Katsuki is used to being the biggest name in E-Sports.
See, just because he doesn't play an "actual" physical sport doesn't mean he thinks it's okay to let his body go to absolute shit. He's a pro gaming superstar, which means he spends anywhere from between 12 - 15 hours a day with his ass in a chair playing solo queue (or sometimes duo, if Deku is relentless enough to convince him). A lot of other players don't bother to do much else besides that—not Katsuki. When he's not grinding matches, he's grinding reps at the gym.
And it fucking pays off. Not only is he one of the best players (if not the best marksman) in the pro leagues—going by the name of ZeroGroundGiven because he never loses his lane—he's also incontestably the hottest. He reads the message boards, so he knows. His streams are the most popular, he's the #1 most sponsored player, everyone wants him and wants to be him. He's unbeatable.
Which is why the sudden appearance of a new Challenger-tier player, who goes by the alias "5peepeeman," really succeeds in pissing him off.
He first starts hearing whisperings of the other player as they rise through the ranks in a meteoric fashion.
5peepeeman got all the way to Diamond in 50 games?!
Trying out 5PP's build for Hawks, so OP!!!
5PP back to back Entropy pentakills master tier INSANE outplay
Katsuki doesn't pay much attention to the rabble, normally. Even a Master tier player is hardly close to his level. But then 5peepeeman makes it to Challenger. And then he, apparently, gets a functioning webcam.
Oh No He's Hot reads the title of one of the top threads on the most popular message board. Katsuki clicks it, fully expecting it to be a highlight clip of himself streaming the night before.
But instead—instead what he gets smacked in the face with is a video of 5-fucking-peepeeman dunking on an entire enemy team to effortlessly carry his own to victory, all while looking completely and unfairly gorgeous while doing so. He glances into the camera once with a casual little flip of his weird peppermint hair to swish it out of his eyes, and Katsuki's cold, hardened heart might just do a damn stutter. The tiniest skip.
And Katsuki does not like it. Not one bit.
"He's looking to get scouted," Izuku tells the team later. "I've been watching some of his streams, he's pretty—"
"He's not pretty," Katsuki snarls, before belatedly realizing that was probably not going to be the end of the statement.
Izuku blinks. "Uh." Katsuki growls something non-verbal at him, and Izuku wisely chooses not to pursue that thought.
"What was that, Z?" Kirishima asks. He is Katsuki's stalwart support laner, RiotMan—so why the fuck isn't he backing Katsuki up better? Like, say, by not asking dumb questions.
"We're really in need of a new mid laner now that Mirio is retiring," Izuku continues.
"Absolutely not that fucking guy," Katsuki says.
"He's new as shit!" Katsuki protests.
"You know that doesn't mean anything," Izuku says. They were all new as shit when they formed the team.
"Do you not like him because his videos have taken the number one spot over yours on the message boards twice now?" Tokoyami, their brooding top laner who goes by ShadowOfDarkness, asks.
Katsuki nearly snaps the arm off his expensive sponsor's desk chair.
"I don't like him because his name is fucking stupid," he forced himself to say calmly. "I don't give a shit about him otherwise."
"Great!" Izuku says cheerfully. "Because I just invited him to join our scrims this Saturday."
"You WHAT?" Katsuki shouts. There's a crack, and the chair arm is free of its earthly chains. And also, broken.
"I wanted to see how he meshes with our team," Izuku explains, not bothering to comment on the chair thing. "He does tend to play stuff that's off-meta, but that could work well with our style…"
Izuku (SmallMight) is their jungler, captain, and main shotcaller, and he strategizes entirely too much. Not to say Katsuki doesn't—he just prefers to do it on the fly, whereas Izuku draws up notebook after notebook of plays and team comps and optimal champion builds. Katsuki is much more about learning by doing (and winning).
"Fine," Katsuki snaps. "Whatever."
"It's not like I'm going to make him an offer right after we finish playing!" Izuku says. "We'll talk about it. It's important we all get along…"
For a very extended period of time, Katsuki did not get along with anyone, notably Izuku. This had kept him out of pro play for years, but after incurring two bans with the threat of a permaban hanging over his head, and then getting picked up against all odds for team Plus Ultra, he'd finally begun trying to curb the toxic behavior somewhat. Shockingly, this actually made the game far more enjoyable—but he wasn't about to tell anyone that. Still, it meant he was more willing to try.
"At least I don't gotta see his stupid face," Katsuki grumbles.
"Oh, actually," Izuku chirps, "he lives locally, so I asked him to come check out the house!"
"I hate you more than anyone else I've ever met," Katsuki says dully.
5peepeeman's real name is Todoroki Shouto, and he shows up to the team house on Saturday literally late, with Starbucks.
Katsuki doesn't even bother to look up from his screen, and barely raises a hand in greeting as the rest of the team shows Todoroki around their practice room. He's trying so hard to not pay attention that it takes him several seconds before he realizes that Todoroki is, in fact, standing right behind his chair and trying to slide the Starbucks onto his desk like some kind of sneaky reverse coffee burglar.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Katsuki snaps, ripping off his headphones. He wheels around to face Todoroki and the two of them come face to face, and almost nose to nose, because Todoroki is leaning right over him in order to reach his desk.
He's so pretty what the fuck. He plays video games for a living, he doesn't need to have skin that flawless, or hair that silky, or eyes like that. Katsuki has to work hard to stay that hot, but Todoroki makes it seem like he isn't even trying, and there's nothing Katsuki hates more than looking like a tryhard and still losing. He gapes at Todoroki in outrage.
"I brought you coffee," Todoroki says. "It's your favorite kind."
Katsuki's synapses stop firing for a few seconds out of sheer confusion.
"What," he says.
"Americano with an extra shot, and a quarter teaspoon of brown sugar," Todoroki replies.
"I didn't mean—" Katsuki reels backwards. "How do you even know that?"
"You said it on your stream once," Todoroki says. "Someone asked you."
"That was ages ago! Did you write it down for future reference?"
Todoroki shrugs. Katsuki scrunches his whole face up in disgust.
"Okay!" Izuku says, loudly clapping his hands together. "Why don't we get started?"
Todoroki takes the extra setup next to Katsuki, much to his annoyance. At least he brought his own keyboard and mouse, so once they get him logged in, they're ready to jump into a match. They have some games against other teams lined up, so they get into champ select right away.
"Is there anything in particular you want me to try out?" Todoroki asks Izuku.
"I'd like to leave it up to you for the first few games!" Izuku says. "So we can all get comfortable."
"Play someone you don't suck at," Katsuki adds.
"Okay," Todoroki says.
They go through their first round of bans, and then Todoroki (who picks third, right before Katsuki), locks in King Explosion Murder.
"For me?" Katsuki sneers, figuring they'll swap once all picks and bans are done. "How sweet."
"Oh," Todoroki says, "actually I was going to play him."
Katsuki freezes. King Explosion Murder is his main. His signature champion.
"Bakugou…" Kirishima says, in his most enraged-beast-soothing tone.
"Kacchan," Izuku also says, sounding very apprehensive.
Tokoyami puts on his noise-cancelling headphones.
"You're going to play KEM in FUCKING MID?!" Katsuki explodes.
"I don't care what Izuku said!" Katsuki swivels his chair around violently to jab Todoroki in the chest with his finger. "You wanna play off-meta on your own time? Fine. But don't come in here like some fucking Silver tier tourist, just to fuck up a full day of practice—"
"It's not a bad choice, just an unorthodox one," Todoroki says calmly.
"Unorthodox my ass—"
"They'll think we plan to play KEM bot lane, so they'll send Mount Lady mid, but that will give me the early game advantage. I can force her to farm under tower, which works especially well with Crimson Riot's ult." Todoroki looks at Kirishima, who nods back. "We can shut her down before level six, which will hopefully keep you safer in the late game, Zero."
Katsuki grinds his teeth. None of what Todoroki is saying is wrong. "And what happens if they try to 2v1 you early on?"
Todoroki looks him dead in the eye and says, "They're welcome to try."
Katsuki holds that surefire stare for eternity. Then he grins. "Alright, sweetheart. Why don't we add a little extra insurance?"
"Kacchan, do not," Izuku says, which Katsuki completely ignores, because why should Todoroki be the only one who gets to do whatever he wants to do? Just because he's distractingly beautiful? Fuck that.
Katsuki locks in Entropy—Todoroki's champion of choice.
"This way they'll definitely send Mount Lady mid, right?" he asks, while everyone besides Todoroki sighs.
"Oh boy," Kirishima says. "So, do we still want me on Crimson Riot, or…"
"It works," Todoroki says. He hasn't taken his eyes off Katsuki. "You can augment Entropy's passive, then just keep poking at their health."
"To hell with poke," Katsuki says. "First one to get First Blood wins."
Todoroki raises an eyebrow. "You're on, Zero."
Katsuki snorts. "Do not expect me to call you… 5peepee or whatever the fuck."
"You know why, you overgrown dickwattle."
"Because it's too long?"
"Ha, I doubt yours is that long."
Todoroki does not respond to Katsuki's crude joke and instead turns back to his computer. "You could just keep calling me sweetheart. If you prefer."
The loading screen pops up, along with all the champion portraits. Todoroki fucking picked King Explosion Murder's special Valentine's Day edition "Sweetheart" skin. Katsuki stares at his favorite champion, normally a hardened, bloodthirsty badass, decked out in pink and white heart-patterned frills.
"Don't get your hopes up," Katsuki says.
Even though it's just a scrimmage, the team they're playing against is one of their biggest rivals in the league. Katsuki's palms feel hot as they load into the map.
Yoooo, the enemy jungler types into the chat, u guys picked up 5pp?????
Hell no, Katsuki types back. Just test driving him.
lmao WTF is that team comp tho???
Well, they're all sure about to find the fuck out.
GLHF! Izuku wishes everyone, and the game gets underway.
At around four minutes in, Katsuki wouldn't say he's regretting his rash decision, but he wouldn't say he's enjoying it, either. Entropy is a champion with very high burst damage and absolutely no mobility to speak of, while Katsuki prefers to play champs that are strong and fast. His and Kirishima's laning opponents weren't altogether prepared for the match-up, but they are on champions with a lot of skillshot abilities that are proving to be a fucking nightmare to dodge.
"This fucking SUCKS!" he bursts out as he sidesteps one long-range ability, only to take a second straight to the face. It chunks him for a quarter of his health. He's a normally aggressive player, now getting steadily pushed back under tower—he can barely farm minions. It's his least favorite way to play.
"Are you beginning to understand the folly of your ways?" Tokoyami asks. Easy for him to fucking talk; he has a favorable match-up and is happily farming away on the other side of the map. Nevermind the fact that Katsuki chose this life for himself.
"I'll make you understand my foot up your ass," he replies.
"I just hit level five," Todoroki says. "Hang in there."
"I don't gotta do jack shit!" Katsuki snaps. "Kirishima, are you planning on healing me any time soon?"
"Still on cooldown," Kirishima says. "Just play safe for now."
"Ugh," Katsuki says. "Deku, are you taking a shit in the fucking woods? Come gank my lane."
"I need to deny them their mana buff, you know that," Izuku says. He has currently fucked off into the enemy team's jungle to steal away their resources, leaving Katsuki high and dry. Technically, this is exactly what he's supposed to be doing, but in that moment, it feels like an abandonment. "I'll be there soon, please don't tilt just because you aren't getting to push lane."
Don't tilt worms its way into Katsuki's brain through one ear, and then squeezes itself out the other. Do not tilt.
"Fuck off, I'm not tilting," Katsuki says, and then immediately tries to engage the enemy marksman and support while Kirishima is off god knows where (he's warding the river—close enough).
"He's tilting!" Kirishima shouts, as he turns to try and make it back to lane—whereupon he gets jumped by the enemy jungler waiting in the bushes. Shit, Katsuki thinks, there goes backup.
"Tokoyami, go help," Izuku orders, jumping into shotcaller mode. "Teleport, now, now! Kirishima, get back to base—"
"But—" Kirishima starts to protest, having managed to escape the ambush with a bare sliver of health left.
"We can't give up first blood, just get outta there! I'm coming down—"
"Just hit six," Todoroki announces, which means he's got his ultimate ability. And then shit gets real.
Both teams engage at the same time and the chaos is instantaneous. Katsuki is already at half health by the time the rest of his team shows up, but like hell he's going to let that stop him from joining the fray.
"Deku, focus their marksman!" he instructs.
"On it! You should back out—"
"Fuck that," Katsuki says, "First Blood is mine!"
"Just don't give it up, instead," Todoroki says as he blasts into the fight.
"Right back at you," Katsuki growls. "I'm ulting, I got Mount Lady and Destro!" He lines it up perfectly—Giant Ice Wall splits the field, separating the enemy's squishy carries from their front line, leaving them stranded. It's an absolutely clutch move. "Go, go, go!"
"Got them," Todoroki says, and then unleashes KEM's ultimate, Howitzer Impact. A massive explosion erupts as the champion launches up into the air and then slams back down in a geyser of flames, utterly obliterating both the enemy team's champs.
First Blood! the announcer AI proclaims. And then: Double kill!
It's a perfect, textbook play, and they snatched a teamfight win from the jaws of defeat. Katsuki feels a thrill sing through his veins—like a dog being scratched in the perfect place behind its ears.
A perfect match-up. A beautiful fight. That sense of utter satisfaction that only comes with team synergy.
He knows you don't find that in solo queue everyday.
"That was a feast of destruction," Tokoyami says sagely.
"Hell yeah!" Kirishima cheers, on his way back from base. "Nice work, guys!"
Izuku laughs. "We should not have won that fight. Let's ride that momentum, yeah?"
Todoroki is watching him. Katsuki can tell. He huffs.
"Nice Wall," Todoroki says. Katsuki isn't looking at him, but he thinks he can hear a smile.
"Nice Howitzer," he grunts at last, reluctant. And then: "Hang on a second, you stole my kills!"
"Secured them," Todoroki says. "Besides, it was all thanks to you setting them up so well. I didn't want to let it go to waste."
"Yeah, yeah, you're welcome," Katsuki says. Unfortunately, he likes being praised for his plays too much to brush it off entirely. "Couldn't let you be the only one showing off."
Todoroki hums. "I didn't think you would."
Katsuki rolls his eyes. Todoroki could at least sound a little more impressed. "I'm just that awesome, I guess. Even if I never play this bullshit champ."
"Maybe, but… I know you're good when you do."
"Oh, yeah?" Katsuki smirks. "You must watch my stream a whole lot."
"I do," Todoroki says. "Who do you think asked you about the coffee thing?"
Katsuki stares at him. "That was you?" He barely even remembers this. It was before he was signed to a team. At least three years ago.
Todoroki finally seems to realize he's talked himself into a bit of a corner. His face stays stoic, even as his ears turn slightly pink. It's fucking cute.
Katsuki grins. "Freak."
"At the time, I really was just curious…" Todoroki says, with slightly less self-assurance.
Before he can defend himself further, Izuku pings the mini-map to single the enemy jungler and support are missing, and they have to gear up for another fight. But he also shoots Katsuki a quick message over DM that only they can see.
Katsuki refuses to look over at him. But he does type back: he's alright.
Izuku sends back a smiley face. Katsuki closes the chat window.
"Alright," he says out loud. "Ready to win this, sweetheart?"
And as it turns out: Todoroki is.