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In The End (We Are Left Bereft)

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The mild slap against the back of her head, the scolding – it shouldn’t ease something inside of her but it does, her gaze fixated somewhere on her socked feet, hands shoved into the pockets of her pants and mouth dipped down in a scowl.

A sigh, a familiar stranger crouching down before her, a firm hand gripping her chin to tilt her head, studying the blossoming bruises, the tampon she’d stuffed up her bleeding nose.

“You can’t keep getting into fights like this, Katsuki,” the woman says and she shrugs dispassionately, refusing to meet worried eyes.

-

Bakugou Katsuki is the name of the body she’d woken up into some eight years ago – breathing in the smell of antiseptic, strangers grasping and squeezing her hands, unable to move, barely able to twitch as the days counted by, fading in and out of sleep, forced to absorb and come to terms with the situation she found herself in.

The strangest thing is the noise.

The world as she knew it was no longer quiet but filtered with everything from voices to machines to the low buzz of electronics, the wind outside the hospital room, the shift of the bed, the brush of fabric as she shifted, the crinkle of papers, the-

She spends hours staring up at the ceiling, trying to comprehend the sheer life of the world around her, twitchy and sensitive to the slightest of noise after nearly twenty-two years of complete and utter silence.

-

There’s static remains of what they had been – memories and impressions, violence pounding deep and hard through her, impatience badly tampered by bouts of apathy.

We’re both dead, this is the fundamental basis that makes up Bakugou Katsuki.

-

Noise cancelling headphones in bright orange around her neck, the new uniform half-heartedly shrugged on, tie hanging loose around her neck, toast snagged between her teeth and backpack hanging off one shoulder.

Katsuki squints up at the large walls of U.A. knowing she should feel something but finding only deep rooted apathy.

Even after everything; their move, the many schools she’d gone through, therapists that didn’t stop pushing, Doctors that didn’t stop shaking their heads - she’d been accepted into U.A. with top scores, the news delivered by All Might himself on a small circular disc.

I owe him this much, she thinks as she dispassionately chews her way through the toast, one hand shoved deep into her pocket as she ambles her way into the school.

-

What’s in a Hero? Katsuki doesn’t know but she knows she wants to be the Best.

In a world of grey scales, a world without meaning, this is what she clings to for it had meant something once and she is desperate for it to mean something once again.

-

Midoriya Izuku is a name she hasn’t heard in years and her mind identifies him as Deku long before a nervous mouth opens with a stutter, eyes wide upon her.

Kacchan.

An exchange of nicknames, a stirring of something that had been – a curl of dislike heavy in her gut, cheek heavy against her palm, elbow against the table, half-slumped and already irritated by the choppy motions of the boy who’d practically shoved himself into her personal space when he’d spotted her with her tie dangling loose around her neck.

“I-It’s nice to see you again…?” Deku says awkwardly, wavering in place, painfully earnest for all that he fiddles in place.

Her mouth curls down and she looks away from him – Mitsuki’s warnings of starting anything ringing painfully at the back of her mind.

Don’t risk this, she thinks as the boy slumps, stammering and rubbing awkwardly at his neck when a girl round face thanks him for something or the other, suitably distracted.

Katsuki drags her noise cancelling headphones up and over her ears, blocking out the rest of the class.

-

Their new homeroom teacher looks as tired as Katsuki feels most days and she stares down at the baseball in her hand, throws it up, catches it with a contemplative squeeze before she draws her elbow back, shifts to get the strength of her shoulder and back into it, feels the sweat in her palm, eyes narrowing as she launches it off, explosion fired loud and volatile just as it leaves her hand.

She’s too familiar with her own controlled explosions to do more than twitch, watching as it sails far beyond her original toss, clocking seven hundred meter easily, hands disappearing back into her pockets as she ambles back to the rest of the class.

The rules are delivered with a too sharp grin from their teacher to nervous exclamations from her new classmates while Katsuki’s mouth curls down into a scowl.

-

A ruse.

She stares at her new teacher as relief spreads through the room, gaping mouths proclaiming of course he wouldn’t kick us out. As if he hadn’t kicked out his entire class the year before. As if the man wasn’t responsible to making sure they came out of the three-year-program as Heroes and not scraps barely passing by.

Katsuki narrows her eyes with a tch.

-

What’s in a Hero?

Katsuki is volatile, friendless, anti-social and prone to reckless behaviour that had ended up with her in the hospital more times than not.

Her teachers all watches her warily, her classmates gives her wide-berth and the path between school and home is spent with knuckles splitting open, blood in her mouth, teens far older than her leering down at her to teach her a lesson about ego.

She stops counting the many times she gets expelled, stops counting the scolding’s from his parents, stops caring about anything but the dreams of the boy that had been.

I will become the Best.

-

The first time Katsuki acknowledges any of her classmates she’s half-way undressed inside the boy’s locker room, resolutely avoiding looking at anyone around her as she drags the pants up over her legs, yanking her undershirt up from the hem, ear twitching and gaze turning just in time to see the shitty runt press his eye against a hole leading towards the girl’s changing room.

Sparky is laughing, Shitty Hair wavering beside them but no one is doing anything.

Katsuki slams her booted foot into the runt’s stomach, launching him across the room where he slides into a hard stop against the wall, arms curling around his stomach, a shocked noise as he stares up at her with wide fearful eyes.

Her palms crackles and her teeth bares in a snarl.

“If I see you do anything like that again,” she hisses in the shocked silent room. “I’ll fucking track you down and beat you half to death.” She takes a step forward but Shitty Hair halts her with an arm on her bicep.

“Hey, hey, Bakugou – don’t you think you were a bit too harsh there-“

She jolts off with a sharp jerk, grasping for her shirt as she kicks her locker shut and storms out of the room.

-

Katsuki gives anyone and everything a wide-berth, resolutely ignoring the strange looks shot her way, her temper already set on edge when the teams are revealed and she finds herself staring at Four-Eyes who is practically oozing disapproval.

“Violence against our fellow classmates absolutely cannot be condoned!” he tells her, away from the other teams who’d all split up to plan, her shoulders twitching at the wide arcs of his arms as they sweep through the air.

“Then fucking do something next time,” she bares her teeth. “Or do you condone his actions?” she mocks, taking dark pleasure in the splutter and denial. “Less talking, more action.”

She flips him off when he calls her name to plan.

Hah.

Her neck prickles at the sharp eyes of All Might follows her down the path but she resolutely ignores him, ignores everything, the sweet ooze of her quirk stinging her nose as anger coils through her.

-

As far as her memories recall Deku is Quirkless.

The boy is a mix of feelings about it – disappointment and resentment but also a sense of rightness because he was the best and of course the shitty Deku didn’t have a-

Only he does and Katsuki finds herself face to face with the proof, a single finger drawn back, desperation and determination alike in the green eyes that meet hers before she abruptly and sharply drops, wall exploding and crumbling behind her as her palms flattens against the ground, legs folding up and twisting around an arm with a sharp crack as she breaks it clean with a hard twist.

There’s a cry, legs stumbling back, her foot colliding hard with a chest, booting him across the room with a smack as his head hits the stone hard and he slides down, dizzy, shocked eyes locked onto hers as she gallantly settles back on her feet with a roll of her shoulders as she steps towards him.

“I wouldn’t move if I were you,” she informs him plainly when he shifts, that strangely familiar stubborn set in his mouth deepening as he pushes himself up, ignoring her words completely. “You have a concussion.”

He lurches towards her and Katsuki kicks him down.

Again.

And again.

And again.

It’s bloody and brutal but she never reaches for the fake handcuffs at her waist and Deku doesn’t stop until she presses him down flat on his back, barely ruffled as she levels her weight on already cracked ribs.

All Might’s voice rings distant as the time runs out, leaving them in a stalemate, and she steps off him with a scoff.

-

Katsuki eats her lunch alone on the roof - a bento carefully arranged by Masaru each morning.

She had told him that he didn’t have to – that lunch was paid and arranged for by the school. But he had insisted and she hadn’t fought him on it.

She stares down at the small sausages arranged into little squids, rice and seaweed forming a smiling whale, vegetables, tofu, omelette and fried shrimps crowding around. There’s a small note with a chibi drawing of his father giving a thumb-up and a Ganbatte! on the lid that she carefully folds away inside her math book.

The wind ruffles her hair, a slight chill in the spring weather as she draws the orange chopsticks from their small container, leaning back against the fence surrounding the rooftop as she sets to eat.

-

“Bakugou, please remain behind.”

It’s the last class of the day and she isn’t terribly surprised, sinking lower into her seat with a tch, ignoring eyes that dart curiously towards her as they pass her by, chatter from teenagers already making friends passing her by, backpacks rustling as they pack up.

She breathes out, straightening up and shoving her things into her backpack just as the door closes behind the last student, leaving her alone with Aizawa who watches her with dark eyes as she throws it over her shoulder and drags her feet up to him.

“I heard what happened with Mineta earlier,” Aizawa says, no real judgement in his eyes. “I would like to hear from you, however.”

“What’s there to say?” she scoffs. “He found a hole in the wall leading into the girl’s changing room and was getting a fucking hard-on drooling over them. No one did shit so I let him know it wasn’t okay.” She leans against the desk beside her, scowling.

“And why didn’t you fetch a teacher? Or simply tell him off?”

Katsuki barely resists rolling her eyes. “Yeah, as if you haven’t seen the way he acts during lessons. Clearly just having words with him is working just fine.” She folds her arms up. “Why the fuck are you even allowing him here?” she demands. “He’s fucking filthy.

Aizawa stares at her with heavy eyes, the bags below them dark, chin scruffy, an exhaustion that tugs at her already depleted energy levels in empathy.

She twitches when he moves but it’s merely to drag fingers through a mane of dark hair. “You would have us expel him?”

“I never would have allowed him near the Hero course in the first place,” she spits.

Aizawa makes a low hm.

“Dismissed,” he says finally and she makes a wide-tour around him, slamming the door shut behind her.

-

Katsuki closes the door behind her, ignores the call from his parents as she flops down and wraps herself up in the soft blue covers of her bed, eyes shutting tight.

-

Every morning, from early spring to late autumn, at 4 am sharp, Katsuki goes from a run – chucking her shoes off once she reaches the beach, running through the heavy sand, feeling the ocean that laps at her ankles as she sinks down with every heavy step, alternating between fast and hard paces until her shirt is wet with perspiration and she’s struggling for breath, legs wobbly beneath her.

If there’s no ice she goes for a swim afterwards, shirt and shorts abandoned on shore – lets the soothing hum of the waves pull her under in a world where everything is muffled and heavy, murky, fish with glittering fins darting past her.

She’s gotten really good at holding her breath, counting almost twelve minutes in darkness before she’s forced to break surface for air.

It’s a soothing routine to her mind.

When she was younger either Mitsuki or Masaru would accompany her, wrapped up a blanket or two depending on the weather. But that had been before she turned ten and she was deemed old enough to go on her own after many loud arguments.

Dagobah Beach had been a dumping ground when they first moved back to Musutafu for her enrolment in U.A. but after nearly three months she’d made good headway with the trash built-up, her running tracks lengthening with every load either of her parents helps her drive away during the weekends.

Katsuki wades up from the ocean she drags a hand through her short spiky hair, breathing in the spring air as she nabs her shirt and pulls it on, water running from the wet boxers clinging to her thighs as she carefully runs through her morning stretches before contemplating the remaining trash with a crack of her neck.

-

The pervy runt got expelled.

There’s a strange ringing noise in her ear as the news, the whispers too loud around her, fingers twitching as she drags her headphones up and over her ears, hands pressing down, muffling the world around her.

Stares at Aizawa-sensei who is practically half-asleep on the podium.

Huh.

-

“Kirishima told us what happened.”

Katsuki stares blankly at the two – a tiny sausage octopus trapped in her chopsticks, headphones on her ears which was the reason as to why she’d missed their arrival completely.

Pink hair, pink skin, strange raccoon-like eyes and yellow antennas on her head – the other rough and punkish looking with purple hair and headphone jacks stretching from her earlobes.

Katsuki mentally sorts them as Raccoon Eyes and Punk as she drops the octopus down and shoves her headphones off, mouth curling.

“What?” she demands with a scowl.

Punk scowls right back but Raccoon Eyes is grinning and it makes her skin crawl.

“Our Heroic Knight in white armour.” She pretends to swoon as Katsuki’s eyes dart between them, suspicious and wary at the fact that they had tracked her down to her roof.

“What d’ya want?” she growls.

Punk shoves her hands into the pockets of her pants. “Mineta getting expelled – we heard it was your doing.” There’s a challenge there, in her words, for what Katsuki isn’t entirely sure.

“He was a fucking perv,” she says, teeth baring. “Should have kicked him harder.” It’s a grumble, a spark extinguished by fingers that curls shut before she makes a new grab for her chopsticks, shoving the sausage octopus aggressively into her mouth and chewing hard.

“That’s a cute bento you got there,” Raccoon Eyes croons, leaning forward to peer closer as Katsuki narrows her eyes upon her. “You make it yourself?”

Katsuki simply glares, drawing it closer, daring them to do anything.

Punk snorts. “Come on, Ashido – lunch closes soon and I’m hungry.”

Raccoon Eyes waves goodbye, teeth glinting with her smile, and Katsuki’s instincts crawl with ill-boding.

-

“I want to be with Bakugou!”

Aizawa stares at the girl who’d interrupted him, eyes unimpressed, more than one pair or surprised eyes on the pink skinned girl in the middle of the classroom, arm raised up, smile wide.

Katsuki raises her head just enough to peer at the girl from the folds of her arms, eyes narrowing.

-

“We do not need to work together,” Katsuki denies, eyes flat. “You do your half, I do mine and you leave me the fuck alone.”

“That’s not what Aizawa-sensei said,” Raccoon Eyes denies, legs kicking where she’d pulled her chair to her desk, , a smug sort of smile on her lips that makes anger coil through Katsuki the longer she stares. “And you want to stay at the top of the class, right?” the other girls drawls. “You better make sure I do my part, it’s so very easy to forget, you get me?”

Blackmail. Katsuki was being fucking blackmailed.

The papers on her desk stares mockingly back at her and she slams her palm flat upon it, cramming it into her backpack. “Fine,” she snarls. “Library, after school.”

“No,” Raccoon Eyes denies, leaning forward as Katsuki levels her with a dangerous eyes. “There’s this café I’ve been looking forward to visiting – I think it would make an excellent study space.”

“A café-“

“My treat.”

Katsuki’s mouth snaps shut and Raccoon Eyes practically oozes smugness when Katsuki bares her teeth in a soundless snarl but offers no denial.

-

Raccoon Eyes makes one attempt at linking their arms but Katsuki twitches violently away from her, a pop from a smothered explosion stinging sweet to both their senses.

“Fine, fine – no touching,” she says, throwing her hands up, a mocking sort of ease as Katsuki stiffly marches past her towards the closest exit, already quite done but unwilling to compromise her streak of straight A’s for anything.

“You really are quite volatile,” the other muses beside her, golden eyes set in black scrutinizing her where she’s walking backwards, somehow easily navigating through the throng of people despite it. “Not exactly the right way to make friends, you know?”

Katsuki grunts, moving stiffly past people, most giving her wide-berth.

“Where’s the damn café?” she demands and Raccoon Eyes spins around, pointing triumphantly down the street to a small red sign.

-

Loathe to admit it the café is nice.

It’s not crowded, the chatter is low and the waitress doesn’t linger long past a smile after taking their order and Raccoon Eyes is humming across her.

She notices Katsuki’s eyes upon her, eyebrow raising.

“Doesn’t seem like your kind of place,” Katsuki admits reluctantly.

They’d claimed the corner table and she’s thankful to have the wall behind her, shoulders loosening just a bit as she peers about. The air smells of tea and a soft twist of sweetness from the cakes waiting to be served. The walls are decorated with pictures of cats and there are small furry creatures weaving about, one or two getting their absent scratches from groups of students cooing over them.

Raccoon Eyes flashes a knowing grin at her, tapping at her throat in mirror of her headphones. “Those aren’t for music, are they?” she asks as Katsuki stiffens warily. “Jirou guessed. Knows just about anything related to music, that one. I won’t tell,” she says, stretching her arms up above her. “But I figured you’d like a place that wasn’t too loud or crowded.”

Katsuki grunts and the other’s mouth softens.

“Honest though, I am pretty impressed by what you did,” she admits. “The world needs more guys like you. Mineta was making more than one of us pretty damn uncomfortable and teachers are less prone to hear us girls out about it.”

The part of Katsuki that had died a twenty-two-year-old woman resonates with empathy, easing something inside of her.

“’s not right,” Katsuki grits out. “Should have fucking kicked him the first day.”

“Boys will be boys,” the others says with a dry twist of her mouth and Katsuki bares her teeth.

“People who say things like that-“

“Can just fuck right off,” the other finishes with a smirk and Katsuki gives her a flat look. “That’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it?”

Katsuki grunts, turning away to stare out the window.

“You’re just a right softie under all that anger, aren’t you?” the other says with some consideration as tea and cakes arrives – a fluffy one shaped like a smiling lion settling in front of Katsuki, a strange sort of alien in front of the other. “You know, that match against Midoriya – it didn’t really paint you in a good way, you know?”

Katsuki prods a bit of the lion off, shoving into her mouth, tasting cinnamon as she flattens her tongue up against the spoon as she pulls it out.

“We all saw it,” the other girl continues breezily. “You could have wrapped him up and left him whenever but you let him get up over and over again until he couldn’t stand.”

Katsuki gives her a flat look.

“Just saying,” the pink haired girl says with a shrug, spooning the alien’s jaw into her mouth. “It was pretty brutal to watch.”

“… Let’s just get this over with,” Katsuki says, uninterested in making excuses, shoving the cake away and grasping for pen, paper and notebook – finding the eraser after a moment of digging and slapping it all up on the small table.

“Aye, aye Bakugou-kun!”

Katsuki’s face makes a complicated sort of grimace.

“Just Bakugou is fine,” she grumbles.

“Then – you can call me Ashido,” the other says with a sharp grin.

-

Katsuki stares down at her phone, at the single number added other than her parents.

Raccoon Eyes is fucking strange.

For all that she’d threatened to pin them down with something less than an A she was sharp when she wanted to and they’d gotten into more than one argument over how to spin their presentation, loud enough that they’d been hushed twice.

The other never cowered and her grin was fierce as she gave as good as she got.

Katsuki was so damn used to people flinching away at the first spark on her palm but Raccoon Eyes had merely held up her own hand, covered in a strange slimy sort of shimmer, unimpressed and just ready to fucking go at it.

A knock on her door makes her lower her phone, his father peering inside with a soft curl of his mouth. “Did you have a good day?” Masaru asks and Katsuki grunts.

“… It was fine,” she admits after a moment.

Her phone buzzes, a ping from an arriving message that startles them both, Masaru’s eyes widening before he smiles. “That’s good. Dinner in ten minutes, alright son?”

Katsuki nods, distracted by the shiny new chat box visible on her screen, unaware of the way Masaru draws a shuddering breath outside her door.

-

RACCOON EYES: I brought my own bento today!

RACCOON EYES: You’re eating on the roof, right?

RACCOON EYES: Gimme like, five

Katsuki stares blankly down at her phone, chopsticks half-raised to her mouth.

RACCOON EYES: And you better not think of bolting

RACCOON EYES: I know where you sleep.

Three dots pending another message.

RACCOON EYES: Also, I’m bringing company

It’s the only warning she gets before the door swings open and Raccoon Eyes practically bounces out, hand already raised, phone clutched tight in it, Sparky and Shitty Hair trailing behind her.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Katsuki growls out, wary eyes settling on the two boys.

“Aww, don’t be like that Ba-ku-gou!” She twitches. “You can’t spend every lunch alone.”

“I can,” Katsuki responds with a flat look.

“So this is where you’ve been hanging around?” Shitty Hair whistles. “How manly.”

Katsuki’s knuckles whitens and she bares her teeth only to jerk when Raccoon Eyes thwaps her forehead, muscles coiling as she lashes out, hand clamping down on the other’s wrist before she can pull back – a squeak of surprise leaving her as she tips forward, nearly succeeding in sending herself sprawling over Katsuki who practically shoves her back.

“Whoa-“ she gasps. “You were faster than I thought.”

Katsuki releases her as if burnt, the feeling of flesh beneath her touch alien, and Ashido gives her a strange look when she practically shoves her hand down into her lap. “Fuck off,” she growls. “I don’t want-“

“I don’t care,” Raccoon Eyes interrupts her simply. “We’re eating our lunch here now. Air is free.”

Smoke starts wafting from her lunch box before she abruptly releases it, reaching for the lid only to have it sliding out of her way, mouth curling as she fixates on Sparky who is looking far too innocent.

“I’ll kill you,” Katsuki promises, voice honey smooth. “If you don’t give it back in five fucking seconds, Sparky.”

“Sparky?” the boy mouths, looking rather offended. “My name,” he says, sliding the lid beneath him and settling with an audacious sort of smile, “is Kaminari Denki. Which you should know by now.”

“Kirishima Eijiro!” Shitty Hair volunteers as he folds down. “You can just call me Kirishima.”

“I’m not going to call you fucking anything-“

“Bakugou-“ Raccoon Eyes elbows him hard, an oof of surprise leaving her as her mind slowly computes the motion, girl settling easily beside her, close enough that Katsuki finds herself leaning out of her way as she reaches forward to drag her bag with her, skin crawling from the close proximity. “Behave. Make friends.” Raccoon Eyes fucking waves her hand with a flourish to the two boys.

“With Shitty Hair and Sparky?” Katsuki asks flatly. “I’d rather throw myself off the roof.”

Shitty Hair grasps his chest dramatically. “That hurt,” he says dramatically. “Right here.”

“Want me to kiss it better?” Raccoon Eyes coos and Katsuki is not doing this.

She shoves the remains of her bento, without lid, into her backpack – ignoring Raccoon Eyes flustered call of her name and the other’s surprised exclamations, something dark and furious twisting through her chest as she slams the door to the roof shut behind her, hands trembling.

-

Katsuki spends the rest of the day twitchier than normal, ignoring everything, headphones over her ears, heart beating too loud inside her chest, a wet thu-thump thu-thump that drowns out even Present Mic during the last lesson of the day.

She’s the first up, the first to leave, a text shot to a number with a location appearing in place and then deleted, feet carrying her down long-visited paths until finally-

“Why, if it isn’t Baku-chan,” a voice mocks as she rounds the corner, clever eyes already settling upon her, and something inside of her slowly relaxes. “I thought you were off becoming a Hero. Too high-up in the ranks to come spend time with us anymore.”

“Fuck off,” she snaps back with far less bite than normal, Dabi already holding out a cigarette with a raised brow, liquid amusement in the blue of his eyes.

She shoves her hand down to grab her lighter but he reaches out a finger, blue flames snagging at the tip, and she inhales, lets the smoke curl down her lungs, allows it to linger.

“Mou, you look a bit stressed there,” Freak mocks where she sits on the high-wall, eyes too bright, grin too wide. “A week into the Hero business and already stress smoking?” She clicks her tongue, legs swinging, looking cosy in a yellow sweater with too long sleeves. “Sure it’s the deal for you?”

“I’m going to be the Best,” she bites out after exhaling, lets the faux calm lull her into something less on-edge as Dabi tilts his head, a huff of air leaving him as he leans back against the brick wall.

Tall and thin, longish black hair spiking out about his head, heavy gnarled purplish scars stretching down from his mouth, staples sunk deep into his skin.

The first time Katsuki had met Dabi she’d been twelve, knuckles bleeding, nose broken, chest and back badly bruised from the group of teens that had cornered her in an attempt to teach her a lesson.

She’d won, barely, wrist wiping impatiently at the blood dripping over her mouth and chin to a budding pool of blood on the ground at her feet.

And he’d dropped from the fucking roof, looking like a deformed bat with the thick scars and lidded eyes. But he’d offered her a smoke and he’d offered her tips on fighting so she’d stuck around long enough to finish it up before flipping him off.

Katsuki didn’t think for a second that it was coincidence she kept running into him following that – if Dabi didn’t want to be found it was impossible to track him down and he wasn’t the sort to just hang around and wait.

Dabi eventually picked up the Freak along the way and she’d memorized the number Dabi had recited her after her acceptance to UA, wary of entering it into her phone.

“I want to hit something,” Katsuki grunts as she stamps out the cigarette.

Freak clasps her hands together, leaning forward. “Oh please do,” she begs, eyes glittering. “Dabi always makes you look so pretty.

Dabi tilts his head and Katsuki meets the strangely pretty turquoise of his eyes.

“Quirk or no quirk?”

“What do you think, dumbass?” she growls, shoving her jacket off and yanking shirt and undershirt up and over her head, leaving her bare.

Blue flames lick to life as he spreads his arms out. “I am but a gentleman,” he drawls and Katsuki snarls as she launches herself towards him, explosions already burning sharp and sweet in the palm of her hands.

-

“You’ve gotten better,” Dabi tells her as he steals the cigarette from her lips, drawing deep as Katsuki gives him a flat look, snatching it back and biting down hard on the butt of it, daring him to try again.

His mouth curves.

Her skin smarts where flames had marked her deep, sure to leave new scars among the already angry crawl of pink flesh that coiled where her undershirt could still hide them and she would need to keep a careful eye on them because burns could be tricky.

But the itchy crawl beneath her skin is gone and she feels far calmer than she had since stepping her first foot inside the walls of UA, breathing out beneath the setting sun.

If she scrapes her arm or something she’s sure she can get an extra visit to Recovery Girl to clear the worst of it.

“He still lost,” Freak points out, unimpressed and pouting over the bandages wrapped in place over gaping wounds, a bottle of water helping rid of the worst of the blood splatter. She’s tracing circles in a small red puddle of Katsuki’s blood, arms loose.

“I would like to see you do better,” Katsuki grumbles.

“Hand-to-hand you’d take wackjob over here easily,” Dabi says with a roll of his shoulders. “But you’d lose to her in a knife-fight.”  

Her jaw clenches but she does not ask about a quirk-to-quirk fight, for whatever reason Himiko Toga would not share exactly what it was she could do.

Katsuki does not care enough to press the issue.

She drops the cigarette when the heat licks too close to her skin, twisting down on it. She’d temporarily shut off her sweat glands after the fight and washed her hands off with water but it was better to err on caution when it came to her quirk.

“I’m off,” she announces brusquely.

“Make sure to call us if you want Dabi to beat you up again!” Freak calls, hands cupped around her mouth.

Katsuki gives her the finger.

Chapter Text

Katsuki is starting to hate the sound of her name.

“Bakugou- are you even listening to me?” Raccoon Eyes crowds too close, ignoring the way Katsuki coils tense. “How am I supposed to apologize to you if you’re not listening to me?”

She stares at the bus, at Four-Eyes that she mentally slots to Class Rep when she notes the band around his arm, a nagging sort of memory of a vote ghosting past before she dismisses it entirely as he tries to make them file into a line.

“It’s a fucking bus,” she growls, barely resisting the urge to slam her shoulder into him as she pushes past.

“Bakugou-san,” a finger pushing up, glasses flashing, “you are ignoring the importance of-“

“I don’t care.”

“He does have a point,” Katsuki hears somewhere behind her as she passes by the surprisingly spacy seats in the middle and hauls herself up in the first seat after the door, folding her arms up on the railing in front of her and after a few minutes her skin crawls as Punk drops down beside her.

“You should thank me,” the other girl has the audacity to drawl when she notices Katsuki’s foul mood. “Iida made Ashido stay in line but she was looking real eager to join you.”

Katsuki bares her teeth but doesn’t respond, slumping deeper into her arms and glaring mulishly down at nothing as the last person files in and Aizawa-sensei droops down into one of the last seats near the front.

-

The trip to USJ is surprisingly long – not quite that she finds herself dozing off but long enough that she gets why they took the bus when they had perfectly workable legs and a teacher who enjoyed driving them to the ground.

Katsuki entertains the picture of Aizawa-sensei on a small pink scooter at the front of the pack, class heaving and struggling to keep up…

Snorts quietly to herself, slanting a look to the side when Deku stammers out loudly, arms waving in front of him.

“They’re nothing alike!” he denies frantically. “All Might is… All Might! And I keep… I keep breaking my bones.” He practically wilts on himself as Froggy tilts her head, finger at her lip. “It’s – we’re really nothing alike.” Red faced, nervous, incredibly bad liar.

But what is he lying about? Her brow creases momentarily before she decides that she doesn’t care and turns her gaze to the nearing stadium-like building, anticipation curling low in her gut.

-

One moment she’s rearing back to slam her foot into the brimstone-smelling Villain and the next she’s in a roll, coming up with her hands slamming into the face of a low-ranking cockroach, skin fizzling as she burns off a hard explosion that sends him careening back with half the skin on his face missing, unconscious before he hit the ground.

She spits a wad of saliva at his crotch, categorizing the situation with coiled fists as Shitty Hair drops an unconscious one down beside her, eyebrows creased. “We better finish this off quick,” he says in an undertone, skin mottling strangely, almost like some sort of living rock, as he spies about the gathering of Villains watching them with wariness. “And then help the rest.”

Katsuki bares her teeth.

“You do that.” She lets sweat bead thick in her palms, feels the acrid sweetness of her quirk stinging her nose. “I’m taking out the Fog Bastard.”

She is surprised when – instead of fighting her on it he gives her words some consideration.

“You’re right,” Shitty Hair says breathing out, mouth stretching into a grin as he pushes his fist against his palm. “Let’s put our faith in our classmates and get this over with!”

She scoffs, anger and anticipation alike in her chest as she fixates on the closest enemy.

-

Katsuki thinks that, for just a moment, there’s a strange hollowness to the form of All Might – visible through the smoke before a wall rises sharp and tall between them and she twitches away from Shitty Hair who had reached out to put a hand on her shoulder.

She turns away.

It’s none of her business anyway.

-

The USJ incident leaves Aizawa-sensei with arms wrapped up and a scar by his eye and there’s a significant increase in security that means full-body scanning and new student IDs.

“It’s hard to digest it, you know?” Raccoon Eyes says from where she’s perched across her, completely ignoring the foul glare Katsuki has levelled upon her, bento precariously balanced on a knee. “I mean – what was the point of it? In the end All Might won because he’s… you know… All Might.”

Katsuki shoves a grape into her mouth, biting down hard and with relish, firmly ignoring her.

Raccoon Eyes slants a considering look her way. “You’re going to have to talk to me eventually,” she points out. “Whether during lesson or out in the field – there’s no way you can ignore me forever.”

Try me, Katsuki thinks fiercely.

“I thought we had a thing going,” Raccoon Eyes sighs, mock-mournfully. “Building rapport, learning the ins and outs of each other, becoming buds. You were fine with me and what kind of person would I be if I didn’t want my explosive friend to get along with my other two idiot friends, hm?”

We’re not friends, Katsuki thinks and her jaw aches as she strains not to express it verbally. I don’t have friends.

I don’t need friends.

-

There’s a blinking address when she gets off from school two days later which makes her hesitate – thumb tracing over the unsaved number with a faint crease in her brow.

A ding.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Or are you too high-and-mighty to spend some time with me?

The mocking text stares at her for a full minute before she snorts and shoves the phone down her pocket after deleting it.

-

It’s a strange place – a bit off but still central enough that she’s drawn up against a wall near a sign that makes people veer around her and it both, one hand absently tracing around the shell of one of her headphones, tracking people with a frown as she waits for the familiar stretch of purple scars only-

He’s covered them up, of course, and Katsuki raises a brow at the thick purple scarf, the shade near exact the colour of his scars, wrapped about enough times to challenge Aizawa-sensei’s capture weapon, a cap shoved low and a slouchy sort of appearance that echoes closer to Katsuki’s own style.

It begged the question as to why he felt like he needed to cover up and it raised questions about why he’d called Katsuki out if it wasn’t to fight.

And why the fuck she’d agreed to it.

Dabi drags his eyes up from her shoes to her eyes, a considering hmm where’d he’d paused in front of her, looming with his considerable height even with his back curved, one hand reaching out to brush against the mottled yellow bruise on her cheek as her jaw clenches at the contact.

“Seems they didn’t get you too bad,” Dabi muses, beckoning her along, as if she was some kind of dog-

But, Katsuki realises, as she takes a step forward to follow, there’s no real anger just a flare of annoyance because Dabi was a fucking asshole who did as he wanted and she knew that.

“Where are we going?” she bites out, finding herself a step closer to Dabi than was reasonable to avoid a tall, broad and muscular man with bandana storming past. “And why the fuck are you looking like that? Trying to copy my style now?” She slouches back out of his personal bubble.

“Patience, Baku-chan.” She twitches. “Now, I have an important question for you.” He comes to a halt, hand disappearing down his pocket, and she can just see the way the corner of his mouth hitches up over the edge of his scarf. “Vanilla or chocolate?”

-

Katsuki stares down at the ice cream in her hand, at the white swirls with a sprinkle of colourful marshmallows that tilt precariously.

Beside her Dabi has abandoned his cap and tugged down the scarf, tongue dragging with a long curve around his vanilla ice cream before disappearing into his mouth with a flick against the tip of it.

She takes a hesitant bite, nose crinkling before she relaxes with a small huff.

“Please tell me you didn’t call me out for ice cream,” Katsuki says as she bites through the shell of the cone, fingers already sticky where the force of her first bite had blown the bottom of it, dripping awkwardly from her fingers despite her best effort.

“Would you prefer it if I called you out to beat you to an inch of your life?” Dabi wonders and Katsuki’s brow furrows at the look in his eyes – a strange sort of thing that she can’t quite place.

“I would blow you the fuck up first,” she promises him and Dabi snorts, shoulders easing as he tilts his head up to the sky.

“How long has it been since we first met?”

Katsuki stares at him, takes another bite of her ice cream, eyes drifting to her feet.

She’d been twelve when they first met and in just a month she would be turning sixteen and thirty alike in merged lives.

It’s meetings that comes and goes depending on her expulsions from schools, moving twice during the years of their acquaintance, Dabi eventually turning up to bother her one way or the other.

He was a strange constant in her life, one of the few, reliable in a way that should have been concerning.

“Four years,” she offers after a brief moment. “Why? Feeling nostalgic?”

“You’re such a brat,” Dabi scoffs but there’s… something about his tone that makes Katsuki’s shoulders tense, wary and not quite understanding. “Messy too,” he says, observing as she flicks the last bit of the cone into her mouth, biting down just as he reaches for her hand, ignoring the way she curls up with tension as he raises her palm up, thumb pressing flat against the inside of her wrist.

And then her eyes goes wide for he bends down, tongue flattening against her palm, dragging up and over her finger, curving to get drop of white on her knuckle–

Katsuki snatches her hand back from his grip, red spreading across her cheeks as she draws back from him, a sly sort of look in his eyes that makes something strange knot up in her chest as he drops his hand, not looking particularly bothered at all with what he’d done.

“You need to learn caution, Baku-chan,” Dabi drawls, unwrapping his scarf and threading it around her neck, too close as he leans forward to get it around her, his breath a strange mix of sulphur and sweetness. “No one never knows what kind of people are out there, looking to use you.” His strange turquoise fixes upon her with a warning that sends a shiver up her back.

And then he’s ruffling her hair and she watches him leave, a wet thu-thump thu-thump in her chest, hand grasping at the fabric around her neck.

“The fuck!?” Katsuki bursts out in the remaining silence.

-

The Sport Festival approaches and between normal classes, Hero Training and preparations for it she ends up cleaning up the last of Dagobah Beach, a strange feeling settling in her chest as she stares out at it, feet bare, water dripping from her hair and down her body.

Somewhere about seagulls cries out and she drops down, sand immediately gluing itself to her boxers, and she knows she’s going to regret it later when she attempts to wrestle herself back into her shorts but she can’t get herself to care.

What now?

She breathes out, in. Feels the way her ribs expands as her lungs fills with air and the itch of a cigarette brings her mind to turquoise eyes and she feels her cheeks colouring, glaring down at her toes, burying them into the sand with a frustrated exhalation.

-

Sometimes Katsuki dreams of an apple orchard, feels the dirt on her palm, beneath her knees, a hand ghosting up her spine and a mouth tilting to meet her own beneath the warm sun.

She wakes up with screams choked down and tears on her face.

-

“I’m going to be the Best,” she tells the world with relish, tasting the absolute faith of the six-year-old boy that had been, ignoring the way her class groans behind her, ignores the way eyes narrow upon her back.

There’s a heady feeling, a warmth and weight of a promise made almost eight years ago when she woke up in a hospital bed in a body not her own.

-

The Sports Festival leaves her with a strange feeling inside her chest, gaze fixated on Deku who is staring up with wide startled eyes, as if unable to believe the way his name rises with exited cries in the stands around them at the end of the first task.

Katsuki gnashes her teeth together and beside her Half-n-Half crosses his arms, just shy of catching his breath, sweat dripping down one side if his face.  

It’s not unlike the way Dabi doesn’t sweat when his quirk is in use on some level and she realises she’s been staring when the other turns towards her, eyebrow rising coolly, and one of his eyes are-

“I’m going to win this,” she snarls at him with a temper that flares hot and hard. “So don’t get in my fucking way.”

“So far neither of us are in the lead,” the other says flatly, completely unmoved, and the reaction makes her cheeks colour before she catches herself – something strange twisting up in her chest as she turns away and marshes into the arena.

Fucking Half-n-Half.

Fucking Dabi.

-

Fucking Deku she’s going to fucking kill him-

-

Round Cheeks gives as good as she gets and Katsuki finds herself out of breath, panting and staring down at the other girl who had, finally, fainted – unable to move where she lies sprawled out, muscles and quirks strained to their max.

She’s aware of the way civilians and pro-Heroes alike are judging her in the stands and her face twists up before she breathes out and sets her face in a scowl.

What did gender have to do with competence? Nothing. Round Cheeks did good. Better than most would have against her. Other than Dabi and Deku there were few who stuck around to go head-on with her once explosions starting going off in her palms.

No one would have said anything had Round Cheeks been a boy.

She shoves her hands into the pockets of her training uniform and turns on her heel as she marches out.

-

It’s not Right.

Humiliation burns sick and heavy through her gut – chained and muzzled like a dog, her temper and feelings disregarded and panic so thick inside of her that only mounting anger overcomes it and she clings to it desperately with thousands of eyes upon her, future colleagues and civilians alike looking down at her as she struggles against the metal clasped around her wrists and mouth.

Why?

Laughter, sighs of exasperation, side-eyes and judgement.

She fights against nausea, against the burn of her eyes and a desperate wretched sort of horror, feeling terribly small in too big world as metal bites into her flesh, the medal heavy on her chest where All Might had forced it over her head.

WHY?

-

She tears away from Midnight, ignores the strange fuzziness of the world around her as she pushes into the boy’s bathroom and locks the door shut behind her before collapsing down on her knees and heaving into the toiled, shaking and pressing her hands flat against her ears as she squeezes her eyes shut.

Craves silence and darkness as she shivers and her hands trembles and sickly sweetness stings her nose, palms slick with sweat.

She remains there for a long time, until the world has once again settled around her and all she’s left with is tired apathy and a strange sense of loss.

-

RACCOON EYES: Are you OK?

Bakugou stares at the message, curled up beside her bed, back against the bedside table, ignoring the way handles presses uncomfortably into her back.

RACCOON EYES: I tried to find you afterwards but you kinda disappeared.

RACCOON EYES: Not that I blame you.

Three dots stare back at her for a long time.

RACCOON EYES: Want to head to the cat café with me on Monday?

-

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Congratulations to a shitty win.

The phone explodes in her hand and she throws it against the door with a wordless snarl.

-

His parents make her favourite food and Katsuki draws her knees up to her chest where she sits at the end of the couch, tense and uncomfortable and scowling at the pictures on the television screen, headphones firmly in place.

She hasn’t taken them off since arriving home after the Sports Festival.

Mitsuki had attempted to gently cuff her earlier that day and she’s flinched back to violently she’d smacked her head into the wall and she’d done a sloppy work of wrapping it up, aware of their eyes upon her, aware of the way they see the trembles in her fingers, the way she’s coiled so tight that she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

She buries her face into her knees, elbows drawn tight over her face, humiliation so thick inside of her that she hadn’t been able to sleep, wretched and absolutely exhausted.

The sneers, the jeers, the laughter of hundreds at the sight of her-

Masaru gently settles a blanket over her shoulder, a tense look exchanged with his wife when his son only curls tighter upon himself.

-

“I’m coming with you to school today,” his mother says Monday morning and Katsuki pauses, oatmeal half-way raised to her mouth as she looks up.  

Takes in the sharp, crisp business suit and the way Mitsuki is clearly gearing up for war in the clack of her sharp heels.

“You don’t have to take the train – we’re taking the car. I’ll even come pick you up after, if you want.” It’s an offer made breezily, an underlying tension in the way red eyes focus upon her – a slight scowl on the woman’s face. “I’m just going to have a quick chat with your Principal.”

Mitsuki smoothers down the crisp white blouse and Katsuki really doesn’t envy Nedzu one bit.

“… I’m meeting Ashido after school,” she says after a moment, the name strange in her mouth and an unfamiliar warmth in her chest as the watches the woman shove two bars down her purse along with a bottle of water. “We’re heading to a cat café,” she tacks on when both his parents pauses to look at her in surprise.

“Sounds wonderful,” Masaru says with a gentle smile and Katsuki ducks her head, shoving a good helping of oatmeal mixed with applesauce into her mouth.

-

His mother escorts her all the way to the classroom, a click-clack of sharp heels as they head down the empty corridor, and her classmates looks up in surprise when the woman pushes the door open, halting Aizawa-sensei mid-word as she gently pushes her inside, a cursory glance darting over the some-eighteen heads already gathered inside before fixating on their teacher who slowly straightens up from his cursory slump.

Mitsuki glances back down at Katsuki who blinks and stiffens in slight surprise when lips presses a kiss to her forehead, hand rising to rub absently at it with a frown.

“You must be Aizawa-san,” Mitsuki says briskly as she straightens out. “I’m looking forward to our talk later this afternoon.”

Aizawa looks rather like he does anything but look forward to it and Katsuki shoves her hands low in her pockets as she ambles down the line and collapsed into her seat with a scowl.

“A pleasure,” the man says and Mitsuki gives him a firm onceover before nodding sharply, door clicking shut behind her as she leaves.

Katsuki ignores the curious eyes, dragging her headphones up and over her head as she sinks into her seat and focuses on the movement of Aizawa’s lips as he picks the lesson back up, making no mention of her tardiness as he drones on about the lesson for the day.

-

Raccoon Eyes is clearly brimming with curiosity when she bounces up on the roof but there’s also something careful in her eyes – in the way she pauses to regard Katsuki, as if making a mental judgement on just how much she’d be able to push.

“So, that was your Mom, huh?” she says, folding down after shrugging off her backpack which drops to the ground beside her.

She keeps her mouth clear in Katsuki’s vision even as she digs through her backpack in search of her bento box.

“What about it?” she asks, voice strangely muffled with the headphones over her ears, making it hard to judge just how loud she was talking but not quite caring.

She wishes she could turn off the world completely. Wishes she’d never have heard the jeers of the crowd gazing down upon her-

Katsuki blinks as an octopus sausage with a lopsided grin and ill-matched eyes drops into her bento box, raising her head to gaze at the other.

“You like them, right?” Raccoon Eyes says with a raised brow. “It’s my first try so be kind to it!” She points dramatically with her chopsticks and Katsuki draws tight before remembering herself and snorts as she gazes back down at the happily grinning thing.

“You look a lot like your Mom, you know?” Raccoon Eyes says with her mouthful. “Same hair, same eyes. I don’t really look anything like my parents – quirk kicked in, made me pink and, well, this.” She flicks one yellow antenna on her head, mouth chomping down on piece of vegetable omelette the second she’d finished talking. Chews. Swallows. “Kinda nifty though – my Hero name is going to be Alien Queen.” Her eyes glitters when she says it. “You know what you’re going to call yourself yet?” she asks, popping a greasy fried shrimp into her mouth and twisting the tail off, dropping it aside.

Katsuki frowns, biting down on an eggroll.

Hero name? The boy had idealised names like King Explosion Murder and she’d snorted quietly to herself when reading through those carefully saved drawings kept at her bedside table.

Her Hero uniform is kinda inspired by those drawings – the black muscle shirt with the orange X, the idealized grenade cannons foregone for optimal movement while keeping the heavy boots over thick heavy-duty pants.

But the name…

She chews thoughtfully, nudging back one headphone just enough to follow along Raccoon Eyes chatter as she thinks.

-

BAKUGOU: I need to decide on a fucking Hero name.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: What kind of number is this.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Did you blow up your phone?

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Dumbass.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: You explode. Make it something explode-y.

Three hours passes before three dots once again appear on the screen and a ding rings through the room with a faint buzz in the hands of the sleeping teen, screen lightening up the room in blue.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: I’m partial to Ground Zero if you’re taking suggestions.

-

The prospect of doing an Internship gnaws.

3, 556 – that’s how many invitations she’d gotten and the more she stares at the number the more ugly the feeling inside of her chest grows.

How many of these had looked upon her and laughed? How many of them saw a pet project that needed to be put in line? How many-

She doesn’t know. She doesn’t like it. Katsuki is fucking angry.

She rips the top of the list off and burns the rest to ash in her palm, letting the wind sweep it with until she’s left with the sting of achy sweetness in her nose and a list of some ten names.

The best of the best, the Heroes at the top of the line, people who were supposed to be good.

One of you, Katsuki thinks just a tad desperately and with a frail sort of hope that doesn’t belong in a world that lets her down over and over again.

Chapter Text

Katsuki stares a bit blankly as the new student is introduced to the class.

The part of her that died a twenty-two-year-old horror game enthusiasm can’t resist slotting him as Purple Guy, eyes drifting briefly over the wild hair, the dark shadows beneath his eyes and the wary flat look with a challenge written in the depth of it.

There’d been a glaring hole in team-ups following the runt’s expulsion and Katsuki figures there’d only been a matter of time before someone had to step up and fill it.

Mind control, she thinks with a slight furrow in her brow, remembering the match faintly – the way he’d nearly made Deku walk right out of the ring.

She can’t quite decide what to feel about that sort of power when she has the capacity to blow someone up with a spark in her palm.

-

Aizawa halts her at the end of the day and Katsuki slumps back against Class Rep’s desk, hands shoved into her pockets, waiting as her classmates trail out amidst chatter and a curious look or two.

“I’ll wait for you!” Raccoon Eyes promises with a friendly buff of her shoulder that is painstakingly telegraphed to a flat look from Katsuki.

But she doesn’t protest and the other girl grins as she shoulders her backpack properly, the last to leave, Punk and Sparky both waiting for her just outside the classroom and the door closes, leaving Katsuki alone with their teacher.

Aizawa is taller than her – wired beneath the bagginess of his shirt and pants, his hair messy, the bags beneath his eyes unusually heavy as he lets out a sigh and drags his fingers through the dark strands.

“Your mother had concerns about you in the aftermath of the Sports Festival,” the man says carefully, eyes upon stiffening shoulders. “I won’t push,” he says. “But I am here if you need to talk. My number one priority is your safety and health.”

Where were you when metal bit into my hands and mouth? Katsuki wonders. Where were you when the world was laughing at the sight of me chained and muzzled like an animal because I dared to raise my voice in protest?

Dabi’s scarf is wrapped tight around her, hiding the bruises at her jaw, and she doesn’t answer him, finally released with another tired sigh and a phone number pressed into her palm.

She only just resists slamming the door shut behind her.

-

“We should head to the mall,” Raccoon Eyes muses beside her. “I need to pick up some extra training shirts for the Internship, my quirk keeps eating through them.”

“Oh!” Sparky perks up where he’s walking along with Punk on the other side of Raccoon Eyes. “I need new shoes.” He lifts his foot demonstratively and the lower half of it flops sadly down, revealing the underside of his foot before he placed it back on the ground. “I kicked the goal post during soccer yesterday,” he admits proudly. “Completely split it down and broke two of my toes but Recovery Girl took care of it this morning!” He folds his arms behind his head, grinning.

“You’re lucky we didn’t have Hero Training today,” Raccoon Eyes says with some amusement.

Sparky shudders. “I can just hear the lecture. Already got one from both my moms, don’t need a third one.” 

“I’ll tag along,” Punk says with a little stretch. “The new Hero Magazine comes out today.”

“What about you, Bakugou?” Raccoon Eyes asks, turning hopeful eyes upon her. “Need anything for the Internship?”

Katsuki doesn’t understand Raccoon Eyes. Doesn’t understand why she keeps pushing and hoping when the rest of the world takes one look at her and two steps back.

She reaches up to grasp at the scarf with a scowl.

“… Shirts,” she admits grudgingly, looking away when Raccoon Eyes lightens up, grinning.

-

“Ah- this one, this one!” Raccoon Eyes practically shoves the shirt into her face, eyes wide and expectant as Katsuki studied the drawing of a bunny that, when tilted to the side, became a duck, white lines against black.

“’s not awful,” she agrees and the other practically shines as she throws it into the basket before swanning away to search for more.

There’s a strange sort of lull to her thoughts, familiarity in actions, the chatter and wild energy of the other strangely soothing to the jagged spikes of her mind and she finds herself reluctantly enjoying the whole thing.

Punk is in the store music store two doors with Sparky who’d volunteered as company and her eyes track Raccoon Eyes as she browses over a section of sleeveless shirts in mottled camo.

Katsuki stuffs one hand absently into her pants pocket, the other arm threaded through the basket handles.

She’d only meant to pick up a shirt or two but when she’d messaged Mitsuki to ask for the money she’d gotten a text back to treat her friends to ice cream and a ding of a message from her bank informing her that there was now enough for some ten shirts and more on her account.

Friend.

The word echoes strangely to her because Katsuki doesn’t have friends. Doesn’t need friends.

Katsuki’s eyes pauses on a purple shirt with a raccoon in training gear, a heavy bar grasped in tiny paws, GYM TRASH scrawled beneath it, and there’s a strange sort of twist inside her chest the longer she stares at it.

Are you OK?

Raccoon Eyes had been the only one to ask that outside his parents since she’d woken up in this world – a genuine sort of inquiry in the aftermath of the Sports Festival. The only one in the stadium among Heroes and Heroes-to-be to pause and see something wrong in the bite of metal encircling her wrists and face.

Even her classmates gossiped and laughed behind her back.

It was really funny – best part of the entire Sports Festival!

Did you see how mad Bakugou got? He was practically spitting fire!

And then strangers.

If you don’t quiet down maybe I’ll take a hint from All Might himself and muzzle you up!

Oh – you’re that boy that-

Laughter.

Are you OK?

Katsuki grabs at it, nearly yanks it off its hanger, and she takes a step towards the other – tongue twisting up in her mouth when golden eyes in a spread of black turns towards her, surprise blossoming up in them when Katsuki practically shoves it into her hands. 

“This one,” she gets out, voice suddenly too loud even with the backdrop of music, and she hides the sudden tremble of her hand by shoving it firmly back into her pocket.

Raccoon Eyes slowly lifts it up, blinking at the pattern.

-

And if there’s a strange sort of warmth in her chest when the other puts it on and refuses to take it off, even after dropping ice cream onto it and flailing for paper and water, that’s nobody’s business but her own.

-

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Want to meet up?

Katsuki spends a long time staring at the message, remembering the press of a tongue against her palm, the leery amusement and the warning before Dabi had left her just like that.

Stuffs the phone beneath her pillow and squeezes her eyes shut.

-

”K-Kacchan.”

She pauses, glancing over at Deku who is one of the last people lingering at the station, most of the class trailing off to their respective trains, Aizawa-sensei close enough to listen in while pretending very much like he wasn’t with a squeeze-tube of some sort of fruit mash clenched in his corner teeth.

“Good luck!” Deku squeaks out, looking like he wholly and truly meant it. “I hope – I hope we learn a lot, both of us, and that, in the future – I would like to fight you, properly.” He swallows. “I’m still figuring out. My quirk. That is. But – I’m gonna become strong and then – I’ll challenge you.” A breath out, determination flooding green eyes. “Will you accept it? When the time comes?”

Deku dares- remnants of a boy inside of her hisses but.

She stares at him – at the earnestness in his eyes and the way he’s growing, overcoming and rising to challenge the rest of the class, a hand reaching out for her. Waiting.

If we didn’t move, Katsuki thinks to herself, if the boy and woman hadn’t died to become me then what would they have been? Rivals or the Best of Friends?

For – there’s a part of the boy that still that looks back and expects the company of a boy with moss-green hair and a stubborn never-give-up attitude. A childhood memory of a promise before discoveries were made and one of them found himself greater than the other.

Quirks and Quirklessness – as if it mattered.

Genetics and chance, there were little else to it.

Katsuki feels her mouth curling, a tch as she twists on her heel and marches to her train, feeling the weight of the bag on her back, her Hero costume which she now had a name and identity assigned to in the briefcase heavy in her hand.

I’m going to become the Best, she thinks as she shoves them up above her and collapses into her seat.

But even so, there’s a part of her that struggles to shake the image of the last match between Half-n-Half and Deku, the bitter disappointment of her win and the heavy humiliation following it.

I’m going to become the Best, she clings to the words even as she stares out at the word gliding into motion outside the window. Anything else is unacceptable.

-

A movement, a body slumping down opposite her, makes her narrow her eyes upon Purple Guy who is looking about as enthused about the trip as she feels.

“So, I guess we’re classmates now?” he drawls when he notices her eyes upon him, a look she doesn’t quite understand, her mouth curling down in response.

Drags her headphones up over her ears and looks down at her book.

-

“And practically neighbours,” he adds hours later, staring at her from the door just a step down from her own, keycard slipping over the apparatus on the side with a beep and a slow lift of his lips when Katsuki practically slams the door shut behind her.

-

“To be honest, I’m not a big fan of yours.” Those are the first words out of Best Jeanist mouth and Katsuki feels something cold slither down her spine, eyes somewhere at her feet. “And I imagine the only reason you chose my agency is because I’m one of the top five most favourite heroes.”

Tall and slim and decked out in an outfit that cannot be described as anything but jeans for miles, hair carefully and artfully styled aside.

“You’re the one who drafted me,” Katsuki returns carefully as she flexes numbing fingers at her sides.

“Yes,” Best Jeanist agrees, leaning back against his desk, green eyes sharp upon her. “Because all I’ve had lately are little do-gooders.” The world is turning strangely dull around her. “You are the first one in a long time who is a bit more ferocious. And my job, as a Hero, is reforming people like you.”

People like you.

-

Katsuki stares at the door to her hotel room some hours later for a long time before turning on her heel and disappearing down and out into the street, past Purple Guy who pauses to look after her with a slight furrow in his brow.

-

BAKUGOU: You know any good places to drink in the middle of Tokyo?

XXX-XXXXX-XX: I thought you were out Hero interning.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Naughty.

Three dots for a long moment.

XXX-XXXXX-XX: Do you want company? 

The next message is just a new number and Katsuki stares at it before hesitantly shooting of a message and almost immediately there appeared a link for a GPS-shared location with a bright blinking red dot.

-

“Don’t you look miserable,” Freak greets her as she pulls the door open and Katsuki glances inside in vague surprise. “You’re lucky – Dabi keeps the good stuff at this place but it’s been awhile since any of us were around here.” The door is kicked close behind her.

It’s a small place – made and kept simple for two to crash. A mattress on the floor, a single couch in front of a small television with a low table and there’s piles of magazines and books crowding about. There’s a cheap gaming station, picture paused on the screen, and Freak has a big pair of bright green headphones dangling around her neck.

There’s fast food boxes and bags crowding about and a tall mug with a half-eaten stir-fry beside it on the low table.                                   

“There’s food in the fridge and alcohol in the corner cupboard.” Freak waves vaguely, dropping back onto the couch and drawing up her legs.

Hair loose and still damp from a shower and wearing nothing but a large hoodie that ended somewhere mid-thigh. Katsuki’s eyes linger for a moment on the other girl – struggling to merge preconceived notions of her with what she was looking at.

She’d half-expected jars of blood with the way the other fixated near dreamily at the liquid. Instead there were old stains and scratches and the occasional hole.

Over the television is poster with three knives sticking out of it and that, at least, was within the frames of expectancy.

She finds a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard pointed out – stealing along a bar of chocolate she finds in the near-empty fridge and, after a moment of hesitation, sinks down on the couch beside the other and it is small enough that only inches remain between them.

“Dabi keeps some sweats and hoodies in the box there if you want to change,” Freak offers, surprisingly amenably, and Katsuki feels a quiver running through her body, blinking a bit fuzzily at the screen before slowly reaching to get the muscle shirt over her head, dropping it with a clank of metal to the ground.

It takes her three tries to get the belt unmade, button undone and she doesn’t bother with the zipper, pushing it all down to her knees before dropping back to the couch cushion to unlace her boots and wrestle it all down and off her.

Breathes out.

“You don’t really look all that good, you know?” Freak comments with a roll of her shoulder as Katsuki looks up, stilling in place as knees knocks against her own, a body bending down far too close as her muscles coiled up tight.

She hadn’t even noticed her leave the couch.

A hand presses down flat against her chest over a large stretch of a pink burn scar, legs shifting and thighs settling down on either side of hers in a soft and far too intimate straddle, the hoodie rucking up pale thighs, the weight of her and the feel of her skin strange.

“I saw you,” Freak breathes. “Chained up and muzzled like an animal.” Her fingers ghost over her shoulder and down her arm to her wrist, circling around the scar left after the bite of the metal that had dug deep in her struggles. “Blood.” The other girl lifts her hand up and pressed it against her cheek in a soft nuzzle. “I saw that look in your eye.” Knowing eyes bore into hers. “You were afraid. Of the Heroes. And wasn’t that just a reality check of the ages.”

Freak’s eyes practically glitter.

“I’m – going to become the Best,” Katsuki rasps, feeling strange and exposed under the touch and attention of the other, reaching for anger but grasping at nothing. She just felt empty and tired after the day and the buzz of her thoughts left her feeling distant even from her body.

Freak tilts her head and then she lets out a little sigh, dropping Katsuki’s arm and instead pressing forward, arms sliding around her neck and chest pushing up against her own, the swell of her breasts echoing strange to her mind against the flatness of her own.

“The world is going to tear you apart,” she whispers into her ear. “But at least you’re going to break oh so prettily.”

-

Katsuki wakes with a little jerk, stilling in place as she struggles to re-orientate herself, phone buzzing insistently in her pocket with her morning alarm until she manages to fish it out and shut it off.

The first thing that registers is the warmth and she stiffens when she recognises the press of a body against her own, chest rising and falling softly, control still in her lap, the game character shifting and moving her hands occasionally, left in the middle of a wreckage.

A glance at her phone informs her that the time is seven minutes past six and that she needs to be at the Pro-Hero Agency in some ninety minutes.

Katsuki doesn’t like to be touched – it makes her skin crawl, makes everything too real in a world that felt like a bad hallucination on a good day.

And yet there’s something inside of her that hesitates to move away even as she carefully extracts herself, reaching out momentarily to steady the other, a strange feeling in her chest as she carefully draws back and made her way to the bathroom in search of some painkillers to soothe the slight headache that came with drinking, even in some moderation, on an empty belly.

She’d spent the evening listening to the click-clack of buttons and the soft breathing beside her, watching blood splatter violently on the screen, slowly lulled into a strange sort of sleep, tongue heavy with the taste of smoky alcohol and smooth chocolate, head tipping to rest on a soft shoulder.

She stares at herself in the mirror and grimaces at the sight of her flat hair and the dark smudges beneath her eyes.

She takes a shower, taking care to scrub her hair free of stiff products with something that smells of apples, and after a bit of rummaging finds a hoodie and a pair of sweatpants to go with it and shoves her feet into a pair of too big boots she finds at the door before dodging down to the corner store she’d passed by on the way there.

Picks up some egg and bacon and enough ingredients to make pancake, splurging on fresh blueberries and only just remembering to grab a bottle of juice.

Fr-

Toga is still sleeping when she arrives back and Katsuki turns the small plastic radio she finds on low as she starts frying up the first pancake.

-

“Why are you going back if you hate it?” Toga asks around a mouthful of pancakes and hour later, shockingly sharp in the morning, legs tucked up beneath her on the couch, and Katsuki severely doubts she’d slept more than four hours at most, bags beneath her eyes smudged grey. “If I were you I would just –“ She mimes hands pushing together and then spreading out in what was clearly meant to symbolise an explosion.

Toga’s hair is pulled up in the style she’s more used to seeing her in and the softness is nearly completely erased by the sharpness of her eerie eyes and the stretch of her mouth, a fang just peeking forth.

“Don’t have a choice,” Katsuki grunts as she laces up her boots. “And it’s just a week.” She straightens out her muscle shirt, X bright and sharp against the black.

“You Heroes are all about doing things because you have to.” Toga’s eyes lid in a flat sort of look. “Where’s the fun in that?” Her face rearranges into a pout. “I’m leaving in two days, are you really going to pick a Hero over spending some extra time with me?” It’s clearly teasing and Katsuki suspects that if the other had a tail it would have been curling like a cat stalking prey.

Katsuki gives her a flat look.

Toga’s grin grows but she eases back, elbow coming up to lean against the back of the couch and a knife appearing between her fingers. “You can always stab them,” she suggests with an enticing little waggle of the metal. “Teach them not to touch without asking. Just one little poke and they’ll think twice, I promise.”

Katsuki stares at it and Toga’s eyes slowly brightens when she doesn’t immediately say no, abandoning breakfast as she bounces up and kneels down in front of her. “It’s easy to disguise,” Toga says eagerly, clever fingers unlacing her boots and tugging at the flap. “You keep your boots high which means you can either secure it here-“ She lines out the inside of the flap, measuring the knife against it. “I prefer to keep them at the side though – easier to grasp in the middle of a fight.”

“I’m not about to stab Japans Number Four Pro-Hero,” Katsuki comments wryly, watching her with a slight dip of her brow.

“Then stab someone else,” Toga says, uncaringly, sliding the knife into a sheath and stuffing it down her boot with a sloppy bow of the laces and a little pat before she straightens up and drops her rump onto the couch arm, grin sharp. “Never hurts to keep one close. That teacher of yours? He can cancel quirks, right? It’s called having a back-up plan. You never know when a knife might come in handy.”

And the part of her that died twenty-two-years-old and the victim of violent crime really have no words to offer in protest to that.

Toga throws a package of cigarettes at her before she leaves, the clover on the front a welcome promise as she squints up at the tall building of the Number Four Hero in the distance, a sick curl in her belly and a twist of her mouth but– strangely reassured by the metal at her ankle.

-

It is a surprisingly fine thing, Katsuki realises later as she’s securing the knife sheath to the inside of her boot as per the instructions and pic-by-pic how to that had spammed her phone for the last hour of her patrol with Best Jeanist.

The blade is shining, carefully polished and well-cared for in its own way. There’s a little lucky clover carved near the handle, so fine that she didn’t notice until she tilted it just so, the handle dark and leathery – firm and reliable when she carefully wraps her hand around it.

She sends a picture of the knife along side-by-side with her boot where the sheath was now firmly in place and gets a bunch of hearts back, mouth curling slowly up.

“Toga.” She tastes the name carefully. “Dabi.” That one, at least, is familiar.

The entire day had just been a mess and there’s a lidded sort of exhaustion clinging to her after hours of being berated for the way she stood, the way she breathed, the way she handled things, the way she talked, the way she-

Best Jeanist looks at her and he sees nothing more than something that needed to be fixed.

It wasn’t unlike the way both doctors and therapists had handled her over the years. Grasping and making excuses with meds that were supposed to make things right but didn’t because she was no fixing her.

We’re both dead, this is the fundamental basis that makes up Bakugou Katsuki.

There was no way to undo that – her very existence was a fraud, a twenty-two-year-old dead woman and a six-year-old dead little boy crammed together in a too small body and what remained was just bits and pieces she struggled to keep together.

And– she’s doing the best she can. It’s not-

Katsuki feels something wet hit the back of her hand before she scrubs furiously at her eyes, fingers dragging through her damp hair and forehead pressing against the knees she draws up to her chest.

“Fuck.” She stares down at the wooden floor of the hotel room. “Fucking Best Jeanist.” It feels good to say it, cathartic almost as she focuses on her breathing and the wet thu-thump thu-thump of her heart.

Dead but – somehow alive.

She eases her muscles and sprawls out on her back, squinting at the ceiling lamp and wearing nothing but a pair of white boxers. Throws out a hand blindly and after a bit of half-hearted fumbling finds the package of cigarettes with the blue clover against black– draws a cigarette out and strokes her thumb along the fancy black wrap with a cool blue ring.

It was not the kind of brand to be found in the corner store which meant that they were likely tailor ordered, the lack of barcode on the thing telling.

She sniffs it and the sting of mint is a soothing familiarity by now.

The twenty-two-year-old woman had been a social smoker and it had carried along – it wasn’t a habit she indulged in outside her meetings with Dabi. She would ask or he would offer and there would always be at least one rattling around in one of his pockets.

She tucks it behind an ear and raises her hands up above her, signs 《Hero and then 《Jeans》 then 《dumbass》, relishing in the satisfying smack at the end.

Repeats it just because she can.

Katsuki misses the silence. It was easier than the loud world around her – words harsher, faster and spoken without care for what kind of impact they carried with. It was very different from the way she’d navigated one life with a very small social circle and a communication that required full attention.

Few bothered to learn sign language and her parents had died young. There’d only been-

Katsuki closes her eyes.

Opens them.

Decides that, maybe it’s fine to smoke on her own this once as she hauls herself up on her feet.

-

Purple Guy stares at her and Katsuki stares back – the butt of the cigarette trapped between her corner teeth, he with a plastic bag with microwave food dangling from a hand half-stuffed into a pair of dark jeans.

“You’re Bakugou, right?” He’s got a low rough sort of voice and she tenses as he steps forward and into the alleyway instead of continuing past her. “Shinsou Hitoshi,” he introduces himself with a thumb hitched towards his chest.

He’s got a lanky sort of form, lacking in proper muscle strength needed for the Hero Course, and Katsuki doesn’t doubt that, if needed, she could easy take him out but in responding she would activate his quirk which was unacceptable.

She weighs the situation as she reaches for her cigarette, breathing out a trail of smoke before biting down firmly at the butt of it.

《Hello》, she signs and when his brow furrows she can’t resist finger-spelling: 《S-H-I-N-S-O-U-H-I-T-O-S-H-I》 before twisting her fingers into a P and giving it a little shake for 《Purple》 and then tapping her index finger against her temple for 《Mind》.

He gives her a flat unimpressed look and she flashes her teeth around the black cigarette.

Chapter Text

Something Katsuki does not take into account: Purple Guy turns out to be far more stubborn than she knows what to do with and, possibly, pretty bored with his internship.

“Who are you interning with anyway?” he asks her, on her floor, inside her apartment, and she isn’t quite sure how that had come about but she can’t get herself to quite kick him out because-

《B-E-S-T-J-E-A-N-I-S-T》 she fingerspells with one hand before cramming the ice cream cone awkwardly into her mouth, jaw stretched out, before she gave him the 《Hero》 and 《Jeans》 for the call-sign she’d given the Pro-Hero.

"Hero and…” She flicks her eyes to his jeans very deliberately. “Hero Jeans?” he guesses, snorting when she gave him a lazy thumbs up before popping the cone out of her mouth, pointing towards him. “Me? It was pretty last minute… No Hero Internships at the General Studies.” Bitterness, Katsuki observes, flattening her tongue up and over the melting ice cream. “I’m with Slugger.”

Katsuki gives him a blank look.

Purple Guy shrugs. “Low-rank Hero,” he says. “Not much to him. We do patrols, that’s about it.”

《Best Jeanist》, she signs. 《Big C-O-M-P-L-A-I-N-E-R.》 She gives him the proper sign for afterwards before raising her hands up, dropping thumb, index and ring-finger in a pair of devil horns that she raises to her forehead.

Purple Guy’s mouth twitches up in appreciation.

It’s nearing late night and Katsuki turns her head, considering the setting of the sun outside, realising a bit abstractedly that it’s probably the most she’s been talking for… years.

“Only two more days now,” Purple Guy says a bit absently and-

That’s right, isn’t it? Katsuki thinks as the other draws a package of cards from his pocket with a raised brow.

I’ve almost made it.

-

Katsuki’s Internship is a mess of berations and unwanted touch, hands heavy against her head and her protests bitten down because the Pro-Hero isn’t listening anyway and she’s sick of the berations that rise loud and sharp around her inside the Genius Agency, but it’s weighed against the familiarity of signing and the strange camaraderie she finds in the quiet company of Purple Guy who turns up at her door with food and a quiet sort of pushy request in learning.

It should make her wary but there’s a part of her that craves – like discovering the use of a lost limb.

It’s almost addicting.

And, she admits to herself as her mouth flattens, it’s a distraction.

Katsuki follows at the heel of the Pro-Hero, nails digging into her thighs inside her pockets, quite uncaring about the sharp look her slouch had gained at the beginning of their patrol but – maybe the man is quite fed-up with her as well because he hadn’t actually said anything.

Instead she can feel her neck prickle in warning because he’s watching her.

Katsuki slouches deeper, scowl on her face deepening.

Pro-Heroes.

The best of the best, the Heroes of Society, a rising tidal wave of crime fighters. The same people who also appeared on television during commercials, their merchandise sold for good money and some reaching fame just to live a life of luxury.

What’s in a Hero?

Words asked and echoed by a twenty-two-year-old dead woman against the idealised ideas of a dead boy.

I will become the Best.

“Bakugou.” She takes a hard step back when the Hero comes to a sudden halt in front of her, body shifting in that dramatic stance of his, one arm folding over his chest, fingers dragging along the smooth line of his fringe. “Tomorrow is the last day of your Internship.”

She stares up at him, wary.

“What exactly do you think I’ve been attempting to accomplish with you?” His eyes are green and intent and he’s completely ignoring the way people are forced to move around them.

Katsuki knows that, objectively, from what information she’d managed to dig forth on internet, that Best Jeanist is one of the better Heroes out there – his reputation clean and there’s records of him taking hits for fellow Heroes and Civilians and investing time and money in reaching out to high-crime areas in the poorer districts.

He also had a good reputation with troubled youths which Katsuki had gambled on meaning he wasn’t so fucking fast to push only to come face-to-face with the realisation that Best Jeanist didn’t waste a single moment to push.

From the choices offered to her Katsuki had made a decision between Best Jeanist and Gang Orca, lingering but finally unable to resist the top ranking number.

What exactly do you think I’ve been attempting to accomplish with you?

The same thing everyone attempts with me, Katsuki thinks a bit dully, mouth flattening out, wondering exactly what kind of answer he was looking for and what he hoped to accomplish with it.

Eight years of doctors and therapists trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the boy who screamed at the touch of his parents, who howled and swore and struggled and hated and was so angry and so fucking terrified that no one knew what to do with him.

She had found calm in the sea and its silence beneath the surface, a suggestion from a young up-and-coming nurse who had been sympathetic to the child drowning in a too big hoodie, red eyes shining out from beneath its hood, but it wasn’t until Masaru brought home a pair of noise cancelling headphones that some of the world started settling around her from the loud and frightening mess it had become.

Trapped in the hospital bed for weeks during healing – a machine shoved down her throat, forcing the broken body to breathe, caught in a jumble of whatishappeningwhoamiwhoarethesepeoplewhoisitsoloudwhyisitsoloudwhyisitsoloud-

Katsuki’s mouth stretches into an off sort-of smile.

“Make me a Hero I suppose, Best Jeanist-sensei.

-

“You’re late.”

Katsuki pauses, boot barely past the door she’d pushed open before Best Jeanist was pushing past her and she turns on her heel, following along with a sense of being tugged along at a leash.

To her surprise the Hero doesn’t take the path down and out to the street but instead up the stairs and Katsuki frowns in confusion as it opens up to a large gym-like area – nearly the entire floor open, machines of sorts crowding along the wall to be pulled forth when needed.

“You have a graceful and fluid form.” Katsuki blinks, not quite sure she’d heard correctly because- “But you’re stiff,” Best Jeanist continues as she raises her gaze up to him, finding green eyes almost thoughtfully upon her, slightly narrowed. “You draw your shoulders up habitually and I bet your back is all knotted up.” A sigh, fingers gliding habitually over his fringe. “I’m going to work you through a series of stretches and you’re going to memorize them and do them every morning and evening to keep your form relaxed.”

What-?

Best Jeanist beckons for her and Katsuki takes a slow step forward.

“Remove your boots,” the Hero instructs and she slowly does as told, placing them aside before she straightens up. “If you’re comfortable, remove your shirt,” the man says. “Otherwise change into this.” He brandishes his own brand-shirt with Best Jeanist stylishly slanted at the front of it, the entire thing blue with a backdrop of a yellow shadow in his siluette with black belt-like shape to the letters.

She snatches it from his hand and the Hero turns his back to her as she yanks the muscle shirt with the metal at the shoulder over her head and drops it down on the ground, slipping into the surprisingly soft t-shirt.

“Done,” she hears herself voice when he remains politely faced away and he turns back to her with a soft hmm.

“We only have a day,” Best Jeanist says with a sort of flourish as she approaches him on bare feet. “Look at what I do and do your best to copy it.” He lowers himself down with a fluid sort of grace. “Once we’ve gone through it twice you’ll have to do it on your own and I’ll correct anything that might hinder rather than aid.”

She carefully sinks to her knees and for the first time during the entire week there’s something akin to approval in his gaze.

-

“I am going to touch your left shoulder and arm.” Katsuki feels something strange move in her chest at the warning just before hands carefully settles on her, shifting her position just so. “Pay attention to your shoulder blades – when you’re lifting heavy debris during rescue missions you need to stay focused or you’ll risk damaging your spine. This is best accomplished with a straight form, shoulders back and down.”

What changed? Katsuki wonders just a tad desperately as Best Jeanist guides her through the next form. And why now?

I-

-

“Good riddance that sullen, angry boy finally left!”

Tsunagu doesn’t glance back, finger curling around the sharp end of his fringe.

Angry, yes. It had the first thing that had stood out to him when he watched the Sports Festival. That kind of anger was dangerous – was the sort that would end up with either the boy or someone near him dead.

It had felt natural to extend the invitation – knowing very well that the arrogant and angry boy would be hard-pressed to resist such a high-ranking Hero offering a week of Internship. Endeavour was only interested in his son and Hawke was… Hawke.

Naturally the boy had come to him.

I might have made a bad call, Tsunagu admits to himself with a rare sense of regret as he peers out the large windows, brow dipping.

He’d been bothered by the response to his question, the way lips stretched without humour, something dark and off about the red eyes that had spent the better part of five days burning into his back.

It wasn’t until near the morning, when the strange feeling of off-ness had made him revisit the tape from the Sports Festival, that he got a sense for why.

Anger, yes. Tsunagu hadn’t been wrong about that. But behind it…

He breathes out a small sigh.

You have some of the best Heroes in the world looking after you, he thinks as he pushes away from the table, calling for attention as he lets his hand fall down.

Good luck, Ground Zero.

-

Katsuki’s Internship leaves her with a new morning and evening routine, two new phone numbers in her phone and a shirt shoved into the very bottom of her bag.

Seeya later, Purple Guy signs as Katsuki grabs the suitcase containing her Hero uniform and makes for Mitsuki who flips her phone shut at the sight of her, hand rising in a wave and sunglasses pushed up.

An arm loops around her shoulder, pulling her into a one-armed hug with a squeeze. “Did you have a good time?”

“Ah.”

The woman snorts, pulling her just a bit tighter. “Don’t ah me, brat. Details, I want details.

-

Katsuki isn’t quite sure what she feels about being back at U.A. again. There’s a buzz, excitement and disappointment mixing together, the different realities of different Heroes exchanged like gossip while waiting for Aizawa to arrive.

Raccoon Eyes appears at the door opening and she doesn’t waste any time grasping the back of her chair and dragging it with a loud sharp noise that makes several people wince, Katsuki raising a brow where she’s half-slumped with her noise-cancelling headphones in place, chin in palm.

“You,” Raccoon Eyes says with a low voice as she straddles her hair, “wouldn’t believe the Internship I had. Mysteries, all of it very hush-hush.” There’s a wild sort of excitement in her eyes, a brimming sort of thing that is barely contained. “I can’t believe we’re going to be doing it in real-time, Bakugou!” she says, louder.

“You had a good one then, Mina-chan?" Ponytail says beside them and Katsuki pushes one-ear off to keep track of the conversation.

Raccoon Eyes immediately zeroes on her tone. “What happened?” she urges, patting the empty space on the side of the desk.

Ponytail accepts it – a little sigh as she leans forward. “Uwabami-san was far more interested in her modelling work than she was in teaching us anything,” she says in a slight undertone, as if worried about sullying the reputation of the Hero. “She only accepted us because we were cute.

There’s frustration there, carefully hidden, Katsuki thinks, the corner of her mouth dipping down as she stares at the other girl.

Tall, clever, the kind of smart that easily outstripped everyone in the classroom and would have zeroed her on the top-spot if U.A. didn’t naturally rate destructive quirks and capacity to take-out Villains as the number one priority.

Katsuki wouldn’t have been very amused to find herself zeroed out because she was pretty either.

“She didn’t teach you anything?” Raccoon Eyes demands as she straightens up.

“She had us participate in her commercials,” Ponytail admits, lowering her head, a complicated sort of doubt in her eyes. “We didn’t even get to patrol…”

“Maybe-“ Katsuki says carefully. “Talk to Midnight-sensei about it?” she suggests, knowing that most things out of her mouth would sound cheap considering the gender she was presenting as. “She has a whole history of fighting for female Hero rights. She’s the one that got through that a body-suit wouldn’t be standard regulation some years ago - she probably knows some good Agencies for your next Internship.”

Ponytail gives her a surprised look and then a hesitant sort of smile. “That’s a really good idea, Bakugou-kun.”

“Bakugou is fine,” she says, fingers twitching a bit uncomfortably under the attention of her clever eyes.

“You can call me Yaomomo then,” Ponytail offers, smile warming. “Most do.”

“Bakugou here is a real softy beneath all that anger and scowling,” Raccoon Eyes says loudly with a blinding sort of grin that makes Katsuki scowl right back at her. “It’s adorable, really.”  

To her mortification Katsuki can feel the very tips of her ears go red.

“’m not adorable,” she grumbles, slouching lower in her seat and desperately trying to ignore the way Raccoon Eyes coos as she instead focuses her eyes on Ponytail. “’s always going to be idiots,” Katsuki says with a scowl, batting away pink fingers reaching for her ear. “And those who don’t take you seriously. But fuck ‘em.”

The part of her that died twenty-two-year-old deaf woman echoes the words with resolution.

-

Katsuki slouches near the back of the class, listening with half-an-ear to All Might who is loud and boisterous and… there.

She finds herself strangely cold, half-expecting Half-n-Half to be closer by but he’s nearly at the other end of the group and she folds her arms over her chest, scowling at the ground.

She can still feel the bite of the metal, All Might’s loud A HA HA HA, fist on his hip and all gleaming Heroism after he’d forced the medal over her head where she stood chained in front of thousands.

It’s fine now. Why? Because I am here!

Katsuki rubs at her bicep, barely recognising the new groups and the task as she stares a hole into the ground, unaware of the way more than one pair of eyes are looking at her oddly.

-

“-kugou!” A floating blue glove appear within her vision and she halts suddenly, looking up automatically for a pair of eyes and finding nothing.

Decides that it’s strangely awkward to look at where she knows there’s a face only to see the green and brown outline of a tree through her skull.

“What?” she demands.

Gloves moving – arms clearly folding up. “We’re a team,” See Through informs her. “Were you listening to anything All Might-sensei was saying?” she demands.

Not really.

Katsuki scowls at her.

An unimpressed huff of air. “We’re doing tag-teams,” See Through informs her, pointing, and Katsuki reluctantly looks over – studying the teams up ahead before them.

She’d paid enough attention to know she was second to last, Deku teaming up with Sparky against Half-n-Half and Round Cheeks. “It’s a speed thing,” See Through informs her. “We can either take the roof-parts or go through the street, first who gets to the goal in the middle wins.”

Deku already had Sparky on his back, hands curled to steady beneath his thighs, and Round Cheeks touches her quirk to herself to make herself light as air before practically koala-ing herself to a visibly tense Half-n-half who doesn’t really relax until Deku brushes their shoulders together.

Most in the class had some way to move quickly with notable exceptions and Katsuki frowns as she turns back to See Through.

“Yeah, I’m slow,” See Through admits with what Katsuki suspects might be a challenge and a glare from the way her neck prickles. “So you better figure out a way to compensate for it because we both need to cross the finish line for it to count.”

If Katsuki was the kind of person who could accept a loss, even during lessons, she might have just upped and left because it didn’t leave more than one glaring solution and the idea makes her shoulders curl up, mouth flattening.

It’s a tense wait between them as team after team go up against each other with varying success until it’s finally their turn.

Katsuki kicks her shoes off and roughly yanks the hem up, securing it in place. Punk places one booted foot down on the hip of Duct Tape and hoists herself up with a little surprised wobble from him before they stabilize and Katsuki stiffly lowers herself to a crouch, waiting for a good moment, just about to turn her head and snap at her to hurry the fuck up, when arms carefully wrap around her and Katsuki reaches blindly for an invisibly thigh when she feels it press against her right side – easily hoisting See Through up and with her as she straightens up.

“They’re going to take the roof top,” See Through says in a low tone, a whisper of air over her ear.

Normally Katsuki focuses her explosions in her palms – the sweat glands responsible for her explosive chemical in her feet forcefully shut down. But it doesn’t mean she can’t use them and she curls and wiggles her toes, feeling the warm late spring sun above them, the prickle of sweetness stinging sharp from her shoes and feet alike.

“I memorized the map,” See Through continues as Katsuki settles at the white line, ignoring whatever All Might was saying in favour of listening to the low voice of the other. “I think there’s an underground path near the fourth district on the left-side that  will put us nearly directly at the goal.”

Katsuki tightens her grip on invisible thighs.

She had, foolishly so, assumed that See Through was wearing some sort of uniform that filtered to work naturally with her invisibility. Considering the world they lived in it hadn’t seemed like much of a stretch and she hadn’t thought twice about – had had no reason to think twice about it.

But the thigh in her palm is bare, prickling with goose bumps despite the warmth above, and there’s a careful deliberateness to the way the other holds onto her to avoid pushing bare body up against her.

It makes anger, violent and badly tempered, rise inside of her as she scowls furiously out at nothing.

As far as See Through was concerned she was just another teenage boy and the situation is so damn wrong.

Who the fuck allowed this? Katsuki wonders as a gun blows loud through the air and a sharp low explosion goes off, propelling them forward in an explosion of fast steps that jerks them sharply forward, trial and error with additional weight as See Through yanks hard at her to take a left and then a right, skidding and twisting to blow the next step against a wall with a sharp crack to avoid losing momentum.

They skid down to a dark alleyway with eleven minutes to spare and See Through easily slips off her, an invisible force that rucks up the heavy lid and pushes it aside before, Katsuki supposes as she counts to five, trying to follow the shift of noise, slips down, and she takes a slow step forward and when a call comes from below she grabs the metal railings and slides down with an immediate chill that runs from the soles of her feet and up.

It’s eerie.

She knows See Through is there but she can’t fucking see her, even as her nose identifies her somewhere in front of her.

“Down this way,” See Through says and Katsuki squints, grunting as she steps forward, eyes slowly adjusting to the dark, and she can soon make out the puffs of air from the other in front of her as they thread their way down.

“How do you think they’re doing?” See Through asks, the clack of cold teeth just caught. “The additional weight should have slowed them down and navigating by rooftop is always harder…”

There’s a drip drop of liquid, the stone beneath her soles sucking out all heat, and there’s a naked fifteen-year-old girl in front of her.

“Why the fuck don’t you have a costume?” Katsuki demands to a pause of steps that makes her halt, staring blankly out into the darkness, mouth flat.

“Ah, noticed that did you?” And for all that there’s a levity to her words there’s a tenseness there now, her pace picking up as she begins moving. “Apparently it’s really hard to make a fabric suitable for the kind of stealth my quirk allows for,” See Through says as Katsuki follows at her heels. “Most of the class thinks I’ve got one so I’d appreciate if you kept it to yourself.”

Katsuki’s mouth curls down.

“It’s not really that bad,” See Through says and Katsuki really doesn’t believe her. “Aizawa-sensei promised they’d have something for me after the summer and - ah, here it is!”

Katsuki stares up the ladder, lid moved aside and as far as her eyes can see nothing moves or shifts other than the brush of bare feet against metal that her ears picks up on and she frowns as she hoists herself up after the other.

There’s a tense moment where Katsuki’s crouching down before arms are once again wrapping around her and Katsuki very pointedly grabs as close to the knee as she can as she hoists her up.

-

Two minutes later, five minutes before end time, Katsuki is forced to go low, twisting down, one hand lashing out with a measured explosion to makes them glide nearly flat along the ground and below the tape that explodes out of nowhere.

“Hold on,” she grunts and See Through’s arms tightens around her, breasts pushed flat against her back and thighs wrapping tight as she took them through an awkward twist, launching them up and above with a step-by-step between walls, palm out and down as they went over the edge and a loud and violent explosion tears through the air as part of the building burst beneath them, crumbling to shouts below and behind them.

But it doesn’t take long before Duct Tape and Punk is going high behind them, more tape exploding out at their heels, and See Through yanks her left, forcing Katsuki into a shared roll to a grunt in her ear as the other momentarily bears both their weight before they pull up and she lurches over the edge.

“Left-“

Katsuki misses the next step, an unholy noise tooloudtooloudtooloud and it pulses and moves through her, the world narrowing strangely around her, mind locking down and barely recognising the desperate sort of shout muffled by the world that's ringing around her and-

Katsuki distantly recognises that she’s on her knees, See Through heavy on her back, invisible hands over her ears, and she pushes up with a grunt, stumbling forward and pressing her palm blankly against the building the noise was coming from.

Stop, she thinks and the world crumbles around them.

Chapter Text

A curse, the sharp sting of burnt sugar, eyes opening to darkness.

Katsuki becomes aware of two things slowly: she’s sprawled out on her back, a body hovering somewhere above her, legs spread and settled on either side of her waist, practically curled against her, shivering and leeching desperately for warmth in a small tight space.

“What-“

“Don’t activate your quirk-“ The hurried gasp stills one hand, even if it hadn’t been a thought that crossed her mind considering the absolute sickening overwhelming stench of her quirk practically overwhelming around them. “We’re trapped,” the voice continues as Katsuki’s sluggish mind identifies her as See Through. “The building fell down and- I got you out of the way but I think you hit your head, when we went down. You’ve been unconscious for – I don’t know.” A rough swallow. “Do you have any communication device on you? My costume doesn’t exactly come with one…”

Katsuki stares blankly up into the darkness, slowly becoming aware of the pressure on her leg and the pounding headache now that she searches for it.

Everything feels sluggish. Distant.

“You’re cold.” It comes out more slurred than she meant, eyes squeezing shut, and See Through makes a helpless sort of noise somewhere above her.

“I’m naked,” she giggles, just edging on the hysterics. “And we’re underground – I don’t know how far but the building, it took the entire ground with it. It must have been structural unsound or, something. Isn’t that what Ochaco-chan always complains about?” Katsuki’s brow furrows and she reaches up clumsily, finding an arm which she slides up to gently squeeze a muscular shoulder.

“I think,” Katsuki manages as a hand clamps down on hers, desperate for some sort of grounding in a situation neither of them were prepared for, and Katsuki thinks – distantly – that See Through has very calloused hands. “I think there’s an earbud from our first lesson in one of the back pouches. All Might – he never requested it back.”

“You think you can lift your back?” See Through asks with a breath of hope and Katsuki grunts, curling her shoulders down and trying her best not to think too hard about the fact that her leg was very much stuck as she curls her back up, the other pushing herself flat against her front, and the space must be far smaller than Katsuki had first realised because she barely gets inches up before See Through’s back hits resistance against the stone with a muffled noise of strain.

But it’s enough for a hand to grope blindly beneath her, digging into the first pouch, her breath warm against Katsuki’s collarbone. A pause, a crinkle of plastic.

“… Do you keep tampons on you?”

“’s good to have,” Katsuki huffs. “Nose and menstrual blood alike.”

See Through lets out a wheezy sort of disbelieving laugh, curling further to reach the second pouch when the first didn’t reveal anything and her fingers snag and she shifts carefully as she drags it out and Katsuki sinks back against the ground.

“There’s stations right?” See Through murmurs and she feels the way muscles work as the other twists and turns the tiny dial without vision to guide her.

They’re practically squished together and Katsuki thinks that it’s might as well that it’s dark – it’s not nearly as strange to accept the invisibility part of her quirk when all her senses are registering her as there. The smell of sweat, the rise and fall of her chest, the way she’s curling to keep as much as she can of Katsuki while trying to leech of her warmth.

“I don’t think they’re close enough,” See Through says after a long moment and Katsuki gives a small jerk, realizing she’d been dosing off, grimacing a bit as she shifts.

“Nothing to do but wait then,” she mumbles tiredly.

“Suppose so,” See Through says, tense somewhere above her, and Katsuki’s head is swimming and she’s tired which is probably not good but-

“You can rest against me,” Katsuki gets out, aware of the way muscles tenses up. “You’re icy cold and I’m warm. Shared body heat.”

A chest rising and expanding above her and then a careful shift.

“You sure?” See Through asks carefully, tone traced with a careful sort of hesitance. “You’re not exactly the… cuddly type.”

“’m not shitty enough to let you freeze,” Katsuki says tiredly. “And I think I have a concussion.”

“You’re not just saying that to have a pretty naked girl wrapped tight around you?” See Through jokes tensely as she carefully settles down against Katsuki, head turning and ear pressing down near her shoulder as the other draws her arms and legs as tight against her as she can.

The position leaves her acutely aware of the warm breath on her neck, the slight thrum of a heartbeat, but there’s a fogginess to her mind and she’s too tired to think.

“Not exactly interested in girls,” she grumbles.

“You like boys?” See Through asks, voice rising.

“Why the hell do you sound surprised?” Katsuki asks, tufts of short hair tickling her nose as she breathes in.

“I shouldn’t be,” See Through admits, shoulders slowly easing, and Katsuki strongly suspects she might be smiling even as a shiver runs through her body. “Don’t take this the wrong way but your aggression levels really go up around boys so it wasn’t really something I took into consideration.” A pause. “And,” See Through adds, “I think I’ve only seen you willingly hang out with Ashido.”

Katsuki grunts.

“You’re a hard guy to read, Bakugou,” See Through comments, shifting to get as much of her heat as possible. “But I don’t think you’re a particularly bad one.”

-

“… Do you think you could, like, hold me?” See Through asks some fifteen minutes later. “I’m really, really cold.”

Katsuki grunts, shifting carefully, pretending not feel the way sticky blood clings to her arms and hands as she draws the other tight against her.

-

Katsuki jerks awake with the first strip of light hitting her face, eyes opening sharply, squinting as she slowly becomes aware of the noise and- there’s definitively shouting but it’s muffled, as from far above.

On her chest, See Through doesn’t as much as stir and Katsuki tightens her grip on her, arms locked stiff in place as her muddy thoughts struggles to string together.

Light. Noise.

Rescue.

“We’re here-“ it leaves her mouth a rough rasp and Katsuki grimaces but does a second attempt, loosening one hand to reach out and scratch at the tiny stream of light but it’s barely more than a thumb in size and she can’t really make out anything through it from her angle. “Hey- HEY!”

The sound of her voice makes her wince, the noise amplified with the pounding headache, but she pushes through it shouting to a sudden hush, something heavy thudding to the ground and then-

“Bakugou!”

Aizawa-sensei’s voice rings out loud and sharp and Katsuki swallows before echoing his name loudly in response and- suddenly she can hear footsteps and she does it again and again and-

“Bakugou-“ Aizawa’s voice is a balm to her jagged panic, close but still a bit muffled. “Is Hagakure with you as well?”

Haga-?

Katsuki’s mind struggles to grasp and – “Yes,” she gets out. “But she’s unconscious, I think the cold got to her and she’s lost a lot of blood and I don’t know how bad it is. I tried to keep her warm but-“

And, Katsuki recognises distantly, that she’s verging on a panic attack and she snaps her mouth shut, forcing herself to breathe with a quiver that runs through her entire body.

“We’re both here,” she squeezes out wanting outoutout.

“You just need to hold on for a little while longer, Bakugou,” Aizawa’s voice reaches her, gruff but strangely soothing. “We’re working to get you out as fast as we can - Cementoss and Power Loader are both here. Are either of you hurt anywhere?”

“Hagakure’s back and- I don’t know, I think the worst was the cold but it’s dark and I can’t see.” Katsuki shivers, old and tired panic clawing for attention. “My leg – it’s stuck and I think – I think I have a concussion.” It’s a dull sort of realisation that veers against the panic leaving her in a strange sort of dissonance, jerking sharply when she realises Aizawa has been calling for her and-

“’I definitely have a concussion,” she gets out and somewhere above her Aizawa breathes out.

Another voice and- Katsuki knows that voice but she’s tired, See Through cold and shivering even unconscious.

Shivering is good, Katsuki thinks distantly but the why eludes her.

“- kugou, I need you to listen to me,” Aizawa presses in that calm soothing voice, a slight strain in his voice, and Katsuki wonders how many times he’d been forced to repeat himself as she grunts out tiredly. “Are you listening to me?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki forces out. “’m listening.” 

“We’re going to try and widen the hole and get a heat blanket down to you, alright? When that happens I need you to wrap the both of you up in it the best that you can and then press the button at the corner to start it up. Can you do that for me?”

Can you do that for me? What a particular way of phrasing things.

Katsuki thinks she responds but she’s not quite sure.

Can’t quite get herself to care either way.

-

Blanket good, blanket warm.

Clumsy fingers, a guiding voice somewhere around her, urging her push something and-

-

Katsuki jerks blearily to awareness as the weight of her chest is suddenly moving and a questioning sort of noise leaves her mouth, soothed by a palm that brushes gently over her sweaty forehead and she squints up – makes out dark messy hair pulled back into a ponytail and a pair of dark eyes watching her carefully.

“Hey – stay with me, Bakugou,” Aizawa says firmly. “We’re getting you out but we need to remove the rocks keeping your foot stuck first. Everything is going to be fine.”

Fine? Katsuki thinks distantly, recognising more than one Pro-Hero around her. But we’re dead?

“’s she going to be alright?” Katsuki slurs tiredly. “Tried to keep her warm.”

“I know you did,” Aizawa soothes and when she doesn’t jerk away from his touch he keeps petting her, brushing down spikes of pale blond, her eyes dilated and focuses half on him, half past his shoulder. “She’ll be fine. Recovery Girl is looking her over right now. You just focus on staying awake.”

Katsuki grunts, tired, exhausted and confused by the mess of her mind, grasping for the focus of a rough palm.

“Listen to Eraser, little listener,” Present Mic says as he drops down beside them, all leather and grease and handing something to Aizawa that Katsuki can’t quite make out and-

Oh, Katsuki thinks, looking at the moon. It’s night.

She wonders if the sun in the distance is setting or rising, a strange sort of ringing noise in her ears as she grimaces, pushing down with her shoulders to look at her foot only-

Present Mic moves and Katsuki’s attention is diverted by loud yellow hair and eyes that makes her stare, startled at the sight of them without glasses blocking them out and-

Katsuki doesn’t feel very much like herself at all, the feeling hitting her hard as she twists her head and a bag appears in her vision, a shiver running through her, cold sweat beading on her shoulders and forehead, stomach cramping as she throws up a second time and-

A sleeve is tugged down and Aizawa gently wipes her lips clean as Katsuki trembles and-

-

Katsuki is getting really tired of waking up in a jumble but she squints her eyes at the bright light, turning and looking down at the chair and the woman slumped over on her bed, categorizing the pale blonde hair and wan face, worry lines and dark smudges beneath her eyes.

It’s hard not to feel like an imposter when she keeps causing nothing but trouble for the parents who loved their son more than anything else – even after he’d died and ended up not quite right.

She slowly pushes herself up, realising that someone had changed her out of her training gear and into a soft t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants, both with the U.A. logo stylised on them.

Touches her hands to her ears and carefully removes the headphones.

Mitsuki’s chest keeps rising and falling, phone clutched in her hand and a call counting minutes on the screen. It was likely, Katsuki thinks a bit distantly, she’d fallen asleep talking to Masaru who was out of the country on job business.

She winces as she shifts her leg but she leans forward and carefully slips it out of the woman’s hand, pulling it up to her ear.

“Tou-san?” she asks quietly.

There’s a sudden thud, a scramble and a hasty excuse to someone before-

“Katsuki,” the breath of relief makes her squeeze her eyes shut, drawing her knees up as best as she can as she rests her forehead against them. “You’re awake. Mitsuki-“

“She’s asleep,” Katsuki says quietly. “How long…?”

“It took them almost twenty hours to get you out,” Masaru admits tensely through the phone and it’s rattling to hear the clear strain behind the admittance. “There were structural damage before your lesson and what should have collapsed a wall ended up concaving the very ground you were standing on. It was no-ones fault.”

Something eases slowly inside of her at the words and she swallows.

“Hagakure-“

“She lost a lot of blood and that coupled with the cold slowed down her heartrate which is why she was hard to rouse. Recovery Girl sent her home some hours ago. She’s going to be missing the rest of the week as she rests up but other than that she’s fine. The other two you were competing against managed to get out of the way and weren’t hurt.”

“That’s… that’s good.” A quiver runs through her shoulders.

“That teacher of yours, he’s quite something,” Masaru says through the phone. “He stuck with you through the entire thing, Mitsuki said. Not even All Might did that! He had to leave when lessons started up but he was down for lunch and afternoon classes should be over soon. It’s likely he’ll stop by again.”

Katsuki appreciates the heads-up, she does.

“When can I go home?” she asks tensely.

“I think I’ll be the one to answer that,” an elderly voice comes from beside her and Katsuki opens her eyes, turning to look at the woman as the curtain was yanked aside and she gave her desk a little kick, gliding close on a chair with wheels, cane folded over her lap.

“Can you put me on speaker?” Masaru requests quietly and Katsuki slowly removes the phone, pressing the button in question.

“Masaru-san,” Recovery Girl says in acknowledgement, receiving a greeting back. “How are you feeling?” This she directs to Katsuki.

“My headache is gone,” she admits, fingers curling around the telephone, taking comfort in familiarity. “My foot still hurts a bit but that’s it.”

“You were lucky,” Recovery Girl tells her. “You’ll make full-recovery. I want to keep you for an hour more to make sure you’re not feeling any adverse effects from the concussion now that you’re awake. My quirk healed up the worst of it and removed the pressure on your brain but the body always needs a bit of time to stabilize. It is likely you’ll be feeling a bit dizzy to and from in the following two or three days. Anything worse than that and I want you to let me know immediately, is that understood?”

Katsuki nods a bit tensely.

“Katsuki, words.” Masaru’s light reminder makes her jaw clench.

“Yes, ma’am,” she says grudgingly. “Thank you.”

The Pro-Hero merely smiles. “Gummy bears?” she offers, proofing her hand, and Katsuki slowly reaches out to take a handful.

“Mitsuki fell asleep some two hours ago,” Masaru says through the phone. “Let her sleep, if you can.”

“I will,” Katsuki says quietly, pushing the phone back from speaker mode and pressing it up against her ear.

“Good.”

Katsuki stares down the bed, pressing the phone just a bit closer, knowing that-

“I love you,” Masaru says and her fist clenches white-knuckled around the silvery device. “I’m glad you’re alright. I’ll see you soon, son.”

The conversation ends with a soft click.

-

Katsuki is playing around with an old mobile game on Mitsuki’s old flip-phone when the door opens up and she raises her head, finding Aizawa-sensei stepping inside, hair dark and messy, a hand dragging absently thorough it as he greets Recovery Girl.

But his eyes are on her and Katsuki isn’t quite sure what to feel as the elderly Pro-Hero gives Aizawa’s knee a pat before trotting out, closing the door behind her.

Katsuki takes comfort in the sleeping form of Mitsuki as her teacher approaches, sinking down on the spinning chair left in the other Hero’s wake, a slight slouch, his eyes hard to read as she flips the phone close, trapping it between her palms.

Aizawa glances briefly to Mitsuki before focusing his eyes steadily on hers. “So you’re awake.”

Katsuki remembers a soft hand against her forehead and a calm soothing voice amidst fragmented confusion.

Isn’t sure what to feel.

“We’re tearing down the entirety of the city training ground and rebuilding it,” Aizawa tells her. “Nedzu is overseeing it himself. Something like this won’t happen again.” He sounds exhausted but it’s the only clear read she gets of him – there’s a hard sort of emotion to place in the depth of his eyes. “You did good,” he tells her. “All things considering.”

You did good, words that echo strange, her gaze lowering, a slight furrow to her brow.

There’s a gap between them – drawn in the aftermath of the Sports Festival and Katsuki isn’t sure what to feel about her moment of vulnerability caught by him and even soothed and she swallows, neck warm, words stuck strangely in her mouth as she stares down at the green covers.

“I hope,” Aizawa says after the silence has stretched for a long time between them. “That you know that you can come to me if there’s anything you’re worried about.”

Katsuki isn’t quite sure what to answer and ends up saying nothing at all.

-

“Before you leave,” Recovery Girl says, as Mitsuki has left after a reassuring kiss to her forehead to fetch the car and pull it up to the entrance, “I want a quick word with you.”

Katsuki tugs the last knot in place on her sneakers, straightening up and frowning at the slight crease in Recovery Girl’s brows.

“Eraserhead helped me change you out of your clothes.” Katsuki’s stomach twists, knowing with sudden clarity what exactly she was inching towards. “The scars on your body-“

“Are none of your fucking business,” Katsuki bites out, lips pulling back to reveal sharp white teeth.

Recovery Girl pauses and then sighs. “I thought you might say as much,” the elderly Pro-Hero says. “If I honestly thought it was the cause of abuse I would have contacted the police.” Katsuki goes tense under sharp eyes. “But I suspect that, in your situation, I might just end up doing you more harm than good. Whoever caused that, I don’t think it was your parents.”

“Mitsuki and Masaru are good people,” she snarls.

Recovery Girl huffs. “Calm yourself, boy.” She taps her cane against the ground and Katsuki gives her a flat look of dislike. “I just told you I didn’t suspect them. Those burns – they’re undeniable quirk made. There’s few out there who could manage such a hot and precise thing.”

Katsuki remains tense, jaw clenched tight. “So what are you going to do?” she demands.

“For now? Nothing.” Recovery Girl admits with the sort of reluctance that gnawed at her professionalism. “The contract you signed upon entrance to U.A. prevents me from telling your parents and unless in the suspicion of abuse I am not allowed to act but I want you to be aware that there are help here if you need it. U.A. will never turn those in need away. But." She pins him in place with a stern look. "If you find yourself hurt like that again I want you to come here. I won't ask questions but burns can be tricky and they carry a high-chance of infection."

Considering the risk of the Hero Course contracts had been drawn to allow children the final say in their eventual withdrawal and granted a sort of guardianship contract to the class teacher. Aizawa was the only one Recovery Girl was legally allowed and required to share all of her history with and in a situation where Mitsuki and Masaru couldn’t be reached then Aizawa had the final say.

He even had the right to overrule when if he suspected they were making a bad call but it was the kind of power that was seldom put in motion past praxis.

It was a fine-printed thing at the end of the contract, carefully worded. It was partly to prevent parents from pressing legal actions when students, unavoidably, got hurt somehow or the other against each other or against teachers but it was also to prevent outside influence in forming their future Heroes.

Katsuki stares at her for a moment longer before grasping her bag, ignoring the slight dizziness with a grimace as she steps out, closing the door firmly behind her.

-

Katsuki feels another headache coming on when she turns her phone on after dinner, blueberry pie half-forgotten on the TV-table as she scrolls through the new group-chat she’d been invited to by Raccoon Eyes.

It looked like some kind of class group-chat and the mess of nicknames stares back at her, messages short-hand and full of emoji’s.

She leaves the group after scanning through enough to note Invisibly Girl’s expressed relief at being home, followed by many reassurances and badgering about her own health and Katsuki was so not dealing with that.

Her phone buzzes near two seconds later.

RACCOON GIRL: YOU LIVE.

RACCOON GIRL: I saw you in the chat!

RACCOON GIRL: Or, rather, leave the chat.

An emoji with a sweat-drop followed the massage, sheepish looking, Katsuki decides after a moment of squinting at it.

RACCOON GIRL: Are you OK?

She writes a short message letting the other know she was fine and yes she was home.

Hesitates, but takes a picture of the blueberry pie and after a long moment of hovering her thumb over the send-button clicks it and backtracks out of the conversation and opens up the next.

PURPLE GUY: You’re just extra enough to drop an entire building on yourself, aren’t you?

Katsuki stares at the message before snorting.

BAKUGOU: I live for your care.

She doesn’t have time to back out before her phone buzzes rapidly in several short-hand messages.

RACCOON EYES: I’m glad to hear you’re alright <3

RACCOON EYES: I mean, they do say some people are too dumb to die.

PURPLE GUY: U’re too dumb to die so

RACCOON EYES: And only a dumbass manages to be back two days before-

PURPLE GUY: I guess it must be a real strain carrying around all that dum-

Katsuki twitches and shoves her phone down and under the couch pillow with a scowl, grabbing for her cooled blueberry pie.