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"If you want a quirk so bad, I've got a time saving idea for you. Why don't you take a swan dive off the roof and hope for a quirk in your next life?"

 

"Why don't you take a swan dive off the roof and hope for a quirk in your next life?"

 

"Why don't you take a swan dive off the roof-?"

 

"-take a swan dive off the roof-"

 

Those vicious words played on repeat in Izuku's head, making him feel impossibly heavier, impossibly more tired. Katsuki and his goons had left the room some time ago, but Izuku was still there. Sitting at his desk. Staring. Thinking. Existing.

 

He sighed deeply, sadly, and glanced out the window. The sun had already set, the sky now painted a beautiful cobalt blue and twinkling with the appearance of stars. A lovely ghostly glow blanketed the tops of trees and buildings, the moon full and bright above the town he called home. The enchanting view seemed to call him, pulling him to the window. He opened it and closed his eyes, allowing the evening breeze to wash over him. He drew in a deep breath, greedily pulling the fresh air in to fill his lungs.

 

He felt strangely calm. It'd been a while since he'd felt anything like this. For the longest time, all he'd known was the anxiety and deep sadness borne from looks of disgust, sharp words and smoking palms, the lack of calls from an absent father- his life was nothing but disappointment after disappointment (for himself and everyone else, it seemed).

 

It was tiring. He was exhausted. The weight of the world had settled itself in his bones, dragging his frail body down with the force of it. He tried to stay positive, he really did, but he could feel the hopelessness beginning to consume him. It crawled along his skin like small bugs, raising goosebumps in its wake and making his hairs stand on end. Sometimes, it all felt like too much- like he was being slowly suffocated, his throat clogging up with all the tears he'd shed. His fingers would claw desperately at exposed skin, trying, needing to ground himself and find some kind of relief -

 

He shook his head and stood up straight, backing up slightly from the window. There was no point dwelling on those thoughts right now. He still had a dream to work towards, and his mother was probably worried sick. One glance at his phone told him that yes, she very much was, if the 25 missed calls and 100+ texts were anything to go by. Man, he must've zoned out hard .

 

He sighed and put his phone back in his pocket, looking out the window once more. He... didn't really want to go home. He wondered, briefly, if he should go home.

 

He shook his head again, more viciously this time. No . He couldn't think like that.

 

The green haired boy left the classroom as fast as he could, as if those thoughts were something tangible and threatening, and getting out of that room would save him from them. He stared at the ground as his feet worked on auto-pilot, trying his hardest to rekindle the admittedly already weak flame that had finally been snuffed out mere hours before.

 

The flame flickered briefly, but Izuku found he just couldn't really get it going again. The leftover smoke curled in his chest; it snaked around his lungs and clogged his throat, causing hot tears to swell behind his eyes that he blinked away. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't seem to escape the ever-tightening grip his other self had on him- the one that whispered to him at night with piercing words wrapped in false sincerity. The one that reminded Izuku of all his shortcomings when he started to reach too far, too confidently towards a dream too fanciful. The one that, in moments like these, swallowed his awareness and guided his body.

 

 When he eventually looked up, he realized his feet had carried him to the roof. The wind was harsher up there. The cold air tousled his curls and painted his cheeks a stinging pink, and suddenly, his mind was quiet.

 

He approached the edge cautiously and glanced over. There was someone down there. He squinted, trying to see who it was, but their back was facing him. They must have felt his stare, though, because then they were turning around and- oh. Izuku's heart stopped in his chest as his green eyes made contact with widening red ones. It was Katsuki.

 

But what was Katsuki doing there? It was so late, there was no reason for him to be at the school still. After a moment, Izuku realized his mother probably called the Bakugou's after Izuku didn't come home and asked for help searching for him. Izuku sighed heavily, he should have called her back immediately. Maybe he wouldn't be up here right now if he had.

 

But was that really the better option? He'd have gone home, slept safe and sound, and then what? He'd continue to be a financial burden on his poor, exhausted mother. He'd go to school everyday chasing an impossible dream and clinging to false hope that'd ultimately just leave him broken. He would be punished every single day just for existing. Nobody wanted him there, and at that point, Izuku didn't really want to be there either. Now that he really thought about it, he didn't have anything to stay for.

 

He stepped onto the ledge of the roof. Slowly, as his head filled with the overwhelming static of haunting memories and cutting words, his eyes began blocking out the sight of anything but the smooth pavement below. Abruptly, he found himself one hundred percent sure that this was what he wanted- what was best for everyone.

 

He supposed he really shouldn't be so surprised. His light, his determination and strength, had been fading for a long while. Like a bulb hanging from a frayed thread, it would only take a tug to snap the string and send the glass hurtling towards the ground, and Katsuki had yanked it down with all he had. In retrospect, Izuku almost couldn't believe he'd held on this long.

 

Why had he fought this so tenaciously again? Oh, right. He wanted to be a hero .

 

A small, bitter smile that wasn't like Izuku at all curled his lips, and he couldn't help the sad, self-deprecating chuckle that bubbled up and out of him. He couldn't be a hero, he knew that.

 

He was weak. Useless. Quirkless .

 

He knew that, but that didn't mean it hurt any less having it reaffirmed day after agonizing day.

 

And besides that, what kind of hero didn't even have the strength to save himself?

 

Distantly, he heard a door being slammed open and the sound of heavy footfalls thudding closer, but it was all background noise. His thoughts were swirling around him, keeping him trapped in his head where no one could reach him.

 

No one except one person, it seemed, as Katsuki's scream of, "Deku!" felt like it pierced straight through his skull.

 

Slowly, tentatively, Izuku turned around to face a head of spiky blonde hair and burning crimson eyes.

 

"K-Kacchan..." the name came out shaky and breathless with surprise. Despite seeing Katsuki on the ground earlier, Izuku didn't think he'd come up to the roof to see him. Didn't think he'd ever want to.

 

Katsuki was a few feet away, staring at Izuku as though he was doing calculations, pupils flitting from his feet, to his curls swaying in the breeze, to the way Izuku clenched and unclenched his sweaty palms.

 

Finally, Katsuki opened his mouth and broke the silence.

 

"I don't know what the fuck you're thinking, Deku, but you need to get down. Now." He spoke low, his voice like gravel, and it grated on Izuku's nerves.

 

Of course, even at a time like this, he would be harsh and commanding. Some things never change.

 

Izuku smiled at Katsuki, but it wasn't the same determined, wobbly smile Katsuki was used to seeing. No, this one was tired and resigned- the smile of someone ready to go. It didn't look right on Izuku's freckled, moonlit face.

 

"Why? Why should I?" He asked, his voice sounding just as exhausted as his smile looked.

 

"There's nothing for me here..." Izuku sighed with a heavy despair built up from years and years of abuse and bottled up emotions.

 

"What the fuck do you mean 'there's nothing for you here'? Hah? What about your mom? Your dream?" Katsuki took a step closer, raising his voice with every question. He looked and sounded angry, but the panic in his eyes and the twitching of his fingers betrayed his nervousness. It warmed something in Izuku's chest, thinking that perhaps Katsuki actually cared for him, if only a tiny bit, but memories of unnecessary cruelty froze the warmth over just as fast as it had appeared.

 

The tears Izuku had repressed earlier were welling up again, blurring Katsuki's handsome features and making the world look like one big mass of color.

 

"My mom is better off without me. She...she works so hard to provide for me, and for what? I can't do anything for her," He croaked out. The tears that had swelled in his sullen green eyes began to spill over, leaving scorching hot trails on his cold cheeks as they descended.

 

"And as for my dream?" He huffed and shook his head. "You, of all people, should know that it's impossible for me. You reminded me of that fact every day, afterall," Izuku's voice broke at the end, coming out choked and unsteady.

 

Katsuki grit his teeth as he listened to Izuku- guilt, fear, and anger curling in his gut like rotten food. It made him want to throw up.

 

"Auntie? Better off without you? You really are a fucking idiot if you think she'd ever live a normal life again after having to bury her only son. And your dream is only impossible as long as you're not around to chase it. You don't have to be a hero to be a hero , Deku."

 

The words felt foreign on Katsuki's tongue, not used to giving any sort of encouragement, and sounded even stranger to Izuku's ears, not used to receiving it.

 

Izuku wrapped his arms around himself. Tears still poured from his eyes like water from a faucet, dripping off his chin and splattering at his feet in a steady rhythm.

 

"Y-You still don't get it, Kacchan. And... and why are you even here? Why are you trying to talk me out of this? Didn't you want this? Wouldn't you be happier... if I was gone?" He asked. The sincerity and genuine confusion in his voice caught Katsuki off guard.

 

He recovered quickly, though, and chanced another step forward.

 

 "Don't… don't just assume I'd be happier, asshole! I wouldn-"

 

"I didn't have to assume, Kacchan. You told me. You told me this is what you wanted, and I've realized it's what I want too." Izuku's voice shook slightly, but came out clear and confident.

 

Katsuki opened his mouth to reply, but Izuku cut him off again.

 

These were his last moments, and he wanted to be heard.

 

"I'm... I'm so tired of living my life just to suffer. I'm so tired of trying and failing at every turn!"

 

He laughed then, but it sounded too wrecked and broken to be heard as anything other than a sob.

 

"You know, Kacchan... all I wanted, all my life, was for someone to believe in me. Anyone . It could have been a stranger. But no one did. Not one single person ever believed in me my entire life. Not my father, not my mother, not my classmates, not the teachers, not you . Not even me." He shrugged at the last words, like it couldn't be helped. Katsuki was starting to think he might actually throw up.

 

"I mean, how could I believe in myself when no one else did? Obviously, there had to be some reason not one person ever had faith in me. They must be right. So what's the point in lying to myself any longer? The world doesn't need someone like me. The world doesn't want someone like me. So…"

 

 The tears on Izuku's face kept him from seeing the way Katsuki's face contorted into one of regret at his words, and then into one of pure, unadulterated horror as Izuku took a step backward, letting gravity take hold of his body.

 

 "I'll see you in the next life, Kacchan."

 

Izuku closed his eyes, then, and for a second, felt the weight of all that he'd been carrying leave him. More tears sprung to his eyes at the immense relief, and in that moment, he was sure he was doing the right thing. This would make things better for everyone.

 

He wouldn't annoy anyone anymore. His mother wouldn't have to work so hard all time. Katsuki wouldn't be so mad constantly. Everyone would be happier with him gone.

 

And Izuku... Izuku wouldn't have to endure anymore. He could sink into nonexistence where all the pain and suffering he'd experienced couldn't touch him. He'd be a hero, in his own way.

 

For a moment, everything was in motion, and everything was okay.

 

And then everything stopped. But not in the way he wanted it to.

 

There was a sharp pain in his shoulder and wrist, and he could still feel the wind whipping his hair around wildly. He opened his eyes slowly, and his stomach dropped. He was still there. He was still alive .

 

"No..." he croaked out- a defeated, gut-wrenching cry that sounded like he was mourning something lost. He felt the pain in his wrist increase and looked up to find Katsuki holding onto him with a desperate look in his eyes, tears streaming down his face in earnest.

 

 The sight sent Izuku's heart plummeting. He didn't want to see that look on Katsuki's face. He wanted Katsuki to be happy . He knew that the other boy was far from nice to him, but he was still amazing and had admirable aspirations. He'd looked up to the other boy ever since they were little (though he suspected it's always been a bit more than that). Katsuki was always so strong. He didn't want to be the one that made him appear so weak.

 

"Don't you fucking sound like you're grieving , asshole! You almost just- fuck!" a frustrated growl ripped itself from Katsuki's throat. "You weren't supposed to actually do it! 'Make me happy'?! I know what I said but- fuck- just get the fuck up here you piece of shit! Grab onto me with your other arm!" He yelled. 

 

 And Izuku could do nothing but follow orders. Soon, through grunting and panting and heaving, he was being pulled back up onto the roof. Once his feet were planted firmly on the cement of the school rooftop, Katsuki immediately collapsed on his back, pulling Izuku down with him as one hand was still gripped tightly onto Izuku's wrist- as if he was afraid the smaller boy would disappear if he let go even for a second. 

 

 From Izuku's new position on top of the blonde's chest, he could feel more than see the sweat that drenched Katsuki's muscle shirt and the fresh tears still making their way down his face in rivulets, dripping off his chin and wetting Izuku's curls.

 

Izuku stiffened, afraid the other boy would realize their positions and push him off none too gently. After a moment, however, he felt Katsuki's arms come up and snake around his waist, holding him close.

 

Izuku gasped, shocked and unsure, but slowly let himself relax into the arms of his bully. Afterall, this was everything he'd ever wanted with Katsuki. Even if it was only temporary, an action inspired by near death, he would relish in it.

 

 They stayed like that for a long while, Izuku pretending not to notice the way Katsuki shook with quiet sobs and wetting the other boy's shirt further with his own. Searing pain pulsed through him from his right arm- he'd definitely pulled or dislocated something- but it wasn't enough to make him move. Instead, he remained curled up on top of Katsuki until they eventually calmed down. Their erratic, unsteady breaths became deep, long inhales of air that filled their lungs, and their shaking bodies that clung tightly to one another slowly relaxed. Then, Katsuki shifted, pulling something out of his pocket.

 

"W-What are you doing, Kacchan?" Izuku asked hesitantly, scared to lose the moment.

 

"I'm calling your mom, dipshit. She's worried fucking sick." Katsuki grumbled. Izuku's heart stuttered in his chest at the words and he pushed himself up slightly on the others chest, making eye contact for the first time since he'd been saved.

 

Katsuki's eyes were swimming with emotion and his mouth was smoothed over. He was still scowling, but it didn't radiate malice like it usually did, and the anger didn't seem pointed towards Izuku. Katsuki's thumb was already flying across his phone screen and Izuku remembered why he'd looked at Katsuki in the first place.

 

"K-Kacchan wait! Please!" He said, voice fearful and pleading. Izuku reached out and grasped the hand holding the phone unthinkingly. It seemed to do the job, as Katsuki's thumb stopped moving and vermillion irises shifted to train on him.

 

"Please don't tell my M-Mom about..." Izuku continued, glancing behind him as if to indicate how that sentence ended. Katsuki's eyes hardened and his grip on his phone tightened.

 

"Tell her what? That you just tried to off yourself by throwing yourself off the roof of a fucking building?" He growled, and Izuku flinched at the wording.

 

"I have to tell her, stupid. Even if I was part of the reason you..." he trailed off, seeming to fail at summoning the courage to end the sentence this time.

 

Izuku's heart clenched in his chest again, but this time for Katsuki.

 

"I-I'm not gonna say anything about that, Kacchan! It wasn't your fault! You won't get in trouble, I promise!" He rushed to reassure him.

 

 Katsuki scoffed, his lips turning down in a deep scowl. He put his phone down and sat up slowly, Izuku slipping down his torso until he landed in his lap. The new position brought a bright blush to his cheeks, but Katsuki didn't seem to notice- he was too busy staring Izuku down.

 

 " Not my fault? You literally just got through telling me it was my damn fault!" Katsuki jabbed a finger harshly into Izuku's chest, his red-rimmed eyes scorching hot in their intensity and his voice strained with the effort it took to get those words out.

 

 "I…" Izuku began, staring at the blonde with wide eyes. He hadn't expected this. He had thought the blonde was simply scared of this going on his record, but if that was the case, wouldn't he have just left after Izuku told him he wouldn't say anything? It didn't make sense.

 

 "I-It… I mean, you didn't help, but you weren't the sole reason, either. There were a lot of different reasons that I… decided to go," Izuku said, shame slowly filling the spot that solemn resolution had taken up. Now that he was calmer, now that his misery wasn't engulfing him, he realized he had been selfish. He'd made excuses, tried to downplay the love of his mother by saying she was better off without him, simply so he wouldn't feel so guilty. He'd just wanted it so bad in that moment. He'd just wanted it all to be over.

 

 Izuku startled when fingers snapped in front of his face. Katsuki stared angrily at him, his hand still raised in front of Izuku's eyes. The hand lowered back down, however, when Katsuki realized he had gotten the green haired boy's attention.

 

 "Fucking really? Spacing out in the middle of this conversation?" Katsuki asked. He was trying to sound angry, but looking at Izuku now, he found he couldn't spit the same venom he used to.

 

 Izuku opened his mouth to speak, but Katsuki beat him to it.

 

 "It doesn't matter if there were other reasons. What matters is that I was one of them. I told you to do it." Crimson irises swam in rising tears, the guilt momentarily overwhelming.

 

 Izuku tried his hardest to suppress the feelings of hope at those words- the hope that lit up the hollowness inside and pushed against his ribcage. Katsuki still might have meant something else. His words didn't necessarily mean he cared.

 

 Izuku frowned at the sight of tears on the other boy's face and reached up to swipe them away with the pad of his thumb. Katsuki lifted his hand, intending to swat Izuku's away, but memories of a river and worried green eyes had him lowering it back to his lap.

 

 "Why… why did you tell me to do it if you didn't want me to…?" Izuku asked, fingers settling on his face despite the fact there were no more tears to wipe away. This time Katsuki did swat his hand away, but, unlike before, without any bitterness or hostility.

 

 "I didn't think you were actually gonna do it! It was a stupid fucking assumption, I know, and I shouldn't have said it. I didn't realize how broken you were."

 

 Izuku reached up and clutched at the fabric of his own shirt, gripping the cloth at his chest till his knuckles turned white. It seemed Katsuki really did care more than he let on. The thought sent little trickles of happiness through him. It laced through his chest, his veins, and pooled in his gut, making tears spring to his eyes. It was an emotion he hadn't felt in a while. He wanted to lunge forward and wrap his arms around Katsuki right then and there, but the blonde wasn't done yet.

 

 "I- fuck…" Katsuki huffed in frustration, rubbing a hand down his face. He took a few calming breaths and looked up, gazing directly into Izuku's forest green irises.

 

 "I'm… I'm sorry." The blonde blushed vehemently the moment the words left his mouth, but the serious look on his face was enough to show he meant it.

 

 In the next moment, Katsuki was on his back again, Izuku's arms wrapped tightly around him.

 

  "K-Kacchan…!" Izuku cried into the crook of his neck. Katsuki could feel his smile against his skin and blushed even harder, gripping the other boy and trying to pry him off. Though he didn't put any real force behind it.

 

 "The fuck?! Get the fuck off, nerd!" He shouted, mostly out of embarrassment. Izuku heeded his request, straightening up letting him go, but he kept his hands planted firmly on Katsuki's shoulders even once the blonde sat up.

 

 "I-I'm sorry, I j-just didn't… I wasn't expecting that…" Izuku said. His face was covered in tears and snot but was still, somehow, absolutely glowing. "I'm just so happy right now!"

 

 Katsuki stared at him for a moment. The guilt was still there, nestled deep in a corner of his chest where it'd likely never leave, but watching Izuku wipe away happy tears made him feel a bit lighter.

 

 Izuku leaned forward and rested his head on Katsuki's chest once again. It was odd- for both of them. Neither of them were used to this kind of contact with each other, especially not so much of it, but they also couldn't deny how nice it was. And so Katsuki awkwardly settled a hand atop fluffy green curls, which were surprisingly soft, and let the other boy rest against him.

 

 Eventually, Izuku got up from his lap and pulled out his phone, presumably to put his mother's fears to rest, and Katsuki thought about the differences between Izuku's genuine, happy smile and his scared, wobbly smile.

 

 As he debated, Izuku turned to him, a small, grateful grin pulling at the corners of his lips. There was a spark in his eyes that hadn't been there before. His shoulders were no longer hunched and tight with tension. There was still sadness etched into his features- such a deep seated despair couldn't be dissipated so easily, afterall- but whatever flame had been blown out inside of him was roaring to life once again. His smile, this time, was one that said: I can do it.

 

 Ultimately, Katsuki decided he liked Izuku's real smiles more.