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A Painting is Worth a Thousand Words

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Bakugou Katsuki is an artist, specifically a painter. He's been painting since he was four years old, never putting down the paintbrush for even a second. His imagination had no limits and his creativity was boundless. He was even deemed a child prodigy by many for his skills in being able to paint photorealistic art, specifically of Pro Heroes. He loved Pro Heroes growing up, they were his true inspiration and drive to become better and better with each canvas. Now at the young age of 23, Katsuki was a master at his craft. He had customers all over Musutafu commission him for his art, mostly thanks to his fashion designer parents getting his name out there. Though he was living a very comfortable life as a full time painter, there was still one aspect of himself that his clients seemed to love to point out...

"It's a shame that you're Quirkless."

Pro Hero Endeavor sighed, scratching his beard as he viewed his commission that took Katsuki two months to complete. It was a family portrait of Endeavor with his wife and four children. "You could probably get more clients."

"Maybe." Katsuki grunted, wanting this conversation to be over as soon as possible. He's been told this bullshit over and over since he started selling his art. What does him having a Quirk or not have anything to do with his paintings?

"Most people tend not to go to the Quirkless for anything." He walked up to the large canvas to get a better look at the smooth brush strokes. "They consider them less talented, which is a shame. You're a damn good artist."

"Thank you, sir.." He muttered. For some reason, people tend to think Quirkless artist equals starving artist, which is further from the truth. Katsuki was a full-time painter as hard as it was for his clients to believe! He lived a minimalist lifestyle in his studio apartment! He didn’t need all the thousands of yen he was getting from his commissions. But as much as he wanted to tell this Pro Hero off, he knew he never could. He didn’t exactly have the moxie like his firecracker of a mother. “Hopefully, they’ll recognize me more for my paintings than my Quirklessness.”

“Indeed. I have to say, I am very impressed by this piece. The lightning is perfect and as usual, you’re magnificent in your use of color theory…” Endeavor started to drone on with the compliments like he always did, which Katsuki usually tuned out. His eyes wandered to the clock on the wall, noticing the time.

“Shit!" He cursed to himself, he needed to leave before he missed him! "U-Um! Endeavor! So are you, like...good with the painting?” He pointed to the front door. “I...I sorta have to go. I have to do something back home..."

"Oh?” Endeavor looked down at his watch, then back at Katsuki. “Of course! My apologies. Thank you again, Bakugou. Wonderful job. I’ll be sure to commission you again very soon."

“T-Thank you…” Katsuki left the Todoroki Household without another word, quickly taking the train to his studio apartment. It was on the top floor of his building with canvases and plants of all sizes lying around. “I have to hurry….I don’t want to miss him…”

He kicked his shoes aside, hurrying towards his balcony. A large canvas with a sheet covering it rested on an easel, waiting for him to complete it. Katsuki gathered his oil paints and brushes as fast as could, then poured a new glass of water into a jar with his watering can. As if on cue, he smiled when he heard the sound of a special someone hopping from rooftop to rooftop before landing on top of the building that was relatively close to Katsuki’s apartment.

"Deku..."

Katsuki whispered to himself in awe, gazing at the colossal Hero standing tall as he watched the cityscape below. The Number One Hero always took his breaks on top of that very building at 3PM sharp for around two hours, giving Katsuki more than enough time to paint him. He's painted hundreds of Heroes over the years, but for some reason, Deku was the one he loved to paint the most. He carefully pulled off the sheet of his WIP. A sunset piece with a close-up of Deku's profile. He’s worked on this piece for nearly a month straight and he was so close to completion.

"Just mix the right shade of green and add the freckles...fix his jawline."

He had a bad habit of muttering his process as he painted. He didn’t know why he did it, but it helped him organize his thoughts. He made sure his glances at him were quick and unnoticed. He didn't want Deku to think he was some sort of creep or something. He just...He just really liked painting him. He’s been painting him ever since he was four years old. Katsuki wasn't sure if it was due to Deku’s Quirk or his wild green curls or freckles or his godly muscular frame, but it made him happy to have the honor of creating art of his favorite Hero.

"Done."

Another piece completed and in forty minutes, no less. A personal record. He put the canvas aside dry, leaning it against the railing, before he grabbed another one. Once he had his new canvas in place, he noticed Deku had sat down on the edge of the building with his legs crossed, eating a sandwich while he watched the clouds.

"I haven't drawn him eating yet.." Katsuki pulled his phone from his pocket to snap a few pictures of Deku for future reference before mapping out the basic shapes of the painting with his brush. “What kind of sandwich is it?”

He had to look at the Hero to get a better view of the sandwich until his heart nearly stopped. Deku was looking right at him with the corniest smile and Katsuki’s body froze as he waved at him. Deku stood up, finished his sandwich, then jumped off of the building to float towards Katsuki's balcony.

"Hello there." He greeted with a big, goofy grin as he balanced on top of the railing with ease. His voice was deep and soft. Katsuki could feel his heart attempting to beat out of his chest. His childhood idol was standing right in front of him. He swallowed the large lump in his throat as he attempted to stay calm.

"H-Hey..."

"I couldn't help but notice that you're out here whenever I'm out here and I always see you painting." He pointed to the easel. “And I always wondered what you were painting.”

"Y-You... You noticed me painting?" Katsuki could feel his face burning red from the realization.

"Yeah! For a few months, actually." Deku scratched the back of his neck. His eyes wandered to the canvas that was drying on the floor. "Is that me?"

"...Y-Yeah.." Katsuki admitted, now he was even more embarrassed than before. Did Deku think he was a creep? Is he going to ridicule him or something? Call him some kind of weird fanboy? "It's, uh, it's..."

"It looks amazing!” He exclaimed, placing his hands on his cheeks. “Can I get a closer look? Please?"

"S-Sure." Never in a million years would Katsuki ever say no to him. He watched Deku jump down from the railing, then bent down to pick up the canvas. He knew the Pro Hero was an absolute giant, but standing right next to him made him feel EXTRA small.

"Oh my god...it's like I'm looking at a photo!" Deku gasped, his eyes wide with childlike wonder. "So cool! You really painted this?!"

"Mmhm..” He nodded his head, since his body still felt like stone. “It...took, um, about a month."

"A month?! Woow, that's insane." Deku's eyes sparkled, looking around Katsuki’s balcony to see more of his finished works scattered about. He saw Pro Hero Uravity releasing a shower of stones with her Quirk, Pro Hero Lizardy splitting up her body against a villain and even All Might himself standing tall in his signature pose. However, most of the canvases were of Deku himself either fighting villains or peacefully resting on his usual spot. He started to giggle. "I must be your favorite subject. Your work is so beautiful."

"T-Thank you."

"You know, if you want. I can come here for lunch, so you have an easier time painting me!"

“I-I…” Katsuki nearly dropped his palette on the floor, Pro Hero Deku coming over to his shitty apartment to be his model. He must be dreaming.“Y-You can’t be serious…”

“I’m most certainly serious!” Deku puffed out his cheeks. Why did Katsuki think that was so cute?! “I would never joke around about helping someone! Especially someone as talented as you deserves a little help!”

"Oh my god…” Katsuki couldn’t say no now. Deku was giving him that award-winning smile that he always gives and the last thing he wants to do is disappoint his idol. So against his better judgement, he shakingly gave his final answer. “F-Fine...if you really, um, I don't care...j-just, you know, just don’t break anything when you come here."

"I'll land on the railing, I promise. By the way, what's your name?"

“M-My name?”

“Yeah! I don’t wanna just say, ‘Hey you, with the pretty crimson red eyes!’”

“M-My eyes are not pretty…” Katsuki shook his head, his face was basically on fire at this point. Why would Deku say something like that about him? He was plain and uninteresting, that’s why he was always alone growing up. “You must be thinking of someone else…”

“Nope I’m talking about you.” He winked at him, giggling again. “So please tell me your name, unless you want me to call you Crimson Eyes.”

"Bakugou Katsuki!" He said quickly, he couldn’t take another minute of these compliments. He’s not used to this! “It’s Bakugou Katsuki..”

“Hahaha! Okay, point taken. It's very nice to meet you, Bakugou Katsuki."

"Likewise...P-Pro Hero Deku."

“Welp, sadly it’s time for me to go.” Deku groaned as he put the canvas down against the railing before hopping on top of it. He looked back at Kacchan with another wide smile. "I'll be back tomorrow! I'll be the best model I can be!"

"C-Cool…." Katsuki watched him jump down to float into downtown to patrol the city as he always did. He clutched his chest, still shaking from being noticed by his favorite Hero! The Number One Pro Hero that loved his artwork! It was absolutely unbelievable. He walked back inside of his apartment to prepare for tomorrow. He needed to make sure everything would be stocked, so he didn’t have to waste a single second on supplies. "I need to buy more canvases..."

----

The very next day, Katsuki sat on his stool next to his easel with his extra large sketchbook resting on his thighs. He wanted to look nice, so he wore a black shirt underneath an unbuttoned white dress shirt with his sleeves rolled up and denim jeans. He still couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Pro Hero Deku was coming to his apartment! It was so surreal. He was bouncing his legs as he waited, his heart pounding with anxiety and his hands kept shaking. He didn’t want to mess this up. He wanted Deku to think he was cool and maybe...just maybe think he was worth coming back to visit. Thankfully, at 3PM on the dot, he heard Deku hopping around from rooftop to rooftop before suddenly landing on his railing, startling him half to death.

"H-Hey!" Katsuki squeaked, reaching out to grab his easel to stop it from falling it over. Deku landed so damn hard, it caused all of his supplies to shake. Once he was sure nothing would fall, he let out a relieved sigh, then turned to him. "Can you...not do that, please?"

"Ah! I'm so sorry!" Deku jumped down from the top of the railing with an apologetic smile. "I don't know my own strength sometimes."

"It's...It's fine." Katsuki noticed the convenience store bag he was holding. "Is that your lunch?"

"Yeah! Just some katsu sandwiches and a water bottle.” He opened up the bag to show the contents inside. “I don't really have time to cook, you know?"

"Mmm...I see.." Katsuki had an idea, but he'll keep it to himself for now. Right now, they had business to attend to first. "So, uh..are you ready to...um, model for me?"

"Yes sir!" Deku tossed the convenience bag aside, then clapped his hands together. He seemed very excited about this, even more than Katsuki. "What do you want me to do, Bakugou?"

That was a good question because Katsuki had no clue. He had a million ideas on what to paint, but couldn't choose one. Should he do another portrait or something abstract? Monochrome or colored? Should he start with an underpainting or not? There were so many factors to consider and he wanted this painting to be absolutely perfect.

"I need to sketch you first.." He grabbed a thick pencil from his easel. "Can you sit back on the railing?

"Okay." Deku put his bag on the floor, then hopped back onto the railing before turning to Katsuki again. “Now what?”

"Good...uh, turn your head...profile." He opened his sketchbook to a blank page. The gears were slowly turning in his mind. "Don't move."

"You're the boss."

Katsuki paid close attention to Deku's body as he sketched him. He's drawn him hundreds of times, but he could never get used to how tall and buff he was, being exactly seven feet tall and almost weighing 540 pounds. It was like he had the body of a god, just like All Might before he retired. He could only dream of achieving that kind of physique, but it would be impossible for someone like him.

"Lift your head a bit more.."

"Like this?"

"Yeah, don't move..." He whispered, slowly getting into the zone. "That's perfect."

The piece was starting to come into vision as he sketched. A full body oil painting of Deku sitting on the railing, looking up at the cloudy sky with the background of an early morning sunrise. Katsuki could already imagine the various hues of pinks, blues and oranges of the sky. Deku’s hero suit would pop out nicely, maybe even have his hair slightly blowing in the wind.

"So how long have you been painting, Bakugou?" Deku asked suddenly, which nearly startled Katsuki. “It has to be a long time, right?”

"Why do you ask?" Katsuki didn’t stop sketching for a second. This needed to be perfect, after all.

"I'm just curious." Deku turned his head to look at him. "Your art is so amazing."

"...Been, um, painting since I was four...don't move."

"Right! Sorry." He turned his head back into place. "I think I was eating bugs when I was four."

“Are you serious?” That little comment made Katsuki snort. Of course, Pro Hero Deku always had jokes. When he did TV interviews, they always ended with the hosts laughing their asses off. "That's pretty gross, Deku."

"What can I say? I was four." Deku chuckled, he glanced at Katsuki using quick, yet precise strokes with his pencil. "You draw so fast. Geez...It kind of reminds me of when I was in school. I could write my notes faster than anyone. I took notes on Pro Heroes all the time growing up."

"Yeah..." Once Katsuki finished mapping out the body, he moved on to the details with Deku's face first. "Pretty useful...I guess. Helps pay the bills..."

“You do this full time?! Wow, you must make plenty of money with all of these masterpieces!”

“I do..” He answered, then muttered to himself. “..but most of my clients don’t think so…”

“Hm?” Deku turned his head, raising an eyebrow. “Really? Why would they think that? Your art is absolutely fantastic, Bakugou.”

Fuck! Katsuki didn’t think Deku would hear him. No one ever noticed his mutters before. “I...I, uh, it’s nothing...n-nevermind. Forget about it. I-It’s stupid.”

“Hey, don’t say that. Never downplay your thoughts.” He gave him a reassuring smile. “I know we’re just now getting to know each other and all, but I promise I’m a very good listener!”

“Tch…” Katsuki could feel himself getting embarrassed again. Deku was just so damn nice, it was scary! Was it even possible for someone to be so caring? “My clients think I struggle because...because I don't have a Quirk. I was born Quirkless.”

“What does that have anything to do with your ability to paint?”

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” He yelled, but quickly clapped his hand over his mouth, turning bright red from his little outburst. Why was he so painfully awkward in expressing himself? “I...I didn’t mean to yell…”

“Seems like you’ve been holding that one in for awhile.” He snorted, then sighed as he looked at the clouds. “Well, I can understand where you’re coming from. I, uh, I....had an old friend who was Quirkless.”

“Really?”

“Of course, and everyone around him told him he couldn’t live out his dream because of it. They made fun of him for it too.”

“That’s so childish…”

“Yeah, but even with all of that. He still managed to live out his dream. Just like you are now.” Deku didn’t have a hint of pity in his voice. In fact, he had the proudest smile across his face. “So what I’m saying is, don’t let your clients try to get you down. You aren’t just some Quirkless artist, you’re Bakugou Katsuki.”

“T-Thanks…a-anyway. Let’s continue the sketch, yeah?”

“Oh okay!” Deku got back into position, while Katsuki got back into the groove. Other than the sounds of Katsuki’s pencil and Deku’s humming, there was a peaceful silence shared between them for a long time. “Hey, I just thought of something to ask.”

“Shoot.”

“What made you want to draw Pro Heroes all the time?”

"Pro Heroes are badass." Katsuki quickly flicked the pencil to finish off Deku's beard, then moved on to his costume. “So many Heroes have wildly different colors and aesthetics to their costume and I find that pretty cool. That's why I draw 'em all the time."

"Hmmm, but I mostly see paintings of me.." Deku moved his head again to look around the balcony. "..and my costume isn’t all that cool, in my opinion..unless the other Pro Hero portraits are inside your apartment."

"I-I don't..paint you all the time.." Katsuki lied straight through his teeth. He painted Deku the second he was finished with a commission or when a random idea popped in his head. There were plenty more finished pieces of the Number One Hero in his apartment alone, but he would never in a million years let him know that. The goal was trying to not let Deku think he was some crazy fanboy. "You're just good practice, o-okay? S-Stop looking around and being so damn nosy."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Deku laughed, turning his head again. "I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"I'm not embarrassed." He lied again, blushing as he grumbled, refusing to look at him as he sketched the details of Deku's torso. "Just stay still...please."

Deku let out another soft chuckle, Katsuki couldn’t help the feeling of his cheeks heat up from hearing it. This damn Hero always made him feel so weird and now that he was actually talking to him...it was like a whole new wave of emotions consumed him. It was so foreign. Too damn foreign.

"What do you think?" He asked, flipping the book to show it to him. By some damn miracle, Katsuki was able to finish the sketch. It took a little longer than he would've liked, but he'll blame Deku for never shutting up.

“This is so cool, Bakugou.” He was speechless as he hopped down from the railing to get a closer look. "This only took you an hour and a half..."

"Just a sketch...nothing special."

"Nothing special? Bakugou, this is fantastic." Deku’s eyes sparkled at a simple sketch. "Don't sell yourself so short. I've never seen something so detailed in my life."

"You can eat your lunch now." Katsuki said, realizing how long Deku said it took him. "It took longer than I expected..s-sorry...I hope you have enough time to eat..."

"I wasn't exactly being a perfect model." He smirked, grabbing his bag to fish out a sandwich to bite. "So now that the sketch is done, you're gonna paint it tomorrow, right?

Katsuki nodded his head as he put his sketchbook aside. He’ll paint an underpainting to define the color values and such, but he’ll do that before he goes to bed tonight. For now, he reached for a canvas that was in his WIP pile to put on his easel.

"Hey, that's me eating!" Deku smiled, pointing at the piece. "It's the painting you were working on yesterday, right? Oh my goodness, you finished it so fast!"

"Yeah..." He was so nervous last night about Deku coming over that he painted this thing nonstop as a distraction. "I-It's not done..still need to do some touch-ups."

"Really? It looks perfect already! So cool."

"Do you want it?" Katsuki asked without even thinking. He seems to be doing this a little too much around Deku. “You can have it if you want it..”

“Wha?” Deku was shocked at the sudden question, shaking his head. "Nonono, I couldn't take this. It's a part of your collection, right? I wouldn't want to mess it up..."

"Deku, I don't care." He said a bit more sternly, averting his eyes as his red-tinged cheeks got darker. "It's just gonna sit in my studio with the rest of 'em...l wanna give it a new home."

"If it's really okay with you, Bakugou." For the last half hour of Deku’s break, he sat on the railing as he ate his lunch, carefully watching Katsuki quickly finish the painting.

“Done.” Katsuki stepped aside to present the canvas. “You like it?”

“I love it!” He put his sandwich aside to grab the canvas. "This is so cool, Bakugou. I can’t believe you're so young with so much skill."

"I'm not that young." Katsuki said a little too fast. He can just never stop being a damn creep. "I mean...I-I'm 23.."

"Hahahaha!" Deku threw his head back in loud laughter. "You definitely look very young for your age. I thought you were 18."

"Like you're one to talk. You look pretty damn young yourself." Katsuki crossed his arms. People who didn't know Pro Hero Deku was 35, could've easily believed he was in his late twenties. “You don’t even have any wrinkles.”

"You're so sweet." Deku felt his phone vibrating in his pocket. "Dammit, that's my alarm."

"Oh shit...you didn't even finish your lunch." Katsuki pointed at the half eaten sandwich and nearly full water bottle. "I didn't mean to take up so much of your time..."

"Don't even worry about it." Deku bent down to kiss Katsuki on his cheek. "Thank you for the painting, Bakugou. I absolutely love it. I promise to take good care of it."

"..." Katsuki's eyes widened, his face had to be the color of Red Riot's hair at this point. Did Pro Hero Deku just do what he thought he just did? "...Y-You're welcome..."

"I'll be back tomorrow! Same time!"

"..R-Right.."

"Hahaha! You're so cute." Deku laughed as he activated his Quirk, turquoise lightning danced all over his body before jumping off the balcony to fly off, leaving behind his lunch. Katsuki held on to his cheek as he watched him, still trying to process everything that just happened.

"Did...Did he just call me cute?"