There is a tragedy in being selfless.
Izuku Midoriya had it down to an art.
Izuku had followed Katsuki his entire life. He often mused if there was a specific moment in which he fell in love with the blonde, but he was unable to find it. There were hundreds of memories when they were young that sprang to mind at the thought. He thought that perhaps his affections would disappear in their middle-school years, when all he heard from Bakugu was hatred and bitterness, but they did not. As they both became heroes and grew, they eventually became friends again. Forgiveness was given and earned, and slowly, Izuku found those crimson eyes lingering, Katsuki seeking him out to train, hands brushing while studying together.
And then the confession.
He blamed himself, in the end, for not noticing sooner. For ignoring the tickle in his throat, the blood that sometimes leaked out between his teeth. He was too blinded by joy, by overwhelming relief that finally, finally, someone loved him.
That was his first mistake.
His tragedy began there, by believing that he could ever be enough for Katsuki Bakugou. He deluded himself into trusting that it was his hand that Kachaan wanted to hold, his eyes that Kachaan wanted to stare into, and his laugh that Kachaan wished to inspire. He convinced himself that the years of growth they shared would be enough to make him stay.
He should have known that he would never satisfy Katsuki.
Izuku was never good enough. Why would that change now?
It was his naivety that shielded him from realizing the truth. He was merely a placeholder for someone else. Someone with red hair, not green. Someone with sharp teeth and a big smile, someone with spiky locks and a boisterous voice.
Someone who was, in every way, better than Izuku.
However, he was not an idiot, and soon enough, he noticed it too. When Mina broke up with Kiri, Katsuki was the first one at his side. He stayed in the redhead’s room for hours, consoling him and giving him a shoulder to cry on. He canceled training with Izuku to get Kirishima back on his feet. He pushed back their dates to cook dinner for him. He disregarded Izuku’s texts to spend time with him.
And Izuku, tragically , understood.
As the first petal tumbled from his busted lips after returning from patrol one March evening in their third year, he understood perfectly .
At first, he had wanted to be angry. He wanted to scream and wail and bring the building crashing down on the pair. But he could not. Katsuki had been a wonderful boyfriend. He had cared about Izuku even if he had never really loved him, and that was more than Izuku could have ever hoped for. He had held his hand and pushed back his curls to kiss his freckles. He had laughed with Izuku and made Izuku laugh, crimson eyes lighting up whenever the sound occurred. He cooked him katsudon whenever he asked, he brought him flowers, he listened to Izuku talk about heroes for hours.
He had been perfect.
So perfect that it made sense why Izuku was inadequate.
Seven months. Izuku had gotten seven months with Kachaan. As he sat in his room, looking at the picture of his boyfriend that had been chosen for his phone’s lock screen, he cried. As he did, he felt something in him break. Years of torment, neglect, and abuse finally caught up with him, and he shattered on his dorm floor.
The next morning, he got up, flashed a smile to his classmates, boyfriend, teacher, and kept going.
Izuku deserved better. It was something that Katsuki had known for a while now. He deserved someone who loved him unabashedly. He deserved someone who would never look at anyone else while they were with him.
“Deku,” He paused. Izuku deserved more than that, than this. He deserved the world. The least Katsuki could do after everything was call him by his name. “Izuku.”
His boyfriend lifted his head from the blonde’s shoulder. “Hmm?”
He took a deep, shaking breath, and prepared for the worst.
“I’m in love with Kirishima.”
Izuku did not react like he thought he would. There were no screams or All for One fuelled punches to the face. Instead, a scarred hand enclosed around his own and squeezed. Katsuki’s wide eyes darted up to his. Green irises shone with horribly kind understanding.
Izuku’s lips curled into a very sad smile. “I know, Kachaan.”
Katsuki’s stomach dropped. “What?”
“You always tell me how ‘annoyingly smart’ I am, Kachaan,” the boy replied with a chuckle. “You really think I wouldn’t notice?”
The explosive teenager blinked in shock.
“I’m just honored you would let me love you for a little while,” Izuku grinned, and for a moment Katsuki saw the five-year-old from all those years ago. Izuku had been in love with him since they were kids, and now Katsuki was going to break his heart all over again. “Now go on.”
Katsuki’s hands were shaking in Izuku’s. He gripped them tighter. Jerking his head towards their friends, he added, “They’ll understand.”
“You don’t have to say anything, Kachaan. These past few months have been the best of my life,” he whispered, and Katsuki tried to ignore how his chest tightened at the tears in his green eyes. “And I love you. I love you, Kat, which means I have to let you go. Now run along. Eiji is probably waiting for you.”
Katsuki took Izuku’s hands and kissed his knuckles.
“Thank you, Izu.”
The smile he received was heartbreakingly beautiful. “Goodbye, Katsuki.”
If he’d thought a little harder past the giddy relief, Katsuki would have found it off that Izuku had used his first name with that mourning tone. He did not wait to think of such things, however, and he released Izuku’s hands and took off towards his love. He did not notice the flower that was torn from Izuku’s throat as his newly ex-boyfriend disappeared around the corner.
No one did.
They started an agency together. They called it 1-A, and Aizawa denied his misty eyes as Bakugou and Midoriya cut the red ribbon that stretched across the doors. It was almost unheard of for two new heroes, only two years out of graduating from Yuuei, to start their own company, but they had done it. Jirou, Iida, Kaminari, Shinso, and of course, Kirishima, joined them in their endeavor. Their team quickly moved up the hero ranks, and the dreams that each of them had fostered since childhood finally began to be realized.
Between the grins and the heroic battles, Izuku felt the plant within his chest continue to grow. Bakugou and Kirishima became one of the public’s favorite couples, and their faces graced the covers of multiple papers and magazines a month. Whispers of engagements and weddings began to surface, and Izuku tried to ignore them.
The first full flower ruptured from his bloody throat the day they defeated Shigaraki.
It was a normal Tuesday. The clouds were overcast, ready to explode with torrents at any moment. The League of Villains was making their final attempt to bring chaos into Japan. All For One thrived within Shigaraki, and he met Izuku on the battlefield with blank eyes and roaring voice. Izuku, according to press the next day, was unnaturally quiet during the ordeal. He dominated the war like Achilles, unstoppable and courageous. With nine quirks at his fingertips, he flew through the air like a bullet, landed like a meteor, and landed blows like his predecessor.
“YOU WILL FAIL!” Shigaraki screamed with his distorted voice.
Izuku, bloody, shattered bones, did not smile. Instead, he wiped his broken nose and answered back, calm, collected, and utterly sure.
“You better believe I will,” he croaked. “But I’m taking your crusty ass with me.”
He had never used United States of Smash before, but the world would remember this debut. Lightning crackles across the entire sky. Green electricity arced down from the dark clouds and into his body. From the sidelines, his comrades all gaped at the power that rippled across his broad shoulders.
“Holy shit,” Kaminari whispered.
“No kidding,” Jirou snorted.
Katsuki smirked proudly.
Izuku heard the voices of the past resound in his mind. He raised his eyes, vibrant green and charged with more energy than he had ever felt before.
Shigaraki never stood a chance.
Only after it was over did his friends dare to approach. Slowly, climbing over building debris and rubble, they neared the shaking form of the hero Deku. Green lightning buzzed around his body. His breathing trembled and he did not even appear to hear them approach.
“Deku,” Kachaan began hoarsely.
Terrifying green eyes darted to meet his. The blonde froze.
“It’s just me, nerd. It’s your Kachaan.”
Izuku felt the vestiges of One for All dim, settle, fall back to their dormant state within him. The energy fled from him like ants from fire and he dropped. Katsuki caught him, strong arms holding him up before he faceplanted. Blood poured from his mouth, his nose, his side.
“Shh, shh, I’ve got you,” Katsuki lowered him to the ground, worried brows furrowed.
Izuku curled into his embrace. “Did… is it done?”
His best friend ran a bloody hand through green locks. “Yeah, nerd. You did it.”
“We did it,” the freckled man amended. He raised a fist. Kachaan tapped it with his own.
“Yeah, Izu. We did it.” Bakugou curled protectively around him, pulling him further into his arms to try and stop the bleeding.
Izuku’s chest clenched and his throat seized. He began coughing for a completely different reason than his wounds. Blood drenched his chin anew, mixing with the rain as it hit his skin. He felt the petals beginning to make their way up to his esophagus and he gasped, trying to push Katsuki away from him.
“Nerd, Deku! Stop it!” Katsuki continued running a hand through his hair and only gripped him tighter. “Stop! You’re hurt!”
His other friends began to crowd as his vision blurred. Breath stuttered in his cramped lungs and he took one last straggling gasp before his vision darkened. He felt a petal on his tongue; he only prayed that none of them noticed.
He woke in the hospital. It was quiet. Soreness riddled his body, but he was alive.
A quiet snore sounded beside him. He glanced to the left and was greeted with the most beautiful sight he had ever witnessed.
Katsuki was collapsed against his bed, head pillowed atop his crossed arms, sound asleep.
Izuku smiled fondly, reaching up to run his fingers throw those blonde spikes. His throat tickled, and he should have stopped. However, Izuku never knew when pain was too much, and he had no idea if he would ever get this moment again.
He looked so beautiful like that. The evening light turned him golden. Izuku wondered if this was how Kirishima saw him every morning. Was he this calm? This sweet? Did he open his crimson eyes and gaze at Eijirou like he was the most perfect thing he had ever seen?
His chest ached suddenly and he bent over. Horrible hacking filled the quiet room and he felt his airway close.
The familiar texture of flower petals filled his mouth, but this one was so much bigger .
He retracted his hand from Katsuki’s hair and coughed into his elbow. The sound alerted his companion, who began to wake. Violently shaking, he felt the petal fall from his mouth, sticky and covered in red. Only, it was not a petal.
It was an entire damn flower.
He scrambled, shoving the flower behind his pillow before Katsuki could notice.
“Izuku!” Bakugou surged forward, pulling him into a tight hug.
Izuku allowed the embrace to happen, and tried to convince himself that his sobs were of relief.
Auntie’s funeral was quiet. It was a tragically small affair, for how wonderful the woman was. Her kindness touched so many, and yet her funeral begged no more than twenty visitors. The distant Midoriya relatives did not even show. Mostly Izuku’s friends and classmates came to show support, but Katsuki wanted to kick half of them out.
None of them understood. None of them knew the support that Aunti Inko had provided, the unwavering faith she had in her son when no one else did.
None of them knew the true horrors that Izuku had experienced when he was younger. None of them understood that when Katsuki stopped being Izuku’s hero and turned to childish villainy, Inko was always the one who made him smile again.
No one else knew how old Izuku had to become so quickly either. None of these extras understood that he had to become the man of the house by six, how his deadbeat father never showed his face again, how Izuku learned to cover his bruises with concealer, how he learned to patch up his own wounds like a battlefield medic, how he taught himself to smile like All Might because he had forgotten how to smile by himself. No one else understood the weight of this death, this loss, this grief of innocence.
The last shred of childhood goodness, lowered into the ground and buried.
And so Katsuki growled at anyone who tried to offer meaningless condolences. He even snarled at Eijirou, who had tried to tell Izuku that she was in a better place. Fury had coursed through Bakugou like a raging volcano and he squared his shoulders, glaring so vehemently at his boyfriend that the redhead had stepped away, hands up in surrender.
Izuku finally turned then and shook his head. “No, Kiri, you’re fine. Thank you.”
Katsuki growled again and put an arm around Izuku’s shoulders. He did not mention the trembling beneath his palm as they both turned back to the stone. He heard Eijirou turn to leave and did not look back. He would apologize later, when Izuku did not need him.
“You don’t have to stay, Kachaan.” he muttered, hands wringing. Katsuki’s gaze fell to his fingers. They were so scarred and misshaped; years of physical malfunction had turned his hands into monuments of pain. He knew they still ached constantly, and yet he never complained.
Izuku did not complain about anything. Katsuki often wondered how much he withheld in that big brain of his. How much trauma he never talked about, the pain he never acknowledged.
“And leave you here alone?” He scoffed. “Auntie would haunt my ass.”
The taller man hummed, but it was not happy. “Kiri should feel threatened.”
Katsuki forced a laugh at his poor attempt at humor. “Shut up, nerd.”
Izuku hummed again. “She always thought that we would end up together. Childhood friends and all that.”
He reached forward and placed a trembling hand on her headstone. Shaking fingers traced her engraved name with love. “She was a hopeless romantic that way.”
Bakugou leaned into Izuku, giving the silent support that he needed. It was nice to be needed, as awful as the situation was. Though they owned an agency together, though they patrolled together, though they saved lives together, ever since graduation, Izuku had been distant. He always felt too far for Katsuki to reach. He was never close enough for him to help, to protect, to love. A sadness had grown in his best friend’s eyes since the end of their third year that Katsuki could not fix.
“But… I think she also knew that we would never last.”
Katsuki raised his head at Izuku’s mournful tone. “Why?”
Green eyes lifted from cold stone, but they were no warmer. “You’re like the sun, Kachaan. I never shone bright enough to match you, and I think she noticed. I was content to live in that shadow, but you didn’t want that.”
Katsuki felt confusion well in him. “What are you talking about?”
Izuku shrugged, eyes lifeless. Katsuki had never seen him so emotionless before. It was horribly disconcerting. “You wanted someone who would challenge you, who would put you back on your feet, who would be enough to… who would be enough.”
The blonde pulled away, anger beginning to replace his befuddlement. “You told me it was okay.”
Izuku’s eyes, which had returned to his mother’s grave, did not move as he asked, “Pardon?”
“You told me that you had known and you were okay with it!” He removed himself from any physical contact, taking his support with him. Tears burned the edges of his eyes. “What the hell does that have to do with anything now? It’s been six years since we broke up, Deku .”
The minute the nickname came out of his mouth, he regretted it. Not the name itself, because its meaning had changed so much, but the way he said it. It was all anger and spite and borderline hate. It was a tone that neither had heard in years.
Izuku flinched, and Katsuki’s heart dropped. “Izu-,”
“Don’t worry about it, Kachaan,” was his gentle interruption. He was always too gentle. Katsuki wanted him to be angry. He wanted him to let out the emotions that he was so used to seeing. “You can go. I’m sure Kiri is waiting for you.”
The words were so similar to that day six years ago. Why did they hurt so much? “Why are you pushing me away? You’re my best friend, Izu.”
The green-haired man turned. The deadness in his gaze was something Katsuki had never seen before. It was so unnerving that the blonde took a step back, away from the foreign Deku in front of him. Away from the emotionless corpse his friend had become.
“You really have no idea, do you?”
Katsuki stared, eyes wide and mouth gaping.
Izuku huffed and nodded. He turned back to the tombstone, to the burning incense, and muttered, “Have a nice evening, Kachaan. Thanks for coming.”
Katsuki burned with anger and confusion, and he let it drag him furiously away from his friend. He slammed the door to the car and turned the keys, ignoring Kirishima’s concerned questions. He did not look in his mirror as he pulled away, and he did not think of Izuku.
He did not stay to see Izuku crumble against his mother’s grave, sobbing broken apologies and purple flowers into the dead grass.
Hitoshi was the one that found him up there.
The roof had always been a place of solace for Izuku. As the end continued to near, he found himself up there more and more often.
The purple-haired hero slid his legs through the railing as he sat down, shoulder bumping against Izuku’s with a comforting warmth. Neither said anything. Instead, Shinso pulled a purple petal from his pocket and handed it to Izuku. The taller boy did not ask how Shinso had figured out it was his, or where he found it. He simply took it silently and sniffed.
He tossed it over the roof’s edge and contemplated throwing himself after it.
“Since third year.”
“Are you going to get the surgery?”
Shinso’s jaw clenched. “He doesn’t deserve you.”
Izuku hummed. “It’s not his fault I’m unloveable.”
The other hero did not reply, but Izuku could see the anger in his eyes.
He shifted, laying his head on Hitoshi’s shoulder, and wished that he was not made of broken dreams.
They stayed up there until morning.
“Since when do you have a dog?”
Katsuki stood in Deku’s doorway, bag of decorations hanging off his arm. A large golden retriever panted happily in front of him, tail wagging.
Izuku poked his head around the corner to the kitchen and a small smile worked its way across his lips at the canine. “Since yesterday.”
“ Why do you have a dog?” He walked down the hall and laid his bag on the counter, leaning against it and petting the animal as he watched Izuku busy himself around the kitchen.
“Found it in a collapsed building yesterday and brought it home,” He explained.
“You really think that you have time for a pet?” Katsuki snorted, fingers scratching behind the dog’s ears. The animal happily shifted closer to him, content just with the simple attention.
“His name is Yagi, and I can make time,” His friend replied as he grabbed Katsuki a glass of milk. “Besides, the boy needed a home and I’m lonely. Seemed like a perfect solution.”
“You’re lonely?” Katsuki’s heart clenched at the thought of Izuku sitting by himself in this apartment. It made sense, he supposed. Izuku had never dated since high school. He always claimed he did not have the time for it and he never wanted to drag someone into his dangerous life. Now that he thought about it, Izuku did not invite anyone over either. This was the first party they had had in the number one’s apartment in… forever, actually. There was something very unsettling about that. Deku was social. He was enthusiastic and a people person and thrived in helping and loving others.
Izuku was not made for loneliness. He was made to be happy.
The man, unaware of Katsuki’s brooding, answered casually, “Well, yeah, Kachaan. I guess I needed a friend.”
His heart hurt at the nonchalant tone. “You have friends.”
The green-haired man waved him off over his shoulder. “Yeah but all of you are busy with more important things.”
Katsuki stiffened. “You’re important.”
Izuku’s shoulders fell slightly and he turned to face his friend. “Don’t do this, Kachaan.”
“If you’re slipping back into old habits, then you need to-,”
“I’m not,” he interrupted, waving around his spatula. Yagi, who seemed to be able to sense his master’s unease, departed from Katsuki’s side and ran to Izuku’s. The man sighed, his smile reappearing as he knelt to reassure the canine that he was alright. “It’s just nice to have someone to listen to everything, okay? And he gives great cuddles.”
“Maybe I should get one,” Katsuki scoffed, trying to judge whether or not he should jump on that last statement. “Eiji is a horrible listener as of lately. Can’t get one word in edgewise. Driving me up the damn wall.”
Izuku turned, green eyes alight. “You have me.”
Bakugou paused, lifting his head. “What?”
“You have me, Kachaan,” he repeated, soft and sure and so Izuku. He stood and walked over to him.
"You'll have me," Izuku grinned. "Until every single galaxy dies."
He bumped Katsuki's shoulder. "You'll have me."
Something in his stomach curled. He pushed his shoulder back against Izuku’s. “You have me too, you know. I’m here to… listen too. You don’t need a damn dog when you have me.”
Izuku searched his eyes, but the smile he gave was not as genuine as Katsuki would have hoped. He wondered when his smiles stopped making it to his eyes.
Tell me, Deku , he wanted to scream. Talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it .
Green eyes probed his. He swallowed, quietly laughing sorrowfully. “Kachaan, I-,”
The door flew open and Eijirou’s voice echoed down the hallway. “We’re here! Jirou brought the booze!”
Katsuki turned to yell back, “Took you long enough, you damn idiots!”
By the time he turned back, ready to hear what Izuku had to say, the man had returned to the other side of the kitchen and his cooking. His back was to Katsuki, who felt like he had just lost his chance at hearing the truth.
For the rest of the party, Katsuki tried to get a second of alone time to wrangle the truth out of his childhood friend, but Eijirou hung off his arm constantly, and while he adored his boyfriend, he found it increasingly annoying as the night continued. The nerd seemed content to sit with his new furry friend, however, and Katsuki forced himself to be satisfied that at least he had gotten some form of companion, even if this one could not talk or actually listen.
As people began to leave, he knelt in front of the dog and petted his long fur. “Listen here, mutt. You take care of my Deku. He takes a lot of work and he’ll talk your ear off, but he’s easy to love. Make sure…”
He paused, suddenly overcome with emotions. Gosh, there was so much that Katsuki missed about Izuku. He missed hearing the laugh that he saved for just them. He missed the wide smile and the glistening eyes. He missed the harmless pranks, the crude jokes that shocked anyone who heard them fall from the goodie-two-shoes’ mouth. He missed the snowball fights and the movie marathons and the never ending fountain of love that poured from his every word.
He desperately missed everything that Izuku was.
Katsuki had not realized how much he had lost by becoming so distant. Ever since Auntie’s funeral, they had grown farther and farther apart. While he still considered Izuku his best friend, that would never change, there was a divide between them now that Katsuki did not know how to jump.
That had to change.
He swallowed, shocked that tears were turning his vision blurry. He raised his head to where Izuku and Eijirou were doing dishes. The redhead was going on about how delicious Izuku’s cooking was, while the other listened attentively, accepting the compliments with humble misdirection.
Izuku was always there for everyone else, whether it was to save their lives or listen to them ramble about American cuisine.
When was the last time that anyone was really there for Izuku?
He refocused on the retriever. “Make sure you love him, okay? He’s… he is the best man I know, and he deserves to feel loved. You can do that, can’t you?”
Yagi barked, tongue wagging like his tail. Katsuki took it as an oath.
Kiri finished drying the dishes and walked over to his boyfriend. “Ready to go, babe?”
Katsuki nodded. “Thanks again, Izu.”
The green haired man smiled as he wiped his hands on the dish towel. “Thanks for coming.”
“Of course!” Eijirou snorted. “As if we would miss an Izuku Midoriya party! I mean, I've never even seen your apartment before, dude! We should have get togethers more often. Especially if this handsome guy is sticking around.”
At this he stooped to happily rub the dog’s face. The dog snorted and butted his nose against Kirishima’s hand.
“Yagi, leave Kiri alone,” Izuku commanded softly. The dog immediately obeyed, turning to his place at his master’s side. “Drive safe, you guys.”
Katsuki wanted to ask what he had been going to say before. He wanted to know what Izuku thought he could not trust his Kachaan with. He wanted to know what had stolen his Deku, where it was, and how he could kill it. He wanted to know who had taken his laughter, his motivation.
He wanted to know who had stolen his heart.
He wanted to kill them.
“Take care, nerd,” is what he said instead. “Take care of that stupid cough. And get a real therapist, not a dog.”
Izuku laughed lightly. Katsuki wished the sound was not so fake. “Will do, Kachaan. Goodnight.”
“Night!” Eijirou said, bowing respectfully and exiting.
Bakugou waited a moment. He held Izuku’s gaze and whispered, “Goodnight, nerd.”
Izuku’s eyes shuttered and he swallowed. “Goodnight, Kachaan.”
As Katsuki closed the door behind him, he felt so scared his hands shook.
Why did that goodnight sound like a goodbye?
Izuku blinked the tears away. They returned just as quickly.
“Izu?” Kachaan asked, leaning closer across the table.
“I think you stumped him, babe,” Kiri laughed, blush dusting his cheeks. “Who knew that this was the way to stop his ramblings. We should have asked him to be our best man a long time ago.”
Izuku felt the branches in his chest clench so violently that he doubled over in a coughing fit. He waved away their concerned cries, gesturing to the glass of water beside his plate. He desperately tried to catch his breath and force the deadly vines back into the pit of his stomach. Once the hacking was mostly under control, he straightened, covering the last few coughs in his elbow.
He raised his eyes to meet Katsuki’s. Crimson shone with unadulterated love.
Izuku felt the thorns twist tighter around his heart.
He was such a fool.
Izuku laughed his pain off just as he always did and mustered up a disbelieving smile. “You - you want me?”
Bakugou scoffed. “Well duh, shitty nerd. Who else would we ask?”
Izuku had an answer. “Denki, maybe? Hanta?”
“Denki is pretty occupied planning his own wedding,” Kiri replied easily.
Izuku tried not to let the admission that he was the second choice even now hurt him. It did not work.
Something must have shown in his eyes, because Kachaan quickly added, “And you’re my best friend, idiot. I wouldn’t want anyone else.”
How often had Izuku prayed he would hear those words from Katsuki? God, it must have been often. He stared at the pair in front of him. How he ever thought he could have compared was beyond him. They were perfect. Eijirou stared at Katsuki like he hung the sun in the sky, and Katsuki looked at Eijirou as if he was the only thing keeping him breathing. Their intertwined hands on the table caught the sun, glinting off the beautiful engagement ring on the redhead’s finger.
In that small second, Izuku wished he was not so selfless. He wished all the heartbreak and pain had made him bitter, harsh, unforgiving. He wished it had not made him kind.
The second was gone soon after, and in its place was a dull acceptance. He grinned, shoulders shaking with a light laugh. “Well, I’d be honored. Fair warning though, most of my stories will be embarrassing.”
The couple laughed along with him. Neither of them noticed the tears in his eyes.
Neither of them noticed the small stream of blood that he quickly wiped away.
One of Izuku’s favorite things to do was talk at schools. He had been so excited when Aizawa had invited him and Shinso to talk to the Yuuei heroics class.
Besides, it was probably the last opportunity he would get to pass on his knowledge and experience, and he was more than willing to sacrifice patrol time to do just that.
The students, each wide-eyed and full of big dreams, listened with rapt attention to the number one hero. Afterward, he signed autographs and answered dozens of questions. He felt so warm by the time they left, warmer than he had in months. The branches within his chest felt so small in comparison to the legacy he was leaving behind.
“Hey,” Hitoshi’s voice brought him back to reality. “It’s our old classroom.”
Izuku followed him into the empty room. Nostalgia swept through him like a cool summer breeze. “God, it looks exactly the same.”
“Do you remember when Todoroki turned Iida into an ice cube because he wouldn’t shut up about the dress code?” The mind-controlling hero smirked, tracing his fingers over his old desk.
Izuku snorted, leaning against his own. “Or when Mina accidentally melted her homework straight through her desk?”
Shinso chuckled smugly. “Or the time when Bakugou tripped over Sensei in his sleeping back trying to get your attention?”
The silence that followed was not as heavy as it could have been. Izuku felt the tickle in his throat and mustered up a smile. He swallowed, hoping that he did not break down into a coughing fit in front of his friend. However, the plant within him did as it well pleased, and the choking sound soon filled the quiet room. He gripped the desk in front of him, bending over to expel the horribly painful flowers from his throat.
His stomach flipped at the sight of them. He could barely make out the purple in the three hyacinths. They were drenched in blood, the sticky substance leaking onto Izuku’s hands as he held them, staring in fear. He barely had time to look up at Shinso before another round of hacking overtook him. He shuddered, tears pricking the edges of his eyes as he felt more blood fill his mouth. Four more flowers expelled themselves from his lungs, crimson in color and horribly large. He staggered, body trembling with fear.
His breathing picked up, wide eyes searching for the grounding purple in Hitoshi’s, who knelt before him with a fearful gaze. His friend took one flower from him. “What… what does that mean?”
Izuku felt tears begin to drip down his face. “I- I don’t know.”
“You can’t die.”
What a stupid sentence. Everyone died. His mother, All Might. Izuku was just a small tragedy in a long history of tragedies. Shinso said it like it was a crime, an impossibility. He said it like it was truly something that could never happen.
Except that it was happening right in front of them.
Izuku felt his chest seize again.
He was dying.
He was dying .
“I’ve heard that repeating a word makes it lose meaning,” He muttered. He looked around their old classroom and wished that everything could go back to the way it was. “I’ve stayed up repeating his name over and over and over again, praying that he will mean less to me with each breath. But then - then I see him at work the next day and it’s like I fall in love all over again.”
Hitoshi pulled the stupid flowers from his shaking hands and laced their fingers together. “I shouldn’t have mentioned Bakubitch. I’m sorry.”
Midoriya shook his head. “Not your fault. It’s mine. It’s all my fault.”
“Don’t say that,” He squeezed his scarred hands.
“It’s funny,” Izuku huffed wetly. “Trying to get over someone who was never even mine. Having to heal a heart I broke by myself.”
“Stop it, Izu,” Hitoshi warned sadly, eyes misting. Why was he crying? Had Izuku done that too? “You are wonderful. Anyone would be lucky to be loved by you.”
“Sometimes I pretend that he wishes he were mine,” He admitted, ashamed. “I create this entire fantasy in my mind that he secretly wants me, that he’ll leave Kiri at the altar and run to me like he’s always been mine. I do it so much it infects my dreams, Toshi. And then - then I wake up and I sometimes forget that it’s all in my head.”
Izuku sighed. “He doesn’t want me. And he’s not mine.”
“You’re allowed to be angry, Izu.” Shinso pulled him closer. He ran a hand through wild green locks, trying to pull him back to reality. “You don’t owe it to anyone to be okay with all this.”
“I chose him, but he didn’t choose me.” He took a deep, rattling, soul aching breath. The vines in his chest crawled into the entrance of his throat. He did not have much longer now. “And that’s okay. That is not Kachaan’s fault. I can’t be mad at him, not when… not when he’s so happy.”
“What about you, Izuku?” Hitoshi hissed, but the anger was only to disguise his tears. “What about your happiness?”
The Number One hero smiled sadly, wistfully, almost like he was already gone. “My happiness has never been part of the equation.”
Seeing the nerd so close to the edge made Katsuki want to throw up. He was unsure what he expected when he saw Brainwash’s eyes widen with fear and heard him mutter, “Deku’s on the roof”, but this was not it. He expected hysterical crying, mourning a civilian he could not save, maybe loyal and happy Yagi had died.
He did not expect to see that same dead look from his mother’s funeral. He did not expect to see the empty vessel of his best friend, staring at the horizon, looking for all the world like he wished to disappear. Silent tears fell down freckled cheeks as he bent over the railing.
“Deku, get away from the edge.”
To his horror, the hero barely acknowledged him. There was a soft hum and a tilt of his head, and nothing more.
“Deku, I’m serious.” Katsuki moved towards him, terror mounting with each passing moment of silence. “Come over here, idiot.”
“How’s the wedding planning going, Kachaan?”
The question pushed him off-kilter. “What?”
“I heard Todoroki and Momo referred you to their florist. Good idea. The flowers at their wedding were beautiful.”
“Deku, get away from the damn ledge.”
Izuku hummed again, leaning farther over the abyss. “You should get Mina to color coordinate everything, though. She’s a goddess when it comes to that kind of stuff.”
Katsuki could feel his heart rampaging in his chest. The wind tousled Deku’s hair, twisting those green locks around dead eyes. It was so so wrong. Deku was not this . “You’re okay, Deku. You’re okay, just step away from the railing. Please.”
Maybe if he said it enough, he could keep lying to himself and believe it was true.
He was finally close enough to grab him. He gripped his shoulders tightly, jerking him away from the danger of falling, and pulled him toward the middle of the roof. Desperately, he ran his fingers through Izuku’s hair, down his face, counted freckles like a deranged man, and thanked God he had not wasted a minute before running up the stairs to the roof.
Katsuki, who had been wiping the tears from his best friend’s cheeks, paused long enough to answer. “Yeah, nerd?”
“Would you miss me if I died?”
His heart froze in his chest.
Izuku reached up slowly and wrapped his cold - Christ, his fingers were freezing - around Bakugou’s wrists. “You’ll miss me, right? Tell me at least you’ll think of me every once in a while?”
“What the ever-loving fuck are you talking about?” Terror wormed its way into his chest, making it difficult for him to breathe.
“I know that we’ve had our differences and we’ve grown apart, but you’ll miss me, right?” Izuku sobbed, breath hitching. “God, Kachaan, I’m so scared.”
“You aren’t dying, you idiot.” Katsuki’s grip tightened. He was sure that it was becoming painful, but he did not care. Images of a dead Izuku Midoriya flashed across his brain like a horror film reel. He choked on his own gasp and shook his head. “You aren’t dying, Izu. What is going on?”
“I tried so hard, you know,” Izuku laughed hysterically. “To get over it. I tried to convince myself that I was insane. I was just wallowing or I was making a big deal out of nothing. God, you were right, Kachaan. I’m just a hopeless crybaby who can’t handle his emotions and now it’s killing me.”
Katsuki had never been more scared in his entire life. He desperately tried to keep up with the conversation, but he had no idea what was going on. He had let this happen. He had continued to put off asking about Izuku, his health, how he was doing. He used business as an excuse, the wedding as a way of avoiding the emotional confrontation he hated so much. He had prioritized himself when Izuku was so clearly suffering and now something was horribly, devastatingly wrong .
“And I get that I’m not enough,” Izuku continued manically. “I get that I’m too clumsy and I’m ugly and I talk too much - hell, I’m doing it right now - and I can’t save everyone and I’ve failed. I’ve failed, I’ve failed, I’ve failed!”
Katsuki shook him. “Who the fuck told you that? Tell me and I’ll kill the fucker, Deku. I’ll fucking incinerate the one who taught you that. I want names, I want descriptions, and I want to murder them, you hear me? Look at me!”
Green eyes met crimson.
“You aren’t any of those stupid lies.” Bakugou’s grip softened, hoping his eyes did the same. “You are smart and funny and gorgeous.”
Almost to emphasize his point, he ran his hands through those beautiful foresty locks. “You don’t talk too much; your rambling is endearing. You save so many people, Izu. You’re a hero .”
“I can’t save myself,” Izuku wheezed. “I can never save myself.”
Katsuki swallowed, tears falling from his chin. “You’re not supposed to. Let others do that.”
He pushed closer, into Izuku’s personal space. He crowded so close so that he could chase away those horrible thoughts. He would fight them all, he’d explode the fuckers so they could never hurt Izuku again.
“Let me . Let me save you, Izu. Please.”
Izuku sobbed into Katsuki’s shoulder, and Katuski desperately wished he could interpret the sound of sorrow.
“Let me be your hero.”
He chuckled sadly, shaking his head. “You’ve always been my hero, Kachaan.”
“How long do you have?”
It was the first question that Shota asked him when he opened the door. Izuku’s hand, still raised to knock against the wood, froze. His eyes widened and he swallowed. “Pardon?”
His former teacher, now retired from hero work and just mentoring students, examined him with sad eyes. “I’m not your friends, Problem Child. I know you have hanahaki.”
Izuku’s heart clenched. He had never acknowledged the title to what was happening to him. Part of him hoped it was just a fluke, that it was all a bad dream, that he had been hit with some quirk all those years ago and had never gotten over it.
Part of him still hoped to wake up one day and the pain would be gone, Katsuki would be at his door, and all would be well.
He must have looked a right mess. He knew the bags under his eyes were dark, his gaze was vacant. His cheekbones were more prominent than ever. While his form was still full and the symbol of bravery and heroic strength, he moved like an old man; every gesture creaked like ancient wooden boards. He looked at himself in the mirror in the mornings and wondered how more people hadn’t noticed. Then again, he had always been good at pretending to be invincible.
“Midoriya?” Sensei’s hand came up to rest on his shoulder. His grip tightened, grounding him when all he wanted to do was float away. “How long?”
Izuku snorted sadly. “I don’t know. I’m shocked it hasn’t happened already.”
Aizawa sighed. “It’s Bakugou, isn’t it?”
His teacher opened the door and let him inside. He guided his favorite student to the couch.
Izuku felt some of his anxiety and sorrow ebb away in this familiar place. Especially after Yagi died, he had grown close to his old teacher. He had a wonderful ability to convince Izuku he was worth something, even if it was just for a little while.
“You’re smart, Izuku,” the use of his first name washed over him like a warm bath. “If you had to put a timer on it, how long would you say you have?”
He swallowed, shoulders falling as he leaned back into the soft cushion. He shifted, meeting his mentor’s eyes. Ebony was filled with empathetic adoration. A smile quirked at the edges of his lips. “I think I’ll get to make my best man’s speech at Hitoshi and Denki’s wedding. I don’t think I’ll make it much farther than that.”
Shota moved some straggly curls from his face. “You’re speaking at his too, aren’t you?”
“Bakugou and Kirishima’s.”
Izuku nodded. “I was honored they asked.”
“It hurts though, doesn’t it?”
He whimpered. “Yeah.”
His teacher’s hand remained in his hair, soothingly untangling the mess atop his head. “You always wore your heart on your sleeve. Even in your first year, I could tell that you loved him. You challenged each other, pushed one another to the limit. You inspired each other. He loved you too.”
It hurt most because it was true. Katsuki loved him very much, it just wasn’t the love that Izuku wanted. “I know.”
“I suppose me trying to convince you to get the surgery wouldn’t work.”
“Nah.” He lifted his eyes again. “Are - are you crying?”
A thumb brushed his cheek. “I wish you were allowed to be happy, Problem Child.”
Izuku sighed. His own eyes were getting misty. “Me too.”
“You came to ask me about One for All, didn’t you?”
The younger man sputtered, a surprised laugh escaping his trembling lips. “How did you know that?”
Shota shrugged, smile smug. “I do have a few years of experience, Problem Child. Besides, you were taught that your Quirk was the only important thing about you for your entire life. I assumed it would be weighing heavily on your mind.”
Izuku nodded. “It is. I don’t know who to give it to.”
“Let it end with you.”
The curtness of Shota’s words cut through him. He flexed his hands. Scars crisscrossed across his skin.“But it’s not done-,”
Aizawa scooted closer, grabbing his shoulders. “Yes, it is, Izuku. One for All served its purpose. You took down Shigaraki and ended All for One your first year as a pro hero. Its purpose was fulfilled. Don’t burden someone else with the legacy which Yagi placed on you. Don’t make another child shoulder that weight.”
He sniffed. No one understood this burden as Aizawa did. His entire life, his Quirk (or lack thereof) had been the only important thing about him. His entire thought process was dedicated to what he could do for others, who he could help next, what could he sacrifice so that others could be happy. Shota once said that it was because he was raised in a society that taught him his worth was subservient to everyone else’s; he was probably right. Maybe that was why Izuku never got mad that Bakugou was not his. Maybe it was why he didn’t fight back in high school. He had never deserved the things that other people got, that people with Quirks deserved. He took each blow like it was expected, like he had earned it, like it was right .
“There is a tragedy in being so selfless,” Shota hummed softly, hand back in his hair. The other wiped tears from his cheeks. “You have believed that everyone else must come before yourself, and no one was ever able to help you believe otherwise.”
“It’s okay.” Izuku leaned into the comfort that his mentor provided. It was so seldom that he felt warm anymore.
Aizawa smiled, but he had never looked more devastated. “No, it’s not.”
He shrugged in reply, content to let himself revel in this small relief. He hardly ever felt content now. He was always cold, always empty. It was impossible to find warmth living with thorns crushing his heart. But this, this small pleasure, was enough.
It had to be.
“You’ve done so well, Izuku.”
For a moment, Izuku let himself believe it.
His speech was lovely. It was the thing that Katsuki remembered most about that day.
“I think the first time I realized that Katsuki and Eijirou were meant for each other was six months after our resident explosion made the mistake of dating me.”
The crowd all laughed at the jab. Katsuki snorted, squeezing Kiri’s fingers between his own as they watched their best friend stand and address their company. Izuku had worn a green tux, which brought out the colors of his hair and eyes. He looked radiant and happier than he had been in months. Katsuki was put at ease by staring at his best friend’s gorgeous grin. It made him feel whole.
“I remember watching Katsuki stare at Eiji like he had hung the stars in the sky,” Izuku continued. “That was the first time I believed that soulmates might actually exist.”
Katsuki’s breath caught. Beside him, he could hear Kiri already begin to sniffle.
“The first time I realized how in love Katsuki truly was was about two weeks after that. A quick turnaround, I know.” another round of laughter. “He barged into my room at two in the morning before one of the biggest hero tests we ever took. I was burning the midnight oil, half my hair was sticking up, and I was one cup of coffee away from insanity, and he looked like he had just run a marathon from murdering clowns.”
Katsuki snorted, shoulder shaking from barely contained cackles.
Izuku cleared his throat and continued, grin softening to something unbearably fond. “I asked him what was wrong, and he looked me right in the eyes and said, “Deku, you piece of shit. I think this is what it’s like to be fucking high.”"
From the front table, the Bakusquad finally let their laughter break the silence. Mina almost fell from her chair, only stopped by Denki’s quick reflexes. Katsuki and Eijirou snorted, and Eijirou leaned over to kiss his cheek.
“Katsuki is a planner. Anyone who meets him knows that he has a strict schedule that he sticks to closer than scripture.” Izuku paused, gaze shifting to rest on the happy couple. “Eijirou Kirishima was the best thing that he never planned.”
Katsuki wiped his cheek. God, he was becoming such a sap.
“I’ve known Katsuki for my whole life, and I never thought that anyone would be good enough for him. He was always too bright, too strong, too perfect for anyone to meet my expectations of his other half,” Izuku shrugged, placing another notecard in the back of his stack as he continued. “It has been a pleasure to be proved wrong every single day that Kirishima loves him.”
Finally, Eiji broke. His quiet cries filled in the background music to the remainder of Deku’s speech.
“Whatever happens, they are always there for each other. They protect each other, love each other, remind each other of their worth every single day.” the number one hero paused, reaching up to wipe away his own tears. “They are two halves of one whole, and it is a pleasure to be a part of their journey. When they asked me to be their best man, I did not think I would ever be able to convey just how much their love has changed me, how they have changed each other. However, I whittled it down to two things.”
Izu cleared his throat, and Katsuki watched him force his tears to remain in his eyes. “Eiji told me once, a month after their first date, that loving Katsuki was as effortless as breathing. He described loving him like a warm hug, a ray of sunshine through the clouds, the first rain of spring. Eiji was a poet, Katsuki his muse and subject, and he wanted to fill libraries with the novels he would write about him.”
Katsuki turned to his husband, who stared at him with so much love he could hardly bear it.
“Katsuki turned to me the week before he asked Eijirou to marry him and told me that he had never known how to love himself until Eiji loved him first.” Izuku laughed wetly. “Which is not nearly as many words, but the same idea.”
The crowd, being reduced to various forms of happy crying, responded with pathetic laughter. Not that the grooms could judge them. They were suffering from the same.
“Love is unbeatable,” the best man claimed with an air of finality. “It is a force that cannot be stopped, cannot be moved. It takes residence in you and grows until it consumes you. It is the most wonderful thing that any of us can experience, and they found it.”
He turned back to the couple and raised his glass. “To many more years of continued discovery. Please join me in toasting to Eijirou and Katsuki Kirigou!”
The crowd responded with loud hurrahs, and Katsuki kissed his husband, a happier man he could not imagine.
Kota laid his head on Izuku’s shoulder as they sat in the grass outside of the dorms. “Heroics is going well. I’m ranked third. Eri is second.”
Izuku raised a hand and ruffled the boy’s black hair. “That’s amazing! Kota, bud, I’m so proud of you!”
The teenager shied away from the praise, blush dusting his cheeks.
Izuku leaned down to be on his level, eyes sincere. “So proud.”
Kota smiled shyly. “Thanks.”
“Have you perfected that new move yet?”
He huffed. “Only took me two months.”
The pro hero chuckled. “Hey, don’t put yourself down. You’re here to learn, remember? Taking two months to perfect a special move is important.”
“Says the man who can change the weather with a single punch.”
Izuku flicked his ear. “And we both know how long it took me to get where I am today. So cut yourself some slack, bud. We all have learning curves.”
“Yeah,” Kota groaned. He swallowed, glancing at his brother and then back to his hands. “Can… can you keep a secret?”
The twenty-five-year-old forced himself not to laugh. “Of course, Kota.”
His charge swallowed and murmured something softly and quickly.
“You’re gonna have to speak up just a little bit, buddy,” Izuku whispered. “You know you can trust me.”
Kota wrung his hands together. Izuku reached out to stop him from picking at his fingers. “Hey, hey, it’s just me.”
That seemed to comfort the boy and he sighed. “I… I think I like Eri.”
Izuku felt the first genuine grin spread across his face in a long time. “Kota! That’s wonderful!”
The kid shied away from the excitement. “Shut up old man! Someone will hear you!”
“Have you told her?” Izuku asked gently, smile fading to something soft and warm.
“No!” Kota seemed mortified at the thought. “Are you kidding me?”
“Why not?” the green-haired man glanced towards the fluffy clouds that dotted the sky. “If you don’t do it now, you might never get the chance. She might pick someone else if you don’t try now.”
“Like you and Uncle Bakugou?”
Izuku stiffened. He glanced back at his brother. Kota stared back with a knowing gleam in his eyes. “Am I that obvious?”
“Nope,” Kota shook his head. “I just know what to look for.”
The pro hummed, wrapping an arm around the boy. “But yes, like me and Kachaan. I don’t want you to feel like I do, buddy. And who knows… she might like you too.”
The boy pushed him off, punching him in the arm.
Izuku feigned pain, rubbing the spot with a grimace. “Ow! Man, what a punch!”
Kota could not fight his grin. “You think so?”
“Watch out. Next thing you know, you’ll be the next Symbol of Hope!”
The boy rolled his eyes, elbowing his adopted brother in the side. “Shut up. As if I could ever replace you.”
Izuku bent over and kissed his hair. He pulled back, meeting those big eyes and smiling warmly. “I can think of no better successor.”
Kota’s face turned as red as a tomato and he looked away. “Shut up, you old sap.”
Deku laughed loudly and pulled the kid in for a hug.
They stayed there until the sun set behind the gates. Kota gave him one last hug before returning to the dorms before curfew. Izuku watched him go, pride pouring out of him like molten gold. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned to leave.
A white scarf wrapped around his arm and he stopped. Strong arms pulled him into a warm chest, and Izuku fell into the embrace like a child.
“I’ll take care of him,” Aizawa promised.
“Thank you,” Izuku whispered.
He volunteered for the mission. That was the first signal that something was off.
Not that he volunteered at all, that was all too Deku. No, it was how he had taken one look at the mission debrief, glanced at the hero roster, and made a single change. Eijirou was supposed to be on infiltration. His name was switched out with Izuku’s on the chart, and then turned back in.
Katsuki should have realized. Izuku never altered Iida’s mission plans. They were often foolproof. However, something in his gaze had caused the former class president to accept the change with a single nod and send it around to the rest of the group.
He did not even remember the villain’s name; that was the least important thing about that day. He did remember Izuku’s tired eyes, his weary smile, and how he leaned into Brainwash like he was the only way the greenette could feel warm. He remembered the lack of murmuring from the nerd, the silence in which he suited up, and the lack of goodbye as he set off. He remembered watching through the hacked security footage of the warehouse, noticing his slumped shoulders, his cough, and the way he walked.
He walked with death in his shadow, and Katsuki did not notice .
The security footage cut out twelve minutes into the mission, but none of them were too worried. Deku was on a direct link with Earphone Jack where he could send updates. They were backup just in case things went wrong.
“I hate the waiting part,” Jirou hummed.
“As if anything is going to happen to Deku,” Kiri chuckled, crossing his arms. “He’s Deku .”
Thirty minutes into the mission, the sound hero straightened from her bowed position. Jirou leaned back in her chair, glancing at Shinso. “He wants a direct line with you.”
“I swear, if he wants to nerd out about this villain’s quirk I’m hanging up,” The brainwashing hero rolled his eyes and dished out his phone.
“Put him on speaker,” Katsuki grinned. “We can all shout at him when he goes off.”
The purple-haired man snorted and did as asked. He held out the phone for the others to crowd around. It had been too long since Katsuki had heard the nerd ramble about quirks. He leaned into Eijirou’s shoulder and closed his eyes, ready to hear the voice that had the excitement of a child yet the timbre of a man.
The phone line crackled and the voice surfaced.
“I think you and Denki are going to need a new best man, Shinso.”
Shinsou chuckled, rolling his eyes. “Recovery really gonna take you that long?”
A hitched breath that could have passed as a laugh sounded through the phone. “ Toshi .”
Immediately, his face paled and the smile disappeared. “No.”
Katsuki felt the mood shift in the room. Something was horrible, terribly wrong .
“I wrote it down, so just get someone to read the speech, okay?” Izuku laughed lightly, and only then did Katsuki hear the wetness in his words. Blood. “I am so sorry that-,”
“Don’t you dare apologize to me,” Shinsou suddenly snarled, harsh and angry and heartbroken. “You don’t owe me anything .”
“Shinsou, what the hell is going on?” Jirou whispered, low enough that Deku would not hear.
“Yeah, I do,” Izuku’s next chuckle came out as a whimper. Katsuki almost wanted to tell Shinsou to turn off speaker mode because this sounded like a personal conversation, but he was speechless. “I owe you so much. I - Toshi, I think that if I didn’t have you, this would have happened months ago.”
“Don’t say that-,”
“I was always meant for tragedy, Toshi. I mean, I thought I would have been dead by the end of middle school. I probably should have been.”
Katsuki’s breath had ceased. Something caved within him and his heart stuttered with the image of Izuku’s green curls matted with crimson, body broken from his roof-top fall, poisoned words spilling from the blonde’s mouth the catalyst. “What is he talking about, Brainwash?”
“And then I got the chance to keep going even when I shouldn’t have,” He laughed pathetically. “And I got to be a hero.”
“You’re the best hero, Izu,” Toshi managed brokenly, leaning closer to the phone.
Katsuki felt his heart flip at the nickname. That was his nickname for Izuku. He had coined it when they were still little brats together, unaware of the tragedy they would encounter, the fame, the glory, and the heartbreak. When had that changed?
“I’m not,” He croaked.
Shinso growled. “Fuck you, yes you are.”
Izuku laughed, but nothing about this was funny. Katsuki felt like he was back on that roof, desperate and lost and so out of his depth he wanted to scream. “Someone get him a medic.”
No one moved. A horrible understanding settled across the room like a fatal blanket.
Nothing could be done.
Katsuki fumed against the idea. “Earphones, get him a fucking ambulance.”
“Kat,” Eijirou began, but Katsuki slapped his hand away.
“I need you to look after Yagi for me, just until Kota gets his own place when he graduates.” the number one hero choked, and Katsuki could almost smell the blood on his tongue. “He likes Dagobah Beach the most for walking, okay? Tell Kota there’s a letter for him under my bed. There’s a whole box of them, Toshi. Make sure everyone gets them, okay? I - I need you to - to do that for me. Please?”
Before Izuku could continue his desperate rambling, Shinso let out a choked sob. “I’ve got it, Izu. Don’t - don’t you worry about a damn thing, okay? I’ve got this.”
Katsuki felt a horrible chill beginning to creep up his spine. This could not be happening. Izuku was not allowed to die. He tried to imagine a life without Izuku Midoriya by his side, but it was impossible. They had been together for their entire lives. He was not sure he knew how to function without his annoying, loud, bright, wonderful, absolutely fucking amazing presence.
He was not sure he could go on without Izuku. He was not sure life continued after Izuku.
“God, I know we’ve been expecting this, but somehow, I’m still so scared.”
Denki turned into his fiance’s shoulder and began to cry. Shinso reached up with shaking hands and carded his fingers through his partner’s blonde locks. “Don’t be scared, Izu. Just keep talking to me, okay? Just keep…”
He could not finish. Cold acceptance began to fill his eyes and he closed them against the horrible reality. “Just keep talking.”
“I think that if it hadn’t been him, it would have been you,” Izuku admitted, shame lacing his tone like poison. “So even if I hadn’t fallen in love with him, I would have with you, and I would still end up right back here.”
Shinso sobbed loudly. Tears dripped down his cheeks, catching the afternoon light from the open windows. How could it be so beautiful outside, when the sun was dying?
“Who the fuck is he talking about?” Katsuki demanded. Who the hell wouldn’t love Izuku Midoriya?
“I wasn’t supposed to live, Toshi.” Izuku’s voice was so heartbroken. All Katsuki wanted to do was heal him. “The universe is just fixing that mistake.”
Shinso could offer no reply except louder cries.
“Do you know what purple hyacinths mean, Toshi? Forgiveness. Hanahaki is making me cough up flowers that mean forgiveness.”
The word made Katsuki stiffen. “Hold the fuck up-!”
“Even now,” a new sound came from Izuku. Horrible, wet, bloody coughing. With dread, Katsuki recalled each time he had heard the nerd cough recently. Was this his secret? Was this the truth he could not bear to tell his Kachaan?
“Even now I’m begging,” he continued hoarsely, brokenly. “I’m saying sorry.”
Shinsou whimpered, “You don’t need to be.”
“Sensei knew. Did I tell you that?” his voice was fading, and Katsuki felt like the world was ending.
Maybe it was. Maybe this was the end.
He was not sure the world went on after Izuku.
“You did,” Shinso whispered.
Another round of coughing sent Jirou to her knees. She covered her ears and sobbed. Iida knelt beside her, attempting to console her through his own cries. Eijirou grabbed his hand in a vice, but Katsuki barely felt it. Nothing felt real. Nothing was real except Izuku’s voice on that damn phone.
His breath was coming quicker now. Izuku stammered, “Don’t listen, Toshi. Hang up before it happens. You don’t need to hear it happen. Please.”
“I’m not letting you die alone.”
“HE’S NOT FUCKING DYING!” Katsuki finally exploded, volume shooting up to a scream.
More coughing, rougher, louder, more damning. More deadly.
Katsuki tore out of his husband’s grip and stalked towards the phone. “I’m right here, nerd. Tell me who this fucker is and I’ll kill him.”
“Kachaan,” his tone switched from shock to contentment. “Kachaan.”
The blonde swallowed. “I’m right here, Izu. It’s going to be okay.”
“Thank you,” he whispered.
“You don’t owe me a fucking thing.” Katsuki growled through his tears. “Just don’t - don’t… you can’t die.”
He was falling. Falling, falling, fallen.
There was no recovery from this.
There was no healing that could save his shattered heart.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall …
“Thank you for being my friend,” he wheezed. “You made my life worth living.”
“Then keep living,” Katsuki moaned. He took the phone from Shinso’s shaking hands and held it up to his ear. “Keep living for me, Izuku. We’ll figure it out. We’ll find this bastard and I’ll kill him for you, okay?”
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…
The blonde was prepared to beg. He was willing to give anything. Please, God. Don’t take him. You can have anything else. Not him. Please not him . “Yeah, nerd?”
“I love you.”
Beside him, Shinso finally collapsed. His legs gave out from under him and he thudded to the floor, Kaminari following him down.
Katsuki felt his breath escape him.
“I love you too, Izuku. You’re my best friend.”
All the king's horses and all the king's men …
There was no answer.
Katsuki’s heart stopped.
Nothing. Nothing but dreadful, horrible, life ending silence.
“Izuku, I love you too.”
Couldn’t put Humpty together again .
When they found him, he was holding the building like Atlas with the world on his shoulders, and he was dead. As Cementos lifted the last piece of rubble, he fell to the side, body limp and cold. Below him was the unconscious body of the villain and a sea of purple hyacinths, kept alive by Deku’s final sacrifice. Blood had dripped from his mouth like a faulty water fountain, coating the violet petals with crimson.
Katsuki dropped to his knees beside him, pulling his broken and bloody body into his shaking arms. He pushed his hair from his face, pressing soft kisses to his freckles. He rocked back and forth, praying to anyone who was listening to bring him back, to take him instead. He begged to fix it, that he would be better, that he would save him if it was the last thing he did.
Izuku remained cold and still in his arms.
A soft smile graced his lips.
He looked more at peace than he had in years.
There is so much I wish I could have told you. But, even if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. In fifty years, I hope you can look back and say the same. The future is in your hands, Kachaan, and I know you’ll do what’s right. I know you will. You always have.
I would have followed you anywhere, you know. To the gates of hell and back.
I know that I was your best friend.
You were so much more.
I was only a sentence in your life, and I have filled libraries with my thoughts of you. And that’s okay. You were never meant to be mine. The anger I felt was so quick that I don’t remember it, because love means wanting what is best for the other person, and I was never that for you. I want you to be so happy, Kachaan. I want you to be happier than you can ever imagine.
I want you to have a happy ending, Kachaan, even if it never involves me.
You deserve to be happy.
I hope that, in some small part, I helped create that.
Go on, now. Go and live your life. Be great, be the best hero this world has ever seen.
I love you, Katsuki. ‘
Attached to the letter was a purple flower. It was beautiful.
The blonde held it in his hands like it was the most precious treasure, and he wept.