Katsuki was woken up by the sound of his phone ringing. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, but he knew it must have happened fairly soon after Kirishima left, because he was still in his suit.
Fantastic. Something to add to the list of things his mother was going to kill him for.
He accepted the call without really thinking about it, since the only person who would logically be calling him was Uraraka, given that his parents were both presumably in the house, and the only other person who had his number was Kirishima, and, well. It was definitely Uraraka.
“What the fuck did you do?” Uraraka’s voice shrieked into his ear.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that either Deku or Kirishima had spoken to her at some point while Katsuki was asleep.
“I took care of the fucking problem,” Katsuki snapped.
“Basically telling him that you never want to speak to him again with no explanation isn’t “taking care” of anything, asshole!”
“What the hell was I supposed to do, huh?” Katsuki demanded.
“TELL HIM THE TRUTH!”
Katsuki laughed, a bitter, humourless thing. “The outcome’s the same. I tell him I like him, we never speak to each other again. I get rid of him on my own terms, we never speak to each other again.”
Uraraka made a frustrated growling noise. “Do you honestly think Kirishima would stop talking to you because of this?”
“Let’s say he doesn’t. Now he knows I like him, we’re still publicly broken up, and it’s uncomfortable as all hell for everyone involved. That’s not any fucking better!”
There was a long pause, then Uraraka spoke again, more gently.
“And if he likes you back?”
“Then he has to deal with my family. No one wins, Uraraka. This is the best solution I could come up with.”
“I’m sure that’s what you think,” Uraraka replied coolly, “but I happen to know someone who disagrees, someone who maybe should’ve gotten a say in your whole scheme.”
Katsuki felt his stomach drop. Well, that at least told him who’d contacted her.
He’d known that this would happen, though. He’d known that this would upset Kirishima, because he was a good person who fucking cared about people, and he and Katsuki were friends. Had been friends.
“He’ll get it eventually,” Katsuki said, then hung up before Uraraka had a chance to respond.
She immediately called him back, but Katsuki just put his phone on silent, then, for good measure, stuck it under his bed.
Fuck absolutely fucking everything.
His mother, as predicted, took out her frustrations with dealing with her family on Katsuki by screaming him within an inch of his life.
Katsuki didn’t even remember most of what she said, just sort of sat there numbly taking it until she gave up and banished him to his room.
He stayed there for the rest of the day, restless and bored out of his mind, because he couldn’t fucking do anything without it reminding him of Kirishima. His phone was out of the question because Uraraka was persistent as hell, so there was no way it would be safe to look at until the next day, minimum. Books weren’t an option, and neither were any articles he could dredge up, because anything he was remotely interested in would be science-related, which would make him think about his future medical career, and that, in turn, led him back to fucking Kirishima again. He couldn’t even do fucking math.
Which left lying on his bed feeling sorry for himself, all while still thinking about Kirishima.
Katsuki managed that for about an hour before he snapped, and decided to get a head start on memorizing English vocab words, because that was tedious and awful and still kind of reminded him of Kirishima, but at least it was fucking something.
By the time he’d driven himself to exhaustion, he was prepared for every vocab test from then until fucking December, and he still didn’t feel any better.
He fell asleep quickly, filled with grim certainty that if today had been bad, then tomorrow was going to be infinitely worse.
Deku kept looking at him like he was simultaneously trying to puzzle him out and figure out how to talk to him, and Uraraka must have talked to the rest of them at some point, because Katsuki was fairly certain Asui and Half-and-Half were glaring at him. Even Four-Eyes seemed put off by him.
Not that Katsuki cared. He kept his head down during breaks, workbook out and “Leave me the fuck alone or else” aura cranked up to eleven.
It worked, and at lunch, everyone cleared out without so much as a second glance at him.
Eating alone was weird now. His classroom felt too empty without Kirishima sitting beside him and Sero, Kaminari and Ashido all yelling and laughing and talking over each other.
I’ll get used to it, he told himself firmly, chewing with a determination that bordered on aggression as he stared at the wall in front of him. He wasn’t even fully certain what he was eating.
When Katsuki had finished his lunch (he still didn’t know what it had been, and he probably never would), the door to his classroom slammed open, and Ashido marched in, eyes blazing.
Katsuki should probably have expected this, given Ashido’s threats way back when all this had started, but somehow, he’d been naive enough to believe that no one would care enough to track him down.
“What do you want?” he snapped, before she had the chance to say anything.
“An explanation,” she replied, continuing her warpath until she was standing in front of Katsuki’s desk, directly in his line of sight. “And before you say that Kirishima can give me one, he did, and I don’t believe him.”
“We broke up because he didn’t want to deal with my family anymore,” Katsuki said, addressing the top of his desk more than Ashido. It came out sounding flat. Numb.
“Bullshit,” Ashido snapped, instantly and with so much certainty that Katsuki looked up at her involuntarily. “He would never have broken up with you because of something like that. I don’t know what actually happened, and I don’t know why you’re both lying about it, but I will find out, and when I do, it’s not going to be fucking pretty.”
She practically spat out the last part, and Katsuki felt another piece of the resolve he’d built up, the constant refrain of “this is for the best” in his head, chip away.
“How are you so fucking certain?”
Ashido laughed, a harsh mocking sound that made Katsuki’s jaw clench. “God, do you even fucking know him? He doesn’t give up on people, especially not because of things they can’t control!”
“That’s the fucking problem!” Katsuki exploded, slamming his hands down on his desk. “He doesn’t- he just keeps going, even though it’s hurting him and I can’t-” his voice cut out on him, and he had to take a deep breath before continuing, more quietly, “I can’t have that on my conscience.”
Ashido seemed to understand, then, what had actually happened, at least as much as she could understand. She didn’t look any happier, but she didn’t look angry anymore, just frustrated.
“Wow,” she said. “You’re a fucking idiot.”
Katsuki just glared at her.
“You know what? I’m not solving this for you. Talk to him.”
“I’ll get right on that,” Katsuki said, rolling his eyes.
“I’m serious, Bakugou,” she said. “I can’t force you to do anything, but I can tell you that whatever you think you’re doing, protecting him or sparing his feelings or whatever, it isn’t working.”
Katsuki slumped forward onto his desk, head in his arms, and stayed there for the rest of the lunch period. When his classmates started to trickle back in, they knew better than to say anything.
Uraraka still wasn’t talking to him, which, he had come to admit, sucked ass. He had no intention of apologizing first, though, because he was fucking right, but he could still admit that he missed her.
This meant that by Friday, the only people he’d interacted with from Tuesday onward had been his parents, and the occasional unfortunate classmate when they had to do group work. Katsuki had never been particularly social, but even he had to admit that this was getting kind of extreme.
So after school let out for the day, when Deku came marching over to his locker with his jaw set and his eyes blazing with the kind of determination that rallied armies, Katsuki was almost (almost) glad.
“I’m giving you a ride home,” Deku said. The only hint that he was not the picture of confidence he was trying to project was a slight tremor in his voice.
Katsuki raised his eyebrows at him. “Since when do you have a license?”
“Since last year,” Deku replied.
Katsuki felt a small spark of anger at that, a resurgence of that weird competitiveness that had made him hate Deku when they were younger. He didn’t even fucking care about getting a license, and he’d been more than happy to let Kirishima-
“Fine,” Katsuki said, cutting off his own train of thought before it could get any further, “since when do you have a car?”
“I don’t. Shouto let me borrow his. Are you coming?”
There was no reason for Katsuki to say yes. He tolerated Deku, at best, and he had a feeling that this was just going to end up another conversation with someone trying to tell him that he’d made a mistake and that he needed to apologize to Kirishima.
“We either talk here or we talk in the car. The car gets you home faster,” Deku said, seemingly unfazed by Katsuki’s refusal.
“Or I could just leave,” Katsuki retorted.
Deku shrugged. “You could. But I don’t think you will.”
Katsuki glared at him. Deku thought he fucking knew him? Katsuki could prove him wrong. He could prove him so fucking wrong. He could walk out of the school middle finger raised and never fucking speak to anyone again.
“You say one goddamn word about apologizing to Kirishima and I’m jumping out of the car.”
Deku rolled his eyes. “Noted.”
Katsuki followed him out of the school and into Half-and-Half’s obnoxiously fancy car. Neither of them spoke until they’d pulled out of the parking lot.
Deku drove very differently from Kirishima, laser focused on the road like he was liable to get jumped by a semi the second he blinked for too long.
Even though Katsuki had half-hoped it would keep him from speaking, that dream was quickly shattered.
“They expelled Monoma.”
“Really?” Katsuki asked, invested despite himself. He was glad that fucking scumbag had gotten what he deserved, after everything he’d done.
Deku nodded. “Class 1-B got an email about it. They’re notifying the rest of the grade tomorrow, but-”
“Everyone’s gonna know by then,” Katsuki finished. U.A gossip spread like wildfire.
“The school’s going to be a lot safer for Kirishima and his friends now,” Deku continued, and Katsuki felt what little calm he’d accumulated during the conversation drain out of him immediately.
“Good for them.”
For the first time in the drive, Deku glanced over at him.
“And for anyone like them.”
Katsuki sighed loudly. “People don’t stop being assholes after high school, Deku.”
Deku chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip, then let out a sad little sigh. “I know.”
The silence came back, after that.
Katsuki would later blame that weird, stilted moment of understanding for why he was too distracted to notice that they were definitely not in their neighbourhood until they were pulling into the driveway of Kirishima’s house.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he asked, once he’d figured out what was happening.
Deku calmly put the car into park.
“I’m not doing anything. If you want to leave, we can. But…” he trailed off, considering his words, then squared his shoulders and continued on, “I don’t know Kirishima as well as you do, but he’s still my friend. And he’s miserable.”
Katsuki tried to speak, but Deku didn’t let him.
“I know I’m not the first person to tell you that, but it’s true, Kacchan. And I’m not going to pretend I know what the fuck is going through your head most of the time, but I don’t think you want to hurt him. So do whatever you think is right, and if you don’t want to talk to him, I’ll drive you home, and I’ll never mention it again.”
Katsuki’s initial response was to demand that Deku do exactly that, immediately, but as his words sank in, it made Katsuki pause.
He saw how much he’d hurt Kirishima on Saturday. But he’d thought… not that it wouldn’t matter, but that Kirishima, with his kind family and his ability to coax anyone into friendship, would be fine without Katsuki.
And maybe he would be, and maybe he would eventually see that Katsuki had done everything for his own good, but fucking shit, the thing he’d wanted most in the world since Saturday night was to talk to Kirishima again, and, damn it all, he was too fucking weak to turn it down, to never get to explain why.
He slammed his hands down on the dashboard, loud and sudden enough to make Deku jump, then undid his seatbelt and started climbing out of the car.
“Drop my bag at my place.”
“Got it,” Deku said, and he pulled out of the driveway as soon as Katsuki had vacated the car.
Worst came to worst, he could walk home.
That didn’t stop him from standing in front of the door for nearly five minutes, fist raised to knock but not quite brave enough to go through with it.
“This is fucking stupid,” he finally growled, bringing his knuckles down against the wood in three loud, precise raps.
He heard footsteps almost immediately, and was abruptly seized by the fear that the person who answered wouldn’t be Kirishima, but instead one of his moms, or, even worse, Toshiko.
But, when the door opened, it was Kirishima standing behind it, gaping at Katsuki like he couldn’t quite believe he was real.
“Who fucking else,” Katsuki grumbled.
Kirishima didn’t laugh, just pursed his lips and stepped outside, gently shutting the door behind him.
He was wearing only a tank top and cargo shorts, even though Katsuki knew his house was fucking freezing and the late afternoon sun wasn’t doing much to warm up the outdoors, either.
Katsuki was going to make this quick, for his sake.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly, unable to bring himself to meet Kirishima’s eyes. “I didn’t… I thought it would be better if we just. Stopped seeing each other.”
Kirishima barked out a short, bitter laugh.
“Seriously? After all the shit we went through together, I thought we were at least friends. I would’ve liked a fucking explanation, at least.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” Katsuki said.
Kirishima didn’t say anything, just made a slight “go on” gesture with his hand.
“I don’t think I can be your friend,” Katsuki blurted, mostly by accident.
Kirishima huffed out an incredulous laugh.
“Fuck, that isn’t- let me fucking finish, okay? I can’t be your friend, because I know what it’s like to be your boyfriend, almost. And I think the only reason no one picked up on my giant fuck-off crush on you was because they thought we were already dating, but I can’t date you, either. Because the way my family was at the wedding is how they’re going to be, literally fucking forever, and you deserve so much better than that.” Katsuki paused. “So I just thought-”
“No, no, I don’t think you did,” Kirishima interrupted. He looked angry, now, angrier than Katsuki had ever seen him. “Because if you had thought about it for more than five seconds, you would have realized how goddamn stupid your plan was.”
Katsuki had known this wasn’t going to be easy. He’d already had three different people lecture him about being an idiot, and he wasn’t expecting this to go any differently. He didn’t deserve easy, not after everything, but it still hurt like hell to have the full force of Kirishima’s wrath directed at him.
“I’m sorry,” he said again, more to his feet than Kirishima.
Kirishima seemed to deflate a bit, at that.
“You know after the wedding? When I let you talk first?”
Katsuki nodded, and Kirishima gave him a wry smile.
“I was trying to confess to you.”
Katsuki’s head whipped up so fast it nearly strained his neck, but he was too busy staring at Kirishima, wide-eyed, to care.
“Yeah. And there’s something really incomparably shitty about getting so thoroughly rejected that you think your crush doesn’t even want to be your fucking math tutor, much less your boyfriend,” Kirishima said, and yeah, now that Katsuki thought about it, that must have fucking sucked.
“You don’t get to decide what’s best for me,” Kirishima continued. “If your only reason for not being with me is your family, then you’re in luck, because I don’t give a shit! I want to deal with your evil grandma and your shitty relatives for the rest of forever, because that’s what it takes to be with you, and that’s my goddamn choice to make, not yours.”
Katsuki was still reeling from the revelation that Kirishima liked him back, but he managed to scrape together another “I’m sorry,” followed by:
“I can’t promise I won’t fuck up again, because that would be a stupid unkeepable promise, and I don’t make those. But if you want to try dating, for real, even after all this, then… I promise I’ll try to listen to you, next time.”
Because that was all he could really do, right? Promise to try.
Kirishima was quiet for a few long, long seconds.
“I’ll hold you to that.”
Katsuki blinked at him, barely daring to hope.
Kirishima nodded. “Yeah. But our first real date better be fucking mind-blowing.”
Katsuki felt an involuntary smile spreading across his face. “I can do that. I can definitely do that.”
“Good,” Kirishima said decisively. Then like he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to do it if he let himself hesitate, he leaned forward and kissed Katsuki.
It was quick and chaste, and Kirishima was pulling away almost before Katsuki could register what was happening. He made a truly embarrassing noise at the loss, which Kirishima, the bastard, seemed to be reveling in. Ah, well. He deserved it, after everything Katsuki had put him through.
“You’re staying for dinner,” Kirishima said, “because my family is up to date on everything now, and while I can’t guarantee that Sayuri’s going to kill you, I also can’t promise that she won’t, and it’s probably for the best that you explain yourself sooner rather than later.”
“Sure,” Katsuki said, still kinda dazed. “Are we gonna talk about what just happened?”
Katsuki started to protest, but Kirishima cut him off.
“You made me wait a week. You’ll survive an hour.”
All things considered, that was probably fair. God, the next week was going to involve so many fucking apologies. Even though Katsuki had brought that entirely upon himself, it was still going to suck.
His displeasure apparently showed on his face, because Kirishima laughed at him.
“Look alive, or Toshiko will get you before Sayuri even has a chance.”
That got another smile out of Katsuki, and he allowed himself to be dragged inside the house, secure in the knowledge that if he could apologize three times in the space of a single conversation without bursting into flames once, then he could do it again.
6 months later
“I got my letter,” Eijirou said, which was kind of an answer.
“And?” Katsuki prompted. He had no doubt Eijirou had been accepted. His math grades had fucking skyrocketed after Katsuki had started tutoring him, and since that and the entrance exam had been his only real concerns… Katsuki understood that it was a lot easier for him to believe in Eijirou than it was for Eijirou to believe in himself, but come on.
“I don’t know,” Eijirou admitted. “I stuck it in the glove compartment as soon as I got it and I haven’t opened it yet.”
Katsuki sighed, then opened the glove compartment and rooted around in it until he found the envelope, which he shoved into Eijirou’s chest, surprising him into grabbing it.
“Go on,” Katsuki said, and Eijirou gave him a slightly panicked look.
“Do you want me to hold your fucking hand?”
“I mean, kinda?”
Katsuki rolled his eyes. “You can’t open it one-handed, dumbass. Just get it over with.”
Eijirou hesitated for another second, then took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and tore open the envelope.
Katsuki found himself tapping his foot in anticipation, which was ridiculous, because he had absolute faith in Eijirou and his abilities, but the idiot’s nerves were getting to him.
Eijirou bit his lip and held the paper out toward him, so Katsuki could read it.
“I got in!”
“FUCK YEAH YOU DID!” Katsuki exclaimed, lunging across the seat to pull Eijirou into a hug.
Eijirou squeezed him back tightly, shaking a bit in his arms.
Katsuki pulled back, eventually, and Eijirou was beaming, with tears streaking down his cheeks.
“Stop that,” Katsuki said, wiping at them with his thumbs. “I knew you’d get in, drama queen. They’d have to be idiots to turn you away.”
“I’m gonna be a paramedic,” Eijirou said, his grin still so wide that it made Katsuki’s cheeks hurt.
“Hell yeah you are,” Katsuki said, pulling him in for a kiss.
Eijirou went easily, and they stayed like that for a bit, moving together with practiced ease, until Eijirou suddenly broke away.
“Fuck,” he whispered. “They’re definitely going to make me change my hair colour.”
Katsuki shook his head. “Red counts as a “natural” hair colour, so it’s allowed. I checked when you applied.”
Eijirou gave him a look so full of genuine tenderness that Katsuki was embarrassed on his behalf.
“I love you so much.”
It was the first time either of them had said that out loud, even though Katsuki had been thinking it almost constantly for months.
“Sorry!” Eijirou said, scrambling off of Katsuki until he was as far away as the car allowed. “I didn’t mean to- well, okay, I meant it, but I didn’t mean to say it, that was-”
“Yeah?” Eijirou said, cutting off his babbling and shooting Katsuki a nervous look.
“I love you too.”
Eijirou grinned at him, and this time he was the one to basically tackle Katsuki, heedless of the fact that he was now lying across the gear shift.
Katsuki didn’t care. If Eijirou wanted to strain his back trying to make out with him, that was his own goddamn problem, and Katsuki sure as hell wasn’t going to stop him.
He would likely have let him keep going indefinitely, actually, except when Eijirou moved his arm to try and get his hand into Katsuki’s hair, his uniform sleeve caught on Katsuki’s very new, still very sore, eyebrow piercing, and Katsuki shoved him off with a hiss of pain.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry!” Eijirou said, adjusting his position so he could turn Katsuki’s head a little bit and inspect the piercing for damage.
“I’m blaming Ashido,” Katsuki said darkly. She was the one who’d finally bullied him into getting it, after all.
“Feel free,” Eijirou laughed, pulling back completely after pressing a gentle kiss to Katsuki’s forehead. “You’re fine, by the way.”
Katsuki hadn’t thought he wouldn’t be, but he appreciated the assurance.
They settled back into their proper seats, mood effectively ruined, and Eijirou started up the car.
A few minutes into the drive to his place, he said:
“I think Denki and Shinsou still have us beat for worst piercing malfunction.”
“Yeah, no shit,” Katsuki said with a snort. “I don’t think anyone’s beating that.”
“That’s quitter talk,” Eijirou declared, glancing over at Katsuki and wiggling his eyebrows at him.
Katsuki flicked him on the arm. “I’m coming over to tutor you, dumbass, nothing else.”
“Come on,” Eijirou whined. “I got in, didn’t I?”
“On conditional acceptance. That means you have to keep your grades up.”
Eijirou pouted at him. “You’re so mean to me.”
“And you love me anyway,” Katsuki retorted, because he could do that, now.
“Yeah,” Eijirou said, with that same soft, sappy smile he’d had one earlier. “I do.”