system being compromised is true”, Izuku said, suddenly deciding he wanted to speak to Katsuki again. He probably realized he had no other choice, if he wanted to get his message to All Might relayed. “Why not tell my mom, or anyone else about it? Why make up so many different lies, why clearly show us they’re lying, instead of coming clean? I’m sure my mom and the others would have understood and kept their distance if UA had just told them they can’t see me because my immune system is compromised. Why be so mysterious about it?”

Katsuki frowned at Izuku before looking at All Might again.

“Yeah, Deku’s right”, Katsuki said, pointing their teacher and mentor with a look filled with suspicion. “If the only reason you’re telling Deku’s visitors off is to preserve his immune system, why the hell did you guys lie to everyone about it? And why the hell not tell Deku’s mom about what’s going on? When we went over to pay her a little visit, she looked like a train wreck”, Katsuki scowled. Izuku glared at him.

“Kacchan”, he said, a warning in his tone. Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“What? It’s true. She was horrible. She probably hasn’t been sleeping and she looked tired as fuck, all because you assholes have been keeping her in the dark about Deku’s state”, Katsuki accused.

“The only reason we didn’t tell anyone is because we can’t risk the villain learning of Young Midoriya’s state”, All Might explained vaguely, making Katsuki throw his hands up and down in annoyance.

“Why not?”, he urged, angry. He could tell All Might had fed him half-truths instead of telling him what was really going on. He could just tell. “Just tell us what’s really going on”.

“What is going on is more complicated than you believe, young men”, All Might sighed tiredly, pinching the bridge of his nose and leaning forwards on his seat with a grumpy expression. “I can’t tell you everything because, if the information leaks out, we could risk our chance of ever capturing this villain and saving Young Midoriya’s life. This is a very delicate operation we are coordinating, and any misstep –“, he cut himself off, sounding like he couldn’t say much more. Both Katsuki and Izuku stared up at him with expectation.

“All Might”, Izuku whispered.

“Any misstep what?”, Katsuki urged, apprehensive. He didn’t like All Might’s tone. It had tragedy carved all over it.

Instead of responding, All Might stood up from his seat and kept his head bowed, looking like it was taking all of his self-control to keep what he knew to himself. Katsuki stayed where he was, waiting for the hero to continue.

“Just… trust UA, shonen. I can assure you we are doing our best to capture this villain and put an end to this terrible story”, All Might said, rather evasively. “I am sure we can count on your discretion regarding what I told you today. Any leak of information could –“

“You didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know”, Katsuki stood up, Izuku mimicking him. He threw his hands into his pockets and stared up at All Might with a defiant glare. “So Deku’s body is shit right now, big surprise. I want to know the reason for all the lies. Most of all – I want to know the reason for the shittiness of the lies”, he scoffed. “Because y’all didn’t put any effort into making it convincing, at least. It’s like you’ve been dropping clues for us to catch, breadcrumbs for us to follow. Recovery Girl told me to talk to you and ask about the real reason why I couldn’t see Deku”, Katsuki concluded, sounding serious and insolent. “Are you going to tell me, or will I have to find out on my own?”

“I would watch my tone if I were you, Young Bakugou”, All Might said sternly, but there was something akin to guilt in his voice that washed away all the threat he had mustered into his tone. “I told you all that I could. Having this conversation with you on its own is breaking the rules. Just know that we are doing all that we can to ensure Young Midoriya’s wellbeing, as well as yours”.

Knowing it is not enough”, Katsuki squinted his eyes. “I want to see actual proof”.

“We will show you proof once we capture the villain and restore Young Midoriya’s soul to his body”, All Might reassured him. “You can have my word”.

“Tch”, Katsuki scoffed. Izuku called his attention from beside him.

“Kacchan”, Izuku called, a serious look on his face. “Ask him… Ask him to tell that to my mom. She deserves to know why she can’t visit me. And she won’t tell anyone about it, if she knows it could interfere on the capture. Just…”, Izuku bit his lower lip, looking conflicted. “Tell him I’m the one who’s asking him that”.

Katsuki studied Izuku’s on-the-way-to-sobbing face for a moment before turning back to All Might.

“Now, if that was all –“, All Might started, but Katsuki interrupted.

“There’s something else”, he said seriously, still glaring up at the hero and looking very suspicious. “Deku wants you to tell his mom”.

All Might hesitated, looking to the side where he assumed Izuku was standing without being able to see him.

“Young Midoriya…”

“She deserves to know and you know it”, Katsuki interrupted. “Also, it’s Deku asking, not me. He’s been worried sick about her, and she’s been worried sick about him. Telling her she can’t see him because of germs or whatever is better than leaving her in the dark like you’re doing to the rest of us”.

“The board decided it would be better if we gave her no reasons to be so worried”, All Might said, eyes darting between Katsuki and the empty space where Izuku was standing, looking like he wasn’t sure who he should address. “That’s why we said nothing. To know her only son is in such a fragile state…”

“Her son’s soul is literally detached from his body”, Katsuki pointed out with another scoff. “What could be worse than that?”

Ah, shonen. If only you knew, All Might thought to himself. Instead of voicing his thoughts, he bowed his head again and nodded briefly, if only to please Katsuki enough for him to leave before he ended up saying too much.

“You are right. A mother deserves to know about her son’s health. I will contact Mrs. Midoriya and inform her of Young Midoriya’s state, and the real reason behind her ban”, All Might promised.

“T-Thank you, All Might”, Izuku said, sounding sincere. “Thank you very much”.

“He’s thanking you”, Katsuki said grumpily, looking bored and annoyed. All Might nodded again.

“You are welcome, Young Midoriya”, he said, going back to standing up straight. “Now, shonen. I am afraid I can’t be of much use for you now. If you don’t have any more questions, I believe it is time for your afternoon classes”, he said dismissively, pointing to the door. Katsuki and Izuku walked towards the exit and All Might followed them, meaning to head back to the teacher’s room. As they stepped out, however, Katsuki turned to face All Might once again, suspicion and anger (which was constant) clear in his crimson eyes.

“All Might”, he called as the man finished the process of closing the door behind himself.

“Yes, shonen?”, All Might replied.

“You said the villain can’t know about Deku’s state, or it could risk the capture”, Katsuki continued, narrowing his eyes. “Why is that?”

All Might sighed again, sounding tired.

“That is one of the things you can’t know just yet, my boy”, was his vague response. Katsuki scoffed.

“He also said something about saving my life”, Izuku asked, giving Katsuki an apprehensive look. “My life must be in danger if it needs to be saved, right?”

“Yeah”, Katsuki agreed, eyes still glued on All Might. “What do you have to say about that?”

“About what?”, All Might frowned, not having heard Izuku’s words. Katsuki rolled his eyes. He hated when he forgot that not everyone could see or hear the damn nerd.

“You said something about saving shitty Deku’s life”, Katsuki explained. “Is he actually dying?”

All Might looked away again, a conflicted look in his eyes. Somehow, that haunted look on his face told Katsuki everything he needed to know.

“Young Midoriya’s state is getting worse with each passing day”, All Might said simply, not looking at them. “Which is why we are doing our best to capture the villain as fast as possible”.

“And if you don’t?”, Katsuki insisted, sounding more skeptical than he actually felt. They would capture this villain, right? They had to. This was UA they were talking about. This was All Might. There was no way some shitty D-lister would be the one to cause Deku’s death, right?

Katsuki couldn’t allow that. As much as he fucking hated to admit it, now he knew – he remembered – that shitty Deku was only in this situation because of him. Sure, he had jumped in front of Katsuki out of his own free, stupid will, but he had jumped anyway. If it hadn’t been for Deku, it would be Katsuki in this situation.

If it hadn’t been for Deku, Katsuki could be dead already.

Even if he didn’t want to admit it, Katsuki couldn’t ignore it. He couldn’t pretend that it never happened. He hated that he was had been weak to the point of needing someone as Deku to save his ass, but it had happened anyway, and there was nothing he could do about it. The least he could do to repay Deku – to not be in debt with him – was to fucking prevent him from dying. And if those fucktards at UA failed to save the nerd’s life… Katsuki would take the matter into his own hands.

He knew Todoroki was right. No one had told him anything because everyone knew Katsuki would dive headfirst into danger if that meant he would have a chance to save Deku. Because they knew Katsuki, they knew of his explosive temperament, they knew he hated owing people things. They probably thought he would grasp the first opportunity he found to get rid of Deku’s soul, too.

What they didn’t know was that Katsuki wanted to help Deku because… Well, because…

Fuck. He still couldn’t admit it, could he?

He didn’t hate Deku. Not anymore, at least. Having someone glued to you for so long, sharing your feelings and feeling the other person’s emotions for so long… There was no way Katsuki could keep hating Deku’s guts when he could feel what the nerd was feeling. When he could feel that the nerd was actually sincere about his admiration for Katsuki, when he could feel the nerd didn’t look down on him as he had always thought, when he could feel the utter pain the nerd felt whenever Katsuki directed his rage towards him. Katsuki found himself surprised to realize that he didn’t want Deku to stop being in pain just because he could feel his pain as well (otherwise, he wouldn’t have sparred with him). He wanted Deku to stop being in pain because a part of him, a small part that had been hidden and buried beneath layers and layers of years-long anger, was empathetic enough – or became empathetic enough – to actually… To actually give a shit about Deku.

Maybe it had been the memories. Remembering how Deku had saved him, and how distraught he had felt when he thought Deku was dead… That did something to Katsuki. He couldn’t completely understand why he had freaked out so hard at the prospect of the nerd dying, but it had upset him. It had driven him crazy.

He remembered punching nurses, shouting, screaming, wailing at the top of his lungs, he remembered wanting to explode the place, to explode the villain, to explode whatever he could touch, he remembered the rage, and the anger, and the fury, and the pain, and the loss. He remembered the way Deku’s dead body lay askew on the floor, he remembered the way his empty eyes had stared at him, he remembered how Deku’s last breath was wasted on shouting his name, how Deku’s last energy was put into saving Katsuki’s life. A person who hated him, who despised him, who mistreated him his whole life. And yeah, maybe Deku had hit his head as a baby for him to end up caring so much about someone as Katsuki, but he cared anyway, no matter how hard Katsuki tried to drive him away, and he had given his life for Katsuki’s. There was no way Katsuki could keep hating him after that. He wasn’t a fucking monster, after all.

That didn’t mean he knew how to show Deku that, or that he wanted to. That didn’t even mean he knew what he was feeling in the first place. He didn’t want to appear weak. He didn’t want Deku to think he was getting soft, or that he was an emotional prick, or that he was anything other than himself. He didn’t know why he didn’t want Deku to know… He just didn’t.

Funny how Katsuki never gave a single shit about other people’s opinions in his life, but now Deku finding out about his feelings terrified him.

But what feelings were these? Ok, he didn’t hate Deku anymore, great fucking improvement, yadda yadda yadda. Now that he didn’t hate him, what did he feel?

Annoyance, that was for sure. Deku drove him fucking crazy. But also… Katsuki realized he couldn’t imagine a life without him. Deku had always been there, ever since he could remember, calling him Kacchan with his stupid fucking voice and chasing after him with his stupid fucking admiration. He remembered the drawings and the photos and felt guilt twist his chest. Deku had always been there… He had always been a constant in his life. Even when Katsuki ignored him, he had always been there to wish him a good morning. Even when Katsuki mistreated him, he had always been there to praise him. Even when Katsuki told him off, he had always chased behind him. Even when Katsuki called him a quirkless loser and told him to kill himself… He… He…

Katsuki sighed. He had a lot of things to make up for, apparently.

He wished he knew how to say ‘I’m sorry’. His life would be a lot easier if he did.

He got so lost in thought that he only remembered the conversation he was having with All Might when the man answered his question.

“That is not an option, shonen”, All Might said reassuringly, offering them his trademark smile (even though he was in his bony form) and giving them a thumbs up that felt way too forced for Katsuki’s liking. “We will find the villain and restore Young Midoriya to his body. Everything will be fine”.

Katsuki stared up at him, incredulity written all over his face. Izuku stared up at All Might with admiration.

“Just tell his mom the truth”, Katsuki said, turning on his heels and starting to walk away. “The whole truth; not the half-one you told me. She deserves to know”.

All Might didn’t respond, but even if he had, Katsuki wouldn’t have heard it anyway. He headed to the dining hall in order to grab himself lunch before the afternoon classes began.

 

 

 

 

 

“You look upset”.

“I’m ok”.

“I don’t know if you’re really that dumb or if you just like pissing me off. We can share feelings, dickhead. I know you’re not ok”.

“What is it to you anyway, Kacchan?”

Katsuki turned his head to stare at Izuku, a frown coloring his brow. Someone was being sassy. Still, the response was so unlike Deku that he felt even more curious about the reasons behind his sour mood. What could Katsuki have possibly done to piss him off so much? He didn’t remember anything.

“Was it because I swore in front of All Might?”

What? No”.

“Hm. Was it because I told him your mom looked ugly?”

“That wasn’t really nice”.

“I didn’t mean she is ugly, I meant she looked ugly because she was clearly spending all her time worrying about your sorry ass. No one looks pretty after losing days of sleep”.

“That wasn’t it, Kacchan”.

“Will you tell me what was it, or do you plan on making me keep guessing?”

“It’s… Nothing. It’s not a big deal”.

“You’re looking at me as if I personally killed your pet puppy with my bare hands”.

“No, I’m not”.

“Fine. You’re looking at me as if I called your mom ugly”.

“You did”.

“So that’s it?”

“No”.

Fuck. Then just tell me already. I don’t have the patience to deal with this”.

“Then don’t. I’m not asking you to and it’s not a big deal”.

“But you’re being all sour and miserable and sassy and it’s pissing me the fuck off”.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. I think we can’t keep doing this feeling-exchanging thing for much longer. I think it’s tiring us out”.

“Well, of fucking course it’s tiring us out, genius. But do you have any plans on how to keep your sappy feelings to yourself before they end up being in me?”

Izuku sighed.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to”.

“Yeah. Just fucking tell me what’s wrong so we can fix it”.

A pause.

“I don’t think it’s something that can be fixed”.

“For fuck’s sake”, Katsuki let out a prolonged sigh and a groan. “Why did I have to end up stuck with the most melodramatic asshole in this entire school?”

Izuku didn’t respond, bowing his head instead.

“Look, I told you I don’t have the patience to deal with this kind of shit. I’m not going to keep insisting on it. If you want to tell me, you tell me. If you don’t, then it’s your problem. I’m not begging you for shit”.

With that, he started to eat his lunch. Luckily, the dining hall was almost empty, so Katsuki didn’t really have to worry about looking like a lunatic while he spoke to Deku. Deku, on the other hand, fell silent.

Katsuki quickly ate his meal. He was thankful for Deku finally being silent for once in his life – how many times had he prayed for that to happen? – but, at the same time, the amount of silence wasn’t uncanny. Katsuki didn’t want to seem ungrateful, because he spent most of his time telling Deku to shut up, but fuck, a Deku that didn’t start conversation, that didn’t blabber at him, that didn’t mumble and mutter and talk to himself? That shit was uncanny. It was pissing him off. It was driving him mad.

“So you’re not telling me what the fuck is wrong, right?”, Katsuki asked angrily once he was done eating, slamming one of his fists on the table and glaring at Deku. Deku stared up at him with sad eyes and sighed, shaking his head.

“It’s nothing. It’ll be over soon”, he shrugged simply. For some reason, in that moment, he reminded Katsuki of the skinny, shy, cowardly boy that only wore black and that walked around with his head low back at school. He scoffed.

“Whatever”, he spat simply before standing up and heading out of the hall. Izuku followed him closely, but still silently. Katsuki snarled.

It really pissed him off when Deku did that. Why couldn’t he just tell Katsuki what was getting him so riled up? Did he not trust Katsuki? Or did he just do it for the dramatics of it? Why the fuck couldn’t Deku just grab him by the shoulders and scream what he was thinking at him instead of playing this stupid fucking game? Katsuki had no fucking patience for it.

If Deku wanted to be like that, then fine. Katsuki wouldn’t play into his little stupid game.

They watched the afternoon classes and Izuku didn’t ask him any questions and, ok, that was weird as fuck. Whatever was making Deku so upset must be really serious for him not to ask one single thing at Katsuki’s ear during a lecture. As they walked out of the classroom, Katsuki promptly ignoring Kaminari’s question if he would be able to make it to Kirishima’s party, he nudged Deku’s arm with his elbow, a bit more roughly than necessary. He hated that he was the one bending the knee, but Izuku’s sad mood was making him sad.

“Is it because of what All Might said?”

Izuku thought for a moment.

“I mean, that upset me a bit, but… No, that’s not it. Just leave it, Kacchan”, he added with a sigh.

“Oh, so when it’s with you, you can keep sticking your ugly nose in my business and refuse to drop things, but when it’s with me, I have to leave it? Fuck off”, he scoffed. “Is it because of your mom not knowing?”

No, Kacchan”, Izuku sighed.

“You’re starting to piss me off. Is it because I sparred with you?”

“No. That was actually nice, to be honest”.

“Weirdo”.

A pause of realization.

“Is it because I call you names?”

A sigh.

“I’ve grown used to that already”.

“Hm. Is it because I tried to attack Icy Hot?”

Izuku blushed, remembering the way he needed to hold back a half-naked Kacchan to prevent him from jumping at Todoroki.

“No”.

“But it has to do with Icy Hot, right?”, Katsuki scoffed. “Your face is all red and shit”.

“No, it’s not!”

“Yes, it is. Do you have the hots for him or some shit? Is that it?”

Izuku snapped his head towards Kacchan, a horrified look on his face, which had become really pale really fast. Katsuki stared back with a bored expression.

W-W-What?!”

“Oh, come on. He was the one who visited you the most before the old lady locked him out. He’s willing to risk his damn chance at becoming a hero just because of your stupid ass. And you get all stuttery and flushy like some sort of fairy tale princess whenever he’s around or someone mentions him”, Katsuki rolled his eyes. “I’m not stupid”.

Izuku decided on that moment that Katsuki was, indeed, stupid.

“I – I don’t have – I don’t – I mean – T-Todoroki-kun is – he’s – I –“, Izuku stuttered, incapable of formulating a coherent sentence. How could Kacchan think that?!

“Deep breaths, Deku. If you faint because of Icy Hot, I’m not dragging your ass along”, he said with forced indifference, not looking at Izuku and putting a glare on his face. Izuku’s flush deepened.

“It’s not him!”, Izuku protested, his voice coming out louder and more high pitched than he had intended. He took a deep breath and tried to regain his composure before continuing, even if Katsuki wasn’t even looking at his general direction while they walked. “It's not. Him, I mean. I – we – we don’t have anything. I d-don’t – I don’t have t-the hots for him, or whatever it is you’re thinking!”

“I don’t give a shit who you have the hots for, nerd”, Katsuki said stoically. “I just want to know why you’re so upset. Is it because I tried to attack him or not?”

No”, Izuku responded vehemently.

“But does it have to do with him?”

“No”, Izuku sighed. “I mean, yes. I don’t know”, he huffed in frustration.

I, for one, know Midoriya’s life is worth the risk.

Todoroki thought he was worth the risk. Kacchan didn’t. So, in a way, it had to do with Todoroki, but not in the way Kacchan was thinking. It was the opposite of what Kacchan was thinking. Kacchan, however, was too oblivious to realize that Izuku’s nervousness had nothing to do with the Half-and-Half boy.

“Pff. Whatever”, Katsuki scoffed. “If you want to get into his pants or some crap like that, wait until you’re back in your body. This is the kind of shit that I’m not doing for you, even if you paid me actual money. Though I’m sure you won’t be able to handle it on your own”, he added with a scowl.

“Kacchan”, Izuku groaned with frustration. “I don’t like Todoroki-kun like that”.

“I don’t give a shit who you like”.

Izuku sighed and lowered his head. He decided it would be useless to get into that discussion with Kacchan, and all the possible results to that conversation seemed more disastrous to Izuku than anything.

Izuku was still having a hard time figuring out what exactly were his feelings for Kacchan, but he knew for a fact that he was surprisingly adamant on not wanting Kacchan to think he had any sort of romantic interest in Todoroki. He and Todoroki were good friends, and Izuku loved him, but… He had never looked at Todoroki like that. He had never thought of Todoroki like that. Actually, he had never thought of anyone like that! Maybe Uraraka, but… it was different. She was the first girl Izuku ever spoke to, so that had to cause some impact, right? He couldn’t imagine his life without either Uraraka or Todoroki, but it was different.

Kacchan had been there with him since the beginning. Despite the bullying, the hurting, and the distance that grew between them, he had always been there. He was a constant. Losing Kacchan would be like losing a limb. Losing Kacchan would be like – like losing a part of himself. After all, for better or for worse, Kacchan was the reason why Izuku was who he was. He had made who Izuku was.

They arrived at the bedroom, which was still a mess after their sparring session. Katsuki tidied it up and Izuku wanted to help, but he couldn’t – his hands would just phase through things. Instead, he simply stayed out of Kacchan’s way and watched silently as he set his belongings back into place. Once he was done, he stripped out of his uniform and changed clothes right there, in the middle of the bedroom, pointing Izuku with a tired glare.

“Next time, let’s take the sparring to the gym”, he said conversationally. Izuku was still a bit upset at Kacchan, but decided it would be for the better to engage in that conversation.

“Won’t you be embarrassed to have people see you fighting against thin air?”, he asked with curiosity. Katsuki huffed out a breath and sat heavily on his rolling chair.

“I don’t feel embarrassed about anything, Deku. Didn’t I tell you I don’t give a shit what other people think of me?”

“Oh, right”, Izuku lowered his head. Katsuki turned his laptop on and grabbed some of his notebooks from inside his backpack, setting them on his desk. Looking above his shoulder, Katsuki realized Izuku was still unmoving at the same spot, head bowed, and rolled his eyes.

“So are you coming or what?”, he asked with annoyance.

“Hm?”, Izuku asked, confused by Katsuki’s invitation. Katsuki turned his chair so that he could properly face Izuku.

“I still don’t know what the fuck you’re so upset for, but I told you two days ago that I’d explain the stuff you didn’t understand from Aizawa sensei’s lecture. So are you getting your ass over here? Or will you just stand there like a fucking statue?”, he said in a neutral tone. Izuku stared at him with wide eyes. “You told me to be clearer next time I offered a favor, so there you go, clear as a day”, he added without missing a beat.

“A-Are – Are you serious, Kacchan?”, he asked, surprised by the offer. Izuku had though Kacchan had only been joking when he made the offer, but if he was being serious – that was an opportunity Izuku couldn’t throw away. He approached the studying desk and sat on the edge of the bed beside it, from where he could see Kacchan’s notebooks and laptop without difficulty.

“Yeah, I’m fucking serious. There’s no use beating you if you’re dumb and useless. We gotta be at the same rank for my victory to mean something”, Katsuki responded, but something about his tone – something about his eyes – told Izuku that wasn’t the only reason why he was teaching him. Maybe he was trying to make Izuku feel better? Maybe he was trying to make up for him being upset, even though he didn’t know the cause behind Izuku’s sadness? Or maybe he just wanted Izuku to stop asking so many questions during the lecture? Maybe he was rewarding Izuku for being quiet? Maybe he had enjoyed the silence? There were so many thoughts and theories crossing Izuku’s mind that he couldn’t concentrate on what Kacchan was saying. All he could do was stare at Kacchan’s face, take in Kacchan’s eyes, and watch, dazed, as Kacchan’s lips moved while he talked about Aizawa sensei’s lecture and their studies.

He needed to concentrate. Kacchan was taking time to give him a private lesson, and he was one of the best in their class, so Izuku needed to take the most of it… He couldn’t afford to be distracted. Kacchan wouldn’t ever let him get away with it if he didn’t pay enough attention. He shook the distracting thoughts about Kacchan’s reasons from his head and focused on what Kacchan was saying, rather than how his lips were moving. He managed to get five good minutes of unfaltering concentration, until…

“Ah, fuck. Kirishima’s handwriting sucks. Move aside, nerd; let met me grab my reading glasses”.

And he put on his reading glasses.

Yeah. Izuku had it bad.

He had it so bad.

 

 

 

 

 

From: Dunce Face

Hey man, you know if you can make it to the party already?

From: Dunce Face

I was kidding when I said I was kidding about you not having to cook

From: Dunce Face

You know how helpless we are. Can you please cook for us???

From: Dunce Face

Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaseeeeeeeeee

From: Dunce Face

No one’s as good at it as you!!!

From: Dunce Face

Also Eijirou will be so sad if you don’t go :-/

From: Dunce Face

Ok, ok. Cooking is not required but it would be greatly appreciated

From: Dunce Face

Can you do it???????

 

From: Raccoon Eyes

It’s shady to turn off your last seen AND your read receipts feature, Bakubro

From: Raccoon Eyes

What are you hiding???

From: Raccoon Eyes

Anyway don’t listen to Kami if he bothers you about the cooking we just want you to come over and hang with us <3

 

From: Tape Guy

Hey man can I borrow some of your notes for aizawa’s last lecture

From: Tape Guy

I really need them man

From: Tape Guy

Can I come over??

From: Tape Guy

:c

 

From: Shitty Hair

Hey babe let me know when I can stop by to lend you those notes you asked for!

From: Shitty Hair

And when we can talk about your bakufeelings ;-)

From: Shitty Hair

Ok no more jokes I promise

From: Shitty Hair

You can really talk to me ok

From: Bakubro

Don’t fucking call me babe

From: Shitty Hair

Cranky

From: Bakubro

Also forget about the feelings shit

From Bakubro:

I don’t wanna talk about it anymore

From: Shitty Hair

Why not??

From: Shitty Hair

I’m coming over

From: Bakubro

No

From: Bakubro

Not now

From: Bakubro

I’m busy

From: Shitty Hair

You’re busy even for me? :(

From: Bakubro

Uh, yeah??

From: Bakubro

Also when you come over don’t talk about the feelings shit

From: Bakubro

Let’s just talk about it over text ok

From: Bakubro

WHEN I want to

From: Bakubro

Not right now

From: Shitty Hair

Why not??

From: Shitty Hair

Oh

From: Shitty Hair

Oh my god

From: Shitty Hair

Is this about Midoriya

From: Shitty Hair

Is the rare-feeling confusion thing about Midoriya??

From: Bakubro

Fuck off

From: Shitty Hair

OH MY GOD

From: Shitty Hair

IT IS

From: Shitty Hair

OH MY GOD WHAT’S HAPPENING

From: Shitty Hair

I’M COMING OVER RN

From: Bakubro

Kirishima. I swear to fuckign god. If you open your damn trap about this shit inside my bedroom in front of Deku. You will no longer have teeth by the morning. Because I’ll tear them all out. I’ll tear them out using my fists. And I won’t even use my quirk. It’ll be raw strength. I’ll tear them all out and I’ll make you swallow them, one by one.

From: Bakubro

If you open your mouth to talk about feelings in front of Deku you won’t ever see the light of the day again

From: Shitty Hair

Message noted

From: Bakubro

Also don’t come over now I’m busy

From: Shitty Hair

You’re not going to tell me what with? :(

From: Bakubro

No because it’s none of your damn business

From: Shitty Hair

:(

From: Shitty Hair

You’re making me curious

From: Bakubro

I don’t give a shit

From: Bakubro

I’ll text you when you can come over

From: Bakubro

Bye

From: Shitty Hair

Bakugouuuuu we talked about just saying bye

 

 

From: Raccoon Eyes

We can all see you replying to Kiri’s texts but not to ours

From: Racoon Eyes

That’s favoritism you know

From: Racoon Eyes

And also mean

Read at 19:02

From: Racoon Eyes

Did you turn the read receipts back on just to piss me off

 

From: Raccoon Eyes

Did you turn it off again

From: Raccoon Eyes

Is this your messed up way of communicating with me

Read at 19:08

From: Raccoon Eyes

Cool it’s like using a ouija board

From: Raccoon Eyes

You’re scarier than the spirits tho

From: Raccoon Eyes

Wish we could talk to Midoriya like this instead of having to use YOU as a board

From: Bakubro

Die

From: Raccoon Eyes

Ah there he is ^-^

 

 

 

 

 

“You got it or not, nerd?”, he raised an eyebrow at Deku, who promptly nodded his head, making his curls bounce up and down and fall all over his eyes. Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Good. Because I’m not teaching you again”, he huffed, closing his notebooks and putting them away inside his drawer. Izuku frowned at him.

“Why not?”, he asked, sounding genuinely curious.

“I don’t have the patience to be a teacher”, Katsuki shrugged simply. “If you have any more doubts, save them for when you’re back in your body”.

“Well, I think you’re really good at teaching”, Izuku shrugged.

“Good for you, I guess”, Katsuki said simply, standing up from his rolling chair and grabbing his phone. Despite of his harsh words, Izuku could tell Katsuki had only said them out of habit. With each passing day, he was getting better at telling the difference from when Kacchan was just teasing and from when he was actually being serious.

“Are you – uh”, Izuku hesitated, following Katsuki with his eyes but not standing up from the bed. “Are you texting Kirishima-kun again?”

“What is it to you?”, Katsuki scoffed without looking at Izuku while he typed. Izuku blushed and turned his head away.

“N-Nothing. I was just thinking, uh –“, he tried to make up a viable reason. If he was honest with himself, he was actually feeling curious about what Kirishima and Kcchan talked about so much, since the boy never replied to any of his other friends’ texts, but Izuku couldn’t just tell him that. “Kaminari-kun and Mina-san said something about a birthday party earlier”, Izuku shrugged.

“Yeah”, Katsuki responded with indifference while he continued to type on his phone, telling Kirishima he could come over. “It’s Shitty Hair’s birthday next week. They want to throw him a surprise party or whatever”.

“Oh”, Izuku said simply, lowering his head. “And you’re going, right?”

Katsuki scoffed and sent Izuku a quick condescending glimpse.

“Of course I’m fucking going. I just like to piss them off and pretend I’m not interested”, he shrugged.

Izuku decided to stay silent after that.

Katsuki resumed typing down on his phone and placed it back into his pocket, turning around to face Izuku.

“Well, Shitty Hair will be over any minute now, so I’ll wait for him outside”, he announced.

“What? Why?”, Izuku snapped his head towards Katsuki and frowned, the sudden movement making his curls bounce over the top of his eyes again. Izuku swapped them away with an annoyed gesture. “I – I mean… Why not invite him in?”

Katsuki squinted his eyes at Izuku for a moment. He couldn’t just say ‘I don’t want to risk Shitty Hair running his mouth and spilling something about the feelings-talk I wanted to have with him in front of you, because you’re a nosy fucking nerd who has no boundaries and you’ll keep bothering me about it if you overhear it and I won’t know what to answer to make you shut up because I have no fucking idea what I’m feeling in the first place’, so instead he said:

“Too many people in my bedroom for one day. I don’t like this invasion of privacy”.

Izuku stared at him with a look that told Katsuki he didn’t believe him.

“If you listen to my conversation through the door”, Katsuki pointed a serious finger at him. “I’ll cut both your ears off”.

“What’s there to listen?”, Izuku shrugged, feigning innocence. Katsuki could see some hidden knowledge behind Izuku’s eyes. Was the nerd onto him…?

“Nothing that’s any of your business, so you better stay the fuck out of it”, Katsuki scoffed, rolling his eyes and walking back towards Deku. “Also, you need to fucking do something about that”.

“About what?”, Izuku frowned.

“Your shitty hair”, Katsuki said, searching his drawers for something without looking at Izuku. “It’s getting fucking ridiculous”.

“Well, it’s bothering me too, Kacchan”, Izuku said tiredly. “It falls over my eyes all the time and it tickles my neck”.

“The old lady doesn’t want me to give you the cooties by breathing the same air as you, so I can’t give you my amazing haircut”, he shrugged, finally finding what he was looking for and smirking triumphantly. He held up a headband at Deku, waving it at him. “Since the scissors just phase through your shitty soul’s hair, this will have to do for now”, he said, throwing the headband at Izuku.

Izuku raised his hands to grab it, but the headband phased right through him and plopped against the wall directly behind him. Both boys frowned.

“I don’t think this will work”, Izuku commented.

“Shit”, Katsuki said, grabbing the headband from the bed and staring at it as if it had personally offended him. “I thought this crap would’ve worked. What if I try to put this on you?”

“I don’t know if it will stay in my head”, Izuku admitted. “Maybe it will just fall off after you let go of it”.

“Shut up and sit still”, Katsuki instructed sternly, placing the headband around Deku’s head and pushing it all the way up to his forehead so that his curls were hidden beneath it and held securely into place. However, as soon as Katsuki let go of the material, the headband phased right through Izuku and fell to the bed again. “Fuck”, Katsuki huffed with annoyance, placing his hands at his hips and staring at Izuku as if he was trying to find a solution for his hair problem.

“It’s ok”, Izuku shrugged. “I’ll just keep pushing them away”.

“You look like a homeless dog”, Katsuki said without missing a beat. “I won’t walk around with you looking like this”.

“No one else can see me, Kacchan”, Izuku pointed out with a tiny chuckle.

I can see you, and that amount of fucking hair is pissing me off. It’s like you have a bush growing on your damn head”.

“Kacchan!”, Izuku protested, but there was slight humor in his voice.

“Ugh, whatever. Just stay there”, Katsuki instructed in the same annoyed tone as before. “I’ll grab the notes from Kirishima and then we can figure out what to do about your shitty nest of a hair”.

“Ok”, Izuku said in agreement, but he didn’t think Kacchan heard it before he walked out of the bedroom and closed the door behind him.

Izuku sighed and allowed himself to fall down on the bed, combing his fingers through his hair and then throwing his arms above his head while he stared at the ceiling.

He liked Kacchan. He liked Kacchan a lot. He wished they could be actual friends for once. He wished… He wished they could actually be close to each other without needing to be forced together by a villain’s quirk. He wished they could have this – hanging out together, talking to each other, sparring friendly, having studying sessions – because they wanted to, and not because they had no other choice.

Izuku wished they could have this. He wasn’t so sure Kacchan did. He didn’t really need Izuku, after all… Not when he had amazing friends like Mina, and Kaminari, and Sero. Not when he had someone like Kirishima… Not when he had friends.

The truth was: Kacchan never needed him. Izuku was the one who had always needed Kacchan. He had needed Kacchan as a friend, he had needed Kacchan as an outlet after he found out he was quirkless, he had needed Kacchan as his personal image of victory.

Kacchan, on the other hand? He didn’t need Izuku. Izuku could probably disappear in front of his very eyes, he could slip away through his very fingers, and, at the end of the day, it wouldn’t make any difference to Kacchan.

It would probably mean nothing at all to him.

Izuku felt tired.

 

 

 

 

 

“Here you go, man”, Kirishima handed him the notebook, standing in front of him in the hallway. “Though I think you’ve already caught up with it in today’s lecture. Still, it’s all in there, even if Yao-Momo didn’t help me this time”, he shrugged.

“Fine. I’ll give it back later”, Katsuki said, ready to twist his doorknob and walk back into his room unceremoniously.

“Hey, wait!”, Kirishima called after him, holding one of Katsuki’s wrists. “Why are we talking in the hallway anyway, man?”, he asked, suspicion and confusion written all over his face. Katsuki glared at him and leaned in closer to his friend.

“Because I don’t want to risk you running your damn mouth in front of the shitty nerd”, Katsuki hissed at Kirishima, whose eyes widened at the words.

“Ok, man… What’s really going on here?”, he asked, sounding interested. “I mean… I have no clue and you’re being all secretive about it. Did something happen between you and Midoriya? What is it?”

Katsuki sighed heavily, checking the hallway on either sides to see if there was someone listening to their conversation, before grabbing Kirishima’s forearm and dragging him slightly away from his bedroom door. Once they were at a safe distance, Katsuki gave Kirishima a tired look.

“I don’t actually hate him”, Katsuki told his friend, looking as serious as ever. Kirishima blinked blankly at him.

“O…kay?”, he frowned.

“Don’t give me that fucking look. I’ve hated him all my life”, Katsuki shook his head. “And now I don’t hate him anymore”.

“I think… that’s… good?”, Kirishima tried tentatively. He looked extremely confused. “I mean, it’s good not to hate people, especially if you’re in the hero business”.

“Yeah, but why don’t I hate him anymore?”, Katsuki asked, his voice barely above a whisper. Kirishima frowned again. “We’ve known each other since we were kids, and I’ve always hated him, ever since I can remember. I couldn’t tell why, and I always thought it was because he was a quirkless loser who thought he could stand up to people even though he had no idea how to defend himself, but now…”, he shook his head. “I don’t think I hate him anymore. He annoys the fuck out of me, but…”, he trailed off, sighing.

“Dude”, Kirishima told him, staring at Katsuki as if he was a confused child trying to understand things that were bigger than him. “You’ve been spending more time together. Actually, you’ve been spending all the time together. It’s only natural you… grow on him, you know?”, he shrugged.

No”, Katsuki shook his head firmly, glaring at Kirishima. “I don’t fucking know”.

“Look”, Kirishima said patiently, placing a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder. He didn’t shrug away from the touch. “I know you suck at this because you barely spend any time with other people, but this has happened to you before. Even if you don’t like to admit it, you’re friends with me, and Mina, and Kami, and Sero. It didn’t happen out of nowhere. It took you time to blossom into the beautiful, manly bakuflower you are now – sorry, sorry”, he added with a nervous chuckle when Katsuki snarled at him. “What I mean is that it took time for you to grow on us. You spent time with us, and we hung out, and now we’re friends. Maybe you thought you hated Midoriya because you never got to spend as much time with him before?”

“Nerd was glued to me all the time when we were growing up”, Katsuki explained, crossing his arms above his chest and looking grumpily at the distance. “He never stopped following me around. That asshole spent 11 years glued to me”, he scoffed. “We spent a lot of fucking time together, so why is this only happening now?”

Kirishima seemed to think for a while, his eyes looking lost as he took in what Katsuki was telling him.

“I don’t know, man”, he shrugged. “You said he followed you around and he was the one glued to you. Sounds to me like all the effort was coming from Midoriya”.

“Yeah, because I just wanted him to leave me the fuck alone and he never listened”, Katsuki scoffed. “As usual”.

“Yeah”, Kirishima nodded emphatically, as if Katsuki was following the precise train of thought he wanted him to. “But – like, you also never listened to him, right?”

Huh?”, Katsuki frowned.

“When he talked to you, and tried to be your friend or whatever – you never paid attention to him, right? You just told him off?”

“Yeah”, Katsuki repeated emphatically, annoyed. “Because I didn’t want to be his fucking friend”.

“So back then, you could tell him off, and even though he kept following you around, you had the option to ignore him, right?”

Katsuki squinted his eyes at Kirishima.

“Now you can’t do that”, Kirishima pointed out triumphantly. “Because not only is he literally incapable of not following you, but you can also feel what he’s feeling!”

Katsuki scowled.

“Ahh, Bakubro! You’re bonding with him!”, Kirishima exclaimed triumphantly, tapping one hand to Katsuki’s shoulder, even though his voice was low to maintain discretion.

“Shut the fuck up”, Katsuki growled, swatting Kirishima’s hand away angrily. “I’m not!”

“Yes, you are! You don’t hate him anymore because you’ve made an empathic bond with him! And you know what that means, right?”

“No, and I don’t want to fucking know –“

“You like him because he likes you!”

What?”

“Well, actually, I’m not so sure about that. But it made sense to me, you know?”

“Just to you. It doesn’t make any fucking sense to me”, Katsuki scoffed.

“But, like. If when you were growing up, you acted the same way as you act today… Then I gotta admit Midoriya is manlier than I thought”.

“What the fuck; why?”

“Because despite of the treatment you gave him, he stuck around! He must like you a lot to have stayed”.

“Or maybe he’s messed up in the head”.

“Or maybe he just really admires you and wants really hard to be your friend. I don’t see what’s so wrong in trying to be his friend, too. That’s what you’re doing, right?”

What?”

“Oh, come on, man. We all see you two talking to each other all the time! And no: no one judges you for that”.

“I don’t give a single fuck if you guys do”, Katsuki added quickly.

“Yes, yes, I know”, Kirishima sighed tiredly. “But what I mean is – I don’t know, man. I think it’s nice you two are finally getting along”.

“We’re not getting along”, Katsuki growled. “I said I don’t hate him anymore, I didn’t say I love him”.

“I didn’t say you love him, either”, Kirishima gave him a surprised look, blinking blankly and frowning. If life was a cartoon, fume would have come out of Katsuki’s ears and nostrils.

Whatever. My point is that I tolerate him a bit more now, but that doesn’t mean we’re fucking getting along or whatever the hell it is you’re trying to insinuate”, he barked angrily.

“If you’re so sure about that, then why did you want to talk to me about this?”, Kirishima frowned, confusion and curiosity etched in his face.

“I fucking didn’t! I changed my mind the moment I sent you that fucking text, but you kept pissing me off about it!”, Katsuki growled. “So there. I don’t actually hate Deku. Is that good enough for you? Can you fucking drop the subject now and leave me the fuck alone?!”, he huffed out, sounding way angrier than he needed to be. He sounded almost… defensive. Kirishima raised his hands at him in a gesture that indicated he meant no harm.

“Ok, man”, he said in surrender. “Ok. I get it. That’s good. That’s good”, he gave Katsuki a tentative smile, trying to calm his friend down.

Good. Now stop talking about that”, Katsuki scoffed, letting go of Kirishima and turning back towards his door.

“Ok”, Kirishima nodded, his hands still raised. “Ok. Cool”.

“I’ll give your fucking notebook back when I’m done with it”, Katsuki announced, still sounding angry.

“That’s cool, man. Take all the time you need”, Kirishima added patiently.

“Now fuck off”, Katsuki growled in conclusion. Kirishima nodded, taking one step back.

“You sure you’re fine? You don’t want me to come in with you?”, he asked friendly.

“Yes, I’m fucking fine”, Katsuki barked in response, not sounding fine at all.

“I’m just asking because your doorknob is about to blow up”, Kirishima pointed at where Katsuki was gripping the doorknob with one hot, incandescent hand.

Fuck”, Katsuki muttered under his breath, removing his hand from the doorknob before it could actually blow up and letting out a series of curses. Kirishima took the distraction to take more steps back.

“Just text me if you need anything, ok?”, Kirishima told him from a safe distance. “And try not to blow my notebook up!”

Katsuki didn’t bother to respond as he tried his best to twist the doorknob without making it melt of fall apart. Damn fucking Deku making him fuck stuff up with his quirk because of fucking confused feelings. Couldn’t he just figure out what to feel for once? How did Deku fucking manage being happy and sad at the same fucking time? Why couldn’t he just pick one? No wonder they were both always feeling so exhausted. Deku was a lot to deal with. A whole fucking lot.

With Katsuki, things were way easier and more objective. He had no idea how stupid Deku was making him feel, so he chose the simpler option: he didn’t hate Deku. There. Problem fucking solved. Now he didn’t have to waste any more time on trying to figure his emotions out or fucking cry like a loser because of overwhelming feelings. Cutting problems short and solving them objectively was so much simpler than stressing out over them.

He was cool with feeling not-hate for Deku, whatever the hell that meant. For Katsuki, feeling not-hate was good enough for the time being.

Chapter Text

Missed call at 9:00 from: Unknown

Missed call at 9:04 from: Unknown

Missed call at 10:30 from: Unknown

From: Unknown

Hello… I hope I have the right number… I just wanted to thank you for talking to All Might on my behalf… He came over earlier this morning and told me what is really going on with my Izuku... Of course I was not pleased by all the lies and secrets but at least I’m glad I’m no longer in the dark... Would you like to come over later? I can cook you something nice as a proper thank you for interveining.

From: Unknown

It’s Izuku’s mother, Inko Midoriya… In case you don’t have my number.

From: Deku’s Mom

I tried calling you, but I suppose it was too early… Let me know if you can come by later.

 

Katsuki frowned and rubbed the sleep away from his eyes, annoyed. First, because he had slept way more than he had planned to – it was fucking 11 a.m., for fucks sake, and he usually woke up at 5 –; second, because why the fuck did moms feel the need to text so ominously? Couldn’t this woman just use normal punctuation?

He set the phone aside and shifted on the bed, stretching – and emitting a little grunt in the process – and staring up at the ceiling. He was still feeling tired and sleepy and, leaning his weight in one elbow, he looked over the pillow fort separating his side of the bed from Deku’s. Katsuki found the boy was still fast asleep, lying on a fetal position with his back turned to him. His mess of a hair was sticking out in all directions, blocking his stupid freckled face away from Katsuki’s view.

Deku hadn’t said a word to Katsuki after he reentered the room on the night before, even as he spat curses and angry swears at the fact his doorknob had half-melted. He would have to request for a new one again, and he definitely wasn’t in the mood for that sort of bureaucracy. Deku had simply listened to his angry yelling, without meeting Katsuki’s eyes and bearing that sickening kicked-puppy look on his face.

Then Katsuki had announced he was going to study some more by himself, now that Deku had already cleared away all his doubts, and Deku had just nodded at him, still avoiding his eyes, still refusing to speak up. He had made his way over to his side of the bed and lied down, his back turned to Katsuki and his hair hiding his face from view, exactly in the way it was still doing now. And he had fallen asleep in the matter of seconds without a single word.

Or… sort of. Katsuki, who had kept sending subtle glimpses towards Deku every other minute, couldn’t tell for sure whether he was actually asleep or just pretending.

(As he stared at shitty Deku’s back, he still couldn’t tell, but the thought that Deku could be hypothetically tricking him made him want to punch a hole through his damn face).

God. He had barely woken up and he was already so angry that even staring at shitty Deku’s back made him want to punch him.

And shove him.

And just…

He sighed. Sitting up on the bed with a quick movement (which probably wasn’t healthy for his spine) that made the mattress rattle, Katsuki grabbed his phone again and re-opened the text conversation with Deku’s mom.

 

From: Katsuki Bakugou

I’ll have to talk to Aizawa sensei to see if we can come over, but I’ll let you know

 

He sighed, locked the phone and set it on his studying desk, staring – or rather glaring – at the floor. It was dusty. He probably needed to do a swiping soon. But he liked the way the dust sparkled and shone in the thin streaks of sunlight coming from the narrow gap between his curtains. It was distracting. And staring at it was better than staring at shitty Deku, or thinking about shitty Deku, or wondering what shitty Deku’s freckles would look like beneath the sun, or trying to figure out why the fact that shitty Deku didn’t want to talk to him and had that heartbreaking sadness etched all over his expressive eyes was fucking bothering him so much.

Fuck. What was Katsuki doing?

Being this evasive wasn’t like him. Avoidance wasn’t his damn type. If he had a problem, he faced it headfirst. If he needed to get something done, he did it with maestry. He wasn’t a coward, and he wasn’t the type to hide away from his problems and let them fucking consume him until they were too big to be dealt with. He always acted on stuff that bothered him.

Perhaps that was why he was so explosive. He didn’t dwell on things, he didn’t overthink. If something was bothering him, he confronted it impulsively. With his roaring shouts, with his explosive fists, with whatever the hell he could get his hands on.

Or at least, that was what he used to be like…  before he caused All Might’s fall.

After all, he was the one who became the reason why the number one hero, the symbol of fucking peace, became nothing other than a tall, bony, lanky bastard who would probably break in half if anyone as much as poked him.

Katsuki hadn’t confronted anyone about that, as he usually did. He couldn’t have. Who could he confront? Himself?

(He should have).

He had let the hurt and the frustration and the anger grow inside himself and consume him until he needed to let it all out, until he needed to find away to get rid of all that before he exploded. And the only way he found to do that was to fight Deku.

Because as close as he was to Kirishima, he couldn’t just talk to him about that. Kirishima wouldn’t understand. No one would. No one could. Not his few friends, not his teachers, certainly not his parents… he had been alone. He had been alone and addled with guilt and regret and resentment, and there was nothing he could have done but to keep all that inside himself, since his only alternative was letting it all out in the form of fire on his palms.

There was only one person who could understand.

Whether he would ever admit it to himself or not, he had a story with Deku. They had grown up together, for fuck’s sake. They had known each other ever since they had learned how to walk. And, in the same way he knew Deku, despite of hating him (or having hated him, or whatever the fuck he felt about Deku now)… Deku knew him, too. Probably better than anyone.

No, that couldn’t be true. They had grown up together, that was true, but as Katsuki had made very clear, they had never been friends. Deku might have thought they were friends at some point, but Katsuki never gave a damn about him. Deku didn’t know him, and he couldn’t read him better than Kirishima, who was his actual friend… Which was why Katsuki was so fucking pissed.

Despite everything, he knew the fucking hair-for-brains was right. He was bonding with Deku, whether he liked it or not. And what had once been hate… had been replaced with rivalry, and now with something else, something that Katsuki didn’t fucking want to call fondness, but had no other word for. Because there was no way he would be thinking about Deku’s stupid freckles and Deku’s stupid hair unless there was some sort of… fuck. He didn’t want to call it fondness. It wasn’t fondness. It couldn’t be.

Katsuki didn’t feel… this f-word. For anyone. There were people who annoyed him more and people who annoyed him less. That was it. What he felt for his parents wasn’t the f-word, either… He had never learned how to properly respect them, at least not in the same way other kids respected their parents, and they pissed him off more often than not. Surely, Katsuki didn’t dislike them… But he didn’t think of them as perfect people enveloped by flowers, hearts, and chocolate, or whatever it was the f-word meant, either.

So yeah. He didn’t feel the f-word for Deku. Whatever he was feeling… Whatever this tightness in his chest, these invasive thoughts, these weird, impulsive desires to reach out for Deku were… They were nothing but a side effect of the quirk who had separated Deku from his soul. Nothing less, nothing more. Maybe, if Katsuki was lucky, he would go right back to hating Deku as soon as the villain was found and this whole nightmare came to an end.

But who was he kidding? He had already stopped hating Deku before that quirk hit him. Before Deku… did what he did for him. But this feeling? This weird, creepy obsession thing his brain had going on, thinking about green hair and freckles and eyes and all that shit? That was not him. That had to be a result of the quirk, too. It had to.

Deku was the one who was obsessed with Katsuki, not the other way around. If there was one thing Deku was, was obsessed with him. He had always been. He had always followed Katsuki around, and tagged along even after Katsuki told him off, and kept praising him no matter how hard Katsuki bullied him. That had to be the result of some sort of obsession, right? And now that they were connected – now that their souls were literally bound to each other –, it only made sense that Deku’s obsession seeped into Katsuki and made him obsessed with Deku as well. If they felt each other’s feelings, then what Katsuki was feeling was probably just a mirror of Deku’s own obsession, right? That was the only possible explanation. There was no way this could be something else.

Something else.

Katsuki didn’t want to think about what it would mean if it was something else, so he decided to finally get off his ass and take a shower.

He really enjoyed taking showers – the longer, the better. His whole quirk relied on his sweating, so, in the shower, he never risked accidentally blowing up anything. He only ever took boiling-hot showers, and even if the heat made him sweat, the water washed it away before Katsuki could cause any damage, should he lose control.

It took him years to master the usage of his quirk. He knew he was a short-fuse, which always made it harder for him to keep a hold of his explosive power in the moments of most stress, and that was precisely why Katsuki had always trained so hard. He couldn’t afford to lose it like an amateur in an actual fight against a villain. And after that sludge monster attacked him in the alley, a lifetime ago… He decided he would need a lot more training and a lot more hard working if he wanted to become the hero he aimed to become.

He used to be so arrogant back then. He was still arrogant, yes, but he had good reason, now. Before, he had been just a brat who thought too much of himself. A brat who had his head up his own ass and who couldn’t see what was right in front of him. A brat who got way over his head and who… Who…

Who had to be saved by shitty Deku.

Katsuki leaned his head back as the fuming water fell on him, making the roar of the water running down his ears, jawline, and shoulder block away any other sound. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Focusing on the sound. Focusing on the heat.

He could still remember the way Deku had ran towards him. All bony and wimpy, all terrified. Shaking legs, trembling hands, eyes so wide they looked about to pop off their sockets. The way he threw his fucking backpack at an actual villain and tried to yank him off Katsuki using nothing but his scraping fingers. The way he had, once again, thought a pathetic loser like himself needed to save Katsuki.

(The way he was the only one who tried to save Katsuki.)

No matter how much he told Deku – or himself, for that matter – that he didn’t need saving, Katsuki was well aware that he would have probably died if Deku hadn’t stepped in on that day. For a long time, Katsuki had resented being saved by someone so inferior to him; he had resented Deku for looking down on him yet again. But after hearing All Might’s tale about One For All and Deku’s quirk… all Katsuki could feel was bittersweetness.

He constantly wondered if Deku would be there, at UA, with him and with a quirk, had Katsuki been stronger and freed himself from the sludge villain without aid.

He knew the answer.

All Might wouldn’t have attested Deku’s courage – not that Katsuki would ever call it that aloud – had Katsuki managed to fight back on his own. He would have probably gone on his way to find a new successor and Deku would have been left behind, still quirkless, still hopeless, still defenseless.

Katsuki didn’t know how he felt about that. If anything, he was Deku’s origin story, for better or for worse.

He didn’t know how he felt about Deku at all.

But Katsuki knew that, if he had been stronger against the sludge villain, Deku’s soul wouldn’t be detatched from his body right now. His body wouldn’t be wasting away in a hospital bed, without visitors, without family, without friends.

He wouldn’t be…

Katsuki didn’t want to use that fucking word. Because Deku wasn’t fucking… he wouldn’t fucking d-word on his watch. Katsuki wouldn’t allow it.

He decided thinking about Deku was just too complicated, and told himself that he had better things to spend his time on.

As he stepped out of the bathroom, a towel tied around his waist and his hair dripping wet, he was surprised to find Deku sitting up on the bed, clothes disheveled, hair as messy as ever, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes and looking like he had just woken up. Katsuki kept his eyes glued to the boy without realizing it as he made his way over to his wardrobe in order to grab some fresh clothes, trying to figure out whether Deku would continue giving him the silent treatment or if they were already back at speaking terms.

Deku caught his eyes, assessed his half-naked form from head to toe, blushed slightly, and looked away in silence, seeming embarrassed. Katsuki could feel his own heart fluttering in a mimic of Deku’s and rolled his eyes.

Really? Just the prospect of having to tell Katsuki good morning was making Deku this nervous? What a goddamn fucking wimp. Katsuki rolled his eyes and turned his back to Deku, searching for clothes to wear. He could feel the nerd’s eyes glued to him, though, but when he turned to glare at him, Deku looked away again, redder than ever.

Coward. Couldn’t even gather the balls to speak his mind. That was one of the things Katsuki hated the most about shitty Deku. He didn’t know how to stand up for himself. He had always been a pathetic loser who relied on others to save him and protect him. Whenever he did try to protect himself, he failed. Katsuki had thought Deku had changed after he gained his quirk, but apparently, he was the same trembling coward he had always been.

Katsuki huffed out an annoyed breath as he made his way back to the bathroom to change his clothes, closing the door behind him. The steam from his hot shower still hovered thickly inside the bathroom, making the mirror blurry. After dressing up, Katsuki rubbed the mirror with his palm and stared at his reflection.

He had to admit he looked a bit tired. Probably because Deku’s heavy-as-fuck sadness had weighted deep down on his chest and made him sleep for 6 more hours than he was used to. And he still felt exhausted, even after that.

Katsuki remembered with anger that Deku had told him something about needing to keep their feelings balanced in order not to tire each other out, and yes, Katsuki could admit (only to himself) that maybe he needed to control his anger a little better, but Deku, on the other hand, was doing an extremely shitty job at keeping his fucking overwhelming sadness at bay. How the fuck did he expect Katsuki to keep his damn cool if all he did all the time was mope and be sad about stuff without even trying to control it?

Katsuki reached the conclusion that what made him the maddest about all this whole thing wasn’t Deku’s sadness, but the fact that Deku never bothered to tell him what the fuck he was sad about. Yes, they had talked about it a couple times and, either times, Deku had made an association between his sadness, Katsuki, and the way he treated him, but what the fuck was he supposed to do? He knew he had been a total asshole to Deku – he still was, most of the time – , but he had also meant it when he said that what was in the past, was in the past.

Katsuki couldn’t change what he had done. He couldn’t take his words back. As terrible as they had been, Katsuki had meant them when he had said them. And some of what Deku had told him more recently about him thinking that quirks were everything… it urged some new considerations into Katsuki’s mind; stuff he had never stopped to think about before. But it didn’t change the fact that he had thought indeed, in the past, Deku was useless for being quirkless. And yes, now, as he grew older and spent more time with Deku, he could tell that he didn’t begin seeing value in the nerd only because he had a quirk now.

But what could Katsuki possibly fucking do? He was trying to be less of an asshole to Deku. He couldn’t help himself sometimes, and the only way he knew to interact with people was to call them names and mock them. That was part of his creation. His tone was always aggressive like that, it wasn’t something Katsuki did on purpose and it was probably genetic. And, more importantly, the people who called themselves Katsuki’s friends, out of their own free will and out of some deranged lack of common sense, didn’t seem to mind these things about Katsuki’s behavior. Surely, they often called his attention to it and criticized him for it whenever he went too far, but Katsuki could tell that, in the same way he meant no actual harm when he called Kirishima “Shitty Hair” or Mina “Raccoon Eyes”, his friends didn’t mean it when they called Katsuki grumpy and cranky.  So why the fuck couldn’t Deku just chill out a bit and be like them? They didn’t get all hurt or touchy-feely when Katsuki yelled at them. That was something only Deku’s oversensitive ass did.

Katsuki presumed Deku functioned in a different tone from the rest of his friends. He had always been a sensitive little asshole, always crying over anything, always whining and trembling and wobbling that lip of his. He used to cry so much as a kid that Katsuki teased him about that being his quirk, but that had made Deku cry even harder (to no one’s surprise) and run home wailing. Katsuki couldn’t imagine Kirishima or Kaminari having the same reaction to a comment of the same kind.

So yeah, maybe Deku was just a crybaby who couldn’t get Katsuki’s personality. Maybe they were out of tune with each other. And yeah, maybe Katsuki was an asshole who said unnecessary harsh truths to people sometimes. But his friends didn’t care about him telling them harsh truths. Why did fucking Deku have to be such a crybaby about it? Things would be so much easier if Deku could just stop being upset over everything.

Either way, Katsuki could still feel Deku’s sadness. He could feel it whenever he was a bit too rude, he could feel it whever he said something a bit too harshly, and he could feel it right then, as he stared at his own tired reflection at the blurry mirror of his hot bathroom. He knew Deku was sad, he just didn’t know why or how to fix it.

He also knew asking Deku about it would earn no results. The damn nerd was as stubborn as a mule when it came to admitting he was upset, and he only seemed to be able to tell Katsuki what the fuck was bothering him during heated discussions.

Now that Katsuki thought about it… Deku had only ever told him the reasons behind his sadness when he had been sharing Katsuki’s anger. When he had absorbed Katsuki’s anger into himself.

Huh.

Maybe Katsuki could simply make himself angry, get into a discussion with Deku and force him to tell him what was wrong and how to fix it, right?

But that would probably be exhausting as fuck. They always ended up tired and worn out after having a discussion, or after bearing each other’s feelings. Katsuki, for example, had just slept for six extra hours and he was still feeling like he needed to lie down and take a power nap, just because he was feeling Deku’s sadness. Purposefully triggering anger into Deku – or, better, purposefully making himself angry just so that Deku ended up being angry and possibly spilled his feelings on him – didn’t seem like a particularly good idea in that moment.

But feeling that sort of miserable sorrow was also not an option for him. Katsuki fucking hated moping, which was why the days he had spent blaming himself for All Might’s end were the worse days of his life. He simply didn’t have the emotional intelligence to deal with that sort of bullshit. For him, things were simpler – if something was upsetting him, he solved them. The All Might situation had taken him a little longer to solve – but, at the end of the day, he solved it, even if it had been by fighting Deku at the training grounds and getting himself house arrested.

So there was only thing Katsuki could do, really. He would have to solve this shit and put an end to Deku’s sadness. He didn’t know the cause for it, but he had a few ideas about how to make it go away, at least for a while.

Deku’s mom’s words echoed in his head as he made up his mind. Don’t think of his happiness as your happiness. Think of it as his own. For the time you are stuck together, and until the heroes find a solution… Please. Take care of him.

As much as the idea annoyed the fuck out of him, Katsuki was a man of his damn word.

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh my god, I still can’t believe we’re going out with Kacchan!”

“I’ve already fucking told you not to call me that”.

“Kaminari, don’t spoil his mood or he’ll never invite us out again!”

“Yeah, dude, she’s right! Let’s enjoy this rare moment of calmness and not piss Kacchan off!”

Kaminari and Sero started laughing very loudly, nudging each other in congratulation, while Mina rolled her eyes and Katsuki’s scowl grew. Deku followed silently beside him, his face blank.

“I’m starting to fucking regret this”, Katsuki growled angrily to no one in particular. He could tell Deku spared him a look at this, but didn’t bother looking back at the boy.

“Are you telling that to me or to Midoriya?”, Mina asked, taking Katsuki’s other side while Kaminari and Sero trailed behind them in the mall, still laughing and making jokes.

“I’m telling that to myself”, Katsuki huffed out a breath of annoyance. “So that next time I come up with this sort of shit, I can talk myself out of it using my previous shitty experience”.

“Aah, don’t be so grumpy!”, Mina exclaimed, throwing an arm around Katsuki’s shoulders and pulling him closer to her. Katsuki allowed the girl to hold him for a couple of seconds before shrugging away from the touch with even more annoyance on his face. “We’re going to have fun, you’ll see! They just like being assholes because you get all cute when you’re pissed off, Kacchan!”

“The fuck did you say?!”, Katsuki turned at her abruptly with a furious snarl on his face, holding a popping palm at his side with rage.

Mina looked terrified but giggled nervously all the same, staying behind a little so that she could catch up with Kaminari and Sero (and at a safe distance from the fuming Katsuki). Katsuki huffed out another breath of annoyance and hunched over even more, shoving his smoking hands into his pockets and scowling.

“Fucking pink raccoon with her fucking shitty jokes. I don’t even know why I fucking bothered”, he muttered to himself.

“What are we even doing here, Kacchan?”, Deku asked him with a tired sigh, addressing him for the first time on that day. He sounded as if the banter between Katsuki and his friends was more than he was willing to put up with but he had no choice other than endure it, which, quite honestly, wasn’t the result Katsuki had been expecting to earn with all this.

Deku had been silent as he woke up, as Katsuki changed into fresh clothes, as Katsuki told him they were going out. He had been so fucking silent that it was driving Katsuki insane. And this – this fucking moment – was the first time he chose to speak up. Using that displeased tone of voice. For some reason, it made Katsuki’s blood boil.

“What the fuck do you think we’re in a shopping mall for exactly?”, he asked aggressively, and that was all it took to send Deku into a silent spiral again. Taking a glimpse at the quiet boy, Katsuki sighed, tightening his hands into fists.

Fine. If they didn’t want to be tired, they had to find balance, right? Katsuki would find his fucking balance. He would be so fucking balanced that there would be no way that shitty Deku would manage to shove the blame on him for them feeling so tired all the time, and maybe then he would finally put some effort into fixing his own sadness instead of leaving all the hard work to Katsuki. So, meaning to act like a more reasonable person and be civil – or as civil as possible – to Deku, Katsuki added, after a few moments:

“Kirishima’s birthday is coming up, so I’m gonna buy the motherfucker a gift or some shit like that”.

The effect his words had on Deku was the opposite Katsuki had expected. If anything, the boy simply shrunk further into himself and avoided his eyes even more. Katsuki huffed out a frustrated breath, suppressing the anger threatening to overtake him. You don’t want to sleep the day away. You don’t want to feel so fucking tired, right? So take a deep breath and calm the fuck down.

“We’re going over to your mom’s after we’re done here”, Katsuki added after a few more moments without any previous warning when Deku didn’t offer him any sort of response or acknowledgement. His tone was flat and bored, as if that information wasn’t a big deal for Deku.

Deku did look at him this time, his eyes painted with something that resembled hesitant expectation, as if he didn’t want to put his hopes up. The thought that Deku could be thinking Katsuki would say something like that as a joke, as a mean to trick him, made his hands tighten even more. Deep breaths. Deep fucking breaths.

“Why the fuck are you giving me that look?”, Katsuki scoffed, struggling to hold his words back. “I’m not kidding or whatever the crap it is you’re thinking. We’re going to see your damn mom”, he growled, before turning his head away from Deku and angrily continuing to stomp his way across the mall.

The place was crowded, which probably meant the UA scort Aizawa sensei had sent with them would easily lose sight of them, which in its turn meant they needed to get their business over with at once and just get the hell out of there soon. Deku, who was invisible to everyone at the mall except for Katsuki, kept phasing himself through hurrying passerby, since he had no way to prevent it.

“Kacchan”, Izuku called after a while, reaching out for Katsuki and grabbing his wrist. Katsuki couldn’t stop, otherwise several people would bump into him and he would end up exploding their faces because he hated being bumped, so he kept on walking with Deku attached to his arm like a lost toddler. “T-Thank you”, he added when it became clear that Katsuki wasn’t stopping.

Katsuki did turn to look at him at this, a confused scowl on his face.

“The fuck for?”, Katsuki asked, noticing that a few people surrounding him on the mall sent him confused looks upon his words. He opted to ignore them. Izuku, on the other hand, looked almost embarrassed and ashamed, even though Katsuki had no idea what he could be ashamed of.

Izuku lowered his head, looked aside, bit his lower lip and sighed as Katsuki continued walking. Several moments passed without him saying anything.

Deep. Fucking. Breaths.

“How long are you gonna keep giving me this silent treatment for, huh?”, Katsuki asked, calling Izuku’s (as well as many other passerby’s) attention. He didn’t wait for a response before continuing: “Because I know I told you I’m not begging for you to talk to me, hell no, but I don’t even know what the fuck I did this time to get you all like this”, he admitted. There was no denying the curiosity about Deku’s sudden gloominess was driving him fucking nuts.

Izuku seemed pensive for a moment, before bowing his head in embarrassment.

What could he say? Kacchan was right. He had no reason – or right, on that matter – to be mad at Kacchan for being friends – or whatever he was – with Kirishima. Sure, Izuku couldn’t help feeling hurt, but giving Kacchan the silent treatment was not only unnecessary but suspicious. Izuku could feel how hard Kacchan was trying to keep his own anger at bay, trying to prevent it from overwhelming him… Why couldn’t he do the same with his hurt and his sadness? Why couldn’t Izuku at least try to find a balance in the same way Kacchan was (surprisingly) doing?

Izuku realized with (unintentional) sadness that he wasn’t really good at telling when his miserable feelings were overwhelming him, unless Kacchan brought his attention to it. He supposed he did grow up a lonely, sad kid – not having a quirk or friends who cared about him contributed to that a lot. He probably got so used to the sadness that he couldn’t feel when it was overwhelming him anymore… Which was most likely the reason why they were feeling so constantly tired. Because Izuku was constantly sad, without even being aware of it.

Izuku decided he couldn’t keep that up anymore. He needed to rest. His body could obviously use it. And Kacchan – as much as he tried to hide it and pretend everything was fine, Izuku could tell he was exhausted too – probably more so after Izuku’s miserable night.

So it didn’t matter if Kacchan’s close friendship with Kirishima made Izuku sad or jealous or resentful or whatever it was he was feeling. He couldn’t change that, and, in fact, he didn’t want to change that. Deep down, he was glad that Kacchan had managed to find himself some real friends, and not those bad-company bullies that hung with him at school. Kirishima, along with the rest of Kacchan’s friends, was obviously a good influence on the boy, and he was undeniably an amazing person. Kacchan seemed more mature after he befriended Kirishima, and he was constantly improving himself, now. Izuku wished he could be Kacchan’s friend, too – actually, he wished he could be as close to Kacchan as Kirishima was –, but he was also happy for Kacchan.

It was ugly of Izuku to feel mad because of Kirishima and he knew it. Kirishima had always been nice to him; in fact, he had never been anything but nice to him. He was a good, supportive, cheerful friend, and he and Kacchan got along so well. Izuku had never seen Kacchan get along with someone so well, so he should be happy, right, there was no reason for him not to be happy, why wasn’t he happy, he needed to be happy, if he wasn’t happy then neither of them would be able to rest and if they didn’t rest his body would get worse and Kacchan would get angrier and Izuku just couldn’t find the words to explain the reason behind his sadness because looking Kacchan in the eyes and saying “I’m miserable because I want to be close friends with you but you don’t want anything to do with me and you already have cool friends and I already have cool friends so we clearly don’t need each other anymore, not that you ever needed me in the first place, but it makes me sad to think what we could have had if you hadn’t been such an ass to me when we were growing up and what we could have had if I had been born with a quirk or what he could still have if you just stopped being so stubborn and gave me a chance of showing you that we fit so well together”.

“Ok, that’s enough”, Katsuki broke him away from his rushed train of thought, suddenly shoving the door to the mall’s bathroom open and dragging Izuku inside with him. Izuku hadn’t even realized they had been headed to the bathroom, so lost in thought as he had been.

There weren’t many people inside, only two men, so Katsuki marched his way to the last bathroom stall and slammed the door closed with more force than necessary after the two of them were inside. They stood there, in the confined space, a toilet seat standing behind them as Katsuki crossed his arms above his chest and glared at Deku with pure annoyance.

“You were the piece of shit who mumbled something at me about ‘keeping our feelings balanced’ or whatever the hell it is you meant”, he growled. “But there’s something clearly upsetting you since yesterday night, and I’m done playing guessing games with you. I’m fucking exhausted, I tried to get you out to see if you could cheer your miserable ass up a bit, and then I told you I was taking you to see your mom after I was fucking done here, and that still wasn’t enough to make our stupid fucking chest stop feeling so tight. So will you just tell me what the fuck is going on? Or do you want me to find a way to shove happiness down your throat with my bare hands and be done with this shit?”

Izuku stared up at Katsuki, opening and closing his mouth in hesitation and loss for words. What could he say? How could he explain? How could he put it into words? He hadn’t expected Kacchan to confront him like this –

Just fucking spit it, damn Deku!”, Katsuki yelled at his lack of response, slamming one of his hands on the bathroom stall wall beside him with anger. The shouting and the slamming probably scared away the men who had been inside the bathroom, and quite possibly any other possible man who attempted to use the bathroom after they entered. Izuku flinched at the loud sound, but didn’t take his eyes off Katsuki, an almost-defiance etched in them.

“I –“, he started, swallowing dry and hesitating. Katsuki continued to glare at him, but didn’t look like he was about to make any interruptions. “I – It’s because I don’t – I don’t really know how to, uh. How to force myself. To be happy”.

Katsuki stared at him.

“What?”

“I mean, I am happy”, he continued, nervous. “I am a happy person. Especially at this point in my life, and after everything I’ve conquered. But… Sometimes, I get – I get sad. And it’s normal”.

“It isn’t fucking normal to feel so fucking sad all the time”.

“Well, I don’t have many reasons not to be sad being in the situation I’m in, Kacchan”, Izuku pointed out. “B-But what I mean is… It happens, sometimes. And – And I’m s-sorry”, he added sincerely, because he felt as if those words needed to be said. “That you end up miserable too, because of me. But I just – I can’t force myself to be happy all the time. Sometimes, all I can do is – w-wait for it to pass”.

Katsuki continued to stare at him for a few moments before sighing and rolling his eyes.

“Fine, but that isn’t my fucking question”, he shook his head in annoyance. “My question is – what the fuck is upsetting you right now, and how can we fix it so you stop being so fucking sappy”.

“That’s my point, Kacchan”, it was Izuku’s turn to sigh. “It’s not something that can be fixed. Just leave it, and I’ll be fine in no time, ok?”

Hell fucking no”, Katsuki scoffed at him as if the suggestion was ridiculous. “You tell me what it is, then I’ll decide if it can or can’t be fixed”.

For some reason, the statement overwhelmed Izuku with annoyance, and he found himself glaring at Katsuki.

“I think I know my feelings well enough to tell if they can be fixed”, he pointed out, ending up sounding a bit too defensive. Katsuki scoffed at him again with a scornful look on his face.

“I think you fucking don’t”, he said simply, shrugging.

“What?”

“Deku, I can feel what you fucking feel. This works both ways, remember?”, he gestured at the empty space between them. “And you feel way too many fucking emotions at the same time to be able to tell them from each other. But it’s fucking clear that something triggered this shitshow, and I want to know what the fuck it was because I honestly have no idea. And if I have no idea, I can’t know if there’s a way to fix it. So you’d better spill your damn beans to me right now if you don’t want your shitty soul to get an asskicking”.

Izuku continued to glare at Katsuki, some of the boy’s anger slipping into him.

“What if I don’t want to tell you?”

“Ah, there you fucking go again. Seriously, Deku?”

“I mean it. I don’t have any obligation to tell you. You never tell me why you’re angry; why should I tell you why I’m sad?”

Katsuki stared at him for an eternity.

“What the fuck do you mean?”

“It’s true! Why don’t you tell me why you’re so angry, huh?”

“I’m angry ‘cause you’re being a piece of fucking shit who’s making me exhausted with all your feelings and you refuse to tell me why!”

“Fine! Then why were you angry yesterday? And the day before that? And every single day before that? Why are you always so angry, Kacchan?”

“I don’t know! I don’t fucking know! What does this have to do with any fucking thing?!”

“It has to do with the fact that you make me tired, too! Right now I’m taking half of your anger and it’s already enough to make me want to punch some sense into you!”

Try it, you damn fucking nerd”.

“And whenever I end up with all of it, it makes me feel like I’m about to burst from the inside out! I have no idea how you keep all this inside of yourself, but I don’t pressure you into talking about it!”

“Then what are you doing right now, huh?”

“I’m trying to make you see, for once! Because you never do! You never see what’s right in front of you when it’s really important!”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“It means you’re amazing, Kacchan!”

“What the fuck?!”

“It means you’re really amazing, because you’re terrific at looking past your anger when you’re in battle, and when you’re thinking strategically, and when you’re acting as a hero. But the moment it is important – the moment you need to set your anger aside and just open your eyes, you don’t do it! No matter how close the truth is to your face!”

“I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about”, Katsuki shook his head.

“I’m talking about me!”, Izuku cried. “I’m talking about all those times I trailed after you, and praised you, and admired you, and you spent all these years, you spent all these years thinking I was looking down on you! Because of your stupid, blinding anger!”, his voice came out wobbly and shaky.

Katsuki scoffed, shaking his head in silence.

“So this shit is still about that? About the way I treated you as a kid?”

Izuku shook his head too.

“This shit is about you, Kacchan. Why can’t you just see?”

“See what?”

Izuku sniffed and ran the back of his hand beneath his nose, looking hurt and angry.

“What, Deku? What the fuck is it that you see and I don’t? Why the fuck do you get so upset every other day about the same damn reason?”, he scoffed. “You want to talk about it? Again? Is that all you ever want to fucking talk about?”

Izuku was silent.

“Fine. I was an asshole. I fucking know that, you fucking know that. The whole damn world fucking knows that. What else do you want me to tell you?”

Silence.

“Nothing I say can take back what I did. Nothing I do can erase what I’ve done. I’m trying to be fucking better, because that’s the only thing I can do, but you’re not making it fucking easy on me because whenever the fuck I try to be more reasonable and talk to you like you so wanted me to, you give me the cold shoulder and the silent treatment as if I fucking owe you something. And I don’t”.

Silence.

“Just because I was an asshole, doesn’t mean I’m indebted for life with you. I’m fucking trying, ok? I’m trying, and you’re not helping, and it’s pissing the fuck out of me, so just get your shit together and figure out what the fuck it is you want me to do, because honestly, I’m getting fed up with this”.

Izuku lowered his head, Katsuki’s anger leaving him entirely and being replaced by his own sadness again. He didn’t look at the boy in front of him.

“I told you to tell me when I was being an asshole to you. So if whatever got you so sad has to do with me, just tell me”.

Silence.

“I’m not fucking good at this, Deku. I’m good at everything else, but not at this feelings shit. So just tell me what the fuck is going on, because I’m tired, and I need a nap, and I’m so done with this empathic link bullshit”.

A long time passed before Izuku responded, sounding ashamed.

“Y-You’re – You’re right, Kacchan. I shouldn’t have given you the silent treatment. And – I shouldn’t have yelled. I’m sorry”.

“Nevermind the fucking yelling, just tell me how to make you happy”.

Izuku finally lifted his head to look at Katsuki, a mixture of longing, misery, hope, and pain etched all over his features. Katsuki scowled, realizing how his words must have sounded.

“That came out wrong”.

“It’s ok”.

Whatever, shitty Deku. Just fucking – tell me”.

Izuku sighed.

“I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it. But – don’t worry”, he added before Katsuki could protest. “I know you’ve been trying to control your anger, even if it hasn’t been working –“

Eh?!

“ – so I’ll work harder on controlling my sadness, too. You won’t have to worry about it anymore, ok?”

“Don’t pull this self-sacrificing bullshit on me again”, Katsuki grabbed Izuku’s forearm and pulled him closer in the confined space of the bathroom stall. “I don’t give a shit if you’re messed up in the head and like to suffer. I’m not asking why you’re sad and trying to fix this shit just because I’m fucking tired”.

“Then why?”, Izuku asked, eyes almost innocent.

Katsuki let go of him abruptly, looking annoyed.

“You know why”.

A scoff.

“Because you made a promise to my mom”.

Katsuki was silent.

“Seriously, Kacchan?”

“I’m a man of my fucking word”.

A twinge of pain. Izuku sighed, knowing they both had felt it.

“I wish you actually cared, you know”.

Katsuki studied for a long moment.

“Is this what this is about?”

“No. Yes. I don’t – I don’t know”.

“You’re sad because you wish I cared about you?”

“I think it’s because I wish we were actual friends”.

“And why the fuck is that?”

“Huh?”

“Why the fuck do you want to be my friend so badly?”

“B-Because – Because I – I –“

“Quit the fucking stuttering, you know I hate this crap”.

Izuku took a deep breath.

“Because, despite everything, I still think you’re amazing. I always have”.

Katsuki stared.

“And I care about you. Is it too much to wish you would care about me back?”

The silence that followed was so overwhelming that it was almost deafening. The whole world was reduced to that one bathroom stall, in that one shopping mall, in that single point in space-time.

“You… can’t force yourself to be happy”, Katsuki said, long after Deku’s question had stopped echoing in his ears.

“Yeah”, Izuku responded, feeling his heart sink.

I can’t force myself to care about you, either.

The words were left unsaid. Katsuki didn’t have to say them. Izuku was smart enough to understand that the silence that lingered in the air were enough of an answer.

What Izuku didn’t know was that this was a lie.

Katsuki didn’t want him to know this was a lie. He didn’t even know why this was a lie in the first place. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when he stopped hating Deku; the exact moment he started caring about him. Surely, he had managed to convince himself that his promise to Inko was the sole reason why he decided to be gentler with Deku and focus more on his well-being with no second intentions, but still… He couldn’t deny that he cared for Deku on his own, with no promises, even if only an itsy, tiny bit.

But he didn’t want Deku to know that.

Maybe it was for fear of appearing weak, even if Katsuki didn’t care about anyone else’s opinions. Maybe it was for another secret reason that he didn’t really understand.

Either way, Deku couldn’t know. So he said nothing. He didn’t reply to Deku’s question, and instead flushed the toilet between them, only not to raise suspicion from possible outside listeners. He unceremoniously opened the stall door and walked out, trusting that Deku would follow.

Deku was still sad.

Katsuki made his way to the sink. There was a man there. The man who was escorting them, from UA.

“That was one hell of a phone call you made there”, the man told him, probably trying to keep discretion in front of the other person that was with them inside the bathroom.

“None of your business”, Katsuki said simply, pretending to wash his hands.

“You should probably get going. There’s only so much a person can do in a day, right?”

“We just got here”.

“Your friends are waiting for you in the second floor. You should meet them”.

“What are you now, my dad?”

The escort stared at him with a serious look in his eyes.

“I’ll wait for you outside”.

“Just listen to him”, Deku said tiredly beside him, sounding resentful. “He wouldn’t be saying this unless it was to protect us”.

Katsuki decided not to respond, and walked out of the bathroom.

Instead of heading to the pointed location, Katsuki made his way to a Crimson Riot store at the fourth floor, bought Kirishima a nice plush of the boy’s favorite hero, and took Deku’s distraction with the amount of merchandise to buy two All Might limited edition keychains.

Deku wasn’t exactly tangible at the moment and they were in the middle of a crowded store, so Katsuki shoved one of the keychains he had just bought in his pocket and walked out of the store, holding the bag with the Crimson Riot plush with one hand and fiddling with the keychain he had bought himself with the other. The keychain he would give Deku sat heavily in his pocket, rattling with each step he took as if a constant reminder. I’m here. You can’t ignore me. You can’t pretend I’m not right here. And you do care about me.

Unfortunately, Katsuki only knew a few ways to show he cared for someone.

 

 

 

 

 

“This is fucking ridiculous”.

“Get in the car”.

“Why?”

“Because if you don’t, UA won’t allow you to take these out-of-grounds strolls anymore”.

“And then what will you do? Put me in house arrest or some shit?”

“Just get in the car, Kacchan”.

“If that’s what it takes to guarantee your safety, yes”.

“That’s fucking illegal”.

“It isn’t, actually”.

“You’ll find that it’s not. You’re an underage student who recently survived an attack from a villain who is still on the lose, and who could be seeking revenge against you or Midoriya-kun. We have a legal responsibility to protect you, which is why you should get in the car”.

“I can take the fucking train. I did it last time”.

“Last time you didn’t disappear from your supervisor’s eyerange for over ten minutes inside a potentially dangerous environment”.

“So you’re punishing me for taking a long shit?”

“Giving you a ride is not punishment. And we both know what you were doing in the bathroom”.

“Oh, yeah? What do you think you know?”

Kacchan”.

“Do you really want to talk about the argument I heard you have with Midoriya-kun?”

Silence.

“Get in the car”.

“I’ll take the fucking train”.

“Don’t make me call Eraser Head”.

“You know what, I don’t appreciate your fucking tone”.

“Just get in the car, Kacchan”.

“And I don’t appreciate your behavior from today. My job is to make sure you’re safe, and, more importantly, that you don’t get captured, injured, or killed. If you don’t want to be treated like a child, don’t act like one”.

“The fuck did you just say to me?”

Izuku grabbed one of Katsuki’s arms, holding him back.

“You could have notified me you would be gone for so long. We thought someone could have kidnapped you”.

Again, was the word that lingered unsaid in the air.

“Why the fuck would I do that? I don’t have to tell you everytime I go to the bathroom –“

“You do, if you plan on taking more than ten minutes to come out. There wasn’t a line”.

“There’s never a line”.

“Precisely. Look”, he sighed tiredly, “Eraser entrusted me to keep a close eye on you and prevent anything bad from happening. It’s not just your life that’s on the line if you get injured or killed. We don’t know what would happen to Midoriya-kun if that happened”.

A pause, and an angry sigh. Katsuki glared at the man, taking his words into consideration.

Shit. He hadn’t thought about that.

“Fine. I’ll get in your fucking car”.

“Good. And next time, don’t disappear like that. There are rules you have to obey to ensure your safety”.

“If you keep talking to me, I’ll throw myself out the window and blow your damn car up”.

Izuku did try to hide the tiny smile that blossomed in his lips at this as he sat beside Kacchan. Before the car started, Katsuki enveloped Izuku’s shoulders with one of his arms, not looking at him, as if this was no big deal.

“Don’t want the train shit to happen again”, he justified in a deadpan, even though he didn’t really have to, staring out the window and pretending the close contact with Deku wasn’t giving him all sorts of mixed feelings.

Izuku decided not to answer, lest Katsuki notice the forming blush on his cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

“Katsuki-kun! I’m really glad you could make it!”, Inko greeted as she opened the door, stepping aside so that the boy could walk into the apartment and bearing a shy smile. Katsuki stepped in with his usual grumpy expression, Deku trailing close behind him, but he nodded at Inko once she closed the door and turned to him. “Did you have lunch yet?”, she asked, approaching him.

“No”, Katsuki answered, hands shoved deep in his pockets and face tilted slightly away from Inko so that he wouldn’t have to meet her eyes.

“Good. We can eat together, then”, Inko’s smile widened a little, but the look didn’t match the tiredness of her face. Her hair, which was part-tied into a bun as usual, looked dry and unkempt, several strands falling off the top of her bun ungracefully. She looked worse than she had when Katsuki last visited, and as she walked towards the open kitchen of her apartment, Katsuki noticed how… thinner she looked. Less chubby.

He remembered Inko as a taller, thinner, prettier woman during their childhood than she was now. It was true that he had spent years without seeing her, but this… Katsuki could tell she wasn’t doing fine. She was probably missing sleep and meals, if her state was anything to go by.

He turned his head to stare at Deku, who was looking at his mom with an extremely worried expression on his face. Well, at least some of the sadness had gone away, but it hadn’t been replaced by happiness, as Katsuki had been aiming to. If anything, Deku was more worried and nervous in that moment.

Katsuki sighed, rolling his eyes. Deku turned to look at him with a worried frown, the expressive damn fucking eyes Katsuki hated so much telling him everything he needed to know.

Katsuki was feeling tired as fuck after the shitshow of confusing emotions he was sharing with Deku ever since the previous night. But he obviously wasn’t as tired as Inko Midoriya, who was struggling to remove a tray from inside the oven.

“Let me”, he stepped in, gently nudging her aside with one hand and taking her place in removing the tray from the oven with his bare hands.

“No, wait, your hands –!”, Inko tried to stop him, but Katsuki grabbed the tray and placed it on the counter with no effort or pain. Inko stared at him with wide eyes that mimicked the way Deku was also looking at him, as if neither of them had ever seen them before. Katsuki stared back at them with a blank, bored expression.

“Do you want me to put this on the table?”, he asked in a deadpan. Inko blinked at him several times.

“Didn’t – didn’t you – y-your – your hands…”, she stuttered, very much like Deku usually did. It annoyed Katsuki, but not as much as he would have expected.

“They’re ok”, Katsuki explained as if that was obvious. “If my hands were sensitive to heat, my quirk would have fucked me up a long time ago”.

Inko frowned. Katsuki was pretty sure it had nothing to do with his use of profanity.

“B-But Katsuki-kun…”, Inko said, stepping closer to him and gently taking hold of one of his hands. “They’re red. What – What if they blister…?”

“They won’t”, Katsuki interrupted. He didn’t remove his hand from Inko’s touch.

“A-Are you sure…?”, she asked, frowning and looking deeply concerned.

“Yeah. Done it a thousand times”, he added in a deadpan. Inko pursed her lips into a thin line and her frown deepened, but eventually she nodded, staring up at him with a serious frown.

“Alright. You go sit by the table; I can bring everything else on my own”, she told him, trying to put on a tiny reassuring smile and failing. The bags under her eyes were dark.

“I can help you”, Katsuki said, finally freeing his hand from her touch and closing the oven door.

“Oh, please, Katsuki-kun, you’re my guest…”, Inko waved a hand at him with a discrediting chuckle, but Katsuki could tell that, even though she meant her words, she was too tired to properly protest. Ignoring her, he grabbed the hot tray and took it to the dining table without a word.

To his surprise, Deku followed him instead of lingering close to his mom, who stayed at the kitchen. Katsuki sent him a curious – albeit bored – look as he placed the tray on the table.

“You lied to her”, Izuku accused him, though his voice didn’t sound angry or hurt. Just… observant.

“Did I?”, he raised an inquiring eyebrow at the boy.

“About your hands”, Izuku explained, sounding purposefully vague as if he wanted Katsuki to give him an explanation without having to ask him for one.

“Don’t assume you know anything about that”, he warned with a half-hearted glare.

“They did hurt”, Izuku pointed out, sounding concerned. “I could feel it”.

“Must have been psychosomatic”.

“No, it wasn’t”, he grabbed hold of one of Katsuki’s hand, turning it so that his red, raw palm would be facing up. “You hurt yourself”.

“I didn’t feel anything”, Katsuki removed his hand from Izuku’s hold, heading back to the kitchen.

“Are you serious?”, Izuku frowned, following him.

“Yeah. They’ve calloused over the years, I don’t feel any pain in them anymore. You probably only did because you have soft baby hands”.

“I don’t!”, Izuku protested.

“Yeah, you do”.

“Kacchan –“

“Stop talking about it”.

“Promise me you’re saying the truth”.

“I don’t owe you any fucking thing”.

“I’m serious, Katsuki-kun. I can handle it –“, Inko tried to protest as Katsuki removed the pots and cups she was (struggling to carry) in her arms, interrupting whatever it was her son was about to say. She looked embarrassed by this. Instead of responding, Katsuki turned around and headed back to the dining table, setting everything in place. He could feel Deku’s eyes glued on him but ignored him.

As he turned around to head back to the kitchen, Inko was already there, holding another tray with mittens to protect her hands. She placed the tray on the table silently and removed her mittens, as well as her apron. He grabbed the tray with his bare hands and, realizing that there was nothing else to bring from the kitchen, Katsuki walked back to the dining room and took a seat, pulling the chair beside Inko for Deku to seat (since the boy couldn’t pull it on his own).

After placing the mittens and the apron back in the kitchen, Inko returned and began to serve their food. Katsuki let her do that on her own, since the woman looked like she would burst into tears if Katsuki tried to do anything else for her again.

“How is my Izuku doing?”, she asked without looking at him as she handed him his pot of – surprise, surprise – katsudon. Katsuki vaguely wondered if he would be forced to eat katsudon all the time while Deku was glued to him, but shit, if it made the nerd slightly happier, even if just for a while, he would eat that shit as if there was no tomorrow. It wasn’t Katsuki’s favorite dish, but he had nothing against it, either, and it always seemed like the right answer to make the little shit happy. He took the tray from Inko and gave Izuku a questioning glimpse.

“Don’t tell her about my body”, Izuku said quietly, even though his mom wouldn’t be able to hear him anyway. “She’s already worried enough”.

There were several things Katsuki wanted to say. What am I supposed to tell her then, asshat? That you’re fine and happy and everything in your soul-life is sunshine and flowers? Because that’s bullshit and we both know it.

“He’s been coping”, Katsuki shrugged without looking at Inko, taking a mouthful of the food and chewing.

“C-Coping…?”, Inko asked, looking extremely concerned, as if that wasn’t the answer she had been expecting.

“Yeah. He can only feel so well while he’s a ghost”, Katsuki shrugged again, continuing to eat. Upon Inko’s grim silence, Katsuki looked at her, only to find a miserable look on her face. Glancing at Deku, he found an identical look on his face, only it had something else… Something that almost resembled anger. Perhap’s Katsuki’s answer had been too honest for Deku’s liking. “He’s fine. It’s just tiring, for both of us”, he added in the hopes to reassure the worried mother.

Inko looked up at him, her food untouched on the pot in front of her. She didn’t look like she was about to eat, either.

“What do you mean?”, she asked, sounding hesitant.

“The sharing feelings shit”, Katsuki said, taking another mouthful. “It tires us out. When I feel his feelings, and when he feels my feelings… it always leaves us exhausted. We’re trying to figure it out”, he pointed Deku with a knowing glance.

“And w-what…”, Inko lowered her head, looking determined and hesitant. “What is he feeling? Now?”, she frowned at Katsuki, almost as if she feared to be invading her son’s privacy but needed to know anyway.

Katsuki fixed his eyes on Izuku, who stared back at him with an unfaltering gaze. He tried to separate his emotions from Deku’s, because he knew that asking the nerd about it would earn no results. Even if figuring out what the fuck Deku was feeling would probably be hard, it would also probably be easier than trying to urge a sincere response from the little shit.

All right. So, there was sadness, even though it was weaker than before. Katsuki didn’t know if that was thanks to the katsudon, or to his mom, or both. There was concern, obviously, since Deku’s mom looked like shit, and also love (also for his mom, obviously; who else would it be for?). In a rare stance, Deku’s feelings weren’t too many or too confusing to read this time. He raised an eyebrow at Deku, as if asking whether or not he could share his feelings with his mom, and Deku simply nodded back at him, not saying anything. He was quieter than usual.

“He’s happy to be here”, Katsuki turned to look at Inko, who was staring at him with expectation. “But he’s also worried about you”.

He decided to leave the sadness part out. Inko didn’t need to have that on her plate.

“W-Worried?”, she frowned, a confused, fond smile appearing on her lips. “H-He has no reason to be worried –“, she started, but Katsuki sighed.

“Look, he’s sitting right beside you. You don’t have to talk as if he isn’t right there; it makes him all miserable and shit”, he said, a bit more harshly than he had intended. Inko’s eyes widened and she blinked in surprise, hesitantly looking at her side, where her son was sitting invisible. She lowered her gaze and her shoulders slumped, making her look even more tired, as well as guilty. Izuku, on the other hand, stared at Katsuki as if he had just revealed one of Izuku’s deepest secret to his mother.

Katsuki took another mouthful of his food with indifference and continued to eat as Inko shifted on her seat, as if to face Izuku. She clearly couldn’t see him, as her eyes searched vacantly through the nothingness in front of her, but she still turned on her seat towards her ghost son. Izuku’s attention shifted towards his mother, even though he still looked a little betrayed by Katsuki’s reveal.

“I’m sorry, Izuku”, she started sincerely, her voice thick with guilt, worry, and sorrow. She was no longer trying to look at him, since she couldn’t see him, but at least she was turned towards anyway.

“Mom”, Izuku said softly, lifting a hand to touch his mother’s face lovingly, even though she couldn’t feel him and he couldn’t feel her.

“It’s just… It’s hard for me to remember that you’re still here when I can’t see you, you know?”, she added, sounding like she was on the verge of tears.

As Katsuki spared Deku a glimpse, he saw the boy was on the verge of tears as well, and rolled his eyes, continuing to eat. He felt like he was intruding on a personal moment and wanted desperately to leave, but he also knew he couldn’t. He was literally their only means of communication, and he hated it. He hated this sentimental bullshit, this lack of objectiveness. It made him a bit sick.

“But mom will try to be better, ok?”, she continued, sniffing and completely unaware of the grumpy look on Katsuki’s face. “Mom is here for you… Even if she can’t see you. I’m here for you, Izuku”.

Deku started to cry at this, sniffing, gasping, and choking on his breath. At least he isn’t sobbing, Katsuki thought to himself as he continued to eat his katsudon. I can’t stand it when he sobs.

Izuku immediately started sobbing, his face scrunching up in an ugly grimace as he desperately tried to hug his mom and failed.

Ah, fucking great.

“I’m sorry, mom”, Izuku was saying in between sobs, his intangible fingers trying to clutch at her clothes. “I’m sorry. I know I promised I would stop worrying you. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do this to you”.

“He’s trying to hug you and crying about not meaning to make you worried”, Katsuki relayed the message in a deadpan, not looking at Inko as he chewed down his food.

Fuck, he hadn’t even realized how hungry he had been until he started eating. Maybe exhaustion wasn’t the only toll Deku’s soul took on him.

Inko stared at Katsuki for a few seconds of surprised silence before turning back towards where she assumed Izuku was sitting, a sad smile on her wobbly lips.

“You don’t need to apologize, baby”, she sniffed, looking like she was trying her best to put up a strong, reassuring façade for her son. “You know how mom is. She worries a lot, because… Because you’re everything, Izuku. Oh, baby, you’re everything to me”, she broke down, covering her face with both hands in a meek attempt to hide her tears. Her shoulders rattled with her muffled sobs, and Katsuki closed his eyes so that no one could see him rolling them. “I’m sorry I can’t touch you, Izuku”, she gasped, not looking at him, her weeping eyes covered away from view. Katsuki realized it was easier for her to talk like that, rather than try, fruitlessly, to see a son that was invisible to her. “I wish I could hug you right now”, she added with a tiny sob that Izuku immediately mimicked.

“I wish I could hug you, too”, he cried, his hands still trying to caress his mother’s arm and touch her hair. Katsuki only half-watched through his peripheral vision as he continued to eat his food, pretending not to pay attention with a meticulously calculated indifference painting his face.

“He wishes he could hug you, too”, Katsuki said in another deadpan after a small delay where he was unsure whether he should relay the message or not, not looking at either of them. Shit, the things he had to do to make the little shitty nerd happy. Katsuki hoped that acting as a delivery boy without shitty Deku having to beg him for it would at least improve the nerd’s mood somehow.

“You can count on me for anything”, Inko continued, finally removing her hands from her face and trying to look at Izuku again, even though she couldn’t find him. Looking at her wrecked face, Katsuki didn’t know whether he should say or do something a bit more sensitive or not, especially since Inko looked like she was about to break down any second now. “Mom has trouble remembering you’re still around, sometimes… But I’ll try to be better for you. I love you, Izuku”, her face scrunched up again. Katsuki’s fight or flight instinct was immediately activated. Why couldn’t these people fucking stop crying for one second?

“I love you too, mom”, Izuku sobbed, his words barely understandable. His face was already flooded with tears and snot, and Katsuki turned up his nose in disgust. “I love you”, he sobbed again, hunching over and lowering his head with emotion.

“He’s saying he loves you too”, Katsuki provided simply in between bites, sounding – and looking – increasingly more uncomfortable with that extremely unrelenting emotional moment. In that house with the Midoriyas sobbing like babies at each other, he felt like the odd one out.

“Oh, Izuku”, Inko wailed, covering her face with both hands again as she broke into another sobbing fit. “There’s nothing I want to do more than to give you a hug right now. I wish I could hold you, baby”, she cried, voice muffled by her hands.

Izuku continued to gasp and sob as he fruitlessly attempted to wipe his tears away with the back of his hands. Katsuki stared at him, waiting for him to say something, anything, but he simply continued to sob, eyes squeezed shut. For some reason, Katsuki didn’t feel as sad as he had before… But if Deku was no longer feeling so sad, then why the fuck was he still crying? And why wasn’t Katsuki himself crying either from the emotional bond?

Deku was so fucking confusing and complicated. With each passing day, Katsuki felt like he could simultaneously understand more and less of him. This uncertainty drove him crazy.

“Gave up on trying to hold her back?”, Katsuki asked him simply as he chewed on yet another bite of his katsudon (which, by the way, was delicious, even though it lacked a bit of pepper). He had purposefully kept his tone down, even though he was sure Inko managed to hear his words anyway. Izuku didn’t look at him as he continued to cry.

“I c-can’t”, he sobbed, eyes still squeezed shut. “You k-know I can’t, K-Kacchan. And it hurts that I can’t”.

Katsuki fell silent at that, finishing his food. He was done eating the katsudon, whereas Inko hadn’t even started hers. She was still sobbing, her face covered away, and Katsuki had no fucking idea what to do. He wasn’t exactly a great comforter, and physical touch wasn’t really his thing. The idea of giving her a comforting hug and telling her it would be ok did flash across his mind, but it was gone in a second.

He wasn’t that kind of person. So he simply stared at the Midoriyas, the both of them crying and sobbing and gasping while Katsuki’s eyes darted between them, uncomfortable, at a loss for what to do.

“I’m sorry for this, Katsuki-kun”, Inko sniffed finally after a few more moments, wiping her tears away with from her red face with her trembling hands. “It’s just… I’ve been dealing with a lot ever since All Might called, and…”, she sighed, her breath coming out shaky and wet and making her sound like she was finally calming down. Katsuki continued to stare at her.

“What did he tell you?”, Katsuki asked objectively, not only to ensure that All Might had properly informed Inko of Deku’s state, but also to find out whether he had told her more than he had told him. He stared at Inko with close attention in his impassive eyes.

“W-Well”, she said shakily, still wiping her tears away. “He told me about why they truly kept me from visiting. About Izuku’s f-fragile state, and… I was so angry”, she sniffed, shaking her head and setting her hands down on the table in the form of fists. She wasn’t looking at Katsuki as she spoke, bitterness overtaking her moist face. “I told All Might they couldn’t have done that, they couldn’t have kept a mother away from her son like that, especially in a situation like this, and that they should at least have told me why they had sent me away… All Might agreed with me, of course. Apparently, none of them are happy with this situation, especially him and your teacher, ah, Aizawa…?”

“Yeah”, Katsuki confirmed.

“But apparently, from what All Might told me, Izuku’s health state is somewhat… Confidential”, she sighed again. Katsuki’s ears pearked up with attention and he straightened himself on his seat, at the same time Izuku finally lifted his head to look at his mother again. “He… He said the villain who did this to my Izuku has a parasytic quirk”.

Katsuki and Izuku exchanged a wary look at the exact same moment, concern etched evidently in both crimson and green.

“… And, because of this, he could still be looking for Izuku, since his quirk hit him… All Might didn’t give me too many details, because they can’t risk the information leaking out for Izuku’s safety. This is another reason why they kept me from visiting – they really are placing Izuku under top security. They – they believe that the villain might be –“, she hesitated with another wet sigh, looking like she was about to cry again. “He might be withering away at the same pace as my Izuku. And if that’s the case, the only way he might save himself is – is –“

“Getting me back”, Izuku completed, but only Katsuki could hear it. He turned to look at the boy, who had a very serious look on his face. “It – it makes sense”, he continued, eyes darting away from Katsuki. “If his quirk is to detatch the souls of his victims from their bodies, it would only make sense that the detatched soul would end up bound to his”.

“But yours didn’t”, Katsuki noted, something inside his chest squeezing dangerously.

“No, it didn’t. And, if the teachers’ theory is true and he’s also withering away because he doesn’t have my soul –“

“He is probably looking for you”.

Izuku nodded solemnly.

Katsuki lowering his head, trying to put his thoughts in order. The story made sense, but there were also several loopholes in it. If this guy really was hunting for Deku’s soul, then UA’s top priority should be to secure Katsuki, not Deku’s body. Katsuki was the one who had the soul.

Except UA hadn’t released that information to the public. They had only said Izuku was in a coma, so maybe the villain thought Deku’s soul was still in his body.

But if that was the case, why had UA been so quick to tell everyone about Deku’s soul being bound to Katsuki’s? Aizawa and All Might had told Class 1-A all about it as soon as Katsuki found out about it. They had let him tell Inko without batting a fucking eye. If the priority was securing Deku’s soul, why tell about the soul binding to everyone so quickly but hide Deku’s body away and lie about it for so long?

Katsuki thought back to the day he woke up from his concussion and found out he was the only one who could see Deku. He hadn’t given UA much chance to process that information or make it confidential as he burst into Deku’s hospital room and shouted everything at Inko and All Might’s face…

But telling Class 1-A about it didn’t make any sense. Katsuki supposed they only did it so that his friends wouldn’t think Katsuki had gone batshit crazy, talking to himself and beating the shit out of thin air, but still. It had been too risky to tell everyone. It had been too reckless.

And it didn’t really add up.

There was something else to this story, he was sure of it. Something All Might hadn’t told Inko and him. Some information missing, the final piece to the puzzle. Something that would explain why the fuck UA had gone such a long way to protect Deku’s body, which was strategically useless, but shouted information about his soul, which was what the villain wanted, to the seven winds.

Katsuki looked at Deku again. His eyes were distant and unfocused, albeit concentrated, as he held a hand to his chin and muttered to himself, too lost in deep thought and theories to notice Katsuki’s intense gaze. Inko, however, had her big, expressive, green eyes glued on him, her fingers playing nervously with the hem of her skirt as she waited for a response. She had only heard Katsuki’s side of the brief conversation he had just shared with Deku, and hearing confirmation that the villain was looking for her son probably made her even more anxious. Taking a deep breath and mustering all the patience he possibly could into his body – which, admittedly, wasn’t much –, Katsuki turned to her again, trying to figure out what the hell he could possibly say to at least offer this woman some resemblance to comfort.

“Still”, Katsuki crossed his arms above his chest and didn’t meet her eyes. “They shouldn’t have kept you from visiting. You’re still his mother, no matter how fucked up Deku is right now”.

Ok, not a great comfort, but it was better than sitting in silence, right?

Inko looked even more concerned at the words, but lowered her head and bit her lower lip as she took in Katsuki’s words. After a few moments, she tilted her chin up, eyeing Katsuki with… gratitude? He honestly couldn’t figure out a single fucking thing about anyone in this fucking family. It felt like the Midoriyas had been especially design to fuck him up and confuse the shit out of him.

“Thank you, Katsuki-kun”, she said sincerely, much to Katsuki’s increasing sense of confusion. “For speaking up on my behalf”, she explained upon his completely lost look. “If it hadn’t been for you, I’d… I’d still be in the dark”, she reached out across the table and grabbed one of his hands, squeezing it. Katsuki tried to pretend he wasn’t extremely uncomfortable by that, and allowed his limp hand to be grabbed by the desperate mother in front of him.

“It’s ok”, Katsuki said simply, awkward, grumpy, and angry (as always), all at the same time. He didn’t look at her and chose to glare at the back of her sofa instead. “I couldn’t find out much, but I figured you should know about the shit that’s going on”.

“And I am very grateful that you felt that way”, Inko said again, and Katsuki wished she would stop fucking doing that. After everything he had done to Deku – after her weird, messed up threats on the last time he visited – after her fucking son got half-killed just to save him, she had nothing to thank him for. Nothing.

Instead of offering a response, he simply grunted, still not meeting her eyes. Her hand holding his was causing such repulse on him. He didn’t know why. He wasn’t used to that sort of affectionate touch, and her constant gratitude and tears made him nervous. He wanted to get away. He needed to get away. He removed his hand from hers and continued sitting by the dining table, not looking at her or at Deku.

Inko was silent for a while, and Katsuki could feel her eyes on him. Eventually, in silence, she stood up from the table and took his bowl to the kitchen in order to wash it. Her own katsudon was still untouched in front of her empty seat.

Katsuki turned his head to look as she put her apron on. He looked at her own bowl of katsudon, which was still fuming, and then at Deku, who was also staring at Inko with worry in his eyes. He sighed.

“Stay there”, he instructed Deku simply, before standing up and walking over to the kitchen. The bags beneath Inko’s eyes were dark and heavy. She looked up at him in silent surprise, not having expected him to follow her.

“You didn’t eat your katsudon”, he accused. She frowned for a split second, as if she didn’t even remember she was supposed to eat it, before offering him a forced smile.

“It’s ok”, she nodded. “I’ll eat it in a minute”.

“Go eat it now”, Katsuki added, a bit more harshly than he had intended. His tone may have come off as disrecpectful, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Inko stared at him.

“Katsuki-kun –“

“I can wash it. Go eat with Deku”, he nodded at the table.

Inko lowered her head, looking conflicted.

“You’re my guest –“

“I’m also the guy who beat your son up for years on a roll”.

Inko stared up at him for several moments, the conflict in her eyes increasing. She looked angry, but also embarrassed.

“D-Doing the dishes for me –“

“Won’t erase the fact that I bullied him. I fucking know that”, he took the sponge from her hand abruptly and basically shoved her to the side as gently as he possibly could as he stepped in front of the sink, not looking at her. “That’s not why I’m doing it”.

“Why, then?”, Inko frowned.

“Because you’ve lost weight and you look like you haven’t slept in fucking days”, he said as he scrubbed the bowl with the sponge with more force than necessary. Then, he turned to give her a stern look. “Also because the last thing Deku needs right now is to watch his mom pass out in front of him”, he added, a silent warning in his eyes.

Inko lowered her head, ashamed.

“Still – it’s – it’s not right, you’re my guest –“

“What the hell does that matter?”, he placed the sponge down on the sink with force, making a squishy wet sound. “My hands won’t fall off for washing a fucking bowl and a couple of trays. Also, Deku is looking at you with those ridiculous puppy eyes from the table”, he pointed a soap-covered hand at where Izuku was staring at them. “So go keep him company and eat your food before you keel over”.

Katsuki knew he was probably crossing a line by using that bossy tone with someone older than him, but he was past beyond caring. He could feel Inko’s eyes glued to him, but didn’t look at her as he continued to do the dishes.

“B-But how can I know he’s hearing what I say?”, she asked hesitantly, sounding nervous. Katsuki scowled at her as if that was the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard in his life.

“He can always hear you”, Katsuki told her. “You’re the one who can’t hear him”.

For some reason, Katsuki’s own words made his skin tingle.

That was true for him as well, right? Deku had been with beside him all his life, but he was only now starting to listen to him, over a decade later.

Funny how Deku had always been a ghost to Katsuki and, only now, only when he was actually a ghost, could Katsuki see him for real.

“Just fucking talk to him the same way you would have talked if you could actually see him”, he added, going back to avoiding her eyes. “He likes it when people acknowelegde him, even though he’s invisible”, he remembered the way Deku had reacted to Icy Hot addressing him directly, instead of using Katsuki as a medium.

Icy Hot had been the only person to do that so far, and Katsuki could feel just how glad Deku was that he did. The memory stirred a fresh wave of anger inside him, and Katsuki tightened his grip on the sponge in his hand. Inko, unaware of the reaction, nodded her head in comprehension and removed her apron, handing it over to Katsuki.

“I don’t want your shirt to get wet”, she explained simply. Katsuki grabbed the apron from her hands and put it on, not even caring about Deku seeing him wearing it. He was used to doing the cooking and the dishes around at his house, and he always wore an apron when he did – it was no big deal. Also, if Deku knew what was good for him, he wouldn’t comment on it. Ever.

Just for safe keeping, Katsuki looked over Inko’s shoulders and sent Deku, who was still sitting by the dinning table and listening to their conversation, a warning death-glare. Izuku looked away, ears red. He only lifted his head when his mother approached him, clearly having no clue where her son was.

“I-Izuku…”, she said hesitantly, not knowing what to do with her hands. “Do you want to sit with me at the couch?”

“Sure, mom”, Izuku stood up, but his mom, of course, could not see it. Katsuki rolled his eyes, feeling annoyance and rage grown within him for having to act as a fucking narrator.

“He heard you. Just go to the couch already, and take your katsudon”, he said in his bored tone, not looking at her as he scrubbed one of the trays she had used to cook the food. Inko blinked at him with embarrassment, but nodded, looking around her for a moment as if expecting to find Izuku before pushing her chair and heading to the couch, her bowl of katsudon in hands. Izuku followed her closely, sitting right beside her.

She was clearly feeling awkward talking to thin air at first, but after she started speaking, she gained more and more confidence. Izuku listened to her with attention.

Katsuki decided to ignore them.

He focused his whole attention on the dishes at hands, at the bubbles of soap on his forearms, on the greasy grime on the water. He did his best to avert his thoughts as far away from Deku as he possibly could, since thinking about stupid Deku was the one thing he seemed to be doing ever since this whole soul-nightmare began.

But no matter how hard he tried to concentrate on literally anything else, he found that he fucking couldn’t. One way or another, his thoughts always ended up heading towards the same path – Deku. After all, he was at Deku’s home, Deku’s scent was all over the place, and everywhere he looked there was a picture of fucking Deku and his fucking eyes. Katsuki found there was no escape. On the top of all that, he could feel what Deku was feeling, he could hear the sound of his voice as he replied to what his mom was saying even though she couldn’t hear him. Katsuki could feel his own chest bubble up with the desire to laugh whenever Inko told something funny to Deku, he could feel the painful twist of his heart every time Deku tried to touch his mom and failed. He could feel all sort of mixed, messed up, confused emotions Deku was feeling, and it was driving him fucking nuts.

But at least – and thank fuck for that – the deep, looming sadness Deku had been feeling ever since the night before was gone, which meant Katsuki’s plan had fucking worked. Ironic how he was getting so much better at figuring out ways to make Deku happy, while Deku only seemed to be able to infuriate him more with each passing day.

That wasn’t entirely true, though. No matter how angry Kirishima’s words had made him, Katsuki had to recognize, even if he would never admit it aloud, that he was, indeed, growing on Deku. Surely, the nerd still made him feel angrier than anybody else seemed to be able to, and Katsuki still felt like punching him every now and then, but there was also… Something else. Not the f-word, never the f-word, but… something. Something different. Something that he had described as non-hate to Kirishima, and something that made even him acknowledge that spending time with Deku wasn’t as gruesome as he first thought it would be.

Fuck. Katsuki was getting soft, and he could give himself that luxury. This was obviously a result, as Kirishima had said, of Deku’s feelings contaminating him. He was only feeling the f-word for Deku because Deku felt the f-word for him. That was the only possible explanation, and there was no other.

Why else would Katsuki, who had dedicated more than a decade of his life to hating Deku’s guts and putting him down, grow to like him so much?

He was so fucking conflicted. He knew he was becoming soft, and that thought infuriated him, and there was nothing he wanted more than to punch Deku’s stupid teeth in just to show him that Katsuki wasn’t weak, Katsuki wasn’t a fucking sentimental asshole like he was, Katsuki wasn’t catching fucking feelings for him. But, at the same time, he was painfully aware that if he did that, Deku would be sad, and not only Katsuki would also be sad as a result, but he had promised Inko that he would try his best to make her son’s shitty soul as comfortable as he could.

Fucking impass.

He finished washing the dishes, dried them up and set them into a cabinet that seemed to be the place Inko usually kept them. Removing the apron Inko had lent him, he folded it neatly and placed it on the top of the sink. His hands were tightened into fists as he all but marched his way to the couch, trying his best to keep his confused, paradoxical mixed feelings about Deku as far away from his mind as possible (at the time being). How the fuck was it possible that he wanted to hurt a person and make them happy at the same time?

Maybe Deku wasn’t the only one of them that was fucked up in the head.

“… And she sent you her best, of course. Maybe when you’re better, we can all pay her a visit! I’m sure she would love to see you”, Inko was telling Deku, not bothering to pretend to look at him anymore. At least, she didn’t seem as awkward as she had been before. “Everyone misses you, you know. The neighbors, the lady from the market… The one who always used to give you free chocolate when you were little, remember?”, she chuckled sadly, not expecting an answer, since she couldn’t hear it. “They’re all worried about you, and they’re… They’re proud of you, too. I remember back when you were at the sports festival, how everyone kept congratulating me for your performance… You really surprised them all”, she nodded sadly. “You are so loved, Izuku”, she concluded, sniffing. Before she could start crying again, Katsuki cleared his throat and stepped into the scene, staring at Inko and at Izuku, who was sitting beside her with wet eyes.

“I put the trays inside the oven and the dishes in the top cabinet”, he announced in a bored voice, his face bearing his usual grumpy expression. “I don’t know where you usually keep them”.

“Oh, Katsuki-kun!”, Inko exclaimed, standing up in surprise. She grabbed one of his hands – get away get away get away get away – and led him towards the couch, pushing him into the seat beside her. “I was just telling my Izuku how I wanted to show you something”.

“Kacchan, don’t let her do this”, Izuku immediately protested, looking embarrassed and relieved that now there was someone around that could actually listen to him. “She wants to –“

“Since you liked seeing my Izuku’s pictures last time you came over”, Inko continued, unaware of her son’s increasingly frantic state beside her. “I found these old videos I recorded when he was little. I thought you would be interested in seeing that, too!”

“Nooooo”, Izuku wailed, covering his red face with both hands and shrinking into himself beside Inko. Katsuki stared with confusion.

No, he was absolutely not interested at all in seeing baby Deku babbling with his stupid big eyes on the TV – he never really have the nerve to deal with children –, and the last thing he needed was to see the both of them as kids and feel even more guilty about the way they grown apart from each other. Deku would certainly feel sad if he started to dwell upon their lost friendship yet fucking again, right? But if Deku was so embarrassed about it, if he was blushing and hiding and looking so desperate about these videos, then maybe there was something he didn’t want Katsuki to see. What was the nerd hiding anyway?

Katsuki realized that he wanted to find out.

He gave Inko a bored expression, as if he didn’t really care about the videos, lest she notice the second intentions behind his eyes.

“Sure, why not”, he shrugged with feigned indifference. Inko smiled and grabbed the remote, which was sitting on the coffee table.

“Kacchan, no”, Izuku protested vehemently. “You won’t even like these videos! It’s just me as a baby, and we both know how much you dislike both those things”, he said, trying to look at Katsuki from behind his mother’s shoulders, since Inko was sitting between them on the couch.

“Sure, Deku”, Katsuki said, offering the nerd a vicious smirk. “I’m glad your mom had the idea to pick these videos up, too”.

“Oh, so Izuku wants to see them, too!”, Inko cheered. “I was afraid he wouldn’t like the idea”.

“I don’t!”, Izuku protested, his voice raising an octave. “Kacchan, tell her!”

“What are you talking about, he loves the idea”, Katsuki said instead, leaning back on the couch and placing his feet on the coffee table. Inko gave him a slightly disapproving look at this, but he didn’t notice it and she didn’t say anything.

“Kacchan, stop! This isn’t fair!”, Izuku continued to protest, his face looking as red as a tomato. “These videos are embarrassing! And take your feet of the table!”

“Here goes the first one!”, Inko announced.

What is it, baby?”, the Inko from the video asked.

Mighto!”, a three-year-old Izuku replied, wearing what Katsuki assumed to be the All Might Hoodie #2.

What is it?”, Inko asked again in a motherly tone, as Izuku reached his chubby hands towards her, asking to be picked up from the ground. The camera shuffled for a bit as Inko held it up with one hand and picked Izuku up with the other. Then, the camera shuffled again as she turned it around in order to face them, recording them in selfie-mode.

Mighto Mighto Mighto!”, Izuku exclaimed happily, waving his hands frantically.

You want to see All Might again?”

“Miiiiiiiiiiiiiighto!!!”

“But you’ve already seen All Might five times today, honey!”, she jostled him in order to adjust his weight in her arms.

Mighto! Mighto!”

“All right, let’s see him again!”

“Yaaaaaay!”

“But then no more for today, all right, honey?”

“Nooooo! All Mighto!”

“Here you go, sweetheart”

Inko placed the tiny Izuku on a rolling chair in front of the open laptop and played the video of the All Might rescue. Izuku cheered madly, waving his arms around in excitement. The scene was cut off, and a new video immediately started.

“This was when the All Might fase started”, Inko explained to Katsuki as a grassy field appeared on the next footage. “It never really ended, right, Izuku?”, she teased, but there was no malice in her tone.

“Mooooom”, Izuku groaned beside her, his face still red. His knees were pulled up to his chest.

Is that your quirk?”, the Inko in the video asked, chuckling, filming a 5-year-old Izuku playing by himself in a garden. He had a stick on his hand, and he was waving it around madly.

No! It’s my sword!”, baby Izuku explained, not looking at his mom as he continued to wave the stick around.

Oooh, what a nice sword you have, Izuku!”

“I’m a hero!”

“Yes, you are, honey!”

“My quirk is making the sword fly wherever I want to!”

“Really?! Let mom see!”

Izuku sent the stick flying away several meters.

How impressive! And how do you get the sword back?”

“I have to go and pick it up!”

And then he started running, picked the stick up, and came back laughing.

I’m a hero! I will save you from the monsters!”

“Ahh! The monsters!”, Inko exclaimed in a pretend-scared voice. “Save me, Mighty Boy!”

“I’ll save you, mommy!”, Izuku started to wave the stick around again, pretending to fight invisible monsters. The video ended with both Inko and Izuku laughing together, and a new one started.

It’s ok, honey, try again”.

“No!”

“I know you can do it, dear. Come on!”, she encouraged.

No! He’ll just mock me again!”.

“I’m sure he won’t. Come on, say it with mom”.

Izuku stared up at him with uncertain eyes.

Ka…”, Inko encouraged. Izuku hesitated.

Ka…”, he complied.

Now’s the tricky part… Tsu…”

Izuku’s baby face scrunched up in concentration.

Tchu”.

“Tsu”.

“Tchu!”

“Tssssu”

“Tchuuuu!”

“It’s ok, honey. You just need a bit more practice”.

“Katchuki!”

“You’re almost there. Say it with mom: Katsuki”.

“Katchuki!”

“With an ‘s’ sound, baby. Like in katsudon”.

“Katsudon!”

“Yes, baby, that’s it! You say ‘Katsuki’ just like ‘katsudon’”.

“Katchuki”.

“With an ‘s’, baby”.

“Katchuki!”

“Just like ‘katsudon’, honey. You can do it”.

“Ka…tchuki”

Baby Izuku huffed out a breath in frustration, looking angry and disappointed at himself.

It’s ok, Izuku. You’ll get it right with time, don’t worry. Why don’t you keep calling him ‘Kacchan’ until then?”

“Ok! I like ‘Kacchan’ better!”

Katsuki turned on his seat to look at Izuku with incredulity written all over his face. Izuku, as he expected, was not looking at him, his red face buried between his knees.

Is it on?”, Katsuki heard his own voice say, and turned back towards the TV. There he was, as a kid, standing beside a beaming-with-happiness Izuku. They must have been around 5 or 6 years old at that time.

Yes! Go ahead!”, Inko replied.

I… I don’t know if I got it right…”, child Izuku protested, looking hesitant all of a sudden. Katsuki rolled his eyes and nudged him with his elbow.

Come on, Izuku. We trained this like a hundred times”.

“Kacchan…”

“Just do it. Let’s go”.

Before waiting for Izuku to get ready, Katsuki started to do the All Might choreography. Izuku only hesitated for a few seconds before following him. Together, they danced and sung along to the All Might theme that was popular at the time, performing it perfectly (even if Izuku was a bit delayed, mostly copying Katsuki’s steps a split second after he’d made them).

Wohoo! You guys are amazing! You should get the All Might prize for best dancers in Japan!”, Inko exclaimed in support.

“Don’t be silly, kids can’t participate on that contest”, Katsuki replied obnoxiously, in that petulant, know-it-all tone that was still characteristic to him to this day. Inko seemed unbothered, probably reading it as a child’s behavior.

But you’re so good you could do it!”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right”, Katsuki shrugged, walking away.

Wait, Kacchan!”, Izuku trailed after him, as always.

“Ah, you haven’t changed a bit”, Inko commented, focused on the screen. When the next video came up, Katsuki’s attention faltered as Inko’s words sunk into his brain.

Had he really not changed one bit? Seeing himself on the video – the way he talked to Deku’s mom, who had only ever been extremely caring and polite to him – he realized that he was more of an asshole than he remembered being. Sure, he knew he’d been an asshole, if Deku’s moaning and complaining over the course of the time they’d been together was anything to go by, but still… He had thought he’d gotten better after he was accepted into UA. Hell, he had thought he’d gotten better after the All Might thing, after his fight with Deku, after being glued to Deku and trying to be nicer to him. Had he really not changed one bit? Had he really not improved at all? Was he still the same annoying, obnoxious kid who thought he knew better than anyone? Was he still a rude, disrespectful asshole that walked away unannounced and expected people to just follow him?

Had he not changed one bit?

Was that why Deku was still so sad all the time? Because, no matter how hard Katsuki tried to be better, he couldn’t? Was he really that weak, to the point of being unable to change himself into someone who wasn’t absolutely despicable? Was he really that helpless? That much of a failure?

What kind of hero – hell, what kind of man – did he expect to be if he couldn’t do something as simple as acknowledging his flaws and improving himself? What kind of fucking hero would he be if he was unable to improve himself?

Maybe that was why Deku had surpassed him so fast. Deku, the weak, pathetic, useless wimp who used to lick Katsuki’s boots, and who was now stronger than him. Deku, who met All Might on the same day as Katsuki, and who had been chosen to inherit the numer one hero’s power. Deku, who had been nothing, nothing, and who still managed to achieve the same as Katsuki with less means. Deku, who only inherited All Might’s quirk because Katsuki had been weak, and was still weak, and would always be weak, no matter how hard he fucking tried to be strong. Because he was trying to be better, but he hadn’t changed a bit, right? And this could only mean that, no matter how hard he tried to become stronger, he would fail. He was a failure. He was a fucking failure.

“I – I think that’s enough videos for today, right?”, Inko said hesitantly, and only then Katsuki realized that his hands were tightened into fists and there was smoke coming from them as he got lost in deep thought. Behind Inko, Izuku was staring at him with a deeply concerned look, even though his face was still reddish from embarrassment.

Inko turned the TV off and shifted on the couch to look at Katsuki, who was avoiding her eyes in embarrassment for losing control so easily – weak – and who was trying his best to calm himself. He could feel Deku trying to help him, trying to overwhelm himself with calmness so that some of it would seep into Katsuki, but this only served to infuriate him even more. He didn’t fucking need Deku’s goddamn help, and he hadn’t fucking asked for it.

“Katsuki-kun… Are you ok?”, Inko asked, reaching to touch his hand. Katsuki immediately flinched away from the touch. He didn’t want it. He didn’t need it.

Fuck, he just needed some peace. He needed some time off.

“I’m fine”, he grunted, not looking at her. Deku stood up from his seat and walked over to Katsuki, crouching in front of him, the little shit.

“Kacchan”, Deku said, clearly worried. “Do you want to leave?”

“I’m – I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable”, Inko said, retrieving her hand with embarrassment. “I thought you would like to watch the videos –“

“It’s fine”, he repeated, a bit more harshly than necessary. In all honesty, he was just angry at himself. For everything. Inko frowned at him.

“Y-You…”, she hesitated, looking conflicted. Then she pursed her lips and tilted her chin up, looking like she was mustering all it took her to be brave and speak her mind. “You don’t look fine, Katsuki-kun”, she said in a firm voice. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”

Talk about fucking what? About how weak he was? About how her stupidly weak son had managed to surpass him, even though Katsuki had been training hard his whole life? About how he was unable to improve as a person, as a man, as a hero, no matter how hard he tried? What exactly could he fucking say to her? And why the fuck was he about to break the fuck down at Inko Midoriya’s house, just because he’d watched some shitty video of his childhood with Deku? Just because she’d make a comment that made him uncomfortable? Why the fuck was this shit affecting so much? And why the fuck couldn’t he control it?

This had to be Deku’s fault, he figured. Katsuki had never been such an emotional person, he’d always been able to control himself and his anger and his quirk. This was happening because Deku couldn’t control his fucking overwhelming feelings, it had to be, and he was flooding Katsuki with sadness and anxiety and love and misery and longing and everything, all the things he never learned how to deal with before. All the stuff he internalized, all the stuff he buried deep inside himself in order not to deal with them. And now Deku was making him feel everything. He was making him feel every fucking thing all the fucking time, and he was tired, and he wanted to have some privacy and some time for himself, and he wanted a fucking break from feeling so much at the same time, because he was sure, he was fucking sure, no matter how much he hated it, that not everything he was feeling was coming from Deku. Some of that stuff was coming from himself, and it fucking terrified him, and it fucking made him angry.

He was probably losing it harder than he thought he was, because Inko broke right into his personal space (so that was where Deku got it from) and pulled Katsuki into a tight, motherly hug to comfort him.

Everything froze.

What Katsuki felt was beyond description.

His mother loved him, he had no doubt of that. But, just like Katsuki, she had a tremendous difficulty in showing affection. His dad, too, was too awkward to do so properly, so all he ever received growing up were awkward pats on the back and a few pinches on his cheek. His mom found other ways to show him she cared – calling him ‘brat’, being stern to him whenever he got too cocky, talking wonders of him to other people in his earrange, just so he’d know how much she admired him. So, other than millions of other parental problems he faced during his childhood, receiving and giving physical affection was just one of them. He never learned how to do it, which was probably why he had such a hard time communicating with Deku. If Deku had such a loving mom, such an attentive mom, he probably expected Katsuki to behave the same way towards him. And Katsuki hadn’t been raised like that. He didn’t know how to do that. The way he had learned how to show affection was through yelling, and slapping, and calling names, and criticizing people in order to make them grow. His mom had done that. Once she realized Katsuki’s head had grown too much… She tried to help him be better. By telling him everything he was doing wrong.

It was like breaking bones to make them stronger.

Comprehensively, Katsuki sucked at the emotional field. He knew it was his parents’ fault (wasn’t everything?), but he also knew they weren’t to blame. They loved him, and they did their best. But once they realized they had fucked up, it was already too late.

And Katsuki… Katsuki had never been hugged like that by his mother. Surely, his mother hugged him, and cared for him, and loved him, but this… This was different. This was a motherly hug. This was… This was…

Too fucking much. Not only because of the touch starvation he had grown used to throughout his life, without even realizing it was there, but because Deku could feel it too. He didn’t know how, but he just knew Deku could feel it too. And his happiness – his relief, his comfort, everything – was way too fucking overwhelming. Way too fucking overwhelming.

Katsuki did his best to hold back a sob, and Inko felt as he began to shake. Her hold on him tightened, which made Deku’s feelings more intense, which on its own term made Katsuki feel like he was about to explode (literally). He was feeling way too much. It was like his skin was on fire, sparkling with eletricity.

He felt… loved.

“K-K-Kacchan”, Deku tried to say, probably trying to tell him that he could feel his mother’s hug. Katsuki simply drew in a shaky breath, trying not to scream and sob all at the same time while Inko still held him.

“I know, Deku”, he said simply, his voice shaky and muffled by Inko’s shoulder.

“Y-You… D-Do?”, Deku asked, frowning. Katsuki could see him from the top of Inko’s shoulder, where his face was buried, and he hated the fact that Deku could probably see the involuntary tears that were pooling in his eyes. He didn’t want to fucking cry, but it was hard not to when Deku’s feelings were breaking into him like a broken dam.

(He knew that the tears in his eyes were also due to the overwhelming sensation of having someone hug him like that for the first time ever, but he decided to shove that into the list of “things I don’t want to think about” for the time being).

Inko suddenly broke away from the hug, as if realizing she had overstepped a boundary. She stared at Katsuki with apologetic eyes, looking as if she had just been burned. The guilt on her face increased when she noticed the teary look in Katsuki’s face.

“I’m – I’m sorry”, she said, hesitant and looking at a loss for what to do. “I didn’t mean to – I didn’t – It’s just –“, she took in a deep breath, allowing her hands to fall on her lap. She gave Katsuki a sad look. “You looked like you could use a hug”, she justified.

Katsuki didn’t know what the fuck to say to that.

You looked like you were asking for help…

Fuck the fucking Midoriyas to fucking hell.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable –“, Inko continued, but Katsuki didn’t want to fucking hear whatever it was she was about to say next, so he interrupted with the only thing that came to mind:

“Deku could feel it”.

There was a pregnant pause.

“… W-What?”, Inko asked, confused.

Katsuki didn’t look at her, or at Deku, as he continued, head bowed and face painted with anger and unshed tears that were making his crimson eyes glisten.

“He could feel your hug”.

Inko continued to stare at him. So did Deku.

“Kacchan…”, Deku said after a while. Katsuki couldn’t figure out if that thing making his voice wobbly was gratitude, or surprise, or sadness, or all of those.

“He… could?”, Inko asked, sounding like she was about to cry again. Katsuki couldn’t look at her. Not at her teary eyes. Not after she’d… hugged him like that. Like he was a fragile child in need of comfort.

In many ways, wasn’t he?

Inko shifted on the couch, getting closer to Katsuki. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him to get away from her touch, because it was fucking scary, but he didn’t. He found that he didn’t want to.

“Can I…”, Inko started, sounding awkward. Katsuki still wasn’t meeting her eyes. “Can I hug you again? Properly, this time?”

Katsuki bit his lower lip, his head bowed. He found himself nodding, despite of his brain screaming at him to get the fuck away.

Katsuki loved his mom. The old hag knew the perfect way to infuriate him, and they fought all the time, and sometimes, after particularly vicious arguments, he felt like leaving and never looking at Mitsuki Bakugou ever again, but he couldn’t deny that he loved her. She cooked him the best spicy food, she knew the best way to put him back in line, she knew the best way to praise him. She gave his hair the best cuts, she made him the best silly puns, she gave him the best care whenever he was sick. Surely, she and his dad had made some mistakes in raising him… But they loved him, and he loved them.

But, as it was with every parent, there were some things they just weren’t any good at. Things they couldn’t give him. Things they couldn’t teach him, no matter how perfect Katsuki used to think they were when he was a kid. And being affectionate… Being emotionally stable. His parents didn’t know how to teach him that. His mom was too explosive, his dad was too lenient. There wasn’t a middle-ground. There wasn’t a balance.

As Inko Midoriya held him close and gently stroked his hair in a way that could only be described as motherly… Katsuki found that he felt uncharacteristically balanced. As if she was taking part of his burden. As if she didn’t want him to carry it alone. And yes, having such a close contact after years of never hugging anyone was overwhelming as fuck, but it was also… Relaxing.

For some reason, it made him feel safe. It made him feel like he could put his guard down, like he could finally allow himself to take a break and not worry about being defensive, even if only for a minute.

He found himself relaxing and sinking into Inko’s arms. He was feeling embarrassed by it and he would probably never be able to look her in the eyes again, but the way her fingers were gently caressing his scalp was so soothing that Katsuki didn’t find the mind to care about that just then.

He knew very well that she hadn’t forgiven him entirely for what he had done to Deku throughout their lives. Katsuki still had a long way to go if he wanted her to forgive him… and he found himself surprised to realize that he did, in fact, wish that she’d forgive him someday.

Huh. Maybe she had been wrong. Maybe he was changing.

Maybe the process was just too slow for anyone to notice yet.

And maybe it was just too hard to admit he wanted to be better.

 

 

 

 

 

“So”.

Silence.

“Are we going to talk about it?”

“No”.

“Why?”

“Because there’s nothing to talk about”.

“Uh, I think there is”.

“Think again, loser”.

A sigh.

“I still think there is”.

“You’re fucking wrong”.

“You just hugged my mom for five minutes straight and then left the apartment without saying anything”.

“So fucking what?”

“It was weird. She’ll probably think she weirded you out”.

“See if I give a fuck”.

“I think you do”.

“I also don’t give a fuck about what you think”.

Another sigh.

“Can we please talk about this? Please?”

“You wanna talk about it?”

“Yes, Kacchan”.

“Fine. Call me by my first name, then”.

An awkward pause.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. I’m serious as hell”.

“I want to talk about the hug –“

“And I want to talk about me”.

“As usual”.

“Shut the fuck up and go ahead. Say it”.

“No”.

“It’s simple, Deku. Just say it. Katsuki”.

“No!”

“You can’t, can you?”

“Stop it”.

“No”.

“You’re being childish”.

“So are you, since you can’t say something as simple as Katsuki”.

“Don’t mock me about it!”

“Why not? It’s funny as fuck”.

“Stop it! It’s not!”

“Is that why you still call me Kacchan?”

Silence.

“Oh my fucking god. It is”.

Izuku turned his head away so that he would face the car’s window, rather than Katsuki, even though he was nestled against the boy’s chest (only so that he wouldn’t phase right out of the car. Only because of that, of course).

“And here I thought for all those years that you were patronizing me. Turns out you’re just dumb”.

Izuku turned his head towards Katsuki again, indignation written all over his face.

“I'm not dumb!”

A scarnious scoff.

"Yeah, sure, Deku".

Izuku went silent, adjusting himself against Katsuki and refusing to look at him. However, Katsuki could tell that he wasn't sad or upset, for once; if anything, his feelings were unusually balanced. Maybe paying Inko that visit and going through all that emotional crap had paid off, because, for the first time in days, Katsuki didn't feel like his chest was about to collapse on itself.

He didn't want to think about what that meant, or why being hugged by Deku's mother had felt so surprisingly comforting. If anything, Katsuki hadn't realized he was in such a need for a real hug until he received one.

Kirishima was the only person who had the guts to attempt something close to a hug with Katsuki, but it often didn't go beyond an arm around his shoulders pulling him close, or a quick, too-fast-to-count chest-to-chest embrace. Inko, on the other hand, had enveloped Katsuki in her arms and held him, as if she actually cared about him. As if she wanted to lessen his burden, share the weight with Katsuki. And, for the first time in his life, in an unprecedented way, Katsuki didn't feel bothered out of his fucking mind about someone wanting to help him.

He wished he could explain or understand why.

The rest of the car ride back to UA was silent, since their escort knew better than to attempt small talk with Katsuki and Deku was still pretending to be offended. Katsuki spent the time in silence staring out the window on his side, doing his best to ignore several things: 1. the way Inko had hugged him; 2. the way the hug had made him feel so much better, and as a consequence made Deku feel better as well; 3. the way Deku's curls were tickling his chin, since the boy's head was resting between his collarbone and his neck as Katsuki held him close to prevent him from being catapulted off the car; 4. the weird f-word feeling that he had felt while watching a baby Deku attempt to say his name properly and failing.

Katsuki never wanted to watch that sort of video again, not only because they clearly made Deku nostalgic (and therefore sad) as shit, but because Katsuki himself always ended up feeling a series of confusing emotions whenever he did.

He didn't want to fucking think about it. He was too wary of the possible conclusion he would end up reaching if he did. And the stuff those videos made him feel - the stuff Deku was starting to make him feel - was a territory he didn't want to tread in.

He was supposed to hate Deku, right? Or, at the very least, they were supposed to be proper rivals, now. Katsuki wasn't supposed to feel anything else for him. Being together with Deku was the fucking annoying result of a villain's quirk; spending time with him shouldn't be something enjoyable. Katsuki wasn't supposed to fucking like him, or to feel sympathy for him, or to feel anything other than pure, unrivaled contempt.

But no matter how hard he tried to stop himself, he couldn't fucking help but to, at the very least, empathize with Deku at some level.

Kirishima had to be right. These weird feelings had to be a mirror of Deku's, and nothing else, because there was no way in hell Katsuki actually liked Deku now, after all those years of hatred and anger and bullying, right?

Right?

Fucking hell.

Katsuki supposed the only way to find that out was to break that annoying-as-fuck bond he was sharing with Deku and see if the f-word he was feeling for the nerd would linger or would go away along with his shitty soul.

Katsuki hoped the feeling would disappear, because if it didn't – if it lingered, even after Deku was no longer attached to him – he had no fucking clue what that would mean, or what he would do about it.

It was easier to convince himself that what he felt was just a mirror of Deku's feelings, and that was it. It was a simpler explanation, which had a simpler solution than actually having to deal with his emotions.

It was only once they were back inside school grounds, after the car pulled over in front of the dorm building, that Katsuki realized Deku had dozed off in his arms, probably feeling as exhausted as Katsuki felt by the intense emotional toll they had gone through in the past hours (and also in the past day).

Fucking goddamn hell of a motherfucking piece of fucking shit of a situation, really.

The driver didn't ask any questions (thankfully) as Katsuki sat there very still and made no move to open the door or exit the car, but he did glance at the boy through the rearview mirror with a curious look on his face. Katsuki, on his own turn, had no fucking idea what he should do to wake Deku up, since he had never been in the sort of situation where someone fell asleep in his arms.

The truth was that, no matter how hard he was trying to be better to Deku and make him happier, not only for the nerd's sake but also for his own, that didn't mean Katsuki was a hypocrite. He wasn't about to go all gentle and touchy-feely on the nerd just because he wanted to be a better person, or because he cared a little bit about Deku now. There were some things Katsuki simply couldn't change about himself, due to several different, complex reasons, and the last thing he needed was for Deku to think that Katsuki was getting soft.

Because of this, Katsuki unceremoniously removed his arm from where it was supporting Deku's weight, making the boy jostle back into awareness with a surprised gasp at the sudden absence of a support for his head and back. Pretending he hadn't noticed Deku's clear embarrassment for having fallen asleep on him, Katsuki grabbed the bag with the Crimson Riot plush he had gotten Kirishima and opened the car's door, stepping out and holding it open for Deku without meeting his eyes. Deku meekly dragged himself towards the door and stepped out of the car as well, standing beside him awkwardly. Katsuki could tell, from his peripheral vision, that Deku was also avoiding looking at him.

Katsuki was ok with that accidental nap being the sort of shit they never talked about again.

They made the way back to Katsuki's room in silence, walked inside in silence. Katsuki went to the bathroom in silence and came out to find Deku sitting on his bed in silence. He spared the boy a quick glance before going on about his business, sitting by his studying desk and turning his laptop on. Just when he was starting to think that Deku was too much of a coward to speak up and diffuse the tension in the room, the nerd sighed loudly and broke the silence.

"Can we talk about it now?"

Katsuki made sure Deku could see how hard he was rolling his eyes and how grumpy his face looked before replying without looking at him.

"Why the fuck can't you just drop this fucking subject?"

Deku lowered his eyes, suddenly embarrassed and way too hesitant for someone who had sounded so certain a moment before.

"Is…", he started, swallowing dry and not looking at Katsuki. "Do you want me to drop this subject because it's something sensitive to you, or are you just trying to make me shut up?"

Katsuki rolled on his chair so that he could stare straight at Deku, fury glistening in his crimson eyes.

"When you look at my fucking face, is the word 'sensitive' the first damn thing that comes to your mind?"

Deku closed his eyes and tried to pretend he wasn't rolling them beneath his eyelids.

"No, Kacchan, but -"

"Then yeah, I'm just trying to make you shut the hell up, but as usual you're not complying", he turned back towards his desk. Deku, however, didn't give up so easily.

"I asked you because you complained that I can never tell when you don't want to talk about something, and that I keep insisting, so I figured it would be better to ask you about it first", he explained, a bit too defensively.

"Not wanting to talk about shit doesn't mean I'm fucking sensitive about it", Katsuki retorted effortlessly, typing down on his laptop.

"Then why don't you want to talk about the hug?"

"Because, as I've said over and over again and you are apparently too thick in the fucking head to understand, there's nothing to talk about", he growled through gritted teeth, annoyed. "It was just a fucking hug. There's nothing to it".

"I don't think so".

"And, as I've also said over and over again, I don't give a shit about what you think".

"But I give a shit about what you feel".

Katsuki's heart capsized painfully at the words, panic immediately flooding his veins. What the fuck was that about?!?!? Did Deku know about his confusing feelings? Could he figure them out in a way that Katsuki couldn't? Could he decipher them in a way Katsuki himself did not want to?

Fuck fuck fuck. He couldn't show weakness or fear - he couldn't let Deku feel his weakness and his fear. Instead of allowing himself to be overtaken by the adrenaline in his veins, and before Deku could end up mimicking his emotions, Katsuki tilted his head to the side in order to face the boy, who was sitting cross-legged in front of him on the bed, and glared daggers at him as a way to hide his panic. Katsuki hoped the look would be enough to intimidate the little shit, as it had never failed to do so in the past, but the nerd, on his turn, tilted his chin up in defiance in a way that much resembled his mom, unfaltering beneath Katsuki's death stare.

"I could feel your emotions, Kacchan", he continued, firm, and holy fuck, Katsuki did NOT want to have this conversation. He thought about running out the door, or exploding his window and jumping off, but all those options would inevitably result in Deku's soul being dragged right behind him. "And I know this wasn't just any hug", Deku continued. "I don't know why, and it's ok if you don't want to tell me why, but I could feel how… shaken you were by it".

Katsuki continued to glare at Deku, hating him more than ever. Couldn't he fucking see that Katsuki didn't want to talk about this? Couldn't he realize that Katsuki would rather jump off his fucking window than try to understand and acknowledge his own damn feelings?

"Kacchan…", Izuku continued, sounding weirdly worried now. He shifted on the bed, looking like he wanted to approach Katsuki or perhaps even touch him, but lacked the courage to do so. Maybe he was just trying to respect Katsuki's personal space for the first time fucking ever. "Have you… Did you…"

"You know I fucking hate it when you stutter like that", Katsuki cut him off, furious. His hands were already balled into fists. "Don't fucking start talking unless you have something to say".

"S-Sorry", Izuku apologized, sounding sincere. "It's just --"

"It's just what?”, he interrupted again, feeling way angrier than he should have. Deep down, he knew stupid Deku was just worried about him, but Katsuki just couldn’t help but to hear a patronizing tone in Deku’s voice that wasn’t actually there, and having to talk about feelings, on the top of having to feel them, was way more than he had signed up to. “You think you know any fucking thing about me just because you can feel what I feel? Just because we have a shitty empathic bond that drains us the fuck out more often than it's fucking tolerable? You think you know any fucking thing about me just because you decided to trail after me when you were a brat and you haven't stopped ever since? Is that what you think?", he ended up shouting, standing up from his chair and panting at Deku, who was staring at him from the bed with wide eyes.

However, Katsuki didn’t feel sad. He didn’t feel any hurt, as he should have, because his shouting and his words were bound to make Deku feel all miserable again, right? Besides his anger, and his discomfort with that subject, and that unamable thing that was twisting his insides ever since Inko Midoriya put her fucking arms around him, Katsuki wasn’t feeling anything. There was nothing coming from Deku other than a deep, constant sense of concern, and worry, and protectiveness, and that knowledge only infuriated Katsuki further. He didn’t need Deku to fucking protect him from any fucking thing.

And yet… Deku kept saving him in so many different ways, so many different times.

Katsuki cursed himself for being so weak. He hated himself for being so pathetic, to the point of needing a fuckhead such as Deku to save him. First, from the sludge monster, and now from this fucking villain…

Katsuki wanted to scream. He wanted to tear his room to pieces in anger at himself. He wanted to let out everything he was feeling, tear everything out of his body, get rid of all that overwhelming, suffocating shit he had no idea how do deal with –

Deku threw himself off the bed and onto Katsuki, enveloping him in a tight hug.

Katsuki was way too shocked to have a proper reaction, so he simply stood there, unmoving, both his arms hanging idly at his sides, as Deku clung to him and squeezed him tightly, almost as if he was trying his best to simulate the effect Inko’s hug had had on Katsuki. Katsuki couldn’t say Deku was succeeding, but he couldn’t say he was failing, either.

He couldn’t say anything, for that matter.

Deku buried his face against Katsuki’s chest and held him close, and honestly, every single fucking fiber of Katsuki’s being was screaming at him to get away, to shove Deku away from him, to beat him up for even attempting to hug him in a way that not even Kirishima dared to do, to fuck him up with his fists and his quirk, to teach him a lesson, to make sure he never tried to do something like that ever again.

But, at the same time… He didn’t feel anything at all.

It was almost as if…

God, he couldn’t comprehend it. He couldn’t put it into words. But it felt good. It felt more than good. It felt… It felt…

“I’m sorry”, Deku said against his chest, voice muffled. “I should have realized it sooner”.

Katsuki wanted to ask what in the goddamn fuck Deku was talking about, but he found that he couldn’t. He continued to stand very still, not moving an inch, not even bothering to envelop Deku with his arms. He simply stayed there, unmoving, allowing himself to be hugged, and wondering what the fuck Deku should have realized sooner. What the fuck Deku had realized in the first place.

Upon Katsuki’s silence, Deku tilted his head so that he could look at him, his arms still enveloping Katsuki.

“Is this ok?”, he asked, sounding like he would genuinely break the hug if Katsuki just said the word. Katsuki just stared down at him, struggling hard to figure out whether he wanted to punch Deku or hug him back. Deku frowned upon a lack of response. “Kacchan? Are you ok?”

Katsuki didn’t answer. He didn’t know if he was ok. He didn’t know anything anymore, and it infuriated him.

This was too much.

He wriggled himself away from Deku’s arms and Deku let him go as soon as he sensed resistance coming from Katsuki. He turned his back on Deku and refused to look at him, refused to speak up, refused to do anything other than breathe and blink blankly and try to figure out what the fuck was going on inside him.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable”, Deku said, sounding like he wanted to hug Katsuki again, and the worry irradiating from him was so fucking evident that Katsuki didn’t need to be emotionally bound to the nerd to be able to feel it. “It’s just – I thought you needed a hug”.

Katsuki didn’t say anything.

“You – The way you reacted when my mom hugged you, it made me realize”.

Realize what? Realize what, shitty Deku? Just speak the fuck up already, stop trying to make me ask it.

“I don’t think I remember seeing you hug someone, really hug someone, in all those years we’ve known each other. And – And I told you before. About the affection thing. You – You don’t know how to show it”.

Wow, what a fucking goddamn genious you are. Really outstanding, fucking shitty Deku, congratufuckinglations.

“Don’t you… Long for it?”

Weird fucking question. I don’t fucking like this.

“Because… I mean, one of the things I miss the most about being in my body is… Is being able to touch people a-and… I know this may sound w-w-weird and s-stupid, b-but…”

Just stop stuttering and speak the fuck up goddamn it!

“It’s n-n-nice. B-Being able to touch you. Even if… we don’t really t-touch much. And I t-think… It might be good for us. Emotionally, I-I m-mean”.

What the ever loving fuck is that supposed to mean?

“I n-never got to know your m-mom much, but… She didn’t hug you much, did she?”

Red alert. Red fucking alert. Nope. He wasn’t talking about that.

“And I think – you felt so much better after m-my mom hugged you, s-so maybe… If you’re ok with it, I c-could – I – I could –“

Deku sounded like he was about to break the fuck down on him, but Katsuki couldn’t face him.

“K-Kacchan, can you p-please… Can you turn around?”

Katsuki stayed still.

“It’s just… Your silence is scaring me”.

Katsuki said nothing.

“You were like this, too. After m-my mom hugged you. And I think you forgot I can feel what you’re f-feeling, so please”, he grabbed Katsuki’s wrist. “I know it upsets you when I’m sad”.

It doesn’t, you fucking nerd. Shut up.

“And I’m trying to control it better, like y-you’re controlling your anger better”.

No, you’re not.

“And I’m really glad and thankful that you keep trying to make me happy and that you took m-me to see my mom”.

Fuck you. I hate you.

“So can you please… Can you let me try to m-make you happy, too?”

I fucking hate you. I want you to fucking die. I hate you so much. I have to hate you. I have to hate you. I have to. I can’t just stop hating you out of fucking nowhere, you piece of shit. I can’t be weak.

“I don’t know how to do it and I’m sorry”.

Fuck off.

“But – I want t-to try. I want to help you, Kacchan”.

Katsuki yanked his wrist away from Izuku’s hold at the words.

“I k-know you don’t need my help”.

You don’t know shit.

“But I’d want to give it t-to you anyway. N-Not because I think you’re a charity case, but…”

Why, then, shitty Deku?

“It’s…”

Why? Fucking why? Tell me fucking why, I don’t know why, I never knew the fuck why, I don’t understand why, and I hate this.

For the first time ever, Deku gave up. This was too much for him, too.

“I’ll… I’ll be here for you if you need me, ok?”

Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

“Sorry if – if I made you uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to”.

Katsuki tilted his head just the slightest bit, only to see Deku backing away with the most miserable look on his face. A look of defeat, of retreat, of hopelessness. All the fucking progress he had made had just been flushed down the damn toilet. And Katsuki’s skin was on fire, his chest was tight with all sorts of paradoxical emotions, and his brain couldn’t make sense of a single fucking thing that was happening to him on that fucking day, which was probably why he ended up blurting out:

“Do it again”.

Izuku stopped in his tracks, looking at him with surprise.

“W-What?”

Way to fucking go. Now how was he supposed to get out of this shit?

“You fucking heard me, you asshole. I’m not saying it again”, was Katsuki's very sensitive response, spat at Izuku through a gritted-teeth growl.

He was doing this for Deku, he convinced himself. Because giving him hugs and that shit would make Deku happy, and he needed Deku to be happy so that he could be happy, and he had made Deku’s mom a promise. This had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that being hugged made Katsuki feel horrible and in bliss at the same time, in a way he had never experienced, and it had nothing to do with his own need, or his own happiness, or his own wish to be touched and cared for. He never even fucking knew he had that need until Inko cursed him with that knowledge, which was bestowed upon him by her damn comforting motherly hug.

Izuku crossed the distance between them and looked deep into Katsuki’s eyes, as if asking for permission.

“Are you sure?”, he asked, nervous.

“If you hesitate one fucking second longer I’m not letting you put your filthy hands on me ever fucking again”, was Katsuki’s angry response.

Fine. Here goes nothing.

Izuku sighed and enveloped Katsuki with his arms once more before he could change his mind, this time much more gentle than before. He buried his face in Katsuki’s chest.

They stayed like that for moments that felt like an eternity, and Katsuki…

Katsuki felt surprisingly ok with that.

“Aren’t you going to hug me back?”, Izuku asked after a while, his voice muffled by Katsuki’s shirt.

“Don’t push your fucking luck”.

“If you didn’t want to, you wouldn’t have held me so close back in the train, or at the car”, Izuku accused, dangerously brave. The fucking nerd’s head was growing too much, and Katsuki wanted to put him back into his place, at the same time that he didn’t.

“It’s like you’re basically begging me to never fucking touch you again in my life”.

“Kacchan. It’s ok”.

Katsuki didn’t move.

“I won’t tell anyone”.

“Oh, that was fucking implicit. You tell anyone about this, I blow your fucking head off. Both you body’s and your soul’s, just for safe measure”.

Izuku chuckled softly at this, not breaking the hug.

“Fine, suit yourself, then”.

A pause.

“I’ll hug you back if you call me by my first name”.

Kachaaaan”.

“Nope, that ain’t it”.

“Stop it”.

“You really can’t fucking do it?”

“Stop mocking me about it!”

“Only when I die”.

“Ughhh”.

“Fuck, I can’t believe the reason you’ve been calling me Kacchan all those years was because you didn’t know how to actually pronounce my name”.

“That wasn’t the only reason!”

“Sure wasn’t”.

“It was not!”

“Yeah, right”.

“What, are you saying you’d rather have me calling you Bakugou?”

Katsuki tensed up, his stomach twisting. He could feel Izuku tense up as well.

A pregnant, awkward pause.

“That was so weird”.

“Tell me the fuck about it”.

“Let’s agree to never do it again?”

“Whatever”.

“Ok”.

Another pause. Longer this time.

“So for how much longer do you plan to keep clinging to me like a fucking koala?”

Izuku’s arms went slacker around Katsuki’s torso, but he didn’t let go entirely.

“Do you want me to let go?”

“I think this is just getting too fucking weird now”.

“But did it help?”

“With what?”

“I… don’t know. With whatever it was that was making you so nervous”.

“I wasn’t fucking nervous”.

“Fine. Frantic, then”.

“Wasn’t frantic either”.

Kacchan”.

“I don’t know, Deku”, he sighed, tired, but also weirdly calmer than before. The confusion was still there, but it was somewhat dormant, now. “I just know I want you to let go, now”.

Izuku broke the hug and took a step back, studying Katsuki’s face with close attention as if he was trying his best to notice the effects of his hug.

“You’re feeling better”.

Katsuki rolled his eyes and walked past him with indifference.

“You think you’re so damn smart, don’t you, shitty nerd”.

“I am smart”, Izuku pointed out. “And I can also feel what you feel. So I know you’re feeling better”.

“Do you want a fucking trophee or something?”

“No”, Izuku immediately responded, as if the idea offended him. “I didn’t do it for a reward”.

Katsuki threw himself on his bed, using one of his arms as a pillow, and rolled his eyes extra hard just so Deku could see it. This was one of the things that annoyed him the most about the boy: he couldn’t say one single thing without meaning it that Deku thought he was serious. This was precisely the reason why Deku often got so hurt by Katsuki’s words (not that Katsuki denied that he had been an asshole to Deku many times; but sometimes, the times when he wasn’t trying to be an asshole were the times that Deku got the most upset).

“I fucking now that, dipshit”, he said.

“O-Oh”, Izuku blinked blankly at him, not knowing how to respond. Before Katsuki could say anything else, his phone vibrated in his pocket, and he retrieved it to find a new text from Kirishima.

 

From: Shitty Hair

Mina told me you guys went to the mall today

From: Shitty Hair

Did you guys forget all about me? :c

From: Bakubro

Cut this shit out

From: Shitty Hair

Wow babe

From: Shitty Hair

Bro**

From: Shitty Hair

It was the autocorrect

From: Shitty Hair

So what have you been up to?

 

“Aren’t you going to study?”, Izuku asked, sounding like he was trying to push past his hesitation and sound more confident towards Bakugou, now that they had hugged.

“Nah”, Katsuki said as he typed on his phone. He had to find a way to diverge from that subject, lest Kirishima get suspicious they were making plans for his birthday next week. “We have class early tomorrow and the shitshow from today left me fucking tired”, he added absentmindedly.

 

From: Bakubro

I was thinking

From: Bakubro

And maybe, for the first time in your shitty life, you may have been right

From: Shitty Hair

Thanks…?

From: Shitty Hair

About what tho?

From: Shitty Hair

Also, I’m still waiting on a reply to why you guys didn’t invite me to the mall

From: Shitty Hair

Did I do smth? :’(

From: Bakubro

Shut up

From: Bakubro

You were right about the feelings shit

From: Bakubro

Maybe I’m only feeling things because Deku feels them

From: Bakubro

That would explain why I used to hate him and now I feel the f-word for him

 

“Oh, ok”, Izuku said, trying to act cool. “I think I’ll sleep too, then. I’m also kind of tired”.

“Hm”, was Katsuki’s simple grunt.

 

From: Shitty Hair

You feel the WHAT

Incoming call from: Shitty Hair

Declined

From: Bakubro

The fuck are you calling me for

Incoming call from: Shitty Hair

Declined

From: Bakubro

STOP CALLING ME.

Incoming call from: Shitty Hair

Declined

Incoming call from: Shitty Hair

Declined

Incoming call from: Shitty Hair

Declined

From: Shitty Hair

BAKUGOU WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN

From: Shitty Hair

PICK UP

Incoming call from: Shitty Hair

Declined

From: Bakubro

STOP FUCKING CALLING ME

 

“Uh, Kacchan”, Izuku frowned at him, having climbed to his side of the bed. He was lying down beside Katsuki, from the other side of the pillow fort that was a constant on Katsuki’s bed now. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah”, Katsuki said simply, trying not to break his phonescreen with his thumbs from the way he was tapping on it so hard as he wrote a message to Kirishima. “If you wanna sleep, then just do it”, he added.

Izuku hesitated, sounding like he wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the courage to. Funny how he’d been brave enough to hug Katsuki just a few minutes before, but now it was like all the determination had been sucked out of him.

 

From: Bakubro

JUST TYPE DOWN WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANT TO SAY YOU FUCKING ANIMAL

From: Shitty Hair

WHAT THE HELL IS THE F-WORD

From: Shitty Hair

WHAT DO YOU FEEL FOR MIDORIYA

From: Bakubro

IT’S FONDNESS YOU STUPID IDIOT

From: Shitty Hair

JESUS CHRIST ARE YOU TRYING TO GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK

From: Bakubro

STOP FUCKING SCREAMING AT ME

From: Shitty Hair

YOU’RE THE ONE WHO STARTED SCREAMING

From: Bakubro

WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU EVEN THINK I MEANT BY F-WORD??

From: Shitty Hair

BAKUGOU ARE YOU SERIOUSLY ASKING ME THAT QUESTION OH MY GOD

From: Shitty Hair

WHAT DO YOU THINK I THOUGHT YOU MEANT BY “F-WORD” BAKUGOU?????

From: Bakubro

I DON’T FUCKING KNOW THAT’S WHY I’M ASKING

From: Bakubro

I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU’RE SO FUCKING RILED UP I JUST TOLD YOU SOMETHING YOU ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE FEELINGS

From: Bakubro

WE HAD THAT CONVERSATION YESTERDAY

From: Shitty Hair

How is it possible that you’re so fucking innocent while being a vicious explodo king at the same time

From: Bakubro

The fuck did you just say??????

From: Bakubro

I ain’t fucking innocent

From: Bakubro

Also you’re clearly out of your damn mind so just talk to me when you’ve regained your fucking senses

From: Bakubro

Dipshit

From: Shitty Hair

NO WAIT

From: Bakubro

Bye

From: Shitty Hair

NO

 

Katsuki turned his phone off and shoved