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Once Upon an Instagram Story

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Katsuki usually hates ordinary days.

They entail boring patrols with smallfry villains, petty criminals, and civilians with minor problems.

It’s not that Katsuki wants a disaster, per se—but the lack of a good fight makes the day crawl by. Plus, civilians are fucking annoying. How do you even get a cat stuck in a tree? How is that a thing outside of clichéd television shows?

His manager, however, is always grateful for ordinary days because it gives her less damage control to do regarding both his reputation and excusing property damage.

Today, as dull as it was, turns out not to be the typical, ordinary day he hates so much when he returns to his office.

Something is definitely off after his shift. No one, from the secretary at the front desk to his measly group of interns, quite meets his eye. The phone rings off the hook with no one answering (what the fuck does he pay these people for?), and there’s a weird hush that blankets over the entire office.

Katsuki knows for a goddamn fact he’s been on his best behavior today. Didn’t even snap at that stupid kid for losing his stupid cat. It wasn’t even his damn job to handle—he’s not a damn firefighter, but no one else was around. He’s a real fucking hero. What could he have done to warrant the silent treatment?

His manager looks more fried than usual, but she’s always some degree frazzled. After all, managing Ground Zero isn’t an easy task; between his damage-prone quirk, never learning to shut his mouth when he needs to and navigating his adversity to schmoozing. It’s why he pays Sasaki a ridiculous amount of money. She’s good at what she does. She gives him a passable, ‘bad boy’ image that people can like so he can move up in the ranks. With her around, he can do the job he’d rather be doing than give a second thought to his social standing and all the other management garbage he doesn’t wanna deal with.

“What happened?”

Sasaki’s head snaps up from her desk, hair disheveled, eyes wide, phone on her ear, balancing a laptop on her lap while typing on another on her desk. She looks manic.

“We have no comment at this time,” she says in a rush to someone over the phone before hanging up and giving Katsuki a tight-lipped look.

He knows this look. This is the serious trouble look—one he only gets when he fucked-up big time.

But he doesn’t know what he even did.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were dating someone?”

Ah.

“I’m not,” Katsuki responds, though he feels his mouth go dry as he says it.

She places the computer on her lap onto the desk, whirling it around for Katsuki to see before pressing play on a video.

It’s Deku.

It’s Deku from last night, he’s guessing, if his outfit is anything to go by.

It’s Deku, from last night, at Kaminari’s birthday party that Katsuki couldn’t attend because he had to pull a double, completely plastered.

Plastered and talking about how much he likes Kacchan, how he thinks Kacchan can be an ass but can also be really sweet when he wants to be.

Offensive and wrong, Katsuki is nothing but sweet—but whatever.

The camera on Deku’s phone is facing towards him with wobbly balance, face flushed and hair a mess. It’d probably be kind of cute if it wasn’t streaming on a fucking local news website. He slurs his words together about how he’s so happy he can finally call Kacchan his boyfriend (partner, Katsuki angrily corrects in his head and also, Kaminari’s dumb, shocked face would be funny if, again: this video wasn’t posted on the local news). He goes on to say, with Kaminari’s goading in the background, that Kacchan’s a great hero even if he’s sort of mean, he’s so hardworking, he’s also so pretty, he makes Deku breakfast when he has early morning patrols, he’s so—Katsuki slams the laptop shut. Heat crawls up his neck.

He can’t tell if his head is on fire from humiliation or endearment, but either way it’s goddamn terrible.

“Okay, I get it.”

“This video is everywhere. He posted it on his Instagram story last night. His hero account.”

Deku’s a fucking freak when it comes to his social media presence. Unlike Katsuki, he shares management of it with his own manager because he actually enjoys it. Katsuki can’t be bothered, so he lets his manager deal with his hero account and social media presence. He has private accounts, sure, but it’s all a waste of time.

Deku loves talking to his fans. He creates Instagram stories answering fan questions or even just shares about his day. He updates his Twitter regularly with what he’s up to if missions permit him to, posts photos of his meals as if anyone cares, takes selfies with fans, shares dumb drawings from kids of their favorite hero, Deku.

He’s Japan’s Sweetheart, their darling hero: strong, smart, friendly—saves with a smile. Doesn’t hurt that he’s cute, too. So naturally, he gained over a million followers scattered across platforms easily.

Idiot. For fucking once, in the worst possible moment, he forgets to log into his private account, the one he shares only with his friends where he posts stupid videos like this one.

Katsuki pinches the bridge of his nose. He counts to ten. It’s what his therapist told him to do so he won’t lose his temper at people, or something. He doesn’t think it works very well, but at least he’s trying.

Deku and Ground Zero: Secret Lovers?” Sasaki reads aloud, then continues scrolling on her phone. “Childhood Friends to Romantic Entanglement: The Deku and Ground Zero Story. Oh, my favorite—“ she says quickly, straightening up in her seat. “VICE Japan’s top ten moments between Deku and Ground Zero. They titled it Rivals to Lovers: Looking Back on Their Foreseeable Romance.”

She clicks her phone off. Katsuki feels his temples pound from his ever-rising blood pressure. He’s well passed the count of ten and it hasn’t helped at all.

“So is it true?” Sasaki finally asks.

There’s no point in lying anymore, really. Deku used the incriminating (and juvenile) word boyfriend, how could Katsuki possibly deny it to her at this point?

“Obviously,” Katsuki mutters.

His manager throws her hands up. “Obviously? Bakugou! You just said you weren’t dating anyone a second ago! Successful, young heroes maintain a public image of being single so weird, obsessed fangirls can keep up the delusion you’ll date them.”

“You know I don’t give a fuck abou—“

“Plus you lied to me! I could’ve covered bases with this had I known already. How long has this been going on?”

Now that’s a tricky question to answer.

Does dating Deku start when they first hooked-up years ago? Or when they agreed to continue the-sleeping-together-thing after it sort of became a regular occurance? Or maybe when they finally acknowledged that it was happening on a regular basis? Or maybe when Katsuki agreed to actually sleep over the first time? Or when Deku got upset by the idea of Katsuki sleeping with someone else? Or the time they got back into sleeping together after a few months of ignoring each other because Katsuki was upset that Deku was upset because, Katsuki quotes: ‘Yes, we’re not dating, but Kacchan, this has been kind of exclusive for a while whether we intended that or not, so I kind of assumed, maybe, it was at that point and like, I’m allowed to be upset and have boundaries or whatever baby bullshit to make me feel better’. Or something close to that.

Or did it start last week, when they actually talked and it was horrible and embarrassing and Katsuki agreed to properly date the little gremlin so they could end that travesty of a conversation as soon as possible?

It’s still new and tender, this weird relationship label. Katsuki’s still feeling it out, trying to get his footing, which is stupid because how can Deku be so down for this, so fucking sure while Katsuki pussyfoots around it? He’s not a coward, and he sure as hell is a good romantic partner even if, maybe, he has no idea when they started dating.

“Earth to Bakugou,” Sasaki says in her most obnoxious voice, snapping her fingers.

“I—uh—“

“You don’t know when you started dating your boyfriend?” She asks incredulously.

“Not boyfriend,” Katsuki blurts. She raises a brow. “Partner. We’re not fucking teenagers, who says boyfr—

“Whatever,” she says, waving her hand dismissively. “Look, what do you want people to believe? We have to make a statement at some point. Deku’s office hasn’t said anything yet, but they’ll expect something from you too once they make a statement.”

Fuck.

He wants to deny it, maintain his single image as idiotic as it is, if for no other reason than that the idea of the media going ape over him and Deku in public together sounds obnoxious. Plus, he’d rather punch out his own teeth than only be known or respected as the gay hero, considering how hard he’s worked to be a great hero, period. He dug himself out of the pit of only being known for All Might’s retirement and getting kidnapped ten years ago, and he doesn’t plan on getting singled-out like that again.

But, also, there’s this small part of his brain that niggles away at him, telling him that maybe he should consult his partner-not-boyfriend-thank-you-very-much about this entire situation, and perhaps they should discuss what to do together.

“Do whatever you need to make this go away,” Katsuki finally answers. “I want nothing to do with this shit. I’m outta here,” he says in a rush, storming out of the office before Sasaki gets a word out in response.

———

When he returns to his apartment, he takes the longest shower of his life with the hope that maybe he can somehow find a way to drown himself in it. After an unsuccessful attempt, lungs empty of water, Katsuki finally decides to step out and face this head on.

He’s no coward, after all.

However, turning his phone on for the first time since his shift started this morning is a huge fucking mistake.

Dozens of missed phone calls and texts, ranging from his own nosy-ass mother crowing about how she knew it (which, false: how the hell would she know if he didn’t?), to his useless, drunk friends who went out with Deku last night and didn’t think for a second that, maybe, he should check which Instagram account he’s on.

There are so many social media notifications, too. Shit.

He does notice, in the chaotic mess that is his notifications, there isn’t a single text or call from Deku. He frowns. That’s fucking weird, considering this whole fiasco started because of him. He should’ve at least apologized. Or send him a copy of his will, because Katsuki’s going to throttle him when he sees him next.

Katsuki considers turning his phone off in the hopes of alleviating his headache, but a text notification stops him.

Shitty Hair

16:32 hey man

16:33 so uh crazy stuff lol

16:33 drinks n skewers? on me n mina ofc

Delivered

Katsuki squints at his phone.

He knows this is a trap. He hasn’t quite figured out how it’s a trap, but he knows one when he sees one.

Kirishima isn’t exactly known for his subtlety. Ashido even less so.

Then again, free food and alcohol sound fan-fucking-tastic after this mess of a day. Deku has done nothing to reach out to him, so fine, Katsuki types out an affirmative response.

He arrives earlier despite the fact that Kirishima set the damn time and place. It’s a pretty quiet izakaya—one that Kirishima often takes Katsuki to for after-shift drinks, as opposed to the rowdy, loud one he’ll go to with Kaminari, knowing that Katsuki hates excessive noise.

Kirishima and Ashido waste no time as soon as they sit down in the small booth with Katsuki, barely even getting their orders in before the interrogation starts.

“So how long has this been going on?” Kirishima asks, tenting his fingers together. Katsuki rolls his eyes before taking a sip of his beer. “Like, I knew you guys were doing a friends with benefits thing—”

“Who says that's changed?” Katsuki says quickly. “Also, what the fuck, what do you mean you knew—

“Everyone knew,” Kirishima says dismissively.

“You guys aren’t like, subtle,” Ashido adds before taking a long, noisy sip from her gross, definitely too sugary cocktail.

How insulting—the two loudest, most annoying and least subtle people he knows are telling him he’s not subtle? He didn’t even talk about Deku in any kind of romantic way, or even mention he was sleeping around with him before the word relationship even got mentioned, so how the hell did they know?

“Dude, did you guys think you were smooth leaving one after another after get-togethers? Or like...did you think we didn’t notice when you left in cabs together, despite living in different parts of the city?” Kirishima asks, as if to answer the confused and angry look on his face.

“Plus the whole not-talking-to-each-other thing for a while a few months back. Like, Midoriya wouldn’t stop talking to you if it wasn’t something serious. Lover’s spat?” Ashido asks with a cocksure grin, all teeth and unnecessary attitude.

“Know I hate you both,” Katsuki mutters before taking another long drag from his beer.

“Anyway,” Kirishima continues, resting his arm on the table and leaning over, like this is somehow urgent. “Of course it’s changed. Dude, he called you his boyfriend—

“Partner,” Katsuki corrects, before angrily chomping his teeth around a skewer.

“Uh,” Kirishima says dumbly, looking at Ashido, who looks equally dumbfounded at Kirishima in turn, before looking at Katsuki again. “Okay. Partner, boyfriend, what’s the difference?”

“Who, as a fucking adult, says boyfriend? Or girlfriend? It’s juvenile.”

“I call Eijirou my boyfriend—“

“Yeah, Mina’s my girlfriend—“

“You both are children so that checks out.”

Ashido rolls her eyes. “Okay, Lord Explosion Murder, we know you come up with the best and most mature labels. But like, how are you handling this? Are you alright? Is Midoriya okay, because this whole situation is so embarrassing. Not just the whole drunken story thing, but also dating you of all people—“

“How the fuck would I know?” Katsuki interrupts before Ashido’s insulting, little tirade can continue. “Little shit hasn’t said a damn thing to me.”

Kirishima frowns. “So?”

“So what?” Katsuki snaps.

“You haven’t contacted him?”

“Why would I do that?”

Kirishima lets out a low whistle, leaning back in his seat while Ashido shakes her head piteously. Katsuki’s skin crawls at their reaction. He’s not entirely sure what he’s missing here, but the way they’re both treating him, like he’s a floundering idiot that has no idea what he’s doing, isn’t helping his thinning patience.

“I’m gonna guess this is new, right? The dating thing? Or are you really just this bad at it?” Ashido ventures.

Katsuki frowns, contemplating if it’s wise to even feed them more information. They’re using it for something, but he can’t figure out what. “It’s been a week,” he finally answers, slowly, carefully watching their reactions.

“Oh, wow,” Kirishima says, eyes wide. “That’s fresher than I thought.”

Mina looks contemplative, which is a funny expression on her face considering there’s nothing but rocks in her head. Finally, after a wistful sip of her drink, she asks, “Okay, well, then, some advice?”

“I didn’t ask for it. Or want it, for that matter. I’m only here for the drinks, in case you forgot,” Katsuki says, giving his pint a little shake for emphasis.

“No, but you need it. You can’t treat him like a sex buddy anymore. You have to, you know...actually reach out? Make him a priority?”

“Funny advice, considering he hasn’t even said a damn thing after dragging me into this mess.”

There’s a silence.

“Have you seen what people are saying?” Kirishima asks carefully.

“Yeah, how we’re the romance story of the decade, or whatever. Childhood sweethearts, or some shit—”

“No, like, about him. About you, too, as you know...heroes and just as people. Like, your characters and stuff.”

His manager must’ve left those parts out. He hasn’t bothered to go digging for information, since it’s shit he doesn’t really care about—but the part about being heroes creates a wave of anxiety.

He dug himself out of one media circus hole, he sure as hell doesn’t need to be buried in another.

“I think if you read a few things, you might get why he hasn’t reached out to you yet. He might be waiting to hear from you, you know?” Ashido ventures.

“Or has his phone shut off,” Kirishima adds.

Ashido hums in affirmation.

“Just do some digging,” Kirishima says. “Talk to him? You know how he is—tries to solve everyone else’s problems, but often forgets about himself. He made a mistake, but it shouldn’t be blown up like this, yeah? Some people are being really cruel.”

Cruel? Katsuki bites the inside of his cheek. He’s used to that, people being critical of him, writing garbage about him—but Deku hasn’t really faced that yet. Maybe about how destructive he can be on the field, how he doesn’t know when to stop, but nothing about his character has really come into question.

“Fine,” Katsuki grumbles. “Can we change the fucking subject?”

The rest of their time at the izakaya goes by fast, playing catch up with Kirishima and Ashido—about work, recent missions, ongoing things at their agencies, personal lives though the pair makes sure to avoid the discussion of Deku.

They part ways after eating, Katsuki sticking around to finish his drink. He exhales heavily once he’s alone, staring at his phone on the table as if it were a ticking time bomb.

“This is so stupid,” Katsuki grumbles to himself before snatching his phone, scrolling through his social media accounts to see what people are saying.

There is a ridiculous hashtag that’s been cropping up since the beginning of their careers. He's never really taken the tag seriously before. Kaminari’s pointed it out to yank Katsuki’s chain, though, until recently, he was completely unaware of how true it rang: #GroundDeku. A really stupid combination of their hero names, but whatever it takes to make this ‘shipping’ business happen, or whatever Kaminari calls it.

Deku’s #1 fangirl PLUS ULTRA 👊💚 @deku_otaku_uwu

OH!! MY!!! GODDDDD!!!!!! #grounddeku is canon??? fanfic dreams rly do come true ya’ll

grounddeku is canon king 👑 🥦💥 @groundekuuuu

im crying omg i’mm crytinfg i cant believe my ship is canon my ship is saiailing ashjdshjfdjhfdhjsdfjhjh #grounddeku 😭

What the fuck does ‘canon’ mean?

Why is this website such a nightmare?

There’s one article about how maybe the Ground Zero and Deku romance also includes Chargebolt, since he was so enthusiastic later in the video and, like, ew. Katsuki has some taste, thanks, even if he is dating Deku of all people.

There’s all the articles that Sasaki mentioned, including tabloids that exaggerate their relationship:

Marriage on the Horizon for Ground Zero and Deku?

Sources indicate that the pair have had their eyes set on tying the knot for years.

”Oh, yeah, those two? It’s been obvious since the beginning,” an anonymous source, close friend of both Pro-Heroes Deku and Ground Zero confirms.

“Deku has done nothing but give Ground Zero big doe eyes. He’s definitely mentioned that he would want to get married one day.”

Katsuki is pretty damn sure this anonymous, close friend is made up, but the idea of marriage sends him reeling into a near aneurysm. He’s barely keeping his head above water a week in; the idea of marriage is impossible to even consider.

There are quite a few people who seem to think that someone as mean and belligerent as Ground Zero doesn’t deserve someone as sweet as Deku:

yamada @ need coffee college hard (︶。︶) @plus_ultra_fan

Ground Zero is not a hero, and has been nothing but a total asshole to everyone, including his fans. Idk why someone like Deku would put up with him. Hopefully he finds someone better because y i k e s

Ami (´ω`🌸) @amimimimimimi

Really disappointed to learn that someone as kind as Deku would be with a terrible person like g////round z///ero ugh hope he’s doing ok :/

He can’t help but roll his eyes at these Tweets—if they only knew the mean shit that comes out of Deku’s mouth when he’s cranky, or how he’s not quite the sweet, innocent angel everyone seems to think he is when he’s pushed too hard.

And of course, there’s a lot of randos with opinions no one asked for:

Goro Kurasawa @GK_694206997

lmao wait they gay?????? damn deku a bitch

Sasaki did fail to mention one aspect about all of this. Chances are she knew that those particular articles would succeed in actually pissing him off.

She’d be right.

Pro-Hero Deku: An Irresponsible Hero

When society gives the strongest in Japan the ability and privilege to serve the people, they must do so with responsibility and discretion.

Nicknamed ‘Japan’s Sweetheart,’ Deku has done nothing of the sort to prove he is worthy of that title, let alone that of being a Pro-Hero.

His history with property damage is staggering. In his short career of seven years, he has already made ⅓ of the costs in damages that All Might has, who still reigns as top hero in property damage expenses in Japan.

Is it wise for us to give our trust to Deku, despite his popularity amongst the youth of today, with the responsibility of a Pro-Hero license? His latest scandal proves otherwise; he has proven he is not responsible enough to limit his own alcohol intake, let alone manage his own professional account. Is this the behavior of a proper hero, one that we want our children looking up to?

Article after article, sprinkled in between the bullshit romance ones, discusses whether or not someone like Deku is fit to be a hero. Does he have a drinking problem, should Pro-Heroes be allowed to even be intoxicated (even during off hours)? Ground Zero has failed to comment so what if this is one-sided and Deku is a stalker—

Katsuki shuts his screen off, rubbing the heel of his palms to his eyes.

He didn’t really anticipate this kind of criticism from the news. Maybe some homophobic garbage here and there, maybe some questioning about their professionalism cropping up since they do sometimes work together. But, Deku being a terrible hero for what? Being a drunk idiot and embarrassing himself?

The so-called darling, sweetheart, goody two-shoes, squeaky-clean boy Deku? A bad influence? He knows the halo that the media has placed on Deku’s head is an exaggeration, but of all the flaws that Deku has, this is the one they pick to sensationalize?

Maybe Deku’s a bad influence in self-preservation, but he’s...fine, otherwise. Annoying, self-sacrificing in the most stupid of ways, a stubborn little brat that won’t listen to a single word if he’s convinced he’s right, a nosy little shit, but he’s….kind-hearted. He puts up with Katsuki’s bullshit, which isn’t an easy task. Maybe the stalker bit was a little more on the nose than reporters realize with his piles of notebooks filled with information about Katsuki, but...they don’t need to know that.

It’s not one-sided, at any rate.

God, he’s probably locked himself away in his apartment, mortified about what he’s put Katsuki through. Despite the years of history, from being childhood friends, to adolescent rivals, to tumultuous lovers (gross word, Katsuki notes, wrinkling his nose)—this dating thing is new.

Idiot probably thinks he blew it.

Fuck Kirishima and Ashido for being right.

———

Deku might be an oversharing idiot on social media, but at least he has enough sense not to share where he lives.

Doesn’t mean he hasn’t thoughtlessly given clues.

Maybe he’ll talk about the park near where he lives that he likes to go running in, or maybe a crosswalk will be recognizable if you live in the neighborhood. Maybe he’ll forget to take the location off a tweet before sending it, or maybe if someone is quick enough, they can catch the name of the grocery store he just left in the background of a video.

Thanks to Deku’s thoughtlessness yet again, there are people who are most definitely reporters stalking around apartment buildings, hoping to catch an interview with lovestruck Hero Deku.

Fortunately for Katsuki, Deku’s apartment has a sort-of hidden back entrance he can get into without much trouble or notice from others.

He knocks on Deku’s apartment door, getting no response.

He sighs, knocking harder. Still no response.

He pounds his fist on the door, only stopping when it finally opens.

Deku peeks out, looks at Katsuki, then slams the door shut.

“Are you fucking kidding m—” Katsuki slams his fist on the door, harder than before, amazed that this shit door of this shit apartment building isn’t flying off the hinges, all the while shouting.

“You better open this fucking door you dipshit nerd, what the fuck is your deal? I dragged my ass out here for your fucking sake for you to slam a goddamn door in my face, are you fucking stu—”

“Okay, okay,” Deku says, finally opening the door, then gestures for Katsuki to come in. “Don’t get Nakamura-san upset with me. I’m on thin ice with all these people trying to get into the building as it is. I don’t need to tell her she needs to repair a door on top of that.”

Katsuki storms in, ignoring Deku’s yammering while taking his shoes off at the genkan. For a second he thinks about chucking his shoes at the back of Deku’s head as he retreats into his living room, but decides against it. He follows soon after once his shoes are off, only to find Deku cocooned in blankets, laptop on his coffee table, watching one of All Might’s old cartoons. The blinds are shut. While it’s night time now, that probably means Deku was sitting in the darkness all day, alone, with nothing but the company of animated All Might.

Katsuki turns on a lamp, receiving a grunting noise from the pile of blankets that is Deku.

What a loser, god.

“What the hell is this—”

“Can you hurry up and yell at me so we can get this over with?”

“I—wha—I didn’t—fuck you. I didn’t come here to yell at you, but now I’m thinking about it.”

Deku gives him a flat stare.

“I didn’t,” Katsuki says defensively.

He did.

But he refuses to let Deku be right.

He sits down on the couch next to Deku, sitting a little too close, squishing Deku between Katsuki and the end of the couch. Deku shoots him a quick, annoyed look before settling back in, continuing to watch the stupid cartoon.

Katsuki waits. Normally, Deku loves talking about feelings and shit. Right now he stays silent, though waves of anxiety are rolling off him like a damn ocean.

“Aren’t you the one that’s all about how we need to share our feelings, or whatever?”

Deku slams the space bar of the laptop, pausing the movie, and it’s only in that moment that Katsuki notices how eerily silent the apartment is before Deku fills it with his rambling.

“I messed up, and I’m embarrassed. I’m sorry for dragging you into this, and I violated your privacy, and it makes sense if you want to end this.”

Uh.

Not quite the emotional vomit he was expecting. But leave it to Deku to make Katsuki clean this mess up.

“Wow, you’re fucking stupid.”

Deku blinks. “What?”

“You being an embarrassment isn’t anything new. Why are you being such a sorry shit about it?”

“I’m not. I mean. I guess I am,” Deku says dumbly, scratching his cheek. He worries his lip before continuing. “I just...I know this is new. And you’re...well, you’ve been acting like a trapped animal since we talked and then I put our relationship on blast when I only meant to put it on blast for our friends because you left me on read when I sent a picture of what I was wearing last night because, I don’t know, that’s what dating people do or something? And I guess I just wanted it to be known by someone but ha ha that really blew up in m—“

Fuck. Okay. Enough. How do you talk so much?”

“I haven’t really talked to anyone today. Except my manager. And my mom. She says hi, by the way.”

Katsuki grunts in response. Right. Deku’s mom now knows if she hadn’t already—chances are her and Katsuki’s mom are on the phone right now, chatting away about their sons’ shared love life. Though he’s willing to bet money that Midoriya Inko is not nearly as thrilled by the news as his own mother is.

What a fucking weird turn his life took.

“You’ve really been sitting here like a sad sack of shit in the dark, thinking you’d get dumped?”

Deku squirms, burying himself further into the cocoon of blankets. “I—well—kind of? We haven’t...really told anyone? And you get weird about it when I try to bring it up?”

“Well, no shit. You’re a touchy-feelsy weirdo when you talk about it.”

“I’m weird for expressing my feelings? To you? My now boyfriend—”

Partner. Your brand of expressing feelings is sending me an eight page email in the middle of patrol detailing why I’m being an ass for whatever fucking thing I did wrong for a single paragraph. Then the rest segues into how amazing I am, why you like me, and all kinds of freaky fucking details about me that no one should know. But you do because you’re a freak of nature. Like the paragraphs—emphasis on paragraphs—about my dimples, who the fuck does that? So, yeah, it’s a little goddamn weird.”

“Now the whole world knows I’m weird,” Deku says faintly, staring into space.

“Well, shit. Yeah. You’re you and you’re weird. It’s fine. But you don’t have to rant like a maniac in front of the whole goddamn internet for everyone to see. Just let the people who know you watch you wave your freak flag.”

Deku stares at Katsuki, opening his mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. He shuts it and looks away. Then he huffs, a small smile curling at the edge of his lips.

“Sometimes shouting into a void is easier than telling you those things, though.”

Katsuki isn’t sure how to respond to that. The instinctual, anxious curling in his gut
tells him it’s not a good thing. He gets it—communication is supposed to be important to this relationship thing, but how do two people who have been so ineffective at this their entire lives suddenly make things click? Katsuki does what he always does. Deku reacts the way he always reacts. Is it supposed to change that dramatically?

A flash of the piteous looks on Ashido and Kirishima’s faces flash in his mind’s eye for a second.

“I can’t even tell you that you look nice without you being an ass about it. I can’t even call you my boyfriend without you being an ass about it—”

“Okay, first of all, boyfriend is—”

“—a childish word, yeah, I know, you told me—”

“Second, partner implies equals. You know, you’re not just—“ Katsuki waves his hand in a vague gesture. “That. To me.”

Deku stares, incredulous. Of course Deku is awestruck by that incredible line of poetry. He doesn’t know what the hell he had to be worried about. He’s a total ace at this communication shtick. Let it be known that Katsuki is a wordsmith of comforting, romantic phrasing—

“I have no idea what this—“ Deku repeats the weird hand gesture, “means.”

Idiot.

“What are you not getting here?” Katsuki bites out, his patience wearing thin.

“Oh, for—Kacchan, you communicate with your words, not—“ Deku waves his hands wildly, mockingly at Katsuki’s face. “Not with nonsensical hand movements. What are you, a mime?”

“A mi—shut up. You know. You’re not just. Some. Ugh. You’re not just a romantic interest to me. You’re—fuck, this is gross: you’re my equal, my best friend, my partner. Whatever, fuck you. Why do I have to explain this to you? What are you not getting? Are you dumb?”

That stupid, incredulous stare remains on Deku’s face, before laughter starts bubbling out of him. It isn’t exactly the response Katsuki was expecting. The laughter soon turns into tears, Deku resting his head on Katsuki’s shoulder before sniffling into his shirt.

Ah, there they are. Tears. That’s more familiar. And gross.

“You’re so annoying,” Deku says, muffled by Katsuki’s shoulder.

“And you’re a fucking psycho. What kind of response to my bleeding heart is that?”

“You call that a bleeding heart? Why can’t you just say what you mean? Without like, half the insults?”

“Better than a bunch of bullshit platitudes.”

“It’s not platitudes, Kacchan,” Deku says, exasperated. “Sometimes people just want a verbal confirmation of something—look. I—I messed up. And now your character is being called into question, and...that’s my fault. I feel like I’m pushing you to do something you don’t want. I kind of really forced your hand this time, so yeah, I don’t think it’s crazy to assume I’d be dumped.“

It’s the first time really, that Katsuki notices just how tired Deku looks. His hair’s mussed up more than usual, and the dark circles that stain his face are usually reserved for long, tedious missions. His heart squeezes in sympathy, but it’s only one single, solitary squeeze—this self-pity bullshit really pisses Katsuki off. Deku’s too goddamn smart for this, so why does he always spiral into these self-conscious black holes?

“Pushing me?” Katsuki asks, annoyed. “I don’t do anything if I don’t want to. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t wanna be. I wouldn’t have agreed to date you if—“

If he didn’t want to.

He’s not really sure when it happened—the lines between what kind of benefits stay between friends with an arrangement and when those benefits begin moving closer towards romance began to blur. Kaminari, begrudgingly, is a friend—but if that fucking idiot ever showed up to his apartment without giving a warning, his head would be on a plate. Deku always got away with it.

Sleepovers weren’t common either—well, no, Katsuki does recall the one time Kirishima passed out on his couch too drunk to go home one night, but people don’t ask for their friends to sleepover in the same bed. They didn’t stay close, legs intertwined, fingers idly combing through hair, tracing jaws, or kissing, or—

So, was it really crazy to ask Deku if he’d be pissed if he slept with other people? It’s not like there was a queue or anything, but he wanted to be clear. Which got Deku upset, which clarification became a matter of principle rather than assuring Deku that things were fine, because why should he have to? Why would he do any of this if he didn’t want to, if he didn’t mean it?

“You mean that?” Deku asks quietly, his teeth chewing on his bottom lip.

“I—Wh—“ Katsuki sighs, exasperated. As much as he hates his sincerity being questioned, he hates that look of uncertainty Deku throws Katsuki’s way every time he does something or says something to remind them that they are, indeed, in a relationship. The look reminds him that he might actually be fucking this up.

Bakugou Katsuki does not fuck things up.

“Yeah, dummy,” Katsuki responds, equally as quiet. “You think I’m a liar?”

Deku leans over then, kissing Katsuki right on the mouth. Sometimes he can’t tell if he actually is a secret romantic genius or if Deku just has low standards. In the privacy of his own mind, he’d be honest enough to admit that it’s maybe a little column A, a lot more of column B.

No matter what, it’s kinda weird, kissing Deku like this.

Not that kissing Deku is weird on its own—he’s done it hundreds of times—but he’s used to it being a precursor to something else, a signal that oh, hey, the fooling around is going to start now.

It’s never been just...affection. No strings attached, just simply out of desire to. He’s still getting used to that.

And as much as Katsuki hates being a sappy piece of shit, he’s getting used to it embarrassingly fast—maybe even likes it, this particular kind of attention from Deku.

But not right now.

“God, ugh, why are you so wet?” Katsuki says disgustedly, pulling away before wiping his entire hand across Deku’s face roughly, mopping up his tears. Deku makes a displeased noise out of his throat, grabbing Katsuki’s wrist a moment before he tries to do it again to the other cheek.

Katsuki grabs and squeezes Deku’s cheeks with his trapped hand. “You ever do this shit again, though, I’m gonna kick your ass.”

“Weh coulb beny ih ib you wan,” Deku says with his cheeks pressed together.

“No way,” Katsuki responds, letting go of Deku’s face. “You’re such a shit liar.”

“You are too—“

“Better than you.”

Deku rolls his eyes, but there’s a slight smile on his face. “It’s not a competition.”

Katsuki snorts. Bullshit. It’s always been a competition between them.

One that Katsuki feels like he’s losing.

Deku might be a train wreck when it comes to doing anything right in this relationship business, but at least...he’s trying, Katsuki guesses. It seems to come easier to him than it does for Katsuki, but then again most things even remotely related to the word ‘emotional’ have always come easier to Deku.

If this now turns into a public statement, there’s no backing out from Katsuki. He can’t change his mind as easily, can’t up and leave like he did a few months ago. Which is...fine. It’s not like he really planned on going anywhere, not really. The idea of having to confront that so soon has him feeling more nervous about this commitment thing than he’d care to admit, but if Deku can do it, Katsuki can do it better.

“Maybe I’m not good at lying, but...if that’s what you want, I’ll do it. I messed up, so...I should fix it,” Deku says quietly, successfully pissing off Katsuki again when he already told him to knock off the self-pity bullshit.

Katsuki hates the idea of having to give up what little pieces of his private life that have yet to be greedily consumed by the media. He hates that he has to share Deku in this way. This aspect of his life no longer is his and his alone, and now can be easily viewed under a microscope and dissected by any idiot wielding the power to do so in 280 characters.

But Deku feeling like he doesn’t deserve this—this relationship with Katsuki, or doesn’t deserve Katsuki himself—is complete fucking nonsense. It’s the other way around and Katsuki knows it.

If it means making a public statement for this idiot to know that Katsuki isn’t going anywhere, then fine. He'll do it, even if it’s begrudgingly done and his private life is now wide and out in the open. Compromise is the cornerstone of love, or something like that.

Katsuki puts an arm around Deku’s shoulders in what he believes is a smooth manner. The confused look on Deku’s face either means Katsuki’s clumsy at this affection thing (definitely not) or Deku wouldn’t know a romantic gesture if it bit him in the ass (more accurate).

“Yeah, whatever, I guess….yeah, you’re ballsy when you wanna be. Making me put my money where my mouth is. Doesn’t mean I like how you handled it, but...ballsy.”

Katsuki can feel Deku stiffen up underneath his arm, blanching in horror. “Kacchan, that’s not—I didn’t do that trying to make you do anything—“

“I didn’t mean it like that, chill out.” Katsuki bends his arm, his hand coming to rest on Deku’s head, his fingers absentmindedly combing through curls. “If...you stop acting like a self-pitying asshole, I’ll…” Katsuki sighs. “I’ll try to be more...mmm. Ugh. I’ll try to not make you be a self-pitying asshole, you hear me?”

Deku visibly relaxes then, shoulders sagging against the weight of Katsuki’s arm, leaning into the touch on his head. Ugh. He looks like he’s gonna cry again.

“Yeah,” Deku answers, a warbled smile stretching his face, nestling further into Katsuki, turning them into an indistinguishable pile of limbs and blankets. “I hear you. I won’t post anything about us without your approval. This time was definitely an accident, but...this blew up in a very big way. I know you value your privacy, so I’ll try not to take it personally when that’s what you want because I kinda, you know, end up acting like a self-pitying asshole.”

They stay like that for a moment—together quietly on the couch, All Might still frozen mid-action on the laptop screen, nothing but the sound of a ticking clock somewhere in Deku’s apartment. Wrapped up in one another for one of the last quiet moments before this thing between them has to be shared. Their jobs don’t make a private life easy—despite the glamor, the action, the recognition, they are public servants. It’s a part of the job none of them were really prepared for, and a part Katsuki wants to keep to himself and defend for as long as he can, even if it’s drawing to a close.

But, hey—they’ve managed worse.

“You eat today?” Katsuki asks, though he already knows the answer.

“Mmm. I think. Just an energy bar. Some rice. I um. Haven’t really been hungry today…”

“Gotta fuckin’ do everything around here,” Katsuki grumbles before he detangles himself from Deku to dig through the cabinets to see if there’s anything edible in the kitchen.

There’s enough to scrape together a basic yakisoba, so Katsuki gets to work chopping whatever vegetables are leftover as he lets what meat Deku has in his freezer defrost. He doesn’t pay too much attention to Deku hovering in the kitchen, but he knows what’s happening.

Deku’s not subtle when it comes to taking photos despite how much he wants to believe it. Katsuki lets him think he’s getting his candids, but he finds it a little endearing that Deku likes taking photos of what he thinks are mundane moments, so he tries not to ruin it like he does most things.

He may not be paying close attention to Deku but he knows it’s there, the hesitation on Deku’s face. Is this one for him to keep to himself? Should he post this in private, where it’s safe and his friends know and it’s fine, or does he post it on his public account, where can confirm his relationship status and blah blah, fuckin’ blah. Katsuki can hear Deku’s over-thinking as if he were speaking aloud.

“Put it wherever. I don’t ca—mind. I don’t mind.”

I don’t care is dismissive, says his therapist. He’s trying to be mindful, or...something. He’s not very good at it most of the time, but it seems to appease Deku more. His efforts, as fumbling and awkward as they are, don’t go unnoticed by Deku.

The look on Deku’s face is so disgustingly fond that it gives Katsuki a pang of secondhand embarrassment. Deku nods, hesitates for another second, then hits something on his phone before pocketing it.

“Thanks,” Deku says before taking the bowl Katsuki offers him. “For this and...for being here.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Katsuki says, though his shriveled, little heart tugs just the slightest bit. “But we’re not watching that cartoon. You know the reboot isn’t nearly as good as the original.”

——

Deku 👊 Plus Ultra! @Deku_official

Today’s been...well, today was really weird, and frustrating and not to mention embarrassing, but it couldn’t have been all bad if it ended with a meal from Kacchan and the best All Might animated series (yes, the reboot), right?