“How the fuck did you get this number?”
Katsuki growled into the phone that was pinched between his shoulder and cheek as he fumbled with his keys and bags of groceries, trying to unlock the front door of his apartment. Today was a particularly shitty day, and his phone ringing with an unknown caller ID did nothing to improve his mood. The silence that answered his question only made his temper rise as he managed to make it to his kitchen and dump his bags on the counter.
“Lose my number, you piece of - ”
Katsuki froze. That name. That voice. It didn’t matter that it had been over three years since he last spoke to Izuku, the recognition was immediate.
“Deku?” he said, hoping his voice didn’t sound as startled as he felt. “The fuck’re you callin’ for?”
“Can I come over?”
His first instinct was to tell him fuck no, because that was a can of emotional worms that Katsuki did not need to reopen. The two of them had settled into a comfortable coexistence during high school. People started to assume they’d be hero partners down the line, and it made sense. They worked well together, when it came down to it.
But there was always a wall there. The lingering scars of their past rested on both their hearts. And as much as Izuku tried to pretend he was unbothered by it, Katsuki could feel the barrier there like a physical thing they couldn’t reach through, and there was no universe where a teenage Bakugo Katsuki was going to bring up that conversation.
So high school ended, they went to work for separate agencies, and simply drifted apart.
Katsuki didn’t realize how long he’d been silent until Izuku’s voice pulled him back to the present.
“I’m sorry, it’s just, well… it’s my birthday, and - ”
“I know that!” Katsuki snapped, harsher than he meant to. He took a breath to steady himself. He wasn’t the same shitty kid anymore, and Izuku’s sudden appearance wasn’t going to take him back there. The truth was, he was painfully aware it was Izuku’s birthday. Every year that passed, he spent the day wondering whether or not he should reach out to his old friend, and then stewed in his inevitable guilt when he chose not to.
“What I don’t understand,” he said slowly, “Is why you want to come spend it with me.”
The sound of a laugh came through the line, empty of all of Izuku’s usual brightness.
“My friends,” he said with a bitterness that sounded strange in his voice, “they’re waiting for me at my place. A surprise party. And I… I can’t. Not today.”
Ah. That made sense.
Katsuki was no stranger to the trauma of hero work. And he’d seen Izuku on the news earlier that day. Izuku had been involved in a villain incident that had gone very bad very fast. No one faulted him, it was obvious he’d done the best he could, but Katsuki knew there was no way Izuku was taking it well.
“Why me?” he asked.
“Everyone is there, and I don’t want to be around them but… I don’t want to be alone.”
And Katsuki hated himself for it but his heart fucking broke at the weak sound of Izuku’s voice. As much as Katsuki had wanted to, he couldn’t avoid the image of Pro Hero Deku in the news or on social media. Izuku had truly grown into the legacy All Might left, and was quickly on his way to becoming Number One. Katsuki had started to replace the image of Deku in his mind with the hero that graced the cover of magazines. But this fragile voice, this was the Deku he used to know. The one whose anxiety made his voice tremble and his hands shake. The one who threw himself into danger because he valued others as much as he devalued himself.
“Come over. I’m making dinner.”
Maybe it was subconscious considering the date, but Katsuki had the right ingredients for katsudon after his shopping trip. He texted Izuku his address and then got to work, using the soothing routine of cooking to still his nerves. He focused on making it perfect, as if making Izuku’s favorite would suffice for an apology for the things he did, and for the years he stayed silent about it.
As he was scooping the finished meals into a set of bowls, a gentle knock came through the door. Katsuki took a moment to brace himself before setting the bowls at the kitchen table and going to the front door, opening it quickly before he could change his mind.
The first thing Katsuki noticed was his height. He hadn’t realized through the photos how much Izuku had grown. He stood only maybe two inches taller than Katsuki now, but any amount taller was a shock. Izuku was in a bright red pair of sneakers; different than the ones he used to wear but the same obnoxious color. His form was hidden under baggy grey sweats and a black hoodie, with his face and hair tucked under the hood.
“Hi, Kacchan,” Izuku said, his voice soft and unsure, but still deeper than Katsuki remembered.
“Come in,” Katsuki grunted, “And make sure you take those ugly shoes off.”
Making his way back to the kitchen without waiting, Katsuki sat in front of one of the bowls he’d laid out and dug in, hoping that if his mouth was full he wouldn’t have to actually talk. By the time Izuku made it over, Katsuki was already half done with his own meal.
“Katsudon?” Izuku said as he sat. “You remembered.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Katsuki lied. “I just felt like having katsudon tonight.”
Izuku laughed softly, always able to see through his old friend, and started to eat. It gave Katsuki a chance to really take Izuku in without the other noticing. His hair was cut short, shaved down to practically nothing on the side with only a small well-trimmed bit of curls on top. He pulled it off the look with his new hard jawline, the baby fat having melted away to a more square face. It was still softer than Katsuki’s, which had only grown more angled with age, but Izuku looked like a whole ass adult now. Not even the increase in freckles or gleam in his bright eyes could detract from the broad shoulders and thick biceps. He wasn’t as large as All Might had been, but it almost looked like he might be heading there.
Katsuki couldn’t help the self-conscious feeling, knowing his own body was strong, but he had stayed lean, having done most of his growing in high school. But that feeling drifted away quickly when he looked a little longer. Izuku was slumped over with dark bags under his eyes, and the struggle he’d had for years with his fine motor skills was showing more than usual as his crooked fingers worked the chopsticks.
“Thank you,” Izuku said after a while, forcing a strained smile. “For dinner, and for having me.”
“No, really, I mean it. You didn’t have to do this.”
“Forget it. We’re friends, right?”
Katsuki froze when he realized what he’d said. He’d avoided Izuku’s gaze since the man sat at his table, but now he found his eyes jumping back to see if Izuku had registered what he’d said. And Izuku definitely had. He was staring at Katsuki, eyes wide and wet, his mouth hanging open.
And then he grinned. Izuku’s face broke out in a huge smile, tears still gathering in his eyes and Katsuki’s face turned pink, as if the sun had burned him.
“Right. Right! Kacchan is my friend, always,” Izuku said, wiping his eyes on his sleeve, and Katsuki realized the moment Izuku looked away that he’d been holding his breath under his stare.
They finished the rest of their meal in silence, but it was a comfortable one. The only sound was an occasional sniffle or soft mumble from Izuku, which Katsuki assumed was a sign that the nerd was starting to come back to himself. When they were done, they cleared out their dishes and washed them side by side in the kitchen. The closer they were to finishing their chore, Katsuki noticed Izuku’s signs of anxiety beginning to return. By the time the last bowl was dried and put away, he was fidgeting with the sleeves of his sweater and the smile had faded. Katsuki crossed his arms and leaned against the counter, waiting.
“I guess… I guess I should go, then,” Izuku said. “I’m sorry I intruded.”
“Oi!” Katsuki snapped as Izuku started to shift towards the door. “Don’t be stupid. The extras are probably still waiting at your place. I know you didn’t tell them you were here ‘cause no one’s blown up my phone to ask about you.”
Izuku chuckled nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah, my phone battery is kinda… dead?”
“Useless,” Katsuki grumbled. He walked past Izuku, ignoring his questions and came back shoving a towel and pajamas into his arms. “You’re staying here. The couch is comfortable as fuck. I’ll tell the others.”
Before Izuku could get past his shock, Katsuki stormed off to his own bedroom to grab his phone. Once he heard the shower turning on, he pulled up his texts and sent one off to Kirishima, who he knew would be at the attempt at a party.
Blasty: Deku’s safe. Don’t wait up for him.
Shitty Hair: ?????
Shitty Hair: What??
Shitty Hair: Is he with you??
Shitty Hair: Bakugo, this is Uraraka! Tell Deku to call me!!!
Katsuki snorted as his phone began to go while with notifications and turned it off. He had a lot to make up for, and a lot that needed to be said, but he couldn’t resist the smug smile he got knowing that when Izuku was down, it was Katsuki he came to, and Katsuki who knew what he needed. If that trust was still there, then with some extra communication, maybe this time they could get it right.
“Happy birthday, Midoriya!” Eijirou yelled with a crushing hug around his equally broad friend.
“Ah, thank you Kirishima!” Izuku laughed, knowing he was one of the few people who could endure the strong shows of affection that his friend loved so much.
This year, Izuku made a point to make sure today would be better. He’d taken the day before, of and after his birthday off. He’d planned the party with Ochako so he could have a say on who was there and what was happening. And, this year, he had Katsuki’s presence to look forward to.
“Happy birthday, nerd,” Katsuki said once Eijirou released Izuku. “Don’t expect a present or anything.”
Izuku couldn’t help his wide grin. He knew saying it would embarrass Katsuki, and himself to be honest, but having Katsuki back in his life was the only thing he would have asked for. It hadn’t been an easy year for them, especially in the beginning. They had sat down, more than once, to talk out all the tension between them. Izuku finally admitted how much the bullying affected him, and Katsuki finally made a proper apology. There were tears, on both their parts, but Izuku wouldn’t trade it for anything. Now they saw each other at least once a week, and were making plans for Izuku to transfer to Katsuki’s agency so they could work together again.
“Of course not, Kacchan,” Izuku just said instead. The two grabbed drinks and spent the next few hours enjoying the company of their friends, drifting in and out of conversation, photos and shenanigans as the night went on. Towards the end of it, Izuku could feel himself overheating from the mass of bodies and alcohol in his system and escaped out to the balcony, allowing the cool air to sober him up.
It wasn’t long until he heard the sliding door open and close behind him, and Katsuki came to stand by his side. Izuku was content to stand with him in silence, taking in the view of the city.
“I’ve been working in this area for so long, it’s weird to think about leaving it,” Izuku said.
“Regretting your transfer already?” Katsuki asked. He tried to make it a joke, but Izuku glanced at his face and saw the tension there.
“Of course not!” he quickly reassured him. “I’m excited to go. To see you every day.”
That got Katsuki’s attention. He glanced up at Izuku, meeting his gaze for as long as he was able before scowling and looking out again. Izuku must not have sobered up as much as thought he had, because he felt bold enough to continue.
“You know, as hard as last year was, I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful you’re back in my life.”
Izuku knew how much it embarrassed Katsuki when he stared, but tonight he couldn’t help it. In their years apart, Katsuki had grown too, and the only word Izuku could put to it was pretty. He was all compact muscle and sharp lines, his hair slightly shorter than it had been in high school but still fluffy. The temptation to run his hand through it was starting to become stronger than his self-preservation instincts.
“Move in with me.”
“Hm?” Izuku blinked. And then blinked again. Shit, he was thinking about Katsuki’s hair. His fantasies were getting too real. Gotta focus.
“What did you say?” he asked again.
“Fuck, Deku.” Katsuki rubbed his hands over his face, still decidedly not looking at Izuku. “Look, I just thought it would be easier for you. New city, we’ll be working together anyway so we can carpool, and we - ”
“I can’t,” Izuku blurted. Move in with Katsuki? All so he could ruin their new friendship with his very not friendly desires? Nu uh. No chance. Izuku was not going to mess this up a second (third?) time, thank you very much.
It wasn’t until his panic subsided that Izuku noticed the look on Katsuki’s face. He was hurt. Oh shit. “No, wait, what I mean is - ”
“No, it’s fine, I get it.”
“Kacchan, that’s not - ”
“You don’t have to - ”
“I want to kiss you!”
Oh. That’s not what he meant to say. That’s not what he meant at all. They were staring at each other now in seemingly equal levels of shock. Izuku would never get used to looking down at Katsuki with their new heights. There was a thrill to it, but that thrill was lost in the horror he felt at having just confessed. He waited at first for Katsuki to say something, to yell at him, to explode, but Katsuki didn’t so much as blink.
“Please,” Izuku whispered, “Please, don’t tell me I just ruined what we have.”
He began to fidget nervously as the silence dragged on, but Izuku refused to look away, knowing he owed Katsuki at least that. And then suddenly those red eyes were getting closer and - oh . Katsuki was kissing him. Izuku was frozen in place as Katsuki leaned into him, finally pulling away just far enough to press their foreheads together and glare directly into Izuku’s eyes.
“Move in with me,” he said again, and Izuku could feel Katsuki’s breath on his lips. “If you want to.”
Izuku couldn’t help the tears that escaped down his cheeks. He couldn’t even be bothered to be embarrassed by it. “Yeah,” he said, voice filled with awe. “Yeah, I want that.”
Katsuki grinned again and wrapped his arms around Izuku’s waist, pulling him into a tight hug and dipping his own face into Izuku’s broad shoulder. Izuku squeezed him back, relishing at the feeling of soft blonde hair against his cheek.
“Happy birthday, Deku.”
“Thank you, Kacchan!”