Izuku knew he was always going to be insecure. At this point it was a part of who he was. He had spent his entire life being told he was worthless, a waste of space. What good could he be without a quirk? He had been shunned, bullied relentlessly. All that hurt didn’t suddenly go away when All Might gifted him his quirk.
But it wasn’t just his lack of a quirk that led to him being picked on. No, Izuku had other flaws as well. He was boring, plain looking. Never able to stand out in a crowd. He was short and thin, with dark messy hair that was easily overlooked when compared to other vibrant or attention grabbing hair. His eyes were nothing like Denki or Mina’s vivid yellow, or Tokoyami and Tsu’s deep charcoal black. And they were nowhere near the strong and piercing but beautiful red of Katsuki’s.
The point being, he knew the rest of him was just as plain as his lack of a quirk and he could accept that. He was okay with it, he told himself.
But- his hands.
He doesn’t regret it, his fight with Todoroki and Muscular that gave him the scars. Todoroki needed to be saved from himself, he was held down by his hatred for his father and Izuku knew he could be an amazing hero. And he helped, a bit. Todoroki used both his quirks against Izuku and won. His fight with Muscular didn’t even need a second thought. His job was to protect civilians, and he did that.
He doesn’t regret how he got them, but he is still disgusted by the twisted, uneven and scarred flesh that covered his hands. They’re not boring, they’re not plain, but god does Izuku wish they were. He can’t help the bile that rises in his throat every time he sees them, or the way his stomach plummets with disgust whenever his fingers brush over the dips in his hands that aren’t supposed to be there.
Every hero has their scars. It makes them stronger, shows the challenges they’ve had to face- or at least that’s what All Might told him. But Izuku wished his scars were anywhere else.
Since their fight at Ground Beta, Katsuki and his friendship had gotten better.
It had started with Katsuki approaching him after class one day.
“Hey, Nerd.” He grunted.
“You need help with fuckin’ math right?” Katsuki shoved his hands roughly into the pockets of his baggy pants while Izuku stared at him, shocked.
“Oh, I guess I do?” It came out as more of a question than an answer, but Katsuki didn’t snap at him for it. Surprisingly.
“Good. Come over to my room at five, we’re studying together.” Bakugou told him, turning to walk away, but a hand gripping his shirt stopped him.
“The fuck do you mean ‘why’?!” He snarled, spinning back around, red eyes glowering. But Izuku stood tall, eyes determined.
“I mean Kaachan, we’ve never studied before. What are you trying to do?”
“I’m trying to give you an olive branch, idiot.” The blonde growled dangerously, hands clenched tightly. “Take it or leave it, I don’t give a shit.”
“Kaachan, I don’t-“ Izuku eyed the teen wearily. “I don’t know.”
“Fucking- fine. Fine.” Katsuki breathed deeply, eyes squeezed shut. And Izuku was sure that was the end of it. He felt a pang of sadness in his chest but he quickly pushed it away. “‘m sorry,” Izuku startled. “I fucking need help with English. You’re good at it or some Shit. Come to my dorm after school and we can help each other or whatever.” Katsuki shrugged as if it didn’t matter but kept his eyes trained on the other boy.
“Oh. Okay.” Izuku’s lips spread into a blinding grin, chest squeezing with joy.
“‘Okay’?” Katsuki repeated, shocked.
“Yeah. I’ll see you at five, Kaachan.” Izuku then walked away, a bounce in his step and excitement thrumming through his veins, leaving the blonde to stare in his wake.
The first study session led to more, which led to Katsuki ‘kidnapping’ Izuku every Thursday to eat lunch with him outside and away from the rest of their class, which led to Izuku waking Katsuki up in the middle of the night to spar together.
Each day they seemed to get closer and closer and soon Izuku could no longer ignore the thrumming in his chest whenever he caught Katsuki staring at him. Or the rush of joy when he managed to make him laugh. Or even his heart skipping a beat everytime Katsuki smiled that small but real smile.
It all came to a front on the last day of second year, at a party class 2A was throwing in their dorms.
Katsuki looked so stunning in the darkened room, the neon lights Mina had bought danced along his smooth pale skin, making his cheekbones pop. He held a red solo cup in one hand and his head was chucked back as he was consumed by a full bodied laugh while talking with Iida. From the look on the class president’s face, he didn’t mean to say anything amusing.
Izuku slammed his- thankfully empty- cup down and swiftly navigated through the crowd of other students that filled the common room, all the way to the explosive boy. Hands gripped Katsuki by his thin black tanktop and dragged him outside the dorm building.
“Deku what-“ Katsuki was slammed against the concrete wall and Izuku shoved their mouths together. Their teeth clinked together painfully and he immediately pulled back, the realisation of what he just did was like a bucket of ice water being dumped over his head.
But before he had time to panic, the other teen was pulling him back in, with a lowly growled “Took you long enough.” And Izuku was yanked into the best kiss he’s ever experienced. It was soft, chaste and slow. Katsuki moved his lips gently over Izuku’s and the green haired boy melted into it, letting him take control easily. His legs felt like they turned to jelly and soon the only thing that kept him up was Katsuki’s grip on his hips as they kissed against the side of the dorms.
The thing about relationships however, was that they involved romantic gestures. Like hand holding. And it wasn’t like Izuku was against hand holding, oh no. On the contrary. Izuku could feel the heat of Katsuki’s hands from a mile away, and he knew how sweet they smelled from his quirk, like caramel. So holding hands with Katsuki seemed like a dream come true.
It was his own hands that were the problem.
Even though- or maybe because- Katsuki’s quirk relied on his hands so much, they were soft and well taken care of. The skin smooth and unmarred, nails perfectly trimmed and short. Not a thing was out of place. When compared to Izuku’s hands- he felt the sudden urge to curl up into a ball of self loathing and never leave.
Katsuki waited outside Izuku’s room to walk to school together a month or so after they officially started dating. They hadn’t seen each other much over the break, Izuku’s time mostly dominated by training with All Might, and the explosive teen was missing his friend and boyfriend.
“What are you doing, Kaachan?” Izuku tilted his head and studied the other man the moment he opened the door to his room to leave.
“Walking my fucking boyfriend to school, what does it look like, nerd?”
“Ah! You should’ve told me Kaachan, I wouldn’t have slept in.” Izuku whined guiltily.
“I don’t care, just hurry up.” Katsuki nudged his shoulder not unkindly and went to grab the others hand but the green haired boy was quick to avoid and dodge him, pulling his hand away hastily.
“Ah- I- just give me a sec, Kaachan.” Izuku dipped back into his room and almost immediately reappeared. The only difference being the black gloves he now wore. Katsuki stared at them dubiously, even when Izuku grabbed his hands and pulled him to start walking.
“Uh- what’s with the gloves, Deku? It’s hot out.” Katsuki raised a blonde eyebrow at the other but Izuku refused to turn to look at him, staring determinedly forward.
“My uh, my mum sent them for me. I wanted to wear them.” Izuku finally turned to give the other an unconvincing grin.
“Bullshit,” Katsuki growled. “Tell me the truth, Deku.” He yanked on his boyfriend's arm and forced them to a stop.
“Kaachan… really.” Izuku’s eyes shifted back and forth, never lifting his head to look at Katsuki.
“Look if- if you’re really worried about my quirk or whatever-“ His voice was pained, his chest clenching, but he pushed onward, forcing the words out between gritted teeth. “We don’t have to fuckin’ hold hands or whatever, nerd.”
“No- Kaachan! That’s not it!”
“Then what the fuck, Deku?” Katsuki demanded.
The tugging feeling of guilt that settled in Izuku’s chest, sticking to his ribs like glue and making his lungs heavy might be why he didn’t think before spewing out the truth.
“I- my hands.” Izuku lifted them, still gloved, as if to show Katsuki. As if he didn’t already know about the twisted skin. “They’re gross- and scared and Kaachan’s are so nice and pretty and smooth and soft and I didn’t-“ his eyes grew misty and he couldn’t see the other’s face from behind the tears that began to form. “I didn’t want-“ a hiccup racked his chest and spilled from his lips. “-Kaachan to be grossed out by them.” He sniffled miserably.
“You. Fucking. Idiot.” Katsuki growled, making Izuku whimper, even if there was no heat in his voice. Even if it sounded almost sad. Katsuki grabbed his left wrist, ripping off the glove and quickly grabbing the other and doing the same. Perfect hands were then sliding against his scarred ones and gripping tightly.
“Shut up, idiot.” Katsuki said, tugging his boyfriend along by their hands. “We’re gonna be late.”
Izuku wiped his eyes with his free hand, feeling grossed out as the scars brushed against his face. But when he could see properly again, could finally study Katsuki’s face, he saw no sign of disgust or discomfort. Instead he saw his boyfriend, a small content smile dawning his lips despite the angry furrow in his eyebrows.
And as the two of them walked together, hand in hand, Izuku felt the weight that had been resting on his shoulders for who knows how long, lessen slightly. He let his own lips split into a grin and gripped tighter at the perfect hand that he held in his own, joy bubbling in his chest when Katsuki squeezed back.