Nobody seems surprised that Izuku is staying.
Mitsuki strokes Katsuki’s hair and kisses his forehead goodnight. Katsuki bears it with surprising patience. Kirishima and Todoroki talk rosters with him before they, too, leave for the night—Kirishima to drive the older Bakugous back to their home.
Barring regular visits from the nurse-on-duty, the night is uneventful. Katsuki’s temperature is elevated, even taking into account his hotter-than-average normal. Izuku quietly spends time dabbing a cold washcloth against Katsuki’s overheated skin.
It’s an act of service that probably goes beyond personal assistance, but Izuku doesn’t mind. He’s relieved, in fact, that he’s allowed to do this; to be able to give back even a little, to this amazing man who has helped Izuku out so much, even if he never fully realizes it.
Katsuki sleeps through most of it, his body too preoccupied with healing itself, barely even grumbling when he inadvertently gets awakened by people with thermometers and other devices, poking and prodding at him.
Sometime through the night, Izuku makes use of the en suite bathroom and washes away the grime of the day. It’s been a lot to handle, and a hell of a lot more to process. That would have to wait for a later time, a different place.
He steals one of Katsuki’s shirts from the duffel bag, and curls up in the reclined armchair; clutching and half-huddled under Katsuki’s jacket.
Izuku only meant to rest his eyes for a while. And he definitely intended to change back into his own shirt before visiting hours begin. But he’d been too tired, emotionally, if not physically; and pro heroes apparently don’t operate under normal civilian hours—even injured ones—because much sooner than he expected, Izuku’s sleep is disturbed by soft voices.
“—because he’s dependent on me,” comes Katsuki’s voice, low and quiet. “And I’m not a fucking monster.”
“Well, gods know I’m not one to give advice on this. Fuyumi-neesan would laugh her head off. Maybe talk to Kirishima.”
“He’s another one who won’t shut the fuck up about it. Just leave it alone. He’s fine, we’re fine. And except for this stitch on my abdomen, I’m fucking dandy.”
“So fine you kept me away for months? Really, Bakugou? I’m hurt.”
Izuku didn’t mean to eavesdrop, really he didn’t. It was only a combination of his mind still trying to wake up and being comfortable where he was for some reason. He felt safe and warm, cocooned. It isn’t a feeling he’s used to, and he had unconsciously wanted to savor it. The voices were talking about things that didn’t concern him anyway, and seemed far off, unrelated to his warmth.
But that particular sound—the tsk of an irritated tongue striking teeth and palate, lightning-quick, like a matchstick to striker—wakes Izuku right up. Katsuki is awake and pissed about something.
Izuku opens his eyes, ears alert, assessing.
Izuku finds both men are looking at him. Todoroki is once again in hero uniform, standing by Katsuki’s bed, comfortable enough in their persons and spaces to be leaning back against it, facing Izuku.
Katsuki doesn’t seem anywhere near exploding though, and whatever Todoroki just said, Izuku has no way of knowing if he’s actually hurt.
Izuku sits up. He blinks a few times, slowly, chasing sleep cobwebs away. “Good morning,” he finally says, smiling sleepily at the two.
“Ow!” Todoroki suddenly yelps, rubbing at his side. “What are you, twelve?” he tells Katsuki.
“Stop looking,” Katsuki snaps back.
Perhaps Izuku got it wrong, and Katsuki is pissed about something. The clock says it’s before 6am. Izuku runs a self-conscious hand through his green curls and lowers Katsuki’s jacket—Katsuki’s jacket that he snuggled into overnight!—down from his chest to his lap, as if he can hide its very existence. But that just compounds the problem as it fully reveals he’s wearing Katsuki’s shirt. He adjusts the neckline so it at least covers his shoulders equally, and not drooping down one side. No one wants to be exposed to unexpected collarbones before breakfast.
He’s on the clock now, and Katsuki doesn’t pay him to be embarrassed. He folds the jacket in half as nonchalantly as he could and leaves it on the seat. Izuku waggles his fingers at Todoroki and whispers, “hello.” Todoroki nods back.
“Good morning, Kacchan. How are you feeling?” Izuku smiles at him. He stops still a good distance away from the bed, mindful of his just-awakened state, but already he can see that Katsuki is looking better. Less pale, less exhausted.
“Been better, been worse,” he replies.
“They told me you can have your choice of flavoured-jello for breakfast. Strawberry?”
“Yeah, okay.” That sounds ominously docile for Katsuki.
Izuku looks between the two men. He’d obviously interrupted something.
“I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed your shirt, Kacchan. Lemme just change back into mine, and I’ll see what I can scrounge up for your breakfast.” Izuku is slowly backing away towards the bathroom, wanting to give them time to finish their talk. “When your parents get here, I can step out and go home for a bit, pick up some clothes so I don’t have to keep stealing yours.”
Izuku can tell that Todoroki is definitely amused this time.
Katsuki just sighs. “Fine.”
“I’m assigned to the area all day, Midoriya,” Todoroki says, “I need to head out now, but when the Bakugous arrive, I can go with you.”
“Oh, no, no, Todoroki-san,” Izuku says a little desperately, waving his hands, having already been subjected to this last night, and there’s really no reason for any hero to go run errands with him. “I’ll take the train and—“
“Let him take you, Deku.” It’s Katsuki who cuts him off. Katsuki’s frowning, not looking at anyone in the room. “I’m down, just for now,” he continues. “There’s no telling what crazy is out there. Might as well let Half n Half here be useful.”
There is a pause. Izuku can recognize an olive branch when he hears one—even one so-phrased in convoluted Katsuki-speak.
Apparently, so can Todoroki. He uncrosses his arms and lightly slaps the bed by Katsuki’s hip. “I gotta go; they’re changing shifts.”
“I’ll be back to pick you up, Midoriya,” Todoroki tells him on his way to the door.
Izuku nods with resignation.
“You,” Todoroki says, turning back to Katsuki—a downed hero, in a hospital bed, ignominiously wearing a cotton gown. “Eat your jello.”
“Jackass!” Katsuki calls out to the closing door.
Izuku smiles. It seems Katsuki is feeling much better.
Katsuki has strawberry jello and apple juice. Izuku has scrambled eggs, ham, and toast from the canteen.
Katsuki eyes Izuku’s coffee. Izuku smiles at him over the rim.
They had about an hour to themselves, just the two of them, before the hospital day staff comes in, its offices open, and the deluge of visitors begin.
The conversation is a mix of things Katsuki needed done, Izuku wanted to know, and a bunch of nothings. Small things just to ease off Katsuki’s irritation at being forced to be inactive and—Izuku can tell—in pain; little things to reassure Izuku that Katsuki is fine and healing.
“I didn’t feed Bakusatsuo.”
Katsuki looks at him oddly. “Who?"
Izuku blushes, embarrassed, but doesn’t take it back.
There is a single, solitary lionfish in the massive wall-to-wall reef aquarium in Katsuki’s bedroom. He’s beautiful. Nearly a foot long with dangerous-looking spines and fins. Depending on his mood, he either looks like a fierce blood-orange and white-scaled dragon—or an unmoving statue made of oddly-colored candy cane.
He doesn’t have any companions, and he doesn’t have a name—Izuku knows this, because he asked before.
“It doesn’t need a name. It’s a fucking fish.”
Izuku was following Katsuki around, jotting things down in his Campus notebook and trying his best not to be annoying. He’d only been at the job three days. He could tell Katsuki was trying not to be annoyed—and for that, as well as the huge bump he’ll receive in his salary, Izuku would try his very best not to disappoint. He’d been warned about his new employer’s temper, his lack of patience, but Izuku can see him trying, and that’s already more than other people had done for him.
“Umm, but the cat has a name. Chibiusa, right?”
Katsuki stopped in his tracks, and Izuku almost bumped into his back. Izuku swallowed a meep and hastily took several steps back. Katsuki turned around slowly, much like Izuku imagined a mountain would move.
“The fucking cat came with a name. You think I’d fucking call a cat ‘little rabbit’?”
Izuku vehemently shook his head. “No.”
Katsuki gave him a look that Izuku would come to know very well in the coming months. Patience, the look said, if you don’t fire this stupid PA today, you don’t have to train another one for another day.
“The fish doesn’t have a name, and you don’t touch it. Not the tank, not the lights, not the water, not the fucking glass. No feeding, no cleaning. Nothing. Ever. We good, Deku?”
“Yes, Kacchan. No fish for me. Ever. Got it.” He made sure to write it in his notebook and underlined the ‘EVER’ twice.
Three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a training room, a breakfast nook, an impressive living area with panoramic view of the city, a barely-used dining area, and a chef-standards state-of-the-art kitchen. The only thing Izuku doesn’t take care of within that set of rooms, is that single fish with its own tank that takes up one whole wall of Katsuki’s master’s bedroom.
He’s read up on them, just in case. Watched Katsuki do the feedings, hovered around while the professional indoor-aquarium cleaners did their thing. Katsuki has a standing arrangement with a local fish store for feed and it gets delivered regularly—Izuku only needs to place it in its designated spot in the freezer.
The fish knows Katsuki, follows him around sometimes, on the off-chance it’s feeding day. It completely ignores Izuku.
Izuku has taken to talking to it whenever his tasks take him to Katsuki’s bedroom, calling it Bakusatsuo: from the print on Katsuki’s old t-shirt—’I am Lord Explosion Murder!’ That and the fish looks exactly like what a lord explosion murder would look like.
“Bakusatsuo,” he tells Katsuki. “You know, your fish.”
Katsuki is in the hospital bed, not so much sitting up as reclining at a severe angle. “You named my fish? I can’t believe you fucking named my fish.”
Izuku smiles. If that’s Katsuki’s only objection to it, then it’s fine. “Why? What would you have named him?”
After a pause, Katsuki glares at him. Izuku tempers his smile. The glare looks decidedly, just a smidge, on this side of a pout. The fish looks exactly like a Bakusatsuo.
“Anyway, Kacchan, I didn’t feed him.”
Katsuki waves it away. “It’ll be fine for now. Let’s wait for when the doctors say I can go home before we worry about what to do with it."
Katsuki gives Izuku a look. “How do you know it’s a him and not a her?”
“The cleaning guy told me.”
Izuku takes an imaginary sip from his empty coffee cup to hide his smile.
The early morning is an influx of pro heroes: young, veterans, and all.
Izuku would open the door, see yet another familiar face, throw a look back at Katsuki—just in case—who’d then invariably frown but nod his head the smallest possible amount. Step back, wait until the pro hero shows their get-well-soon gift to Katsuki, offer to take it from their hands, retreat and place the gift on the long table prepared for precisely such a reason. The hospital knows the kind of patients they get in this special wing.
He always offers to share the gift—they're almost always some kind of delicacy—but no one ever says ‘yes’. Izuku makes a mental note to buy their own special cakes and snacks that they can offer Katsuki’s visitors. He frets that they don’t even have any tea to provide.
Izuku leaves the cards where they are for now, still attached to the gifts, but he notes who gifted what—in the off-chance Katsuki could be prevailed upon to sign thank you cards that Izuku will prepare. Maybe Izuku can still send them unsigned if he can’t corner Katsuki on a good mood,
Izuku has taken to sitting at a seat farther in the room, away from the bed, leaving the visitor space to spend time with Katsuki without him, a stranger and a civilian, hovering. He had bowed and tried to leave the room when the first pro hero arrived, but Katsuki told him to “sit the fuck down, Deku. It’s just Iida.”
Most of them don’t stay long. Dynamight is the #1 pro hero. They’re worried about him, of course, professionally, even if not personally, but a lot of the visits are in the form of courtesy calls. They’re there because societal rules and decorum dictate that they show their concern.
Izuku wonders how many of these kinds of visits Katsuki has had to make over the years, and whether he preferred to do it alone, so he could leave at the earliest possible moment; or with someone, so he wouldn’t have to carry the conversation.
Other than Todoroki, and then Kirishima later, Iida is the only person from Katsuki’s UA class that Izuku sees that morning. Although Izuku knows that Katsuki’s phone has been buzzing with group chat messages since earlier in the day.
Kirishima arrives past mid-morning with Katsuki’s parents. Izuku had somehow expected them to arrive earlier, but they’d obviously done this whole rodeo before because they came bearing the very same special cakes and tea that Izuku had bitten his nails to the quick with anxiety at not having.
Izuku doesn’t know if they’d timed it, and if they did, how, but the elder Bakugous show up during a lull in the arrival of visitors.
“Good morning, Izu-kun.” Mitsuki gives him a hug, sure of her welcome with him at least, before she moves to offer her aggressive brand of affection to her son. Katsuki allows the hug, but not the hair petting.
Izuku can see Katsuki is tired, his energy flagging from all the morning visits, but is too awake—an unfortunate combination. His mother’s affection only makes him cranky. If Mitsuki tries a little later when he’s feeling sleepy, she’ll probably get more success. He silently wishes her luck, hiding a smile at how her angry pout is exactly like her son’s.
Izuku sets up the cake and tea for easy service when the next guests come. He looks at the chair he’d been using all morning, away from the bed, then looks at the people around the bed now, fussing at Katsuki. Izuku decides to join in the fussing. He’s becoming more and more selfish every day.
“It’s been over two hours, Kacchan. You can have some more jello, if you like.”
“Ooh! Jello,” Kirishima says.
“Hard nuts over there, comes here for the food,” Katsuki says, but nods at Izuku’s offer anyway.
Katsuki looked better when Izuku first woke up. Izuku wonders if there’s a way to tell people not to visit yet. Katsuki needs to rest, and not be the #1 hero for a few hours. Izuku has a list of things he needs to do outside the hospital—like go home to get his own clothes, and feed Katsuki’s cat. But looking at Katsuki, pale against the white pillows, something is tugging at Izuku to stay.
He’d arranged with Todoroki to go this morning, once Katsuki’s parents arrive, so Katsuki would have someone with him before Izuku leaves. Izuku wonders if it would be terribly, horribly rude if he cancels.
But as if conjured, the door opens, and Todoroki enters the room, foiling Izuku’s budding plan.
There’s a round of ‘hellos’ and ‘good mornings’ while Izuku takes his jacket from the closet. Katsuki is done with his jello. Masaru had dealt with the cup and spoon.
Katsuki has his parents here. He has Kirishima. He has an entire floor of nurses and a hospital-full of doctors at his disposal. He will be fine.
Izuku follows Todoroki to the door.
Izuku turns around, towards the bed. He waits. Katsuki is frowning at him, but isn’t saying anything else.
Izuku gives in to the tug in his chest, allowing it to entangle, wrapping around his heart like the finest, unbreakable gossamer chains.
He smiles at Katsuki. “I won’t be long, Kacchan. I promise.”
Something eases in Katsuki’s face, at the same time that Izuku's words eases something in his chest.
Katsuki nods. "Yeah, okay."
With a final wave, Izuku follows Todoroki out the door.
Izuku isn’t really worried about the cat.
He set up the automatic feeder last night, unearthed from the back of the storage closet. It had been used pre-Izuku days whenever Katsuki was in-between PAs. Izuku spends a few minutes checking on water and food levels while Todoroki snuggles her, heedless of long feline hair coating his dark uniform. With both food and companionship requirements fulfilled, Chibiusa soon lets it be known in no uncertain terms that she’s done with humans for the day and wants to be set down for her nap.
But checking on Chibiusa every day is not really a problem; Katsuki’s penthouse is in the same general area as the hospital. The more urgent errand is for Izuku to go home so he can pack a bag of his own essentials. Izuku’s apartment is on the other side of the metro in both geography and economics. It seems Katsuki would have to stay in the hospital for a few more days and going home just to shower and change would take too much time.
Izuku has always just taken the train, never having brought Katsuki’s car here before, and he isn’t even sure where they can park the car. It’s not exactly an area where people have to worry about parking spaces.
“Will you be long?” Todoroki asks him, after circling around a few times had proved fruitless.
Izuku considers. “No, I can be fast.”
The #2 pro hero, then—very illegally—stops the car along the street, near the apartment building Izuku had previously pointed out as his.
“Umm, Todoroki-san, I don’t think—”
“I’m on duty. It’s an emergency.” A slight tilt of his lips. “And the registration’s under Bakugou—they can fine him.”
Izuku shakes his head and gets out. He’s getting the feeling that these two do this to each other all the time.
“Why is that?" Izuku asks. "Why are you here feeding cats with me instead of doing,” he waves his hand vaguely, “hero stuff?”
“Bakugou is down,” he says simply.
That stops Izuku short. “Am I— Do you think I’m—Are his parents…. Is that why you’re here?”
Todoroki looks back at him. “We don’t have any specific threat made against you or his parents, if that’s what you’re asking. But Bakugou is down. You know him.” Todoroki does that thing where he appears to shrug without actually shrugging. “None of us like being vulnerable, but he takes it to a whole different level. Having someone with you right now takes the edge off his mind. In theory, at least. He’s not ever going to be happy you’re out and about while he’s laid up in bed with stitches.”
“I see,” Izuku says, despite not really understanding. “So this is like protocol for you.”
“We do it because we’re his friends,” he corrects him gently.
“Oh, that’s—.” Izuku wonders how he’s supposed to respond to that. Thanking the man would be too presumptuous: Todoroki isn’t doing it for him but for his friend. But Izuku also feels as if his chest is going to burst, so full is it of emotions he doesn’t quite know what to do with. He settles for, “thank you for caring, Todoroki-san,” blinking green eyes rapidly in an effort not to cry.
“Don’t worry about it, Midoriya. He sleeps better. And a rested Bakugou is a less cranky one. It works out well for everyone.”
Izuku has no difficulty recognizing the slight movement of Todoroki’s lips for what it is this time. He nods, swallowing a sob, turning it to a choked laugh.
Todoroki keeps his eyes out, looking around the area as they walk to the apartment building. It’s old, like the whole neighborhood, badly in need of many things that a fresh coat of paint is the least of its problems.
Izuku isn’t worried about the car—expensive-looking as it is, it will still be there whole and unscathed when they get back. The gleaming surface would probably have some fingerprints from curious people but that would be the extent of it. It’s not an unsafe neighborhood; just poor.
“Does Bakugou know you live here?” Todoroki asks as Izuku struggles with unlocking the door.
It sticks; the old lock is not aligned anymore. There is a trick to it where you have to pull the heavy door in and up at the same time while you turn the key. But it has somehow chosen today to be uncooperative and only unlocks after the fourth try. It leaves Izuku heaving at the exertion.
Izuku looks up at him, the door now unlocked but still unopened. Todoroki had asked the question in tones neutral—like he’s asking if it’s raining. Not to offer an umbrella, not judging why Izuku is out in the open when the sky is pouring. Just a polite expression and a question as placid as a mountain lake. Izuku wonders if this is hero Shouto asking.
He nods. He’s been staying in this apartment building for close to 4 years now, and it’s the address he used when he applied for the position as Katsuki’s PA. But he doubts Katsuki knows where it is exactly—and how far from his world it truly is.
Izuku smiles. “It’s not as bad as it looks, Todoroki-san. My neighbors are good people.”
And they are. They’re a bit noisy sometimes; some people probably drink more than they should, not wash as often as they should; the school children perhaps are a little less considerate than what other kids their age with two parents who have time to discipline them would be; but no one steals from anyone, and people generally try to look out for one another—probably because they know they can only rely on each other.
They all like Izuku, and he tries his best.
Izuku pushes open the door to reveal his tiny apartment. It’s clean; he can’t do much for what’s outside but Izuku takes good care of what little he has. There isn’t much to see: it’s a one-room apartment. Izuku is lucky to be able to afford this alone and have his own bathroom. At night, he pushes the low table to the side and lays the futon out for sleeping; but for now, the thin mattress is folded and stored in the closet.
Izuku would perhaps be ashamed of being poor but Todoroki Shouto is no way his social or economic equal. Leaving the fact that he’s one of the most powerful quirk-users in the country, Izuku knows from old news articles and what Katsuki has dropped over the years that Todoroki comes from a wealthy family. He’d grown up with rich parents who sent him to elite private schools and mingled with equally wealthy children and adults. Izuku’s state of living is so far away from Todoroki’s, as his quirklessness is from him being #2 pro hero. He might as well compare himself to the moon.
“Would you like some tea while I grab a few things?” Izuku’s mother was sick almost the entire time he was growing up, but she had been a very gracious woman and had imparted her values to her son.
Todoroki shakes his head. “Thank you. I’ve never patrolled in this area before. If you’re okay here, I would like to look around instead.”
“Go ahead. I’ll be a few minutes.”
Todoroki leaves him to his packing. There isn’t much to pack really; clothes are the important thing; a towel. He’d brought Katsuki’s toiletries from the penthouse so Izuku had used the personal items provided by the hospital the night before, like the soap and toothbrush.
Izuku is done and waiting outside before Todoroki returns.
He sits on the stoop. There’s a small crowd of curious people around Katsuki’s car and Izuku thinks this is perhaps not the best idea—he should have insisted on taking the train, or at least, parking farther away. He would have to field questions about this from his neighbors, none of whom know he works for #1 pro hero Dynamight.
Izuku reflects that Katsuki should have gone to one of those elite private schools as well. Except he had this idea of being a #1 pro hero with a ‘backstory’: the first one to come from a nowhere school like Uradera. He’s not a legacy hero like Shouto or Ingenium, but his parents had been well-off from their fashion business. To this day, Izuku doesn’t know how Katsuki had persuaded his parents to let him study in Uradera. How does a 7 year old strong-arm his parents into letting him have his way in something as important as schooling?
The contrast to Izuku’s younger self couldn’t have been more pronounced. He was already 13, when he learned he and his father would be moving away. He hadn’t been given a choice back then, just whisked away like part of the furniture. Except they hadn’t brought any furniture with them. They left in the middle of the night with only a bag of what they could carry. It still hurts to think about it, how he had to leave behind much of what he had left of his mother. He hadn’t understood they wouldn’t be back. He hadn’t even gotten to say goodbye to his friends—what few of them he had.
It had seemed impressive to grade-school Izuku at the time—how Katsuki has a ‘backstory’, coming from humble beginnings and rising as an explosive star. Like a real hero! Looking back now as an adult, it seems hilariously contrived. It’s a wonder the media never picked up on it. Or perhaps they did, but Katsuki’s PR team did what they are being paid to do and did damage control.
Izuku, though, would be the last person to mind it. It meant he and Katsuki got to spend their early lives together. Izuku wouldn’t trade it, even when the later years hadn’t been as good as the ones that came before.
Izuku has memories—magical, golden ones—of him playing with Katsuki as children, happy and carefree in a way he hasn’t been since. And if asked, if he has to choose, Izuku will say those handful of years are worth everything that happened to them after.
“Doesn’t that seat give you a crick in the neck?” Katsuki asks from the hospital bed. It’s his third night in the hospital, and Izuku’s, too, in the makeshift bed he made from the reclining chair.
“Did I wake you?” Izuku whispers instead.
It’s been hours since visiting hours ended. Katsuki had drifted off some time ago. Izuku is nestled in the seat under a thin blanket, his feet in clean, cozy socks. He’d turned the overhead lights low, but he’d been looking at something on his phone and he worries he woke up Katsuki with the light.
Katsuki shakes his head.
“It’s quite comfy, Kacchan,” Izuku answers the previous question. He stretches and wiggles his toes to prove the point. The hospital likely bought it for this very reason: to give people who stay overnight with patients a good place to sleep in. It wouldn’t be good for long term—his back is kinked, forced to sleep curled up—but it’s good enough for a few nights.
Katsuki doesn’t seem inclined to go back to sleep, so Izuku sets aside his phone.
“I suppose you’re glad you can go home soon,” he says, just to make conversation, keeping his voice low and soothing.
Katsuki makes a huffing sound, neither one of agreement or negation. “It won’t make much of a difference—I’d still be stuck at home.”
The doctors are optimistic about Katsuki’s recovery and, barring unforeseen emergencies, he could be discharged as early as tomorrow. He’s healing well, aided by medical quirks. But it’s sapping his stamina and he’s been put on forced recovery leave by his agency.
Izuku had been expecting, and been prepared for, a grumpy Katsuki. But while he hadn’t been a docile, model patient—that would have made Izuku really worry!—a hospital-bedridden Katsuki hadn’t been that bad. Izuku wonders if that only means his tolerance for Katsuki’s demands have reached a higher level. He can’t honestly tell.
“You seemed okay with all the visitors,” Katsuki says. “You didn’t even fanboy when Edgeshot came.”
“Har har!” Izuku says, miming sarcastic laughter, willing as always to be the brunt of Katsuki’s amusement, if it means he’s in a good mood. Then—because who else can Izuku fanboy with than someone who already knows and can’t escape?—Izuku excitedly whispers, “He looked so much cooler up close, Kacchan. He nodded at me!”
“He’s alright,” Katsuki says, in high praise for the older hero. “His strategies are sound.”
Izuku has seen and been in forced contact with pro heros through his job as Katsuki’s PA, but those were usually one or two of them spread over a few days. And even then it would mostly be the same heroes, like Kirishima or Uraraka, or the many junior pro heroes in Katsuki’s agency. The near constant flow of visitors at Katsuki’s hospital bedside, however, is on a different level. Renowned hero after even more renowned hero came to visit. Izuku offered them all cake and tea.
“I think it was the shock of seeing hero Shouto that first day. I guess if I could handle him driving for me, what’s Kamui Woods accepting a slice of cake,” Izuku says with good humor. He doesn’t say the obvious reason: that Izuku had been worried about Katsuki, and that had been at the forefront of his mind, making every hero’s appearance a non-event in comparison.
“You like Half and Half?” Katsuki asks. There’s an odd note in his voice, nonchalant in a way that seems forced, like Izuku’s answer doesn’t matter but he’d thought to throw the question out there anyway. It’s odd because Katsuki is rarely just neutral—he’s explosive for or explosive against.
“I do,” Izuku says, unsure what Katsuki wanted to hear but choosing truth over prevarication anyway. Izuku waits but Katsuki doesn’t respond, so he elaborates. “He’s very different from how he is on TV. I would never have expected him to be funny. I can see why you like him, Kacchan.”
“He’s a fucking pain in my ass,” Katsuki says, almost mumbling the words.
Izuku laughs, probably too loud in the evening’s silence but he couldn’t help it.
There must be a real rivalry there—how can there be not? They’ve been made to compete against each other since their UA days. Katsuki had edged out Todoroki from the #1 spot for the last four years: that had to sting, even if only professionally. A reminder of how his father was always second to All Might. But there is something about them that’s akin to two schoolboys, power-walking down the corridors, jostling arms, as they see who can reach the canteen first during recess.
“I’m glad you have good friends, Kacchan. They’re much better for you than the ones you had back in our school.”
Katsuki frowns at that. “We were friends.”
Izuku smiles. They were hardly friends; not really. He was just one of the many satellites that orbited the blazing star that was young Katsuki. But Izuku is happy that Katsuki now thinks of them that way—even if only through the unreliable eyes of nostalgia.
“But you know,” Izuku says, suddenly remembering something, “Shouto or no, I think I would still have fanboyed over All Might. I was hoping he’d come visit you. But I guess he’s really reclusive now, huh?”
Katsuki throws him an odd look. “He did come. The first morning. You were out with Icyhot.”
“No!” Izuku half sat up. “I missed him?” He gapes at Katsuki like one of the koi whose pond he invaded a few days ago.
Izuku plops back down on the seat, staring at the ceiling. “I missed him.” He pouts at Katsuki. “You could have said something, Kacchan. I’ve been waiting three days.”
“Who told you to keep going out with fucking Todoroki.”
Izuku sighs. He’d been hoping All Might would show up, true; but in the grand scheme of things, missing his visit isn’t important at all. Katsuki is healing well. Izuku is doing good, well-fed, well-rested, not out in the streets. He balls up the disappointment and swallows it down.
He smiles at Katsuki.
Katsuki doesn’t say anything for a long time, and Izuku allows the conversation to die away.
“All Might,” Katsuki says, breaking the silence, “he doesn’t come out often. He’s put a lot of villains in jail in his time. The less people know about where he is now, the better off he is.”
Izuku considers that. “Can’t he just...” He flicks his finger.
Anyone else would have missed it, but Izuku knows when Katsuki is choosing his words. He so rarely does it—always firing off what’s in his head at the time. “He’s given that up. He's retired.”
Izuku thinks of all the demands Katsuki’s hero job puts on him, the way he barely has any time for himself, the way he’s in the hospital now, and often enough that there’s a protocol for it. He hopes wherever All Might is right now, he has someone that takes care of him, the way Izuku does for Katsuki. Maybe even someone who cares for him, the way Izuku would want to, if he was only allowed to.
When he smiles at Katsuki this time, it’s softer, less of the brave one he puts on for tough times and more because he’s genuinely grateful for what life has given him. “Maybe I can meet him another time,” he says softly. “We can do with no more hospital visits.”
In the dimmed overhead light, they look at each other across the few feet that separate them, both of them lying down, snuggled under their own blankets. Izuku feels warm contentment fill up his chest and spill out, covering him with an unexpected peace.
“It would be good for you to come home, Kacchan. I would like that better than meeting All Might.”
Izuku doesn’t pick up his phone again. They stay quiet—Katsuki in his bed, Izuku in his recliner, listening to each other’s breathing—until Izuku himself drifts off to sleep.
Katsuki steps out from the ensuite bathroom, and Izuku can’t help but smile. Katsuki is in normal street clothes—not the hospital-issued cotton gown, not the silk pajamas that Izuku brought for him.
Izuku now knows for a fact that Katsuki fills out those pajama tops in a way that most fashion designers can only hope their models do to the clothes they design. Izuku had insisted he change into it when Katsuki began fussing about the hospital gown, sometime in the afternoon of his second day in confinement. Katsuki wanted a shirt but the pajama tops were more convenient, its buttons opening down the front, allowing the doctors and nurses easy access to his healing wound.
Izuku can’t yearn for them anymore—he now knows their luxuriously silky selves were made to grace Katsuki’s impeccable torso. He’s left hoping Katsuki will deign to wear them again for one of their breakfast meals back at the penthouse, when Izuku is not worried about his recovery and is better able to appreciate the sight he made.
But wonderful as he was filling out those pajama tops, Katsuki looks good now. Maybe still a little paler than usual, but he’s ready to go home, and Izuku thinks he looks really, really good.
“Like what you see, nerd?” Katsuki says with a smirk.
Izuku doesn’t mind the teasing. He grins back. “You look good, Kacchan,” he affirms, because he’s never had a problem feeding Katsuki’s ego—the man is amazing!—and Izuku tries not to lie. He may hesitate to disclose the full truth sometimes, but he’s learned truths are easier to keep track of than lies.
He has the camera handy. He plans to snap a few photos of Katsuki leaving the hospital to be posted on his official account: the #1 pro hero Dynamight, fully recovered and ready to go back in business.
Except he isn’t. Not really. Katsuki still needs to spend a few days at home and off the duty-roster—that was the agreement the agency brokered with the hospital. The doctors had been reluctant to let him go home so soon, but Katsuki was equally adamant to go home now. Neither party was happy with it which makes it, by nature, an excellent compromise.
Katsuki runs his hand through his hair. The soft pale strands trail longer through his fingers than usual. Izuku schedules him for an appointment every 3 weeks or so—the stylist going to him instead of him to the salon—but Katsuki barely has time for a lot of things most days, and when times get tight, it’s mundane things like haircuts that get stricken off the day’s schedule. His hair stylist gets paid either way and is used to it.
A lot of heroes, like Kirishima, have given up on regular haircuts and allows their hair to grow, simply tying it back in a man bun to get it out of the way. Katsuki, however, doesn’t like how messy it looks. Izuku tries his best to keep him happy, and it’s but a moment’s task to schedule an appointment. It’s all the reminders that take up time.
“You need a haircut,” Izuku tells him. The unexpected stay at the hospital hadn’t helped. “How about tomorrow?”
Katsuki shrugs. “Not as if there’s much for me to do at home, is there?”
Izuku nods; that was easy enough, for a change. He pulls out his phone to make the schedule.
Katsuki settles himself on one of the chairs, studiously avoiding the bed. They’re packed and ready. Someone from the agency—probably Tanaka—is dealing with the Billings Department.
Izuku is honestly surprised when the door opens and it’s one of Katsuki’s doctors. His discharge papers have all been signed already.
“All ready to go home, I see,” she says. But there is a worried, disapproving purse to her lips as she says it, without the congratulatory tones Izuku had expected.
Instead of tensing for battle, Katsuki settles back into his seat, relaxed as a man would be on a lounge chair by the beach. “Yep,” he says, popping the ‘p’.
The doctor frowns.
Izuku is confused. He’d heard the doctors weren’t happy to discharge Katsuki early, but he hadn’t been in the room when it all went down—he’d been out feeding Chibiusa, pro hero Uravity with him. He thought it had all been sorted out.
“Will you relax, sensei? I won’t be alone. Deku here will be staying with me.”
The doctor looks at Izuku. He smiles back automatically.
Her expression brightens. “Oh! Oh, well, that’s much better then. I heard you say your mother won't stay with you and it’s really not advisable for you to be alone for the next few days. Too much movement and pain will hinder your recovery. And that quirk-supplemented medication you’re taking will sap your stamina, and you could fall over.”
Katsuki snorts. “Not my first dance.”
Her expression gentles even further. “I wish you a speedy recovery, Dynamight-san. And I hope not to see you here again too soon.”
“Or ever again,” he grins at her.
She runs through the dos and don’ts with Izuku—nothing particularly difficult or problematic about it, mostly to try and keep Katsuki from exerting himself but toeing the line of needing to be moving and active a few minutes throughout the day to encourage his body to heal. He’d already heard about this from another doctor, and he has Katsuki’s dietary list in his bag, but he listens attentively anyway, nodding at the right places.
She takes her leave; Tanaka later comes in to tell them they’re good to go, and soon enough, Izuku is driving Katsuki home.
Izuku steals a glance at Katsuki beside him on the passenger seat. He has his eyes closed; asleep or not, Izuku can’t tell. He’d refused to be wheeled—no one actually expected him to agree—but the long walk to the car had obviously strained him. Izuku doubts he can urge him to bed when he gets him home, but perhaps he’d consent to lie down on the couch. Izuku can put a Silver Age documentary on.
His thoughts prove to be true. Katsuki actually tries to grab the duffel bag full of clothes on their way up. Izuku manages to hold off rolling his eyes and adroitly evades Katsuki’s grasping hand. He hands him the camera bag instead.
Upon getting inside, Izuku knows better than to ask if Katsuki wanted to rest. “I’m gonna get some work done, Kacchan. You in the mood to eat anything yet?”
Katsuki shakes his head. He’s standing in the middle of the living room. It’s not quite noon. Bed is out of the question.
“You mind if I put All Might on?” Izuku asks, but he already has the remote in his hand, pointed at the wide TV in front of the couch.
“All Might’s fine.” Katsuki sits down on the sofa and faces the TV.
Izuku keeps the sound low—he knows Katsuki has seen this film before, many times. He leaves the room to take care of the laundry. When he next peeks in, Katsuki is lying on the sofa, fast asleep.
Two hours later, Izuku sets a tray on the low table in front of the couch. The congee is covered and will keep warm for a while. Katsuki is still asleep.
Izuku stays kneeling on the floor. He borrows a few moments from life and looks at Katsuki. Izuku hasn’t really processed yet what Todoroki had told him: that not a lot of pro heroes have families; that labels aren’t important; that Katsuki wants him there. Katsuki’s personality is more explosive than abrasive these days. Izuku hadn’t lied to Mitsuki—Katsuki has grown a long way since they were kids. He’s rich, popular, and he’s very attractive. Granted he’s busy saving this part of the world but he could have anyone he wants, really.
It seems a shame that he only has Izuku to take care of him.
“Stop fucking staring at me, Deku,” Katsuki says, without heat and without opening his eyes.
Izuku feels a blush rising up his face, all the way to the roots of his hair.
“How do you know I’m looking?” he says anyway, trying to wriggle away from being caught red-handed, as it were. “How do you even know I’m here in the first place?”
Katsuki opens his eyes. They’re mellow from sleep but the red depths are clear. “Of course, you’re there. You’re never far away. Always just there.”
Izuku bites his lip. That didn’t sound like a complaint. He decides to take it as it is: a fact. It’s not like he can deny it.
“Where else would I be, Kacchan?” he says.
It was rhetorical but really, Izuku had been in a lot of places throughout his life—many of them not pleasant. Here by Katsuki's side is not the worst place to be, not by a long shot. His 5 year old self would approve.
“C’mon, have some congee,” Izuku urges with a smile.
Katsuki’s eyes flick to the tray. There’s only one bowl and one soup spoon. They settle back on Izuku.
Izuku’s smile widens. “Sit up. I’m gonna get a bowl for me.”
They eat slowly; the congee is thick and hot. Katsuki doesn’t finish his; Izuku doesn’t push. Katsuki is a grown man and his employer, perfectly capable of telling when he’s had enough to eat.
Instead of staying at his usual station on the kitchen island, Izuku brings the laptop to the low table, now cleared of soup bowls. He picks another old movie for the TV and keeps the sound low. He works through Katsuki’s emails: people sending him get-well-soon wishes, people who need reassurance that their #1 hero is still on the job.
Katsuki stretches out on the sofa. He sleeps.
Just as Izuku is beginning to worry that Katsuki would sleep too long and end up lying awake all night, Katsuki wakes up. He gets up to feed Bakusatsuo.
Izuku takes this as his cue to get up off the floor and head back to the kitchen. He fires off a few more emails, checks Dynamight’s social media. When he looks to see what happened to Katsuki, he hears the sound of the shower running in the master's bedroom.
Izuku starts on dinner instead. Something light. Tomorrow, the groceries he ordered will be delivered, and he can cook something heavier. Katsuki doesn’t seem to be in the mood for much food anyway. He makes enough for two, knowing Katsuki would want Izuku to eat with him, even if he never says so directly.
There’s still congee leftover from lunch. Izuku plans to stick that in the fridge for Katsuki to heat up should he feel hungry during the night.
The sun is only just going down, and it’s still light outside, but Katsuki shows up already in pajama bottoms and—to Izuku’s disappointment—one of his old cotton shirts.
“Which room are you taking, Deku?” Katsuki asks, toweling his damp hair. It looks even longer now that it’s not up and spiked all over his face.
“What room?” Izuku asks, straightening up from checking the crisper drawer. Their unexpected stay at the hospital did a number on the vegetables.
“Maybe take the one nearest mine.” Katsuki has settled himself on one of the stools.
Izuku looks at Katsuki, trying to understand the conversation. “Did you want me to stay overnight?”
Katsuki scowls. “I told the doctor, didn’t I?”
Izuku ignores the churning pit that has opened in his stomach. Katsuki looks about two seconds from his ‘fine, see if I care, stupid Deku’ mood. It’s something that hasn’t happened in a while and Izuku would like to keep it that way.
“You did, Kacchan. I heard,” he offers. “I just didn’t think you meant it. My bad.” He smiles softly in apology.
And he really hadn’t. Izuku thought Katsuki said it to make a clean get-away from the hospital. It’s not the first time Katsuki said or did something only to do what he wants after.
He never would have thought Katsuki would be willing to let him stay over at his home. It was different at the hospital—whether he admitted it or not, Katsuki needed care, and people went in and out all the time. The penthouse is his private place, and while Izuku spends a lot of hours here almost everyday, Katsuki isn’t there for most of it—Izuku goes home before Katsuki gets back.
Well, if Izuku is staying over for the night, he needs clean clothes. His mind is running, studiously ignoring other things: better do his laundry now so they’ll be dry after dinner. He wipes his hands on the washcloth, a more nervous act than he intended to display.
He goes around the kitchen island, intending to get his bag of clothes, but Katsuki’s voice stops him.
“Hey, you don’t have to, if you don’t want to.”
That makes Izuku turn around.
“I just thought, you’re tired. I know I’m fucking tired. You don’t have to take the train twice in one day if you’re just heading here anyway. It’s a big place; I’ve got room. You won't need to wake up at 5.”
As much as the situation makes Izuku’s insides churn, he hates the uncertain look in Katsuki’s eyes even more. Katsuki should never look that way—especially not because of Izuku.
Izuku smiles, pushing his doubts away. “You’re off-duty,” he tells him, keeping his tone light and teasing. “I don’t have to wake up at 5 anyway.”
The look eases in Katsuki eyes, his shoulders relax an infinitesimal amount but Izuku knows him very, very well and notes it.
“Yeah, well, the doctor said I could fucking fall over,” Katsuki says with his normal smirk.
Izuku laughs. “You could, but then you’re gonna have to stay where you fell. How am I supposed to pick you up when you’re that big.”
“You don’t have to pick me up, Deku. Just… stick around.”
Izuku smiles and braves a light touch on Katsuki’s arm, just above his elbow. Katsuki’s skin is warm under his fingers. “I always am, Kacchan.”
He was right: the brief contact served to reassure them both.
"Fucking annoying too," Katsuki says, the tone too soft for the words.
Izuku leaves the kitchen. His yellow backpack is on its usual place by the table in the foyer. He tries not to litter Katsuki’s home with his presence, leaving as little of his person’s footprints as possible, keeping it as pristine and devoid of anything remotely ‘Deku’ when he leaves as when he arrived.
That seems to be changing now. Katsuki wants him here, and Izuku is not strong enough to deny him. But this is very dangerous territory. His stomach is starting to rile up again.
He’d been very careful to keep that distance; that invisible yet very real line between their two lives. Katsuki is #1 pro hero and Izuku is his employee, paid to take care of his needs. He’s not paid to care—even though, the gods help him, Izuku does. Too much.
Izuku picks up the yellow backpack. He passes the master’s bedroom, the one place on this huge place where Katsuki’s sweet-smokey scent lingers the most. Izuku heads to the bedroom beside it.
It’s too late to hope he’s not making a mistake. He can only hope, after all the dust settles, it won’t be one that leaves him too devastated.