“I don’t think I like heroes very much.” Deku stares at his knees with two fingers pinching the bridge of his nose to stymie the flow of blood from the broken cartilage. Red coats the space between his philtrum and chin, thick over the grim set of his mouth. It drips onto his clothes, soaking into the white of his shirt and disappearing into the olive of his ripped pants. He angles tired green eyes up at where Katsuki looms over him and smiles without mirth. “Wunna know why?”
Katsuki scowls at Deku, sweat pouring down the back of his neck as the sun burned it on its slow descent toward the horizon. People pass them by, but no one stops. They hadn’t stopped when Katsuki drove his fist into Deku’s face either, the effects of which now blossom under Deku’s eyes in brilliant hues of rouge and mauve that compliments the sharp bottle green staring straight through Katsuki.
Katsuki has nothing else to lose at this point. "Why the hell not. Lay it on me."
Katsuki drowned. His quirk exploded within his palms but against a body of viscous, fluid muck it did nothing. He grappled for his life but he couldn't muster up enough strength to win and wasn't that a fucking joke? If he couldn't fucking beat some asshat desperate enough to use a kid as some kind of goddamn meatshield/puppet hybrid, then what the fuck was the point?
There were dozens of people around him. Holding up shiny phones to hide their enthralled expressions, they oohed and ahhed behind barricades while the heroes on scene did absolute fuck-all. Oxygen slowly squeezed out of his lungs and slime flooded past the gritted barrier of his teeth. He was going to drown here while everyone watched.
In a flash of green he could suddenly breath again. The villain around him screeched in agony as his body loosened its hold on Katsuki. Deku’s wide green eyes met his for a second; there was a marrow-deep terror squirming around beneath the surface, but spite had the stronger grip and he snarled at Katsuki when Katsuki dared to tell him to back the fuck off.
“No one else was gunna help!” He shouted right before he was slammed to the side, right before All Might stepped in and ended the fight in a punch, right before the heroes frozen just seconds prior jumped into delayed action.
Katsuki hit the ground, knees stinging with the impact and his lungs heaving as he vomited out the remains of the slime wriggling around his insides. As bile and bits of villain hit the street beneath his abused hands, the knowledge that he’d have died choking in front of an audience threatened to dissolve the rest of his strength. Every single person cheering on All Might and berating Deku would have watched him drown without doing a goddamn thing.
He puked again, the thought sour in his stomach.
There was a body on the grimy alleyway floor. It bled from a grinning laceration in its throat, a dark arterial red that puddled beneath its head in a near-black halo. Barely any sunlight filtered in through the crack between the buildings on either side of Katsuki, but what did glittered off the scissors held loosely in Deku’s hand. He had his cheek squished against his other palm, his elbow propped up on one bent knee as he regarded the body with a blank stare. Blood splattered his face and coated the bridge of his nose and his eyes caught the dying light of the sun, turning them orange.
“I think I did something bad, Kacchan.” The scissors in his hand weren't his; they had a different family name scribbled along one handle and the messy characters matched the neatly printed ones on the name tag pinned to the body’s uniform shirt. Katsuki barely recognized the emblem of the uniform as the one belonging to Deku’s new prestigious high school.
“He tried to cut my hair. I told him to stop...but he wouldn’t listen,” Deku said slowly. He was covered in scrapes and bruises, but he was always covered in scrapes and bruises, so no one would think anything of it tomorrow. Probably. Katsuki didn’t know much about Deku’s school life anymore. Deku pointed the scissors at the body and blood dripped lazily off the tip of the blades. “No one stopped to help. So I stopped him myself.”
“Yeah, I can fucking see that.” Katsuki pressed his lips together in thought, not entirely sure what to do. Deku was lucky hardly anyone used this alleyway, but his luck could soon run out. He was lucky Katsuki was the one who found him. Katsuki, who was actively training to be a hero. Katsuki, who should now call the police.
He couldn’t do that, though, because this was Deku and while Katsuki hated him, Deku was his and he couldn’t just abandon him.
So he helped hide the body.
Years passed and bodies showed up missing hands, missing tongues, missing bits and pieces and parts. Always abandoned in alleyways and rivers and everything in between. They all had something in common: they belonged to bad people.
Katsuki held that to his chest as he worked his way up the ranks. The dead were the scum of society that some righteous asshole with too many freckles had decided to wipe clean from existence. It was easier to swallow, easier to digest what he allowed to slip by him while he moved forward.
Until one day it was a hero splayed out, leaking viscera onto the grimy tile of a subway restroom.
"You can't kill heroes!"
"She looked away," Deku said, like that excused what he'd done. "It was either compete with other heroes for the spotlight or save a kid getting mugged in an alleyway. She went for the spotlight. After all, you don't get government funding for the people you save unseen."
"You can't kill fucking heroes, Deku!" Katsuki shouted again but Deku held his ground, never once cowering as Katsuki stood over him and snarled. "That’s how you get caught, dumbass!"
"Why do they get a pass?" Deku demanded right back, suddenly on his toes to get in Katsuki's face. Desperation tore his words apart and left them ragged on the ground between them. "She was going to let that kid suffer because it didn't help her up the ranks. It wouldn't have taken her any time to help him!"
"Yeah, and what happened to him?" Exhaustion dug its hooks into Katsuki, suddenly and viciously. Deku stood up taller.
"I saved him," he said. “No one else was going to do it.”
Katsuki knew this day would come but he still didn’t have his answer.
Deku sat alone in an interrogation room, separated by a thick pane of one way glass. He smiled at nothing, staring straight ahead and Katsuki swore for just a moment Deku watched him. Detective Tsukauchi coughed, drawing his attention away from Deku and back to the situation at hand.
“His name is—”
“Midoriya Izuku, I know.”
“You were childhood friends.”
“Yeah right. I bullied the fuck outta the poor asshole,” Katsuki scoffed, darkly amused at the fact that anyone could have ever confused them as friends. “You want me to try talking to him?”
“If you wouldn’t mind.”
Katsuki stepped through the door, teetering on the edge of a decision. “You fucked up, Deku.”
Deku smiled. “It’ll be okay, Kacchan.”
The sudden realization that Katsuki couldn’t continue going on the way he had been rushed over him. He had to pick a side. So he did. He picked Deku. It was always Deku.
“It better fucking be.” He said right before he blew the foundations around them to pieces. If they got out of this alive, Katsuki was gonna punch the everloving shit out of that freckled face. Just once. He deserved that much.
“Ground Zero has disappeared after attacking a police station in Hamamatsu. His motives are currently unknown, but a prime suspect linked to the Shizuoka Ripper case has also been reported missing from the same station. Police advise extreme caution if confronted with Ground Zero, civilian name Bakugo Katsuki, and urge anyone with tips on his whereabouts to call the hotline on your screen.
“Under no circumstances should Ground Zero be approached.”
“Heroes make it so easy for everyone to just look away when something bad happens.”
Katsuki sits down beside Deku and offers him a face towel, shocking Deku bad enough he just stares at it. Katsuki huffs and throws it at him, making Deku laugh, of all things. Covered in soot and running from the law...Katsuki doesn’t understand how he still has it in him to laugh.
“I’m going to make a difference,” he says, after his giggling calms down. “We’re going to make a difference, Kacchan.”
For some godforsaken reason Katsuki believes him.