It starts with a comment from Elbows.
“You know what’s weird?” he says, after Katsuki grudgingly allows them a break from what Flat Face dubs ‘a tutoring session from hell’.
“How Present Mic-sensei is making us write poems in English?” Shitty Hair cradles his namesake in his hands. “How do I think about words that rhyme and also make sense? They have too many words and I can’t remember any of them.”
“I think he just wants inspiration for his rap segment,” Elbows pats his shoulder. “But no, I was thinking more about how Bakugou got such a cute nickname.”
Katsuki’s palm sparks up. “Hah?”
“Right!?” Black Eyes shoots up from where she was faceplanted against the table, suddenly filled with energy. “He must have been a cute kid if Midoriya managed to come up with something so sweet!”
She’s barely dodges the pencil Katsuki throws at her. “First of all,” he fumes. “That shitty nerd didn’t come up with shit. I did.”
“Eh?” echoes the peanut gallery.
“You!?” Elbows looks at him in disbelief. “No way you agreed with something so cute!”
Black Eyes nods frantically. “Right? Right!? Is it possible that… Bakugou’s actually got a cute side to him?”
The table starts to smoke. “Shut up or I’ll torch your pathetic excuse of an assignment.”
“Do you think sensei would accept it if I told him a dog burned our homework?” Drooly wonders thoughtfully.
It takes both Shitty Hair and Elbows to hold Katsuki back from committing murder.
“I think we should get back to work,” the redhead suggests as the other patrons of the restaurant begin to glance at them warily.
“I hope you all fail,” Katsuki seethes.
Elbows looks amused. “Won’t that reflect badly on you? Since you’re helping us?”
Black Eyes smacks a hand over his face hard enough to leave a handprint there, successfully minimizing Katsuki’s desire to shed blood a tiny bit. “Wait! Wait! I still want to know how Bakugou ended up thinking up of such a cute nickname!”
He folds his arms, scowling. “Quit makin’ such a big deal out of it. Deku used to need speech therapy with how badly he couldn’t talk. His stupid shit baby teeth couldn’t say ‘tsu’ and Kacchan was the only thing he could say that didn’t sound completely stupid.”
There was only so much Kachuki and Kasshuki and Kadsuki—that was the worst one of them all—he could tolerate before thinking up of something that even Deku’s stupid baby mouth could say.
“Dude,” Shitty Hair’s eyes sparkles. “That’s so manly.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t stopped him from calling you that, though.” Elbows comments. “It kind of clashes with your image, doesn’t it?”
Katsuki snorts. “All it does is serve as a reminder that Deku’s a stupid incompetent baby who couldn’t do something as simple as saying my name. If people are foolish enough to underestimate me from a nickname, then that’s their own problem.”
He’s met with a bunch of surprised stares.
“What?” he snaps defensively.
“That’s oddly mature coming from you.” Drooly remarks.
“If you wanted to die so badly, you coulda just said so.”
“You’re kind of sweet on him in your own way, huh?” Black Eyes muses.
Ignoring Katsuki’s dangerous snarl, the other three nod. “They’ve even been a lot friendlier after their fight last year.”
“I mean, I did doubt you were childhood friends in the beginning because of how you two behaved,” Shitty Hair at least has the decency to speak like Katsuki is part of the conversation, but he’s no less furious that this is even a point of subject. “But the longer I’ve known you both, it’s almost as if you guys were always aware of each other in this weirdly connected way.”
Drooly shudders. “Right? I’d hate having to face them in a team. They’re like, always creepily in sync even though it feels like they’re always having two completely different conversations.”
“Yeah, like last year’s Sports Festival.” The redhead agrees. “When we had to pick partners for the Cavalry Battle. Pretty sure the main reason I even got Bakugou to agree was ‘cause I told him I could help take Midoriya down.”
Katsuki slammed his book shut, collected his bag, and storms out of the booth. “I’m out of here.”
“Huh? Wait! Bakugo! We still need your help!”
“Not my problem!”
He ignores every single call of his name as he quickly made his way out of there, heart drumming in his chest as the conversation replayed itself in his head.
Garbage. What a load of garbage. Him and Deku? With some kind of subconscious understanding? Bullshit. There was no way Katsuki could ever be associated with something s—
Katsuki feels his brain stutter for a solid second. “Hah!?”
The two nameless schoolgirls look at him, startled. “I...I’m sorry?”
“Shut up!” He snaps automatically, anger roaring to cover his mortification. “You’re noisy!”
As he raced out of there, the two girls could only look at each other in bewilderment.
“W-what was that about?”
“Hmph, no clue. Maybe his girlfriend broke up with him? Serves him right.”
He doesn’t know how he gets back to the dorms, but he finds himself with too much noise in his head as the elevator takes him up.
Just where the hell was all this nonsense about romance coming up all of a sudden? First Deku with his stupid pointless relationship and now the ridiculous talk about his so called connection to Deku that sounded so—
The doors slide open. “Oh! Hi Kacchan!”
“You look stupid,” is the first thing that comes out of Katsuki’s mouth as he gets a proper look at him.
Deku flushes, self-consciously fiddling with his tie. “I-it’s too much isn’t it?”
“You going to some kind of conference or something?”
“No…” he mumbles.”I… um. I’m going on a date.”
With Uraraka, his mind supplies helpfully. He feels his jaw tighten. “Oh?”
“Y-yeah,” the tie was beginning to look like a mangled mess. “We’re going to go see the new Godzilla movie, and I was thinking we’d go get some boba since she was talking about it the other day. But… oh, do you think it might be too late by now? Maybe the craving has passed and she might not—”
“Shut up,” Katsuki scowls. “That wasn’t an invitation to unload your anxiety onto me.”
The other boy wilts, looking down at his ever present red shoes. “Sorry.”
Something ugly coils in his chest at that despondent face. It pisses him off.
“Shut up.” Scowling deeper, he slaps away scarred hands from fiddling with the lame tie any further. “Why the hell do you always look like Auntie dressed you?”
He undoes the pathetic knot and pulls it off of Deku all together, jerking at the blazer next. “Take this off. You ain’t some actor going for the first screening.”
“O-okay,” Deku's voice strains, colouring even further as Katsuki pops the first few buttons of his blouse open. “Wh-Kacchan!”
“I said shut up!” Katsuki growls, stopping after the second one and messing with his collar a bit so that they laid against his neck. He untucks it from the confines of Deku's pants after that, ignoring the other boy’s mortified noises as he went on to roll his sleeves up to expose his forearms.
“I can do it, Kacchan!” he paws at Katsuki’s grip, yelping as he gets pinched for his troubles.
Katsuki ignores him, mussing up the ridiculous hairstyle that the nerd undoubtedly wasted a lot of time on to gel down. “There. Now you no longer look like a salary man.”
“You really didn’t have to do all of this,” Deku subconsciously reaches up to smooth his hair back down, only to make another stupid sheep noise as Katsuki smacks his hand away yet again. “I thought you were done!”
“I am, and I’m not having you ruin it all over! You’ve done enough!”
The nerd had the audacity to give him an exasperated look, but Katsuki thinks he hates the tender smile that follows after it even more. “Thanks, Kacchan.”
His stomach flutters for some reason. Ugh. He knew that curry was suspicious. “Whatever. Chill out, s’just a stupid outing. You went to lots of those before.”
“Mmh,” Deku scratches the back of his neck. “I guess I am overthinking it a bit. It’s just… we usually have other people with us, too.”
“Well tough shit. You oughta get used to it if you wanna go on more than one date. And change your shoes.” That’s what was so off-putting about this whole thing. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen Deku without those fire engine red shoes strapped to his feet.
The nerd blinks up at him, and Katsuki was really starting to get annoyed at all the surprised looks people kept giving him today. “What?”
“N-nothing!” Deku shakes his head, waving his hands frantically.
Irritated, Katsuki makes his way out as they reached his floor. “Tch.”
Despite himself, he stops, and glares over his shoulder. “What now?”
It’s too late to realise the mistake it was as he’s faced with the full brunt of Deku’s bright smile, all soft eyes and looking more than a little decent after Katsuki’s intervention.
“Thank you again.”
The doors slide shut, leaving him with realisations he’d rather not have.
Katsuki is normal.
Sure, he’s rougher than most people can handle, but they’re weaklings and it’s not like he cares to know them anyway.
That aside, he’s normal. He’s got a strong quirk, he’s smart, he’s hardworking, he’s a force to be reckoned with, and he’s going to be a number one hero that surpasses All Might.
He can’t be gay.
So why him? Why Deku?
No, this was a mistake. It has to be. There was no way he was gay. Sure, he's never been interested in any girl before, but his eyes never wandered over to the other boys in their class in the changing room either.
And Katsuki has never once wanted to dress up like a girl, or wear makeup, or behave flamboyantly effeminate in any matter. There had to be some other explanation.
He refuses to be the subject of gossip his mother talks about during shitty dinner chatter. To be the subject of conversation for any other housewife out there.
The next punch comes with an explosion, breathing haggard. The sandbag swings back. He catches it between smoking palms, telling his shitty body to stop trembling, to stop being so shameful and weak at such a public setting.
“What,” he grits out, refusing to turn around to look at him. That shitty nerd had done enough.
“Nothing! I just... didn't expect you to be out here this late. Aren’t you usually in bed by now?”
“Hah? You’re such a stalker.” Katsuki accuses, ignoring that it's a fact that everyone in their dorm knows. He's never been caught out past 8 in the evening.
But that’s exactly what he’s been doing these past few nights, since any attempts of sleep evaded him.
“That’s not—!” The nerd protests. “Everyone knows you’re usually asleep by this time, is all!”
“Why do you care?” Katsuki snaps, finally forcing his glare over to Deku.
He regrets it immediately at the sight of those green eyes, large and observant and seeing straight through Katsuki like they always seem to have.
It feels like he knows, even though Katsuki is aware there’s no way he could.
“I know this is something you have a hard time understanding," he says carefully, but Katsuki bristles nonetheless. “But I have always cared about you, Kacchan. I was just curious, is all.”
There’s a crushing weight in his chest, and his jaw locks up tight. Deku’s sharp eyes continued to assess him, curls tumbling to one side as he tilts his head. “It’s not that I’m saying you can’t be out at this time, I'd be a hypocrite to say that. It’s just… you’ve been acting a little strange lately. You… know you can talk to me, right?”
He never said it, but Katsuki hears the hidden question loud and clear.
Are you okay?
“Hah?” He growls, hearing his heartbeat pound loudly in his ears. “You’re delusional. I’m acting the same as I always have.”
Deku looks doubtful. It pisses him off.
“I am,” The lie sits sour on his tongue. Whirling around, He tries to ignore feeling like he's running away as he stomps off to collect his gym bag. “Maybe you’re the one who oughta get some sleep. You’re dreamin’ awake.”
A scarred hand encloses around his bicep. Katsuki barely refrains from blasting him.
“Anytime you need me,” Deku says, firm and serious. “I’m here, Kacchan.”
Katsuki jerks his arm away. “Don’t touch me.”
He feels Deku’s concerned gaze follow him as he exits, arm tingling from Deku’s touch.
Katsuki's face feels hot, feeling like a cowardly and humiliated as his vision begins to swim.
Anger’s a secondary emotion. People only get angry when it’s triggered by something else, like hurt or frustration or sadness.
Katsuki is comfortable with anger. It’s easy. It kept him from being vulnerable when he was forced to deal with his own weaknesses, but not even that is enough to keep Deku at bay. Because it’s always been Deku who keeps trying to see him through it, because he insists on shattering Katsuki’s defenses to expose his fragility.
The dreams continue. And each time, Deku’s face continues to twist in disgust.
That’s gross, Kacchan.
His chest goes tighter and tighter. Feels like he’s suffocating. It’s all he wants to do to gulp in air and stop feeling like he’s fucking drowning.
And he can’t.
He doesn’t know what to do.