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Sweet as Cherry Pie

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“Alright, Baku-”

Three shots lined up in front of him- one clear, one gold, and the last a deep brown- Mina was pointing at the first with a determined crinkle in her brow.

“One for your shit professor.”

She moved her finger over to the next, long nail almost touching the lip of the liquid.

“One for your shit boss.”

She was pointing to the last one when her face curled even more into disgust and anger. She leaned in close over the table, tequila laden breath smacking him in the face.

“And one for that shit, good for nothin’, pretentious dickwad of an ex-boyfriend who doesn’t know how amazing you are.”

Hooray,” Hitoshi drawled lazily, eyes on his phone and beer lifted in the air purely to humor her. “Nothing quite like dealing with our problems through irresponsible drinking habits.”

Mina flopped into her seat, petulant pout in full swing accompanying his comment. “I saw you stress-eat an entire bag of frozen peas the other day. You can’t judge anyone when you’re that fucked up.”

Phone gently set on the table, a bored gaze cut up to him. “Didn’t I ask you to change the locks so she can’t get inside our apartment anymore?”

Ignoring the mess of alcohol sitting in front of him, Katsuki sneered. “Why should I have to be the one to do it?”

“She’s your friend.”

Mina made an offended sound in her throat, but Katsuki merely rolled his eyes and fought the urge to refute that statement. “Not like she wouldn’t just fuckin’ pick the lock, genius.”

“Katsuki, come on!” She shrieked- loud enough for the girl behind her to turn her head. A fist banged against the table top, sending a bit of the liquid to slosh over onto the already sticky wood. “Stop stalling and take your shots like the big boy you are.”

Straight alcohol burned as each one went down, not even slamming the glasses back to the table seemed to help take the bite away. By the third one going down, his face was scrunched and a cough trying desperately to get out through the revolting taste.

“Here’s a turning point.” Mina grabbed him by the cheeks and pulled his face up. “You aren’t putting up with anymore bullshit from here on out.”

Hitoshi snorted from behind the glow of his phone. “And all this time has been him putting up with bullshit?”

“Shut your mouth.” Katsuki snapped automatically but then shook his head. “Actually, both of you can. I agreed to drink, I did not agree to any life altering, dumbass decisions.”

“But maybe you need to.” She was sipping- fucking sipping- at a shot, and giving him that horrible, knowing looking. “Maybe it’d do you some good.”

“Whatever.” Katsuki pushed up with his hands on the table that slid into his pockets as he took a step back. “I’m gonna get a real drink now.”

“My shots not good enough for you?”

“Disgustingly vile.”

Mina was standing after him, chair scraping loudly with the force of her legs hitting it. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“Absolutely not.” He shouted over his shoulder but the laugh in response told him it wasn’t really up to him.

After shoving through too many people, he found an empty seat at the bar and slid into it. Mina was at his side before he even had time to look for the bartender.

“I brought you here to have fun.” Instead of waiting, Mina made a shrill whistle, leaning halfway over the bar and waving her hand. In a matter of seconds one of the guys was setting a glass down and moving towards her. “You pouting at the bar isn’t having fun.”

“I told you- I just want a fucking real drink.”

Orders in, a flash of a fake smile and laugh from Mina, and cash shoved in the bartenders hand had them two drinks on the bar in record time.

“Those shots were just a warm up. To help get loose and less ready to murder.”

“Excuse me for not wanting to spend my night surrounded by sloppy morons.”

The way her brow knitted over her glass meant an irritating comment was about to fly from glossy lips. “If I hadn’t dragged you out, you would’ve spent the whole night sulking.”

“I don’t sulk.”

“You’re literally sulking right now, honey.” She sighed dramatically. “And I had to come after you and leave poor Hitoshi all by himself.”

“He doesn’t want to be here either.”

“But he is.” Her finger jabbed out towards him. “For you. Because we’re your best friends and we know that you need to fucking relax and maybe getting a little more like the rest of us sloppy morons.”

Katsuki sucked loudly on his straw, glare burning into the shelves of bottles in front of him.

“You chose to be here.”

“Did I?” Glad smacking loudly against the bar, he shot the words at her. “Or was I just sick of your annoying ass following me around my apartment and whining?”

“You wouldn’t be here at all if some part of you didn’t want to be.” The smile behind her glass was coy and taunting. “We both know that much. I don’t care what tiny part of you that is, but I’d like him to come out now.” She leaned away, eyes going low before rising up.

“It’s probably whatever part of you decided that this outfit looks good.”

“It does look good.” He grumbled but his shoulders rose a bit in defense anyway.

“I know it does. Which further proves my point that somewhere in there you wanted to come out with me.” One hand curled around her glass, the other tapped long nails against the wood. “Although, either of us could look good in a trash bag covered in vomit.”

“Glad to see your modesty hasn’t gone anywhere.”

“My ego has to be just as big to put up with yours every day.”

He offered a grunt and plucked the straw from his drink so he could take a bigger mouthful. This only brought out a displeased groan as she slumped over the counter and frowned up at him.

“C’mon Katsuki, I’m just trying to make this whole week easier on you. Let’s move past it.” She tipped his drink back for him and forced a large gulp down his throat. “Fuck school, fuck work, and fuck Haruki especially- I mean what kind of boyfriend cheats on someone as fucking amazing as you?”

“A pretty shitty one.”

Katsuki was sure that deep voice didn’t come from his own chest. And it wasn’t Mina. No- It came from behind him- he hadn’t even spared a glance towards whoever was sat next to him, let alone invited the guy into their conversation.

“Do you fucking mi-” The seat spun with him while he had his teeth bared and ready to snap at whatever rude idiot just decided to interrupt him. He was on the verge of a growl, voice already mid-shout in his throat but stopped after coming a mere couple of inches away from a strong jaw and abhorrent red hair. He leaned back, steeled himself and finished. “-mind.”

Mina snaked a hand under the back of his jacket to pinch at the skin of his spine not covered by his crop top. He didn’t even have to see her to know she how fucking giddy she probably looked.

The man let out a nervous laugh into his drink, brows drawn up and smile coming across his mouth. “Sorry, it’s hard to not overhear when you’re so-”

“So damn loud.” Mina sung over his shoulder. “Isn’t it annoying?”

“I wasn’t going to say that.” He turned his head, cautious amusement falling towards something akin to worry. Dark lashes blinked over bright ruby and Mina practically choked in his ear. “Just…” He waved his hand around in small circles before bringing his glass up to his mouth and cutting Katsuki into tiny pieces with a single pointed look. “Emphatic.”

“Right,” Katsuki stiffened, defenses activated- leaving him all gravelly tone and deep glare. “-well I’m gonna continue my emphatic conversation with my fucking bitch of a friend now if you don’t mind keeping your nose out of it and your ears shut.”

“Of course.” His head went to hang a little, long hair falling over his shoulder and shielding a bit of his face. “Forget I said anything about your pretty shitty boyfriend.”

Ex-boyfriend.” Mina corrected loudly.

“Good to know.”

“And better to forget.” Katsuki snapped before roughly turning his back to the guy.

One look at Mina’s wide eyes and hungry grin had him leaning in close to whisper with a sharp shake of his head. “Do not.

“But he’s perfect.” At least her voice was quiet. She was stretching to look over his shoulder until he got a hand on the high collar of her dress and pulled her back down.

No.”

“You can’t tell me you don’t think he’s at least cute. I know what you like.”

“Then you know I like it when you shut up and stay out of my fuckin’ business.”

“I don’t know, Kat.” Her voice was loud and disruptive again, lilting with a gleeful mockery of his own sanity. “I think it’d be pretty easy to find some guy glad to take you home.”

“Go to hell.” He was on his feet in a moment, slamming the rest of his drink back before abandoning the glass and her horrible cackling.

Hitoshi was exactly where they’d left him, sitting with his nose to a screen, practically leaking boredom.

Hands shoved deep in his pockets, Katsuki kicked the chair across from him. Entirely unperturbed, all he got in return was the lift of eyes from his phone.

The silent staring match was ended once Hitoshi let out a pained sigh and tucked his phone under his arm. “Can I help you something?”

“Did you come here just so Mina would leave us alone or did you come here out of pity?”

“What answer would make you feel better, babe?

“I’d love for you to be honest, sweetie.”

Hitoshi regarded him briefly until a heavy sigh fell to the table and he rolled his head to the side. “Well, you have been more intolerable than usual lately. Especially after-” His disgusted expression and flippant gesture with his hand was enough to complete that thought. “Now, I’m not one to usually try and solve things by getting, as Mina so lovingly puts it, shit-faced enough that my tits go numb- but, maybe a little bit of idiocrasy is good every now and then.”

“You’ve been on your phone the whole time we’ve been here.”

“This is about you.” An accusing finger shot up towards him until Hitoshi moved it to himself. “I’m doing perfectly fine.”

“That’s the biggest load of bullshit-”

That finger turned into a waving hand before it tucked back under his arm. “Alright, in a month when I’m burnt out and having a break down, you can drag me here and pour shots down my throat.”

Eyes narrowed, Katsuki took hold of the back of a chair and leaned over the table. “I’m holding you to that.”

A quick grin slid across Hitoshi’s face, head tipping back just a little. “You gonna hold me to something else until then?”

An ugly snort came out at that, brow twitching up as he shot gag-inducing words back at him. “What would your boyfriend say if he heard you flirting like that?”

“He’d probably be glad to get rid of me.”

“You’re a loser.”

Eyes scanned his figure quickly before flicking over to the bar and back. “Says the mess.”

“Asshole.”

“Bitch.”

Single huff of a laugh out, Katsuki pushed away from the chair and shrugged his arm out of his jacket. “Hold onto this.” He tossed the heavy denim into Hitoshi’s lap, straightening his top out. “Lose it and I’ll burn every pair of cat socks you own.”

“Can’t wait till they charge you with arson. Wonder how long that sentence is.”

Katsuki rounded the table, smacking him firmly on the back as he passed. “Keep talking and it’ll be pretty long considering they’ll have to add homicide to it.”

“Just go.” Hitoshi waved his phone about as Katsuki backed away. “I’ll make sure to take a few pics as blackmail.”

Katsuki couldn’t decide which was more worrisome- the fact that Hitoshi was probably being sincere in his threat or that Katsuki was about to willingly do something he, on multiple occasions, outright denounced.

It was all the things he hated: loud music, sweat, smells, too many people. And yet, he let the eager crowd swallow him up. Bodies moving to let him in and ebbing back into place after him. Dark, hot, overwhelming- things Katsuki wouldn’t necessarily call comfortable but certainly didn’t mind in the moment.

There, consumed by nameless faces and a deep, deafening rhythm, Katsuki didn’t have to be anyone or anything. He was merely another body in the mass moving to music he would absolutely hate under the light of day and without a thick haze of alcoholic glow over his rationality.

Songs blended together, time moved around him with little realization of it. His thoughts had completely faded into a calm nothingness until fingers skimmed his sides- ever so lightly at first but then firm once he leaned into waiting palms. In the moment, it really hadn’t mattered who those hands belonged to. Katsuki was riding enough of a buzz and a spiral of recklessness that he didn’t care all too much. But then with a brief glance over his shoulder to catch sight of that abrasive red mane- wild nature belying the soft smile on the man’s face- there was a small passing thought where Katsuki couldn’t have wished it to be anyone else.

If Mina were near him, she’d be laughing her ass off- he just knew it.

This wasn’t him- half drunk in a bar with some stranger holding onto him.

But where had always doing the same thing gotten him?

Alone, overworked, stressed, bitter.

Maybe it was time for a change. Or maybe none of this was as significant as he always tried to make things out to be. When was the last time he’d done something without thinking of every outcome and picking the one where he’d come out on top?

Not like anything ever worked out how he wanted.

That’s why he’d come, right?

To say fuck it and do something irresponsible?

And if that meant letting a regrettably handsome grown man he’d never met pull him into his chest, then so be it.

Especially when he hadn’t let himself notice how impressively built or tall the guy was. Sitting down, it wasn’t all that clear, but now with Katsuki’s shoulder bumping his chest every time they swayed a bit and thick arms trapping him both physically and because he couldn’t stop from staring down at them- it was unfairly obvious how much shorter he was- and thinner- and generally small compared to the burly mop of hair and goofy grins behind him.

The song began to fade, changing into another but not quite quick enough to cut out the slight pause in their movement. And with it left the solid weight on his hips. Katsuki hadn’t meant to do it, but his hands moved faster than his sluggish brain.

Just as another pounding bassline started up, he caught hold of the man’s wrists and brought them back to his waist.

He’d spent the entire last song reasoning with himself as to why this wasn’t a mistake- he wasn’t about to let him go that easy.

When he looked up over his shoulder, the poor guy seemed almost startled, but he settled back into holding on and even pulling them together with noticeably more assuredness.

Katsuki was never one for dancing- especially not any sort full of heavy-handed grinding and hot breath on his neck. And if anyone- Mina- asked, that was not what happened. And if anyone- Hitoshi- happened to follow through on being a dick and collecting blackmail, then he’d just have to promptly flush said person’s phone down the nearest toilet.

Because even though it most certainly never happened-

It may have.

And maybe he liked it.

Maybe he didn’t mind when a face pressed against the top of his head in a way more gentle and comforting than sensual. The commanding push and pull on his body may have been unfamiliar, but it was also weirdly alluring. And if he stayed there, simply enjoying the constant vibration in his chest and the buzz down his skin every time fingers went too high and brushed the bare skin over his ribs, who was going to blame him?

When the music softened a little, just enough where the chatter of the crowd was discernable from the thump of the bass, Katsuki turned. He opened his mouth, not entirely sure what was going to come from it, but then the guy was rubbing at the back of his neck and tossing his head to the side.

“Hey- care for another drink?”

Katsuki’s jaw shut, a subtle nod coming before he brushed past and led them back towards the bar

Only once there was a cold glass between his hands, filled with rich amber and a cherry rolling around the bottom, did he try again to say something of worth.

“Who wears shit like that to a bar?” They both looked down at the dark slacks and white oxford- top buttons popped open, sleeves rolled to his elbows. As a whole, it all looked nice, but here Katsuki was throwing his voice into an insult. Maybe not the best thing he could have come up with, but it was what it was and he had to commit. “Better yet, who dances in shit like that at a bar?”

“I just got off work-”

“It’s after one.”

He merely shrugged and took a long drink. “I work late- And to answer the second part, I don’t usually dance at bars. I’m not very good at it.”

With a grunt, Katsuki flicked at the small straw in his glass. “I could tell.”

“Yeah, well, I looked over and I saw you again and I figured it might be the only way to talk to you, so-” He turned his head, probably giving Katsuki some sort of warm smile but he refused to look over at it. “I figured making an ass of myself would be worth it.

Skepticism high, Katsuki glared at his drink “And why would you want to do any of that?”

Another shrug came as he shifted his eyes back towards the bar. “Looked like you were having a rough night. Aaand-” The word was drawn out, ending in a nervous laugh. “I may think you’re kind of beautiful and funny.”

It was startling the way hearing someone call him beautiful of all things didn’t make him recoil as it usually did. Wasn’t the first time, but usually his skin crawled with an urge to bite their heads off not push up close and ask to hear it again. This time, the comment rushed from his chest to his face, burning and tingling the whole way. He promptly ignored it, hands clenched around the glass.

“So you think I’m funny or pitiable?”

“Funny.” He answered quickly. “Your friend was right- you guys are loud and I may have been listening the whole time. It was- humorous.”

“I’m glad my disaster of a life is entertaining.”

“Hey, that’s not what I meant-” Then there was a sigh, head hanging a little before he ruffled the hair draped over his shoulder. “Y’see, I don’t have a lot of free time, and neither do my friends- it’s even more rare that our time off matches up- so I don’t see them all that much. Seeing people interact like that always makes me feel a little-” He laughed, a bit hollow but still somehow inviting. His grin was back, shining and distracting as Katsuki peeked over. “Ah, fuck, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t- You don’t care.”

“Did I say that?”

Four words wiped the expression clean from his face. Mouth shut, eyes went a little wide before everything softened and he offered another nervous laugh.

“Well, no, but-”

“Then don’t put words in my mouth.”

The man turned his head, stared at him- really stared. Seconds passed with questioning gazes locked onto one another. The music had gotten loud again, the bar even louder to compensate. People were yelling, laughing, shoving around each other.

But there was silence between them- a tempting sort of quiet that left Katsuki feeling more understood than any words that had been thrown about.

With a toothy smile, he swiveled in his seat a bit. “Katsuki- right?”

It took a couple seconds, but then Katsuki was nodding and sitting up straight.

“Eijirou.” He stuck his hand out between them, elbow resting on the bar.

Katsuki looked down to the hand all smug tone and mocking scoff. “Really?”

“It’s only polite.” Eijirou flexed his fingers as if that would encourage Katsuki to take his hand.

Mouth bent in an odd smirk, Katsuki kept one hand in his lap and the other around his drink. “I’m not all that polite.”

Finally, Eijirou pulled his hand away. At least he was laughing, smiling, shaking his head. “No, you’re not.”

“And what would you like to do about that?” Straw stabbed into the cherry in his glass, Katsuki brought it up and plopped it into his mouth. Tongue swiping the mix of sweet and bitter from his lips, he chewed and watched the slide of curious red from his mouth back up to his own eyes.

It took a moment or two longer than it should have, but eventually Eijirou was putting his thoughts back in order. “I already said your friend was right, didn’t I?” Head tilting a little, his grin came back full force. “I think I’d like to be the guy glad to take you home.” He reached forward, tentative hand landing on Katsuki’s knee. “Only if you’ll let me.”

He watched the hand, distracted shortly by how much of his thigh was taken up by a broad palm. Eyes moved up, regarding him with barely believable indifference. “Why else would I still be talking to you?” Katsuki teetered in, hand landing atop Eijirou’s. “You got a brain inside that head? Or is it really just all hair?”

“I’ll ignore that possible slight.” Eijirou’s hand slid away as he dropped from the stool. “You should tell your friends before we go.”

Katsuki followed after finishing his drink, already a step away from the bar. “Eager?”

An insincere laugh followed him as he turned to step backwards. “Tired.”

“Old man.” Katsuki called back to him before turning, only to be met with another shout that had him swallowing a chuckle before it had the chance to escape.

“I’ll meet you out front, kiddo.”

Chin tucked down, he made sure his face was as flat as he liked it by the time he made it back to the table.

Sensing his hovering over the table, Hitoshi looked up and gave only the slight crane of his head forward as a greeting.

“Where’s Pinky?”

Tongue clicking against his teeth, Hitoshi shrugged and motioned off towards the crowd. “You know as much as I do how inane that question is.”

Looking for her was pointless, so he only spared a passing glace back towards the dancefloor before reaching out. “Tell her I left.”

“She’ll be thrilled.” Jacket handed off, Hitoshi took the final sip of his beer and scooted the glass forward. “Just try not to get murdered.”

Katsuki tugged one arm through the dark denim, throwing in a scoff. “Aw, are you worried about me, baby?”

“No, I can’t pay the other half of rent by myself. I need your overworked ass to keep my home.”

With a sigh, he fixed his collar and rolled his shoulders. “Yeah, yeah. If I’m not home by noon, send out the swat team.”

“I don’t know if I care that much.”

“You’re a real ass.”

A wide grin flashed up at him for a second before it was falling back into detectable apathy. “And so, we’re a pair.”

“Watch after her.”

Fake salute included, Hitoshi sent him off with a quick, “Yes, mother.”

 

Within moments of walking outside, a car was pulling up and Eijirou was pushing off the outside wall to motion toward it.

“Already called for one?” Katsuki had never been able to get a ride that fast in his life- even in the middle of downtown.

“Something like that.” Eijirou answered offhandedly, opening the back door and letting Katsuki slide in first.

The first thing he noticed after climbing in was the tinted black screen between them and the front of the car. Sure it was odd, but the thought didn’t go much further than that.

The car pulled away from the curb in silence and took to driving through the city.

“You live around here?” Eijirou asked after a sharp turn down another road with towering buildings and glowing street lights.

“Close enough.” His answer was just vague enough to shut down any further questioning.

The real answer was yes- it only took them fifteen minutes to walk there from his and Hitoshi’s apartment. But giving a yes wouldn’t have allowed them to exist in silence for the rest of the ride. Katsuki didn’t want small talk- he wanted to be there already so they could get on with this before he lost his nerves.

When the car did finally stop, he wasn’t all that prepared. They were still very much in the middle of the city, still surrounded by buildings far too tall to be a simple complex.

“We’re here.” Eijirou said quietly as he opened his door.

As if a parked car on the side of the street could mean anything else.

And yet, it took a couple of seconds for Katsuki to follow him out.

The building in front of them climbed tall, the light of the lobby spilling out through large windows and letting him stare inside. Furnished as if it were the bottom floor of an ornate hotel, Eijirou led him towards the elevator with his chin tucked down.

Eijirou knew how ridiculous this place was- he had to.

The elevator climbed and climbed, floors passing with a loud ding and an increasing wonder of just how big a mess Katsuki had gotten himself into. When the doors slid open, it was to a short hallway leading to a single door at the other end.

It didn’t take them more than a couple of seconds to walk to it, but each click of heeled shoes against the wood was unnerving. Eijirou was visibly tense and it did little to calm the jitters of following some stranger to wherever they lived.

Especially when that where was here.

An expensive ass place from what he could tell- top floor considering the numbers that ticked by in the elevator- far more than Katsuki wanted or expected.

Eijirou fumbled in his back pocket to pull out his key while Katsuki took to leaning against the wall beside the door. He trailed his gaze back down the hall to the elevator. Only a single button sat to the right of the door- that confirms it- top floor it is.

What a fucking joke.

Door unlocked, key in hand, Eijirou stopped before taking hold of the doorknob. He took a step back, and came in close.

Katsuki swallowed the bitterness at how much the man towered over him.

“Before we go in-” Leaning down, Eijirou paused when Katsuki’s hand landed on his chest.

Eyes flicking from eyes to his mouth, he found lips blurry from how close they were. “Why before?”

“Because after we do, you might not want to stay.” Mouth parted to speak, the words were swallowed after his arms were squeezed and Eijirou gave the smallest shake of his head. “Just trust me.”

Head tipped back against the wall, Eijirou trapped him with hands grabbing his arms and a knee knocking into his thigh. There was slight hesitation even after he leaned down further- a brief handful of seconds where they simply watched each other. Maybe it was nerves, or a chance for escape, or merely a means of gathering his composure before he eased his way into a gentle press of lips. Lips that stayed closed only as long as their eyes remained open. Lips that began as a slow drag until parting and becoming an almost messy mash of hasty excitement.

With Eijirou finally pulling back, a relieved sigh fanned over Katsuki’s face. “Maybe that’ll be convincing enough.”

“What’ve you got in there?” It’s not like he didn’t know. It wouldn’t be anything to worry about this much.  “Dead bodies? A hundred cats? Secret hoarder?” He slapped on a smirk even though Eijirou was already back at the door with a crease in his brow. “Is this where I find out you’re going to murder me?”

“None of the above.” He replied as he turned the knob and shoved the door open.

“Then I’m sure I can handle myself, Big Guy.”

“Okay, Short Stack.”

“Watch it.” Katsuki bit as he pushed from the wall and weaved beside him to get in the apartment.

The door opened immediately into a large room, half littered with furniture and the other half beautifully clean with a full kitchen and a bar nestled in the corner.

He was prepared for big and nice and impressive, but-

His jaw was probably hung at the sheer size of the place. One room and it was already almost twice as large as his entire apartment.

Upon the realization he was probably gawking, Katsuki turned and quickly shucked his jacket off. “So, you rich or somethin’?” He remarked, trying desperately for it to sound uninterested.

“Or something.” Eijirou replied while helping him pull the denim from his arms and hang it on a nearby hook.

“Explains the clothes.”

“I told you I’d been at work.”

Work could’ve meant anything.”

Eijirou merely hummed as Katsuki turned to take another look.

All sleek furniture, dark greys and black, only the couch across from a wide tv appearing all that used. There was a table probably intended to be eaten at, but instead it was covered in papers and books. He began to wonder just how much the kitchen was used. It looked so pristine, perfectly kept, everything probably far too expensive except for the basic coffeepot tucked away where the counter met the fridge.

“Is all this a problem?”

Eijirou’s deep voice pulled him from his stare. Then the hand on the small of his back had him turning practically into the broad chest waiting beside him. Katsuki tipped his head back- hated that he had to tip his head back to really look at him- “You got a bed?”

“I, uh-” He faltered then stumbled his way into a laugh. “Yeah?”

“Where?”

His head jerked to the side. “Down the hall to the left.”

“Not a problem then.”

He didn’t waste time to look at Eijirou’s expression before he abandoned his boots by the door and wandered toward the hall. Open doors lined his walk- a bathroom, guest room, office- followed by a couple doors shut before a final one at the end.

It was dark when he walked in but kept light enough to see by the light pouring in from the glass doors on the other side. There appeared to be some sort of balcony out past it, their height letting both the moon and the other buildings light the room in a soft white glow.

Admittedly, he was expecting something lavish after the rest of the place, but this was the only room that seemed to be modest in any sense. Just another desk, papers covering every inch of the wood, a dresser, a small bedside table, and the bed itself. If anything, the only thing striking about the room was just how large the bed was for a single person.

“I probably should’ve given you a little bit of a heads up before we got here.” Eijirou came up beside him, rubbing at his neck. “That’s what my friends say at least.”

Belt undone, Katsuki slid it from around his waist and watched as Eijirou’s eyes followed it to the floor. “Wouldn’t have made a difference.”

“Oh.” He replied absently, gaze lingering on the bare skin of Katsuki’s stomach before coming all the way back up. “Good to know I guess. Say-”

Katsuki made a displeased sound in his throat, head shaking as he popped the button on his jeans. “Look, I’d rather not have a fucking chat while we do this.”

It wasn’t the first time Eijirou had looked startled that night, but it might’ve been the first time Katsuki actually felt a little regretful at the sight. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.” Brushing off whatever brief feeling he’d gotten, he yanked his top off and threw it to the floor. “Just get on the bed and be naked.”

It was nice to hear Eijirou chuckle again. “Are you always this bossy?”

Katsuki concerned himself with dragging his pants off to hide his exasperation. “Are you always this irritating?”

There was a brief pause, some humored sound from across the room. “Yes.” Katsuki whipped his head around to find Eijirou grinning back at him from the bed just as he tossed the last bit of clothing to the floor. “But most people find it charming.”

“And I’d say it’s anything but.” He muttered, crossing to the side of the bed. His boxers were lost along the way, slipped down his legs and leaving him to give a small shiver. Instead of climbing up beside him, Katsuki simply put a knee to the bed and threw himself up to straddle Eijirou’s lap.

“You don’t think I’m charming?” He asked, soft touches immediately running up Katsuki’s sides. “Not even a little bit?”

Katsuki was glaring down at him, hands on his shoulders and brow tight. “Not even a fuckin’ little bit.”

“What a shame.” Eijirou murmured while dipping his head in to place a kiss on the center of Katsuki’s chest. His hands fell lower, rubbing circles against his hips with a hum into his skin. “I’ll have to try my hardest to change your mind.”

There was a tickle of warmth that begged to be acknowledged. Each press of lips to his skin and soothing brush over his sides had him feeling more comfortable than he wanted. He was here for thoughtless fun- not to get some semblance of compassion back into his pathetic existence.

Hands moving down over the curve of Eijirou’s biceps, he huffed and urged him back. “You got shit?”

Broken out of his flowering of kisses, Eijirou blinked before nodding. “Wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t.”

Katsuki could hardly contain his eye roll. “How damn thoughtful of you.”

“Bathroom.” Was all Eijirou had to say while his hands fell to the sheets as a clear sign.

“Nothing closer?”

Head tipped back into the fabric headboard, Eijirou dared to laugh. “There might be- but then I wouldn’t get to watch you go get it.”

“Oh, so it’s all a ploy to catch a glimpse of my bare ass?”

“Among other things.” And then he was grinning again- that face splitting, toothy grin that did something strange and unwelcome to Katsuki’s stomach.

“What other things?” He asked dryly.

“Very few other things. But either you go fetch, or I guess we’re done here.”

“Fetch?” Hand to Eijirou’s chest, Katsuki pushed himself further away. “I don’t fetch. I’m not your fuckin’ pet.”

Eijirou caught him by the chin before he could smack the hand away. With a tight grip he tilted Katsuki’s head back and swiped a thumb along his bottom lip. “Be a good boy, won’t you?”

Katsuki had half a mind to bite that thumb, but the other half already has his legs moving to tumble off the bed toward the bathroom.

Just as he stepped through the threshold onto cold, white tile, Eijirou shouted from the bed, “Top drawer to the right of the sink.”

That would’ve been easy enough if he wasn’t so distracted by the nicest fucking bathroom he’d ever seen. Large, shower surrounded by stonework and glass, a tub definitely long enough for more than one person, an open closet that was probably just as spacious as the bathroom itself- if not bigger.

He wanted to explore it, his fingers twitched with the need to pick through drawers and cabinets and snoop into a life so foreign to him.

But he shook his head, narrowed in on the right drawer and walked directly to it without letting his feet carry him further inside. He tried not to let his vision stray on the way back out but that also meant catching the full, ogling gaze of the man still propped up in his bed.

“Was it worth making me walk all the way over there fuckin’ butt-ass-naked?”

His griping was met with only a wry smile and open, inviting arms. “Oh, completely.” When Katsuki was back over his lap, Eijirou’s hands came in swiftly and clapped his ass before squeezing softly. “Those saggy pants really weren’t doing you any favors.”

Brow hiked up, Katsuki dropped a condom and the lube to the bed. “You sayin’ I got a nice ass?”

“Among other things.” He said again, grinning even wider than he had the first time.

“What other things?”

Hand leaving his butt and coming up, the smile on Eijirou’s face was too innocent for the way he rubbed over the barbell pierced through Katsuki’s nipple. “These ain’t too bad.” The tickle along Katsuki’s skin turned to a full burn once Eijirou trailed two fingertips up the underside of his cock. “Neither is this.”

He inhaled fast, chest full and making his words tight and clipped. “Some would say I’m the full package.”

The grin Eijirou got was like a warning for what left his mouth all amused and horribly cheesy. “I can’t wait to open you up then.”

A scoff came as Katsuki cringed. “That was horrible.”

“Yeah?” At least his laugh was only apologetic and not at all embarrassed. “Sorry, I’ll make up for it.”

Katsuki grabbed the lube, shoving it into his Eijirou’s chest with a huff. “Just don’t say anything.”

Dramatically pinching his lips in some sort of teasing appeasement, Eijirou slicked a few fingers with a laugh through his nose.

Katsuki told himself he was ready for it, mentally prepared, but still he found himself sucking air through his teeth when the first knuckle inched in. His shoulders squared, stomach tightening involuntarily and giving him away entirely.

Teeth peeked out from behind curling lips, the slide of that finger becoming slow and deliberate. “You alright, baby?”

Hard swallow- don’t react- Katsuki leveled his voice and dipped his brow down. “I ain’t your damn baby.”

One hand kneading firmly at his ass, the other worked a second finger in and pushed without hesitation. “Didn’t seem like you hated it all that much.”

“You really can’t go more than a few seconds without blabbering can you?”

“Nah.” He actually had the gall to chuckle while curling his fingers. “It’s a medical condition, actually.”

“Must be pretty annoying.”

“Is it?”

Mouth open, Katsuki went to speak but choked halfway through when two fingers suddenly became three. Roughly clearing his throat, he frowned and spat out a quick, “Immensely” down towards the distracting bulge of a hairy chest.

“It’ll grow on you.”

“I’m immune.”

“I don’t know about that, I think-”

Hand clapping against Eijirou’s shoulder, Katsuki cut him off. “I don’t care what you think.” He reached behind him, took a tight grip on Eijirou’s wrist and pulled. His fingers came sliding out easily but not without a small punch of swallowed moan. “I- don’t wanna know what you think. I’m not here for a deep conversation or to be teased or for you to try and fucking figure me or whatever. I thought I’d made myself pretty damn clear from the beginning.”

When Katsuki looked up, he hated to find the briefest regard of disappointment before Eijirou was correcting himself and letting his face soften.

 “Sure you wanna stay like this?”

Eijirou didn’t address any of what he said, and Katsuki thought he’d be happy. The lack of comment was exactly what he wanted and that made him feel horribly understood- maybe it was too late to keep pretending Eijirou didn’t see right through him.

The rip of the condom open had him regaining a little bit of his power.

There was a small push to Katsuki’s side to get him to roll off, but he dug his knees into the bed and hurriedly took Eijirou’s cock in a firm hold. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Really?” He was trying to keep the same collected tone, but there was a breathiness to it, a crack at the end when Katsuki smoothed his lubed palm up and down before rolling the condom on.

“Just relax, big guy.”

“Big fan of control, aren’t ya?”

Shooting an annoyed glance down, Katsuki got higher on his knees and lined them up. “I said relax- I didn’t say please sir analyze me.”

The fingers still on his asscheeks reflexively dug in before letting go. A little grunting laugh came out as eyes scanned over him. “Sir, huh?”

Katsuki wanted to gag as he narrowed his eyes on the flushed face below him. “Don’t tell me you fuckin’ liked that.”

“Don’t tell me you didn’t.” Eijirou showing him a blushing grin was apparently even more dangerous than an amused one. It brought back something warm and painful to his chest.

“I didn’t.” He shot back quickly but Eijirou only tutted and shrugged.

“We’ll see.”

In lieu of dignifying that with a response, Katsuki pinched his brow, held in a deep breath, and exhaled slowly while he took his time lowering down onto Eijirou’s cock. He paused halfway, finding the resolve to steady his nerves by not even sparing a single glance up. He kept his eyes locked on the slight sheen of sweat on Eijirou’s stomach, the occasional, unfairly telltale twitch of his own dick against his hip, the fact that he still had a ways to go before he could give his knees a rest by meeting the thick thighs beneath him.

But when he did meet them, ass resting on fuzzy thighs, knees spread wide and aching in a way he hadn’t felt in too long, the content sigh he let out from sheer fullness didn’t go unnoticed. The grip on his waist held him down as a deep hum rose from Eijirou’s chest.

“Enjoying yourself?”

Shallow roll of his hips, just enough to acknowledge the deepness of it all, he cracked his neck and couldn’t help but let his lips curl up. “Just been a while.”

“Your boyfriend not good enough for this?”

Looking down, Eijirou’s expression was somewhere between cocky and curious. Katsuki could take care of that with a few simple words. “Just ‘cause I had a boyfriend doesn’t mean I had this.” There went the cockiness- face wiped clear- probably because of the pure resentment in his tone. “I was busy being a responsible adult, and he was busy fucking other people behind my back.”

“Oh,” Eijirou’s eyes skirted away and with them went the curiosity.

“Mm,” This isn’t about him- he doesn’t’ deserve that- “So we hadn’t really got around to it much lately. And I guess in a sense, I was the one not good enough for this.” Forget about him- “Apparently.” His voice hitched with a swivel of his hips. It wasn’t love anyway- “But I don’t wanna waste my time thinkin’ ‘bout that. He’s worthless and an asshole.”

“Hopefully I’m not either of those.”

“You’re also not my boyfriend.” He pulled up before rocking back down and breathing deeply through it all. “Hopefully, that’s clear.”

“Didn’t mean to-” A heavy sound lifted up, pitching his voice lower as he continued. “- to imply that’s what I was thinking.”

“This isn’t a rebound.” Katsuki clarified but the way he moved- ground his hips, gasped between his words- was anything but convincing.

“Are you so sure about that?”

Eijirou sounded almost arrogant. He just had to rub it in, didn’t he?

Bracing himself on handfuls of firm pecs, Katsuki gave him a sharp look. “Might wanna watch your tongue. I can leave at any moment.”

“And I won’t stop you.” Katsuki was giving him his most pointed stare, but Eijirou was merely grinning away beneath him. “But you won’t.”

“Oh really?” He leaned down, stopped the movement of his body and intently watched hooded eyes. “And why’s that?”

“You want this.” The pull on his waist jerked him forward, somehow pushed even deeper. His inhale was faltering and pathetic. “Feels too good, doesn’t it?” Straining up, Eijirou barely brushed Katsuki’s throat with his lips. “And it seems to me you don’t really mind a little backtalk.”

Katsuki kept his voice to a grumble, eyes staring holes high on the wall once his head tipped back on its own accord. “Hate to break it to you. But it turns out you are kind of an asshole.”

With a huff, Eijirou fell back to the pillows and stared up at Katsuki with something far too close to adoration. “Guess that means you have a type.”

“Yeah?” Gaze coming back down slowly, he leaned with him and moved his hands down towards the soft ridges of a toned stomach. His fingers trailed leisurely through the sweat between abs, the roll of his hips slowing into a relaxed grind. “And what’s yours?”

“Good people.” Eijirou answered quickly and without thought. “Honest people.” The hold he had on Katsuki became gentle once again. “Kind-hearted people.”

“Then I’ve got some bad news for you-”

Katsuki was unfairly cut off by pure sincerity.

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.” There wasn’t any sort of grin this time- just a straight faced stare that cut right through his chest. “I’m sure you’re a lot less harmful than you think you are.”

Katsuki wouldn’t respond to that- Couldn’t respond to that- not when it felt like every veil he’d ever crafted had been seen through and burned down.

If anything, he felt afraid- only admittable to himself.

So he took comfort is bristling and brushing the words off like he hadn’t even heard them.

He cast his head to the side as if the whole situation annoyed him. “So, are ya gonna make me put in all the goddamn work here?”

Eijirou didn’t fight him on it despite probably knowing exactly what he was doing. He didn’t push, didn’t try to worm his way into Katsuki’s insecurities and shine a light on them like so many others had. He let it be and played right along.

“I thought you knew what you were doing?”

“I do.” Katsuki had a glower firmly set on his face, but he still left his wandering rub go back to Eijirou’s arms lax and unhurried. He’d put the attention back on someone else until he could find where his ego was hiding. “But these had better be good for something.”

They both looked down to where Katsuki was squeezing his biceps. When Eijirou tilted his chin up, he beamed and probably flexed considering how to muscle tensed under his grip. “You a fan of my hard work?”

Katsuki wrinkled his nose and let out a dismissive tch. “Never got my answer- You a fan of my ass?”

Eijirou’s laugh was abrupt, loud, and it filled Katsuki with an unexplainable warmth that had nothing to do with the way he was jostled atop him. “I think you know the answer to that.”

“And I think you do too.” Katsuki pinched the muscle and gave a sharp jerk of his hips. “So put them to use.”

The startled moan that came out fell quickly into some sort of low growl as Eijirou shifted. “So demanding.”

He really dug his fingers in then, wasting no time in finding the rhythm they once had. “Better?” He puffed out while lifting Katsuki up before roughly bringing him back down on his cock.

A hasty and rushed Much-” was all he could manage between the next few thrusts.

Eijirou’s knees lifted, arms curling around heaving sides and trapping Katsuki against his chest. Somehow, Eijirou wormed his way up. Somehow, he had the strength to keep the steady rhythm of his hips up while also latching onto Katsuki’s throat. Somehow, Katsuki didn’t even resist when a hand landed with a resounding smack against his ass and a hot exhale poured over his skin. Wet mouth sliding over his pulse, a low keen started in his throat that quickly rose louder as teeth skimmed the hollow of his throat. They took hold then, digging in as Eijirou urged him by a push to move faster.

With a harsh suck and the slide of a tongue, Katsuki grabbed a fistful of hair and tugged. “Oi,” Eijirou only groaned so he yanked again. “Fuck- Shark Week, quit trying t’mark me up.”

Falling back into the pillows, Eijirou laughed and pulled them down together. “Not a fan, huh?”

Katsuki caught himself with elbows to the sheets and scowled. “Don’t wanna get shit for it.”

“Too bad.” Eijirou pushed two fingers into the tender spot on his neck where his mouth had been. Katsuki refused to acknowledge how that little bit of an ache made his eyes fall and his breath stutter. “Makes you even prettier.”

“You’re back on that, huh?”

“What?” Eijirou blinked until it clicked together and he let his face draw up in amusement. “Oh, callin’ you pretty? Of course- it’d be a shame if I didn’t take the chance to feed into your ego.”

Katsuki opened his mouth, jab fully prepared, but first his voice leapt up into a small, uttered whine when Eijirou’s cock dragged out just right. Two deep pants later and the words finally made their way from his mouth. “You think you’re real funny-“

“I’ve been told that before.”

There was an infuriating amount of stability in his tone. It made Katsuki grind his jaw and gather as much fury as he could into one, flushed glare. “Well you know what I’m tellin’ ya?”

“To shut up?” His voice plunged into a purr, lighting up Katsuki’s insides with some wild, confusing mess of anger and attraction.

“Bingo, smartass.” Katsuki tried to sound like he was winning even when they both knew that was miles away from the truth.

“Alright, I’ll shut up as long as you don’t.” He held Katsuki down flush against his hips, pushed as deep as he could into him and drew out a humiliating, heady chirp from somewhere in Katsuki’s chest. “Keep letting me know how good you feel, baby.”

Katsuki wanted to fight and argue and refute, but he couldn’t find it in him. It all became too much when Eijirou took his cock in hand and started sliding up and down in an unforgiving pull, the occasional squeeze- or at least he thought that was too much. That was until a tongue flicked over his nipple followed by teeth close around the barbell and tugging just enough- just enough to be too much- and too much was so good.

That alone was easy to figure out once he tipped his head back and let any sound that wanted to fly towards the ceiling. Not only was it obvious, it also seemed to be encouraging. With it all, Eijirou only sped up, held on tighter, poked and prodded at every bit of composure Katsuki had left until it was crumbling and all he could do was give in to the encompassing, firecracker orgasm that worked its way through his blood like lava.

His throat felt raw, but the sounds he’d been making were lost to the pound of his heart in his ears.

That was probably for the best. No doubt they were more embarrassing than he’d ever own up to.

Even so, they apparently did something to the man beneath him who hadn’t let up in his pace for more than a second. And Katsuki let him- let Eijirou carry on while his own body felt more and more like jelly with every thrust.

A deep sound was rattling against his chest. Fingers were digging into his skin hard enough there’d definitely be something left behind.

Fuzzy gaze blinked at the high ceiling until falling and finding the flush of a man so wound up that all it took was a slight clench around him and a whisper of “Please, sir” to have him gone in an instant.

Eijirou jerked up and looped his arms tight around Katsuki’s back, groan vibrating against his shoulder as he shuddered.

Those arms curled around him didn’t loosen for minutes, at least. The seconds ticked by with every heaving breath that slowly calmed into relaxed sighs and ghosting whispers of words he refused to hear against his collar.

He must’ve begun to doze off even sitting up, because when Eijirou began to shift him, his eyes flicked open like reality had just come back for the first time.

With barely any effort of his own, he was rolled onto the bed to shiver until a heavy duvet was pulled up to his shoulders.

“Don’t feel like you have to leave.” Eijirou’s voice was rough but quiet and calming.

Katsuki made a sound somewhere between a scoff and a grunt as he rolled to his side. “Wasn’t planning on it. My ass deserves a bed this nice after everything I’ve been through this week.”

“You know,” Eijirou began, shifting around behind him before taking a deep breath. “That sure was a lot of talking for someone who didn’t want a fuckin’ chat.

“I’m a defensive hypocrite.” Katsuki muttered simply, hiking the blanket up a bit more. “Get fucking used to it.”

Eijirou laughed but didn’t pester him any further. They laid there, silence creeping in as Katsuki felt his eyes begin to droop.

“Can I?” Came a quiet voice just before Eijirou gently touched his side.

“If you gotta.”

It was as much of a yes as Eijirou was going to get from him- and he seemed to know that.

Sliding in close, he slipped his arm over Katsuki’s side and pulled them together. Chest to his shoulders, nose to the back of his head, leg worming its way between his own- it’d been a while since anyone had been so close to him- even with his ex- after they-

It had been a while.

No one had ever really cared to try and willingly hold a thorn bush.

He hated how nice it felt.

Chapter Text

Waking up in Eijirou’s apartment, darkness still coating the lines of expensive furniture, had been unimaginable before that night.

Nice things,

Nice people,

Anything arguably nice would’ve been nothing more than a dream until a few years ago.

Shoved deep into his mind, locked up tight in his chest, a childhood and an adolescence of discontent and barely making it through were not topics Katsuki discussed easily.

Experiences shaped a person; and when those experiences were unpleasant, was it any surprise for an equally unpleasant person to be born out of them?

At least that’s what he could easily blame his poor temperament and overly emotional side on.

That’s also what led him to be independent and definitively guarded by the time he left for university.

With no one and nothing, he took off to a city he’d never so much as visited to start over and do better by himself.

Well, no one except Mina who’d been attached to his back since middle school whether he wanted her there or not. But she wasn’t anywhere close to nice and Katsuki still didn’t have jackshit to his name.

So, truly, waking up in a giant room surrounded by soft sheets and a rich smell that seemed to coat every inch of the place was something unimaginable before that night.

Head lolled to the side, arm outstretched, Katsuki found no one next to him. His brow furrowed as he glanced around. The time was lost to him, his phone probably- hopefully- in his jean’s pocket on the floor. But the sun wasn’t up yet and exhaustion still pulled at his eyelids. He was fully prepared to roll over and go back to sleep, but a quiet cough caught his attention first.

He propped himself up on his elbows at the sound, looking over towards one of the glass doors to the balcony cracked open.

Boxers found in a small pile on the floor, sweatshirt found after a brief bit of rummaging in Eijirou’s drawers- who the fuck needed that many ties- it was only a matter of a few minutes before Katsuki was peeking through the doorway.

Given the size of the apartment, it was surprising how small the balcony was. It was just long enough for a couple of chairs and a large plant in the corner.

Eijirou was sprawled in the chair on the end, one leg stretched up on a footrest while the other stayed planted on the ground. Whether he’d showered or simply brushed it out, his hair was down- somehow even longer now and hanging down his bare chest.

Just peeking out from behind the doorframe, Katsuki watched him stare off into the city lights while pulling a cigarette to his mouth. After a steady pull, he dangled his hand over the edge of the railing and blew the smoke upwards.

Without laughs or grins or some stupid remark falling out of his mouth, the guy actually looked somewhat intimidating. Large build, strong jawed, the way he appeared deep in thought as he studied the sky, Katsuki almost felt hesitant to step outside and move closer.

He wasn’t used to that feeling in the slightest. It was annoying, begging to be squashed.

“That shit’ll kill ya.” He said loudly- too loud for it to be just the two of them in the middle of the night.

Eijirou didn’t look over, didn’t even change his expression. “When you’ve dealt with shitty people and this shitty world for another ten years then you can advise me on my health, baby boy.” His tone was lighter by the time he finished and that tease of a petname sounded amused and adoring. With one look, he should have been able to sense the radiating disgust from Katsuki’s expression.

Eijirou cracked a grin and waved him over. “And there’s not much better than a cigarette after some good sex.” He squinted at the skyline, lips pursed. “Alright, maybe some well cooked beef is better, but I don’t have any of that so I’m making do.”

An odd sense of pride swelled in Katsuki’s chest, the slight upward curve of his mouth hidden by a head tucked down. He sat himself in the chair beside Eijirou with one leg crossing over the other. “It was good, huh?”

“Am I wrong?” His high brows were full of genuine curiosity when he tilted his head to the side.

Katsuki gave a noncommittal shrug and pulled at the hem of the sweatshirt till it covered the chilly skin of his thigh. “Wasn’t awful.”

Long hum out, Eijirou clicked his tongue. “Glad I didn’t disappoint. And good to know there’s apparently room for improvement.”

“I could offer some pointers.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re far more experienced given your endless charm and affability. Your companionship must be in high demand.” His hand was moving about as he talked- he did that a lot, Katsuki thought while eyeing the glowing end of the cigarette swinging through the air.

“It’s exhausting being this likable.” He answered absently but with enough dryness to make Eijirou laugh.

“I’d be happy to learn.” He looked over fully, cigarette hanging between his lips and smoke falling out as he spoke. “We could do it again.”

Katsuki had to look dumb at the way that struck him. “What- right now?”

No.” Another hearty laugh fell out, his whole face crinkling with it. “Not right now.”

He really was handsome.

“Old man too tired?”

“I’m not that old.” Eijirou’s expression fell into light-hearted concern as he leaned closer over the armrest. “How old do you think I am?”

“I dunno.” Katsuki allowed for a taunting smile, giving his best guess. “Thirty-five?”

“Ouch.” Sighing heavily, Eijirou slid back into the chair. “I’m only thirty, thank you. This birthday was hard enough as it is.”

“Not that different.”

“Different enough.” He corrected with a point. “And how about you?”

“Twenty-one.”

There was a beat of a pause before Eijirou was giving a one-shouldered shrug. “I bet a lot of people don’t believe that.”

“I have a very intense skincare regimen.”

Katsuki hadn’t really meant to say that out loud. It was true, but dammit it sounded stupid.

“It’s very soft.” Eijirou tapped a bit of ash over the rail, eyes flitting back over just for a moment. “Your skin.” He seemed somewhat less embarrassed to admit the rest. “Except your hands.”

“I build a lotta shit.”

Build-” He sounded confused.

“I’m getting my degree in mechanical engineering. That includes building shit.”

Eijirou’s perplexed expression fell into a chuckle as he reached down and snuffed the cigarette out after a final inhale. “Right, you’re still in school.”

“Yeah, I am.” He kept his eyes narrowed, not quite sure how to take that remark. It sounded almost belittling but it could’ve easily been fatigue or his own defensive nature. “And what is it you do Mr. hot shot I live in a fucking penthouse apartment?”

An odd sound cracked through Eijirou’s pleasant mood. He skirted his eyes away and shifted in his chair. “Not really important is it?”

Arms crossed, Katsuki kept himself flat. “Considering I just got fucked on sheets that are probably worth more than my car, yeah, it’s kind of important.”

Eijirou flicked his lighter as a clear distraction, watched the flame glimmer about before swiping it off. “Let’s call it business.”

“You’re not a fucking hitman, right? I’m not gonna get sniped by a mob member sitting here-”

“Nothing like that.” He laughed, but it was the least believable one of the evening. “I just work for a big company.”

“Work for or own?” It was meant as a snide joke, but the flinch and silence that came after made it all a lot less funny. “Really? So that’s it?”

“Like I said,” He straightened up and cleared his throat. “It doesn’t matter what I do.”

“It’s a little jarring, you know. Expecting one thing and being met with all this.”

“Should I come up with a disclaimer before taking people home with me?”

“Possibly.” Elbow to the arm rest, Katsuki put his chin in hand and smirked. “Give me a peek as to what that would sound like.”

Another clearing cough and Eijirou was twisting his face in an odd amount of focus. “Hello sir, would you like to come with me back to my lavish home where we will engage in sex?”

Lips pinched, Katsuki managed to stifle his laugh. “Too formal, idiot. Try again.”

Eijirou broke into a grin, visibly relaxing into his seat. “Hey dude, wanna bang in my fancy-ass apartment?”

“There we go.” Reaching over, Katsuki knocked his fist into the warmth of Eijirou’s shoulder. “Fuckin’ perfect.”

With his smile, Eijirou’s head hung forward and he had to push the hair behind his ear we he turned. “Would that have worked on you?”

The look he was getting was too comfortable, too tender. Katsuki’s eyes moved quickly to the building across the street. “Who knows.”

“I think you do.”

There really wasn’t any hiding around this guy.

“Doesn’t matter. You got me here anyway, didn’t ya?” Cocksure air back in place, he stuck his chest out a little. “Consider yourself lucky.”

“Not an easy one to convince?”

Neither of them were too sure of the answer, so Katsuki did what he did best. Ignored and diverted.

“You sure you don’t use this place as a pickup?”

Eijirou let him slide by- the only thing he gave was a small sigh as he looked up. “Why would I?”

As if he didn’t know. Didn’t see it. Didn’t know how privileged he was. Didn’t realize how many people would kill for even the tiniest amount of what he had.

“Guys like you. Someone that has it all.” Something about thinking of it all that way made Katsuki’s stomach turn sour. He’d been ignoring his harsh thoughts long enough. Without the warmly tinted haze of alcohol or a head rush of lust, he was realizing how absurd this all was. “Just betting you bring everybody back here and they’re so blindsided and in awe they let you do whatever you want.”

“What? No- I don’t even-” Maybe he shouldn’t have been so harsh. Eijirou clearly recoiled at the accusation.

Good.

Push him away.

“I don’t have it all.

Let him see the real you.

The knife was in, all he had to do was twist. “Just how much money do you have?”

“That’s a very rude question.”

Twist and rip it out.

“I already told you I ain’t polite.”

“You’re right.” Full breath through his nose, brow creased, arms crossed over his chest, Eijirou frowned towards the sky. “You’re not polite in the slightest. All sarcasm and silver-tongued.”

“If anyone has the silver tongue, it’s the grown man who talks anyone that bats their eyes and lets him get a hand on them into getting sucked up into his lonely little world.”

“Better than some bratty kid used to making demands when they don’t even understand the way the world works. You wouldn’t know a single thing about how much it takes to get where I am. The sacrifices I’ve made.”

“Sacrifices?” Katsuki barked, loud and embittered. “You think I don’t know? You think I-” He stopped when the anger blinded his thoughts from forming correctly. It’d all been going so well until he decided that wasn’t what he was worth. And now he was letting his own issues twist something long repressed in in chest that made his perfectly crafted walls slam back up and lock tight. “Don’t act like you’ve got me figured out.”

Eijirou collected himself a lot quicker. He was practiced. He knew how to reign his temper in in a way Katsuki couldn’t fathom. “I didn’t mean to-” Cutting himself off, Eijirou took a long pull of air in. “Look- if all this shit freaks you out, you can go. Would that be better? I can get someone to drive you home.”

“You expect me to be brought here and think this is all fucking normal?” He stood in a swing of his legs, bare feet smacking loudly against the concrete. “Think you can buy me a couple drinks, flaunt a bit, show me this fucking joke of a home and I’ll just roll over for you?”

Eijirou turned, hands braced on the arm rests- his expression wildly confused and hurt. “I never said any of that-”

“I’m not some greedy whore.”

The words where foreign in his mouth.

He didn’t mean them. Or he didn’t want to mean them. He wasn’t sure.

They didn’t make sense even to him.

But his rationality wasn’t working properly.

He was attacking himself in all honestly, but it was coming out as a verbal knife show towards someone completely undeserving.

“When did I-”

Katsuki took a step back, voice lifting higher to drown out the sound of his own reproachful thoughts. “And I don’t need one of your henchmen to chauffeur me around. I’m an adult, I can get home all on my own.”

“Katsuki-” Eijirou was getting up after him, reaching out a hand that was more of a weapon than the man understood. One touch and Katsuki would melt into a pile of abasement and pity on the spot. “Just wait a minute-”

He couldn’t risk it.

He had to keep himself closed-off. Safe.

Rushing through the bedroom, Katsuki found his jeans and pulled them up each leg as fast as he could manage. Button done, zipper up, he stood straight to stiffen while Eijirou watched him from the doorway.

“Katsuki, please,” He tried, sounding tired, annoyed, worried.

“Don’t.” Katsuki snapped as he found his shirt and crumpled it in his fist.

“This is ridiculous.”

He whipped around, throwing his fists at his sides and being louder than he ever needed to be. “Don’t say another fucking word to me.”

Most of him expected Eijirou to sigh and keep going. It was childish to storm out like this- he fucking knew that- but it was too much- too many things were going on- he couldn’t do this.

Surprisingly, with the shut of his jaw, Eijirou nodded dejectedly and stepped back onto the balcony.

The same part of Katsuki that had been proven wrong wanted him to push and fight. He wanted to yell and scream and argue with a stranger who he wouldn’t ever have to see again afterwards. So much had been building up for too long and he wanted it all out.

But it was clear.

Eijirou wasn’t like that.

He wasn’t going to encourage such selfish malice.

Rightfully so- Katsuki thought bitterly.

So Katsuki stared, watched the empty space the man had inhabited long enough for his blood to calm and the fight to drain from his muscles.

He could undo all of this easily- make them forget about his outburst with a simple apology a genuine conversation.

But Katsuki couldn’t do that.

Not right now.

Not when he was feeling so utterly picked apart and vulnerable.

No, he ran. That’s what he knew how to do. No explanation. Just fleeing.

 

The walk home couldn’t have been more than an hour, but it wasn’t near enough time to work through his thoughts.

The sun started rising halfway there, filling the sky with bright pink followed by a dull blue that washed overhead.

All the tension in his body melted off along the way, painted the sidewalk with a horrible stain of self-loathing. Shirt and jacket balled under his arm, keys cutting into the skin of his hand, he drug himself through the city until winding up back on campus. The walk at that point was even more mindless. A familiar path that eased him enough that he didn’t drop into a meltdown in the middle of the street.

Eijirou didn’t know him. Even if he did, he wouldn’t understand. Not with everything he’s done and everything he has.

There’s no way he could’ve sympathized.

And there’s no way the two of them would ever get along.

It was a horrible decision to allow himself to be that comfortable. They didn’t know each other. Couldn’t know each other. It was a pipedream to think he’d found someone tolerable and regretfully enjoyable to be around.

Eijirou was ignorant, but Katsuki was a fool.

 

Upon throwing the front door open, he met Hitoshi already peering over the back of the couch.

“You’re back late.”

“It’s six in the morning.” The flat voiced remarked beside him.

With one glance spared down to Shouto, Hitoshi amended his claim. “You’re back early.”

“Yeah.”

It was all Katsuki cared to give the pair as he shoved his boots off and stalked into the kitchen.

Hitoshi continued, probably ignoring rather than not sensing the leave me the fuck alone energy running rampant through his tone. “I mean, this is early even for you. It’s barely past six.”

“Look, I get that you two bond over your self-induced insomnia and utter lack of a decent sleep schedule, but here I was thinking I’d have some peace and fucking quiet when I got home. Guess I’m not so lucky considering here you are, being loud and intrusive.”

“Whose sweatshirt is that?” Shouto hadn’t even appeared to spare him a glance let alone take note of anything he’d just said.

Fridge door open, Katsuki’s fingers dug into the frame. He grabbed a water bottle, forcefully slammed the door, and ripped the cap off. “You don’t know my entire fuckin’ wardrobe.”

He snorted, barely even spared the slide of his eyes away from the tv. “I know The Bakugou Katsuki, pompous, fashionable narcissist didn’t wear an oversized, holey, ratty sweatshirt to a bar.”

“I’m not in the mood Peppermint Head.”

Chin propped atop Shouto’s head, Hitoshi gave him a lazy grin. “Oh no, Daddy not dick you down well enough?”

“That’s not-” Katsuki stopped- More importantly. “He isn’t a fucking daddy. If I ever say that I’ll use scissors to cut my own tongue out.”

“Sure looked like one to me.”

Turning his back to them, Katsuki chugged half the bottle before setting it on the counter. “He’s an ass.”

“Match made in heaven then. I don’t see the problem.”

A couple of tsk’s from Shouto had him stiffening as if on command. “Didn’t go how you wanted it, princess? Another noble knight tries and fails to make the beast submit. Let’s alert the historians.”

Katsuki’s shoulders hunched on their own.

“He looked pretty put together.” The snort Hitoshi let out was mocking and derisive- it was a sound he normally wouldn’t care about at all. “Not rich enough for you? Going for a bigger prize?”

“Oh?” Shouto was too amused. Katsuki held the bottle so tight it crumpled under his fingers and sloshed water onto the counter. “How do we know?”

“I just assumed from looking at him. And Mina has a few interesting comments about his attire. Pretty pricey items apparently.”

“And you just walked away from that? Considering your self-important attitude, I figured a little money would make you ecstatic.”

Shouto didn’t know- Katsuki couldn’t blame him for accidentally ripping at every nerve that made him tic- at least he couldn’t in his right mind. But now, strung out and tired and horribly open, he couldn’t let it go- he couldn’t think straight- he couldn’t separate the teasing from criticism.

He couldn’t even fight back. And that was pathetic in and of itself. His throat was tight and the building pressure in his face made him pull in a shaky breath.

“Like you can talk.” Hitoshi but in for him. “You all but abandoned the rich daddy in your life. Who are you to say shit?”

“My daddy is a lowlife, immoral bastard who deserves to be abandoned. This poor guy let Bakugou rip his heart out and he-”

“Isn’t my daddy.” Katsuki managed to croak fists tight on the counter, wet and digging nails into his palms.

His tone must have caught their attention because when Hitoshi spoke up it was cautious and quieter. “Hey, we were just-”

Katsuki shook his head, letting it hang down. “He isn’t my anything. I didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t want anything- but apparently nothing can go fucking easy for me.” He sucked in, the crackle of snot in his throat making it painfully obvious he had suddenly let the push behind his eyes turn into a steady beading of tears. This was so stupid. He was an embarrassment to himself. “I just keep getting hit with more and more bullshit and more assholes and I’m damn near sick of it. Can’t even come home without-” He hiccupped around a word and forced himself to stop there without making a bigger fool of himself.

The silence that followed the heavy stutter of his inhale was followed by Hitoshi’s quiet muttering and rustling. “Why don’t you get ready to go?”

He heard Hitoshi coming close, felt the warmth crowd behind him before touching his shoulder. He hadn’t even realized they were quivering until the steady weight of Hitoshi’s hand made them still.

“Kat, I’m-”

Katsuki shook his head again and spoke up just as fast. “It’s not-”

“Well, it didn’t help I’m sure.”

“You’re a dick.” He sniffed loudly, arm rubbing the wetness from his face in a fury.

“Okay, crybaby.”

Katsuki scowled and the expression made Hitoshi smile just enough to be noticeable. “Your boyfriend’s a dick too.”

“He is, isn’t he?”

The dryness and comfortable familiarity made Katsuki huff through a laugh. “He says anything about this and I’ll shave his head in his sleep.”

“He won’t.” One second of a disbelieving look and Hitoshi was patting his back and stepping away. “Yeah, I’ll talk to him. We’re on our way out to get breakfast. You can come if you want.”

Katsuki sneered as he started to clean up the mess on the counter. “I’m not thirdwheeling your asscrack early date.”

“I’m paying. And if I leave you alone, you’ll just sulk.”

“Why does everyone say that?” He grumbled and pushed past Hitoshi towards his room.

“Because it’s true.”

“I’m not going.”

“See you in ten.”

Chapter Text

Mina had showed up around seven on a Saturday night, whining and begging to go out again. It was fun last time, she declared over his dismissal. We deserve it, she shouted even as he was telling her no.

It was not fun.

Ending up stranded and pissed off in a stranger’s home was no way fun.

It was not what he deserved.

He deserved a quiet night with no one bothering him and nothing making him feel stupid.

He may have yelled a little bit.

It could have possibly been misdirected.

She could have possibly seen right through him. Even so, she’d let him storm off to his room and ignore her for almost an hour before the threat of a quiet apartment drew him back out.

Quiet when Mina was around was dangerous. Quiet when Mina was around meant trouble. When her loud enthusiasm was dampened into a mere mutter, that’s when Katsuki feared for his life. It either meant she was talking about someone or she was upset.

The selfish, distant part of him hope it was the latter, but he knew considering what had happened, it most likely wasn’t.

Leaning against the wall that cornered the hall from the rest of the apartment, just out of sight enough to still hear, his hopes were ruined.

“Okay, that’s true. But he’s been fucky all week- like major bitch mode worse than usual. So what exactly happened last weekend?”

Huddled in their kitchen, Hitoshi huffed back at her. “You think he’d tell me if he didn’t tell you?”

“I’ve been trying to figure it out for days, Shin.” Her voice was close to a curse, hushed but still shrill. “Days-

“I’m aware. He keeps bitching about you not leaving him alone.”

“What’d he say? When he got back.”

“It was his normal, irate complaints about people and bullshit. Just, a little more- upset?”

“Like how upset?”

Hitoshi made some weird sound in his throat, both unsure and probably uncomfortable with how she’d cornered him. “Enough to almost cry in front of not only me but Sho too.”

“You I can understand- no, really, I mean it- you two are good friends. But he loathes your boyfriend. Sure, they’re friends too in a weird way-” We’re not. “-but crying? Not really something a lot of people get to see from him.”

“Yeah, so, I don’t have a clue.”

“You didn’t ask?” Silence came, a very clear no and Mina groaned under her breath. “What use are you then? I gotta do everything by myself around here.”

“Emotional unpacking isn’t really something either of us find enjoyment in. I’ll leave it to you simply because I don’t want to be the one who has to stoke, tend to, and subsequently put out the fire.”

“Please. He’s harmless.”

“Tell that to me again after I get a fist in my teeth.”

“Okay, then inform me of the day he actually punches someone instead of spouting off a hollow threat, because I’ll need to be prepared to tend to his broken hand.”

A small bit of laughter was hushed quickly before she sighed. “Serious time- Thanks for being there for him.”

“No problem, mom.”

“There’s a lot of shit you don’t know about and that I can’t really-.”

“I know that.” There was more lament in Hitoshi’s voice than he’d possibly ever heard. “And I didn’t think it would go this way- him being so fucking weird for a solid week.”

“I kinda figured it would after I saw him Monday.” Her voice may have been a whisper, but there was still a decent amount of lilt to it. “I mean, I’ve been his best friend for a long time. And I know sometimes I push him into situations where he’s not comfortable, but if I don’t, no one will and he’ll just keep doing the same thing with the same shitty outcomes. He’s too headstrong for it to be helpful.”

“Headstrong- or stubborn?”

“Take your pick. And look, I don’t know how much he’s told you-”

“Not much.”

She sighed heavily, clapping a hand against the counter. “I’m not surprised. He’s always been pretty private about, well, everything but how annoyed he is at any given moment. I think I only know most of it ‘cause I was there when it all was happening.”

“I don’t want you to tell me. That’s not why I asked if you knew what was up.”

“I know.” She tossed in a hushed laugh. “And I wasn’t gonna tell ya. He will if he wants to. You’re a good friend- he trusts you and all. I’m sure of it. He’s just-” She sighed again but it came out less annoyed.

“An obstinate shit.”

“Exactly.”

That was enough.

They’d talked enough about it and if they really wanted to continue, they could do it when he wasn’t within earshot.

He rounded the corner, hands shoved into the pockets of his sweats and back hunched. “Can you guys stop whispering about me like I’m firstly, not right fucking here, and secondly, like I’m some wounded mutt you adopted because you felt bad for it.”

Mina looked startled- hating being caught more than anything.

Hitoshi, unsurprisingly, kept his demeanor as calm as always. “You’re our three-legged puppy, don’t you want a home?”

“I’d rather live on the street than have to deal with a moron and an asshole every day.”

Mina shrunk down but lost the worry pouring from her eyes. “I’m hoping I’m the asshole.”

Hitoshi offered a soft pat to her shoulder. “And that’s why you’re the moron.”

“You been there long?” Mina rounded the counter, arms out and ready to force him into a hug.

By now, Katsuki just let it happen. There wasn’t much to do when she set her mind on something- even if it was as insignificant as a hug. He’d come to terms with it years ago. Fighting her only made it worse.

“Long enough to hear you talkin’ shit.” His grumble was muffled slightly by the pink curls assaulting his mouth once Mina tucked her head under his chin.

She squeezed him tighter. “We weren’t-”

“I know.”

“You coming?”

“No.”

She nuzzled him, rubbed his back. “Shin’s coming.”

“No I’m not.” Hitoshi was quick to shoot at he started towards his door.

With a snort, she turned her head. “Too late, I already texted Todoroki.”

Hitoshi stopped mid-step and pivoted. “And he agreed?”

Her grin was evil, predatory almost, as she nodded. “I told him Kat gets pretty open to suggestion when he’s drunk enough, so your angel of a boyfriend is convinced he can get him to admit he’s a dumb idiot asshole.”

“You’ve gotta be-” Katsuki broke into a groan that was match by Hitoshi’s grimace.

“His priorities are fucked up, aren’t they?”

“I will never say such a thing.” Katsuki pushed at her, trying to writhe out of her hold. “And that’s another reason I’m not going.”

“Let’s go pick out your clothes.” She had him by the wrist in an instant.

“We can’t, you were just about to fucking leave.”

“We’re gonna have so much more fun this time.”

He went.

He always goes.

She has them wrapped around her finger and they all know it. They knowingly play right into every trick she plans without the smallest bit of a real fight.

He wasn’t happy about it, but he went.

It was a mistake.

 

The bar was crowded and Katsuki had one drink emptied faster than usual. Dancing wasn’t an option that night. He wasn’t in the mood to be touched by strangers whether it be intentional or not. Mina had other ideas and abandoned them quickly to be swallowed by the company of a handful of strangers.

That left him nursing drink after drink just so he could keep a straw in his mouth instead of participating in whatever mind numbing conversation Hitoshi and Shouto decided to strike up. Along the way, he’d given up on even keeping the appearance of not being bored and miserable and ended up slouched over, head in folded arms atop the table and a mild headache starting up behind his forehead.

He could’ve sworn he’d fallen asleep between the third drink and someone bringing him a fourth. The cold glass was pushed against the back of his hand and he lifted up every now and then to take a sip at it before ducking down again.

When the chair next to him skidded and a warmth crashed into his side, he barely moved. The floral pull of Mina’s perfume made his nose itch but he disregarded it and her until she’d had enough of it.

“Hey.” She nudged his arm, pushing at it and jostling him till he waved her off. “Baku. Hey.”

Hoping a grunt would get her to stop, he shook his head against his arm.

“Hey,” She tugged at the sleeve of his sweater. “You’re drunk right?” She got close but didn’t drop her volume. “I am. You are too?”

The words that came from his mouth were easily muffled by his sleeve. She pulled at his hair with a whine. “What? I can’t hear.”

“I said,” He started loudly after turning his head. “Wha’s it matter?”

“Jus’ wonderin’.”

“So what if I am?”

“Oh good.” She pushed at his shoulders, forcing him up and all the way back till he landed against the chair.

The look she had was hard set, determined, possibly a little peeved- all the things he’d come to hate seeing under the drunken lack of any sort of filter.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Great-” Hitoshi groaned at the same time Katsuki barked at her, “Excuse me?”

“You’ve been pissy all week.” She leaned away and crossed her arms in a pout. “What’d that beautiful man do to you?”

“I have a pretty good idea.” Shouto remarked around his straw.

“No, no,” Mina flung her hand about until it landed against her arm. “Besides that, I mean.”

“Nothing.” Katsuki emptied his glass- how many was that? Five? “Not relevant.”

“It is after you make a scene and avoid us for days.”

“I did not make a scene.”

Sucking his drink dry, Shouto made a loud crackling noise coming from his straw. “It was a little bit of a scene.”

Katsuki ignored him for the time being. “Did you plan to get me drunk just so I would talk about it?”

She smiled sweetly but the intent was anything but. “Maybe, baby.”

“She did.” Shouto corrected with Hitoshi jumping in right after.

“She told us about it while you were in the bathroom.”

“I thought it’d be funnier than this.” Shouto sounded pained and offended.

“Why are you here?” Katsuki snapped, gripping the table and leaning over it.

One unbothered shrug later, Shouto was scooting his empty glass to the center of the table. “Say the magic words and I’ll leave.”

“I ain’t sayin’ shit to you.”

“Good,” Hand to his cheek, Mina pulled his face back towards hers. “Say shit to me instead. Preferably shit about what didn’t, but definitely did, happen with the handsome stranger who had a watch more expensive than my tuition.” She gripped his arm and crowded in. “I’m talking millions of yen, honey. Please tell me you saw his closet. Was it amazing? I bet I’d bust a nut as soon as I walked in there. The brands Katsuki, please tell me.”

“I didn’t see shit.” He groused as he yanked his arm away. “You know I don’t care ‘bout any of that like you and your grubby claws.”

“But don’t you see? He could probably cover the rest of your schooling in a fucking heartbeat?”

The chord snapped, his skin lit, his nerves flared.

“And you think I want that?”

A sudden rush of clarity washed through her rosy expression. She slouched in her seat and frowned. “So that’s it, huh? Did he even do anything or have you already made the decision that it’s not going to work out?”

“Doesn’t matter.” Katsuki turned away from her. “It wasn’t anything to begin with.”

“Are you sad?” Shouto had to know now. The mockery in his tone was evidence enough. “Do you want my daddy instead?”

Disinterested scowl in place, Katsuki tried to ignore the taunt. “You know, it’s fucking creepy that you call him that.”

“He does it to piss him off.” Hitoshi sucked in a laugh, half his mouth curled. “Given, he pretty much only does anything to piss people off.”

“He prefers father.” Shouto explained, completely unprompted. “In fact, I’m sure he’d be ecstatic if I called him something closer to my savior, the smartest, most successful man on earth, but I invite you all to watch me slice my throat open if I do that voluntarily.”

Mina winced and Hitoshi smirked between them. “Isn’t it interesting how they both have the foulest ways of expressing their displeasure?”

“Don’t compare me to him, Einstein.”

The briefest amount of faked surprise crossed through Shouto’s eyes. “Are you calling him smart?”

“He’s insulting my hair.” Hitoshi sighed into his drink.

“How original and witty.”

Teeth bared, Katsuki lurched a foot out to kick at any leg he could reach. “That’s enough from you, candy cane.”

“Oh look,” Shouto barely shifted to avoid the repeated assault under the table. “That’s a new one. It’s almost endearing.”

“How the fuck?”

“You called me sweet.”

“I did not.”

“It’s cute.” Shouto smiled and it made Katsuki’s entire body tense with the urge to shove him to the floor and storm out. “Thank you.”

Hitoshi’s watchful gaze was arguably impartial if not slightly weary. “Neither of you are anywhere close to sweet.”

Mina giggled after having busied herself with guzzling down the rest of her cocktail. “Sour maybe.”

Neck of his beer pointed toward her, Hitoshi nodded. “More like bitter.”

“Damn right I’m bitter after putting up with you every day.”

Katsuki had said something similar enough times that neither of them so much as entertained the thought of arguing. Unfortunately, Shouto was never the one to let him get away with free flying insults without at least a slight bite back.

“Because you’re a joy to deal with.”

“What would you know?”

The hand pinching at Shouto’s nose dropped and folded with his other in his lap. He looked up to pin Katsuki with an irritated quirk of a brow and the beginnings of a sneer. “I know you shouldn’t go around insulting others when you don’t even realize the issues with yourself.”

“So now I have issues?”

His voice had lifted. He was loud on a daily basis, louder when he was drunk, add incensed on to that and he was practically yelling.

“Boys, please.” Mina’s hand was on his arm in a second. Normally that could calm him enough, but with Shouto’s pleased smile still provoking him from across the table, it was pointless.

“You showed up at six in the morning on the verge of a breakdown because what? Some guy said a few things to you that were a too true for your liking?”

“You don’t know shit.” At least he managed to get that a little quieter, even if he was gripping the table just to keep his fist from flying towards him. “Stop acting like you do.”

Shouto’s smile was gone, but the way he carried himself and his undeniable condescension were just as riling. “I’ll stop when you stop acting like everyone can’t see right through you.”

“Sho-” Hitoshi warned softly but the single flick of a hand stopped him.

“Someone’s gotta say something.” Shouto’s glance moved over for a moment before passing by Mina and eventually landing back on Katsuki. “You two care too much and it gets in the way of calming down the bitch fest he has going on along with that unfounded attitude of I’m better than you so don’t even try-”

“Because I’m the only one around here with that sort of attitude.” Lips pursed, Shouto rolled his eyes away. Katsuki’s knee banging against the underside of the table easily brought them back to his face. “News flash, pretty boy. You’re just as conceited as I am. But at least mine isn’t rooted in the inane belief that just because you reject your past doesn’t mean it somehow automatically negates all the privilege that you gain from it.”

“Privilege?” Shouto all but laughed. “You think I’m privileged to have a piece of shit, overbearing, demanding asshole of a father constantly breathing down my neck and threatening me because I don’t want everything in my life decided for me?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, is your silver spoon not polished enough for you? You wanna work for your wealth like the common people?” Katsuki’s fuming was met with a scoff and he retaliated by leaning over the table and raising his voice. “No, I get it, your dad sucks, but I can assure you all that shit’s probably a lot more bearable when you haven’t had to worry about whether or not you’re going to be able to eat every day since you were a fucking child.”

Katsuki pulled in air while he stood. One hand clawing at the edge of the table and the other in a fist banging against the middle, he ignored the glances he was getting even in the loud bustle of the bar. “You couldn’t begin to understand the full toll of having a horrible parent until you don’t get the option to run away from them and still be able to have a bed to sleep in. Most people are stuck until they work their asses off for years just to be able to get away. Still doesn’t sound hard enough? Then how about spending the majority of your childhood dragging your mother to bed because she’s decided to lessen her problems by drinking too much to stand up half the time and the other half she’s too tired from working three jobs just so you have enough money to keep the damn lights on?”

There was an uneasy sigh from Mina. He could feel Hitoshi’s startled eyes on him- maybe even more from strangers around them- but he was focused on the twitch in Shouto’s jaw and the force he was using to keep his expression unaffected and his temper in check. Sometimes Katsuki wished he had that sort of resolve- but most of the time he embraced his short fuse and provided enough spark to set himself off quicker than was necessary or healthy.

He leaned in closer, reigned his voice in from breaking and stared straight into slits of ice and steely grey. “I don’t doubt you had some horrible shit go down, but don’t try to tell me that you’re not using that privilege as a crutch because I know anyone with even the tiniest taste of what I’ve gone through would fucking kill for it. Call me selfish or arrogant or any other insult you can think of, but don’t fucking dare insinuate that my resentment towards people like him and you is baseless and pettish when you don’t know how much hard work and grit it’s taken me to get here.”

Breath heaving in and out there was tense silence until Hitoshi cleared his throat. “Kat-”

That was all it took to trigger him back into motion.

“No.” He stood up fully and grabbed his jacket. “Fuck this- I’m leaving.”

Mina scooted her chair back but he dismissed her with a wave. “Where are you going?”

“Doesn’t matter. Enjoy your night assholes.”

Turning around in a spin on his heels, he found himself a bit drunker than he realized. He’d just blame that loose-lipped outburst on the alcohol as well. The room moved a bit, his head rushing as he pulled himself towards the bar. He was already this far- another one to calm his nerves wouldn’t hurt- another two to make him fall asleep easier wouldn’t be too bad.

But somewhere in between the first sip of those drinks and suddenly being in front of a large wooden door, he’d lost himself. Lost time, thoughts, any idea on where he was and how he’d gotten there- all a blur.

He’d drank too much- that was the only time when his cognizance escaped him like that- he was going through the night with only pockets of clarity and no explanation as to why now was when his brain chose to kick back in.

Wet- Something was wet. He looked down, his clothes were dripping.

Was it raining?

Had he really walked all the way- somewhere- in the rain?

With a glance behind him, it came to him- Ah, that’s where he’d chosen to go. It was a bad decision, but he was tired and drunk and angry and apparently he just wanted to make it all that much worse.

The first knock went unanswered. He looked at his phone- black screen- dead- great. It had to be late. He really shouldn’t be here. But knocking again, louder, was the only reasonable option to him.

He didn’t even have anything to say. He didn’t want to talk to him again let alone see him or address anything that had happened. But with a kick to the door, that didn’t matter. What mattered was being inside and distracting himself by getting to someone who actually seemed to know what to do with his petulant, defensive tantrums.

Finally the door cracked opened to Eijirou standing confused in a t-shirt and a pair of sweats. Even through thick thoughts Katsuki could realize just how fucked up it was that someone could look that good in a piece of stretched white cotton.

Being greeted with the sight of strong arms and thick brows drawn up, it was all over. Rationality gone, he stepped closer and gave in to the warm pull flooding through cold, sodden limbs.

“You’re soaked.” Eijirou said, deep voice rumbling and adding to the drunken weakness of Katsuki’s knees.

“Better get me outta these clothes then, huh?”

Not even a beat passed before Eijirou was sighing through a laugh and moving back. “Without even a hello? Or better yet, and explanation?”

“Look hair for brains,” Katsuki yapped, head rolling back so he could narrow his fuzzy vision up at him. “Either I come in and you shut up and fuck me or I’m turning right around and taking my ass to someone who will.”

Hair for-” He shook his head, frowning a little before it slid into something almost reluctantly amused. “Not leaving me much of a choice, are you?”

“You have a choice. Just don’t fuck it up.”

Eijirou regarded him long enough that Katsuki wanted to squirm under his gaze. Katsuki still couldn’t quite read him yet- especially not when his thoughts felt as gooey as his tongue.

Hand falling from gripping the door, Eijirou turned and extended his arm. “Come in.”

Katsuki brushed past him, jacket already falling with a wet plop against the hardwood.

“Are you hungry?” The question came from the floor as Eijirou picked the dripping denim up and carried it toward the kitchen. “You should drink some water.”

“M’not hungry or thirsty.” Eijirou wasn’t listening. He already had a glass full and was carrying it back over. “You know what I want.”

Mhm, Eijirou hummed, offering him the glass with a look that clearly wouldn’t let him deny drinking it.

He chugged it fast enough that he hiccupped in the middle and finished the glass with a short round of coughing.

“You were out with your friends, right? Did you walk here by yourself?”

Glass clanking against the marble counter, Katsuki stepped into his space and abruptly dragged him down by the front of his shirt into an abrupt and uncoordinated kiss. Startled at first, Eijirou let him, but when Katsuki tried to move his tongue between lips, he was pushed back. He still tried to get up on his toes and keep going, but the hold on his shoulders refused to budge.

“Hey, hey,” A harder grip had his heels hitting the floor. “How drunk are you?”

“Enough.”

Eijirou’s face scrunched. “Enough for what?”

“To not care.” He moved against Eijirou’s hold. It was weaker now and he got in close, chest to chest, head tipping back to mutter against his neck. “Not enough that I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Are you sure?”

He pushed the limit bit by bit, fingers creeping up to prod at Eijirou’s sides while tickling his jaw with a light touch of lips. “Completely.”

Despite his effort, something apparently didn’t sit right with Eijirou. He stepped away, too quick for Katsuki’s unsteady balance and sloshy brain to keep up. His stumble forward was caught by Eijirou’s hands under his elbows and a chest to his face.

“Seriously, Kat. Why are you here?”

Kat, huh.

Who gave him the right?

“Told you already.” He was frowning into Eijirou’s shirt, trying his best to bunch it up by shoving his hands under the cotton.

“You did. And you also told me you’ll just find someone else if I say no. Because it’s always been that easy for you.” Something about that hurt, but Katsuki couldn’t parse it apart when all his brain was driving him to do was touch and cling and cope. “So, I’ll ask you again.” Eijirou urged him back but held on to keep him stable. “Why are you here?

Katsuki didn’t want to think about that. He knew enough of an answer to recognize he didn’t want to say a word. The rest he barely understood sober- there wasn’t a chance he could express himself like this. And even if he did, it would be embarrassing and honest and he refused.

Shaking his head, he reached forward and tugged at the t-shirt. “Don’t wanna talk.” When his eyes cut up, he hesitated just for a moment once he found Eijirou staring down with some uncomfortable mix of concern and sympathy. “I mean it this time.”

“Fine.” He let go of one of Katsuki’s arms, pulling the other behind him through the apartment.

It was messier than the last time; clothes in the hall, papers covering every inch of any surface that would hold them, blankets piled on the floor of his bedroom except for a large piece of fluffy grey on the mattress.

“Rough week?” Katsuki asked, more to himself, certainly louder than he’d meant to.

“Yeah.” That was all he gave. Arm dropped, Eijirou turned but kept his hand out. “Clothes off.”

A grin split Katsuki’s face as he undid the button of his jeans and began wiggling them off. “Much better. I knew you’d-”

“No.” One firm word and Katsuki was freezing in place. “They’re dripping and there’s puke on your pants.” Katsuki glanced down- sure enough- when had that happened- Eijirou shook his hand in the air, fingers clenching to encourage Katsuki to keep going. “Hand them over so you don’t get it in my bed.”

It was a lot less enjoyable stripping when every bit of fabric was clinging to his skin and he was being watched with a look that couldn’t be anything other than mild disapproval. Clothes passed off, he stood naked, skin cold and wet while Eijirou balled them up and took them into the bathroom.

“I’ll get them washed by morning.”

“Don’t care.”

Humming softly as if the sneer did nothing to him, Eijirou passed by him towards his dresser. “Pleasant as ever I see.”

He handed over dry underwear, a t-shirt, some pants that ended up being too loose and were discarded to the floor.

“I know I’m unpleasant, but you’re the one who let me in.”

“If I hadn’t you probably would’ve-” Eijirou shook his head and pushed the hair out of his face. “Nevermind. This conversation isn’t worth having when you’re like this.”

“Finally done wasting my time?”

“Just get in bed. I’m gonna-” He passed Katsuki, ready to go out the door, but was caught by the arm before Katsuki could tell himself not to.

The staring match that followed ended rather easily with a large sigh from Eijirou as he moved toward the bed.

“We’re not doing anything. And I’m only staying until you fall asleep.”

With a shove to Eijirou’s back, Katsuki flopped onto the bed- another bad decision given how much the room spun with him. He slung an arm over his eyes and grumbled, “Can you quit scolding me like a toddler?”

“You sure do make demands like one, if not just a bit more vulgar.”

“Only a bit?” Katsuki peeked out from under his arm while Eijirou settled down beside him. “What kind of toddlers do you know?” It was an unsettling rush of relief to see a smile twitch as Eijirou’s mouth.

“I know a few.”

Katsuki propped himself up then rolled onto his side. “Yeah?”

“I am an old man after all. Old enough that my friends have kids.”

“And you?”

“Me?” Eijirou watched closely as Katsuki got up and resumed the familiar position of hiking a leg over and settling in his lap. Katsuki had expected resistance, but Eijirou’s hands fell naturally on his narrow waist. “Me- I’m here being bossed around by some bratty kid.”

“Watch it, that got you in trouble last time, remember?” Katsuki didn’t have the will in him to fight any more than that. Boozed exhaustion was begging him to give up, but he fought back by nosing along a sharp jaw and busying his hands with rubbing over Eijirou’s chest.

“Hey,” He pushed weakly at Katsuki’s shoulders then a bit harder when he didn’t back off. “I already said we’re not doin’ anything.”

“Come on,” Katsuki muttered against his chin then the side of his mouth. “You can’t tell me we didn’t have fun last time.”

“Didn’t say that.” Their eyes met, blurry but obviously staring into one another. “But you weren’t drunk then. And given how mad you were when you left, I have a reason to believe you wouldn’t be here if you were sober.”

“Been thinkin’ bout you, though.” He had no idea where that came from. It was true, but he’d never meant to share it. He’d lost the control of his mouth four drinks in and this was his punishment. “You did a real number on me.” He couldn’t stop himself. His hands curled in the t-shirt and held on tight. “I hate you.”

“I know the feeling.” Eijirou conceded through a mere whisper.

Eyes flicking between the two red suns burning holes in him, Katsuki willed his hands to flatten so he could shove Eijirou firmly into the pillows while finally getting another one of those kisses that had been haunting his memory for days.

The last of Eijirou’s attempts at moving him ended pathetically once he circled his arms around Katsuki’s sides and let himself be dragged in to the messy onslaught lips and tongues and grinding hips.

Katsuki’s mind was a wash, anything other than the thought of keep going, keep moving, don’t leave, gone and unimportant. All he knew was protective hands on his back and warmth seeping into touch-starved skin until it faded away to nothing.

Chapter Text

Waking up to bright light and a pounding headache was never the way Katsuki wanted it to happen. Add the confusion of having no fucking clue where he was and it was the perfect start to a shitty morning.

He blinked, squinted, blinked, furrowed his brow, realized.

The high ceiling, the sunshine pouring in tall glass windows, the nice subtle scent of cologne and shampoo surrounding him might have been enjoyable if he didn’t feel like forcing his stomach to come out his mouth.

Speaking of mouth- fuck that was a horrible taste. The burn of alcohol mixed with something even viler coated his tongue in a gut churning poison.

Sitting up was a bad idea. He instantly felt his head swim and his stomach lurch with the movement. There was a pounding at his temples and a dull ache spreading from his forehead all the way across his skull.

At least the view of somewhat familiar furniture gave him a bit of a guess at how majorly he’d fucked up in what could have only been a completely wasted nightmare. How he’d gotten there was lost to him. Just why- he knew, somewhat- begrudgingly- but he knew. He liked the guy against his better judgement. And for some bizarre reason, it seemed like the feeling was returned.

How awful.

Just how much of a fool had he made himself?

He kicked the blanket off, grimaced when he realized his pants were somewhere. Never a good sign of retained dignity.

First sigh of the day out, he pulled himself from the bed. Feet cold, legs cold, he wandered down a hall he only barely knew. The quiet sound of typing drew him into the main room and further into the bright shine of the morning sun. Halfway across the living room at a desk facing the wall of windows, Eijirou sat hunched and clacking away.

He’s tanner in the sun- that’s what Katsuki’s brain decided to focus on first. He pushed it away, hands balling at his sides.

“Do you know what curtains are?” He announced, shifting his voice heavily into one of tired annoyance.

Eijirou didn’t even spare him a single glance. His shoulder merely twitched in some poor attempt at a shrug. “I enjoy waking up with the sun on my days off.”

“Of course you do.” Arms crossed, Katsuki stepped closer. Other than his sweats and stretched shirt, Eijirou looked about as busy as someone could be in their home. “Doesn’t really look like a day off.”

“Funny how that works, isn’t it?” The laugh he gave wasn’t close to real in any sense and it made Katsuki tense as he turned the chair. “How are you feeling?” Eijirou looked him over and Katsuki had to resist the urge to bristle and run.

“Like shit warmed up and stepped on.”

“Yeah,” The hand pushing loose hair from his face distracted Katsuki momentarily until he snapped back when Eijirou let that genuine smile come out. “I can imagine. You really-”

“Why am I here?” He blurted, rough and demanding.

“I’m sorry, but-”

“Why-” He boomed again, “-am I here?”

Be it the tone or the lack of pleasantries, something ticked Eijirou from kind and welcoming into irritated faster than Katsuki had come to know.

“I don’t know, why are you here? You’re the one that showed up at my door plastered and demanding me to fuck you.”

Katsuki recoiled, arms curling around his stomach defensively. “I wouldn’t fuckin’ say that.”

“Well you did.”

“And what did you do? Took advantage of some horny naive kid?”

It wasn’t true. He knew it wasn’t. Eijirou wouldn’t do that and if he had, Katsuki would’ve been able to tell. But it wasn’t about what happened, it was about getting the focus on him being there to literally anything else. Even something unbelievable. Insulting. Unfair.

“What? No- you know I’m not-” Eijirou’s huff was truly annoyed now. He tugged at his hair when he ran a hand through it again and the tone of his voice turned gravely and pejorative. “I’m not that kind of person. I tried to get you to go to bed. You could hardly walk straight let alone string together a coherent thought. I was going to leave but I knew you’d put up a fight so I stayed. Meanwhile all you wanted to do was undress me and shove your tongue into my mouth. I’ll admit, I probably should have pushed back more, but I was fucking tired and it didn’t matter because as soon as I got you in bed, you fell asleep.”

Katsuki looked back up to watch as Eijirou scanned the room- anywhere but where he was standing.

“And then what?” He asked, calmer, humiliated.

Eijirou pointed to the couch where a pillow and blanket where still piled at one end. Katsuki gripped the t-shirt over his chest and dropped into a shameful mutter.

“And my clothes?”

Mouth open, Eijirou hesitated. His brows were knitted again as he finally met Katsuki’s eyes. “You really don’t remember anything?” Silence, no movement, he wiped a hand over his face.

“It rained last night so you were drenched and I’m pretty sure you’d thrown up on yourself so I sent to have them washed. They should be back any minute.” Embarrassment burned at Katsuki’s skin. He kept his eyes down, glaring at the floor like it would open up and he could jump through it to escape. “Any more questions, detective?”

Plenty.

Too many.

The shame he felt twisted easily. He was quick to use it, feed it, breathe it into something venomous. It was a bad habit- he hated it- but he hated feeling pitiful even more so he took every shred of dignity he had left and shut it all up in his chest.

Eijirou was just being nice. He was a nice guy- he’d proven that so many times. But Katsuki didn’t deserve a nice guy. He didn’t deserve someone who put up with him and coddled him and took care of him when he was being anything but amiable.

He couldn’t help but push back.

It was the only way to keep either of them from getting burned.

Eijirou was a nice guy but that’s exactly why he shouldn’t care.

“Look Katsuki-”

“Don’t get any ideas about me coming here.” Cotton scrunched between his fists, Katsuki pulled on the sides of the shirt and ground his teeth. “Just because I showed up here drunk doesn’t mean I- want you.” It hurt. It was stupid. It wasn’t believable. “I was just pissed off and wanted a distraction.” It’s what he wants himself to believe. It’s what he wishes were true. “That’s all. That’s all you are.”

It wasn’t.

Eijirou’s sigh was long and Katsuki didn’t quite know how to interpret it. He was ready to be asked to leave or told he was being ridiculous. When he heard the quietest laugh, whether it was tired or not, his thoughts stopped.

“You really are a kid, aren’t you? Almost had me fooled.”

Katsuki scowled at the floor. He could’ve argued if he really tried. At least that’s what he told himself

“Katsuki,”

Katsuki clicked his tongue loud and dismissive, head shaking.

“Kat, look at me.”

He waited before he lifted his eyes begrudgingly like a child being scolded.

It looked as if Eijirou was going to say something but then rerouted to a small wave. “Come here.”

It took too long for Katsuki to start moving, but Eijirou didn’t mind. He stayed with his arms open and a truly neutral expression until Katsuki crossed the room. He kept going until he was standing between Eijirou’s knees and staring over his head out towards the sprawling city around them.

Eijirou kept his hands in the air, not touching until Katsuki gave the smallest nod. They met his hips before sliding around and pulling him a step closer. His legs hit the seat of the chair as Eijirou lugged his stomach against a cheek and hugged.

It was reluctant, but he couldn’t say it didn’t relax him.

“I’m glad you came here. Even if you showed up a fucking mess and started acting up, I’m glad it was here and not somewhere else.” Katsuki made a small grunt in his throat but Eijirou only squeezed him again. “Although, I am a little concerned as to why your friends let you go off by yourself when you were clearly drunk off your ass.”

“They didn’t let me. They just were being-” He stopped- he couldn’t blame that on them. Shouto hadn’t helped, but he wasn’t the cause. It was his own problems that were keeping his irritability simmering at all times. He needed to learn how to douse the flame before it got out of control. “I was being-” That still didn’t feel right. He couldn’t admit to it all that easy.

“Did you fight?” Katsuki’s mouth shut softly, effort draining as he shrugged. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No. It’s fine. We’re all fine. I just didn’t want to be around them.” It would’ve gotten worse if he’d stayed. He wasn’t ready to talk about anything he’d let out. Maybe Mina would handle that for him. Probably not. “I didn’t think I wanted to be around you either.”

“But you’re still here.”

“But I’m still here.” The ping in his chest at that was horrifying. He shouldn’t want to be there. “I can’t exactly go out in these clothes.”

Eijirou’s low chuckle was a wave of comfort that draped over him and made him soften under his grasp. “You can just steal them like the other.”

“What?” He looked down, only met with puffy red crushed against his chest.

“Out of all my drawers, I don’t know how you managed to grab my favorite sweatshirt, but I was a little distraught to see you run off with it.”

“Favorite, huh? Explains why it was worn to shit.”

Eijirou pinched at his back and made him flinch. “It’s a good piece of clothing. Seen a hell of a lotta shit. Don’t insult it.”

“Do you want it back that bad?”

“Oh? Do you want to keep it?”

“No- I just,” Eijirou turned his head up, chin poking just below Katsuki’s sternum. His eyes were bright, more mirthful than Katsuki had seen them since they first met. The pleased man peering up at him cut his voice off long enough that he had to swallow just to keep going. “I don’t exactly know when I’m gonna be able to give it back, but if it’s so fucking important just send one of your shitty drivers or something.”

“Nah, keep it.” His smile was gentle. Wildly calming. “Barely fits me anymore anyway.”

He looked at ease, but something still bothered Katsuki. Up close there were bags under his eyes and he couldn’t stop from slowly encouraging his arm up and rubbing his thumbs over them.

“Rough week?”

With a short laugh, Eijirou tipped his head back a little more. “You asked me that last night.”

“Not like I remember.” Katsuki pinched the skin of his cheek in retaliation. “Answer it again.”

“Yeah.” He said simply, eyes falling shut with the next swipe.

“You still never told me what you do.”

“You’ve refused to tell me anything about yourself. Why should I?”

Without telling himself to think about it, Katsuki slid his hands up and pushed Eijirou’s hair back. “Because I said so, smartass.”

Eijirou leaned into the touch, pressing his forehead into Katsuki’s stomach again. “Then we should talk about what happened.”

Katsuki tightened his hold, giving a warning tug at the strands. “No. We really fucking shouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“If you haven’t noticed, I’m not in a fucking horrible mood for once, and I’d kinda like it to stay that way before someone messes it up or you try to figure me out an’ all that bullshit.”

“I’m not trying to figure you out. I just want to know what the fuck happened. It’s been bugging me all damn week and I don’t want to let it be if it was somehow my fault and I offended you or something. And I didn’t-”

“Cut it out.” Katsuki said calmly- more calm than he thought it’d come out. “I don’t wanna go over it.”

“What do you want?” The mutter was quiet against his stomach but not as quiet as the silence that stretched out into breathing and waiting. Fingers unwinding from his hair, Katsuki was ready to step away but the arms around him wouldn’t falter. “I think,” Eijirou paused, tensed his arms. “I think you know a lot about what you don’t want but you haven’t let yourself consider what you do want.”

“You my fuckin’ therapist now?”

It was clear deflection and it pissed him off that he couldn’t do anything else.

“If that’s what you want me to be.”

“It’s not.”

“Then I’m not. But you let me know when you figure out what I am.”

“Not a chance.”

Eijirou’s laugh rumbled against his stomach and made a warmth spread that wasn’t just from his breath or the harder squeeze of his arms. “Didn’t think I’d have much luck, but it was worth a shot.”

“And what do you want-? Since you seem to think you’ve got me pinned so easy?”

“For some reason,” Eijirou pulled back and flashed that wide grin. “Despite how absolutely foul you are, I want you to stick around.”

Gaze diverted to the wall, Katsuki forced disinterest. “That was rather backhanded.”

“It gets worse. You’re exhausting and confusing and I’m sure that’s how you like it, but I haven’t been able to be like this with someone in a long while.”

“Been that long since you got laid? What a shame, I really did you a favor.”

His side was pinched, Eijirou pursing his lips. “I meant comfortable, asshole. I haven’t been this comfortable-”

“You still don’t know me.”

“But I want to.” Katsuki shut his mouth, fighting the will to tell him that wasn’t an option. “That’s what I want.” Hand rubbing over Katsuki’s back, he smiled. “I want to be able to know you.”

Katsuki broke.

“It ain’t gonna be pretty.”

“Never said I thought it would be- But that also relies on the belief that you’ll talk to me eventually.” The sound coming from Katsuki’s throat made Eijirou sigh but it was light and unbothered. “I know, I know. You don’t care about me, right?”

He dared to throw in a wink and Katsuki wanted to puke all over again. “Damn right I don’t.” He grumbled, only making Eijirou beam brighter.

“And you don’t care that I’m glad you’re here?”

“Right.”

“And you want to leave as soon as possible?”

“I’m bouncing the moment my fuckin’ pants get here.”

“Of course.” Rough fingertips meeting the small of his back beneath his shirt was more startling than it should have been. Katsuki flinched a little which only seemed to stir him on. “I won’t try to keep you from going.” Hands sliding around, Eijirou pulled the shirt up enough to lean forward and have his words fan warmly over Katsuki’s stomach. “You can’t try to force a stray cat to stay somewhere it doesn’t want to be. You’ll only get scratched.”

“Fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

“Aggressive but guarded, violent but skittish,” Fingers tickled his ribs, lips barely brushed the skin above his navel. “Sounds about right, doesn’t it, kitten?”

Pin prick covering every inch of his body, Katsuki froze and repressed the quiver in his balance. He should’ve hated that, fuck, he really should’ve hated that.

But the break in his breath and the sudden heaviness of his tongue were rude alerts that he very much didn’t.

He could still try his best to play it off.

“Don’t call me that.”

He could try, and he could just as easily fail.

“Say that again and be convincing. Then maybe I won’t.”

The mouth pressed into his stomach burned, tingling fire spread out from the single point of contact and dared to consume him fully.

“Quit.” He tried again, equally as feeble but possibly even more strained.

The smack of lips leaving his skin made him want to grimace and touch and move back into him all at the same time. “Give me a reason to.”

“I’ll beat your ass.”

“Sounds fun.” A flash of teeth and an assured smile had Katsuki holding back the urge to return it. “You really think you can take me, kid?”

Deep breath through clenched teeth, Katsuki kept his voice low. “Just ‘cause you’re tall doesn’t mean my foot can’t kick you.”

“Go ahead,” Eijirou leaned back in the chair, fast enough that Katsuki swayed a little without having hands on him- how long had he been leaning into his hold- “Kick me.”

Katsuki glared, as hard as he could muster- nostrils flared- temper lapping at him and begging to be let free. He was being purposefully riled- it was all a game and he fucking knew it but he was falling right into it anyway.

The kick he sent into Eijirou’s calf was weak, barely more than a nudge.

Glancing down to his leg then back up, Eijirou tilted his head with a wry smile. “Come on, you can do it harder than that.”

Katsuki thought about leaving. Not playing along anymore. But a larger part of him really did want to try and hurt him, show him how pissed he was to be teased and picked at, how furious it made him that this man knew how to get right under his skin.

So he let himself be indulgent if only for a moment.

His foot moved quickly, pulling back before swiftly knocking into the bone of a shin.

With an unexplainably surprised ow-! Eijirou hunched forward at the same time Katsuki grabbed him by the hair at his nape. Pulling, he jerked Eijirou’s head back and came in close enough to watch his eyes go wide and his lips part for a gasp.

“Don’t think you’ll get the upper hand that easy.” He pulled hard- Eijirou’s eye twitched and his jaw clenched. “I’m no soft, fragile thing for you to protect.”

Eijirou weighed his thoughts, shuffled a few possible answers around in his mouth before letting his mouth curve up. “Did I say that?” Reaching up slowly, he skimmed Katsuki’s arm with a light touch that trailed down to where his hand was curled in messy hair. “Pretty sure I never said soft or fragile. This is a good example of the opposite, isn’t it?” He pulled lightly and without much thought, Katsuki’s fingers uncurled. “Put your claws away, kitten- I’m not here to hurt you.”

Katsuki told himself not to. Told himself he should back up, leave just how he was, and never come back. He didn’t think right when he was around the guy- everything became chaotic. He needed the control back. He needed stability again. He needed to stop himself from shoving his knee into the space of the chair between Eijirou’s thighs, grabbing him by the sides of his face, and forcing his way into a horribly desperate kiss.

He needed to do a lot of things that were never even a possibility.

It was a mistake, but it was hard to see it that way when he was being hauled into Eijirou’s chest and held there as a tongue slid between his lips. It was quick to be messy, but that seemed to be the only way it felt right between them.

Fingers slipping against scratchy stubble, Katsuki pressed forward and got his knee wedging into widespread legs. With a sudden inhale and a subtle grind against Katsuki’s thigh, Eijirou held him close to breathe in every bit of warm air between them.

“I hate you,” hurried out Katsuki’s mouth after his lip was released from Eijirou’s teeth. He didn’t know exactly why, but that felt like the only thing to say in the moment.

Eijirou’s laugh went straight into his mouth. “You’ve said that before.”

“Then I must’ve meant it.” Foreheads sticking together, he panted and went in for a final smear of lips, long and fury filled before leaning away. “I hate you.” Even less conviction than the first time.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Hot palm against Katsuki’s neck, Eijirou rubbed his thumb over the thrum of his pulse. “How much?”

Katsuki was being drawn back in by an alluring smile and long, fluttering lashes- he hated it all- “So fucking much.”

Hated him.

Hated how he made him feel.

Hated how little he could think like this.

Knee sliding off the chair, Katsuki moved down before he could convince himself not to. Silent as he watched, Eijirou took hold of the arm rests of the chair and dug his fingers in. The wood floor was unforgiving under Katsuki’s bare skin. Bony knees held him up as he drew his hands from chest to waist and pulled at the elastic.

Realization snapping to him, Eijirou lifted his hips and let his sweatpants be dragged down to the middle of his thighs. He breathed out heavily, cock giving an eager bob as Katsuki came close to it. He took it in hand, stroking once and letting his eyes flit up to the consuming gaze on him.

A soft, rushed, “Kat-” was all he got out before it cracked into a groan when Katsuki pushed his tongue against the underside. The drag up was long, purposeful and had the sound of leather being squeezed under rough hands echoing in his ears. Licking all the way up, Katsuki wrapped wet lips around the head, his tongue a constant, unwavering pressure.

Skin unsticking from the leather, Eijirou hovered his hand in the air before diving into soft blond when Katsuki gave an indulgent suck. Pushing the fringe away from his forehead, Eijirou brushed in and out while he sunk in the chair and tried to spread his legs wider. It seemed to be an almost mindless motion, feeling the soft hair around his fingers. It only changed slightly to an eventual tweak when Katsuki started moving his mouth lower before dragging up.

With the daring bob of his head further down, the soothing pet to his hair turned into a guiding hold. There was a scratch at his scalp along with a hushed curse barely making it out. Katsuki tested a swallow- found the strain irritating but rewarding once he felt the twitch of Eijirou’s thighs under his palms and heard the low hum of approval underlying a sigh. He tried it again- stopped abruptly when a fistful of his hair was twisted and his head pushed. Too far, too fast, the satisfying weight on his tongue passed painfully into his throat. He couldn’t stop his face from twisted up or his throat from constricting in a dry gag.

Fuck-” Whether the curse was apologetic or blissed out, it came with the careful card of Eijirou’s hand through his hair. Katsuki pulled back, sucking in a deep breath that left as a rough cough. “M’sorry.”

Katsuki licked his lips, gave Eijirou’s beautifully red face a single glance, and went right back to pulling his cock against the flat of his tongue.

“You don’t have to-” But those words went ignored. A spiteful, challenging streak lit up as he worked his way down again and teased the thin line between technique and a mistake.

Careful,” Eijirou muttered, it was cute, really. Thoughtful, arguably half-hearted. “Don’t,” He tried again, weaker this time added in with the most delicate push of his hand down.

Deep breath out through his nose, brows tight in unnecessary concentration, he prayed for at least one thing to go right while easing his way over salty skin. Focused on breathing, focused on relaxing, he laid his hand of Eijirou’s as not so subtle encouragement. When he didn’t move, Katsuki grabbed the hand and pressed, hummed.

“You’re gonna kill me, kid.” Eijirou slurred but held on none the less and forced Katsuki down.

An alarming jolt of rejection jumped from his throat but Katsuki begged to ignore it. Instead, he leaned heavily into the buzz that rushed to his head. Wet eyes flickered close as he was dragged around again and again- enough to where his hand fell off Eijirou’s and back to the sweatpants stretched across open thighs.

Up, down, push, pull, breathe in, breathe out- it was a dizzying tempo not relieved in the slightest by the constant curses and ramblings of so good, beautiful, keep going- It messed Katsuki up- Not used to the praise, the encouragement, the tenderness even when he had a cock shoved halfway down his throat and a grip so hard on his hair he could think Eijirou was afraid he’d float away otherwise.

Eijirou was much louder this time around- head back against the chair, mouth parted and letting anything and everything fall to sprinkle of Katsuki’s skin like tiny sparks. Normally, any utterance of baby, or gorgeous, or- fuck, why did he not hate it- god forbid- kitten¸ would have had him drawing up in disdain. But now, those whispers coming from such a confounding man, Katsuki felt himself unfurling with every breath and twist of his hair.

The pace was rough but he loved it, the words were disgusting but he loved them, he hated himself but he was finding it harder and harder to hate someone that could make him feel this good.

And goddammit, did it feel good.

The feeling seemed to be shared considering Eijirou’s hips had started to move, bucking up just shy of something dangerous. Katsuki would have patted himself on the back if he could have but he’d take the desperate force shoving his head down to be applause enough. It was certainly encouraging him to hold firmly on Eijirou’s thighs and try to relax until he felt the roll of hips became erratic and heard the word vomit devolving into nothing more than hurried breaths and low sounds deep from a heaving chest.

Katsuki was a little surprised Eijirou didn’t try to shove him back- but maybe his overly considerate manner faltered when he was too busy trying not to shake at the hands of someone who shouldn’t hold that much power over him.

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t expecting to be pushed away. Ready for a startled sound before he was ripped off and left to deal with the aftermath, it was a slight shock to be held down as nauseating, intoxicating bitterness barely even brushed his tongue before he was swallowing and counting the seconds until he could breathe again.

That moment came quickly once the hold on his hair turned to soft petting once again. Drawing back, clearing his throat, Katsuki rested on his legs. Finding it a bit too hard to focus on anything in particular, he shut his eyes and suppressed the pathetic cough clawing at his lungs.

“Here,” Eijirou’s voice was rough, grating and breathy. “C’mon,” He shifted, barely noticeable until his foot nudged against the front of Katsuki’s briefs.

Katsuki sucked in sharply, hunched over with the burning bloom of relief and embarrassment.

He hadn’t even been touched and he was so-

“Stand up.”

Katsuki shook his head, taking Eijirou’s ankle with a weak hand and pushing it away. The foot was gone, but the touch was replaced by Eijirou cupping his chin and bringing his face up. Katsuki blinked slowly, the shiver of arousal making it hard to pick one thought from the other.

“Let me take care of you.”

For once, that thought didn’t make him completely panic. Unsure if it was from the fact that things had changed or simply because every bit of his mind was currently focused on the distracting ache between his legs, Katsuki didn’t immediately snap. His mouth opened, coaxed by the soft rub of a thumb along his jaw.

What would’ve come out was probably some sort of agreement. He couldn’t consider the regret that would come later if he gave in. Couldn’t figure out if it would really be regret or if it was just the threat of fear from letting someone close.

What would’ve come out would have made everything after that different. If only it had the chance.

Just as his voice started and his tongue managed to unstick from the roof of his mouth, a knock came at the front door. The sound was loud and demanding and it shattered through the bubble of haze to glue Katsuki’s clarity back together.

What would’ve come out of his mouth was gone for good and replaced with a hushed but firm, “Looks like it’s time for me to go.” Finding his strength, he pushed up. He ignored the wobble of his legs as he took a step back.

“They can wait.” Eijirou tried, but Katsuki shook his head

“I’m bouncing, remember?”

At least Eijirou had enough sense to pull his pants up and look slightly less debauched as Katsuki turned, quickly wandered across the room, and opened the front door.

Katsuki was met with a small woman, older and apparently startled by his general being.

“Those mine?” He asked, eyes moving down to the plastic bag folded over her arm.

Ah-!” She jumped back into the moment with a hurried nod. “Yes, sir.”

“Not a sir.” He reached out to grab the hanger as it was lifted and brought the bags to his side. “Thanks.”

Her mouth was wide, but he shut the door before anything else could come out.

“She’s mousy.” His remark wasn’t necessarily mean, but Eijirou chided him anyway.

“Be nice to her.”

“Don’t have to be.” Not caring to take the time to walk back into the bedroom, Katsuki stripped in the entryway and rifled through the bag.

“You could’ve kept those on.”

Katsuki tugged his jeans on with a grunt and a small hop. “Don’t want a reason to have to see you again.”

He couldn’t even pretend like that didn’t sound like a lie.

“And my sweatshirt, then? You still have that.”

Shirt over his head, Katsuki squinted across the room. “Thought I got to keep that one?”

Grin bright, Eijirou shrugged. “Maybe I just enjoy hearing you say you want to.”

“I never-” Katsuki huffed, arms shoving through the sleeves of his jacket. Eijirou quirked a brow- he’d been caught. “I’m going to burn it.”

“No you’re not.”

Glancing around, he found his phone and keys on a small table by the door. “You don’t know what I’m capable of.”

“I’m sure you’re capable of a lot, but I’m also sure you won’t do that.”

“You know, this whole self-assured demeanor is really damn annoying.”

Eijirou only smiled. “You would know a lot about that, wouldn’t you?”

Katsuki narrowed his glare. “You’re fucking infuriating.”

“Right back atcha, kitten.”

With a final, full force scowl, Katsuki snatched the doorknob and ripped it open.

“Katsuki.” The call made him stop in the door way.

What?” His bark angry but hollow.

“We should start over.”

Katsuki turned halfway, grip hard on the doorframe. “Huh?”

Eijirou’s face was still flushed, body lax and expression soft as he grinned. “Let’s try this again.”

This-

“Whatever this is.” He answered without so much as being asked. “I’d like to see you again.” High blush and unforgiving emotion, this man chose to hide nothing. It was terrifying. “Preferably when the sun’s still up.”

“The sun’s up now.” Katsuki remarked dryly. A poor attempt at avoidance.

“Again, then. If you’d be okay with it.”

“Thursday.” He said curtly. Despite his level voice, he couldn’t keep his eyes from drifting to the side. “I don’t have work. I can-” He forced his gaze to go back- happy that he did because Eijirou looked positively enamored. “I can meet you here, I guess. If you’re so adamant about it.”

“Six. Out front.” Eijirou nodded at him, cocking his head and smiling so wide his face had to hurt. “It’s a date.”

Shrug, grunt, scoff- Katsuki turned with a quick, “Whatever.”

He definitely wasn’t smiling by the time he reached the elevator.

No one could prove otherwise.

Chapter Text

Katsuki’s blankets were a mess. One pillow was on the floor while the other was smashed between an arm and a curly puffball of pink. He didn’t think twice about changing- his clothes were clean enough- so he went straight for his bed and tucked himself under the crooked cover.

As he was shifting to get comfortable, Mina stirred beside him. She grunted a little, rolled over, and wiggled into his side. It took a couple seconds of dazed blinking before she smiled. “I didn’t know who you were.”

“You’re in my bed.” He muttered, pushing the hair away from his mouth as she tucked herself under his chin.

“Yeah, I forgot.” She nuzzled into his chest. “And I’m used to skedaddling before whoever else is in the bed realizes I’m still there. I only cuddle with one man.”

“I’m so lucky.” His grumble was half-hearted, especially considering he slung an arm over her side and let her cling to his shirt.

Being that close to someone usually made him feel suffocated and itchy. There had been few exceptions- Mina being the first, but he’d never had a choice. She’d been adamant since the beginning to be in his space as much as possible. Hitoshi had been easy to tolerate from the moment they’d been paired up for a project during their first year. He was smart enough, calm, an ass when he could be and a friend when he needed to be. They were never like him and Mina- wrapped up in a bed or on the couch or whispering to each other in the dark, but they could be content around one another day in and day out.

He’d had a few boyfriends over the years, but most of them were just friends that he’d occasionally feel like kissing. Being nothing more than that, they all eventually fizzled out. His last, however, had been something different. It was a whole other level of chaos. It’d seemed amazing at first. The boy was handsome, witty, and competitive. He had a sharp tongue and an even bigger determination to prove himself than Katsuki did. It seemed perfect, felt perfect. They pushed each other, challenged each other, couldn’t keep their hand off each other. Until they could.

Something snapped over the past year. It’d been building for a while, but they’d both ignored it until it forced their attention with a burning rip through what they had. They fought, left without any resolution, and they ignored it. They argued about Katsuki working too much and then they would ignore it. They yelled about never seeing each other and when they did, he was too tired from twenty hours of class work and more time at his job that he could handle. They would sit in the same room, silent, so uncomfortably quiet, not even daring to ask how the other was doing. They didn’t kiss or touch let alone fuck, and Katsuki ignored it. Until he couldn’t.

He tried until he went through every day feeling miserable but still clinging to the fact that maybe somebody actually wanted him and wasn’t burdened by him and could handle the volatile way he stumbled through every emotion he didn’t know what to do with. He’d thought for so long Haruki was going to be that person.

So he let himself be yelled at and berated and insulted until he was hollow. Until he was forced to either see the truth of what his ideal relationship had become or try to deal with being lied to and discarded.

He knew it’d been happening.

He wasn’t stupid.

They both knew everything was obvious, and for a while, neither of them said a word about it. But there’s only so many times a person can lie about where they are and come back the next day with marks on their skin and a smell that isn’t theirs. Sometimes Katsuki wondered if Haruki was doing it on purpose; lying so poorly so Katsuki would end things first and he could come out on top as the victim. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. No matter how many times Mina tried to convince him it’d be best or how many times he’d looked at his boyfriend and felt the bile rising in his throat- he simply couldn’t end the one thing that had ever felt right even if it’d been so fucking wrong.

So Katsuki would exist, studying or working or staring at his ceiling without sleep knowing, even though he hadn’t heard a word from the boy all night, exactly where he was.

He didn’t even try to act surprised when the truth was finally spelled out.

This is Yuuto,

That’s how it started. A text from someone he’d never heard of.

Haruki feels terrible about all this. I know he doesn’t wasn’t to be this kind of person, but you really haven’t been there for him lately and it’s hurt him.

He remembers laughing. Alone in his apartment. So loud his throat hurt.

We think it’d be best if you two end what’s left of your relationship. No hard feelings, I hope.

No hard feelings.

No hard feelings that he was broken up with by some guy he’d never met.

Katsuki didn’t think about love lightly. He rarely expressed that amount of emotion towards anyone- but he’d loved that boy. And to see it end, to know he hadn’t been good enough to keep someone around, would have probably messed him up for a long time if it hadn’t been for the friends that always kept him close to their hearts even if it hurt them. Them and the kind smile of a stranger that asked for so little and had already given him more than he deserved.

Haruki had never been a nice guy. He’d been fun and charming and he’d left Katsuki in disarray. So if he was that fucked after losing someone who’d treated him like shit, how the hell was he going to be when he inevitably lost someone who actually care for him? He didn’t want to handle that- didn’t think he could handle that. He couldn’t let Eijirou in- but it didn’t seem like he was being given that much of an option. It already appeared to be too late.

“Where’d you go anyway?” Mina’s soft question broke the tension in his head. “I was worried about my boy.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Oh-!” She sat up quickly, the collar of one of his shirts falling off her shoulder. “That’s why I’m here- I wanted to make sure you were okay, but someone didn’t come home.” She came close, looking over him. “You better not have let some stranger whisk you away”

“You were begging for me to get whisked away a week ago.”

“But only because I saw and approved of the guy. You have to have my blessing after all.”

“Yeah,” He hunkered down into the sheets a bit more, “Well,” Even if he lied, she’d figure him out. He shouldn’t try- “I guess,”

Oh?” He hated that sound. “Where’d you go, Kat?” She knew full well where he’d been. She grinned evilly but before he could blink it turned sympathetic. “Oh, honey, no, you were so drunk.” He shut his eyes tight and nodded. “What did you do? Please tell me you’re okay.”

“I’m fine. I’m-” He peeked open, narrow eyes watched him closely. He couldn’t lie. “I’m really good, actually. It’s fucking confusing.”

Her smile grew warm as she ruffled his hair. “And he didn’t try anything, right?”

“Don’t remember much.” He batted at her hand till she stopped. “But no, I don’t think so.”

“How’s your ass?”

“As pristine and virginal as ever.” His dry remark was met with a chirping laugh and a punch to his shoulder. “Seriously, nothing happened- and if anything did, apparently it was all my idea.”

“A drunk Kat is a horny Kat.”

He promptly ignored her, and trailed his eyes to the ceiling. “Said he just got me to go to bed and I fell asleep. I don’t even remember getting there. Just sort of being there and then waking up. I got out of bed and he was just working. Nothin’ exciting.”

“And you just left?” He shrugged and she assaulted his chest with sharp nails. “Look here, I deserve every detail from having to put up with the mopey, asshole version of you for a whole fucking week.”

Katsuki sighed, voice falling into a whisper as he glared past her head. “Said he wants to get to know me.”

Her face fell into surprise before amused glee. “What was that?”

“M’not saying it again.”

“And how did you react to that? I swear to fuck Katsuki, if you rejected that sweet, beautiful man, I’m going to-”

“I didn’t.”

Not really.

“What’d you do then?” Teeth clenched, he only stared back in a silent plea she’d stop. “Kat,” She sounded desperate and absolutely enthralled. “Sweetie, what’d you do?” He shook his head slowly but she leaned down, practically touching his nose with her own. “I’m starving, please, what-”

“I sucked his dick.” He said in a rush that barely could’ve been picked up over the hum of the heater.

But she heard him.

And she cackled. Full bodied, head thrown back, she let her voice rise so loud it drew in the hyenas.

“What’s got you so manic all alone-” Hitoshi’s head popped through his door, brows high before a quiet Ah, “Welcome home, darling.”

“Please fucking kill me, sweetheart.” He droned, covered easily by another one of Mina’s howls.

Shouto’s unamused scowl was the next thing to slide in between the door and the frame. “Can someone please silence the beast?”

Katsuki wanted to burn himself alive.

Hitoshi waved at her in a quieting motion knowing it wouldn’t work. “Seriously, Pinky, what’s up?”

“Mina-” Katsuki tried quickly, but she was already whipping around.

“Buff daddy told Kat he likes him and our slutty bestfriend sucked his dick in the middle of the fuckin’ apartment.”

“That’s-” Tired, slit eyes flicked over to his face before Hitoshi sighed and rubbed at his forehead. “Entirely unsurprising.”

The snide laugh that came from Shouto made his blood curdle. “And you tell me I don’t know how to deal with my emotions?”

Shouto’s hand was around Hitoshi’s side and it was enough to make Katsuki gag and cover his eyes with an arm. “I never said you two weren’t a pair.”

“Can everyone leave me the fuck alone now?”

“Not even a little bit.” Mina cooed and pulled at his arm. “When are you seeing him again?”

He bit at his cheek, eyeing her for a moment. “Thursday.”

She looked shocked and her hands left him. “Honestly, I expected you to say never. But look at that, you can still surprise me.”

“Great, now fuck off.” She refused to budge even with a shove to her shoulders. “You all got what you wanted so stop prying into my uninteresting life and leave me the hell alone.”

Mina laid back down, curling around him. “How is going on a date with a rich, attractive man uninteresting?”

He barely tried to push her away- it wasn’t worth the effort. “It ain’t a date.”

Shouto snorted, leaving a quick remark before turning back down the hall, “Keep telling yourself that.”

 

He didn’t want it to be a date.

He wanted to have met a stranger at a bar, got a good time out of it, and never see them again.

He probably could’ve had that if he hadn’t let his drunk brain pull him back over there. Or if said stranger hadn’t been a gallingly nice person who roped him into actually feeling something without his consent.

Fuck him for being so damn friendly.

Fuck him for being able to make a henley and jeans look like they were stitched around his muscles.

Fuck him for looking at Katsuki like he was the best thing to grace the earth every goddamn time their eyes met.

Eijirou pushed away from the front of his building, phone going into his pocket. He stepped swiftly over and came in to kiss Katsuki on the cheek before he had the chance to reject it. He always smelt so warm and familiar- so stupid.

Hand on the back of Katsuki’s turtleneck, he rubbed a few times before taking a step out of his space and letting his grin shine. “You look nice.”

“Don’t do that.” Katsuki turned, started walking in a direction that could’ve been entirely wrong but he couldn’t let himself stop to care.

“What?” Eijirou took large strides to catch with him. “Compliment you?” He grabbed Katsuki’s arm to stop him, turn him, trap him so he could lean down to his height. He was too close, smirking and daring Katsuki to come nearer. “You usually seem to like it when I compliment you.”

The way he said it grated against Katsuki’s nerves just as much as it tickled at his gut.

“Stop.” He jerked his arm away and shoved his hands in his pockets. “You wanted to start over right?” Eijirou made an approving sound as he walked almost against his side. “That means pretending you don’t know what my dick looks like. Got it?”

Soft laugh to his right, Eijirou hooked arm over his shoulders and pulled Katsuki in. “Yeah, I got it.”

“You’re awfully touchy tonight.”

“You’re exceptionally prickly.”

“Buy me a drink then.”

“I was planning to.”

 

One drink turned into two, then three, and by nine o’clock, Katsuki had a full belly and a hot face. He always hated how red he got even after just one drink- hated it even more after Eijirou commented on it. No, it’s cute- he said and made Katsuki want to shove his straw directly into his own eye.

The dinner was good- amazing if he was being honest with himself but no one else. Food his mouth had never even dreamed of being able to eat, cocktails that didn’t even have a price- just flowery descriptions with at least four different types of alcohol in each. He would’ve tried them all if he wasn’t feeling far too loose after the third.

Eijirou had managed to keep his annoying comments and questions to a minimum for most of the evening, but with the sound of Katsuki’s drink being sucked down, his face turned into a grin that meant trouble. Most of their time had been filled with either small talk or conversations that unfortunately had made Katsuki laugh more often than he wished to admit.

But now, with his ruddy cheeks and tingling fingers, he watched Eijirou lean in across the small, round table.

“So, Katsuki, is it?” He was beyond frustrating. “What do you do?”

There he went again, trying to pry his way in.

Nowhere to run, nothing to divert the conversation towards, Katsuki heaved a sigh.

“Told you already. I’m a third year engineering student with a shitty job where I don’t get paid enough but I have to keep it because it’s mildly related to what I’m studying and I kind of have to have money to eat. Anytime I’m not working or entertaining the buffoons that hand around me against my will, I’m doing schoolwork. I have very little free time and I refuse to change any of that to make time for someone who can’t respect my priorities.”

The brief pause of surprise he expected didn’t come. Eijirou’s smile didn’t falter for a second. Chin in his hand, he nodded and swirled his straw in his drink. Bourbon- disgusting.

“Your priorities are right where they should be.” Don’t patronize me. “I admire someone with a work ethic like that.” Don’t try to appease me. “It’s not easy, and a lot of people don’t understand.” Don’t act like you get it.

“You’re pretty convincing when you try to talk like you have experience.”

“And who says I don’t?”

“Alright,” Katsuki leaned back in his chair, hands folded on the table. “Why don’t you explain yourself since you’re so fucking insistent on alluding to the fact that you know what I’ve been through?”

“As soon as you give me a reason to believe your inability to have a civil conversation with me isn’t just because some idiot broke your heart.”

“You want a reason?” Pushing his empty glass to the middle of the table, he leveled Eijirou with a detached gaze. “Here’s a couple. I’ve barely scraped by my whole life- my dad died when I was six, my mom’s piece of shit, I haven’t spoken to her since I left home three years ago, and yeah, the one person I thought wasn’t a lying, manipulative dick turned out to be one and the same. That what you wanna hear?”

Eijirou actually nodded. “We’re getting there.”

Jutting his chin out, Katsuki did his best to look down his nose. “Then it’s your turn.”

Eijirou rubbed at his neck as he shifted. “While I’ll admit it won’t seem near as traumatic, considering I’ve never lost a parent, and mine were- are-  lovely people, my moms never really had much money either. We had each other, and I know I’ve been lucky because of that, but I had far from a privileged childhood. Where I am now is nothing like where I’ve ever been- and honestly, if I did it all again, I don’t think I’d choose this path.”

Katsuki stoked the fire in his chest before he thought. “How could you-”

“How could I say that when I have so much?” Eijirou laughed that somber little sound that always pulled harder at Katsuki’s throat than he appreciated. “There’s a lot I don’t have. A lot that I’ve ignored because I thought once I got a big job, the rest would just come together by itself.” He fiddled with a straw wrapper between his fingers. “I haven’t been able to go home for a holiday in years. Nights, weekends, the concept really stopped existing- I’m at work and when I’m not, I’m either doing it at home or thinking about it.” Dropping the wrapper, he looked up with a smile more timid than usual. “Will you let me say something you’re not gonna like?”

“Me saying no isn’t going to stop you.”

Thankfully, Eijirou got some of his shine back from that. “See, you’re getting to know me already.”

“Fuck-” Katsuki pushed as his temples and scowled. “Just get on with it, Ei.”

He knew it was a horrible mistake as soon as the name left his mouth. For as many times as Eijirou called him stupid nicknames or picked up Kat like they’d been pals for years, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. But with the way Eijirou grinned, they both knew a part of Katsuki’s defenses had just crumbled away into nothingness. Eijirou reached over the table to find Katsuki’s hand.

“Meeting you was the first thing that’s cleared my head in a long time.”

Katsuki slid his hand away and Eijirou let him without a fight. “Don’t say shit like that unless you want me to vomit.” His words held barely half their normal venom, eyes skirting away to avoid letting his face heat up anymore. “By the way, how’d you get rich with only half a fuckin’ brain cell?”

“Hey,” Eijirou called, abrupt and deep enough that it had Katsuki’s eyes move back out of pure reaction. “Cut it out.”

Mouth open, ready to fight back, Katsuki was stopped by the slam of Eijirou’s empty glass against the table.

He stood while fishing his wallet from his pocket. “You gotta let yourself feel something sometime, kid.”

Katsuki refused to watch how many bills were tossed to the table. Instead, he busied himself with tugging his coat on and getting to his feet.

They left the restaurant under the veil of quiet understanding. Katsuki pushed away from the bubble he’d let himself exist in for a couple of hours. Hit with the chill air of a winter evening, he had to fall back into the truth of it all. He couldn’t let himself get comfortable again. Not when it would just end badly.

He took a few steps away, caught almost expectantly by a large hard around his wrist.

“Let me walk you home.”

Katsuki pulled, arm not budging from the grasp. “Why should I?”

“It’s late.”

“I can protect myself.” He turned back. It was a fault after he saw Eijirou’s gentle smile. He couldn’t push him away if he killed himself trying. “We’re practically on campus.”

“I’d be more at ease if I did.”

The hold on his wrist loosened but only so Eijirou could work his thumb under the edge of his sleeve and rub it across his skin. “You’re not gettin’ any more than that.”

“Did I ask for more than that?”

Katsuki got his hand back and put them both immediately in his pockets. Eijirou knew well enough that no response after that was as much of a surrender as he could get, so he followed happily along Katsuki’s side.

Passing streetlight after streetlight, Eijirou kept him occupied with idle conversation and the taunt of body heat just a tiny bit too far away. “So you hate me, right?” With a grunt, Katsuki shrugged. “Do you always go on dates with people you hate?”

His grunt turned into a groan as Eijirou bumped him with his elbow. “I hate everyone.”

“And here I was thinking I’m special.”

“I usually go on dates with annoying assholes, so yeah, you’re right on par.”

“I’m nice.” Eijirou quipped as some sort of fight back.

“You’re an idiot.”

“An idiot that you like.”

Hunkering down into the collar of his coat, Katsuki refused to acknowledge that.

“C’mon,” Prying hands at his arm got it loose enough for Eijirou to hook them together. “Tell me why you like me.”

“Die.”

“I’ve told you.”

Katsuki scoffed. “Pretty sure you haven’t.”

“Oh?” Clearing his throat, Eijirou jerked them closer. “Let me fix that.”

“Or you could shut the hell up.”

“You are sour and bitter and closed-off-”

“Oh is that how it’s done?” Katsuki mocked through a sneer. “I can do that-”

There was a wobble to their step as Eijirou whispered in his ear. “Listen to me,” He stood back up, leaving Katsuki to suffer in his blushy, tipsy fog. “You’re all those things, but, you’re also very hard-working. Along with that comes things like determined, strong-willed. I don’t see you giving up on things or people. And once people get in, you take of them, don’t you? Always strong and put together for the sake of everyone else.” He softened his voice into something more serious but fond. “I know what that’s like, and I’ll tell you something I’ve learned. It’s a wonderful thing, but if you don’t let other people do the same for you; you’re going to fall apart eventually.”

He knew that.

Of course he knew that.

But it didn’t make it any easier.

“I don’t see you fallin’ apart all that easy.”

“Definitely wasn’t easy, but it happened. And thankfully I have good friends that care more about me than I do about myself sometimes.” He touched Katsuki’s sleeve before holding on. “All I’m asking is for you to give me a chance at being someone you can count on.” It’s not that easy. “It doesn’t have to be right away, but you gotta stop pushing me out.” It’ll never be that easy. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m trying.” It was quiet and fragile, but it was the truth. It was better than denying it. But he bristled right after anyway. “Don’t fucking rush me, shitty hair.”

Eijirou laughed, head shaking. “Stop calling me that.”

“Get better hair and I will.”

“I think my hair looks good. It’s rather manly, isn’t it?”

“Don’t describe things as manly- it’s weird.”

“Do you get off on being mean?”

“Sometimes.”

It wasn’t the response Eijirou was expecting guessing from the way his laugh stuttered in his throat. “Let’s explore that later, but right now, quit it.”

Katsuki felt his smirk and promptly hid it against his coat. “Funny, don’t remember you bein’ the boss of me.”

“I’m the boss of a lot of people.”

“Not me, though.”

“I could never manage you. I’m a little too afraid you’d burn my office down.”

“I can still do that.” He lifted his head a bit, figuring Eijirou gained the gift of seeing his face pulling something other than hatred. “As soon as I figure out where it is.”

“God, Kat, please don’t.”

“We’ll table that threat for now.”

 

Despite how reluctant he was to admit it, that didn’t change the fact that the evening had been enjoyable. And standing with his back to the door of his apartment, it took most of his resolve not to give up at starting over and pull Eijirou inside. But the man was helping him with the foot of space he’d put between them. Past their greeting, he hadn’t once attempted another kiss. He was a truly respectable gentleman and it pissed Katsuki off.

“I had a lot of fun.” Eijirou smiled down at his shoes like some bashful schoolgirl, hands clasped behind his back. “Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to properly take you out.”

Picking at the inside of his pocket, Katsuki ignored the flushed smile shining at him. “Quit acting like I’m doin’ you some huge favor. It was just dinner.”

Eijirou rocked forward, bending further into his space. “I enjoyed our just dinner very much, didn’t you?” He was like a puppy waiting for its treat, ears perked up, tail wagging. It was damn near hard to resist giving him something.

“I guess so.”

And then he was straightening up, beaming. “I’m glad.”

“Stop lookin’ at me like that.”

But he didn’t. If anything, that only made him look happier.

He bowed his head a little, what an idiot, and took the risk of laughing. “Goodnight.”

Goodnight” He said like Katsuki wasn’t weak and like that toothy smile didn’t make his level-headed rationality fuck off never to be seen again.

His hands shooting out to fist in the front of Eijirou’s shirt shouldn’t have been surprising to either of them. Even less surprising than his back hitting the solid strength of his front door and the knee forcing between his own as all the space around him was swallowed up.

There’d been a wire between them all night- tiny, but there, keeping them separated. It wobbled every time Katsuki laughed or smiled in spite of himself but it would have never broken if he hadn’t wanted it to. But there he was, snipping it in two and dragging himself back into the comfort of rich musk and sturdy hands on his hips.

Katsuki hated feeling trapped, always had, but for some reason being surrounded by shadows and having his tongue between teeth was anything but unsettling. When hot lips moved from making a mess of his mouth to leaving wet lines over his jaw, ear, throat, he let his head bang against the door and prayed no one was home. He could see the door swinging open and both blushing idiots tumbling to the floor- those assholes would never let him live it down. They’d laugh and mock him and make jokes about it for years. He couldn’t stand them, they never knew when to let up, they always-

“Kat,” Fingers on his ribs, mouth against his pulse, Eijirou hummed into his skin. “Stay with me.”

“Get out of my head.” He whispered harshly, but pulled tighter on the fabric in his hands.

“M’afraid I can’t, baby.” Working his way back up to Katsuki’s mouth was slow going and it drove him crazy. Long, bruising close-mouthed kisses made the very foundation of his willpower tremble. “-’specially when you don’t mean it.”

“Don’t-” He started, a common phrase he’d shot at Eijirou countless times. And because of that, he wasn’t allowed to finish it.

A distant rumble of disapproval turned in Eijirou’s chest as he gripped Katsuki harder and forced his way into another smash of lips. As if that meant something. As if that got his point across.

When he pulled back it was with a twitch of his brows and a sigh. “You’ll realize that one day.”

“You should go.” Breathless and too open, Katsuki released the shirt and pushed. It wasn’t hard, but Eijirou wasn’t resisting him. He stepped back, returned his hands to his own space and straightened himself out.

Eijirou opened his mouth and it was one of those times when Katsuki had no idea what was going to come out. What did made him feel a lot less panicked than he thought it would. “Can I have your number?”

He waited longer than necessary, even longer than that just to make Eijirou sweat. There wasn’t ever any other option than, “Whatever.”

But Eijirou knew that was a yes, a willing one at that. There was a phone between them within a matter of seconds. Katsuki grabbed it and navigated to hurriedly tap the digits in so the embarrassment could pass. He forced it back over and turned before he had to look at Eijirou’s goofy smile any longer.

“Goodnight,” Eijirou said again like he hadn’t just shoved Katsuki up against his door and made him seriously consider dragging the man inside and dealing with the guilt the next day.

“Whatever,” Katsuki said again, so much weaker, as he pushed the door open and ducked in before he changed his mind.

Back to the inside of the door, he thanked every god that may or may not exist that the apartment was empty.

He took a deep breath, tried to steady himself so he could walk to his bedroom without fumbling.

Halfway there, a set of rumbles in his pocket made him stop, pull his phone out, and fight the urge to throw it or scream or combust on the spot.

Three texts, a number he didn’t know, an undeniable weakness in his knees.

 

You drive me crazy

I want to see you again soon

Have a goodnight Katsuki.

Chapter Text

“You sure they’re busy?” Eijirou’s voice had crumpled into a shaky breath against his neck.

It’d been like this for weeks-

“Shut up.” Katsuki heaved back for the hundredth time that afternoon.

Nearly three months probably- he didn’t care to keep track-

Clawing at the back of the couch, he used his knees to move steadily up and down over Eijirou’s cock.

Weeks of making unlabeled, vague plans that either started or ended with eager touches and a shed of clothing-

“I just-” Digging fingers into the soft give of Katsuki’s ass, he stumbled through a groan. “I don’t-”

It wasn’t the most functional way to go about things, but it was the most fun he’d had in a while.

Eijirou sucked a gasp through his teeth. “I don’t want the first time I meet your friends to be when my dick’s out.”

Pushing down, Katsuki paused, fully seated and practically itching to keep going. “Your dick isn’t out.”

Kat,” It was like scolding a child. “You know what I mean.”

“Do I? Out, huh?” He pulled up, further than he had in a while- almost entirely. He could feel the head catching against his rim and daring to pop out- but he stayed there, grinning as Eijirou tried not to whimper. “You want out?”

Eijirou’s touch stuck to his ass like glue, urging him down again as he shook his head.

“Well, I’m confused then.” Nimble fingers finding deep red, he twisted the hair lazily. “Here I thought you’d rather stop than be caught.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“Fuck ‘em. They know what I get up to.”

“You’re a fucking liar. You’d be embarrassed all to hell if they walked in right now.”

The grin Katsuki pulled was something mischievous, even as he came in for a light kiss. “There’s still a lot you don’t know about me.”

When he leaned away, Eijirou tried to follow. Craning up, sticking his neck out, he pleaded silently for that mouth again. Nothing came, Katsuki only arched himself further away and made Eijirou fall back into the couch. “Fine, we’ll talk about that later- don’t let me forget- but right now, before I pass out, please keep going. I’m labeling this couch as off limits for the future.”

“I’m positive my shitty roommate’s wiped his boyfriend’s bare ass on every inch of this apartment, so-”

Eijirou’s hands sliding to the front of his hips shoved Katsuki back. It put distance between their chests but also ripped a whine through his words from the new angle. Eijirou softened his grip but refused to let him move. “So this is just revenge?”

“No-” It came out like a wheeze.

“No?” Katsuki shook his head. “Sounded pretty spiteful to me.”

“Y’know, for someone who wants this over quickly, you sure are distractin’ me a lot.” Taking Eijirou by the shoulders, he pulled in air till his ribs ached and blew it out with a pointed grind all the way back down. The skirting pleasure up his spine brought his smirk out again, twitching even wider with the satisfied hum of Eijirou’s mouth on his collar.

“Sorry for distracting you.” Putting a finger between Katsuki’s eyes was like asking for the lion to bite. “You do look very focused what with this crease and all.”

“Fuck you,” He spat, smacking at Eijirou’s wrist. “That’s always there.”

“Not always.” Eijirou sounded smug. Katsuki considered punching him in the jaw but chose putting his lips there instead while Eijirou helped him lift himself up and slide back down. “It’s not there when you sleep.”

“Don’t watch me sleep.” His mutter against stubble went ignored.

“Or when you laugh.”

“Don’t watch me laugh.”

“Why? You have a beautiful laugh.”

“Shut up.” It was hardly a whisper through the jostle of Eijirou speeding them up.

Lips just under his ear, fingers digging in as they led him down, over and over, harder and unrelenting, he couldn’t fight back.

“You’re stunning.”

He hated it- hated the vice grip Eijirou’s deep voice had on him. It was a weapon he knew just how to use, especially once he figured out there wouldn’t be any denial or snide remarks once Katsuki got close enough.

At that point, he just became fragile- hard wax softened by raspy praises littered between unintentional curses. It filled him with as much pride as it did ire. To be so breakable in someone’s hands but to be doing the same to them- it was a horrible conflict with no winner in sight. More often than not, Katsuki cut his losses, bit his tongue, retracted his claws and threw himself fully into melting between large fingers and adoring whispers.

Whether he simple let himself get too worked up, or if it was some unspoken rule of Eijirou’s manly conduct, Katsuki always finished first. Maybe Eijirou just liked the feeling of having someone shuddering because of him, maybe he was more competitive than Katsuki realized- but whatever the reason, Katsuki wasn’t complaining. It was damn good and a little overstimulation between final drags and thrusts never prompted a complaint from him. If anything, he loved it. He’d never tell a fucking soul.

The wind down was always silence, interrupted every now and then by hushed breathing and the smack of sticky skin separating.

“Just so you know,” Eijirou said as he watched Katsuki stand on shaky legs. “I came here for dinner. Let me make it clear that I did not come here expecting this.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re a gentleman. I fucking know.”

After pulling his pants up from around his thighs, he started buttoning his shirt. “I came here to spend time with you.”

“Pretty fucking good way to spend time in my opinion.” Sweatshirt over his head, Katsuki found his boxers and slipped them on just as Eijirou slid an arm around his stomach and draped himself over his back. Katsuki wasn’t quite ready for the other to stand, or touch him again, or breathe in against the top of his head but he did his best not to tense up.

“Now I’m starving.” He mumbled, bending down to kiss at the side of Katsuki’s neck.

“Better let me find my pants then.”

The arms around him squeezed, Eijirou’s cheek rubbing against the fuzzy, buzzed side of his head.

Katsuki shoved at his arms, just enough so he could wiggle his way out. He scratched at the tingle left on his head, eyes searching for tossed-away pants. “And you tell me I’m the cat.”

“Not my fault after sex is the only time you let me be soft.”

“You’re always soft.” Katsuki argued, pants already up one leg. “Just some big, mushy doof not worth a damn.”

Pants on and zipped, Eijirou was back against him, chest meeting his face and brawny arms trapping him. The insult hadn’t even affected him in the slightest. “Yeah, but usually you fight me off. But now-” He kissed at the top of Katsuki’s head before trailing down to his cheek. “This is when you can’t help yourself.”

“Keep talkin’ and I’ll knee you in the dick.”

“Calm down.” Something about the tone or the safety of the hold willed Katsuki’s eyes to slip close. “Just be here with me for a moment.”

He submitted, if only fleetingly. Standing without saying anything in the middle of his apartment with someone wrapped around him felt stupid.

But it was nice.

He didn’t want to deny it.

The only compelling reason to move was the eventual, needy growl from Eijirou’s stomach.

“Alright, let’s go before you start chewin’ your arm off.” Katsuki started moving, but Eijirou only gave enough space for walking. Arms still around him, Eijirou wobbled as they made their way around the bar counter and into the small kitchen.

“What’re we havin’?”

Head in the fridge, Katsuki started pulling out the vegetables. “Soba.”

“How creative.”

Eijirou’s lilt was answered with a glare over the door of the fridge before Katsuki kicked it shut.

“Here’s a heads up,” He unloaded his armful onto the counter then pulled a knife from the block and held it up between them. “You insult me in the kitchen and there’ll be consequences.”

“I would never.” He pushed Katsuki’s arm down and started rooting around for a cutting board. “Everything you make is delicious- not that I’m all that surprised.”

When he reached for the knife again, Katsuki moved his arm away quickly. “No-” He grabbed a skillet and pushed it into Eijirou’s chest. “You’re on sauce, I don’t trust you to chop anything after the carrots.”

“You’re making it sound like I lost a finger.” He was pouting- it was cute but unconvincing. “They were just a little uneven.”

“Uneven my ass.” Katsuki grumbled and turned back to start slicing. “Can’t stop being a brute for one fucking sec-”

The hand slinking along his stomach made him stutter through the rest. He still wasn’t used to the abruptness and comfortable way Eijirou entered his space. He enveloped him like a shadow and it should make him feel small but if anything it settled him.

“Not one second?” A second hand joined in and held him by the hip. “I can think of a few seconds at least.”

“Don’t forget I have a knife in my hand.”

“I’m so scared.” He announced loudly as he moved back over to the stove.

“Make the damn sauce.”

“Yes, chef.”

 

Sauce simmering, water boiling and noodles dropped in, Katsuki was finishing up the last of the prep for the toppings.

The first turn of the door know went unnoticed until there was creaking wood and Mina’s unmistakable squawk.

“Listen fellas, all I’m saying is, when you wake up in the middle of the night, starving, and the only thing in your reach is a bottle of mustard, you’re not just gonna not eat some.”

They slammed the door and began removing their shoes and various hats, scarves, gloves.

Hitoshi made a disgusted noise. “I would definitely not eat it. Just get up and go to the kitchen.”

“Ah, but you see that, my dear, is when my extreme laziness outweighs my need for actual food.”

Shouto took their coats and hung them up on the hooks. “Just put food by your bed.”

“No. If I do that I’ll eat it and be one of those sad people that eat in their bed.”

“But aren’t you alr-”

“Fucking hello.” Katsuki finally spat.

Eijirou had been busing himself with stirring the sauce and trying- failing­- to hide his laugh.

“Oh, hello. Didn’t you have a da-” Mina said before repeating herself much louder. “Oh! Hello Mr. grown man that’s been dicking our best friend.”

Eijirou’s startled choke and jumping shoulders were covered by the snarl that burned the air between them.

“Hello bitch that doesn’t live here.”

“What does that make me?” Hitoshi asked, raising his hand.

“Bitch that does live here.” Shouto answered for him and Katsuki couldn’t decide what was more annoying- the fact that he was there too or the fact that he was there and already knew exactly what Katsuki was going to say.

“Are we-” Mina was giddy and inching closer.

“Interrupting?” Katsuki bit, “Yeah.”

“No they’re not.” Eijirou carried the pot to the sink and started draining the noodles. “We can’t eat all this.”

Katsuki rounded on him but Eijirou’s smile hadn’t fallen even a little. “Not enough for five people. And I don’t want them here.”

“I’ve been waiting to actually meet them.”

“That’s not for you to decide.”

“We’ll you’re apparently never going to let me, so this is good.” He dumped the noodles into the pan and gave them a stir. “Calm down. It’ll be fine.”

Katsuki stared at his profile, unmoving until he huffed and smacked a hand roughly between Eijirou’s shoulders. “Introduce yourself then.”

“Ah-” He stopped stirring and laid the spoon on the counter. “Right, of course, I’m-” He hesitated after turning, some odd expression coming over him before he overcorrected and went into an unexplainable grin. “I’m Eijirou.” He laughed and somehow Katsuki has already trained himself to realize that one wasn’t all that real.

Critical eyes on him, he came up close to his side. “Hey, are you good?” His question was quiet, as if whispering would change the fact that they were only a few feet from the others.

“Hmm?” Eijirou looked down, lips pinched. “Me? I’m good. And hungry. We should finish up here, yeah?”

“Ei-”

Shouto was bulldozing over his concerned outreach before he could get another question in. “So, what do you do, big guy? Must be something interesting to have caught the eye of such an apathetic damsel.”

 For some reason, Eijirou flinched and it set off a gut reaction in Katsuki. “Oi, what’s it to you?”

“Just curious. This is the first time meeting him after all.”

“To be fair,” Mina piped up, already coming to hover over the food. “We met at the bar once, I just didn’t get the chance to talk because Baku was being pissy.”

“Think you’d stay quiet now too, then.”

“Nah, I have back up this time. And I’ve been curious too-”

“Well it’s not really yours to know.”

“And is it yours?” Shouto asked, his calm way of speaking like a spike through Katsuki’s patience.

“Look-”

“Kat, it’s fine. Like I told you, it’s just business.” Eijirou had gone back to stirring- his tone was light but it felt brittle. “Nothing interesting, I promise.”

Mina peeked around his back into the pan. “Must be a good business considering you always look so fancy.”

Hitoshi grinned back at her. “Is that what you’re going to write on your exams? This dress is fancy, that belt looks good.”

“I do a lot more than talk about clothes, nerd. It’s called fashion merchandising, not pretty doll dress-up. And it’s more interesting than your clicky-clacky classes.”

“Ah yes, you got me good. I’m hurt.”

Hands on her hips, she bent forward. “What’re you gonna do? Hack me, sleepy boy?”

“I could.”

“Have fun stealing the five-hundred yen in my back account and my barbeque coupons.”

Hitoshi’s smile grew sly, ear tilting up. “Coupons, you say?”

“Fuck, wait, don’t take my coupons.”

“Too late. They’re mine.”

“Shin-!”

Knife blade clattering against the counter, Katsuki practically shook. “Would you two please shut your mouths?” Fingers pressing into the sides of his head, Katsuki scrunched his eyes. “What happened to none of you being around tonight?”

Mina shrunk down, fingers fiddling together. “We decided to skip the movie because we couldn’t agree on one and you weren’t there to yell at us until we just went with what you wanted.”

Hitoshi had pulled his phone out to feign his disinterest. “You’re our violent glue, remember? We’re utterly lost without you.”

Katsuki tried to resume his calm chopping. “Then you shoulda stayed fucking lost.”

“Oh,” Mina lilted, “That was actually a good one- congrats, Baku.”

“Fuck off.”

His snap was loud and furious- it brought a grounding hand to his lower back as Eijirou leaned over. He grabbed the cutting board and rubbed against Katsuki’s back with a familiar but private, “Chill out, kitten.”

The sudden silence of the room made Katsuki’s ears burn. He went rigid but the realization didn’t hit Eijirou until he was dumping the vegetables into the skillet and setting the board down on the counter. He pulled a pained gasp in, ready for damage control or a cover-up- anything other than letting the silence panic them.

It was too late.

Mina choked on a laugh to try and keep it inside.

Shouto was never as courteous. “Please, for the love of all that is unholy, tell me someone else heard that.”

“You’re fucking dead to me.” Katsuki hissed to the empty counter in front of him.

Eijirou was turning, reaching out, but couldn’t manage to get a hand on him before he was stalking out of the kitchen. “Kat, I’m sorry, I-”

“Oh no,” Hitoshi grabbed Katsuki by the collar and tugged him into a choke hold to keep him there. “Don’t apologize. This is the best day of our lives.”

“If you’re going to eat-” Katsuki shoved him away and kept going to clear the table. “Get the bowls and don’t talk to me.”

 

We can’t eat all of this, Eijirou had said. He didn’t know what feeding the wolves was like, or how much Katsuki could eat himself. He’d made that much so he would have leftovers the rest of the week, save him some money and a trip to the store- but no they had to be nice and share. As if his friends were even good dinner partners. They were vulgar and rude and asked too many invasive questions that Eijirou was either to dumb not to answer or he was just dumb enough that he got along with them. Katsuki should be happy they were all so friendly, but he couldn’t when most of it was at his expense.

Katsuki spent the majority of dinner chomping vigorously at his noodles or cutting someone off when they were about to say something too revealing. Eijirou was right- he hadn’t wanted them to meet. At least not yet. He wasn’t ready for this- the embarrassment of having the people who’d seen him at his worse sharing stories with someone who’d successfully managed to break him open on more than one occasion. They all knew too much about him and he refused to let them share their secrets with each other.

He couldn’t let them get attached to this guy. He’d leave Katsuki eventually. Rightfully so. But then Katsuki would have to deal with their emotional bullshit just as much as his own. He’d rather have run this out on his own.

It would’ve been easier that way.

 

Eijirou decided to leave just after they finished eating. Said he had to get up early and he had work to do even before going to bed. He leaned down, probably to give Katsuki a kiss goodbye, but between watchful eyes and the irritation still lingering in Katsuki’s blood, he settled for a simple hug and a ruffle of Katsuki’s hair.

Door shut behind him, Katsuki turned to the trio crowded in the kitchen. One step forward and Shouto smacked him across the face with a wild grin and a nasty quip.

“You don’t know just how badly you’ve fucked up do you?” They all looked to him in confusion. He was just leaning against the counter, legs crossed at the ankle and his arms over his chest.

Katsuki came closer and threw his voice into a hiss. “Fuck you mean?”

“You still don’t know what he does, right? Like, specifically-” Katsuki’s jaw clenched and the twitch of his cheek was enough of an answer for Shouto to wave him over. “Well, why don’t I enlighten you a little bit as to where your daddy spends his time?”

“He’s not my fuckin’ daddy.”

Shouto nodded like he’d heard it a thousand times- almost had. “Maybe he should be considering we’d have a pair then.”

“Hah? I already told you-”

Kirishima Eijirou-” Shouto’s face twisted a little like the words were a foul taste. “Do you know how many times I’ve heard that fucking name? Or seen it in emails where my lord and ruler is all but begging me to listen to him.”

They all looked wildly confused, but they were hanging off his words just how he liked it. “Get to the point fuckface.”

“Your not boyfriend, not daddy, is my father’s right hand man.” Katsuki straightened up as Mina looked frantically between them. “And if dearest daddy ever gets over his pipedream of me taking his job when he steps down, guess who’ll be there in my place?”

Katsuki opened his mouth, willing anything to come out, but between Shouto laughing and his thoughts trying to piece themselves together, he couldn’t.

“You really had no idea-” He laughed louder and pushed away from the counter. “Oh god, I’m so glad I got to be the one to break this to you.” He smacked Katsuki’s on the shoulder as he passed in a rough pat. Sauntering off towards Hitoshi’s bedroom, he let titters stream out the whole way. “I am in such a good mood now.”

The shock faded into anger quickly- confusion, resentment. Everything Katsuki had been thinking he wanted to feel towards the man. But now that it was here, he was left with an empty, hollow pain behind everything else.

“Alright, I don’t really feel like I’m the one that should-” Hitoshi pointed to Mina, tilting his head while she sighed and waved him off.

“Yeah, I got this.”

He moved by Katsuki with a sympathetic smile and a nod before hurrying into his bedroom.

Shoving his way around the kitchen, Katsuki tossed everything into the sink with a loud clatter.

“Hey,” Mina inched closer, hands out in her attempt at being nonthreatening. “Buddy, are you-”

“Don’t buddy me right now.” He smacked the tap on, finger under the water. “I’m fine.”

“You look less than fine.”

Once the water was hot enough, he grabbed the sponge and scrubbed at the bowls. “It’s how I always look.”

“This isn’t that bad.” She creeped in to put a tentative hand on his back. “Sure, he works for the biggest shithead on the planet, but-”

“It’s not that.” He scrubbed harder. “Not really. He’s nice- I know he is, but-” He tossed the sponge and sent water and soap sloshing. “Okay yeah, I’m really fucking curious how someone so stupidly kind can put up with that asshole- but more- just- why would he not tell me? He knew, it’s so fucking clear now why he got all awkward at the beginning. He knew who that walking-shitty-dye job of a person is the moment he saw him, but he still thought it’d be fine to brush me off like that?”

“Kat, I’m sure in private he would’ve-”

Private?” Wet fists at his sides, he stepped away from her touch. “We’ve been in private for weeks and I haven’t heard shit. It’s just been talked over in such a roundabout way.”

She tried to smile at him but it fell terribly short. “He has his reasons, yeah? Just talk to him.”

“And what reasons can you think of?” He turned back to the sink. This time his washing was calmer but only to try and keep his temper down. “-‘Cause I can think of two. Either he’s embarrassed that he’s a sellout working as a puppet for an asshole, or he’s embarrassed of me and worried I’ll jeopardize his sellout status.”

“Katsuki, no.” He shrugged off the motherly tone. “It doesn’t have to be either of those- and certainly not one that insults you. You’re-”

“An overemotional child. So what do you think it is then?” With just the sound of running water between them, Katsuki nodded. “It’s fine. I’ll talk to him. I’m annoyed, but I’m fine.”

“Actually talk to him. Don’t just yell.”

“Fuck you, I’m getting better.”

Her laugh eased him. “And who do we have to thank for that?”

Katsuki hummed, looking up into the air. “Why are you still here?”

“I was on breakdown patrol. You’re very needy.”

“Again, fuck you.”

“I love you.”

 

Mina helped him clean up the rest. She distracted him easily and with practice- talking about some class and something her friend said and what her plans for winter break were. Katsuki only half-listened to most of it. His mind wasn’t anywhere else in particular, but hearing someone ramble like that allowed him to shut off for a bit. Only once she left did his mind have to check back in. Even then, he wouldn’t let it wander too far into what had happened. It wouldn’t do him any good.

It was a long hour between quiet creeping into the apartment and his phone going off on the coffee table. Hitoshi and Shouto had stayed in the bedroom since they left. The faint murmur of a movie played from behind the closed door until he drowned it out by flicking the tv on and staring at it idly.

When his phone did start vibrating against the wood and Eijirou’s name popped up, he almost ignored it. Or threw it across the room.

He wasn’t even that mad. Couldn’t let himself act that childish.

So, he picked it up, swiped the screen, and wedged the phone between his shoulder and ear. “Ready to fuckin’ explain yourself?”

Better to start rude and assertive than pathetic.

The silence was painful, Eijirou’s sigh even more so. “Not really.”

“Sho told me.” He flicked to a different channel just to have something to do with his hands.

“I figured. I’m sorry, I didn’t-” He sighed again and Katsuki ground his teeth. “I had no idea you knew him. Which isn’t an excuse, but if I had-”

Katsuki rubbed at his face and groused, “I don’t wanna do this over the phone.”

“Hey-”

“Just in case you say something stupid that deserves a punch. I want to be able to do it in person.”

A quick exhale left Eijirou as a laugh. “Alright,” He paused before falling back into his normal voice. “There’s another reason I called, and it might change your mind. I have a business trip out the country and I’m leaving in the morning so I won’t be able to be on my phone much if at all after this.”

Tongue pushing at his cheek, he considered it. “Nah, still wanna punch you.”

“I’ll be back in a little over a week.”

“Good, the threat can fester.”

“That Friday I’d like for you to come over if you would like to punch me then.”

Another channel he wasn’t paying attention to flicked by. “I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“Of course.”

“And decide whether or not I want to.”

“I hope you will. I don’t want you to be mad at me.”

“M’not mad.” He shifted to hold onto the phone better and pull his knees up. “I’m annoyed as hell. But not mad.”

Eijirou laughed, the richness tempting Katsuki to smile if only a little. “When are you not annoyed?”

Ei,” He warned in a coarse tone that only brought a mocking hum. “I hope your plane crashes.”

Another laugh tickled at his nerves, calming them with familiar warmth. “Have a good week, Katsuki.”

“Die in a ditch.” He spat with but the smallest amount of malice before ending the call and tossing his phone to the couch.

Forehead to his knees, he hugged them close to his chest and sighed the rest of the tension away.

Why couldn’t he stay mad even for a moment?

It wasn’t fair.

Chapter Text

Katsuki giving away his number to some dumb puppy of a man was a mistake.

Since the night he did, Eijirou had texted him almost constantly. He’d get out of class or end his shift in the lab and find twenty texts about mundane, uninteresting shit, pictures of food and animals with stupid captions, good mornings and goodnights and good afternoons and everything in between.

It was annoying and pointless and half the time he didn’t even respond.

He hated it.

But what he hated more was even after Eijirou had left for his trip, Katsuki still found himself reflexively checking his phone for messages he knew wouldn’t come.

He didn’t care.

He didn’t need to hear from him- didn’t even want to.

“What’s the point of being rich if you don’t even have a fuckin’ international plan-” His grumble was down toward the last message he’d received. Nine-thirty in the morning. Twelve days ago.

Boarding now- try not to get into too much trouble while I’m gone. I’ll be thinking about you.

At the time, Katsuki had been in the middle of a lecture. He sent one glance to the text, rolled his eyes, and slid down in his seat with a huff.

At the time, it had disgusted the hell out of him.

Now,

Mina leaned in. “What was that?”

Now he wished he’d responded.

Katsuki pushed her away roughly and started scribbling in his notes again. “If I didn’t fucking say it loud enough for you to hear that means you don’t need to know.”

“Wow,” Mina sat back, arms crossing as she stared at him. “You’ve been extra bitchy this week.”

Hitoshi let out a quiet hum as he continued to type across from them. “He’s pent up, leave him be or you might get bit.”

“Oh poor baby hasn’t gotten laid in a week,” Her hand brushed the tips of his hair and his arm shook with how fast he tensed up. She quickly pushed at his head and kicked the leg of his chair. “Join the fucking club. Learn how to be a civil person without the help of getting your rocks off every coupla days. I get it, you miss your boyfriend, but-”

“Not my boyfriend.”

Hitoshi scoffed, eyes flicking up over the edge of his laptop. “Sure are checking your phone a lot for someone who’s not your boyfriend.”

Punch to the back of the computer, Hitoshi grabbed the frame and frowned. “I’ll burn your bed to the ground.”

“Go ahead,” He pulled it a little closer to him to keep typing. “I have renters insurance for a reason.”

Mina reached forward, hand grabbing at the air. “Only you could somehow brag about renters insurance.”

He picked his laptop up, holding it over his head. “Will both of you leave my precious baby alone. Do you know how much this shit cost me?”

Mina slumped back to the table. “Didn’t cost you anything. Sho gave it to you last year for your birthday because unlike Grumpy McSplode, you actually embrace the fact that you have a rich boyfriend.”

“I don’t have-” Katsuki stopped once Mina turned to grin at him. “Just fuck off already.” He shoved his still open notebook into his backpack before slinging it over his shoulder.

There was no doubt that she made some snide comment after his exit, but he refused to turn around and address her again as he made his way out of the library.

The vibration that went off in his hand once he was out of the building had him clutching his phone tight and scowling at the side walk. He was ready for Mina’s remark to be staring back at him once he lifted his phone- not a few shorts texts that he had not been waiting for.

Just got home and I’m ready to pass out

Still coming over tomorrow night?

I hope so

It wasn’t as if anyone he knew would see, but he bit his tongue to keep his face unmoving as he typed out a quick ‘got nothin better to do’ and stuffed his phone in his back pocket.

 

Shivering, cold to the very middle of his bones, Katsuki knocked loudly at Eijirou’s door. It opened and Katsuki immediately sent his arm through the crack. It was light and couldn’t hurt even a baby, but his fist met Eijirou’s chest with a soft thud.

“Hi,” He started warmly but Katsuki shook his head.

“No. I’ve decided I’m still annoyed with you. Just seeing your face pissed me off.”

“Okay, I understand,” Katsuki’s fist turned into an open palm against his chest, fingers grabbing at his shirt and crumpling it. “And let me say again-” Katsuki pulled him through the door way, effectively cutting him off with surprise and a hurried mash of lips.

Eijirou’s hands were on his back in a matter of seconds, holding him in close and lifting him onto his toes. Desperation grew languid once the shock melted away and left them to breathe in the middle of a hallway between open-mouths and the occasional swipe of a tongue.

Katsuki was released once he fell back on his heels. He hoped his face wasn’t as red as it felt, but luck never seemed to be on his side. It was just the cold.

Eijirou was beaming as he stepped back into his apartment and waved him in. “How’ve you been, baby?”

“Pretty shit.” Katsuki answered honestly as he let his coat slip off to be put on the rack. His scarf was next, impatient hands tugging at it as he grumbled. “School’s shit. Work’s shit. I fucking hate my friends- but what’s new.”

After watching him struggle and trying to contain his laugh, Eijirou eased the scarf off him. “I understand. My time was pretty awful too.”

Katsuki walked further in, but before he could turn, he was being pulled backwards into the solid muscle of Eijirou’s chest. He wanted to fight him off, but there was a nose in his hair and a low hum against his back that made him pause.

“Missed you.”

“Don’t care.” But his hand was on Eijirou’s arm, moving back and forth slowly.

He allowed them to stand there for a minute at most before he was wiggling his way out and putting distance between them. “So what are we having?” He glanced to the completely clean kitchen before squinting. “Or are you expecting me to cook for you?”

“No-” Eijirou gave a somewhat nervous laugh as he straightened his shirt back out. “Actually, I thought we could go out somewhere.”

“Then why not meet there?”

“Well I didn’t know how you’d show up.”

Head forward in growing confusion, Katsuki stepped back towards him. “And what’s that mean?”

Eijirou motioned vaguely to him as if that was an explanation before pulling some weird smile. “This place is-” Katsuki looked down to himself- he was fine, it was just a sweater and jeans- yeah, they were ripped a little but- “Let’s just say-” He looked back up and Eijirou touched his own cheek and Katsuki knew.

He knew exactly what, but he pulled an uninterested face and tilted his head. “Then say it.”

“You see, it’s nice- probably nicer than you’d want, and-” He rubbed his hands together and looked somewhere over Katsuki’s head. “Well, some of my colleagues are joining us.”

“And you were going to what? Spring this on me once we got there?”

Shaking his head, Eijirou rubbed at his neck. “Well,”

“Well, why am I even invited?”

Drooping down like a confused dog being scolded, Eijirou glanced around. “I know you probably don’t want to go- and that we still haven’t talked about everything, but I don’t want you to feel as if I’m excluding you anymore. There’ll be other people there who I don’t work with.”

“Who?” Katsuki sneered and bent to meet his eyes. “Other people’s wives and husbands?”

“Mostly, but that doesn’t mean-” He looked about ready to bite his tongue in half. “It’s a nice, free dinner. I figured you’d be at least open to the possibility-”

“Oh yeah, please let me mooch of your wealth, sir.”

Embarrassed flush rampant across his cheeks, Eijirou shook his head. “That’s not what I said. You were upset that I didn’t share my work life with you. Now you’re upset because I am. What am I supposed to do with that?”

“Don’t turn this on me.” Katsuki hissed, stepping closer and making himself as big as he could beneath the man’s shadow. “Learn to tell me things in the proper way. Having my friend tell me what kind of shithead you work for isn’t how it should have gone. Surprising me with a dinner with your coworkers an hour before it happens is not proper timing.” Finger raised, he poked it into Eijirou’s chest. “You knew this was happening. That’s why you invited me to come here- which was over a week ago. That’s when you should have fucking said something.”

“I know.” He pushed Katsuki’s hand away and sighed. “I’m really not good at some of this,” He laughed and started bustling about before Katsuki could get a hand on him again. “You know, there’s a reason I’m not married or even in a longterm relationship. I’m always so busy- things just slip my mind and I’ve never been very good at communicating the little things.”

He grabbed his coat, pulling it in on over his suit and fiddling with the collar. “I can understand people, and I can let them know how I’m feeling easily, but it’s the shit like planning and being on the same page where I fuck up. I’ve heard it before, but at least I’m better now than I was at your age.” Gloves out from his pocket, he pulled the dark leather over his hands. “I can see you’re frustrated, so if you don’t want to go we’ll just bail. I’ll tell them I got sick or something-”

Heavy sigh out, Katsuki pushed at his hair. “Fuck, no- that’s not-”

“No, it’s okay,” Eijirou was smiling but he still wasn’t looking at him. “I haven’t seen you two weeks, that’s all I need from this night.”

“This sounds important, so-”

“It’s nothing. I care far more about you than any of them. They’ll be other dinners, they won’t miss me. It’ll be fine. I can just-”

Frustrated huff through his teeth, Katsuki stepped toward him quickly. “Eijirou,” Grabbing him by the collar, Katsuki tugged his face down so he could stare straight into large pits of ruby. “Shut up.”

He shoved Eijirou away just as fast and started feeling and twisting the ball beneath his bottom lip. Undone, he slid the ring from his lip and moved up to the one under his nose. After that came the one through his bridge- the odd slide of metal from the thin skin of his nose being something he’d never fully be comfortable with. Lastly were each of his earrings that fell into the jingling pile in his hand.

“I’m sorry to ask this of you.” Eijirou sounded so small and Katsuki could hardly find the will to stay as annoyed as he was.

“S’fine.” He dropped the pieces onto the small table by the door. “I know a lotta people judge me for ‘em.”

“I hope you know I don’t. I think they’re real-”

“If you say manly, I’m staying here.”

Eijirou grinned and the sincerity of it lightened the whole room. “It had to hurt, right? That’s pretty respectable. I don’t think I could do it.”

“Whatever.” Katsuki dropped the last one on the table before rubbing over his face. It felt weird not to run across the little bits of metal, but he wouldn’t let himself think about the implication of actually taking them out for someone. He really hated what this guy had done to him. “Don’t expect me to play nice. If someone says something to me, I’m gonna defend myself.”

“I don’t think they will.” He grabbed Katsuki’s shoulders, thumbs soothing over his sweater. “At least I hope not. I don’t want to fire anybody.”

“You wouldn’t do that.”

“Probably not. But I wouldn’t be happy with them.”

“And the devil himself?”

Eijirou shrunk a little but shook his head. “I’ve gotten word he’s not gonna be there. We’ll be okay.”

Katsuki bit at the inside of his cheek a little, lips pursed in thought. He really didn’t want to go, but he hated the feeling that had crept in when Eijirou was going to blow the whole thing off for him. He didn’t want anything to be for him.

“So- you got something I can wear or what?”

“Of course.” He hurried away, waving for Katsuki to follow as he went.

Upon entering the bedroom, Eijirou already had a bag draped over his arms.

“I really hope this works.”

“You’re fucking ridiculous.” He muttered, taking the bag once it was slid into his hold. “This is-”

“Don’t worry. It’s fine. Everyone deserves a nice suit.” Katsuki stared at him, believed his face was flat in distasteful apathy, but then Eijirou drew a line across his cheek with the back of his finger. “Please stop looking at me like you’re going to throw up. It’s nothing.”

“Nothing.” Katsuki repeated in an attempt to sound annoyed rather than uncomfortable. “Definitely.” He turned before Eijirou could say or do anything and stalked into the bathroom.

Eijirou had no idea. Katsuki had such a different idea about how the night was going to go. Surrounded by stuffy adults was nowhere near his ideal evening.

Fuck, if this night didn’t go well he was going to feel like an idiot. Only thing worse than storming off towards home would be storming off and then having to take all this off himself.

Clothes in a folded pile on the counter, he stood up straight and gave himself a good look in the mirror. If Eijirou knew what he had planned, maybe he would have really convinced Katsuki to let him call the whole dinner off. It’d been two long, stressful, maddening weeks and maybe Hitoshi wasn’t all that far off calling him pent up.

Hands on his hips, Katsuki trailed along the deep red lace below his waist. It was thickest at the band hugging his hips but after that the sheer material was barely even enough for him to feel like he was wearing anything at all. It wasn’t the first time he’d worn something like that, but the thin strap of any panty cutting up between his cheeks was always a weird feeling to get used to again. Not to mention the constant scratch against his nipples from the thin, matching fabric of a bralette. It was all irritating and if he didn’t get them off before the end of the night he would probably scream and tear them to pieces himself.

He thought about walking out of the bathroom just like that. Untouched skin out on display and ready to be turned red and blotchy once again. The idea was tempting but apparently they had places to be and as much as he didn’t want to go, maybe the assurance of having at least something to look forward to would make the whole night a little easier.

So he slipped the shirt on, buttoned the light grey fabric together and tugged the pants on after that. It all fit surprisingly well, snug in just the right spots and not too long. The jacket was comfortable unbuttoned and just tight enough once clasped together. Anything close to a suit wasn’t his normal attire, but at least it looked good on.

Stepping out with his clothes under his arm, he was met with Eijirou coming into the room with a box.

“You can just put your clothes anywhere and I’ll-” He looked up, face open in surprise for a moment before relaxing into a smile. “You look wonderful. I’m glad that-”

“Yeah, it fits.” He threw his chin up and glared at the box. “What’s that?”

“While I like your aggressive taste in footwear, your boots aren’t exactly fitting with everything else.”

He handed the box over and Katsuki ripped into it. Tissue paper flying, he pulled out a pair of matte loafers with just a bit of a shiny black heel.

He lifted a brow and trailed it from the shoe to the man grinning down. “How’d you even know the size?”

“You leave your shit all over the place.”

“You looked in my shoe?” He dropped the box to the floor and slipped each of them on. “How long have you been planning this?”

“Long enough to tailor a suit.”

“If I didn’t look so nice, I’d be fucking pissed.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

Katsuki tossed his head to the side before forcing his way out of the room. “Never said that.”

 

Katsuki didn’t even know where they were. It was somewhere in the city, but definitely a district he hadn’t been to. Every time they went out before, he refused to let Eijirou take him anywhere too nice. The discomfort he felt from being paid for like that made him lose his appetite the second he thought about it.

His skin felt clammy seated at a table with a large chandelier over it and a guy his age in a shirt and apron handing him a flute filled with something bubbly. He took it, if only to hope that the alcohol would help ease some of the uneasiness. That and so he had something to do with his hands and mouth while the chatter kept going around him. Everyone was unfamiliar and older and definitely looked like they belonged. And there he was feeling like some lost child that had found a nice man and not left his side even as he was brought somewhere so foreign.

Eijirou had to know. He’d kept a hand on Katsuki’s back, rubbing softly back and forth, for the majority of the time they’d been there. Even as a few small appetizers where placed in front of him, his steadying touch hadn’t left the space between Katsuki’s jacket and the chair.

Katsuki ate what was close to him and let most of his thoughts focus in on trying to pick apart the pricey ingredients and the advanced technique rather than continue panicking.

Thankfully no one asked him questions or inquired about him being there. They were all too wrapped up in their work talk or what vacations they’d taken recently or sharing stories of children that were nowhere to be seen. And at that point, Katsuki thought he was in the clear. He could make it through if everything continued like it was going. Just keep drinking glasses of champagne and shoving little bits of food in his mouth until he finally got to leave.

That’s how he felt until a chill ran across his skin and he nearly swallowed a piece of bread whole.

“Well, Kirishima, who have you brought along here?”

Rounding the table was some giant- and if Katsuki didn’t recognize the atrocious red of his hair and the unforgiving stare of such clear blue eyes, he’d be left wondering what was happening.

But instead, he felt the same mix of dread and disgust as he did every time he had a flash of his own memories strike him with shortened breath and tense muscles.

Following the blowout he and Shouto had at the bar, Hitoshi and Mina had somehow managed to steal his key and keep him locked out of the apartment until he talked to the asshole. Without the money to buy a replacement key or anywhere to sleep or eat, he gave in and sat in the hall outside of his apartment with his back against one wall and Shouto’s against the other.

He’d learned a lot that night. A lot he wished hadn’t happened to either of them. A lot he wished didn’t make them as similar as it did.

He hadn’t spoken to his mother in three years, but staring at beady, cold blue, he knew Shouto would feel the same way as Katsuki would staring into his mother’s eyes.

Someone off to the side offered a quick, “Oh Boss, we didn’t you’d be joining us,” followed by that loud voice, “What? Am I not allowed to?”

There was a round of hellos and apologies of no, of course, but then Eijirou was coughing and trying to put his resolve back together.

“What a surprise.” He said, surprisingly composed before he faked a laugh. “And this is my-”

Katsuki really didn’t want to hear the end of that- no matter what it was going to be. So he sucked in quickly and spoke up too loud. “Can I just say ask one thing?” He heard Eijirou choke on his words and part of Katsuki wanted to apologize for not being able to stop himself. “Great,” He continued before he even took a moment to breathe or question what he was doing. “Where the fuck do you get off?”

Shoulders squaring, eyes flicking a bit wider if only for a split second, Enji regarded him with some unsettled emotion before, “Just who are you to speak-”

“Bakugou Katsuki.” He hated saying his name like that. Like it explained anything about him.  “Not that it matters or that you’ll remember. I’m just the one telling you that you need to stop harassing someone who’s not interested in your bullshit.”

Eijirou bent towards him and gripped his thigh, squeezing almost tight enough for it to hurt. “Please not here-”

But the table had already fallen quiet. All eyes were either on him or trailing over to the curious brow of the mountain of a man across from him. “And just who are you referring to?”

“Your pretty boy son sure does have a big fucking mouth on him.”

“Seems like you do as well.” Ice clinked in the glass that was curled in Enji’s hand. He brought it up to his mouth and took a long drink of melted amber. “I’m sure you get along well.” Shallow, dead eyes pinned Katsuki but the fear fanned at his anger eagerly. “From what I can tell, both of you are rather foul mannered. I’m very interested as to why someone I know to be so respectable would risk bringing a very evident miscreant along to some place so established.”

The hand on his thigh fell away at that point and he could see Eijirou’s frame shifting beside him. Katsuki shouldn’t feel protective and he knew deep past the distracting itch of his rage that he shouldn’t be doing this. But he’d never really focused on what he should be doing. It was always just what came out first and loudest. “This isn’t about him. He’s done nothing wrong.”

Enji’s eyes left him for only a moment. Long enough to express his disappointment in his subordinate before they were back to burning down the safety of Katsuki’s ego. “Nothing besides letting a loud-mouthed child tag along in his shadow only to pop out and cause a scene the moment it could. But while we’re here and all so interested in what you have to say, please inform me as to why you’ve decided now of all times to address your issues with me. I was looking forward to a relaxing dinner after an arguably good quarter, but I suppose correcting whatever biased, twisted version of me you have in that impetuous little mind of yours is enjoyable enough.”

“Are you saying he’s wrong?”

“What evidence do you have to prove to me he’s not?” He grunted into his drink, head shaking. “Shouto has a horrible imagination filled with deceitful stories he loves to share with anyone who will listen.”

“I would believe him over you any day. I’ve had plenty of experience with people like you and I know an asshole when I see one.”

“And you still keep them in your company? People like me you say. What then, do you think of your partner to be?” With another drink from his glass, he set it down and folded his hands over the table. His head tilted slightly, gaze falling onto Kirishima. “Tell me, what kind of relationship is this? It’s unusual for you to bring anyone to these things. I know you considered the fact there’s nothing to gain from it. And my guess is, if you had known I was going to be here, you wouldn’t have invited him at all. Proving to be a mistake, isn’t it Kirishima?”

“No, Sir.” Eijirou was quick to answer, tacking on the honorific like it was a gut reaction.

“No?” Leaning a bit over the table, his brows lifted in mock surprise. “So you approve of what’s happening?”

Katsuki turned his head only enough to watch startled eyes dart between the table and the lion waiting for its meal. “No, I-”

“You agree with him, or you don’t. It’s rather simple.”

“It’s not- I can’t say I-”

Katsuki slammed his palms against the table and lifted his voice into a near shout. “Like I was fucking saying. This shit ain’t about him. And it’s not about me either.” He jabbed his finger into the air, unafraid of the tight-lipped scowl he was getting. “This is about you being a piece of shit and fucking your kid’s life up from the start.”

Enji cleared his throat, the stiff way he readjusted in his seat a thin veil over the anger he clearly wanted to return. “I’ve given that boy nothing but opportunity and prestige. And he repays me by spitting in the face of his own name and refusing to assume the role that is rightfully his.”

“Why the hell would anyone want anything to do with you? What bullshit have you spouted to all of them where they think you’re worthy of any respect? Do they not know or do they just not care? Which is it?” He stood, chair screeching against the wood. “And I’m looking at all you fucking pricks. You sit here and let this man degrade you and force you to work until you’re nothing more than exhausted shells but then you’re gonna kiss his ass just so you get your paychecks. He’s nothing more than a manipulating, cruel, immoral, abuser and you shits don’t give a fuck as long as he fills your belly and your wallets.”

Katsuki heaved in a breath, but the click of a tongue started the fire in his chest all over again. Enji looked disinterested, flicking at the unused straw in his drink.

“I believe that’s enough out of you.” But then he was eying Katsuki again, a full body scan that made him feel tiny and insignificant. “Tell me, did you buy that suit? It fits rather well, a good fabric.” Katsuki’s mouth opened, but he couldn’t bring himself to figure any words out fast enough. “You’re quite the abrasive sweet-talker considering you’ve convinced my hardest working, most estimable employee to play into whatever ploy you have to get ahead in your otherwise uneventful, bleak existence. And as for my son- you imply that I’m horrible, but then why would he still choose to benefit off of what I have to offer him? He may denounce me, but I’m still very aware of just how much he willingly depends on me. So I advise you understand that I won’t give your petulant complaints more than a moment’s acknowledgement when, as far as I can tell, you and Shouto are no better than how deplorable you claim these fine people to be.”

“You know nothing about me.” His hands curled and pulled at the tablecloth. “Coming here was a mistake but only for me. I should’ve known better than to waste a second of my time with any of you. And I have half a mind to break your fucking nose just so you have the smallest fraction of an understanding of what you’ve done to other people.”

“Insult, accusation, assault-” Enji stood if only to make himself larger. He bent over the table just the same, hands splayed between glasses. “You’re quite the interesting character, Bakugou Katsuki. Thanks to you, I’ll make sure to discuss with Shouto the importance of having integrity when it comes choosing who we associate with in this world. But before that, I think it’s time you either leave or stop running that mouth and sit down. You’ve done what you wanted, yes? Caused a scene- ruined our dinner?”

“You don’t know how much of a scene I can make. This shit’s nothing.”

“Enlighten me, boy.”

Katsuki’s grip curled in the tablecloth while his other had went to his glass and picked it up. He wasn’t even sure what he was planning to do with it, but there was a palm shoving it back down and another taking hold of his elbow before he could decide on something.

Eijirou’s stained voice in his ear was the first thing to make him feel even the slightest bit of regret. “We’re going.”

“Great.” Jerking himself away, Katsuki released the glass and curled his scarf around his neck.

“Excuse us.” Eijirou said with an abrupt bow towards the table, as if that would save any of his dignity.

Enji took his seat again and folded his napkin in his lap with a nod. “We’ll discuss this Monday. Enjoy your weekend.”

It sounded like a threat and Katsuki thought about throwing the glass right at his big, inflated head. He turned his back instead and stomped towards the exit without waiting to look any of them in the eye.

He didn’t want to get back in the car- he would have rather started running, but Eijirou was guiding him with a hand on his shoulder.

Car door shut after him, he buckled in and turned toward the window before Eijirou could make his way around the car.

“Just take me home.” He said loudly just after the driver’s door was shut and the car started to pull away from the curb.

“No.” His reply was calm but forceful.

Arms crossed over his chest, he held tight onto his sleeves and glared at the passing street lights. “Then let me out and I’ll walk home.”

“Not doing that either.”

Katsuki turned on him, gripped the console in between them and snapped, “Since when do you get to make my decisions for me?”

“You chose to bring your personal issues into my career. It’s only fair that you let me express my feelings too.”

“My personal issues? Do you even know-”

“Kat, stop.” His voice was still so level and quiet. It was meant to placate him but it only my made his temper flare up in his chest.

“You don’t get to-”

Katsuki!

Louder that time, Katsuki’s mouth shut with a harsh clack of teeth. He hadn’t heard that tone before, certainly hadn’t heard his voice that brash or severe. His tongue pushed against his teeth, trying to get something else out, but he settled back into staring out the window before he could make things worse.

When Eijirou spoke again, he had fallen down to his normal, relaxed voice. He hadn’t once taken his eyes off the road. “Not everything is a race. I’m not trying to beat you to anything, so think about what you want to say.” His grip softened on the steering wheel “You can yell at me all you want when we get home, but right now I want you to just sit and think without speaking first.”

 

He didn’t want to do that.

That’s not how it worked.

Thinking too hard never got him anywhere he wanted to be.

Thinking too hard always convinced him he was wrong. That he’d fucked up. That he wasn’t good enough.

Thinking never did him any good.

But maybe he wasn’t capable of good in the first place.

Chapter Text

Katsuki walked into the dark apartment as silent as the rest of their ride had been. Silent up the elevator and in through the door. Absolutely silent until Eijirou slamming the door had him jumping.

“What the fuck was that?”

Katsuki turned, one brow high and arms over his chest. “What?”

What? That bullshit. That-” He waved his hands around before letting his coat slide off his arms. “That attitude.”

“That was me.”

“No it wasn’t.”

Boots shucked to the floor, Katsuki ripped the scarf off and tossed it aside. “How would you know?”

Instead of answering, Eijirou huffed and kicked his shoes haphazardly toward the door. “You just put my entire fucking career in jeopardy.”

“Good.” Their eyes met with a violent spark that cut through the air in a jagged flash. “You work for a horrible person and it’s a real mark on your character for going along with his bullshit.”

“Maybe I have my reasons.” Gloves off, he dropped them to the floor and moved closer. “That maybe this was the only way I could make something of myself?”

Katsuki tipped his head back, looking down his nose in some futile attempt at feeling taller. “So you’d rather be some asshole’s puppet than have a normal job like the rest of us?”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Isn’t it though?”

“For as much as you tell me I don’t know you, you sure do love to avoid the fact that you don’t know me either.” Lips pursed, Katsuki sucked at his teeth to keep from biting. “You can’t act like you have me figured out when you don’t even give me the time to tell you anything.”

“Why should I?” He told himself not to say it. The words felt vile even before they formed on his tongue and skittered out. But with fingers digging in his arms and a look that could burn its way through a weaker man, he gave in to his irrational impulse to fight and guard and flee. “I’m not your fucking boyfriend.”

He was expecting offense. Maybe a break of sadness. But Eijirou’s expression didn’t falter for even a beat.

He’d been waiting for it.

“Then what are you?” Their staring continued in a stubborn silence before Eijirou glanced away with a sigh and rubbed at his forehead. “Come on Kat, you know I care about you-”

“I didn’t ask for that.”

“Well too bad ‘cause you fuckin’ got it, kid.” He stepped closer, causing Katsuki to lean away and try not to shrink. “And whether you like it or not, you care about me too.”

“I don’t-”

“You do. And it’ll only get easier once you stop running away from that fact.”

Coil taught, obstinacy burst and drove Katsuki to come toe to toe with him and spit words he knew weren’t true. “Admit it, I’m just here to give you a little relief from your apparently miserable life. You can’t be happy working there. You know how awful he is and you’re defending him.”

“I’m not defending him. I’m saying you don’t know anything about what I had to do.”

“Right.” Katsuki turned and started walking. He wanted to leave- fuck, did he want to leave- but his skin itched and his irrational need to resist came crawling out in a way so tempting. “Go on telling yourself that.”

Eijirou followed after him, heavy footsteps thumping down the hall. “You think some regular kid with decent but unimpressive marks could make something of himself without doing a few things that weren’t all that enjoyable?”

“Suffering through hard work and kissing someone’s ass all the way to the top are different.”

In his bedroom, Eijirou grabbed Katsuki by the arm and turned him around with a jerk. “You think I didn’t work hard? That all this was given to me?”

Katsuki glowered at the wall, pulling against the hold on his sleeve.

“I know you don’t. And if my boss was anyone else, you wouldn’t be throwing this much of a fit.”

Harder tug, Katsuki got his arm free and shoved Eijirou back a step. “You’re telling me I’m just throwing a fit? That’s all this is to you?”

“You don’t say what you mean. You just shout and insult someone until they’re too offended to keep trying.”

“I shout because no one fucking hears me when I say something.”

“I’m listening as hard as I can- and I know this isn’t all about tonight. You can pretend it is, but there’s a lot more shit to it.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“You’re just a scared little kid who got hurt too many times and now he won’t let anybody in or acknowledge anything they say. Is that what you want to hear?”

Katsuki backed up until he hit the bed and glared at the floor between them. “I don’t want you to say what I want to hear.”

“And you clearly don’t want me to say what you need to hear, so what’s left? You really think I don’t know a single thing about you after the past four months?” Katsuki tossed his head to the side, ignoring the burning gaze still on him. “That I haven’t been watching and learning because I want to know. I’ve known that from the beginning. Why won’t you let me in? What’s so horrible about me?”

“Nothing.” He snapped back into it, curling in on himself and shaking his head. “It’s not- You see how frustrating this is. Because I can’t do this,” He looked up, regretted the somberness that had replaced any frustration in Eijirou’s expression. “I ain’t calling it anything ‘cause it’s not and that’s for your sake. You don’t wanna deal with this. I’m moody and angry and messy and you don’t deserve that.”

“You don’t get to tell me what I deserve. I’ve got my flaws just like you-”

“Just stop trying to be so fucking understanding!” A shout followed by fragile quiet. He huffed, clutch digging into the sides of his shirt. “I need you to get mad so this can be over already.”

“Why should it be over? We both care about each other-” Eijirou moved closer to him, brows dipping together. “Don’t tell me you don’t because you would’ve walked right back out the door as soon as you got here if you didn’t.”

“I don’t want to care.” He bristled with the next step closer, scrabbling to build his guard up faster than it was crumbling. The walls weren’t holding like they normally did, the glue of glaring and baring his teeth like a wild animal doing nothing against the soft look down on him. “Congratulations- I have some semblance of a heart, but shit, isn’t this just too much? On the base level you’re like, what, a fucking decade older than me- clearly better off than I ever will be- not to mention a family that isn’t fully fucked all to hell. And then you decide to keep the secret of your boss being my friend’s shit dad- not to mention the one person I probably hate almost as much as my own parent- but I’ve gotta be fine with it?”

“I never said you had to be- I’m not even fine with it and I-”

“This is just too fuckin’ messy. I have so much hell to deal with I didn’t need this too. You-” His voice broke and he hated it. Swallowing thickly, he tried to get himself back together. “You were supposed to be a relaxing thing in my life. And now I’ve got twice as much shit as I started with.”

“That’s it then? You’ve decided it’s too much so you’re just going to give up.” Distance gone, he grabbed Katsuki by the shoulders. “Since when do you ever give up? I may not know you but I see your character, and your tenacity- so stop fighting with yourself and put in some fucking effort.”

“You don’t think I am?” He wanted to break out and bolt. Shove him away again and scurry into the dark before the cuts went any deeper. But the hold on his body, forcefully present in the moment, was unwavering and purposeful. “I’ve been trying so goddamn hard since the second time I saw you. Biting my tongue and apologizing for what I’ve said isn’t me. I’m not afraid of what people think- that’s how it’s supposed to be. But then you come in and make me realize how much of a fucking child I am and it sucks. I’ve been busting my ass to be better about it, but it’s not working and tonight was evidence enough, yeah? You might think what I did was uncalled for and harsh and violent- but that’s who I am and I’m not gonna back down because you want to save face.”

“I never-” In turn for starting all over again, Eijirou squeezed his shoulders then let his hands slide away. He stepped back, deep breath in and out as he settled himself. “Have you ever thought that maybe I don’t know as much as you do? He’s an ass, I’ll give you that, but it’s not like bad temperaments are all that uncommon at work. You complain about your shit boss all the time.”

“But my boss isn’t fucking abusive-”

“And you think I knew that?” His voice had risen back almost to a roar in the tick of a second and the way it shook Katsuki to the core was startling and unwelcome. “You think he’s gonna slide that into conversation or announce it to all his employees? And you think I would turn a blind eye if I knew? That I’d pretend I didn’t know just because he pays me?”

“So what?” Vulnerability come and gone, the only thing left was the prickly comfort of snide stubbornness. “You’re going to quit?”

He sighed loud and exasperated, shoved a hand into his hair and turned to start pacing about the room. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I thought I had everything figured out this morning. The trip was awful but we’ve got a good project in place that I’m sure will do well- and I come back and I see you and, god I was so happy to see you- and I think everything’s going well but then it just all went to shit in a matter of, like, ten minutes and now I have no clue what I’m doing about anything.”

“And that’s all my fault.”

He turned quickly, wide eyes and panic. “No-”

“But it is.” The purposeful hurt was never something he was proud of- but what else did he have left? “Everything was fine until I opened my mouth.”

“No, it’s my fault- if I had known he was there-”

“You would’ve never brought me. Because there’s no way it could’ve ended well.” Eijirou turned to walk back the other way, head down, silence saying enough. “I’m not an agreeable person and I don’t get along well with most people I meet. I don’t know why you like me, but I do know it’s a bad idea to keep believing our lives are anything alike.”

“They aren’t?” Eijirou stopped feet from him, back turned, shoulders high. “Or do you just refuse to allow yourself to acknowledge that you’re not as misunderstood as you may think? Because if you realize that, that means that someone might actually have a chance at getting to you.” He turned halfway, just a solemn glance over his shoulder, but it was enough to have the regret seeping in. “Then they could hurt you.”

“Don’t act as if you know what I want.” It was quieter and cornered and festering.

“I have a pretty good idea. What you want, who you are-”

“You don’t.” He couldn’t take it anymore.

“Against my better judgement I want to be around you.”

“That must be unfortunate for you.” No winning in sight, falling apart, he refused to let himself be peeled back any further.

“Do you enjoy being this difficult?”

“At least I’m not a pushover.”

“No, but you do a damn good job at pushing people away.” That was cliché, Katsuki wanted to mock, but the words got tangled somewhere between wanting to lash out and wanting to admit it was the truth. “Am I just a lovesick idiot for trying this hard?” Katsuki could tell he was more asking himself but it felt like a threat and it lit something close to panic in him. Eijirou laughed but it was shallow and painful. “I’m thirty fucking years old and I’m chasing after some kid who won’t even admit he feels something for me.”

Lash out.

“Not my fault you’re so shit at relationships you can’t do any better than some fucking kid.”

He didn’t meant it.

He hadn’t meant any of it. At least not in the way it was coming out.

But he’d said it and now Eijirou was laughing in fragmented little titters and pushing a hand to his forehead.

“You’re so fucking confusing.” Eijirou didn’t deserve this. “Letting you go would be easier.” Katsuki didn’t want to let go- he knew that somewhere deep in him, but it was covered by thorns and poison and he couldn’t get to it. “You want me but you don’t’.” He did. “Easy fucking but nothing else.” He just didn’t want the dangerous bullshit that came with feelings. “Is that it? Is that all I can get?”

He wanted to be held but not touched.

Comforted but not pitied.

Loved but not able to be hurt.

Not like any of what we wanted mattered.

He’d fucked it up again.

“If that’s what you want,” Eijirou shook his head, pulling his hand away to give Katsuki an unsteady smile that was cracking into something wretched. “Kat, I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

He’s leaving you like all the rest.

“I can’t fight with you forever.”

You never even had a chance.

“Fuck you.” If only he weren’t so broken. “And fuck this.” Katsuki brushed through his hair and took a step away from where he was teetering against the bed.

“Hey-” Eijirou started closer to him, fast enough to startle him and make him hurry to push this interaction as far away as he could. “You can’t just decide we’re through. I’m not letting you leave like this.”

“I’m not leaving.” Stopping abruptly, Eijirou watched him in confusion as he fumbled with his shirt. “But m’done talking.” Buttons undone, he parted the shirt and skimmed his fingers along the lace underneath. “I had too much champagne and it’s giving me a headache and I don’t wanna fight anymore. It doesn’t mean anything anyway.” Shirt stripped off, he flung it while falling back onto the bed. “We’re not getting anywhere like this. We can keep fighting when we’re not so pissed, but right now,” He pushed himself up the sheets and onto his elbows, staring down an expression that was stunned and frustrated and dazed all at once. “Right now, I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.”

“You-” Words escaped him as he eyes met Katsuki’s chest and stayed glued there.

“I’m not letting all the time I spent suffering with this on go to waste no matter how fucking pissed I am.” His pride came back bit by bit while dazzled red skipped over his skin. “It’s been too long and as unproductive as it is, I wanna fuck you more than I wanna yell at you.” It was half-true, half a cover up to keep himself from saying something he’d regret later. Eijirou was going to leave him, at least their farewell would be a good one to remember. “So, you gonna mess me up, Ei?”

Their eyes met, perplexed concern still too present in Eijirou’s stare. Still too much pity.

If something didn’t change soon, he’d run away.

“Or you just gonna stand there lookin’ like a moron?”

Eijirou stepped toward the bed, stopping when his legs brushed the comforter. “You’re sure about this?”

“You said you missed me, yeah?” Legs opening, he slid bare feet against the soft sheet and tucked his hands up next to his head.

Eijirou nodded, his reach slow as he touched Katsuki’s knee with one hand and the twitch of his stomach with the other. “Just wanted to make sure because- I’m not done figuring out what all that shit was but-” He shook his head, trailing up the middle of Katsuki’s stomach. “-fuck, Kat, you really make it hard to stay mad.” Touch slipping over the tight straps against his chest then lace at the bottom of the bralette then back down his stomach, Eijirou followed behind with his gaze. “Is there-” He stopped, just barely trailing a finger under the waist of his slacks.

Katsuki swallowed thickly, planted his heels and lifted his hips. “Why don’t you find out?”

Button thumbed open, zipper down, exhale from parted lips as burgundy frill peeked out, Katsuki raised himself off the bed so the pants could be pulled from his legs.

Tentative hands on his knees, a hold with cold fingers and tentative awe. They lingered on his thighs and paused at the lace clinging to his hips. “You had this on the whole time?”

“Fuckin’ pain in my ass.” He tried not to squirm even if the constant skirt of fingers on the inside of his thighs once again was making it hard not to.

“All for me?”

“No.”

But Eijirou was already beaming. Shock turned to excitement as he put a knee to the bed and leaned over Katsuki with hands slipping into his hair.

“You’re beautiful, Katsuki.”

His protest was put on hold for the moment- an overdue kiss more pressing than any of his complaints. But he turned his head away after letting Eijirou have his fun. He stared at the wall, hating how soft everything had become already. He’d wanted fast and rough and all he had were doting compliments and tenderness.

“Aren’t you supposed to be mad at me?”

“I am.” Nose to his ear, mouth to his chin, Eijirou sill managed a laugh. “But I can be pissed and think you’re beautiful at the same time.”

No matter how many times he heard it, the sincerity always twisted up his insides and squeezed out everything he didn’t want.

“I need you to be mad.”

Eijirou stilled before lifting himself up enough to look down at him. “Why?”

It’ll be easier that way.

He pushed his cheek further into the sheet, hoping there was a glare somewhere behind the crease in his brow.

“I’m not happy with you.” Sudden grip on his chin, Eijirou forced him to look back up. The consideration in his stare made Katsuki angry and terrified and small. “I’m not- but that doesn’t mean-” Saying it would only make things worse. Katsuki wasn’t in a state to believe a single word of it- and somehow he knew.

I’m here.

I’m not leaving.

It was there behind gentle eyes of caution- it was the only thing he knew he needed to hear- but somehow the acknowledgement of that very fact would most likely send him bolting.

It still felt like a trap. The safety, the comfort, the-

It was only a delusion.

It would end one day and if Katsuki wasn’t careful this time, it might just ruin him for good.

How that passed from him without any words, he’d never know. How Eijirou could parse apart the convoluted tracks his mind was something he yearned to be able to do himself.

But it seemed so simple to him- like the explanation came out through his eyes or the words were hidden beneath the hum of the fan and the muted rush of cars outside.

He came back in with a kiss to his lips, then his neck, a long breath pulling him back into comfort. “We really have to stop doing this.” The words were muttered into his throat, punctuated by nipping.

“This.” Katsuki repeated, chin tilting up, nails scratching as his fingers curled in Eijirou’s hair.

“Fucking in the middle of arguing.”

“We don’t-”

Eijirou laughed and pressed a kiss to his jaw. “We do. Every time. It’s not a complaint-just doesn’t seem like the most productive solution.”

“Solution? I’m not done with you,” He pulled Eijirou’s head back by his hair and looked into shining eyes. “We’re fighting more as soon as we’re done.”

“You do love to fight.” He said it with a weird sort of smile- something close to adoration.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Katsuki shoved his face away by a hand on his cheek. “I said we’re going to fight, not we’re going to have happy fun time.”

“Fighting is better than not having you here at all. And it’s not really fighting when I still wanna kiss you the whole time, right?” Lip twitching with how much Katsuki wanted to snap and push him off, he breathed through it and remembered how much worse that would make everything. “I know,” Eijirou hummed, leaning in to smile against his lips. “You hate me.”

He stood with a nod to himself, hands going to his shirt to start popping open button after button. Scowling was harder then, falling easily into a reluctantly engrossed stare as the uncovering of a familiar, hairy chest distracted him from being annoyed.

A quick snap of fingers brought his eyes back up, sternness fading as quick as he saw it into a mirthful smile.

“Eyes up here.”

Katsuki managed a scoff, lifting himself to his elbows again. “So you can eye-fuck me all you want but I can’t do the same?”

That smile stayed easily in place, turning taunting if only a bit. “Exactly.”

“How is that fuckin’ fair?”

Laugh through his nose, Eijirou let his shirt slide to the floor before he started on his pants and had them do the same. “Since when do you play fair?”

Katsuki lost. The moment the fabric was pushed down thick thighs he was done for. “Since when do you not?” It came out more unfocused than he meant it but he was met with an eyeful of tented boxers that was both a trigger for an undeniable want and a reminder that he was equally as desired.

“Roll over.”

That snapped him back into it.

“Hah?” He announced loud, lip curling, fists tight in the sheets.

“You heard me,” But Eijirou reached down, palming himself through his boxers and Katsuki wondered if he’d hear anything other than the hammer of his own heart ever again. “You’ve had your way enough for one night.”

My way?” His loud question went ignored as Eijirou tickled up his calves. Hold sliding to the back of Katsuki’s thighs, he pulled him toward the edge of the bed. “You think any of this night went my way?”

Shh,”

Katsuki was ready to go at him and punch him square between the eyes. “Don’t you fuckin’ shush me. I’ll-”

Loose hold on his legs growing firm, Eijirou used it to flip Katsuki over onto his stomach.

“You’re dead to me.” He snapped, scrambling to orient himself.

Ignored again, “Knees,” was all Eijirou said as he tapped the sides of his thighs.

Arms tucking under his head, forehead pressed against one, Katsuki would’ve rather kicked himself in the shin than acquiesce that easy but then Eijirou called his name in a low, warning hum and he was pushing himself up onto his knees and elbows all on his own.

“What a good boy.”

Katsuki could feel the words spoken into his lower back. He refused to acknowledge the way he arched into the warm breath. But the moment his spine curved, Eijirou’s mouth was lower, pulling at the band of the thong with his teeth before letting it snap back against his skin and abruptly leaving him untouched on the bed.

Even if only momentarily, he was gone somewhere close by before returning and immediately getting hands on Katsuki’s thighs and a mouth sucking at his hip. It was the most pleasant torture he’d ever been subjected to. Transient touches that barely lasted long enough to leave the first bit of sweat between body heat and clammy palms. Lips and teeth traveling against every inch of milky skin as they so pleased. Eijirou loved flowering attention along his waist just as it smoothed out into bone hips and the firm but plump give of his ass.

Teeth dug into his cheek, tongue pushed against the soft hair, and Katsuki let himself silently wish that mouth would go further in- they hadn’t done that in weeks and he needed something- something more- something now.

And yet, the cool dribble of lube between his cheeks made him disgustingly aware of the panties still rubbing just enough to be annoying against his skin.

“Seriously?” He sneered over his shoulder. “You’re just gonna leave ‘em on for this?”

“What?” Eijirou had that stupid self-assured grin shining down. “You asked if I was gonna mess you up.” Finger hooking the string of the panties, he smeared around before easing his finger inside. Katsuki’s hiss was covered by an amused lilt. “Seems pretty messy to me.”

“You’re fuckin’ unbelievable.” He grumbled as he looked back down at the sheets and kept his legs from twitching too much.

“You’re the one who put them on.” The slide too smooth, he added another finger and spread. “Don’t tell me you didn’t at least consider getting fucking in this little outfit.”

“I ain’t tellin’ shit to you.”

“Don’t have to.” Warmth fell between his shoulder blades- lips. “I know what you like.”

“Cocky asshole.” Katsuki bit as an insult, but it only acted as a dare-

As if to prove himself, Eijirou’s fingers went in fast, three hooked and dragged with purpose and direction and Katsuki couldn’t fight the jerk of his muscles or the inhale that he choked on half-way through drawing it in.

Glaring, grumbling, shivering around the pleasant burn, Katsuki wished he could kick the grin that was no doubt still on his face. “That doesn’t make you any less of an asshole.”

Eijirou chuckled and happily repeated the motion. “But at least my confidence isn’t unfounded.”

“Your confidence can kiss my ass.”

“Next time.” Katsuki wanted to gag. “Remind me.” That went without question.

“Selfish.” He tried to taunt, his voice falling further from his controlling grasp with every curl of fingers and rub of lace against his cock.

“Is that what I am?”

Katsuki regretted his choice of words as soon as Eijirou’s touch was gone and he was left open and needy in front of someone who could ruin him with a few choice sentiments- but his regret was merely a trigger of panic from anxiety ridden misconceptions and groomed insecurities. As conflicting as it was, Eijirou wasn’t going anywhere.

“Let me step up my game then,”

The familiar rip of foil had Katsuki sending a questioning yet commanding “No.” into the air of the room. It could easily be taken the wrong way, but Eijirou knew what he meant. He always fucking knew.

“But-” There was a pause where Katsuki scrunched his eyes before letting out an annoyed sigh once Eijirou continued. “I already opened it. I don’t wanna waste-”

“As if you can’t afford to lose one fucking condom, Ei.” Eijirou laughed and somehow that pissed him off even more. “I asked for a mess, didn’t I?”

“Well yeah, but I didn’t think-”

“Are you telling me you want it?”

“No, but I figured-”

“And I’m saying forget it.”

“Why?” He asked sweetly, pulling the string of the panties to the side.

Katsuki could hear the smile in his voice.

“You’re not gettin’ that outta me.”

He wasn’t that far gone. His tone may be shaky but his words were still mostly under the harsh criticism of his dignity.

“Worth a shot.”

Chest taught with a deep breath, Katsuki focused on not griping at him but hissing through the first inch of Eijirou’s slick cock instead.

Deep grunt, completely without hesitation, nails scratched over his back. “You always feel good this way-“

“Like it doesn’t feel good every way.” He remarked with a quick roll of his eyes.

“Mm, yeah, but-” He laughed when he pulled out slowly- always laughing even when there wasn’t anything fucking funny about it, “You know what I mean.”

He did. The fullness, the angle, the way Eijirou could grip and move him anyway he wanted. It was perfect. Didn’t mean he’d ever tell him.

“I know you like bein’ in control, baby-” He pushed in faster, drawing Katsuki back at the same time and sighing through his worship. “But havin’ you spread out like this is somethin’ else.”

He’d never understand how Eijirou managed to talk so fucking much when he had to have a heady buzz traveling up through his gut. Katsuki’s mouth always felt tight and useless, like his stomach was shoved into his throat and his blood thickened into molten sludge.

Cheeks spread by callous fingers, he drove in rougher than most would like but just right for the hint of deviance in Katsuki’s desires.

“This what you wanted?” If Katsuki didn’t know that this was just how he got, he’d assume the man was angry. His voice verging on a growl, his grip harsh. But it wasn’t anything more than the fog setting into his mind and the heat clawing at his insides that turned him into something unseen by anyone who knew as the soft, gentle giant he normal was.

Touch sliding up his back, it sunk into Katsuki’s hair and pushed just before a hard thrust. Katsuki’s breath left him in a groan, blond tangled up in a firm grip and his face shoved into his arm.

“More,” Katsuki muttered, mouth full of cotton and hot air.

“What now?” But he twisted his hair, pressed fingertips into the give of Katsuki’s waist, barely scratched the itch of wanting it harder, faster, painful.

Katsuki wanted a raw frenzy, a bruising reminder that there was still someone there- still someone who wanted him.

The hand left his hair and he almost whined from the loss of tingles skirting across his scalp.

“More-” he tried again, cut off by a frazzling slap of a broad palm against his sweaty ass.

It wasn’t what he meant- wasn’t what he was thinking of- but damn if it didn’t feel good. It was an utter shock that skidded through every bead of sweat and lit his whole body up with sparks like a livewire.

That had never been more than a fleeting thought in the midst of a hazy mind that he was either to embarrassed or too far gone to voice. Something he sneered at himself for thinking about as soon as the moment passed and his mind cleared. But there he was- indulged without even asking for it- the breath knocked from him with a startled chirp and a humiliated, baby moan into his arm.

The hand stayed there, unmoving like neither of them expected it to have happened. Katsuki refused to acknowledge it and fought as hard as he could not to lean back into the touch.

“That okay?” Eijirou asked, calm and unfairly comforting as he turned his hand over to brush his knuckles against tingling skin.

Katsuki wanted to tell him no. Lie and say he didn’t like it out of fear of what would happen to his poise if he said it was. But his thoughts were slow and his head was already nodding before he could stop it.

The first had been an unplanned impulse, the second was a deliberate and swift strike.

Deep breath in, the next clap kept his lungs full until hips meeting his ass in a forceful thrust had them emptying with a whine that sounded foreign and distant. One hand soothing over the skin, the other rubbing down his spine, Katsuki rocked back with nowhere to go but no will to try and move forward on weak knees.

Tracing his ribs, Eijirou hummed, “You want another?”

It came low and quiet, an almost unfamiliar tenor adding to the constant wobble of his limbs, ready to set every inch of him on fire. Words seemed difficult, moving his head even more so. All strength and focus were going into wide spread legs keeping him up and the subtle push of his hips trying and failing to get closer.

“D’you hear me, kitten?”

Katsuki burned with shame, mouth open and desperate for anything to come out.

The slow drag of rough fingers over sensitive cheeks surely wasn’t helping. It split his attention even more, pulled him towards surrender

“Kat-”

He pulled in a breath, letting out whatever may come under a hurried and pitiful whisper, “-yes, daddy-

If he had seen it coming, he would’ve stopped it. Slit his throat before ever letting it out. With eyes opening and teeth digging divots into his lips, he cursed his so-called friends for every putting the thought in his head.

He wanted to crumble into dust, drift out the window, and never speak to anyone again.

The silence was dreadful, the rustle of sheets as Eijirou draped over his back even more so.

“What was that?”

Katsuki swallowed, tried to get anything out but ended up only being able to manage a small shake of his head against his arm.

“It’s okay,” Eijirou’s lips to his temple eased the shake of tired muscles, but it made him feel feeble and dangerously open. “I just didn’t hear you properly.”

Mouth open, his tongue skimmed along the bottom of his teeth. “Please.”

“While that’s a wonderful sound too, I’m not sure it’s quite right.” The hand fell to rub over his thigh. “Is it?” The soft trail turned to nails against his skin. “Now, I’ll ask again.” Touch gone, Katsuki was left to exist in agonized anticipation. “Would you like another?”

“Yes, sir.”

He wanted to throw up. He hated himself. Hated how disgustingly exposed he was. How much he wanted this.

“Close enough,” Katsuki sucked air in to somehow suffocate himself. The repeated slaps of a hand against his ass were blooms of freeing relief. He hoped they’d stain his skin and leave him with proof of Eijirou’s company all over him. Little reminders that kept going until Katsuki was shivering and letting out pathetic sounds into the sheets.

His reprieve was crushed when Eijirou’s hand roamed up his side and wiggled under the bottom band of the bralette to cup his chest. Kneading the muscle, he shoved the fabric up to take Katsuki’s pierced nipple between his fingers. The pinching and rolling had him drawing in pants and trying to push down into his hand at the same time as he was being rocked back and forth.

“At least you left these in,” An unforgiving twist to the barbell had Katsuki keening, head hanging in defeated desire between his shoulders. “They’re my favorite after all. Pretty little things just asking to be played with.”

But as much as he always claimed he loved fiddling with the metal, he still left them alone just as fast to stand up with a final flick. His hands slid from beneath the lace, over Katsuki’s side, stopping on his waist and sticking. He didn’t move past that- even his hips had stilled- and the pulse beneath Katsuki’s skin was becoming inexorable.

“Eiji,” he tried so hard but his tongue was heavy and clung to the roof of his mouth. He licked his lips while thumbs circled his goosebumps. Eijirou pulled him back despite knowing there wasn’t any room left between them to close. It was just a reminder that Katsuki was at someone else’s will, his resistance was weak, even if he fought, this was what he wanted.

“You got something to say, baby?”

Sheets scrunched between his fingers, Katsuki allowed himself a single deep breath before he nodded and gave a swivel to his hips. “Finish what you started.”

The hold on him loosened- a hollow threat meant to trigger a beg. “And if I don’t?”

“You will.”

Finding the last bit of his conscious strength, Katsuki rocked himself back with screaming thighs. Pulled forward again, the sound of air pulled in through teeth was echoed behind him. It felt different when he did it himself, the lagging, the stretch more empowering and buzzing.

This was what they both wanted.

Eijirou didn’t try to stop him for a second, the grasp on him merely a place to rest his hands-

At least until Katsuki stabbed the knife that was his apparently alluring attitude in and twisted.

“You want to please me,” His muscles quivered as he pushed up into his hands, but he had to if he was going to manage looking over his shoulder and cutting lethal slits of glowing coals up at an innocent man. “Don’t you?”

Eijirou’s fingers only twitched but it was enough to let Katsuki know it was working. His head rolled down again. An open-mouthed sigh, exaggerated but earnest, wet the air between his arms as he fucked himself back on Eijirou’s cock and shut his eyes.

“Please,” He couldn’t even find it in himself to be embarrassed anymore. Not when Eijirou was finally clutching tight and helping him move. He moaned, more for Eijirou than himself- he’d tell himself that- He muttered words meant only for the two of them and he did it with a smile and hot cheeks. “-just fuck me right, daddy.”

He’d never have to ask for more, as greedy as that already was. But it wasn’t a lie or a taunt- he knew Eijirou yearned to please him in any way he could. It was unconditional but crushing- Eijirou cared about him and it scared the shit out of him. So he fell back on the things he knew. Touch and breathing and the smack of sweaty skin until he was a shaking mess cradled in the gentle embrace of someone who wanted more from him than he ever had to begin with.

Vulgar and ugly, he trembled with sandpaper skin too rough to hold onto for long. He doused himself in kerosene and bit the match between his teeth just daring people to light it and watch him sit unscathed in the flames. Inevitably, he’d lure them in. Whisper to come closer and try to figure out how he could be made of brimstone and ashes but still be so pretty. It was a game. No winner in sight. Just a shivering boy with soot for clothing and a handful of people with stained, blistered hands and sorrowful eyes.

You can’t hold a firecracker and blame it when you get scorched. You can’t pour wax on your arm and curse the candle when the pain claws its way in. He warned people they’d hurt, they couldn’t hate him when it happened.

But they did.

It wasn’t fair.

He was terrified.

But burning alive felt so good at the hands of another.

 

A cold wetness gliding up his back made him gasp and his eyes shoot open.

Ah, you’re back.” The voice came from beside him and Katsuki was met with the realization that he felt exhausted and starkly empty but agreeably mushy.

Grasp looser in the sheet, cheek and chest presses into cotton, and knees wide, he turned his head to the voice and found Eijirou sitting cross-legged in a pair of boxers running a wash cloth over his spine.

He didn’t even really remember the ending. With a fast pace and a tumble of praise, it had become a panic of pleasure and nonstop thoughts that rattled him into giving himself entirely to Eijirou’s commanding presence.

His throat hurt, the vague memory of a whine morphing towards a shout into the mattress as he was manhandled into blissful submission.

Katsuki shifted and immediately grimaced. There was a disgusting stick of lace to wet skin and cool drips down his ass and thighs. Lube, cum, sweat- it didn’t matter what it was- probably all three- but it was vile and made him groan.

“Easy, babe.” Eijirou coddled him as he rolled onto his back and up the bed.

“The hell you do t’me?” Fuck, his voice was rough- what kind of shit had he let out of his mouth?

“Just what you asked- I hope.” Eijirou had that stupid grin as he moved in beside him. “Seemed to enjoy yourself.”

“I feel like I got tased.”

“Good, right?”

“If I could move my legs, we’d do it again right now.”

Eijirou’s laugh eased his thrumming nerves and he could finally relax into an all-encompassing afterglow.

If only it weren’t for the gross fabric drying onto his skin.

Uhck-” He pushed aimlessly at the lace and frowned into the pillow. “-want these off.”

He got his fingers under the flimsy seam, but it fell away from his hand with a loud rip. The fabric slid down sensitive skin, crumpling against the sheet- he couldn’t help but laugh. “I didn’t mean tear them off you fuckin’ brute.”

Nose to Katsuki’s ear, Eijirou hummed and pulled him in close. “I can buy you a nicer pair.”

Katsuki didn’t fight him off, but he held back from nuzzling for the moment.

“Let it be known I’m still pissed.”

“I’m not all that happy with you either.” Still, he combed through Katsuki’s hair. “But I’m tired and I don’t feel like fighting anymore.” He kissed his cheek, kept his mouth there as he spoke. “Tell you what- tomorrow we get up, eat a good breakfast, and talk. And I mean actually talk, like the adults we are. So if you gotta, prepare yourself now, ‘cause I’m not letting you hide behind a buncha yelling and distracting me without how pretty you are.”

“I wanna leave.” He said instead of responding, pushing at the arm holding him against Eijirou’s chest.

“No you don’t.”

“I do.”

And all at once, the arm was gone and the sheet was pulled from his body. Stunned, naked, cold, he stared into the dark of the room.

“Well?” Eijirou nudged his calf with his toes like that would spur him into moving. The cage door was open, no one was stopping him. No one but himself. “Go, then.”

Eijirou was goading him. This was about forcing him to acknowledge it. Forcing him to make a decision without any question as to what he really meant. He tried to answer, his throat went tight to push something out, but nothing came except for a small exhale.

The sheets falling back over his body was a relief he didn’t think would follow.

He hadn’t said a thing, he should have, but it didn’t make a difference either way. It wasn’t like either of them didn’t know the answer.

“Go to sleep, Kat.” Eijirou spoke quietly into his hair as he ran over his side. “It’s what you need.”

 

And maybe it was time to start doing what he needed.

Chapter Text

Eyes open to a high ceiling, arm slung across soft cotton, Katsuki was alone.

He’d woken up in Eijirou’s apartment more times than he could remember.

More often than not, it was by himself, tucked away in the large bed without nothing but the peeking streams of sun to keep him company.

Eijirou always got up early. Whether he was working or running or grabbing breakfast, he was always gone before Katsuki awoke.

More often than not, Katsuki didn’t care.

But sometimes, when all he wanted was to open his eyes and promptly bury his face in a warm chest and have a hand soothing over his back, he hated how things were.

He understood, but he could be selfish sometimes- most of the time- and he wanted him there.

He thought after a night like the last one, he wouldn’t have to ask.

He couldn’t blame him- he was probably just cooking. He’d been promised breakfast after all and he’d need it he was gonna go through this shit.

Talking.

He didn’t do that. At least not in any way that actually said what he meant without yelling.

Eijirou knew his intentions, why did he have to say them? Of course Katsuki cared.

He cared.

Fuck him, he cared.

But why did he have to say it?

He was there- more than he was in his own apartment.

He stayed there and talked and laughed and studied and slumped in after work when he was too tired to do anything other than fall into bed and be pulled against Eijirou’s collar.

He wouldn’t do any of that if he didn’t care.

He was sure Eijirou knew that-

So why did he have to go through the nauseating effort of saying it?

He frowned at the mirror over Eijirou’s dresser. The ratty sweatshirt draped over Katsuki with a familiar scratch of fabric. He’d brought it back. Of course he had. But Eijirou was insistent that the only reason he let him was so he could wear it when they were lounging around. He’d looked for the clothes he’d brought, but Eijirou must have taken them somewhere once he woke up. Which left Katsuki in this old thing and a pair of boxers that were almost too big to stay up.

It was fine.

It would’ve been fine.

The moment he gathered himself and stepped from the bedroom- there was something wrong.

He heard a laugh- masculine but a higher pitch than he recognized.

It could be the phone, he let himself think stupidly as he creeped down the hall.

A stupid thought that was promptly abandoned upon hearing another voice- a woman’s- too clear to be through a speaker.

Still he slunk with his arm pressed to the wall. He never meant to go out there like he was, he just wanted a look at the situation to see how fast he should run. But the second he peered around the corner and saw Eijirou sitting with three other people, brown eyes, big and glistening, caught him and wouldn’t let him even breathe.

“Oh,” She said softly, just as much surprise granting her face before it fell into a smile.

The other three stopped their conversations to look over at her before eventually following her gaze to the hall.

Eijirou jumped up on sight, mouth open like he had an excuse prepared.

But Katsuki was too struck by an unwavering stare of muddy intrigue to even spare him a glance.

“Katsuki,” She said his name as if it were familiar- tacking on a quick, “right?” At the end to give some poor attempt at seeming like she didn’t know exactly who he was, what he was, how he was.

He smelt the faint whiff of cooking pork in the kitchen, heard a click of a rice maker cutting off, the beep of the coffee pot.

He felt small. Standing in the dim hallway of his- standing with boxers and a sweatshirt that were too big, that would never fit him because there’s no way he could ever achieve something like his- standing, doing nothing but staring and trying not to shake with anger and confusion and fear and anxiety as these strangers stared back, as his- fuck, whatever the fuck he was stared too-

His fingers fisted the sleeves swallowing his arms and hands whole and he opened his mouth to let something out that he was hoping wasn’t going to be a scream.

“Ei,” Oh, good, his voice was surprisingly level. Still, he didn’t look away from the woman propped on the edge of the cushion and pinning him with a stare that most would see as polite but he knew all too well as critical, prying, knowing, analyzing every shift in his stance and the way he breathed. He knew it so well. He did it all the time.

He didn’t like having it done back.

Eijirou finally stepping towards him is what pulled his eyes off her and onto the fretful panic of his-

“Can you find me my clothes?”

Eijirou faltered with his next step but recovered quickly and hurried over. “Of course.”

Taken by the wrist, Katsuki was pulled back down the hall and into the bedroom. Door shut, Eijirou brushed past him without a word.

“Oi,” Katsuki spouted, all the anger rushing back in once it was just the two of them. “What the hell? What happened to we have to talk-”

“I know- I’m sorry.” Eijirou pushed at his hair, nervously pulling it behind his ears only for it to fall back into his face. “I didn’t think they’d show up. I told them I was coming home last night- but they never- usually they tell me first, but I guess they wanted to surprise me and-” He huffed loudly as he flew into his closet and returned with Katsuki’s clothes folded in his hands. His expression punched Katsuki square in the chest. Twisted up in regret and worry, his brow wobbled with the tension. Katsuki felt his fury melt on sight, the only thing left was mild annoyance and a burning embarrassment that he was overreacting- again.

Ei,” It was too quiet and easily overpowered by Eijirou’s panicked rambling,

“I mean, they just got here and I was so surprised I should’ve come in here to tell you but I didn’t want to wake you up and then they started asking me about the trip and everything and I got kind of distracted.” He rushed back, handing the clothes over but Katsuki dropped them to the floor which only seemed to worry him more. “Look, I’m sure that’s not how you wanted to meet them-” He shook his head, eyes shutting tight, “Fuck, you probably didn’t even want to meet them at all but-”

Katsuki’s palms brushing his cheeks had Eijirou’s eyes popping open again and his words scrabbling to a stop with a choke. “Ei,” Katsuki tried to smile- it was probably lopsided and broken and saddened, but dammit he was trying. He brushed his thumbs over hot cheeks and pulled. “Calm down.”

“I’m sorry-” Eijirou croaked, fragile and pitiful in Katsuki’s hands. All Katsuki could think to do was shake his head. Here he was being harsh and this man hadn’t done anything wrong- again. “If you have to go-”

He couldn’t think fast enough to speak, but he could jerk him down and stop that suggestion right there with a hard press of lips. He couldn’t say the right thing most of time, but he knew what felt right. Kissing Eijirou always felt right- like he could breathe only when he was given someone else’s air.

So selfish, so dependent.

So greedy.

Again.

Head tilted forward, he pushed their foreheads together as he shook back and forth. “I don’t have to go.”

Eijirou had taken his sides and his fingers curled in the sweatshirt to hold them together. “But do you want to?”

Mouth open, tongue moving, Katsuki couldn’t say it- not yet- it didn’t feel like he ever would. But he could keep his head moving at least- a slow side to side as his fingers dug into Eijirou’s cheeks.

And for the first time that morning, he saw Eijirou’s smile. His hidden gem of a warmth and comfort that Katsuki wanted to keep all to himself.

He was so selfish.

He was a fucking mess.

He wanted everything but didn’t want anything- why was that so hard to explain?

When Eijirou laughed, quiet and more like a hum, Katsuki wanted to bottle it up and never let anyone hear it. They didn’t deserve it- he didn’t deserve it.

He didn’t deserve a grin that could make anyone feel wanted, or to be held so tightly that he knew he was wanted, or to be looked at with such fondness that he couldn’t deny he was wanted.

To be so irrefutably craved when all he did was push away and hiss- he didn’t deserve that.

Why wouldn’t Eijirou just leave him? Why wouldn’t he give up? Why wouldn’t he see he’s too damn good for some kid who can’t even tell him he doesn’t want to run away anymore?

-A harsh flick to his cheek made Katsuki wince.

“Get outta your head.”

Awestruck, Katsuki stared back into smile-crinkled eyes until Eijirou kissed him with all the grounding weight he could muster. Two, five, ten, he lost count of each parting somewhere between his shaky breathing and his burning cheeks. The only sense he gained came when Eijirou crowded over him and moved to his neck instead.

“Ei,” He pushed, weakly and without any actual effort to get him off. Eijirou hummed from his chest, fingers dipping under the sweatshirt to tickle at his skin. “Hey-” And those hands pushed the sweatshirt up to his neck. Fabric covering his face, the words were caught up in cotton that was roughly pulled from his body. And those godforsaken hands were back without a break, rubbing up his back as another flurry of kisses graced his collar. “Come on, Ei, you gotta stop-” He hiccupped in an such an embarrassing way when teeth met the hollow of his throat and taunting touches ghosted the perk of his nipples. “You can’t-”

“Wanted to change, didn’t you?”

“Preferably without being fucking groped.” He pushed harder and finally dislodged the man. Hold on Eijirou’s chest, he punched lightly and glared as the fabric tumbled back over his torso. “Changed my mind- I do wanna go.”

“No, you don’t.”

“I’m gonna leave.”

Why did he even try to fight-

“Too bad.” Eijirou said with a grin before he was stuck to Katsuki again- arms curling around him and hauling him back against his chest. “You’re mine now.”

He was holding him tight, crushing him almost- too happy for the situation- too touchy- Eijirou never touched him this much after they fought unless-

“You’re nervous.” He said quiet but stern into Eijirou’s sweater.

They froze in place. It wasn’t like it was a surprise- more so just startling that Katsuki had figured him out so fast.

But Eijirou wasn’t the only one who had been paying attention all these months.

Eijirou’s muscles tensed before he slumped around him and somehow hugged Katsuki tighter. He pushed his face into the mess of Katsuki’s unbrushed hair and breathed. “I don’t want them to freak you out.”

“They won’t.” He wiggled until his arms were up and able to wrap around Eijirou’s neck. “I’m okay.”

He shook his head slowly. “They’re a lot.”

And for once, Katsuki’s laugh was genuine. “And I’m not?” The soft sound was returned into his hair. “And you put up with my asshole friends-”

“My friends are just as much assholes.”

Katsuki carded through limp red. “In case you haven’t noticed- we are too.”

Eijirou grunted his reluctant agreement, arms unwinding like he was going to move away but getting stuck with his hands to Katsuki’s sides. “Get changed. Quickly, if you would-”

“Why’s that?” Katsuki asked with a smirk carrying his words.

Hands squeezed, mouth slipped from his hair to his temple. “Otherwise I’m kicking them out and keeping you right here.”

Katsuki felt wrong for letting himself smile that much. He shouldn’t get this kindness- not after everything- not with who he was. “That’s not a very effective answer.”

“They came all this way,” He rubbed his cheek over the shaved fuzz on the side of Katsuki’s head with a small whine. “I shouldn’t-”

“You could.”

He wouldn’t.

But Katsuki could dream.

“I don’t know the last time I saw them all together.”

Clearly not going to be able to do it himself, Katsuki peeled Eijirou’s hands from his ribs and let them drop. He stepped, both of them needing the distance if they were to stop the pulling spark that dragged them together every time they were alone.

“Then I’ll get changed.”

Eijirou nodded back, turning towards the door out to the balcony. “Meet me outside when you’re done.”

“Why-”

“Meet me outside.” He repeated, stopping once he had the curtains parted and the door slid open. “Just come be with me for a moment.”

“I’ve never got that.” Eijirou looked back and waited. “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“Sometimes, you’re easy to lose even when you’re here.” His smile was somewhat solemn as he pushed through the curtains and disappeared into the grey of a winter morning.

The way those words wrapped around Katsuki’s throat made him hurry to change and slink out behind him. He was ready to say a dozen things in response- some questions, some defensive remarks, some quiet apologies- none of which came out once he stepped into the cold.

Eijirou was sitting in one of the chairs, arm hanging over the balcony rail and a cigarette between his lips. He didn’t shift his attention away from the sky even as Katsuki watched him, thrown back months and months to a boy who seemed distant now.

Equally as frightened and irritated but for all different reasons.

His heart-broken, spiteful, reckless self was still there, tucked away and reminding him of its safety every time he realized how close he’d let this man get. It lashed out when it could- last night was burned into him with shame and anger- but for the most part he’d learned to hold it back. Listen but disagree. Acknowledge but reject.

He’d grown, even if only minutely- and fuck Ei for making him do that. He never asked for this.

“You’ve been smoking less.” Katsuki thought it would break he tension somehow but it really only made him feel more unfamiliar. “That nervous?”

“Someone told me a few times I should quit.” It was a blatant disregard to the question, but Katsuki didn’t push as he leaned up against the rail.

“Doesn’t mean you had to listen.”

His brows lifted briefly as a sort of facial-shrug before he was pulling a drag and then the cigarette from his mouth. “Guess I wanted to.”

Arms crossed, shoulders up, Katsuki watched the curtains drift in and out of the doorway with the chilling breeze. “So much for talking, huh?”

Mm,” Katsuki couldn’t tell if it was pleased or disappointed. “Don’t think I’m letting you go that easy.” He looked back over to see Eijirou exhale a wisp of white and flick a bit of ash into the air. “Just because we have to put it off for a little while doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.” His jaw twitched and Katsuki ached. “We’ve got shit to deal with.”

Normally, Eijirou would’ve lightened that with a smile. Or a laugh. Something other than his serious stare at the clouds. Katsuki had spent days wishing he wouldn’t try to cover everything with humor and kindness and actually be serious for once, but now that he got it- he had an itch to curl up in his lap and find a way to distract him that would get rid of that expression.

“Why are you so adamant on discussing it?”

“I said it earlier, didn’t I-? You’re mine now.” Katsuki had assumed it was just something he’d said in passing to cover his nerves. Not that he actually meant it and- “And I’ll be yours as soon as you let me. Which means understanding you.” He tapped the cigarette again and narrowed his gaze. “Not upsetting you. Learning more, and compromising. It won’t happen all at once- I get that- but I’m gonna get somewhere.”

“Why do you want me?”

He wasn’t sure where it came from, but it left as easy and free-willed as smoke.

Ash falling, a clump landed on the arm of the chair before being swept away in the wind.

Katsuki wished he could go with it.

Finally burn up and let himself be washed away by something as light as a breeze.

He felt so heavy all the time-

Heavy, stuck, stubborn,

“I-” Eijirou started, his face twisting up in that horrible way Katsuki hated causing. He sucked in a deep breath at the same time a head popped out from behind the curtains in the door way.

“Aye boys,” Ochako smiled brightly, looking between them before stepping out entirely. “They made me come check on you because we were worried you killed each other.”

And just like that, the bit of progress they’d made was snuffed out and diffused into Eijirou’s predictable laughter. “No, no, nothing like that- we just-”

Katsuki pushed off the railing with a force that stopped them all. He stepped quickly towards her- this person meant something to Eijirou, right? For whatever reason. And that meant he needed to treat her the same, right?

No more hiding.

No more fighting.

It’s what you need.

“Bakugou Katsuki.” He said firmly, face as determined as the hand he stuck out between them.

She stared at his hand, then his face, confused at the sudden introduction when she knew full well-

But a beaming smile rose to her face and pushed her pudgy cheeks high. She took his hand in a solid hold, shaking it once with a force that could crush his hand. “Uraraka Ochako- Nice to finally meet you, Katsuki.” She let go, hand falling to her hip as she shot her smile at Eijirou. “Now Eiji, put out the death stick and come inside cause we’re damn near starving and Momma was promised breakfast.”

She whooshed back through the curtains- probably satisfied with what she accomplished- and left Katsuki feeling painfully seen.

With a final blow of smoke, Eijirou snuffed it out in the waiting tray and hauled himself out of the chair. He ruffled Katsuki’s hair as he passed by through the door. “You’ll like her.”

Katsuki wasn’t so sure- she reminded him of Mina a bit too much for him to be entirely comfortable.

“Good friends?” Katsuki asked instead.

Eijirou hummed as he slid the door shut after them. “Met her in an internship after college.”

“So that was what? Thirty years ago?”

Eijirou faked a laugh and pushed Katsuki in the back to make him stumble forward. “Your old jokes are surprisingly subpar.”

Katsuki turned on his heels, curling his mouth up. “Should I joke about something else instead? Your hair?” Eijirou shook his head but stepped in close. “Your goofy smile?” Another shake as he leaned down and wrapped his arms around Katsuki’s lower back. “Your lack of common sense?”

Katsuki was dragged up, feet lifting off the ground as Eijirou pulled him into his chest. He usually hated being picked up like that, but for the moment, he allowed the warmth to settle between them.

“None of the above.” He muttered before pushing his face under Katsuki’s chin to get at his neck.

“Then what?”

“Don’t mock me at all.”

“M’afraid that’s not an option, tough guy.”

“Little shit.” Eijirou breathed back, followed by a kiss to his throat that had Katsuki tipping his head back.

“You knew what you were signing up for.”

“Happily so.” He let Katsuki slide back to his feet, placing a kiss to each cheek before releasing him and heading towards the door. “I fed a stray- can’t be all that surprised when it sticks around. Now let’s go. I’ve got cooking to do.”

 

Normally, Katsuki would kick him out and make everything himself, but Eijirou was adamant. Adamant that Katsuki sit at an empty table with three strangers who were periodically eyeing him like he was some sort of spectacle. He had been preparing himself for prodding questions- that’s what he was used to- but for the most part, they just carried on like his presence was boringly normal. Apart from those glances, it seemed they didn’t think anything of it.

It only seemed to make it more obvious how intrigued they were.

“-And he told me he wasn’t getting back until tonight.” Sighing, Kaminari crossed his arms.

“Probably ‘cause he didn’t want to see you.” Ochako smiled back at his pout. “He told me this morning.”

“Seems to me we were all lied to.” They both looked to Sero before following his gaze to Katsuki.

“We went to dinner.” He admitted without prompting.

“Rude,” Kaminari quipped. “I would’ve wanted to go too.”

“Well I didn’t.” That earned Katsuki a questioning, sharp look. Maybe he shouldn’t bring it up. He didn’t know how they felt- didn’t know anything about them- but that dinner had been anything but desired. The bitterness hadn’t fully left him yet. “It was with his boring coworkers and his asshole boss.”

Ochako got a hand on his arm and leaned in. “You met his boss?”

Katsuki shrugged, eyes trailing upwards. “Met- yelled at- something like that.”

Kaminari choked on his coffee. “You yelled at his boss?”

Katsuki merely shrugged again. “I have some issues with the guy.”

“I’ve never even seen him, but the way Kiri talks about him,” Kaminari shook his head, tongue clicking.

Ochako tugged on his sleeve. “What happened then?”

“We left.”

A break of quiet, “That’s rough.” Kaminari took a loud sip, “But I woulda guessed you’d leave as soon as he saw the guy. Kiri hates his boss.”

Eyeing him, Katsuki pushed his mug onto the table. “Yeah?”

With a quick scoff, Kaminari slumped into his seat. “Yeah, the dudes an asshat.”

Ochako took to folding her napkin in her lap as she nodded. “We’ve heard Eiji complain about him for years.”

Katsuki looked up, catching Eijirou moving around in the kitchen with the water running and a pan sizzling loudly. He didn’t think he could hear them, but he lowered his voice anyway. “Why doesn’t he just fucking quit then?”

Kaminari mirrored his hushed tone. “Would if he could I’m guessing.”

Sero squinted into the air, talking just as loud as he was before. “Well- Hasn’t he tried?”

“Coupla of times.” Ochako added, staring with him like she could see something telling on the ceiling. “But the guy holds his position over his head. And it’s not like he can leave and get a bad rec from someone that big. He’d never get hired again.”

Kaminari glanced behind him into the kitchen with some sort of half-hidden frown. “So he’d be pretty fucked if he just walked out.”

The shake of Sero’s head was pitying. “I don’t think I could fake it and kiss someone’s ass who I hate for that long.”

“I wonder what kind of damage he’s gonna have to undo.” And if Katsuki hadn’t already felt bad enough, Kaminari’s words just drove it home. “I’m sure having some strange kid yell at him wasn’t the best thing for-”

“Did I ask you?” He hissed through a whisper.

Kaminari only grinned at him. “Oh, the kitty bites.”

Katsuki really didn’t wanna know where that came from. And if he had claws he sure would be using them to tear that smile right off his stupid face. “Yeah?” He gripped the lip of the table and leaned forward. “Then why don’t you get closer?”

Ochako had a hand on his back and another on his arm in a second and it felt so much like one of Mina’s coddling touches that he didn’t even shove her off immediately. “Don’t pick on him too much, he’s just a baby.”

But her unfamiliar voice brought him back and he pushed her away before sliding low in his seat. “M’not a fuckin’ baby.”

“Sure,” She wasn’t discouraged. She grabbed him by the face, fingers pinching at the pudge of his cheeks. “But just look at this skin. I remember having skin like this- so soft and-”

He smacked her wrists, ducking out of the hold. “Hands offa me shortstack.”

Shortstack?” Kaminari whispered off to the side.

Sero held his hand up to his mouth, nodding back at the whisper. “Does he know he’s-”

Fists balled in his lap, Katsuki barked, “I don’t hafta be tall to beat your ass.”

“Kiri,” Kaminari practically whined as Eijirou wandered from the kitchen to the table. “He’s so aggressive. Why did you bring him into our lives- I feel so threatened.”

“Really?” Eijirou wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Nor did he seem all that concerned. “What’re we chatting about?”

“Oh, nothing important.” Ochako answered rather quickly.

He didn’t like that.

He didn’t feel like hiding anything.

Maybe he was just tired.

“How I overreacted last night.” Katsuki said after her, causing a hush to fall over the room as Eijirou set a large bowl of rice on the table.

“Ah,” He responded calmly, brushing his hands down his shirt. “Right, well, it was a confusing and uncomfortable night for everyone, so don’t worry-”

“I’m not worrying.” The stern manner of his tone made them all twitch and watch the table closely. Eijirou’s eyes on him didn’t move away, only stared a little harder. “Are you?”

“Well, I had a rather colorfully worded message in my voicemail last night, and I chose to ignore it, so only slightly.”

In a burst of movement, Kaminari laughed and sat up. “Ignoring his phone,” He got himself a large scoop of rice, blowing air between his lips. “Never heard of that before.”

Ochako broke with him, brushing the tense air away and reaching in after him. “Yeah Katsuki, you’ll have to tell us how you managed that.”

“I’d rather not.”

It earned him a soft laugh and a small bowl of rice along with Ochako’s smile. “Nonetheless, we’re glad you’re here.”

That made his skin grow hot and itch. People desiring his company still made him fidget. He forced himself to nod instead of snapping at her- even if that meant consciously avoiding any of the looks Eijirou gave him before returning to the kitchen for the rest of the food.

He was hoping that’d be the end of it. The three went back to their own conversation and for a brief pause, Katsuki felt in the clear. But then Eijirou sat down and they all started eating. And apparently that was the all clear for it to start up all over again.

“So, where’d you find him anyway?”

Eijirou looked up from his omelet to watch Ochako jab her thumb towards Katsuki. He looked back down and moved the egg around. “A bar.”

“A bar?” Ochako craned her head to get a good look at him. “Since when do you go to bars?”

“I can go to a bar.”

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you do. College you did, sure, but now?” Eijirou shrugged at her and took a forceful bite. “No- better yet, why wasn’t I invited?”

He sighed after his swallow. “You have a toddler.”

“I can bring him with me-” The look Eijirou gave her made her shrink down into a mumble. “Alright, I can leave him for a night- I’m not overly attached- I could’ve just let Tenya watch him,”

Sero laughed around the food in his mouth. “Oh, of course, can’t bring him to a bar.”

Kaminari nudged him with an elbow. “Does he even drink?”

Sero just nudged him right back. “Well, there was the wedding when he-”

“And again I ask, does he even drink?” Kaminari was grinning and Ochako looked ready to smack it away. “No one can put on that much of a drunken show if they’re a seasoned drinker.”

Ochako narrowed her gaze on him. “Not all of us can throw back five cocktails and still be coherent. It’s not something to be proud of.”

Kaminari’s chopsticks stabbed the air at her. “I think it is. I may be small, but I’ll be damned if I can’t hold my liquor. So really I should be the one asking why I wasn’t invited.”

“It wasn’t a social thing.” Eijirou finally broke through with a mutter and a roll of his shoulder. “I didn’t go there to have a good time. I just wanted a drink and to get out of my apartment. I didn’t want to-”

“Well something changed considering you didn’t want to do a lot and still ended up hitting it off with,” She jabbed her elbow towards Katsuki. “And whatever it is caught your attention. Must be something pretty good considering you’ve been hiding him from us for months.”

“Not hiding.” His slight distress trailed to Katsuki only long enough for their eyes to meet before he was looking away abruptly. “It’s not my fault we’re all so busy.”

“Yeah, well, it takes effort and sometimes you shits don’t want to put that in.”

They quieted if only for a moment- but then Eijirou cleared his throat. “Ease up, ‘Chako.”

“Oh no,” Her finger shot around like a chiding parent. “You can’t keep us apart for months and then not expect me to be enthusiastic about this.”

“I didn’t-” He looked up fast, brows high, but he slumped and scratched at his head. “We’ve been busy-”

“We’re always busy, Eiji. You can’t use that as an excuse forever. He’s clearly a tough kid, it’s not like I can scare him off.”

Eijirou’s mouth faltered as did his heavy gaze on her. Katsuki was caught between them while irritation picked away at the underside of his forcefully amiable demeanor. When Eijirou sighed and shook his head without an answer, Katsuki gave in and started.

“It’s my fault.”

“Kat-” Eijirou touched his arm and he moved it quickly to poke at his rice.

“Well, not exactly, but for the most part, right? I’m guessing you assumed I didn’t want to.”

“No, I just- There wasn’t really a good time and-“

Kaminari’s laugh was high and nasally. “Why have all of us around when it could just be the two of them?”

“No-”

But Sero’s hum was mocking him instantly. “I guess it’s true, he doesn’t like us.”

“Hey, guys, come on I-”

“Alright,” Ochako clapped her hands together. “That’s enough. I was joking and now Eiji’s panicking,”

The next time Kaminari spoke, it was under his breath and into his mug. “What’s new?”

“I’m not panicking.”

Cutting his eyes to the side, Katsuki found Eijirou already watching him. “You’re fretting about nothing.”

“I’m not!”

Katsuki turned his head towards him a little and bristled. “Are you good?” It sounded harsh and accusing and it made Eijirou startle.

“Huh? I-” He nodded slowly, leaning forward. “Yeah?”

“Great, and I’m fuckin’ peachy.” He turned to the rest, “Everyone else?” They nodded as well, if not somewhat stunned by him. He brought his shoulders up, going back to staring intently at his food. “Wonderful.”

There was only the briefest bit of silence before someone dared to cut in and divert them away from whatever that had been.

“I think we’ve forgotten how greedy ‘Chako is.” Kaminari lifted his eyes up at her with a wry smile. “Wanting a husband and three boyfriends.”

“I just have a lot of love to give, boys. I appreciate your time and attention, is that wrong?”

“Not wrong.”

Sero joined him, “Just greedy.”

She huffed, her cheeks puffing out with it. “You two are annoying, who the fuck let you get together?”

“You did.” Kaminari came first again followed quickly by his apparent partner.

“You set us up.”

Ochako flicked a vegetable across her plate. “I don’t recall.”

“Judge rules?” Kaminari said loudly and it caused the three of them to look to the end of the table.

Mid-chew, Eijirou blinked before swallowing and nodding. “She did.”

Her groan was almost covered by the duo’s titters. “It was a long time ago and I’d rather forget my mistake.”

“Mistake?” Sero linked his arm through Kaminari’s. “The world has been a better place ever since.”

“The world- most importantly my world has been a flaming clusterfuck ever since.” Despite his better judgement, Katsuki let out the softest exhale of a laugh at that but it was enough to have Ochako leaning into him. “Oh,” She smiled wide and then leaned away with her arms in the air, “Yes- I made him laugh, I win.”

Kaminari’s mug slammed against the table, coffee sloshing out. “No, we never agreed-”

“I saw your challenged filled eyes, you agreed and I just won.”

“Technically,” Sero lilted, dabbing up the mess Kaminari had made. “We also never agreed on the terms of winning.”

“Doesn’t matter-”

Katsuki had that itching feeling again. He didn’t like being left out of something- especially when it so clearly involved him. “The hell are you three blabbing about now?”

“Dollface,” Ochako smiled at him, but when his lip curled she backed down. “Not ready for nicknames? That’s okay- we’ll get there-” Her hand was on his shoulder and he wanted to shove her back. “Katsuki, off of this impression alone, who do you like more- me, or them?”

Huh

His face screwed up as he leaned away. Eijirou sighed behind him but besides that-

“This is the only impression I have.”

The words that came from him were a surprise- he’d been expecting some sour remark, but something in him held back.

“Great, then my win is even more valid.” She shook his shoulder back and forth. “So who is it?”

“No one.” He spat, working on his glare.

She leaned in even though he was already on the edge of falling out of his chair. “Not even Eiji?”

“Nah.”

Letting go of him, the air rushed back into his chest as she reared back with a laugh. “Then by default I win!”

“Hah?” That didn’t- “I didn’t-”

“That’s horrible logic.” Sero mused but it was overpowered by Kaminari’s loud shriek.

“We were never even playing along!”

“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the fact that I just won.”

“He didn’t even say it.”

“I saw it in his eyes.”

Kaminari groaned loud and annoyed. “You and eyes.”

“I’m hurt Kat.” Katsuki turned in his seat to watch Eijirou shake his head. “Choosing my best friend over me.”

Katsuki frowned at him, sending a kick under the table. “Why are you playing along?”

“It’s easier that way,” He grinned- mostly genuine. “Isn’t it?”

Katsuki sighed in his annoyed little way and hunched over his plate to shove food in his mouth before he could say anything else.

Half an hour full of angry chewing and trying not to snap at every joke and taunt directed at him, he somehow survived. It shouldn’t be that hard to sit at a table and be friendly, but there were a lot of things that should be easy and that eluded Katsuki’s understanding.

But he sat, biting his tongue and avoiding any questioning look that probably meant are you okay from someone who should already know he really wasn’t.

Drug along somewhere, dolled up and fabricated with strangers that judged him and stared at him.

Forced to either run away, swallow his pride, or confront someone he hated even more than he thought he could.

Brought back, ripped open, torn apart, left to put himself back together like catharsis was something easy and over with.

Confronted by people who thought they knew him, thought they could say whatever they wanted, thought that he was doing fine.

He wanted to be there. He wanted to be okay. But he wasn’t. And he couldn’t handle any of it with all those fucking people around.

If they hadn’t been there, Katsuki probably would have stayed as long as Eijirou let him. But having hit his quota of interacting with anyone let alone them, as soon as the breakfast was finished, he was gathering his things to go. One glance to his phone had him sighing at the dozen notifications Mina had left him.

It wasn’t even noon and he was already exhausted.

His phone went unanswered into his pocket as he sat down by the door and pulled his boots on.

“Leaving?” Eijirou’s voice was quiet as he came up behind him.

“Need to study.”

It wasn’t really a lie but it still felt sour on his tongue. He tied his shoes a little tighter.

“Semester’s ending soon, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

He hated this.

“That’s good. A break will be nice.”

“Yeah.”

The small talk was painful and abnormal and he hated it. This morning had thrown them even further off of recovering from whatever had happened last night. Katsuki’s need to run was becoming harder to ignore with each glance and tease from strangers that called him a friend just because he’d somehow entangled himself with a man he’d forgotten had an entire life of his own before finding him.

“Well,” Eijirou began in his lofty way which meant he didn’t know where to go or what to say.

Katsuki wasn’t willing to let him figure it out. He’d probably try to get him to stay. And if he asked, Katsuki would.

If only he’d ask.

“Well, I’ll be going.” Katsuki cut him before he could do anything. He couldn’t take any more of it.

He didn’t even look back. Just stood, pulled his jacket on, and made his way out the door without another word.

His steps were quick and frantic to get as far away from that confusing interaction as he could.

He thought they were over the discomfort- the tiptoeing- why couldn’t he ever say what he wanted-

He took the short walk from the door to the elevator and rocked back and forth after the button was pushed.

The door opened, his name was called, he stopped.

“Katsuki,” it came again and the doors shut.

“Did I forget something?” He asked as he was turned around by Eijirou’s sudden hold on his arm.

No answer, he was immediately pulled against Eijirou’s chest in a tight hug.

No answer, the silence blanketed them in an always empty hallway.

He didn’t hug back, that wasn’t the point.

He was being crushed but it was comfort.

“I expected you to try and thank me.” His breath was warm against Eijirou’s sweater.

“Do you want me to thank you?”

“No.”

“I know.” Eijirou hugged tighter, fingers crumping his shirt and his chest pushing into Katsuki’s shoulders as he breathed. “I appreciate the effort you put in to stay and talk to them.”

Katsuki tried to shrug against the hold around his arms. “You’ve done the same for me plenty of times.”

“It’s a lot easier for me.” He brushed through Katsuki’s hair and left a kiss where blonde tapered to the dusty buzzed side of his head. “You did really great.”

“Quit talking to me like I’m a child.”

Eijirou pulled back suddenly and Katsuki hoped those words hadn’t actually affected him in any way. But when he saw Eijirou’s smile he knew they hadn’t.

He still had Katsuki by the shoulders, thumbs rubbing back and forth.

“I really appreciate you.”

There was something behind those words he hated. Something that wasn’t really appreciation but in reality a sentiment far deeper- filled with what he refused to acknowledge even when he maybe should.

“It was just breakfast.” He pushed Eijirou’s hands from him.

“You didn’t have to stay.”

“We’ve been over this.”

“Tell me.”

Katsuki huffed, but Eijirou wasn’t smiling anymore. He hated that look- made him feel small and childish.

Hands on his hips, shoulders squared, he stared right back and searched for the fear that he couldn’t find. “I wanted to stay.”

Like he’d been faking it just to get Katsuki to break, Eijirou’s grin returned in a flash. He probably wanted to rub Katsuki’s nose in it, hit him with a quick see, not so hard- but he also probably knew it really was just so fucking hard. Unlike the others, he not only saw Katsuki for exactly who he was, but he worked with him instead of forcing the change.

How would Katsuki ever thank him for that-

Could he even-

“I’m glad.” Eijirou replied, reaching to push the elevator button again. “And I know we didn’t get around to it,” He stepped back, hands going into his pockets. “But we’ll talk soon.” The bell dinged and the elevator doors slid open. “About everything.”

Taking a few steps into the elevator, Katsuki turned back around and nodded just as the doors began to shut.

He’d wanted to say something, but he couldn’t.

After all, he didn’t really need to.

Chapter Text

They didn’t talk.

Not like it was much of a surprise.

The week started and Katsuki went back to class and Eijirou went right back to his overworked pace.

Studying was hectic, his lab was overwhelming, his job was simple but demanded more time than he was willing to give.

They fell back into the routine of busying themselves and making time for phone calls at night until one of them fell asleep or dinners on the off chance they were both free on the same night.

It wasn’t that they were avoiding it, just that it didn’t seem good to waste the little time here and there they made for each other with arguing.

So they didn’t talk, but it was okay.

It would happen.

And it did.

Nearly a month later, Katsuki was at Eijirou’s door with a grocery bag in one hand and his backpack slung over the other arm.

He’d been sitting in the floor of his bedroom when he got the text that made him hop up and start gathering his notes and books into his backpack.

And as if she knew, Mina was in his doorway in a matter of seconds. “So you’re too busy studying to eat lunch with me but not to go somewhere?”

“Looks like it.” He answered flatly and shoved his wallet in his bag.

She waltzed in uninvited and flung herself on his bed. “What’s up?” He didn’t answer so she tossed a pillow at him. “You’re tense.”

“M’always tense when you’re up my ass.”

“My strap too big for you, baby?”

She was grinning at him as he slung his backpack over his shoulder. “Watch out, I’m gonna barf.”

Pushing by her out of his room, he already knew there’d be eyes on him from the kitchen. “Don’t bother him too much or he might not leave the apartment for a week again.”

A quick glance to the side, he shot Hitoshi a sneer and tugged the strap of his backpack. “Some of us actually study for exams.”

He shrugged, sipping down a long swallow of tea. “I do fine without it.”

Mina was on his heels before perching herself on the back of the couch. “’Cause you’re an asshole who’s naturally smart.”

Thin brow up, Hitoshi smiled. “And you don’t study because-”

“Because it’s none of your business-!” She spoke over him loudly, making Katsuki hunker down as he zipped his boots.

“Right,” Katsuki muttered and stood. “You two keep arguing while I get very far away.”

“Goin’ somewhere to study?” Hitoshi’s mug hit the counter before he walked towards him. “I’ll come if you are and we can lock her in here.”

“Nah. Well, sorta-” He adjusted his backpack then his hoodie. “Ei’s sick so I’m gonna check on him. I’ll probably study a bit while I’m there.”

Cute-” Mina teased and ended on a loud kissing sound. “-But also rude. You tell him and not me?”

“Yeah, he’s tolerable and doesn’t say shit.” Katsuki spat as he turned. His voice dropped back down once he opened the door and bumped Hitoshi with his elbow. “I’ll pick up dinner on my way back.”

“I’ll do my best to shoo her away.”

“Not possible.”

“You two are fucking mean.”

Die.” Katsuki hissed, shutting the door loudly and huffing into the stale air of the hallway.

 

So, nearly a month later, he was at Eijirou’s door with a grocery bag in one hand and his backpack slung over the other arm.

He’d already knocked once with no answer so he tapped his knuckles against the door louder and faster. Still, it took a minute before the door opened to Eijirou looking at him like an alien.

“I told you not to come.” He croaked, voice thick and scratchy.

“And here I am. Let me in.”

“No.” Katsuki tried to step forward but Eijirou didn’t budge. “You don’t need a cold right now.”

“I’m already fucking here- let me in.”

They stared in silence until Eijirou’s tired eyes blinked slowly and he backed up.

“You look like shit,” Katsuki brushed by through the crack of the door and made his way towards the kitchen. “How you feel?”

“Like shit.” Watching him bustle around, Eijirou leaned against the back of the couch.

His shoes were lost along the way- he’d pick them up later- “You overworked yourself.”

Eijirou tried some sort of scoff but it sounded nasally and wet. “Hypocrite.”

Despite how funny it sounded, it was harsher than Katsuki was used to- snotty and weak, but clipped.

He couldn’t help but grunt a laugh as he rounded the counter. “You’re mean when you’re sick.”

“What’s your excuse then?”

He looked up at Eijirou utterly swallowed by large sweats and a fevered blush across his nose and cheeks. They stared until Katsuki ducked his head down without addressing it.

Rummaging, Katsuki pulled a few things from the bag and set them on the marble. “You can come closer than ten feet away from me.”

Eijirou shook his head quickly and then blinked a few times like it had thrown him off balance.

“Haven’t seen you in a week.” Katsuki set the rest of the bag on the kitchen counter, his backpack on the floor, and crossed the room towards him. “Figured you’d hug me as soon as you opened the door.”

He held up a hand to ward him off. “I’m contagious.”

“I’m feeling neglected.”

It was rude to tease him when we was already in poor health, but Katsuki couldn’t stop himself. He wouldn’t say it out loud, but even after just a day away he’d started to miss this man.

It was sickening.

His tease failed- it had Eijirou drawing his brows up. “Don’t joke about that.”

He wasn’t in the mood to play- Katsuki wasn’t surprised.

“You’re right,” Eijirou he backed up fully against the couch as Katsuki walked towards him. “I’m sorry.” He came toe to toe, craning his head back to peer up at him. “But really? Nothing?”

Eijirou shook his head again, slower this time. “I didn’t want you here- you’ll get sick.”

Katsuki lifted himself up to his toes and braced himself against the heat pouring from Eijirou’s sweatshirt.

“Still don’t want me here?” Eijirou frowned, head moving side to side as Katsuki came closer and closer. He went as far as he could reach before stopping and whispering, “Then don’t kiss me.”

This wasn’t the place for it, or the time, but he wasn’t ever one to consider things like that- not when it’d been a week and he was stressed and he’d found the first excuse to drop everything and rush over here like he didn’t have any other responsibilities.

“Kiss me, and I’m staying.”

And it was mean, but he curled his fingers against Eijirou’s chest and pressed them together and brushed their bottoms lips just enough that it was a begging little taunt.

Eijirou was weak for him and he took advantage of it.

He knew they both loved it like that.

Eijirou’s lips were dry but he didn’t care. His palms were clammy when they took hold of Katsuki’s cheeks to pull him in but he didn’t care. His breath wheezed a little on the exhale into Katsuki’s mouth but he didn’t care.

Fuck, he was going to get sick.

“You’re very unfair.” Eijirou mumbled once Katsuki had fallen back on his heels.

Uncurling from his sweatshirt, Katsuki held him by the cheeks first then touched his forehead with the back of a hand. “You have a fever.”

“I know. I have a thermometer.” His answer was dry but then he broke into a silly grin.

“Not too sick then, you can still make shitty jokes.”

Eijirou’s hands were petting down his shoulders as his head tipped clumsily. “You like my shitty jokes.”

“Unfortunately.” Pushing his hand through greasy, clumped hair, Katsuki grimaced. “When was the last time you bathed?”

“I’ve felt like shit for days.” It wasn’t an answer but it was telling enough and Katsuki’s nose scrunched. “I told you not to come.”

“After I put the soup on you’re taking a bath.”

Katsuki turned, a touch trailing down his arm, his wrist, barely trying to holding onto his fingers before he slipped away.

“M’too tired.” His groan trailed off as Katsuki began organizing his ingredients and rooting around for a knife. “You want me to pass out and drown?”

“Maybe.” Eijirou sighed at him, his slump straightening up when Katsuki caught him with sharp eyes. “Just go back to sleep till I’m done.”

He didn’t seem convinced, but he walked around to the front of the couch and sat down. “Did you really go shopping on your way here?” Katsuki waved him off and began chopping the vegetables for the soup base. “Kat, you don’t have to- I can just order something. It’s not a big deal. You shouldn’t waste your time here- and exams are coming up right? Don’t you want to study? I can’t risk you getting sick when-”

Eijirou.” He looked up again, voice short and loud and leaving little room for argument. Eijirou was gripping the back of the couch, slumped over with half his face hidden in the cushion and looking too much like a dejected puppy for Katsuki to keep speaking so sternly. He sighed, softening his tone and slowly chopping again. “Just let me do this.”

“Okay.” Eijirou’s reply was even quieter. Then there was the rustle of fabric and blankets and the next time Katsuki looked up there was nothing to be seen except the occasional shift of the cushions.

When a light snore started up from the other side of the room, Katsuki switched to setting a pot of broth to boil on the stove before he went back to rhythmic chopping.

After a half-hour of prep and the bubbling contents of the pan being dumped into the pot, Katsuki put the lid on and turned the heat down to let it sit and simmer. He wiped his hands off on a rag, tossing it to the counter before wandering from the kitchen.

Wood floor cold under his socks, the whole place always came off so big and hollow when it was quiet. He went around the couch with hesitancy in his soft steps. Katsuki needed to wake him- he’d feel better after the steam cleared his head and the sweat was rinsed away- but that presented itself to be harder than he thought it would be once he came face to face with the rare sight of closed eyes and a parted mouth.

Despite Katsuki’s own regimented and dutifully timed sleep schedule, Eijirou almost always managed to go to sleep after him and wake up before him- if he even slept at all that night. It wasn’t healthy in the slightest- and it was probably a big reason as to why he was passed out on the couch with a tissue in his fist before evening fully set in.

Katsuki crouched, hands hanging between spread knees before he pushed one through messy red. The slightest twitch of Eijirou’s nose was the only response he got so he ran through the thick hair again, less tentative with every pet. Eijirou looked younger like that- soft lines and deep slumber. If the couch was big enough, Katsuki would’ve curled up with him- but he was being left on the outside with only his thoughts and the whispers of sentiments he didn’t care to address.

Ever the heavy sleeper, it took a slight tug to Eijirou’s hair and a tap on the cheek to stir him. His eyes opened slowly, staying low and holding a bleary tint of exhaustion and irritated puffiness.

“Soup s’done?” He slurred in a hopeful, dazed way that made Katsuki break into a smile.

“‘fraid not.” Katsuki brushed his hair down and watched a slight pout with amusement. “Will be after you bathe.”

Eyes slipping close, Eijirou wiggled down under the blanket. “Too tired. I’ll pass.”

“Wasn’t a fuckin’ question.” With that, Katsuki stood and gripped the blanket to jerk it away. It went fluttering onto the coffee table as a whine started from the couch. “Up, big guy. I can’t lift you, but I bet you have a headache and we both know how loud I can yell.”

Curled around himself, Eijirou frowned. “Don’t.”

“Get up.”

“No.”

All it took was a deep breath in through his mouth for Eijirou to startle and stand up. He swayed with how quick it was- one hand moving to hold his head while the other wrapped over his stomach.

“Come on,” Katsuki tried to make his voice soothing despite how his normal rasp never quite allowed for that.

He led with a hand on Eijirou’s back all the way into the bathroom. With the faucet on and the water gushing over his hand, Katsuki didn’t notice the sound of sweats hitting the floor until a sticky body was curled over his back.

Keeping his hand under the heating water, Katsuki tried to shrug him off and swat at the space behind him “Oi, you’re gross- get offa me.”

“Made me get up.” Eijirou grumbled into the top of his head.

“You wanna be smellin’ like shit?” Hot enough, Katsuki leaned forward and pulled the stopper up to let the tub fill.

“Didn’t matter,” He slunk away and rummaged in the closet behind them. “It was just me here.”

“The steam will clear your head.”

Eijirou simply hummed as he reached into the tub and squirted something from a dark bottle. As soon as the shiny liquid hit the water, bubbles pillowed along the surface until they clung to the walls of the tub and rose with the water.

“Are you a child?” Eyes on the soapy water, Katsuki wiped his wet hand down his hoodie.

“I like them. And it smells nice.” He climbed into the tub with a smile that melted into a sigh as he was engulfed by bubbles.

Katsuki unfolded the washcloth on the counter and dropped it into the water. When Eijirou reached for it, he let out a sharp click of his tongue and knelt beside the tub.

“Relax.” He huffed and dunked his hand into the water with a squeeze of the cloth.

“Easy to do when you talk so sweetly to me.”

He met Eijirou’s curved mouth with a glare and a flick of water. Hand to his shoulder, Katsuki pushed him further into the water and started wiping over his chest.

“I’m tryin’ t’be fucking nice and you’re just-”

“I appreciate it.” Katsuki tucked his chin in and rubbed over one shoulder then the other. “You didn’t have to do any of this.”

“I know.” It was still too harsh for the moment, but Eijirou simply smiled more and let his eyes shut.

Not being watched made it all easier. The softness with which he swiped over sweaty skin, the way he wanted to voice the ache in his chest into words that actually got how he felt across for once, the concentration in his stare as he memorized every line and faint freckle along Eijirou’s skin for the hundredth time- all made easier when he wasn’t being watched.

He couldn’t count the slow minutes that trickled by. They didn’t matter when he finally had some peace in the midst of a hellish week.

It wouldn’t have been Eijirou’s style if he hadn’t ruined it as soon as the thought passed across Katsuki’s mind.

Breaking through the soft plunking of water dripping with every dunk and wring, Eijirou’s deep voice rattled him from the inside out.  “You were wrong.”

Katsuki’s hand hesitated in the next slide, only disturbed into moving again once Eijirou opened his eyes to look. Katsuki continued the swipe down his cheek, shrugging for his own passive comfort.

“I do so much, I don’t know-”

“Katsuki,”

Someone shouldn’t be able to stop him with just his name. His mother had lost that power when he was five and he hadn’t let anyone have it since.

But he was kneeling, hand stuck in its push over Eijirou’s forehead and eyes trapped on the water trickling down the veins of his wrist.

“I’m too tired for that.”

Katsuki felt his mouth twitch down as he ran the cloth over Eijirou’s cheek and neck. “Then let’s not do it right fucking now.”

“I don’t see a better time.” Eijirou shifted out of the water a bit to sit up. “And I’m sick of letting it bother me all the time.”

With a twist of displeasure, Katsuki laid the washcloth over the side of the tub and skirted his gaze away. “You sure you wanna fight while you’re naked?”

“It’s going to be a fight?”

“Isn’t it?”

A wet hand landed on his arm and he pulled away with a grimace.

“C’mon, babe-” Katsuki would have snapped if the words hadn’t been filled with a fondness that terrified his less and less each time he heard it. “Not every disagreement has to be a fight. I said talk and I meant that.” This time when the wetness of Eijirou’s fingers met the bottom of his chin, Katsuki didn’t jerk away. “Can you handle that?”

“‘Course I can.” He muttered back.

Hand gone, rippling water startled him. “Would you like to join me?”

He leaned away fast, face squishing up. “Hah?”

Eijirou shrugged as he pushed wet hair from his face. “I just thought it’d be easier if you didn’t have to look at me.” He sat up even more, opening his legs and bending them until his knees came above the bubbles. “You usually don’t like to when you’re frustrated.”

Being on the receiving end of Eijirou’s wide, expectant eyes never left Katsuki with many options. And now, with those bright circles tainted and laced with fatigue, he gave in without so much as a disgruntled huff.

Eijirou watched him as his clothes dropped to the floor bit by bit. There wasn’t any of the usual lust and wanting behind his stare- it was merely waiting and comfortable as Katsuki let everything fall before he stepped into the tub.

Warm water up to his knees, he turned and slunk down. He was fully prepared to hunch over and hide his exposed self but was abruptly disrupted by Eijirou’s arms curling around his stomach and sliding him across the porcelain floor. Water sloshed, rising high against the lip and only settling once they were still with his back pressed into Eijirou’s chest.

“I don’t like baths.” He decided to grouse despite the relief lapping at his skin.

Head down, lips to his shoulder, Eijirou hummed and mumbled in response, “Of course you don’t, kitten.”

“You should’ve told me.” Were his next words, spat in a hurry at the water and bouncing off his knees as he drug them up to his chest. If Eijirou could abruptly ruin their evening- so could he.

Fingers tumbled back and forth over his ribs, the movement just enough to make the water tremble. “What exactly should I have known to tell you? I wasn’t aware of your relationship with my-”

Bullshit-

Eijirou tensed behind him before squeezing and petting at his skin beneath the water. He never handled being called out well and Katsuki hated it every time. It made him feel harsh and cold.

It wasn’t the time to give in or give up. They needed to do this and enveloped in heat and breathing in steam that made thoughts and words looser seemed like the best way of easing into the strain.

“I didn’t realize it then, but that’s why you got so weird when Sho was in my apartment.”

“Well, of course I recognized him, but-”

“You don’t think he shit talks his father on a daily fucking basis? And how about when I asked you if you were okay? You could have explained it then.”

“But your friends-”

“I had to find out from fucking peppermint patty and I looked so stupid. I mean, shit Ei, you’re my-” He stopped right there, the rest of the words disintegrating into nothing but a shaky breath and teeth digging into his tongue till he tasted blood.

“I’m your what?” Eijirou asked so infuriatingly calm against his shoulder.

Katsuki’s thoughts were loud, aggressive, humiliating, and he couldn’t handle any of them.

The shake of his head meant to run them off ended up knocking his jaw into a temple, but Eijirou didn’t move- never moved more than an arm’s length away no matter where they were- god, did Katsuki used to hate that smothering, looming presence. When was the last time he noticed it and felt irritated? When had it become a pillar in the place of a shadow?

But Katsuki shook- refused to let himself admit anything he wasn’t sure of. Eijirou wouldn’t push him, not yet.

He doubled down.

“You should’ve told me. And you never should have invited me to that fucking dinner.”

“I told you I didn’t know he’d be there.”

Head shaking again, this time he wanted it to jostle them. “Doesn’t matter. It still had all those people that you did know would be there. Calls for a bit of a heads up, yeah?”

“I realize that now, but that isn’t an excuse for your behavior.”

The sickening gnash of his teeth comforted him. “Why did you take me? They didn’t want me there any more than I wanted to be there. Their fucking pompous stares- people like that make me damn sick. And to watch you act like it’s normal and pleasant, I just couldn’t fucking-”

A sigh met his shoulder as he was hugged tighter. “I didn’t-” Head picked up, Eijirou dropped it back down to Katsuki’s shoulder with a dull thud through his whole body every time it fell. “I don’t know how to do this-”

“Try.” It was unfair of him to be speaking so short, but neither of them were all that right and this couldn’t go on forever. It would eat them alive.

“I don’t want you to think I’m hiding things from you. And I don’t want you to think I’m hiding you from other people. I don’t bring up what I do because people either don’t want to hear about success or they don’t want to hear me complain about how much I hate my job when I-” Huffing, wet hair scratched against Katsuki’s neck as his head shook.

“I know I’ve gotten a lot of good things from where I am in life, but that doesn’t mean I’ve enjoyed it. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I was young and broke and it looked like a fucking amazing opportunity- especially having next to nothing all my life. I know they’re assholes and I hate those stuffy dinners. It was wrong to not tell you but I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I had you there- and I wanted to show you so you’d stop thinking I don’t want anyone to know.”

The hold around Katsuki’s stomach was near painful and he could feel the ghost of Eijirou’s brow knitting against his skin. Katsuki pulled air in, staring wider at the soapy water with every word. “I never want you to feel like I don’t want you and I’m not proud of who you are. I want you to know everything about me, you stupid kid. But I don’t want you to freak out so I hold shit back and then it’s too much and I end up seeming like I just don’t care-”

“Hey,”

His interruption was soft and ineffective. One word was all he could manage while his muscles were locked with stunned regret. Hold tight against his sides, he could just barely feel each finger in his ribs as he breathed.

“It happens every time- I’m sorry- I should know better- I’ll do better- just don’t-” His inhale was weak and broke halfway through, “-you can’t give up on me yet-”

At that, Katsuki’s nerve were lit and he was wrenching to twist in Eijirou’s hold. The bare tremble of those words, the past hurt lurking somewhere beneath them was a twisting knife and it made him sick.

The water thrashed with him until he was on his knees and it was dripping from his arms and hands bringing Eijirou’s face up. “Since when do I give up on fucking anything?” The deep frown looking back at him made him angry. He caused that. All for nothing. All because he didn’t know how to control himself. “And I should be saying all that to you. Why would I-” He stroked the tired lines of Eijirou’s face. “I’m a fuckin’ mess and I’m mean and I don’t think before I yell. Half the time I don’t even really mean any of it.” One hand left to push wet bangs from Eijirou’s face. “And you’re none of that- why- Why would I ever be stupid enough to give up on you? I was mad- but it’s not like you killed my fuckin’ cat or-”

Finally, Eijirou clicked into a small smile and the glimmer in his eyes started up. “I thought it was Hitoshi’s cat?”

“Fuck you, not now.” He chided unsuccessfully.

“Would you be happy if I got a cat?”

“Not what I was saying.”

“Well I didn’t think to talk about cats at all but,”

Katsuki wanted to knock him upside the head, but Eijirou had his lazy grin going and he was so happy to see it, all he could do was pinch at his cheek.

Eijirou’s touch ran over his back, skin cooling in the air until he shivered. “You’re so young, Kat.” His grin fell softer, a melancholy thoughtfulness. “Why do you wanna waste this on me?”

Waste-

Katsuki’s hands moved away and back fast. “Listen to me-” They clapped Eijirou’s cheeks and brought his face near. Waste- He felt blind anger. “I ain’t sayin’ this shit again any time soon.” Eijirou’s eyes were wider, his hands having stopped and Katsuki’s fingers pushing into his skin. “There is a very small handful of people I can tolerate. Congratulations, you made the fucking cut. And I don’t know what weird, twisted view you have of yourself, but I’m the difficult one here. I recognize it takes more patience than it should to be with me and I’m fucking working on it, but I’m not gonna sit by and let you think you’re not good for me and that this isn’t what I want.”

Eijirou’s thoughts were whirring. Katsuki could always see it in the way his brows would twitch but never fully crease. His mouth opened, tried to catch and voice at least one of those thoughts, but it slipped right back down his throat and he was left floundering with air on his tongue. Katsuki took pity on him for once and filled the gap in coherency with a close-mouthed but firm kiss. He felt it in his chest this time- a pooling warmth of nothing but affection and budding clarity. It wasn’t long, but Eijirou didn’t let him go far. With arms winding around Katsuki’s back, Eijirou kept him against his chest and brought his own knees up further to cage him in safely.

Being naked hadn’t been much of a thought until he was thankful for the bare thrum of a heartbeat in his ear, unhindered by fabric. It echoed against the walls of the tub and settled deep in his bones. Wet fingers slipped lazily over Eijirou’s chest until his eyes closed and Katsuki was gifted the sight of his face free of tension.

Eased and open, Katsuki spoke quietly. “Ochako said you’ve tried to quit your job a few times.”

“Tried being the key word.”

“And why haven’t you?”

“I’m sure she told you that too.”

Small nod, he watched Eijirou open his eyes to the wall across from them.

“Rather hear it from you.”

“I tried to quit my job a few times.”

Katsuki was already twisting a vulnerable nipple before he finished- he knew by the tone alone Eijirou was being difficult to annoy him.

“Speak up.” He grumbled, soothing his fingers over the bud after Eijirou winced.

“I was-” Barely pinching again and Eijirou was rubbing hands over Katsuki’s back quickly. “Okay, okay-” He sighed when Katsuki’s hand dipped into the water and left him alone. “I tried and every time it was the same thing. Different words maybe, a new threat, but it was always a very clear no. I know it’d be a lot worse if I still did it. And I could do it. But that’d be that. There’d be nothing for me here to do so then I’d need to move and rework my entire life and figure out something else I’m good at- and once I start considering everything that will fall apart after, I get too stressed. It’s easier to put up with it than uproot my entire life just because of one asshole.”

“Just one asshole-” Katsuki repeated with a sneer. He was more than just an asshole. There were plenty of vile words that flashed through his head, each of them worse than the last. It wouldn’t matter- wouldn’t help to voice any of them. He didn’t need to change anyone’s mind about it. “And Sho-?”

Eijirou shifted, holding him close to keep them together. “He’s waiting for him to give up and take over.”

“He won’t.”

“I know.” A wet hand found blond and started petting at the spikes at the base of his neck that always refused to lay down. “But until that’s accepted, I’m being held as a replacement. I don’t like it, but it’s where I’ve been put.”

Frowning into the bone of his collar, Katsuki gave a slight shudder at the chilling water. “You don’t deserve that.”

“That’s what I like to think.” A deep sigh followed which ended abruptly with a quick inhale. “Say, what all happened between them?”

Katsuki carded through his words and possible ways to breach the subject, but none of them felt right. It wasn’t his story to tell and it’d end up being biased and dampening for the entire mood. So he shook his head just a bit, “Too much for me to explain.” Eijirou hummed. It was enough for him but something itched in Katsuki to finish. “Some of us aren’t so lucky when it comes to who our parents choose to be.”

With a subtle slide forward, they dipped into the water a bit more and Eijirou slid until he could press his cheek to the top of Katsuki’s head. “You can tell me that story too someday.”

“Someday.” Katsuki echoed, not entirely sure if he’d ever be able to get through it out loud. But he knew even if he couldn’t, it wouldn’t matter. He’d never be forced to say anything. Or do anything. Or be anything. He was taken just as he was-

Such a bizarre feeling.

Katsuki grunted to push that away with a heavy breath out. “I’m not going to anything else to do with those people.” Eijirou hummed into his hair, nodding against the top of his head. “You’ll have to suffer work shit without me. I don’t care what they think, but I’m not putting myself through that again.”

Eijirou probably caught the lie right as it slipped out his mouth- of course he cared- but it wasn’t worth bringing up.

Instead, Eijirou moved and his arms left Katsuki to shiver. “Help me wash my hair.”

The butt of a bottle tapped between Katsuki’s shoulders so he reached over his back to grab at it. Eijirou slid under the water as he scooted back and popped the cap open. The shampoo came out a glistening, pinky red that inched over his palm. Despite the water cooling quickly around them, he couldn’t stand to try and leave. Neither of them bothered to turn the faucet back on as he sloshed around to get up and scratch the shampoo into dark roots.

You should dye it soon- he thought without it ever leaving his mouth.

Are you still upset with me-

Why red-

Are we good now-

Is dyeing it annoying-

Just how much do you care about me-

His mouth stayed locked tight, the pressure in his jaw only releasing once Eijirou started humming a song quietly. The low sounds eased him- willed his fingers to relax and lather the suds through Eijirou’s hair all the way to the tips laying against his chest. Always so long.

Katsuki’s mother had always loved his hair. Pushing sharp nails through it and scratching his head to calm him down when she still felt like he was worth her time.

Mina buzzed his head the day after he left home and he never let the sides get longer than a soft fuzz now.

“I should be more selfish.” Eijirou declared with closed eyes as if it was some profound epiphany. “Having someone take care of me is nice.”

“I don’t usually take care of you?” Katsuki muttered as he worked through a tangle. “I cook for you all the fucking time. Your kitchen was an untouched wasteland before me.”

“It’s different. You cook for yourself because you don’t want me to buy you food. I just happen to get some.”

“Who says I’m not doing this for myself too?” His thoughtless remark came across offhanded despite it being anything but.

He was frowning at the knot of wet hair in his fingers and when Eijirou caught his chin and made him look up, he only deepened his scowl. Eijirou’s open mouth was a frightening sight. Eyes soft, his lips pulled up to a smile once he decided not to say what had been waiting there. Whatever it had been wasn’t something that needed to come out in a cold bathtub when all Katsuki could do was internally hiss expletives at the twisting, wiry knot in his hand.

He dropped the hair when Eijirou stroked his jaw. His lips had parted just slightly and it was setting off the short fuse of a flight reflex that thrived in the silence of unspoken sentiments.

“C’mon.” Katsuki scooted away with a skid of feet that could have easily kicked in many wrong places. He left Eijirou’s hand to plunk back into the water and cover up a knowing, barely-there sigh of disappointment. “If we get too cold you’ll get sicker.” He stood without a glance down. He’d fought the urge to run long enough and now it was too distracting. “Rinse your hair and get out.” One foot out, then the other, he dripped across shiny tiles in search of a towel. “I’ll go check on the soup.”

He left the bathroom without looking back, got dressed without looking back, served their food without ever letting himself consider what might have fallen from those lips.

Their conversation during the meal was light but familiar. Catching each other up on what was going on turned to Katsuki devolving into a ten minute rant on the specifics of his final project that just wouldn’t come together. All of which he knew Eijirou wouldn’t understand, but he was watching him and listening and asking questions like he cared.

Because he cared- Katsuki still had to actively remind himself. He cared. He wanted to know everything. It shouldn’t be that hard to believe.

Once they were done, the anger and frustration had drained from him almost entirely. But then he was left with the hollowness that always took its place. The desire to surround himself with a heavy blanket and sleep until his thoughts were clear. Normally that would take place in Eijirou’s bed wrapped up together, but this time he felt a pull towards the door. Eijirou was sick and probably wanted to be left alone without having to continue working through the maze of Katsuki’s needy, touch-hungry but clawed and bared-teeth nature.

While Eijirou was stacking things in the dishwasher, Katsuki drifted towards where his backpack was on the counter. He started stuffing things in, sliding it quietly off the marble to make his way toward the door. Eijirou caught him before he even got his hands on his boots.

“You’re leaving?”

Katsuki stopped, turned- he gave a grunt and a small nod as his eyes trailed away.

“And I’ll see you soon?”

“Why wouldn’t you-” He stood, hand losing its grip on the strap of his backpack after coming face to face with a subtle frown. The strap hitting his foot made him flinch into speaking. “I just- I should probably head back and study.”

A nod. A scratch of the neck. “Of course.”

Eijirou took his steps slowly. He crossed the distance with hesitancy in his movement like he didn’t know every inch eaten up pulled Katsuki closer to running forward. He didn’t fight as he was swallowed by thick arms and dragged into Eijirou’s chest with a hug that made him ache more than usual. Sometimes he stood lifeless until Eijirou got his fill- other times he hugged back briefly before ducking away and carrying on. Rarely were his hands twisting in the fabric draped over a wide back.

“Kat,” That rarity caused surprise and concern. Eijirou pulled them apart with hands on Katsuki’s shoulders. But with one look to the twitch of Katsuki’s brows and the tension in his jaw, Eijirou was taking him by the cheeks and shattering his guard without even fucking asking first- “You know you can stay if you want. It’s okay.” Katsuki had a firm stare into the center of his chest. Humiliated by the mere insinuation that he wanted that- worse, needed that- he couldn’t look at sympathetic eyes without the risk of biting. “Hey,” Fingers tapped his cheek and forced him to look up. He never had a choice. Plenty of places to run, but his feet didn’t want to move. He could go if he truly needed to- but hiding had never been an option. “Will you stay? I want you to.”

He shrugged and Eijirou leaned in, “Please.” He said it so easily before pressing his lips to Katsuki’s forehead. “We can watch a movie.” At that, Katsuki could manage a nod. It was enough to get Eijirou to leave him be and back up.  “I’ll probably fall asleep soon anyway, so you can study then.”

He threw in a laugh as he walked, it wasn’t real, but it was meant to diffuse whatever strain had manifested itself in Katsuki’s chest so he didn’t try very hard to call him out.

Switching the tv on, Eijirou looked over the couch at him. “Aliens or romcom?”

He was stiff in the entryway, fingers twitching to try and start some movement but failing still. “You got Godzilla?”

A sudden smile split across Eijirou’s face and he waved him over. “I’m sure I can find it.”

Only once he turned back to start rooting around could Katsuki give a nod to the back of his head and drag his backpack away from the door. It fell to the floor in front of the couch before Katsuki flopped himself onto the cushion. Eijirou pressed into him knee to shoulder without a second thought. A blanket was thrown over their laps. The press of a button had the lights flicking off. They were fully settled in by the time the movie started and hunkered down into the warmth.

But it wasn’t even twenty minutes before the thud of Eijirou’s head hit his shoulder. It startled Katsuki into looking down and getting a faceful of red. The faint scent of coconut and rose from the shampoo calmed him. He didn’t need to be as gentle as he was brushing the barely damp hair from Eijirou’s face- he wouldn’t wake, but Katsuki couldn’t will his touch to be any less cautious. Eijirou looked less pale than when he’d arrived- there was no telling what he’d eaten- or hadn’t eaten.

He didn’t need to come? Of course he did. Fuck him, he wanted to. Eijirou was just too nice and thoughtful for his own good.

Katsuki wanted to be there, but should he be- There were plenty of things he could have been doing- studying being the biggest nag- His backpack was still glaring at him from the floor- He really should-

But once Katsuki shifted to pull out a notebook, Eijirou huffed in his sleep, cheek rubbing slowly against his shoulder. It was childlike- endearing- beckoning Katsuki to brush knuckles across his other cheek and watch his face twitch then relax.

Studying could wait.

He wouldn’t move.

This was something he needed to enjoy.

The swell in his chest screamed to be recognized. This wasn’t nothing- this wasn’t just momentary comfort. But he was nothing but a scared little kid. He couldn’t handle that realization alone. He should talk about it- needed to- astoundingly wanted to- but it could wait. For now he just existed in the calm. The pleasant, terrifying ache quieted down soon enough and he resided himself to watching the rest of the movie until his eyes closed right where they sat.

When he woke, the morning light called to him from across the room. Soft sheets tucked to his chin, he was hit with the immediate need to scold Eijirou for carrying him to bed in his condition. But then the smell of a sizzling breakfast called to him and the infatuation swept through all over again.

 

In the end, Katsuki got sick.

But when Eijirou showed up at his apartment with a kiss to his cheek and a takeout bowl filled with the best soup he’d ever tasted in his life, Katsuki didn’t mind his stuffy nose and scratchy throat all that much.

Chapter Text

Things were good.

Things could have been better.

“I think you should go home for your break.”

It came out of nowhere.

And that’s all it took to start the fire.

Laying with skin pressed together from shoulder to ankle under the blanket of Katsuki’s too small bed, he began to burn. Heartbeat a strike of slate against his ribcage. Every sharp inhale feeding the flame, coaxing it to grow, consume him, peel the skin back and reveal the vile slop beneath-

“Kat,” Eijirou tried again.

No.”

Katsuki moved, scrambling to get out the bed and find a shirt.

“When else is a good time? The holiday-”

“Fuck the holiday.”

He tried twice- three times- to get his head through the right hole of the t-shirt. What was happening? It’d been a good night- a great night if he cared to think that far. Finals were starting next week but he’d found time for Eijirou to wiggle his way in and it was nice. Good dinner, a break from studying, the pleasant ache of lazy sex still working its way out of his muscles alongside the sound of rain and sleepy kisses and soft words only let out when the moon was still up. And now what? The back of his neck was hot, his temples were numbing. Eijirou was giving him that disappointed look he got when Katsuki was being irrational and childish.

Was he though? He felt pretty fucking justified. Eijirou didn’t know- he couldn’t understand- he-

“It’s been eating at you for- c’mon years, baby, I know it has.” Eijirou had sat up, leaned over the side of the bed and found a sweatshirt wadded upon the floor. He pulled it on- too short for him and a bit tight in the shoulders- “You’re just going to keep ignoring it?”

“Not ignoring- Just not doing anything I don’t have to-”

“Of course you don’t have to. I’m not going to force you, but-”

“Then, no.”

Eijirou stood from the bed and reached out even though he knew Katsuki would recoil.

And he did.

At least Eijirou didn’t look saddened by it.

“I’ll go with you.”

“Like that’d help.” He spat, arm curling over his stomach as he backed up. It would. But he wasn’t going and he wasn’t giving in. “Where the fuck is this coming from?”

“It’s not exactly a surprise, is it?” Eijirou’s hand smacked against his thigh as it fell. Not a surprise? Like he’d respond this way if it were anything but. “You’ve been avoiding the topic every time I ask.”

“Then stop asking.”

“Kat-”

“Haven’t I said no enough fucking times?” He fumbled behind himself to find the doorknob and shove the door open. Cooler air rushing in, he backed up, turned quickly.

The apartment was still but the light over the stove and the lamp in the corner of the living room were enough to shroud the small unit in a glow of yellow. Katsuki fled toward the kitchen with heavy steps right behind him. His head was in the fridge before he knew what he was doing, but then his hand found a water bottle and he wrenched it out.

“It was only a suggestion.”

Katsuki let the door slam, fingers crinkling plastic. “A suggestion that if I don’t agree to will make it seem like I’m running away.”

“What is it then?” One shoot of a glare towards Eijirou’s tired eyes proved he hadn’t meant that. It was provocation and- fuck him- it was working. “If not running away?”

The bottle was discarded with a toss toward the counter without even being opened. It clattered against the toaster before rolling to the floor as Katsuki turned his body with a snap of teeth. “Look- just ‘cause you’re too ass deep in bullshit work to wanna make time to go home to your mommies doesn’t mean I have to somehow make up for it.”

“Don’t do that.” Unhurt, just frustrated, Eijirou frowned at him. “Don’t try to be mean so I’ll get upset and leave you alone.”

“Don’t try to incite me toward agreeing with you.”

All bark- Eijirou stepped forward and the movement flowed into Katsuki backing up against the counter. No bite- A handle dug into his spine, a claustrophobic weight of nothing at all pushing on his chest.

Eijirou took another step, his height was a horrible advantage. The shadow covered Katsuki’s frame, disillusioned eyes making him bristle. “You need to go for your own sake. You gotta deal with your shit and I’m not someone’s who gonna back down from pushing you.”

“Yeah?” Back curved enough to have his head pushing into the cabinets, Katsuki tilted his chin up as much as he could. “So if this is about me, then why the fuck do you want to be there so bad?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Gonna get some righteous feeling outta this? Big strong man forcing help onto the lost little boy because he can’t figure his own shit out.”

Eijirou’s hands came forward to grip the counter and cage him in. Any other time and the heat crawling across Katsuki’s skin would most likely turn into a bruising kiss. But now, this was fueled by ire and defensiveness and he would rather his teeth tear through his bottom lip than be touched. “I don’t wanna be anywhere that’s caused you to bury and repress so much because you’re too afraid to deal with it. I can be there because I figured you’d want the company.”

“You guessed wrong.”

“I don’t believe that.”

Katsuki pushed forward, trying to check Eijirou hard enough with a shoulder to get him to back off but he only leaned into it and kept Katsuki trapped against the unforgiving linoleum counter.

“Mina would be there. So even if I went- which I’m not- you can fuck off and not stick yourself where you have no business being.”

“If she’s all you need, fine. I’ll fuck off.” Eyes narrow, brows in and slanted, Eijirou’s stare was unrelenting.  “But you should go.”

He should.

And maybe if that had been the end of it, Katsuki might have eventually agreed and left all by himself. Maybe if Eijirou had kept going it would have reached the rational part of his brain and he would have gone along with it without the aftermath caused by a bush of pink emerging from over the couch. He was unlucky, and an entertained lilt lit Katsuki’s temper all over again.

“Yeah, I dunno Baku- I think he should probably be with you. Your mom never seemed to like me all that much and he-”

The surprise of Mina’s voice took Eijirou off-guard enough that Katsuki could shove him a half-step back and wind around him to stumble toward the other side of the kitchen. Hands on the lip of the sink, he leaned over and spit a horrible slew towards the couch. “What the fuck are you doing here? Having fun listening to shit that is entirely not your business?” She shrunk down a little but her eyes rolled. “No, wait, I’m really curious- when exactly was the tipping point where you decided that your useless shit of an opinion would mean jackfuck in this conversation?”

“First off,” She straightened back up, going onto her knees to challenge his posture. “I don’t know why you’re mad at me, but from what I heard, it’s not really a conversation when all you’re doing is being a whiny little brat who doesn’t want to listen-”

Her voice went louder as soon as she sensed his refute bubbling behind clenched teeth. “And, shit, I dunno- maybe when you said my name? Look- I’ve been here since-” Her lips pursed, eyeing the ceiling for the briefest moment. “-well, since before you two came stumbling in the door all lip-locked. I was in Shin’s room, but then you know who came over too- so they were in there, and you guys were in there, and I just thought it’d be chill if I crashed on the couch until everybody but me got done fucking and-”

“Hey, no, it’s not fucking chill.” He pried his grip off the sink once his knuckles ached. But fists went to his sides, muscles giving a quiver of comforting rage fizzing from the fear locked inside. “I can’t get a minute of goddamn privacy anymore even in my own fucking apartment and I-!”

“Yo, Shouty,” Katsuki’s words fell into a hiss of air through his teeth as Hitoshi’s head came through the opening crack of his door. “I’m sure this is all very important but Sho and I are actually trying to sleep so-“

The sound that ripped out before any words was a wretched snarl as he pulled his eyes across the room. He locked onto drowsy condescension and bared his teeth. “Why are you all always fucking here?”

Unfazed and used to it, Hitoshi watched the tantrum unfold with little amusement. “Well, I live here and-”

Katsuki shouted over him, “Shut up!” His hand shot out and shook once he saw Mina open her mouth. “No- All of you shut up!”

“Honey we were just-”

He cut Mina off with a single deep breath, a ragged sound filling his mouth, and shake of his head so fast that livid thoughts swirled. This wasn’t the time. She poked and prodded him more than anyone, but she could recognize bare emotion, festering vulnerability, desperate self-preservation.

He stepped to leave but felt another swarming swelter of frenzy rush through his skin as Eijirou caught his wrist.

Jerking it away, he stumbled- he probably looked crazy- probably sounded just as bad- “Do not follow me.” Jaw set, shoulders back, Eijirou looked concerned and wildly regretful. The guilt of that sight took Katsuki’s fury to a simmer like a sudden thunk of ice into the steam. His voice fell, muscles loosened, but he kept his fists tight and his eyes sharp. “Just- fucking- just go home.”

He almost thought Eijirou would listen.

Storming off, slamming his door, he hoped for once everyone would just listen to his childish demands.

The muttering on the other side of the door proved his wishes futile. He could hear Mina’s shrill whisper of concern followed by a low rumbly assurance from Eijirou. That pissed him off even more. Knowing they were talking about him when he wasn’t even fifteen feet away.

He took deep breaths, counted backwards, popped the joints of each finger- everything in an attempt to help him calm down. Their whispering continued and it clawed at the inside of his ears. Just loud enough to hear, just quiet enough that he couldn’t tell what they were saying.

The only thing he could eventually make out was the soft thud of footsteps and the taps against the door that rattled his spine. He hoped it was Mina, he prayed that her whiney voice would come through the wood so he could dismiss her and get this over with.

“Katsuki,” The voice was deep, filled with worry and caution, very much not Mina’s. The knob caught against the lock and the door shifted in the frame. “Will you let me in?” Katsuki shook his head. He didn’t want to, he wanted to be alone, he wanted- “I’m sorry. I overstepped.”

He wanted to be in his bed, warm, content, wrapped up together. Katsuki reached blindly for the lock behind in. He groped for the knob, head back, eyes pressed shut. He didn’t want to be alone.

“You don’t have to do anything, and it wasn’t my place to say that. I only want what’s best for you and-” Eijirou stopped once the lock clicked. The knob turned slow, the door pushing Katsuki forward until he stepped away from it.

Maybe he shouldn’t have.

“I just want you to consider the benefits of it.”

Katsuki turned, eyes opening to something too close to pity. His frustration flared up all at once.

“It’s not going away-”

He wasn’t as strong as Eijirou, but he wasn’t weak by any means. He had enough bulk on his short stature to be able to twist a hand in the front of Eijirou’s sweatshirt and pull hard.

“Kat-” Eijirou began to chide as he stumbled a step forward. But Katsuki used the slip of balance to push him backwards into the ajar door. It slammed again but this time it was joined by Eijirou being shoved against it with a thud hard enough to knock a breath out of him.

“Why?” Katsuki hissed, voice kept low as to not break. “Why are you doing this-” His breath came through his teeth and he lifted his hand away from wrinkled fabric only to punch it back against Eijirou’s chest. “You aren’t supposed to-”

His next inhale was weak but he pushed out huff after huff to keep the words inside.

Wide eyes, mouth parted, hands up in defense, Eijirou was staring down at him like he was on a rampage.

Katsuki landed another thunk of his fist to a solid chest. “Stop lookin’ at me like that.”

“You’re mad-”

“No fucking shit I’m mad!” His hand left to shove roughly through his hair, pulling a little as it went.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah? Good. I want to go back when I decide to go back.”

“You aren’t going to make that decision anytime soon. And letting this build up isn’t ever going to make it easier.”

“It isn’t easy no matter what.” Eijirou took his wrist again. Katsuki pulled at his arm but this time the hold was too tight for a weak attempt to work. “I left for a reason.”

“I know.”

Slowly, his other wrist was reached for. “I haven’t gone back for a reason.”

“I know.” The touch loosened, sliding down to take his hands.

“You don’t get to tell me when the right time is to deal with my own life.”

“Of course not. But I’m not who you need to fight.” Eijirou brushed the back of his hands with slow drags of his thumbs. “Kat, I care about you and I pay attention whether you think I do or not. You get uncomfortable every time your friends talk about going home and I tried to be nice and not bring it up and I even mentioned that you can come stay with me if you didn’t want to be here alone and do you remember what you did?”

Of course he did. He barked the first jab that came to his tongue and then spent the rest of the night huffing and refusing to talk. He didn’t need to hear it back, but his interruption was held in the clench of his jaw as Eijirou moved into his space and loomed over him.

“Do you?” Katsuki glanced away, one shoulder moving to shrug. “Yeah, you snapped at me and told me I’ll be too busy at my bullshit job and you’d rather be alone the whole time than waiting around for some asshole to get back and bother you.”

He hadn’t even kept track of the words. They were hollow and meant to guard him. Unfair, but safe.

“I know you didn’t mean that because it’s that fucking clear this is all about something else, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to hear or any easier to watch you sit and fester over something you won’t even talk about.”

Only getting the click of a tongue as a response, Eijirou pulled on his hands. It wouldn’t draw his eyes back fully, but he flicked them over momentarily until he saw too much of a frown.

“You’re mad for suggesting it because I don’t understand, right? Because I don’t know what you went through? Well, you’ve never told me.” Katsuki’s mouth opened fast, but another jerk of his hands made him shut it just as swiftly. “No, that’s okay- I’m not trying to guilt you into spilling your entire life to me, but this wall you have between you and whatever the hell happened, it’s not just affecting you. I feel it-” Katsuki cut his eyes over to watch Eijirou’s head nod backwards toward the door. “They feel it too. But you can’t lose them and they can’t lose you, so I’m sure they don’t say anything because they don’t want to make you push away. But me?” He moved forward, ignoring the way Katsuki’s shoulders hunched in defense. “Losing you would be a horrible regret, but even if one day I’m not around, at least I could walk away from this knowing I did my best to help you be a happier person.”

There was a stretch of charged silence. He probably expected Katsuki to snap or give in, but when there was only breathing and scowling, he tried again.

It started with a lift of hands to Katsuki’s sides. They smoothed over the wrinkled t-shirt, petting away only the slightest bit of anxious buzzing in the skin beneath. “You need to talk to her,”

Then those hands closed tight around Katsuki’s waist and pulled. He yanked Katsuki close, wrapping arms around his back to smother him against his chest. “Please believe me- It’ll never feel better if you don’t confront it.”

All that came out was a dissenting grunt which prompted a tighter squeeze.

“That’s not believing me.” Katsuki was pushed away by hands on his shoulders that quickly came to his cheeks. “You’re the one that helped me realize it, so trust me-”

“What the fuck does that even mean?” He was pouting. It was meant to be an angry sneer, but with squished cheeks and soft eyes watching him, he knew it was nothing more than a pout. “I didn’t do shit.”

“You did.” It didn’t explain anything. He wanted to fight back- words were hard when his frown was being peppered with kisses. Pulling up, kissing his cheek, Eijirou smiled. “Just listen to me for once.”

Katsuki couldn’t tell precisely when he’d lost. The moment the words crawled into his head and convinced him to go along with everything escaped him.

He wouldn’t move. He wouldn’t kiss back, but he wouldn’t run.

“You’re coming with me.”

Fringe pushed back, lips to Katsuki’s forehead, a deep hum, Eijirou nodded. “Of course I am.”

 

Nine days.

He got nine days to study, take his exams, and pack. There was little room for internal panicking- oh, but he made time.

Eijirou left him alone for most of those days. Whether he was busy or just giving necessary space, Katsuki used every minute not at work or finishing the semester to run through endless scenarios of what could happen. The longer he thought, the worse they became. From apathy to anger- dismissal to violent castigation, he could picture it all etched across his mother’s face.

The morning they planned to leave, he showed up with a full bag to Eijirou frantically scurrying about his room. Nine days of stress and tension rolling beneath his forehead had left Katsuki exhausted. His movements were slower, thoughts trudging. Normally, the feeling of finishing a round of exams would give him an energized confidence, but this time, he couldn’t do much more than sit on Eijirou’s bed as he fumbled his way through packing.

Eijirou’s hurried steps went across the room toward his closet. “How far is it?”

“Like three hours by train.”

“I’ll drive.” He had popped back out with a shoe in each hand. “If you’d like me to.”

“Fine.”

Back into the closet, he emerged again, this time with a sweater slung over his arm. “Will it be colder?”

“Probably.”

“Snow?” He tipped his head but Katsuki only shrugged.

“Maybe.”

With a sharp nod, Eijirou disappeared again. He returned a minute later with a large leather bag stuffed full. “I booked a hotel.”

Katsuki watched absently as Eijirou at beside him and shoved his feet into heavy boots, tugging the laces tight. “Better not be expensive.”

“You’re not really in control of that, are you?”

“Ei, no-”

Shaking his head, Eijirou tapped his heels on the floor and stood. Hands on his hips, he grinned but it was fragile. “The circumstances aren’t ideal, but this is technically a trip and I like to travel comfortably.” Brow up, Katsuki didn’t believe that in the slightest. It came across- Eijirou quickly deflated into a slump and a sigh. “This is going to be hard for you. And I’m nervous too, okay?” Knee to the bed, he reached forward for Katsuki’s face. Fingers caught an upturned chin and shook softly. “Let me do what I can to make it easier. And that includes a nice hotel.”

With a jerk of his head, Katsuki brushed him off. “It’s just a normal town. There’s not even anywhere that fuckin’ nice.”

This time, the grin was genuine. “I know, so you’re fretting for nothing.”

 

But then three hours and a belly full of lunch later, Katsuki found himself in a very similar position. Instead of the plush grey of Eijirou’s duvet, he was perched on the sharp white of a firm hotel bed. Eijirou had been outside on the phone for- Katsuki didn’t know exactly how long- but he was pacing back and forth on the small balcony. Minutes were spent watching the way Eijirou waved around a burning cigarette without ever putting it to his lips. He looked irritated, not too much, but his mouth was moving fast with inaudible words and the wisp of cold air following soon after.

The tv was on, but even once Katsuki’s gaze trailed to it, he didn’t really watch it. He wasn’t even thinking all that much. Everything had melted into the buzz of the heater and the low murmur of the daytime show.

So he stared, counting breaths, only making it to three or four before he lost track and had to start over. Didn’t even make it to two the next time- his exhale left quickly as the glass door slid open.

“Alright,” Eijirou announced into the quiet.

“I don’t want to see her today.”

Eijirou’s voice went immediately soft. “Okay.”

“Tomorrow.”

“Okay.” His steps toward the bed were slow and with them came a lingering smoky smell. “Would you like to sit in the hotel and stare at the wall all day- or do you want to show me around?”

“Where?”

“Anywhere you spent your time.”

He knew where.

 

The place was small, just a handful of rooms tucked between a convenience store and a dry cleaners. Pushing the door in, Katsuki was welcomed by the familiar jingle of a bell and the rush of sterile alcohol and leather. He breathed, held the fumes deep in his lungs before letting them out on a sigh.

This is where you hung out as a kid?” Eijirou was hunched over behind him, comically trying to hide behind his smaller frame.

This being a decade old tattoo shop that felt the most like home in the small town. There was faint buzzing from the back and the distant strumming of an old rock song. Tension bled out of his shoulders, slipping off and leaking into the checkered tiles beneath his feet.

“Not what you were thinking?” He looked over his shoulder to Eijirou shaking his head.

“Well not really, but-”

“Kacchan?”

That voice was just as much a slap of the past as the walls surrounding them.

Having coming down the hall, big doe-eyes stared at the pair from the open doorway.

A couple of years shouldn’t make that much of a difference. A couple of tattoos and noticeable muscle mass shouldn’t have taken someone Katsuki had known his whole life towards someone he could have believed was only a relative of the scrawny kid that bled into every part of his memory.

Hurrying closer, Izuku rolled the small bottle in his hands. “I’m- surprised to see you here- what can I-?”

“Cut the shit.” Hands in his pockets, they balled into fists and twisted at the lining. “I know Pinky told you I was coming. Her mouth’s too big for me to believe otherwise.”

“No- of course- She’s in the back-” Every word felt like a scratch to his eardrum. He was glaring before he knew what else to do, grinding his teeth and hunkering down. “I mean, yeah, she did but-”

Deku- stop fuckin’ floundering.”

Izuku heaved in a breath as he set the vial down next to a chair and pulled his gloves off. “Right, well, I didn’t really believe you’d actually show. And you’re so- And,” His eyes flicked up to the figure clinging to Katsuki’s back. “I’m- just surprised.”

“Have I ever gone against my word?”

“No.” He risked a smile as he started walking over. “You’re exhaustingly reliable.” Hand out, he stuck it beside Katsuki and looked up. Not as much as Katsuki had too- how could he have gotten taller after high school? Shouldn’t he have been done with that- “Izuku- if you were unaware- I know Kacchan thinks he’s too good for the common decency of introductions.”

Hand in hand, a firm shake. “Ah- Eijirou,” There was a forced laugh to fill the surprise in his tone and Katsuki’s lip twitched down. “I’m-”

“Oi Broccoli, don’t think you can insult me when I’m standing right fucking here.”

“Okay,” Izuku pulled his hand back and turned his sweet smile down with it. “I’ll insult you after you leave like I always do. But in the meantime, what brings you here?”

“Didn’t come to shoot the shit with your unbearable ass if that’s what you think.”

“Of course not.” Turning back, he went to retrieve the bottle he’d sat down. “Catching up with your oldest friend would be sign of melancholic weakness after all.”

“Friend?” Eijirou echoed quietly as soon as Izuku was far enough away.

“No.”

Still, Eijirou smiled and he knew. Not the details. He’d never know them all, but there wasn’t malice to Katsuki’s denial and Eijirou laughed softly in his throat.

“Don’t.” Katsuki tacked on quickly as he stepped away.

If he was to be honest with Eijirou- maybe he would be one day- that would mean telling him that Izuku knew him better than anyone.

At least, he had before Katsuki ran without another word. There was plenty they needed to catch up on.

They spoke, some, less than they should, less than they had in years, but a friend turned enemy turned friend again wasn’t something lost to distance or silence. No, it seemed despite Katsuki’s best efforts, the two of them were stuck together.

Eijirou cleared his throat, leaning against the front desk. “So- You seriously going to get something done or are we just here to-?”

“Yeah, I seriously am.”

“Should I?” Riding on a trailing laugh, it was a clear joke, but Eijirou’s voice was just high enough that Katsuki could tell if he said yes, there would be metal in both their faces before they left.

“Not very professional.” Katsuki threw out instead of a full rejection.

“Doesn’t really matter.”

When Katsuki turned, Eijirou had begun to flick through an open booklet of tattoo designs on the high counter.

“Yes, because I’m sure your understanding, compassionate boss would appreciate it if you shoved a hunk of metal in his perfect prodigy image.”

Eijirou barely reacted. His next flip of a page hesitated and his lips pursed slightly, but that was all.

“Just don’t bother anything.” Katsuki muttered as he started off. Halfway to the hall and he threw another few words to the room, “Let him know I’m here, Deku.”

He didn’t wait for an acknowledgment. Katsuki merely made his way to the back and found the first empty room. Just a single chair in the middle, he jumped and assumed his rightful place perched on the edge. Feet kicking idly, he waited until the curtain was pulled back and tired eyes met his. The man stilled if only for a moment before giving a quiet tsk.

Aizawa slunk in, back hunched and immediately turned towards Katsuki. “Well, what a great misfortune this is.”

“I’ve been gravely missed, I’m sure.”

“Ah, of course.” The sharp snap of black gloves as he sat on a stool was familiar and calming. “I’ve cried every day. Have you not seen the shrine we erected in your honor? My life’s biggest freeloader vanished so what else was I to do?” Eyeing Katsuki existing eagerly on the end of the table, Aizawa rolled closer. “How have you been? Hopefully not stirring up as much trouble for other people as you did around here.”

“Can we not do this?” Eyes cut up to him until Katsuki shifted his gaze to the wall. “Fine.”

“School?”

Fine.” A low hum made him frown and continue, “I’m doing well.”

“I can imagine.”

“Then why fucking ask?” Snap loud and uncalled for, he looked down only to find a mocking whisper of a smile. “And you’re supposed to say good job, dick.”

“No, I’m not. Midoriya talks about you more than he means to. I’m only asking to be pleasant. I hoped school and a job would teach you the same manners.”

“Well it didn’t.”

“Yes, clearly you’re the same insufferable kid that you were when you stole my change to buy junk food-” He hit Katsuki with a flat, exasperated stare. “Of course I knew. You and Ashido sneaking around the office and coming back twenty minutes later with an armful of snacks- I’m a bit irritated to realize you thought I was so naive-”

“Never tried to stop us.”

“Suppose it slipped my mind-” He heaved a sigh and leaned back. “Alright kid, what am I doing for you?” Upon the question, Katsuki let his tongue roll from his mouth and his lips curve up. Aizawa’s acknowledging grunt seemed slightly exhausted as he reached to open a drawer and start pulling supplies out. “You’re running out of real estate.”

Katsuki grinned once his eyes landed on the bag with a shiny silver ball rolling around inside. Just the sight of it made his heart thump loudly and the buzz of adrenaline start up. “I’ll have to get creative then.”

Packages ripped open, the tray rolled back over with him. “What brings you back? Can’t be just for this.” Head up, he gave Katsuki a good look. “You’ve done plenty without me around.”

“Need to deal with shit.”

Aizawa only hummed. He knew the few details Mina had let slip- and the few Katsuki had told him on the worst days. It was enough for him to understand that Katsuki’s homelife- or lack thereof- hadn’t been the nicest. And while Mina’s was fine, there wasn’t ever a fight to keep them from coming around the shop. Evenings, weekends, they trailed in and lingered near whatever piece was being worked on. Most customers didn’t mind- most of the people working entertained their questions and opinions until they were politely shooed off or had swiped enough money to buy themselves dinner.

The two had spent years there- Izuku joining in toward the end of highschool when he and Katsuki had finally patched everything up for good. He had never expected Izuku to stick around or get a job there- Katsuki didn’t even know the dick was any good at this sort of thing.

“-hey, listen to me and open up.” Aizawa spoke loud with a knock of knuckles to Katsuki’s knee.

Katsuki’s mouth opened and soon enough there was a clamp around his tongue and a needle glinting before his eyes. He knew this part well. Breathe in- pinpoint to flesh, the thud of his heart. Breathe out- poke through, pain, warmth, blood- it was addicting. Over so fast and always leaving him wanting more. To feel something, to sting in a wonderful way if only for a second.

It stopped hurting- really hurting years ago. Considering the first one when he was thirteen involved Mina shoving a needle heated with a match through his ear followed by a cheap stud they’d swiped from the shop, anything after that couldn’t even compare pain-wise. But that stupid idea and every prick and stab following it fueled his longing for more. The first few had been limited to his ears. Back when his hair was longer, that was the only way to get by without too much hell from his mother. But once he left, shaved his head, stopped caring what anyone thought he should look like- that’s when things really took off. Ten holes- now eleven- later, it still hadn’t lost its thrill.

He’d come to enjoy the slight burn that followed. The warm tingle that radiated from sensitive skin just after it was done. This one was particularly interesting. Still, it didn’t hurt. There was just a subtle ache to his tongue as he tapped the ball softly against the roof of his mouth.

“That one’s on the house. Consider it a welcome home gift-”

It was a thinly veiled show that there was something close to fondness between the two of them but Katsuki let it slide without a rebuttal.

“That sentiment doesn’t go for your friend though. Don’t let Ashido get away with charging him anything other than full price.”

A lost, loud huh-? left Katsuki as Aizawa rolled away.

“Don’t you-”

But Katsuki was already moving. Halfway down the hall, he heard Eijirou’s rich laugh and it made him very quickly toward a room. When he pushed through the wall of beads in the doorway, he first caught sight of his passive scowl in the full-length mirror before trailing to the subtle flexing and relaxing of Eijirou’s bare back.

“What’s going on?”

Shoulders jumped at Katsuki’s voice before Eijirou turned half-way around and grinned. “There you are!” He turned all the way then, hands on his hips and chest puffed out. “Mina convinced me I should get something too- a piercing seems a bit too much for me-” He laughed again and turned back around to the mirror. “But if I have a shirt on, no one can see this and I… I think I really like it. You never told me she was so talented.”

“She’s alright.” Katsuki found it in himself to grumble as he walked closer. Too short to peer over his shoulder, he loomed around Eijirou’s side and stared at the deep purple ink of a stencil stark against his shaved chest. “S’big. You really think you can handle that for a first time?”

“What do you know?” But he laughed and smiled at his reflection. “You don’t even have one.”

“Got a handfulla metal in my face- I think I know pain.”

“But it’ll look good, yeah?”

His normal response to anyone asking that question would’ve been nothing more than a shrug of indifference or a noncommittal gruff, but Eijirou yearned for his approval for some baffling reason. He could tell from the way his eyes kept darting from the outline to Katsuki’s face beside him. Katsuki couldn’t disappoint him when the puppy eyes came out- big and round and far too innocent for his age.

The piece was simple. Big, but humble and somehow delicate. A striped snake slithering from his shoulder, down his collar, and wrapping around the swell of a pec. On either side was a smattering of flowers- sunflowers from the shape and stalk and broad leaves- it was a lot but it felt right and-

“Yeah,” Katsuki let out quietly, touch brushing up Eijirou’s arm. He scanned over his skin and pushed the ball of his piercing into his teeth till his tongue stung. “It’ll look good.”

“I’m gonna have to keep my chest shaved just to see it, aren’t I?”

“Pity.” Katsuki commented idly as he let his head drop to a shoulder and the light drag of his fingers go to the workings of a toned stomach.

Mina pushed in abruptly, wild sneer catching Katsuki’s attention in the mirror and forcing him to take a step away. “Not bad, huh? I’ve been practicing.” She smacked the reclined table, leather cracking with her glove. “Alright, who’s ready to get ink repeatedly stabbed into their skin?”

Eijirou’s laugh was nervous. A little shaky on its way out, but still a laugh. He hadn’t even stopped smiling. For Katsuki, the anxious energy just before the pain was the best part- but with Eijirou’s wobbling steps, he wondered it that was a feeling they’d share.

Climbing up on the table and scooting until he was comfortable, Eijirou let out a huff toward the ceiling. “You’re staying, right?”

He wouldn’t look down, but Katsuki nodded anyway. Sitting himself on an extra stool, he rolled to Eijirou’s side and tapped the leather beneath his fingers with a distracting rhythm.

Any calm left once the first buzz of the gun cut through the room. Eijirou flinched and Mina couldn’t stop her laugh.

“You sure you’re ready for this?”

Head cushioned by his unruly mane, Eijirou’s nodding was rushed. “Be better once you start. Promise. The wait’s just killin’ me.”

Guess they wouldn’t share the rush after all. It’d probably come afterwards for Eijirou. Once he could see the product of the pain. Hopefully, he’d love it then. In the meantime, sympathy struck Katsuki too fast for him to suppress the urge of holding the back of Eijirou’s hand in his own. It wasn’t more than a second before Eijirou flipped his hand over and linked their fingers in a tight squeeze.

“You’re okay.” He muttered, trying his hardest to ignore the fact that Mina of all people could hear how soft his tone got.

“Try not to move too much.” She said instead of commenting- but her smile was wry and knowing. “Give me a holler if you need a breather.”

After a stiff nod, the buzz of the gun started up and Eijirou’s hold tightened. It hurt a little, having his fingers squeezed that hard, but he knew the sting of a needle too well to try and pull away and leave Eijirou without something grounding. With the first bit of a line across his chest, Eijirou had his brows drawn up by scrunched eyes and a slow breath leaving pursed lips.

Katsuki tried not to think too hard before brushing his hand through Eijirou’s hair. “You good?”

He could catch Mina’s taunting smirk from the border of his vision, but he fought to ignore it. The push of Eijirou’s head against his hand before a nod and the cut of an eye to his face made his embarrassment bearable. She knew everything- more than he wished she did- it shouldn’t be so hard to do something as simple as touch and talk in front of her. If only she wouldn’t use it against him later. Call him soft and cute just to rile him up.

Fucking bitch-

“Fucking hurts.” Eijirou’s strained voice overlapped Katsuki’s thoughts and drew him back. There was discomfort lining his words, but somehow he was still. Fucking. Smiling. “But kinda- I dunno.” He exhaled long and opened his eyes. “I don’t wanna say nice- it’s not- I’m ready to be done- but it’s not so bad that I actually want to stop.”

“It’ll quit being so irritating in a bit.” Mina was hunched over, staring intently as she erased deep purple with practiced strokes. “You’ll get used to it and then it’ll just kinda tingle. You’re a tough guy- don’t worry.”

Her words seemed to work. Eijirou loosened his grip and with every passing minute, every line dug through his skin, he eased up. Somewhere along the way, maybe an hour in, maybe two, Katsuki had pulled his phone out, scrolling aimlessly while Eijirou rambled on as long as Mina responded.

Eijirou was always good at that- talking without a destination in mind. He easily filled the dead space between conversations and his deep voice became comfortable background noise for Katsuki’s thoughts. He never fully tuned it out, but Mina did a better job at engaging while she worked.

Then- the draw of a sharp gasp, the abrupt stop of constant buzzing, the squeeze of his fingers- it all pulled Katsuki’s attention up. Eijirou had gone back to squinting but his eyes opened wider as Mina ran a cloth over his chest.

“Hurt?” She asked like it wasn’t clear, but Eijirou just nodded calmly and tried to glance down without moving too much. “Maybe I should’ve started with your collar- it’s gonna pinch more than the rest.” She sat back, arms lifting up to bring a crack of her back followed by her fingers. “You want a break?”

“Maybe just a minute.” Eijirou pulled his hand away, unlinking stiff fingers. He didn’t comment, didn’t even react to the sweat from Katsuki’s palm on his own. He never seemed to mind- just wiped his hand down his thigh and carried on. “Can I look?”

“Ain’t all that pretty yet, but sure.” Eijirou’s slide from the table was slow, legs popping, shoulders rolling as he stepped toward the mirror. “I still have a ways to go- you might need to come back tomorrow and it’ll look better once I-”

Oh-” Eijirou sounded in awe. From what Katsuki could see, he was running his fingers just along the edges of red skin. “I think it’s- I mean, I wasn’t doubting you, but- it’s really beautiful so far.”

Katsuki scoffed but still tried to lean to the side and see it. “I told you you’d be fine.” Despite being dismissive and gruff, Katsuki reveled in the laugh he got before every bit of his comfort was shattered by a handful of words and a soft smile.

“Fuck off,” Eijirou started, huffing the rest of his laugh while he stared at his reflection. “You don’t know- It really hurts like a bitch. You’re lucky I love you, Kats.”

The feeling of every bit of warmth leaving his blood would never come without surprise. The sludge that seeped into his lungs at those words- so calm, so off-hand- the vibration settling under his skin and making his vision blur, he should be in control of it by now. It shouldn’t bind him like it used to. Make him shake with some unfurling of panic and disbelief.

Had he said that- Did he mean it like that? Did he even realize-?

Mina was touching him. He knew that. She had reached across the table, took his hand and jiggled it. Her grip barely reached his nerves but he looked down at it anyway.

Love,

He gazed up to the small shake of her head.

Love?

She’d heard it then.

It was real then.

He wasn’t going crazy.

Love, love, love, love,

Eijirou laughed again and it startled Katsuki out of a spiral. He jerked to see Eijirou turning and grinning- beaming just as bright as always. Until he caught sight of what ever horrible look Katsuki had. Until Mina was hurriedly pulling her hand away. Until there was a very obvious and entirely unavoidable tremble to Katsuki’s shoulders.

He really was pathetic.

“Are you okay?” Eijirou’s question was muffled, lost to cotton-filled ears and screaming thoughts.

He was absolutely going crazy.

“Oh shit-”

Ah, had he finally remembered? Did he catch his mistake?

Eijirou’s fingers, horribly delicate, caught Katsuki’s chin and tipped his head back. “How’d you bite your lip that hard? There’s-” He swiped his thumb and suddenly the tang registered.

Warm copper, bitter, belittling, it filled Katsuki’s mouth until he threw curses to cover the taste. He pushed Eijirou’s hand away while his tongue popped out to flash a silvery stud nestled on top before pulling the drip of blood in. “Must’ve moved it too much.”

He hadn’t even noticed how hard he’d been pressing it against his teeth. He’d probably fucked it up- wasted the resources- costed Aizawa money, time, effort- took advantage of someone again- burdened them- sickened them- It wasn’t his fault.

It wasn’t.

He didn’t want this. He’d never wanted any of this. Why couldn’t they all just leave him alone and-

“You pierced your tongue?” Eijirou was still staring at him. Staring, waiting, marveling- Katsuki could only nod- but Eijirou grinned so easily it made him ache, “Damn, you’re so badass, Kat.”

Bile always rose fast.

The warning signs were quiet until acidity clawed at his throat and beckoned release.

“Gotta check it.” Katsuki croaked before pushing his way out of the room and down the hall.

The rough gag was kept only for the comfort of dark bathroom walls. Head hanging over the sink, he slammed the faucet up and choked on nothing at all. Cold water rushed, filled his head with splashes and currents to drown his churning dread.

He was not going to go crazy. Not yet. Not here.

A knock on the door came softly. Nausea poured back in but his clammy hand grappled for the knob anyway. Water smacked off, he opened the rattling wood to a mess of sable waves.

“Izuku said you might need this.”

Izuku

“Who’re-?”

A tube of ointment was brought up between them by small hands and shiny, painted nails.

“Why didn’t he bring it himself?” Despite the snap, Katsuki grabbed it anyway. His eyes caught on the raven sketched into a pale wrist until the arm was gone, hiding again under the loose sleeve of a cardigan.

“Said you wouldn’t take it from him. He finds my demeanor much more inviting.”

Katsuki’s eyes trailed up to the dark feathers etched symmetrically on his collar, up- a thick choker around his neck, leather, tight, up- studs under his lips, ring through his nose, up- sharp eyes, dark enough they felt almost like a void-

Inviting?

Inviting was the furthest thing Katsuki would have suggested. With a dead stare to rival his own, the off-putting air of disinterest was a shroud around the general heaviness of this person’s presence.

Katsuki had never seen him before, never even heard of anyone new working in the shop, but here he was- seeming far more comfortable there than Katsuki did. Katsuki, who had spent more hours under Aizawa’s watch than his actual parent’s. Katsuki, who had never heard another person other than Mina and their mother’s call Deku by his name.

Katsuki, who had never felt more out of place.

General unease and the pull of his souring stomach made his thoughts brittle. He couldn’t follow anyone of them that far. So every question or demand he could have conjured in a better state of mind slipped right through shaky fingers.

To save even the tiniest bit of himself, he fell into a mutter as he twisted the cap open. “Inviting, huh? I can see his shit humor hasn’t improved at all.”

The guy simply shrugged. “I find him funny.” He brushed down his shirt, eyes avoidant not with discomfort but something closer to indifference toward the very space Katsuki inhabited. “He tries hard to make people laugh. It’s cute.”

Cute

“What are you-” Katsuki didn’t know where exactly that was going. Confusion and the last tinge of anxiety were making his head pound- but Aizawa popped out from one of the rooms just in time to cut him off before he could figure it out.

“Tokoyami,” At least Katsuki had a name now. “You wanted to do the next industrial that came in.” Nothing the man ever said sounded much like a question or a choice, but Tokoyami nodded nonetheless and turned without a word.

The both of them slipped into the room, leaving Katsuki without any further acknowledgment or question.

He had blood and spit on his chin and a tube in his hand and humiliation settling heavy on his shoulders.

Was he going crazy?

Chapter Text

After near vomiting in a tiny bathroom and coming close to ripping his tongue open, a loud bar with dead eyes staring back at him was the last place Katsuki wanted to be that night.

If he took into account where he was going the next day, he could probably reason it was the second to last place, but being two beers in already, his reasoning and peace of mind were wearing thin.

The alcohol burned his mouth, maybe he’d get an infection, maybe his tongue would rot off and he wouldn’t be able to talk, and he could go home without ever speaking to anyone in this shit town ever again.

That included the birdbrain giving him a bored look with a thin mouth and eyes void of any detectible emotion other than sheer apathy.

“Can I fucking help you?” Katsuki asked loudly for probably the fourth time since they’d been sitting there.

Finally, Tokoyami turned his gaze down to the disgusting joke of a drink between his hands. “Just like the last time I answered,” He took a long sip of his bloody mary, shrugging off the tension Katsuki was boiling over with. “Not particularly.”

“Then stop staring at me.”

Eyes up fast, one brow raising, he poked at the melting ice with a celery stick. “You’re staring at me.” 

With that, Katsuki turned his head away despite it being too late and entirely too obvious. He huffed, arms crossing over his chest and easily finding the back of Eijirou’s head at the bar. He and Izuku had gone to get another round of beers which left Katsuki alone with Izuku’s ass of boyfriend.

That had been news to Katsuki. Last he knew of, his once-best-friend had little to no interest in ever getting close to a dick that wasn’t his own. And now what? He was involved with some goth reject that had questionably worse social skills than Katsuki did? Before leaving the shop, Izuku swore his tagalong guest was nice and funny and kind- Katsuki hadn’t seen even the slightest hint of any of that. He shouldn’t have assumed any better of shitty Deku. But- he should’ve at least assumed something- they’d only been friends their entire lives- why wouldn’t he have told him- why wouldn’t he even just mention it- Izuku pestered him into talking on the phone at least once a month, he had plenty of time to-

“You didn’t even know I existed, did you?”

Katsuki’s head shot back over at the question. Calm, even-toned, the clinking of ice against glass was irritating.

Had he been talking out loud?

Could the asswipe hear him?

Was he a knock-off witch reading his mind?

“We don’t talk about that shit.” Katsuki replied gruffly.

It was close enough to the truth. They hadn’t. Not like there had been anything to talk about other than Katsuki’s abhorrent excuse for an ex-boyfriend and some girl he had thought Izuku was seeing the year he left town.

“Maybe he didn’t feel like he could.” And with a lift of dark-lined eyes, maybe felt painfully more like definitely. “He’s told me plenty about all of his friends. Kacchan included.”

“Yeah?” Slumping into his seat, Katsuki spread his legs wide under the table. “The nerd been talking shit about me since I left?”

“Despite his obvious confusion and gloomy mood surrounding the way in which you left, he hasn’t said a single bad thing about you.”

“I hardly believe that, but-” Narrowed eyes met a glare. “If he’s gone and gushed like he always has-”

“If you’re trying to ask about me- despite his friendly infatuation with you, I get the sense that you hate me for no reason other than the fact that I know about you and you have no idea who I am.”

“Or maybe I hate you because you seem like a prick.”

“Well frankly, I can’t seem to find a redeeming quality in you other than being unapologetically outright with your opinions.”

“Coming from someone who’s overwhelmingly fucking charming. I knew it was laughable hearing him call you nice. Tell me, when’s the funny kick in?”

Eyes locked, they paused. With a deep inhale and the lift of his brows, Tokoyami was the first to glance away. It came with an exaggerated sigh and a shrug.

“I’ll admit Izuku’s judge of character is- interesting.”

Like this guy knew anything

“He likes to see the best in people.” Katsuki sat up, kept going until he was hunched over the table and staring into dark eyes. “But he’s an idiot and sometimes doesn’t pay attention to the rest. Not my fault that fucks him over every time.”

“You’re wrong.” There was a harsh crunch through celery before the stalk was shoved back into the glass. “It is your fault when you’re the one that did it. You can’t escape blame just because you were scared.”

Katsuki’s hand was across the table before he fully thought through why he was doing it. He’d blame the impulse of reaching forward and grabbing Tokoyami by his loose, drooping collar on his buzz.

“Listen here you arrogant piece of shit,” Fabric scrunched between sweaty fingers, Katsuki stood halfway on bent legs and pulled them close together. “You don’t fucking know me and I’d bet you don’t know half what you think you do about Deku. I’ve known him my whole goddamn life and-”

And, you left him like it was nothing.”

Katsuki could feel himself shaking. The frenzy was bubbling through his limbs and making his face twitch with every poor attempt at keeping a snarl at bay.

You,” He spat, clutching at the shirt enough to pull him forward another inch.

Tokoyami tipped his head, hands still calmly placed on the tabletop. “Is there more to follow, or is that all you can manage in your uncouth rage?”

“I could kick your ass.” He muttered through the slide of his molars.

“I’m sure you could. I’m not all that strong.” Only then did a hand curl around Katsuki’s wrist and begin to pull. “But if we’re moving somewhere to fight like brainless idiots, I’m going to need you to let go.”

Katsuki’s mouth was open to curse at him, further resisting the light tug of Tokoyami’s grasp. He only made it through half a breath before there were more hands and an irritated grumble. Larger, freckled fingers came around both their wrists and pried them apart.

“Stop, dammit. We were gone for like- ten minutes-” Jostling their arms more, the two were pushed back into their seats to make room for Izuku’s hunched frame over the table. He held up his hands between them and look first to Tokoyami then to Katsuki. There was disappointment in his expression that would have entirely masked his concern to anyone lacking a trained eye.

“I guess I wrongly assumed you could remain calm without a babysitter.”

“I didn’t start shit.”

Izuku made his way around the table and slipped back into his seat at Tokoyami’s side. “I wasn’t just referring to you.”

“Sorry,” Tokoyami offered easily. “My temper got away from me.”

Scoff out, Katsuki rolled his eyes. “That’s what you call a temper?”

Fingers fell into his hair suddenly and ruffled the short strands. Katsuki was ready to bite the hand off until he heard Eijirou’s chuckle and looked up to the flash of his smile. “Not everyone breathes fire when they’re mad, Kats.”

After that comment, Katsuki resided himself to pouting childishly while the rest of them carried on like they’d known each other for years-

Eijirou had that kind of talent. He could talk to anyone and instantly seem to know everything about them. It made sense he’d become so successful considering people skills like that were not something Katsuki truly understood but they also didn’t seem all that common. It didn’t appear to be worth the effort of faking it until he was comfortable, so Katsuki had never tried to encourage those qualities in himself. But then there were always times like this when he felt like and outsider simply because he wasn’t sure how to even begin connecting with someone. He often found himself lost even with people he’d known for years, but it was too late to change anything now- he didn’t want to force himself to change- if they didn’t like him just the way he was- if they didn’t want him like this-

Sitting in a slouch, he watched and listened in quiet judgement as he was left to entertain himself until they were done.

“She’s gotten better since the last time she visited.” Izuku remarked after looking at the picture Eijirou took of his tattoo. “You like it?”

“Yeah,” He tucked the phone back into his pocket with a nod. “Glad I talked myself into it.”

“Oh,” Surprise came to Izuku’s face. “I just figured Kacchan did the convincing.”

Taking a moment to stop chewing on his straw, Katsuki huffed. “And why would I do that?”

Reaching out, Eijirou poked at the hoop hanging from one of Katsuki’s ears. “Maybe so I can start to look as scary as you.”

“Getting flowers on your chest ain’t gonna make you scarier.”

“What about the snake?”

“Not even venomous.”

The resulting laugh was loud. “I guess you’re right.” He quieted down and nudged Katsuki with his elbow. “But you know, I’m surprised you don’t have at least one tattoo.” He looked back to Izuku then, cupping a hand over his mouth but speaking just as loud. “I tried to figure it out, but the first time I asked he just kinda-” Eijirou made a twisted face and waved his hand about. “- well, I guess you probably know.”

“Permanency has never really been Kacchan’s thing.”

Izuku was smiling brightly but Katsuki just tapped on the table and swat the air around them. “Oi- stop talking about me like I’m not here.”

“But the-” Eijirou gestured up, very much ignoring him while waving fingers over his own face.

Izuku nodded, giving the briefest of glances over. “Yeah, but holes can heal- and even if they don’t, they’re not that noticeable. Even to your own eyes. I had a couple, but they didn’t really fit me so I’ve let them close up and now you can barely see.”

“You can hide tattoos with clothes.” Eijirou countered.

“From other people. But you still know they’re there. Right? You’ll still see them stark and demanding every time you take those clothes off.” Izuku looked to Katsuki then, mouth curved and brows high with self-satisfaction. “I think it’s a little out of spite too. He won’t get under my needle, and I’m sure he thinks getting under any would be conceding to my wish.”

“You get good enough and maybe I will.”

“That’ll be the day I can die content.”

“Well shit, let’s hope it comes soon.”

“Or hell, it could be you’re just scared it’ll hurt too much.”

“Like that’s even believable.”

Izuku shrugged him off with a wry smile. “I thought maybe if you saw someone else take it in stride you would reconsider. But I mean, if not even your boyfriend can convince you, well-”

With a single word, the mood plummeted into the grimy concrete beneath their feet. Katsuki probably could have saved it if he tried hard enough, but there was still something so alarming in hearing that word.

It made him twitch with long buried issues that gnawed at him every day.

No, he wouldn’t try to make that work again.

That’s not what this was.

He didn’t need anyone.

With that came implications. Implications that had been used too many times to keep him docile.

He wouldn’t let something as silly as word be held over his head again.

Never again.

Katsuki opened his mouth fast, but it wasn’t near close enough to get the words out before they were stolen right off his tongue.

“I’m not his boyfriend.”

A simple statement, but coming from Eijirou’s heavy tone, it laid thick and smothering over Katsuki’s shoulders.

Izuku’s eyes flicked to him but the moment they met, Katsuki shifted his own away.

“Oh,” Izuku remarked like that would cover up the uneasy pause that had sliced the air between them. “Well,” He tried again but it wasn’t leading anywhere. He was about to start fumbling and that was the last thing Katsuki needed right now. Hearing the statement all by itself had put an unusual amount of embarrassment on him- he didn’t need Izuku nervously running his mouth on top of that.

“Move on.” Katsuki griped quickly.

“No, I’m sorry- I just assumed.” Blush riding high on his cheeks, Izuku waved a hand about and forced a laugh. “I mean, after all this time you bring someone here so I just,”

Deku-

“And how you act I thought it seemed fitting. But I mean I guess that’s just- Ah, well you can be whatever you want- or not be- I, er-”

His hand was still flailing, but it was caught on the next swipe through the air by black nails and brought below the table.

“Your verbal floundering is amusing but ill-timed, dear.”

Dear-?” Katsuki echoed Tokoyami’s call with a jeer.

It was impolite and petty, but he was tired of listening to the guy act like this was his rightful place.

“Sorry,” Tokoyami began, “Is that name not demeaning enough for you to approve of?”

“Fumi, it’s fine.”

Face turned in, Tokoyami muttered into the small space separating them. “Nothing is going to change if you continue to let him step on you like that-”

Excuse me?” Katsuki shot, earning a wince from Izuku and another sharp glare from Tokoyami. “Who are you to talk shit like that-”

“Who am I?” He bellowed the loudest he’d been so far. There was still only the smallest twitch in his brow, but finally Katsuki saw some true emotion. “Right, it’s not as if I’ve been around in your absence for three years.”

Hands fisted in the hem of his shirt, Katsuki was ready to chew both their heads off. Unfortunately he didn’t get the chance once Eijirou pushed from the table. He drew their heads with him as he stood.

Long exhale tumbling down, hand fumbling in his pocket, Eijirou pulled his pack out. “Say, either of you smoke?”

Katsuki let his eyes fall back to the table while Tokoyami rose from his seat with a quiet acknowledgement. “-But even if I didn’t, I’d lie just to get out of here for a moment.”

Eijirou laughed softly- it wasn’t entirely fake from what Katsuki could tell, but it was laced with a discomfort that transferred into the hand squeezing Katsuki’s shoulder before the two left.

Izuku stayed where he was, twirling the beer around in his bottle and switching between watching it and flicking his eyes up to Katsuki.

Katsuki bit first if only to end the irritating silence. “Some charmer you got.”

Expectedly, Izuku’s mouth squished into a purse along with his brows. “He’s not-” There was some excuse there, maybe a compliment, but within a matter of seconds, Izuku was chewing it up in exchange for something more truthful. More direct. He knew how the game worked with Katsuki and he wasn’t about to play along. “He’s worried.”

“About what?” Obviously about Katsuki’s entire being- he’d made that clear the second their eyes met in a mutual exhaustion. “Me?” He still posed it like an offended surprise- one that Izuku was privy to and entirely unaffected by.

“Because of you.” His beer stopped moving, left behind so he could curl his fingers together. “Believe it or not, I took my best friend leaving without telling me pretty hard.”

“I told you.”

“After you had already left. You should have told me long before. I could have-”

“What?” Katsuki snapped loudly. “Helped? You couldn’t help me for ten years- what was going to change just because I had decided to leave this fucking deadbeat town?”

“I didn’t help you at all? Not once?”

“You couldn’t fix anything.”

“And leaving fixed it?” Katsuki didn’t speak, but his expression said enough. Izuki stared at him in telling silence until he stood. “Alright, yeah, sit still.” Izuku hurried away only to return a few minutes later with a shot in each hand. He tapped the table when Katsuki only stared at him. “Drink.  I want you to tell me why you’re home, and I have a feeling you’ll need that in order to do it.”

Katsuki’s teeth were working at his cheek, tongue pushing between them as he debated telling Izuku to fuck off and leave. But then Izuku’s face started to turn sympathetic and he threw the shot back to get that to stop.

Through a cough and a grimace, he forced out whatever truth he could before the burn swept his willingness away. “He wanted me to come.”

“He-”

“Ei, he thought-” Shot glass pinched between his fingers, he frowned at it. “He thinks talking to mom would be good for me.” There was silence filled only by a loud sip at the mouth of Izuku’s bottle. “You agree.” He said flatly, staring wholes into Izuku’s face.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Your dramatic guzzling did.”

Bottle to the table, he sighed. “Look, I don’t think you and Auntie will ever have a good relationship,”

“Ah, thanks-”

“You’re both too similar,”

“And now fuck off-”

“It’s the truth. In a lot of ways, you’re the same and it’s not only the bad ways but the good too. My point is, I think everything that’s happened is too much for you two to ever get along in a way that’s entirely healthy.” He slid the next shot over and into Katsuki’s waiting hand. “But running isn’t going to fix it either.”

Katsuki swallowed the slosh of clear liquid followed by a smack of his tongue. “Sounds familiar.”

“Then you should probably listen to us.”

“Nah,”

“If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here. And you certainly wouldn’t be here if you didn’t agree on some level.”

“I’m trying to be better.” Katsuki admitted it easier than he probably could have to anyone else. “And, yeah, I know I can’t do that when I still have all this bullshit holding me back.”

“Do you want a relationship with her?”

“I don’t want anything with her. I want to be able to do this without actually seeing her, but since that’s not fucking possible- I have to say something to her shitty face or I’ll never be able to let this go.”

“I hope you know she didn’t take you leaving well.”

“Yeah, I got that from the hundred voicemails she left calling me an ungrateful brat.”

“You could’ve done better. You knew this wasn’t the right way.”

“Sorry that I wasn’t fucking thinking about that at the time. She wasn’t going to let me leave without the guilt trip of the century to try and make me stay, and I didn’t wanna deal with that. I couldn’t be here anymore.”

“Because it’s so awful here.”

“Maybe it’s not when your mom doesn’t hate you.”

“Auntie doesn’t hate you, Kacchan. You’re her son.”

“Sure thing.” They shared an annoyed glance before Katsuki dared to distract him with a smirk. “And maybe you just think it’s nice here because of beakface.”

“Bea-” Izuku’s face scrunched and then lowered. “Don’t call him that.”

“He’s got a giant fuckin’ beak, what else am I supposed to call him?”

“I happen to like his nose.”

“Bullshit-”

Izuku moved fast, kicking a foot up on the table and pulling his jean leg up enough to show off the dark etching of a nose tattooed onto his ankle. Very familiar, very clearly belonging to-

God, you’re fucking lame.” Eyes over his drink, lips to the rim, they stared until Katsuki took his sip. “Since when are you even fucking gay?”

The Izuku he knew before he left would’ve choked on the beer in his mouth at a comment like that- but this one- this guy he only half-recognized- he just sighed after a swallow and calmly set his bottle down. “I’m not fucking gay-”

“Sorry,” Katsuki flicked his hand about, “I’ll rephrase- since when are you whatever the fuck you are? Last I checked you didn’t fuck dudes.”

“Last I checked you didn’t fuck- mm what did Fumi say- daddies-?” Izuku’s next swig was prideful as Katsuki let his drink hit the wood of the table with a loud thunk. “But lo and behold, people change Kacchan.”

“You coulda told me.”

“Because we causally chat about our sex lives so often.” Katsuki let his face wrinkle at the thought. “I’m sorry I never found time during your biannual bitch-fests to mention the fact that I too have a boyfriend.” Then Izuku grinned in his pissy little way that made Katsuki furious. “Oh, wait, I forgot. You’re in denial about that part, right?”

Katsuki easily ignored him again. “We call more than twice a year.”

I call you more than twice a year. Whether or not you’re actually listening or engaging me is always debatable. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you’re being extra dodgy tonight.”

“Excuse me for not being in a chipper mood considering the hell I have to go through tomorrow.”

“I’m sure getting drunk is going to help.” That was a sore nerve that Izuku knew not to hit, but he’d done it anyway and hardly even bothered to look apologetic for the flinch Katsuki gave. “It’s not like this all wasn’t avoidable. You’ve could’ve called her. Or even just texted her- I mean, fuck- nearly four years Kacchan that’s-”

“Nothin’ close to what she put me through.”

Only then did Izuku soften a bit. “I know you won’t accept it, but- tomorrow, if you need anything, need me to come-”

“Fuck off. I don’t need you to try and help now.”

“-right, I suppose Eijirou will be there,”

“I don’t need him there either.” Katsuki bit. Izuku’s expression was incredulous at the best. “I don’t.” Katsuki assured with a knock of his fists to wood. “I’m not some kid needing to be protected from his mommy. She’s a sad, bitter woman who fucked me over too many times until I got tired of it. I’m better than that- I don’t need help-

“Kacchan,” He started with a placating hand raised.

No!” Katsuki stood quickly and suddenly felt the strong pull of the alcohol he’d been funneling into his throat. He swallowed thickly, placing a hand on the table and continuing his shout. “I can take care of this all by my fucking self. Quit talking to me like I’m a wounded animal that’s only gonna be okay because someone’s watching over me now.”

“Kacchan, I never said-”

“You think, what? I’m only here because he made me come?”

“No, I-”

Hand smacking the table, his teeth were bared at Izuku’s shock. “He’s not in charge of me. Neither are you or her or anyone so-”

“Woah, Kat-” Came Eijirou’s calmer tone just as he laid a hand on Katsuki’s back.

It was a sheer gut-reaction to turn quickly and smack the arm away. There wasn’t rationality to his thoughts anymore and now any notion of affection seemed sickening.

He staggered back a step to find the three of them staring at him with wide, concerned eyes and he really felt like vomiting again.

Fuck this.

Fuck them all.

Just like he thought- none of them would understand.

His feet had him storming off without pause. He only walked faster once he heard Izuku’s muttered explanation of his outburst.

Toward the darkness, toward the music, Katsuki carried tingling limbs to plunge himself fully into the throes of a dazed fit.

It came like it always did- a slow creeping until suddenly he forgot what it was like to move and not feel like he was numb.

Fuck, he was drunk. Beyond clarity and crystal vision.

It wasn’t an excuse for the events that followed. And if it was, it was a horrible one.

It was a bad idea.

No, that didn’t begin to explain how idiotic this all was.

He was better than this-

But then again, was he? Wasn’t this exactly what they would expect from him? Poorly thought out self-destruction at its finest.

It didn’t even feel nice for a second, but he couldn’t stop from full-speed tumbling once he tripped over the edge into mania. Engulfed by the mass of strangers on the dancefloor, the music was making his head throb. The strobing lights were pulling the pain into the back of his eyes. The smell of sweat and sticky alcohol was making him woozy. Worst of all- somewhere between the changing tempos of a song and the feeling of a hand sliding around his side, his skin began to crawl.

But maybe that displeasure was the missing piece of the tantrum. Something to prove to them he was just as revolting as he felt every day. That he didn’t need them and they shouldn’t want him.

He turned, found himself searching through bobbing bodies back toward the bar.

It was such a stupid fucking idea. It made his stomach churn even as he kept giving in to the impulse. The sliver of sobriety still present was clawing at his reasoning, begging to stop him before everything was ruined beyond repair.

It wouldn’t win. It would all crumble like it usually did. Light the forest on fire so the seeds could grow brand new from the dirt as if there wasn’t ash in their roots and soot on their leaves. Nothing was reborn without an imprint of its past, but he’d pretend he didn’t understand that fact just a bit longer.

The initial spark was his head falling back into something- someone- the first flame, fingers tracing his stomach and his thigh- the wind carried the warning smell of smoke across heavy air toward waiting eyes.

Eyes that trapped him in his mistakes. Clearly open and pinning ruby- but calm. So calm that Katsuki couldn’t look away. Meters separated them, but he could feel the intent behind such a stare.

If there had been only sparks before, the following flames rose with the way Eijirou stood. Slow and lax but with purpose behind his steps. Katsuki should have been afraid, maybe worried, but the throb in his chest was more rousing than frightening. He was sick. Mean and manipulative and he really couldn’t help himself.

He pushed it to the last second. Let unfamiliar hands graze his skin while he stayed locked in on the encroaching stare of a very exasperated man. But before he was caught entirely, he escaped from a loose grasp and slipped further into the crowd.

To incoherent, irrational thoughts, the chase was fun. It was a game that would end with a laugh and a smile. But breaking free from the mass of strangers, his jaunt toward the back was intercepted.

A loud call of his name made his steps falter and he stumbled forward a bit before turning. The whole room shifted with him, teetering until he blinked it into clarity around Eijirou’s frown. Oh, how he hated that frown. Hated it, hated that he caused it, but loved that he had enough power to do so.

Fucking hell,” Eijirou cursed, hands on his waist and face contorted.

And then he was in front of Katsuki, dangerously close within another blink. Eijirou was a tall shadow with lights dancing on his cheeks and the roaring inferno behind his eyes.

Katsuki felt an inebriated grin slip onto his face with a heavy-tongued, “Hey-”

If he worked hard enough, maybe he could forget how sour he’d been for hours.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

The severity of his voice slapped any sloshy fun from the front of Katsuki’s mind. In its place settled the guilt and horribly misplaced anger.

“You’re mad.”

 “Astonishing, huh? I don’t enjoy watching strangers get that close to my-” He stopped there. Purposeful and bitter, he made himself refrain.

It was just what Katsuki wanted.

He tipped forward on his toes to stare with a winding sense of resentment. “Your what?”

“You know very well what.”

“Yeah, you said it earlier but you can’t now?”

“I’m not the one who has the issue.”

“But you were the one that said it.”

“And you weren’t going to if I hadn’t?”

Katsuki felt his lips squish into a pout as his eyes lifted to the ceiling.

“Well I don’t-”

“Just forget it.”

Eijirou sounded like he never had before. His temper was something Katsuki had really only felt from the outside looking in. Like when Eijirou had come back to his apartment after a bad day of work. Or when he was on a call that wasn’t going how he wanted. There’d been times when they’d bickered- they could both be short when tired or snap at each other when the stress was weighing down on them. But this wasn’t just frustrated. This was drained and despondent. For a moment, Katsuki wondered somewhere in the back of his mind if he’d pushed too hard this time.

And that regret seemed to fall on him harder than any words could have.

He didn’t know where to go from there, but he reached out anyway. His hand found Eijirou’s wrist and held on tight. At least then the emotional fatigue turned to mild confusion.

“Kat-”

Katsuki pulled while he turned. He continued his retreat toward the back, down a dark hall, into a door he hadn’t been through in years.

He could fix this this.

Clean up his own mess- or at least smear it around into something new colored by desperation and an appeal to the rawness of whatever they had left.

Inside the tiny back bathroom, he had himself pulling Eijirou to his level in a matter of seconds.

It was probably confusing and messy, but Eijirou didn’t fight him at first. There was still obvious tension in his muscles, but he let Katsuki yank him into a wet kiss until his mind caught up and he could push himself away.

“Just wait a second and-”

Katsuki huffed loud and impatient as he tugged at Eijirou’s shirt again. “Fuck me.” He said fast and breathy, eyes wild through the fog of his drinks.

What-” Taking him by the hands, Eijirou tried to pry him off. “No.”

“Why-”

“You’re drunk.”

“And?” Katsuki shoved himself away and swayed toward the sinks. “You’ve fucked me when I was drunk before.”

“Not this drunk.” With a huff, Katsuki turned and clumsily managed to push himself up onto the counter. It was wet- his sober mind would be screaming with the sensation of water and soap seeping into his jeans. “And not in the bathroom of a bar.”

“So what?”

“I’m-” Eijirou’s brow twitched inward and his fists were clenching and relaxing at his sides, but it wasn’t complete refusal. Only uncertainty and nerves. “I’m mad at you and- and I have to be the adult here, and-”

“Adults can’t fuck in a bar bathroom?”

“Not like this.”

“Lame.” Katsuki rolled his head to the side and with that, swam the walls. It took a few blinks for everything to slow down but it looked like Eijirou was flushed and that alone had numb cheeks lifting into a grin.

“Why are you being so-”

“At least gimme somethin’ to work with.”

“What?”

“What- I dunno- just like,” Katsuki had no idea where he was going or what was happening, but if this was his hail mary plan, he was going to give it his all. “Unbutton your shirt or some shit.”

“Why?” It was a fuzzy thought, but Eijirou was always so endearing when he got confused like that. “What are you-” His nose scrunched up and his brows dipped in and Katsuki felt a smile before he knew what to do about it. This man was mad at him- mad at him and yet he still followed without question. Listened without question. Appeased him even in spite of his own wishes. “Katsuki,” Eijirou tried but the call of his name did little to coax out an explanation- it merely made Katsuki sigh and smile that much more. “No- No-” The frantic energy in Eijirou’s voice came because of the hand Katsuki had moved to palm at the front of his own jeans. “Stop that-” But then Katsuki was giving a laugh that rarely escaped him in states other than drunk or horribly exhausted. “This isn’t even a single fucking stall, stop-”

“You do it then.”

“I already said no.”

Lame-” He called but let his hand fall away to calm his poor brute.

“Stop calling me lame for not letting you do that in the middle of a public restroom.”

“No one’s even coming in here. And if they do- fuck it. I’ll just clock ‘em for trying to get a free peep.”

Deep breath in and out, Eijirou stepped towards him. “Okay, you’re spiraling.” He said it without room for argument.

“Maybe so.”

“Pretty obviously.” Eijirou’s frown made Katsuki let go of his last bit of humor. “Hell, you let some guy-

Arm waving until it thunked against the mirror behind him, Katsuki shook his head. “Let’s not go over it again.”

“We didn’t go over it the first time.”

“Exactly.”

“And you expected what from doing that?”

“Couldn’t say.” He extended his hand, almost unable to lay a finger on Eijirou’s shoulder. It trailed up from there, just barely brushing his chin. “Definitely something more than sitting on a sink, half-hard while I get lectured.”

“Katsuki, you know I’m not some alpha guy that’s going to treat you like property and beat people up for getting too close.” Katsuki’s arm fell away along with his eyes. ”If you want to go rub up on some stranger, so be it. But you could at least have the decency not to stare at me while you do it. All night it’s felt like you’re just playing with my feelings.”

“And what feelings are those exactly?” A flash of sobriety came through and it startled them both.

“What?”

His tongue was still loose, along with his words, but the intent was firm. “Do you really not remember?”

Clearly confused, Eijirou shook his head. “What are you talking about?”

Katsuki couldn’t have brought himself to repeat the words if someone was offering him all the money he could ever imagine.

“Well, you act like you know me so well. Shouldn’t you be able to figure this one out easily?”

“I said what I know. You’re spiraling.” Stepping up against the counter, Eijirou fit himself between open knees to take Katsuki by the face. “Is this really what you think is going to help you stop that?”

Katsuki shrugged, cheeks pudging beneath large palms. “Might as well find out.”

“You’re a horrible influence.”

“Live a little, old man.”

No matter how annoyed or angry Eijirou could get, it never seemed to be enough to stop Katsuki from drawing him in. Katsuki took advantage of it, but he couldn’t help it. It made him hate himself a little bit more each time, but Eijirou was compliant, wasn’t he?

That meant Katsuki wasn’t as bad as all the ones who did the same thing to him- right?

That meant it was okay to indulge and take and take until he could finally feel satisfied.

Oh, but he was greedy. For firm touches and a warm mouth on his own and for the jitters brought out by each kiss to make the rest of his worries fade away. Greed meant he needed more. With every parting and prod of a tongue, he demanded more, faster, stronger. Until the want pushed him to jerk away and bite at the air.

“Get down.”

Eijirou stilled. Lips leaving his own only for room to speak, Eijirou kept his voice just loud enough to be heard over the drum of the music. “What?”

What, what, what- Can’t you jus’ do what I ask for once? With a deep inhale, Katsuki ran his tongue over his teeth in thought. Distant vision focused on the blurry door across from him, he curled sweaty red between his fingers and twisted. “I want you on your knees.” Heartbeats, breathing, the constant thump of bass through foggy consciousness. “Understand?”

Eijirou nodded against Katsuki’s forehead, but with a sigh and a scratch of nails, Katsuki fired off a suddenly demanding, “Words, Daddy” only to be followed by an almost involuntary, “Yes, baby

And from there, Eijirou moved. Fluid and willing, he sunk to the floor. Disgusting, sticky, riddled with germs and sugary alcohol- Katsuki could only imagine the vile feeling of having his knees soaked by liquid. He could have gagged at the thought if his drunken pride wasn’t so obnoxiously loud. High on the counter, he stared down his nose at the man. He was always so eager to listen and please. No matter what role Eijirou played, he fell into it without a fight. The undercurrent never strayed too far from a determination to prove his loyalty. Katsuki should have praised him, outright adored him, but instead he brushed it off. He made it out to be annoying.

If he thought hard at all, Katsuki realized he really was a poor excuse for a partner. He didn’t deserve this.

But he was selfish. And he wouldn’t let it go for even a moment.

“Are you sure?” Apprehensive eyes were staring at the space between Katsuki’s legs and Eijirou’s hands had stilled on his belt.

“Do I seem unsure?”

That apprehension flowed easily into reluctance as Eijirou looked up. “Never.”

“Then what’s holding you back?” Katsuki was hissing. Keeping his temper in check proved to be difficult with a few drinks, even more so once tipsy turned into thick speech and fiery cheeks. “The fact that we’re in a fucking bathroom? Or the fact that someone could walk in? Or the fact that I’m drunk and you’re not?” Eijirou regarded him with an expression Katsuki would probably be ashamed of if he wasn’t so irritated that his pants were still on and his skin had been left untouched for far too many seconds. His leg lifted, heel coming down hard on the cabinet below the sink. “Fuckin’ spit it out.”

“None of those specifically.” The answer was quick and sharp but it came with the jerk of his belt being undone. Eijirou’s eyes left him either out of lack of coordination or displeasure in watching Katsuki scowl down at him any longer. They went back to his legs as the button opened next, then the zipper. “But I hope you realize none of this is going to make you feel better about anything.” Hands sliding quickly from his open pants, Katsuki was yanked closer to the edge of the counter and it made his head slide against the mirror and his neck bend in a way that would hurt him if he stayed there too long. “Sure, I’ll give you a drunken blowjob in a fucking bathroom that you’ll only half-remember tomorrow if that’s what you want, but I wanted to at least try to make sure this isn’t some last ditched effort to make yourself feel justified.”

When their eyes met again, Katsuki felt it. Like smoke in his lungs, he couldn’t breathe. Uncomfortable and small, he tried to move, but between the bend of his spine and the hands keeping his knees in place, he shifted with no relief. He wouldn’t lose- and he wouldn’t apologize- so he curled his lip and spat venom with a failed kick to Eijirou’s side.

“I don’t like it when you say shit like that.”

Hmm?” He laid his cheek on Katsuki’s knee. “You mean the truth?” The usual unbothered calmness returned to Eijirou’s features and tone as he slid his touch up to Katsuki’s waist. “You’re welcome.”

You’re lucky I love you, Kats.

How many times would it run through his head before he could snuff it out-

Even knocking his head back against the mirror didn’t shake the words from him. Staring at the ceiling, breaths laced with bile, he persevered solely from the lack of any other option.

“Get on with it before you kill my fuckin’ buzz-” And because he was weak, because he couldn’t help the guilt churning in him for having been so obvious in his petty intentions, he bared his teeth and accepted his conceit if only for a second, “-please.”

“Alight, kitten.” Eijirou muttered under the distracting yelling of people down the hall.

Pants and briefs jerked down just enough, Katsuki tried to ignore the sting of his ass meeting the cold, disgusting counter in turn for focusing instead on the fingers around his dick and the way they rolled over the sensitive head.

He sighed loud, hips lifting to meet every rough pull of Eijirou’s palm. Pearl-knuckled on his throne, he hissed at the sound of a quick spit and the chill of saliva cooling against hot skin. He looked down, ready to chastise or make some crude remark, but he was beat out by a solid stare and swipe of the tongue.

Eyes closing, Eijirou pulled him into his mouth. He hummed deep as if he were suddenly pleased by the situation. As if he weren’t kneeling in water and dirt and piss just to satisfy the selfish needs of a drunken mess. Katsuki really didn’t deserve him. Didn’t deserve a single thing about this. But every time those thoughts creeped in, Eijirou worked that much harder to prove him wrong.

With the flick of a tongue and the hollowing of cheeks, Eijirou sucked him down fast and purposeful. Katsuki’s fingers cracked as he pried them off the counter and found thick, puffy red. He wound the strands in his clutch, clumsy and petulant in the way he encouraged Eijirou’s mouth up and down. His legs spread, back sliding into a horrible, contorting arch just to give his hips a bit more room to writhe against soapy black tile.

The first time his cock knocked into Eijirou’s throat, he let out a sharp curse with fingers twirling and tugging to repeat it. The pounding of a bass line was fueling his headache while his buzz was teetering dangerously close to the point of dizziness.

Katsuki yanked again, trying to keep himself steady but also hoping it would pull out some sort of reaction. Once it did and he got large hands squeezing his thighs and a deep hum around his cock, Katsuki let his head hang and his mouth open to huff, “fuck, Daddy, yes,

He hated to admit it, but Eijirou was better at this than he was. He would’ve been a slobbery, gagging mess by now, but the man between his knees was strong and precise and content. Eijirou knew this was a pathetic attempt at distraction but he had given in anyway. He’d put up with everything like always. He took every hit and insult and swallowed his own pride long enough to understand even just the tiniest bit of Katsuki’s flawed reasoning.

It was probably just the alcohol- Or the way every rough drag of Eijirou’s tongue across his slit made his heart jump- or maybe the sheer amount in which Eijirou cared for him was the source of inescapable nausea.

Katsuki pulled hard with sudden urgency. Strangling the locks between his fingers until Eijirou was squinting and lifting off, Katsuki heaved in a breath through the shame and distress. His grip loosened but still Eijirou was shaking his head through the pain.

“Kat that hurt,” But his intent must have been clear on his face because then Eijirou was opening his expression and running his hands from thighs up to stroke his waist. “Hey, what-”

“M’sorry.”

It wasn’t something that left his mouth very often. Call him an emotional, erratic drunk, but he meant it.

Eijirou softened- someone shouldn’t look so kind and innocent with spit on their chin and a dick inches from their mouth. Especially not a grown man in the bathroom of a club. But he did. Always looked so perfect.

“I know, baby.”

He whispered it like a secret that would scare Katsuki away if it came out any louder.

Katsuki needed to apologize for a lot, needed to say way more than that slurred sentiment, but it was enough for the moment. And with a smile somewhat present, Eijirou slipped lips back over his cock. He went down until Katsuki relaxed into the mirror again and sighed freely into the space that was all their own, if just for a moment.

It felt disorienting and overwhelming at the same time. His bones were weak, muted, but the thrill and pleasure of it all made him ache. Laving tongue, hot breath, strong fingers moving back down to stretch his legs as wide as they could go within the confines of his pants, Katsuki wanted to melt into him fully. He wanted to give in and finally lose track of the chaos until it evaporated.

Shit,” an airy mutter let out among a tremble of his gut and a throb between plump lips. Something repeated over and over as he reattached to Eijirou’s hair with a firm grip and pushed his palm to his mouth to keep from shouting. It wouldn’t matter- he doubted anyone would hear- but it was more for his own sake. He couldn’t stand sounding so desperate. Wouldn’t dare given up any more than he already had with such a pathetic, sorrowful communication of his own cluttered thoughts.

But whether the sickening, pleasant roil really was from mere intoxication or if it had manifested out of humiliation and embarrassment- what made itself unavoidably known was how it all merged into his tense jaw and twitching legs and him spilling down a waiting throat all the while feeling the shallow swallows as his own teeth ground together to keep climbing whines in.

His head had smacked back into the mirror, heels kicking at the cabinet below. The curve of his spine was becoming painful, but unresponsive, quivering muscles refused to let him move. His hand slipped from Eijirou’s hair to let him shift toward hunching over the sink. The bright fluorescent bulbs burned Katsuki’s eyes with the way the colors of the ceiling and wall swirled. Still, he stared and blinked at them as the rush of the sink followed by a slosh and a spit tickled his ear.

“Feel better?” Eijirou asked, full well knowing the answer.

He was standing up straight again, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. Katsuki just shrugged and squinted at the light.

“Hey.” He called softly with no response. “Hey,” He tried again, this time with a palm to Katsuki’s cheek to pull his head down. Katsuki found his head to be, suddenly and exhaustingly, quite heavy. It lolled to the side, resting in the open hand and squishing his cheek. “It’ll all be okay.”

He wasn’t so sure.

It was probably conveyed very poorly with a crease in his brow and the flat line of his mouth, but Eijirou gave a soft pat to his cheek anyway.

“Let’s get you to bed,”

Those were departing words, but then he bent down and pulled Katsuki into a kiss that wasn’t meant to be brief or close to the beginning of an exit. Once Katsuki curled his arms around Eijirou’s neck, it was a firm press of lips that opened into gentle pulling and the cut of a tongue. It kept him warm and pliant against the mirror until tugging at the waist of his jeans made him tighten his arm’s hold. He lifted himself up enough that his pants could be slipped back over his hips so Eijirou’s sober, practiced fingers could easily work his zipper and button before tightening his belt and securing the buckle.

When Eijirou did pull away, it was accompanied by sliding Katsuki off the edge of the counter and bracing his uncoordinated stumble with hands on his elbows. Drunken balance making the floor tilt, Katsuki held on tight until everything settled and he could take unhindered steps toward the door.

“Kats,” Eijirou started with a solid hand on his back and another on his hip. His tone was calmer than before. It slipped under Katsuki’s bones and made him float just above the support of resolute adoration. “Kid,” Call tickling his cheek, Katsuki looked up and blinked through a bleary veil at the warming smile he couldn’t imagine ever losing sight of. “I promise, you’re going to be okay.”

you’re going to be okay

maybe so

maybe not

Chapter Text

“Stop fiddling with it.”

Other hand lifting off the steering wheel, the push of Eijirou’s fingers over his chest paused only long enough for him to speak. “How can I fiddle with it when it’s under my sweater?”

Katsuki didn’t need to be facing him to see. He could hear it. The contact slide of a sleeve over the coarse knit of the sweater. “You’re scratching.”

“Not really.”

Scritch- His eyes narrowed through the windshield of the car, focusing intently on a shrub in the distance that glistened with heavy frost. “You are.”

“Barely,” Scratch- “And my sweater is a little rough so it’s-”

“Stop.”

“Yeah, but it itches.”

“Leave it alone”.

“Okay.” A beat of silence. Scritch- “How’s your tongue?”

“Fine.”

“Good. Not too sore?”

“Ei.”

A breath’s worth of a pause. “We’ve been out here for over half an hour.” Shifting. “Do you need to leave?” Hum. Scratch.  “We can come back tomorrow, or later- I mean, I know it’s getting late but an hour or two would be fine, yeah? We can even get some dinner first or-”

Just-!” Katsuki hissed as his skull landed back against the headrest with a thud. His eyes scrunched briefly then opened to the upholstered roof. “Just shut up. Stop fucking talking.”

Eijirou listened this time for whatever reason he found. Instead, he kept shifting. The reach was slow, but soon the back of a hand landed softly on Katsuki’s thigh. Head rolled down, Katsuki stared at the open palm, the purposefully spread fingers. He bit down hard on nothing at all. There was no huff, no irritated sigh or feigned complaint- just an unsteady exhale followed by the lacing of their fingers in his lap and the squeeze of a large hand beneath his.

Katsuki squeezed back, hard enough that the shake of his arm could no longer be solely blamed on the anxious current flooding through his blood.

“You’re not alone.” Eijirou said just above a hush. “Remember that.”

He released Eijirou’s hand and kicked the car door open all at once. Swift movements and dizzying energy had him walking down the sidewalk before he could back out.

Eijirou caught up quick enough- the car was off and the loud sound of his footsteps were close behind by the time Katsuki had hurried down the street to a house all too familiar. They stood side by side in front of the door while melting snow dripped from the awning.

It took him a minute or two of silent, unstable standing to finally tap his knuckles against the wood. When nothing came, Eijirou nudged him into doing it again. Another hard knock brought a distant shout from beyond the door.

Yeah!” Came first, finished quickly by, “Hold on!

He thought he’d felt sick before- but her voice so recognizable and clear made nausea sweep in. He swayed and stumbled a step away- straight into the hand waiting to catch his lower back.

Eijirou didn’t say anything- didn’t even look at him- but the hand stayed firm against his spine and his presence was undeniable.

He wasn’t alone.

The touch on his back went numb when the door was wrenched open and his mother stood before him like she always had. A few inches shorter, same hairstyle, same light hint of makeup- she hadn’t changed at all and maybe that was proving to be even worse.

Confusion narrowed in on him until clarity hit her across the face with spreading lips and a quick inhale. But the realization of familiarity slipped right back into a baffled stare as her mouth curled and she gripped the door.

Katsuki-” Her shrill voice spread bumps along his skin. “What the fuck have you done to your pretty face?”

Not even a hello.

“Not up to your liking?” He replied with a surprising amount of steadiness.

Instead of addressing him any further, Mitsuki looked up. She squinted with a purse to her lips as if she hadn’t noticed the man beside him until then. More confusion came with surprise and irritation clumped together in an ugly twist of her features. He hated that look. Hated it more when it was focused on someone who didn’t deserve it. “And who are you?”

Within some peculiar wave of confidence and viciousness, Katsuki found the words coming out before he questioned if it was really the right moment.

“My boyfriend,” He declared loudly- a startling affirmation to them all.

His mother’s eyes took their time sliding back down to him. They were harsher this time, but the weight of her bloody stare wasn’t anything new.

The cough above him was forced. Just like the next flutter of movement. “Eijirou.” His arm extended around Katsuki’s side to push his open hand between them.

Katsuki knew she wouldn’t take it.

And she didn’t.

She stared and then carried on like the gesture was foreign to her understanding. “How funny. Three years and you decide to show up unannounced at my door with a face full of metal and a man who I’ve never even heard of before. Nice to meet you and all, but back to the point- how exactly do you expect to be approachable with all these holes in your skin?”

“I don’t want to be approachable.”

“No? So how can you think to support yourself after abandoning your only family? Do you really think you’ll find a job like this?”

“I have a job.”

“Oh, well aren’t you all grown up then.” And so, from one issue to the next. Her eyes narrowed as she stepped one foot out of the door. Hand out fast and landing on his chin, thin fingers dug into his cheeks. She shifted his face this way and that before letting go and cradling her arm to her chest. “If you’re going to put shit on your eyes, you should at least try to make it look decent.”

And with that, she turned. She left them with an open door and a cricking pressure building in Katsuki’s chest. Eijirou let his hand slide up until he was squeezing at Katsuki’s shoulder and giving him a slight jiggle.

“Not now.” Katsuki bit, tossing his head to the side and cutting his eyes up.

It was unfair of him to have said it like that, but the bewilderment staring down at him was overwhelming. “I wasn’t going to-”

“Please.”

“I promise, I wasn’t-”

“Then stop looking at me like that.” All of Eijirou’s excuses fell short while visible force went into leveling out his expression. Looking away from him, Katsuki’s gaze went to trace the vague memories of his childhood beyond the entryway. “I can’t right now.”

“Are you-” Eijirou started with a lean down, but Mitsuki’s voice rang from inside and maybe them both flinch.

“Come in or leave, I’m not waiting for you to waste all my damn heat!”

“No, I’m not okay.” Katsuki admitted through a quick and irritated mutter as he stepped inside.

Moving into the small living room of the home, Katsuki was forced to exist on the edge of the couch, pressed fully against the arm rest. His mother had placed herself on the middle cushion, far too close and he only curved further into the back of the couch while Eijirou settled in the chair at his other side.

“So?” Mitsuki began as she cross one leg over the other. “What? Here you are. And you’ve got nothing to say? No explanation?”

“I don’t need to-”

“Speak up!” She swatted at his legs, smacking it with a loud thwap that made him jolt. “You know I can’t stand it when you mumble.”

“I don’t need to give a fucking explanation.” He repeated and shoved her arm away.

“Even the damn near slightest semblance of one would be appreciated.”

“It’s Christmas.” Eijirou offered, met with a harsh chorus from the other two of a quick, Fuck, Christmas before their tempers flared even more and the glare between them turned murderous.

Sighing heavily, she pushed her attention elsewhere while smoothing out the fabric of her pants. “I have to say, I am sorry that my son’s dragged you into his mess like this. He has a shitty habit of doing that,”

“And while I was given no chance to know who you are, I can’t seem to understand why you would concern yourself with the issues of such an unmindful child in the first place. I’m sure you have better things you could be doing, but if he’s forced you to be here-”

Eijirou leaned forward in the chair, slight frown coming out. “I don’t think I understand why you have that impression.” It was pointless. Engaging would only make it worse. “I’m here because I want to be.”

“And why is that?”

“Because, Katsuki-”

“Yes, I can take a guess as to what he gets out of this, but you-”

“I’m sorry?” Eijirou looked taken aback while the anger stewed just behind Katsuki’s tongue.

“To flaunt someone in my face like this after not speaking to me all this time. Especially considering-” She sighed, waving her hand about. “Mm, your sweater, pants, jacket- all rather nice from the look of it.” She reached forward across the table, grabbing Eijirou’s hand and tugging his arm closer. Unprepared for the touch, he didn’t’ react immediately. His stare was wide down at her hand as she scanned over him. “Nice watch too- They couldn’t possibly all be gifts, right?”

“I, uh- no, but-”

She dropped his hand and reached further to tug at the bottom of his pant leg. “And those boots, decent leather,” She squinted, “Nice, precise stitching.” Her hand came back up, invasively entering the bottom of his sleeve to rub at his sweater. He was far too fucking nice to do anything about it. “Fine material- Is it wool?”

Eijirou glanced to the side but Katsuki was busy pinching the bridge of his nose so hard he might as well have broken it. One second of their eyes meeting had him slapping her arms and snapping. “Stop it!”

“What?” She fired back just as sharp. “Am I not allowed to touch what’s yours?”

His exhale was ragged but kept the screaming of his rage at bay. “Shit, you don’t have any sense of personal space. No one wants you shoving your fucking hand up their sleeve.”

“It is my profession, brat- but it’s okay to admit you’ve always been rather possessive.” Leaning toward Eijirou again she spoke softer. “He never would share his toys as a child, you know. Always screamed and made a fuss when you tried to take them away. Shame he hasn’t gotten over that by now.”

“It was your profession.” He cut in. Had been. Up until she ruined her chances. Opportunity and talent wasted. It stung her just like he wanted it to and she recoiled into the back of the couch.

“Thank you for the reminder, but that doesn’t mean I’ll forget it all.” She crossed her arms, taking in a deep breath through her nose before turning it up. “My point was to say- what are you doing with my son of all people? I’m sure there are plenty of men and woman your age who would love-”

“Is that any of your business?” Katsuki leaned forward against his knee but she had never once been intimidated by him and it wasn’t a surprise that wouldn’t start now. She met him head on, just as severe.

You brought him here, Katsuki. You made him my business. Why now? I have no fucking clue. But here you are.”

“Just because he’s younger than you and has done more than you ever will doesn’t mean you can be fucking rude.”

Younger than me,” Scornful and rigid she took a longer look through the corner of her eye. As if I’m some decaying old witch. Just how young is he?”

“Thirty-one, ma’am-” Eijirou spoke up until Katsuki turned his head.

“You’re thirty.”

“No, I’m-”

“When was your-”

They both paused, Katsuki’s bewilderment met by an apologetic smile.

“October.” Eijirou reached out, maybe to lay a hand on Katsuki’s knee, but it retreated quickly back to his lap. “But we didn’t know each other all that well then, so I wasn’t going to-”

“Barely knew each other in October?” The whine in Mitsuki’s voice made Katsuki curl forward before turning back. “So you’ve only been- with my son for a couple of months? And now you’re here? In my home. After I haven’t seen him for years.”

“Time doesn’t really change much does it?” Katsuki wasn’t afraid of her glare but it certainly made him straighten up his back out of painfully engrained habit. “Besides- you knew Dad, how long exactly? A year before you got knocked up and decided why not get married? That fixed everything, didn’t it?”

“Don’t turn this on me. We’re talking about you.” And that damn finger came out, jabbing at the air toward him as she scolded him. “You leaving and not telling me where you were going, and getting a new phone, and leaving me to wonder if you’re even alive for three fucking years.”

“Fuck off, you knew I was alive.” She scoffed at him but then he pulled a leg up onto the couch to better align himself with her sneer. “Deku knew meaning Auntie knew and I know she would’ve told you if something happened so stop pretending like you give a shit about me past that. Knowing I’m still breathing just means you don’t have to feel the guilt of the alternative.”

She regarded him without another word. Her head high and eyes narrow, she watched a heavy breath leave his chest before ignoring him entirely.

“Who is this, Katsuki?”

He heard Eijirou breathe in, ready to interject, but with the slightest lift of his hand, Katsuki stopped him.

“This isn’t his problem. Quit trying to bring him into this.”

“Too late for that, dear. You shoved him under my nose for a reason.”

“Told you. He’s here for me.”

“And why do you need that? The entire situation is already bit ridiculous but this isn’t really helping, is it?” She slid her eyes over to Eijirou again, flicking her hand at him. “I mean, sure darling, your clothes are nice, I’m sure you’ve done well for yourself- but that hair- You’re a bit too old to be dyeing it like that, don’t you think? It’s damaged at this point, I’m sure-” Her thighs left the couch as he reached again but Katsuki was shoving at her arm before she could brush into Eijirou’s hair.

“Keep your fuckin’ hands to yourself.”

Instead of pulling the arm away, it came down swiftly as she sat. The back of her hand met his skull with a loud smack that had him flinching. A wave of forgotten distress swarmed him because of such a simple motion. Eyes shut, shoulders hunched, her words made him forcefully breathe through a shaking ire.

“Is that why yours is so horribly short? You’ve always been so susceptible to needing to prove yourself to people.” The will to scream was there. As was the will to storm out. “It’s not flattering at all with how round you’re letting your face get. You’re eating too much shit, aren’t you?”

Just above a whisper he let his voice trickle out. “You would’ve loved when I shaved it all off then.”

The following quiet led him to open his eyes. She was watching closely, frowning with a cross of her arms. “You know, after I stopped being furious, I tried to tell myself maybe being on your own would teach you not to hang around the wrong people. You’d learn how to have purpose and be an adult- but now I’m afraid it’s only gotten worse.” He pulled himself back up and let his muscles relax. She kept going, shaking her head and clicking her tongue at him. “The only one I ever had hope for was sweet little Izuku. I could’ve sworn he would fix how much of a brat you were, but I suppose you left him behind as well- and now- Now, Inko and I worry about him sometimes,”

“Deku’s not the problem. And neither was I. He never needed to fix me.”

“And I certainly couldn’t. You made that clear. I know I’m not the calmest person-” With the bark of Katsuki’s laugh, she tightened her glare. “-But at least I know how to be civil.”

“Is that what you call it?” The next huffing laugh was forced but mocking. “You’re being civil when you’ve done nothing but insult me since you opened the door?”

She genuinely looked surprised at the suggestion. Her eyes went a little wider if only for a second before she flashed her teeth. “I’m not insulting you- if these are insults, are you bothered by every little thing the vast majority of people must say to you? You’re distancing yourself by acting out just like you’ve done since you were still attached to my hip. This time- with your horrible attitude and this gaudy appearance- it’s no different. Look at me but don’t talk to me. Stare at me but mind your fucking business. You can’t manipulate people like this, Katsuki.” Her cheek went into her hand as she shook her head again, “To think you’ve gotten poor Izu caught up in all of this-”

Why-!” He started too loud and raw. Eijirou knocked their shoes together and he drew back a bit.Why- do you keep bringing him up? I haven’t even been near this hell hole to do anything to him.”

“You know how much he always looked up to you. It shouldn’t be a surprise he turned out this way after chasing you all this time, but we had hoped different I suppose.”

He knew. He knew exactly what she meant, but the fact that she’d dance around it and make him ask to hear it was how she’d always been. Ask and she’d feel like she’d won something. Don’t ask and she’d accuse him of twisting her meaning.

“And exactly what way is that?”

“You know,” She picked her face up and took on this somber sort of glower. “First he was dressing like you- then came all those tattoos- you really did him a disservice dragging him to that dirty shop all the time. And I’m sure you know now how he’s hanging around that boy-”

“What about that boy?”

Sure, as far as Katsuki could tell, Tokoyami was even more irritating than Deku, but anyone on the other end of his mother’s dismissive tone somewhat deserved a place behind his shield.

“Don’t give me that. I’m not ignorant or as intolerant as you believe I am. I made it clear to you years ago I have no issue with it as long as you two make smart choices when it comes to who you’re spending time with. I could make peace with that loud girl always following you around, but even now it seems to me he’s following your lead and doing quite the opposite of what we would have thought.”

“We’re adults.” He sat back into the armrest, defending himself with arms over his chest. “We’re going to school and have jobs and you need to know have no say in who we should date.”

“That’s not it. I simply don’t appreciate you letting your own misjudgments affect how others behave and make choices.”

“And again I say, I wasn’t fucking here. How would I have-”

“I know you two spoke. Regularly, Inko tells me. Which is interesting considering I haven’t even gotten so much as a text since you ran off.”

“I didn’t want to talk to you. I still don’t.”

“And yet you chose to come here.”

“Not because of my own desires.”

“I suggested it.” Eijirou finally slipped his voice in. It was tight, uncomfortable- Katsuki probably would have let it bother him if he wasn’t so fixed on his mother’s scowl.

Katsuki gave a quick, annoyed smile before it sloped down again. “I now know it was a clear mistake.”

“I see.” Mitsuki allowed herself a moment of thought before she nodded and shifted her posture. “You really have brought this man so much trouble then. Making him feel like he needs to insert himself into your problems. What hell are you causing that you can’t deal with your own shit? Have you honestly become that weak?” With ever prying word, Katsuki’s gaze fell lower. It started on the curl of thin lips then fell to a chest heaving with bitter words before sinking to her fingers, weakly clutching the end of her blouse. “Will you ever think to consider how you’re affecting those around you? Times like this, I don’t understand what good you think you’re ever going to bring someone when you can’t even see how your actions utterly inconvenience them.”

The loud crack of Eijirou’s knees against the small coffee table came once he stood in a hurry with fists at his sides and a heavy breath through his nose. His mouth opened, lips pulled back with a wild expression Katsuki had rarely ever seen. There was surely a fury-filled statement ready to fly out, but with one glance down to the subtle shake of Katsuki’s head and the slight panic in his eyes, he thought better.

Another angry person was only going to make this worse. Anything he said on Katsuki’s behalf would be written off as an excuse. Some way that he had manipulated this person into going along with his malicious plan.

The sudden spike of aggression and defense dissipated quickly. He reached out to squeeze at Katsuki’s shoulder and sigh through his displeasure.

“I’m going to wait outside.” The way he bent down was stiff but purposeful. An intentional statement of support in the press of lips to Katsuki’s cheek before moving forward to whisper in his ear.  “Don’t worry. Take your time- You can do this.”

“It’s cold out there.” His mother said as if it was some reason for him to exist in the tension any longer.

Hands in his pockets, Eijirou nodded. “Just stepping out for a smoke.”

With her head back to stare down her nose at him, she grimaced. “That shit’ll kill you.”

Somehow Eijirou managed a smile. Wide and twitching it was insincere in the most satisfying sense. “So I’ve heard.” He said it so easily as he started toward the door.

“Would you like to join him, Katsuki?” She pitched her voice louder, probably in hopes she would bother them both. “Have you latched on to that bad habit as well? It’s awful shit to put in your body.”

“No, but at least I know where my tendency to be a raging hypocrite comes from. Please tell me how much better bottlefuls of alcohol are for my body.”

The shut of the door was loud and they both shifted away from one another. The change brought in a moment of weighted silence. His eyes wandered, tracing the walls that looked just as he’d left them. They hadn’t ever been any different- careful preservation of a life that no longer existed.

“What are you doing with someone like that?” She kept her voice quiet this time but it was tremendously scathing. “Being shallow won’t do you any good, so if you need money that bad, figure out a way to make it yourself. I didn’t raise you to be so embarrassingly desperate.”

“You hardly raised me at all.” The tightened clench of his fists was hurting his knuckles, making his arms quiver with the force. “And fuck you- you have no idea what he’s like. Or what I’m like for that matter.”

Her eyes slid away with an exaggerated roll before they came back to pick at every inch of him. “Because a three year long tantrum is indicative of severe personal growth.”

“Leaving this stifling, depressing cage you had me in isn’t a tantrum. Getting away from you was the best thing I could have done.”

“Yes, your choices seem wonderful since you decided to run away.” She smiled but he knew what it meant. Her prideful conceit to weigh him down, make him small. “One look at you and I just knew you’ve become an exponentially better person.”

“And you’re as perfect as you think you look? As if the mask of the distraught, caring mother was ever as convincing as you wanted people to believe. Just like you, what kind of person I am isn’t rooted in how I look.”

“What kind of person are you then, Katsuki? Why are you really here?” She hadn’t let those words reach her. Purposefully oblivious to the point of them. “Because to me it’s seems you only wanted to prove you were right. You’re fine without me, yeah?” Her voice lifted into a lofty gloom. “Never needed a mother did you?”

“Never had a one I could need.”

She dropped back into her severe hiss instantly. “And what could you possibly mean by that? I took care of you-”

Barely. There’s more to being a mother than making sure your kid doesn’t starve. And even then, sometimes-”

“It was rough sometimes, yes. But even then, when I didn’t have the means, I did my best to I give you anything you needed.”

“It’s not just about things!” Pulling his other leg up, he rushed to sitting on his knees and shoving a hand through his hair. “Fuck- after Dad died- you weren’t there.”

“What are you-”

“No, I mean, you were there, physically. But you didn’t look at me. Or talk to me. You wouldn’t talk to anyone. And I realize now that was pathetic and unfair and I-”

“You don’t understand.” She dismissed him like every time before. Like it wasn’t his pain too. Like he hadn’t remembered anything before it was just the two of them. Like he didn’t deserve to feel. “I’m not talking about this.”

“Really!” He couldn’t stop the disbelieving laugh or the way he scrubbed at his eyes till his vision went blotchy. “Thirteen years, and I’m still not allowed to talk about it?” His hands fell, smacking against his thighs. She wasn’t looking at him now- just staring into her lap with tightly pinched lips. “It all messed me up to, y’know? I was just a kid and my fucking dad died- And you never let me deal with it. You don’t think I could hear you sobbing and throwing shit around all the time? That I didn’t know something was wrong with you? We pretended like it didn’t happen and we were fine- but nothing was fine. You died with him and I was left with someone who barely cared to know I was there.” One hand on the back of the couch, he loomed in and tried to meet her eyes. “So please tell me where exactly between the crying and the booze did you take actually care of me more than someone would do for a fucking houseplant?”

“I didn’t drink that much.” She shot back instead, throwing her face to the side and staring into his eyes across the mere couple of inches between them. “Don’t make me sound incompetent. And I’ll have you know I’ve been sober for two years no thanks to the torment of your self-centered absence.”

He pulled back slowly, pulling one leg out from under him to bend his knee up and curl an arm around his shin. “That wasn’t an answer.”

She sucked at her teeth with the next breath, nose twitching with the strain she held in her face. “So what- you came here to explain to me that I was a horrible mother? I was grieving, you inconsiderate child- and you weren’t the most cooperative. Aside from that, I’m well aware feeding you wasn’t my only responsibility, but that alone was damn near impossible. Do you think I was prepared to be a single mother? You father’s parents never liked me anyway- mine are too far away- I was alone and it was hard and I’m fucking sorry that I wasn’t whatever you wanted me to be but I tried and you have no place telling me how I should have survived that.”

Water flicked onto coals, he sizzled loud and violent with a snap of his jaw. “You blamed me.”

His voice had risen and with it came her own shout. “I did not!”

“You did!” His finger jabbed into the top of his thigh to keep from poking her straight between the eyes. “All the damn time! No matter what I did-”

“I wouldn’t have-”

“Bullshit!” He flung himself up on his knees again at that, gripping the back of the couch to steady himself as he bellowed above her. “I don’t care if you were too drunk to remember or if you’ve repressed the hell out of my entire childhood, but you did. I know you blamed me! And I’m fucked up because of it.”

Turning her face away again, she huffed and gave a rough shake of her head. “You’re being dramatic.”

“No- fuck you!” His feet met the ground, legs colliding loudly with the coffee table and shoving it forward. “That right there is part of it.” She was focusing her cross stare so intently on the wall across from them but her hands were grabbing at her arms and going white with the way she held on. “You can’t tell me I’m wrong! Or that you actually cared- Not when you won’t even listen to me- I can’t believe you- you’re such a-”

Fiery glare swinging to his face, she clipped the next curse into nothingness. “Watch your tongue.”

Not even shoving entire mouthfuls of air into his lungs was enough to calm him. He wasn’t shouting anymore but the implication of depravity brought by his tone should have been enough to burn into her skin. “I was never allowed to feel anything. If I did, I was hysterical or irrational or weak. I could never be selfish enough to have emotions like you. You didn’t want to deal with them or teach me how to- And now I don’t know how to handle anything. I can’t process shit and everything feels wrong- even the good shit that I’m supposed to feel and I’m supposed to enjoy and that’s your fucking fault.”

Leg lifting up, his foot landed on the table with enough force to make it shake under his weight. Elbow on his knee, he bent forward and crowded her. His inhale came with the sound of gravel in a shredder. It was wet and crackling and scratched at his sore throat. “You wanna know why I left?” There was a headache blossoming with how pinched his brows had become, his loud voice only worsening the pain as it rattled around in his skull. “Do you really?”

She pressed back into the couch, lips pursing as she watched him bristle.

“I don’t think you do. Because you don’t want to hear that I had come to hate you. I resent so many things that you did- You don’t want to hear that I was sick of your pitiful looks and manipulative cries for help until I gave up everything not to burden you- You needed to raise me whether you chose to or not but you didn’t. I’m the child here. I was never meant to care for you and coddle you because you didn’t know what to do with some kid that caused the second worst thing that’s ever happened to you. I didn’t ask for that!”

She finally broke. A tight rubber band stretched too far for too long and grazed with just enough sharpness to snip her in half with a stinging snap against skin. “And you think I fucking asked for some arrogant little shit like you?”

With that, the home fell into an icy hush. The way she hurled the words through the room doused him in a chilling clarity. His lack of confrontation in return only meant there was plenty of time for the air to settle. With rounding eyes and parted lips, she came to realize her lapse in composure.

She started off quickly with panic lining her shuddering voice. “Katsuki, no- I didn’t mean it like that.” With a subtle shake of his head, he stepped backwards. She reached out only to curl her hand in the air and bring it back to her chest a second later. “Honey, I love you. Of course I’m happy I have you. I always wanted to be a mother-”

“Stop it.” Another step had him stumbling a bit but still a managing to hold himself on weak legs. “I don’t doubt you wanted a kid. You just never wanted me, right?”

It didn’t matter if it was from shock or regret, her silence was blistering. Chin quivering, fingers twitching, she stood but didn’t refute. Maybe she couldn’t- or just didn’t want to- But after so many years of convincing himself, having the proof shouldn’t have hurt so much.

Chest caving in, breath falling short, he turned and let blind eyes and heavy feet carry him toward the door. There wasn’t a call for him to stay past another warble of his name. There wasn’t an insult and curse telling him he was wrong. Wrong for saying that, wrong for going again, wrong for ever leaving in the first place. Only silence and years of unspoken indiscretions.

He broke from the doorway with a slam of the wood and a frigid gasp as his boots hit the wet concrete.

“Kat-”

Fuck the sidewalk, he was making a straight line through snowy grass toward the car. “Let’s go.” He muttered as he passed Eijirou flicking his cigarette to the ground.

“Are you okay?” It was asked with evident caution as he trailed behind.

“Do I seem fucking okay?” He spun and snapped back, boots sliding a little in the thick of the snow. “What about me storming out of a house ready to blow my fuckin’ head off sends out the message that I’m okay?”

Katsuki was a fool to think he could look him in the eyes.

With a frown and the slightest shake of his head, Eijirou had him pausing in the middle of flinging another curse off his tongue.

Misdirected aggression wasn’t the answer.

He didn’t deserve that.

But Katsuki couldn’t manage much else in the moment so he let his mouth close and continued his trek to the car. He only made it to the door, frantically jiggling at the locked handle until Eijirou was there again.

“Katsuki, stop.”

Grabbed by the wrist, panic fizzled along his arm as he let out a horrible sound. He jerked his arm away, holding it high as he twisted.

Fuck off.” He hissed until the creases in Eijirou’s expression swarmed him with regret.

Surprise and hurt flooded from wide eyes, but they could only slightly cool the churning discomfort in Katsuki’s stomach.

“I’m sorry-” The apology fell short, but at least the intent was there. “Look- Please don’t- touch me right now. Or talk to me. I just-”

“It’s okay,” Eijirou started calmly, his hands held up as if Katsuki was ready to bite them off.

He felt like a dog. “No-” Wounded and weak. “It’s not-” Scared, threatened, uncontrollable. Eyes shut, fingers pulling at his hair, Katsuki groaned all the way into a sigh. “It’s fine. Just get me away from here.”

“Hungry?” Eijirou asked as he hurried to unlock and open the door for him.

“No. But I’m sure you’re going to make me eat.”

“You haven’t today. Or last night.” He scuffled around to the other side and slid in. “So suggest it- yes. I can’t make you do anything, and I don’t intend to. But I would feel better if-”

“Yeah, yeah. Fine.” Katsuki gruffed as the door slammed shut behind him. “I’ll eat.”

 

Dinner was a quiet affair. Eijirou talked as he normally did- trying impressively to keep the conversation from falling too much. He never let Katsuki sit in pure silence when things were like this and his thoughts were dangerous. It was both endearing and rather annoying. Too long of a lull and the whispers would make Katsuki want to rip his hair out- not long enough and he was ready to chew Eijirou’s head off.

Thankfully, after months of trial and error, Eijirou seemed to have found the sweet spot between distraction and aggravation. Katsuki should thank him one day. For a lot of things.

He didn’t really eat- but he tried and Eijirou left him alone about it after the first couple of bites. Fatigue was weighing him down with every step and turn of his head, but once they broke through into the hotel room, the overpowering feeling of filth took over. His steps toward the bathroom were unnecessarily rushed. His jacket hitting the floor without a thought to hang it anywhere called for Eijirou’s attention.

“Where’re you going?”

“Need a shower.”

“Are you okay?”

Hopefully his answer would be conveyed with the upcoming slam of the bathroom door. His clothes had been littered along the way until he stormed in with a toss of his socks to the tile. The glass door of the shower opened with a rattle, shut with a slam. His heavy breath only broke free from his ribs once the handle on the wall was yanked left and watered scattered along his shoulders. Frigid and sharp, he tensed beneath the spray even as it began to warm.

He found none of the usual comfort in the way the heat turned his skin pink and beckoned his muscles to unwind. His head and jaw ached with the annoying urge to cry. The pressure wouldn’t let up but the tears wouldn’t come. Building, building, building- But no release. Not even the scorch of water on his scalp was enough to stop the splintering pain. The roaring showerhead was a mere whisper amongst her words- rattling around, constricting his nerves. Of course she hadn’t wanted him- no one would ever want someone like this- no one would ever ask for such a worthless mess-

He fumbled for shampoo, scratching it into his hair until his scalp stung. The skin would most likely break, but the pain was near numbing. Tiny bottles clattered to the floor as he popped open another and set to rubbing his skin sore. He couldn’t wash off words from his body, but it was the only foreseeable option when the alternative was simply letting them sit and stain into him.

But it wouldn’t work. It didn’t. And the smash of the open bottle to the floor of the shower was juvenile. With soap in his eyes and raw, itching irritation along his chest and arms, he turned back into the stream and buckled forward.

The burn was unbearable yet pleasant. Scalding water pouring over his skin, leaving it red and buzzing as he stood. Forehead and arms pressed into the wall, the cold tile pricked wonderfully against hot flesh. Seconds dripped to minutes. The water never lost much of its heat, but somewhere along the way it became a blistering comfort. The rush of the spray was deafening- his thoughts finally turning to static. Burn all the remnants away. Forget her gaze, her touch, her words- wash them all down the drain with each drop. Leave nothing behind. Start over again. Run away again,

The door to the shower being wrenched open should have been startling. It only earned the slow turn of Katsuki’s head as water poured from his hair, split down his nose and cheeks like blood from a cracked skull.

Eijirou looked baffled- frustrated maybe- as he stood gripping the door handle and letting water splash onto the floor.

“Did you hear me?”

When Katsuki didn’t manage anything other than a twitch to his brows, Eijirou sighed and reached in. The shower was off, steam rising from his skin as the cool air of the bathroom finally had a chance to come in.

“I said you need to get out. It’s been over half an hour and you’re going to pass out if you stay like this.”

Katsuki tried to dismiss him with a click of his tongue but Eijirou was already pulling him from the shower. Shivering and dripping onto the tile, he tried to work a glare despite knowing it would fall horribly short of anything menacing.

Eijirou draped a towel around him and rubbed softly at his shoulders while he spoke. “You okay?”

“Stop asking me.” Eijirou’s frown was unavoidable. When he pulled the towel to tousle Katsuki’s hair, he was met with a swat of an arm. “Leave it. I’m fine.”

Unconvinced but knowing his place to stop, Eijirou left the towel hanging off him and stepped back. “Alright, I brought some clothes in. When you’re done, if you wanna join me- I’ll be on the balcony.”

Katsuki pulled the stark white around him until the cold air was only biting at his legs. “It’s freezing outside.”

“You nearly melted your skin off. What’s the difference?”

Seeing no satisfying answer for either of them, Katsuki turned and tried to ignore watchful eyes as he rifled through the clothes waiting for him on the counter. Eijirou left at some point- thankfully allowing him to slump back into absent stares and mechanic movements as he dressed himself.

 

“It’s freezing outside.” Eijirou recited as Katsuki stepped out onto the balcony. The chill of a wintery breeze ghosted over his damp skin with unforgiving sharpness. “But you come out without anything on your legs.”

Hands landing on his waist, the tshirt beneath them was soft as the begrudgingly comfortable scent of tobacco tickled his nose. “You told me to come.”

Eijirou turned with a flick of ash to rest his weight on the elbow against the railing. “I also left you pants.”

“And I chose to ignore them.”

“Better not get sick again.”

Stepping to Eijirou’s side, they both leaned over cold metal to stare out into the dark woods behind the hotel. “Another shitty cold would still be better than my current state.”

Eijirou only hummed at first, lips pursed for a long drag. The smoke left slow, a steady exhale before he tipped his head down. “Would you like to-”

“No.”

“Thought so.” He agreed easily and closed his mouth around the tip again. It hung loose and glowing with the subtle stoking of his breath.

Katsuki didn’t really understand the appeal- never had- and nothing had become clearer even after months of watching Eijirou suck such vile shit into his body.

Nicotine didn’t sound appetizing- maybe about as much as caffeine did- he was wound tight enough already, he didn’t need anything else spiking his heart and flooding his thoughts with kerosene. At least, that’s what he tried telling himself despite recognizing the urge to find out. Usually he dismissed the whisper, but tired and at a loss, he gave in to the knowledge he was willing to try just about anything.

Reaching forward slowly, Katsuki pulled the cigarette from Eijirou’s lips without resistance and brought it between his own. Eijirou didn’t fight him- just followed his hand and watched as Katsuki drew the sickening taste onto his tongue.

“You’re a bad influence on me.” He said along the first exhale.

Slumping over further, Eijirou’s chin went to rest in a propped up hand. “Is that right?”

“Dangerous cars, tattoos, sex, alcohol, cigarettes,” Another lung stuffed of biting ash had his face screwing up while his lips tingled and his head hummed. “Maybe the hag’s right- An older man is bad for me.” Fizzling embers crackling in the small space between their stares punctuated his sentences. Mouthful after mouthful was going to make him sick. Where was the calm- Where was the relief- “Or maybe she’d say I’ve driven you fucking mad and this is how you deal with it. That sounds more like her kind of excuse.”

The laugh in Katsuki’s nose was sad- unshared.

“What are you doing?”

What a mood killer. The self-loathing lift to his smile and tone slid away once he stared down at his hand. “This shit is disgusting.”

“Then stop.”

Stopping wasn’t an option.

He was too far gone for that. Too distraught to follow anything other than the welcoming mania.

“No.”

Katsuki backed up instead, bare feet scuffling from the cold out there to the warmth of the carpet just inside the room. The curtain billowed in front of him as he sucked smoke deep into his lungs before puffing it back out. It swirled in the clean air of the room and he grinned as Eijirou frowned at him.

“You shouldn’t smoke inside.”

Placing it between his teeth, he spoke around it with a wild grin. “What’re you gonna do about it, Daddy?”

It was always easier to say as a joking tease than when he was feeling broken and vulnerable. Easier, but not entirely comfortable. It still made him cringe with embarrassment, but now it came with the added amusement of Eijirou hurrying to push off the railing toward him.

The room wasn’t necessarily large, but there was still room for Katsuki’s feet to carry him quickly over the carpet in a dash. Each breath sucked a bit of smoke into his throat but the sharp burn of menthol was icing over his unease just enough to be pleasant. An unexpected titter dropped from him as Eijirou’s hand grazed his shoulder in an unsuccessful attempt at catching him.

It wasn’t until he darted a step too close to the bed that Eijirou got a grasp on his shirt and pulled him back. His feet slipped off the ground as he was wrenched up onto the bed. Back hitting the mattress, he bit down as to not swallow the cigarette- but let up with the crunch of it just before it was plucked from his mouth quickly. Hot ash met his cheek, swiped quickly away by a thumb before it could truly burn his skin.

“That was dangerous.” Eijirou chided as he trapped Katsuki with knees brushing his hips. Fingers pinching the end, Eijirou snuffed the ember into nothing without so much as a flinch. He flicked it away, somewhere on to the floor, and wiped the black and grey onto the back of his pants. “Feeling better?” He asked with another trail of fingers over Katsuki’s cheek.

Between his willingness and a desperate show of Katsuki’s strength, Eijirou gave in to being rolled to his side. Another push had him on his back and Katsuki hurrying to sit on his thighs.

“Still don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Yeah?” Eijirou drawled, arms coming up to hold his sides. “None of it?”

“No.”

Pulling his knees up made Katsuki slide down to rest more so in his lap. “Not even the part where apparently I’m your boyfriend now?”

Katsuki’s sigh fell between them while his gaze strayed to trace the weaving pattern of Eijirou’s sweater. “You’ve been that.”

“Have I?” A little laugh found a way to squeeze out. “That’s news to me, considering-”

“You knew.” Katsuki bit, low but sharp. His hands fisted against his thighs, strangling the air in his palms for some faint tinge of composure. “We both did- but I’m not- I don’t wanna get into it.”

“No,” Eijirou pet at his back. His hands ran slow and firm over Katsuki’s spine before shifting to cup at the slight tremble of his shoulders. “Of course you don’t.”

Teeth clenched tight enough to make his ears ring, Katsuki stared and stared through the chest below him. He shook from the pressure in his muscles, pointlessly hoping that the other couldn’t feel it.

“You know why I didn’t-” He chewed the rest of that attempt up and spat out another. “Why I couldn’t-”

“Yeah.” Eijirou cut him off there, rubbed down his sides, squeezed at his hips. “Doesn’t mean I liked it.”

“Neither did I.” Katsuki’s voice was all wrong. Venom and bitterness were not the colors he wanted for his confession of what they were. What they always had been. What he stupidly hoped they still would be.

“What I don’t know,” Despite Katsuki’s horrible demeanor, Eijirou was as calm as ever. Gentle and patient as he spoke with care. “Is what changed-” Katsuki’s face must have twisted up because he took to patting his waist and humming. “We’re not talking about it. Just that one answer. Then I’ll be content.”

Taking to scowling at the break of skin between the sweater’s collar and Eijirou’s chin, Katsuki grumbled through the sick feeling in his throat. “I didn’t like the way she looked at you.” With judgement, derision, defensiveness. Eijirou deserved better than all of that. “Pissed me off.” He deserved better than anything Katsuki could offer him. “If I had- If she thought you were-”

“You admitted it just to spite your mom?”

He looked up quickly, caught by a flash of a grin and the crinkle of eyes with a laugh. “Not just-”

“You’re an ass.”

Katsuki frowned all the way into a falling kiss. He pressed with his hands on shoulders, made sure Eijirou stayed still and willing beneath him. His headache hadn’t left him- the nicotine didn’t help- nor did it quell the hum that had been frothing through his nerves for days. The movements were erratic even for him. Harsh, uncoordinated kisses that never really had an end or beginning, just a flustered show of misery.

It helped to have his jittery fingers occupied with something. Some had dug themselves into the scratchy fabric of the sweater while others were buried in red and catching on the tangles of his untamable hair.

Eijirou hadn’t moved his hands from Katsuki’s sides- he was more just a stiff mass letting himself be slobbered on like Katsuki was some inexperienced, overeager puppy. The errant smearing of Katsuki’s mouth across his upper lip, his chin, the stubbly corner of his jaw with barely an attempt at returning even a single kiss- it was too frantic for Eijirou to keep up with but too embarrassing for Katsuki to apologize for.

Before the spiral turned into spinning out, he was stopped by a sudden push to his shoulders- one that had him breaking away and staring into the slow blink of Eijirou’s eyes “Sorry, but- I don’t know- Tell me what you wanna-”

“Don’t care.” Tight and rushed, he twisted hard at the hair between his fingers. Bright eyes drooped beneath him as he pushed into the tug. “Just touch me.”

“You sure?”

His answer was chased by teeth in a lip. “Don’t ask me again.”

“Okay.” He muttered, staring up at him before letting his graze drop. His movements were slower than Katsuki wanted- they still left too much room for thinking, but Katsuki had tried to rush things along many times before. It was never worth the effort- never seemed to work out how he wanted. So he complied with the gentle tracings over his thighs that made him shiver and bite at his cheek. The first brush of fingers over his boxers had his breath seizing. It was an audible choke that made Eijirou still. His voice came softly. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“I just said-”

Eijirou’s hand pulled away and Katsuki’s frown deepened. Why couldn’t they just act normal for once-

“This whole weekend’s been really rough, I just don’t know if-”

Sweaty palms smoothing down his thighs, Katsuki shifted and tossed out a childish huff. “Just tell me you don’t want to.”

“No!” Katsuki started to pull back but Eijirou caught him by the shoulders before he got too far. “No, hey, that’s not it.” He urged him back, thumbs squeezing at the knots in his collar. “I do, of course I do, but only if you’re okay.”

“I’m fine.” Katsuki bit, shrugging roughly to get his hands off.

“Yeah?”

“Me saying it not good enough for you?”

“Yeah, but- C’mere.” Arm around Katsuki’s neck, Eijirou pulled him down into a tight hug. It was just a moment of simple embrace around his shoulders and a nose in his hair, but Katsuki felt like he could crumble. “Hey,” It was a tentative beginning, the press of cheek into blond. “You can fuck me. If you want- You know that’s an option, right?” He filled the following silence with a sigh. “I know we’ve never- but I don’t want you to think that has to be the way things are all the time.”

“Why are you saying this now?”

“Good a time as any.” Katsuki sneered with an unenthused grunt against his collar.“Thought you might feel a little more in control. Is that what you want?”

“I already told you, didn’t I?”

“Just keep it in mind, yeah?”

“Yeah, great. I’ll fuck you sometime, happy?”

“More concerned, really.”

“I don’t wanna think about it anymore. Okay?”

“Think about what?”

Fucking anything!” He cursed with a shove to sit himself up. “I’m-” A lot of things. All clashing into one hunched spine, cracking and splitting with the weight of it all. “I’m just-”

“You’re okay.” Eijirou started evenly, his fingers curling under Katsuki’s chin and tipping his face up. “Right?” He’d tucked his worry away behind a tempting kindness that softened Katsuki.

“I’m okay.” He answered, no matter how much of a lie it felt like in his mouth. He pulled Eijirou’s hand down, shaky movements guiding it back between his legs. “I’m okay.” He repeated with his eyes closed and his hips moving once Eijirou stopped fighting his insistent will to be cupped through his boxers.

He didn’t enjoy lying or trying to convince himself of things with fragile words and futile attempts at satisfaction- but he was running out of options. Eijirou was still willing to follow. Still there. So Katsuki should take advantage of it while he could.

And yet- he refused to watch anymore. Because with his eyes shut, he didn’t have to see how pathetic he looked grinding into a palm in search of any feeling other than the stifling reality of his desperation. Tense brow, heavy breathing, his bones ached to stop but his thoughts were stilling running too fast. He needed silence. Peace. Emptiness.

His impatience had a mind of its own- coming out as a miserable, nauseating whine until Eijirou pressed harder into the scratchy friction against his cock and he was given the fleeting relief of a tingle down his thighs and a promising warmth in his gut. But the hand was gone too soon and with it flew a frustrated grumble from Katsuki’s chest. Only then did his eyes open to glare at the flush inching across Eijirou’s nose.

“Sorry- but why don’t you take these off, baby?” His words were so quiet- cautious almost- just like the brush along Katsuki’s waist.

Katsuki couldn’t seem to catch up to each inhale through the clench of his teeth let alone Eijirou’s suggestion. It was a hungry, swelling panic. He knew it. But maybe he could pass it off as lust just a bit longer- maybe it would go away on its own this time-

His nod was a jumbled toss of his skull- the daze not letting up even as he was sitting with only a t-shirt grating against his skin and a loose fist working over his cock. The touch was like static- One look down and he felt so far away from the smooth, coaxing rhythm Eijirou always touched him with. He was hard, twitching every now and then into one of Eijirou’s strokes- but the feeling was dull. Hazy. He breathed like he was enjoying it, quick little gasps that were more about trying to get air to steady his head than anything else. His heart was in his throat, his ears, pounding against his eyes until his vision went foggy at the edges. It brought a rushing, swarming buzz of a noise and he was hot- so hot- itching, skin crawling- a burn across his back, tiny needlepoints melting over his shoulders and dripping down to trembling thighs.

He wanted to be angry. He wanted to yell and scream until his lungs gave out. Instead he was trapped, locked up inside his own body like he had been for years. What was he if he couldn’t even fight- his anger had always been the last armor before every bit of his rotten insides poured out. Denial was its gold plating. In order to not be engulfed by the suffocating emotions that kept their talons in his ribcage and veins, his mouth equipped itself with cruel words, his head convinced his heart to follow so as to not be stripped into bare, vulnerable, bloody nothingness.

It worked. Only on those who could be so easily fooled. What was he to do now that there was this person that saw every crack in his veil-

He could run or fight until scared intentions and exhaustion were tainted into hatred. That had always been his escape.

But running hadn’t worked- every time Eijirou came after him- so there was only one thing left-

He could ruin it. He could ruin every bit of what they had so easily and finally, finally, he would be safe.

But why then was this thing that was once a comforting plan feeling so vile? He didn’t want to hate. Underneath everything, he’d wanted to be seen for as long as he knew. Always toeing the edge of the light but skittering away when it so much as touched his skin.

He wanted to be heard and understood and validated.

He wanted to hide and bare his teeth and bite.

Where was the balance- where was the answer- was the calm settling of his mind inside strong arms and against a solid chest truly safety or just a trap?

When would he be able to stop hearing his heartbeat rattle his bones or his breath scratch through his throat or the way his clothes scraped over his flesh every time the feelings crept in?

When would the running stop?

When would he be okay?

“You’re so pretty, Kat.”

When would he be normal?

He was out of air,

“So good.”

He was weak,

“So perfect.”

He was tired.

“I love you so much.”

So fucking tired.

Tired of pretending to be things he wasn’t.

Tired of hiding things he was.

Tired of running.

Tired of losing.

Being left.

Leaving.

Lying.

He wasn’t good. He wasn’t perfect.

They wanted to see him as round and succulent. Shiny and soft. Drenched in syrup, sticky sweet on the tongue. Late summer bloom, tart but addicting. They wanted him to be flushed, luscious, piquant- to touch cherry skin- they wanted to snare him between their teeth, to rip the stem out, bite through him with ease- to taste cherry blood- to greedily suck what they desired from around the pit and toss it aside. And that’s all that was left. A cold, hard, dangerous, unappetizing pit of a cherry boy.

It took all his strength to reach down and grab Eijirou’s wrist. The hand stopped instantly, but the grip around his cock didn’t let up. Eijirou didn’t get it- he thought it was just a break-

But Katsuki couldn’t keep going like this. He was tainted and rotten. Shriveled up and long past spoiled.

“I’ve got you,” Eijirou didn’t understand. “Let go, baby.” This time, he didn’t understand at all. This time, he couldn’t fix anything. “It’s okay.”

It hadn’t been what Eijirou intended, but when the pressure hit Katsuki’s eyes again, he couldn’t help himself. He let go. His breath stuttered, his headache screamed, and with the dig of nails into his palm and Eijirou’s arm, the wetness finally graced his cheeks.

The tears were free, and with them, so was he.

Hey-” Eijirou’s call came softly with the first sob- then again, louder, worried, “Hey, calm down,” But with his breath catching hard in his throat and the hot sting of tears in scrunched eyes, that seemed impossible. “You okay?”

It should’ve been obvious, but his head shook anyway. He tried to breathe, to speak, but there was nothing but a tight fist punching against his thigh to try and get some sort of control back over himself. Eijirou had him by the cheek and he was shaking lightly to get ahold of some explanation. Katsuki could only swallow down his sounds and gasp wetly through his nose with his head thrashing.

“Kat, talk to me- please-”

Opening his eyes was a bad idea.

He was met with a faceful of dread and misunderstanding that only drew out another furious sob. Eijirou was wiping fervently at his cheeks while his eyes darted about Katsuki’s face for any sort of an answer.

“Katsuki,”

“I can’t-” He started abruptly. He couldn’t hear Eijirou’s apology. He couldn’t bear to hear anything else. He hiccupped around his next breath but shook his head and swallowed roughly. “I can’t be here.”

 “Okay. We can go.” Katsuki shook his head again, pushing at Eijirou’s arms until his face was released. “Is that what you want? We can leave now- or in the morning- whatever you need.”

“No- with you-” He was kicking himself away, wrenching his boxers up, “I can’t-” His tumble to the ground was clumsy and fearful as he scrambled to get off his knees and find his pants.

“What are you doing?”

He heard it but he just swiped at the air blindly with one arm and scrubbed at his eyes with the other.

“Please, just-”

Stop!” His shout shattered between them and the sound of Eijirou hitting the mattress again was painfully relieving. “I can’t-” He continued as he turned. “I can’t.” He said it again and again until he could fling the door to the room open and let it crash behind him.

It felt wrong. As did every other choice before it. He was so tired of running- but what else was there to do when loving someone felt like peeling all of his skin off inch by inch?

So he left.

With nothing but a t-shirt and sweats, bare feet and his phone, he left.

And maybe for the first time, Eijirou wouldn’t follow him.

Chapter Text

Eijirou wouldn’t follow him- and maybe knowing that made it worse.  

Katsuki was running and he wouldn’t be chased. He wasn’t held down or trapped. Never was. Never had been. It should make him happy- understood for once. But it was mostly frightening. It ate up all his air and replaced it with dread. A rhythmic pulse of regret and fear that let his heart keep pumping. 

So he put a door between himself and his problems- as if that would be able to separate him from the version of himself he couldn’t handle yet. Even if it was the better side. Even if it couldn’t stay locked away forever. Even if every time he let his guard down, it crawled back to him and flooded his brain with hopeful possibilities, tempting hallucinations, stupid little dreams of a life he didn’t want to need. 

It stuck to him, clung to him, made him hate himself for being so cruel. To himself, to others- punishing them all for his own insecurities. 

The door wouldn’t change anything. Neither would the elevator or the cold pavement under bare feet. No amount of distance would help this, and eventually his steps became nothing more than an outlet for the panic. 

The phone against his ear was a surprise- the ringing even more so. Subconscious movements having run rampant, the shock of a voice made him stop in the middle of the sidewalk. 

“Hello?” It called to him while his eyes searched the empty street. 

“Hello?” It came again as he turned and wondered how long he’d been walking- where he was going- why had he called- “Kacchan- you there?” 

Scrubbing icy tear tracks from his cheeks, air pooled in his lungs. 

“Kacchan, it’s late, what do you want?” 

A dozen ways to begin slipped through Katsuki’s fingers. Blinking clarity to his vision, he turned again to stared into the dimly lit night. “Is-” A crack in his tone had him clearing his throat with a rough cough. “Beakface’s there, yeah?” 

“Don’t you-” Izuku sighed heavily and shifted with a rustling of fabric. “Yes. Fumi is here. Why-” 

He was expecting it, but that didn’t stop some weird twist of- what? Jealousy? Abandonment? 

Shit- Any possibility of parsing his curling emotions was lost to the nausea of hearing his own trembling voice. “Go to a different room.” 

“What- Why?” Katsuki pressed his tongue firm to the roof of his mouth and shook his head. “Why?” He repeated and made Katsuki’s eyes scrunch. “Are you okay?” 

“No!” Katsuki barked loudly into the night. He was gripping the phone too tight. His toes were cold. Every limb shaking. A stunned silence clawed at his throat until it was followed by a low mutter and more rustling. 

Footsteps. 

A creaking door. 

Thud after thud of heavy feet against carpet. 

“Okay,” The voice came quiet and cautious. “I’m in the kitchen. Now tell me what’s going on.” 

“Can he hear you?” 

“Kacchan, my apartment is not very large-” 

“Whatever. I don’t care. This was a mistake.” Katsuki declared about a lot of things all at once. Agreeing to this, storming out, calling Deku, “Coming here.” That was the most obvious one to choose. “A huge fucking mistake.” 

“Mm,” was all Izuku gave him a for a moment. “Maybe I underestimated how badly seeing Auntie again would go.” 

“No shit. You and every other idiot.” 

“And Kirishima- did he help?” 

“Don’t wanna talk about it.” 

“Why? Did he do something?” 

“Nothing.” Katsuki snapped, head shaking. “Wait, no, not nothing- That’s not- Fuck you, it’s not about him.” 

“Where is he?” 

“The moon.” Katsuki answered like a huffy child only for Izuku to repeat himself louder.  

“Where is he?” 

“In the hotel.” 

“Then where are you?” 

“Doesn’t matter.” Another chiding call of his name had him practically growling back into the phone. “Shup up, just- shut up, I’m outside, okay?” 

“What? Out- Isn’t it still snowing?” 

“Barely.” 

“Still- Go back in, dumbass. It’s freezing. What are you thinking-” 

Katsuki pulled a stuttering breath in, thick and wet through his nose. 

Stupid Deku wasn’t getting it. 

“Hey, you can tell me. What did he do?” 

“Nothing!” He never fucking got it. “I just said nothing.” But if he didn’t get it, who would? “I left.” Wasn’t anybody left after that. “Okay? I chose to leave because I had to get the fuck out of there but he didn’t do shit.” 

“Then go back. It’s too cold-” 

“I just said this was a huge fucking mistake! I can’t-” 

“And if he didn’t do anything-” 

“Not just tonight.” Hand fisting at his hair, he tugged, and tugged until it felt like his scalp may have come sliding away from bone. “All of it.” 

“You’re not making any sense.” 

 “Didn’t do anything. It’s not-” He yanked again before ruffling the hair frantically and smashing the heel of his palm into his eye. “Her- him- you- fucking everything- it's all wrong.” 

“Wh- me? What did I do-” 

“Hear my fucking words, Deku!” Throat sore from another yell, eyes open, his vision was blurred “You didn’t do anything. Perfect little angel Izuku could never do anything wrong. I did it. I fucked you up, didn’t you know that? It’s all I know how to do.” 

A moment of quiet ended in Izuku sighing loudly into the speaker. “Kacchan, I’m really sorry, but I’m not following at all.” 

“There’s a first.” Katsuki snapped, pulling another sigh through the line. “Hey Deku, did you know you’re gay or bi or whatever the fuck because of me? All your tattoos? Yeah, they’re because of me too.” 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” 

“I’m a bad influence in case you weren’t aware. You should really stay away from me before you start committing crimes.” 

“Can we handle one thing at a time- Please? Why are you outside?” 

A horrible snarl came ripping through his next words as he squeezed his phone hard enough to hear the plastic case squeak. “Did you not hear a thing I just said?” 

“Yeah, it was a bunch of nonsense and I’m not acknowledging it until you give me an actual answer. Now- why are you outside? And if you try and say nothing one more time, I’m calling bullshit because I know it doesn’t take much to make you storm out of a room- but to storm out crying-” 

“I wasn’t fucking crying.” 

“Then I should just forget what I heard when I picked up?” Teeth digging into his tongue, Katsuki subjected himself to Izuku’s irritating hum. “So why were you not crying?” 

“S’not the point.” 

“No? Then there’s no issue? And you had no reason to call me? Great, I guess we’re done.” 

“Fucking shut up and get over yourself-” 

“Shut up? Gladly. I’ll shut up and go back to sleep-” 

“Don’t-” 

“Why shouldn’t I? Nothing matters, nothing’s wrong, you don’t want to talk to me so I’m just going to-” 

“Don’t you fucking leave me.” 

“Yeah, okay, that’s funny. I’m not allowed to leave but you-” 

“Oi, oi, no. Fuck that. Don’t bring that shit up right now.” 

“No. I’m exhausted and you’re being hostile; so, while we’re at it- Yeah, fuck you for leaving like that. Needing to go- I get it. I can understand not wanting to be here after everything, but you didn’t even say anything. You were planning to go for months and I had to find out from Mina only after you suddenly weren’t around anymore. And when I called you the first time, I thought maybe you’d explain things a little- but no, just like always, you pretended it was nothing and like I was the weird one for being upset about it.” 

“So what? Get over it already- it was years ago. Want me to go back in time and write you a nice little letter? Come find you and wake you up before I got on a train in the middle of the night? Profess my utter remorse for the loss of your nose being an obstinate resident up my ass?”  

“I just wanted to be included in your life!” His shout made Katsuki’s jaw jerk. The cracking of his teeth skirted pain up into the headache at his temples. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I still don’t know what you were going on about before, but you didn’t cause any of what’s happened to me because- in case you’ve forgotten- for most of our lives, you haven’t given me more than a second of your time. And just when I thought it was getting better and maybe we’d finally gotten over how things were, you disappeared. Shit, Katsuki- I always, always-! Saw you like a brother. And that’s what I get in return? Not even a fucking goodbye?” 

With a harsh roll of his eyes, Katsuki gripped at his side and slid numb toes through the slushy covering the sidewalk. “It’s not like we weren’t ever going to talk again, dipshit. You know I couldn’t stay here for a second longer than I had to. And if I had told you, you would’ve just given me those sappy ass sad-eyes and I didn’t wanna deal with that shit.” 

His calmer annoyance had no effect on Izuku. Fury still poured through the crackly speaker and clawed at his neck. “You’re unbelievable. You know, you can be really fucking mean. And acting like this? You’re just dismissing me over and over again. Like brushing it off will make it go away. But how’s that working for you? All this is just going to keep coming back up-” 

“I know! Okay- I fucking know that. Why do you think I’m here?” Glaring down the street, he could see her reproving eyes staring at him through the night. Even with thick evening fog pooling and swarming beneath the street lights, he felt the weight of her judgment. They never left him. They sagged on his shoulders, haunted his dreams, pried their way into each and every decision he made. “I came here. I’m dealing with it and I’m dealing with her because even after I left- She’s like some shitty ghost. Always following me around. Which is fucking ironic considering she’s the one who got to live.” 

Izuku quieted down with a drawn-out sigh. When he started up again, his tone had curved into something soft, almost wary. He was trying to be compassionate- but it felt more like he was trying to wrangle Katsuki into submission. Talk him down from a ledge he wasn’t even on. “Yeah, you’re here, but have you done anything other than stomp around and talk at people? And yeah, she’s alive, but we both know things changed. Never got better. I don’t think either of you ever really handled it. And I mean, my mom and I were a bit different, but I do kind of know what it’s like to not have a parent so-” 

“You don’t know shit.” Even coming out of his mouth so deliberately, the toss of words felt wrong. They left bitterness behind that he tried to get rid of, tried to spit it out, tried to hurt instead of hurting. “Your dad didn’t die, he just didn’t care enough to stick around.” 

“Okay,” was breathed out after Izuku’s pause. He took a moment to get a grapple on however that made him feel before it bled into what he said. “I know you didn’t really mean that and you’re just being defensive, but fuck you nonetheless.” 

“What? You’re really going to compare your dad fucking off when you were a literal infant to mine-” 

“I never even got to meet him.” 

“Good. Nothin’ to get attached to then.” 

Izuku’s laugh was high and tight. “Are you serious?” 

“Yeah I’m fucking serious. I would have rather never known my dad than to be there we he died. If you think that’s the same thing than you’re more of a moron than I ever imagined.” 

“Why are you lashing out at me? I didn’t start this. You called me, do you remember that? So what the fuck are you doing? Are you really trying to make me feel like shit just so you don’t have to focus on all of this?”  

“Shut up. Don’t start puttin’ words in my mouth.” 

“No, I think I will, because you sure as hell aren’t saying anything sincere. So you shut up. Just for a minute- just fucking listen to someone.” Izuku gave the briefest pause- just long enough to take a breath and make certain he wasn’t going to be interrupted before he dove head first into the storm. The tired lag to his voice was gone. His concern had been swiftly replaced by an unforgiving roughness emerging out of exhaustion and possibly a maturity Katsuki wasn’t familiar with. “You’re a mess. You’re clearly having a hard time working through everything, but what I’ve yet to understand is why you even called me in the first place. We both know I stopped letting you push me around like this years ago- so if you’re looking for some verbal punching bag to make yourself feel better, it’s not me. You shouldn’t even need this anymore. You know it’s wrong- I know you do. We’ve been through this before, and I hoped you were in a better place now. You show up here- And it’s not like you don’t have someone who cares, like really, obviously cares. But you’re doing what? Standing fuck knows where, bickering with me through a phone?” 

“And, mind you, you’re not just a mess. You're being selfish on top of everything. You know how pissed you get when people try to tell you how to feel? Well how do you think everyone else feels when you do the same thing? Saying shut up- go away- fuck off- you’re telling them you don’t care what they feel. That it’s stupid they’re bothered. That you’re the only one who ever gets to feel hurt and upset because you’ve been dealt a shittier hand than most. You pulled this shit on me for years and made me feel bad for your horrible attitude.” 

“But I know that’s not who you want to be and it’s not who you’re trying to be. Before you left, you were different. Better. And I hope you’ve kept changing since then. You must be doing something right, because Kirishima seems like a really genuine person- so you’re moving in the right direction, you have to see that- but you also have to realize you’re gonna ruin everything acting like this. We can only take so much-” 

“Alright,” Gravel voice squeezing through the constriction of his throat, Katsuki kept his eyes shut tight enough that color bloomed behind his lids and the headache throbbed across his skull. “That’s enough.” 

“No, Katsuki. It’s not.” Izuku was always sharper than him once they got going. Equally as hotheaded but in a different way. A better way, honestly. His temper brought decisiveness and wit rather than rash, blind anger boiling out of every pore. “It’ll be enough when you stop trying to deal with your problems by dragging everyone down with you. You’re a goddamn adult and it’s time to stop acting like being cold and distant until it’s too much and you explode is a healthy way to keep yourself safe and happy- Because are you? Do you feel good like this? Do you enjoy knowing that I have to yell at you because no one else will? Do you think I can’t see right through you? I know this is what you want. I’ve always been emotional enough for the both of us, but you have to stop acting all tough and indifferent sometime. It’s not going to get you through this. You’re not happy like this.” 

“I want to be here for you, but I can’t do this again. I’m not going to be someone you can let all your issues out on. That's not how you treat people. And I want you to really understand it this time because it’s not just me or Mina anymore. I know you and I know you wouldn’t have let anyone come with you here if you didn’t-” He cut himself off, knowing full well the calamity finishing that thought would bring. But he was quick to reroute- didn't even give Katsuki a chance to breathe let alone rebut. 

“I’m not the one you need to be talking to. While I can only imagine how painfully confused that poor guy is right now while you’re busy rampaging around like always just trying to exhaust yourself by throwing a tantrum, he came here to support you and to be with you during a really hard time, and you’re running from it like always. I want you to have someone when I’m not around. I think you want that too, so you have to let someone in eventually or you’re going to become a horribly sad person.” Shaky and overwhelmed, Izuku’s breath wheezed through the phone which somehow hadn’t splintered from how hard Katsuki’s grip was strangling it. Even so, he continued- His voice dropped, but there was a pitiful air bleeding through that only tightened the knot curled in Katsuki’s chest. “So do you think you’re happy? Because this sure feels pretty miserable to me.” 

The words filled Katsuki’s airway like cotton. He tried to swallow, throat choking around nothing but feeling so full and scratchy.   

Of course it’s why he’d called. 

To be met with someone who wouldn’t sink to Katsuki’s level of petty insults and cheap jabs. Who wouldn’t give up. Wouldn’t try to calm him down with kindness and reassurance but instead give him a beating over the head with his own reality. 

He was aware of all of it. He knew it was all true, but denying it was a sickening, dizzying circle. There were pockets of clarity, moments where he thought maybe the worse was over, but time ticked on and it was all swirled again into delusion and rage. 

He wanted out this time. To finally get his head above the surface and breathe. Happy. 

“I want to be.” 

It was so quiet. A frightened softness he hadn’t allowed to carry his voice for far too long. 

“Then get your shit together.” 

“How-” Squinting down, even his own feet were fuzzy shadows staining the concrete. Nothing seemed real anymore. Nothing tangible beyond the cold emptiness licking at his skin. “I don’t-” 

“You can.” 

“Yeah? You know Deku, I’ve been wondering-” Somehow his next shallow breath warped itself into a sad, little laugh. “How am I supposed to do this when I’m so far past fucked up?” 

“Kacchan,” 

Another laugh came even weaker than the last. “Fuck,” He scrubbed at his eyes with his sleeve, pulling in a rough sniffle. “Never mind, just-” 

This- he didn’t need to say it. Izuku heard the words behind that and the response came just as hesitant as it did rushed. 

“You love me, right? And my mom. And Mina despite your best attempts not to. You’ve loved us for a long time. And we love you back. You don’t have to be perfect for everyone all the time. Not even most of the time. We don’t care. Even the worst parts- they’re pretty insignificant compared to the rest of you.” 

“You think I don’t know it’s true? I made you worse.” 

“Stop that.” 

“Knowing me- Don’t you think you would’ve been better off not knowing me-” 

“Absolutely not. You’re amazing. Always have been.” 

“You’re an idiot, then.” 

“Two of a kind, aren’t we?” 

While Izuku offered a careful chuckle, Katsuki inhaled till his lungs were full. He held it in, chest shaking, and then blew the steam out. His focus was returning, as was the feeling of his skin growing painfully cold.  

“Sorry I left without telling you.” 

“Sorry I got a boyfriend and didn’t say anything.” 

“I still don’t like him.” 

“Never thought you would. You’re too possessive.” Katsuki could practically hear his grin through the phone. It finally felt normal. “And I knew he wouldn’t be scared of you if you were to ever meet.” 

“That why you chose him? To piss me off?” 

“Among other very compelling reasons.” 

“Excuse me while I gag.” 

Izuku was quick to squawk and stutter, “That’s- not-!” 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. It’s good you found someone.” 

“Sorry, that sounded vaguely polite. Are you-” 

“I said- it’s great you found someone to put up with your irritating personality and you even worse face.” 

Aw, thank you. The sentiment is shared.” Izuku’s deep breath was audible but somehow leveling. “You need to go back to the hotel.” 

“Yeah.” 

I meant everything I said earlier. You need to tell him as much as you can. About everything.” While that was painfully obvious, Katsuki still let a long sigh flutter out. “I know, but Kacchan, the way he talked about you- Just- give him some fucking credit where it’s due.” 

“I know, you’re right-” 

What was that?” 

“Oh, fuck off-” 

Did Bakugou Katsuki just tell me I’m right?” 

“Choke on a dick and die, asshole.” 

He hung up before Izuku could get even the smallest word in. The first hint of his laugh had Katsuki jerking the phone away and forcing an end to it all. 

A harsh shiver ran through him as he pulled the map up on his phone and zoomed around until he found the direction he’d blindly fled. The walk back didn’t seem near as long as he remembered. Just over a hill, barely out of sight, sat the three-story building of snowy balconies and staggered lights. 

The warmth of the lobby hit him like a furnace. It felt like his bones were quivering while his skin tingled back to life. Little time was spared to consider how maniacal he probably looked- barefoot, bleary-eyed, skin paling, hair half-frozen and more unorderly than ever. He kept his nose down as he passed through the empty halls, refused to look at himself in the reflection of the elevator doors, kept curling in on himself more and more until having to reach of the handle of the room. 

The latch of the lock had been flipped over to keep the door ajar. It was just small crack to let him in, but that was enough to make the shaking worse. The option to come back. He always had that choice. But how long would that go on if things stayed the same? 

He stepped into the bedroom with no surprise that Eijirou was still there. Always there. Perched on the end of the bed, feet on the floor, elbows on his knees, hands and head dangling in the space between his legs- the hopeless tension radiating from such an abject form was suffocating. 

“You forgot your shoes.” He began, picking his head up just enough to slip his gaze off the floor. 

Being met with equally bloodshot eyes and rubbed-raw cheeks ripped any air from him. Katsuki could only nod as the warmth of the carpet seeped slowly into burning feet. 

“Wanna tell me what happened?”  

Katsuki’s lips parted but nothing escaped with the first attempt. He shifted, one foot to the other- back again- rocked onto his toes to make him stumble another step forward. 

“I-” His voice started with no known direction. 

Eijirou lifted himself to sit up, straighten his back, set his jaw and- Katsuki couldn’t deny him any longer. 

“I think you deserve to know a lot more than just that.” 

Chapter Text

“I think you deserve to know a lot more than just that.”   

Eijirou’s nod was slow with a somber sort of understanding. 

“I think so too.” Existing in that silent hotel room- clothes sticking to his skin, numb toes curling into the carpet, hair dripping icy water down his face- the seconds that lingered between them felt like the longest Katsuki had seen such an intimidating amount of composure without feeling the slightest pull to mock him or laugh. “First I have some things I need to say.” 

“Sure.” 

He shouldn’t be giving permission. 

If their positions were switched, Katsuki would have torn into him the second the door opened. He would’ve followed him out the door when he first tried to leave, yelling the whole way down the hall. He would’ve never let this happen in the first place because he would’ve gotten fed up a long time ago. 

He would’ve never been so patient. 

“Turn around.” 

“What?” 

“Before I start, turn around.” Eijirou pinched at the bridge of his nose with one hand, the other flopping around in the air. “I really wanna be mad but I can’t when you look so-” His sigh deflated his entire chest, hands tumbling back between his knees. “Please, Katsuki, just-” 

“Okay,” It took too long for dull limbs to move him around and face the open door of the bed room. 

The quiet picked at him while he stood. He counted each breath by shallow breath through the small part of his lips. He couldn’t tell if it was purposeful torture making him suffer in uncertainty, but he was in no position to bark at Eijirou to hurry up like he wanted to. He wrung the hem of his shirt between pink fingers, tried not to flinch at the sounds of rustling sheets. 

Eijirou stood- he could hear the soft footsteps closing in on him. His posture curled and tensed out of instinct. He was ready for a shout or a backhand to his head- really anything that wasn't the warmth of the blanket that fell over his shoulders. 

“You’ve gotta be freezing.” Eijirou’s low mutter vibrated against the prickled nerves on the back of his neck. “What kind of idiot runs out into the snow with no shoes and just a tshirt?” Then came his arms, wrapping around Katsuki’s frame and trapping him tightly against his chest. Wide-eyed and baffled, Katsuki held his breath to keep it from shuddering. “You can’t do that to me. I know you don’t like explaining how you’re feeling- and I’ve tried really hard to patient and understanding, but that was too far.” He squeezed harder, face falling to tuck into the clammy skin of Katsuki’s throat. “I don’t care what the reason is. You don’t get run out like that. I was so fucking worried- do you realize that?”  

Despite the pressure building in his throat and eyes, bubbling at the base of his skull, Katsuki managed to dip his head forward.  

“When has running away like that ever done you any good? You know it doesn’t work. I give you space. I try not to fight you. But I expect a little bit of respect in return. And that means you don’t leave me without at least giving me the bare minimum of an explanation first. I don’t even care if it’s a shitty one- just give me something so I know you’re going to be okay. It’s not like this is the first time you’ve stormed out of a room to avoid a bigger problem. It’s just really the worst one yet, don’t y’think? You’re the only idiot I know who’d risk hypothermia just to make it known that they’re upset. I’m not stupid. I know you better than you let yourself believe. I knew something was wrong and I should’ve pushed harder to get you to tell me- I shouldn’t have kept going-” 

No, this wasn’t his fault. He never wanted Eijirou to blame himself for any of this- He squirmed, tried to turn in his arms and talk back, but Eijirou didn’t pause this time. He barreled through with more intent, a rough single shake of his head, a stronger grip, 

“I know, okay? I know. That’s not my responsibility. Yeah, you should be able to tell me when something’s up, but that’s hard to do sometimes. I’ve just been thinking about this for a while- and maybe you’ll disagree and maybe I’m completely missing the mark, but have you ever considered the possibility that maybe you want people to leave not because you’d rather be alone, but it’s just so you can be right? So when it happens, and all along you’d been believing it would, you won’t be disappointed? But the problem is, I’m not leaving without a fight. Telling yourself that I’m gonna give up one day just so you can feel smug if I did is spiteful and unfair to us both. And I don’t think you can keep living like that. 

“I don’t need you. Do you understand that? I don’t need you. You don't need me. You can rely on me and know I’ll support you, but I’m not what’s going to keep you sane. I want to be around you and make you happy, but if one of us were to leave- eventually, we’d both be okay. I don’t complete you. I can’t- I want to be better with you, and for you to be better with me, but you can’t wait for someone to tell you you’re fixed. That includes your mom- That sort of thing has to come from yourself. 

“You’ve been dealing with far more than you can handle for way too long, but ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away. You gotta deal with it little by little. It probably took too long, but I’m finally cleaning my shit up and seeing myself as a whole person. I’m making the changes to get there and coming here was just a way to encourage you to do the same. I didn’t think you should be here to make you miserable and try to heal everything myself. I’m not looking for credit for helping you bandage up your past or anything. I’m not with you to fix you or to feel needed. You had to be here and address all this shit to learn how to be better on your terms. I’m just offering to always have your back.” 

The rush of an inhale by Katsuki’s ear brought a chill along his back. Finally picking his head up and turning it to the side, Eijirou pushed his cheek into the top of damp hair. “Kat, be honest, do you want to be with me?” The bile settling in Katsuki’s throat curdled with a deflective lie. It burned even worse when he swallowed it back down to force the slow up and down of a nod. “And you realize I do too?” Another bob of his head came a little quicker, teeth cutting into his lip to stop from fighting. “Then trust me when I say I’m not going anywhere. You’ve done your damn near best to push me away, but get it through your thick head that I’m staying. I know you don’t want to hear all the amazing things I think about you- and even though right now I don’t believe it would help all that much, when you do need to hear it, I’ll tell you. I’ll give you every reason I can come up with, and hopefully then you’ll listen." 

“I don’t know what I'm doing.” It was a sudden, scratchy mutter but the strangle around his frame loosened at the words. “I’ve never had that- this- I've never done this.” Hands up, fingers seeking out a path to dig into Eijirou’s forearm, he breathed through the tremble flicking back and forth between his voice and his limbs. “You know I don’t like doing things I don’t understand. I’m trying- But I keep fucking up-” 

“It’s okay to fuck up-” 

“But when is it going to be too many times? Where’s the breaking point?” 

“A long ways off. And with the way we’re changing, I don’t think we’ll reach it.” 

“You’re too optimistic. And you’re an idiot- and-" He could feel the shift of Eijirou’s muscle with how tight he held his arm. It had to hurt, but he let Katsuki cling to him as hard as he pleased. “-you're too good for me.” 

“Mm, I’m good for you.” Up and down, up and down, he pet over Katsuki’s side. “And you’re good for me.” 

“Not what I fucking meant-” 

“I know. But do you think you’re the only person who’s ever made stupid decisions? You’re so young-” 

“You’re not that much older. Don’t try to act wise.” 

“I’m old enough to know more than you about stupid decisions and how to care for someone. It’d do you some good to listen to me.” Once his hand closed around Katsuki’s wrist, the grip on his arm opened to reveal the tremor to each of his finger. “It’s okay to fuck up. I’ve done it. Plenty. Maybe making you come here was just me fucking up again-” 

“No- everything you’ve said is right.” Sliding up from his wrist, Eijirou’s hand closed around his own and brought it down to their side. It didn’t squeeze, their fingers didn’t lace, but hands hung together and the warmth seeped back into his bones bit by bit. “I needed to come here.” 

“Well, then maybe it was too soon.” 

“Yeah. Maybe. But there’s no changing it now.” 

“Come back to bed.” Eijirou said eventually as he pulled the blanket from Katsuki’s shoulders and shuffled away. 

The cold returned without him but nowhere near as harsh as it once was. 

Shirt traded for a dry one pulled from his suitcase, snow-caked sweatpants left behind to melt on the floor, Katsuki carried himself toward the mess of haphazard blankets and crumpled pillows. 

“Damn Ei, looks like you beat up the fuckin’ sheets.” 

“I was angry.” 

“Was,” He folded himself cross-legged in front of Eijirou who sat much the same. 

“Was.” Eijirou repeated right back, scooting forward until their knees were pressed together. With an elbow propped on this thigh, he rested his cheek in his palm and tried for a smile. “Now, it’s your turn.” 

“I know.” He said it once with little conviction, again once he heaved in a deep breath. “I know. But I won’t repeat any of this shit ever again, so listen up. And don’t fuckin’ interrupt me or I’m stopping.”  He wanted to hold Eijirou’s stare as long as he could, but with the words crawling up from where they’d stayed hidden between his ribs, he hunched forward and let his eyes fall to their legs.  

“You already know what happened, okay? I lost my dad when I was eight. There was-” Only a single thought in and he was already fighting to keep him teeth from gnashing together. “We got in a crash on the way home from school. It’d been- I think it was after orientation. I’d met my new teacher, and I hated that bitch. I remember she’d tried to talk to me like I was a fuckin’ baby and told me somethin’ about not being rowdy once the year started ‘cause the hag was goin’ on and on about how much of a shit I could be. I don’t know- I just got this feeling from the moment I saw her I was gonna hate her.”  

Knuckles pushed into his palm, he popped each one with a sharp crack before switching hands and doing the same. “Mom asked me about her once we got in the car, and I wasn’t about t’fuckin lie, so I started- I guess, yellin’ in the back seat.” Fingers moving to his wrist, his nails dug into the skin before scratching over and over, “You- you know how I get when I’m pissed. S’always been like that. Maybe it worse back then-” At least then the dull scrape against the lift of his veins was more distracting than the thump of his pulse or the way that every breath tasted like smoke and gasoline. “I just wanted a different teacher- they all thought I was some loud-mouthed bully. I wanted a different school away from shitty Deku and all the other annoying kids. I was fuckin’ smarter than them anyway, I shouldn’t have been there- But she didn’t wanna hear it so she turned around screamin’ shit back at me. Probably tellin’ me to shut up and deal with it but, like, fuck- I was a kid. I didn’t know what to do. I was just mad- and then the car was jerking and there was all this noise and- at the time, that’s all I knew till I was in the hospital.”  

The rough swallow to push away the tightness of his throat nearly made him gag. His mouth started to twitch down which he’d been actively working to stop since the very moment he’d come back into the room. But now, with goose bumps covering every inch of exposed skin and his sides quivering with the urge of his ribs to splinter, he could hardly focus on keeping himself from choking let alone stopping a frown.  

“And y’know,” Big breath in, sputtering near the end before puffing back out. “I forgot all this shit for years. When I was a kid, I didn’t remember any of it. I went along not really knowing what happened because every time I asked, I just got brushed off with a lame excuse. Bitch didn’t tell me anything till I was in high school and I threw a fit and basically forced her to scream it at me- and ever since then, it’s kinda come back in pieces. Apparently, some guy’d been drunk off his ass and swerved to drive on the wrong side of the road. Hit us head on and got my dad on impact. Mom’s arm was fucked and we both had pretty bad concussions but considering-” He shook his head to stop himself as a sharp canine cut against his tongue. “A concussion ain’t all that bad really, but she just wouldn’t stop crying, right? From the moment I woke up in that hospital a little fuckin’ unknowing kid- to the second I finally walked out the door- all she did was cry and yell and make me feel sorry for her. 

“Sure, I realize now she blamed herself, but I wasn’t smart enough to know that then- I couldn’t think about things that convoluted. When she told me it was my fault- or implied it- or whatever she wants to believe she didn’t do- she was only trying to push the guilt off herself. She didn’t even have to say it that many times. Really, it was probably just once or twice- offhanded when she was drunk or something- but- it really fucked me up for a long time. Like if I hadn’t been yelling, then he woulda been able to focus more or something and seen it coming in time? How’s that even work? And as much as I hate her, it’s not her fault either- not like we coulda stopped some asshole from being irresponsible and fucking everything up. 

“It wasn’t all bad. Things coulda been a lot worse for me. I mean, it got a little better- all her blubbering and shit- but then she just turned her anger and frustration into trying to mold me into this weird, pristine little trophy she could show off as if the rest of her life was falling apart. Nothing I did was ever good enough for her. She wanted me to be perfect and never let anyone know that something was wrong with us. Everything I was good at- sports- school-" He broke into a contorted laugh for a second, letting his head fall more with it. “Shit, I ever tell you she made me learn piano for fucking years just to have one more thing to brag about? Whatever she wanted- she'd try to take my achievement and make it her own. Half the time she’d praise me and tell me how amazing I was and how good I was doing and how there’d never be anyone better than me but then the slightest slip up and I’d be some ungrateful brat sucking all the energy outta her and how it was a waste of time trying to make me better if I was just going to be so difficult- All it’d take was one tiny mistake for me to be the worst thing that ever happened to her- I know she thinks what she was doing was right, but I’m just all messed up now. I tried- I really fucking tried to tell myself it’s okay to not be the best at everything- everybody has weaknesses- there's always going to be someone better or different or new- but it hardly works. And now look at me-” 

The next laugh came out even worse than the first. Clenched teeth and scrunched eyes, it hiccupped out as his shoulders began to shake. “I can’t even do something as simple as telling someone how I’m feeling- How can I when I don’t understand what I’m feeling most of the time ‘cause whenever I dared to bring it up, nobody wanted to wanna hear about it- ‘specially her. Somehow it’d always turn into how things were harder for her and my complaining wasn’t making it any easier and I didn’t understand how much I should be grateful for so there wasn’t any reason for me to be upset- eventually I just didn’t try to say shit anymore. I gave up because it’s not like after everything, she ever talked to me or looked at me or was there for me like a mom’s supposed to- Your parents are supposed to teach you how to treat people and how people are supposed to treat you and I don’t know what to do when I’m not getting shit for things that aren’t my fault or I’m just trying to scramble to shove off my own issues before anyone sees. 

“I figured, maybe, if I got away from her, I could finally figure everything out. And after a while- after finding new people, I thought I understood what all the feelings I was missing were supposed to feel like. But I was so stupid-” Arms curling crossing against his sides, he clawed at the thin fabric of the shirt and pulled to tightened it around him.  

“Because of shitty people like her I’ve just assumed for the longest time that something like- that, like, caring about someone and letting them in- that would make me- weak. Because it makes you so fucking easy to manipulate. Because the second I got away from her and I was on my own and I was finally feeling good enough to let my guard down, someone came in and took advantage of it. All people do is poke at me and laugh till I get mad then tell me what I want to hear so I calm down.” The shift and quick breath across from him had Katsuki barking with raw panic, “Before you start- I know this is different and I know you wouldn’t do that, but I don’t think I’ve ever known what any of this was meant to be like, so you can’t fucking blame me for being confused and stubborn. I’m still not any good at this and I don’t know what I’m doing and I just shove shit out onto people without ever really explaining myself. I know that’s not right- And, fuck, Ei I’m sorry that I let all that shit affect what you’re trying to do for me. I know it’s just how much you care and want to show that you’re here for me, but I can’t help but think about everything that’s gone wrong and every way the same things have been used against me somehow. 

“Mom and I- We can’t- People don’t come easily to us. But to think she’d actually found someone who never cared about how harsh she was. Maybe that should give me some hope, but it really just makes it worse because she lost them. The one person she had that understood her is gone and I know she's never fully come back from that. Really, how could she? What I saw- Everything she did-” He curled over a little more, tugged a little harder, tried to compress himself and steady each ragged breath. “I don’t want to go through that. I don’t think I’m as strong as her- I couldn’t-” His head shook back and forth without intention or meaning. “I’ve never wanted to have someone that ruins you like that when they leave-” His eyes clamped tight enough to bloom color behind his lids and mix with the stormy pain at his temples. “So fuck you honestly. Because I didn’t even get a fucking choice. What I feel-” It was sickening. A curdling nauseous warmth that felt like it’d turn to blisters if he let it out. “I-” There were teeth gnawing at his cheeks between his words. It was a poor attempt at keeping the pressure in his jaw from shaking through him and pouring out of every pore it could. “I hate that I’m terrified-” But he could only fight it for so long. “I hate that I don’t want you to go-” He could only hold back the flood until the dams broke, his walls shattered, the tears dripped out. “You say you’re not going anywhere but I know if one day you do- I don’t think like you- I don’t think I’ll be okay eventually. I’ve never felt-” His voice snapped suddenly into something higher, the sharp edges of broken glass grating together. “You had no fucking right to do this to me.” His whole body ached and the uncomfortable curve to his hunched spine begged to be straightened. But he couldn’t pick himself up. “I hate that I’m happy.” He couldn’t straighten himself out when his nose felt clogged and his cheeks were wet and each word sounded more like a plea than a slight. “Not- not right now. But before this. I’ve been happy even when I don’t show it but I’m still fucking it up and you just don’t see that one day I think you’re gonna get tired of it. And I won’t even blame you. I can’t stand myself.” His breath was pulled through sludge when it came in. Sticky and uneven it barely made him feel any less suffocated as he tried to blink through burning blear and shame. “I’m self-centered and crass and violent and you deserve so much more than me. I’m sorry you think you like me. I really am because I-” Swallowing the rest, chest caving in, his voice was a tight whine near forgotten- a pitiful little sound he hadn’t heard since he was just a kid. “I’m just so fucking sorry-” 

Maybe he’d never stopped being a kid at all. 

Something about that had been enough. Something felt final, and despite the verbal knots he’d tied himself in, Eijirou’s hand pushed through the weeds to cup his cheek. His thumb smeared through wet streaks, wiping them away but feeling all too much like he was rubbing them in. Katsuki wanted to snap, sink his teeth into the meat of his palm if only just to taste blood that wasn’t his own. Marred lips, chewed-raw cheeks, admittance and remembrance shredding through his lungs and his brain until the only thing he could taste was tangy copper and the only thing in front of his eyes was the same blurry vision he’d seen since it all began. Knuckles tight enough to grow pale, face flushed and tired, tears dripping off his mother’s nose as she desperately tried to pretend everything was okay. 

“Do you want to move on?” The answer wasn’t anything more than a choked sob that never really had a purpose to begin with. The hand pressed harder, forcing his face up and his neck to bend. “The past isn’t coming back. Good and bad- it's all gone. Let the bad go, okay? If you can’t do that, there’s no point in trying to keep going thinking it’ll be any better. You’ve become exceptionally good at harboring everything inside, but it kind of feels like you’re rotting, doesn’t it? This’ll eat away at you till there’s nothing left if you let it.” Jostling Katsuki’s head a little, Eijirou smiled behind the blur. “So don’t let it.” 

 With a rough sniffle, Eijirou’s hand dropped to take him by the waist and haul him over into his lap. “Come here,” His arms slid around Katsuki’s back and pulled them together. Katsuki’s knees came up, pushing against Eijirou’s sides as he curled into his chest. “You don’t think I’m scared too?” At least with his face shoved into Eijirou’s shoulder, he didn’t have to worry about the feeling of hot tears on his skin, cooling into nothing but remorse and salty tracks. “I’ve never been this willing to give up everything I have- everything I thought I knew for someone. But it’s exciting, isn’t it? Yeah, frightening- but in kind of a fun way. You’re unpredictable and sometimes it’s a lot to keep up with, but I feel more alive now than I have in years. 

“I’ve meant everything I’ve ever said about you. I don’t care what you think- you’re a good person and you’re wrong- I should be happy, and you make me happy so you’re exactly what I deserve.” Eijirou ducked down, pushing kisses against hairline and temple before getting to what he could of Katsuki’s cheek. His voice fell off a bit as he hugged tighter. “And you deserve to be loved.” 

As much as it made him want to squirm, Katsuki knew it was true. He always had. Someone as rotten as he was. That’s who had always deserved him.  Never someone like this. 

“Do you feel better?” The soft question came as Eijirou leaned away and pried them apart enough to speak louder than a whisper. Blinking slowly back into clarity and steady breathing, Katsuki only offered an exhausted, “mm” in return. “I’m proud of you, y’know?” Eijirou’s smile was too much. Held too much affection. Felt too much like a promise Katsuki could believe. He’d never wanted so badly to believe him. “Coming here, talking to her, telling me all this. That’s fucking hard but you did it and I’m really proud of you.” Katsuki’s breath puttered in, maybe his mouth wobbled a little bit, maybe his shoulders were still shaking- and because of it all, Eijirou had him by the cheeks instantly. “Hey, hey, don’t start crying again. I’ll start too if you keep going.” 

“I’m okay.” Just that much was enough to have his throat scratching. He sucked up the last remnants of his blubbering and lifted a knuckle to scrub beneath his eyes. 

“Yeah,” One hand left his cheek to push his fringe back and card through his hair. “You’re okay.” 

Existence seemed exhausting in that moment, but he tried for a nod if only to watch the smile spread wider over Eijirou’s face. 

“Want another bath?” 

Heavy-limbed and spent, moving- standing- bathing- it sounded impossible. His nodding turned to a small shake back and forth. The fingers in his hair were soothing. His vision dimmed behind dropping lids with every light scratch over his scalp. 

“Just sleep?”  

The words made his eyes flutter open again. He hummed, consciousness wavering. Eijirou dipped lower, the lips against his forehead agreeing for stillness. 

Eijirou was leaning away too soon, too fast. Without consent, a groan crawled from Katsuki’s throat as shaky hands still clutched his shirt. The chuckle that mocked him was embarrassing but if desperation got him what he wanted, he’d give in while his mind was still catching up. It was worth the twinge of shame once hands on his face brought their mouths together. 

Firm, drawn out, he savored being tipped back to the mattress with a kiss and pressed by a heavy chest into the sheets. His legs spread out, his eyes closed. Weight, comfort, safety- Katsuki clung to it all while the urge to spew the rest of his feelings hit strong within his throat. 

He should let them out- just one time, throw them into the air while the tension was gone and his chest was cracked open as much as it’d ever been- 

Should, but he knew he wouldn’t. Even after everything- he couldn’t fix himself all at once. Still a coward afraid of his own thoughts, he would be silent. He’d stay wordless as they parted and the sheets came over them and he was pulled back into his chest with an arm over his side and his face guided to Eijirou's neck. He wouldn’t concede even when exhaustion begged for his thoughts to surrender or when sleep was assumed and hushed secrets were whispered against his hair. 

“Love you,” 

Followed by the soft sound of a kiss to his crown, the sentiment called to him to answer. 

“So much,” 

His lip only trembled, trapped under teeth- but his eyes closed, his breath steadied, his fears slid away, and he was safe. 

Warm, wanted, safe.  

Chapter Text

Cold seeped in beneath the sheets and his eyes opened.  

Katsuki gave a slow blink with quiet shivering as Eijirou shifted to the other side of the bed. Sitting up, Katsuki’s eyes followed him. His back twisted into a deep curve, cracking as the blur of sleep left Katsuki’s vision and let him focus in on the shift of tan muscle. Eijirou brushed back the chunks of hair pooling over his shoulders, puffed and disorderly from sleep. He worked through a few thick knots before pushing it behind his ears and moving his arms up to the ceiling in a popping stretch.

It’d been months since Katsuki had woken up and hadn’t found himself alone in the pile of blankets.

On the rare occasions he got this, Katsuki always felt wonder watching him. But then, it seemed when it came to Eijirou, Katsuki was always watching. Always admiring. Always longing to be closer even when there wasn’t a breath of space between flesh and heartbeats. 

Things should have been easier. He could recognize when the tingles hit his veins- so why couldn’t he say anything? After everything- he'd never felt closer- never felt more comfortable in their tiny bubble. 

Never felt so calm when Eijirou smiled as he looked down and caught Katsuki staring.

Katsuki should tell him everything before he was alone again.

No ,

He should tell him everything because he wouldn’t be alone again.

Everything he thought about rough, tangled hair, and bright eyes, and rich laughter, and how painfully tight his chest felt every time he tried to tell himself he shouldn’t deserve any of it- none of that came out easily. But he should tell him, covered by a warm blanket and the bright kiss of a new sun- tell him now that his muscles felt soft and his chest was light- tell him just quiet enough that maybe it’d be forgotten like a dream in the midst of dawn-

“Good morning.” Eijirou breathed through his smile, eyes crinkling up and lips pulling back to let the white of his grin pull Katsuki in further.

Despite himself, there wasn’t another apprehensive thought. Mind too full of awe and just enough sleep to have him giving in to his own will, the words fell easily from dry lips,

“I love you.”

Eijirou’s grin faltered if only for a moment long enough to blink and comprehend the words. But then he was back to it- smiling even brighter than before. “That’s good.”

Fatigue was ripped from his nerves and replaced with a loud echo that crackled through the air. Propping himself up on an elbow, Katsuki barked, “Good? That’s good? ” He gripped the sheets, wrenching them up in hands and letting his teeth slide together. “I tell you that, and all you have to say is-”

“Sorry, sorry.” Eijirou was flapping his hand around and laughing like the rage pouring from the bed beside him wasn’t palpable. “M’still waking up and you caught me off guard, and I- Well, it’s not like I didn’t already realize that.”

Katsuki shook his head, made sure he was understanding this right before he drew his legs up into a curl on his side beneath the blankets.

“Sorry,” He said again, twisting and bending so he could hover just above him. “Love you too.”

“Yeah, I fuckin’ know.” The closeness made Katsuki fall from his elbow back into the mattress with a glare. “You’ve only said it to me like- way too many times for me not to have said it back.”

“Maybe not with words, but you did.”

“You’re so fucking aggravating. Lean down so I can punch you in the teeth.”

“I’ll do ya one better.” Eijirou chimed, coming down to push a kiss against his forehead. Katsuki could feel the curve of his smile and the huff of a laugh. “I’m glad to see you’re feeling better.”

“I’m mad.”

“You’re threatening me- which is a lot better than anything else you’ve been doing for the past few weeks.” Katsuki was ready to spit out a rebuttal, but Eijirou swooped down, falling to rest on an elbow and kissing the words off his tongue. “Let’s not. We said everything we needed to, right?” He rolled away, flopping onto his back and bringing his arms up over his head. “So, let’s move on.”

Sheets kicked low, stiff limbs cracking as he went, Katsuki followed closely and clambered up to sit himself on the small spread of Eijirou’s thighs as soon as he was settled on his back.

Their eyes caught once he stilled- even though he’d lost count of the times he sat high like this, something about it was easier this time around. More comfortable than it had been in a while. He couldn’t find an ounce of tension in either of them as he brushed his hands up each arm, wrist to shoulder, back down, staring, breathing.

Bringing his gaze lower, it snagged on the bit of green poking out from under the faded neck of Eijirou’s tshirt. Sneaking his fingers along the bottom hem, Katsuki pushed with little resistance. If anything, the slight bend to Eijirou’s spine helped him scrunch the fabric up until he could get an eyeful of inked skin. Deep green leaves, warm golden petals, the striking brightness of orange scales, all crawling up his chest before disappearing beneath the bunching of his shirt. 

“Here-” Eijirou said, squirming, pulling at the collar to get the shirt off. It was dropped over the edge of the bed as he shifted back to the sheets. “You still like it?”

Head tipped slightly, he shrugged. “Yeah.”

Even without clear sincerity, Eijirou beamed beneath him. It shouldn’t matter if he liked it. It wasn’t his. He shouldn’t have any opinion that mattered-

“Does it make me look cool?”

“S’gonna take a lot more than one tattoo to make you cool, Ei.”

“It’s a start, though, right?”

He soothed over the subtle swell, humming as his fingers gently traced the lines. “More to come?”

“Who knows. Once you start it’s hard to stop- that's what Mina told me.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

Short chuckle out like a hiccup, Eijirou reached up and wiggled his finger under Katsuki’s nose to flick at the ring there. “Yeah, sure you wouldn’t. But don’t worry, I’ll never be cooler than you.”

“I don’t try to be cool.” His face scrunched, blowing air out through his nose fast to quell the itch. “It just happens.”

“Right, glad to hear you found your humility again.”

“I’m self-aware.”

This laugh was louder. It shook them both. Katsuki fought a smile.

“Is that what you’re gonna call it?”

It was possible he allowed the smallest quirk of his lips. “You got somethin’ to say?”

“Let’s get into that one at a different time.”

“Why not now? I think you’re vyin’ for a fist fight today.”

Nah , you’re just easier to rile up when you’re tired.” He made no effort to move, just jerked his chin up a little and pulled at Katsuki’s hips. “C’mere.”  

He hunched down, knees spreading wider to slide low and close. The kiss was slow- ignoring the way their mouths were still a bit tacky and gross from sleep, feeling much less like an apology or sympathy than the ones he’d received last night had. Hands skimmed his thighs, rubbing up and down the sides with a light touch that bordered on tickling. It all felt like adoration wrapped up in the soothing trail of fingers over each bump of his spine that coaxed his mouth open wider. His own hands worm their way up to find Eijirou’s cheeks. They hold on loosely as Eijirou’s working jaw rubbed the scruff of his stubble against his palms. Lips wet, tongue brushing the sensitive ridges at the roof of his mouth, he shuddered with the scraps of a whine falling somewhere in between them. 

 “ Wait, ” Whispered beneath the slippery smack of a kiss, it went unheard until he pushed again with a heavier tone. “Wait-” He moved himself away quick, slid from the bed, shucked his shirt off, all while stumbling toward his suitcase. Rummaging around, as soon as his fingers closed around the little bottle, he was tossing it across the room to answer Eijirou’s confused “What?” that followed after him. 

“Kat, are you sure-” Picking the lube off the sheet, he looked up just as Katsuki hauled himself up onto the bed and settled back in his lap. “Don’t think that-”

“Right.” He agreed with enough of a clipped tone to stop Eijirou before he could continue. “Don’t think.” Petting down his shoulders, Katsuki pushed into the muscle before trailing down to his biceps. “I’m okay.” He squeezed them, rubbing little circles with his thumbs as he let out a deep breath. “I’m good. I’m really good.”

“You don’t have to make up for anything.”

“I know.” 

“It’s okay to just take it easy.”

“I know.”

“I love you.” Carefree as he’d always said it, it still dripped over Katsuki’s skin like a cold rag.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fully aware.”

Maybe the words would warm eventually. Stop feeling like tiny shocks eventually. He wanted them to settle in his mind, burrow in deep and soothe him from the inside out. He wanted to embrace them without a hint of anxiety. All in due time.

“Hey,” Katsuki called it out with a huff and the drop of his weight to distract them both. The bottle was tossed to the side again, Eijirou’s hands moving to his hips the moment they started rolling. “You ever consider how much it fuckin’ sucks to wake up alone all the time?”

“What?” It came instinctively until his brain caught up to the words and he was frowning. “I didn’t know-”

“Well it does.” He tried for a glare in spite of the interested flinch of his stomach between each grind back and forth. “Like, shit, sometimes I just wanna see your dumb, stupid face and instead I wake up to you yappin’ away on your phone or typing so fucking loud- why do you smack the keyboard like that-”

“I’ll stay in bed more from now on.” Just like that, his mouth flipped up into a smile. “Guess I got used to not considering this as an option so early-”

“By now I assumed I’d made it pretty fuckin’ clear this is an option any time of the damn day.”

“Mm, I’m all yours whenever you please, then.”

“Yeah? Here I was thinkin’ you’ve been mine.”

“Well, I wasn’t sure if that’s what you really wanted.” Fingers taking hold, Eijirou finally held onto him firmly, drug him along the tent of the cock rutting against his own. “But it goes both ways, you know.” There was purpose to the way he pushed and pulled with the will of Katsuki’s hips, but somehow, he still managed to keep both a suffocating, fiery heat behind his stare and a soft innocence to his grin. “You sure you wanna be mine, kid?”

In lieu of giving himself away, Katsuki lifted high on his knees and began working at getting his boxers off. “Shut it and lose the drawers, old man.”

Through lungfuls of tightly wound frustration and effort, they managed to rid themselves of each pair and toss them to the floor. Coming back down, elbows to the sheets, finally meeting skin on skin, the ragged nature of their groans mixed together between open mouths.

Despite the press of Katsuki’s cock into his hip, Eijirou still felt the need to keep himself settled in the sheet without a hand reaching out. “This still okay?”

As if the lack of fabric made a difference. As if he was some fragile thing a second away from shattering.

The rough sound from his throat was one of sheer frustration, brow furrowing enough to crease his forehead as he scowled. “Yes- Stop askin’ me.”

“No can do.”

“I’m fine.”

“Excuse me for being unconvinced, considering-”

Fisting at the pillow case, he opted for the hurried grind of his hips but the hand on his waist and the other cupping his ass hurried to make him still before he could find any sense of pleasant friction. He huffed heavily with the resistance, reaching up to grab Eijirou’s jaw between his fingers and try for his more intimidating tone this time. “Do I not feel fucking fine?” Eijirou looked sheepish with the way we pet at the back of his thighs and lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “Oi, I am, so stop thinkin’ about it. I wanna do this. Clearly. We both do, yeah? And you want me?” Even Eijirou’s nod was meek- Katsuki tightened the squish of his face in retaliation and knocked their heads together. “You want everything?” Another nod brushed against his forehead, blurry red staring back at him wide and open as ever. “Then you gotta deal with the bullshit and learn to get over it when I tell you to. I'm fine . You got that?”

“You’re fine. But it takes more than just one night to get over a- like, complete breakdown-”

Watch it, ” He threatened for a start before following up with the drift of his gaze.

“It’s true.”

“It varies.”

Eijirou moved him back, arm wedged between them and hand splayed on his collar. “It happens often?

God,” Katsuki griped as he shifted back, ignored the flutter in his gut, groaned off toward the headboard. Well, I’m not saying that was the first time things have ever been bad, I just- It- Look it helped. To talk shit out. Understand, idiot? So- Thanksorwhatever - fuck, I didn’t wanna do this-” Blowing some air from puffed cheeks out thin lips, he worked harder the glare to combat the soft look below him. There was a smile now too. All gentle and kind and it made him sick. “Just shut up about it already.” Grappling with the sheet, he let his eyes dart down for just a second to grab the discarded bottle and blindly shove it into Eijirou’s hand. “I don’t wanna hear whatever sappy shit you’re thinkin’ about spewin’.”  

“I wasn’t-” But it was clear he was holding back a laugh even while giving in to dripping lube over his fingers.

“You were.” To keep the urge to swat and punch at bay, he took to grabbing at the pillow again. “One more word and I’m getting up and taking a shower.” 

With a hum and a nod, Eijirou’s thumb tickled down his back, swiping soft lines against his skin before his fingers dipped low, pressed gently, rubbed with relaxed intent until finally pushing inside. Two at once, slow, but determined and practiced with the way the sunk in each time. The hand resting on his thigh drifted up to squeeze gently at his pec before narrowing in with a pinch to the barbell through his nipple. Startling, staticky buzzing made its way from the subtle twist of the metal straight through his core to the twitch of his cock.

Chest pushed into the touch, lips open for a sharp breath, it was a fight between crumbling forward and folding back to encourage the slide of his fingers deeper. But the moment they spread, began to speed up, Katsuki followed the shiver up his back and pulled himself away from them and the viscid heat below. He reached back to grab Eijirou’s wrist to stop him as he eyed their dicks bob helplessly from the loss of contact.

“Kat,” Almost coming out annoyed, Eijirou huffed an exhale as his head fell into the pillow. “C’mon-”

“Shut it,” Releasing his wrist and coming back down; lips to lips, he cut him off. Slow down, He breathed between a kiss. Reaching between them, he fumbled for Eijirou’s cock to give it a few lazy strokes. “We’ve got the time, right?” Transfixed, forever wrapped around Katsuki’s finger whether he liked it or not, Eijirou nodded. “Then chill the fuck out.”

There was none of the usual loud moaning or jerking arch of his back when he sat up, slid his legs open and eased himself over the head. Just a calm, deliberate heat that swarmed into his chest and demanded that his breaths fall in line with the lax tempo of two pulses. He tried to stay up, tease his way down, but there wasn’t a place for any sort of temptation as the hold around his hips brought him swiftly to the hilt- up, slow and merciless- down again, burning hot and gooey. Inch by inch, carved out like every time before by a thick cock that left him quivering mess of frayed nerves and clammy skin.

Eijirou took his words to heart just as usual. And like always, it seemed to backfire. Barely begun, and he could feel everything throbbing. Around him, within him, one deafening thud after the other. In his ears, his throat, his fingers, his thighs, it all thumped and tingled.

Even without the hold on his frame, Katsuki maintained the momentum of leaden thrusts if only to keep himself together somehow. But with Eijirou’s hands charting the goosebumps on the inside of his thighs, he couldn’t will his muscles to relax.

“Already shaking, baby?”

The noise from his throat was a poor excuse for an argument all garbled and raw.

“Aren’t you the one that wanted it slow?”

The next sound came as an angry huff through his nose.

All the pressure was worked from him with jagged edges that seemed to snag and yank on his insides as it went. Hot coil clicking tighter and tighter until he was near vibrating every time he pushed back. High on his pedestal, Katsuki tucked his chin down to watch the way Eijirou’s gaze, voracious and unabashed as it was, attempted to devour him whole. Tracing the lines of his straining legs, the ripple each time his stomach constricted, the flush splattered across his chest, all before coming back up to his face and pulling him down into a kiss by the shoulders.

Sloppy and uncoordinated as it may have been, it still left all the room for a soft edge to return to their movements. The smallest rocking, bodies hardly moving at all past dallying lips and the endless trail of Eijirou’s hands over his skin.

The care behind his touch, the unavoidable reverence in every gaze that once dared to scald Katsuki from the inside out now simply warmed him, gradually melted him until he was soft the touch, dripping and malleable into whatever ethereal thing Eijirou saw him as.

This time, he didn’t flinch away from it. There was an indulgence to giving in- one that had so often seemed to scream of weakness and risk. But with vulnerability had come good things- great things- something he suddenly couldn’t see himself without.

Wetting his lips, Katsuki’s words felt thick as he laid them out among his heavy breaths. “Stop actin’ like such hot shit and look here-” Eijirou did. Immediately so. Their eyes met from beneath the dip of lashes and the heat of such a stare tore straight through him even more than the flames flicking away in his gut already had. “-you better fuckin’ listen to me when I say this.” He tipped forward a little more to loom over him, voice catching on a high sound as he shifted and clenched around the cock filling him. “y-you-” Fuck, he felt near drunk off sleep and fervor and all the blood draining from his head to swim down, down, down - He let a shaky hand grab at Eijirou’s jaw to desperately ground himself before biting out the rest. “You’re not gettin’ rid of me now.”

Good. ” It was sighed so fast Katsuki nearly missed it. 

“I’m done runnin’ from you,” Every pick of his hips up lingered until his back pinched and he relaxed down again. The heat came in waves across his body, seeped inside his pores, made him itch and sweat and burn. “You’re it- so- you better not break my fuckin’ heart.”

“Okay.”

Teeth bared, he hissed the word back and snapped his hips forward. “ Okay?

“I won’t.” Eijirou rushed, eyes darting back and forth between his own. “I won’t. I promise-”

Letting go of his jaw, the hand pushed back at the shock of red. “Then say it again.” 

In the space between words, Katsuki pet at his hair while pushing hard on the sunflower etched above his heart.

He wouldn’t say more than that. He wouldn’t ask for what he wanted- what he needed to hear. If Eijirou didn’t know- if he couldn’t hear it when Katsuki’s voice trembled just slightly in the middle of his demand- if he couldn’t read it in the crease of Katsuki’s forehead or the way his breath was growing shallow or how his hands were shaking against sweaty skin-

It didn’t matter. 

Of course he knew.

“I love you.” Pushing himself up, pulling Katsuki down, plunging headlong into confession and admittance and truth. “I love you,” There was a crippling sound somewhere in there- maybe it was a gasp, maybe a laugh, but it ripped him open either way, peeling everything back until there was nowhere to hind even within himself.  “Fuck, Katsuki, I love you so much.”

Unashamed, afraid but enlivened, he refused to isolate himself any longer. “me too-” He answered through the punch of air out of his lungs with each languid roll of his hips, each hot slide in and out, each catch and tug at his rim. “- me too- me too-”

He was lifted up easily, the hands nearly touching around his waist never finding it difficult to move him this way and that. Eyes narrowed into a glare, he whined through confusion and agitation as Eijirou pulled him high enough that his cock slipped out and left Katsuki to writhe at the feeling of nothing at all.

“Fuck are you doing -? ” Katsuki tried to sound as pissed as he felt, but he knew full well it barely reached the edge of annoyed.

Eijirou wasn’t listening anyway- didn't care to hear it apparently- just pulled Katsuki forward with a hand on the back of his neck and another at the base of his spine. 

Katsuki tried to snap again- he'd sucked in enough air to manage something a bit more menacing, but the messy kiss smeared against lips and the tight curl of fingers around their cocks stopped him dead in his tracks. They squeezed at the base, wrist twisting as they slid up and rolled fingers from one slick tip to the other. 

When he moaned, it was swallowed up by an arm around his neck, teeth closing and pulling at his lip, tongue coming out to slide over the divots left behind. He tried his best to thrust into the heat of his palm- a desperate attempt to further ease the thrumming pulse wrapping tight around his nerves. They were straining, positions close to breaking, but he held on, curled himself forward and sucked down every gasp and grunt that slipped from the mouth wiping across his own. And he came with a stiff tension that quaked and throbbed from neck to ankle; near silent with only the upward pinch of his brows, the slick sound of Eijirou fisting their cocks, and an exhale that sputtered between the part of his glossy lips. Relentless, he was hiked up even higher. Nearly onto Eijirou’s heaving chest, his hand went out to the headboard to steady himself as a tongue met the trembling muscles of his stomach.

Shit, ” From surprise and the rough tickle laving over his skin, he wheezed. Each line through the sticky trails of cum made his sides twitch until he hunched forward and curled his fingers up in the messy red. “Quit it,” He griped, tugging once at Eijirou’s hair. It did little to stop him, just pulled out a grumbling moan that derailed quickly into something unraveled as wet heat splattered against Katsuki’s lower back.

Shoving his head away, Katsuki tried- really fucking tried - for a glare, but one look at Eijirou’s high blush and goofy grin had him crumpling into an embarrassed sort of irritation. “You’re fuckin’ gross.”

“I love you.”

Ice slid against burning skin.

He rolled his shoulders to work out some of the chill.

“Don’t care.” He got himself up and back onto the other side of the bed despite the tinge of an ache already settling in his knees. “Don’t wanna hear it.”

“No?” Eijirou was already reaching for him, trailing a soft touch from shoulder to wrist. Katsuki let their fingers tangle in the sheets just long enough to negate the harsh edge to his petulance.

“No.” He answered, pulling his hand away and stretching to welcome the glow through the windows onto his skin. “I’m taking a shower.”

“Can I come?”

No.

 

If just for a handful of minutes, his body was still and his head was quiet. A fuzzy nothingness grounded by slow breathing and the rhythmic beat of water on his back. This shower much nicer than the last, he stayed beneath the spray until his chest and arms grew red. And only once he stepped out and found himself leaving the bedroom in soft cotton did any feeling begin to return.

The hotel wasn’t close to nice, but the suite wasn’t tiny. There was still a separation between the bedroom and the rest. A small kitchenette had been set up in the corner, and atop the counter sat a coffee pot bubbling its way near full.

Sweatpants tied loosely, hair barely brushed into something other than a horrible nest of tangles, Eijirou yawned through his reach for the mugs stacked neatly on the tile.

“Coffee?” He called, voice and smile warm enough to keep even the water dripping off damp hair to Katsuki’s shoulders from making him shiver. 

Walking in, he nodded.

The exchange had happened dozens of times at this point- the domesticity of it stung but less a whip and more like the pleasant zing of the spring sun on winter-pale skin. But the skittish, alert pang remained even in the gentlest of senses. 

There were still shadowy corners to his mind. Ones that housed crafty hands that fiddled and flicked out insecurities faster than he could break them apart. For the first time in a while, those fingers had taken a moment of rest. His mind was calm if only for a morning, but with the sweat washed away from his skin came new energy and away they worked.

One issue tucked in neatly and taped down for now, another popped up in its place. Usually, the never-ending cycling from one sour mood to another tired him- Usually, he was all by himself.

But now, he stepped closer.

“We slept in a bit,” Eijirou started as he handed off a mug. With his own, he settled at the small table pushed against the wall and thumbed open some boring book he’d stuffed into his suitcase. “Might as well just wait till lunch time to eat. I know you’re no stranger to caffeine for breakfast.”

But now, Katsuki was changing.

Bit by bit, he inched toward progress. He’d thought for so long that the hand at his back, urging him along, was just pushing- that it was forcing him to rely on its presence so one day it could pull away and leave him to fall helplessly. It was clear now. When he broke apart, it would be there to hold the pieces. It wasn’t a trick at all. He could lean on it. It wouldn’t go anywhere. It would warm him and wrap around him and carry him through the haze until he could step forward with his own feet.

Coffee steaming between his palms, he spoke abrupt and firm from the depth of his chest.

“I’m going to see my mom again.”

The flip of a page stuttered half-way but then Eijirou was continuing with a hum. “Okay.”

Katsuki looked up, the casual nonchalance of that word over and over again left him feeling like he should be bothered. “I think I should go alone this time.” 

Swallowing around his quiet sip, Eijirou blindly lowered the mug and guided it to the table with his pinky. Even when he knew there was a simmer starting up across the room, he didn’t lift his eyes from the book. “Whatever you need.”

“What I need is for none of this to have ever happened!” It was an unnecessary snap that threated to unravel all his progress despite the light of a new day pouring in around them. The smallest flash of Eijirou’s frown with how sharp his words turned felt more like a hot iron to his throat. He clicked his jaw, swallowed the rest of the venom and breathed through it. “I mean,” Eijirou looked up and the rest tangled up in his mouth as their eyes met. Frustrated and apprehensive, he tossed his head a little. “S orry-” He said in a rush, just as quick as he backed it up with “Thank you-” and then shook his head again. “Just- I gotta do this, right?”

“I’ll be here when you’re done.”

The gulp of coffee Katsuki forced down his throat stung but it spread through him nicely. Another followed, hurting a little less than the last. He set the mug on the counter with a clank and a slosh. His feet moved fast but stumbled a bit as he turned on his heels and teetered in the doorway of the bedroom. 

“Hey Ei, I-” 

Head up from the book, he came to pin Katsuki between his impulse and his fears.

Katsuki could have said it again right there. Let the words slip out like they ached to and then turn away.

The moment was right. It shouldn’t be hard anymore. But that felt wrong- because some part of him- all of him- wanted to watch the pleasant twist of Eijirou’s face each and every time. He wanted to be able to bask in the reaction and exist in a moment without having anywhere to flee. He’d save it. Give himself something to look forward to once he returned. Maybe then it wouldn’t feel so frightening.

So instead of the truth, he turned and waved over his shoulder with a muttered, “Figure out what you want to eat for when I get back.”

“Okay.” 

Okay.

It wasn’t an expression of exasperated defeat or indifference for Eijirou. It was the utmost acceptance of Katsuki’s tumultuous will. Tender but light, shattering any semblance of the cage he’d built around himself- in that word alone, somehow Eijirou made it clear. He knew. Everything. He’d always known enough for the both of them.

Chapter Text

Holidays in the city had been bleak. 

By choice. 

Everyone in his classes scattered back to wherever they came from. Everyone he knew seemed to vanish. 

The first year they were there, Mina and Izuku offered for him to come spend the short winter break with them. 

He declined. 

The second year, Izuku extended the invitation again. 

He declined. 

Despite Mina’s warning, Hitoshi was the next to suggest Katsuki come along to his dad’s place. It wasn’t a question Katsuki had to answer- Hitoshi knew him well enough by then; but the intention was clear. 

And he declined. 

Anytime they all left at once- when they knew they’d be with their families while Katsuki sat in an empty apartment, they spoke about going home while leaving a clear opening for him to insert himself. 

He never did.  

He wouldn’t go with anyone that might take him back there. Too close to her. Too close to everything he had never wanted to see again. 

He wouldn’t go with anyone new. They didn’t need to see how impossibly worse his mood became when surrounded by bitter reminders of a family life he may never have. 

And yet, against everything he thought for so long, there he was. On the same street he swore he’d never return to. In front of the same house he’d wished time and time again would burn to the ground. 

All for what? Whom? For himself? For Eijirou? For his mother? 

Standing at the end of the sidewalk, the house felt smaller to him now. 

He hadn’t really taken the chance to look up at it yesterday. His vision had been mostly black until he stepped foot inside and it was taken over by fiery, billowing frustration.  

This house had loomed over him as a child- terrified him with dark, empty rooms as a teenager. 

Now, he’d grown bigger than it would ever be. He could fill every corner, burst from the windows and break through the walls that once threatened to cave in and bury him alive.  

Now, he was used to the city, to a big bed and tall windows that weren’t technically his own but they still felt like- 

It was too early to call it home. Too risky.   

He was just latching onto the first place he’d felt truly comfortable in a long time. 

But this house, in its small town, and its cloudy bubble- it had been left tucked away in his mind for years. He hoped that’s where it would stay after all this. Nothing more than a memory, dulled and fogged up by the unforgiving wear of time. 

 

His knocks to the front door went unanswered as he shifted back and forth from the chill seeping into his clothes. The inside of his cheek was getting raw with how he kept pulling it between his teeth. His fingers twitched. His toes curled. Maybe he should have brought Eijirou along again, if only to tell him to stop being so fidgety.  

He knocked again. 

Waited. 

Shifted. 

Knocked. 

When it opened, air came into his chest but refused to leave. He held it there, shoulders back and jaw set. 

He wanted to tell himself it would be easier this time. She’d already made her feelings clear. Words that stabbed right through him- surely, nothing could be worse than what had already happened. 

Mitsuki wasn’t nearly as surprised as before. There was still a moment where her face opened in shock, but it settled into a scowl just as fast. 

Her hand dropped the knob, not stepping back any but also not slamming it shut. “I didn’t expect to see you for another four years.” 

“Wouldn’t that be peachy.” The words came out easy enough. “Let me in.” 

She stared just long enough to let the doubt creep back in. There was still a whisper that he wanted her to shut him out. It would make leaving and forgetting about this place so much easier. Holding a grudge always felt more comfortable weighing his shoulders down than grief had. 

She turned, eyes staying snagged on him as long as they could before her head moved with the steps into the house. There was still no invitation inside. She walked off like every time before and made him choose to enter her space or run. 

The step over the threshold was heavy. The wood just inside the door swallowed his boots whole, ripped them from his feet with barely enough time to undo the laces. 

“I’m not staying long.” He announced, steady and loud. “And I’m not here for an apology, so stop worryin’ about coming up with one.” 

She wasn’t watching as he came to the living room. Back on the couch, she waited with a distant gaze fixed on the tv. He came to stand behind her, hands in the pockets of his jacket, eyes stuck to the back of her head. 

“I’m not leavin’ anything unsaid this time-” 

Her sigh was lofty and exaggerated but it was pulled out by the pressure of his presence looming over her. “Haven’t you already said enough?” 

“I didn’t get to a buncha shit yesterday because you went and pissed me off.”  

“The fact that I’m alive pisses you off.” 

“Wonder where I got that from.” 

Fingers clawing at the back of the couch, she twisted around suddenly. Her gaze was fierce, the bite of her words even more so, 

“I have never wanted anything more than for you to succeed.” 

He stared back, unwavering, finding the calm he needed in her fraying edges. The desperation lurking behind her temper was familiar. He knew that’s where he resided. Always chipping away at her from the inside. A slow, curdling poison that would kill her if he didn’t let himself drip out of the wound first. 

“Being successful and being happy aren’t the same thing.” 

Rage dissipating all at once, she gawked like a ghost had come to stand behind him. Or maybe it had taken his place entirely. 

“Who are you?” 

He wanted to laugh. 

He really wanted to laugh. 

He didn’t have an answer to that, and it was becoming increasingly clear that he may never be able to confidently admit the truth of not knowing. Of coming to be okay with not knowing. 

“I’m figurin’ that out. Now that I actually have the room and the-” love “-guess I’ve changed since I left here.” He finally took to stepping around the couch. Her eyes followed, tunneled in on him with the nervous huffs of her breathing. “Learned a lotta things you never taught me. Like if someone actually wants to listen to me- I don’t hafta yell just to be heard. So, I don’t wanna argue anymore. I didn’t wanna be back here at all- but I especially don’t wanna start screamin’ again when it’s not changing anything.” 

Her mouth opened, ready to bare her fangs; but he knew now, he wasn’t afraid of them anymore. 

“Don’t.” 

Lips pursed; she would remain a small, wispy version of herself forever because that's what she had chosen for herself. 

“I just said I’m not here to argue. I came to tell you everything I felt like I needed to for years and then I’m gonna leave.” Her face twitched. Mouth flattened into a thin line. Telling her what to do never ended well. Tell either of them what to do and they both came back twice as disagreeable. “You won’t interrupt me.” 

There wasn’t an option for her to say otherwise. Silence was the only way she would agree. He knew to take that for what it meant. 

“Dad’s dead.” He paused, gauging the way she stiffened; but her jaw slid and she remained quiet. “Died a long fuckin’ time ago. It happened and we can’t change that so why-” His voice got a little too weak in the middle, so he stopped for a heavy breath. “Why did you have to make it my fault?”  

“It wasn’t your fault.” 

Technically- it was an interruption. It was one he needed, but it was annoying that it didn’t feel as nice to hear as he wanted it to. After all this time, it was like nothing.  

“Obviously.” Obvious, now. “But that’s not how it felt. That's not how you made it seem. I know now that not everything people say- fuckin' certainly not everything I or you say- is what’s true. Anyone with a half a brain knows that, but you know who doesn’t? A fucking child . Did you, in all your grieving and wallowing, forget that a dumb, impressionable kid can’t tell the difference between what’s really going on and the flawed as hell projection you subjected me to for years?” 

Her eyes left him then. They fell low as she kept the aggression trapped in the curve of her lips and her thin brows coming closer together.  

“I was too young to really remember him, but I know you do and I realized at some point that you were just trying to shift whatever it was you were feeling to someone else so you didn’t have to carry it all by yourself but- that was- shit, that was a real fucked up thing to do to me.” 

By now, he could hardly tell if his hands hurt from the cold or just how tightly they were clenched in his pockets. He only squeezed harder so his nails dug into his palms like tiny points of escape for all the nerves and panic to bleed out from. 

“All my life I’ve acted like everything was my fault. People’s problems that don’t even have fuck all to do with me- I come up with a way to convince myself if I didn’t know them, they wouldn’t be dealing with it. Then I’m just stuck with all this stupid anger for what? Shit I can’t change? And maybe some of that’s just who I am, but I’m pretty sure you’ve got something to do with a big part of it. 

“So I’m mad- really fucking mad all the time. ‘Cause of that. ‘Cause of shit I shouldn’t care about. About nothing at all. For no real reason. But it took me till now to realize half the time I’m not even angry , I’m just fucking afraid of everything. I’m scared shitless because I’m just waiting around for all this- everyone else’s problems- all of your bullshit to creep up on me. All the thoughts that I won’t be good enough or I’ll never do enough or I’ll never be able to fix something that wasn’t fixable to begin with- All because some asshole decided to drunkenly ram his shitty car into us.” 

He really hadn’t wanted it, but maybe he was close to yelling. And maybe it felt good. He didn’t mean to- but getting wrapped up in it again got the better of him. Unraveled him. Ripped him open. 

“You know that’s what killed him right? It wasn’t me being a loud brat. It wasn’t you being selfish or cold or anything else you think. It was just some idiot and a buncha bad luck. But that’s not good enough, is it? You needed something to blame. You twisted me up into something to justify what happened. Because if it was an accident, and neither of us caused it, it could’ve happened to anyone. So why did it happen to you ? That didn’t sit right for you. Instead, it had to have been some sort of karmic bullshit. Because you had me and I came out shitty, somehow you deserved to lose someone you loved in return. Was that it?” 

Her head lifted and he truly wished it wouldn’t have. 

The expression she gave him was too raw and wounded for him to know what to do with. 

All red eyes and trembling crease along her forehead, he could guess how much her head hurt. It was the same pounding in his own. Trying to keep everything back and not let anyone see how much it hurt. How much they ached and wished things had been different. Selfishly, wished that it had all happened to someone else. 

He decided in the late hours of the past night he wouldn’t cry in front of her if he came back. Being here, he didn’t even feel the need to. 

But now, she was doing her best not to either. 

They couldn’t comfort each other. Not like they needed. Not like a mother and son should be able to. 

His lungs stung with the depth of a breath. His jaw quivered as it left him.  

“You said you want me to succeed? Well, how am I supposed to do that when you've made my life one long explanation for something I didn’t have anything to do with? That is why I left. Because I’m not here just so you can make yourself believe it wasn’t some random fucking accident. It was. Sometimes, things just happen . You didn’t plan for it, or ever think it would, but it did. ‘Cause shit does. And sometimes it’s really fucked up shit. Doesn’t mean you can try and blame them on someone else. I- I do it too. Shove my problems onto everyone else. Always yellin’ and complaining. Make my shit theirs to deal with. People don’t deserve it and probably get sicka me sometimes because I’m a hassle- but I’ve had to really tell myself to stop lately because sometimes the things you don’t plan don’t hafta be bad. Even if they look like it from the beginning. Even if you never wanted them, they can be really fucking great. But I’m shit at seein’ that, so I’m tryin’ to be better. And do better. For once in my life, I want to be able to enjoy the great things that happen to me. Not wait for the timer to stop and for everything to implode. I can’t do that when I’m still living in fear of a woman who’s too pathetic to even recognize what she did to her own kid. I know you think nothing you did was as bad as I make it seem- and maybe it wasn’t- but you can’t negate everything you did or said to me under the guise of you trying to love me.”  

“Katsuki, none of what happened to us was fair-” Finally, she cut in. Finally, he had a moment to try and remember to swallow air back into his chest. “I didn’t mean to-” Her head shook, fingers locked and squeezing at her knees. “Meant to or not, I never should have taken it out on you. I was lost. Maybe I still am. Will be- I don’t know- You don’t want to hear it, but I need you to know I am sorry for everything I ever said that might’ve hurt you. It’s probably too late-” 

“It is.” 

“You’ll always hate me now, won’t you?” 

“I don’t hate you.” 

No hope fluttered across her face. She was smarter than that. She knew what it meant. In some, twisted way, hate was still a form of love. A corrupted, sabotaging version of it. Hate lingers and he was done letting that happen. 

“Thought I did. But, no, I resent you.” He was taking every part of him when he left this time. “I’m apathetic towards you.” And he was enough like her to know how much worse that was. “I pity you.” 

He knew how hard it drove the splinter between them. Bang after bang of a nail into fractured bone, always just shy of shattering. 

She laughed, soft and broken like she had no idea what else there was to do. “Do you need me to admit to something specific so you can forget about me? What do you want to hear so you can feel satisfied?” 

“I don’t need anything from you.” She nodded along, aimless, conceding. “It’s not about forgetting. I can’t do that either. I just wanna move on. You didn’t deserve a goodbye from me, but I’m giving it for my own sake.”  

Her head turned just slightly, enough that she could look away and pretend to be thinking through options she didn’t have. 

“You’re so grown up.” 

That was what she settled on. 

A wistful remark that sounded far too fond. Too motherly. Too proud considering she had nothing to do with it. 

“I knew it the moment you walked in yesterday- you haven’t needed me for a while. Maybe you never needed me the way that I am. I think that pissed me off the most. But now, I’m just miffed I wasn’t around for it. 

“Would you listen if I were to say something?” She waited through the pause with a sigh. “Despite... well, everything, really. No, maybe because of it- ah, I don’t know. But despite how awful you think I may be; I refuse to take blame for every bad thing that has ever happened to you.” It wasn’t a surprise, but it still pushed at his lips to frown. “I hurt you. And probably mistreated you on more than one occasion- but you never made being a mother very easy. I felt like you hated me the moment you were born. You would cry when I held you, scream when I put you down. You were the grumpiest kid I ever met. An aggravating, temperamental teenager. I should have tried harder but you are not without your flaws.” Then she smiled, tucking it down toward her chest. “It’s just good to know that you’re figuring them out earlier than I did. I’ve always wished we could have been better- closer- but it’s clear that you don’t think it’s possible no matter how much I miss you now- 

“And I have missed you. Of course, I regret what happened and how much I’ve pushed you away. I know I can never take back any of it, but I just-” Her hands turned over and over in her lap, a wringing of her nerves that was so unfamiliar. Shouting, somehow, would have been better. “I hope I can know more, if anything, where you are- and if you’re okay- and if you’re happy- I’ve always wanted you to be happy, Katsuki. 

“I’m not forgiving you.”   

Quick. Severe. She didn’t flinch, just shook her head. 

“I’m not asking you to-” 

“But you hoped I would.” A shrug came next. As if she didn’t know. Like there wasn’t pity and a foul stench of begging rolling off her shoulders. “I can’t. Never fully even if I ever cared to try. You blew your chance at bein’ a mom to me. I’ll- do more to keep in touch with Deku because he’s my-” His lips pursed around the word before he swallowed it back down. “Well, whatever, he’ll tell Auntie Inko and I can’t stop her from telling you what I’m doing. And if- if- you ever see me; it will be my choice. You lost the privilege to reach out to me years ago.” 

Still nodding along, he wished her head would just fall off already from all its needless bouncing. And if it did fall- so lost, so empty- he was sure nothing but dust and cobwebs would be found in the hollowed-out parts of her body. 

“I am happy.” He could at least throw something at her. Tell himself he was just rubbing it in. Not that it was to ever make her feel better. “Not that you deserve to know.” 

The word- happy- came out more confident sounding than he felt. But he was getting there. He’d be there one day. 

“That’s good.” Smiling down at her lap, there was a brief pass of something between her brows once she looked up. “And that- your, boyfriend? He-” 

His eyes slid away, only to let the name out before they came back and narrowed in. “Eijirou.” 

“Right, he- Does he take care of you?” With a shrug and a click of his tongue, her smile was cranked a little bigger. “He makes you happy?” 

“I just fuckin’ said so, didn’t I?” 

She disregarded his snap, standing up instead and straightening her shirt. “I hope I get to see him again one day. To make a better impression- From all this and everything you’ve said, he probably hates me.” 

“I don’t think he could hate anyone.” 

“That certainly works in your favor. It did for me. No matter how I acted or what I said, your dad-” Her hands went to her hair next, fussing with it for no one at all to see. Her eyes went up with them to avoid his stare. “He was a good man. I always thought you got his best qualities and the worst of mine.” Hands smacking back at her thighs, she sniffed loud, cleared her throat. Had to be presentable in front of the one who, arguably, cared the least. “I’m sorry for that too.” 

He couldn’t have found anything more to say to that no how much time he took. There wasn’t any more talking to be had. No more room for apologies or sympathies that wouldn’t fix anything. 

He took a step back, “I’m leaving now.” 

“Katsuki,” She stepped after him but caught herself just as fast. When she looked down at him again, her gaze was messy. Wet and foggy. She wanted to say more, say something but there was so much holding her back. Pride. Despair. Shame. Thank you for coming back, bleeding out from the pathetic curve of her wobbly smile. 

There was no chance of it ever coming out of her mouth; but he felt it and knew it didn’t change a thing. 

He felt altogether lighter, and yet, strikingly the same. 

Clasping her hands in front of her, she said nothing. Not when he turned his back or put his shoes. She remained still and silent until the door was open. 

Only then, as the cold air curled around him and flooded into his very core did she leave him with a quiet but earnest, 

“Be safe, brat.” 

If the step inside that house was heavy, the step out felt like a free fall. 

The door shut behind him and it appeared that the final bit of snow had drifted down. 

Soon, the clouds would clear and the sun would peer through to melt it all away. 

Katsuki hoped what laid beneath was still worth trying to grow.