When Katsuki mentioned going home for the weekend, he hadn’t meant it as an invitation. Upon opening the front door in response to the unexpected doorbell, there stood Deku. At his childhood home. Without warning. Right before dinner.
“Hi, Kacchan!” Deku smiled, his mouth tighter than usual and his body tense, probably because of the scowl on Katsuki’s face.
“What the fuck are you doing here, nerd?”
Izuku shifted his weight between his feet, leaning back on his heels as he gripped one of his forearms with his opposite hand. He was dressed in casual clothes, a nondescript green and grey t-shirt and loose jeans, and covered in a slight sheen of sweat. If Katsuki didn’t know any better, he’d think that Izuku had run all the way here after patrol with that insane quirk and stamina of his. But then if he’d done that he would’ve been at the Bakugos’ door earlier. He probably just sprinted from the station.
“I thought I’d make it easier for you by coming out here. That way we wouldn’t have to wait to...you know.”
Despite the awkward and hesitant posture, Deku’s emerald eyes were trained on his own with all the confidence that Katsuki was used to seeing during their training sessions. The look was enough to make his shoulders relax without conscious effort. Katsuki had no idea what was going on with his rival lately, but it was nice to see something familiar in that gaze.
Nevertheless, what the fuck was Deku thinking?
“I’m not doing that,” Katsuki whispered harshly, his hand already gripping the door to slam it shut on Izuku’s face, “here.”
The Omega’s mouth fell open as hurt, disappointment, and frustration whirled around in his transparent eyes. “But—”
“But what, Deku? Did you think I was about to Claim you in my childhood bedroom with my parents downstairs?”
“No!” Izuku’s face tinged pink even as he furrowed his eyebrows. “I thought we could go somewhere—it shouldn’t take long.”
Katsuki opened his mouth to respond when he felt movement from behind him.
“Izuku! Is that you?”
Even without turning around, Katsuki could picture the huge smile on his mother’s face as she drew nearer. It took all of his effort to not knock his head against the edge of the door. Now that Deku had been seen there was no way Katsuki could get rid of him. Izuku seemed to realize the same thing as his face suddenly went pale.
“Hello, Mrs. Bakugo! I’m sorry for the intrusion.” Izuku gave a short bow, completely missing how Mitsuki practically body checked her son out of the doorway. Katsuki scowled as he dug his heels into the floor to keep from losing his balance, crossing his arms now that his spot in the doorway had been stolen.
“Oh look at you! You’ve grown so much, but you’re just as polite as ever. Those interviews on the television don’t do you justice, is this a new haircut?”
Once Izuku lifted his upper body straight, Mitsuki reached out to run her hand through the Pro-Hero’s curly hair causing him to shoot a shocked and nervous look Katsuki’s way. Katsuki smirked behind his mother’s back, knowing first hand how uncomfortable her touchiness could be. She constantly poked at his arms and fucked with his hair whenever he came home after an extended period of time. Served Deku right for marching in unannounced.
“Are you in town visiting your mother?”
“Um—No, not exactly.” The hand in Izuku’s hair turned into a fist and knocked against his skull with a small rap.
“You did not come all this way out here and were planning on not visiting your mother! Inko would be so disappointed in you!”
Izuku’s green eyes widened further, his head now turning back and forth from Mitsuki to Katsuki. “I—No, you’re right, um, I’ll go visit her after—”
“After you sit down for dinner with us.” Now both Katsuki’s and Izuku’s heads swung to Mitsuki who’d already turned her back to the boys. “Masaru! We have company! Set up another plate!”
“That’s really not—” Unfortunately for Izuku, and by extension Katsuki, the matriarch was long gone. The two Pro-Heroes shared a look of angry disbelief and apologetic fear.
Damnit, Deku. Only that idiot could get them in this awkward situation. Katsuki wasn’t stupid enough to think he could change his mother’s mind, so he too turned to head down the hall, certain that Deku would follow without further invitation. Sure enough, the door clicked shut behind him and when the youngest Bakugo took a seat to the right of his father, Izuku took the seat across from him.
“Izuku!” Masaru smiled from his seat, reaching across the table to grab the pitcher of water to pour their guest a glass. “How wonderful that you could join us today.” As if he’d be given a choice. “It’s been so long since we last saw you, what? Five? Six years?”
“Seven,” Izuku supplied, bowing his head slightly in thanks as he picked up the now full glass. “Graduation was the last time, I think.”
Masaru whistled. “Has it been that long already?”
“Feels like just yesterday that you were taking baths together after daycare.” Mitsuki mused as she placed the last plate, stacked high with fried fish, on the table and took her seat.
Deku sputtered, choking on his water and causing him to cough harshly. Katsuki didn’t bother acknowledging his mother as he began to place pieces of fish on his rice. Like hell he’d give her the satisfaction of a reaction.
“You went abroad after UA?” Masaru continued.
It took a second for Izuku to clear his throat, but then he nodded. “Yes, I went to the United States directly after graduation. I only returned two years ago.”
“So long!” Mitsuki shook her head. “Inko must be so happy that you’re back now. I know the three years Katsuki traveled the world for his ‘hero training’ added several wrinkles to my face, not that he cared.”
Izuku’s chopsticks paused mid-reach for the fish. “Oh, Kacchan, I forgot that you had left Japan, too.”
Katsuki grunted as he finished smothering his food in hot sauce before stuffing a piece of fish in his mouth. As nonchalant as he acted, the fact that Izuku hadn’t remembered that Katsuki had taken three years to work in six different countries to get certified as an international hero pissed him off. At what point did Izuku stop watching him? Did that asshole think that Bakugo would let himself get left behind? And how was the nerd supposed to analyze him if he didn’t keep up with what Katsuki was doing with his hero career? He definitely didn’t miss Deku’s wins and losses.
“Oh yes he did! And let me tell you, he almost never called. Didn’t even email us to let us know he was okay! Poor Masaru and I had to scour the internet for updates. But enough about work,” Mitsuki grinned to show off her sharp canines. “Have you found yourself a girl yet?”
This time Izuku dropped his chopsticks all together. “Wh—”
“How about a guy?”
“You must at least go on some dates, a handsome hero like—”
“How come you guys never Claimed each other?” Katsuki’s voice cut through his mother’s sentence like a hot knife, leaving her and his father stunned by its sudden heat. Izuku, who should have been fucking thankful for Katsuki’s rerouting of the awkward conversation instead gaped at him open-mouthed.
“Katsuki! That’s hardly a question to ask when we have a guest, you brat.”
“What are you fucking talking about, it could do Izuku some good to hear the answer, too.”
The mentioned Pro-Hero shut his mouth with an audible snap, his shock quickly turning into a pointed glare. Mitsuki turned from one Pro-Hero to the other, her frown more set on her face.
“Why? Is there someone in your life after all, Izuku?”
“No,” Deku firmly responded. Mitsuki turned to him.
“It better not be you, brat.”
“Fuck no, it’s just a question.”
“Then if it’s just a question, we don’t have to res—”
“No it’s fine, ‘Suki,” Masaru interrupted his wife, surprising both her and Katsuki. “Well, Izuku, as Katsuki already knows, I already have a Mark from a previous Claim.”
Izuku’s green eyes widened and his response of “really?” was so quiet that Katsuki could barely hear it.
“Yes, I know that must come to a surprise to you. Claims were as uncommon when I was your age as they are now. However, when I was in high school, there was a resurgence among the youth about reclaiming Secondary Genders. By which I mean, there was a movement where people began to think that Secondary Genders and traditions like Mating and Claiming were part of our nature as humans and should be celebrated again.” Masaru shook his head. “Looking back on it now, I should’ve seen the whole things as just another phase, but I was young and in love.
“I’d been dating my girlfriend at the time for all three years of high school, but we’d been accepted to universities that were across the country from each other. Nevertheless, we were certain that after we finished we would get married. And we thought, what better way to cement that promise by Claiming one another?
“Luckily, it didn’t work out between us, because, if we had stuck to that promise, I would never have met Katsuki’s mother, who happens to be my one true love.”
“Masaru, stop it!” Mitsuki put one hand to her cheek and flicked her other hand in a dismissive motion at her doting husband. “Not in front of the boys!”
“If you love her so much, why not override the Claim then.” Katsuki stated rather than asked, purposefully ignoring the green eyes that bore into his forehead as he continued to shove food into his mouth.
“Claims are very complex, Katsuki. It’s hard to explain what happens, what if feels like. I love your mother more than life itself, but…if a Claim was something she truly wanted, I don’t know that I could agree to one.”
Without warning, Izuku pushed his chair away from the table and stood. “I’m so sorry for having to leave so soon, but I really ought to go visit my mom while I have the time.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Izuku, did this conversation make you feel uncomfortable? We could talk about something else instead.”
“No, no, it’s not that at all. I unfortunately have very little time here in town, so I really need to get going.”
Katsuki shoved the last bite of rice into his mouth and stood as well. “Then we better talk about that case on your walk home.”
The two Pro-Heroes exchanged a knowing glance before Izuku nodded in agreement. “Yeah, that sounds great.”
“I didn’t realize your visit was work related, Izuku! And here we are taking up your precious time with gossip.” Mitsuki shook her head. “Hopefully next time you can stay a bit longer. Don’t be a stranger, ya hear?”
“Thank you for having me for dinner.” Izuku bowed before picking up his bowl. Katsuki pulled it from his grasp, taking it and his own bowl to the kitchen. Less than a minute later, they were outside his front door staring at the sidewalk.
“Where to, Deku?”
“Your choice, just somewhere we can talk.”
Katsuki rolled his shoulders before shoving his hands into his pockets and taking off down the sidewalk. Izuku kept pace and they both walked in silence until they reached the beach not even a mile away. As expected, the place was deserted. The beach had seen better days, large pieces of trash in the form of old appliances and other useless hunks of metal littered the sand. Katsuki had watched the state of the beach wax and wane. At some point the beach had been cleaned, but that only lasted for so long. Without upkeep, the beach had become a dumping ground once again.
After weaving through the rubble, Katsuki finally found a spot clean enough that he felt was safe to sit without having to worry about needing a tetanus shot afterwards. Once Bakugo had plopped onto the sand, Izuku slowly lowered himself to the ground alongside. He turned his head this way and that, surveying the beach around them with a disgustingly sad look on his face.
“What?” Katsuki finally asked, despite himself.
“Oh, it’s just…it’s sad to see how dirty it’s gotten again.”
“Well, yeah. People are assholes.”
Izuku hummed sadly. After a pause he spoke again, “I don’t think I ever told you, or anyone else for that matter, but cleaning this beach was part of my training to ready my body for One-For-All.”
“What the fuck?”
“Yeah,” Izuku laughed. “All Might made a whole training program for me. We used to run together and come here to do strongman training in the form of lifting all the oddly shaped and heavy pieces of trash.”
“When was this? Fucking middle school? You were a weak-ass shrimp, surprised you didn’t get yourself killed.”
“Hey, I did it, didn’t I? I cleaned up the whole beach in just the ten months we had before the UA entrance exam.”
At first Katsuki didn’t respond. He had figured that Deku had to have undergone some serious training to get the muscles he had when he started at UA. It had never occurred to him that the training had come before he’d gotten All Might’s enhanced strength. It was almost impressive.
“I could’ve done it in five months.”
Izuku scoffed and shook his head in disbelief. “Knowing you, Kacchan, you could’ve done it in less than that.”
Bakugo nodded sagely and then the only sounds around them were those of the waves hitting shore. Eventually, Izuku began to fidget.
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“And…well, then we don’t have to wait until next week.”
“You seriously came all the way out here so I could fucking Mark you?”
“Of course I did.”
“Why the fuck—”
“I told you, Kacchan, I can’t wait.”
Katsuki growled and kicked at the sand with his foot. “Why do you care about getting Claimed so badly? What the fuck could the rush be?”
“I already said—”
“You didn’t say shit, Deku.” Katsuki turned, locking eyes with his rival in an intense stare. “I intend to keep my promise and Claim you, but you need to tell me something, damnit.”
“Like?” Izuku whispered.
“Like why the fuck you wanna be Claimed. Or at least why you asked me of all fucking people.”
The two Pro-Heroes were so close to each other that Katsuki could feel the air in front of him get stolen by Izuku’s sharp intake of breath. Deku’s following breathless words didn’t make sense to him.
“What if both of those questions have the same answer?”
Katsuki’s heart skipped a beat. “Then all the more reason to answer.”
They stared into each other’s eyes for a moment longer and Katsuki had no idea what Izuku was thinking. Only once the other man had looked away did he finally speak.
“A few weeks ago, I was on patrol when there was a fire in one of the older buildings on the edge of the city. By the time I got there, the roof had already collapsed and it was only a matter of time before the whole place came down.
“There were Heroes there taking care of the fire, keeping it contained until the firemen arrived, but not everyone was evacuated yet. Of course I had to go in and see if I could help. I got to the fifth floor where another hero was trying to drag out a middle-aged man who refused to leave. Turns out his daughter had gotten trapped in one of the side rooms and the other hero couldn’t get to her. I rushed to her, lifting the part of the ceiling that had blocked her in.
“She was so young, Kacchan, and so scared. I tried to coax her out, but she wouldn't move. Time was running out, but I had to figure out a way to both hold up the rubble and reach her without making her run further into the room.” Izuku took in another sharp breath. “The father apparently had gotten out of the other hero’s hold. I was so focused on the girl that I didn’t even realize he was back. All I remember was hearing, ‘Grab her!’ and so I did.”
Izuku stuck his hand into his hair as he stared off blankly into the waves. “The man—her father—he didn’t mean to—he was just scared, but I followed the Order. I lunged forward, gripping her arm with the same strength as I was using to hold up the ceiling. Kacchan, I—I broke her arm. It just—it snapped. Right in my hand.” The Pro-Hero closed his eyes. “She was screaming in my ear and I couldn’t do anything but get her and her father out of there because the damage was already done.
“Her father wasn’t mad; he was just happy she was still alive. He didn’t—he didn’t realize that it was my fault. I—I should’ve—I shouldn’t have—she looked so betrayed. So afraid of me. How am I supposed to be the next Symbol of Peace when the people I’ve sworn to protect are afraid of me?
“And worst of all, they should be!” Izuku opened his green eyes and Katsuki wasn’t surprised to see that they shone with tears. “You’ve seen it yourself, I could mess up at any time. What if I slip again but next time it’s a villain giving me an Order? It may seem like I have One-For-All under my control, but just because I’m not destroying myself anymore doesn’t mean it doesn’t still take my focus to change the power level. I could level a building if I so much as stepped with too much power.”
Izuku’s head turned to Katsuki, shock clear across his face. Katsuki did his best to keep his face bored, but he was sure his voice gave away his true feelings. “You’ve been doing fine this far. So you made a mistake one time under intense circumstances, whatever. You think I haven’t done the same? You think All Might didn’t? Hate to break it to you, Deku, but you’re fucking human like everyone else. Mistakes happen. No one fucking died, and even if, if, there’s a next time and if someone did, then you’d make sure it never happened again.”
“Like I am now.”
Katsuki didn’t respond to that, so Izuku continued.
“If I was already Claimed, then that wouldn’t have happened. No civilian, no villain, no friend, no one could Order me to do anything.”
Izuku stared at Katsuki before he nodded. “Except you.”
“And how does this story make it so I’m the person you asked to Claim you?” Izuku hesitated and the pieces slowly came together in Katsuki’s head. “It’s because of One-For-All, right? You wanted someone who knew about your quirk.”
“That’s part of it.”
“And the other part?”
Deku bit his lower lip before he looked away. “I also wanted someone who wouldn’t be afraid to Order me to do something if push came to shove.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Izuku didn’t answer and that pissed Katsuki off. “You think I’m the only one who’d Order you around? You think your friends wouldn’t if you asked?”
“No, they might...but no other Order has ever felt as strong as yours do.”
That statement gave Katsuki pause. The beach was quiet again save the ever present waves and the sound of a passing car every once in a while.
“You asked me before I starting giving you Orders in the gym.”
Izuku’s eyebrows furrowed, his eyes clouded by confusion. “Those weren’t the first Orders you’d given me, Kacchan.”
His gut reaction to those words was anger and a familiar scowl crossed Katsuki’s face. “What the fuck are you talking about, Deku?”
“You—you don’t remember?”
“It’s not that I don’t remember, it’s that I never gave you a fucking Order before. I’ve never Ordered anyone until the other day.”
They both stared at each other, anger to confusion until Izuku’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh…you didn’t know.”
“Didn’t know what.”
“The night you were kidnapped.” Katsuki’s gut twisted against his wishes. “During our first year. You said, ‘Stay back.’ Only, you Ordered it. And, despite the trainings we’d already had to fight Orders, I couldn’t fight yours.”
Izuku looked away. “I still think I could have sav—stopped them or maybe switched places with you if I’d been stronger back then. Sorry, I thought you’d done it on purpose.”
Neither of them responded to that. Honestly, Katsuki didn’t know what he could say to that. With such simple words, his whole world axis tilted, if only a degree or two. That was enough to change everything.
“Tomorrow.” Katsuki lifted himself to his feet without using his hands.
“What?” Deku looked up at him, still seated in the sand.
“I’ll Claim you tomorrow when I get back to the city.”
Immediately Izuku shot up. “What, why? I’m here now, can’t we—”
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t know shit about Claiming someone. It’s not like it’s something they taught us back in school.”
The other Pro-Hero stopped his protesting and frowned.
“I’ll look it up tonight,” Katsuki went on, “and then tomorrow night meet me in Training Room One at midnight, got it?”
Slowly, Izuku nodded. He waited a second longer before turning to make his leave. “Thanks, Kacchan.”
“You better go see your mom or Auntie will tell my mom and I’ll never hear the end of it.”
With that, Izuku jogged off the beach. Katsuki, however, stayed until the moon was high in the pitch black sky.
When he made it back home, it was obvious he wasn’t the only one still awake, despite how late it’d gotten.
“What’s wrong?” Katsuki voiced aloud, his voice carrying down the hallway. A moment later, his father appeared in the doorway.
“Your mother already went to sleep, but I wanted to speak with you before I joined her.”
Katsuki shifted his weight from the balls of his feet to his heels, leaning into a fake relaxed stance. “What about?”
“I wanted to be clear that Claims are complex affairs.”
At that, Katsuki actually relaxed, going as far as to roll his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve got that.”
“No, I don’t think you do.”
The seriousness of his father’s voice caused Katsuki’s shoulders to tense again. This time he didn’t respond.
“I don’t know what spurred you to ask about Claims tonight, but you don’t bring up needless topics. Whether it’s you or someone you know who’s considering a Claim, I want to stress that they should not go through with it.”
Masaru paused, his normally jovial face weary and older than Katsuki was used to seeing. “Claims create…connections. Even one-sided ones create a bond between the two people involved. Most people are aware of the physical effects, such as the Mark itself and Orders, but the intangible effects are harder to describe. I, myself, can’t explain exactly what it’s like. It just is.”
“Then what does that mean for you?” Katsuki practically whispered.
“…Sometimes it’s just a feeling. Whether it’s mine or hers, I’m not so sure. There are times when the…pull, I guess you could call it, is unbearably strong, and other times I fear something has happened to her because it’s so weak. I can see how it can make Mates feel more connected, but, for us, it ended up driving us apart.
“Just, trust me, son, a Claim is just as it sounds. Both participants are agreeing to some large responsibilities, the half of which can’t be explained.”
The light in the other room went off as Masaru brought his hands down to his sides. As he walked down the hall, he placed a hand on his son’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Good night, son.”
His father had already made it up to the top of the stairs before Katsuki responded with, “Good night.”