He’d lived with it for so long...Katsuki didn’t really remember what it was like to not have the knot of feelings in his chest. The guilt, the horror, the sadness….all of it, just sitting there for Katsuki to live with.
It was his own fault really...he had no one to blame but himself. He’d never meant….but then, he’d still said it hadn’t he?
“If you want a quirk so bad, there’s a way to get one- take a swan dive off the roof, and pray for a quirk in your next life!”
He’d never, not once , considered what he would do if- he’d never thought Izuku would actually follow through. That he’d jump. That he’d die .
Izuku- not Deku, not Useless, not- was strong. It had been what made his younger self so angry. He had no quirk, and claimed he’d wanted to be a hero, and maybe he didn’t work for it physically like he should have, but mentally? Mentally his strength was immense. He was determined, and driven, and he kept insisting and getting up and marching forward anyway, despite the people that told him he couldn’t, the world sneering at him...Katsuki beating him down…
Katsuki hadn’t expected to be the weight that broke him.
But he had been, and his entire world had...crumbled. Everything had changed, everything was different . There was no Midoriya Izuku sitting behind him anymore, no more muttering, no more “Kacchan”.
He hadn’t even realized….there had been flowers on his desk, and Katsuki’s heart had constricted, but it had been done before, and Katsuki had hoped...but Izuku’s desk was empty of scrawled words, and only the flowers were there, and then the teacher had come in and- and-
Izuku was gone.
Katsuki had destroyed his entire room, when he got home, hot anger in his breast, and the acidic taste of horrified guilt on his tongue. He’d cried too. Ugly, heavy sobbing that left his face red, nose stuffed up, and eyes burning and blurry. He didn’t know what to do.
Not then. Not at first.
Izuku had told him to go on and become a hero. Even after-
And while Katsuki eventually did get into U.A., and applied himself obsessively to being the hero Izuku had always thought he was - that wasn’t the real goal anymore. It was something to help with his goal, but not the end result he was after, anymore. While “Kacchan” would become a well known and liked hero name, Katsuki had another goal in mind.
He knew the statistics, the chances of quirkless kids dying now, of the parents who abandoned them to orphanages...all sorts of horrible things, that Katsuki hadn’t known his childhood friend had gone through…
His goal was to offer the quirkless a place to flourish.
So even after he earned his hero licence, he then went on to earn a teaching degree, and he gave the quirkless a way to live out Izuku’s dream.
‘Izuku’s School for Heroics’.
The first- and only- school dedicated to giving quirkless kids the training and teachings needed to be heroes.
If Izuku couldn’t be a hero in this life, Katsuki would make sure the world knew his name anyway. He met a lot of resistance for it, but he pushed through anyway. He worked to get his- Izuku’s- school the chance it needed.
He succeeded. If he did nothing else, this was his crowning jewel in accomplishments.
In between hero work, he taught. He told the story of Izuku to his students. He told them what the school meant to him, why he pushed them so hard. Why he gave them every opportunity he could manage, why he was so invested.
He thought Izuku could have done more, if he’d only had the time...but Katsuki wouldn’t stop. He’d help train hundreds of quirkless heroes, and make sure they could go out and help protect the world the way Izuku had wanted.
He cried when Fugiwara Takeshi made history, by being the first quirkless person to pass the exams required to get his hero license, and then went on to be the first quirkless hero. His name would go down in history, and Katsuki had helped. He wouldn’t be the last, but he was the first.
That night, he’d sat in front of the small shrine he’d set up for Izuku in his home, and he’d talked to Izuku about it. Shared what the school he’d started in his memory was accomplishing, that his dream was being passed on to others. Whispered how he looked in the eyes of these children, and he could see Izuku in them, every time.
There were days he swore Izuku was there when he talked at the shrine, where he thought maybe he could hear the boy laughing, or whispering something to him, when he fell silent, or needed encouragement.
That night, when he shared what Fugiwara had done, he swore he could hear Izuku’s excited babbling.
Bakugou Katsuki had made mistakes in his life, some more than others, and one in particular that stuck with him for the rest of his life.
He worked hard to make sure no one else made his mistakes. For the rest of his life, he would speak out, against bullying, and bias, and discrimination. He would speak on behalf of the quirkless, on behalf of those who had ‘villainous’ quirks according to society - Izuku had been amazed by every quirk he came across, and had always found a way for them to be used creatively- and made sure that everyone knew the hero Kacchan wouldn’t put up with any sort of biased bullshit in his presence. He spoke about Izuku, and he did what he could.
It never felt like enough.
But he hoped that when he finally moved on and got to see Izuku again, he’d be able to apologize properly, and tell him about what he’d done with his life after he’d died. He hoped that Izuku would be proud.
That when his story was told, after he passed on, Izuku’s name was twined with it, that the world would take his example and follow it. That his example could save others from making his mistakes, or help quirkless kids feel like there was hope, even if they had to work for it.