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A Good Old-Fashioned Tattoo AU

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“I can’t believe you talked me into this shit.”

“Hey,” Kirishima said with an easy laugh as he slung his arm over Katsuki’s shoulders. “It’s not like you’re the one getting the tattoo.”

“No, but you want my ass to sit with you for the next five hours or some shit while you get yours.”

Ashido thumped into Katsuki’s side with enough force to send Kirishima stumbling away.

“What villain stuck a gauntlet up your ass, Bakugou? The least we can do is enjoy the sheer amount of pain Eijirou is about the willingly put himself in.”

“She’s not wrong,” Sero said, tossing a toothy grin over his shoulder as he kept a few steps ahead with Kaminari. “Do we know a joy greater than watching Kirishima purposely injure himself?”

“Denki hurting himself,” Ashido said, linking her arm with Katsuki’s, even as he had to shake his head and smirk.

They rounded the corner onto a side street, away from the main bustle. A neon green sign buzzed in the short distance, a poison color that enticed them forward. Evening had fallen with the later October nights, the sky a deep bruised blue of Katsuki’s hip and thigh from his last battle.

Katsuki scowled as he noted the entirely blacked-out window fronts. What was the appeal of these places? Or tattoos in general? A waste of time and money.  When Kirishima had told him the plan of getting a full back tattoo and the sheer cost of it, Katsuki had felt more faint than he would have if faced with a dozen villains.

“Looks shady as fuck.”

“Not as shady as your wardrobe.” Ashido beamed and held the door open for everyone to file through.

“Fuck you.” Katsuki scowled as he stepped inside. “I like black.”

“Me too,” said a smooth, melodic male voice from inside the establishment.

“Who asked you?” Katsuki said as he rounded on the nosy –

Katsuki blinked. The din of friends shucking their coats, chatting, and laughing faded out like the floor had plummeted from Katsuki’s feet and he was in freefall. Stomach in his throat, his hears deaf in a white noise hush, Katsuki saw the other person’s lips part in his own level of shock.

Deku wasn’t scrawny anymore, was all Katsuki could think at first.

His shoulders were wide, his once slight figure thick and stocky and hard. His arms – covered from shoulder to wrist in the strangest most dizzying geometric shapes Katsuki had ever seen – were defined with muscle and sinew, biceps stretching against the fabric of his thin black t-shirt.

The second thing Katsuki zeroed in on was that hair. Shaved completely at the sides, left in wild curls atop his head, the deep green shot through with slivers and shocks of the same neon green of the shop sign. A line of piercings down the cartilage of one ear. Unfamiliar jaw, now wider and sharper. Eyebrows thicker and more dramatic, though just as straight and serious.

Then Deku smiled, warm and welcoming, familiar forest eyes lighting up with recognition and enthusiasm, and the freefall stopped, landing Katsuki hard in the present.

That smile was the same. Eyes, freckles, single dimple in the right cheek.

“Deku,” Katsuki said, not a question.

“It’s been forever, Kacchan!”

Without warning, without the ability to mentally guard himself from the onslaught, Deku was pulling Katsuki into a quick bear hug, surprisingly large hand slapping him on the back. Stunned, Katsuki remained stuck in place, his hands up and hovering at Deku’s back, though unable to return the embrace.

The top of Deku’s head reached his nose, and his hair smelled like summer rain.

Deku ?” Ashido said with a snort of a laugh from across the cramped space. “That’s not a name.”

Kacchan ?” Kaminari said, boggling at Katsuki as they parted from their hug.

Shut up ,” Katsuki snapped, glaring fire at Kaminari. “You sound like an idiot.”

“But he said –“

“He’s Deku,” Katsuki said, as if that explained it all. “I never had a choice.”

Deku laughed, and that wasn’t a sound Katsuki had ever really heard. A grown man’s laugh from him. That was – something. His belly did a flip.

“This is amazing,” Deku said, eyes practically sparkling as he gazed up at Katsuki. For the first time in a long time, Katsuki felt like the hero he’d aimed to be. From that one look alone. “I can’t believe Ground Zero just walked into my tattoo shop. I can’t believe you’re here. This is incredible, this is –“

“Bakugou,” Ashido said, hands on her hips. “You gonna introduce us or what?”

“Like hell I am,” Katsuki said blandly, his shoulders bunched and tight from his unending close proximity to Deku. He needed air like yesterday.

Deku grinned from beside him and held out a hand to Ashido.

“I’m De–“ Deku’s cheeks colored. “Midoriya. Midoriya Izuku. This is my shop. Looks like you brought the entire crew, Kirishima.”

“Uh.” Kirishima went as red as his hair, and Katsuki’s eyes narrowed as he looked from Kirishima to Deku, who was shaking hands with everyone. “Yeah. That’s Ashido. Sero, Kaminari. And I guess you – know, um, Bakugou?”

Deku tossed a smile over his shoulder, eyes lingering on Katsuki’s carefully blank expression.

“We were childhood friends. From babies. Then UA happened and, well –“ A shadow crossed Deku’s face just as he turned away from Katsuki, and something clenched in his chest.

The notebook, burning in Katsuki’s fist.

“Then we went our separate ways,” Deku said lightly, already gesturing to the black leather couch placed against the front window. “Why don’t you guys hang out here while I bring Kirishima back and show him the final product?”

“Will we be able to hear the screams from here?” Sero asked, smiling.

Deku rolled his eyes in good nature, jerking a thumb towards the traditional silk partitions that separated the long, thin room.

“I have a feeling Kirishima isn’t the type to scream –“

“Not from what I hear,” Ashido mumbled, gaining a sputtering laugh from Kaminari.

“Mina!” Kirishima said, rubbing his hands over his bright face.

“But we won’t be far, no. You guys can come in and look at the progress from time to time, but there’s really not enough room for all you.”

“Bakugou will stay with me,” Kirishima said, grinning at Katsuki.

Deku looked to him curiously and Katsuki shrugged.

“Apparently.”

“I wouldn’t have pegged you two for friends,” Deku said with a smile. “That’s cute.”

“The fuck’s cute about it?” Katsuki snarled, trailing behind as Deku led the way toward the back.

“I know you saw the outline of the piece a couple of days ago,” Deku said to Kirishima, as if Katsuki hadn’t spoken. The three of them disappeared behind the partition, and Katsuki remained at a safe distance as he watched Deku bend over his desk to rustle through a few papers. “So I think you’re going to love the completed piece.”

Katsuki’s attention trailed down the line of Deku’s back to –

Fuck. What was wrong with him?

“Wow.” Eyes huge, Kirishima held the large sheet up to his face. “Wow. Midoriya you’re – this is – this is everything I wanted.”

“Manly enough?” Deku said, sidling up beside Kirishima, shoulder to shoulder as he titled his chin to beam at Kirishima.

The way Kirishima turned his head slowly, their faces close, and stared at Deku like a deer in the headlights sent every alarm blaring in Katsuki’s body.

Katsuki scoffed out loud, folding his arms across his chest as he glowered at the two of them. They’d obviously met more than once previous to this appointment. Probably to talk designs or whatever. Who was Katsuki to give a flying fuck? He didn’t even know Deku.

This Deku apparently owned a tattoo shop? This Deku smiled with confidence and carried himself with strong shoulders and steel posture. This Deku spoke like he wasn’t afraid of the backlash, and he certainly didn’t shrink into the shadows. This Deku was a Deku that Katsuki didn’t know.

So, it was none of his fucking business.

“Show me that thing,” Katsuki said, stomping over and snapping the paper from Kirishima’s hands. “Since when did you ever draw, De –“

Katsuki’s eyes widened.

The traditional Japanese dragon was terrifying. Razor-sharp claws, twisted, serpentine body poised to strike, soulless, empty eyes, and cavernous maw ready to swallow a man whole. The shading was intricate to the point where Katsuki couldn’t even begin to envision it on skin.

For the first time, Katsuki could comprehend why someone might want a tattoo. If the art was like this.

“That’s. Something.” Katsuki handed the paper back to Deku, avoiding eye contact. “When are you starting? I’m not looking forward to five hours of this shit.”

“I don’t know.” Deku’s lips quirked as he surveyed Katsuki from head to toe, a slow elevator stare. “I think it’ll be nice to catch up with the big hero.”

Katsuki scrunched his face up.

“Whatever. Let’s just get this goin’.”

Katsuki sat around, fiddling on his phone while not looking around at all. Instead, he surreptitiously watched Deku prep the piece on Kirishima’s back, just the simple original lines of the dragon. Kirishima laid on the padded, black table and pillowed his head, his face toward Katsuki’s.

On the opposite side of the table was Deku, head bowed, expressive mouth in a soft pout, his thick, dark lashes lowered as he drew the first line.

“How’s that?” Deku said, low, soothing, already seemingly in a headspace.

“I’ve had a lot worse,” Kirishima said with a light laugh.

“Bet you have,” Deku said, not without a tinge of sympathy to his words. Empathetic bastard as ever.

They’d barely begun, only ten minutes in when the sound of dashing feet rushed towards the partitions. Ashido stuck her head around, her eyes wide.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said breathlessly. “But did you say you were Bakugou’s childhood friend? Like, the only friend he’s ever mentioned in passing, friend?”

“I had other friends!” Katsuki clenched his hand around his phone to keep from launching it at her head.

“No, but –“ Ashido came around and propped a sharp elbow on Katsuki’s shoulder for a leaning post as she considered Deku’s befuddled face. “But you’re him, right? You’re him. The nerdy one who wanted to be a –“

The chair scraped back and clattered as Katsuki stood, whirling to clamp a hand over Ashido’s mouth.

“Shut up and go away,” Katsuki said through gritted teeth, his nose up to Ashido’s. “You’re noisy.”

“It’s fine,” Deku said, his voice light.

Katsuki snapped a look over his shoulder, hand still covering Ashido’s loud mouth. Deku had already returned to his work, head bowed.

“I wanted to be a hero more than anything. But we all have more than one calling in life. And when I’m not working nights in my shop, I’m letting other individuals handle the day hours while I study for my degree in social work. I’ll still do my part in this world.”

“Deku –“

“And hey,” Deku said with a short laugh as he glanced up, held Katsuki’s gaze. “It’s not like I haven’t chased down a few purse-snatchers in my day. I do what I can when the opportunity arises.”

“You’re amazing,” Kirishima whispered, his eyes glazed over with awe.

“Don’t be disgusting,” Katsuki muttered, releasing Ashido from his hold and moving to pick up his upturned chair.

“I can’t believe you’re the only person Bakugou has ever mentioned in all the years –“

“I’m going to rip your tongue out put it on my fucking mantel if you don’t walk away – now.”

“You talked about me?” Deku said, not looking up from his work.

“Barely,” Katsuki said, lying. There was the time he’d gotten drunk and –

“I figured you’d forgotten. I mean, until I saw you see me. Then I knew.”

Katsuki sat down with a thump, aiming a dirty look at Ashido until she backed away slowly with her hands up in peace. Her grin told him this wasn’t over.

“How the fuck would I forget my entire childhood, dumbass,” Katsuki said, slumping in his seat and crossing his arms.  He stared at the raucous curls atop Deku’s head, the green lightning shot through it.

“Yeah, I guess,” Deku said quietly.

“You two were good friends?” Kirishima said, staring at Katsuki with an expression he couldn’t quite place.

“He was my best friend, anyway,” Deku said with a short laugh. “I don’t know about –“

“He was my best friend,” Katsuki said. “For a long time.”

Deku looked up, then. Their eyes held.

“Yeah,” Deku said. “For a while.”

“For a while,” Katsuki said.

Shit. This was going to be a long five hours.

 

“How’re you feeling?” Deku said, wiping down Kirishima’s back with a damp paper towel. Katuski watched him roll one of his muscled shoulders and crack his head from side to side. Hunched over like that hours had to be murder on his body.

Do not think about destroying Deku’s body.

“It burns,” Kirishima said, sitting up with a yawn. “But Bakugou’s burned me worse.”

He’d fallen asleep through two fucking hours of his tattoo, and Katsuki had taken that opportunity to quickly excuse himself from the area to hang out with the crew. Like hell he’d sit there with Deku in dead silence.

“Literally or figuratively?” Deku said, his smile peeking out as he met the grin Kirishima sent over his shoulder. Their eyes held for a second too long and Katsuki bristled.

“So, you’re not even done with this shit?”

“Nope.” Deku swiftly peeled off the black latex gloves he’d been wearing through the process. His hands looked too large for the rest of him, strong and scarred. “We’ve got another session for the shading coming. A month’s time work for you, Kirishima?”

Any time,” Kirishima said, eyes bright on Deku.

Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Can we go now?”

“Why don’t you have a look at the mirror?” Deku said, promptly acting as if Katsuki wasn’t in the room. Where had that talent been acquired, dammit.

Katsuki folded in tow, hands shoved in his pockets, back hunched as he scowled at the stunningly detailed artwork printed carefully across Kirishima’s aggravated skin. The dragon was admittedly both beautiful and unnerving.

Deku passed a hand mirror to Kirishima so he could face his back to the full-length and have a look. His jaw dropped, his cheeks going pink.

“I love it. I love it! Bakugou, isn’t it manly? I’m scary, right?”

“You’re not scary.” Katsuki looked drolly between Kirishima’s beaming face and Deku’s faint smile. Their gazes met, held. Neither of them looked away. “The the tattoo is scary. You’re not.”

“Hey.” Deku teeth flashed. Charming, obnoxious. “Thanks, Kacchan.”

“You guys really are childhood friends, huh?” Kirishima said, looking delighted. “Even I still have to call him Bakugou.”

“Call me anything but that and lose your tongue,” Katsuki said, still watching Deku, looking for something – he didn’t know what. But Deku might have been looking for the same, because he hadn’t torn his gaze from his, either.

“What a tough guy,” Deku said, his tone teasing, as if he remembered every time in their childhood that Katsuki had teared up over something inconsequential. Stepping from Kirishima, Deku thwapped Bakugou’s shoulder with the back of his hand as he passed. “Heroes especially should have people close enough to call them by their first names. You can’t just become your brand.”

“And what would you know about that shit?” Katsuki resisted the urge to place his hand over the spot Deku had touched.

“Nothing,” Deku said breezily, headed towards a station to rustle with something. “But I’m human and I have feelings. And I think that, as a human with feelings, anyone would want loved ones to come home to after a long day of being the indestructible Ground Zero. Right?”

This was the second or third time Deku had left him struck silent and still.

“You’re seriously amazing, Midoriya,” Kirishima said. “You’re going to be a great social worker. I can tell!”

“Aw.” Deku’s face reddened, right to his adorably oversized ears. The hair had always hidden those ears. Only Katsuki had once known about their size. “Thanks. You don’t have to say that. Now let’s get that tattoo covered up. Keep it on for two hours, okay?”

Katsuki stared at the back of Deku’s head, the strong lines of his neck.  Who was this person? Why did he want to know so badly? Guilt of the past, pure curiosity, sudden unexplainable attraction?

Clenching his teeth as he watched Deku smooth a covering over Kirishima’s back, his wide palms stroking flat down the length of Kirishima’s muscles, Katsuki willed himself to turn and head back to the group.

“Done?” Ashido said, alright pulling on a neon green puffer coat with black fur collar.

“Yeah.”

“Finally,” Kaminari said, pocketing his phone in the chest pocket of his ugly leopard print jacket. “I’m hungry. It’s like eleven at night. Feed me.”

“Feed your goddamn self,” Katsuki said.

“Oh hey,” Kaminari said, grinning as he pulled out his phone again. “I got something for you. Lemme text it.”

Hah?” Katsuki’s brow wrinkled, a snarl curling at his top lip as he unearthed his phone from his back pocket.

“Yeah.” Kaminari’s face lowered to his screen, thumbs flying. “Had my phone out when we walked in and I caught – this.”

Katsuki’s cell vibrated with a text and, with a sense of dread looming over his head, opened the text from Kaminari.

A picture.  Deku’s arms around him, his wild curls tickling Katsuki’s slightly parted lips. Katsuki stared straight ahead, eyes a little wide, face still in mild shock, his hands hovering at the small of Deku’s back, not touching, unable to return the embrace.

Cuuute,” Ashido said with a small sigh. “Childhood friends. I love that. Bakugou had a real life friend after he hatched from a gremlin’s egg.”

“I had to,” Kaminari said, snickering as Katsuki silently took in every detail. “I think that’s the only picture I’ve ever seen you surprised. Or hugged, for that matter.”

Sero cackled from his seat, where he flipped through a tattoo magazine.

“No one hugs him because no one wants to be irreparably burned for life.”

“Shut up.” Katsuki lingered with the photo before jamming the phone into his pocket. He glowered at Kaminari. “What was the point of that? You brain dead? “

“All done,” Deku said, approaching the group before Katsuki could wrestle Kaminari to the floor and demand he delete that photo and never speak of it to anyone ever again. “He didn’t cry once. I’m so proud.”

Kirishima’s nervous laugh had Katsuki slapping his hand over his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. Please don’t let this become a thing. When Kirishima got stuck on someone, he got stuck on them.

Katsuki shrugged into his leather jacket as everyone prepped to leave and Kirishima paid his bill. He couldn’t hear what Deku and Kirishima were talking about, but he didn’t like their lowered tone one bit. Kirishima speaking below the level of an outdoor voice? Something stank.

“We goin’ or what? I need a fuckin’ drink.”

Multiple drinks. Many. Until even his memory of this tattooed, confident, green lightning-haired Deku was blurry to his mind’s eye.

“Five minutes,” Kirishima said, turning to lean against the register counter. His sharp, toothy grin lit up the room. “Deku’s coming with us.”

Deku popped his head out from behind Kirishima, his cheeks a little pink, a fidgety shift to his gaze that was more familiar to Katsuki than anything about him all night.

“Uh. If that’s okay with you guys?”

“Are you kidding me?” Ashido said. She winked. “Wanna make it a date? I’ll pay.”

Deku blinked owlishly for a second, still hiding behind the counter and Kirishima.

“What? With you?”

“No.” Ashido snickered. “With Bakugou. Yes, of course me! Or am I not your type?”

“I…” Deku seem to look everywhere but Katsuki. “Um, with girls I – I don’t do well with that kind of thing.”

Oh, fuck.

Fuck.

“That’s a really long way to say you’re gay,” Sero said, his eyebrows raised high. When everyone stared at him, he shrugged. “Sorry, but I mean. It is.”

“The hot ones are always gay,” Ashido said with a long-suffering sigh. “Well, let me know if you need a lay you’d regret in the morning.”

“I’m going home,” Katuski said, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans. He flicked a look to Deku, found him frowning. “I’m tired. I’ll see ya around, Deku.”

The door jangled as he stepped out into the bite of the autumn night. His breath plumed toward the sky like smoke from the fire that burned in his chest. He stared at the brick wall across from him and promptly imagined knocking his head against it until all of the extremely unexpected Deku interactions of the past hours bled out, abandoned in the alleyway.

Well. He was better than that shit.

Turning on his heel Katsuki began to head home.

The jingle of the door sounded and Katsuki sighed as he turned.

“Don’t even ask me to – Deku?”

Deku hurried over, still in just his t-shirt and fitted jeans, bright red high-tops that reminded Katsuki of their childhood.

Breathing way too hard for having only dashed six feet over, Deku stared up at him with big eyes, the longer curls over his forehead skimming over one eyebrow.

“Kacchan,” was all he said.

“Hah? Look, I know this was a bother ‘n shit so –“

“No!” Deku’s hand shot out, clasped Katsuki’s wrist, then released instantly as if burnt. Sucking his bottom lip into his mouth, Deku worried the flesh with his teeth and considered Katsuki hard. “No, it wasn’t a bother. The truth is – shit. Sorry. I mean.”

What already?”

Katsuki’s heart roared too loud in his ears. Deku’s hair glowed in a green halo from the neon sign behind him.

Swallowing hard, his fingers tangling in each other, Deku searched Katsuki’s face for fuck knew what.

“I mean. Do you want to get to know each other again?”

Katsuki stared.

“What? Why?”

Deku mirrored Katsuki’s puzzled expression, although Deku’s was like a lost puppy left on Katsuki’s doorstep, begging to come in.

“Why? I mean. Because we haven’t seen each other since middle school and I thought maybe –“

“Look,” Katsuki said, raising a hand to stop him right there. “I’ll see you in a month.”

“A month?”

“When Kirishima comes back for his tattoo.”

“And after that?”

“You’re as obnoxious as ever, aren’t you, Deku .”

“I prefer tenacious, these days,” Deku said with a grin.

Katsuki paused, considering Deku’s honest face.

“You’re different than before,” Katsuki said.

“Yeah,” Deku said, his crooked smile remaining. “You too.”

“Lying little shit.”

“Not me. Hey, so about getting together –“

“See you in a month, Deku.”

“But –“

“Don’t let Kirishima get too drunk,” Katsuki said as he lifted a hand in a half-wave, walking away. “He’ll try to compare tits.”

“T-tits?”

“Pecs. Unless you want him pulling your shirt off in a bar.”

“I-I definitely don’t want that.”

Katsuki couldn’t help but throw his head back and laugh as he rounded the alleyway and walked onto the main street, away. Maybe he didn’t need the drink as bad as he thought.

“Bakugou. Hey, Bakugou. Bakugou, are you reading or –“

“I’m very obviously reading,” Katsuki snapped, looking up from a magazine Ashido had left out on the table. Who knew there was such a market for female doms?

With the smell of Ashido’s cooking wafting from her grand kitchen – appearing on so many reality television shows as a well-known Pro Hero made the big bucks, apparently – and the lighting turned down low and warm within the spacious apartment, her place was a constant gathering point at the end of the day. Even when she wasn’t home, everyone had a key.

Though, right now, Katsuki was as tense as possible as he found himself assaulted with anxious eyes. Kirishima had scooted closer, then closer when Katsuki hadn’t replied, and was now pressed against his side, their faces close.

Annoyance radiating off him enough waves hot enough to scald, Katsuki balked at Kirishima.

“You got a death wish? Sit somewhere else.”

“What’s in the magaz- oh shit, no, okay.”

Kirishima shot down the end of the couch, watching Katsuki shut the magazine and throw it to the coffee table with a sigh.

What?” Katsuki said, clipped and sharp. “Out with it.”

Cheeks flushed, Kirishima took a breath before it all came spilling out.

“What kind of guy is Midoriya into?”

Katsuki’s face hardened to stone, stock still.

“Into?”

“You know. His type.”

“How –“ Katsuki swallowed. His face twisted into one of disgust, his nose crunched up. “How the ever-living fuck should I know? Shit, I just met the guy since, what? Since middle school. That was like eight years ago, man.”

“Yeah, but –“

“Also, are you serious about this? He’s like –“ Katsuki waved his hands around, watching Kirishima follow them like a cat following a fly in the house. With a sigh, Katsuki dropped them to his lap, ignoring the way they fisted. “I mean. He’s just Deku. I don’t know. What the fuck should I know?”

“I don’t know.” Kirishima pouted down at the mottled leather couch cushion between them. “We had such a good time last night and after we kissed –“

What?” Katsuki shot up from his seat, standing stiff. Immediately, he had no idea why he’d done that and plopped himself right back down. “What?”

Kirishima blinked at him for a second, head faintly cocked.

“Are you okay? Your face is like, so red th-“

“I can’t believe my best fucking friends made out,” Katsuki managed, jaw working tightly as he struggled for a semblance of self control. He couldn’t fathom what the riot in his chest was doing at the thought of Deku, the Deku he didn’t know, the muscled, smiley, tattooed, successful Deku, locking lips with this goddamn idiot in some dark corner of a bar, Deku’s body arching –

“We didn’t make out!” Kirishima said, his own face matching Katsuki’s in color now. “I just. We were talking, and you came up, and he looked sad and I kinda. You know. Distracted him for a second.”

Katsuki scoffed and folded his arms, dragging a sidelong glance toward Kirishima.

“Sad?”

“He said you guess broke off on bad terms.” Kirishima frowned sympathetically. He snuck over enough to pat Katsuki’s knee. “Don’t you want to be friends again? He seems like such a good –“

“I’ll do what I want, when I want, how I want it done,” Katsuki said, teeth bared in a snarl as he slapped at Kirishima’s hand away. “Just leave it.”

Kirishima rolled his eyes a little, half grin on his face as he held up his hands in submission and backed off.

“Whatever you say, bro.”

“You came!” Deku said, his smile a mile wide as he peered past Kirishima the moment they walked through the entryway.

He clapped Kirishima on the chest a few firm times in the process of passing him up, pausing a foot from Katsuki, beaming. He was damn well close enough for Katsuki to catch the scent of a clean white musk, heady and full of summer sunshine.

“Hi,” Deku said, a little soft, breathless. His curls were still artfully tousled and shot through with that neon green, the shave on his undercut looking sharp and new. With the winter weather storming in, his fitted black t-shirt now sported a black and red lumberjack flannel, rolled up strong, defined forearms of dizzying ink.

“Yeah,” Katsuki said, glancing down to unbutton the deep maroon winter coat and shrug it off. “So how long’s this one gonna take? You said it was just shading, right?”

“Yup.” Deku took Katsuki’s coat without him offering it, and when their fingers brushed, Katsuki swore Deku was a thousand times hotter than he should have been. Temperature-wise.

Katsuki’s gaze flicked up and Deku held it hostage with an unfathomable look before he was turning away and holding out a hand for Kirishima’s coat, smiling with mouth closed.

“It’ll take about half the time,” Deku said as he headed towards the back. “I’ll hang these up. Come on over.”

“How’s your month been treating you, Kirishima?” Deku asked after he’d hung up the coats and headed to his table where black, white, and grey ink was already set out on a table with wheels.

“Not bad. I didn’t end up in the hospital for three whole weeks, which was –“

Katsuki tuned Kirishima out in favor of studying their interactions, their body language, the way the held each other’s eyes. Why did everything seem so normal? Had that kiss really meant nothing?

He knew that wasn’t the case for Kirishima. But Deku – Deku had always been an open book as kids, as young teens. What was he thinking now? Why had he accepted that kiss? Did he just go around locking lips with any fucker who offered? If Katsuki did it, would –

“Kacchan? Anything to drink?”

“Uh.” Katsuki met Deku’s eyes, lingered. Deku looked platonically polite, his brows raised in question. “No.”

“Alright,” Deku said, turning away, his profile shifting to a bright smile toward Kirishima. “Let’s get started, then.”

Same as before, Katsuki settled in on one side of the tattoo table, Deku on the other.

Not the same as before, Deku spoke as he shaded.

“Anyone compliment your tattoo yet?” Deku said, his lips curved a little as he worked.

“Dude, everyone has. Right, Bakugou?”

Katsuki looked up from the phone that he wasn’t really reading, only to say nothing and return his attention to an article on Deku from a year ago, naming him one of the top ten tattoo artists in Tokyo.

Oiy,” Katsuki said, earning a flick of green in his direction. “If you’re so popular, why’s this place always empty when we’re here?”

“Easy,” Deku said, his lips pursed in what Katsuki realized was an expression of concentration from their days as kids. He really hadn’t changed. He’d only smoothed out the ragged, anxious edges. “I have a day team of four artists who run morning and afternoon shifts, then close the place up at five. They carry the weight of the business, plus walk-ins, if there’s availability. I come in at six, after my classes  -”

“Social work?” Katsuki said, as if he’d forgotten.

“Yeah. I come in at six, and I usually take one or two clients a night, by appointment. I close up at midnight – eleven, if no one’s around and I’ve finished up with my final client.”

“And this place is seriously yours?” Katsuki said, frowning.

Deku’s eyes flashed green lightning, held Katsuki’s.

“Is that hard to believe?”

All of you is hard to believe, these days.”

Realizing his words, Katsuki clamped down his jaw, the muscles in his neck tensing.

Deku quirked a brow.

“And I find it hard to believe that you’re almost a functioning member of society. And made Pro Hero, at that. No criminal record? Nights in holding? Secret love child running around with a missing daddy complex, blowing stuff up?”

Kirishima screeched the most offensive laugh, and Deku lifted his tattoo gun to grin as Kirishima’s back shook, tears running down his face. He heaved in a breath, elbows on the table as he wiped at his eyes and pulled himself out of trail of giggles.

“Oh my god,” Kirishima wheezed. “Oh my god, Midoriya, you are perfect. You are –“

“First of all,” Katsuki said, the fire in his voice barely quelled, his hands in fists upon his thighs as he eyed flames at Deku’s smug face. “I’m gay. No kids. Second, you look more like the type to spend a night in holding than me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Deku said with a beatific smile that Katsuki had never seen in his life. “I guess when I turn on the television and see the big, muscled hero grinning from ear to ear, covered in the blood of his enemies, I don’t immediately think – gosh, my hero.”

“Fuck you, everyone loves me.”

“Because you’re just so loveable.”

“Because I save people, stupid Deku,” Katsuki said, his chair squealing as he pushed up from it and squared his shoulders in a dare. “Fight me about it.”

Oiy, Bakugou, don’t –“

“Think you could take me?” Deku said, pressing his lips together, failing to repress the grin. Fuck, he almost looked like he was having fun.

And didn’t Katsuki feel it, too?

“It’s never been a question of who could take who,” Katsuki said, his smile crooked and cocky, his canines flashing.

“You never know.” Deku held Katsuki’s gaze, unwavering. “Maybe I just might come out… On top.”

Katsuki’s entire face burned.

“In your dreams, shortstack.”

“I dunno,” Kirishima said brightly. “That sounds like a good dream to me.”

“See?” Deku’s smile grew as he gently patted Kirishima’s shoulder with those distracting black latex gloves straining across large hands. “Sounds good to him.”

“I’m getting a coffee and coming back,” Katsuki said, words flooding out as he turned and grabbed his coat from where it was hung and took long strides toward the front of the shop. “You guys want anything?”

No, thank you,” they chimed in unison.

Katsuki grated his teeth and dashed into the night.

Who the hell was Midoriya Izuku and what had he done with the old Deku? Murdered him brutally, apparently. Stabbed him with a tattoo gun until he submitted to this cocky, sexy little shit, who went from jittering nerves, to smiles, to blushes, to sex in his eyes.

What had Katsuki assumed Deku was doing with his life for the last eight years? He hadn’t, really. In that first year at UA, it admittedly had felt strange to be without him. No one to outright bully, to relieve his frustrations and insecurities upon – no one to be by his side no matter how much of a piece of shit he was. There’d been a notable gap behind him that first year.

And then, as kids do – as heroes in the making, who were concentrating on being something better, do – Katsuki forgot. His life had veered so far from Deku’s that it simply didn’t make sense to think about him. What had been, had ceased to be, and that was that.

It didn’t mean Katsuki hadn’t passed Deku’s apartment building from time to time. Walked a little slower, wondering if they’d maybe run into each other and he could show what a hero he was becoming. What a good guy he was become. A success.

But he’d never really wondered, What is Deku doing now?

Hell, now that he knew, he realized the teenaged Katsuki wouldn’t have believed it if he’d seen it.

Now, he still couldn’t believe it.

Do you want to get to know each other again?

Well, fuck.

Viciously black coffee in hand, Katsuki chimed the doors as he walked in. Laughter carried over, muffled conversation that sounded mainly like Deku’s warm, soothing voice. Something tightened in Katsuki’s chest, thinned his mouth, narrowed his eyes as he stomped to the back of the shop.

Deku was grinning as he continued his shading process, and Kirishima was smiling into this folded arms, his expression flushed and delighted.

Oiy, Deku.”

Hmmm?” Deku said, not looking up, the blush of amusement still brightening the apples of his freckled cheeks.

“I’m gonna take you up on that getting to know you thing.” Deku paused his work, chin snapping up, eyes wide on Katsuki, his bottom lip tucked between his teeth. He didn’t speak. Katsuki shrugged, gaze sliding away to stare at the intricate silk screened partition. “After this, I mean. Tonight.”

“Tonight?” Deku parroted, hushed.

“Tonight sounds good,” Kirishima said.

“Not you, hair for brains.”

“Oh.” Kirishima’s brows bunched up, then smoothed over as he nodded a little into his arms. “That makes sense. I bet you two have a lot to catch up on.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki said, willing his grip not to crush his coffee cup. “Guess so. How about it, Deku?”

Deku blinked. Blinked again and shook his head a little, as if coming out of a thought. He looked down at the tattoo, though he did not bring the needle to skin, only stared.

“That would – yeah, I mean. I’d like that.”

“Tonight, then,” Katsuki said, knowing he was repeating himself but unable to stop. Unable to ignored the way Deku’s ears had turned pink.

“Tonight.”

 

That’s all you’re wearing?” Katsuki said, his face scrunched in distaste as he eyed the undeniably sexy, fitted, black leather jacket that clinched at the small of Deku’s waist as he zipped it up.

Deku frowned and looked down at his jacket, then up at Katsuki.

“Well, it’s got the fleece collar here, and it’s fleece lined, too. You just can’t see because it’s all in black.” Deku tugged on the waist of his jacket, and it wasn’t beyond Katsuki that he’d tugged his flannel into the waist of his fitted jeans, exposing a black and silver-studded belt.

Who was this Deku?

“Besides,” Deku said with an amiable grin as he turned to lock the front door of his shop. They’d both seen Kirishima out, and Katsuki had lingered while Deku had closed down. “I’m not going to ride a motorcycle unprotected. A leather jacket is best.”

Katsuki blinked, felt his temperature rising.

“A – what? Motor-“

“Yeah, a motorcycle,” Deku said with a nervous little laugh of the old days. He turned and bumped Katsuki’s arm, signaling their freedom to go. They walked side by side, both of their hands buried in their pockets, hidden from the chill of yesterday’s fallen snow. Puddles of slush reflected the acid green of Deku’s store sign.  “It gets me where I need to go, and I like the freedom of it. Handy for my strange work and school hours, too, so it’s easier to drive home when I please.”

“Where do you live?” Katsuki said, already cursing himself for asking, for the overt interest.

“With my mom,” Deku said simply, no underlying emotion to the words, just fact.

“What, at home – the same place?”

“Yep. Four doors down from your parents,” Deku said, casting a glance over and up, meeting Katsuki’s eyes with a bright, cheerful amusement that couldn’t be dimmed by the black winter sky. “Auntie Mitsuki says you don’t visit enough, you know.”

Haaah? You so socially inept you gotta hang out with my folks?” Katsuki scowled and popped the collar of his coat, tucking in his chin and mouth.

“I see her at the grocery store, you drama queen,” Deku said with a light laugh, shaking his head.

“Call me that again, broccoli head,” Katsuki snapped.

Deku’s reply was to laugh harder. They walked along the busy evening streets in amiable silence, their boots crunching in the snow and ice, Deku’s face cast down against the bitter wind. Whenever Katsuki glanced over, the smile still played in Deku’s eyes.

He seemed so – easy. Carefree. The nerves slipped through the cracks every now and again in their meager two meetings, but as a whole Deku seemed – happy.

Katsuki bit down on his tongue and silenced himself before words could even form.

“Here,” Deku said.

A hand pressed at the small of Katsuki’s back, guiding him into an alleyway.

“The fuck’re we goin’ anyway?” Katsuki grumbled, leaning into the touch.

“I found this place about a year ago.” Deku paused before an indiscriminate, grey metal door to beam at Katsuki. “This nice old American guy owns it. He used to be a professional musician. He plays all this blues and rock music I know nothing about. It’s great.”

With that, Deku yanked at the door and held it open for Katsuki, looking at him expectantly. Katsuki paused, glaring, then slouched his way through the entrance.

“Don’t need you to hold the fuckin’ door for me, stupid Deku.”

“Don’t be so delicate,” Deku said without heat, following behind.

They brought the cold in with them, clinging to their coats and scenting of snow and night skies. Katsuki shrugged off his layers as he trailed behind Deku’s path toward the bar. The place was dreary, sepia light casting the two pool tables, wood-paneled jukebox, and scarred bar-length in deep, burnt yellows and sandy browns. A low voice crooned through the speakers, an electric guitar plucking sorrowfully to the lyrics.

The place smelled like old beer, dried blood, and hard-working men with muck and mud on their hands and boots.

Katsuki liked the place instantly.

But he could hardly picture a weird, half-nerd, half-punk like Deku hanging out in this joint.

A pang jolted in Katsuki’s ribs, and he absently pressed a hand to his side. A lot of time had passed. A lot had happened. People changed. If he wanted to know Deku now like he’d known Deku then, effort would be needed.

Katsuki wasn’t sure he wanted to know Deku inside out like before.

Hell, who was the say Deku wanted to know Katsuki like before? He’d been an ignorant asshole, careless and clumsy with everyone who had meant something to him.

“Aw,” Deku said as they slid onto stools at the far end of the bar. “I guess the owner isn’t around tonight. That’s alright. Another time.”

Would there be another time for them? Hanging out like this. Katsuki’s stomach leapt.

“What’ll you have?” the bartender asked, some rough and tumble Japanese guy with a fucking eye patch, of all things.

Deku looked to Katsuki without a word, his eyebrows raised.

“Uh,” Katsuki shrugged. “Whiskey on the rocks. The good stuff. I guess we’re celebrating.”

“Are we?” Deku said, his eyes telling a story to which Katsuki didn’t recognize the language, his lips quirked at one corner. “Make it two, then.”

The bartender nodded and swept away.

“It’s on me,” Katsuki said, his chest tight, his throat suddenly parched. He released a slow exhale through his nose, unable to unlock his gaze from Deku’s.

“No, me,” Deku said, perfect teeth flashing. He ran a hand through the mop of styled curls atop his head, his palm riding down the close-shaved nape of his neck. “I’m not a charity case anymore, you know.”

“I never thought you were,” Katsuki said, an eyebrow shooting up.

“Pathetic,” Deku said casually, as if the words could no longer touch him. But he remembered them. That said enough. “Weak, loser.”

“Not a charity case, though,” Katsuki said pointedly. “I never thought you needed or deserved more help than anyone else. People gotta learn to put the effort in to becoming whatever they wanna be. You were an idle dreamer and it pissed me off.”

Deku watched him speak, expression nearly impassive.

“You’ve still got that mouth on you.”

Katsuki’s lips curled back to snarl in defense, but the bartender was back, drinks placed between them.

Mouth curved, Deku picked up his drink, shadowed lashes downcast as he gazed into the amber liquid he swirled. When he looked up, there something deep and dark lingering there.

“What are we celebrating, Kacchan?” he said lowly. “What exactly are you celebrating?”

“I’m –“ Katsuki swallowed, took his own drink and clinked it to Deku’s, forcing himself to meet that intense, honest gaze. “I’m celebrating a second chance.”

“Is that what this is?” Deku said, hushed, his words taut, his compact body seemingly drawn inward, poised for something Katsuki didn’t understand. He could barely read this person anymore.

“I’m – fuck. I’m sorry about, y’know, before, when we were kids. And, uh, also just now. I’m actually – you look –“ Katsuki’s brain was screaming, slamming twin fists of pride and fury against the walls of his skull, while his heart danced hard enough to burst through his chest. “You look good. Happy. And I’m also, uh, happy, I guess. So maybe this is a good time to, I dunno.”

“You don’t know?” Deku brought the glass to his lips, his gaze steady. He sipped slowly, the pale line of his throat working, the collar of his leather jacket popped, black, dramatic contours tracing the length of Deku’s cheekbones.

“I don’t remember you being this shitty,” Katsuki mumbled into his drink, pausing for a sip.

“I’m pretty sure I found a naughty streak at some point in my life,” Deku said with a subtle huff of a laugh.

Katsuki felt his face go up in flame. He dove in for a longer drink. The burn was good, welcome, and familiar – but no match for the fire that kindled in his gut.

“That streak come with the hair?” Katsuki said, clutching his whiskey like a lifeline.

“No.” Deku blew a puff of air upwards, so the v of curls down the middle of his forehead shifted over one of his eyebrows. “I’ve just learned how to manage the bird’s nest.”

Fuck, did Katsuki want to touch it, too.

“And you?” Deku said, interrupting Katsuki’s thoughts. After another short sip, Deku set his glass down and smiled at Katsuki, delighted by something or other. “You look exactly the same. Only, well, bigger. Why did you have to grow again? I always imagined the next time I met you I’d be nearly your height.”

“Dream on, shortstack,” was all Katsuki said, instead of:You imagined us?

“Like you said.” Deku’s smile sharpened to something lethal, something that raised the hair on Katsuki’s arms. “I am a dreamer. And I’ve dreamt many things about this moment.”

Katsuki’s fingers squeezed around his whiskey. Brought it to his lips and finished it off, felt that flame fuel him.

“What do you dream?” Katsuki found himself saying, voice a dragging drawl, his lips loosened by this place, the soulful music, the smell of Deku’s leather, the whiskey, the words.

Deku’s cheeks went pink.

Deku, with biker boots and miles of ink and green lightning in his hair – blushed, deeply.

“Kacchan,” Deku said, sounding more like his old self. A little unsure, a lot hopeful. He held Katsuki’s attention like a bee to honey. “Can I kiss you? Just once.”

Every drop of blood drained from Katsuki’s face and pooled in his suddenly too-tight jeans. The twang of roughened hands on guitar in a smoke-husky song faded and slowed, dragged out, surreal. The heady depth of whiskey flooded Katsuki’s skull, dizzying, drowning. Deku’s eyes were a thick fog, beckoning him in, getting him lost and turned around in his own head, unsure of his footing.

“What,” was all Katsuki could manage, his throat suddenly parched. He needed another drink, but couldn’t find the strength to move, shift, call out. Nothing. Deku left him more paralyzed than any villain.

“I’m rushing, I know,” Deku said quickly, shifting away from Katsuki, giving him his shoulder as he leaned his elbows upon the bar, turning his empty glass round and round in his scarred hands. “And you probably don’t even think that way about – I mean, how could you? I don’t even know if you’re, uh, if you do that kind of – and usually I just overthink the heck out of every little thing and now when it’s something important I’m just running my mouth like this is probably the last time I’ll get to see you because Kirishima’s tattoo is done, and you don’t have any reason to need to see me, and your life is like, the dream, so why would you want –“

“Shut up, you’re obnoxious,” Katsuki said quietly, feeling steadier on his feet when Deku was being – well, Deku. Not this sultry, unbelievable little sexpot.

Deku snapped his mouth shut on command and snuck a look to the side.

“You’re mad,” Deku said, his voice flat, eyes guarded.

“I’m not,” Katsuki said. He peered over his shoulder, caught the bartender’s eye – literally, he had that eyepatch on – and gestured for two more. He looked back to Deku, frowning, his brows scrunched. “Why do you want to do that with me?”

Curiosity – payback? To make Katsuki beg, or to humble him? To show him what he was missing?

“You never noticed?” Deku said, mirroring Katsuki’s confused frown. He flicked a look to the bartender who brought their drinks, nodding in thanks.

“Noticed what?”

Deku didn’t look at him. Took his whiskey and drank long and slow from the rim, staring off.  Eyes scanning the wide line of colorful alcohol bottles stacked on the back wall of the bar, Deku spoke in dulcet, lulling tones, dream-like and unreal with the sad croon of a broken-hearted man scraping from the jukebox.

“You were my first crush. Back when we were four – and five, six, seven, eight… Fourteen.”

Katsuki flinched, dread creeping through his veins like hot tar.

“That was stupid of you,” Katsuki said, because it had been. He shouldn’t have been the target of anyone’s admiration back then.

“Yeah.” Deku nodded faintly, his gaze distant and hazy, his profile gilded in dim, dirty gold light. His glass lingered at his lips, another small sip. “I probably even loved you.”

“Don’t talk shit,” Katsuki snapped, his chest clenching in a tight fist. “You realize what you’re saying? About me, of all people? A crush between best friends is one thing, but –“

“You can’t tell me what I felt,” Deku fired back, clipped and sharp and fast as he jerked a lightning look to Katsuki, the tension between them crackling. “You can’t tell me what I feel.”

“And what the hell do you feel, Deku? Because I don’t fucking know you anymore.”

Deku’s lips parted, his chest rising in shuddered breath, expressive eyes wide and searching Katsuki’s face. He looked small then, his leather jacket a dress-up game, the striking, eye-catching tattoos on his arms an armor against the world.

“I feel like –“ Deku swallowed hard. “I feel like since I met you again, I realized those feelings… They never stopped.”

The bottom dropped from beneath Katsuki’s feet, his stomach with it, his heart leaping up his throat.

“You’re fucking with me.”

“Would I? Right now?”

Katsuki exhaled a shaky breath.

“No.”

“And what do you feel, Kacchan? You didn’t change on the outside, but your insides look different to me now.”

They held each other’s gazes, their faces closer than they’d been five minutes ago, the air between them intimate, something easily mistaken for animosity or embrace.

“I feel like –“ Katsuki’s attention dropped to Deku’s mouth. “I’d let you kiss me. Once, or whatever.”

They were near enough that Katsuki could hear the moment Deku stopped breathing. The way his pupils swelled, black and depthless. The color that rose high on his cheekbones.

“Not here,” Deku said, the barest scrape of a whisper.

Katsuki nodded, tore away from the magnetism of Deku’s mouth.

Turned out, the drinks were on Katsuki. Deku walked out of there like a blind man in a daze.

When they emerged into the now-colder depth of night, Katsuki felt he’d spent a lifetime in that place, rather than some thirty minutes. Did Deku bend time for him, as well?

They walked side by side, arms brushing, both of their faces tucked into their coats, vision clouded over in plumes of white breath. The streets were emptying, the hour both too late and too early at the same time.

A flash of them as children, building snowmen and forts, Katsuki demolishing Deku with boulders of snowballs. Playing until it grew dark, playing still when Katsuki’s mom tried to call them in from the front yard. Was that the last time they’d spent a night together? Nine years old and building igloos to secret away inside?

“I’m sorry about your notebook,” Katsuki said.

Deku tripped on a ridge of sidewalk, steadied himself.

“What notebook?” he said, staring straight ahead, weaving around a drunken couple, pressing close into Katsuki’s side.

“The one. From middle school.”

“Ah,” Deku said. They walked further, strings of winter lights framing their path like twinkling guides. “That’s okay. It was a long time ago.”

“Where are we going?” Katsuki said, his heart expanding, hot and full, when Deku remained nearer to his side.

“To my bike. It’s parked around the corner from the shop.”

Katsuki didn’t say anything to that, just frowned. What about the kiss? Had Deku already changed his mind? Chickened out? Surely they weren’t going to his fucking mom’s house.

“This is weird, right?” Deku said, his laugh weak and wavering as he shoved his hands deeper into his jacket. He had to be cold. “All of this – me. I’m sorry. I never actually thought we’d have an opportunity like this in our lifetimes. You’re busy, I’m living in a different world from you –“

“Well, in both our worlds, it’s just started to snow,” Katsuki said, pausing their walk to look up to the sky.

Thick, heavy flakes swirled and fell on his face, melting away and sliding into the collar of his coat. Like a snow globe freshly shook, the glittering confetti blanketed down in some great rush to meet the earth.

“Katsuki.”

“What.”

Katsuki looked down, eyes going wide the instant it took for cold, calloused hands to cup his cheeks and pull him down for a soft, brief kiss. Before Katsuki could register the honeyed heat that melted his bones, Deku began to pull away.

This time it was Katsuki’s hands that caught him. Firm fingers clasped around leather-jacketed wrists, keeping Deku’s hold on his face in place. This time Katsuki let his eyes fall shut as he licked into Deku’s mouth and swallowed the gasp that fell from those generous lips.

Deku opened for him like a safe haven, a warm, deep embrace that took Katsuki in and made him feel home. The cold was nothing, nor the snow clinging to their hair and falling on the back of Katsuki’s neck as he wrapped his arms around Deku’s waist to haul him in tighter.

Icy fingertips buried in Katsuki’s hair, skimmed down and laced at his nape. Once more, the kiss wasn’t long enough, not nearly enough, but Deku pulled back anyway, just enough for their breath to puff white between them.

Peering up with heavy-lidded bedroom eyes, Deku pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, chewing softly. Snowflakes freckled upon his amber ones.

“Wow,” was all Deku said, a low rasp, his hands sliding to rest upon Katsuki’s chest.

“Shit,” Katsuki managed, frozen in place.

Deku’s flashed a smile, his cheeks flushing as he flicked a look down, almost demure now, unsure of where to go from this.

“You’re thinkin’ a lot now, aren’t you.” Katsuki shakily exhaled. “Stop. Just. When are you free?”

“Free for what?” Deku said, eyes wide and innocent and hopeful now.

“Fuck if I know. Lunch?”

“Lunch?”

“What’re you, a parrot?”

“I mean.” Deku shook his head, huffed a short laugh. “Lunch. I can do lunch.”

“Wow, it’s almost like you’re a normal human.”

“Says the guy with flammable sweat.”

“You’re a fuckin’ riot.”

“No, that’s Kirishima.”

A pang of guilt stabbed at Katsuki’s chest, and by the way Deku went suddenly still and stiff in his arms led him to believe Deku’s mind went to the same place.  Deku pulled from Katsuki’s hold, and they began to walk once more.

“I’ll talk to him,” Katsuki said.

“No,” Deku said, his expression sober, his shoulders hunched against the cold as he stared at the sidewalk. “That’s on me. I really like him.”

HAH?” Katsuki flashed an enflamed glare.

“Hey!” Deku said, laughing and holding his hands up defense as they passed by a big group of boisterous drunks. “I didn’t know this was going to happen, okay? I really didn’t. Kirishima is easy to like. You’re not.”

“You’re digging yourself a deep fuckin’ hole here, buddy.”

A strong arm twined around one of Katsuki’s, and he cast a glance over to see Deku clinging to him as they travelled, his face tilted up to Katsuki, eyes clear as crisp night skies.

“I’ve always liked you more than anyone in this world, Katsuki.”

Katsuki felt his face heat, his pace slowing with dazed wonder.

“I –“

A lamp post clocked him in the face.

 

“I’m a fuckin’ hero you know.”

With the hot steel of motorcycle thundering between his thighs and the singular, sleek helmet cloistered around his head, Katsuki couldn’t hear that Deku was laughing or smiling, but he knew it all the same. He shouldn’t be able to – they’d hardly interacted, in the grand scheme of things. Barely knew each other as adults.

All the same, Katsuki could tell by the way Deku’s shoulders shifted that he’d indeed heard Katsuki’s lament and was laughing in his face.

“I’m a hero!” He hollered in Deku’s ear over the growling of the engine. “I don’t ride bitch on the back of a motorcycle!”

Deku paused at a light and craned his head back a little, the corner of his eye crinkled with mirth, the quirk of his generous mouth a little too distracting.

“Well. Sorry... bitch.”

Katsuki gaped at the back of Deku’s head and jumped a little when the bike zoomed off, his arms wrapping tighter around that surprisingly thick waist. Once he’d allowed himself the press of his chest against Deku’s back, his crotch fitted snugly to the hard, unrelenting muscle of Deku’s ass, the realization properly set in.

Deku was built like a goddamn truck . Not big, but firm and contoured and stocky with sinew and subtle strength. His waist and hips were nipped and trim, but on proper hold of them, the muscle that encased his bones was solid. His thighs and calves stretched against the seams of his jeans, and his back – his back was like holding onto a brick wall.

What the hell had Deku done with himself all these years?

“I can get home on my own, y’know! I’m a fuckin’ hero! I get head injuries all the time!”

“That’s not something to brag about,” Deku called over the rumble of the engine.

Tsch.” Katsuki kept his mouth shut for the rest of the ride.

Besides, it was kind of nice. Letting someone else take the wheel while he enjoyed the hot little body of his ex-best friend shoved between his thighs. Alright, that was a fucked up thought, all things considered, but with the voicing of Deku’s attraction for him, the floodgates were fucking open and Katsuki had little control over what was flowing out.

“Nice place.” Deku halted his bike in front of the mega tower in the center of the city. Popping the kickstand, he vaulted the seat with easy movements, holding an expectant hand out for the helmet.

“It’s whatever.” Katsuki faintly shrugged as he shoved the helmet against Deku’s chest. “Close to the agency and shit.”

“Looks a lot more than ‘whatever’, Mr Number One.” Deku’s smile was kind, not mocking at all as he kept the helmet hunkered beneath one armpit. He looked, Katsuki dared even think, cool. Windswept curls with violent shots of neon green, cheeks wind-chapped from the ride, eyes bright as a thousand volts.

Fuck. And no way Katsuki could kiss him in front of his own apartment, paparazzi and public ever lurking.  

“You can come up and see it.”

Deku’s easy grin faltered and dropped, his mouth moving subtly, as if repeating the words Katsuki had said, but to himself.

“See... it?” Deku whispered finally, loud enough to reach Katsuki’s ears.

Katsuki raised an eyebrow, face incredulous.

“You havin’ a stroke? Fuck, just come up already. ‘S not a big deal.”

“Um, it is.” To Katsuki’s smirking delight, Deku folded back into the old Deku, sputtering as he flailed a hand a little, eyes wide and sincere. “That’s-that’s your home and I’m just - we basically just met again and, and you’re a hero, and going up to a hero’s apartment and seeing how you live is -”

“Ain’t gonna be that exciting,” Katsuki muttered, suddenly inexplicably embarrassed by Deku’s fanboy-ing. Putting on his fearless hero mindset, Katsuki shrugged an arm around Deku’s shoulders and led him toward the entrance. “Come on, stupid Deku. Give your keys and helmet to this doorman and he’ll take care of your bike.”

“I - are you - okay! Yes, um - thank you, sir!” Deku followed along, frantically bowing to the doorman before Katsuki yanked him by the leather lapel of his jacket and led him to the elevator. Katsuki kept his expression sober, but his chest absolutely burst with familiarity.

Yeah, the Deku he knew was still there.

When Deku wouldn’t stop fidgeting with the hem of his jacket, Katsuki sighed and met his eyes in one of the three mirrored elevator walls.

“I’m not gonna jump yer bones or nothin’, y’know.”

Just wanted to kiss him goodnight properly. Not on the street, not taken by surprise. Two could play that game, and Katsuki had never been a man to let his friends one-up him.

Deku blinked, color rising to his pale features. He spoke quietly, then, his tone having dropped an entire register to something smoky, sending chills through Katsuki with each word.

“It’s not your actions I’m worried about.”

Katsuki froze, unable to look away from Deku’s sobered reflection. A shot of liquid gold arrowed right to his cock, and absolutely nothing on heaven or earth could stop him from fisting his hands and releasing a loud, shuddering breath in the silence of the elevator.

Deku,” he whispered fiercely.

“No one’s called me that for a long time,” Deku murmured, voice level and dark. “But there’s just something about you saying it.”

Katsuki didn’t know how to take that or what it really meant. The doors dinged open before he could even try to address it, and he rushed from the exit, his gait obstructed by the heavy, swelling weight in his jeans as he downed the hall to his door. Every step Deku took in tow was now something much less innocent.

Was this or wasn’t this the Deku he knew, dammit? Because this one was just short of sweeping him off his feet.

Which was, for the record, entirely out of the question. Ever. By anyone.

“Fuck,” Katsuki said under his breath as he searched his pockets for his keys. To his credit, his fingers remained steady as he unlocked the door and swept it open into the darkness of his place. “Come in, already.”

“Thanks for having me,” Deku murmured, closing the door behind him and sitting on the ledge of the genkan, expression  quiet as he concentrated on undoing the high laces of his tall, black boots.

“Nice socks.” Katsuki’s lips twitched despite the tension riding through his frame as he toed off his own shoes.

Deku looked up from his All Might socks, lips slowly curving.

“There are a couple of things that don’t change.”

Katsuki didn’t know why he found comfort in that.

“Speaking of.” They gripped each other’s forearm as Katsuki hefted Deku to his feet. “Why the crazy tattoos? Or, I guess, yours in particular.”

Deku‘s brows drew together, like he were looking inside himself for the right words.

“Well…” He unzipped his leather jacket and slipped it down his shoulders, exposing anew those surprisingly powerful forearms cramped with dizzying geometric shapes. He turned to hang his coat and said, “Your hero uniform probably gives you extra confidence, right?”

“I’m always confident.”

Deku turned with a smile and a faint eye roll.

“Let’s just say it’s my own hero uniform. Tattoos gave me more confidence, so I just kept getting more and more. I feel safer inside them or something. And as for the shapes -” Deku shrugged, head bowed as he traced one hexagon after another with a fingertip. “I found they eased my anxiety. The repetition centers and calms me, like the shapes and patterns are steady and assured in a way I’d never be.”

Katsuki waited a beat before he said, “I just figured you probably thought they made you look cooler than you are.”

Deku’s laugh came as a pleasant surprise, warming the blood beneath Katsuki’s skin.

“Yeah.” Deku grinned at him before turning to meander through the main area of the apartment. “That too.”

“Want a drink?” Katsuki asked instead of: Can I kiss you again? He wasn’t gross or ridiculous or embarrassing like that shit.

“Sure.” Deku stood at a wall encompassed by black and white photos of Katsuki and his various hero friends and other major pros in the business. Katsuki wouldn’t call himself sentimental, but over the years he’d finally learned to appreciate what he had instead of it never being enough. He was still driven as hell, but not in the way that drove him rabid and enraged.

“What do you want?”

“Nothing alcoholic.” Deku was focused on an eye-level photo of Katsuki and All Might. Katsuki found himself wondering what Deku thought when he saw something like that, then wondered why he cared or why it even mattered. “Driving home on snowy roads with my motorcycle takes some concentration.”

“Don’t drive if the snow gets worse,” said Katsuki’s dumbass mouth without his permission. He quickly crossed to the adjoined kitchen and shoved his head in the fridge. Then, realizing Deku probably wouldn’t want something cold, moved to his electric kettle and set it to boil.

“Thanks for the offer,” Deku said, approaching the kitchen with a distracted eye as he inspected Katsuki’s plain kitchen. He ran a palm along the shiny, black marble counters. “I shouldn’t stay, though.”

Something sharp and insistent pulled at Katsuki’s gut, quick and harsh, and he had to tuck his hands into his pockets to keep from reaching out. What was this new magnetism about this grown man?

“Whatever,” Katsuki mumbled, turning to open a cabinet and bring out two traditionally fired clay cups. “Green okay?”

“I’m a fan of green,” Deku said with a smile in his voice. Katsuki slid a sidelong look to where Deku leaned the small of his back against the countertop, his lips curved as he quietly watched Katsuki.

“You’re still a fuckin’ dork.”

Deku hummed his agreement and continued to watched Katsuki pour the tea.

“Don’t kill me for saying this, but you seem… nicer… than how you come off on television.”

“Well I ain’t in the middle of battle, now am I?” Katsuki snapped, taking both steaming cups in his hands and heading toward the kotatsu, his face flushed and his teeth set tight. “Hate that shit. Risk your life and while you’re still ridin’ high on adrenaline, y’got cameras and dumb questions shoved in yer face.”

“Yeah, that actually sounds… pretty crappy. And not that you weren’t nice to me, by the way,” Deku said quickly, following close at Katsuki’s heels as he suddenly burst into a ramble. “You were, I mean, when we were kids. My best childhood memories are when we were children in the woods near the house, and the fort we made before -”

“Sit down and drink,” Katsuki cut in tersely, not wanting to hear what came next. He’d already apologized for the notebook, sure, but there was more. There had been a lot more. He didn’t want to hear it tonight.

“Yes!” Deku yelped, dropping to sit across the table from Katsuki, tucking his legs beneath the blanket and smiling a little uneasily. How did this little shit go from simmering with sexual energy in the elevator, to soft and contemplative, to anxious in the matter of a night? Katsuki scowled at the complexity of this stranger-but-not-stranger.

Dropping his elbow to the table top with too much force, his palm holding up his cheek, Katsuki tilted his head and considered Deku from across the table.

“What’ve you been doin’ with your life?”

Deku blinked owlishly.

“I - me?”

“Who the fuck else?”

“I just - uh, well, nothing special, you know.”

“Owning your own tattoo place is pretty special. You’re some big-time artist now or whatever. How that happen? I don’t remember you drawing nothin’ when we were kids.”

Deku raised an eyebrow, the corner of his mouth pulling, disbelief tightening around his eyes.

“No? How do you think I drew all of those detailed pictures of heroes in my notebooks?”

Katsuki paused, frowning. He’d never really thought about. Had never really given Deku much more thought than, ‘this is my friend, he’ll follow me to the ends of the earth no matter what I do to him’. A hot, nauseous knot curled itself in Katsuki’s belly and he drank from his tea to ease the discomfort.

“Shit, okay,” he finally said. “Sure, that makes sense. You were always good at that.”

“Glad to have your approval,” Deku murmured into the rim of his cup as he brought it to his lips and blew at the steam.

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed, his grip tight on his own tea.

“That mouth of yours is new, though.”

“Maybe it wasn’t sarcasm.”

They both watched each other for a moment as they took their first tentative sips, Deku’s statement sinking into Katsuki’s skin like sunlight soaking into beach sand, hot and growing hotter.

It seemed like an eternity since they’d sat in the smoky bar, Deku’s whiskey-slick lips summoning a new, impossible reality into being.

I feel like since I met you again, I realized those feelings… They never stopped.

Were they going to talk about this?

“This is only the second time we’ve met since - since forever, you know,” Katsuki found himself saying, his face feeling stiff and awkward as he watched the play of emotion in Deku’s ever-expressive eyes.

Deku’s attention flicked from his tea back to Katsuki, eyes a little wide.

“I - yes, well. What’re you - what are you thinking about?”

“What the fuck do you think I’m thinking about? The weather?” Katsuki’s fist banged hard enough on the table to dribble some tea over the side of his cup, the burn going nearly unnoticed as he locked eyes with Deku and refused to release. “I’m thinkin’ about what you said to me in the bar, obviously! What the hell are you thinking about right now? I don’t tiptoe around shit, stupid Deku.”

Deku’s mouth worked open and closed for a moment before he hastily licked his lips and looked away, his words tumbling out in a rush.

“I - I don’t, I don’t know. I was thinking about, um, how surreal it is to be here. With you, in your house. And how lucky I am that you even wanted to hang out with me again.”

“You, lucky?” Katsuki whipped his gaze away, heart pounding and troubled as he stared at Deku’s anxious fingers picking at a hangnail on his thumb. He had short, bitten nails. Katsuki mumbled, “The fuck is lucky for you about bein’ friends with me after all this time? I’m the one who - ugh.”

Katsuki raked his hands over his face, heels of his palms rubbing hard over his eyes until he saw stars. Without looking at Deku, he spoke quietly.

“S’me who’s lucky you’d even give me a second chance after - after all the shit from before. I was - still am a douchebag, like, a lot of the time. But before , even more. I don’t have to tell you.”

Katsuki dropped his hands, inwardly startled at Deku’s tomato-red face, from hairline to neck, eyes wide and rapt. A shaky breath passed Katsuki’s lips.

“I dunno that I feel the same way you do, Deku,” he murmured, refusing to look away despite every mortified cell in his body screaming otherwise. “I didn’t feel the way you did back then. But now -” Katsuki swallowed hard and watched Deku’s eyes follow the line of his throat. “Now, I really wanna kiss you again.”

Kacchan ,” Deku whispered. Just that, nothing more, and it struck Katsuki all at once how unnervingly handsome this person was now. All doe eyes and dark lashes, serious brows and a cut jaw framing a little mouth shaped like sin, soft hair with sharp electricity snapping through it, a body like a brick house and a voice like a warm, smooth melody.

And he wanted Katsuki. He was the person who knew just how shitty Katsuki could be as a human, and he still wanted him. After all this time.

Fuck,” Katsuki said, the intent in Deku’s gaze like a grenade waiting for a pin to be pulled. “Can I -”

Deku was already on his hands and knees, scrambling around the side of the kotatsu, one hand slapping on the table for balance as he came to his knees, a hand around the nape of Katsuki’s neck. Before Katsuki could breathe a word, Deku claimed him in a frantic, excited kiss of tongue and short, bright keens of joy.

They toppled back, Katsuki giving under the surprising weight of Deku’s body as he banded his arms around that sturdy waist. Deku seemed to take that as an invitation, as he sighed happily, his smile evident in the suddenly chaste press of lips to Katsuki’s, just before he licked into Katsuki’s mouth, coaxing Katsuki’s tongue into his own to suck on it. A shock and sizzle wrapped right around Katsuki’s cock, the heavy heft of Deku straddling his stomach, that tight ass so near and far from his crotch, a sudden and very real torture.

Who the hell was this person?

Katsuki didn’t realize the moan filling the room was his own until Deku outright giggled and gripped Katsuki’s chin, angling his face to the side so he could feast on the length of his throat. The scrape of his teeth over Katsuki’s pulse had his hips bucking into nothing, the zipper of his fly a pain against the hardening length of his erection. Katsuki’s hands clenched at Deku’s hips, palms travelling over the considerable swell of Deku’s ass, right down to thighs thicker than they had any right to be. Katsuki couldn’t even get a proper grip on the width of them.

“De -”

Deku’s hands secreted up Katsuki’s shirt, nails scraping down to his waistband, Deku’s mouth doing something with his ear that was absolutely fucking unholy. Whatever Katsuki was going to say dripped into a hot, thick honey between his legs and fuck it all.

With a snarl, Katsuki rose up, a taut hold around Deku, who found his balance on Katsuki’s lap with a breathless laugh, his ass wedged nicely atop Katsuki’s cock, and a dazed, lazy smile on that unexpectedly seductive face.

“Sorry,” Deku drawled, husky and happy and not sorry at all. His fingertips scratched lightly at the back of Katsuki’s scalp, as if giving his pet a little attention behind the ears, and the rasp of his nails had Katsuki’s shoulders sagging with pleasure. “Is this too much?”

“Too much?” Katsuki slurred, trying to wrap his mind around the words. He blinked, a glare snapping back to consciousness, his fingertips digging into Deku’s hips as he ground them down onto his aching hardness. Deku’s green gaze dogged over, his dark pink mouth parted for an erratic exhale. “What’s too much, hah? Lemme show you too much.”

“Wait wait wait.” Deku’s brow dropped to Katsuki’s, his lips dragging wet and clumsy over Katsuki’s as he avidly rolled his hips in a mindless grind. “Can I - can we - will you take me to your bed, Kacchan? Is that - it’s too soon isn’t i-”

Yes.” Katsuki palmed Deku’s ass, unable to keep his hands away as he buried his face in Deku’s shoulder and inhaled a clean, white musk that must be Deku’s skin scent alone. “I mean, no! Fuck, not too soon. Get in my damn bed.”

“Oh my god,” was all Deku breathed at Katsuki’s ear, and then Katsuki was rising to his feet, Deku in his hold, those short but iron legs clamped around Katsuki’s waist as he carried him to the bedroom.

Deku’s arms encompassed Katsuki close, hot lips harried over his with a hungry moan, their destination roadblocked as Katsuki slammed him against the hallway wall and plundered that clever little mouth. Nothing could have prepared him for Deku’s enthusiastic replies, the vibrant thrum of exuberance and passion humming beneath Katsuki’s hands like some livewire sparking in his very palm.

Off,” Katsuki snapped, hands diving beneath Deku’s shirt, getting caught at his armpits because of that damn flannel overshirt. “What’s with your -” Katsuki growled frustration into Deku’s laughing mouth. “Fuck these layers!”

“This is crazy.”  Deku wiggled from Katsuki’s hold and stood.  Grabbing him by the collar of his t-shirt, Deku’s eyes were wide and wild as he walked backwards down the hall, dragging Katsuki along. “We’ve only seen each other twice. We don’t even know anything about each other anymore.”

Katsuki lunged forward, shoving Deku through the open doorway to his bedroom, then pushed him once more until Deku’s calves hit the end of the bed. Before Deku could tip back into the sheets, Katsuki wrapped an arm around his waist and held him tight, his gaze dropping to the swollen mouth just a breath from his own.

“Later,” Katsuki rasped.

Deku’s eyes soaked up the darkness of the room, lust blowing his pupils wide as he licked at his lower lip.

“Yeah,” he murmured, his voice dropping an octave. “Later sounds good.”

Deku kissed him like an obsession. Like he desired every corner and curve of Katsuki’s mouth, like if Katsuki didn’t fuck him soon, Deku sure as hell would rise up and claim the honors.

It was Deku who threaded fingers in Katsuki’s hair and wedged away from Katsuki’s grip at his waist to tumble back against the bed, taking them both down. It was Deku who frantically whispered touch me touch me into Katsuki’s mouth, and it was Deku who yanked Katsuki’s head to the side and licked a long, hot line from throat to jaw.

“Holy fuck,” Katsuki managed as his brain sparked and sizzled, haywire and overloaded. Flames unfurled and lapped across his skin, curling and rising in his gut as he scrambled to kneel between Deku’s spread legs. “Who the hell are you?”

Deku’s chest rose and fell hard while he propped himself up on his elbows just enough to watch Katsuki work Deku’s jeans open and tug. A seam ripped and Deku had the fucking gall to breathlessly laugh while his eyes still glimmered black and intense with desire.

“Kacchan?”

Hearing the name again after the so long fucked him up every damn time. There was no other way to explain it. Like Deku was ripping off that hero’s uniform, peeling back the skin and seeing the person he’d been before. The hairs on his arms rose, as if searching for the long-remembered warmth and sunshine of the boy-now-a-man splayed on before him, pants halfway down unbelievably thick thighs.

They were tattooed, too. Older, greyer pieces lacking the dizzying quality of Deku’s arms, shoulders, chest. A large, ornate hourglass with the sand nearly run out on one leg. On the other, scrawled in English that Katsuki couldn’t read.

Katsuki shook his head briefly, shaking himself from the lengthy admiration in which he’d lost himself. Deku was blushing like a new bride now, and Katsuki didn’t bother to hide his wolfish grin as he divested Deku off his jeans in one great flourish. Deku laughed again - god, who laughed like that - and scoot back further on the bed, erection obvious and wet in his boxer-briefs.

“Come here?” Deku asked, almost shyly, the color still high in his apple cheeks.

How could anyone say no?

Katsuki couldn’t strip fast enough, right down to skin before he crawled across the mattress with mouth watering and nerves already electric.

“Don’t worry,” Katsuki said, grinning like a fool and shocked with himself. He never laughed or joked in bed, too intent on the endgame, on the physical feeling rather than the emotional ones. He scooped an arm around Deku’s sturdy waist, one leg between Deku’s knees as he brought them nose to nose. “Because I’m here now.”

Deku sputtered a laugh, pressing a hand to Katsuki’s cheek and pushing him playfully away despite Katsuki’s halfhearted snarl of displeasure.

“That’s not your line! And I’m sure he never used it to lure people into bed.”

“No, but I figured it would work on your nerd ass.” Katsuki bite at the soft flesh of the side of Deku’s hand, smiling as Deku yelped and retreated even as one of those gorgeous legs wrapped around Katsuki’s waist. A heel dug into the ride of Katsuki’s ass, encouraging their hips together, Katsuki hissing at the sudden contact of Deku’s full, hot cock sliding against his own. Deku gasped and flexed forward, encouraging friction and a mindless rut, his stubborn little chin tipped to expose a pale, freckled neck.

Something about that unmarked skin, creamy and moonlight white, freckles like constellations fucked Katsuki straight through the heart. He latched on with teeth and tongue, his cock pumping a slick suction along the divot of Deku’s hot inner thigh, a frenzy of dizzying desire collaring him and squeezing hard.

The time for savoring would come again, if Deku deemed it. Right now, however, Katsuki’s restraint snapped like so much electricity, shared currents between mouths and hands and cocks as they rolled and pinned and bit at each other like harsh, bright lightning strikes. The air itself had grown humid, an ozone thickness to each breath as Katsuki opened Deku with dripping fingers, delighting in the shocks he sent through Deku’s powerhouse frame, the way Deku propped a both heels upon Katsuki’s shoulders and whispered fuck me please fuck fuck fuck.

Katsuki watched every inch of his erection stretch Deku’s flushed, pink ass open, taking it to the base in a long, single thrust. Their twin moans rumbled like thunder and Katsuki could swear if it began to storm he wouldn’t even question it. The atmosphere goddamn altered in the span of their slapping hips, Katsuki’s hands bruising Deku’s quivering thighs, hiking Deku higher, folding Deku’s knees over Katsuki’s shoulders to fuck him into the mattress, folding him in half as he watched his own sweat rain down on Deku’s cheeks and chest.

Scarred hands smacked back against the banging headboard for stability, Deku’s eyes wide and sightless, pupils a new moon sky, beautiful black, mouth wide in almost silent, startled gasps for air as Katsuki drove in hard, harder, faster, his teeth grinding against the tight, coiling release threatening in his balls.

Kat-” Deku keened high, a long, hoarse moan raking from his throat as he reached down with one hand and squeezed at himself once, just once.

A rush of pulsing tremors rocked around Katsuki’s cock, beneath him, the thighs pressed to his chest, the knees around his ears, as Deku shot off in full body quakes and a sob. The sight and feel triggered Katsuki into an orgasm that spotted his vision in lightning and stars, the force of his release into Deku’s ass flooding around his dick and leaking out before he’d even finished pulling away.

They collapsed with legs tangled, chests heaving for breath, Katsuki’s head at the foot of the bed, Deku’s still at the headboard. The only reason Katsuki knew they were both still alive was the bottom of Katsuki’s foot pressed against Deku’s inner thigh, where his pulse went from ballistic to spiky to soothed over the course of who knew how long.

“Holy -” Deku’s exhale was shaky, one of his legs errantly twitching. “Okay.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki croaked. “Was okay.”

Deku laughed weakly, his foot finding Katsuki’s calf, painting calming strokes along the firm muscle.

“Something like that.”

They remained silent for a while longer, Katsuki considering a shower and if it would be too awkward to convince Deku to come with him. He wasn’t one to shower with anyone but his goddamn self, privacy being what it was, and people were annoying. But-

But Deku.

“So,” Deku said, sounding as strained and Katsuki suddenly felt.

So?” Katsuki snapped, hating his own damn self for always sounding like he was ready to rip out a fucker’s throat whenever he felt the slightest bit nervous.

“So, how about that getting to know each other again?” At Katsuki’s silence, Deku sit up, running a hand through his wild hair. Katsuki was once again reminded how bizarrely handsome Deku the former twerp had grown. “I mean, if that’s not on the table it’s okay. This was -”

Katsuki shot up, reading escape in every line of Deku’s mannerisms. His pulse escaped his control, his voice too raw for his liking as he reached out, a simple hand around Deku’s tattooed wrist.

“Sure.” He waited until Deku met his eyes. “I’m still an asshole, y’know.”

Deku cracked a smile and cocked his head.

“I’m still a nervous wreck.”

Katsuki made a face.

“Don’t seem like it.”

“Hence the getting to know each other part. It’s revolutionary, really.” Deku folded his legs and scoot forward, seemingly confident in his nudity as he propped his brow on Katsuki’s sweat-sticky shoulder, nose nuzzling at the underside of Katsuki’s jaw. “You do this thing where you meet on a semi-regular basis and talk about your interests and everyday activities, creating a deeper and more intimate human connection between two people. You should try it.”

Katsuki couldn’t help the hand that rose to palm the fuzzy, shaved nape of Deku’s neck as he quirked a secret smile into the dark.

“This your awkward, nerdy way of askin’ me out or some shit?”

“Is it working?” Deku muffled against Katsuki’s neck, lips climbing up to his temple.

Katsuki waited a beat, just to fuck with Deku’s anxious, racing pulse.

“Sounds bearable.”

Deku’s laugh was everything he could have wanted in that moment. They teased and bickered all the way to the shower, only pausing their banter when Katsuki sunk to his knees and sucked Deku off beneath the beating water. Maybe there was something to be said about the shared shower thing, after all.

“Okay,” Deku said, a towel around his hips as he sat at the kitchen island and watched Katsuki cook. “Seriously. You’re going to let me tattoo you, right?”

Katsuki cast a glance over his shoulder to catch Deku appreciating the length of his bare back, but there was a calculating gleam in the eye like he was already planning something for his skin.

“Let’s try the dating thing first, you impatient creep.”

Deku looked up, a silly, lopsided smile at the ready, and Katsuki realized he’d let this little fucker take a tattoo gun to him for the rest of his life if it meant that look.

“Yeah,” Deku said, breathless. “Let’s try it.”