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Realism Gives Itself Away

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{Katsuki}

The mastery of the work is…well, it’s breathtaking. Each careful brush stroke, each skilled curve along the canvas boasts the artist’s sheer talent. To look at such art is to glimpse perfection, and he’s mesmerised, obsessed almost, with such a piece. This is what he’s been looking for - raw ability, channeled into a heavenly painting.

So of fucking course the creator would be anonymous.

But Katsuki knows ways around that - he’s the Bakugou Katsuki, and pulling strings to get what he wants is his forte. Though, admittedly, he has to deal with this sorta shit to get there.

“We'll have permission to give you the artist's identity in less than a week,” the woman at the desk says, a strand of badly permed hair wrapped around her finger seductively, as if that'll make Katsuki like her any more. It’s always like this, getting unwanted attention and requests for shitty coffee dates from women who have nothing better to do. In all honesty, he can't imagine giving this lady the time of day even if he was straight, which he’s not (and if only others were as confident as him in the fact...the only thing he gets from men is a look, a second one, and normally a good few more too). Besides, the woman's just too… fake , and Katsuki lives for realism. In a job as a lawyer (a fucking successful one at that), dealing with people who want to cheat and claw their way through their corrupt lives, he needs to keep a hold on what’s right, and realism is his water in the fucking desert of lies. After all, finding true realism is why it's been so goddamn hard to get the right artist for the piece he wants commissioned: all the other artists he's observed have that hint of artificiality in their realism, some insincerity that stops Katsuki from connecting to the art.

It’s not the same with the anonymous one, though; whoever the artist is, they’re beautifully realistic in their work, in a way that makes Katsuki go a little weak at the knees. Honesty in his career is no easy task, but he can make it happen if he holds onto the concept of realism.

“Make it two days,” he demands, before walking off.

~*~

{Izuku}

Izuku is about to lose his mind. And he doesn't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. See, a fair few famous artists were proclaimed mad in their time, so maybe going crazy will help his art career? Then again, Izuku would very much like to keep his sanity please and thank you, even if it means finding another job.

On the other hand, it might inspire his art some more…

And it's whilst Izuku is contemplating the benefits of insanity that the phone rings, a call from the one person in the world who truly drives Izuku nuts - the receptionist who handles his artwork at the exhibit.

“Yes?” he says through gritted teeth, reluctantly putting his paintbrush down (not that he thinks the red and brown on his canvas will work well together any time soon - he would just rather be doing literally anything else).

“A client wants a commission. He needs your identi-”

“No.” Izuku stops her before she can even get the words out of her mouth. He’s had this before, with stuck up ‘connoisseurs’ offering ridiculous amounts of money for utterly uninspired work. He’s an artist , not a machine; he needs inspiration, he needs to like the idea.

And he never, ever does.

“Regrettably, sir,” the woman continues, in a tone that suggests she’s not regretful at all. “We will not be able to continue displaying your work at the exhibit if you deny this request.”

Well, that’s new.

Izuku isn’t big headed, even if he does say so himself, but the prices some of his pieces have sold for prove that he’s anything but inadequate. No matter what the client could offer or hold against the exhibit, it wouldn't be enough.

So who exactly is he dealing with? A gang boss? A lawyer?

Actually, it very well could be a lawyer if they were from Yuuei. Those people had incomprehensibly wide influences (Izuku had actually wanted to be one, a long time ago. But he’d been a kid then, anyway; it was in the past), so he can see some stuck up Yuuei graduate pushing about the people at the exhibit.

But to be asked for by a Yuuei lawyer...that’s rare in itself.

“Is it a Yuuei graduate?” Izuku asks curtly, wondering if his assumptions are true. He expects the woman (Kamiya, her name is, not that Izuku particularly likes using it) to laugh at him and tell him that his art isn’t nearly good enough for a person of that calibre to want a commission, but she giggles (God, she’s obnoxious), and replies:

“He is, and very handsome one at that!”

Great, thanks; Izuku needed that information desparately.

But the woman isn’t finished, her voice turning sour as she continues to speak.

“See, I don’t quite understand why he would want something from the likes of you -” (she pauses pointedly, perhaps to give Izuku time to roll his eyes) “-but he wants a commission nonetheless.”

“If I were to take the commission anonymously, at half price, would he be satisfied?” Izuku proposes, and the woman hums.

“I can get back to you on that, but don’t expect much.”

“Right.”

“And be by your phone at all times!” she adds, before hanging up.

~*~

The phone is ringing again half an hour later, interrupting Izuku in his sullen staring at the reds and the browns that are simply not working. This time, it’s almost a welcome distraction; the longer he looks at what he’s doing, the more he hates himself.

“The client offers you full for doing it anonymously, but double for revealing your face,” the woman says bluntly.

“And how much is the initial offer?” Izuku says with uncertainty, not sure how this could possibly be happening to him right now.

The number she tells him has Izuku dropping his paintbrush on the floor in absolute shock.

“What?” he screeches, all dignity forgotten in his surprise. No one, no one has paid that much for three of his pieces combined. And doubled? God, he’d...he’d be rich. He could look after his mother without ever worrying about what was left for himself, he could treat his friends, he could- he could do a lot .

And sure, he’s come into good money now and then, but painting takes weeks, months, years sometimes, and so the money is only ever just enough to keep him going for the lapse.

But with this sort of money…

And whoever the client is, he must be one of Yuuei’s top lawyers. Izuku can scarcely believe that anyone would want his work for that much. Yes, he’s not the worst, and yes, he always, always paints from the depths of his heart and as realistically as possible. But…

Well, people nowadays don’t care about true realism. There must be some other desirable feature about his artwork.

“And um, what if I said I’d meet the client halfway through the process, keeping my identity hidden until I could be sure he’d want the full piece?”

“He’s agreed to compromise, sir; I don’t think you should be pushing his boundaries,” the woman says snarkily, as if Izuku would love her opinion and has had a change of heart (he hasn’t).

“Well ask him,” Izuku bites back, “and then I’ll give him his answer.”

He slams the phone down, and collapses back into his seat.

Why is everything so gosh darn difficult these days?

{Katsuki}

Whoever the artist is, he’s got nerve, Katsuki’ll give him that (and he knows it’s a he; it only took a little bit of bribery for the lady to tell him. And besides, gender doesn’t give away the person, so he’s technically not breaking any - or many - laws).

They’ve come to the agreement that Katsuki will pay 150% of the price rather than 100% or 200%, as the cheeky dipshit wants to reveal his identity halfway through the piece for security (as if Katsuki is going to back out - this is the best fucking artwork he’s seen since- well, since forever ).

And Katsuki doesn’t even know how old this man is. He could be in his sixties or some shit. The skill of the artwork suggests years of cultivation, but something about the personality that Katsuki’s been able to get a hint of...younger, early forties at most. He himself is twenty eight, so commissioning a man of that age shouldn’t be so awkward.

He hates people’s reactions when they learn of his age. ‘ So old? Well, you don’t look it! ’ or ‘ Really darling? Then where’s the wife? Want a bit of help? ’. It doesn’t make a fucking difference, though; he still comes out on top.

This piece...this piece is important as fuck. It’s- Well, words don’t explain it, but his goddamn mentor is retiring and he needs this done. Toshinori Yagi- or All Might, for the public and shit- has been the Symbol of Peace for so long, he’s done so fucking much , and Katsuki hasn’t...he hasn’t shown it enough.

But he will, like this.

It’s gotta be landscape, with the All Might in his glory days, muscle and all, standing in his legendary pose in the middle. That can be gaudy as fuck, as fake as fuck, because that’s the background, and the foreground of the piece, in which the man, Toshinori, not the hero All Might, is making a child smile, will end up looking even more real.

Real , that’s what it has to be, because nothing else can convey how brilliant he’s been.

Not that Katsuki could ever tell him that to his face.

~*~

He hovers around the phone like a kid waiting for Santa or some shit. He’s waiting for a call from the exhibit to tell him that the artist has fucking finally reached the point where Katsuki can get a first look at the work, and a first look at the man himself, too. The call is meant to come within the week, and it’s been four goddamn days.

Katsuki doesn’t know how much longer he can keep bloody wait-

The phone rings.

The phone rings and Katsuki is on his feet in an instant , almost tripping over himself as he picks up the damned device.

“When and where am I meeting him?” Katsuki demands - there’s no time for formalities or niceties, and the lady should know that as well as him.

“Demanding, aren’t you, Mr Bakugou?” the woman giggles, and Katsuki rolls his eyes. Does he really have to deal with this right now? “But the artist has another conditi-”

“Are you fucking serious ?” Katsuki interrupts angrily. “What more does he want? I’m paying him a shit ton of money, I’ve been keeping up with his requests, I’ve let him remain anonymous for this long even though I should be seeing the goddamn painting every step of the way, not to even mention the rest of it!”

The lady lets Katsuki rant. Of course she does; no one interrupts Katsuki when he’s ranting. Once he’s finished, the woman clears her throats and explains, tentatively:

“He would like to know your name, sir.”

Oh. Right.

Katsuki needs to stop getting so worked up over this whole affair, but fuck, it’s crucial that everything runs smoothly for this. This...this is Katsuki’s last chance to show Toshinori just how much he matters to Katsuki, just how much he’s helped him in his own path, how much he’s-

How much he’s changed Katsuki.

“Get him my name, and get me a time and place.”

{Izuku}

“And his name?” Izuku asks for the ten millionth time, because Kamiya doesn’t seem to be able to stop pestering him about ‘time and place, time and place’.

Izuku knows that all of Yuuei’s graduates and lawyers are on the famed website, that Izuku can easily research all he needs to know about this man and what his tastes are. Izuku knows it’s a man because Kamiya has taken the liberty to tell him all about how ‘undeniably gorgeous’ this man is, and if he could ‘please paint a little slower so that she has more time to flirt’?

(The answer to that had been a firm no.)

But that’s all he knows, and Izuku wants to know more before he meets this man.

Most of what he knows is from the man’s commission details, and Izuku cannot say that he dislikes what he sees, because…

Well, he sees sincerity. Sincerity and a need for realism, a need for something genuine . Had the painting been of anything but All Might, Izuku’s childhood hero, he wouldn’t be able to give the man the realism he seeks, but even the idea itself inspires him - the outer and inner hero, the fundamental desire to help.

And then he hears it.

“Bakugou Katsuki, he called himse-” Kamiya notifies him, but Izuku cuts off the call.

Kacchan .

This man is Kacchan .

Izuku feels like he’s stepped into a bear trap. He doesn’t want to think about it, doesn’t ever want to go back to that time, that jumble of emotions that dragged him down before the discovery of an easel, a brush and a canvas pulled him out of the fire.

They were children then, only kids...how were they meant to understand what the depth of their actions were? There had been a time, once, when Kacchan would take him by the hand and lead him through the crowds, wherever they found themselves. He was Izuku’s hero, he said, and he’d defend him no matter what.

That had all changed the night little Izuku had witnessed-

He can’t think of it without shaking. Seems that all these years haven’t nulled the trauma of that incident.

The woman-

The woman had lived two doors down from Izuku, offered him a smile and a cookie every other day. She’d been in her…

Early twenties?

But Izuku had been in the wrong place, at the wrong time (that’s always the case with these things, isn’t it? Who’d ever seek out-

-that?)

It had been that night that had labelled Izuku as a trauma victim with PTSD and an invisible marker on his head which seemed to tell Kacchan that he was no longer competent to protect - or to be protected.

Lawyers had to be strong, he said. Strong and level headed, not...not broken . Izuku wasn’t broken, he wasn’t, he was just...scarred, but Kacchan had made up his mind. Izuku wasn’t to be a lawyer, and God, had he stuck to that. Izuku still remembers how Kacchan would tell everyone Izuku met that Izuku was messed up in the head, that he wasn’t fit for friendship. He drove Izuku away from his dream of becoming a lawyer.

But Izuku doesn’t mind. It was Kacchan who showed him that lawyers were nothing more than liars, that All Might was the exception, not the norm. It was Kacchan who pushed him away from his childhood dream, and towards the career of an artist.

‘Your shitty drawings are too realistic,’ he’d said. ‘I fucking hate them’. He’d ripped the sketchbook up, then, the sketchbook of drawings of Izuku and Kacchan as toddlers, Kacchan fiercely holding onto Izuku, the way it had been before the incident.

So why would Kacchan want realism now?

Izuku looks at his painting. The All Might in the background has been done, and a crippled but smiling Toshinori Yagi holds a bunny toy to an unpainted child. Izuku has poured his time into this, poured all the realism he can find, because this painting resonates with him.

It’s only now that he knows who wants it that he realises that this painting may not be as meaningful as it could’ve been. But Izuku doesn’t want that, he wants it to be the best thing he’s made, he wants it to come from the bottom of his heart, he wants it to be…

True .

And giving it away to some lawyer who Izuku knows for a fact is too haughty to care will take all of that away. It’s decided, then.

{Katsuki}

Fuck . Fuck, he doesn’t know what to do.

He’d been a teenager, once. Brash, arrogant, selfish. Shit, he’s still brash but he’s learnt to be humble, learnt that you can’t do it all yourself, and that people are there for you to lean on, not to look down on. He’s made friends, and he’s re-connected to people. He hopes to fuck that he’s not selfish anymore - he cares, he genuinely cares about others. (There was a case of a little girl with half of her face covered in oil burns, and the other half still supporting a smile. It had hit Katsuki hard, to say the least).

And he owes it to Toshinori, the man who didn’t give up on the lost cause, the one least likely to be successful if he didn’t change his attitude. And yeah, he’s still got shit to work on, but he wouldn’t have his friends, his life, his everything if his mentor had given up on him.

But Toshinori doesn’t know that, may never know that at all now, because of the stupid fucking artist .

“He can’t just decide he’s not going to do it anymore, I can’t fucking find anyone else!” Katsuki yells into the phone. “Was it my fucking name? Why has he withdrawn?”

“In all honesty, Mr Bakugou,” the lady simpers, “he seems to be weirdly obsessed with realism. He called to tell me that he’s decided that the ‘shallow and deceitful nature’ of lawyers juxtaposes his values of realism, and that he could lose his job for all that he cares, but that he’s returned the deposit untouched, and doesn’t want anything to do with this whole affair at all.”

Katsuki knows how that feels, knows what sort of reputation lawyers have. But the artist fucking knew that he was a lawyer from a start, there’s no goddamn reason to be doing this now, Katsuki can’t afford for him to be doing this now.

...And neither will the goddamn anonymous artist.

“I’ll sue him,” Katsuki declares. “I know my way around this shit, I can find a basis to…”

There’s no real basis, is there? He’s worked so hard to keep the innocent people where they belong, and yeah, he’s bent the rules but-

Shit .

“Oh,” the woman adds, although Katsuki really just wants her to shut the fuck up so that he can think. “He was really weird about the way he addressed you. Like, gave you an inappropriate nickname and all.”

“Huh?”

“Said something about ‘Kacchan wouldn’t understand true realism - he hates it’. I dunno, it was kinda cree-”

He throws the phone across the room.

~*~

“Dude, but you can’t-” Shitty Hair tries to insist, but Katsuki is having none of it.

“I helped your sparky bitch of a boyfriend avoid jail for shit he didn’t do, against one of the strongest persecuting lawyers in the whole fucking city, or does that mean fuck all to you?”

“Bro, you know how much that mattered to me, you know I can’t repay you for that, but you’re asking me for confidential information!” the redhead cries. “That’s unmanly as hell, and I can’t let you undermine your own morals! I- What is this for?”

Katsuki drops onto the desk and buries his face in his hands.

“There’s someone who I...hurt, when I was younger. I gotta fix it.” He turns to his friend desperately. “Everything is riding on this, Kiri, I fucking need this. Please. I know I’m fucking up, I know this isn’t how I should do shit, but I have to, Kiri, I goddamn have to. I...I’m not going to make you, I shouldn’t be doing this at all, but...it would help. A lot. A whole fucking lot.”

He laughs bitterly and stands. The one loose end...the one friend he’d lost and never re-connected with. Is this karma or some shit? Because Katsuki fucking hates it.

But then there’s a hand on his shoulder and Kirishima is looking at him with pity in his eyes, and fuck, he doesn’t want pity, but the redhead’s not wrong - this is piteous.

He walks out of his best friend’s office with a note in his hand and a promise that he’ll go out for dinner with his friends when this is all over.

{Izuku}

Izuku knows he’s done it wrong.

The painting is complete, and it’s everything Izuku could’ve wanted, because it is real, and emotional - which is why he hates it.

He should love it, he should adore it, because he’s done it , and he doesn’t care about the quality of the artwork itself, the blending of the colours, of the accuracy of the strokes. All he cares about is the depth and integrity of the meaning, and nothing can be truer to him than this.

The Toshinori in his painting is holding out a fluffy green bunny toy to a small blonde boy with a smile in his face but tears in his eyes because the bunny he receives is damaged, damaged from a battle which he only survived due to All Might. Toshinori offers him the bunny, the gesture saying, ‘look, he’s still here if you want him, he’ll always be here if you want him, however the circumstances might damage this bunny of yours’.

Izuku knows what it means, knows that he’s poured too much of his heart into this, something he swore he’d never do. He’d never bring the boy he’d lost into his artwork. But here it is, and Izuku can’t change it.

Because Kacchan doesn’t care about him, Kacchan hates him and his realism, but Izuku has always cared about Kacchan since day one, and the pain his childhood best friend has dealt him hasn’t filtered his feelings, hasn’t nulled - it’s changed into a melancholy longing for the days in which Kacchan held onto him and told him that they were going to best friends forever and ever, the wonder duo.

But it turns out that Kacchan can be just as wonderful solo, because Izuku is here in his studio apartment whilst Kacchan is somewhere, anywhere, away from him, and Izuku has to let go-

The doorbell rings.

Izuku jumps, having been lost in his thoughts (he needs to get a grip on himself), and rushes to open the door, all whilst wondering who it could possibly be. Yes, he’s ordered some paintbrushes, but that was only yesterday, and there’s no way that they’ve come already. Todoroki is still on holiday with Inasa, and he’s the only one of his friends who turns up spontaneously.

He turns the handle, and suddenly remembers that he’s in shorts and an oversized shirt that slips off one shoulder, and nothing else. Oh god, he isn’t decent at all, what if it’s someone important, what if-

He opens the door to see no other than Bakugou Katsuki.

He knows it’s Kacchan because he could never not recognise those red eyes, that blonde hair. But- but he’s...well, he’s grown , to put it mildly.

He’s taller, obviously, but that could account to how short Izuku is himself. He fills his clothes perfectly, broad shoulders and slim waist and all. Kacchan’s face has gained some definition too, jawline sharper, cheekbones raises, eyes intenser and…

Okay, Izuku can admit it, he’s hot. Then again-

“What are you staring at, Deku?” the blonde huffs, obviously uncomfortable with Izuku’s gaze.

And that name... Deku . He hasn’t heard it in years, but it still holds the same memories, the same importance. However, it has no bite to it, and Izuku is almost confused. It sounds mellower without the hate in it, and Izuku finds himself at a loss. This isn’t the Kacchan he knows.

“What are you doing here, Kacchan?” Izuku bounces back, but hesitantly, unsure as to how to proceed.

“Isn't it obvious?”

Of course. Of course it's about the commission, he's not-

“I'm here to fucking apologise.”

~*~

It's a little bit awkward.

(Well, of course it's awkward, his childhood best friend turned bully turned unfairly hot man is sitting across him in the living room, sipping some coffee and silently judging his apartment).

“You-he really means that much to you?” Izuku asks quietly. He's seen things that he wouldn't believe if they weren't happening in front of him. Kacchan apologising. Kacchan showing him pictures of friends, genuine friends, not like Izuku remembers him having (no, he's not jealous, he's happy, and that's a fact). Kacchan's eyes softening when he talks of his mentor, giving away how much he matters to him.

Kacchan's changed, for the better, and Izuku is captivated. But he doesn't know quite what to think.

“This probably makes no fucking sense to you, huh?” Kacchan replies, swirling the coffee about in his mug. “The person you knew didn't give a shit about anyone else, rude as fuck and all that.” He looks up at Izuku, and there's genuine emotion in his eyes. “The person you see right now is only here because Toshinori brought him out. Deku, I...I fucked up, badly , when we were children. You went through some shit and I didn't fucking help, I pushed you away. Stupidly enough, I was pissed that you, uh...that you wouldn't step back and let me do the protecting. You goddamn kept at it and I- that's beside the point, I was a dipshit and I know it. So I'm sorry, okay? And the painting is probably in the trash by now but-”

“I finished it,” Izuku interrupts, not meeting Kacchan’s eyes. He can't, right now. The past...the past is giving way for the present because Izuku has some closure. No, better than that, there's a new beginning. He's...he's so happy, and relieved, and he thinks that if he looks at his childhood best friend, at the person he's become, he might just burst into tears. So instead, he offers him this.

“Y-you did?” Kacchan asks in disbelief. “I-”

Izuku gets up off his armchair and opens the door to his art room, beckoning for Kacchan to follow.

“I can show you, if you'd like.”

Kacchan stares at him for a second, a little weirdly, and Izuku wonders what he's done before the blonde is springing up and following him into the room.

The room is messy, predictably so, considering this is where Izuku make everything. Paintings line one wall, notes another, photos of family and friends on another. The last wall is blank, a backdrop for the canvas that rests in front of it.

Izuku steps aside so that Kacchan can see, and when he notes the blonde's bittersweet expression, he knows what he has to do.

“It's yours, if you want it. Free of charge. Consider it a gift from an old friend.”

{Katsuki}

Katsuki is an utter dumbass. He knows this because it takes one look at the painting, perfect in its realism, something that could be sold for millions, something that Toshinori would love, and then one look at Deku’s sincere smile as he offers it to him, and Katsuki can't help it.

He cries.

He doesn't know why the fuck he's crying, he never goddamn cries, and as far as he remembers, that's Deku's thing. But here he is, bawling like a bloody five year old.

Deku wraps his arms around him (they're strong, he notices, perhaps from all the painting), and Katsuki sags against him, not quite sure why he ever let go of this person, this childhood friend of his.

Pride, it might have been.

“I'm fucking paying you, Deku, don't be stupid,” he mumbles against where he's tucked his face into Deku's shoulder. It's sort of strange, how tactile he's being around someone he hasn't talked to in years. But it feels right, and he's not going to fight it. God , he's tired of keeping shit internalised.

“Kacchan,” Deku chuckles, and fuck but that nickname does things to his heart. He never wants to stop hearing the dumb name. “It's a present, you don't pay for a present!”

Katsuki pulls back and looks him seriously in the eye.

(It's annoyingly difficult to - Katsuki still isn't used to how... cute the nerd has become. Big green eyes, freckled cheeks, and crinkle when he laughs and fluffy green hair. Katsuki knows he's gay, but Deku’s appearance is like a big flashing sign reminding him of it).

“Friends, that's what you called us,” Katsuki points out, and Deku blushes, nervously pulling on the hem of his shirt (and exposing even more creamy skin, much to Katsuki's equal approval and disapproval).

“Y-yep! I um, I thought we could work towards it...But if you're, um, uncomfortable with that, that's also-”

“Friends can go shopping and do shit together, right?” Katsuki interjects, and Deku blinks up at him (adorably - God, Katsuki's weak).

“I suppose they can, but-”

“Then let's go shopping together sometime, Deku - I can buy you art supplies and shit,” Katsuki grins, leaning in closer. “ Expensive stuff.”

“I-I couldn't possibly-” Deku tries, but Katsuki cuts in again.

“Good, I'll leave you my number and you can text me when I’m free, yeah?”

“N-”

“Hey, Deku?” Katsuki's time changes to something more private, less teasing. He pulls the other into a hug again, and whispers:

Thank you .”

~*~

It's been two weeks since he first turned up at Deku’s house, and they've met up every other day. Kirishima had even pointed out at the dinner Katsuki'd promised them that he’d taken the most days off since he’d started working at the firm, to which Alien Face with her excessively glittery pink makeup had yelled at him excitedly, demanding to know who 'the lucky guy’ was.

Katsuki doesn't want to repeat the experience (even though he actually had a pretty good time with them all, surprisingly enough).

There are three days left until Toshinori’s retirement ball, at which Katsuki will present him with Deku's painting. And now, sitting across the freckled man at a café they've been frequenting, Katsuki knows it's time to ask him.

“Deku, will you go to the ball with me?”

Shit, no, no, no, not like that, that came out wrong-

“Y-you mean like, on a date? To the retirement ball?” Deku asks incredulously.

Wait, what ?

Katsuki hasn't even considered that as an option - taking Deku as his date , his plus one , his-

“Fuck no, I meant as friends! And so that you can unveil the painting - you fucking made it.”

Katsuki does mean it as friends, but he probably shouldn't have phrased it like that, because Deku's face falls before he perks up again.

“I-uhm, I'd love to, thanks Kacchan,” Deku says, smiling a little weakly. It's the smile that gives him away, that makes Katsuki think that maybe they might both want something more than friendship.

He observes Deku, the way he holds his mug, the ways his cheeks flush against the cold, the way he bites his lip, and realises that this isn't something he can hide away, isn't something he can ignore.

But....how would he even approach it?

{Izuku}

It's the night of the ball, ten minutes before Kacchan is due to pick him up, and Izuku just can't get his hair to lie flat. He's tried gelling it, but he had to wash it out immediately afterwards, because he just looked like a drenched rat. He's also tried patting it down, but it simply floofs up again.

He's done a few other things too, but it just isn't working, so he gives up and flops down onto the bed, hoping he looks alright in the best suit he has.

But when he opens the door for Kacchan, he realises that, no, he probably looks awful, because Kacchan looks, in a word, gorgeous .

Izuku has stopped denying his steadily developing crush on the blonde and had even started working to get over him, but Kacchan is not helping. Deku wants to be able to slide his hands over Kacchan's shoulders and greet him with a kiss, but he can't, so instead he just waves and says hi.

“Didn't know you had a suit like that, Deku,” Kacchan comments as they get into the car (very expensive looking, just like everything Kacchan owns). And then, quieter: “You look good in it.”

And Izuku pretends that he hasn't heard that, because he needs to get over Katsuki before he ruins their friendship.

It's no easy task.

~*~

The hall is crowded, and Izuku is panicking ever so slightly. There are so many high ranking people here, tastefully dressed with a certain elegance about them, and Izuku feels like the ugly duckling. He has to reveal his artwork in front of this crowd, a crowd of people who must have impossibly high standards.

Suddenly, a hand slides into his own, and Kacchan is there, handing him a drink and squeezing his palm comfortingly.

“Calm the fuck down, they'll love-”

But whatever Kacchan was going to say is lost in a high pitched scream as a girl with pink hair and even pinker makeup bounds up to them, dragging a redhead, a blonde, and one other person along with her. Izuku recognises them as Kacchan's friends and attempts to introduce himself to them, but the pink haired one beats him to it.

“Hi! I'm Mina!! You must be Midoriya, Bakuboi’s boyfriend? Oh, gosh darn, you're cute,” she exclaims, and Izuku goes bright red, turning to Kacchan for some help.

“He's not my fucking boyfriend , Pinky!” he shouts, equally as flustered.

“Sure, dude, and I'm not Eijirou’s boyfriend,” the blonde calls, stepping up and holding a hand out to Izuku, which he hesitantly shakes. “I'm Kaminari, by the way, Kirishima's boyfriend - he's the stunning redhead. And Sero is this super cool dude right here.”

Kaminari gestures to the black haired man, who grins and waves.

“Okay, whatever, the ceremony's about to start,” Kacchan grumbles, leading Izuku away by the hand.

“Your friends are interesting,” Izuku says as Kacchan takes him towards the stage where the painting lies, covered in a cloth.

“They're dumbasses and I don't know why I hang out with them,” Kacchan replies, but he's smiling.

~*~

Izuku’s hands are trembling as he unveils the painting. Everyone is watching intently, All Might himself is standing nearby, and the only thing that's keeping him steady in front of an audience like this is Kacchan. He knows how much it means to Kacchan, and Kacchan knows how much it means to Izuku.

But he thinks that Toshinori will like it.

So he yanks it off, and as soon as the light hits the painting, there’s a collective gasp before the hall is filled with the sound of applause.

This is actually happening , Izuku reminds himself, still in disbelief, these people like my artwork .

There are even tears in Toshinori's eyes, and Kacchan takes the opportunity to step forward and address the hero directly.

“Midoriya Izuku and I came up with this for you,” he begins, taking a deep breath before he continues. “Everyone has seen the stuff you do publicly. You're number one, and you've kept so many families and people safe. But you've also helped us all, privately. You don't do shit for show , you do it honestly . And we all appreciate you for that. We’re gonna miss working with you, All Might, because you are our hero.”

Toshinori envelops Kacchan in a hug, tears running down his face, and Kacchan is crying too, and the audience is crying too, and then there are cheers for All Might and for the future, and Izuku feels blessed to experience something like this.

But mostly, he's proud of Kacchan.

~*~

Kacchan is off somewhere talking to some friends, because Izuku insisted that he'd still be here when Kacchan got back. And it's as he's standing alone that someone taps him on the shoulder, and Izuku turns to see a man and a woman, smiling brightly at him.

“Midoriya Izuku, was it?” the lady asks, and Izuku nods, not sure where this is going. “We loved your piece - extremely skilled.”

“Indeed,” the man agrees. “And here at the Royal Society for Art and Design, we look to cultivate talent. We weren't sure what to expect when Mr Bakugou pressed us to attend, but now we're completely certain.”

“We'd like to help you open your own exhibition,” the lady says, and Izuku gapes.

“I-my-as in,”, Izuku stutters. “An exhibit just for my...work?” They nod encouragingly. “I-I’d love that um,” he starts, trailing off when he catches sight of Kacchan. “Excuse me just one moment.”

He runs over to Kacchan and throws himself into the blonde's arms.

“You got me signed to my own exhibit, Kacchan,” he yells happily, and Kacchan picks him up, spinning him around before putting him down and grinning.

“I knew they'd want to sponsor you,” she says proudly.

“I um, I sort of ran off to thank you, though,” Izuku admits, and Kacchan facepalms.

“You did what ? Deku, you imbecile , get back there!” Izuku laughs and turns to do exactly that when Kacchan grabs his arm. “Actually, wait a second.”

Izuku stops and turns to eye the blonde inquisitively.

Kacchan is almost redder than some of the decorations, eyes cast off to the side in embarrassment.

“Yeah?” Izuku prompts, stepping to the side cheekily so that Kacchan’s eyes catch his for a moment. As he looks up into the blonde’s eyes, something stirs within him, a longing waiting to be sated.

But that’s not important - he has better things to focus on. Like Kacchan, for example.

“Look,” Kacchan begins, clearing his throat. “You can say no, you just say no and we can never mention this shit again but- Fuck, let me take you to dinner. Please . I’m even goddamn asking nicely, I just-”

Izuku steps closer. And he shouldn't say it again, because that's pushing it, but he does.

“Y-you mean, like, on a date , this time?”

Kacchan pulls Izuku into his arms and gazes down at him with his beautiful red eyes.

“Yeah, I do, Izuku.”

So Izuku places his hands on either side of Katsuki's jaw and kisses him softly, like he's wanted to for a while, and when Katsuki tries to deepen the kiss, he breaks off and heads back to the people from the art society, winking at Kacchan as he goes.

~*~

Izuku is in the lobby of the exhibit he's moving his art out of, all ready to bring into his own. He still can't believe it. He also can't believe that he's waiting for Kacchan, his boyfriend, to come back out from where he's discussing legal details with the owner of the exhibit.

Of course, that leaves him alone with Kamiya (oh joy). She eyes him disdainfully as chews gum, before retorting:

“You should really stop wasting Katsuki's time, ya know. He's got better things to be doing then hanging around with a second rate artist who's obviously got a schoolboy crush on him.”

Izuku reminds himself that whilst his boyfriend might be a lawyer, he won't be able to keep him out of prison for the murder of an annoying receptionist.

“First name basis?” Izuku shoots back instead, and she sneers at him.

“Only right for someone who's soon to be his girlfriend.”

Izuku doesn't regret not informing her of his relationship with Kacchan. He's knows it's mean, but this is just going to be all the sweeter. He recalls how she used to trip him up and spill his paint and ruin the edges of his canvases, Izuku not allowed so much as say a word. But now…

He discreetly pulls out his phone and types out a text to his boyfriend.

' kamiya is being kamiya be super affectionate plz?

The reply comes almost instantly:

' cheeky little shit

' fine

When Kacchan walks in, Kamiya gets up and attempts to block his path, smiling sickeningly at him, but Kacchan ignores her, striding up to Izuku and pulling him in for what is almost a publicly indecent kiss.

“That good enough for you?” Kacchan whispers against his lips.

Izuku, still holding onto Kacchan’s shoulders, glances at Kamiya’s spluttering face, the last of his recent works propped up against the wall (a series depicting two boys, one blonde and one green haired, playing in a world of imagination where they are heroes with explosive powers), and then finally at Kacchan.

Kacchan is his inspiration, these days, more exquisite than anything Izuku could ever convey.

He's the true beauty, the true art in Izuku’s life.

“More than good enough,” Izuku says tenderly, bringing his love in for another kiss. “This is the best.”