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The One Day that Changed Bakugou Katsuki's Entire Life

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By the age of ten Bukugo Katsuki is convinced he doesn't have any soul bonds.  He’s seen the marks on his skin, but he doesn’t believe them for not even one fucking second.  

 

Why should he anyway?  It’s not like anyone out there cared even one bit about him.

 

Well one person might.

 

He shook his head fiercely, he needed to snap out of it.  He didn’t want to think about him, with his wide green eyes and innocent smile.  He was close enough to sparking up as it was, it was never a good idea to make it any worse with anger.

 

He had three marks, if his parents were to be believed.  One was a simple black cat, taking a nap with its tail hanging over a ledge.  That one was believable enough, simple, it could be anybody really.  

 

The second was a black needle and a red thread, his mother told him that must be his mark for her, since she worked in the fashion industry.  He hated that this one fit, that it worked.  He hated the fact that he could possibly be bound to the hag by fate.  He hated that it meant that every fucked up thing she did to him was justified in the eyes of fate.

 

He hated that it meant that he was supposed to be here, stewing in frustration and humiliation as the gloves slowly absorbed his sweat.  He was quite literally a ticking time bomb, if he so much as moved too quickly his hands would be utterly scorched.

 

He hated the fact that it meant he somehow deserved it.

 

The only thing that made it better, was the fact that he had a green mark. It was a green key with two bunny-like ears, he could have laughed.  Green marks didn’t exist .  

 

Nobody out there had ever had a green mark, it was unheard of. It made him think that the whole thing was a hoax, an elaborate lie his parents told him to keep him in check.  He might not have any soul marks for all he knew, not real ones anyway.  

 

He was fine with that...

 

...and he was fine, all the way up until the end of his work study with Best Jeanist.

 

He hadn’t looked at the marks in years, he hadn’t thought about them in years, they were irrelevant, meaningless.  Just shapes and colors, there was no meaning to them.  

 

He hadn’t liked the man, he came off as a snob and was always telling him to play nice and smile for the people.  It was all pointless showmanship, and by the end of his internship he hadn’t learned a single damn thing, much less been in a real fight.  

 

He got more violence at home in a single night than he got this whole damn week, it was absolutely pathetic.

 

On the last day of his internship though, something happened.  As Jeanist combed gently through his hair, Katsuki noticed something.  It was barely visible in the shadow of his long sleeved denim costume, but it was a flash of red just showing in his vision as Jeanist worked from behind him.  He had to wait until he got another glance as he repeated the motion, to fully comprehend what he was seeing.  It was just on the inside of his wrist, a black explosion in the shape of a mushroom cloud, with a small red heart inside of it.

 

Katsuki felt a wake of chills hit him, almost instinctively he could tell that the mark was his.  He didn’t know how he knew but he knew .  That was his mark and Jeanist had it.  Katsuki did his best to hide it, the internal crisis he was having as his whole world seemed to be knocked off kilter.  

 

No.

 

Fucking.

 

Way.

 

It was all he could think about, he was running on autopilot, while his mind shut down entirely trying to process that the marks were real and he’d just felt what it was like to find a soul parent.

 

He couldn’t deny that they were real, not any more, and Katsuki was suddenly overwhelmed with multiple emotions at once, shame that he was bonded permanently to his wretched mother, fear about what the fucking hell a green mark might possibly mean, and some amount of shock that there was one right here, a soul parent.

 

He wondered dully why he’s never felt this sensation with either of his parents before.

 

Dragging him forcefully from his thoughts, Jeanist started to speak.  “I know that you’re probably disappointed with how this week went.  I know we didn’t see much action.”

 

The gears clicked in Katsuki’s mind after a moment of silence passed between them.  He realized that he was expected to reply and gave a simple grunt.  “Damn right I am….”. He couldn’t muster more venom than that though, not with his mind as it was.  He needed to destroy something before it became too much, he could already feel the nitroglycerin coating his sweaty palms.  His racing thoughts made him sweat and he needs to blow it up before it hurts someone.

 

Though, in this close proximity to Jeanist, the idea was pushed down.  With the amount of nitroglycerin built up, all he’d do is either hurt Jeanist or startle him and neither of which was good.

 

“I do hope you understand why I had you do the exercises I did.”  Jeanist prompted, clearly goading Katsuki for a better answer.  There’s that condescending tone again, he could practically hear him tilt up his nose in disdain.  How the actual hell could he be my soul parent?

 

“Of course, I fucking do!  I’m not a dumbass.”  He latched on to the anger, it was familiar, not like the utter confusion that had come with the discovery of the mark.

 

Jeanist hummed placatingly as he continued to comb through his hair, the damn guy was really into this shit.  He was so intensely focused on it that he hadn’t looked anywhere else, it was probably the only thing that saved Katsuki’s sudden change in demeanor from being noticed.  “Oh, then tell me.  Why did I?”

 

Katsuki would literally rather be doing anything else, but no, here he was a grown-ass teenager, having his hair done like he was some girl’s doll.  The answer he said tasted bitter in his mouth.  Especially as he remembered the echo of his mother’s voice screaming similar sentiments just the other day.

 

“...everyone thinks I’m a villain, because of the way I reacted to being chained to the pedestal at the sports festival. “. Katsuki huffed, doing his best to keep the undesirable emotions from his voice, keying up the annoyance as a cover.  It was still lingering just below the surface.  

 

That was his fucking soul parent he was talking to, holy shit.

 

He violently pushed the desire to just ask the man about the mark on his wrist down.  Get your shit together you were in the middle of a damn conversation.

 

“In order to be a hero, the public needs to trust me right, that’s your damn point, and people won’t trust someone like me?”  Katsuki added, summing up the week's events in a single conversation.  Tsunagu gave him an affectionate pat to the shoulder.  

 

Why the hell is he so chummy, all I’ve done this week was cuss and yell at him?  That wasn’t guilt he felt, he swore to god it wasn’t.

 

“I’m glad, I was convinced you didn’t listen to a single word I said this week.  It seems like I was wrong.”  Jeanist finished up his work and spun the chair around so Katsuki was facing him.  The man was smiling warmly, the denim mask didn’t hide the way the creases at the corners of his eyes hinted at the smile.  

 

“So what you’re saying is that I have to pretend to be someone I’m not, just to make people happy?  That sounds like bullshit.”  Katsuki found himself seriously considering what Jeanist was saying for the first time this week, and that was his honest assessment.  This was bullshit, so long as he saved their sorry asses they should be grateful.  He shouldn’t have to pretend to be nice about it.

 

Jeanist’s smile faded and he took a moment to consider Katsuki’s question.  “Not necessarily, would you say that you are truly to the core a villain?”

 

Katsuki’s mind froze for a moment, visibly flinching.  While Katsuki had hinted at the idea before he hadn’t expected the man in front of him to blatantly ask him about it.  If he wasn’t such a mess at the moment, he would have heard the slightly playful tone to the man’s voice, indicating that he didn’t actually believe what he was insinuating.  However, when he said those words, all Katsuki could see was his mother.  The close connection between the two of them as his supposed soul parents brought to him the stunning realization that everyone believed it, that he was a villain at heart. 

 

For a split second, he considered bolting off, because fuck this .  This was too much bullshit and he couldn’t handle it all at once.

 

Jeanist noticed the change and his brow furrowed slightly in concern. Shit Calm the fuck down, you asshole of a brain, shut the fuck up just until I can get the hell out of this place, until I can finish this conversation and have some space to breathe.   The pro kneeled so that he was eye level to Katsuki, and shit, what the fuck was he supposed to say?   

 

It shouldn’t be that hard of a question.  He was going to UA for Christ’s sake, the best hero school in the nation.  He was in a hero agency right the fuck now .  He was talking to the 4th ranked pro hero in the nation.  Why the fucking hell was this such a hard question?  Of fucking course he was-

 

-he was a hero...

 

...wasn’t he?

 

All he could see was fucking Deku and his terrified face as he burned his notebook to ashes, as he told him to jump off the roof.

 

How the hell else was he supposed to deal with that damn nerd?

 

Especially when the quirkless moron was spouting shit about going to UA to take the entrance exam?

 

The fucking asshole was going to get himself killed!

 

What other ch-

 

“Katsuki?”  Jeanist had a hand on his shoulder.  The same hand that has that mark .  He shook him gently, pulling him from his thoughts.  The hero noticed the more focused look in Katsuki’s eyes and continued.  “You are a hero, I know that.  Sorry, that I didn’t make my intentions more clear.”  His brow was still furrowed with concern.  “You are a hero, and I may know that, because I know you.  However, the person walking down the street only knows you from the media, and the way you act in front of them.”  Jeanist sighed. “I only meant to say that you don’t have to pretend.  I can see qualities any good hero needs within you, you just need to draw them out.”

 

He hated how good hearing that made him feel, he hated that his words had affected him so deeply the first time.  Is this the soul bond, is there something unnatural making me feel so susceptible to what he’s saying?   

 

Whatever it was Katsuki hated it.  He hated caring what his opinion was, because his opinion was the only one he could guarantee was that of his soul parent.

 

….why was that still getting to him?  So what, the hero had a fancy mark on his wrist?  What’s the big deal?  Does that suddenly make his opinion on Katsuki mean something?

 

Fucking

 

Hell

 

Jeanist decided to add one last statement to his lecture, while Katsuki processed his thoughts.  “The only difference between a hero and a villain, is how they use their quirks.  You can choose to be a good hero, and nobody can make that choice for you.”  Jeanist paused, giving Katsuki time to say something but what the hell should he say.  Should he agree?  Should he argue?  Should he stay quiet?  

 

All he could see was Deku’s stupid face, and hear his mother’s voice telling him how horrible he was.  What a horrible child to be bound to for eternity…

 

..horrible…

 

..rotten..

 

..brat…

 

...demon spawn

 

...the fucking devil incarnate…

 

“Katsuki.”  The hero’s voice was softer this time, he placed his other hand on his opposite shoulder.  God how pathetic must I look to make him wear that expression?  The concern was still there, but the man was clearly trying to steady Katsuki.  When had he started shaking?  He was trembling like a leaf.  What the fucking hell is wrong with me today? They were alone in the room, just the two of them.  It was silent, except for the two of them. It was like they were wrapped up in their own little world, apart from the rest of reality.

 

Why is he acting so nice, why the actual hell is he being so nice?

 

Stuff like this doesn’t normally bother me. Why now?

 

Katsuki knew why, that mark had given validation to everything that his mother had done to him over the years.  That was undeniable proof that the marks were real.  That’s why, that’s why it meant so much more when he called him a villain, so much so that for a min he actually believed him.

 

“Tell me what’s going on?”  Jeanist gave his shoulders a comforting squeeze.  Katsuki’s determination shattered a little at that.  It was such an easy way out, stop fighting and let him take over, let him ask questions until he was satisfied.  He took a shaky breath, why the hell was he out of breath?   

 

I’m freaking the hell out because my soul parent is right in front of me and I’d convinced myself that they didn't exist.  That’s why I’m freaking the fuck out.

 

He’s right here, just say something .

 

Say anything…..

 

“Please, talk to me.”  There was no disdain, no hatred, annoyance, or fear.  There was no frustration or anger, his voice was soft and reassuring.  Jeanist gently shook his shoulders to accentuate the plea.  His willpower that was keeping him stubbornly in place buckled, collapsing before him.

 

Katsuki spoke before he could think about what he’s saying.

 

“Your wrist, it has a mark on it.  I think it’s mine.”  

 

Fuck

 

Fuck my life.

 

Oh my fucking god you didn’t actually just say that aloud. Way to go, you couldn’t have been even just a bit more subtle.

 

Jeanist’s eyes widened as he looked instinctively to the mark just on his wrist, perfectly covered in most cases, except for the once that he hadn’t been paying attention.  He looked back to Katsuki with a strange implacable expression. 

 

They stared at each other, and Katsuki could feel his nerve wilting under Jeanist’s soft gaze.  Katsuki really couldn’t remember the last person to look at him this way.  He figured it must have been Auntie Inko, she was the only person that came to mind.  

 

Without a word, Jeanist finally pulled his sleeve up to show the mark properly.  The mark was just a bit larger than a nickel and on the center of his inner wrist, it was two colored, the black explosion contrasting sharp on the pale complexion of his skin that never saw the light of day.

 

Katsuki could feel it again, it was a faint sensation.  It was like a realization, like it had been a long time coming.  He had always held all the pieces, but he never knew what picture he was looking at.  He stared at it wonder, feeling more than a little awestruck.  He almost wanted to touch it but he suddenly and jarringly remembered how soaked his hands were.  He quickly pointed his palms away and sparked off the excess nitroglycerin.

 

Jeanist blinked at the action but otherwise didn’t comment as Katsuki moved on to tug on his collar.

 

“I’m like 95-ish percent sure that’s my mark.”  Katsuki hated how timid he sounded, the gruff gravel was still in his tone but it was softened by uncertainty, the sharp bite to his tone entirely absent.  The embarrassment from speaking out was quickly fading in favor of itchy nervousness. “I’ve got a few marks and I’m sure one of them has got to be yours.”

 

Hearing the waves of his voice Jeanist quickly assured him “Only show me if you truly want to, please don’t feel obligated to.”  Katsuki brushed the comment aside.

 

“It’s not like any of them are in uncomfortable places, there’s no reason not to.”  Katsuki commented absently.  “Plus, I'll drive myself insane if I don’t make sure.” 

 

He pulled back his collar to reveal the first mark on his collarbone.  It was the green key, and Katsuki showed it to the other hero who raised his eyebrows in surprise, but there was no recognition there.  

 

“That’s a soulmark?  I’ve never heard of one that color.”  Jeanist asked in curiosity.

 

Katsuki covered that one up, and moved on to the one on his ankle.  He shoved off his boot and rolled up his pant leg to reveal the black cat.  Jeanist shook his head softly and Katsuki’s stomach dropped.  

 

Was he really just imagining things?

 

Was it all in his head?

 

Did he just make an utter fool out of himself for nothing?

 

The only mark left was…

 

A thought occurred to Katsuki, it was a horrible thought.  The only way to find out was to show him.  Katsuki pulled up his shirt to reveal the last mark on his lower abdomen.

 

It was the needle and thread, the mark his mother swore was hers.  It was the mark she had used to keep him prisoner with her.  Many times it was the only reason he didn’t walk away, or tell someone about what it was like at home.  It was his soul bond, it was dictated by fate.  So why would anyone be able to stop it, even if they tried?

 

Even if he hadn’t truly believed in them, he hadn’t disbelieved in them either.  It was enough to keep him still, with nowhere else to go.

 

Jeanist looked at the mark and somehow his posture softened further, and a wide grin erupted across his face.  He could practically feel the radiating joy and comfort from the hero.

 

No 

 

No, fucking way.

 

He couldn’t believe it, his mother was a horrible manipulative bitch on the best of days but this .

 

What she had said had done its job, it was intended to make him stay fucking put, to prevent him from questioning her and questioning freedom from her.  That’s exactly what it fucking did.  

 

How many times during his childhood did he walk right up to fucking Izuku’s house to tell him or to tell Auntie Inko?  How many times did I turn around, figuring that they couldn’t possibly understand?  That they wouldn’t do anything because he believed it was his fucking fate, that he fucking deserved every second of it.

 

He watched Jeanist looking at him like Deku used to look at him, before Katsuki had gotten his quirk.  He was looking at him like he was the center of the universe and it was way too damn much to death with.

 

He couldn’t tell how he felt, he felt a little sick like he wanted to vomit as a cold pit of horror settled in his gut, and scream bloody fucking murder at his mother for screwing with his head like that.  He really wanted to break out laughing, a little but hysterically because well fuck if her plan didn’t fucking backfire.  He’d never trust her again after this, her or his father.  If he could help it, he’d spend as little time there as he was able so he could get rid of them as soon as possible.  

 

There was also a metric ton of relief flooded over him.  He wasn’t bound to her for life, he didn’t have to listen to her spit those hateful things anymore, or at least he wouldn’t believe them.  He just had to bear it a few more years and he could be rid of her, rid of the both of them, forever. 

 

A small part of his mind quietly admitted to him that he was glad he could be different than she was, that he had a chance to be the hero he wanted to be.  Not the villain she had convinced him he was.  

 

More than that, most importantly, his real true soul parent believed that he could be a hero.  The number four hero who was sitting right in front of him, looking at him like he was taking in the most important thing in the world, the hyper attention made him feel weak with insecurity.

 

They stared at each other just like that, neither knowing the gravity of the revelations that the other was sorting through.  The moment passed quickly and Jeanist pulled him into an awkward hug considering he was still kneeling on the ground and Katsuki was still in the chair.

 

Katsuki could feel the gentle reverence in the hug, he could feel the simple and untainted affection in it.  It was such a welcome and unfamiliar feeling that it made him sink into it, all past worries between them forgotten as they take comfort and pleasure in the simple and honest gesture.  

 

It tore down the last of Katsuki’s composure, he let out a gasp and cried stubbornly into the embrace.  He fought it the whole way through, every hiccup and sob was forced its way past the willpower holding it back.  Jeanist rubbed gentle circles into his back for as long as he needed, whispering quietly to him.


They missed patrol that day, on the last day of his internship but Katsuki couldn’t bring himself to care.

 

————————————

Below we have sketches I made of all of Kasuki’s Marks.

 

Katsuki’s Mark
Tsunagu’s Mark
Aizawa’s Mark
All Might’s Mark

Chapter Text

 

“Ok, who’s getting married?”  Yu called to Tsunagu as he walked past their table.  He jumped a little, having been lost in his own thoughts, but still waved to them warmly.  

 

He was at a bar/restaurant popular with the pro heroes, because of their strict no camera and no paparazzi policy.  Even the pros had to leave their devices at the door.  It made for a relatively safe environment for the pros to let loose a bit, without worrying about causing a scandal.  He had been planning on meeting Kugo here for a nice meal, but seeing as he wasn’t here yet, he saw no harm in stopping to chat.

 

“Sorry, what was that Yu?”  Tsunagu stepped closer to their booth to see that there were a few others there, including Nemuri (Midnight), Rumi (Miruko), and Ryuko(Ryukyu).  Midnight looks like she had already had her fair share of alcohol and was certainly bubblier than usual.  Otherwise it seemed like a normal get together.

 

“What the hell’s got you so happy?”  Rumi reiterated.  Ryuko nudged her gently and told her to ‘be nice’.  Tsunagu just laughed, Rumi was a bit gruff with everyone, and he could certainly handle that.  

 

In fact, her mannerisms quite reminded him of a certain intern.  “Oh, nothing in particular.  It’s just another nice day to be alive.”  He must have been smiling again, because Midnight started to giggle.  

 

“Oh sweetie nobody here is buying that, you're grinning like a damn schoolgirl who just got asked out to prom by the star athlete.”  Yu commented.  “Come on, spill the tea.  We hardly get any gossip anyway.”  

 

Tsunagu raised his eyebrow in amusement. “I’m afraid my news isn’t particularly gossip-worthy.”  They seemed to get the message, and he heard Nemuri groan.

 

“Aaaaaaaawwwwgh-  No romance?”  She griped.  “Geez what the hell’s got you so happy that isn’t a romantic partner?”

 

“Nemuri maybe you should stop drinking for now?”  Ryuko cautioned, sighing as she saw the drunken mess sitting beside her.

 

“Never!”  Nemuri held her drink selfishly away from the others, as if someone might try to steal it from her right then and there.  The table chuckled.  He only had to be asked one more time before he gave in.  He was too excited to keep it a secret.

 

“Alright, alright, I’ll tell you.”  He smiled possibly wider than he had all day, and started to speak.

 

“I found the match to one of my soul marks today.”

 

The table exploded into chatter.

 

“Whoa bro, how about ya just lead with that next time ok?”  Rumi griped good-naturedly.

 

“Ooooh~. Who is it?”  Yu whistled leaning forward to hear more.  Midnight who lives for this stuff practically lost it.

 

“OHHHH MY GOD.  SPILL. NOW.”  Nemuri had practically bolted up, if she hadn’t fallen right back over as soon as she stood.  Tsunagu chuckled, and was about to keep going when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Kugo.  Nice to see you!”  Tsunagu grinned widely.  Kugo looked him over.  

 

“What’s got you so happy?”  Kugo asked, and Tsunagu practically wanted to groan.  He settled for the half hearted sigh.

 

“Am I really that obvious?” Tsunagu faked a frown that he couldn’t quite pull off with the excitement running through his body.

 

Midnight as always crashed through the situation with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.  

 

“Gaaaaaah~ can you hurry it up so we can find out who Tsunagu’s new soul child was?”  Nemuri said, slurring her words in a messed up kind of harmony.

 

Kugo looked dumbfounded for a moment, then turned to Tsunagu excitedly.  Kugo was one of the few people in this world who know just how much something like this meant to him.  “Y-you found one!

 

“Well, actually he found me.”  Tsunagu corrected but he nodded all the same.  Kugo actually picked him up in a bear hug and lifted Tsunagu off his feet.  

 

The last time he’d done that they’d been in school, god time flies.  As soon as he put Tsunagu down he, and the rest of the table, was immediately on him to know who.  

 

“It was Katsuki.”  

 

Nemuri gasped dramatically loudly.  “Oh that’s SO SWEEEET~”

 

“I knew it, I knew as soon as you picked that kid you were gonna take him in soulchild or not.”  Kugo commented.  

 

“You have always known me better than I do myself.”  Tsunagu replied.  

 

“Can I see the mark?”  Nemuri asked surprisingly seriously considering the howling she’d been doing earlier.  The question was a bit blunt, but he shrugged, and rolled up his sleeve so they could see the mark.

 

There it was the black explosion with the red heart in the center.

 

Nemuri managed to stand, almost looking sober through sheer willpower and shock at the scene before her.  She actually grabbed his arm and pulled it closer, he yelped in surprise.

 

“Ok, Nemuri that’s been one too many drinks, I need to take you home.”  Ryuko, bless her, pried Nemuri from his arm.  

 

“No wait!” Nemuri protested as Ryuko dragged her out of the booth.  

 

“That’s enough, it’s time to go home.”  Ryuko insisted.

 

“Wait, I have an important question for you Tsunagu, did you happen to see if Katsuki also had a black cat soulmark?”  Nemuri was speaking rushed, trying to get the question out before she was out of earshot.  

 

Tsunagu stared at her, bewildered.  “How did you know?”

 

At his reply Ryuko stopped dragging Nemuri, though she didn’t let go.  Nemuri let out a sharp laugh.

 

“Oh my god!  I knew I recognized that mark!  It’s the first one Shouta ever got.  It was a whole thing when we were going to school together.  I know his mark is a black cat on the kids because, you guys have no clue how many he has running around.  It’s like all of class 1-A, even though most of the kids have no idea.”  Nemuri explained.

 

Tsunagu would be lying if he said he wasn’t just a little disappointed, especially considering that Aizawa is certainly going to be closer to Katsuki considering that he’s his home room teacher.

 

It also seemed like Aizawa had a lot of soul children to deal with though, so maybe Tsunagu could just make himself easily available so he can take over when Aizawa isn’t around.

 

He’d figure it out later.

 

For now, he bid Nemuri goodbye and sulked with Kugo a bit, because of course he had seen him deflate at the news, and was going to do his damndest to cheer Tsunagu up.

 

Tsunagu had tried to convince him that he didn’t need cheering up.  However that was a hard thing to pull off when you were still working on convincing yourself.




Chapter Text

Katsuki glowered up at the house, from the outside the building looked simple, quaint even.  However, Katsuki knew better than that.  

 

Normally, he wouldn’t hesitate, he would walk inside and just accept it.  He’d been playing this game his entire life, he knew how to get out of her shit with just a few harsh words if he tried hard enough.

 

Yet, here he was, sitting on the sidewalk across the street, glaring daggers into the door like it offended him.  In a sense, that door did offend him, it was threshold.  After he passed through that doorway, he knew what was coming, and nothing could stop it.

 

He could handle her normally, he had developed a resistance to her bullshit over the years.  The harsh words and insults could be thrown back at her just as harshly, he could hold his own in that fight.  

 

On the particularly bad days, she would lose her temper and slap him around a bit.  It wasn’t a big deal .  Except for the fact that it was .  He was stronger than she was by a lot .  The problem was, if he threw even one punch he could really hurt her.  He knew he could, the physical strength was right there for him to use.  

 

He couldn’t do it though.

 

Well, on any other day he wouldn’t .

 

Today though….

 

Today he was so damn pissed that he was almost afraid of what he might do.  On the walk home he had been literally fuming.  He had even played with the idea of purposely provoking her so he would have an excuse to bitch slap her back.

 

That was a dark side of him though, a vengeful , hateful , and spiteful side of himself.  It was a side of himself that reminded him far too much of her.

 

He felt a small pang of horror for even thinking about it the moment he came into view of the house.

 

That made him hesitate, he didn’t cross the street when he reached his house like he did every day .  He sat on the concrete originally to calm himself down.  He couldn’t go in there thinking like this, because in the heat of the argument, he might just say ‘fuck it.’ and take it too far.

 

Sitting down hadn’t helped his fury any.  If anything it had let it stagnate and stew a bit more.  He just couldn’t stop thinking about that mark.   

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about how she lied to him for years about something so incredibly important.

 

It was something he hadn’t even realized was important until he’d felt it today, and really how fucked up was that?

 

Most people were born with the marks of their parents, it was a normal thing.  Most people had known that strange foreign feeling that Katsuki had discovered today, for their entire lives.   

 

He felt like he had missed something, something important.

 

It wasn’t even that she hadn't had the guts to tell him the truth.  No, she had lied and told him the mark was hers , and that had been so much fucking worse .

 

She had denied him any concept of what a soul mark even was.  Worse still, she had made his impression on them and all that they represented to be a horrible life sentence, rather than…

 

...rather than, whatever the fucking hell they actually were. He wouldn’t act like he understood what any of this shit meant right now.  He just knew that it wasn’t anything like he’d ever expected.

 

How could he walk in there and pretend that everything was fine?

 

He could handle the venomous words and he could handle the violence.  What he couldn’t handle was whatever the hell this was.

 

His phone buzzes in his pocket, before he can think about it any longer.  Katsuki pulls out his phone, thankful for the distraction.  Then he balks a little at who the message was from.  

 

He was expecting it to be Kiri or one of the other idiot squad members.  That would have been normal for this time in the evening, as they all settled down after dinner.  He still hasn’t eaten, he’d need to fix that soon.

 

It hadn’t been any of them though, he was looking at a message from his recently discovered soul-parent, Tsunagu Hakamata.  They had shared their personal contact information earlier, it had seemed right to Katsuki somehow.  

 

Though he hadn’t expected to hear from him so soon.

 

He opened his phone to read the message.

 

6:48 p.m.

 

Tsunagu:  Hello there Katsuki.

 

Tsunagu: <kitten-box.gif>

 

Tsunagu:  I just realized that I never confirmed that I took your number down right.

 

The messages were pretty much what he expected from texting an adult, all things considered.  With proper punctuation, and full sentences.  Though, Katsuki couldn’t help but snort in surprise and amusement as he sent a gif of a kitten sticking his head out of a box.  

 

He could already feel his dour mood lightening, again he kind of hated just how much this thing seemed to affect his mood.  He wasn’t entirely sure whether it was a good thing or not.  

 

Regardless, Katsuki moved to reply.

 

Katsuki: Yeah, you’ve got the right number.

 

Katsuki: What’s with the cat?

 

There was a short pause before the reply came, Katsuki allowed himself a small private smile.

 

Tsunagu: I sent it more on a whim than anything else.

 

Tsunagu: Cats are cute.

 

Katsuki’s smile widened just slightly, as he genuinely chuckled.  Somehow, the bluntness of the statement conjured the image of Tsunagu playing with a hoard of cats, and it oddly seemed to fit.

 

Katsuki: <eyeroll-emoji> 

 

Katsuki:  Can’t argue with that logic, I guess.

 

It was an odd feeling, chatting as casually as he did with his classmates with Best Jeanist of all people.  God the fuckin’ paparazzi would eat this shit up, not that he would ever betray the pro’s trust like that.  No, it had just struck him as a bit strange how quickly Tsunagu had taken a shine to him.  

 

Actually, it was almost a little disconcerting how quickly all of this had come about.  It almost made him nervous, like this was just some kind of really fucked up dream, and he might wake up tomorrow to it having been a figment of his imagination.

 

It just seemed too perfect, and perfect things didn’t happen to anyone, especially Katsuki.  It felt far too easy, too simple.  Especially after the way he’d treated Jeanist fucking week, it seemed impossible that he could actually want this.

 

It seemed impossible that any adult would want him in their lives.

 

Katsuki flinched as he heard a familiar yell.  

 

“Bakugo Katsuki, what the fuck are you doing out there?”  His mother had stuck her head out of the kitchen window, where she must have seen him sitting across the street.  “Stop fucking around and get your fucking ass in here!”  He internally groaned, his good mood immediately soured. 

 

Fuck, it’s going to be a long fucking night isn’t it?

 

He closed his phone without a second thought and reigned in his temper, hoping that he could manage to survive the night unscathed.  



Chapter Text

Dinner had been a disaster .  His parents had already eaten, but of course , his mother was going to insist that he ate his portion right then and there.  Which wasn’t the worst part.  It seemed that someone had pissed her off at work today, and she was in a shit mood.  As a result, she took the opportunity to sit in front of him and lecture to him about every fuck up she could possibly think of.  

 

He tried not to listen.

 

However, she had him prisoner at this table, and talked at him the entire time he was ‘eating’.  Suddenly though, he lost his appetite, especially after she started to speak.  

 

This was quite literally the exact situation he had wanted to avoid.  He could already feel the frustration and anger bubbling up inside him.  Normally in this situation he would snap right back at her, today though, he couldn’t allow himself even a single word.  

 

He couldn’t risk it.

 

After a few more minutes of her ranting, she seemed to cool down enough to notice that he hadn’t been paying attention, and she grabbed him by the ear roughly and shoved his face into the plate of food.

 

“You ungrateful little shit!  Have you even listened to a single word I've said?”  She fumed.  

 

Fucking fuck

 

Fuck

 

Fuck 

 

Fuck

 

He wanted to be anywhere but here.  He could feel the sweat gathering on his palms, he could feel his temper about to boil over. 

 

“And eat your fucking food, I didn’t slave away to cook that meal, just for you not to eat it!”

 

They both knew that one fell flat, she knew that he would pack up anything he didn't eat.  She was truly just looking for an excuse to wail on him, and he took it.  He silently stared at the plate, using every ounce of restraint in his body not to fucking scream at her, not to walk out of the damn house and sleep on a fucking bench somewhere.  Every ounce of his energy was going towards keeping himself calm, and not engaging .  

 

This only made her angrier, she smeared his face on the plate, and kept yelling.  He could vaguely recognize his father trying to reason with her.  He almost laughed at that.  It was too little too late, and the old man knew that.  He probably only said it to make himself sleep better at night.  At this point, her yelling may as well have been in a foriegn language.  Pure, bitter, fury made his ears ring, so much so that he couldn’t even understand her anymore.  It was for the best, he probably would have snapped by now if he could hear her.  Her hand still firmly grasping his head, she yanked his head up to meet his eyes.

 

“What?  You think, you’re above talking to me, huh?  I’m your fucking mother, if I ask a question I want a motherfucking answer, you spiteful little shit.”  Her voice was deadly cool now.   

 

Huh?  The Fuck’s she on about?  I must have missed something Oh fucking well.

 

He didn’t reply, glaring at her.  She gave him a venomous grin, she could tell she had his attention now.

 

“Do you want me to ruin your life?  You’re stuck with me for life you know that?  You’re bonded to me by fate, so are you really gonna keep this shit up?”  Her voice was cool, having gained a vengeful bite to it.  The words didn’t have the effect she was looking for though.  She was expecting to see shame and submission wipe away the stubborn anger.   She was expecting to win the fight, then and there.  She didn't use that excuse often, the fate bullshit was something she had not pulled out as a weapon more than a few times in his entire life.

 

She couldn’t have picked a worse day to bring it up.

 

She didn’t just fucking say that?  She’s still on about this shit!  The fucking lying, manipulative bitch!  

 

There they were, she was holding his food-covered face right up to her own.  Each of them staring the other down, their faces inches apart.  His mother having already decided that she’d won, and Katsuki having decided that the fight had only just begun.  

 

The anger in his breast was white-hot, and much like he had predicted as he sat on the street in thought, he thought...

 

Fuck this.

 

The anger wasn’t bubbling out of his control, no it was channeled straight into his actions, completely purposefully.  Like a precision blow torch, right to the spot he needed burned .

 

“Really, you think I actually believe that shit? ” Katsuki spat. “Fate isn’t going to keep me in this shithole, you bitch.  This damn mark isn’t even yours!” His voice was searing hot, his words burned her, in just the way he intended them to, like the light tap of a hot iron poker to the side.  It burned , and it hurt in just the way it was intended to.  He backed away from her, yanking her arm from its grip on his ear.  It took her a moment to recover, to regain her senses and she scoffed at him.

 

“Denial doesn't suit you Katsuki.”  She sighed, condescension dripping off her words.  Katsuki just growled through a smirk, both angry and oddly satisfied by where this conversation is headed.

 

“You’re the one in fucking denial.”  He growled at her, and he was so sure of his answer that she seemed to pause and hesitate.  His heart leapt with the victory, adrenaline pushing him further, as he knew he had the advantage in this fight.  “That fucking mark on my abdomen, isn’t yours.   You fucking knew that, and still told me it was yours.”  The tension in the air was thick, tangible even.  He couldn’t help the smile that crept onto his face at her losing her composure.  She lost that confident air to her and her control of the situation vanished into thin air.

 

He was in control now .

 

The feeling was exhilarating and he couldn’t stop himself from pushing it further.  He gave a short bark of laughter dripping with bitter hurt.  “That’s pretty fucked up you know?  You managed to convince me that soul marks were either a curse, or a fucking hoax.  I didn’t believe in them one bit until I met one of mine .”  He let that sink in, reveling in the utter shock and disbelief on her features.  “That’s fucking right, I met him today, and well fuck.  As much as all the other shit you do to me hurts, this sure takes the fucking cake.   Keeping something this important from me, is such a fucking low blow.”

 

“How do you know?”  Came an indignant reply, it was shaky at best.  Katsuki could hear the uncertainty in her voice, uncertainty and… hurt?  “How do you know it’s fucking his, I mean where’s the fucking proof? I want to see proof. ”  She demanded.  

 

What?

 

“What the fuck do you mean? ”  Katsuki spat out the question.

 

“What isn’t clear, I want fucking proof?”  Her voice was firmer now, more certain and insistent.  That still didn’t mean that what she was asking made even one bit of fucking sense.

 

“What fucking proof?  This isn’t something you fucking prove, it’s something you know when you see it.”  Katsuki’s anger was disengaged for a moment by the confusion he felt.  

 

The feeling he had experienced after he saw his own mark was undeniable; it was almost instinctual.  How did he know?  It was more like how couldn’t he know?  Her question and confusion nagged at his mind until something seemed to come to mind.  Things seemed to click into place, and he wasn’t sure that he liked where this was going.

 

“You never had any marks, you had no fucking idea what you took from me did you?”  His words were said as he came to the realization, his voice slightly softer than it had been before, losing the venomous bite.  He was still angry, furious even, but somehow this made it feel more… fair?  

 

That wasn’t the right word for it, but that didn’t matter right now.

 

His mother was silent, her glare at him had become more defensive, ashamed, and frustrated.  He had hit the nail on the head apparently.  He couldn’t even believe it, that somehow someone out there had no soul marks, it almost hurt to think about.

 

He couldn’t help but feel a little pity.  His expression must have changed, because as soon as that thought crossed his mind she growled at him.

 

“Don’t you dare pity me you fucking evil little shit!”  She spat.  Though somehow, it didn’t hurt so much, for some reason he couldn’t quite place. “You have no idea how fucking hard it was trying to raise a kid who you knew would never fucking love you.  From the moment you were born.  We knew how this would turn out, we would raise you and take care of you, then you would find your real parents and run off to live with them like the ungrateful brat you are!”  She was breathing heavily as she ranted, her face growing redder, the hurt clear in her voice. “Every time I looked at you I saw everything we would never get to have.  I hated it, and I hated you!

 

The words stung more than they should have.  Her words were petty and selfish and wrong .  What really hurt though, was that she was being honest.  

 

“There were so many times that I wished that I’d never gone through with any of this shit, Masaru and I could have just been a happy couple together without any fucking soulmarks and pretended that it was enough.  Anything was better than the heartbreak that you came with.  That came with fact that my own fucking child would never care for me!”  

 

God, she really fucking hated himLike wished he’d never been born, hated him.  That was a tough pill to swallow.  He really wanted to go somewhere else, he suddenly had the sudden urge to bolt out the door and never come back.  

 

Why the hell did he care so much about what she thought?

 

The thought was pathetic and futile.  It did nothing to ease his hurt, because it did hurt.  

 

“So all this time,”. He looked at her directly in the eyes, not entirely sure he wanted to know the answer of this next question. “You’ve treated me like shit, because you thought that I would hate you no matter how you treated me, and because you were jealous of me?”   He said the words cautiously, in low growl, making sure that he hadn’t misunderstood.  This was about the craziest shit he’d ever heard, surely she wasn’t that fucking insane was she?

 

“That’s exactly fucking right.”  She spat.

 

Holy Fuck.

 

“Don’t say that Mitsuki….”. His father said timidly.  Again, too little, way too fucking late .  

 

This fight that they we’re having, between Katsuki and his mother, was permanently damaging.  This was going to end badly no matter what happened at this point .

 

“That’s fucking bullshit!”  He shouted. “How the fuck was that my fault?  All of these years of shit, because of something you had no idea whether it was going to happen or not?”   He couldn’t believe this shit, he literally couldn’t believe the shit he was hearing.  “You’re actually fucking insane! ”  

 

As he looked at the looks of utter apathy between his parents, as if the words he was saying were somehow expected, like they never had a doubt in their mind that it would end this way.  They looked like they didn’t even care.  They both looked like they couldn’t care less what he said, what he did.  As if this had been a long time coming and they had prepared for it.

 

He stared at the both of them in silence, waiting for any kind of reaction.   Nothing, just nothing from either of them.

 

You’ve got to be kidding me.

 

This isn’t actually fucking happening.

 

He can’t stay here.  He literally couldn’t fucking stay in this fucking place not even one minute longer.  He couldn’t stand this shit .  

 

Now Katsuki wasn’t the type to label things as ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’, because society’s rules never quite seemed to apply to his life.  It was a lesson he’d learned early, things were always different for him.  This however, seemed to warrant it.

 

This was so fucking unfair and he was honest enough to admit he felt that way.

 

He turned around on his heel and stormed up straight to his room without another word and went to gather whatever he could carry.

 

He was going to leave, and he was never coming back.

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki sighed heavily as he closed the door to his room firmly behind him.  He leaned against the door, and didn’t even truly realize that he was sliding down the door until he reached the ground.  He sat there silently, numbly even, as he gave himself a minute to process everything he’d just heard.

 

He was strangely calm, all things considered.  The whole day had begun with a cacophony of emotions that he had never understood.  Finding out that Tsunagu had been his soul parent, it had knocked his carefully measured rage and frustration out of whack.  The anger, it was still there, it was amplified even, after he had discovered that his mother had been lying to him.  However, he was entirely unaccustomed to dealing with this vulnerability.  He had never been so raw before, completely stripped of the rough exterior that normally sealed away all the inconvenient emotions.  

 

Now, though.  After he had been given the opportunity to shout at her, to call his mother out on her bullshit.  After she had given him all the missing pieces, all of the pieces that explained why she was so fucked up, why their relationship had always been shit.  It had made him realize with a starling clarity, just what she thought of him as.  

 

He had never been her son, she had never seen him as one.  He was just a financial burden and a frustrating reminder of the life that she would never have.  He was a black stain on the otherwise unblemished fabric of her daily life. 

 

It made sense.  She had only seemed to talk to him when she was in a bad mood, like a glorified punching bag.  Or perhaps it was only on the days where she couldn’t stand to ignore him any longer.  When the rest of life had been so shitty, that seeing him, alive and breathing, was the last straw that shoved her over the edge. 

 

He hadn’t done anything to her other than exist, and that was the reason she hated him.

 

That thought, oddly, made him feel marginally better about the whole thing.

 

It was almost a relief to know that he wasn’t the problem here .  She was.

 

He had been led to believe that he was meant to live his life out with her by his side.  That everything that she did was meant for him .  He was the only person that had ever had an issue with how she treated him, so he must have been the problem.  

 

It only made sense, with the things she called him, and the way she treated him.  For most of his life, he had been immeasurably frustrated with the fact that he was doomed to a life filled with her demeaning and crushing presence, and that he had never understood why.  

In the back of his mind, he could still hear speaking to him, telling him that he still deserved her.  After everything he’s done, particularly to Deku.  

 

That fucking idiot…

 

That voice hovered over him and told him that he was just like her, an echo of his innermost fears. 

 

He wasn’t sure that her voice would ever leave him, but now, after everything he’d learned.  He could shove it aside easier, he could shush it and force it away.  That was, because now, he was reasonably certain that his mother was just completely delusional.  

 

Everything about soulmarks she had told him was a lie, everything his parents had said to him since the day he had been born had been all lies.  

 

He had been living a lie his whole life, and he hadn’t even known it.  

 

The realization was both relieving and utterly fucking crushing at the same time.  

 

The realization left him feeling startlingly unsure of how in the actual fuck he was supposed to even function.  It left him questioning every decision he’d ever made and measuring it against those of his mother.  It was inevitable, finding similarities in their overall attitudes and demeanor towards interaction with others.  Afterall, she was the only reference he’d had for the subject.   It was more than a little concerning, thinking over it now.  

 

He felt the cold dagger of guilt stab him as a particularly harsh encounter that he’d had with Deku came to mind.

 

If you wanna be a hero so bad, why don't you make it easier for yourself and take a swan dive off the roof? Maybe you'll have a quirk in your next life.

 

The harsh, honest to god, venom that he could remember in his voice, and the indifferent nature with how he treated the live of another fucking living, breathing, person.  As if Deku’s very existence was offensive to him. 

 

It was so incredibly and horrifyingly similar to the way his mother had just spoken to him.  

 

It made him want to vomit.

 

He might not have deserved the way his mother treated him, but Deku sure as fuck didn’t deserve the way Kastuki had treated him.  Katsuki was now, more than ever, aware of what that particular brand of abuse felt like.   

 

He needed to get out of here, he needed to go literally anywhere else. 

 

After he walked out of this room, he swore to all the Gods , that he was never coming back.  If not just for him, then for the fucking morons that had choosen to stick with him, despite how much of an insufferable asshole he knew he could be.  

 

Because if he stayed here any longer, he might just turn into her.  Into the self-absorbed, vengeful, spiteful, manipulative bitch, who was too delusional to see just how horrible she was. 

 

He wouldn’t be blind to it anymore.  He would pay attention to it, he would fix it , because he sure as hell was too fucking stubborn, to let her ruin his life.  It would be incredibly frustrating, and stitty, to try and change, and he was sure as fuck going to do it anyway.

 

First thing’s first, to get the fuck out of this house. 





After he had a second to gather himself and regain his composure, he stood up and started to get to work.  He grabbed the partially used towel from this morning from his hamper, and wiped the remnants of food from his face and hair, then shoved the thing carelessly back in the bin.  He then proceeded to grab a large duffel bag and his backpack, that was all he could realistically carry and keep track of by himself, if he filled both of them completely.  Then, he started rummaging through his clothes. 

 

Where the fuck are you going to go?  

 

The thought intruded on his focus, and forced him to pause and sigh deeply.  He forced the surge of panic down and continued to work.  He grabbed the clothes he wore the most, his uniforms for UA, any spare parts of his hero costume that he may have taken home, a few odd t-shirts, underwear, and a pair of pants.  He figured that one pair would be enough, in addition to the pair that he is currently wearing.  He neatly folded each piece, and rolled them into cylindrical forms, to save as much space as possible.  Then, he placed all of that into the large duffel bag.  

 

Is that really enough for you to live off of?  If you decide to just rough it in the woods somewhere, you aren’t exactly going to have steady access to a washing machine, or a shower for that matter.

 

He shook his head.  That didn’t fucking matter right now, he would find a way, no matter how shitty it was, he would find a fucking way .

 

All in all, the clothes took up about half of the large duffel bag, and he winced.  He was sure that he could make all his school supplies and crap was in his backpack, but this still didn’t leave much room for anything survival related.  He shoved all the clothing in his closet to one side anyway, and carefully removed the false back he had placed in the back of the closet.  

 

Over the years, he had gathered enough money to buy some necessities for sleeping outside.  This was far from the first time that he had done something like this, as every once in a while he would just spend the weekend outside, to avoid his parents.  Likewise, he had hidden it, because he didn’t want to take the risk of her destroying the stuff.  

 

It wasn’t much.  Just a worn in, weather-proof sleeping bag, a stash of bug spray, a ridiculously small tent (he had bought it when he was much smaller) which he might be able to curl up in if he was well and truly desperate , and a stash of various foods with a long shelf life, like granola bars, trial mix, and beef jerky.

 

Food will become an issue no matter how much of it you bring.  This isn’t just some weekend camping trip.  You won’t exactly have any income coming in from going to school, so what the fuck are you going to do about that? 

 

He growled quietly at himself.  Fucking hell , could his brain leave him alone for just long enough to finish packing his shit.   He couldn’t deny that it was a valid fucking question though.  

 

He decided to bring the sleeping bag and the small tent.  The small tent was at least somewhat weather-proof, so he could dismantle it and use the materials if he needed to.  Unfortunately, that took up the rest of his duffel bag, and he zipped the bag up.  

 

He gathered his school materials from his room, textbooks, folders with homework, his crappy laptop, and the charger for it and his phone.  He also swiped the sparsely filled wallet and shoved it in as well, as an afterthought.  This didn’t take him nearly as long to pack as the duffel bag had, and within another two minutes he was packed up.  As he zipped up the bag it hit him with a sense of finality that sent chills down his spine. 

 

Suddenly he was facing the reality of fending for himself, for the foreseeable future, and he was struck with a flood of panic.  All those thoughts, of the reality of the situation, of where the hell he was going to get food, or where the hell he was going to shower.  Of, how the hell he was going to keep going to UA and making sure that nobody noticed that he hadn’t showered or eaten.  

 

How long could you possibly keep that up?  

 

He ignored his own question.  He stood, shouldering the backpack, and holding the duffel bag by the handles.  Then didn’t even hesitate to walk right out of his room and down the stairs.

 

He didn’t let his fears or uncertainty show on his features.  He kept his expression solid and neutral as he headed for the door.  He didn’t dare look into the dining room, where he knew his parents still were.  He could feel their gazes locked on him.  

 

Neither of them said anything as he walked right past them, right for the door.  They came into the hallway to watch, wordlessly, as he opened the front door….

 

....and walked through.

Chapter Text

The first night turned out to be pretty alright.  He had originally decided to get some distance between him and the house, and started walking towards UA.  It had taken him a few hours to walk there by foot, especially since he had never had to fucking walk to UA from his house before, this meant he had some issues navigating his way there.  

 

Once he was within sight of the building, he started to wander.  He had considered camping in the extensively large forest that surrounded UA as a type of training ground, but he wasn’t about to risk it.  He needed someplace relatively close to the school, but not close enough to risk someone stumbling across him while he was sleeping.  

 

He eventually came across a small suburb-like area about a 15 minute walk from the campus and started to scout more seriously.  There were small patches of forest, but nothing really like the woods behind his own house at home.  When he came to a clearing through a small thicket of the woods, he had expected to see more houses, or maybe a street.  

 

He was surprised though, by the worn down and overgrown gazebo before him.  The grass was up to his calves, and there were weeds everywhere, ivy had started to grow over the structure such that it covered over half of the roof.  

 

The clearing itself was smaller than he had expected too, with no obvious path to walk up to the secluded spot either, it was completely surrounded by a thick ring of bushes, except for where the ring met a thick concrete wall, presumably the kind that lined highways that were next to privately owned property.  If he listened, he could hear the faint swooping sound of cars passing, though the traffic was limited because of the time at night.  

 

Katsuki walked closer to the gazebo, and kicked the structure firmly.  The last thing he wanted was to have the roof fall on him while he slept because the wood was rotted, or eaten hollow by termites.  It seemed that even as the paint was peeling, the wood itself was solid, though it protested with a creak as he stood on the small platform.  

 

He hopped on the wooden platform a few times, to test his weight on it.  It seemed to be solid.

 

This will be a good spot for tonight.   

 

He readied the platform, pulling out his sleeping bag, and brushing away any dead leaves and spiderwebs.  He zipped the duffel bag back up and adjusted it so that it would act as a pillow.  He squirmed his way into the promise of warmth that the sleeping bag bag offered, and laid back staring up at the ceiling of the gazebo.  

 

On the walk over here, he had been given a lot of time to think.  

 

He knew he couldn’t keep this up forever.  Sleeping in the woods like this, while it was nice to do every once in a while, wasn’t exactly a sustainable lifestyle.  He knew that after a while, either he would either get caught by one of his teachers, or his mother would swallow their pride and file a report.  

 

However, neither of those things would happen tonight.  In fact, with it being the end of the school week, he had the weekend to think through it.  

 

He knew that this was only a temporary solution.  

 

He just had no fucking idea what else he could do.  For the life of him, he couldn’t think up another solution that seemed plausible.

 

He had no idea how the fuck he was getting himself out of this one.  There was only one thing he was sure of-- and with so much having changed in the past twenty four hours being sure of anything was a fucking miracle -- and that was that no matter what he had to do, he was never setting foot in that house again.  

 

He owed at least that much to himself, and to his friends(he would gladly die before admitting that's what they were).  The guilt that came with perspective was still swirling around in his mind and a small and timid part of his mind admitted, that he owed it to Deku to at least try to free himself from her, to make up for his fucking mistakes by getting better.

 

He wasn’t dumb, he knew that working out the shit she’d ingrained into his mind would be nearly impossible to do on his own.  He would manage somehow though, it wouldn’t be easy, but he sure as fuck wasn’t backing down.  

 

“...you don’t have to pretend.  I can see qualities any good hero needs within you, you just need to draw them out.”

 

He couldn’t help but remember those words that had been said to him just earlier today, and fuck that really had been just this afternoon.  Remembering those words though, hearing that the pro really had faith in him, despite everything.   It gave him a boost to his damaged resolve, helped him sit and repair the determination that stirred inside him.  

 

Those words reminded him that he wasn’t her yet, and that he had the capability to change.  

 

For a moment, under the privacy of the gazebo, and in a patch of woods somewhere in the city, he allowed himself to think for one moment about what it might have been like to have experienced what he had today, much earlier.  He allowed himself to imagine what it might have been like if he had come across Tsunagu earlier in his childhood, maybe even his entire life.  

 

He could hardly imagine it.  

 

He imagined that it would have been nicer, much nicer, with none of the mutual hatred.  He imagined that it would be sweeter, like the way Tsunagu had looked at him when he had first seen his mark, embarrassingly sweet even.  Katsuki shifted awkwardly under the covers just thinking about the encounter.  

 

He imagined that he wouldn’t be dealt with physically roughly either, not for something as simple as a scolding.  He imagined that if he had grown up in a place like that, that Deku would have stayed his friend through Middle School.  

 

Most of all, he imagined that Tsunagu would never lie to him, not about something like a soulmark or his personal feelings.  

 

It was only a moment though, it left just as quickly as it had come on.  Katsuki shook his head, mentally berating himself.

 

Getting his hopes up like that was dangerous , and even if Tsunagu didn’t seem like the type to manipulate Katsuki like his mother had.  The man was still a busy pro hero, he had built up an entire life for himself.  All of that was separate from Katsuki, a stray soulchild that suddenly appeared in his life.  

 

Katsuki had seriously considered calling the pro, even as little as he knew him, and asking for a place to stay the night, as he had aimlessly wandered the city.  He had seriously considered asking for help.

 

After what had happened between them today, it had seemed like a decent option.  Even now it still wasn’t a terrible one if it came down to it.  He just couldn’t help but worry.

 

What if he became just another terrible fucking burden?  What if he starts to see me the same way she did?

 

It was stupid, he knew it was, which was why he hadn’t outright dismissed the idea just yet.  That didn’t stop the sick wave of anxiety that washed over his body at the thought, he pushed the feeling down.  

 

He could handle this, just like he always has for now, he would handle it on his own until he was forced to do otherwise.  

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki had woken up well into mid-morning, the sun having already risen fairly high.  When he checked the time on his phone, it was almost ten in the morning.  With how late he had stayed up the night before, it wasn’t exactly surprising that he had accidentally slept in.  

 

It wasn’t like he had plans today anyway.

 

He opened his phone, and saw that the battery was at seventy-ish percent.  He would need to find a place to set it charging, it wasn’t sure it would last until he got a chance to get into the school.  At least there he could find a spare outlet to charge it in.

 

An image wormed its way into his mind unwarranted.  It was of a certain dumb blonde popping the end of a USB charger in his mouth, and charging the device with his quirk.  

 

Or, maybe you could just have dunce-face do it for you?

 

He scoffed to himself at the thought, at the sheer ridiculousness of it.  Well it would have been ridiculous if he hadn’t literally witnessed the other teen do exactly that on several occasions.

 

Speaking of the idiot squad, a notification to a group chat popped up onto his screen. 

 

Kirishima was asking if they wanted to come chill at his place for a bit this afternoon, considering the light nature of their homework they had been assigned on the week of their work study, it meant that they all had the weekend to themselves.  The others all chimed in with affirmative responses quickly, and Katsuki didn’t even hesitate. 




Bakugo: I’ll see you assholes there.




He closed his phone and began to pack up his stuff. 





The trip to Kirishima’s house had been a godsend , Katsuki could not even express just how grateful he was to Kirishima in particular.  

 

Katsuki had purposely showed up early, having had to walk like halfway across the city had taken almost forty five minutes, such that he ended up arriving at Kirishima’s house a whole two hours early.  Kirishima hadn’t even asked any questions, he just smiled widely and led Katsuki inside.  He hadn’t commented on any of the weird-ness of his state either, as he carried in both of his large bags, containing every belonging he owned now.

 

Kirishima had given him a strange look and looked Katsuki over before he cheerfully walked with Katsuki to his room and told him he could leave the stuff there if he wanted.  Kirishima also pointed out that he was welcome to use their shower at the end of the hall.

 

Katsuki scowled at the comment outwardly, but really, it was more of a frustrated pout.  

 

Kirishima had noticed his habit of walking out of his house and sleeping in the woods on the days he couldn’t stand to be around his parents.  When he had confronted Katsuki about it he had told the other teen about some of what went on in his house, not enough to raise more than the other teen’s mild concern though.   The details that Katsuki had shared had been carefully chosen, to tell enough of the truth, without telling him about the severity of it all. 

 

Kirishima had gotten far too good at seeing past the curtain of rage that Katsuki veiled himself in, he might even argue that he was better at it than the fucking hero-nerd was.  Really, it was frustrating knowing that he could see right through him.  

 

He took the offer gratefully though, and Kirishima just laughed it off, claiming that it really wasn’t a big deal.  

 

He didn’t even realize how ‘big of a deal’ it was.

 

After he had gotten out of the shower and dried himself off, he felt monumentally better.  He got changed into a fresh set of his clothes and found Kirishima in the kitchen pulling what seemed to be fresh vegetables from the fridge.  

 

When he saw Kirishima take out a knife and cutting board, he spoke up.

 

“What the fuck are you doing over there, shitty-hair?”  He asked, his curiosity piqued.  Kirishima straightened-- but didn’t startle-- at his question.  He turned to face Katuki with the same cheerful exuberance as always.

 

“Hey Bakubro, didn’t see ya there.” he paused what he was doing and gestured to the vegetables.  “My ma’ bought some fresh veggies for us, and the others to have when they get here.  Rather than just buying a platter, she thought they would be fresher if we just cut them here at home.  She had to head off for work before we got to it though. “  Kirishima explained, and Katsuki didn’t need any more encouragement then that.  He gestured for Kirishima to hand over the knife, and he handed it to him with no protest, just a chuckle.

 

“Guess, I’ll make the dip then.” Kirishima replied, and the two of them got to work.  

 

After they both finished, they set the platter on the coffee table in the living-room and shared in some idle chatter until the others started to show up.  Mina got there first, and it seemed like she was about to apologize for being so early when she spotted Bakugo and stopped in her tracks, clearly not expecting to have arrived before the others.   Sero and Kaminari both arrived at the same time, another ten minutes later, and soon the room was buzzing with chatter.  

 

They started chatting about their internships, and what it had been like working alongside real heroes .  Katsuki had been mostly quiet, content to listen to the others talk, and only commenting with the occasional cuss to keep up his persona.  

 

It was then that Kirishima decided to throw a joke his way.  “Yeah, Fourth Kind was pretty strict about dress code, but I don’t think any of us had it as bad as Bakugo.”  Kirishima had clearly expected Bakugo to start ranting and fuming about how shitty his internship was, and about how all he had really done during the week was get his hair done, just like he had done about a dozen times earlier in the week.  

 

Katsuki couldn’t quite bring himself to do it again, so he simply replied with.  “Yeah, it was pretty shitty having him style my hair every damn day.  It wasn’t a total fucking waste though.” 

 

It was the first time the group had heard him say anything positive about his internship, and immediately he had the full and undivided attention of all four of them.  Mina spoke up first.

 

“Oooooh~ did something exciting happen on the last day?” She asked with bubbly excitement.  Shit.  Of course the idiots were going to be nosy as fuck about it.  He hadn’t really thought that one through, had he?

 

“I don’t see why it’s any of your fucking buisness.” He barked sharply, falling back on old habits and hoping the harshness of his words would deter them.  But, when had that ever stopped these idiots.

 

“Whoa, Bakubro I thought you hated Jeanist’s guts at this point.”  Sero commented.  Denki butted in before Sero could say more.  

 

“No, that was by far the closest thing to a compliment I’ve ever heard come from Bakugo’s mouth.” Denki was smiling way too widely.  “I need details, what happened?”

 

Mina nodded emphatically.  “Yes.  Spill.  The.  Tea.”

 

Kirishima seemed equally as interested, but he wasn’t pushing for answers like the others were.  Katsuki, was reminded again of just how undeniably good he was to him.  He looked at the others and saw their excitement all directed towards him, and for the first time, the nagging didn’t grate on his nerves.  He recognized this for what it was, his friends had taken an interest in what was going on in his life.  

 

Katsuki had never realized the significance of it until now, after his parents had seemed utterly disinterested in what he did that they let him just walk out of the house.  For the first time he was recognizing the attention they were directing towards him as something closer to how Tsunagu had watched him, that was when he had come to the understanding that good attention was attainable for him.  Now, he saw a thin reflection of that same positive attention in his friends faces.  

 

Things were starting to line up in Katsuki’s mind, and it literally changed everything.

 

He considered, just for a moment, that maybe he could just tell his friends everything, from the moment he found out about the mark, to the moment he woke up this morning in a worn down gazebo.  Maybe, they’ll know what the hell he should do?  You seem to be lacking a lot of skills in the whole ‘being a functioning fucking human being’ department.

 

He didn’t though.

 

He couldn’t tell them everything , not just yet.

 

“Ok shitheads, I swear to fucking God if a single one of you blabs to someone about this.  I will fucking murder all four of you myself.”  The four of them all went silent with anticipation, they all nodded, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

 

He was truly trying to get better at this shit though, so he did decide to share one part of the story.

 

He unceremoniously pulled up his shirt and pointed to the needle mark on his abdomen.

 

He was taking a risk, he was trusting his idiot friends not to mess it up by blabbing to anyone else.

 

“I have no fucking clue how to say this, but I found out he was my motherfucking soul parent. ”  He said it so plainly that the others had to take a full minute to process what he just said.

 

They looked from him to one another, as if trying to puzzle out whether it was some kind of joke or not.  Especially considering how out of character it was for Katsuki to just tell them something when they asked him.

 

Holy fuck .  Dude are you serious?!”  Kaminari managed to find his voice first.

 

“Of course I fucking am, you asshole!”  Katsuki let the flash of anger at the doubt in the idiot’s eyes control his response.  

 

“Woah, that's so awesome Bakubro!”  Kirishima was smiling widely.  “How did you figure it out?!” 

 

The others seemed to snap out of it with Kirishima’s question and suddenly he was being bombarded with questions.  Katsuki huffed and shook his head.  “If you shitheads would shut up for a minute I might actually fucking tell you what happened.”   They all silenced so quickly, that he imagined Aizawa-sensei would be impressed.  

 

So, he told them all of the less embarrassing parts of the story.  

 

How Jeanist was combing his hair before patrol just like any other day, and how he noticed the mark.  He told them how he mentally freaked out enough for the pro to notice.  He told them how he showed Jeanist his mark and how he seemed to recognize the thing, and he told them how they spent the day talking rather than going on patrol.  He also showed them the chat log with their short conversation the other day. 

 

His friends cooed, and awed, as he told the story but otherwise they were quiet.  When he was done, the frantic nature of their questions had all but disappeared and they were talking like normal again.  They asked him some more questions, nothing too intrusive, and he answered them honestly.  It had all felt undeniably nice, and the nerves in his stomach that he hadn’t even recognized were there, settled.  

 

“Wow, I’m jealous man.  I mean as cool as it is to find one of your soulmarks, it’s fucking epic that it’s Jeanist.  I mean, he’s the freakin’ number four! ”  Sero said good-naturedly.  

 

“Yeah, that's so freaking cool!”  Denki chuckled.  “I mean, what are the chances!  If you hadn’t seen that mark on the last day of your internship, you may have never known.” 

 

Oh, he doesn't even know how true that is.  To be honest, Katsuki wasn’t even sure he wanted to think about that possibility. 

 

If he hadn’t noticed it, nothing would have changed.  He would have gone back there, to that house, and he wouldn’t have even noticed how it was slowly changing him, changing him into something he never wanted to become.

 

He probably would have pushed away the people sitting around him right now, and he would have been alone.  

 

That hadn’t happened though.   

 

Looking at the smiling faces around him, even as bleak as his life was at the moment.  He was starting to really believe in fate.  It may have taken it way to fucking long to find him but fate had led him here…

 

...and he couldn’t be any fucking happier about it. 



Chapter Text

Kirishima watched the others leave that evening.  He waved his goodbyes to them, then followed Bakugo as he headed back towards Kirishima’s room to get his bags.  

 

Kirishima let out a small sigh, careful to hide it from his friend.  Something was different about Katsuki, he could see it, and it was more than just simply having met one of his soul parents.  Katsuki had left out parts of the story, he could tell in the way that he sometimes hesitated or paused briefly when he was telling them about his day.

 

Katsuki had censored his story, and they were missing something important.  Kirishima couldn’t even be sure if the others had even noticed, but he had.  

 

Something was genuinely wrong , and Kirishima wasn’t entirely sure how to go about figuring out what it was.  

 

A vague plan seemed to swirl to mind as Katsuki brought his bags out with him, before he could think about it any more, he spoke.

 

“Hey, Bakubro.  Why don’t you stay with us tonight?”  Kirishima blurted out.  Katsuki seemed to stiffen slightly at the question.  There was hesitation there, as if Katsuki was considering the idea.  “I’m sure my parents won’t mind.” He added, hoping that it might settle any doubts Katsuki might have had about the idea.  

 

At least if Katsuki stayed the night, Kirishima would know that he had gotten a good meal and a safe place to land for a night.  The way Katsuki was packed, Kirishima knew he was camping out somewhere for the weekend, to get some space from his shitty home-life.  Even if Kirishima couldn’t figure out what was going on with him, he could at least give Katsuki one nice night at his house.  

 

“Nah, I’ll be fine shitty-hair.” Katsuki said with something akin to fondness in his voice.  Was he hearing things? 

 

Are you sure? ” Kirishima pushed, for some reason he really didn’t want to watch Katsuki walk out of that door.  For some reason he couldn’t place, it felt like if he let Katsuki go now, that something bad would happen.  It was a strange kind of dull anxiety and settled in his gut and wouldn’t let go.  

 

“I said I’d be fine .” Katsuki growled at him, though Kirishima could hear that it didn’t have its usual heat in it.  Kirishima just stared at him a moment longer, then smiled, despite the resignation sinking in his chest.  

 

“Alright, but if you change your mind my offer still stands.  So long as I have anything to say about it, you’ll always have a place here.  Ok?”  Kirishima felt like Katsuki needed to know that.  To know that he was always welcomed here, that he had a place to go if he needed to.

 

Katsuki just nodded and simply said. “See ya Monday, Shitty-Hair.”  Kirishima allowed him to pass him to get out of the door and replied, with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.  “Yeah, see you on Monday, Bakubro.” 

 

Kirishima watched as Katsuki left the house and walked down the street without a word, with both bags in hand, and he couldn’t help but feel like he’d just failed him. 

 

---------

 

The afternoon that he had spent with Kirishima and the others had really helped Katsuki clear his mind.  With a clear head he had been able to gather up a plan that would sustain him as long as he needed.  It wasn’t by any means a good plan but it was a plan nonetheless. 

 

On Sunday, he worked out his game plan.


He picked up a part time job for one four hour shift every Sunday, from an old man who ran a small convenience store.  It didn’t give him much money, but it was enough to get by.  With minimum wage being ten dollars an hour, he landed up making forty dollars to last him the week.  Until next Sunday rolled around, that is.  The only cost he had to keep up with to survive was food, and that could be easily accomplished with just a bowl of ramen noodles.  

 

Yes, he was living off of fucking ramen noodles and he wasn’t exactly proud of it.

 

What could he say?   Ramen was cheap, and he could buy it in bulk.  He could buy a twenty four pack of the generic stuff for eight dollars.  That would give him three solid meals for almost a week and a half, if you included lunch at UA as a meal on days he went to school.  Unfortunately to cook the ramen was a bit more difficult to do when you didn’t have a kitchen at home.  Katsuki managed to buy a small pot early on to boil the water in, with some of the excess money that he wasn’t sending on immediate necessities .  He would then fill the pot with water from the hose of one of the neighbors(who-- Katsuki had discovered-- worked late and left early), place the noodles in the water, and try his hardest to heat the pan with his quirk, while making as little noise as possible.  

 

It was not an easy task.  If anything, it had been downright impossible at the beginning.  However, after a few days of having his very meals depend on his success at it, he managed it pretty well.  It was also spectacular quirk control training, and if he thought about it like that, it made the process all the more fulfilling.  

 

He could also, with a bit of his extra money, go to get his laundry done next weekend.  So that he would have fresh clothes for the next week.

 

When classes started on Monday, he started a new set of habits.  

 

Every day after classes, Katsuki went to the gym with his things and plugged his phone and his laptop into the wall outlet in the bathrooms.  While he was waiting for them to charge, he would use the school Wifi to do his homework, and wait for the campus to be thoroughly cleaned out before he used one of the school showers, cleaning himself with a small travel-sized bottle of shampoo and a bar of soap he had bought with what was left of the spare money for that first week.

 

He would then change into a fresh set of clothes, then he would walk his way back to his newfound home.  He would eat, sleep, wake up in the morning and walk to school, and start the process again.  

 

This life wasn’t exactly ideal to say the least.  Sure, if he had a choice he would choose to sleep under a roof and in a building with four walls.  However, this was manageable, and it was sustainable.  He could keep this up as long as he needed to, and maybe even save up enough money to buy a hot plate to make cooking easier.  

 

He could manage this, and he could manage it without anyone knowing or ever finding out.

 

--------

 

Tsunagu stared at the chat log with an excessive amount of frustration.  He sighed, just a bit too heavily, as he flopped onto the couch in his apartment.  

 

This is silly, you’re a grown adult not some awkward teenager.  He scolded himself harshly.  

 

Years of press conferences and hero work had taught him how to appear composed and calm, and even charismatic.  In most cases nowadays, he could be genuinely calm in front of even the worst mob of reporters, for two reasons.  For one, because he knew what they wanted from him.  For another, they were strangers, he only cared what they thought of him on a very basic level.  

 

Every hero compartmentalizes their personal lives from their hero work, some more than others.  It was inevitable, leaving every part of yourself to the public to pick apart was not only risky, it was outright exhausting.  So it was reasonable to figure that this particular situation was eating at him in several ways that he was entirely unused to coping with.  

 

Unlike the press, he was entirely unsure of how to handle Katsuki Bakugo.  

 

Tsunagu’s entire perception of the teen had changed on the last day of his internship, because it seemed that every assumption that he had made about the teen was proven to be wrong.  

 

Originally, Tsunagu had based his presumptions on Katsuki entirely based on his knowledge of the boy from one event, the UA Sports Festival, and decided that the child needed a serious attitude change.  So, he had decided to send an invitation to the rowdy teen to have his internship at Tsunagu’s agency, in the hopes of reforming him.  

 

Now, looking back on his decisions, he realized that he had been more than a little rash with his judgement of the boy.  Reflecting on the week’s events, Katsuki had always listened to his advice, even if he replied with the harsh contradiction that in most cases, had hardly seemed reasonable.  Tsunagu had done poorly to dismiss those contradictions as the boy simply being contrary, it had been a poor decision to not even address his point of view from the beginning.

 

Katsuki was loud, and combative, but the teen wasn’t as rash or unreasonable as he had originally seemed to be.  

 

When Tsunagu had talked through his lesson to the boy on the last day of his internship, originally Tsunagu had assumed it had been a failure, and that the teen had entirely missed the point.  He surprised Tsunagu though, with a perfectly honest answer, that aligned perfectly with what he had been trying to make him understand.  Katsuki had said it in his own gruff and harsh way, but he had gotten the point, so when he followed his statement off with a contradiction.  Tsunagu seriously considered it, and formed a response.  

 

He had asked whether Katsuki seriously saw himself as a villain, he had expected it to be an easy question, so he could follow it up with his secondary point.  

 

That sure didn’t happen though. 

 

Katsuki had gone stiff, silent , and distant , and it was so sudden that it was incredibly disconcerting.  Nothing about the situation seemed right, and as the silence had stretched on further it became more clear that something was wrong and he had caused it somehow.  

 

It was a fumble, from pure misunderstanding .  Tsunagu had called the boy out as a villain, and it was clearly something he was insecure about.  With how the media had taken the events of the Sports Festival, it wasn’t an unreasonable insecurity either.  Insecurity was something Tsunagu hadn’t even considered in his evaluation of the teen, who had seemed entirely too stubborn to have any insecurities in general.

 

It had been avoidable , and the only reason he hadn’t seen it sooner was because he had assumed.   More than that, he hadn’t even taken the time to inquire about Katsuki’s side of things.  Thinking on it now, he had been entirely unreasonable the entire week, and really,  with Katsuki’s strong personality Tsunagu wouldn’t have blamed the kid for hating his guts.  

 

Even in the moment, he had felt guilty as he realized what must be going through Katsuki’s head.  

 

It got worse as he called out to the teen a few times and he didn’t respond, he wasn’t ignoring Tsunagu, he was entirely absent.  His mind was somewhere else and he couldn’t help but feel incredibly upset that he had caused that.

 

Tsunagu didn’t know how many times it had taken for him to try Katsuki’s first name, he must have been truly desperate at that point, as he had reached out to lightly shake the teen as well, hoping to ground him somehow.  As soon as he had his attention, he clarified what he had meant as quickly as humanly possible because he wasn’t sure he could handle seeing the Katsuki drift away from him like that again. 

 

When Katsuki seemed to relax at the words, and as recognition seemed to gleam in his gaze.  Tsunagu’s assumption was proven to be right, and truly, the realization had sent a spear of cold regret through his chest.  Seeing as how the teen still couldn’t speak, he had kept talking, to try and keep him there.  It soon became clear that he was slipping, the kid had started shaking , and while the ‘villain’ comment he had made had sparked whatever this was, it had quickly became clear that something else was happening, and he really hadn’t known how else to figure out what it was other than to just ask .

 

It had taken the kid another moment to gather himself, but then incredibly bluntly he had called out that Tsunagu had his mark on his wrist.

 

And, if that didn’t make him feel even worse.   

 

Really, every assumption Tsunagu had made had been more than wrong.

 

Katsuki was a kid with anger management issues.  Who, from the looks of it, only knows how to cope with emotions by bottling them up until he self- destructs.  His worldview may be more than a little concerning, but overall, he was willing to listen to reason if you were willing to explain yourself.

 

All he could think about as Katsuki had literally cried in his arms, was about how he had really fucked up

 

Now here he was, staring at his phone trying to come up with something to say.

 

He wanted to make up for his screw up, and more than that, he wanted to keep Katsuki in his life.  Especially now that he had gotten to see behind the wall of anger he used to keep others away.  There was something incredibly more intricate and delicate behind that wall that Tsunagu felt that needed to be addressed.  

 

Now that he had caught a glimpse of it, Tsunagu knew that there was more there, he just had no earthly idea how to get to it.

 

Worse, he really didn’t want to mess this up a second time.

 

He wanted to be there for him.  This wasn’t just about the fact that he was his soulchild, which was a difficult notion to tackle in and of itself, and it was most certainly a factor whether he wanted to admit it or not, but it was about the fact that he had seen something in Katsuki that day, and he needed to know what it was.  Whatever it was, it was deeply ingrained into his mind, and it was far from healthy.

 

He had failed him the first time, but he was determined not to make the same mistakes.

 

Well he wouldn’t if he could just manage to start a conversation.   He thought bitterly, scowling slightly at the previous conversation, watching as the cat continued to poke its head out of the box on a loop.

 

What the hell do you even say to a teenager anymore?  

 

God, if he didn’t feel old just thinking that.  He sighed resignedly and laid his head against the back of the couch, and no he wasn’t pouting.  

 

He felt a paw bat at his hand that was currently laying on the couch, he breathed a laugh and sat up to look at his attention-starved kitty.  As soon as he made eye contact, the dark brown tabby mewled, and he breathed a laugh.  It was as he moved to pat the cat’s head affectionately that an idea came to mind.  



--------


It was dark out by the time Katsuki made it back to his gazebo that Tuesday night.  He yawned as he plopped his duffel bag down and pulled out the pot and ramen.  He carried the pot over to the house closest to the gazebo, once again, there was no car in the driveway, so he filled the small pot with water and walked back to his gazebo.

 

Yikes, he was calling it ‘his gazebo’ just now, wasn't he?   That was a fucking fun realization to have, that he had grown accustomed enough to sleeping under the gazebo every night that he had begun to think of it as his

 

He sat down under the gazebo roof and on top of his sleeping bag and opened a pack of ramen.  It was then that a faint green glow sparkled in front of him as a firefly hovered across his field of vision.   When he took a moment to watch, he could see that there were dozens of them fluttering about the small clearing, it was a beautiful sight to see, to be sure.  

 

He set down the ramen for a moment and watched them for a bit, it was quite peaceful in the small clearing he had made his home.  With the crickets chirping, and the fireflies dancing around one another, and the moon lighting up the area, it made for a picturesque scene.  The faint buzz he heard from his phone ruined the perfect nature of the picture, and he frowned slightly, then went to check what it was.   

 

He was surprised and amused to see that it was a text from Tsunagu, he opened his phone to see a photo that he had sent of a cat?  It was a cat, with dark brown tabby coloring and a light mocha brown belly, it was rolled over with its belly showing on a rug of some sort.  It was looking innocently back up at the camera with its ears squashed flat against the carpet.    It looked too natural to be some random cat.

 

8:14 p.m.

 

Tsunagu: <cat.png>

 

Katsuki: Is that your cat?



It didn’t even take more than a minute for Katsuki to receive the response.  

 

Tsunagu: Yes.

 

Tsunagu: I’ve had him for just over a year now.

 

Katsuki:  So you haven’t always been a crazy cat lover?



Katsuki sent his response with a playful smirk plastered on his face.  The pro didn’t waste even a second in sending his response.  



Tsunagu: Oh, bold of you to assume this is my first cat.

 

Tsunagu: Though, you are correct in that I haven’t always loved the creatures as much as I do now.  

 

Tsunagu:  I was never in a position to own one of my own until I moved out on my own.

 

Katsuki: So, you are fine with being called ‘crazy’ and the thing you point out is that it's been going on longer than I assumed?

 

Tsunagu:  That’s correct, and I am not ashamed. 



Katsuki actually snorted at that.  He could almost hear the deadpan of Jeanist’s voice, if he were to say that as they were talking in person.  Katsuki had one comment though.



Katsuki: Do you talk about anything other than cats?  



Jeanist did pause at this one, typing something out before he deleted it and started over. 



Tsunagu:  Well, what would you like to talk about?  The weather?



Katsuki could hear the sarcastic lilt in the words even through the text, it was an impressive feat.



Katsuki:  Just talk about what the hell you wanna talk about.  It’s not like I care either way.



Katsuki didn’t wait for the response, as he went to cook his dinner.  Unbeknownst to him, he had just made a certain pro incredibly happy .  

 

While texting with an adult was awkward to say the least, but it was getting easier.  If Katsuki was honest with himself, he got a small thrill out of each tiny conversation that passed between the two of them.  It was a strange and new feeling, it was a good feeling.  

 

Whatever the hell was going on between the two of them, Katsuki was enjoying it for some reason he couldn’t quite describe.  

 

He wasn’t about to risk messing it up, that was for fucking sure.

 

He concentrated, activating his quirk and started boiling the water.  As he watched the pot, the smile grew on his face.  

 

When this had all started, he hadn’t been convinced that he would be able to keep it a secret for long.  He had been convinced that something would give, and that someone would find out within days of him leaving home.  The dreaded discovery had never come, however, and he had managed to set himself up a pretty manageable routine.  He could feed himself, and he had a place to sleep, he could do his homework and shower at the school, and he could have his laundry done at a laundromat.  As far as he was concerned he had everything he needed to make it through highschool.

 

He could keep up the act and not a single fucking person would know unless he wanted them to.

 

The realization was a relief, and he found that he was perfectly content to live this way as long as he needed to.  It wasn’t exactly ideal, but nothing in his life had ever been fucking ideal .  He was used to working with whatever the hell he got, and making the best of it.  No matter how shitty things got.  

 

He had nobody to depend on but himself, and it was the most relaxed he had been in his whole fucking life .  He knew what he was capable of, he would never let himself down.

 

This was his fucking life , and he had absolute control over it now.  It was his life and he sure as fuck was going to live it the way he wanted to.

 

He wanted to live it just like this, sleeping under the stars, fending for himself, texting with his soul parent like he was just another teenager, and learning to become a fucking hero .



--------



The bar was dimly lit in warm tones, it created the perfect atmosphere for the after dark, underground dealings that the group thrived in.  With the wooden bar top and the red velvet-lined barstools, the place had a comfortable kind of warmth. 

 

Kurogiri stood on the other side of the bar, pouring drinks to those who wanted them.  Casual chatter, the clatter of glasses, and the occasional exclamation, made for an ambiance that felt all too peaceful to Shigaraki.  He pouted at the bar, scowling into a drink of his own.

 

It was ‘the calm before the storm’ as they called it, they had a large operation planned in just a few short weeks and with the preparations done, all they had to do was wait.

 

Or at least, that was all they had thought that they would have to do.

 

The whole room came to attention as a knock came at the door, and a familiar voice called through the wood.

 

“Hey, I’ve got an interesting tidbit on that kid you’re after.  You want to let me in?”  

 

It was the casual drawl of Grian, a well-trusted associate of theirs.  Shigaraki’s pout deepened, but he gestured for Dabi (one of their newer members) to open the door for him.

 

The spectacled man sauntered in with all the ease in the world, not even one bit perturbed by the set of interesting characters surrounding him.

 

“I see you’ve gained a few new members since the last time I was here.”  Grian glanced at the kid in the gas mask, and the others that Shigaraki had brought on for this particular mission.

 

“Get to the point, you said you had some information for me.”  Shigaraki narrowed his eyes, his glare sharpening at the comment.

 

“Alright, alright!  Consider this information as a favor, normally I’d make you pay for stuff this good.”  Grian shrugged and grinned at the Shigaraki slyly.  “That boy you’re after, Bakugo Katsuki.  He’s a much better candidate than you originally thought.  Just last week, the kid ran away from home.  He’s still going to school and everything but his parents haven’t bothered to even file a report.  He’s just sleeping in the woods, ripe for the taking.”

 

Shigaraki’s eyebrows raised, he was almost surprised.  “That seems far too easy.”  He rasped, his scrappy voice muddling the words.  If this information was actually true then the raid on UA’s little summer camp might not even be necessary.

 

“Do we know exactly where the boy is staying?”  Kurogiri asked, setting the bottle of alcohol he was holding down on the bar.  

 

Grain grimaced.  “I figured you would ask something like that.  The answer is no, but I’m sure I can find out, for a price that is.”

 

Kurogiri sighed.  “I figured it would come to this eventually.”  He paused, glancing at Shigaraki, before he continued.  “How long would it take you to acquire that information?”  

 

The spectacled man grinned .

 

“No more than a few days, trust me you’ll have it before that pesky summer trip rolls around.” He declared in smug indifference.

 

“Exactly, how much is this going to cost us?”  Shigaraki croaked.  The decision had already been made.

Chapter Text

Final exams were coming up at the end of the month, Kirishima really should be studying right now.  

 

After class when Denki and Mina had asked him to study with them he should have accepted .

 

He didn’t though, he refused saying that he had other plans that night.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have plans either , he did it’s just now he was seriously questioning his own judgement.

 

He had been sitting for three hours just outside the entrance to the gymnasium, hidden in the trees, waiting for Katsuki to walk out.  It was getting to the point that Kirishima was convinced that Katsuki had used some side exit that Kirishima didn’t know about, and wasn’t even in the building anymore.

 

Really, Kirishima wouldn’t even be here if he hadn’t been extremely worried about Katsuki all week.  When he had caught a glimpse of Katsuki shoving his large duffel bag in his locker not only on Monday, but also Tuesday, and this morning (Wednesday), he couldn’t help but wonder if Katsuki had gone home at all since he left Kirishima’s house on Saturday.

 

It was starting to get dark out and Kirishima really should be heading home, but the fact of the matter was, that he really felt like he couldn’t leave this one alone.

 

Katsuki was his friend, and he was seriously starting to believe that his homelife was a great deal worse than he had even admitted to Kirishima.  If Katsuki really hadn’t been home since Saturday, and his parents either hadn’t noticed, or refused to report it to anyone, then this was much more serious than Katsuki had made it out to be.  If that was really the case, that Kirishima had no choice but to report it to someone.   He didn’t really know who he would tell, or how he would get Katsuki to fess up about it even if he did.  

 

All he knew was that Bakugo was too stubborn to accept or even ask for help in most cases, so if all Kirishima could do was follow him and report what he found to an adult that could do something, then of course he was going to do it.  If that meant sitting in front of the school gym for three hours then that was what he was going to do. 

 

It was then, just as doubt had started to cloud over his thoughts, that the doors to the gym swung  open revealing Katsuki.  He was carrying his backpack over his shoulders and his duffel bag in his hand, and had kicked the door open dramatically, almost as if nobody was watching.  Kirishima stilled, as he watched Katsuki walk purposely to the exit to the campus.   He walked right past where Kirishima was nestled in the trees, not noticing where the teen was hiding in the bushes.  From where he was, it looked to Kirishima as if Katsuki’s hair was wet. 

 

Something occurred to Kirishima then, and he blinked at the realization.  Katsuki was using the school- showers to bathe, it was an easy solution if you thought about it.  It was one more point in favor of the theory that he was quickly learning to hate.  

 

When Katsuki was far enough away for him to be able to move without risking being caught, Kirishima put his backpack on his back and followed behind him.  He kept enough distance from Katsuki to ensure that even if his friend looked back, Kirishima should be able to duck behind a street corner or something before he noticed him. 

 

Katsuki didn’t seem all too concerned about being followed though.  Kirishima was struck by the fact that Katsuki almost looked smug as he sauntered down the busy streets near UA’s campus.  The sun was almost completely sunk behind the horizon and the street lights clicked on just as they reached a suburb.  Kirishima pointedly noticed that this was the exact opposite direction of the subway, so wherever Katsuki was headed it wasn’t home .  

 

He increased the distance between them, such that Kirishima was almost risking losing him.  The thing was, he really didn’t want to get caught following Katsuki, so the extra precaution in the suburban area was warranted.

 

Katsuki paused at a particularly large clearing between two houses, shoved some of the thick brush aside and walked into the brush.  Kirishima’s eyebrows raised in surprise, as he marked the area on the map on his phone and went to get a closer look.  

 

As silently as he could he went off to the side and hid in the bushes, and pushed just enough foliage away to see into the clearing with one eye.  The clearing had a structure of some kind, it wasn’t exactly clear what it was from his point of view through the foliage.  The area was overgrown with weeds and ivy.

 

He watched as Katsuki was pulling things out of his bag, a sleeping bag, a pot, and a packet of ramen.  As he laid the sleeping bag out, Kirishima decided that he’d seen enough and stalked away.  He waited until he was almost halfway back to UA before he stopped, leaned against the wall of the nearest building and groaned.

 

Really, I shouldn’t be surprised should I?  Bakugo was always this intense, of course he would go this far.  This isn’t new. 

 

Kirishima wished the words provided some sort of comfort, but they didn’t.  

 

He was really at a total loss as to what to do.  

 

He could confront Katsuki about it.  Though, somehow Kirishima didn’t see that going well.  This was so far from okay, that Kirishima didn’t even really know how to explain it to Bakugo.  Katsuki was literally homeless right now, and he didn’t even seem one bit torn up about it.  Even during class, he seemed almost happier.  It was if Katsuki saw this as a major improvement and that was somehow a dozen times more concerning.

 

He could tell a teacher, he could bring Aizawa-sensei here.  That one could work, even if Katsuki didn’t want to admit it, if he showed Aizawa then at least Katsuki couldn’t outright deny that he was living in the woods. 

 

He was really having trouble getting over that fact wasn’t he?  The fact that rather than ask for help from literally anyone, Katsuki had decided that living in the woods was the logical option.

 

Somehow, Aizawa didn’t seem like the right person to tell either.  Kirishima wasn’t sure that Aizawa would be able to convince Katsuki to fess up to any of it.  Somehow, Kirishima knew that if Katsuki didn’t speak up, then nothing would change.  Whether they knew what was happening in his house or not, if Katsuki didn’t speak up then there was no proof.

 

What the hell was he supposed to do then?

 

Kirishima sighed and sat on the sidewalk.  He wasn’t moving one inch until he had a game plan.  He ran his hands through his hair frustratedly, scratching at his scalp like it was itchy.

 

Think! There’s a better solution, you know there is one!

 

He spent a long moment thinking, staring at the empty street, and watching as moths fluttered around the street- lights.  There is a better solution, there has to be.

 

It was after another long moment that it came to him.  It was a more recent development in Katsuki’s life.

 

It was then that Kirishima remembered the afternoon he had spent with Katsuki and his other friends in his living room.  He remembered how Katsuki almost smiled as he showed them the chat log on his phone with the cat gif.  As hard as Katsuki had tried not to, it was undeniable to see that he had grown closer to Jeanist that day.  Whatever he had left out of his recounting of that day, it hadn’t changed the fact that something had happened between the two of them that day.  It was undeniable that they had grown closer.  

 

Kirishima knew little to nothing about Best Jeanist outside of his hero career, he knew he had a secondary career as a fashion icon, but that was heavily intertwined with his hero persona.  Kirishima had no idea whether this was the right decision or not because he hardly knew the guy. 

 

Nonetheless, Kirishima stood to walk home, and decided that as soon as classes were over tomorrow, that he would head over to Jeanist’s agency, and hope that the man would speak to him.

 

It felt like the right decision, for some reason Kirishima couldn’t place, this felt like the right thing to do.  He hoped beyond hope that he was right.

Chapter Text

When Tsunagu returned to the office from one particularly eventful patrol on Thursday evening to hear that there was a UA student asking for an audience with him, he hadn’t been entirely sure what to make of it.  

 

He almost wanted to tell his secretary to apologize to the student and tell them to come back tomorrow.  He thought better of it though, when he glanced into the lobby to see stark spiky red hair and recognized him as a student of class 1A of the Heroics Course.  

 

Wherever the reason was, the kid had been waiting for hours to speak to him, so it felt only right to oblige.  

 

He went into his office, and told his secretary to send the boy in.  It only took a few minutes for the kid to walk into his office and shut the door behind him.  

 

There was a somewhat nervous, but also incredibly grim expression on the teen’s face, and something about it demanded attention.  The expression was wiped quickly away as he made eye contact with Jeanist.  The nervousness was still there, but the grim undertones were replaced with a wash of relief.

 

“It’s really nice to meet you Best Jeanist, sir!”  He flashed a toothy grin at Tsunagu.  “Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.” 

 

Tsunagu returned the gesture with a polite smile of his own.  “Ah, yes.” He paused for a second considering his words.  “What was your name again?” 

 

The teen straightened, blinked, then laughed nervously.  “My bad, I forgot to introduce myself.” He scratched the back of his neck nervously. “I’m Kirishima Ejirou, and I’m a first year student from UA’s Heroics Course.” 

 

Tsunagu hummed in response.  “What was it you wanted to speak to me about?”  He prompted.  

 

The boy seemed to still, he couldn’t quite meet his eyes like before and his toothy grin seemed to deflate.  He paused for what was a moment that was just a bit too long, then replied.

 

“Well, my best friend is Katsuki Bakugo.”  He teen paused, seeming to be looking for the right words.  Tsunagu had his own reaction to those words, something in his hero persona cracked a bit at the mention of the kid.  Otherwise he kept his expression at an even, and polite, curiosity.  Internally though, his interest in the conversation had left him almost hyperfocused on the words that the red haired teen would be saying next.

 

The youth sighed and began. “I’m not entirely sure how to start with this, but…”  He looked to the floor for a moment then shook his head and seemed to gather himself before he looked Tsunagu directly in the eyes with a newfound determination in his gaze and continued.  “Katsuki is in trouble and I’m convinced that you are the only person who can truly help him.”   




-----------




Kirishima found himself questioning his sanity once again as he found himself standing in Best Jeanist’s office.  

 

Really, he should have just told Aizawa-sensei.  He knew his teacher would have done something about it if Kirishima had told him.  

 

He mentally pushed the thought away.  He had already thought through this, there was no way Katsuki would accept help from Aizawa-sensei whether it was provided to him or not.  Kirishima knew that this was the right way to go.

 

Even if it was a pretty easy thing to doubt as he watched the mildly-interested pro hero in front of him, and realized that there was no way he would believe a word Kirishima told him.  The doubt clung to his gut as he stood there, withering under the hero’s sharp gaze.  It was hard to push past the self-doubt and speak the truth, yet he did so as articulately as he could manage, with the fear of rejection looming.

 

“I’m not entirely sure how to start with this, but…”  He began, entirely unsure of how to even begin to explain the situation.  Especially when Kirishima knew so little himself.  

 

He steeled himself anyway, and fought past it.  Speaking as honestly as he could, without giving himself not even one more second to think about it, lest he talk himself out of speaking altogether.

“Katsuki is in trouble and I’m convinced that you are the only person who can truly help him.”   

 

It was the truth, and Kirishima said it with as much conviction as he could gather within himself.

 

He felt a wave of triumph and relief as Jeanist seemed to straighten and tense, and almost quicker than Kirishima had expected, asked.  “What kind of trouble?” 

 

The impassive expression on Jeanist’s face completely washed away, replaced with an open concern.  It was definitely heartening to see, and hear the concern in Jeanist, and Kirishima felt a warm well of confidence spring in his gut, washing away the cold uncertainty.  Suddenly, Kirishima realized that he might have been right, that this had been the best way to go.  

 

Kirishima was sure if he could just get Jeanist to talk to Katsuki, that everything would be alright.

-----------

 

Tsunagu arranged for a car to bring them to the address Kirishima had saved on his phone.  Kirishima suggested that they walk to the clearing once they were a few blocks away, and Tsunagu agreed to the proposition.  

 

He couldn’t help the open concern he had felt when Kirishima had told him what he knew.  

 

Tsunagu had already been concerned about Katsuki before this, but with the added details that the teen had provided a picture started to form in Tsunagu’s mind, and he really didn’t like the implications of said picture.

 

Something about his last encounter with Katsuki had been bothering Tsunagu since it happened, while Tsunagu had puzzled out half of what had set the teen into a nervous breakdown.  Which had happened to be his own blunder.  There was the second half of it that hadn’t clicked with him until just now.

 

It was something about the soul mark.

 

The idea hadn’t truly crossed his mind before, as soulmarks were in almost every case, a wonderful and life changing encounter.  They were seen by the majority of society as a blessing.  The expected reaction to finding one of these bonds was overwhelming happiness , joy, glee, excitement, and even relief.

 

However, Tsunagu wasn’t sure what he would classify Katsuki’s reaction to his was.  There had been some relief there, but that had been understated to say the least.  Katsuki hadn’t really shown any of those emotions, he had looked mostly stunned and even a little confused.

 

Tsunagu had written the reaction as just being the aftermath of his ‘villain’ comment earlier in that conversation.  Simply, because the idea that Katsuki could have possibly been so conflicted about the appearance of a soulmark was utterly baffling to Tsunagu, he hadn’t even considered that Katsuki might have been confused.

 

He really needs to stop writing things off when it comes to this kid.

 

The way Kirishima had described it to him, it seemed like Katsuki had been having problems at home for a long time now.  The simple fact that Katsuki had been spending weekends camping in the woods had become a regular occurrence was immensely concerning in and of itself.  The even more concerning thing that Kirishima had mentioned, was that Katsuki hadn’t been home at all since the last day of his internship.

 

This fact spoke of a gross level of neglect at the very least, that spoke volumes about his parents.

 

Not to mention, whatever his parents would have to have done to Katsuki to make him want to never go back.   What they must have done to make Katsuki feel like he would rather sleep in a shack in the woods and fend for himself, than go home for the night.

 

It wasn’t unheard of for soul marks to complicate the family unit, it was almost an inevitability.  Relationships between two adults were not always simple, and the lack of a soul mark on one or the other parent could make for a complicated living situation.  Or for any number of odd complications to change things.  So it was entirely possible that Katsuki’s view on the subject was not as clear-cut as Tsunagu’s had been.  

 

In fact, when factored in with the rest of his week with Katsuki, things seemed to settle into place.  Katsuki had a shockingly, and jarringly different worldview than Tsunagu did.  He was a kid, who got praised for having a powerful quirk his whole life.  With a shaky living situation at home, that left room for bad behavior, and if no adult ever thought to explain to him why the things he was doing were wrong then the kid just might have stopped.  

 

There really was no telling just what this teenager had been led to believe about the world.  With nobody guiding him through life, he would have to come to his own conclusions and opinions on the things he had come into contact with.  

 

If Tsunagu had to guess, it was almost certain that Katsuki had decided to fend for himself by sleeping in the woods , simply because he believed that there was no other choice.

 

Tsunagu brought his mind back to the present, because there was no use overthinking about it before he talked to Katsuki about all of this.  If he kept his mind open, and asked questions, and tried to understand he was reasonably sure he could help Katsuki.  Tsunagu mentally brushed aside every previously formed assumption he had made about the teen, because he was more than confident that most of them were flat out wrong, and he prepared himself for the conversation to come.

 

As the silence in the car stretched on a few more minutes, his attention turned to the teen in the car with him.

 

There was one question that was nagging at him, that he couldn’t quite ignore.

 

“Was there a particular reason you choose to tell me, rather than a teacher at your school?” Tsunagu asked, as the car sped past the buildings on either side of them.  Kirishima looked over to him from where he had been staring out the window.

 

“Well, I thought that he was most likely to trust you.” Kirishima replied. “That’s all.”  

 

Tsunagu pondered on the words for a minute, then asked another question.  “What makes you think that?  I’ve only known Katsuki for a week as it is.”  

 

Kirishima, almost shyly, huffed a laugh. “You’re his soul parent aren’t you?” 

 

Tsunagu instantly stiffened, and looked at the teenager beside him incredulously.  

 

“He told you? ”  Tsunagu sputtered, more out of shock than anything else.  He was marginally embarrassed to be talking about something so intimate with a teenager that he hardly knew, but really, Tsunagu was floored by the idea that Katsuki had actually told his friends about it .

 

Especially considering all the things that he didn’t tell them.   

 

“Yeah he did.”  Kirishima grinned, seemingly amused by reaction to the news.  “Trust me, I was surprised he even decided to tell us, but I’m not going to question it.  I’m just going to take it as a sign that he trusts us more than he did before.”

 

Tsunagu nodded, a little surprised by the emotional maturity the young man was showing.  It was an odd feeling, but he found himself immensely glad that Katsuki had a good friend like Kirishima to confide in.  With how emotionally isolated he was, it was truly reassuring to know that even if Katsuki never told Tsunagu or another adult about the problems in his life, he would tell his friends.  From what Tsunagu could tell, Kirishima was loyal and reliable, he seemed to have Katsuki’s best interests at heart, and was independent-minded enough to recognize and take action when Katsuki needed help.

 

It was a small reassurance, that even if Tsunagu couldn’t help Katsuki, that he would still have people around him who could.  Not that he was planning on failing that is.

 

No, he wasn’t going to do that ever again.  He would do his best, and if that wasn’t enough, he would find someone who could.  

 

------------



The car stopped just a block away from the hideout as the two of them got out of the car.  Kirishima led the way to a relatively large gap between two houses, and pointed to it.  

 

“I saw him walk in there yesterday, that’s where he’s been living.”  Kirishima said, gesturing to the small patch of woods.  Tsunagu’s mind stopped for a moment as he considered the area.  It was small, and really, it was between two random houses in the suburbs, it was hard to believe that Katsuki just decided to live here .  It made a small well of guilt well up in his gut as he wished he had noticed earlier, or at all.

 

“He’s living here ?”  He whispered almost too quietly for Kirishima to hear, the teen nodded anyway and stood off to the side.  

 

“I’m going to stay over here, I think I’ll just get in the way if I go it with you.”  Kirishima nodded to the clearing.

 

That was all the prompting he needed.  He was anxious to see Katsuki, it was almost a need.   It was a need to make this right, a newfound responsibility to the kid who he had only just begun to understand.  Even if he was the only adult in the world who had even taken the time to try to understand.

 

Tsunagu didn’t hesitate.  He was done with that, the best way to work everything out was to talk it over, and he wasn’t going to get to do that until he actually talked to Katsuki.  There was no point in waiting, so he walked over to the brush, shoving some of it away unceremoniously as he walked into the small clearing.

 

Katsuki was sitting at the foot of a gazebo, his hands faintly glowing orange as he was holding a pot of water.  The kid jumped as Tsunagu invaded his newfound home so easily.  

 

Katsuki fumbled with the pot, spilling its contents all over his right leg and he hissed, standing to hop around on his unburnt leg.

 

“FUCK!  HOT!”  Was all Tsunagu could make out before Katsuki started mumbling a string of creative curses to match.

 

Tsunagu didn’t even fully process what happened for another thirty seconds, as he took in his surroundings.  The whole clearing was overgrown with weeds and vines, and the grass was ridiculously tall.  Katsuki was standing next to a worn down, wooden, gazebo.  His belongings were scattered across the structure, with a duffel bag open next to him, a sleeping bag laid out where he had been sitting, and his backpack off to the side.  The pot that Katsuki had been holding in his hands was now on the ground, water vapor rising from where its contents had been spilled.

 

Katsuki had just been boiling water with his quirk.  As impressive as the feat was, Tsunagu winced sympathetically and knelt beside Katsuki to examine his leg.  

 

“I am terribly sorry, I should have announced my presence before I decided to enter.”  He began, the pool of guilt in his gut surging for a moment as he knelt beside the teen, reaching a hand up to examine the leg.  Katsuki slapped his hand away, probably just a bit too harshly.

 

“I’m fine, the water wasn’t boiling yet , so the burn isn’t that bad.”  Katsuki winced as he sat back down on the floor of the gazebo.  “That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like a motherfucker though.”  He added, his eyes still plastered to his leg for a moment as Tsunagu used his quirk to shift the fibers of his pants leg away.  

 

To Tsunagu’s relief, Bakugo’s assessment had been right, and other than some reddening, there didn't seem to be any extensive damage.  He would still have a doctor look at it later though, as he was far from an expert.  When Tsunagu looked up from his leg, he saw that Katsuki was staring at him, the utter shock and disbelief that colored his features hurt to look at.

 

“W-what are you doing here?” 

Chapter Text

Katsuki forgot about the light burn on his leg as he looked up to see what had startled him so thoroughly.  He recognized the voice that had spoken to him, but he really needed to confirm that he wasn’t hearing things, or seeing things, because there was no way that was even fucking possible was there?

 

As he made eye contact with Jeanist, he nearly jumped up again, his whole body tensing.  

 

Nope.  He’s actually fucking here.  Well, at least you aren’t a fucking lunatic, that should be a relief shouldn’t it?

 

The small semblance of uniformity and stability that he had managed to create in his routine and his new home, it had given him some amount of comfort, it had grounded him.  

 

Suddenly, that space-- his space-- had been invaded and the small amount of stability that he had managed to gather since everything had changed that day, completely shattered into a million fucking pieces.   He had been sure that he could do this, that he could manage it.  He had been so sure.

 

Yet, miraculously, here Jeanist was, crashing through everything he’d built up, and crashing headlong through it with all the grace of a bull in a china shop.

 

The last time he had seen Tsunagu face-to-face, everything in Katsuki’s life had changed, and a large part of Katsuki felt an odd dread wash over him at the thought.  

 

A newer part-- a smaller part-- of Katsuki however, was glad, relieved, it cried in joy.  It was the part that had wanted to tell his friends about his soulmark.  It was the part that made him want to change, it was the part that had told him never to go back to that wretched place.  It was the part of him that told him, that he was fucking horrible at all of this shit, and that he might need someone’s help to get through it.

 

He was slowly learning to listen to that part of himself, the part his mother had tried to stifle.  The part of himself that desperately wanted to hope .

 

It was hard though, he had to stop himself from snapping at Tsunagu and telling him to ‘fuck off because none of this has anything to do with you.’ .  It was an old habit, to force others away with the crude behavior, and the violence.  

 

He was trying to change though.

 

So-- with a great amount of effort-- he pushed the petrifying anxiety and dread down and forced it away.  He forced away the uncertainty with a dash of that newfound hope, it wasn’t belief or assurance.  It was a flimsy promise, a half-baked notion that maybe Tsunagu actually cared, and maybe there wouldn’t be harsh consequences for letting him help.  It was a notion that Katsuki was taking a great risk to put stock in.

 

It was far from trust, but it was certainly better than nothing.

 

“What the hell did you come all the way out here to talk to me about?”  Katsuki asked, knowing the answer but needing to hear him ask anyway.

 

Tsunagu smiled and sat next to Katsuki slowly, then turned to face Katsuki to speak.

 

“Well, I was hoping you could maybe explain to me why you’re sleeping out here.  Rather than, well-” Tsunagu began softly, reassuringly, and trailing off towards the end.  Katsuki finished for him.

 

“-at home.”  Katsuki finished, his voice grim.  

 

After a moment, Tsunagu nodded slowly.  Katsuki cursed himself for considering this, the larger insecure and untrusting side of him screaming at him that this was a mistake.  

 

He will use it against you.  Just like your mother did, he’ll take it and throw it back at you as an insult.

 

He refused to listen to it, though.  Deep down, he realized that it was just a product of years of living with his mother.  The realization didn’t make it any easier to push past it, though.

 

Holy shit , I’m actually going to tell him aren’t I?  What the actual fuck is going to happen if I do that?  

 

He couldn’t even process it, his mind couldn’t fathom what the future might hold aside from the next few seconds.  He had no concept of how shit like this was supposed to happen.  Maybe that’s because shit like this isn’t supposed to happen at all, because parents aren’t supposed to beat their kids and ignore them.  Katsuki nearly slapped himself.  He did not need to freak the fuck out about it, that was the last thing he needed right now.

 

He took a deep breath to steady himself.  Then, began with.  “It’s a long story, and it isn’t exactly a happy one either.”  

 

Tsunagu gave him a reassuring smile, nodding in acknowledgement. “I figured as much, I would still like to hear it either way.”  There was a glint of a new emotion in the pro’s expression, and Katsuki was almost certain that it was guilt, and maybe sympathy.

 

It struck him as odd, and it even worried him a bit.  Katsuki shook his head slightly to rid himself of the thought though.  If he stopped now, Katsuki knew he would never start back up again, and he wasn’t about to give up that easily.

 

Katsuki felt a bit shaky as he began to tell Tsunagu, exactly what happened that night.  Giving him context about why he had been angry, about why he had been hesitant to enter his house in the first place.    He told him how he had anyway when she called out to him, and how she shoved his face in the food and yelled at him.  He told him about how she lied about his soulmark.  He told him how he reacted when she tried to sell him on her soulmark bullshit again.  He told him what she said when he called her out on not having his mark at all.  He told him how neither had said a word as he yelled back at them, or as he left the house with all his things.  He told him why he never wanted to go back, because of how frighteningly similar he was to her already.

 

He told Tsunagu everything , in as much detail as he could manage.

 

He put his very soul on display, and was desperately hoping that Tsunagu wouldn’t shatter it.

 

-----------

 

Tsunagu was more than a little upset.   

 

As he listened to Katsuki’s story, he couldn’t help feeling appalled , disgusted , even outright horrified .

 

The only thing that was stopping him from stomping right over to Katsuki’s house and actually screaming at his parents in utter fury , was the fact that Katsuki was right here, and he needed him to be there.

 

It was no wonder that Katsuki didn’t seem to understand soulmarks, or really much of any kind of interaction with people other than combat.  The only kind of interaction he had any experience with whatsoever, was conflict.  Neither of his parents had ever shown him any genuine compassion, and the only interactions that mattered were outright conflict.  

 

As frustrating as that fact itself was, the reasoning behind it was remarkably worse.  

 

When Katsuki had described the way she spoke about the soulmarks, about not having any of her own, and how frustrating it was having to raise a child that would never care?  Like Katsuki’s existence was a curse to haunt her?  It was utterly ridiculous, so frustratingly upsetting that he had actually stopped Katsuki from talking to make sure that he didn’t believe any of it.  

 

It was just so incredibly wrong.

 

He needed Katsuki to know how wrong it was, he simply couldn’t stand by not even one more minute and let Katsuki think that way.

 

He couldn’t express how relieved he was to hear that Katsuki realized how ridiculous it was, but what really sold it was the way Katsuki smiled, albeit wanly, when he told him that fact.  When he was settled enough to hear Katsuki continue, he listened until he was done with no more interruptions.

 

He was equally impressed and concerned by Katsuki’s innate determination.  When he heard Katsuki talk about how he never wanted to go back, not just because of how horribly he had been treated, but because he was terrified by how much of her he saw in himself.  He saw the teen pause and brace himself, as if he was about to agree.

 

It provided a whole new aspect to the ‘villian’ comment he had made just under a week ago.  It made it all so much worse.  

 

Katsuki stopped talking then, clearly expecting some sort of comment, some sort of condemnation.

 

That sure as hell was never going to come from him.

 

Tsunagu could even hear it in his voice, the guilt.  Tsunagu could hear Katsuki’s guilt in his voice as he had mentioned a particularly harsh encounter he had with a childhood friend, briefly, to make his point.  Katsuki told Tsunagu that he had told the kid to kill himself, and he had curled up at that, he wouldn’t even look at Tsunagu.  It was as if Katsuki was expecting him to hate him, because of how horrible that he knew it was.

 

The only thing that Tsunagu could possibly think, was how good of a kid he was.  It was strange, after hearing what he did, but Tsunagu felt no disappointment at the story at all.

 

He could only wonder at how strong Katsuki was.

 

It was because, still after everything that had happened to him, and after no adult in his life had ever so much as taken the time to explain why it was wrong, and somehow, he stumbled across the answer himself.  Not only that, but he was absolutely committed to changing that part of himself, that part of himself that he clearly hated.   

 

Somehow, despite how poorly he’s been treated his whole life.  He somehow managed to still want to be a good person , and to start making changes , with no help or guidance at all.  If anything he had been led in the wrong direction , and still managed to go the right way, with no help.

 

How could he possibly blame the kid for any of that?  How could he be anything but proud?

 

Proud.  That was an interesting word, did he even have the right to be proud of him?  

 

Katsuki was still curled in on himself, looking away.  Tsunagu’s posture softened with a wave of an emotion that he could only describe as fierce affection washed over him.

 

“Katsuki.”  Tsunagu called to him softly, placing a hand on his shoulder.  Katsuki didn’t reply immediately, straightening slightly and gathering himself before turning to face Tsunagu.  Tsunagu smiled warmly, and didn’t hesitate to pull the boy into a hug.  

 

Katsuki flinched at first, reflexively pulling away.  Tsunagu didn’t give it up that easy, pulling the teen into a fierce hug.  Tsunagu, hoped the message in it was clear.  He hoped beyond hope that Katsuki could feel it, the overwhelming message that he echoed with every fiber of his being.  That somehow the words would materialize into reality if he thought of them enough.  He would say them if he needed to, but he wasn’t sure he would be able to get it out without crying for him.  He needed to know that ‘it wasn’t his fault’ and he hoped Katsuki could understand.

 

It took Katsuki a moment to understand what was happening before he spoke.  God, the kid was shaking now.  It was worse than it had been last week, it was persistent, clearly illustrating his utter confusion.  He wasn’t just trembling like he had in his office, he was shaking like he had just been offered a golden ticket to heaven, something he could never possibly understand how he had come to deserve.

 

“Why?”  He managed to force out, the kid was trying desperately not to cry, Tsunagu could feel that from where he was.  

 

He decided that the truth was best, he decided to be entirely honest with Katsuki, the teen deserved that much after everything he had told him today. 

 

“I have no idea how you lived through all of that, and still managed to be so innately good.  Please, don’t deny the fact that you are good, I promise you that you are, and that you can get even better, with time.”  Tsunagu gave Katsuki a squeeze to emphasize his point.    “Even if you can’t believe that, then know that I do.   You can’t believe anything that your parents tried to make you believe, and I think you know that by now.  They were miserable and selfish, and it was entirely wrong and childish to try and drag you down with them.  It shouldn’t have mattered that they weren’t bound to you by fate.  It shouldn’t have mattered.   No crime in this world is worth what they put you through, and you weren’t guilty of anything to begin with.”

 

Katsuki gave a weak gasp at that, shaking his head slightly into Tsunagu’s chest.  He was clearly holding back tears with all his might.  Tsunagu went on anyway, there was nothing that could stop him now.  Even if Katsuki didn’t understand, he needed to say it anyway, for his own sanity.

 

“You are so incredibly mature for your age, it speaks volumes to what you had to go through all on your own.  It shouldn’t have had to have been that way, but it was, and nothing can change that.  You are strong and mature , and your parents are not.   They couldn’t be as strong as you even if they tried.” 

 

“And I don’t mean physically strong, I mean mentally strong.  Despite the fact that they only ever showed you violence and harsh words, you still found a way to understand that it wasn’t supposed to be that way.  Yes, you may have strayed away, and gotten lost, but you never stopped moving forward, you never truly wanted to hurt others that way did you?” 

 

Katsuki shook his head at that too, as an acknowledgement to his question, and as an answer.  Katsuki still couldn’t quite manage to speak, so Tsunagu kept going.

 

“Your parents, they let something as simple as a mark on your skin prevent them from loving you.  They were weak-minded and childish.   You may be many things, Katsuki, but you will never be either of those things.  You are strong and brave, and with a little help, I know that you can be the person that you want to be, not the person your parents convinced you that you were.”

 

There was a long pause as Tsunagu finished.  He let the words hang peacefully in the air as he held the teen, determined to keep him there as long as he needed it.  The sun had completely set by now and they were shrouded with a veil of darkness, which made the moment feel more personal, more private.  The world consisted of them, and nothing else, the rest of their surroundings seemed to sink into unimportance, fading into the background.  The shadows of the trees surrounding them added to the effect creating a dark pocket of shadow surrounding them.  

 

It was then that Katsuki returned the hug, his arms wrapping gently, hesitantly even , around Tsunagu, and he asked so hesitantly that Tsunagu had to strain to hear.  “So, what the fucking hell happens next?”  His voice was shaky, and a bit breathy, as he held back tears.  Tsunagu almost wished that he’d just cry, that he’d let it out because holding it in like this wasn’t healthy.  

 

Now wasn’t exactly the time to push that though, so he let it go.

 

Tsunagu considered the question before answering.  “A few things are going to have to happen,” He began, continuing after a moment.  “For one, we have to get you sleeping under a roof.  I consider that priority one, and get your leg looked at, and get you some food that isn’t ramen.”  

 

Katsuki gave a huff from his position in Tsunagu’s arm.  “You damn well know that wasn’t what I meant old man,”  Though the words themselves were harsh, Katsuki said them with a soft, almost-affectionate tone to his voice.  “...and I told you my leg was fine.” 

 

“Oh, but I’m not.  Those are my priorities, and there isn’t a soul out there who could convince me otherwise.”  Tsunagu repeated, reveling and even wondering at, the slight breathy chuckle he got out of Katsuki.  “Though, the first order of business after all that is done, would be to make sure that you are removed from your parent’s custody.  The second would be to decide who’s custody you would go into after that.”  

 

“That makes sense I guess, I thought it might be more complicated than that.”  Katsuki commented, shifting in his grip.

 

“Well, it is a bit more complicated than that.  You will have to give statements of some kind against your parents, and if possible we should try and find proof of their negligence.  Though you can leave that second part to someone else, whoever will be working your case.”  Tsunagu explained, he let the conversation drop for a minute, to give the both of them a chance to revel in the embrace, then continued.

 

“As far as who custody will be transferred to, that’s almost entirely your decision.  First, whatever parties are interested will file for it, and you should be able to choose who you go with.” 

 

Katsuki nodded into his chest and they sat there for another moment as Tsunagu gathered the courage to speak something aloud that he’d only dreamed about (in just the last week).  

 

“One of those interested parties would be me, just so you know.” Tsunagu said it casually, easily, it left room for Katsuki to ignore the offer if he wanted to.  It also gave him the room to accept right away.  It gave Katsuki the room to think about it and tell him later if he wanted.  Tsunagu worded the statement such that it could be addressed in just such a way that Katsuki wouldn’t feel cornered into an answer.  

 

Katsuki stiffened slightly in surprise in his arms, slowly backing away so that he could look Tsunagu in the eye.  He let Katsuki go, and watched as the boy searched his face for any sign of insincerity.  

 

“You- you mean that?” Katsuki said, surprisingly on edge for the conversation that they had been having moments ago.

 

“I do.  Almost certainly, UA will make a custody claim too.  It's not uncommon for them to do something like that in cases like this.  So you will have a choice.” Tsunagu reassured him, trying desperately not to coerce him into choosing him, and remaining neutral.

 

Katsuki paused, locking Tsunagu’s gaze.  It was the most eye contact that they had kept all night.  The expression on Katsuki’s face was unsure, almost confused or concerned.  A moment of conflict worked itself out across Katsuki’s features, he seemed to decide upon something, determination settling on his features.  The nervousness was still there, it hadn’t gone away entirely, and Katsuki spoke, having come to a decision of some kind.

 

“If it comes to that.” He began quietly, almost shy.  It was a tad odd seeing Katsuki look shy . Despite his newfound anxiety, he managed to hold his gaze as he spoke, plainly.  “If it comes down to you and UA, then I want you.” 

 

Chapter Text

Kirishima couldn’t help but feel guilty as he crouched in the bushes, listening to Jeanist and Katsuki talk.  He felt like he was intruding, and that if Katsuki really wanted him to know this stuff that he would tell Kirishima himself.  

 

The thing was, that Kirishima really didn’t want to leave until he knew that everything was going to be alright.  He needed to know that he would be okay, especially after everything he’d put into trying to get Katsuki the help he needed, he was not leaving the job half-done.

 

The fact also remained that Kirishima was taking a chance on Jeanist, Katsuki barely knew the man, so it was hard to know for sure whether the man would make things better or worse Even if Kirishima had felt that it was the best option that still didn’t mean it was a good option.   At the very least, Kirishima would stay until he knew Jeanist was handling it.

 

That reality provided little comfort as he sulked in the branches, crouched and silent.  Listening to a conversation that he had no right to be listening to.

 

------

 

As Katsuki told his story, Kirishima felt his guilt grow.  

 

It was terrible, and horrifyingly frustrating.  Kirishima should have realized, he should have known at the very least after Katsuki had let him in on some of the minor details.  He should have known that he was playing it down because of course he would.  According to Katsuki, nothing could ever hurt him or bother him.  According to him, he was impervious to the outside world, he was stronger than they all were after all.  Worrying about him was an insult to his strength, so of course he kept the harsher details to himself.

 

Why hadn’t he spoken up sooner?

 

The answer was simple, it was the same reason he was so uncomfortable right now, hiding in the bushes like a coward.

 

It was because he respected Katsuki more than anyone else he’d ever met, and he respected his privacy.  

 

The harsher details of his interactions with Izuku didn’t shock him like it should have, not after what Kirishima had just heard about Katsuki’s life, that is.  

 

Katsuki didn't need to call Izuku out by name for Kirishima to know that he was talking about him, it was clear in the way he spoke about him.  Something about Izuku deeply frustrated Katsuki, he could hear it in his voice, and yet he didn’t hate him.  

 

Kirishima was sure that he felt just the opposite about their classmate.  He couldn’t quite put his finger on why, but Katuki simply couldn’t cope with the other teen for a reason that was too personal to bring up even now.  

 

It was hardly relevant, anyway.  That was something that could be worked out later.  

 

It was then that Katsuki fell quiet, the frustration and guilt had been clear in his voice.  It was up to Jeanist to respond now.

 

If it went wrong, if something somehow went wrong between the two of them.  Kirishima was going to step in, he might only make things worse, but he wouldn’t stand by and watch something horrible happen.  Katsuki had been through enough, and Kirishima sure wasn’t going to be responsible for more pain than necessary, by bringing Jeanist here.  He would stop him if he had to.

 

The anxiety that had settled into Kirishima melted away like an ice cube on hot asphalt as Jeanist began to talk.  His voice was soft and reassuring, with intense emotion shoved behind it.  Kirishima could hear the sincerity in his words, and the relief that settled into his body left him feeling reassured that he had made the right choice.

 

More than that, Jeanist was saying everything that Kirisima would have said to Katsuki, and so much more.  It was wonderful to hear him say it, and believe that Katsuki was listening to him.

 

If Kirishima had said those same things to Katsuki, he wasn’t sure that Katsuki would have believed him.  No, hearing it from an adult, and an adult that happened to be his soul parent and the number four hero.  It added a weight and confidence to the answer that Kirishima could have never achieved on his own.

 

When he called Katsuki’s parents childish and immature Kirishima could have hugged the pro himself.  His assessment of the whole situation was so incredibly perfect, that Kirishima felt completely reassured, that things would be taken care of.   That there was no conceivable way that this person who said all of these things so sincerely would ever hurt Katsuki, on purpose or otherwise.

 

Kirishima had never been more relieved in his life.

 

------------



“One of those interested parties would be me, just so you know.”

 

The words bounced around in Katsuki’s mind.  After everything that he’d just been told.  After everything that Tsunagu had just told him.  After everything he had said with no deceit in his words.

 

The idea that this person, this adult who believed everything that he had just told Katsuki.  Who told him that he was a truly good person despite everything that he had done.  The idea that he might go home with him, and never see his parents again, the idea was so wonderful that he wanted to pinch himself and make sure that he wasn’t fucking dreaming.  

 

On second thought, maybe he didn’t, because he never wanted to wake up from this dream.

 

He could handle himself.  He could survive without help from an adult, he was capable of it.

 

That didn’t mean that he wanted to.

 

That didn’t mean that the idea that Tsunagu wanted to take him home wasn’t simultaneously the most wonderful and the most terrifying idea that Katsuki had ever entertained.

 

As soon as you let him get close, as soon as you start to live with him he’ll see who you are and hate you.  He will learn to hate you, and who will you have then?  A part of him still whispered.

 

Would it be safer just so stay with UA?  To keep this relationship as it is, so that he wouldn’t ruin it.

 

There was a really large part of him that didn’t want to do that, though.  There was a large part of him that thought back to the Sports Festival, not any more than a few months ago.  He had convinced himself that it hadn’t been a big deal.  It was just one more instance of a time where society’s standards don’t seem to apply to Katsuki.  It was just one more time, where he deserved to be treated differently, even his mother had said so.

 

Now though, he couldn’t help thinking back on it with a sour taste in his mouth and a small pit of dread open in his gut.  Somehow, that particular incident made him not want to completely trust UA.

 

It was a half- formed and wobbly excuse, that he couldn’t even rightfully explain to himself, but the feeling that came with it was enough to make him risk it.  He decided right there, that Tsunagu wouldn’t do that to him, and that he was the person he wanted to go home with.

 

That was exactly what he told him.

 

------------

 

Katsuki looked at him dead in the eyes, as serious as could be, if a little shy and said. “If it comes down to you and UA, then I want you.” 

 

The bold statement left Tsunagu feeling happier than he had been in a very long time.  He wanted to tell Katsuki not to be so rash, he wanted to tell him to sleep on it at least.  The issue was that he couldn’t bring himself to ask, not only because of how badly he wanted it, not only because of how much he wanted to help and take care of the teen.  He couldn’t bring himself to deny the teen what he felt like was his decision, the look in his eyes betrayed no uncertainty with his choice.

 

He looked so sure that Tsunagu wasn’t about to question it.  He wasn’t sure if he had it in him to try.

 

“Alright, I understand.  I would love that.”  Tsunagu told him, he was utterly buzzing with joy. There was a long pause as they looked at one another, neither very sure of what exactly came next.  Tsunagu had to force himself to focus and think over what had to immediately be done for him to safely and legally take Katsuki into his temporary care. “I have to make a few phone calls to set everything up for tonight.  I assume you’ll be alright staying with me for the interim until things are legally settled?” 

 

Katsuki nodded, and Tsunagu continued with his mental checklist.  He would have to call UA, and file a request to place Katsuki in protective custody.  Neither would be an issue, he would just have to request the forms to be filled out later.  Ideally he would wait to bring him home until after such forms were signed, but he was sure nobody would object in this particular case.

 

“Alright, it’ll only take a few minutes, and after that I can just take you to my apartment.”  Tsunagu continued, standing to go and make the calls. Katsuki also stood, testing his leg and going to put his stuff away.  Just as Tsunagu was about to make his first call, he could hear Katsuki say something quietly.

 

“Hey, uh thanks.  For everything, I mean.” Katsuki mumbled, looking down at his sleeping bag as he began to roll it up tightly.  Tsunagu watched him for a moment, smiling at the gesture, and replied.

 

“Katsuki, there isn’t anything to thank me for.  All I’ve given you is the respect and attention you deserve. ”  His own smile widened as Katsuki balked at the statement, and if he wasn’t mistaken he could see the teen blush slightly.  “Though, your thanks is appreciated.” He finished, finally turning around to dial the number.

 

-----------

 

As Jeanist and Katsuki began to wrap things up, Kirishima stretched slightly and stood as covertly as he could.  Jeanist was just about to make some phone calls and Katsuki seemed to be packing up some things.  At this point, there was no reason for Kirishima to stay, so he stood and he caught a glimpse of the clearing as he stood.  

 

In the shadows, there was no way the two could make him out, and he took a moment to watch them.  He was about to turn around and walk to the train station to catch a ride home as something stopped him.

 

It was a feeling, a nagging itch that made him turn back around.  

 

Something was wrong.

 

He had learned to trust his instincts over the past few days, so he turned quietly back around.

 

He watched the two of them, Jeanist talking with someone on the phone and Katsuki bent over and packing up his bag.  Nothing appeared to be off, everything looked fine.

 

That was until Kirishima saw a hint of movement behind Katsuki.  It wasn’t a person, it was like a shadow?  It almost looked like a small swirling black cloud?  It could just be the shadows playing tricks on him but he was sure that he saw something there.

 

It only took a few seconds for the thing to grow bigger, and a scarred hand shot out of the cloud.

 

Suddenly, jarringly Kirishima recognized it.  It was the warp gate villain from the USJ.  It was the League of Villains.

 

They were here.

 

The hand wrapped firmly around Katsuki’s mouth, and the other hand emerged to grab the back of Katsuki’s neck and drag him into the portal.  Katsuki grunted as the hand grabbed him, though it was muffled by the hand, and Kirishima yelped, pushing through the brush to try and do something, anything to save Katsuki in time.

 

He didn’t though, Kirishima’s yelp caught Jeanist’s attention and he turned to look at the teen, a bit surprised and baffled.  He was still on the phone as he recognized the fear in Kirishima’s gaze and glanced to see Katsuki, already entirely shrouded in the portal except for his face.  In the few milliseconds it took Jeanist to recognize, assess and send his quirk out to grab Katsuki, the portal closed.

 

It was too late.  

 

Kirishima stumbled to the ground, looking around frantically, hoping that he had missed something.  That Katsuki had somehow managed to get free after he had hit the ground.  

 

Jeanist stared blankly at the spot where the portal had been just seconds before, baffled, shocked, and horrified by the most recent turn of events.  Jeanist went completely silent, at a total loss.  Kirishima could hear the person he had been talking to start to speak, calling out to him and asking if everything was okay.  

 

“W-what the hell?” Jeanist stuttered, the phone was no longer held to his ear.  It was in his hand, hanging limply to his side.  His other arm was still half outstretched, from when he had reached out for Katsuki.  Kirishima had never once heard the pro hero lose his calm, and even if he didn’t know the pro that well, the fact that he looked panicked and baffled was incredibly unsettling.

 

Kirishima’s frozen state of mind defrosted a bit, allowing him to attempt a half- coherent explanation.  “T-that was the Warp Gate Villain, I saw him at the USJ…” He trailed off, unsure of how to proceed, trying to find some sort of explanation.  Any reason why they would have wanted him, why they would take him.  How they could have even possibly known he was here.  

 

None of the answers came though, because there were no answers to be had.

 

-----------

 

Tsunagu balked at the spot, his gaze and mind frozen there.  

 

What just happened?  

 

There was no room for logic in his mind right now, it was too full with the leftover high from his happiness earlier, the anger and fury still lingered too.  Though, on top of it all was fear and horror, and remorse.  

 

Katsuki had been right there, right there behind him, and he heard a grunt and a yell.  He turned around just in time to see him disappear.  

 

Tsunagu didn’t even understand what had just happened, he couldn’t even understand anything beyond the fact that the kid was just kidnapped.

 

He heard Kirishima, who was now beside him, shakily begin to speak.

 

“T-that was the Warp Gate Villain, I saw him at the USJ…”  He began trailing off towards the end there, unable to come up with any more explanation than that.  The sentiment was helpful, it was, Tsunagu could latch on to that.  It was a villain, one of the ones Class 1A had fought at the USJ, it was helpful information and at least he had something.

 

The only real question was why in the world they would want the kid?  It didn’t particularly make sense, he was a heroics student, the least likely of Class 1A to ever leak information under any kind of duress.  He was too stubborn, there was no way.   The same could be said for anything the League would want him to do, regardless of what it was.  He would have been the worst choice in every situation.

 

Except if....

 

A truly horrible thought occurred to him just then.  Tsunagu remembered reading a file on the creature that had been present at the USJ, they called it a Nomu.  Only the heroes of the top ten and the teachers at UA knew that these creatures were the result of experiments on people in order to give them unnatural strength and multiple quirks.   

 

Katsuki had a remarkably powerful quirk, and they had been given the opportunity to see it in action at the USJ.  

 

No, that can’t happen….

 

That’s too horrible to even imagine….

 

He completely froze in pure horror at the thought, the thought that they would experiment on the child and turn him into a part of one of those monsters.   His blood ran cold as ice just thinking about it.

 

He hated the thought, he really truly did.  

 

It was hard to ignore the possibility though, because nothing else made sense.   

 

Worse, Tsunagu knew how vulnerable Katsuki was right now.  He had just spent the last hour, or more even, airing out the darkest parts of the kid’s life.  As brave as he was, and tried to be , there was no way that Katsuki wasn’t absolutely terrified .  Especially, after the week the kid had been having already.  

 

Can’t this poor kid just catch a break?  

 

He found a small bit of comfort in the fact that he had been here when it happened, so that Katsuki would know that he was coming for him.  There was no way in hell that he wouldn’t go for him, and there wasn’t a person alive who could stop him.  

 

“Jeanist, what happened?  Are you still there?”   He could hear come from his phone at his side.  It was Detective Naomasa, the man was a trusted colleague and associate that he often dealt with.  Tsunagu had figured that if he was going to ask someone at the police station for advice on a situation like this, then he would ask him first.  

 

Well that plan went to shit real quick didn’t it?  He thought bitterly, as he brought the phone up to his ear again to speak.

 

“Yeah, I’m still here.” He began, surprised briefly by how strained his own voice sounded.  

 

The voice on the other end replied immediately.  “Where did you go, I heard a yell.  Did something happen?”

 

Tsunagu almost scoffed bitterly at the irony, he held it back though.  He needed to get it together if he was going to save his kid.  

 

Was that attitude towards the incident healthy?  

 

Heck, no.

 

Did it need to be healthy?  

 

Also, a no.  He just needed it to work and damn the consequences to himself.

 

If something happened to that kid after everything he just learned.  He would have never known what it felt like to feel safe somewhere.  He would have never understood what compassion felt like.

 

As far as he was concerned, Katsuki wanted to come home with him and damn anyone who tried to get in the way of that.   Damn them all to hell.

 

“You’ll want to get a squad down here.  The kid was just kidnapped by the League of Villains, they grabbed him while my back was turned.” Tsunagu said, suddenly very business-like.  He fell into his hero persona in high stress situations, it had fallen off while he talked to Katsuki, but now.  

 

He needed to stay fucking calm so he was going to fall into his persona as long as he needed to.

 

There was a moment of silence on the other side of the line.  “That happened just now?”

 

Tsunagu replied easily.  “Yes, it did.”  There was some shuffling on the other line as he got up from his chair, grabbed his coat and called out some orders.  

 

“I’m on my way now.  Can you send me the location exactly?” Naomasa replied calmly, though there was a new seriousness in his tone, a new urgency.

 

“Yeah, just a minute.” Tsunagu replied, pulled up the address of the house next door and sent it to Naomasa over text.  He did all of this in just under thirty seconds, and he spoke again.  “You got it?”

 

“Yeah.  I’ll see you there in five minutes.”   The phone call ended with a click and he was left in silence again with Kirishima still beside him.  He looked the boy over quickly and saw that he looked pretty shaken up, he couldn’t blame him really.  He relaxed a bit internally, and spoke to him.

 

“You’ll need to stay here to give a statement when the detective gets here.  Afterwards, I’ll have you escorted home.  Does that sound alright?”  Tsunagu said, a bit of the previous softness returning to his voice as he saw the shaken teen.

 

Kirishima came to attention at the sound of his voice, and replied stiffly and just a bit too quickly.  “Y-yeah, of course.  I’ll do anything I can to help.”  His voice wavered a bit, but there was a rock hard determination behind it.  Tsunagu allowed himself a small smile at it, and nodded.

 

All that was left to do was wait.

 

------------

 

Kirishima stared at his new contact as the police car made its way to his house.  He was grateful for the lift, he wasn’t sure he had the nerve left to wait at a train station this late at night after what he’d just seen.  

 

After he had told Detective Naomasa everything he’d seen, which admittedly wasn’t much, the man had given him his work number in case he remembered anything else.  Tsunagu, who had also been there, had done the same thing, giving Kirishima his number for similar reasons.  After which he had arranged for one of the cops to drive him home.

 

All in all the process had taken less than ten minutes and Kirishima was on his way home.

 

He was more than a little shell-shocked, as he watched the phone autolock and the screen go dark.  

 

When the police dropped him off and watched him enter his house, it was nearly 10 pm by the time he finally stepped foot in his house.  His mother fussed over him and wondered at the police car, and asked what kind of trouble he was in.  

 

It had been his mistake, not telling her that he was going to be late tonight, he said this to her himself, and apologized and explained everything, maybe even more than he had intended to.  He probably went deeper into Katsuki’s story than was necessary, but he was still just so bothered by the whole thing that he ended up spilling it.

 

Halfway through his father had realized he was home and came to listen.  When all was said and done, he got a light scolding for not giving them any warning that he would be late or where he was, but otherwise he was scot free.  His parents tried to console him the best they could, but it fell kinda flat when Kirishima knew Katsuki was surrounded by villains, and that he would have to go to school tomorrow and pretend he had no idea where he was.

Chapter Text

When Kirishima made it to school the next day, he was exhausted.  Overall, he hadn’t been able to sleep well after what had happened the previous night.  When the others asked around about where Katsuki was, and why he wasn’t at school, he stayed silent.  The others must have realized he was hiding something by now, but he wasn’t sure it mattered.

 

Aizawa, at the very least, seemed to know what had happened, and deflected their questions and told them not to worry about it.  

 

“You should be worrying about your finals next week, not your classmate.”  Aizawa-sensei had grumbled out, and that had been the end of it.  Other than the occasional whisper between members of the class between periods and at lunch, nobody asked any direct questions.  

 

Mina and Kaminari had been theorizing about it at lunch, and Kirishima hadn’t even been able to make himself laugh at the ridiculousness of the ideas.  He hadn’t even really been listening.  

 

It wasn’t until right as lunch was about to end that something happened, and somewhere down the table the casual chatter rose to nervous worried voices.  In the hum of voices in the cafeteria, it barely registered to him until Kaminari went to check out what was happening.  

 

It only took a few minutes for him to come back running.  “GUYS, THIS IS BAD!”  On his phone, he had a link pulled up, it was some 2nd rate tabloid that wrote stories on the dirty laundry of the biggest names in the hero industry.  

 

As he shoved the phone in the group’s face Kirishima couldn’t help but choke on his food as he read the headline.

 

“UA HEROICS STUDENT NOW A VILLAIN?!  SEE THIS AUTHENTIC VIDEO.” 

 

The first paragraph mentioned Katsuki by name and they could clearly see he was the student they meant.

 

“Oh my god....”  Mina gaped next to him.  Sero, who was across from him, shook his head.  

 

“No freakin’ way, there’s no way Bakugo would do that.  Would he?” Sero asked.

 

Of course he wouldn’t!”   Kirishima stood, his mind racing.  “Kaminari can you send me that link?” He must have looked as panicked as he felt, because Kaminari nodded and just sent it to the whole group chat.

 

A villain, that was more than ridiculous.  Katsuki had just been kidnapped by villains.   How could anyone possibly construe the story any other way.

 

Kirishima opened it immediately, scrolling through the article until he reached the video, opening it and turning up his brightness and volume.  He set it on the table and Sero stood up to watch behind them.  

 

The picture it painted, wasn’t exactly pretty.

 

The video was grainy, and it was in low light, but you could clearly see Katsuki chained quite thoroughly to a metal chair.  It was clearly custom, as if it had been meant to contain him.  It was then that fucking Shigaraki walked into the frame.  

 

“Good evening, Japan.” Shigaraki greeted in his sickly grainy voice, with a pleasant tone plastered onto his voice that hardly sounded natural.  “While, we normally choose to induct our new members more privately .  We decided that you all would be very interested in our newest recruit.”  He gestured to Bakugo, who had remained eerily silent considering where he was and what was being said.

 

Shigaraki continued.  “I’m sure most of you already know who this is, but this is for those of you who don’t.” His scratchy voice was flat and emotionless.  “His name is Bakugo Katsuki, and he was a Heroics Student at UA Highschool.  He was the winner of the UA Sports Festival, and…”

 

Shigaraki drew the last syllable out.  Clearly building up to something that Kirishima couldn’t possibly guess as to what it was.  “ ~and, he was neglected by everyone who claimed to care about him.” 

 

Kirishima clenched his fists tightly.  He really didn’t like where this was going.

 

“That’s right, the boy was kicked out of his house by his shit parents over a week ago, after years of abuse.  What’s more, nobody seemed to notice or care that there was a teenager living on the streets.” 

 

“What is he talking about?”  Kirishima could hear Sero ask behind him, he paused between each word for emphasis.  Mina was about to reply as Shigaraki spoke again.

 

“He is, in all aspects, a star student, except for his attitude.  Yet, he was ignored, like many of us are.  Ignored, by the heroes who care only for themselves, and for the frivolous pursuit of more fame.  A kid, left to fend for himself, because not a single one of the heroes he was surrounded by everyday took a second to look outside of themselves, and notice.” It sounded unnatural, as if the words Shigaraki were saying had been scripted for him.  

 

Despite that, the words hit much closer to home than Kirishima had expected.  It hurt because the words were at least partially true.  It hurt because Katsuki had been ignored, maybe even overlooked .  That was why this shitty plan of his was going to work, because the heroes couldn’t deny the validity of the statement.

 

It was frustrating because Shigaraki was taking everything grossly out of context, and he was using Katsuki as his martyr.   He was telling the whole country about things that he had no right to even know, and he was putting it in the spotlight, for the whole world to see.  Worse, it was actually going to work.  Katsuki already was known to the media because of the Sports Festival, he was somewhat of an icon already, and the League was turning his notoriety into free advertising.

 

“Bakugo here has become one of us to prove that, to expose the heroes for what they truly are.  Vain and vile creatures.  He should know, as he was trying to become one of them.”  

 

Now Kirishima knew that was bullshit, but now he saw the League’s play.  They were making Katsuki into a freaking martyr.   It was coming together, the more the guy talked.  Kirishima still couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

 

Katsuki was glaring at the ground with the fury of a thousand suns, his entire body was rigid, fuming.  He looked just about ready to scream.   Except for the fact that he didn’t, Katsuki didn’t do anything, he didn’t yell furious protests, he didn’t deny what they were saying.  He just stayed quiet, and Kirishima was becoming increasingly worried by that fact, his focus switching from Shigaraki’s words to his friend who was chained to a chair, and surrounded by villains.

 

Katsuki was squirming in his chair, he was struggling but he was lacking any of his normal ferocity.   It was weak, pointless struggles, half-hearted even.  It just didn’t make any freaking sense.   

 

The things they were saying were so wrong, that even Kirishima was struggling with all his might to contain himself.  He was struggling not to scream at the phone and throw it across the room.   Kirishima wasn’t normally one who was quick to anger, but everything about this was just so incredibly unfair.  

 

What’s more, Katsuki was looking away from the camera, his lips curled back in a snarl, and with his head ducked in what was clearly shame.   How could Bakugo Katsuki of all fucking people be so thoroughly torn down in just one night?

 

Katsuki still hadn’t said a single word in his own defense, and Kirishima might just be trembling with fury.   

 

He had no idea what the League had managed to do to Katsuki in the one night that they had taken him, and the fact of the matter was that it didn’t particularly matter at this moment what they had done, the only thing that mattered was the effect it was having on Katsuki.  

 

If Kirishima wasn’t worried before, then he sure as fucking hell was now.  

 

----------

 

Tsunagu was sitting at the conference table in the police department as he watched the video.  There were a few others in the room with him, including Detective Naomasa, and a few of the other officers working on this particular case.

 

Tsunagu found the video to be simultaneously relieving and immensely frustrating.

 

Firstly, he was relieved to see Katsuki alive and well, and by the fact that it at least seemed like the League wasn’t planning on using Katsuki in any experiments just yet .  The way Shigaraki was talking, it was framing a narrative around Katsuki that made him the perfect martyr, it seemed as if their plan was to create another ripple in hero society and cause another influx of members just as the Hero Killer had.

 

Which was almost worse in some ways, but Tsunagu wasn’t one to kick a gift horse in the mouth.

 

What it meant, at the very least, was that they weren’t planning on killing, harming, or permanently changing Katsuki in any way just yet.  They needed him alive to make that plan work.

 

That fact was reassuring, and it took the absolutely desperate edge off of his anxiety, for now at least.

 

If he thought about it that way then everything would be fine.  

 

Katsuki was alive, and was going to stay alive.  The thought should have made him happy.

 

It didn’t though, he wasn’t happy.   He would hardly even consider himself functionally coherent at the moment.  

 

As he watched Katsuki shuffle around helplessly in those restraints, Tsunagu literally could feel his blood boiling.   The boy that Tsunagu had seen in that video was ashamed, and afraid.  

 

If it had been just the fear reflected in his gaze, then Tsunagu might have been fine, fear was a normal reaction to a situation like the one Katsuki was in.  It was the shame that made Tsunagu literally want to climb through the screen and hug the struggling teen.  

 

The shouts and screams of protest stayed bottled up in Katsuki’s mind, ready to explode out at any moment, Tsunagu could see that, plain as day .  Yet even as Shigaraki continued to speak, Katsuki stayed silent, he stayed dead silent.   Katsuki didn’t even so much as growl or snarl a complaint, he made no noise at all.

 

Tsunagu couldn’t put his finger on why, but that fact.   That fact was getting to Tsunagu, because it was just so uncharacteristic of him.   

 

It was then that one of the other detectives waved and called for the person at the computer to pause, and walked up to the projector.

 

The image paused, and Katsuki had tilted his head particularly far to the side in this frame and the detective pointed out a small irregularity in the picture.  It was a particularly deep shadow under Katsuki’s jaw.  Tsukauchi frowned and stood, approaching the board also.  This caught Tsunagu’s attention and he listened as Tsukauchi seemed to stiffen as he recognized something.

 

“Where the hell did they even get their hands on something like that?” Tsukauchi exclaimed in shock and a bit of horror.  He squinted at the board as if he was still trying to believe what he was seeing.

 

“What is it?”  Tsunagu asked urgently, his dread from earlier came back with a vengeance at the Detective’s tone of voice.  Naomasa paused, processing his realization for a moment, before he sighed and explained.

 

“The kid isn’t talking because he has a restraint locking his jaw in place, this is an ancient model of quirk restraint gear that was decommissioned because of how inhumane it was .  I sometimes run into stuff like this when I’m dealing with drug rings and organized crime.  Even for those guys using something like this is brutal.”  Tsukauchi looked a bit sick as he spoke.  “They probably didn’t want Katsuki making any signs of protest during this broadcast of theirs.” He reasoned, a thin veil of venom coating the words.

 

Tsunagu could full-heartedly agree with the sentiment.  

 

Tsunagu wasn’t normally the type to let anger dictate his mood, reactions, or really any part of his life.  It also typically took a lot to push him to rage to begin with, as anyone who had worked with him knew.

 

Right now though, he was undergoing a mind-numbing amount of fury.

 

He literally couldn’t even express it in words.  So he settled for continuing the conversation, funneling the emotions straight into fuel for his determination. 

 

He scoffed inwardly at the unhealthy habit, and for a moment, he figured he was taking a page from Katsuki’s book.  If the kid was any indication of the effectiveness of such an attitude, then Tsunagu would survive.

 

“Do I even want to know why this device is so horrible?” Tsunagu managed, and Naomasa just shook his head grimly.  

 

“No, you really don’t. ”  Naomasa muttered, turning away from the projector and back to the files and reports scattered across the large conference table.  “Let’s just focus on finding him for now.”

 

-----------

 

Katsuki was going to be totally honest with himself.

 

He was not handling this well, and he had given up on trying to calm himself down hours ago. 

 

He was halfway between an anger-induced ulcer, and a full-blown nervous breakdown.

 

As he stared into the camera and listened to Shigaraki use everything he knew about Katsuki to make him seem weak, to make him seem vulnerable.   Shigaraki wanted to use his story to recruit members for his little League.  He wanted everyone to believe that Katsuki was a villain, and that’s what they were going to tell everyone.

 

They were going to convince everyone that he was a villain, and Katsuki couldn’t even so much as cough without choking himself.   Let alone defend himself .

 

Katsuki doesn’t even understand what bullshit contraption the League had put around his head and jaw, but it was fucking painful.   

 

If he even so much as tried to move his jaw, something dug into his throat, beginning to choke him.  It was so incredibly fucking sensitive, that Katsuki had to actually lock his jaw in place, for him to be able to breathe clearly.  If he even so much as relaxed his jaw he would start to feel the pressure on his throat again.

 

He didn’t know how the fucking hell it worked, but he wanted it off of him right the fuck now.   

 

Katsuki couldn’t move , he couldn’t breathe , he couldn’t speak , he couldn’t defend himself.

 

He knew everyone could see it, they could see how utterly helpless he was.

 

It was too much like that one time, with the fucking sludge villian.  

 

Not only could they see him, helpless, but they were hearing Shigaraki as he began to talk about shit he had no idea what he was talking about.  They were hearing him take everything, so far out of context that it was hardly even the truth anymore.  

 

There was nothing he could do as Shigaraki put his whole life on the internet, with the world watching, and blame the heroes for everything.

 

All Katsuki wanted to do was tell them to fuck off, he wanted to scream at them telling them that they literally couldn’t be any more fucking wrong.  The heroes in his life were just about the most reasonable and responsible adults he had ever come into contact with.  Yes, the Sports Festival was an exception to this, but it was not the rule.   

 

If it weren’t for the heroes in his life, then he never would have left home.  He never would have tried to change, because he never would have realized that there was a fucking issue with his behavior to begin with.  

 

Every other teacher, counselor, and adult treated him with apathy, unless it had something to do with his ‘ wonderful quirk’ that is.

 

It was so fucking wrong that they were using his own story to ruin the heroes reputation, and that there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop it.

 

He was absolutely fucking helpless.  

 

Blame the freaking heroes, they had nothing to do with this.  He was a villainous little shit long before he met any of them, and he knew it.  He thought of every fight he got into, every time he had beat up Izuku to blow off steam, and that one time he had told him to kill himself.  

 

The heroes were to blame for him, god how ridiculous is that?  He was the only one to blame here.

 

He curled up smaller at that thought, and he, honest to god, had never wanted to disappear into nothingness more in his life.  There was only one thought that was keeping him even remotely sane.

 

It was one thought , an unsaid promise that had been made to him just before he was taken violently from the perfect moment shared between them.  

 

It was the promise of a home, a place where he could feel like he was wanted.   

 

It was the promise that no matter who the hell was watching this fucking video , and no matter how many people out there believed it, that there was one person who never would.  

 

Please, don’t deny the fact that you are good, I promise you that you are, and that you can get even better, with time.

 

It was a small flickering candle in a pitch black room, that Katsuki couldn’t even remotely tell the size of yet.  It would keep the darkness away, for as long as there was still candle left to burn.  The promise of something new, something good after all this bullshit was resolved.

 

It seemed like such a small, miniscule fact in the face of the utterly impossible situation before him.  

 

It was more than enough to suffice though.   

 

Even as the shame and fear shook his mind and body, the horrible emotions that Katsuki had hardly ever let plague him in his life.  

 

Even in the dark, he could remember a mark, he could almost feel it.   Right on his lower abdomen, Katsuki knew it was there.  A needle and a red thread, the end of the thread formed a heart.  It made him braver, it made him stronger, stronger than he ever was alone.  

 

It was because he wasn’t alone anymore, even if he was right now.

 

Katsuki let himself truly trust Tsunagu, he let himself trust an adult for the first time in his life.

 

For the first time, he let himself have just a little bit of hope.

 

----------------

 

Aizawa first saw the video when he had seen Nemuri and Hizashi chattering nervously in the teacher’s lounge after school had let out.  He had entered the room, hoping for a short nap before he had to go on patrol, and both of them looked up at him as he entered. 

 

Hizashi gave him a wan smile, which was concerning enough as it was.  That, combined with the fact that Nemuri was actively frowning with worry, clued him in to the fact that something was horribly wrong.

 

As if enough horrible things hadn’t already happened already.

 

Shouta was still reeling from the incident at Hosu.  Iida was the first soulmark of his that he had ever met, and he was the one that he had always had a place in his life.  Being close friends with his older brother since highschool, even through the earliest years of his hero career, he still landed up crashing at the Iida household occasionally  , and even babysitting the kid back in his highschool years.

 

Shouta had known when Iida had chosen a small agency in Hosu, what the kid had in mind.  He had wanted to do something about it, and Shouta had chosen to quietly bring it up and ask Iida how he was coping with the whole mess with his brother.  

 

When Iida had claimed to be fine, and confirmed that he still wanted to intern at the agency in Hosu, it didn’t leave Shouta with much choice.  When Iida had first been placed in his class, Shouta had made it clear that he would be giving Iida no special treatment whatsoever, and the teen had steadfastly agreed.  So as his teacher , he had no bearing to force Iida to intern somewhere else.  He had just hoped that after spending the week there to no avail would smooth out the teen’s revenge streak, and that he would realize the foolishness of it.  Iida had always been a responsible and reasonable kid.

 

When Shouta got the call about what had happened, he couldn’t help but feel responsible.

 

After managing to get a private moment with the teen while he was still in the hospital, they talked it over though, and Shouta was confident that Iida had learned his lesson, and his limits.

 

Between that, and now Katsuki being kidnapped by the League of Villains-- which was a whole new can of worms to open-- Shouta almost considered walking right back out of the room, and sparing himself the heartache.  He didn’t though, he approached them and mentally prepared himself for more bad news.  

 

Nothing in the world could have prepared him for this.

 

They had almost wordlessly shown it to him, a string of News articles, tabloid blogs, and all sorts of media coverage entirely focused on one video.

 

It was heartbreaking to watch.  

 

Suddenly, the calls he had gotten from both Detective Naomasa and Best Jeanist were starting to make sense.  

 

Both phone calls had given him vague information about how Katsuki had been about to go into protective custody when the Villains had snatched him, and how Jeanist and Kirishima had been there when it happened.  

 

The details of the interaction had been left unstated, and even if there was a possibility that Shigaraki was lying out of his ass, there was also the startling amount of the story that lined up with what Shouta already knew. 

 

He wasn’t stupid, Shigaraki wouldn’t be using Katsuki as his martyr , if he didn’t at least believe that the story was partially true.  If they flat out lied to the world so blatantly about something like this, they would achieve the exact opposite effect they were looking for.

 

So the fact remained, that at least some of what Shigaraki was saying was the truth.

 

It was a startlingly, horrifying realization to say the least.  It was clear that his life-long friends had picked up on the same thing that he had, the fact that the story was real, except for the part that Katsuki was with them willingly, that was.

 

Shouta could feel Shigaraki’s words dig at him, as he called out the heroes as selfish and self centered for not even realizing there was a child in need right in front of them.

 

The words hurt, and Shouta could only feel a crushing amount of remorse and regret for not having noticed sooner.  

 

If he had noticed, then Katsuki might not have even been kidnapped in the first place.

 

That thought almost burned.

 

The pieces fell into place as Shouta realized that Katsuki had been living in an abusive household, and for one reason or another refused to tell anyone.  Even after he had either run away or been kicked out, Katsuki had still refused to tell anyone.  

 

Worse, it seemed that after Kirishima had noticed what was happening, that he had gone to Best Jeanist first.   At least Shouta couldn’t come up with another explanation as to why Jeanist of all people had been there, if Kirishima hadn’t led him there.

 

It left Shouta feeling more than a little lost, he had tried to make sure that his students felt like he was there for them.  Though, maybe he had been too harsh with them?  

 

No, he couldn’t coddle them.   He supposed that was the price of making sure his students were properly prepared for the future, though he really wished that it didn't have to be that way.

 

“Shouta, there’s something you don’t know.”  Nemuri said softly, almost consolingly, as if she were about to give him more bad news.  Oh dear god, what is it now?   He really wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take.

 

He acknowledged her with his gaze, looking up to meet her eyes.  Hizashi seemed equally concerned, it seemed he also wasn’t at all aware of what she was about to say.

 

“There’s a bit of a story with this, so bear with me for a bit.”  She started sighing as she began her story.  “Last Friday, I was going out for drinks with Yu and some of the younger heroes, and well, Tsunagu was there and I remember that he mentioned that he had discovered that Katsuki was his soulchild. ”  Nemuri continued, she didn’t seem like she was finished but Shouta felt a bit of his remorse alleviate at the fact regardless.  It was a bit more reasonable, if somehow Kirishima had known about that fact, then it might have made sense to contact Jeanist over him.   It wasn’t much of a comfort, but it was better than nothing.  Nemuri continued her story.

 

“I was more than a bit tipsy at the time , and I asked him if I could see Katsuki’s mark, and well…”  Nemuri trailed off a bit, glancing at the wall and seeming to need a moment to gather her words.  “...well I was just going to let you find out with Katsuki naturally, but Shouta, you have the same mark.  Not only did I see the mark you have on Tsunagu, I asked him if he had seen your black cat mark on Katsuki when Tsunagu found out.”  Nemuri paused again, and Shouta froze, understanding dawning on him as she finished her thought.  “Katsuki is one of yours too, Sho…”  

 

There was a long quiet moment, Hizashi just gaped at Nemuri for a moment, then seemed to remember himself and turn his attention to Shouta.  Shouta ran a hand through his hair.  

 

Well, shit.   

 

------------

 

This was completely unacceptable.

 

It was the only thing Toshinori could think as he watched the video Naomasa had sent him.  

 

Toshinori was already in a car on the way to the Police Headquarters, he was heading over so Naomasa could update him on the condition of the investigation into the kidnapping.  Toshinori wanted to be there when they found him, he needed to be.

 

He knew that the mastermind behind the League of Villains was All for One, and knowing that, Toshinori was not only obligated to stop him.  He felt personally responsible for this recent turn of events, because for years All for One has lived right under his nose and Toshinori had simply assumed the man was dead.

 

His own negligence caused this.  

 

That was all he could think as he watched Shigaraki call out the heroes for not noticing, and for not doing anything for Katsuki.   All he felt was guilt, remorse, and even a bit of shame.  As he watched Katsuki struggle against his chains, but unable to speak, all he felt was a deepening pit of remorse and an increasing amount of frustration at his own failings.

 

There really was no one to blame here but himself.

 

Toshinori knew what fear looked like, and Katsuki had been the embodiment of it in that video.  That proud, determined boy who never let anyone beat him out.

 

He was afraid.

 

Different people deal with fear in their own ways, some cry, some freeze, some curl up into a ball, others panic.  

 

Katsuki lashed out.  Katsuki looked both furious, and ashamed.   Toshinori was sure that if Katsuki was able to speak, that he would have snarled, screamed, shouted, and cussed all of his protests as loud as he could.  Even as it was, his lips were curled back in a vicious sneer.  

 

Katsuki was afraid, and he was unable to lash out.   It was almost like watching a cornered stray, one with a muzzle on, and chained to the wall.  

 

If Toshinori thought about it, the description wasn’t all that far from reality.

 

The situation was completely unacceptable, every part of it, from the kidnapping itself, to how it had come to happen.  There was no option other than to make every effort to save him.  It was the very least they could do, after having failed Katsuki for so long.  

 

It could be called nothing other than that, it could only be called a failure.

 

Every adult in Katsuki’s life, the heroes included had failed him, plain and simple.

 

Except for maybe one, Toshinori remembered how Best Jeanist of all people had been about to take the boy into protective custody for the exact reason that the League had poached him.  It was because Katsuki had been living on his own, and fending for himself.

 

Jeanist was the only one who hadn’t failed him, not entirely at least.

 

The rest of them would have to do their very best to make up for that mistake.

 

Chapter Text

Kirishima trudged purposefully along as he searched the sea of UA students leaving the school for one face in particular.   Classes had just let out, and he wanted to talk to her alone, so he had packed up and left as quickly as possible to wait outside of the building, and offer to walk her home.  

 

After Kirishima had seen that video, he hadn’t been able to focus on much of anything the rest of the school day.  His mind kept wandering back to the image of Katuki being dragged into that portal, and then the image of him struggling helplessly against those chains.  He was left to rue over it the entire day and think, really think.

 

Kirishima had come to the decision that there was literally no way in hell that he was just going to sit around and wait for Katsuki to be rescued.  If they even could.

 

No, it literally didn’t matter.   Kirishima was going to be there when they found him.   He was going to help save him if he could.  He just needed to figure out how he was going to manage that.   He also knew he couldn’t do it alone.

 

So he continued to scan the faces, looking for one in particular.

 

The crowd had started to thin out a bit by the time he saw her, her bright pink skin and black eyes weren’t exactly easy to miss.  To his relief, she was alone, he really didn’t want to make up some excuse to separate her from any of their classmates.  

 

He trotted up to her, increasing his speed to catch up to her.  “Mina, wait up a sec.” Kirishima called out to her.  At the sound of his voice, she turned to face him and waved.  

 

“Hey Kirishima.  What was up with you leaving class so quick?” Mina asked him, without a trace of accusation in her question, he could make out the mild curiosity in her tone.

 

“Ah, nothing in particular.” He answered awkwardly.  He didn’t try to make some excuse to fool her, he just didn’t believe in that stuff.  He just didn’t have the heart to do it, especially not to her.  Deceit was never a concept that sat well with Kirishima, he had no respect for it.

 

He respected Mina, far too much to lie to her like that.  

 

He always had respected her, since they had both been in middle school.  Really, he wasn’t sure if he would have become a hero student at all, if she hadn’t inspired him to try.  While they hadn’t exactly been close until they made it to UA, she was probably the person he trusted the most out of their whole class, besides Bakugo that is.

 

Mina was the only one he wanted advice from.

 

She clearly didn’t buy his answer.  She frowned a bit at him, her worry expressed on her features.

 

“Kirishima, what has been up with you today?  Something is clearly upsetting you, and I demand to know what it is.” She asked, pausing to stand to the side as people walked around them.  Kirishima followed her example.  

 

“Uh, do we really have to talk about this here? ” Kirishima asked, taking a brief glance around them for safe measure.

 

“Yeah, you’ve been out of it all day. ” Mina explained.  “I’m moving not one more step forward until you spill. ”  Mina held her ground, the look she shot Kirishima with was filled to the brim with the determination that he admired her so much for.  He sighed, resigning himself to talking right there and then.

 

Kirishima watched her for a minute, then sighed.  “Yeah, sorry about being so out of it today.”  Kirishima sank to the ground, flopping to the pavement.   “Mina, is it okay if I asked you for a favor?” 

 

-----------

 

“Ok, this is one big favor Kiri.” Mina replied, looking a bit overwhelmed.

 

He told her everything.   He had left out details to respect Katsuki’s privacy, but he told Mina about how Kirishima had found out that Katsuki had been living in the woods.  Then lead Jeanist to Katsuki’s little hideout, and listened as Jeanist convinced Katsuki to come home with him.  He told her how just as everything had settled, the portal had snatched Katsuki away before neither Kirishima nor Jeanist had been able to stop it.  

 

Then, he had simply asked her if she would help him try and save Katsuki themselves.

 

“You think I’m insane, I know that-”  Kirishima began, but was interrupted by a voice behind him.

 

“I’m in.” 

 

The both of them spun around, to see Izuku standing next to Todoroki and Iida.  Iida’s head snapped to Izuku, who had been the one to speak.

 

“Midoriya, you can’t be serious!”  The incredulity on Iida’s face seemed even more pronounced than Kirishima had ever seen it.  Izuku didn’t respond, but the way he held Kirishima’s gaze told him that he wasn’t kidding.  Todoroki also looked between the two of them, he looked much less surprised, and more contemplative, as if he were deciding whether he should help, or stop them.

 

Mina seemed to stand taller beside Kirishima at the words, the uncertainty seemingly wiped away, and she nodded  to herself.  “Yeah, I’m down with it Kiri.  Blasty needs our help, and we’ve got to be there to give it to him.”   

 

“No!  I will not allow this!” Iida continued, continuing to look straight at Izuku.  Yeah, there was definitely something going on between the two of them, that he didn't understand.  It was then that Todoroki piped in.

 

“Iida, we can do this without breaking any rules.” He suggested, telling the group that he had an idea. 

 

“I can’t believe you’re even considering it!  After everything that’s happened, the two of you should know what the consequences of actions like these are.  The best case scenario is that we get there and only manage to get in the hero’s way.” Iida protested.

 

“I’m not suggesting that we get in their way.” Todoroki countered. “If you want me to agree to go along with this, without immediately going to warn Aizawa sensei then we’re going to have to make a few promises to one another.” Todoroki remarked, looking directly at Kirishima as he spoke.

 

Well this spiraled out of control, much too quickly for his comfort.   Kirishima thought with bewilderment.

 

“Hey, it seems like you’ve got a plan.  That’s leagues better than I am at the moment.  Sure, I’ll agree to your terms.” Kirishima agreed.  Honestly, it was a little reassuring having arguably the strongest fighter in their class come along, and Kirishima also figured that his threat to expose his plan was no bluff either.

 

Mina nodded in agreement.  “Yeah, I’m with you.  If we can manage to do this without fulfilling any feathers, then that’s even better.” 

 

“I’m with them.  I’ll agree to your terms Todoroki.” Izuku chimed in.  Iida just balked at the lot of them, he looked like he was about to protest as Todoroki stopped him.

 

“Iida, before you say anything else.  Will you just listen to what I have to say first?” Todoroki deadpanned, and Kirishima almost chuckled at the tone of it.  Iida fell silent, still wearing a bitterly defiant look on his face, like nothing that Todoroki could possibly say would change his mind.

 

“It’s simple really-” Todoroki began.






The basic idea, surrounded by one simple fact.  The fact that they were highschoolers, they had limited resources, and we're not going to be strong enough to take the League on their own, no matter how much they prepared.  

 

They could all agree that it was incredibly unlikely that they would be able to find Katsuki before the heroes did.  That was exactly what their plan was built on, the heroes and police were already searching for Katsuki.   They would find him eventually, and that’s where they come in, if they could somehow access the date and place that they were going to save Katsuki.  They could camp out on the sidelines, and wait.  

 

Under no circumstances, were they to fight.  The only way that they took action was if they were able to remove Katsuki safely from the battlefield, without getting themselves into the fray of the fight itself.  

 

It was overall, an incredibly conservative and safe plan.  Kirishima had to admit.  Iida even calmed a bit at the rigid set of rules, that he reluctantly agreed to enforce by coming with them.  He was almost a bit frustrated, because there was a significant chance, that if they followed this plan, that they would just sit and watch the battle , not being able to participate at all.

 

Still, Kirishima did have to admit.  It was a responsible and decent plan, so he accepted it.  Considering this particular plan to be better than nothing.

 

“This plan is good and all, but how are we supposed to get any of that information . ”  Kirishima asked the group.  There was a minute or two of silence before Todoroki said.

 

“Well, my father is the Number 2.  I might be able to get some information on it out of him or his sidekicks.”

 

“It might not be of any help, but I had a pretty serious hacker phase back in middle school.  If you could get your hands on a computer or something that might have the information on it, I might be able to get in.” Mina offered.  The group collectively studied Mina for any trace of a jesting tone, or smile.  Then Kirishima chuckled.  

 

“Like, exactly how good of a hacker are you?” He asked.  Mina gave a slightly smug grin. 

 

“Well, there was that one time that hacked into the wireless network that the PA System was on, in our middle school, and had it play the same song for all four lunch periods, throughout the entire school, and I did it from my phone. ” She shook her head.  “It was then that I realized that my powers were too great, and that I must sheathe my mighty weapon.”  

 

“That was you. ” Kirishima nearly gasped, and Mina just started to giggle.

 

“Well, I think that means we have a plan.” Izuku commented, grinning. 

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki sighed deeply as the freakish teenage-girl removed that fucking restraint around his neck and jaw.  

 

He could finally breathe.

 

That was what he did, he didn’t even so much as look at the villains who had surrounded him in the dark room.  At this exact fucking moment, he couldn’t give two shits about what any of them wanted.

 

He could breathe.

 

He had been so incredibly fucking livid, after being forced to sit idly by and listen to their bullshit, that they had decided to leave him in the fucking thing overnight.   Shigaraki had said something about ‘giving him a chance to calm down’ or some shit, like that was a reasonable fucking excuse.

 

He literally hadn’t slept.   

 

He literally couldn’t sleep.

 

If he even tried, he would fucking strangle himself.

 

The room had been so dark after they left that Katsuki hadn’t been able to see a thing.  He had been exhausted, and tired from the emotionally draining day.  Worse, he had been forced to stay wide awake, even the smallest bit of relaxation, or lost focus, would start him down the path to choking himself.  He had woken with a start after more than one occasion that he had dozed off accidentally, finding that he wasn’t able to breathe. 

 

Each and every time it happened, he experienced a primal wave of fear.  The kind that you were supposed to fucking feel when you were being strangled.

 

This had been the worst night of his entire damn life, and if anything ever topped this.  Then, Katsuki was convinced that anything much worse than this would send him straight to the fucking loony bin.

 

Visions of his worst nightmares played themselves on the dark canvas of the shadows, mostly memories of the fucking Sludge Villian.  Visions of people screaming, flames burning down the whole block, and heroes staring at him, watching him.   

 

He realized that they weren’t fighting the villain.   The heroes weren’t trying to save him.

 

He’d just have to do it by himself then.

 

Sometime in the middle of the night, Katsuki convinced himself that he was still there, still unable to breathe, still in the clutches of the damn Sludge Villain.  That the past, how many fucking years was it now, had all just been a fucking hallucination, something that his oxygen-deprived brain had conjured up to convince him that he had a future.  

 

To convince him that he wasn’t about to die

 

Hah, what a joke.  Of course it was all some fucked up dream, how could he be so fucking stupid?  I mean Izuku had a fucking quirk now, how big of a fucking clue did you need.  They might as well have spelled it out on a billboard for you, ‘None of this is real you dumbass.’ it would say.

 

The panic that caught him at the thought was all too real though.  Panic at the idea that he had totally lost himself, entirely in a figment of his imagination.

 

He had only snapped out of the nervous fit when Katsuki assumed that morning had come, and that freaky girl walked in, bringing the light from the next room with her.  It washed away the illusion like it had never even been there.

 

It filled the room with more light than he had seen the whole night, which had felt like years.  

 

Others filed in behind her, and she took off that cursed fucking thing.   He didn’t even know what it was but he wore to fucking god if he ever found the bastard who invented such a horrible contraption , he would kill them.  

 

He was still, just coming back to reality as the people around him started to speak, and he caught his breath, and worked his sore jaw.  He couldn’t make out what the dickheads were saying, and Katsuki really wasn’t sure he cared. 

 

It took a few more minutes of them talking to him to no avail for them to realize that it was pointless, and left him alone in the room again.

 

They shut the door and it was pitch black again.

 

Katsuki wasn’t really sure that he cared about that either at the moment.

 

He could breathe, and he was here.   He reveled for a few more moments in the reassuring realization that he was alive and that he was in the LOV’s hideout. 

 

He genuinely laughed, it was more than a bit manic, and it made his already sore throat itch a little.  The sounds that came out of him were hardly even recognizable as laughter , it was more like breathy, strangled sobs.  

 

He woke up and was actually glad to be here of all fucking places.   The realization was bittersweet.

 

If the idea was to give him some fucked up stockholm’s syndrome and shit, then it sure was fucking working.  

 

That thought was somehow even more terrifying than the night that he’d just been through.   Thinking back to his earlier mental proclamation, he bitterly joked to himself that he fucking called it, he was going to go fucking nuts if he stayed here much longer.

 

It was then that Katsuki recognized that there was something wet tracking down his cheeks.  

 

Tears.

 

As he recognized that, his ‘laughing’ redoubled.  

 

He wasn’t really sure he could even call it laughing anymore.  There wasn’t really anything left to laugh at anymore.  

 

It wasn’t long before his body sank into unconsciousness, from pure exhaustion.

—————

 

“I’m sorry, but I have no way to access my father’s computer.  Now that the internships are over, the one time I made an excuse to come over, he practically spent the whole time actively escorting me places.   It was like the idea that I asked to spend time with him actually made him want to alter his schedule around it.  It was super freaky.”   Todoroki frowned deeply.  

 

“Though, by talking to him, I was able to get a little information out of him.  They have a date set up to make two raids simultaneously, because the League had two suspected bases.  He also mentioned that this is hands down the largest coordinated operation that he has ever been a part of.  Which is really saying something.  They’re really pulling out all the stops on this one.” 

 

The rest of the group frowned slightly.  The five of them had gathered at Kirishima’s house to discuss their plans somewhere more privately, than in the school courtyard, that is.  The news that none of them had been able to gather much intel was disheartening, to say the least.

 

“See, the heroes have it under control.  We should just leave this to them.” Iida argued, not for the first time since entering the threshold of Kirishima’s room.

 

“Two?  That means that even if we find out the locations they’re hitting, we’re still going to have to choose, and hope we choose the right location.”  Mina pouted.  “Or, we could split up.”

 

“ABSOLUTELY NOT.” Iida looked like he was about to have a seizure, the utter stress showing on his already rigid features making him seem almost robotic.  “It has become very clear to me, that I am the only voice of reason in this group.  So, beyond the fact that it is a bad idea to split our power in numbers to begin with, I can not be in two places at once.  I refuse to allow any combination of the people in this group to do something like this on your own simply out of fear that you’ll do something reckless.

 

“I agree with Iida.  We’re unlikely to be able to accomplish much on our own even as it is, if we split our numbers the chances are impossible.” Todoroki explained.  “If we choose the wrong one, we were unlikely to be of much help anyway.” 

 

“Exactly, so we should just stay out of their way.”   Iida protested again.   The group had collectively decided not to validate any of Iida’s comments that fell along the lines of ‘let's call it off and stay home.’ with a response.  

 

“How much longer do we have?” Kirishima directed the question to Todoroki.

 

“Two days.” Todoroki answered, and Kirishima looked a bit glum.

 

“That’s really not a lot of time…” Mina pouted, swinging her feet idly from her seat on the bed.  

 

“Yeah, but at least Katsuki should be fine after that, if everything goes alright.”  Kirishima said, a complicated mix of emotions playing across his face.  “Even so, I still want to try.”

 

“I still wish that we weren’t going through with this…” Iida wearily sighed.

 

“Did your father mention anything about what other heroes were on the case?”  Izuku asked.

 

Todoroki thought about it for a moment, then nodded.  “Not outright, but he did complain a bit about having to work with some of the people in the top ten that he particularly hates.  He’s actually a bit like Bakugo in the fact that he sometimes calls his colleagues by nicknames he thinks up for them.”   

 

“Oh, I definitely need to hear some of those.” Ashido snickered.  The others grinned at the thought as well, it was definitely an entertaining thought.  Todoroki was the only one frowning.

 

“He definitely mentioned All Might multiple times, and I’m pretty sure he mentioned  ‘that stupid tree’ that’s almost certainly Kamui Woods.”  Todoroki began, and Mina and Kirishima chuckled.  Izuku was smiling, and Iida was unmoved by the name.

 

“I also think he mentioned Gang Orca, unless you can think of another hero that matches the description of ‘killer-whale’.  Best Jeanist too, he might have been referring to him multiple times, he called the man a ‘denim-coated bastard’ and ‘psycho hair freak’.”  Todoroki continued.  Mina couldn’t contain her laughter any longer, and she doubled over with her giggles.  Kirishima wasn’t too different, though he at least wasn’t currently rolling off the bed to giggle on the floor.  Izuku just smiled and gave a light chuckle.

 

“How highly inappropriate.” Iida commented flatly.

 

“That’s what makes it so funny!”  Mina said between giggles.

 

“Izuku, why do you ask?” Todoroki asked him. The other teen thought consideringly, then spoke.

 

“I thought we might be able to get the other pieces of information we need from some of the other heroes.” Izuku pondered thoughtfully, then shook his head.  “All Might will be expecting us to try something, so he’s not really an option.  If it comes down to it, we could try it, I don’t think it would work though.  The only issue, then, is the fact that we don’t really know any of those other heroes either.

 

Kirishima blinked.

 

“Actually…”  Kirishima wasn’t sure whether or not the one afternoon he had spent talking to Jeanist meant that they knew each other or not.  Though, after what Kirishima had heard happen between Katsuki and Jeanist just the other night, he certainly felt like it.  

 

“What is it Kirishima?”  Izuku asked, his curiosity piqued.  

 

“I actually have Jeanist’s personal cell number.”  Kirishima shrugged. “Not sure that he wouldn’t see right through anything we tried to ask him though.  He’s not exactly dumb.”

 

Mina sat straight up from her spot on the floor, and turned to face Kirishima.  

 

“Wait, his personal number.   Kiri are you sure?”   Mina asked, she sounded excited. 

 

“Yeah, he said it was, at least.”  Kirishima confirmed, suddenly excited himself, by the fact that Mina seemed to have an idea.

 

“This isn’t hopeless after all!”   Mina smiled widely.  “I might be able to hack into the GPS on his phone.  If we just shadow the guy after school lets out on the day of the raid, then eventually we should run into the time of the operation.”  Her smile waned a bit.  

 

“Unless it happens during school hours.  If we really wanted to do this right we would all just skip that day just to follow Jeanist around, but Aizawa-sensei would definitely notice, and somehow find a way to stop us .”   Mina explained, thinking through the problem out loud.

 

“....are we just going to ignore the fact that Kirishima has had Jeanist’s personal number for who knows how long, and somehow we never knew.  I smell a conspiracy.”  Todoroki mused with a totally straight face.

 

Izuku gave an ugly, surprised, snort at the proclamation, trembling with hardly-contained laughter.  Iida, similarly hid his wide, knowing smile, by turning his head to the side and covering his face with his hand.  Kirishima’s cheeks turned a shade closer to that of his hair, caught entirely off-guard by the comment.

 

“It would make things a lot easier if I knew what his cell provider was.”  Mina muttered, seemingly deep in thought, as Todoroki’s comment seemed to go right over her head.  Either that or she wasn’t paying attention to them at all.

 

Kirishima sputtered in embarrassment and rushed to defend himself, though he was relieved that they seemed to have a plan in the works that could actually work.

 

All in all, Kirishima smiled as the room seemed to descend further into chaos, with Todoroki muttering more about his conspiracy theory and everyone listening except for Mina. 

 

It was only when Todoroki mentioned that clearly Kirishima was Jeanist’s secret love child that Mina looked up at Kirishima in blatant surprise and blinked, clearly imagining that the conversation she had missed had somehow been serious, and with a totally straight face said.

 

“What?! You too Kiri?”  She blinked in genuine surprise, as she equated ‘secret love child’ to a soulmark, just like Bakugo’s.  All four sets of eyes locked on her and demanded answers immediately, as Todoroki nearly lit on fire with the excitement of possibly getting a theory right for once in his life.  Kirishima’s face grew several shades darker red as he grew embarrassed beyond belief.   

 

It took another ten minutes to convince the others to let the comment drop and to move on with their lives, and it took Todoroki another hour after that to come to terms with that fact.  

 

Neither Mina nor Kirishima wanted to tell the others about the story Katsuki had told them on that Saturday, simply because he had trusted them not to.  So, wordlessly they agreed that there wasn’t a reason to break that trust now.

 

They went back to planning, and Kirishima wondered,  glumly, at how Katsuki was doing at the moment.

 

Chapter Text

It was some time before the door reopened again, Katsuki figured that it had been at least another full twenty-four to forty-eight hours in nothing but the darkness.  It was hard to tell exactly how long it had been in the total darkness.  It was more than a little anxiety-inducing, even if it was just an empty room, it made it near-impossible to tell reality from the weird amalgamation of dreams and nightmares.  

 

It was an awkward patchwork of images, memories.  In some, his mother yelled at him, telling him that she hated his guts for no reason at all.  In others, the heroes were all watching, staring blankly and hardly doing anything as he was struggling to survive .  He’s chained to the podium like an animal, muzzled like a dog.  He’s burning Deku's notebook with a smug grin on his face as he tells him to jump off the roof.  

 

In a couple of those he had even conjured up the image of Izuku going through with it.  That had been a horrifying one, as he watched wordlessly as he fell to the concrete below, as he watched as his human flesh smacked against the concrete in a horrifying amount of detail, that Katsuki wasn’t even entirely sure he knew where it came from.  

 

The worst part was looking at his lifeless green eyes, which had always looked at him with such wonder , despite everything he did to him.  

 

Yeah, that dream had been far from fun.  He still felt utterly sick with guilt over it.  Imagined or not, the full reality of the words he had said back then hit him like he had been run over by a train.

 

Nevertheless, this was leagues better than the first night had been.  The only saving grace of this whole shitfest, was that at least he didn’t have to wear that fucking thing.   He shuddered at the thought.

 

The threat of that thing was enough to make him pick his battles, he didn’t even complain about the hunger aching his insides, and the thirst that made his mouth feel like cotton as he heard the door unlatch.

 

This time, when the door opened, the scar-faced bastard who had pulled him into the portal in the first place, came in first.  The shithead didn’t even so much as look at him in the eye, as he walked behind the chair and began to wheel Katsuki out of the room.

 

Immediately, Katsuki was struck with a wave of adrenaline, as he saw the area outside of the confines of that room for the first time in days.  

 

Something was about to happen, and the anticipation was killing him.

 

After being exposed to so little stimuli for days on end, even the dim homey lights of the-- what looked like a bar?-- and the soft murmur and chatter of the small group of Villains was almost too much.  The change was so extreme, that Katsuki needed a whole minute to process the world around him.

 

It was quite literally like he had just stepped back into reality.  His time that he had spent in that room, it hadn’t even felt real .  It was a true testament to the power of total darkness and solitude on the mind, it had messed with him in ways that, looking back on it, almost felt silly.  He was embarrassed, truly.

 

It was like he had just woken up after a long night of nightmares, and the sunlight washed away all the things that had felt so real in the darkness.

 

He focused on the people surrounding him, and he recognized the hand-freak, the freaky teen from earlier, and the warp-gate.  There were, all-in-all, twelve villians in the room with him.  They were all looking at him intently, and there was a long moment before the hand-freak finally said something.

 

“Watch, I think you’ll find this interesting.”  The way Shigaraki said it, knowingly, it was ridiculously unnerving.   The freak gestured to a TV mounted on the wall, and it was turned to a news feed.  Katsuki hadn’t even noticed it when he had first entered the room, he mentally chastised himself for being so absent-minded.  He turned his attention to the screen, though he sent a venomous insult Shigaraki’s way anyway, for good measure.

 

“The only thing I find interesting, is the thought of my hand blowing up your fucking face .”  Katsuki snarled.  Shigaraki only hummed, a smug grin visible on his face.

 

God, he really fucking hated that guy.   Katsuki thought bitterly as he fully began to watch the screen.

 

————

 

It had only taken a day for the leaked video to make it to every tabloid, blog, newspaper, and network, in Japan.

 

Each had their own story of what happened, all using the same facts and making dozens of theories as to how it all connected together.  The vast majority of the stories were painted in just the light that Shigaraki must have intended.   

 

They all painted UA in a particularly horrible light, claiming that they had been the ones to drive the hero-in-training over the edge after the incident at the Sports Festival.  They claimed that it had been the catalyst that started Katsuki towards the path to villainy.  

 

Despite the fact that the police had made several statements saying just the opposite, saying that Katsuki had been kidnapped, and that the video had been a ploy.  Best Jeanist himself had made a short statement confirming the information, and he had even been an eye witness.

 

Jeanist was well liked by the media and still they didn’t listen.

 

UA had no other choice but to make a statement of their own, confirming the facts for the public once again, and hope that it stuck.

 

Shouta let out a shaky sigh as he stared blankly at his reflection, his utter frustration with the whole ordeal was going to make this a very unpleasant experience for everyone involved.  

 

As Katsuki’s homeroom, and heroics teacher, Nezu had ‘requested’ that he attend the press conference.  Everyone knew that it wasn’t a request.   Really, if this interview wasn’t utterly vital then Shouta would have just flat out refused.  

 

He hated the media with a burning passion.  It had been the most appealing aspect of being an underground hero, no press.

 

Yet, here he was, dressed nicer than he ever had in his entire life, his hair gelled back out of his face, in a stuffy suit , hiding in the restroom in the hopes of a few minutes of peace before this ordeal started.

 

He forced the anger down, and forced himself to think about why he was doing this.   

 

To be honest, he wasn’t doing this for UA, or to maintain the status quo, like most expected that he would.  He really couldn’t care less about what these people thought of his school, even if he knew that public reception was important, he really just couldn’t bring himself to care.

 

No, he wasn’t doing this for them.

 

He was doing this for Katsuki.

 

He was doing this because, the whole fucking country of Japan, was too dumb to realize that Shigaraki was playing them, by offering the perfect bait, a tragic sob story; the perfect narrative.  The majority of the country was so enthralled with the LOV’s version of the story, that they didn’t even stop to think about the fact that the child had been kidnapped.   

 

Katsuki was being held captive by a rampaging group of violent criminals, and all the media could do was ogle at the story that had been handed right to them, wrapped and tied in a bow.  They had all bought into the story far too easily, and now, the whole damn fucking country had made up its mind, that Katsuki was apparently a member of the League now.

 

He had to remind himself, that if he snapped then his whole argument was diminished, and that not one person would listen to him.  So, he had to visibly calm himself, taking deep breaths as he mentally prepared himself.

 

Shouta was doing this because he couldn’t listen to them talk about Katsuki like that, not anymore, he would set the record straight, no matter what it took.  

 

If this was the only way that Shouta could help the teen, then that was what he was going to do.

 

----------

 

Bakugo was a little shocked, by the way the mob of reporters was addressing Aizawa sensei, and the other heroes. The questions were all absolutely charged with accusation, as if they were on trial for a crime, not at a press conference.

 

It was almost worse because UA didn’t even attempt to defend their actions, in almost every case, the answer to the questions posed was some form of an apology.   

 

“Well, based on the incredible response that video got, that we should do this more often.  Really the media is vicious, we don’t even need to fight the heroes, we can just sick the media on them and destroy them without lifting a finger.”  Shigaraki drawled, smugly.  He was clearly pleased with himself, and it was almost sickening. “Hero-society will topple like a stack of dominos if we just push in the right direction.”  

 

Watching the video, Katsuki was initially furious , angry that the public would even try to blame UA for his own mistakes.  That furiosity quickly deteriorated as Katsuki listened some more.  Aizawa’s voice was becoming more strained with each question, the whole ordeal was clearly stressful , and demeaning for him.  It left Katsuki feeling ashamed, and guilty that his teacher was having to take responsibility for Katsuki's own actions.  

 

Walking out of his house that night had been his decision, refusing to tell anyone had also been his decision.   Staying in the woods by himself had been his decision.   Keeping quiet about his parents had been his decision

 

He had gotten kidnapped because he made a series of poor decisions, and didn’t ask for help.  Lesson learned, I guess.

 

Katsuki literally couldn’t understand why his teacher was apologizing so much.

 

He couldn’t understand how any of this could have possibly been their fault.

 

“As his teacher, can you tell the public just how concerned we should be for his career as a villain?  In your opinion, just how dangerous is he?” 

 

Katsuki stiffened as another wave of shame washed over him, he almost wished that he’d choke on it.  On top of that, Katsuki felt a huge weight of dread weigh down his chest at the idea of hearing the answer.  To Katsuki’s surprise, Aizawa-sensei didn’t even hesitate to answer.

 

“I believe, wholeheartedly, that Katsuki poses no threat to anyone. ”  His teacher said firmly, proudly even.

 

It took him a moment to process what had just been said, and Katsuki’s heart skipped a beat at the proclamation, as something warm built up in his chest, it was an emotion that Katsuki couldn’t quite place.  Even surrounded by villains, chained to a chair, and having been locked in a dark room for days, the words made him feel proud.   

 

The reporter continued, incredulously gawking at his teacher’s answer.

 

“You can’t mean that.   Bakugo won the UA Sports Festival, he is clearly a strong fighter.  So how could you claim that you don’t have any concerns. ”  The reporter asked again.  Aizawa’s face was dead serious as he replied evenly, showing no sign of wavering or uncertainty.  

 

“I never said that Katsuki wasn’t strong, he is strong, incredibly strong.   I stand by what I said, however.  Katsuki is far too strong minded, and willed, to ever let the League of Villains coerce him into doing much of anything, much less to join them.”  Aizawa said the answer just as expertly as he had the first one, and the warm feeling in Katsuki’s chest grew.  

 

The reporter literally rolled his eyes at that statement.  “I’m tired of hearing that cover-up answer, the public wants the truth! Not some cover-up meant to make us stop talking about it.”

 

Aizawa narrowed his eyes at the callous reporter, the neutral expression wiped away in under a second, replaced with a sharp furious glare.   Nedzu straightened beside his teacher, noticing the change in tone immediately.

 

“Aizawa, you don’t want to make a scene.”  Nedzu whispered to him, though the mics still registered it.  Aizawa seemed to pointedly ignore Nedzu’s warning, and carry on.

 

Katsuki could hear some chatter around him, as the villians got excited to see the, what appeared to be, the last straw for Aizawa’s composure.

 

“Oh?  Pray tell, what secret conspiracy are we trying to hide?”  Aizawa asked, the sarcasm dripping off of his words.  Nedzu simply facepalmed beside Aizawa and braced for the worst.  When the reporter had to think about it, Aizawa continued not even giving him the chance to respond.  

 

Oh wow, yeah.  The media was going to have a field day with this one.  Katsuki thought, still basking in awe of his teacher’s protective streak, he was almost glowing internally with a wave of confidence and, dare he even think it, hope.

 

Aizawa stood from his seat, leaning forward and propping himself with his arms on the table and looking absolutely murderously, down at the reporter.  “Every mistake that we have made with Katsuki has been acknowledged and publicly apologized for.  We are not hiding anything from you, and I can only say this for myself, but I do not intend to shirk my responsibilities to him any longer.   UA, as a whole, has failed Katsuki more horrifically than should have ever been acceptable, and I for one, feel that Katsuki at the very least, deserves the respect that he is owed .”  

 

Deserved?

 

Owed?

 

Katsuki wasn’t even going to pretend that he understood what Aizawa was talking about, because Katsuki probably never was.  There was something about the way that Aizawa was talking about him, with the sincerity and passion, with even a dash of protectiveness, that felt almost achingly familiar.

 

The camera that had been focused on the whole panel before, switched to another, which was slightly angled to Aizawa’s left, and the new frame had Aizawa as the focus of the shot.   With Aizawa’s hair slicked back, Katsuki’s eyes locked onto a familiar black mark, just below his ear, where his hair would normally fall over, covering it entirely. 

Oh.  

 

That’s why this felt familiar, he’d felt this way once before.

 

On that quiet night under the gazebo, in the darkness, he had felt the same way.  

 

Aizawa continued to speak.  “Katsuki was kidnapped.   That is the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you.  Personally, I could care less what you think.” Aizawa paused, somehow narrowing his eyes further in utter contempt for the man he was talking to.  

 

Oh.

 

Oh my fucking god.

 

Katsuki was still looking right at it. It was a mark right there on his neck.

 

He was looking at his own mark, and it was on his teacher.  It was on Aizawa-sensei.

 

With the small black explosion and the small red heart, the mark almost blended in with his hair and the shadows.  In fact, Katsuki doubted anyone even noticed that there was even a mark there.  The only reason Katsuki had was because he had recognized the symbol.

 

“I won’t stand, sitting idly by, and watch, not one more person try to convince me and everyone else that somehow, that high schooler, a teenager, who is in real danger, is somehow dangerous. ” Aizawa’s voice was still even as ever, the emotions behind the words were there, and each word packed loads of meaning with them.  

 

Now, really wasn’t the time for another one of these sudden realizations. 

 

Surrounded by villains and chained to a chair, so wasn’t the way he wanted to find out about shit like this.  Seriously, it was almost comical.  

 

He had to admit, he felt so much fucking better after hearing his teacher (his fucking soulparent ) defend him like that.  More than that, Katsuki could tell that Aizawa was being honest, that his teacher actually believed every word that he was saying.  

 

The realization sparked a deep well of determination that rekindled the burning fire inside him.  Fuck this, no way am I gonna lie down and take this shit anymore.   

 

Abruptly, before he had the chance to throw another insult at the villains, there was a sharp knock at the door.

 

The words Aizawa was saying on the tv fell into the background as a new voice called into the room.

 

“Hello. Kamino Pizza Delivery.”

 

The hell?!   It was the only thought that Katsuki could process before the doors were thrown from their hinges and….

 

…. All Might was smashing his way in!

 

An immense wave of relief washed over him at that exact moment, as heroes busted their way into the bar and a fight began.  It wasn’t really much of a fight, as the group of dumbasses that had surrounded them were already mostly incapacitated.  It only took a moment for All Might to walk right up to Katsuki and break the restraints off of him.

 

“Sorry it took us so long young Bakugo, but you’ll be safe now.”  All Might gave Katsuki a toothy grin, as he guided Katsuki from the chair.

 

Safe.  

 

Katsuki let himself chuckle a bit in relief, he wasn’t really sure what to say.  There wasn’t exactly a protocol for ‘what to say after you’ve just been saved from a cult of Villains’.   Katsuki just settled for a simple ‘thanks.’, and decided that he would come up with a proper response later.

 

Shigaraki, the hand-freak was mumbling something behind him.  Katsuki couldn’t quite make it out, but then he just called out from his restraints.  “Bring ‘em all over to play!”  the idiot actually managed to say it with such conviction that everyone in the room actually tensed in anticipation.

 

Katuki did too, he wasn’t sure what he had been expecting to happen, but nothing did.

 

The warp gate villain looked nervously over to Shigaraki and apologized, saying something about the Nomu being gone.

 

Hah, it was only what the fucking bastards deserved.

 

“Looks like you’ve got a lot to learn, Shigaraki.” All Might began, gently placing a large hand on Katsuki’s shoulder.  Katsuki tensed on reflex, but didn’t say anything as All Might continued.  “It looks like your little League has taken some things too lightly, like this boy’s indomitable spirit…” 

 

Katsuki felt another glow of pride at the comment, but noticed something odd in All Might’s voice, it was different from the happy-go-lucky and cheery attitude he normally portrayed. 

 

“...and the relentless police investigation, as well as, our rage.”  All Might finished, looking at Shigaraki dead in the eyes.   Katsuki blinked as he recognized the foriegn presence in the hero’s voice, it was anger.   From what Katsuki could tell, it was anger for him.

 

What is with everyone today?  Why does everyone suddenly care?  

 

He wasn’t necessarily complaining, but it still struck him as odd. 

 

They could have at least had the courtesy to spread it out a bit, Katsuki thought with a short sniff of laughter.  He wasn’t sure how many more displays of affection he could handle before he melted into a puddle, already he was feeling a bit weak in the knees- though it was possible that was just the exhaustion talking.

 

In reality, he was utterly giddy with relief.   Even if he was still scowling a bit at the villains who surrounded him, and even if he was still weak with exhaustion, hunger, and thirst.  Even if his throat still hurt, from the choking device.

 

He was happy, and it had been a very long time since he had been able to say that.

 

He was happy because he had a future to look forward to, one where he wasn’t living in the woods or in that shit home his parents had forced him to live in.  

 

No, he had a real home to look forward to.   

 

Now, that this whole ordeal was finally fucking over he could-

 

There was a commotion going on outside, shouting as something happened.  In front of them, black pools of slime swirled in the air, dispensing Nomu into the room.  Shit.  

 

As if, the Nomu hadn’t been enough to dampen his mood, he felt sick, like he needed to vomit, or cough, or maybe even both at once.   It was cold, slick, slimy, and whatever it was, it coated his insides.  He couldn’t fucking breathe.

 

Shit, shit, shit, shiiit.

 

He was so fucking sick of not being able to breathe, really this shit needed to stop.  This had happened far too fucking often in his life for him to not develop a fucking phobia to it at this point.

 

All Might was next to him, he called out to him, almost desperately.  Katsuki really wanted to answer him, but he just couldn’t right now.

 

Katsuki closed his eyes reflexively as the world seemed to fall into nothingness.



Chapter Text

Tsunagu was so incredibly glad that they were finally going to save Katsuki. 

 

It was literally beyond anything he could even explain, he was just so glad that they were finally going to bring the kid home.

 

It had been three days of sleepless nights and preparation coming, but they were ready to take on the League of Villains.

 

Tsunagu and the other pros were on standby surrounding the abandoned warehouse, ready to take the building as quickly as possible as a part of the coordinated attack with their other unit.

 

Tsunagu might even call the amount of progress that they had made with this case impressive, if he’d known that it wasn’t mostly done out of a desperate need to return to the status quo and to stop the media from attacking hero society as they have been since this started.   

 

He was more than a little bothered by the fact that the media had been picking apart the boy’s entire life in the past three days, digging up more about Katsuki than even Tsunagu had discovered.  They had picked apart every detail and used it to form their twisted versions of what had happened.

 

Truly, Tsunagu had never held this much hatred for the press until this had all started.

 

Most pro heroes hated the media with a burning passion, and it was understandable.  They were like vultures, preying on any miniscule mistake or weakness in one’s life.  It was a nerve-wracking position to be in, that’s for sure.

 

Tsunagu however, used to be of the mind, that the press was more of a nuisance than anything else.  He had always been able to manage the media by throwing them a few bones, telling them small details about his life to keep them satisfied, and hiding secrets to the grave that he didn’t particularly care about.  It was a strategy that very few pros choose to employ, and really, they should.

 

These facts usually diverted their attention away from his personal life, and that had always been enough.

 

Until now….

 

How many times did he have to say it?

 

How many times did he have to say that the kid had been kidnapped?

 

This wasn’t press anymore, this was just a rabble of conspiracy theorists and gossip-rag journalists, preying on the most ludicrous narrative they had ever been told.

 

Like a swarm of vultures picking away at each scrap of meat on a recently felled animal. 

 

Tsunagu had just flat out ignored any requests of the press after the first twenty-four hours.  It was because, no matter how many times he told them, they wouldn’t listen to the truth.  He had told them what had happened, and only a few stations seemed to be taking him seriously.

 

If they weren’t going to listen, then there was no need for him to waste his time speaking to them.  Until the kid was safely back home, he wasn’t taking not one more interview.

 

Really, Tsunagu wasn’t even upset about the blame, because there was blame to be had.  No, he was upset because the entirety of Japan was gullible enough to believe that Katsuki had joined the Villains.

 

It was utterly infuriating to say the very least.

 

None of that mattered now.  When this was all over, they would fix this, the media would accept the truth once Katsuki was safely out of the League’s grasp. 

 

Now, he is going to focus all of his frustration into the mission.  He was going to focus on saving Katsuki and nothing else until it was done.

 

“Alright, it’s almost time to go.  Get ready heroes, and good luck.”  He heard Naomasa’s voice over the earpiece in his ear, as he started a countdown to storm the buildings.  “Three… Two… One…”

 

Tsunagu closed in on the building and Kugo, who was now next to him at the entrance, kicked the door down just as Naomasa ended his countdown.  “Go.”

 

It was a blur of action as the team of Pros entered the building, and as quickly as possible, detained every living thing in the premises.  It turned out to be easier than they had expected, as this building seemed to be just a storage house for the Nomu creatures, nevertheless Tsunagu and the other pros immediately detained all of the lifeless creatures.

 

Tsunagu could only hope that Katsuki had been at the other location.

 

 

—————

 

“I think that’s our signal to leave.”  Iida said happily, relieved even.  “The pros have this handled, and almost certainly have Katsuki in their capable hands already at the other location, let’s head on home alright?”

 

The heroes had just entered the warehouse, and from the looks of it, they had detained all the Nomi with little to no resistance.

 

Kirishima sighed, more than a bit disappointed but accepting the reasoning, nonetheless.  “Yeah, the pros have this covered.  Let’s- “

 

“Wait.  Who’s that- “. Izuku gasped, and Kirishima immediately looked over to see the devastating sight unfold before him.

 

—————

 

This was so not how this was supposed to go.

 

As a pro, Tsunagu was used to thinking on his feet, he would actually consider himself quite good at it.  His finely-honed instincts and fast reflexes were the only thing that had saved the others.

 

One second, they had been in complete control of the situation, with every Nomu captured, and the area cleared.

 

The next, and there’s a gash in the side of the wherehouse, the wall and ground having been utterly pulverized.  Tsunagu had only just managed to throw the others out of the way of the concussive blast, and still hadn’t managed to make it out of the way himself.

 

Everything hurt, he could not think of not even one instance in his hero career when he had felt like this, it was entirely indescribable.

 

Everything had been flipped entirely on its head so quickly that he still hadn’t caught up. 

 

He had acted purely on instinct when he saw the dapperly dressed man with the mask, pulling the others out of the way of the attack that hadn’t even left his hands yet. 

 

The intent had been there though, Tsunagu had felt the murderous intent behind the man’s actions, and somehow, he had known he had the power to back those intentions up.

 

Years of experience had taught him to trust his instincts when the situation demanded it, and he was glad that he had trusted them in this one.

 

He felt out with his quirk for a moment, feeling where he had deposited the others, quickly checking that all of them were still alive.

 

It was really all he could do, with his body as crippled as that last attack had left him.  Tsunagu was already sure that he couldn’t move his limbs if he tried, he might be able to speak if the situation demanded it, but he wasn’t all too confident in that ability either.

 

He still had his quirk though, and he didn’t need to move to use it, all he needed was to remain conscious and he wouldn’t be helpless.

 

He might be weakened but he wasn’t out of this fight just yet.

 

The others were thankfully, all still alive.  The thought was a relief to say the least, it seemed that most of his comrades were unconscious, however.  That meant he was on his own until backup arrived-

 

How was he even going to call for backup if he could barely speak?

 

He sighed, nothing about this situation was ideal, and he was quite done with things going the worst way imaginable, it had happened a lot lately.

 

Well that just meant that he was on his own until….

 

Then he heard it….

 

It was a rhythmic sound, steady and slow. 

 

It was clapping.

 

Each clap echoed across the newly formed cavernous building, resonating in the empty area surrounding them.  It was completely unnerving.

 

“That’s the Number Four for you! Best Jeanist!!”  Tsunagu craned his head forward, trying his best to see the man who was speaking, and had nearly killed them all.  “I was planning on blowing them all straight to hell, but you grabbed them by their clothes and threw them away in the nick of time!”  His voice was deep, and he said the words so casually.

 

It was like unleashing such a horrendously powerful attack hadn’t even made him break a sweat.

 

When had he started panting?

 

The stray thought came as the adrenaline from the conflict wore off and he was suddenly able to feel his body again, he could barely breathe.  It felt like he had been hit by a bus, his body had been utterly crushed.

 

Well if he thought it had hurt before….

 

Suddenly, fighting back didn’t really seem like a viable option.

 

The man was still talking casually to him, and why wasn’t he listening?  This was important, he should be listening.

 

For the life of him he couldn’t parse together what the man was saying, it was clear that he was the mastermind behind the League, so he really should be listening. 

 

It took all of his focus to sit himself farther upright with his quirk, propping his head on the denim strands, and he focused his mind on what he was saying.

 

“...your quirk isn’t one that would suit Tomura.”  He continued in his same deep voice and raised his hand to point at Tsunagu.

 

Tsunagu only had a moment to feel the dread he felt at the gesture, as the man pointed directly at him. 

 

At least Katsuki is with the other heroes.

 

That was the last, and only, thought he had to console him as he watched the attack come for him in a split second.  Then, everything went dark.

 

——————

 

 

Katsuki collapsed to the ground, coughing up black sludge.

 

Shit.

 

Fuck.

 

Can’t breathe.

 

He forced the disgusting substance out of his lungs, and as soon as he was able, he looked at his surroundings wearily.

 

There was another dapper man, with a huge industrial mask on his face, he was the only one standing, as the other villains appeared one by one to plop to the ground around him, coughing up sludge just like he had.

 

They were somewhere completely different now.

 

Shit.

 

I’m just going to have to fucking fight the lot of them off myself then.

 

The thought was not a pleasant one, and to be honest, he wasn’t sure if he could do it.  That was something that wouldn’t stop him from trying, though.

 

He wasn’t gonna just accept this lying down.

 

He stood as steadily as he could manage, his lungs still protesting from being abused that way.

 

“What the fucking hell was that?”  He cursed at the masked bastard.

 

The man simply hummed and apologized, refusing to speak more than that. 

 

Well, that wasn’t fucking helpful.

 

Shit, the others were starting to stand up and regain themselves.  He looked around, cautiously, searching desperately for an opening.

 

There really wasn’t one, he realized.  The villains were spread out in a perfect semi-circle around him, with the masked freak closing the back of the circle. 

 

He kept looking, until his eyes traced over a splash of crimson on the pulverized concrete.  His eyes were immediately drawn to it when he saw it, focusing on the distant figure sprawled across the ground.

 

He froze as he recognized who it was.

 

The mask freak was talking to the hand freak now, though Katsuki literally couldn’t care less.

 

It was Jeanist, Tsunagu, his fucking soul parent, and he was lying on the concrete and he was almost certainly dying. 

 

How could he lose that much blood and not already be dead?

 

The thought chilled him to the core, and he could almost feel the cold hand of despair wrap around his heart and squeeze.

 

No.

 

Snap the fuck out of it.

 

Think, you fucking shitty asshole of a brain.  There has to be a way you can get to him isn’t there?

 

That candlelight of hope, it was still burning, if he could just get to him then maybe he could save him.

 

This wasn’t over yet.

 

Tsunagu wasn’t like his parents, he wouldn’t break his promises, unspoken or otherwise.

 

Right?

 

He couldn’t fucking die, not now anyway.

 

He didn’t even think, he used his quirk to jump over the others and run straight for Tsunagu.  Fuck the consequences.

 

A few of the villains cried out in exclamation, and tried to stop him, but they couldn’t reach. 

 

Tsunagu couldn’t die now.  Not when he had only just met him, not fucking now.

 

Not when he had only barely started believing that he was capable of change, when Tsunagu had been the one to help convince him that he could.

 

He had been the one to show him that he deserved better, even if Katsuki didn’t even understand what better meant.

 

There was no fucking way, whatever happened, he wasn’t gonna fucking die, he’s a fucking pro, there’s no fucking way he’d go out this easy.

 

There’s no way.

 

Not now.

 

He fell to his knees next to the pro and checked for a pulse on his wrist.  His eyes locked onto his black explosion mark on his wrist, the damn mark that had started all of this. 

 

Dread and horror spread like a frigid frost, coating his whole body in fear. 

 

He’d never been this fucking scared in his whole life.

 

He wasn’t afraid of the Villains, no fuck that, he was afraid that the man right in front of him might be fucking dead.

 

Dead, like gone forever.

 

That might just be more terrifying than facing the whole League alone.

 

A pulse.

 

It was there, it was so fucking weak, but it was there.

 

Shit, ok that’s good right?

 

He looked up to see that he had been quickly surrounded by the villains again.

 

Fuck. 

 

Fuck, I really don’t have any fucking time for this.

 

His thoughts were panicked, and quick, as he looked around him from where he was crouched beside the pro.  He hadn’t even had the time to really look at the pro, just to find his pulse.  It didn’t even matter, because he was sure that he didn’t look good.

 

What the fuck was he gonna do?

 

He had to do something right the fuck now, or Tsunagu was dead, even then, he might die anyway.

 

What the fuck should he do?

 

There was a large impact powerful enough to make a concussive boom, it came from behind the group as the masked freak was tackled by All Might.

 

All Might is here.

 

It was a relief to see that he had found him, maybe just maybe he could sneak out of here with Tsunagu if All Might was keeping the villains busy.

 

Ok, you’ve got a plan.  Now, you just gotta fucking do it.

 

Get your fucking shit together.

 

Yet, as Katsuki watched All Might fight the masked freak, no opening presented itself.  In fact, it almost seemed like the masked freak was an even match for All Might.

 

Each time the two powerhouses collided the ground moved beneath them.  The immense power behind each attackwas utterly mind-boggling. 

 

This guy is so powerful, he must be the villain's boss.

 

“You need to flee Tomura, and take the boy with you.”  The masked freak said after one particularly strong punch smashed All Might into a building.

 

Fuck no, I’m not going with you anywhere.”  Katsuki spat.  Reluctantly, letting go of Tsunagu’s wrist to stand.

 

The villains surrounding him started to close in on him, clearly aiming to capture him.

 

No way in hell he’s gonna let them do that.

 

He stood firmly, resolving himself to fight for his life and Tsunagu’s.

 

————

 

“H-holy fuck.”  Mina stuttered peeking over the partially destroyed wall. “I-Is Jeanist dead?”

 

“We have to go, now.”  Iida insisted.  “This is too dangerous for us to do any good here, let’s go now.”

 

They watched in shock as globs of gook dispensed Katsuki and the other Villains into the clearing.

 

“Shit, shit.  Iida we can’t, look it’s Katsuki.”  Kirishima cursed under his breath.

 

Iida just shook his head, he looked like he literally wanted to shake some sense into Kirishima. “If we do anything, at all, we will die, period.” 

 

“I’m not leaving yet!”  Kirishima turned to face Iida to whisper harshly at him.

 

“Oh, Katsuki.”  Mina nearly moaned in sympathy, she looked like she was about to cry.

 

“What is it?”  Kirishima quickly turned to look as he saw Katsuki running, Kirishima nearly got up and ran to him, but quickly saw that the villains would surround him first.

 

Then Kirishima saw what Katsuki was running for.

 

“Oh.”  Kirishima echoed Mina’s exclamation.

 

Katsuki was running straight for Jeanist, and well….

 

…. he looked terrified.

 

“This isn’t going to end well is it?” Kirishima realized aloud shaking his head solemnly. 

 

“What?  What are you guys so upset about?” Izuku peeked his own head over the cracked concrete wall hesitantly.  What he saw was Katsuki reach Jeanist and kneel beside him, clutching his wrist gently. “What’s going on with him?  I-I don’t understand?”

 

Kirishima didn’t have the heart to answer him.  It was utterly heartbreaking watching Katsuki look so scared, and it hurt knowing that it wasn’t for his own life.

 

“You two know what’s going on, please tell me?”  Izuku asked them, looking pleadingly at them.

 

“I’m really sorry, I can’t.  It’s something he told me in confidence, I can’t just talk to you about it.”  Kirishima said with a sigh. “Plus, now really isn’t the time.”

 

“Look, Izuku, just know that Jeanist and Katsuki are a lot closer than you think they are.”  Mina allowed, wanting to give Izuku something, but not really able to say much more.  Neither Mina nor Kirishima looked at Deku to give them their answers, preferring to keep eyes on Katsuki in case anything changed.  Izuku just gave a defeated sigh at their responses.

 

The group of teens watched as All Might arrived at the scene.

 

A-All Might?”  Izuku stuttered, when he looked up to see that All Might had entered the fray.

 

Shit, I can’t hear what the masked guy is saying from here.”  Kirishima hissed.

 

“Yeah, we're too far away for that.”  Mina griped, agreeing with his sentiment.

 

“There’s no way we're getting closer.”  Iida firmly denied the both of them.  Things were quickly getting out of hand, however, as All Might and the masked man started to fight one another, and Katsuki stood to face the villains surrounding him.

 

“Is that guy matched in power with All Might?” Kirishima gaped.

 

“Katsuki is starting to fight the Villains…”. Mina trailed off. “...and he’s protecting Jeanist.”

 

Kirishima’s head swiveled back to Katsuki, and he wanted to either throw a fit or cry, he was trembling with emotion. “Shit, Katsuki.  This is so incredibly unfair; he shouldn’t have to go through any of this shit.”

 

With his attention split between the battle and how Katsuki was doing, it was hard to come up with a plan.  He really couldn’t form any cohesive thoughts through the intense emotions he was feeling.  Fortunately, that was why they had Izuku along.

 

“I have a plan.”  Izuku said with determination in his eyes.  Iida looked at Izuku, clearly terrified.

 

“Not this again.”  Iida mumbled to himself.

Chapter Text

Tsunagu coughed on something as he tried to find a way to breathe clearly.

 

Well, shit.  He was probably going to die from that last attack he took, if he’s not already dead.  He certainly felt like he was on death’s door, at least.  A familiar crackling boom caught his attention.

 

Tsunagu had heard that sound before, he knew he had.

 

He forced his eyes to open, to try and observe the area around him.  It was hard to do that while looking straight up at the sky, though it wasn’t like he had much choice in the matter.

 

There it was again, more sizzling and booming.

 

Yeah, he definitely knew that sound, and he really didn’t like the implications of what that meant.  Finally, he caught a sight of Katsuki, standing above him with a determined look on his face, his mouth curled in a defiant snarl at the villains surrounding them.

 

Shit.

 

What is Katsuki doing here? 

 

Katsuki turned around to blow up another one of the villains, a teenage girl who lunged at him.  He blasted her out of the way with a carefully placed explosion.  This action would have created the perfect opening to escape, except for the fact that Katsuki didn’t move.

 

As Katsuki continued to fight against the group of them, it quickly became clear that he wasn’t trying to escape.

 

No, the kid was fighting the villains off to protect him.

 

This can’t be happening.

 

He wasn’t sure whether he was more flattered by the gesture, or absolutely terrified that the teen was going to get himself killed.

 

He tried to move, to do anything, and the effort makes black spots appear in his vision before he could even so much as lift his head.

 

Shit, I can’t do anything to help him the way I am now.  He thought, in a wave of panic.  His breath hitched in a combination of pain and fear as he found himself utterly unable to do much of anything.

 

All he could do was watch, as Katsuki risked his life to save Tsunagu’s.  For his life, which was probably forfeit anyway.

 

He was a Pro Hero, and here he was helpless on the ground as the very person he had been trying to save is now defending him.

 

It was just then, that a flash of green lightning caught his attention.  Clearly it caught the attention of everyone around him because the fight paused, for the briefest of moments to watch the unbelievable scene.

 

It was a group of teenagers, soaring high above the battle.  

 

What the hell are those kids thinking? 

 

Tsunagu recognized one of them, the one with the bright red hair, it was Kirishima, one of Katsuki’s friends.  The boy was holding out a hand as low as he could, and he called out to Katsuki to take it.

 

Actually, Tsunagu took it back, it was actually a pretty decent plan.  He allowed hope to overtake the dread that had previously soured his mood.  If Katsuki just used his explosions to grab his friend’s hand, then all of them would be clear of the battle in just a few seconds. 

 

Katsuki just had to choose to go with them, and he had to choose now.

 

Katsuki wasn’t moving. 

 

It actually took Tsunagu a moment to fully comprehend why Katsuki wasn’t moving, Katsuki wasn’t planning on taking the hand that was offered to him.  Katsuki had every intention of staying right where he was.

 

Oh no. Katsuki wasn’t going to stay here for him, was he? 

 

The realization was a bittersweet one.  Tsunagu appreciated the sentiment, truly, it was nice to know that the kid cared for him just as deeply as Tsunagu did in return.  He cared enough to give up his chance to escape just to stay with him, to face the League of Villains on his own just to stay by his side, it was sweet.

 

He just really wished that this had been under different circumstances.  Katsuki giving up his only chance to escape, for him, though.

 

That is not acceptable.

 

In no way, shape, or form could this ever be okay.  This was literally in his job description.  Risking his life and possibly dying was a possibility that he lived with every day.  Even if Katsuki was training to be a hero, he was still just a kid.  He didn’t need to do this.

 

Tsunagu really wanted to stand up, shake the kid by the shoulders and tell him to leave.  Katsuki needed to leave with them.

 

How could Tsunagu make Katsuki leave him here?  His mind whirred, searching for an answer.  There was no way to convince him in the state he was in, and by then the window of opportunity would have already closed.  That window was already closing.

 

An idea occurred to him, and Tsunagu gathered what strength he had left and activated his quirk.

 

————

 

 

What are those idiots thinking?

 

Katsuki watched as the idiots flew across his field of vision.  Kirishima was holding his hand out to him with an almost pleading look in them.  They wanted him to leave.

 

Katsuki knew that he should, and that any reasonable person would, take the opportunity to get out of here.

 

It was only what a reasonable person would do, though.  He was far from being in a reasonable state of mind at the moment.

 

The only issue with this plan of theirs, was that Katsuki couldn’t leave.  He wouldn’t be able to live with the fact that he left Tsunagu here to die.

 

It was as simple as that.  There was no way he could go with them, not now.

 

At least he had thought that it had been as simple as that.

 

Katsuki had fully intended on standing his ground and staying right the fuck there.  There had been nothing, anyone could have done to convince him otherwise.  Even if it meant going back in that dark, dank room he wasn’t abandoning him here. 

 

What kind of fucking hero was he if he couldn’t even stand his ground, if he couldn’t protect the people he cared about?

 

Except in a few moments he was being pulled up to meet Kirishima, and something bound their hands together.  They were in the air a few more moments before they landed clear of the battlefield, and they braced for landing.

 

It had only taken a few seconds, but before Katsuki even realized it, he was clear of the battlefield, and away from Tsunagu.  As soon as they landed, Katsuki didn’t even think, he turned around to look back at the battlefield, and he almost went to jump back, when he felt something tug on his wrist.

 

Katsuki froze for a minute, the others were buzzing excitedly at the action as Katsuki turned to look at his wrist.  Kirishima has noted a similar feeling just as Katsuki had and was also looking at his hand as well.

 

The two of them were bound together by a denim glove of sorts, one that bound their hands together and was strong enough to keep their hands grasped together.  It was form-fitted, perfectly good both of their hands, though the seams themselves were pretty messy, stray threads unraveling from the bottom portion of the cuffs, but it was strong.  Even now as Katsuki gave it a light tug, nothing budged, it was perfectly strong.

 

Katsuki blinked at it.  Suddenly, it was becoming very clear what had happened.

 

Tsunagu had forced him to go with the others, last minute.  He must have seen what he had been planning to do and used his quirk to make Katsuki go with them.

 

Katsuki hadn’t even thought that Tsunagu was conscious, let alone had the strength left to use his quirk.

 

Kirishima was staring at the binding, shock written all over his expression.  He had clearly come to the same conclusion that Katsuki had, and with it had come the very bitter realization that Katsuki hadn’t intended on coming with them.

 

Why the fuck does he even care what he did?

 

That asshole….

 

...shitty, fashion freak.

 

The curses sounded weak even to himself.  He wanted to be angry at him, he wanted to yell and scream at him.  Even if there was no way he heard him, he wanted to do it anyway.  He really couldn’t bring himself to do that either.

 

Tsunagu really wasn’t the one he was angry at.

 

He was angry at himself.

 

“Katsuki…” Kirishima said softly, his hand coming up to pull him into whatever kind of a half-embrace they could manage with their hands tied together.  Katsuki didn’t fight it, he just let him do it.  He could feel the others watching them, looking at their hands still tied together.  He could feel the mood shift, from excited relief, to stifled sorrow.   

 

There were a dozen way he could have prevented this.

 

He could have acted a bit less like a little prick his entire life, even a little change for the better and the League might not have even noticed him.  Maybe, even the Sports Festival, if he had just sucked it up and thrown the medal away when nobody was looking, the League wouldn’t have gotten to watch him get chained to a podium on National TV.

 

He could have spoken up, years ago, he could have asked for help with his parents.  Deep down Katsuki had known that it wasn’t normal.  He had seen the way other parents acted with their children, heck he had seen how Auntie Inko had treated Izuku.  He had just convinced himself that he was different, that he hadn’t deserved the same treatment.

 

He could have spoken up and told Tsunagu, that day in his office, it would have been the perfect time.  If he hadn’t been living in that gazebo the League might not have come for him, he wouldn’t have been such an easy target, and then Tsunagu wouldn’t have had to come save him.

 

That was really what it came down to wasn’t it.

 

Tsunagu hadn’t been killed by the League, he had been killed by Katsuki’s poor decision making.  He had been killed because he had let himself care about Katsuki and had paid the price by having to clean up his mistakes.

 

He finally understood why his mother had hated him now, at least she hadn’t been bound to him by fate.  She was lucky enough to only be his mother. 

 

Tsunagu had just been unlucky enough to be his soulparent, and the price for that was much steeper.

 

———————

 

Katsuki hadn’t said a word since they had gotten him out of there.  Kirishima hadn’t even needed him to either, to know what had happened.  The proof was wrapped around his hand, soft but strong denim holding Kirishima and Katsuki together.

 

The others had quickly picked up on the somber mood, and after the brief exchange with Jeanist they had witnessed just a few minutes ago, they didn’t ask for an explination.  No, not even as Kirishima led Katsuki silently along, did a single person speak.  Once they met up with Mina and Todoroki again outside of the evacuation zone.  After some brief words they too seemed to recognize Katsuki’s mood.  Mina sniffed, holding back sympathetic tears as she didn’t even hesitate to hug Katsuki either.  He motionlessly, and wordlessly accepted this hug as well.

 

In fact, Katsuki was entirely unresponsive until they reached the area where the News was playing on the Jumbotron on the side of the building.  He paused, and Kirishima and the others paused with him.

 

The scene depicted was not a pretty one.

 

It couldn’t have taken more than five minutes for them to walk this far, but in such a short amount of time…

 

…the fight had already gone so poorly.

 

Kirishima could feel Katsuki stiffen rigid beside him.  Kirishima couldn’t really blame him.

 

All Might was…

 

Kirishima didn’t even know how to explain it.  He was tiny.

 

All Might had shrunk, all his muscle gone, leaving only a skeleton of a person behind.  He was all skin and bones, and he already looked like he had been beaten to a pulp, with scrapes and bruises, he was even bleeding in some places, his uniform looked huge on his lanky form, and it was shredded to pieces.

 

The sight was utterly unimaginable.

 

It was the stuff of nightmares.

 

If the heroes couldn’t stop them, what was going to happen?

 

Kirishima shook the thought away, now wasn’t the time for that, this was All Might we’re talking about here.  All Might hasn’t ever lost a fight, Kirishima wasn’t naive enough to think that the man was invincible, he was a human after all, but All Might was the most powerful hero there was, period.

 

All Might was a pro, and Kirishima trusted him to do everything he possibly could.  Kirishima couldn’t help All Might, but he could help Katsuki. 

 

It was hard to tear his eyes from the screen and focus them on Katsuki, but he did anyway.  His eyes were still riveted on the screen with a mix between shock, horror, and guilt. 

 

Kirishima was just about to tell Katsuki that it wasn’t his fault, when Katsuki spoke first, his voice betraying his utterly numb shock.

 

“Kirishima, you’ve got to tell me I’m crazy, and to snap the fuck out of it because I think I might be going insane.”  

 

He said it deadpanned, void of any emotion, and the whole group heard it.  The others turned to watch their interaction; Mina stepped a bit closer to Katsuki on his other side at the tone.

 

“Blasty, you’re not seeing things.  That’s definitely All Might, and he’s definitely a skeleton now, as scary as that is.” Mina consoled him steadily, though the fear in her own voice betrayed her.

 

“No, no, that’s not…” Katsuki started, then shook his head and growled frustratedly.  “No, just never mind.” 

 

That was the first thing Katsuki had said at all since they saved him, the first reaction of any kind since they had left the battlefield.  No, Kirishima wasn’t leaving this alone.  He looked back to the screen and looked for anything that wasn’t obvious, anything out of the ordinary that struck him as odd.

 

With the camera angle changing as the helicopters circled over the scene and the fight still happening, it made it a bit difficult to spot much of anything.  It took him a few minutes, and another close up shot, but then Kirishima saw it.

 

In the fight, one of All Might’s sleeves had been ripped off, causing the suit to hang limply from the front like a toga, and right on his collarbone close to his shoulder was a stark black mark.  Kirishima remembered how Katsuki had described his soul mark to him just over a week ago, in his very own living room.

 

It’s like an explosion, a mushroom cloud, with a red heart in the middle.  The heart is a bit too cute for my tastes, but whatever.

 

Oh.

Chapter Text

These kids would literally be the death of him one day.  One day, Shouta would be found dead in his living room because he found out one of his students in a ridiculous amount of danger, from the news once again.  This was literally the third time this week he had been through this, and he hoped to god that it would stop soon, or he really was going to die of a heart attack before the year was out.

 

He had just gotten home from that horrendous excuse for a press conference when it happened.  He had only just taken off his suit when he sat down in his shared apartment with Hizashi, who was watching the news with pointed interest.  Shouta didn’t comment, if Hizashi hadn’t put on the news to watch the live news coverage on the raid, then Shouta would have himself. 

 

He wished that he could be there, and take part in the operation, but Nezu had made it very clear that the success of this plan hinged on the idea that the League of Villains let their guard down.  Which required Shouta to participate in the conference, and so on.  They had purposely delayed the broadcast of the conference, to be released during the raid itself, it supposedly was supposed to be a distraction, but also so that he could be on standby in case backup was needed.

 

That was when, he saw them.  Midoriya, Kirishima, and Iida, were soaring above the battlefield.  Shouta stood up immediately at the sight. 

 

“Oh my god.”  Hizashi blinked in open surprise, but it wasn’t quite shock.  Really, it was hard to be that shocked at this point, when shit like this happened every other day.  Shouta just watched as the three of them soared above the raging battle. Katsuki somehow found his way to reach them, and just as suddenly as they had appeared, they were speeding away from the battlefield.

 

Shouta wasn’t entirely sure whether he was more proud, furious, or utterly terrified.  His emotional state was a fair mix of all three and he didn’t even hesitate to grab his capture weapon and run for the door.  “I’ll be back after I deal with them.”  Shouta grumbled as he closed the door behind him.

 

———————

 

Katsuki could hear Kirishima trying to talk to him.

 

He really wished he could hear him, but for some reason he couldn’t.  He couldn’t really manage much of anything right now, not for lack of trying.  For example, Katsuki really wanted to run as far away from that screen, and any other screen, as fast as humanly possible, so he would never have to face such a terrifying realization once again.

 

Yes, twice today he had found out who his soul parents were, on the fucking news.  Also, he was struck with the realization, that two of his three soul parents were fucking dying, if not already dead.  What’s worse, is that they had died trying to save him. 

 

Of all the fucking kids in the world, they got stuck with him, and he just had to go and get himself kidnapped.

 

He was one fucking teenager, even if he hadn’t been a horrible little shit for his entire life, he wouldn’t have been worth all this.

 

It was just like his mother said, he was a worthless, ungrateful little shit.

 

He had been selfish to wish for something better, soul marks or not, they had been his parents.  It had never been that bad, it always sucked, and his parents were frustratingly hateful, but he could have grinned and bore it.

 

There was a price for having people who cared, those people were going to get themselves killed trying to help him and save him.  Katsuki wasn’t worth that, he was just unlucky that all three of his soul parents were fucking pros. 

 

He had been right in the beginning; he didn’t have any soul parents.  Not any that he could truly connect with without fearing what they might do for him, not without fearing that every mistake he made would hurt them.

 

Was something as trivial as his happiness worth all this?  The death of the Number Four, and All Might wasn’t far behind Tsunagu at this point.

 

For him?

 

He had been happy before, seeing people taking an interest in his well-being was a novel thing to him, it was new and fresh, and it had felt nice.

 

Now, it only hurt.

 

Even the concerned faces of his friends hurt to look at.  All Katsuki could imagine was the thought of them jumping into a fight they couldn’t win to save him and getting hurt in the process.  Katsuki knew they would, they had proven that today.

 

The thought was terrifying, more terrifying than anything that Katsuki had ever experienced before.

 

It was more terrifying than being choked to death by goo or wearing that fucking mask for another night.  It was more terrifying than becoming a villain, at least then nobody would care if he died. 

 

At least then, nobody would die trying to save him.

 

————————

 

Shouta had no idea how he was going to find these kids.  He was just at the edge of the evacuation zone and he talked to some of the minor pros and police patrolling the area, asking them if they had seen his students.

 

For most of them, the answer was a no, but he had found out some more information about the general situation.

 

It seemed that just a few minutes ago, the other pros had evacuated the area where All Might was currently fighting the villain, including those who had already been injured in the battle, and had just been taken to the hospital. 

 

It also seemed that Best Jeanist had been in critical condition when they left the scene, heading in an ambulance for immediate care. 

 

That statement didn’t bode well for Katsuki’s mental state, so he tucked the information away for when he finally found them.  After about ten minutes of searching, he started getting more desperate, because it seemed like nobody had seen them, and Shouta was becoming increasingly concerned that they might have been recaptured.

 

Shouta nearly facepalmed as he had an idea, in his panic he must not have been thinking straight, he pulled out his phone and called Iida.

 

The phone picked up after just a few rings, it wasn’t as quickly as punctual Iida would normally answer a call, but he picked up, nonetheless.

 

“Aizawa-sensei?”  Iida’s nervous voice came over the line.

 

“Iida, where are you right now?”  Shouta asked directly, not bothering to explain himself.  Iida was a smart kid, he didn’t need Shouta to tell him why he was asking.  There was a pause over the phone and a soft sigh as Iida considered his answer.

 

Iida gave him a perfect marker to use to find them.  The only skyscraper with a jumbotron in Kamino ward, with that information Shouta kept Iida on the line and asked him more questions.

 

“Is everyone alright?  Bakugo isn’t injured I hope.”  He asked, as he began to make his way to the spot Iida mentioned.  He groaned internally as he began to force his way through the crowds.

 

“No, everyone is uninjured.  Though, Bakugo seems to be a bit malnourished and dehydrated, he might need an IV.”  Iida said thoughtfully, some of the nerves working his way out of his voice as he began taking stock of the situation.  Shouta had learned that it was an easy way to calm yourself and others in an overwhelming situation, was to calmly break it into pieces and process it in chunks.  This conversation could have waited until he found them, but part of him had figured that going through the process would help Iida calm down a bit.

 

Shouta almost felt bad for Iida, he was sure that he wouldn’t have agreed to something so reckless as this if he hadn’t felt like he was protecting his friends by doing so, especially after what had happened last week in Hosu.

 

“All things considered, that’s the best outcome we could have hoped for.  Do you think you are safe where you are?”  Shouta asked with a genuine sigh of relief.

 

“Yes, I am confident that we will be safe here until your arrival.”  Iida pepped up a bit, more of his usual enthusiasm in his voice.

 

That was good to hear, Shouta thought as he rounded the corner of the intersection, just a block away from their location now.

 

“Alright, I’ll be there in just another minute.”  Shouta assured him, before he hung up the phone.  All things considered, so far, they had been incredibly lucky and Shouta was hoping that his luck wouldn’t run out any time soon.  Though, knowing his class, it probably would.

 

It took him just under two minutes to find them in the crowd, and he felt a wave of relief wash over him when he actually caught sight of them. 

 

Even if Iida had confirmed that they were all safe over the phone, it was nice to see as much for himself.  He approached them, now feeling reassured that they were all alright.  There were two more of his students here that he hadn’t been expecting, in addition to Bakugo, Kirishima, Midoriya, and Iida, Todoroki and Mina were with the group.

 

“I hope you all know that you aren’t getting out of this scot free.”  Shouta gave them his usual grumble, the wash of relief suddenly leaving him feeling tired in the wake of all the stress of the past week.  Each of their heads snapped around at the sound of his voice.

 

“A-Aizawa-sensei!”  Mina yelped, clearly startled.  Though, if he wasn’t mistaken, she almost looked relieved.  Shouta could see the same expression on each of the students present, and seeing it sparked a persistent warm feeling of fondness for them in his chest.  He didn’t let it show on his face though, on the outside, he was just as stoic as ever.

 

Katsuki was still staring at the Jumbotron though, and he was the only one of his students present who hadn’t turned to look at Shouta when he arrived.  It was more than a bit concerning, to say the least. 

 

“Well, regardless, I’m glad to see that all of you are alright.”  He said, though his gaze lingered on Katsuki’s still form.  Suddenly, he noticed the denim bondage that held Kirishima’s hand to Katsuki’s, and he was beginning to understand just what had happened out on that battlefield.

 

Shouta hadn’t been able to see it on the news footage, but when Katsuki had somehow soared up to meet his comrades in the air without even a single explosion, it had struck Shouta as odd.  He hadn’t really had the time to think on it, since he immediately left to come find them. 

 

Now, in addition to the information that he had received earlier, he was beginning to at least have a partial understanding of what had happened.

 

Something had happened on that battlefield between Katsuki and Jeanist, and while Shouta wasn’t exactly in a position to guess as to exactly what had happened, he knew enough to figure that Katsuki was clearly upset about Jeanist’s injury and was finding a way to blame himself for it.

 

“Katsuki.” Shouta said, to get the teen’s attention.  Yet, his gaze didn’t waver from the screen.  Kirishima frowned in concern at Katsuki’s non-response, Kirishima even lightly shook Katsuki’s shoulder to get his attention, but the teen didn’t even budge.  He just stood completely still, watching the screen with what Shouta could only describe as horror and guilt.

 

Seeing that particular expression on Katsuki’s face sent an icy dagger of concern into his gut, he quietly approached Katsuki, coming around to block his view of the screen.  Whatever thoughts were causing the teen to wear that expression needed to stop.  It was too heartbreaking to watch for him to just let it go. 

 

Here wasn’t exactly the place for that kind of conversation, so Shouta improvised.

 

“Would you like to head to the hospital?  The last I heard, Jeanist was in an ambulance headed in for intensive care.”  Shouta suggested softly, figuring if he could get Katsuki somewhere relatively more private that he might be able to have a talk with him.  His other students had a mild reaction to the news as well, with a few relieved sighs and nods, it was more than he would have normally expected from this bunch, as none of them knew the other pro personally.  He would have to ask them about it later.

 

Katsuki blinked, and finally he made eye contact with Shouta.  The teen straightened, like he had only just realized Shouta was there.  “What?”  It took Katsuki another moment to process what he had just told him, and the utter disbelief that colored his expression was so genuine that Shouta had the urge to immediately comfort him.

 

Katsuki had actually been convinced that Jeanist was dead. 

 

This might have been a bad idea. 

 

The last thing Shouta wanted to do was to give Katsuki false hope.  If Jeanist did die on the operating table, then at least he would have been prepared for the possibility.  It was too late to take his offer back though, Shouta had never seen Katsuki show any emotion other than annoyance and rage.  This was far beyond that scale, and it was something that he was entirely unused to seeing or dealing with.

 

The change was in fact a positive one, but nevertheless, it was something he would have to be careful with, lest he push Katsuki too far.

 

“The last thing I heard, was that Jeanist was alive, and heading to the hospital for treatment.  I thought you might want to see him.”  Shouta repeated.  Katsuki searched his face and expression for any sign of deception, and when he found none, he seemed to fight an inner conflict with himself.  He fiddled awkwardly with the denim bindings on his one hand and considered the question for a long moment before he seemed to deflate and shake his head.

 

That had not been the answer Shouta had been expecting.

 

Kirishima clearly hadn’t either, his reaction was more pronounced than his own.  Kirishima clearly knew something that Shouta didn’t, and if his reaction was anything to go off of, this was a new development.

 

“Can I ask why?”  Shouta inquired, before he could really think about it.  He had been taken so off-guard by the question that he couldn’t keep the curious inflection out of his voice.

 

Katsuki faltered at the question a little, and Shouta could see that whatever the reason was, it was a topic that was entirely too fresh to talk about openly, in the middle of this crowd.  He opened his mouth to respond, then closed it again, without speaking.

 

Which brought him back to his original issue, how to get Katsuki somewhere quieter.

 

“You know what, we ought to have you checked out at the hospital anyway.  We can talk about it there, and if you’re really sure then we can figure out what to do after that, alright.”  Shouta suggested, and Katsuki seemed to approve of the answer.  Even if all the teen was able to manage as a response was a weak, “Yeah, whatever….”.

 

Shouta nodded, then turned to his other students.  He was about to tell them all to follow him so that he could get them a police escort home, when he saw all of them staring at that godforsaken screen again.  Shouta looked up to see for himself, what they were so enthralled by, and for a moment he was frozen still.  He watched, as the fight seemed to come to a close, and All Might threw his all into one last punch, to finish off the freakishly strong opponent he had been fighting.

 

All Might was panting, bent over, and looking like he was about to keel over.  Every last bit of his power had been used, and Shouta could clearly see that he was entirely in his skeletal form now.  After a long moment of silence, All Might raised his fist weakly in victory, and the crowd around them roared with applause for him.

 

Midoriya in particular was crying at the sight, and his other students were showing similar levels of emotion on their faces.

 

Katsuki seemed to have an entirely different reaction, looking past Shouta, he seemed to be flipping between relief and remorse.

 

Okay, it seems like he’s harboring guilt for all of what’s happened here.  That is something that will need to be fixed.

 

Shouta, himself only felt relief seeing that the fight was over, and there was no longer any immediate threat to the class, and for the fact that everything had turned out alright so far.  Regardless, he had a job to do. 

 

“Iida.”  Shouta caught the teen’s attention, and he immediately focused on him. “I want you to call Hizashi, and I want you to tell him to come take you all home.  I want you to personally assure me that each of you has been safely delivered home.” 

 

Shouta felt a little bad for assigning something like this to Hizashi without asking him first, and he would do it himself if he didn’t have Katsuki to think about.  He was sure that he would understand, and he trusted Hizashi to do it right.  He also trusted Iida to make sure that the others cooperated, as often as he had ventured off on his own lately, Shouta did trust the teen’s judgement, and he realized that situations like these were often more complicated than they seemed on the surface.

 

Even if he still had to punish these kids accordingly for their actions, it didn’t mean that he didn’t understand where they were coming from.

 

It just so happens that he also knew from experience what it was like to lose a friend in high school, and how much it hurts.  That meant that he couldn’t be lax with them.

 

“Of course, Aizawa-sensei!”  Iida gave him a stiff salute, and Shouta nodded an affirmative to the kid, as he pulled out his phone to make the call.  Shouta then turned his attention to the one complication to his plan.

 

Kirishima.

 

He was still tied to Katsuki by the glove-like bindings, and it was unlikely to come apart unless it was cut off of them.  So, Shouta sighed and stated.  “Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy way to get those bindings off of you.  So, you’ll have to come with us for now, Kirishima.”  Kirishima nodded emphatically. 

 

“Understood.”  He said simply, though really, Shouta was sure that Kirishima would say anything to stay with Katsuki for a bit longer.  He just sighed inwardly.

 

It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Katsuki was still mostly unresponsive, other than the occasional one-word answer and eye-contact, he seemed to have entirely cut himself off from the world.

 

This behavior was quickly beginning to concern Shouta, as he watched the kid from his seat next to him in the hospital lobby.  Kirishima sat on his other side and was looking at Katsuki rather intently as well. 

 

Shouta had quietly asked if Katsuki would like anything to eat or drink from the vending machine.  He had remembered Iida’s comment about how famished Katsuki looked, during their phone call.  Really, on top of everything else, Shouta couldn’t help but agree. 

 

Katsuki had agreed to the idea with a nod.  “Yeah, I could eat.  Though, I’m mostly thirsty.”  He had commented offhandedly, like the idea that he had been malnourished for days was nothing to be concerned about.  He brushed that topic aside for later, it wasn’t immediately important, and it could be discussed later.  He had more pressing issues to attend to with this kid.

 

After he had gotten Katsuki a snack and a drink, he ate it awkwardly in the lobby.  Shouta did the more difficult things like opening the bottle, for him, because Katsuki was currently only really able to use one hand freely at the moment.

 

“I’m not some helpless infant.”  Katsuki huffed at the gesture, there wasn’t any heat in the complaint, but it still packed the tough punch of stubbornness behind it.  Shouta could have smiled at the complaint, though he tempered his expression.  It was nice to see a sliver of the old confidence in the kid.  Kirishima seemed to pick up on it too, and unlike Shouta, he couldn’t hide his wide grin even a little.

 

There were a few minutes of companionable silence between the three of them as Katsuki ate and they waited for a Doctor to be available to check Katsuki over.  With Kamino having been practically destroyed there was no wonder there was a bit of a wait, with the influx of injuries and patients.

 

It was then, just as Katsuki finished his snack that Shouta spoke.

 

“Katsuki, are you sure about what you said earlier.  That you don’t want to wait to hear for news on Jeanist’s condition.”  Shouta inquired, and Katsuki nearly choked on his drink.  Shouta gave him a minute to calm down before he pressed further.  “You don’t have to feel pressured; I just want to make sure that you’re doing what you truly want to do.”

 

Katsuki paused at that thought, and from where Shouta was sitting, it seemed like something that Shouta had said had struck a nerve.  That had not been his intention whatsoever.

 

Though, Katsuki gave him an honest response, that was something at least.

 

“What I want?”  Katsuki asked, his words were utterly dripping with hurt.  “I tried doing that already, and look what fucking happened.” Katsuki gestured vaguely with his free hand, clearly indicating the situation in general.

 

“Katsuki, dude.  You know that this isn- “ Kirishima started, but Katsuki cut him off.

 

“No, please don’t try to get me to buy into that shit.  I know that I didn’t actually kill anyone with my own hands or whatever, but I’m not some helpless victim either.  I was the one who decided that it was a good idea to sleep in the woods which made me an easy target for them.  I’m the one who acted like an asshole for years just because nobody ever fucking stopped me.  I’ve known for years that something wasn’t fucking right, that I wasn’t fucking right, that didn’t fucking stop me though.”  Katsuki was glaring daggers into the floor like it offended him, pointedly refusing to meet the gaze of either of the people sitting next to him.  Shouta desperately wanted to stop Katsuki, to tell him to that he was wrong.  However, he knew that if he did that, that Katsuki just might stop talking altogether, he needed to let him finish, Katsuki needed to feel like he was heard.  Otherwise, he would never be satisfied by whatever response Shouta gave him.

 

“Even after I got into UA and people finally started to push back, I still ignored it, that fucking nagging feeling that some shit was up.  That was when I really fucking knew, and I still kept going because I didn’t know how to stop being a little shit.  There were dozens of times in my life that I could have done something different, something that would have prevented this.”  Katsuki shook his head bitterly. “I may not have done any of this myself, but fuck if I wasn’t asking for it.  I deserved the shit that was coming for me, and nobody else should have had to pay for it.”  Katsuki seemed to curl in on himself, his shoulders drooped and his hear bowed until it was practically to his knees.

 

“Doing what I wanted was exactly what caused this, and this is something that I never want to happen again.”  Katsuki spat, his self-loathing wad evident in his voice and tone, and it really hurt to listen to.  There was a long moment then where Katsuki paused, and Shouta took a moment to glance back up to Kirishima, who looked almost as upset as Shouta felt.  It seemed like Kirishima was using every ounce of his self-control to stop him from saying anything, because it was clear that he wanted to say something, anything, to prove Katsuki wrong.

 

Shouta could understand the sentiment, he was feeling much the same way.  He desperately wanted to say something that wouldn’t make things worse, and he wasn’t entirely sure what that was.

 

The moment lasted long enough for Shouta to gather his thoughts; he was about to speak when he heard Katsuki whisper something to himself.  Shouta wasn’t even sure that he was supposed to have heard it, in fact, somehow, he doubted it.  “I’m one fucking teenager, I’m not worth all this.” 

 

Shouta was quite frankly, overwhelmed. 

 

Katsuki had said a lot more than Shouta had ever expected him to, and well, it was a lot to unpack.  Just the way he was talking about himself, it spoke volumes about how poor his self-image was.  Shouta was now absolutely certain that the overconfident god complex that Katsuki held on display was really just a large front, it was an overcompensation for just how little he thought of himself. 

 

Katsuki had essentially just tried to make the argument that nobody should have come to save him, because he had gotten himself kidnapped, for poor decisions that he had made over the course of his life.

 

The flawed logic was so deeply engrained into his entire life that Shouta was sure that he wasn’t at all qualified to be trying to unravel the mess he could see.

 

Really, he had no idea where to even fucking start.

 

Shouta was so fucking lost that he had no idea what to say, and he really needed to say something.

 

“When you were talking to Jeanist the other day, you didn’t believe everything that you’re saying now.  You wanted to be free of your parents’ grasp, and you were going to accept his help.  You believed what he told you, didn’t you?”  Kirishima spoke up, his breath hitched like he was about to cry, but his voice was firm and steady, frustration shining through his tone.  Katsuki seemed to still at the words, still curled between his teacher and his friend. 

 

“Katsuki, that was just a few days ago!  Do you remember anything that he told you?  He listened to every bad thing you had to say about yourself, and he still told you that it wasn’t your fault.  In fact, he said that you didn’t deserve anything that your parents did to you or said to you because it was all bullshit!  That applies to this too, Katsuki you don’t deserve any of this!  How could you even say that!”  Kirishima was standing now, his position forced Katsuki to sit up slightly because their hands were still bound together.

 

Shouta, for one, was speechless as he watched Kirishima work.

 

“Katsuki, the people that tried their hardest to find you and made the sacrifice to save you, they did that on their own.  Just like it was your choice to leave your crappy home life and live in the woods, it was their choice to try and save you.  Saying shit like ‘I wasn’t worth it.’ and, ‘they shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes.” devalues everything that they were standing for by choosing to fight to save you.”  Katsuki was starting to tremble at Kirishima’s harsh rant, he was hearing his own words used to prove that he was wrong, and it was working. 

 

“I didn’t ask to be saved, and had I known it would end like this I never would have-“ Katsuki protested, but Kirishima wasn’t having it.  Kirishima continued his argument with his next point, raising his bonded hand and shaking it to emphasize what he was talking about.

 

“Katsuki.  You didn’t have to ask, this right here is physical proof of how much he wanted to save you.  Do you think people are doing this out of some obligation?  Nobody would do something like this for another person, unless they truly cared.  Not unless, they literally could not imagine a world without you in it, get it!” Kirishima was yelling now, his arms out stiffly at his sides, and his whole body tensed with frustration, at this point he was even panting with the exertion it took to force out his argument.  “Yeah, pro’s save people every day.  I get it, but this, this was something else, and you know that as well as I do, because you aren’t fucking stupid.” 

 

Katsuki was more than trembling now, and Kirishima took a few breaths to calm himself down before he sat back down next to Katsuki again.  When he spoke next, his voice was soft and gentle.  “You said you wanted to go home with him, you said that so surely just a few days ago.  Katsuki what changed?”

 

Ok, so a lot happened between Jeanist and Katsuki that Shouta had no idea had occurred.  As much as he hated to do it, it seemed like whatever Kirishima was doing was actually working, so he just let him work.

 

There was a long moment where Katsuki just stared at the floor, trembling like a leaf, and at that moment, he looked so very exhausted that Shouta wanted to just wanted to get him a bed so he could just sleep.  Yet just as Shouta considered just letting Katsuki sleep, and continuing the conversation tomorrow, Katsuki surprised him once again.

 

He straightened and he gave a sniffle, wiped his nose with his arm, and rubbed the stray tears from his eyes.  Then, having gathered himself, he looked straight at Kirishima and said, entirely genuinely.  “Nothing, nothing has changed.  Not yet anyway.”

 

Shouta could hardly believe what he was hearing.  He was incredibly glad, but he was still shocked beyond belief. Kirishima just smiled a little wearily and said.

 

“Yeah, nothing has changed.  Even if the worst happens, those facts won’t change and I promise that you won’t be alone.” 

Chapter Text

Katsuki sat and listened to what Kirishima had to say.  It was hard, not to just snap back with some meaningless objection, to cuss and scream and tell his friend that he was wrong.  He had to be wrong, because he didn’t know, how could he? 

 

How could Kirishima know, he’d only known Katsuki a few months?  How could he know that he hadn’t deserved all of this, that it wasn’t all his fault? 

 

For that matter, how could Tsunagu know, he’d known Katsuki for only two fucking weeks?

 

His mother had known, she had always known.  That was what he desperately wanted to say, but the words never came.

 

Katsuki just curled up further in on himself as Kirishima spoke, trying desperately to come up with some way to argue.  Frustration, fear and guilt settled down on Katsuki like a physical weight, pushing him farther down.  Yet his arm was still outstretched slightly, where it was still attached to Kirishima who was now standing in front of him.

 

His friend’s voice resonated clearly in the nearly silent room, his raised voice nearly filling the large lobby.  Katsuki could feel the gazes of the other people sitting in the lobby, they were watching him with curious glances, interested in the spectacle unfolding before them.  Katsuki was surprised that Aizawa-sensei hadn’t stepped in yet.

 

“…it was their choice to try and save you.

 

Those words rang about in his mind, Kirishima was using Katsuki’s own words to prove him wrong, and Katsuki hated it.  He hated that it was working.

 

“Saying shit like ‘I wasn’t worth it.’ and, ‘they shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes.” devalues everything that they were standing for by choosing to fight to save you.

 

His pent-up frustration bubbled over at that statement.  He finally had something he could say, something that mattered.  Katsuki hadn’t wanted any of this.  He hated everything about this. He hated how this turned out, and how many people had been hurt trying to save him.  If he could have told all the heroes to forget about him and just go fucking home, then he absolutely would have.

 

It didn’t matter how shitty it was there, how crappy he felt about being helpless, scared, and tied up.  He was alive, and that was all that mattered.  He was one kid.

 

One kid, was not worth the life of multiple pros.  Even if he was planning on becoming a hero, it still didn’t matter, he couldn’t be worth it.  The trade was nowhere near equal, or fair.

 

So, even if Kirishima was right, and he didn’t deserve any of the shit had happened to him, then fine, so fucking what.

 

He was still one fucking kid.

 

He didn’t ask for this, he didn’t want it.  The heroes could take back their self-sacrifice, Katsuki didn’t need it.  He would never want it, and he told Kirishima exactly that. 

 

He wasn’t fucking weak; he could handle himself.

 

Right?

 

Then Kirishima started up again and crushed his entire thought process with one thought.  He shook the denim binding them together, showing it to Katsuki as if he had forgotten.

 

“You didn’t have to ask, this right here is physical proof of how much he wanted to save you.  Do you think people are doing this out of some obligation?  Nobody would do something like this for another person, unless they truly cared.  Not unless, they literally could not imagine a world without you in it, get it!”

 

“Yeah, pro’s save people every day.  I get it, but this, this was something else, and you know that as well as I do, because you aren’t fucking stupid.”

 

Kirishima was right.

 

Katsuki wasn’t fucking stupid.

 

He glanced at the bindings on his hand and he could feel the cold sinking feeling of remorse sinking in his gut.  He remembered now, what he had been trying to tell himself for days.

 

His mother didn’t care about him.  His father didn’t care about him. 

 

Tsunagu, though, he cared.  This binding on his hand was proof enough of that.  The fact that the hero had nearly died (could still die) in his rescue, was proof of that. 

 

His mother was the one to call him weak, and pathetic.  She was the one to make him believe that he was worthless, and a waste of space, that he wasn’t worth going through the trouble of having him, that fate had somehow made him worthless to her.  She was the one who didn’t even want to fucking raise him because she was bitter and jealous of him.  She had never cared about him, and most of the things she had always said were to hurt him, and for no other reason.

 

He had told himself that, over and over, he knew that.  She had made all of those things very clear.

 

Tsunagu had thought better of him, he may have only known him for a week.  That was true, but he had seen some of the ugliest sides of Katsuki during that time and hadn’t backed away from him, not in the least.  In fact, he had stepped forward, he had actively tried to get to know him better, he showed concern for him.  Tsunagu didn’t think he was weak, in fact he had called him strong and good, and had told him that he deserved better.  

 

Tsunagu did care, and Katsuki for the life of him couldn’t figure out why.

 

He wasn’t the only one either, he had other people who cared. 

 

Kirishima, for one, was yelling at him right now, screaming that he was wrong, and Kirishima was a good person.  Katsuki couldn’t even pretend that Kirishima didn’t care, not anymore, not after what he had done today.  Risking his life to give him an opportunity to flee, he and the others had jumped over the battle, just to provide him away out. 

 

Aizawa-sensei, who was sitting next to him, staying with him at the hospital because he was concerned for him, who came to find him in the hordes of people just to see if he was alright.  The man who had defended him on national television earlier, he had told the whole world off for being stupid enough to believe that Katsuki was a villain.  Aizawa who was also his soul parent.  Aizawa cared, that much was obvious.

 

All Might had said so too, he had been angry for Katsuki.  All Might of all fucking people had been angry for him, and as it fucking turns out was his soul parent too.  The Number One Hero, who Katsuki had looked up to his whole life, had practically called the League ‘idiots’ to their faces because they had thought Katsuki would turn to their side.  All Might cared about him too.

 

Even if Katsuki had no idea why, all these people all cared about him, and none of them thought that way about him.  Not even a single fucking one of them thought that he was weak, or evil, or a burden, the way his parents did.

 

So, even if it was just wishful thinking.  Katsuki figured that it made more sense to trust the judgement of the people who were not actively trying to ruin his life.  Didn’t it?  It made more sense to trust Tsunagu, and to trust everyone else too. 

 

He was really fucking trying. He was really trying to trust them, and he was going to.  That didn’t make it any fucking easier.  He was horrible at this whole, trusting thing.   It was totally new, and he was finding it to me monumentally harder than he had originally thought it would be.  He was trying to get better at this, he swore to god he wasn’t always going to fall back on his mother’s rants.  He knew everything she said to him was bullshit, but he just…

 

…couldn’t help it.

 

He had spent the entirety of his life listening to her, even if he tried not to pay attention to her shit, he still remembered.  Shit like that didn’t just fucking disappear overnight, he had always known that it wouldn’t be fucking easy.  He had known she had fucked him up, but he hadn’t expected it to creep up behind him like this. 

 

Katsuki had always been dealing with her, and he had always done it by himself.  He had always done everything by himself.  If he asked his parents for help, she called him weak and pathetic.  So, he made do on his own when he wanted something done, it was just what he had always done.

 

The idea that all of this had happened because they had been trying to save him, that Tsunagu could die, because he had been trying to help him, was terrifying to say the least. 

 

Even now, thinking about it clearly after Kirishima’s words and his own realizations, he still felt guilty as fuck about it.  As unfounded and pointless as it was, he still felt responsible.  It was hard, but he internally shook himself and tried to push past it. 

 

He pushed past the self-blame and the remorse and tried to be optimistic.

 

Tsunagu wasn’t fucking dead yet.

 

All Might had saved the day.

 

Everything was fine.

 

Ok, that last one was a fucking lie, though it was a kind lie.  Katsuki still wasn’t great at the whole being optimisticthing either, he needed to work on it.  He had really only managed to fumble through the extremes, everything was either going just dandy, or was going to utter shit.  There really was no median that Katsuki had managed to find, and it was a nerve-wracking position to be in.

 

So, fine.  He was being optimistic now, that was the goal. 

 

Be optimistic.

 

It was hard, because after he stripped away the blame, after he stripped away the self-loathing, all he was left with was the absolutely horrifying image of the hero lying motionless on the ground, a whole battlefield away.  With all the frustration and anger wiped away, all he was left with was horror, and fear at the reality that presented itself.

 

In retrospect, this whole situation just might have been the amalgamation of all his worst fears rolled into one, and he was not coping with it well.  He had the presence of mind to admit that much to himself, he was an emotional wreck.  Even if he sure as hell wasn’t going to admit it to anyone else, lest they try to help him some more.  No, he could suffer through this much at least on his own.

So far, he had been kidnapped, used as a pawn in a villainous scheme, treated as a villian himself, tied and muzzled to a chair on national tv (again), forced to deal with asphyxiation (twice, again), had his mentor sacrificehimself to save him, and watch All Might turn into a skeleton trying to save him.

 

That last one was a new fear, it was the fear that All Might was injured beyond repair, and that the world would have to exist without All Might standing at the top. 

 

A world without All Might.

 

Yeah, that thought was fucking terrifying alright.

 

Katsuki’s train of thought probably would have continued spiraling dangerously out of control if he hadn’t heard a new arrival enter the hospital lobby.  Katsuki who’s gaze had been focused intently on his lap, was now inclined upward, as a very distinctive voice rang out from the entrance.

 

“Ah~ Naomasa- my friend, you worry too much.  I assure you, I am perfectly fine.”  Even in his shrunken form, All Might’s voice rang out clearly and loudly, and if you closed your eyes, you just might not be able to tell the difference at all.  He was walking in with the aid of paramedics, and there was that Detective from the USJ following close behind. 

 

All Might, actually looked marginally better than he did on the large screens they had first seen him on.  He was still skeletal in nature and shambling slightly, but the gruesome details that had originally caused Katsuki a great amount of worry for his health, seem to have stopped bleeding, and he looked a bit more energetic than he had on screen. 

 

“Yeah, sure thing buddy.  I’ll believe it after you see a doctor, and they tell me that you’re fine.”  The Detective drawled placatingly, and All Might just gave a classic laugh.  As he followed behind as All Might was also sat in the lobby for a moment, in a section of seats, just a few clusters away from where Katsuki and was sitting with Kirishima and Aizawa-sensei. 

 

The peramedics said something about leaving to clear a space so All Might could be properly treated, then strode back to the inside of the hospital.  All Might was having some idle chatter with the Detective, seemingly unaware that they were in the area, when Aizawa called his attention to them.

 

Katsuki really wished that he hadn’t done that, he wasn’t ready for this shit yet.

 

“It’s nice to see you’re alright All Might, that fight was pretty concerning to watch.” Aizawa drawled, and the other hero perked his head up and his smile seemed to widen as he caught sight of them.  All Might gestured for the detective to help him up, and with a slight sigh of resignation, the other man did just that.  With his help he guided All Might to the seats directly across from theirs and they both sat.

 

“I’m relieved to see that you made it out unharmed young-Bakugo.” All Might smiled, after looking him over once for any obvious injuries.

 

Katsuki was the one who was relieved. 

 

If All Might had died saving him that would have been unforgivable, absolutely fucking unacceptable. 

 

Of course, All Might had been worried about him, because he’s a fucking hero who seems to have taken some personal vested interest in him, who also happens to be his soul child.  That didn’t mean that hearing the hero actually say the words didn’t make him feel sick with shame and regret.

 

It really didn’t help that All Might was still wearing his tattered uniform, and that Katsuki’s mark was still clearly visible. 

 

Katsuki tried his best to make his expression remain neutral as the telltale feeling washed over him.  It was a familiar feeling, one that he hadn’t experienced through the screen when he had caught a glimpse of the mark earlier.  When he saw it for the first time in person, whatever signal that fate was trying to send him came through clearly.  It was like a case of Da-ja-vu but on steroids, a complex interwoven mix of the emotions he is feeling now, and a glimpse of the promising ones that they would share in the future.  Having experienced this for a second time,he was able to more accurately understand what all of this was supposed to mean, and as overwhelming and confusing as it was, it was equally liberating and comforting.

 

It also made the events that had taken place on that one afternoon in Tsunagu’s office float right to the surface of his memory.  It felt like he was reliving them all over again.  How gentle he had been, combing through his hair and when he had hugged him.  How softly and kindly he had spoken to him.  Even the playful sarcastic lilt to his voice that he had used to ask him if he truly saw himself as a villain, the nuance of the conversation that Katsuki had entirely missed in the moment.  It all came to him in a startling clarity that shook him to the core.

 

That contrasted sharply, with the more recent memories he had.  The ones in which Katsuki is feeling desperately for his pulse, and frantically searching for a way to get him out of there in time to save his life.

 

It was all Katsuki could do not to start panicking as he realized just what he was about to lose.  It wouldn’t have just been Tsunagu who died, if things had gone much worse, he would have lost both All Might and Tsunagu. 

 

He was only just now, beginning to understand just what he would be losing. 

 

He would be losing years of good experiences, years of happy memories that he couldn’t even imagine from here.  He could feel them though, he could feel the potential there and what was to come, and that it would be good, better than anything he had experienced in his entire life.

 

None of it was clear, or set in stone, it was all blurry, they were possibilities.  They were paths he could take, experiences that he could have, all right at his fingertips, laid out in front of him and all he had to do was take the first step.

 

Those possibilities, those paths, would all close if either of them was to die.

 

He briefly questioned if he deserved all this, if he really deserved to see those futures, after everything he’s done.  He dismissed the thought.   Something about that thought process felt wrong.  Where it had seemed entirely naturalto him just a few short minutes ago. 

 

It was something he could feel, through those open doors, he isn’t the only one happy.

 

It struck him like lightning, the realization that buzzed with an airy sensation, all the way from his head to his toes.

 

If Katsuki choose not to interact with them, purposely pushed them away out of fear, like he had already intended on doing….

 

If he did that, then he would be closing those doors for them.  He wouldn’t be the only one to suffer because of it, he would be denying them the same thing that his mother had tried to deny him.   He would be denying them all of that, just because he was afraid.

 

That thought was the one that hurt the most.

 

He wasn’t being brave or making a sacrifice by shoving them away.  He would just be denying himself, and everyone else, the same chances that he had been denied his entire life. 

 

He was being weak, because he was too fucking afraid that someone might try and do the same thing that Tsunagu had.  He was terrified that he might lose them as they tried to sacrifice themselves to save him.   Terrified that they might try to sacrifice their only chance at living, just to save his life.

 

He was being weak, and that fact would result in them hurting even more than he already had.

 

As he stared blankly at All Might, he could feel the other’s gazes on him.  He didn’t look away, though.  He wasn’t backing away, no because he wasn’t a fucking coward.  He just really wished that this had happened under any other circumstances.

 

“Yeah,” He managed with a hitched breath, struggling against his instinct to look away and huff in annoyance at the concern.  Instead he met All Might’s gaze, even in that shrunken form of his, even as remorse bubbled up inside him at the sight.  

 

The ridiculously large muscles, that were enough to defeat almost any villain were entirely absent, and all that was left was the bones of what remained underneath.  His skin was sickly pale, and his eyes were sunken, his movements were stiff and rigid, and all Katsuki could think was how much he looked like a corpse. 

 

He could feel his breathing hitch and his chest tighten, because god All Might looked horrible right now, it was a glaring reminder of just how close this had been to going horribly wrong.  He knew that all of them saw the change, and he could actually feel the two beside him twitch and straighten, almost moving to speak before he could.

 

Katsuki wasn’t going to let that happen, he didn’t need someone to protect him from this too.  He needed to face it.  Even if he felt like he was about to collapse into a million pieces, even if he wanted to curl up in a ball and ignore all of this, because it was too much to deal with all at once, even if he wanted to just fall back onto his old habits and tell him to fuck off because he didn’t really know what he was supposed to say next, he wasn’t going to.

 

He had to face him now, or he may never have the courage to again.

 

He knew it was stupid, he knew that this would only make the old man worry about him.  Though, Katsuki really didn’t have many other options.  He refused to ignore it anymore, and he refused to push him away, he didn’t know how to be reassuring for shit.  So, what the fuck other option was there than to just be fucking honest? 

 

He literally didn’t know what else to do, so he just said whatever the fuck came to mind and fucking rolled with it.  In the back of his mind he bitterly thought that there was no way he could make this day any worse, so fuck the consequences.

 

No more hiding, no more pretending.  He was going to be fucking honest.

 

He stopped holding himself back, and he just let himself go.

 

He couldn’t bring himself to keep eye contact through this next part though, he internally scolded himself for being such a fucking coward.  He looked to the ground, and he said. 

 

“I’m glad you’re okay too.”  He forced himself to say, struggling not to bolt away in embarrassment for sounding like such a pansy.  In fact, if he hadn’t been tied to Kirishima, he might have done that already.  He tried his best to calm his breathing, it really wasn’t working and every time he tried it seemed like he was just making it worse, like acknowledging that he was upset just make his chest constrict more.  He tried to ignore the stinging sensation of his eyes beginning to water, to pretend that the others couldn’t see the tears, or that they might not care. 

 

He wasn’t that lucky though.  Nope, he wasn’t lucky enough to catch a break today. 

 

He supposed he should be happy, shouldn’t he?

 

Aizawa placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze from where he was sitting to Katsuki’s side.  Kirishima placed his other hand on Katsuki’s and gave his hand a squeeze from where their hands were still tied together.  Katsuki felt the first tears fall from his eyes and couldn’t even bring himself to wipe them away. 

 

There was no hiding from this anymore.

 

He didn’t quite have the nerve to look up to see the worried frown he knew was appearing on All Might’s features as the pro realized that Katsuki was crying.  He could imagine what it looked like though, he imagined that it was a mirror image of the worried look Tsunagu had given him the moment he saw the absolute confusion and shock written on his face just over a week ago in his office.

 

There was a rustle of movement in front of him as he was sure All Might was standing, though to do what, Katsuki couldn’t be sure.  He felt dumb, he felt stupid because he felt like he should say something more.  Anything for the person who had just risked his life to save his, but he just had no idea what that would be.

 

Even as Katsuki stared at the floor, sniffling, trembling, and entirely speechless, he could still see when All Might kneeled in front of him.  His bony ankles and frame unmistakable in front of him.

 

All Might’s hand slowly raised into his field of vision, and through his watery eyes and his hitched breathing, he saw All Might slowly hold his hand out to him just above Katsuki’s own free hand that was currently clutching his pants leg with a vicious ferocity.

 

The gesture was clear, and Katsuki hesitated, once again.  Suddenly remembering dozens of times over the years when one person in particular had held his hand out to help him. 

 

He would have to find a way to face him again, that idiot Deku.  He would have to apologize.

 

Katsuki was ready to accept that help now, no matter how uncomfortable it made him to do so.

 

He accepted the hand, holding on to it with as much ferocity as he had squeezed his own pants leg.  His hand was bony and stiff, but it was nowhere near frail, All Might squeezed back with nearly as much ferocity as Katsuki was.  It was almost therapeutic, the tangibility of the hand, it was a physical confirmation that All Might was alive and in front of him, and that he hadn’t died like he looked like he had been about to on that screen.

 

The gesture was akin to how he had checked for Tsunagu’s pulse to see if he was still alive.

 

“Katsuki, you mustn’t blame yourself for any of this.”  All Might said softly, his sincerity and concern was evident in his voice.

 

Katsuki nodded weakly, his chest still tight with emotion.  He was trying to believe him, because he really wanted to, he wanted to believe that he couldn’t have done anything to stop this, that there was nothing that could be done and that he was just a helpless victim.  He wanted to believe it, but he just couldn’t.

 

Something, and he didn’t really know what it was, kept him from completely believing him.  It was something he couldn’t quite place, something almost instinctual, integral to his personality that made it so he couldn’t let this go.

 

He nodded anyway, accepting the fact that everyone that mattered felt that way.  He accepted that his friends and his teachers, that the people right here with him, believed that he wasn’t at fault here.  Even if he would never understand why, as frustrating as that was.

 

There were people all around him who cared, they weren’t like his parents.  The people surrounding him and comforting him were all people who wouldn’t judge him for being weak, just this once.

 

“Everyone keeps telling me that…”. Katsuki gasped, trying to force himself to breathe normally, taking a second to calm himself enough to keep talking.  “…and I honestly don’t know why I’m having such a fucking hard time believing it.”  He let his inner frustration shine through, he let them see that he was truly trying to let them take the blame for this.  To Katsuki’s surprise, it wasn’t All Might who spoke next, it was Aizawa.

 

“Kid, do you trust me?”  Aizawa said it bluntly, deadpanned and Katsuki jumped purely at the abruptness of the question.  It shook Katsuki slightly, as confusion overrode his fear and remorse for a moment.  He actually looked over to his teacher for a moment and said just what came to mind.

 

“O-of course, I do.”  He hated the way he stuttered, but he said it with an amount of sincerity that he hadn’t even known he possessed.  He would have been offended by the open question of his loyalty any other day, except today he was just confused.  The question was jarring, and it threw off his entire train of thought.

 

“Then, trust that you aren’t at fault for any part of what’s happened tonight.  If you can’t trust your own judgement, then trust mine.  This wasn’t your fault, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise needs a reality check.”  Aizawa said it just as bluntly and sincerely as he said everything else, as if he wasn’t just trying to comfort him.  He said it as if it was fact, and there wasn’t a person alive who could convince him otherwise, including Katsuki himself.

 

Even if Katsuki had come to a similar realization himself earlier, hearing Aizawa say it cemented the idea in his mind, it made it more tangible, something he could latch onto.

 

It was becoming increasingly clear that Katsuki couldn’t completely trust his judgement when it came to himself, because most of those opinions he held on himself were engrained into his mind since childhood, they were products of his mother’s delusions and his father’s indifference. 

 

If he couldn’t trust himself, then he could trust Aizawa at least.  He could trust the people who cared about him, and eventually, he would unlearn the shit she taught him.  He had already started, but it was going to take a lot longer to completely move on.

 

“Alright,”  Katsuki nodded, somehow his voice was even weaker than it had been before. “I can manage that.”  He looked away from his teacher’s steady gaze that he couldn’t quite hold, and back to his own lap, where he was still holding All Might’s hand.  He could see as his tears dripped from his face, creating dark splotches on his pants where they became wet.  It was a novel feeling; he can’t really remember ever watching his tears pool up like this.

 

They sat just like that, until the nurses came back to get All Might.

 

Even then, Katsuki still sat with Aizawa on one side and Kirishima on the other.  Nobody spoke for a long time, and they just let Katsuki sit, and wait.

 

Katsuki would show All Might his soul mark soon, he wasn’t running away from it.

 

It was just a conversation to be had another day, a day when he was just a little more put together.  On a day when he was sure that Tsunagu would be alright, and that he would wake up.  Or maybe on a day when they didn’t find out that they had been too late, and that the hero couldn’t be saved.

Chapter Text

Shouta mentally kicked himself.

 

He had initially been so shocked by All Might’s sudden appearance in the lobby that he hadn’t really thought about giving a polite well wishes to his colleague.  It had seemed like the right thing to do at the time, and well theoretically it was.

 

It had only taken a split second that he forgot about the look on Katsuki’s face as he had stared blankly at that screen, clearly horrified by the image he was seeing.

 

Really, he needed to get some sleep soon, he usually wasn’t this sloppy.  He could usually keep a level head in the most stressful situations, but he was quickly learning that when it came to his class this year, everything was different. 

 

He had already found out that a number of his students this year were his soulchildren, yes plural; children, he had multiple in his class this year.  Worse, he suspected that at least half of his class was his, even if he hadn’t confirmed it yet.  That fact alone had made him infinitely fonder of them, nearly instantly. 

 

Even if they hadn’t been his, the class as a whole was more cohesive, and hardworking, than any other class of heroes he had ever had the pleasure of teaching.  They may have their own circles of friends, but that class has already been through hell together, and made it out alive.  They had all grown closer because of it, and it showed, not just in heroics, but in everyday life.

 

The USJ had changed each and every one of them, and Aizawa almost hated to admit that the change had been for the better.  They had all learned an important lesson that day, they learned how to be afraid, and how to overcome it and still fight, though not recklessly.  Some of them still had issues with that last part, but they were only in their first year, some of it was to be expected.

 

Yet, his fondness for them had just made everything immeasurably more stressful over the past few months.  Especially when his class seems to keep finding themselves in mortal danger.  This has unfortunately, made his decision-making-process change, despite him.  He has never had so much passion for anything in his life than he was putting into these kids, and god it shows, because he keeps finding himself in situations like these.  Where he’s let his concern for their well-being rattle his logical thinking.

 

Even then, it really wasn’t an excuse for this.

 

Katsuki was clearly shaken by All Might’s sudden appearance, and he was clearly blaming himself for it.  Even as All Might told Katsuki that he was glad the teen had made it out unharmed, Shouta was readying some sort of reason to take Katsuki somewhere else, because he could already see the entirely uncharacteristic look of horror and concern forming on the teen’s features.  The kid had been through enough today, he deserved a second to catch a breather before he had to face another emotional hurdle that he wasn’t at all accustomed to handling.

 

Well, he had been before Katsuki started to speak.  The teen beside him seemed to gather himself, after fighting an inner conflict, then he looked directly at All Might and spoke.

 

“Yeah,”  He started, though his determination seemed to waver and he looked back down to his lap and finished, with more emotion than Shouta had imagined possible for the teen, he continued.  “I’m glad you’re okay too.”  Katsuki was truly strugging to speak, and his breath was hitched like was holding back tears, except after another moment, Shouta could see the kid shamelessly letting his tears fall.  Shouta couldn’t help himself, he collected the kid into a half embrace from the side and gave his shoulder a squeeze, hoping to provide some form of comfort.

 

All Might tried to tell Katsuki that it wasn’t his fault.

 

Katsuki just replied with, what was arguably, the most heartbreaking response that Shouta could possibly imagine.

 

“Everyone keeps telling me that, and I honestly don’t know why I’m having such a fucking hard time believing it.”  He really sounded lost, confused, and frustrated.  As if he truly couldn’t even understand the concept, and not because he wasn’t trying.  No, he wanted to understand but he couldn’t. 

 

The concept that he was in no way responsible for the things that were done to him, was so foreign, that he simply couldn’t comprehend why.

 

To Shouta it spoke volumes, about what things had been like at home, in a way that nothing else could.  Shouta had been a teacher for quite a few years now, this was not the first time he’s encountered an abused kid.  In fact, when becoming a teacher, he had considered it a responsibility of his to be able to recognize and stop abuse where it was happening so he could see the warning signs.  He had done his research, and even if he was by no means a professional, he knew what he was seeing.

 

He was seeing Katsuki’s learned behavior, whatever his parents did or said to Katsuki, the kid had convinced himself internally that it had somehow been his fault, all of it, even if he didn’t want to admit it.  He was applying that to everything else in his life, that every wrong that was done to him could have been prevented somehow by his own actions.

 

It was too big of an issue to fix in one night, and he knew that what he was about to ask Katsuki to do was a band-aid, it wasn’t a solution, but it was far better than leaving it alone. 

 

“Kid, do you trust me?”  Aizawa said it bluntly, there could be no uncertainty in him if he wanted Katsuki to buy into this, even just as a temporary solution the kid needed to believe in him, and in order to do that he needed to believe in himself.  The teen actually startled a bit at his interjection, and he looked up at him, seeming confused, and maybe offended.  However, the kid didn’t even hesitate in his answer.

 

“O-of course, I do.”  Katsuki couldn’t keep the slight stutter out of his voice, though Aizawa couldn’t help but glow internally at the overwhelming amount of sincerity in the statement.  If Katsuki hadn’t just been crying, then he was sure the kid would be glaring at him like it had been a stupid question to even ask. 

 

“Then, trust that you aren’t at fault for any part of what’s happened tonight.  If you can’t trust your own judgement, then trust mine.  This wasn’t your fault, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise needs a reality check.”  He continued, reassured that he could get the kid to at least accept that every self-destructive instinct that he had was wrong, and that for now, that was all that mattered.  If he could just trust him, even without understanding why, then he just might be able to accept that fact, at least for tonight.

 

He couldn’t even express how relieved he felt when Katsuki answered him after a moment. 

 

“Yeah, I can manage that.”  Katsuki said sincerely, with tears in his eyes.  He looked back down to his lap, not quite able to meet Shouta’s gaze.  The kid looked utterly exhausted, and he left it at that.  There wasn’t a reason to push him farther tonight. 

 

------------

 

It wasn’t long after All Might left that the nurses came to get Katsuki.  They all followed, and they sat Katsuki onto a medical cot and the first thing the nurses did was pull open a pair of scissors, generally used to cut clothing out of the way of serious injuries.

 

“I’m going to have to cut this off of you, so stay still you two.”  She said sweetly.  It was clear by her demeanor that she just intended to cut the thing straight in half as she was about to start, and to everyone’s surprise, Katsuki spoke up, though his voice was smaller than Shouta had ever heard it before.

 

“Can you damage it as little as possible?”  Katsuki nearly whispered, and Shouta’s heart dropped in sympathy.  He supposed, All Might wasn’t the only hero that Katsuki was worried about.  Shouta, really hadn’t realized, just how much, though. 

 

The nurse blinked, then her smile softened.  “Of course, sweetie, whatever you want.  Though, I’ll still have to cut it a little.”  Katsuki nodded his understanding and watched as she carefully found the spot most likely to loosen the denim, then cut slowly into it.  She ultimately had to cut about two inches deep before the glove could be shimmied off, but she handed the fabric to Katsuki afterwards.  “Alright, all done.”  The nurse checked a clipboard, then looked at Kirishima and Aizawa. 

 

“Normally, we only allow family in the room for this next part, though considering the special circumstances we’re dealing with here, I think I can allow one of you to stay, so long as the patient agrees.”  She said looking at Aizawa directly.  Kirishima stood hesitantly, understanding the message. 

 

“I guess, I’ll go then?”  Kirishima asked, hesitantly, looking at Katsuki to gage his reaction.  Katsuki hesitated a moment before nodding.

 

“I’ll be fine shitty-hair, don’t worry about me.”  He said with a huff, the sideways glare he gave didn’t have much heat in it and the nickname was clearly said with gruff affection.  Kirishima seemed to chuckle slightly at the nickname and nodded.

 

“Yeah, see ya’ later Bakubro.”  Kirishima replied, playing into Katsuki’s clear attempt at some kind of normalcy.  Kirishima was about to walk back into the lobby when Shouta stopped him for a moment.

 

“Kirishima, do you have your phone on you?”  Aizawa asked.  The red-headed teen turned back to face him and nodded.  “Yeah, I do?”

 

“Call your parents and discuss with them what you want to do.  I’m sure that they’re worried about you by now, after we’re done in here, I’ll talk to them myself.”  Aizawa instructed, and Kirishima immediately perked up when the instructions Aizawa gave him wasn’t immediately a ‘go home’.

 

He was essentially giving Kirishima a chance to convince his parents to let him stay with Katsuki, before Aizawa talked to them himself.  The gesture wasn’t lost on Kirishima, and immediately, he flashed the two of them with a wide smile. 

 

“Yes sensei!  I’ll do just that!”  Then he exited the room without any further delay.

 

A moment later the nurse spoke again.  “Alright, so unless either of you have any objections, we should continue.”

 

Katsuki nodded and listened as she started explaining what was going to happen next.

 

It was all pretty standard stuff, she explained the tests she was taking as she was doing them, basic stuff for dehydration and malnutrition.  Other tests like drug tests to make sure that there was no foreign substances in his system that they may have used on Katsuki during the period he was kidnapped, and then a basic look over Katsuki’s body for any other injuries.

 

The last test did require Katsuki to strip to his underwear, so the nurse could check for potential incisions or alterations to his body that may have happened while he was unconscious or otherwise, that he might not be able to see or feel himself. 

 

Katsuki complied to every part of the check-up without complaint.  The results to the tests were all relatively positive, though Katsuki was dehydrated, it seemed he didn’t need an IV yet.  The nurse made it very clear that Katsuki would have to push the fluids for the next couple of days to make sure that he didn’t get worse, Aizawa promised her that he would hold Katsuki to it.

 

The only concerning thing appeared when the nurse tilted Katsuki’s head back by the chin to examine his neck.  She started asking some questions after that, all of which left Shouta incredibly concerned.  Moreso because of Katsuki’s reaction to them than the content of the questions themselves.

 

“At any time during the three days you were captive, did your captors attempt to strangle you?”  She said it so casually, that Shouta almost missed the significance of the question.  Katsuki froze a moment, and shivered.

 

“Not exactly.” Katsuki said, giving a non-answer.  He squirmed a bit at her touch, seemingly now incredibly uncomfortable with the nurse’s touch, even though he had been fine up until now.

 

“I see some bruising around the neck here, as if a thin small cord was tightened around your neck and used to cause asphyxiation.  Is that statement accurate?” She remarked calmly, unbothered by her patient’s clear discomfort.  Shouta watched as Katsuki simply nodded, looking a bit haunted.

 

“Can you elaborate? Or, do you not remember?”  She questioned encouragingly, not overeager, just curious.

 

“I remember.”  Katsuki said with another shiver, he clearly didn’t want to talk about it.  Shouta was about to step in when the nurse continued.

 

“If you truly don’t feel ready to talk about it, then that’s alright.  Though, I promise this information is only going into your medical file and putting it here will only help you later.”  The nurse offered.

 

“Help me?”  Katsuki asked, seemingly unconvinced.

 

“Yes, hospitals use medical files all the time to know what ways to treat their patients.  Especially when it comes to quirk side effects, and past traumas.  In some cases, this means we use alternate methods to treat patients, and in others it means we are aware of the situation and try to accommodate as much as we are able.  No matter how minor the detail is, it can be placed in your file for future reference.”  The nurse explained evenly, though not unfeeling.  She silently observed the bruising, as Katsuki seemed to consider her words.

 

He sighed after a long moment, and to Shouta, it looked like he had decided to tell her.  His voice was quiet as he spoke.  Shouta was hanging onto every word though, even if he made sure not to show it.

 

“I guess if it helps, even if I don’t really see how.”  Katsuki began, then he sighed and seemed to prepare himself.  “I guess the League didn’t want me talking during their video broadcast thing, so they put this thing on me…”. Katsuki paused, seemingly trying to find the words to properly explain.  “It locked my jaw in place, and if I even so much as relaxed my jaw, it would start to strangle me, so essentially I couldn’t so much as make a sound or I couldn’t breathe.  I don’t think they originally intended to leave me in the fucking thing over night, but I was just so fucking furious after that video that they didn’t want to risk taking the damn thing off.  I didn’t sleep at all that night; it was really just a fucking nightmare.” 

 

Shouta stayed silent as the nurse nodded and hummed.  Even if he could feel his own anger boiling up at the mistreatment, the device Katsuki was describing was inhumane to say the least.  It’s not as if Shouta hasn’t heard of devices like it before, it’s just the thought of something like that being used on a teenager was entirely unforgivable.

 

Especially when he could tell that there was more to the story than that, that Katsuki was leaving out some detail that he was clearly upset about.  Shouta would leave it alone for now though, the kid deserved the right to tell him in his own time. 

 

Shouta could only hope that he would tell him, eventually.

 

“I’m sorry you had to go through that, that’s horrible.”  She reassured, writing a few things down on her clipboard.  She was purposely not making his confession a big deal, as if she could tell that it wouldn’t help things.  “Well, if that’s all.  I think you’re all set.  Unless there’s anything else, I see no reason for you to be admitted as a patient.”  Katsuki nodded and wordlessly started getting his clothes back on. 

 

“Thanks for the help.”  Aizawa offered, in a neutral tone, though it was weighed down with exhaustion.

 

The nurse didn’t seem to mind, and she gave them a professional farewell before she left the curtained off room.  Aizawa waited for Katsuki to finish getting his clothes on before he commented at all.  Katsuki had just sat down to put on his socks and shoes when Shouta spoke.

 

“Katsuki.”  He got the teen’s attention, he curiously looked up from where he had settled on the floor. 

 

“What?” Katsuki asked, with a curious inflection to his voice rather than the usual gruff annoyance.

 

“You’ve been through a lot in the past few weeks, I just want you to feel like you can talk to me.”  Shouta explained, hoping that he wouldn’t have to elaborate.  Thankfully, Katsuki was a smart kid, and he understood what Shouta meant.  When he said talk, he didn’t just mean the kidnapping or the events of the past seventy-two hours, he meant the last two weeks, even his whole life which was filled to the brim with strife.  Shouta meant everything, and he was glad that Katsuki seemed to understand.

 

Katsuki blinked and stared at him for a moment, then looked to the floor and seemed to play with the hem of his pant leg for a moment, considering something.  He seemed to come to a decision, and Shouta watched curiously as Katsuki turned slightly and pointed out an irregularity on his ankle. 

 

“You know, that press conference you talked at earlier.  I was watching.”  Katsuki began, and Shouta kneeled slowly to be eye-level with Katsuki while he spoke and recognized the mark on the teen’s skin instantly.

 

Even if Nemuri had already told him, even if he already knew.

 

Seeing the mark in person was a markedly different experience altogether.

 

“I saw that you had my mark, behind your ear.  You had your hair slicked back so it was visible, though not obvious, it was kinda hard to see through the camera.”  Katsuki continued, he was looking directly at the mark now and not at Aizawa’s reaction, the kid almost looked nervous.  Like he really had no idea what to say, Shouta could understand the sentiment.  “Also, thanks by the way.  For saying all that stuff, it really helped fire me up, knowing there was somebody out there backing me.”

 

Shouta knew he was probably testing the kid’s boundaries, and he really shouldn’t be doing that after he had just been kidnapped.  He just couldn’t help but pull the kid into an embrace when he heard him say that.  Shit, he wasgetting emotional now, that wouldn’t fucking do.  He took a deep breath to calm himself then started to talk.

 

“Katsuki, what I did for you, that doesn’t require thanks.  I did that because I couldn’t stand the things that they were trying to say about you, because I knew they weren’t true.”  Katsuki didn’t fight the hug, it seemed like he had almost been ready for it, and Shouta was relieved he hadn’t made him uncomfortable.  “I want you to feel like you can trust me, you should be able to.”

 

“I do trust you.” Katsuki interjected, but Aizawa continued.

 

“I know you do, and I’m not entirely sure I deserve it.”  Aizawa sighed and in another rare sign of affection, he found himself carding through the teen’s hair.  He had been given a lot of time to think about it during the three days Katsuki had been missing, all the signs he had dismissed or ignored.  He had reflected a lot on those first weeks, and it really should have been obvious, it would have been obvious, if he had been looking for it. 

 

After the USJ, all of his leisure time had gone into planning and preparing the best possible lesson plan to prepare them as best as he could for another attack.  It had been obvious that the League wasn’t quite done with UA yet, and really the whole idea of the summer camp he had set up was to prepare as many of them as possible for the Provisional Hero License exam.  So that, if they were attacked by villains, then they could legally defend themselves.  Hosu had been an extraneous case and caused more directly by the Hero Killer, and his student’s lack of survival instincts, than the League, but it had been a close enough call that it had scared the crap out of him when he had heard.

 

He had just been so busy, with all of it, that he failed to really notice it, or bother to put the details together into a bigger picture.  All the pieces had been there, Aizawa just hadn’t had the time to piece them together yet, and that was the worst part.  He would do better though, things like this weren’t just going to slip under the radar anymore. 

 

What Shouta hadn’t been expecting though, was a light scoff from Katsuki at his statement.

 

“Yeah, sure.  Mr. I’m going to singlehandedly fight off a horde of villains and come out with only like three broken limbs and a cracked skull just to protect my class.”  Katsuki said totally deadpanned, though there was a slight breathy chuckle at the end that was filled to the brim with emotion.

 

“I was doing my job.”  Shouta remarked lamely, though he smiled at the teen’s statement, nonetheless.  Listening to the stubborn kid compliment him so sincerely was truly something to behold.

 

“You know, I’m sick of people saying that too.” Katsuki laughed a bit bitterly.  “I’ve heard that so fucking often I could puke.  There are lots of slack-ass people out there who only care about themselves, and their work is secondary to them at best, people don’t always rise to the responsibilities they take.  The people who not only do their job but do a fucking good job at it because they care, deserve some fucking praise every once in a while.” 

 

Shouta balked a little at the statement, and he literally couldn’t help the warm glowing light that lit up in his chest, making him feel light and airy with the praise.  The kid he was talking to, was so different from the one he saw in the classroom, that he wondered how much of the change was simply the fact that he wasn’t living with his parents anymore, and how much was just a temporary show of weakness. 

 

Shouta suspected it was the former, and it made him all the more glad that Katsuki wasn’t living with them anymore, and if he had anything to say about it, he never would again.

 

“Thanks, kid.”  Aizawa warmly replied.  It was almost certainly the most emotion other than anger, Katsuki had ever heard out of him.  If the kid noticed he didn’t say anything.

 

---------------

 

They only sat on the floor like that for a few more minutes before they headed back to the lobby to find Kirishima waiting for them.  He waved to them and Katsuki gave a small smile at the sight.  When they got within polite speaking distance, Aizawa asked if Kirishima had talked to his parents.

 

“Yeah, I did.  They weren’t exactly happy, but they said if they could talk to you about it they would be ok with me staying here with you two, if that’s not a problem.”  Kirishima explained.  Aizawa simply hummed and pulled out his phone. 

 

“You two stay here, I’ll be back in a minute.” Aizawa remarked dully and walked away.

 

He had been right, it had only taken a few minutes to converse with Kirishima’s parents and assure that Kirishima would be fine staying with him for the night.

 

With that the incredibly long wait began, as they waited for any news on Jeanist’s health.

 

 

Chapter Text

Katsuki played with the denim scrap in his hands as he watched the sun rise from the large glass paned doors of the hospital lobby.  The place was essentially deserted now, with only the hospital staff occasionally walking through, and no other activity to be seen.

 

Aizawa had told the hospital staff that they would be waiting for news on the pro’s condition.  At first, they had some pushback with some rule that only relatives could request medical information on patients.  Soon though, the issue resolved itself when they discovered that Jeanist didn’t really have any relatives, extended or otherwise.  There was something about a distant cousin that lived out of the country, but that was it. 

 

For some reason, that detail stuck with Katsuki, and he really wasn’t entirely sure why.

 

Given that Jeanist’s medical proxy (who happened to be Gang Orca) was also indisposed by injury, temporary medical proxy status was given to one of Jeanist’s sidekicks, who was running his agency in the meantime.

 

After they figured all of that out, Jeanist’s sidekick had gladly allowed them to receive the in-person updates, given that Aizawa let them know when anything of note happened.

 

That left them here, waiting for news.  The last they had heard, Jeanist was still in critical condition, and had been taken into surgery about an hour ago.  Now, Aizawa had tried to explain to Katsuki what the medical lingo had meant about why Tsunagu had needed the surgery.  That didn’t mean that Katsuki understood it though, he had accepted that.  The only part that he had needed to hear was that the surgery would be dangerous, and that there was a decent chance that the hero died in the procedure.

 

If there had been another choice, the medical staff would have taken it, Katsuki knew that. 

 

That didn’t mean that his heart didn’t sink at the news.

 

None of the three of them had gotten any sleep the previous night, and Katsuki found himself wondering at everything that had happened last night. 

 

So much had happened in just a few short hours.

 

It was uncanny, how much this just felt like some awfully realistic dream.  A tiny part of him wondered if he was still tied to that chair in the League’s bar or whatever it was, just living out some horrible daydream.

 

A different part of him bitterly hoped that it was, and that Tsunagu was still running around out there, completely healthy.

 

He knew it was all wishful thinking though.

 

As the sun continued to rise, Aizawa directed both Katsuki and Kirishima to the hospital cafeteria for some breakfast.

 

Up until this point, the three of them had only really talked in idle chatter, not really mentioning anything of note other that Jeanist’s condition.  They were all exhausted, and it had made any attempts at a serious conversation die in their mouths before they spoke. 

 

That was until they sat down at that table in the hospital cafeteria.

 

Aizawa was watching Katsuki carefully, though with more intensity than he had the rest of the time they had been here, it was clear he had something he wanted to say.  Kirishima seemed to notice too, and he shared a look with Katsuki briefly.  Katsuki didn’t comment on it, he was sure the uncomfortable conversation, whatever the topic may be, would rear its ugly head in its own time. 

 

No need to rush these things, after all.

 

It was just as they were finishing their food, and about to start cleaning up their table that Aizawa casually spoke. 

 

“Katsuki, what exactly made you run away from home?”  Aizawa asked bluntly, as Katsuki was just about to stand to throw away the trash from his meal. 

 

Katsuki had known this conversation was coming, he really had.  He knew that he was going to need to talk about it again with Aizawa, and maybe eventually All Might, but really, Katsuki had hoped it could wait until Tsunagu was awake, or maybe until they knew that he would be ok.

 

…or knew that he wouldn’t make it at all.

 

Katsuki shook the thought away and steadied himself.  This was fine, it was just another conversation, one that he needed to get out of the way.  Though, he wanted to at least talk about it in the lobby, where they could get news on Jeanist’s condition when it was available.  Already Katsuki was a bit jittery about having missed something important, though he wasn’t going to tell them that.

 

He didn’t want them knowing just how desperate he was to know, or how desperate he was to know that he was going to live, at the very least.  Yes, he was trying to get better at showing his venerable side, because he knewthese two wouldn’t judge him for it.

 

They both had proven that.  He just, already felt venerable enough, he wanted to retain some of his dignity, he wasn’t completely broken yet.  So, he played it off casually, just to avoid the suspicion. 

 

“I can tell you all about it, I guess.  It’s a long story though, so we might want to head back to the lobby.”  It was a compromise, he wasn’t denying Aizawa the information, he just wanted to have the conversation somewhere else, and he wasn’t being totally honest as to why he wanted to move either.  None of that mattered though, as Aizawa stood and started clearing the table.

 

“That’s perfectly fine.”  He replied easily, and Kirishima seemed to catch Katsuki’s gaze for a moment.  There was an implacable emotion wiped across Kirishima’s features, and Katsuki fumbled a bit as he saw it, suddenly thinking to that pep talk Kirishima had given him the previous night.

 

It suddenly occurred to him that Katsuki literally had no idea how Kirishima had known so much about his conversation with Tsunagu, and it actually made him wrack his brain for any kind of explanation.  As a matter of fact, how had Tsunagu even known where to find Katsuki.

 

Katsuki had never actually gotten to ask Tsunagu that question, not before he had been kidnapped.

 

The utter confusion and even a little bit of suspicion that he cast toward Kirishima seemed to catch the other boy off-guard and he flinched.

 

“Bakubro, what’s that glare for man?” Kirishima chuckled nervously as Katsuki eyed his friend with suspicion and contemplation.  He stared at Kirishima down for a long moment, silently considering the details.  Yeah, he definitely did something.  Katsuki realized, and he wasn’t exactly mad about it.  Katsuki wasn’t sure how he liked Kirishima going behind his back, though, no matter what it was.

 

Katsuki stood up, breaking his gaze and walking away.  “I know you did something shitty-hair, so you better fess-up before I figure it out for myself.”

 

Aizawa, who had just finished throwing the trash away gave Kirishima a curious look, then shrugged and followed behind Katsuki, who was already heading back to the lobby.  Katsuki could hear Kirishima yelp, and hurry to catch up with them.  Already, Kirishsima was sweating and nervously stuttering.

 

“Ok, man.  Before I tell you, you got to promise not to be too mad at me, I was super worried, and I was pretty sure you weren’t going to listen to me.  Though, to be fair, I probably should have at least told you, what I was doing before I did it, I just really didn’t want you to-“  Kirishima started defending himself, clearly upset.  Katsuki reveled a bit in it, figuring that if Kirishima already felt this guilty, that he probably deserved a little nervousness.  Though as he kept rambling, enough so that he was almost starting to sound like the hero-nerd, Katsuki cut him off.

 

“What.  Did.  You.  Do.”  Katsuki deadpanned, leaving Kirishima to abruptly stop his defensive rambling and freeze, chuckling a little nervously.

 

“I followed you home from school when I thought you weren’t going home.  The next day, I brought Jeanist to see you because I thought your soulparent might be able to talk more sense into you than I would.”  Kirishima explained, gathering himself to put on a steady face, clearly not regretting what he did. 

 

Katsuki blinked blankly at him.  That wasn’t actually so bad, and well, Katsuki would be lying if he said that it hadn’t been a good idea.  For some reason, Tsunagu had been able to talk him down, he had been the whole catalyst that started this mess, and he had been the solution.

 

So, maybe Kirishima had breached his privacy, but that was not an extreme enough thing for this reaction.  Kirishima was still leaving something out, and Katsuki knew it.

 

“You weren’t exactly fucking wrong about that, but you’re hiding something else.”  Katsuki deadpanned ad they walked, and Kirishima chuckled again.

 

“Ok, so I may have hidden in the bushes while you two talked, in case anything happened.  I didn’t really know Jeanist, so I wanted to make sure that nothing went wrong.”  His friend couldn’t quite meet his gaze anymore and was looking away, chuckling nervously as they walked.  Aizawa was listening to the conversation with interest and Katsuki scoffed.

 

Ok.  Yeah, that bothered Katsuki a little bit.  That fact that he hadn’t even known that he was telling Kirishima his life story.  Fuck, he had even mentioned fucking Deku, and all that shit from middle school. Had he known Shitty-Hair had been listening in he never would have said that much, at the very least.

 

The stuff about his parents, maybe that was ok.  He might have told Kirishima eventually, about the gritty details, but certainly not for a while.

 

He forced himself to calm down, to shove that aside.  Ok, yeah maybe he wouldn’t have told him.  Though, that doesn’t really matter right now, all that really matters is that he knows.  He knew and he still came to save him, and he still stayed here with him.  Kirishima knew all the shit he told Tsunagu, and still he said all of those nice things about him the other day with such sincerity, that Katsuki was questioning whether or not this was a bad thing or not.

 

Katsuki stayed silent as they walked the rest of the way back to the lobby, and when Aizawa went to check the desk to see if there had been any news, that was when Katsuki finally spoke.

 

“Ok.  I’m not mad, though I’m not fucking happy either.  I’m not even upset at all that you told Jeanist or followed me and shit.  I’m not great at this shit, and I’m not always right, I know that.  So, you stepped in when I needed it, that was ok.  I’m okay with that.”  Katsuki huffed a sigh and continued. 

 

“I said a lot of stuff to Tsunagu that I never would have mentioned to you, especially that stuff about Deku, that stuff is in the past and I do need to fix it.  I never wanted anybody else in our class to know though, and as long as Deku is good with that, I am too.  So, I get where you were coming from, but that’s not fucking cool Shitty-Hair.”

 

Kirishima nodded and sat down in one of the lobby chairs with his head hung low.  “Yeah, I’m sorry man.  It felt wrong in the moment too, and I should have just listened to that instinct and gone home.”

 

Katsuki nodded himself and flopped into the chair next to Kirishima, they sat quietly for a long moment.  Katsuki gave Kirishima a chance to stew on his guilt.  If Katsuki was honest, in retrospect, the fact that Kirishima already knew everything made things a lot easier.  He was almost glad that he had eavesdropped, just this once.

 

“If you don’t make a fucking habit of it, then we’re good Shitty-Hair, you don’t need to mope so much.”  Katsuki had already forgiven his friend.  Everything that Kirishima had done, and was still doing for him, was far from lost on Katsuki.  Just the fact that Kirishima had found a way to stay with Katsuki this long, was more than appreciated.  Though, even beyond that, Kirishima had always been a good friend to Katsuki, and really, he did appreciate it.

 

So, he could let this one go.

 

Aizawa came back to the two teens and sat on Katsuki’s other side, similar to how they had sat the other night. 

 

“He’s still in surgery, there’s no news yet.”  Aizawa informed, and Katsuki nodded gravely.

 

He supposed it was time to have that conversation now.  Katsuki didn’t let himself think about it too much, he was too tired to do that, he just started talking, and reiterating what he had told Tsunagu just a few short days ago.  He didn’t leave anything out, he told it just like he had told Tsunagu, in fact Katsuki added more details in places, unafraid to speak in front of Kirishima knowing what he did.

 

He told Aizawa everything, from the moment he first saw Tsunagu’s mark, to the moment he got kidnapped.  He even gave some context as to other things his mother has said or done to him over the years for context. 

 

He talked and he waited.  Aizawa’s reaction to the information had been different from Tsunagu’s but not in a bad way, per say.  In fact, by the end, Aizawa looked livid.  As the only thing stopping him from bolting out of his chair and telling his parents off himself, was the fact that he would be abandoning two kids here.

 

Aizawa was glaring coldly at the doors, and with a cool venom explaining to Katsuki exactly how wrong all of it had been.  Like Katsuki hadn’t known that already, it was nice to hear either way.  For some reason hearing Aizawa get angry for him, made Katsuki feel warm and happy.  It was similar to the way he had felt when All Might had been angry for him during the rescue, it made him feel important for some reason he couldn’t quite place.

 

When they were done talking, Aizawa said that he was going to make a phone call, and that he would be back in a few minutes.  Both teens nodded in acknowledgement of the statement and shared a few words between themselves before Katsuki leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes contently.

 

Not a single one of them expected what was coming next.

 

------------

 

 

Shouta had figured that Katsuki’s homelife had been bad, but hell if he hadn’t been at all prepared for just how horrible it was.

 

Shouta really could only wonder at how this had all ended as well as it did.  How had Katsuki ended up here, with them, and open enough to explain all of this to him?  Because, he sure as hell hadn’t had any help getting here. 

 

As Shouta scrolled through his contacts in the abandoned hallway he had moved into for some privacy, he tried reasoning out the answer.  Any answer, as to how against all odds, Katsuki had managed to come out of this shitstorm entirely intact.  It spoke to an underlying strength of character in Katsuki, that Shouta couldn’t manage to figure out the origins of. 

 

It sure as hell hadn’t come from his parents, or his teachers in Middle School.  It hadn’t come from the environment at his school either, which seemed to be just as volatile as the kid himself had been.

 

The answer, as plain as it was, suddenly appeared with all the subtlety of a slap to the face as he scrolled through his contacts and happened across her name and picture.

 

He blinked in surprise as it came to him, it was simple, and it explained a lot.

 

Now, Shouta could be dead wrong, but when he considered the facts, it really was the only explanation.  He had been looking for Hizashi’s contact, when he came across it.  He had the contact information for the parents of every kid in his current class saved in his phone, being a heroics teacher, it was good to be prepared in case of injury and having emergency contacts on hand was infinitely useful in those situations.  She had been the only parent who he had a profile photo of, simply because she had felt like she should send him one.

 

It was Inko Midoriya.

 

When Katsuki had been explaining, and talking about his life, Shouta had been immeasurably surprised when Katsuki had mentioned ‘Auntie Inko’ as if it were a normal thing for him.  When he had asked the kid about it, he had mentioned that his mom had gone to school with Inko and because they lived in the same neighborhood, his mother had asked Inko to babysit him often when he was younger.

 

That was all that had been said about her, and they had moved on.  That was it, it had been no big deal.

 

Except, thinking on it now, in the dimly lit hallway.  It seems like Ms. Midoriya had been the only positive adult influence on Katsuki’s life.  Shouta had met the woman, even in his incredibly brief encounter with her, he could tell that she was incredibly kindhearted.  Looking at everything he knew now; it was almost impossible to imagine that there was any other explanation.   

 

Katsuki knew what good looked like, he knew what normal is because he had seen it in Izuku’s homelife.  Frustration and misunderstanding had driven Katsuki to dislike Izuku, but he still appreciated Inko’s kindness towards him, Shouta had heard that much in Katsuki’s voice when he spoke of her.

 

The reason Katsuki was able to break free of his parents’ grasp now, was because he had encountered her early in his life, and Shouta was absolutely convinced of that fact.  She had somehow managed to impart a moral center onto Katsuki, even if she hadn’t even been trying.

 

Something about that fact made Shouta feel a little bit better about this whole twisted mess, the fact that not every adult in Katsuki’s life up until now had failed him completely.  There had been at least a little good in his childhood, even if it hadn’t been much.

 

He shook his head, refocusing back on his current task.  He needed to talk to Hizashi, and he would have done just that, if when he got to his contact, he hadn’t seen a notification pop up on the top of his screen.

 

 

 

Kirishima:  Aizawa-sensei, we have a situation.

 

Kirishima:  Katsuki’s parents are here, I don’t know what they want.

 

Kirishima:  I think they’re trying to take him home with them…

 

 

 

You have got to be kidding.

 

He sent off a quick text informing Kirishima that he was on his way and started towards the lobby.  Shouta was seriously beginning to question just how much of this misfortune was coincidence and just how much was purposely aligned to make everything go as horribly as humanly possible for him, or for Katsuki for that matter.

 

It was seriously like he couldn’t even take his eyes off of Katsuki for even a minute, or something horrible was going to happen, again. 

 

When he reached the lobby, he was met with quite a scene.

 

-----------

 

 

Katsuki was seriously done with this shit. 

 

He was just so fucking done with everything going straight to hell every time he thought that he might have overcome the next hurdle life threw at him.

 

He just wanted everything to go according to plan for once, just once.  He just needed to have just a few days where nothing fucking happened.

 

He wasn’t that fucking lucky though.

 

Nope, he wasn’t that lucky.

 

Katsuki was trembling with a mix of fury, fear, and utter disgust as he watched his mother walk casually up to him crying, acting like she cared.  Honestly, Katsuki had never seen her act this way in her life and she was a horrible actor.

 

The tears in her eyes were so forced that he wanted to puke.

 

When she approached him like that, his only reflex was to roughly push her away, with a ‘Don’t fucking touch me!’.  His shout echoed across the lobby, and it caught the attention of the few people currently in the room. 

 

It wasn’t that hard of a push, it hadn’t been that hard, and his fucking mother was not the fucking pansy she was pretending to be.  She staggered and gave an offended shriek, then gave him a concerned look that looked so unnatural on her face that Katsuki shivered. 

 

“Oh, my dear baby boy what did they do to you?”  She cooed, in a way that made his skin crawl. 

 

What in the fucking hell was wrong with her?

 

His father was there too, standing quietly behind her, indifferent as ever to the world around him.

 

He so didn’t have the energy to deal with this today, not after last night.  He just didn’t have it in him, he literally wanted to run as far in the other direction as possible.  He literally couldn’t deal with this shit right now. 

 

He was tired, he was so fucking exhausted from all the shit that was happening.  He didn’t sleep a wink last night, and the fitful sleep he had gotten as he was tied to that chair in the Villain’s hideout or whatever, was not restful in the least.  Not to mention he hasn’t even seen a proper bed in over a week. 

 

He was an emotional wreck from days of shit changing on him, because that was literally what it felt like.  He genuinely felt like he was playing some sick game, and the rules were changing on him every day.  He wasn’t even entirely sure what to think of any of this shit anymore.

 

He had only just started to truly accept that his mother was not the authority in his life he should listen to, that his whole life and everything she had ever said and done to him was wrong.  It was something he had only just learned. 

 

He wasn’t ready to face her yet; he already felt his nerve slipping and it honestly scared him.

 

He was losing his grip and he literally couldn’t control his reaction to her anymore, he simply didn’t have the energy left to fight her. 

 

He really didn’t want to have to go with her. 

 

“What do you want?”  Katsuki heard someone say, and at first Katsuki didn’t even recognize he voice because of the pure amount of venom in his words.  When he turned to look, he saw with a great amount of shock, that it was the bright, cheery, sunshine boy Kirishima, with his toothy smile and his optimistic outlook on life.  It was him who was speaking, except he looked so fucking angry, that Katsuki stared at him in awe for a moment.

 

The look Katsuki’s mother gave Kirishima was nearly as priceless as her guise slipped and her face twisted from the forced concern, to utter fury, then back in just a few seconds.  If it hadn’t been so entirely fucking unnerving, Katsuki would have been grinning at the small victory.

 

“I just wanted to see my baby boy that’s all.” Her tone was sickly sweet, and neither Katsuki nor Kirishima were buying it for a second.  Kirishima stepped forward to stand beside Kastuki.

 

“Well, here he is, you’ve seen him.” Kirishima deadpanned.  Katsuki watched his mother struggle not to bristle with fury at Kirishima’s comment.

 

Holy shit, Kirishima. 

 

Katsuki relaxed just a bit, just watching Kirishima work for another moment.  He let himself trust his friend and take a second to breathe. 

 

He literally had never seen anyone talk to his mother the way Kirishima was right now.  Even when Katsuki had occasionally seen her on work calls or even at work herself, he had never seen someone talk back to her like this.  Even random people in the store or whatever, literally never.  His mother just emitted a ‘don’t fuck with me.’ aura, and people just knew to watch themselves around her.  It was just the way things were.

 

It was surreal to see his mother fumble like this, she was usually so fucking sure of herself, that seeing her losing ground like this was absolutely liberating. 

 

She recovered from the hit after a moment, stepping closer to Katsuki again.  Kirishima took one more step forward, looking like he was ready to fucking throw some punches if she got any closer.

 

Holy

 

Shit

 

Kirishima.

 

Katsuki wasn’t sure if he wanted to cheer his friend on or tell him to calm down a few notches.  Kirishima was going on one hell of a protective streak, and Katsuki was genuinely flattered.  He almost wanted to just watch the argument play out, to see how long it took for his mother to absolutely lose her shit. 

 

As entertaining as the thought was, she was his mother, and at least to some degree, his responsibility. 

 

Knowing that Kirishima was standing right next to him, ready and willing to step in if necessary, gave Katsuki all the encouragement he needed.

 

“Now that I’ve seen him, I would like to take him home.”  Mitsuki remarked, the fake concern in her voice dampened by her hardly constrained rage.

 

“Oh, really?  Would you now?”  Katsuki scoffed bitterly.  “Oh, that’s fucking rich.  Coming from the woman who literally called me an ‘ungrateful brat’ and a ‘fucking evil little shit’ the last time you talked to me.  Oh, yeah you also said you wished I’d never been born, remember that ‘mom’?  Remember how you let me just walk the fuck out of the house, right out the front door as you watched me, like it was fucking inevitable.  Mind you, that was over a fucking week ago, and I haven’t even gone home even once since then.  In what universe does that translate to, I want you in my house!  To any normal person, that means ‘I don’t give even a single shit what happens to you’.  Am I wrong?”  Katsuki shouted, probably louder than he should.  Yeah, he was making a scene, but he literally didn’t give a shit.

 

He had no idea what his mother’s deal was, this shit was too fucking weird for him to even try to make sense of.  He literally had no fucks to give about either of his parents anymore, he literally couldn’t care less what their motives were, he just wanted them gone.  Out of his sight, where he didn’t have to listen or hear their bullshit, ever again.

 

“Oh, dear what are you talking about?” Mistuki said in a cutesy way, as if she had been expecting it.  

 

His mother really was fucking delusional, what the fuck is she doing?  She literally was acting like she was high, or drunk, or maybe both.  This was so fucking weird that Katsuki stopped trying to make any sense of it.

 

“You know what, I literally don’t give a single shit, what you wanted to gain by coming here.  I am not coming with you, unless I’m in a fucking body bag, so you can fucking go home now.” Katsuki spat venomously.  His mother seemed to gain her ground, smiling with a toothy grimace of triumph.

 

“What do you mean kiddo?  I am your mother, and your father and I still have full custody over you.  You don’t have a choice, now come here.”  Mitsuki couldn’t help the maniacal glint in her eyes as she maintained her cutesy exterior.  Katsuki’s heart sank despite himself, as she stated it plainly as if it were an undeniable fact.

 

No, fuck that. 

 

Not fucking happening, I didn’t go through all this shit just to end up right back where I fucking started.

 

The pros who tried to save me didn’t go through all this shit just for me to end back up with her.

 

Fuck no.

 

Kirishima got out his phone beside Katsuki and was typing furiously, he was almost certainly telling Aizawa-sensei what was going on.  Katsuki really hoped he would get here soon, just as quickly as it had appeared, Katsuki’s drive to fight wavered, and he found himself just trembling at the thought of going back home.  Even if it was just for a day, he knew that his mother would purposely make his last hours in her clutches into actual hell.

 

Just as Kirishima seemed to finish typing on his phone, something utterly unexpected happened.

 

“Ms. Bakugo, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”  A voice that Katsuki vaguely recognized said from behind him.  Katsuki looked over his shoulder to find that the person who had spoken up for him was…

 

…that weird Detective guy from the USJ.

 

Huh?

 

Kirishima turned to watch as the Detective strode past both teens to stand ever so slightly between them and his mother.

 

Oh.  He’s defending me for some reason.  Katsuki realized quickly, and he couldn’t help feeling a little relieved, even if he was more than a little confused. 

 

His mother’s eye was nearly twitching at this point, her utter fury cracking the persona she had created, for who knows what the fuck reason.  She was just barely managing to contain her rage, as yet another interruption got in the way of her goal. 

 

“Ah, and who are you?”  The cold, icy nature of her tone ate at Katsuki, even if it wasn’t directed at him.  That was just how powerful her distaste for this most recent turn of events was.

 

The Detective didn’t seem even the least bit phased by the intense hatred that was being funneled directly into his very soul, if anything the man was completely composed, polite even.  He pulled a wallet like object out of his jacket pocket, and opened it, showing it to Mitsuki easily.

 

“I am Detective Tsukauchi Naomasa,” He began easily, looking to his pocket again for a neatly folded piece of paper, which he pulled out and showed to her.  “I also just happen to be the officer in the precinct who authorized Tsunagu Hakamata’s request to have Katsuki Bakugo placed under protective custody, just a short thirty-six hours ago. Unfortunately, your claim to custody has no meaning until your case has been resolved.”  From where he was standing, Katsuki was sure he saw the detective grin slightly in satisfaction.  Katsuki couldn’t help the sharp inhale he took when he heard Tsunagu’s name, and he watched as his mother finally cracked under the pressure.

 

“Are you fucking kidding me?”  She began her voice even, but betraying the rage underneath, but the Detective cut her off before she could protest further.

 

“Until that occurs, you are legally obligated not to have any contact with the minor in question.”  The Detective continued, eyeing her seriously.  “Meaning that if you don’t respect that obligation, you are subject to legal ramifications.”

 

“Wait just a fucking second, on what fucking grounds?  Why the fuck are you placing my son into protective custody, from his own fucking mother?” Mistuki was screaming shrilly now, and Katsuki could hear Aizawa finally arrive, he walked up behind them and Katsuki was relieved to feel as much as the man idly placed a hand on his shoulder as he stood beside Katsuki.

 

The Detective’s neutral and polite expression gained an edge of incredulity, as if he couldn’t quite believe what she was asking.  He blinked in shock then began, rather bluntly.  “Well, neglect to the point of being kidnapped by villains on national television, for starters.”  He stated like it was obvious, because it was obvious.  At least it would have been obvious to anyone but Mitsuki Bakugo.

 

“You’re kidding, how could I have prevented that?  I’m no fucking pro, if he were with me, the villains would have taken him anyway!”  His mother asked as if Naomasa was being the unreasonable party here.

 

She just really didn’t fucking get it did she?  She couldn’t process that the villains only targeted him because of how easy of a target he had been for them.  She literally couldn’t comprehend that even if Kasuki had never been kidnapped, that simply the fact that she never even bothered to so much as report Katsuki as a runaway in over a week of him being missing, was entirely unacceptable regardless.

 

The Detective looked a little dumfounded.  “That, really isn’t the point.”  He shook himself lightly.  “Miss, you really don’t even need to understand why, all you need to do is stay away from your son until the case has been resolved.”

 

His mother looked uncertainly at the group, glancing at Katsuki, before she looked away with a huff.  Katsuki watched in a bit of awe as his mother realized she had lost.

 

“Fucking turn that thing off Masaru.”  Mitsuki spat bitterly, as Katsuki only just realized that he had been recording the tense encounter.  Without another word the two of them walked towards the doors of the lobby, completely ignoring them as they simply walked away.

 

The hospital lobby was completely silent for a few moments, Katsuki was sure that at least one of the other people in the room had caught a video, and soon it would be in the headlines, that was just the way his luck had been rolling lately.

 

Katsuki allowed himself to ignore it, looking to the Detective who had stepped in to dissolve the situation so readily.  Katsuki reached his hand in his pocket to feel the denim scrap he had left in there, and as silly as it was let himself feel comfort at its presence.  The Detective turned to face them, having completely regained his composure.

 

“Thanks.”  Katsuki managed lamely, as he caught the Detective’s gaze.  There was a slight flicker of some deeper emotion in his eyes before he smiled warmly to the teen.

 

“Don’t worry about it kid, I’m happy to inform you that you won’t be seeing her again until you’re on opposite sides of a courtroom.”  Naomasa said reassuringly, and really, Katsuki couldn’t help but feel relieved by the statement, glad to not have to suffer through his mother’s crazy moods, at least not for the immediate future.

 

“I wasn’t aware that you took custody cases Naomasa?”  Aizawa questioned his voice even, except for the curious inflection at the end.  The detective chuckled. 

 

“Yeah, it’s usually not my thing, but before the raid Jeanist asked me to help him set it up.  We even got the case expedited so that this little ticket here-“  He shook the little slip of paper for emphasis.  “-would be valid by the time we recovered the kid.  He wanted to make sure that there was no chance that she would be able to just take him after the raid was over.”

 

Naomasa shook his head with a grin.  “Really, I could hardly refuse.  He was practically with me through the entire investigation, not to mention all the pooled recourses he was able to gather from a number of hero agencies.  I’ve never had so much talented manpower at my disposal in my life, and honestly, I don’t think my team and I would have been able to find their base without their help.  It really was the least I could do, anything to help him sleep a little easier.”

 

Katsuki listened to what the detective said with a mix of intense curiosity and maybe even a little wonder.  He tried not to let his interest show too plainly on his face. 

 

It was amazing, truly impressive, to see just how much Jeanist could keep doing for him while still on the operating table.  Logically, Katsuki knew that this was all from preparation before the rescue.  That fact didn’t particularly matter though.  Pieces that Jeanist had left behind, like this piece of denim in his pocket and the slip of paper in the Detective’s hand, almost made it feel like Tsunagu was right there next to him.  Like he wasn’t even hurt at all, just not in the room. 

 

Katsuki scoffed at his own thoughts, shaking the silly thought away.  The others were talking around him, and he listened idly as Aizawa and Naomasa talked.  Katsuki wasn’t particularly paying attention anymore, so he just let it all happen around him.  Soon the hospital lobby’s volume was up to a low chatter, as the few people in the lobby started up their own conversations.

 

The sudden appearance of his mother had shaken him, truly.  As the adrenaline from the confrontation wore off, Katsuki found himself even more exhausted than he had been before, and despite himself he was swaying slightly on his feet.  Before long, he found himself leaning slightly into Aizawa’s gentle grip on his shoulder.  It didn’t take more than a moment for Aizawa to notice and lead Katsuki to a chair, Kirishima sitting on his one side and Aizawa on the other.  Naomasa still stood to talk to Aizawa for a while, and Katsuki landed up using Aizawa’s shoulder and arm as a pillow and drifted off to sleep.  The more accurate description might be collapsed from exhaustion.  Either way, it didn’t really matter to him one way or another.

 

Chapter Text

Kirishima couldn’t help but stew in his guilt as he listened to Katsuki explain everything to Aizawa-sensei, in much the same way he had to Jeanist just a few days ago.

 

Katsuki had never been fond of sharing, and that was true, even now.  Kirishima could see how uncomfortable Katsuki was, even now.  Kirishima knew that the only reason he was talking about it at all was because he felt like he needed to or had an obligation to tell Aizawa.

 

That just made Kirishima even more upset about his own actions just a few nights ago. 

 

Kirishima knew just how slow Katsuki was to trust others, he had seen as much as he tried so hard to get Katsuki to trust him to begin with.  Kirishima had broken that trust and deep down, he felt like Katsuki should have been angrier with him, that he should have threatened never to speak to him again, or anything really, because quite frankly, he deserved it.

 

Yet, Katsuki had just simply told him not to do it again and let it go.

 

Kirishima really hadn’t known what to say to that.

 

He almost wanted Katsuki to be angry with him, so that they could make up and move on.

 

If Kirishima had been forced to redeem himself, and at least give a proper apology, then that would have felt like something, it would have felt like he had made up for his actions at the very least. 

 

That didn’t happen though.  Nope, he was just going to sit here and stew over it until he found some way to make it up to Katsuki.

 

After Katsuki had finished his story, Aizawa-sensei left to make a call, and in the silence that followed, Kirishima considered apologizing again.  He might have done just that, if someone hadn’t walked into the lobby from the outside just then.

 

Immediately, the guilt that had settled into his chest dissipated, it was entirely forgotten in the face of this most recent development.

 

It was replaced entirely with rage.

 

Kirishima recognized her immediately as she entered, looking innocently around the room, searching for someone. 

 

It was Mitsuki Bakugo.  Katsuki’s mother, the person who had single-handedly made Katsuki’s life a living hell for his entire life.

 

As soon as she spotted them and started to approach, Katsuki immediately stood, Kirishima stood next to him.  Though, before he could stop it, Katsuki was being enveloped in a tearful hug at the hands of his mother.

 

Kirishima froze as he stood, entirely unsure of what to do for the moment it took for Katsuki to push her away.

 

Don’t fucking touch me!”  He shouted, taking a step away from her as she shoved him. 

 

“Oh, my dear baby boy what did they do to you?”  She cooed, and the concern in her voice was so feigned that Kirishima found himself hating her even more than he had before.  It was quite impressive, if he was being honest with himself.

 

He was now face to face with the woman who had made Katsuki feel like he couldn’t ask for help, that he was somehow unworthy of it because he was fundamentally different from everyone else.  He was face to face with the woman that has made Katsuki believe that he deserved to be mistreated, to the point that he not only couldn’t ask for help but couldn’t accept it when offered.  He was looking right at the woman who convinced Katsuki, that he could never be worth saving, that it was somehow all his fault.

 

Not to mention the things she did to him, not just what she said.

 

It was so far beyond horrible, that Kirishima just knew that whatever reason she had for being here, no matter what it was, she needed to be gone immediately.  Katsuki had been, and was still going through, too much shit right now, that Kirishima didn’t even need to look at his friend to know that he was slowly crumbling under her presence.

 

He would do what it took to make her back the hell off right now, or he would go get someone who could.  Katsuki was never going to have to deal with her ever again as long as Kirishima was still living and breathing. 

 

With the steady determination of a great mountain, he dug his heels in and stood his ground standing close enough to Katsuki that he would be able to stop any further physical advances, by force if necessary.

 

“What do you want?”  He asked with an amount of pure hatred that he hadn’t even known he’d possessed.  Katsuki glanced at him, shocked and confused for a moment before he seemed to recognize Kirishima’s presence and relax marginally, though he was still stiff as a board and returned right back to look at his mother as she responded.

 

“I just wanted to see my baby boy that’s all.”  She said, and the kindness in her voice was so obviously faked, that Kirishima questioned if she had ever shown kindness to anyone in her entire life.  Or, if she even knew how.  It almost sounded like she was trying to be sarcastic, and if Kirishima hadn’t seen her carefully measured expression, then he might have just assumed that was her intention.

 

Except as he watched her, she seemed to be genuinely trying to appear kind, and something about that fact hurt.  Knowing that Katsuki had never even experienced the same kind of parental affection that all children do, not even in the smallest of doses.  It was the kind of childhood that Kirishima couldn’t imagine, and the kind that Katsuki probably had no idea that he had even been missing, because of how constant it was.

 

Not anymore.

 

Kirishima stepped one step forward to stand just slightly in front of Katsuki, putting himself between the woman and him.  “Well, here he is, you’ve seen him.”  Kirishima didn’t even bother trying to make a logical argument, he already knew that she was far from being open to reason.

 

He felt a wave of triumph as she struggled to contain her rage.  He also felt relief as he heard Katsuki take a second to ignore his mother and sigh in relief, relaxing behind him. 

 

That was the part that mattered most, was that Katsuki knew that he wasn’t facing her alone, he needed a reminder that she was wrong.  Kirishima needed to make sure that Katsuki knew that he wasn’t facing this shit alone, and that there was no way in hell that he was ever going to let his mother hurt him again.

 

Enough, was enough. 

 

This was the line in the sand, and Kirishima was drawing it.  His mother wouldn’t get away with anything else, not while he was around to stop it.  No more, nothing, no contact, verbal or otherwise, unless absolutely necessary.

 

Mitsuki took another insistent step forward, Kirishima wasn’t about to back down now, he stepped forward to match her, standing firmly in front of her.  They were glaring each other down, their faces only inches apart.

 

If she wanted to get any closer to Katsuki, she would need to fight him for it.  He was a heroics student, and he wasn’t about to back down.  Of course, if he could avoid hurting her it would be ideal, he wasn’t exactly eager to throw away his hero career with an assault charge, but he absolutely would if it came down to it.

 

He was done watching, he was done waiting, he wasn’t going to let her hurt his friend like the bully she was.

 

Not when he had made so much progress, not when he was trying to be better than her. 

 

Never again.

 

“Now that I’ve seen him, I would like to take him home.”  She remarked flatly, the already unconvincing concern further dissolved in her rage.

 

He scoffed incredulously at the words.

 

Really, are you kidding?

 

Did she really think that was even an option?

 

Was Katsuki’s mother actually this insane?

 

“Oh really, would you now?”  Kirishima heard Katsuki scoff behind him, before Kirishima could come up for an appropriate response.  Kirishima was about to stop Katsuki when he heard a new emotion in his friend’s voice. 

 

The fear was completely gone, replaced with a bitter hurt and determination that steadied him, Kirishima let him speak, hearing the disbelief and bitter anger in his voice, but none of the guilt, shame or fear, just anger.  Katsuki had a right to that anger, he deserved to be angry, and that was what kept Kirishima from stopping him.  He let Katsuki speak, determined to step in if necessary, but unwilling to take this opportunity for closure from his friend.

 

The entire room was watching the argument by now, Kirishima didn’t really care what they thought though.  It didn’t matter right now, not as Katsuki finished up his speech and Mistuki responded.

 

“Oh dear, what are you talking about?”  She was using that annoyingly cutesy voice that grated on Kirishima’s ears. 

 

What was her problem? 

Kirishima literally could not understand, he had no idea what his mother was doing, what on earth she could gain by doing this?

 

 “You know what, I literally don’t give a single shit, what you wanted to gain by coming here.  I am not coming with you, unless I’m in a fucking body bag, so you can fucking go home now.”

 

You tell her!  That’s it!  Tell her to fuck off!

 

Kirishima swore, if the situation had been even a little less tense, he would have been cheering Katsuki on aloud.  Until he saw her smile, the malicious intent was almost tangible as she grinned, clearly, she was still trying to keep up her act, but her true intent was clear as day now.

 

 

“What do you mean kiddo?  I am your mother, and your father and I still have full custody over you.  You don’t have a choice, now come here.” 

 

Kirishima could almost feel Katsuki slipping at that, and he sent a text off to Aizawa-sensei as quickly as he could manage.

 

Yeah, no way in hell Kirishima was letting that happen.  He didn’t even have to think about it, it didn’t cause a surge of anger as he realized that he would have to step back into the argument.  It was a fact, Katsuki was not going home with her, nobody could change that, not a single person could change it.

 

Whatever fucked up plans she had, whatever shit she had planned was off the fucking table, because the very idea of Katsuki going home with his parents was so unthinkable that Kirishima was simply not going to accept any other outcome.

 

He was one teenager, he couldn’t stop the law, but shit.  If there was a law saying that Katsuki had to go back home with her, even if he didn’t want to, (and he sure as hell didn’t believe that there was a law like that). Kirishima would fucking run away with Katsuki if he needed to.

 

As absolutely drastic as that idea was, if it came down to it.

 

He wouldn’t even fucking hesitate.

 

Kirishima had been just about to say something along those lines when he heard a voice from behind him, and something akin to relief settled over Kirishima when he saw that an adult was stepping in.

 

“Ms. Bakugo, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”  Kirishima recognized him immediately as the Detective from the USJ, and the one who had given him his contact information after Katsuki had first been kidnapped.

 

It was Detective Tsukauchi Naomasa.

 

Kirishima stepped back to stand next to Katsuki as the Detective strode past him and stood in front of them.  He let the detective take care of it, listening alongside Katsuki as he effectively shut down Katsuki’s mother until she had no choice but to leave.

 

Kirishima was only really half-listening to the conversation as he watched Aizawa-sensei showed up just another moment later.  Kirishima almost gave an amused snort at the venomous rage Aizawa was directing right at Katsuki’s parents, quite similar to the protective fire that had overcome Kirishima just a few moments ago, the one that was beginning to simmer down in him, after seeing that his part to play in this was over for now. 

 

It was only after they had all sat down, and Katsuki had drifted off to sleep between Aizawa and Kirishima, that Kirishima finally learned why Katsuki’s mother had shown up today, through the idle chatter between Aizawa and Naomasa.

 

“I don’t understand what her goal was.  She actually just walked up to you two and said, ‘I’m taking you home and you can’t say no?’”  Aizawa spoke in slightly hushed tones and directed the question to Kirishima. 

 

He nodded. “More than that, she was trying to pretend like she was distraught, or upset.  It was some kind of elaborate act, maybe she was trying to fool me?  If that was her plan then it failed, epically, her attempt to sound kind was so clearly acted out that I don’t think a single person in that room believed her.”  Kirishima commented.

 

Naomasa nodded slowly in consideration, then paused, looking at Kirishima as if he was considering whether he should speak about this openly in front of the teen.  Kirishima was just about to offer to leave when the detective seemed to come to a decision and spoke.

 

“That might be part of it,” he sighed in exasperation.  “…though, I think that it was mostly done out of stubbornness.  If you noticed, the father was recording the encounter, as if they were expecting it to go poorly.”  He shook his head, contemplatively.  “I think that when she received notice of the challenge to her custody, she decided to do everything she could to fight it, and from what I can tell, it’s purely out of spite.  Either way, not coming to pick your son up from the hospital would look very horrible in court, so I believe this was mostly just an act to cover their asses.”  Naomasa scoffed.

 

“I know we sent the paperwork off.  The only reason I didn’t immediately detain her was simply as a formality, now that I have personally informed her of the order there should be no reason for her to approach Katsuki again.  She knows what the consequences of that would be, so if you have any issues with her again, make sure call it in.”  Naomasa continued, and Aizawa nodded seriously.

 

“Oh, trust me, I won’t hesitate.”  Aizawa replied, a glint of his previous fury resurfacing at the new details.  Kirishima could understand the sentiment, though made no move to reply, instead glancing at his sleeping friend beside him.

 

He was peacefully sleeping, slumped against Aizawa-sensei’s shoulder.  For all the hardship he had endured over the past two weeks, Katsuki looked entirely at peace now.  Kirishima let himself feel a small well of pride at the fact that he had allowed Katsuki to feel safe enough to speak his mind earlier, and if he had to guess.  A large amount of that inner peace that was allowing Katsuki to get just a little rest, was due to the fact that he had been able to speak his mind, after everything Katsuki had still been able to proudly tell her ‘No.’. 

 

More than that, he had the support to back up those words.  When faced directly with her, the people who cared about him hadn’t buckled under the pressure, they hadn’t bowed to her rage and fury.  Kirishima couldn’t be happier to say that he had been a part of that, even if he still felt a bit of lingering guilt for listening into his conversation with Jeanist, Kirishima didn’t regret his actions.  Sure, he could have handled it a different way, but in the end, it had resulted in this.  Katsuki safely surrounded by people who weren’t going to let anything else happen to him, and he was accepting that help.  Even admitting that he needed it, and that was more improvement than Kirishima had ever expected to happen so quickly. 

 

More, he was almost entirely convinced that it was Jeanist’s doing.  Once again, it was confirming that Kirishima had made the right decision that night.

 

He also felt quite a bit of relief, knowing that he didn’t have to try and bear the weight of Katsuki’s troubles on his own.  He had considered confronting Katsuki on his own and trying to convince him to ask for help on his own.  He was glad he hadn’t done that. 

 

As hard as he would have tried, Kirishima was a teenager, just like Katsuki.  Just that fact would have made it infinitely harder to convince Katsuki of anything.  He found himself relieved that he didn’t have to try and face this on his own, and that Katsuki had adults that were willing to help him.  As hard as Kirishima may have tried, he couldn’t have managed all of this on his own, he couldn’t help Katsuki in the way he would have needed him to.  As hard as it was to accept, Kirishima wouldn’t have been capable of doing everything that would have needed to happen.  He was still just a teenager.

 

It left Kirishima eternally grateful that there were people like Aizawa-sensei, All Might, and Naomasa, to help with the things he couldn’t do.  That made it so that Kirishima could just focus on being there for his friend, and not on the logistics of what it would take to make Katsuki truly safe.

 

As the two adults continued to talk, Kirishima smiled quietly to himself, reassured that everything would turn out alright.  No matter what happened next.

 

Chapter Text

“Katsuki, I need you to wake up for a few minutes.”

 

Katsuki blearily opened his eyes as his shoulder was gently shaken.

 

He wasn’t sure just how long he had been asleep, but judging the warm, late-afternoon sunlight that shone in from the large glass doors of the entryway, it couldn’t have been more than a few hours.  Katsuki stretched himself out, sinking into the lobby chair a bit as he lifted his feet and stretched his arms upwards with a yawn. 

 

Aizawa was crouched in front of him, and Katsuki figured that he had been the one to wake him up.  He sat himself up fully with a huff. 

 

“What is it?”  He asked groggily.  Upon further inspection, he could see Kirishima standing too, to the side of Aizawa, he looked a little upset and that fact caused Katsuki to fully wake from his slumber. 

 

He was still tired, but a wash of concern coated his mood at the worrisome expression on his friend’s face.

 

Now, fully focused on Kirishima, Aizawa between the teens once before explaining.

 

“Kirishima’s parents have come to pick him up.”  Aizawa said bluntly, then stood to let Kirishima properly talk to him.  Katsuki couldn’t help but feel relieved that it wasn’t something more serious, though he wasn’t sure that he was particularly happy either. 

 

He wasn’t some baby who needed his hand held, he had enjoyed Kirishima’s company though, and when faced with the outcome of the surgery, he was going to miss not having him there.  Like it or not, Kirishima had become like a grounding force for Katsuki over the past two weeks, even when literally every other aspect of his life was spiraling out of control, and changing beyond repair, Kirishima had been there and his relationship with him really hadn’t changed much.

 

It was the one thing in this world he was sure about, the one thing he had learned to trust to stay the same.  He was learning to trust the others, like Aizawa and Tsunagu, but he had already trusted Kirishima to some degree, and that had only increased over the past few weeks.

 

Again, he wasn’t some baby.  Though, that didn’t mean his heart didn’t sink a little at the idea.

 

“Sorry, my ma’ was super worried, and she wants me home for tonight at least.”  Kirishima was twiddling his thumbs a bit, looking frustrated and a bit embarrassed.  “My pops said that he’ll drive me to come visit for a few hours tomorrow, though!”  Kirishima’s face lit up a bit as he tried to sound reassuring, but it fell a bit flat because of the underlying frustration.

 

“Don’t worry about it.  Seriously, I’m not some helpless child.”  Katsuki huffed, despite his reservations.  He couldn’t blame Kirishima for this either, the fact that he had even managed to stay with him the first night had been a blessing in and of itself. 

 

Kirishima didn’t seem entirely convinced.  “Of course. I know that Bakubro, but-“

 

“You’ve done more than enough already Shitty-Hair.”  Katsuki interrupted with a small affectionate chuckle, it was a gesture that he would never show outside of present company. “Seriously, you have done enough.”

 

“What if something happens though?  You don’t have your phone and-“  Kirishima started before he was interrupted by Aizawa this time.

 

“Kirishima, we discussed this already.  If Katsuki wants to talk to you, he can use my phone.  No questions asked.”  Aizawa drawled with a sigh.  Clearly it was something they had discussed at length, because Aizawa-sensei’s answer seemed practiced as if he had said it multiple times before.

 

Katsuki forced whatever was left of his uncertainty down and stood to meet Kirishima’s eyes.

 

Now, was as good a time as any to get this over with.  “Kirishima.”  He said seriously, no trace of his earlier amusement in his voice, but there was none of his usual anger either.  It startled Kirishima enough to stop twiddling his thumbs like a kid and meet Katsuki’s gaze. 

 

“Thanks, for everything.”

 

It was a simple phrase, with no specifics given, but he didn’t need to tell Kirishima why he was thankful.  It was clear enough in the honest nature of his tone and the even keeled genuine sincerity with which he spoke.  They both knew what he was thankful for, by everything Katsuki meant everything.

 

Everything from the day the first met until now.

 

For deciding to be friends with him despite how much of a shit head he had been.  For dragging him out of his shell and forcing him to make some idiot friends.  For seeing past all his ugly, rugged, sharp edges, and peeling it back to see the person underneath.  For being someone, he could trust.  For offering him a place to stay when he didn’t want to go home.  For refusing to leave Katsuki alone no matter how hard he tried to push back. 

 

For bringing Tsunagu to see him, and for understanding him deeply enough to know that he had been the right choice.

 

For organizing a group of their classmates to somehow come and rescue him.

 

For trying his best to stay by his side until this was over.

 

For being brave enough to stand beside him and stand up to his mother.

 

For convincing him that he wasn’t the monster he thought he was.

 

He could keep going.

 

Katsuki wasn’t sure if Kirishima had understood every meaning that Katsuki had intended him to, but from the way his posture melted a bit at the words and didn’t hesitate to pull Katsuki into a hug, he believes that he got the point at least.

 

Sniffling, and trying to hold back his tears Kirishima spoke, giving Katsuki a tight squeeze.  “You don’t have to thank me, ok?  I wanted to do all that stuff.”

 

Katsuki groaned a little, at the sappiness of it all.  He patted Kirishima on the back a few times anyway.   “I know you did, you fucking idiot.  Do me a favor and tell the other idiots everything’s fine, got it?”  He said pulling away from the hug, and after Kirishima furiously wiped the tears away with his sleeve, he smiled with his signature smile and nodded.

 

“Of course, I will!” He said with a lingering sniffle.

 

“Ok, get the fuck out of here already!”  Katsuki grinned as he said it, shooing Kirishima with a dismissive gesture. Though the underlying fondness shone through the grumpy act.

 

“Yeah, right!”  Kirishima turned to the doors and as he got there, he turned back around.  “See you guys later!”  He waved cheerily and walked away, presumably to his parent’s car.

 

There was a moment of silence between Katsuki and his sensei, and Katsuki stretched again, yawning the last dregs of sleep away.

 

“You haven’t eaten anything since this morning.  Let’s go.”  Aizawa said, leading Katsuki to the cafeteria without so much as another word.  Katsuki followed without complaint, he was hungry after all.

Chapter Text

After they had gotten back from eating some food, it was starting to get dark outside, and Katsuki was starting to get a little anxious.  They made it back to the lobby and there was still no news on Tsunagu’s condition.

 

It had been over twelve hours since they had started the procedure, at least. 

 

That couldn’t be a good sign.

 

At some point, Katsuki had started tapping his foot irritatedly.  He must have been doing it for some time, because when Aizawa mentioned it he looked a little concerned.

 

Katsuki sighed and tried to collect himself and force himself to calm down a bit.  He leaned forward in his seat and put his forehead in his hands and groaned.

 

“Surgery doesn’t usually take this long does it?”  Katsuki asked, too tired and stressed to even pretend he wasn’t worried.  Aizawa paused to consider the question.

 

“Depends on the surgery.”  Aizawa said simply, then sighed heavily as he carefully considered what he was going to say next.  “I know that there are no words of comfort that I can give you that will make the this seem any less bleak, but there’s no use in dwelling on your worry.  It won’t make the outcome come to you any quicker.”  There was sympathy in his usually neutral tone and Katsuki nodded in response, gathering himself.

 

It took a few more moments, and some deep breaths, but he tried to focus on anything else.

 

Luckily for him, a distraction presented itself in front of him nearly instantly.  Katsuki knew that it had been a coincidence, but he was grateful, nonetheless. 

 

Gang Orca walked into the lobby from inside the hospital, having been hospitalized for the minor injuries he had sustained during the rescue mission, but from the looks of it, he was being released.  However, when he went to the desk to sign out, he didn’t leave. 

 

No, instead he asked the receptionist something and she nodded to him and pointed in Katsuki’s direction and smiled.  Katsuki straightened as Gang Orca glanced over their way, thanked the receptionist, then began to walk towards them.  Aizawa seemed to notice the hero as well and watched in mild curiosity as he approached.

 

“I heard that your waiting for news on Tsunagu’s condition, you mind if I wait with you?”  The hero asked unceremoniously as he came to a stop in front of them.

 

Aizawa blinked and glanced to Katsuki, to gage his reaction.  Katsuki just happened to do the exact same thing, so in that moment they were looking at each other in mild confusion, but neither could think of a reason to refuse. 

 

The moment passed and they both looked to the pro once again, and Aizawa spoke up.  “I don’t see any reason why not.”  It wasn’t the most welcoming response, but it was all the prompting that Gang Orca seemed to need.  He sat in the row of seats across from them, but because of his large frame, he happened to take up two seats. 

 

Aizawa seemed to be considering further conversation for a moment, but he looked too exhausted to bother with it.  Preferring to focus on Katsuki, and as appreciative as Katsuki was for his teacher’s concern, he felt bad for having him stay here with him all this time, especially as sleep deprived, he was on a normal day.  He wished that Aizawa would just take a nap, then at least he could be as rested as Katsuki was- which admittedly wasn’t much- but it was substantially better than nothing.

 

Gang Orca didn’t particularly seem to mind that development either, it was almost as if he had expected it.  Katsuki supposed that anyone who knew Aizawa at all would know what to expect from him, as he wasn’t particularly chatty on the best of days.  Katsuki just hadn’t been under the impression that the two had known each other well.

 

The situation though, left Katsuki feeling like he should say something, even if he knew the pressure was mostly in his head.  It felt wrong to just not speak at all to their new arrival, especially when he had been part of the operation to save Katsuki’s life.

 

He just had no fucking idea what to say.

 

Katsuki just happened to be exhausted himself, and his social skills severely declined when he was like this.  So, he was left with two real options.  Don’t say anything, just continue to stew in his misery and risk offending the hero in the process.  Or, say something, no matter what it was, and gain a distraction, even if he could offend him if he spoke to carelessly.

 

Either way, logical thinking was relatively off the table at this point, simply because he had only managed three or so hours of sleep over the past three days.  Given that, he would just have to make do with his current level of brainpower, for now at least.

 

An errant thought popped into Katsuki’s mind, and before he could think about it, he asked the question.  “Are you close to Jeanist?” 

 

Katsuki only barely stopped himself from calling him his given name, the one that he had gotten used to seeing in his chat logs and it was the one he now called him in his mind.  Considering that Gang Orca himself had just called Tsunagu by his given name, he probably wouldn’t have thought much of it.  Katsuki wasn’t sure why, but for some reason at this particular moment, it didn’t quite feel right. 

 

The question also felt a bit stupid.  The hero was Tsunagu’s given medical proxy and was waiting for news on his condition, people didn’t do that stuff for people they didn’t care about.

 

Gang Orca chuckled at the question, it was entirely without sarcasm or disdain, just a tad of genuine amusement.  “I’d call that an understatement.  When you’ve been friends with someone since high school, you start to become more like family by the time you’re my age.”

 

It hadn’t been an answer he’d been expecting, and he felt his momentary embarrassment was washed away with curiosity.  A part of him wanted to pretend that he wasn’t curious, it itched at him and told him to push that feeling down, but he wiped the urge away.  He was far too tired to keep that act up for long anyway.  “The two of you went to UA together?”  Katsuki asked, finally.

 

“Yep, much like your class is now.  At least, I don’t think anything’s changed since I went to school, has it?”  Gang Orca directed the question to Aizawa. 

 

“Nope.  Other than the occasional expulsion, and students who earn their way into the hero course after the year has already begun, the class stays the same until graduation.”  Aizawa explained, confirming the pro’s statement and observing the conversation with mild interest.

 

There was a momentary silence between the three of them, and Gang Orca didn’t let it last long as he seemed to grin mischievously.  The expression was a little disconcerting on his animalistic features, but what he said next caught enough of Katsuki’s attention that he hardly noticed.

 

“That being said, I’m all for telling you some embarrassing stories.  While he’s not here to strangle me, that is.”  His smile seemed to widen at Katsuki’s interest, and there was a glint of mischief in his eyes.

 

Katsuki considered what Gang Orca was telling him, and he couldn’t help but wonder a bit at his luck.  Just as he had needed a distraction to keep him from driving himself mad, here Gang Orca comes and broaches this topic.  His luck seemed to be on an upswing, and honestly, Katsuki couldn’t help but be intrigued.  Aizawa was listening with a fair amount of intrigue as well. 

 

“What could Best Jeanist of all people, have possibly done to be embarrassed enough about to strangle you over?”  Katsuki asked more than a bit incredulously.  Gang Orca’s grin widened even further.

 

“Oh, kid you have no idea.” 

 

-----------

 

As it turns out, Tsunagu had a pretty wild high school experience as well.  Now there were no stories akin to his class being hunted down by an organized group of villains and being kidnapped.  To be honest though, Katsuki could actually see the resemblance of the stories he was being told to things his own idiot class had done. 

 

It was more than a little strange to hear stories that seemed incredibly normal for high school but try and imagine that Tsunagu had done those things once.  Seeing him now, as an adult and a pro, Katsuki could hardly believe half the things he was hearing.  Except it was all just so much like something one of his classmates would do that it really wasn’t all that odd at all to imagine that a teenaged Tsunagu might have been just like them once. 

 

He supposed that all heroes must have started somewhere, so it made sense that they were teenagers once.

 

“You mean, that he decked the dude right in the face, with witnesses, and never got in trouble because the teachers wouldn’t believe it.”  Katsuki was utterly stunned, that the calmest, and arguably least violent prone hero of the top ten, had simply, punched a guy for being an asshole, and just got away with it. 

 

Gang Orca (or Kugo, as he had mentioned was his given name more than once) chuckled at the awed reaction the teen was giving him at the story.  “You know, I think our homeroom teacher suspected but just decided not to comment, and let the other teachers believe what they want.  He knew Tsunagu well enough to know that he wouldn’t do something like that unless provoked, so he just let it go.”  Kugo shrugged as his chuckle died down.

 

“That taught those guys not to mess with me, and no, it’s not because I was nearly this huge back then and could crush them just by sitting on them.  No, it’s because I happened to have a feral best friend who will attack if provoked.

 

Katsuki literally couldn’t help but laugh at the image that statement conjured up, all Katsuki could imagine was Tsunagu hissing at the assholes like a feral housecat.  Kugo laughed right along with him and Aizawa just leaned back and watched the conversation unfold, seemingly more relaxed than he had been since he’d first seen Katsuki safely to the hospital. 

 

Somehow, Kugo’s appearance and his entertaining storytelling had eased the tension of the group so significantly, that for the first time, Katsuki was able to actually notice how sore he was.  As disconcerting as it was to realize that his mind had been suppressing the aches, it was equally satisfying to feel something other than anxiety, even if it was just for a few hours.  Aizawa too seemed to be relaxing into the new mood easily, as he slowly sank lower into his chair, and seemed close to falling asleep.

 

Kugo continued, moving onto another anecdote from his UA years.  “There was this one time, Tsunagu got a cold but decided to come to school anyway.  He just ended up going to the nurse’s office for the day with a fever, and when I went to visit him after school and, let me tell you.”  The hero was sniggering already.  “It was hands down the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.  So, for context, Tsunagu hates being cold.  He literally cannot stand it, and if he’s cold, he has to fight every instinct not to just curl up in the nearest piece of fabric.  If he can’t do that, or is actively trying not to, then he gets super irritable and cranky.”  Katsuki listened intently as he talked.

 

“So, when I walked in, somehow, entirely unconsciously, Tsunagu managed to gather every piece of fabric in the infirmary and make himself an actual cocoon.  Now mind, you it’s not just the blankets from the other cots, it’s the sheets, pillowcases, and fabric curtain dividers.  Every, single, piece of fabric in that room, was turned into a literal cocoon that filled half the room.” Kugo had managed to rain in his chuckle enough to describe it to him, with an entirely straight face.

 

Katsuki only blinked, thinking about the size of the infirmary he had been in, and attributing it to the story and tried to imagine just how much fabric it must have taken too make a mass of fabric as large as described.  Holy fuck, that’s a lot of fabric.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Recovery Girl look quite so shocked as when she walked in after me.  Later, when he woke up, he would tell me that it was hands down the best night sleep that he had ever gotten, and I swear I lost it right then and there.”  Kugo finished with a chuckle, and Katsuki nodded with a grin.

 

“Sounds like you two were a hassle, almost feel bad for your teachers.”  Aizawa commented.  “Though, I would trade a whole year of days like that over another villain attack.”  He mused.

 

Kugo nodded. “Yeah, it’s honestly a crying shame that you have been thrown into this earlier than you should have.  Even as heroics students, you are still kids, you deserve to have the last few carefree years of school before you face this kind of danger.”  Gang Orca’s happy mood flattened at the topic, and he sounded more solemn.

 

Katsuki wasn’t sure that he had ever really had the kind of childhood that Kugo was imagining, but the point was still valid. 

 

“The League has made a dire mistake here though, because what they’ve done, is made you stronger.  They’ll come to regret the decisions they’ve made when the next generation of heroes is the strongest that they’ve ever encountered.  They won’t stand a chance.”  Aizawa said the statement with such sincerity that Katsuki’s thoughts froze for a moment, soaking it in. 

 

He wasn’t really sure that it was meant to be praise, or not, and it was directed towards the class as a whole so Katsuki really wasn’t sure why he felt a small well of pride at the words.  The statement hadn’t been directed to him, so he should get over himself.

 

Except the way he said it, so openly and in present company, it certainly felt like it was at least partially directed towards him, and he looked to the floor to hide the proud smirk he couldn’t stop from forming on his features.

 

Regardless, Katsuki was certain that neither pro missed the reaction, and he felt a strong well of embarrassment spring up at the thought.

 

Kugo hummed in front of him, thoughtfully, seeming to consider something deeply, almost fighting an inner battle before he spoke again.  This time his voice was serious with a hint of softness to his tone.

 

“You know, years ago, when Tsunagu saw your soul mark appear on him, literally the first thing he did was show me.  He was absolutely ecstatic, I swear.  It was only two years or so after we had graduated, I gather he noticed it while he was on patrol and he literally showed up at my apartment after he had gotten home from the graveyard shift.  So, it was four in the morning, and he’s knocking on my door, without having called, and he just walks in and starts to freak.  At first, I thought he might have been drugged with how he was literally bouncing, but after a few minutes I get him to slow down enough to talk coherently, and he shows me the mark on his wrist, and tells me that he knows that it hadn’t been there that morning.”  Kugo paused and smiled with a fair bit of fondness clear in his voice as he continued. 

 

“You see, it was a big deal for him because he doesn’t really have many relatives of his own.  So, the very idea that there was a kid just waiting out there for him was exciting beyond belief for him.  I had to actually physically hold him down to stop him from going from hospital to hospital to check for the newborns for his mark.”  Kugo gave an airy chuckle at the memory. 

 

Katsuki listened to the story in a bit of awe.  Honestly, the very idea that he had been that excited was bittersweet.  It conjured up thoughts of a childhood that he’d never gotten to experience, one that he had always wanted but thought that he hadn’t deserved.  It was only now that he could truly acknowledge that it had been taken from him by his parents and accept that things would be different now.

 

Kugo continued with a shake of his head, and a bitter huff as he thought about that night.  “You know, I wish I’d just let him go.  It might have spared you a lot of pain if he’d managed to find you, I’m certain things would have ended up differently.  I know he felt much the same way when he found out what was happening.” 

 

Aizawa for his part was sitting up now, more intently listening to the conversation.  It almost looked like he wanted to tell Gang Orca to stop talking, for the same reason that Katsuki really had no idea what to say.

 

Tsunagu could die any moment now.  Katsuki could still feel the lump in his pocket where the denim glove, he had used to force him to safety was still carefully tucked away.  Somehow, this knowledge gave everything Tsunagu had said and done since he had seen Katsuki’s mark so much more meaning. 

 

Somehow the idea that he had been waiting for years to meet him, to connect with Katsuki was something that gave more meaning to everything he had done for him.  It really made the idea of fate ring true, that despite the fact that Katsuki hadn’t even been looking, and the fact that Tsunagu had chosen to simply wait patiently without actively searching for him, they had still met, and Katsuki had seen his mark on Tsunagu.

 

Despite everything, it had still happened.

 

All the obstacles that could have stopped it, everything that could have messed stopped things from lining up just perfectly enough for this set of events to take place, and for Katsuki’s entire world to be turned upside down.

 

Yet, all of that could be rendered useless, pointless, if Tsunagu just died right here. 

 

A terrified part of Katsuki considered that maybe fate had determined that this had been Tsunagu’s role in his life.  That he had already fulfilled it by guiding Katsuki to a place where he could accept the help of his other soulparents, that his role had been to show him that he had been treated poorly and that he deserved better.  That now that he had saved Katsuki’s life and set him down the right path, that he would die, and leave the rest to the two he had left.

 

What a cruel and tragic fate to have.

 

How cruel was it that after waiting so long for this opportunity, that Tsunagu would die before he could even see the fruits of his labor?  How cruel was it that only just as Katsuki began to realize what he was missing, that the opportunity to live that life with him would be denied from him once more?

 

All Katsuki could manage to do through the uncertainty was to ask one question.

 

“Why are you telling me this?”  Katsuki managed to say, his voice smaller than he intended it to be.

 

Kugo nodded and replied.  “I felt like you should know, he does care about you, whatever happened next won’t change that.”  Kugo cleared his throat, sadness entering his voice as he continued. “I think that if something like this was going to happen, that he would be more than grateful to have gotten to know you first.” 

 

Katsuki couldn’t look at Kugo any longer, he hung his head with only a nod of acknowledgement.  That small gesture was the most he could manage.

 

Kugo gave him a gentle pat on the head.  “Don’t worry about it too much though, Tsunagu is one of the most stubborn people that I’ve ever met.  If anyone could make it out of this in one piece, it would be him.”

Chapter Text

Toshinori stared out of his apartment window, lost deep in thought.  It was almost as if nothing had changed at all, the street below was filled with bustling traffic and pedestrians, just like it would have been on any other lazy afternoon.  As the sun sank below the horizon, the skyline began to light up, one by one lights were lit in office buildings and apartment complexes, just like they would have on any other night.  The traffic slowed and the number of pedestrians shrunk until the sky was dark and the street was empty, save for the occasional passing vehicle.

 

The world was still turning, nothing had changed.

 

Yet, everything had changed, and was still changing.

 

He sighed; he could feel the exhaustion seeping into his aching bones, but he didn’t quite feel like sleeping.

 

He had been given little choice but to retire, after his fight with All For One, he had used the last of what remained in him of One For All.  He didn’t regret his choice, he never would, this had needed to be done and it had been his responsibility to do it.

 

He had made at least some amount of peace with the fact that he would no longer be able to be a hero.

 

After having some time away from the press conferences and the scripted statements, and the media buzz of his retirement, he’d been given some space to reflect.

 

He found that, his mind kept wandering back to young-Katsuki.

 

Toshinori hadn’t actually been hospitalized for very long at all, after the battle, and with some very quick healing from a simple healing-quirk he was right as he could possibly be.  Other than some minor surface injuries, and the damage his body had sustained years prior, he was fit as a fiddle.

 

He truly had thought about approaching young-Katsuki again before he had left for his home that night, and now that he was sitting and stewing over it, he wished that he had.  He was truly worried for that boy, in a way that itchedin the back of his mind just waiting to be scratched.

 

He’d heard what Shigaraki had said on the video, and he’d heard snippets of conversation among the heroics staff at UA that had confirmed that Katsuki’s homelife had indeed been as horrible as Shigaraki had claimed it to be.  He’d acknowledged that fact.

 

Yet he hadn’t been prepared for what he’d seen in Katsuki that night. 

 

Initially, Toshinori had been relieved when he’d spotted Katsuki unharmed and safe, even if a little shaken.  He had expected a harsh response to his concern, or at least for it to have been brushed off, or to have been ignored entirely, even.  He had expected anything but what happened next. 

 

He hadn’t expected Katsuki to choke up and return the favor, nor had he expected the kid to break down into tears either.  It had almost hurt watching Katsuki valiantly struggle to look him in the eye as he spoke even as he faltered towards the end.

 

Immediately his relief had been turned on its head, as he realized that the relief and remorse on the teen’s features was directed towards him.  He blinked in shock as he realized that Katsuki was blaming himself, for Toshinori’s condition.  Which it occurred to him at that moment, must have come a great shock to the teen.

 

It had truly thrown Toshinori for a loop, and he was momentarily frozen in place.  He was so used to being the indominable Symbol of Peace, the one that was essentially immortal in the eyes of the public, that seeing such a genuine look of concern and guilt come from such a young boy, that it almost hadn’t registered for him. 

 

On top of that, to see it coming from none other from young-Katsuki, who had always been stubbornly independent almost to the point of developing a god-complex.  A child who had reminded Toshinori of Endeavor in a much too dangerous way, on more than one occasion.

 

That was the kid who was crying in front of him, openly crying, for him, no less.

 

The change was so severe that it was more than a little jarring.

 

He had been so incredibly unsure of how to handle the without making it worse, that he had done the only thing he really could.  He offered himself as a comfort, half-expecting the boy not to take it. 

 

He knelt before the boy and held out his hand, and Katsuki had surprised him, yet again.

 

With only a moment’s hesitation, Katsuki had taken his hand firmly in his own and even in the privacy of his own apartment, almost a full day later Toshinori could still feel how Katsuki had been trembling that night.

 

He’d been overcome with emotion by then, as he told Katsuki not to blame himself for any of what had happened, it hadn’t been his fault. 

 

It was only when Katsuki gathered himself to speak next, that Toshinori could fully understand the scope of the issues that Katsuki was trying to work through. 

 

He could still, even now hear how utterly lost Katsuki had sounded when he explained how he was simply unable to believe it, that he wanted to believe that it hadn’t been his fault, and for some reason he couldn’t.

 

It was then that things began to fit together for Toshinori, and very suddenly, he could feel a metaphorical valley form between them, even as he was still gripping Katsuki’s hand, it felt as if nothing Toshinori could say would reach him. 

 

The wounds that Katsuki had suffered were far from fresh, they were the product of a homelife that had convinced him that the pain that others inflict on you is entirely justified.  The issue was almost certainly much deeper than that, but this was all Toshinori could glean from what little Katsuki had said so far, and he was left stranded.

 

The valley between them was so wide that Toshinori hadn’t even known how to traverse across it, he’d been helplessly stranded on one side, only able to watch uselessly as Aizawa stepped in.

 

That valley was still there when he went to leave, and somehow.  He felt as though, with everything else Katsuki had been dealing with, that showing up once again to cause the teen dismay was hardly an acceptable option. 

 

Toshinori was even now in the silence of his apartment, was still helplessly lost as to how to traverse this divide between them, without making everything worse than it had been before. 

 

Toshinori had seriously misjudged the youth in the past, he had been too distracted to see past the abrasive personality he wore on the surface, to see the true intention underneath.  He promised himself that he was never going to judge the clearly kind-hearted kid that harshly again, and that fact was the only comfort he had in this whole situation.

 

He felt like he had seriously failed Katsuki that night, unable to even so much as speak in the face of his admission.  Worse, it was frustrating that he didn’t even have a concept of how to assist the teen with an issue as large as the one he’s facing.

 

Toshinori had no idea how to help Katsuki or even comfort him, without getting in the way.

 

He groaned in pent-up frustration and lightly thumped his forehead against the windowpane in frustration.  He stayed there for a long minute, letting the frustration seep out of him as he tried to calm himself.  He sighed, feeling the coolness of the nighttime air seep through the window.

 

He startled as his phone pinged with a notification in the totally dark and silent room, slamming his head against the window for real this time, and he yowled in pain as he flinched backwards.

 

He scrambled around for his phone in the dark, which he knew was on the table somewhere.  It only took him a moment to find it and perked up in surprise when he found that it was Naomasa who had texted him.

 

He opened the chat and read the message with interest remembering back to what he had asked his friend to do before they had parted late the previous night.

 

“Naomasa, my friend.  You’ll be returning here tomorrow to collect the statements of the Pros who are currently being treated, correct?”

 

His friend blinked in confusion at the strange question.  “Well, yes.  Why do you ask?”  he replied curiously, as they headed for a convenient side-exit to the hospital. 

 

“I’m still concerned for young-Katsuki, and yet I feel my presence will cause him more distress than comfort.  If you have the time, would you mind checking in on him while you’re here?”

 

Naomasa gave a short bark of laughter and shook his head with a grin.  “You never change, do you?  Sure, I was going to have some business to take care of with the kid either way.  The protective custody request I called in is set to be fully authorized by tomorrow morning, so I’ll have to inform him of that and hand him the paperwork tomorrow, anyway.” 

 

“Thanks, my friend.”

 

“Nah, don’t sweat it.  I’ll let you know if anything significant happens.” Naomasa shrugged his thanks aside easily.

 

As Toshinori finished reading the messages, he decided quite easily that he strongly disliked Katsuki’s parents…

 

…and that was putting it mildly.

 

He needed to find a way to talk to the teen when this was all over, when everything had quieted down, he promised himself that they would talk, they absolutely had to.

 

---------------

 

Kirishima couldn’t sleep.  As nice as the idea of sleeping in his own bed had sounded a few hours ago when his parents had first picked him up, now that he was here, it was nearly impossible for him to fall asleep.

 

He tossed and turned, for a good hour before he gave up the pointless exercise and resigned himself to another sleepless night.  For the first time, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned it on, bracing himself for the screen of notifications that he just knew was waiting for him from his classmates.

 

It really only had been a single day since he last checked his phone, but somehow, he knew that the entire class knew about Katsuki’s rescue and had also been kept mostly in the dark as to what exactly was happening with him. 

 

Yet, even as he had been expecting a lot of notifications, he really hadn’t expected just how many there were.

 

When he opened his phone and unlocked it to see his home screen, he saw that he had over 300 unread messages and he balked at the sheer number as he rushed to open his messaging app.  Most of the notifications had come from the Class group chat, and Kirishima gave a slight sigh of relief as he opened the chat.

 

It started from the last time he had entered the chat and that had been only an hour or so before the rescue, the chat had been relatively quiet until Kirishima assumed the raid on the LOV hideout had begun to be televised. 

 

8:34 p.m.

 

Uraraka: Ok, so is anybody else watching the news rn.

 

Asui: Yes, kero. 

 

Kaminari: YEAH, uM are YOU SEEING WHAT IM SEEING!

 

Sero: If you mean that green blob flying across the screen that’s clearly Midoriya and at least Kirishima.

 

Sero: Then yeah, I’m seeing it, though I’m not sure whether I should be terrified for them or upset that they didn’t bring me along.

 

Jirou: That iceberg ramp also looks quite suspiciously like Todoroki’s handiwork.

 

Kaminari:  Just HOW many of our classmates just decided to crash this operation?

 

Asui:  Am I the only one who’s more curious how they managed this?

 

Uraraka:  Honestly, if Deku’s involved I’m not really surprised.

 

Sero: THEY GOT HIM, HE’s OK

 

Kaminari:  WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOP

 

Kaminari: You GO GUYS

 

Jirou: They’re going to be in so much trouble when Aizawa-sensei gets a hold of them.

 

Kaminari:  Look, not even Aizawa-sensei can be mad about this, not one of them got captured, AND they saved Katsuki without fighting ANYONE.

 

Asui: You don’t know that for sure.

 

Asui: There could be more of them present we couldn’t make out, haven’t you noticed a few other missing people, in this chat.

 

Uraraka: Ok, HEADCOUNT.  Everyone who dosen’t leave some indication in the chat that they were present and accounted for is subject to an intense grilling when this is over.

 

Aoyama:  I’m here~ Sparkling as ever~

 

Ojirou:  Here

 

Jirou: ^

 

Hagakure: ^

 

Satou: ^

 

Shoiji: Yo

 

Kouda: ;)

Kaminari: I’ve been here

 

Asui: Kero

 

Momo: Hello everyone.

 

Tokoyami: *^*

 

Uraraka:  Is that everyone?

 

Jirou: I think so?

 

Sero:  Where’s Mina?

 

Sero:  I didn’t see her here?

 

Jirou:  Maybe she’s with them?  We’ll have to ask her.

 

Sero:  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so betrayed…

 

Sero:  Kaminari, promise me you’ll never run of and do something stupid like that without inviting me first.

 

Kaminari:  I would never.

 

Jirou: Omfg you guys

 

Uraraka: Ok, so the people missing are Izuku, Todoroki, Kirishima, Mina and Iida.

 

Uraraka: Well, and Bakugo.

 

Kaminari: Mineta isn’t in this chat, is he?

 

Uraraka: Nope, he doesn’t count.

 

Uraraka: He doesn’t have the ‘balls’ to do something like this and you know it.

 

Kaminari: DAMN

 

Sero: SOMEONE CALL IN THE BURN UNIT

 

Asui: She’s not wrong.

 

Kaminari: Was anyone ever going to tell me Uraraka was such a savage?

 

Jirou: She hasn’t been hiding it or anything, you’re just an idiot.

 

Jirou: So, you think Iida was with them?  Really???  Our, Iida, class Rep, goodie two shoes, Iida???  THAT Iida????

 

Uraraka:  How can we know unless we grill him for answers?

 

Kaminari: Knowing what I do now, that sounds a lot scarier.

 

 

 

Kirishima started to scroll through the chat quicker, realizing that most of the chatter was just reactions to what was happening on the news footage on the raid.  It seems that much later that night the others had gotten on.

 

 

 

11:19 p.m.

 

Kaminari:  MINA.

 

Kaminari:  I SEE YOU LURKING IN THE CHAT EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

 

Mina:  Heyy guys.

 

Sero:  Mina, where have you been?  Have you SEEN the news?

 

Mina:  Yeah, thought I’d let you guys know Blasty’s ok and headed to the hospital.

 

Uraraka:  Mina, are you saying what I think your saying?

 

Jirou:  You’re not the one I would have pegged as the type to do something like this.

 

Sero:  Wait hospital? 

 

Sero:  HOSPITAL??? IS HE OK???

 

Izuku:  Yeah, Kacchan’s fine, they just wanted to take a look to make sure.  He’s with Aizawa-sensei and Kirishima.

 

Mina: Idk if ‘fine’’ is a word I’d use to describe Katsuki’s state of mind

 

Kaminari:  Mina you’re scaring me

 

Kaminari:  Please be more specific.

 

Sero:  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ !

 

The chat kept going here but it seems like Mina switched over to their squad group chat for the next part of their conversation.

 

11:25 p.m.

 

Mina:  Ok, remember how Katsuki discovered that Jeanist was his soulparent, like a week ago.

 

Sero:  Yeah, what about it?

 

Kaminari:  WHaT happened?

 

Mina: Well, he took this SUPER BAD hit during the fight, and he’s like maybe, possibly, dying.

 

Sero: Oh

 

Mina: Katsuki was super shaken up about it, like seriously, in the middle of this battlefield full of villains, he fought across all of them just to get to him.

 

Kaminari: Holy shit…

 

Mina: That’s not even the worst of it. 

 

Mina: When the others tried to fly over the battlefield to help Katsuki escape, Katsuki didn’t leave him voluntarily. 

 

Mina:  Jeanist was somehow still conscious and used his quirk to force Katsuki to go with us.

 

Sero: Oh

 

Kaminari: Oh, my fucking god.

 

Sero: ….

 

Sero: On top of all the other shit he’s had to deal with, this is seriously too much.  Like I’m seriously getting upset just thinking about it.

 

Mina: You should have seen his face, I’ve never seen Katsuki look so defeated.

 

Kaminari: I literally have no other words than, ‘Holy shit’

 

Kaminari: That’s all I’ve got.

 

Mina: Yeah, I’m just really glad Kirishima’s going with him.  I feel like if anyone could help Blasty through this, its him.

 

 

 

Kirishima smiled at the confidence his friends had placed in him, he only hoped that he’d lived up to it.  In the utter silence of his room in the late night, possibly early morning, Kirishima jumped as his phone buzzed in his hands with a new notification.

 

Kirishima exited the side chat and realized that the new message was in the main class chat just now, and he switched and he balked at what he saw there.

 

 

1:28 a.m.

 

Ojirou:  Guys, you might want to see this……

 

Ojirou:  Custody Drama in Hospital Lobby as Mother of the Kidnapped UA Student Argues with Authorities

 

 

 

Kirishima opened the link to see that it was a shaky camera view of the confrontation between Katsuki and his mother just earlier today.  It was apparently already in the news feed, and Kirishima wasn’t at all sure how he felt about this.

 

You could clearly hear everything that had been said.  The video and the article both clearly depicted Katsuki’s mother as the aggressor and tore her apart likewise. 

 

As satisfying as that fact was, Kirishima couldn’t help but feel a bit wrong about it.  This felt like an egregious breech of Katsuki’s privacy.  This was Katsuki’s private life and he deserved for it to stay that way, not to have it posted to the internet for everyone to see.  Yet even as he thought that, he started to read the replies of his classmates.

 

 

 

Izuku: I can’t believe she actually tried that?  I didn’t think she was this delusional??

 

Izuku: I already knew she was pretty bad to begin with, but I had no idea it was like this???

 

Mina: I have literally NEVER IN MY LIFE heard someone as poor at acting as she was right there.

 

Mina: WHO DID SHE THINK SHE WAS FOOLING??????

 

Sero: Look, I’m just like seriously glad Kirishima was there to step in.

 

Kaminari:  I love how he was just like.  ‘Well you’ve seen him now, go home bitch.’

 

Jirou: He didn’t actually say that though???

 

Kaminari: SIS, did you SEE his face.  He sure as heck was THINKING it.

 

Sero: Tbh tho I literally had no idea Kirishima was capable of that level of anger? I’m scared.

 

Ojirou: Yeah, he seriously looks like he’s ready to like actually fight Katsuki’s mom???

 

Mina: I DON’T BLAME HIM

 

Mina: ID KILL THE BITCH MYSELF IF I COULD GET MY HANDS ON HER.

 

Sero: Mina, deep breaths….

 

Izuku: Okay, I’ll be honest I’ve been a bit confused about something???

 

Izuku: I thought Kacchan hated Jeanist???

 

Izuku: but a bunch of stuff that happened over the past like two days seriously doesn’t match up with that.

 

Izuku: I know we didn’t really have time to talk about it earlier in the middle of the rescue, but its clear that at least @Mina knows something, and Kirishima does too but he’s been AWOL since the rescue…

 

Izuku: So, what did I miss?

 

Todoroki: I have to admit I’m quite interested too.

 

Jirou: Same

 

Sero: I mean he did hate him at one point, but a lot of shit has happened over the past week, so…

 

Jirou: *slow claps* Congratulations Sero, that might just be the least specific answer I’ve ever heard to anything in my entire life.

 

Sero:…

 

Kaminari: Ok, I’m with Sero on this one.  An unbelievable amount of shit has gone down this week, and I’m sure even we don’t know like more than a tiny portion of what’s actually gone down.

 

Mina: Katsuki is having a super rough time with trust as it is.  I’m not going to breach his trust by telling you guys something that he told us in confidence.

 

Sero: ^

 

Izuku: Ok, I get what you’re saying.

 

Izuku: …but, what if this isn’t what Kacchan wants?

 

Izuku: as far as I know he hates Jeanist so why would he want to be in his custody.

 

Izuku: What if this isn’t what he wants, and he isn’t telling anyone???

 

Mina: Ok, I assure you Izuku.  That is so not what’s happening.

 

Izuku: He’s never been the type to ask for help, ever.  So, how could you know?

 

Kaminari: She already told you it’s something we can’t tell you….

 

 

 

Izuku just kept going, and Kirishima was starting to get annoyed.  He was always so insistent when it came to Katsuki that sometimes it was borderline unreasonable.  Sure, Izuku had been Katsuki’s friend and neighbor for years, Kirishima knew that. 

 

Now though, Kirishima was the one who knew Katsuki better, he was sure of that.  After everything they had been through together, they had to be. 

 

He really wished that Izuku would stop pretending he knew Katsuki so well because he really didn’t.  He hadn’t known him well enough to pick up on the fact that he hadn’t been going home, and he hadn’t been the one to find out what was going on and get Katsuki the help he needed.

 

Kirishima didn’t need praise or thanks for what he did, he just really wished that Izuku would back off a bit and stop pretending that he knew what he was talking about.

 

…because he really didn’t know what he was talking about.

 

 

 

Izuku: Like how did Jeanist even know enough to have a protective custody order filed???

 

Izuku: Would Katsuki really tell Jeanist of all people his life story on a whim like that.  I’ve known him since we were little, and that’s not something he would do.

 

Izuku: How would Jeanist even know to ask Katsuki about his homelife, none of it makes any sense???

 

Kirishima: If you absolutely have to know, then here you go

 

Kirishima: I was the one who told Jeanist what was happening to Katsuki, I noticed that he hadn’t been going home for over a week and I told Jeanist.

 

Kirishima: Does that make you happy???

 

Mina: KIRISHIMA!!!!!

 

Izuku: No, I don’t understand, why Jeanist???

 

Mina: Izuku…

 

Mina: Could you please drop it?

 

Kirishima:  The reason I told Jeanist doesn’t matter, I determined that he would be the only person who could convince Katsuki to accept help, and I made that decision with knowledge that you are going to have to accept that you aren’t going to have until Katsuki feels comfortable with sharing it with you.

 

Kirishima: So, Drop It.

 

Kirishima: …and for the record, yes, I was ready to throw down with Katsuki’s mom if it came to it.

 

Kirishima:  She was getting way to close into his personal space and quite frankly Katsuki’s been through enough shit that I was just gonna put my foot down on this one. 

 

Kaminari: DUDE

 

 

 

Kirishima closed this chat and opened their squad chat.

 

 

 

1:38 a.m.

 

Kirishima: Ok, so, as far as I know, Jeanist is still in surgery.  Katsuki decided to wait to hear for news on his condition, Aizawa-sensei is staying with him.  We had some pretty emotional talks while we were waiting, but I think Katsuki is in a better headspace than when you last saw him Mina.

 

Mina: Oh, that’s a relief.  He really looked shell-shocked.

 

Kirisihima: Yeah, he’s just tired, and a little anxious for the news, but he’s not blaming himself for it like he was before.

 

Sero: Blaming himself???

 

Sero: For what???

 

Kirishima: Everything, like literally everything.  He was talking like he’d deserved to have been kidnapped, and that the people that got hurt during the rescue had all been his fault.

 

Mina: OH NO

 

Kirishima: Don’t worry too much though, as I said we all talked it out.  Aizawa-sensei was there to back me up too.

 

Mina: That’s great! Are you still with him?

 

Kirishima: Unfortunately, no.  My parents wanted to take me home for the night and talk over what happened.  They’re being super chill about the whole thing, except when it came to the jumping over a live battlefield on national tv.  They were kinda upset about that.

 

Kirishima: My dad promised to drive me back to visit tomorrow tho, so I can give you an update after that.

 

Sero: Please do.

 

Kaminari: I love how were all talking about this at like two in the morning.

 

Kaminari: This is just one whole mess isn’t it.

 

Kaminari: By the way, what you told Midoriya in the main chat??? Is that true???

 

Kirishima: Yeah, it was actually right there that he was kidnapped.  Right in front of the both of us.

 

Kaminari: Shit.

 

Sero: Wow, this just keeps getting worse the more I find out about it.

 

Kirishima: I actually am going to try and sleep now.  I was having trouble sleeping before, but I think I can manage it now.

 

Mina: Okie, goodnight Kiri.  Thanks for filling us in!

 

Kaminari: Yeee

 

Sero: Yeah, thanks man.

 

 

 

Kirishima sighed with a smile and stretched as he put his phone down.  Somehow, trying to reassure his friends had almost been a therapeutic experience.  It had helped him realize that Katsuki was going to be ok, and that even if the worst happened, they would all be there to help him through it.

 

As soon as he accepted that fact, exhaustion had taken over, and he was finally able to get some much-needed rest.

 

-------------

 

 

Katsuki wasn’t sure he could truly express how grateful he was that Kugo had appeared out of thin air, the man was quite the conversationalist, and even in Katsuki’s groggy state, he found himself easily able to keep up with the conversation as it evolved and shifted.  He wasn’t sure whether the hero was doing it intentionally or not, and quite frankly Katsuki wasn’t sure he cared.

 

The conversation had moved onto lighter topics once again, and it had made the hours tick by much faster than Katsuki had even come to realize.

 

All too soon it was pitch-black out, and it was getting exceedingly late.  Yet, the only one of their trio who seemed ready to sleep was Aizawa, and that wasn’t much different than normal.

 

As the night grew later, and the conversation continued, the conversation had moved to Hawks and Miruko, particularly in reference to the more animalistic traits that don’t get televised or reported, and Kugo put quite a lot of his own input in with relation to his own quirk.

 

Idly, Katsuki grinned at the realization that Deku probably would have killed to be in his place right now.  Talking for hours on end with pros about their quirks in an analytical way like this.  It wasn’t like Katsuki wasn’t taking enjoyment out of this conversation himself.  No, in truth he found the uglier side of quirks and their side effects to be fascinating considering the dangerous complications that could come with his own quirk if he didn’t take the proper precautions.

 

He was sure the conversation would have continued just like that until one of them passed out, if there hadn’t been an entirely unexpected interruption.

 

Katsuki hadn’t even seen the man coming, but a doctor approached them and began ever so simply with.  “Good evening to you all, I have the pleasure to inform you that Hakamata-san’s surgery was a complete success.”   

 

It was said so abruptly that Katsuki wasn’t even entirely sure he wasn’t hearing things.

 

The doctor continued with only a brief pause. “In a few hours, the drugs we used to put him under will start to wear off, and he’ll be completely conscious.  We’ll need to keep him here for a few days to make sure he recovers properly, but there is definitively no further risk to his life.” 

 

No further risk to his life.

 

Was he hearing things?

 

It almost didn’t feel real, but the reality of the situation was starting to dawn on him.  Their previous conversation was dropped almost immediately as he looked to his side to see Aizawa blink in surprise, it seemed his teacher had been just as startled as Katsuki had.  Aizawa straightened from his slouched position in his chair to sit up straighter, his attention clearly having been caught. 

 

Gang Orca, who was still sitting across from them, seemed to relax visibly.  While Katsuki hadn’t noticed earlier, it seems like the hero had been a great deal more concerned about his friend than he had let on. 

 

“Well, that’s a relief.”  Kugo sighed and let out a slightly giddy chuckle. 

 

Ok.

 

They had heard it too.  He wasn’t hearing things.

 

Tsunagu was really going to be ok.

 

It hit him with all the subtlety of a slap to the face, his mind was reeling as he tried to reconcile that fact with everything else that he had been through over the past few days. 

 

From the moment he had accepted Tsunagu’s words, the moment he had decided to trust the hero, his soulparent.  From the very moment he had decided that he would take his offer and decided to live the rest of his life with him, and even accept him as a real parental figure in his life.

 

Until now, with everything that had happened in between.

 

Katsuki wouldn’t lie, he had been through literal hell to make it this far.  Heck, Tsunagu had too.

 

The kidnapping, the rescue, and the destruction that had been laid in its wake.  None of it had really felt like it was over.  He had been thinking moment to moment from the minute he had been kidnapped until right this very second.

 

After the rescue, thinking much farther than whether Tsunagu was going to live or die, had been nearly impossible, because Katsuki had already made his choice.  He knew what he wanted, he knew who he trusted most, and nothing would change that.  So, trying to plan for any other possibility had been entirely off the table for him.  He hadn’t even considered it.

 

Even when they had been waiting in the hospital lobby, things had just kept happening.  There had been so many distractions.  Things hadn’t slowed down, not even a little bit, not for anything.

 

Now, hearing the doctor’s words, accepting them, and realizing that Tsunagu was going to live.

 

It gave him the space to fully acknowledge everything.  From how very close he had been to losing Tsunagu right there on the battlefield, to the pain and fear that came with what he had experienced in the villain’s hideout, to the still fresh realization that soulmarks were even real, that his parents had lied to him and hated him his entire life, and he even went so far as to recognize the fact that he would never have to live in that house with them again.

 

The full force of all of those facts came at him at once.

 

It was all over.

 

It was over, all of it was over. 

 

There was no more risk of death, there was no more uncertainty. 

 

Suddenly, after everything he’s had to face, the idea of standing up to his mother didn’t seem so impossible anymore.  Suddenly, the idea that the media was still out there, watching and analyzing his every move ever-so critically, just waiting for a reason to call him a villain, wasn’t so overwhelming.  There was nothing left out there that scared him, no present danger that seemed any more dire, nothing out there that could hurt him, at least not for the moment.

 

None of those things were any more terrifying than the idea of losing Tsunagu had been, and that was over. 

 

“Can we see him now?”  Kugo asked, and the doctor nodded with a smile.

 

“Yes, whenever you’re ready I can take you to him.” The doctor offered. Kugo glanced his way, giving him a questioning glance and Katsuki nodded, trying not to seem too anxious to get going.  Kugo flashed him a toothy grin and stood.

 

“We’re ready, please lead the way.”

Chapter Text

“Ok, I want you to be honest with me.  Have you slept at all in the past forty-eight hours?” 

 

Kugo frowned, approaching his friend from where he had just entered the conference room.  There were boxes of files stacked on the center table, and papers stacked in manila folders littered on any open spot still left on the large surface, as well as the occasional abandoned cup of coffee was either stacked on top of or beside the papers. There were a few other officers in the large room, including Detective Naomasa who looked exhausted, though murmuring some directions to a few of his officers in the opposite corner of the room.

 

Tsunagu, who was currently reading a file, slumped forward and resting his head on his arm for support, startled at the familiar voice sitting up and turning around in his chair.  A few of the other officers’ gazes blinked up to glance at them before returning to their work, none of them overly awestruck by the appearance of a hero, something that Kugo could appreciate in this instance.

 

“Oh, Kugo.”  Tsunagu muttered stretching in his seat and yawning.  “I’ll be honest with you; I have no idea.” 

 

So, the answer to that question was a ‘No’ then, and Kugo could figure as much, his frown deepening.  While Tsunagu seemed completely composed on the surface, as prim and proper as always without even a single hair out of place on his head, Kugo could see right past it. 

 

Tsunagu was trying hard to stay composed, and he was good at it having had years of practice, and while most people couldn’t tell the difference, Kugo was one of the few that could.  The smile that Tsunagu gave him was just too stiff, and his relaxed tone was too forced to be entirely genuine. 

 

His whole demeanor was entirely too rigid, where it was normally just like the fabric he wielded, strong yet flexible.  Now, it was stiff and brittle, creaking and bowing under the pressure.  Like he could snap in half if he tried to hold up any more weight.

 

The difference was plain as day to him and it immediately set off warning bells in Kugo’s head. 

 

Even as Kugo took his friend in, Naomasa finished up his conversation quickly and headed over.  “Jeanist, I think you and I both know that’s a lie, and that’s saying something considering I have a lie detector quirk.”  Naomasa grinned as he approached, speaking to Kugo next.  “The answer to your question is no.  Please, force him to go home for just a few hours.”  Naomasa sighed, almost looking relieved.

 

Tsunagu’s head snapped around, and in any other situation he might have laughed at the barely concealed pout in his friend’s expression, he looked like he was about to protest when Kugo took over. 

 

“That’s all I needed to hear.”  Kugo’s frown disappeared as he grinned mischievously.  He was going to have fun with this.

 

Tsunagu paled slightly at his friend’s expression, and just as Kugo began to move started to speak with a slightly resigned undertone to his voice.  “Kugo, I swear I’m fin-“  He was cut off though, as Kugo unceremoniously pucked the other man up and threw him over his shoulder in a way he hadn’t done since they were in highschool. 

 

Yeah, the officers in the room were definitely staring now, and Kugo really didn’t care.  Naomasa balked at them for just a split second before he chuckled. 

 

“Kugo, I am not in the mood-“ Tsunagu began again before he was interrupted again.

 

“Well, see you later Detective.”  Kugo waved as he walked out of the room, acting completely unbothered by his squirming mess of a friend he held over his shoulder.  He walked all the way out the building, just like that, with Tsunagu over his shoulder and placed him on the ground as soon as he was out of the building entirely and on the sidewalk in front of the building.

 

When he set his friend down, Tsunagu took a moment to collect himself, breathing heavily in a mix of embarassment and frustration.  He straightened his clothing and fixed his hair, before he quite dramatically pointed at him with an indignant huff and said.  “That was entirely uncalled for.”  Though, Kugo could only grin in triumph as he had achieved what he had wanted to.

 

For just a moment, even if he was embarrassed to all hell, Tsunagu’s emotional barriers had been torn down and it would only take a moment for Kugo to drag out what he knew must be lying dormant inside.

 

It was early morning and the street was dark, entirely empty of any pedestrians, and the streetlights illuminated the street well enough that Kugo could still see the slight pink dusting on his friend’s cheeks from the embarrassment. 

 

“Now, what do you want?”  There was a sharp edge of annoyance to Tsunagu’s normally smooth and kind voice, but Kugo didn’t mind.  The annoyance was at least honest, he could deal with that.

 

“I want you to go home and rest, or at least stop pretending that you’re completely fine.”  Kugo admitted bluntly.  Tsunagu looked like he was about to simply protest with an ‘I’m fine.’, but he quickly thought better of it.  He sighed as his frustration flipped on its head to exhaustion and guilt.  Still, Tsunagu didn’t say anything.

 

Right, this was about what he’d expected.  “Tell me about it.”

 

Tsunagu had given in, resigning himself to going home for a few hours, and catching Kugo up on everything he hadn’t already told him.

 

Kugo had never met this child before, this Bakugo Katsuki, outside of the fact that he was Tsunagu’s newfound soulchild.  He knew very little about him, up until Tsunagu had started really explaining everything he’d discovered over the past two weeks.  It really was, a lot to take in. 

 

Once they had finally settled in Tsunagu’s homey apartment, he had started to explain.  Everything he had felt that had been off, even before he had realized what was going on at home.  Everything Katsuki had told him on that night under an abandoned gazebo, and how not even two minutes after Katsuki agreed to trust him, and agreed to come home with him, the kid was kidnapped.

 

Tsunagu’s description that night, had created an image in Kugo’s mind of a stubborn kid, too used to hiding his true feelings from others and himself to even understand them fully, with trust issues to boot.  Yet, even rarer for a kid in that situation, a kid who was acknowledging his faults and trying to fix them.  A kid with very little self-worth, and too large of a sense of responsibility. 

 

It was a dangerous combination, to say the least.

 

Being stuck in a hospital bed for a full day, while he knew his friend was in surgery had royally sucked.  Though, it had given him the time to do a bit of research on his phone.  Quickly, things started to become very clear when he watched the LOV’s video, news coverage on the rescue, the Sports Festival footage, and even as far back as the Sludge Villian attack from just over a year ago.

 

Looking at it all through the lens Tsunagu had given him was highly concerning.

 

He found himself amazed that the teen had been able to trust Tsunagu at all.  What he saw, was a long list of instances where adults in his life had egregiously failed him, in ways that hardly seemed possible.  It hadn’t just been his parents who had failed him, but hero society had, in the way his entire life he had been built up by the media and other adults to be either invincible or dangerous, and pinning those labels onto a teenager, none of the newscasters or heroes in these videos treated Katsuki like a kid they treated him like a topic of discussion, a hero in the making, even before he had gotten into UA. 

 

Katsuki had clearly taken the message to heart, it suddenly made a terrifying amount of sense of why he hadn’t even considered asking his teachers or friends for help before deciding to handle his homelife on his own, even when it became too much and he ran away he just decided to live in the woods, and it made sense because he had always been treated as if he could handle himself, as if he didn’t need help. 

 

He added another trait to the list, fiercely independent.

 

Yet, even then, after all that, there was something he missed during the rescue mission, he must have been unconscious at the time, he saw it in the footage.  He watched Tsunagu get pinned by the very attack that had him on the operating table right now, and he winced, but not even two minutes later, there’s a blur of movement as Katsuki a kid he hadn’t met, flew across the battlefield to kneel next to his friend’s motionless body and even through the poor quality and the tiny silhouettes of movement on a small portion of the screen, he could see the fear clearly telegraphed in the teen’s movements. 

 

In none of the other videos, not even the one from the Sludge Villain attack, had he seen the kid scared, and, he couldn’t be sure because he didn’t actually know him but from everything he knew, the teen wasn’t the type to scare easily.  He was no psychiatrist, he knew he could be interpreting all of this wrong, but somehow, he doubted it.

 

As horrible as he was feeling about how things had turned out, about how Tsunagu had quite literally saved every single hero present at that fight, other than himself.  As remorseful as he knew he felt about all this, he couldn’t imagine how that kid was handling things.

 

He wanted to meet this kid.

 

When he did meet him, he had been surprised by how put together he’d been.  Clearly exhausted from days of stress and little sleep, but he was far from the wreck he’d been expecting.  They’d talked, and really, it hadn’t taken very long at all for Katsuki to warm up to him.  Kugo would be lying if he had said the feeling wasn’t mutual.

 

Even when Kugo had been possessed to tell Katsuki the story of when Tsunagu had first seen his mark, Katsuki had gotten a little teary eyed, but nothing out of the ordinary for the situation.  The kid had seemed completely fine.  Even when they had received the news that Tsunagu was out of surgery and fine.  Katsuki hadn’t seemed anything other than relieved and excited.

 

He’d only known the kid for a few hours, of course it had been naive to think that he’d had the kid figured out.

 

Yet, that hadn’t stopped him from thinking it. 

 

In retrospect, he really should have been expecting the kid to be good at suppressing his emotions, he had just somehow forgotten.  For just a moment he’d somehow forgotten like just about every other adult, that Katsuki was still a kid, who’d probably never seen anyone this injured before in a hospital, let alone someone he truly cared about.  That he’d been waiting for the good news longer than Kugo had even been conscious.

 

Yes, he’d forgotten, and he felt horrible about it. 

 

He’d walked unceremoniously into the hospital room when they reached it, glanced at his unconscious friend, and proceeded to sit down on one side of his bed, overwhelmed with relief.  He really didn’t look so bad, a bit pale, and motionless under the thin hospital sheets.  The heart monitor was beeping, and he had an IV, it was all really so incredibly normal, that Kugo hadn’t even begun to realize something might be wrong until he heard Aizawa call out softly to Katsuki, who was still standing in the door.

 

At the voice, Kugo glanced up, and immediately the relief was muted, snuffed out like a candlelight and replaced with concern and a bit of guilt as he realized he hadn’t noticed when Katsuki had stopped in the door after him, or how the kid’s breath had hitched at the door.

 

He’d completely forgotten how shocking it was to see someone like this for the first time, and he really wished he’d been paying more attention.

 

He’d thought Katsuki had been fine, he’d acted like he was fine.

 

Yet, as Katsuki stared at the bed in barely concealed shock, all Kugo could see was the guilt and horror that flashed across his features before he slowly began to stumble backwards on instinct.  When he bumped into Aizawa, who was just a step behind them, Katsuki flinched on instinct back forward and turned around quickly enough that he tripped himself, stumbling over his own feet.

 

“Shit.” Katsuki gasped as he ducked his head in a mix of guilt, shame, and panic, as he clearly attempted to ground himself.  He curled up running trembling hands through his hair as he attempted to calm himself down.  Kugo stood from his seat and Aizawa was already moving to kneel in front of Katsuki.  Kugo found himself stuck, unable to do more than stand and watch as Aizawa comforted Katsuki and feeling more than a little useless.

 

--------------

 

As prepared as Katsuki had thought he had been to see Tsunagu, alive and well, unconscious or not.

 

As excited as he had been, not even thirty seconds ago.

 

He had not been prepared.

 

Katsuki didn’t even remember walking here, he had stood up in the lobby, and suddenly he was here, standing in a secluded hospital room and staring at the man laying peacefully asleep on the inclined mattress.  He was frozen in confusion and shock for just a moment before he remembered what he was looking at.

 

Kugo had walked into the room ahead of him and had already sat down in one of the chairs beside the bed. 

 

Yet, Katsuki was stuck in place.

 

He didn’t know what he’d been expecting.  Really, he was being stupid, this shouldn’t bother him he should be relieved.

 

He should be relieved.

 

So, why is the only thing he can see the memory he had of kneeling beside him and desperately feeling for a pulse.  Why is it that he can only seem to remember how weak it had felt under his fingers?  Why is it that seeing him completely unconscious and motionless on the hospital bed like this only seems to remind him of a corpse?

 

The room was sterile, clean to the last speck of dust, covers folded just so with Tsunagu laying under them so still it almost looked more like he was lying in a coffin than a hospital bed. 

 

Why was that the only thing his mind would allow him to focus on?

 

Why can’t he just be happy that it’s over, and know that he’s ok?  The doctors said as much, there was no reasonfor Katsuki not to believe them, he did believe them.It was like he wasn’t even in control of his own body anymore.  He was in a daze, he stumbled backwards to try and escape from his own horrible thoughts, but

  He was relieved, but all he could see when he looked in this room was a glaring reminder of how close he’d been to dying.

 

“Katsuki?”  He could hear Aizawa question from behind him, an edge of worry in his voice.  He didn’t have it in him to respond, he wasn’t sure he could even speak if he tried to right now.

 

It was stupid, so incredibly stupid, and he wished that he could just set the all too fresh memories aside and sit down, and maybe chat some more to take his mind off of it, he wanted that more than anything else.  Yet, his feet moved him backwards, away from the very thing he wanted most and before he could get more than a step he flinched away as he ran into someone he had forgotten was there.

 

It was like he wasn’t even in control of his body anymore, everything around him was a fuzzy and unclear, and all he could focus on no matter how hard he tried were his own horrifying thoughts.  It was like he wasn’t even there anymore; he could hear the Aizawa-sensei try to talk to him.  He wasn’t sure how long it was before he stopped trying to speak to him and started speaking to someone else, Kugo maybe? 

 

It was like he was underwater, watching what was happening around him from the outside, understanding that he should day something, but not knowing what that was because he also couldn’t completely understand what was being said.  He was getting lightheaded, further adding to the fuzzy sensation he was feeling.

 

Why can’t he just let it be over? 

 

Why can’t he just move on, and be happy he’s alive, he’s not in danger anymore so why are you thinking about that now?  Why was he panicking, when the danger has already passed?

 

Why couldn’t he stop himself?

 

Why couldn’t he stop blaming himself?

 

He vaguely recognized himself closing his eyes and covering his ears, like a damn child.  He was on the floor now, how had he gotten there? 

 

It was like trying to swim upstream, the harder he tried the less progress he made.  So, he just let himself get taken by the current, sinking deeper into himself hoping that maybe if he stopped fighting this, that it would end quicker.

 

---------------

 

Aizawa stared at the kid in his arms with a mix of shock and genuine concern.  He felt some amount of relief when he had started to calm down, even if he was still unresponsive, until he saw the tension relax entirely from his face and he realized what had happened.

 

“He fainted.”  He verbalized, unable to keep the concern out of his voice.

 

It had happened so very quickly, in under a minute after Katsuki had spotted Jeanist he had gone into a mindless panic attack, and he hadn’t even remained conscious long enough for Aizawa to try and pull the boy out of it. 

 

Aizawa had been expecting a reaction when Katsuki saw Jeanist, he wasn’t naive enough to ignore the possibility.  He just hadn’t expected this, maybe some tears, a panic attack was entirely justified as well.  He just hadn’t even had the time to properly address what was happening before it was over, and Katsuki was completely unconscious in his arms.  Kugo, for his part was looking equally concerned and shocked. 

 

“That...” Kugo cleared his throat.  “I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t expecting that.”  He hesitantly sat back down, though never taking his eyes of Katstuki.

 

“I was expecting him to react poorly, just not quite this poorly.”  Aizawa sighed, adjusting Katsuki into a position where he could properly pick him up.  “I suppose, we shouldn’t be too concerned.  He’s hasn’t gotten more than a few hours of sleep over the past forty-eight hours at least, it’s not entirely uncommon for the body to force the issue.  It’s far from a healthy way to fall asleep, however, and I should know.” 

 

He picked the child up bridal-style, and gently placed him in one of the chairs, and sat himself next to him.  Kugo still looked concerned, and a little helpless but he returned to looking at his friend in the hospital bed.

 

“That kid had been through more shit this week than most pros do in their whole careers.”  Kugo absentmindedly commented, fiddling with his fingers.

 

“Yeah, he has.”  Aizawa agreed with a stressed sigh, he ran a hand through his hair to brush the bangs out of his face for just a moment.  “Honestly, I don’t know what’s happening to this world anymore.  I mean, when you’re training kids to be heroes, you expect some things to happen, things don’t always go as planned, when they start taking internships accidents happen and kids get killed.  It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it is.  This is different though; they’re actually being targeted, and I honestly can’t say I haven’t been losing sleep over it.” He paused and shook his head.  “It shouldn’t have to be this way.”

 

“The media is going to eat this shit up, aren’t they?”  Kugo frowned, nearly scowled.  Aizawa actually groaned.

 

“I swear if I have to try and reason with one of those vultures, one more time it’s not going to be civil.  I just don’t have the patience for it.”  Aizawa didn’t even attempt to hide the venom in his voice.  “Especially after that press conference, I hope those asshole reporters all get fired, or sued, or both.”

 

Kugo scoffed, with a nod.  “Yeah, you know people can have their own opinions, but it crosses a line for a News Station to pass that opinion off as fact.” 

 

Aizawa nodded. “Agreed.” 

 

There was a moment of silence as they sat in eachother’s company, and Aizawa stood, taking out his phone.  “I have to make a call, I’ll be back.”  Kugo nodded in awknowledgement, and Aizawa finally left and walked into the hallway to make that call to Hizashi that he’d been planning to make earlier that day, or possibly yesterday depending on how late or early it was. 

 

Hizashi picked up the phone on the first ring.

 

“Shou!”  He could hear him exclaim over the speaker, and Aizawa nearly winced at the volume.  “How’s everything going over there?  How’s Katsuki handling everything?”

 

“Well, up until just now Jeanist was in surgery.  We just found out that the danger is gone, and he’s in the clear.”  He explained flatly, and sighed. “Sorry I dumped the other kids on you, I just wanted to be sure they all actually went home.”  He could hear Hizashi chuckle on the other side.

 

“Nah, don’t worry about it.  It was really no big deal, honestly, I slept a little easier having done it myself.”  Hizashi didn’t even hesitate to brush the apology off easily, and Aizawa grinned a bit.  “Though, you should have seen their faces.  I didn’t bother putting my costume back on and Iida was the only one who recognized me.  That sparked up a fun conversation, I also think they are starting to more than suspect we’re together.  It’ll be fun to see how long it takes them to just up and ask.”  Aizawa frowned but shrugged.  He didn’t take the same joy out of watching the kids try and puzzle out their secret that Hizashi did, he was actually pretty indifferent on the matter.  “How’s the kid doing though, he must be happy, or at least relieved right?”

 

Shouta sighed, “He was when he heard the news, but actually seeing Jeanist was a different matter altogether.  He started to have a panic attack, then without warning, collapsed.”

 

“Oh.”  Hizashi said, his chipper tone flattening at the news.  Aizawa, decided to continue.

 

“He hasn’t been taking any of this well.  He did manage to tell me exactly what started all of this, why he ran away to begin with, and that wasn’t exactly a pleasant story either.  His parents are actually delusional as far as I can tell.”  Aizawa scoffed at that last statement, to emphasize his disdain.  “Neither of them had soulmarks, so they pretended one of Katsuki’s was one of theirs, and in the process completely tainted his entire view on them for the better part of his life.  When Katsuki discovered the mark his mother claimed was hers, was actually Jeanist’s, it was the last straw for him and he left.”  Aizawa paused, gathering his thoughts.  “He’s been dealing with much more than just the kidnapping recently, I’d imagine he doesn’t really know what to think about all this anymore.”

 

“Yeah, that’s a lot…” Hizashi trailed off.  “That’s not something he’s going to recover from overnight, the road to recovery for him is going to be much longer than we originally thought.”  Hizashi mused, his voice holding a more serious, thoughtful tone.

 

“Yeah, it will.”  Aizawa agreed, simply.  “Well, I should probably go.”

 

“Yeah, good luck Shou, and try and sleep some yourself.”  Hizashi’s cheerful tone was back as quickly as it had disappeared.

 

“I’ll try.”  He replied and hung up, heading back for the hospital room.  That was exactly what he’d do, he would make some polite conversation with Kugo for another hour or so, then drift off to sleep as the conversation died down.

 

-----------

 

Soft

 

Bed

 

Mattress

 

Those were the first things he registered in his exhausted state, he could still feel the dregs of whatever drugs were still filtering through his system.  Instead of opening his eyes, Tsunagu reached out with his quirk first, which in most cases would tell him more than his eyes could.  Though his reach was extremely limited, mostly just to what was on his own body and directly next to him.  He was wearing linen, almost certainly a hospital gown if the beeping of the heart monitor and the sterile smell were anything to go off of.

 

He was under two covers, well one sheet and one thicker blanket.  The pillowcases and the sheets both registered to him as mostly cotton, and they were soft to the touch.

 

Ok, so he was in a hospital.

 

Why was he in a hospital?

 

He figured it must have something to do with his hero work, but there was a very frustrating moment where he couldn’t quite puzzle it out.  He didn’t know how long he laid there, half conscious and wracking his brain to remember what had happened.  He could feel the drugs really start to wear off as he sat there thinking, gradually becoming able to think more clearly. 

 

There was a soft grunt and a rustle to his side, and Tsunagu cracked open his eyes unable to quench his curiosity through any other means.  When he did, it suddenly came back to him, the past few days, came to mind instantly as he saw Katsuki, fast asleep sitting in the chair directly beside him.

 

His soulchild, abused and treated horribly by his parents, too stubborn to ask for help and too afraid to accept it when offered, the leap of faith he’d taken to trust him and tell him his story under that gazebo just a few nights ago.  How hard it must have been to trust him when Katsuki hardly knew him, yet he had anyway.  The kid who had accepted his offer to come home with him and just then had been snatched away, kidnapped by Villains right under his nose.  Days of searching, pooling resources, trading in favors, just to find him as quickly as humanly possible.  Days of listening to the world call that boy a Villain because of stupid propaganda released by the LOV, the whole country set in their decision, how frustrating that had been. Days of preparing the protective custody order so that when this was all over Katsuki would stay safe, so that he wouldn’t have to go homeDays of preparation, and then they’d finally executed, and even when nothing had gone as planned, even as he’d taken the blow from the ridiculously powerful villain, even as Katsuki had somehow been determined to stay by his side, they’d still managed to get him out of there in one piece.

 

He remembered it all in a blinding about of detail as he saw the sleeping teenager sitting on the chair next to him. 

 

He was relieved, so incredibly relieved. 

 

Everything had worked out just fine, and as far as Tsunagu knew, everyone made it out alive.

 

His inward celebration halted as he then remembered what had woken him up, as he saw Katsuki toss and turn in his sleep, his expression strained, with a huff.  It dawned on him that he had no idea how long he’d been out for, or how much Katsuki had been forced to deal with on his own, or even how close he’d come to death.  In the aftermath of the kidnapping, who knows what else he’d had to live through.

 

So, without really thinking, Tsunagu sat up with a grunt, pleasantly surprised by the minimal amount of pain the action had caused, he felt a little weak, he probably couldn’t return to hero work for another few days, but he could move.  He swung his feet over the edge of the bed, and it was only then that he realized there was another adult in the room.

 

Eraserhead, or Aizawa Shouta was sitting next to Katsuki, fast asleep himself, and Tsunagu wasn’t sure how to feel about that.  He was relieved that Katsuki hadn’t been forced to tackle trying to wait in the hospital for him by himself, but a very small part of his mind made his heart drop, wondering if Katsuki might have decided against coming home with him after this was all over.

 

He only dwelled on the dour thought for a moment, shaking himself.

 

If that’s his decision, then that is his decision, nothing to be upset over.  Don’t be petty.

 

Tsunagu didn’t hesitate not even a moment longer, gently placing a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder and shaking the boy awake.

 

 

-----------

 

 

Katsuki could feel a hand on his shoulder, it was something solid, gentle, it cut through the fogginess of his subconscious, pulling him back to himself.  It was grounding, comforting, and steadying in a way Katsuki wasn’t sure how to explain.  He almost wanted to just go back to sleep, feeling a new peace of mind settle over him for a reason he couldn’t place.

 

“Katsuki?”  It was said softly, just louder than a whisper.  As quiet and soothingly as it was said, realization struck like lightning, he knew that voice.  Even still, with his mind racing and his body tensing in anticipation, he opened his eyes, rubbing the sleep away, and couldn’t help but stare in surprise.

 

Katsuki had no idea how long he’d been asleep, or even how he’d gotten in this chair.  He was so incredibly confused, but he wasn’t sure he cared.  Tsunagu was sitting up in the hospital bed, having tossed the covers off and swung his legs over the side of the bed, and had shaken Katsuki awake. 

 

There was still an IV in his arm, and the heart monitor was still beeping steadily, and Katsuki blinked as he remembered what had happened.

 

He must have fainted or something when he’d first walked in the room, and someone must have moved him into the chair, he figures that would have been Aizawa.  It all seemed a little silly in retrospect, staring back at Tsunagu with an amount of wonder that he probably would have been embarrassed to show just a few weeks ago.

 

Tsunagu almost looked as if he’d never been injured at all, he didn’t even appear to be in pain.  He looked a bit concerned though, and that fact struck a chord in Katsuki, telling him he should say something to reassure himThe room was silent as Katsuki blinked and tried to gather his thoughts, though his mind felt like a blender at the moment, he had about a dozen things he wanted to say.  He just let whichever one he thought of first slip from his mouth.

 

“Should you be out of bed?”  He asked feeling about as concerned as Tsunagu looked.  Though, his response made Tsunagu’s concern wipe away.

 

“Probably not, I’m sure it’ll only be another minute before a nurse comes to lecture me about it.”  Tsunagu scoffed with amusement, chuckling softly.  Katsuki snorted, suddenly not feeling very tense at all.  Katsuki placed a hand in his pocket and pulled out the denim scrap in his pocket, and stared at the thing for a moment, squeezing it in his hands for a long moment, before he tossed it at the pro. 

 

“You should know, you scared the shit out of me back there.”  Talking to Tsunagu, Katsuki was easily able to play down his nervousness, it felt like waking up from a bad dream.  In retrospect, the whole experience seemed so insignificant now, that he felt a bit silly for being worried.

 

Tsunagu’s smile wavered a bit and he nodded, staring at the piece of fabric now in his lap.  “I apologize, though, I am incredibly happy to see you safe as well Katsuki.”  Katsuki frowned a bit at that comment, but nodded anyway, without a word.

 

They were silent for a few moments, the quiet that settled over the room lasted long enough for Katsuki to realize that Aizawa-sensei was fast asleep in the chair next to him, and Katsuki glanced at him with a small grin as he truly felt the relief settle in for real this time.  He looked back to Tsunagu, and saw the other man was smiling again, though this time there was an extra sparkle of emotion in his eyes, as he spoke.

 

“Well, I suppose we should continue from where we left off, before we were so rudely interrupted by the League.  What do you think?”  Katsuki didn’t even have to think about his answer.

 

“Yeah, that sounds great.”  He hardly recognized his own voice, it was huskier than normal, and for a split second he’d almost thought there was someone else in the room.  That was when he realized there were tears running down his cheeks, they weren’t sobs, it was hardly even really crying, just tears.  He wiped them away bitterly, inwardly cursing himself for being so whiney.  “I’m really starting to get sick of this, I’ve cried more in the past few days than I have in my whole life.”  He scoffed at himself, with a grin still plastered on his face.

 

The tears didn’t stop when he rubbed them away, stubbornly refusing to stop, and Katsuki just resignedly chuckled at himself.  This was getting ridiculous at this point.  Katsuki had never understood what the term ‘tears of joy’ meant until this moment, and it was an incredibly strange feeling that he wouldn’t say he was particularly fond of.

 

He could hear shuffling on the bed as Tsunagu shifted over on the bed, wordlessly patting the space beside him in an open offer.

 

Katsuki sighed and took the offer, he was too tired to fight this shit anymore, too resigned to his emotional whims to bother trying to do anything else.  He stood and sat next to him on the bed, with a huff.  He let Tsunagu wrap his arms around him in a wordless hug, and Katsuki accepted it, only briefly hesitating before he returned it. 

 

Katsuki doesn’t know how long they sat there, just quietly admiring each other’s presence.  Katsuki, for his part was taking a great deal of comfort simply listening to his steady, rhythmic heartbeats, which matched up perfectly to the heart monitor.

 

There was still a weak tiny part of his brain that screamed at him for letting someone get this close to him, a part of Katsuki that truly believed that this could still be some sort of trick.  Katsuki shoved the thought down vehemently, that kind of thinking had no place here.  Katsuki had made a decision, he was going to trust Tsunagu until he gave him a reason not to.  After everything Tsunagu has done for him up to this point, Katsuki couldn’t truly see that happening. 

 

If this worked out, he was sure he could be happy, and he thought that Tsunagu would be too.  So, he wasn’t allowed to think like that anymore.

 

Another part of him protested that it was dangerous to care about Tsunagu, he was a hero, he could die any day of the year in the field, it was a part of his job, what it he just dies?  Despite himself he found himself tightening his grasp on the hero and sighing shakily.  It was harder to shove that thought away, but he managed it anyway.  He had already decided that he was no fucking coward, that he would rather live what little life they had together than stop before they even started forward.  He’d made that decision already.

 

Tsunagu had felt Katsuki’s action and tightened his own grip respectively, reciprocating the squeeze.  “You don’t have to worry about me anymore, I’ll be fine, I promise you.”  Katsuki only nodded into his chest in response, he was at a loss as to what he should say, and Tsunagu seemed to be fine with that.  More than fine, actually, he actually seemed comfortable, just as comfortable as Katsuki felt, so he continued to talk.  This, whatever it was, felt natural in a way Katsuki had never felt before.

 

“As soon as I’m released from the hospital, I can take you back to my apartment.  I have a nice spare bedroom that we could make yours.”  Tsunagu started, feeling more comfortable as he got his footing, starting to speak more easily now that he knew what he wanted to talk about. 

 

The future…

 

Katsuki found himself being reminded of that idea, a concept, the idea that the future was bright because he had people to really share it with.  He had infinite possibilities in front of him, he just had to keep walking and eventually he’d reach them.  As Tsunagu continued to talk to him, Katsuki could almost see it.

 

“I have a cat, if you remember.  He’s quite affectionate, and I’m sure you’ll get along once you move in and he gets to know you.” He was mostly talking at Katsuki at this point, but he didn’t mind one bit.  Tsunagu had taken the pressure off of Katsuki, all he had to do was listen now, without feeling like he needed to respond right away.

 

“Though, I feel I should warn you.  I’ve been told I keep way too many blankets, so you’ll find that most of my furniture has at least one if not multiple blankets stored on, if not next to it.  I also happen to have a closet full of all kinds, materials, and styles of blankets.  I suppose, that means you’ll never be cold, at the very least.”  He continued, and Katsuki snorted again, reminded of the story Kugo had told him earlier.

 

“Of course, that’s only if you haven’t changed your mind?”  Tsunagu asked.  A playful lilt to his tone that Katsuki wasn’t dumb enough to miss this time.  He shrugged and replied with an equal amount of sarcasm.

 

“I dunno, the League made me a pretty convincing offer back there, starting to think I might’ve missed an oppritunity.”  He said, his voice dripping with enough sarcasm to prove his point.  He wasn’t even going to dignify Tsunagu’s question with an answer, he seemed to get the point.

 

The conversation drifted into silence at that, neither one of them making any move to adjust their position.  No sign that either of them was uncomfortable and that might’ve been the sweetest part.  They might’ve stayed there all day if Kugo hadn’t walked in a few minutes later and nearly gasped in surprise at the sight.

 

“You’re awake!”  He said with glee, and Katsuki slowly pulled away, it somehow felt awkward to continue after someone else entered the equation.  Tsunagu seemed content with the decision, if maybe a bit disappointed.  They made eye contact, and Tsunagu seemed to consider something for the briefest of moments, before he went for it.   He reached a hand out to gently ruffle Katsuki’s hair.

 

Katsuki had seen the action coming, so he hadn’t been startled or afraid of it.  He let him do it, not pulling away, though Katsuki couldn’t help the blush that flushed across his cheeks.  It didn’t take long for things to return to a state of normalcy, as Katsuki, Kugo, and Tsunagu began to chat in earnest.  It wasn’t more than another few minutes before Aizawa woke up and also joined in the conversation himself.  Though, not before he fixed Katsuki with a concerned look.

 

The nurses did eventually come to check in on Tsunagu, and as predicted, they scolded him vigorously for having moved at all.  So, he begrudgingly settled back into the bed with only one sarcastic comment, which, Katsuki was considering very impressive for him.  The doctor who came back in about ten minutes after that said that Tsunagu had healed remarkably quickly, and if he was feeling as good as he was now tomorrow morning, he would be clear to be released.  After the good news, things had settled down, and by that he meant, Tsunagu and Aizawa began to discuss the legal details of Katsuki’s custody case, and while Katsuki had started out listening, before long he had become lost in the minutia of it all, and really, he was willing to just leave it to the two of them.  He trusted both of them enough to let them handle it.

 

At a lull in their conversation, Katsuki asked if he could use Aizawa’s phone to text Kirishima.  He’d been hesitant to ask at first, but he’d decided to after he considered how invested Kirishima had been with being with Katsuki through this mess, and how he would absolutely want to know that things had ended well.  Katsuki wasn’t sure but he thought he saw Aizawa grin just a bit as he pulled out his phone and handed it to Katsuki without a word.  He also saw Tsunagu give him a meaningful look before he turned back to his conversation with Aizawa.  He mutterered a thanks and punched in Kirishima’s number and sent him a message.

 

 

6:45 a.m.

 

Aizawa: Oi, Kirishima.  It’s Katsuki.

 

Aizawa: I just wanted to let you know Jeanist’s ok, and he’s even conscious now. 

 

Aizawa: If all goes well it seems like he’ll be released from the hospital tomorrow, and that’s when all the other legal stuff with my parents is really going to kick off.

 

 

Katsuki was about to close the phone because of the hour, when he figured Kirishima would probably still be asleep, he was surprised when he received a reply nearly immediately.

 

 

Kirishima: Really?! 

 

Kirishima: That’s great!!!

 

Kirishima: Do you still want me to come visit today?  I get it if you just wanted some privacy for a bit now that he’s awake and everything?

 

 

Katsuki blinked.  He didn’t even have to consider his answer. 

 

 

Aizawa: Of course, I do dumbass.

 

Aizawa: Don’t be an idiot.

 

Kirishima: Great!  I’ll see you in a few hours then.

 

 

And he did, Kirishima joined them a few hours later and the room was now full of life, as Katsuki sat next to Kirishima as he showed him how the class had been reacting to all the news over the class chat over the past few days, and the adults talked amongst themselves.  The topic had moved away from Katsuki’s custody case and on to lighter topics, leaving Aizawa mostly quiet and commenting occasionally as Kugo and Tsunagu chatted idly. 

 

That was pretty much how that day went, with Kirishima leaving in the evening just before dinnertime, and Kugo leaving later that night to sleep in his own bed.  Leaving Aizawa and Katsuki in the room with Tsunagu for the night.

 

Katsuki slept easily that night, and long into the next morning.  Finally catching up on the sleep he had been missing out on over the past few days.  By the time someone finally thought to shake Katsuki awake, Tsunagu was already standing in front of him, wearing a set of his casual clothes, and completely out of the hospital bed.  Katsuki stretched, pulling himself from his groggy state of mind with only mild difficulty.

 

“Good morning, Katsuki.”  Tsunagu had shaken him awake, and Katsuki could almost see the grin past his scarf.   Aizawa was standing behind him a few paces and off to the side so Katsuki could still see him.  He yawned and shook himself. 

 

“Good mornin’” His voice slurred slightly despite himself, as he shook off the leftover dregs of sleepiness.

 

Tsunagu was patient though, he gave Katsuki the time he needed to sit up fully and shake himself out of sleep, it only took a few minutes, and Katsuki stood, figuring what was coming next.

 

They were finally leaving this wretched place, and while Katsuki had little concept of what lay ahead of him for the future, he could say one thing for absolute certainty, for the first time in his life, he was excited for what came next.  He was excited to see where life took him this time.

 

Tsunagu’s smile widened, as he seemed to read the emotions present in Katsuki’s expression and asked him.  “Are you ready to go home?”

 

Katsuki nodded, feeling a sense of peace he’d never quite experienced before settling over him.  “I’d say it’s about damn time, actually.”  He said with a huff of laughter.  Aizawa gave them an interesting look, there was relief in there, but there was a more powerful emotion hidden deep within his expression that Katsuki couldn’t quite guess at. 

 

Katsuki shrugged it off, he could figure it out later.  He followed Tsunagu’s lead as they walked right out of the hospital, and Katsuki reveled a moment at the sunlight and the fresh air as they walked out the front doors.  He took a deep breath and sighed as basked in the warm sunlight.

 

A car pulled up to the hospital, and Tsunagu gestured to the vehicle.  “Well, that’s our ride.”  Katsuki glanced behind them, and as he met Aizawa’s gaze, something inside Kastuki told him he should say something, or do something.

 

He hesitated a moment as Tsunagu took a step towards the car, Katsuki then decided quickly.

 

Ah, fuck it.

 

He ran back to Aizawa-sensei, the man who had gone out of his way to find him and stay with him all the way through this, his soulparent, and his teacher, and he gave him an abrupt hug.  Aizawa stumbled a step backwards, clearly not having expected the gesture, but accepting it anyway.  Katsuki only held the hug for a moment, not wanting to keep Tsunagu waiting. 

 

“Thanks.”  Katsuki mumbled before he broke the hug and waved as he headed for the car and entered it without another word.  Tsunagu and Katsuki both sat in the back of the car, and Katsuki watched as the car pulled away from the hospital, Aizawa still standing in front of it and giving them a small wave of his own as the car drove away.  If Tsunagu had thought anything about the gesture, he didn’t say anything about it.

 

There were lots of things Katsuki still had to do, he would have to testify against his parents in court, he would have to tell All Might about his soulmark one day, he would have to work through the self-destructive habits his mother had engrained into him, he would have to explain everything that had happened to his friends, and he would have to find a way to face Izuku again and apologize for everything he’d done.

 

He had a lot of things he still had to do, but he had all the time in the world to do those things. 

 

All he had to do right now, was chat with Tsunagu in the car until they made it to his apartment and then settle in.  That was the first thing he had on his list, and he was going to focus on that much for now.

 

Just one step at a time.