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Cherish These Ashes

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“You have never stopped looking down on me,” Katsuki seethes, slowly advancing towards Deku. “I was stupid enough to believe that you cared, that you wanted to be friends or some shit, a hero duo—I trusted the words that came out of your lying, hypocritical mouth. Ha. Not anymore, Deku. We’re not friends, we’re not a duo. You're nobody to me.”

 

“Kacchan—” Deku tries to plead, hands up in surrender. But Katsuki takes a breath, and voices the unthinkable, a statement that has him believing he's the same person he was ten years ago.

 

“I don't ever wanna hear you fucking talk to me again!” he spits. “And you know what? You could fucking die, for all I care.”

 

That shuts Deku up alright.

 

***

 

The office should be spacious, but Katsuki can hardly breathe for how cramped he feels in the god forsaken room. Any room with Deku in it feels too small, nowadays. He doubts that even the entire city could be enough space away from the flashes of green that he sees everywhere. Around the corner, at the café, by the reception.

 

(Never at his side. It isn't like it used to be.)

 

“As the top two heroes,” Hawks states, lounging in a plush chair behind a wide desk, “you two will be assigned to the most dangerous missions. Together. Obviously, that means that you chicks need to look past your own personal issues and put the safety of the citizens first. Can you promise me that you will? Or do I need to take further action?”

 

Katsuki wants to tell him to shove his stupid demands up his ass.

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

But of course, Deku couldn't care less about Katsuki. He replies of his own accord nowadays, not giving a shit about Katsuki's opinion. Katsuki should be used to it by now.

 

(So why does it give him such an unbearable ache in the pit of his stomach?)

 

“Yeah, whatever,” Katsuki mutters, refusing to even sneak a glance at the man standing silently next to him.

 

“Well, kiddos,” Hawks continues cheerfully (although he eyes them warily as he talks), “I’ve got you both an extremely difficult mission. You will not be getting out of this unscathed.”

 

Hawks is not one to exaggerate the reality of missions that he distributes to the heroes at his agency, and the words render Katsuki demure. He needs to focus on this, not on Deku and his selfishness.

 

“I'm certain that both of you are familiar with the Quirk of the villain Shigaraki,” Hawks says seriously. “It seems that we have found a villain with a Quirk that encompasses this ability. He can become ash, vanishing and materialising within a certain distance, as well as being able to turn others into ash upon contact. Except when he turns others to ash, it's permanent.”

 

“And you want us to apprehend him?” Deku asks in a low, hesitant tone. He doesn't seem like the number one hero at all, in this moment. He looks scared.

 

But then his eyes meet Katsuki's, and what he sees in them is not fear for himself. It's fear for Katsuki.

 

What he's meant to make of that after what Deku has done to him, Katsuki doesn't know.

 

***

 

“How could you?” Katsuki cried, tears streaming down his face. “Have you forgotten everything that we worked for? The meetings, the late nights, the anxiety?”

 

“Kacchan, you don't understand!” Deku sobbed, though why the traitor was crying, Katsuki couldn't fathom.

 

“We were meant to be number one together!” he shouted, taking a furious step forward. “Or did that mean nothing to you?”

 

“Kacchan, please, just listen—”

 

“You have never stopped looking down on me,” Katsuki seethed, advancing towards Deku.

 

***

 

“Katsuki, you have to do it now!” Deku yells out, struggling under the pile of debris that the villain has thrown down on his leg.

 

Katsuki ignores him, another explosion dancing on his fingertips.

 

“I can get rid of this fucker,” he snarls, sizing up the villain, who has been temporarily blinded by the flash bomb that Deku had managed to drop when he'd been targeted.

 

“Kacchan, please, just get the Quirk cancelling handcuffs on him,” the green-haired man begs. “Trust me—”

 

Katsuki barks out a humourless laugh.

 

Trust you ? Are you fucking serious? Why would I ever trust a cheating bastard like you?” He turns towards the hero, face twisted in fury. “You took number one for yourself. You built up dreams and hopes and stupid fucking emotions and then unravelled them all with your goddamn selfishness ! Did you really want to be number one so badly?”

 

As Katsuki talks, Deku finally lifts himself from the debris, his Quirk powering through the rubble and allowing him to stand. Immediately, he makes for Katsuki, but the blond sees right through it. He's coming to restrain Katsuki, to stop him from being able to fight the villain his own way, to take the glory all for himself—

 

“Kacchan, watch out!” Deku screams, throwing himself on top of Katsuki and knocking him to the floor.

 

Katsuki looks up just in time to see the shock on Deku's face, the frozen expression that crumbles away into nothing. It doesn't make sense. Deku is towering above him, and then suddenly—

 

He dissolves.

 

There's dirt on Katsuki's face.

 

No, not dirt.

 

Not dirt.

 

Ash.

 

Katsuki doesn't allow himself to comprehend it, doesn't allow himself a single thought as he springs to his feet, a guttural sound leaving his throat as he pins the villain down, handcuffs tightening around his wrists with a resounding click.

 

“Congratulations,” the villain says serenely. “You're number one, now.”

 

***

 

Katsuki is reading the words, but not comprehending them.

 

To whom it may concern,

 

Bakugou Katsuki and I wish to share the title of number one, upon the announcement of Hawks’ retirement. However, in celebration of this, I seek to surprise my hero partner and most beloved friend with the opening of our very own agency. It is understood procedure that I must be ranked in order to withdraw the deposit, and I am currently unattached to a status. Therefore, this document is proof of my intent. I, Midoriya “Deku” Izuku, hereby pledge the temporary title of Number One in order to fund the opening of a hero agency headed in equal amounts by Bakugou Katsuki and I. Upon the opening of the agency, Bakugou Katsuki is to receive the joint title of Number One, as he fully and truly deserves.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Midoriya Izuku.

 

A small flame flickers at the edge of the page, where Katsuki's heated grip crumples the paper. Slowly, the fire licks across the words, wiping them away until at that remains is a pile of ash in Katsuki's trembling hands.

 

“And you know what? You could fucking die , for all I care.”

 

Deku has never been one to go against Katsuki's wishes, it seems.

 

“Kacchan, watch out!”

 

Deku's only ever wanted to protect him.

 

There's dirt on Katsuki's face.

 

No, not dirt.

 

He can still feel the dirt, the ash , on his face, no matter what the mirror tells him. He's dirty, tainted, ruined .

 

Congratulations.


And Katsuki knows that no number of his worthless tears could ever bring Izuku back. But maybe, just maybe, if Katsuki cries enough, he'll soak the ashes away.