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Let Me Assist You Personally

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One thing that most normal people don’t realize is how much V.I.P.s simply don’t have enough hours in their days. Big name celebrities, CEOs of conglomerates, high rank pro heroes: they all have, very literally, better things to do than stand around and wait for things to happen.

That’s what they pay other people for: to do the waiting for them. And the running, the lining up, the picking up, the ordering, the paying, all the little tos-and-fros that regular people need to do to get through their day.

Katsuki wakes up and his coffee is waiting for him, nice and hot, breakfast already prepared. Low carb, high protein, no dairy, fruits for dessert. He reads through hero bulletins of the evening shift while eating, and pours himself a second cup of coffee that is also ready for him.

He manages to take a shower by himself with no help, but his body wash (hypo-allergenic), shampoo and conditioner (for his surprisingly soft delicate hair), shaving foam, aftershave and razor all get replenished like clockwork before they can even run low.

He picks his own clothes to wear—he’s quite particular about that—but they get laundered, ironed, folded and hung according to kind, then color, in his impressively large walk-in closet without him having to lift a finger. His leather shoes are always polished, even if he doesn’t wear them often, preferring combat boots for work days and sometimes sneakers on the weekends.

His watches, some of them worth more than most of the cars plying the streets, are all sent to be cleaned regularly by professionals and are sitting prettily in their glass display cases. He also rarely wears them as they’re useless in a fight, and he has a hero-issued wrist device that’s a combined communicator/GPS tracker/and bio-monitor, but he’s being paid handsomely to wear them on his days off and non-hero uniformed events. One of his most talked about billboard ads has him wet from being in the ocean, conspicuously wearing a diver’s watch and not much else. Why was he not wearing a diving suit and gear?—probably not that many people asked.

Katsuki used to exit the elevator at the garage level and have the car already running and waiting for him. But he’s done away with a driver almost two years ago, and these days, Katsuki enters the elevators with familiar, cheerful prattling in the air, and he walks to the car with Izuku beside him hurrying along on his much shorter legs.

There’s a driveway by the building lobby where cars can pick up and drop off residents of this expensive, exclusive high rise, but there is less chance of enterprising paparazzi in the secure-gated parking garage. Any other VIP would normally have a personal security or four but that, of course, is ridiculous for someone like Katsuki—Japan’s #1 ranked hero 4 years running.

Izuku drives. They avoid rush hour traffic by being early but it still takes 20 minutes to get to the hero agency. He gauges Katsuki’s mood. Sometimes Izuku talks, most times he leaves him to his calls. The sun is already up and everyone in his team and staff know hero Dynamight is already on the move, and they all have their phones in hand, ready. No one wants to be the one he calls and not be able to press that ‘accept call’ button in time.

Izuku drops him off at the front doors of his hero agency with a “Be safe, Kacchan!”, where someone young and equally low in the totem pole as Izuku is already waiting for him—to open doors, push elevator buttons, brief him on the way up, take him to his office or conference room or wherever he needs to be. Katsuki’s doing hero work now, and that’s not Izuku’s purview.

Izuku is driving a car that he’ll never be able to afford in his lifetime. He’d had a near panic attack when he was first told to get behind its wheel and drive, but it’s been two years and he’s used to it now. There was a throwaway comment of ‘look into buying a new car, will you?’ last week that has Izuku feeling nervous but excited at the same time.

Price of the car and it’s drool-worthy aesthetics aside, Izuku just uses it for errands. He drops off and picks up Katsuki’s dry-clean-only laundry. Then to the grocer for fresh ingredients, as well as food for the cat—incongruously named Chibiusa—and a big pack of kitty litter.

Izuku stops by the lobby to pick up Katsuki’s personal mails—all fan and work-related ones are addressed to the agency. He gets back to Katsuki’s house just in time to let the twice-a-week cleaning service in. There’s not much for them to do honestly: dust surfaces, vacuum all the cat hairs, clean the bathrooms, change the sheets of the only bed actually in use in the entire multi-roomed penthouse—there are no kids, Chibiusa would rather die than pee or poop anywhere other than her litter box, and Katsuki is a neat person.

Izuku usually helps in between cleaning days, picking up clothes and other items that are hastily strewn about, not so much because Katsuki is lazy or a slob, but because he’s often in a hurry. Izuku cooks and he does the dishes as he goes along. The cleaning staff does the laundry and any ironing that needs to be done, but Deku folds everything else, doing a particular style of creasing that Katsuki prefers, and stacks them all neatly in the walk-in closet.

He consults his notes and cooks a low carb, high protein, no shellfish meal; bakes a batch of macadamia chocolate chip cookies and packs just a single one with the rest of the meal.

He keeps the TV on the news and his phone with him the entire time. Pro hero Dynamight is spotted with another pro hero in downtown Roppongi, and Izuku actually sees him on TV calling someone when his own phone rings.

‘My Boss’ flashes on the phone display.

“Hi, Kacchan.”

“The old hag is up my ass wanting me to come visit again,” Katsuki launches directly, without even a ‘hello’. “The dinner tonight. I can’t make it, something came up. Take care of it, will you?”


“What?,” Katsuki asks, even though Izuku knows he heard him from the red he can see on TV creeping up his ears.

“It wouldn’t hurt you to say ‘please’ every now and then, you know.”

Katsuki groans; his image on TV rubs his face with his free hand. Izuku almost pats himself on the back and settles for a smile: he’d judged his mood correctly.

“Don’t fucking sass me right now, Deku. I’m up to my eyeballs in this shit.”

“Bad?” Izuku rarely asks; that’s not his job. What is part of his job is to keep Katsuki’s life as even-keeled as possible. And sometimes, that meant letting the air out of the balloon so it doesn’t blow up with the pressure.

“Not—not bad. Just a lot of extra work because someone got stupid.”

That meant no casualties, no active threat. Katsuki goes full don’t-fucking-mess-with-me hero mode when that happens. Especially when there are kids involved. Probably just more meetings and paperwork. He hates those, considers most of them a waste of his time.

“Okay, Kacchan. Should I send flowers over?”

Hero Dynamight on TV scowls at a small group of fans, but takes the marker anyway and begins signing, keeping his phone between ear and shoulder. While he’d ignore a huge crowd—making people call him arrogant and uptight, but conversely keeping his autographs much sought after—he’d sometimes stop for a few. Personally, Izuku thinks he doesn’t like having to sign only a few, and because he really doesn’t have time, leaving the rest disappointed.

“Ah, hell. Why not! She knows it’s from you anyway.”

“She knows I always ask you first. So it is from you. I just place the order.”

“Yeah, yeah, nerd. Get her some. And tell them we’ll try to visit next week. I gotta go.” He had finished signing things.

“Be safe, Kacchan.”

“Later.” And the line is cut.

Izuku’s next call is not to Bakugou Mitsuki but to Katsuki’s Administrative Assistant. While Izuku is being paid to make Katsuki’s personal life as kink-free as possible, his AA is Izuku’s counterpart, tasked to keep Katsuki’s schedule straight and his work life as smooth-running as possible. Everyone and their mothers want a piece of Japan’s #1 pro hero.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy dealing with the volatile hero Dynamight and this is the fifth one Izuku has met in the two years he’s been working for Katsuki. It had become so bad at one point that Izuku has already taken over some of the things his AA is supposed to be doing. Izuku is now managing hero Dynamight’s professional social media accounts, answering his public emails, and dealing with his Public Relations team. It’s the part of his hero work that Katsuki hates the most and where his temper is usually at its shortest.

Izuku reads Dynamight’s endorsement contracts now and all requests for appearances, and then summarizes them for Katsuki, telling him which ones he thinks he should accept. He doesn’t always listen, but sometimes, when Izuku catches him in a rare good mood, Izuku can miraculously get him to agree. He always pushes for special campaigns like anti-bullying and school visits. He knows Katsuki enjoys those anyway but would never admit it.

“Hello, Tanaka-san!” Izuku chirps when the AA answers. “I was wondering where I could bring the boss’s lunch today.” Izuku didn’t ask Katsuki earlier where he’d be for lunch because it’s not Katsuki’s job to tell him that. It’s on Izuku to find out.

The hero agency knows, down to the meter, where all their heroes-on-duty are, and their status is constantly updated as to schedule changes. Izuku doesn’t have access to that information but he’s on file as allowed to know certain things about the #1 pro hero.

“He’s out at the moment but should be back here at the agency in forty minutes.” Izuku didn’t need to know the who, what and why; he just needed the where and what time exactly.

“Great! Thanks. I’ll be leaving from his house now and be there in thirty. Text me if there are changes, and I’ll divert.”

Izuku grabs the bento, neatly wrapped in subdued-colored furoshiki, and calls Mitsuki while driving. He drives this car so often it’s his work phone that automatically connects to the bluetooth instead of Katsuki’s.

“You’re calling. This can’t be good news,” Mitsuki says. Izuku wonders if they realize mother and son have the same habit of not greeting first in phone calls.

“Hello, Aunt Mitsuki. Yeah, unfortunately, Kacchan asked me to call and cancel dinner. He said something came up.”

He hears Mitsuki sigh. That phrase at least means that it’s work. Katsuki is not blowing off his parents to get drunk with his friends or go on a date. Although Izuku suspects his parents wouldn’t be opposed to some news that their only son is actually seeing someone. From what Izuku knows—and if there’s anyone who’d know, he would—there’s no one.

“He asked me to send you flowers.”

Mitsuki snorts this time. “He never used to send me anything until you came along, Izu-kun.”

Izuku grins, knowing it would be heard in his voice. “He also said he’s sorry for cancelling.”

Mitsuki laughed at that one. “He absolutely did not!”

Izuku laughs with her. “He didn’t. But you know he is.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“We’ll try to come next week. I’ll call again when his schedule is more fixed.”

“Okay. How is he?”

Izuku thinks about that. “He’s… good.” He doesn’t want to give particulars as that would be disloyal to the one who signs his paychecks, but a little reassurance to his parents would go a long way. “He’s really good these days.”

“Thank you for taking good care of him, Izu-kun. I know he can be a handful.”

Izuku couldn’t honestly say ‘it’s my pleasure’ so he settles for “Kacchan’s not that bad. He’s changed a lot from when we were kids. In good ways.”

“Okay, I need to go tell Masaru the bad news now. The poor man is already in the kitchen marinating stuff. I’ll see you boys next week.”

“Bye, Aunt Mitsuki.”

“Oh, Izu-kun?”


“I think some white lilies would be nice this time of year.”

Izuku smiles. “I think white lilies would be perfect.”

They know Izuku in the agency even if he’s not employed there. He has his own pass, dangling on an All Might lanyard around his neck. It wont give him access to all the floors of the building but more than a visitor’s pass would provide.

Basically, it gives Izuku access to all places hero Dynamight could potentially be—all the public places, of course, like the commissary and coffee shop, but also the full gym on the 8th floor, the locker areas, Katsuki’s office up top, offices of other heroes he works closely with, briefing rooms, and the truly calming zen garden up on the roof. Katsuki would sometimes stand there, when he could catch a few minutes free here and there. Not that he’s ever truly calm—his silences are more like calm before the storm—but every little bit helps.

“Hello, Midoriya.”

Izuku smiles at the uniformed guard as he scans his ID pass. He smiles at the receptionist, everyone else in the lobby, and all those with him in the elevator. He doesn’t miss the elbow-nudging and the eyes staring at him in awe. He is something of a living legend here.

They think he’s somehow tamed the beast. No other PA has ever lasted more than a few months working for Bakugou Katsuki, much less the two years he’s been with him.

But he hasn’t; not really. He needs this job. Mitsuki is right: Katsuki is a handful. If anything, she’d downplayed it. Izuku has just learned to let it all slide off his skin—like water off a duck’s back. He’s received so many stings and zingers, he tells himself he’s become immune to it. It’s either that or quit. And he can’t quit.

‘Kill them with kindness’, his mom had told him once. If that were true, Bakugou Katsuki would be stone cold dead by now.

Izuku heads straight to the top floor where Dynamight’s offices are.

He stops by Tanaka’s desk and hands him a brightly-colored sack of fresh baked cookies with a ‘good luck, you can do this’ thumbs up sign. People from the other desks are already converging on Tanaka—who’s hugging the sack close to his chest—by the time Izuku pushes open the heavy door to Katsuki’s office.

It’s pretty big. Right by the wall-to-wall view of the Tokyo skyline, there’s Katsuki’s steel-and-glass desk that dominates the far end of the room, with two uncomfortable-looking chairs in front for those unlucky enough to be called to this office. By the truly intimidating shelf of plaques and awards, there’s a small round table that seats four; it doubles as a conference table for quick meetings with ‘the boss’. There’s also a wide-display TV on one wall to check the news, reports, and do multi-party video calls.

And then there’s the ante-room, with an expensive but really quite comfortable couch and low table, that someone optimistically designed for when Dynamight might want to entertain visitors. As far as Izuku can tell, the only use the couch has ever seen is Katsuki eating the lunches that he brings.

He first texts Katsuki that he’s in his office with his lunch ready and waiting—it won’t be good if Katsuki unknowingly heads up here with others in tow, intending to have a meeting. Or worse, bellowing at people asking where the fuck his lunch is.

Then he arranges a large bento and chopsticks on one side of the low table, and another smaller bento on the other end with his own chopsticks.

There’s a commissary in the building that serves pretty good food. Most meetings and events also provide meals for their pro hero guests. Katsuki always has someone prepare his meals separately anyway. It’s not technically a secret—the chefs at the second floor canteen know about it, for example, and some of his friends and colleagues know to varying degrees—but it’s certainly not public knowledge.

Katsuki has a lot of food allergies. Eggs; all kinds of crustaceans and shellfish; and certain kinds of fish like anchovies (which is used a lot in sauces and salad dressings!)— all of which rule out oyster sauce, fish sauce, and mayonnaise. And finally—unfortunately for him as it’s prevalent in Japanese cuisine—soy sauce. It’s not so bad that it’d kill him, but his delicate skin comes out in a mild form of hives, and he would need antihistamines. He hates itching under his hero uniform.

That’s restrictive enough, but he also has hyperacidity and acid reflux from all the stress, and he’s medically advised to avoid tomatoes, citrus, deep fried foods, and spicy foods. That last one is a struggle, and he also still stubbornly drinks his coffee in the mornings. He takes medicine for it, which helps, but his doctor keeps telling him it requires a lifestyle change; Katsuki retorts with ‘find me a pro hero who isn’t stressed and I’ll show you someone who’s not really a pro hero’ and that’s usually the end of that.

And as if all that isn’t enough—Katsuki is terribly lactose-intolerant. He cannot tolerate dairy of any kind. Not butter, not cheese, and certainly not milk. And while Katsuki absolutely hates itching, he’d take it over the bloating and gas, and the potential runs while he’s out on patrol.

All of which is to say that Katsuki is severely limited in what he can eat. It’s doubly complicated because he needs to eat a lot to keep his pro hero bulk.

Izuku had despaired over this issue the most, as Katsuki’s PA. There used to be a private chef, just as there had been a personal driver, but she’d quit just as Izuku was hired, and he had to take over preparing Katsuki’s meals. He had pored over cookbooks and recipes, had stalked food blogs. He met with chefs, dieticians, and nutritionists—on Katsuki’s dime—all to get a working idea on how he can feed Katsuki without potentially poisoning him, and inadvertently causing his own maiming and death.

Or worse, his firing.

It had been a few months of trial and error—Katsuki had not been patient, but neither had he been too excoriating with his comments, which Izuku counts as a definite win—but they have a system now. Izuku’s cooked meals are turning out pretty good these days, as witnessed by Katsuki eating them without saying anything anymore.

Dynamight’s arrival is heralded by commotion from the outside, everyone snapping to attention, trying to look both ready and somehow still busy at the same time. That and surreptitiously ogling the man.

Bakugou Katsuki is a very attractive man. The gods went overboard on the day they designed him. You can’t be faulted if you are to call him beautiful—those lips, almost always quirked into a smirk, or a scowl, are positively sinful, and his eyelashes are wasted on someone who would never flutter them to get his way—but there is nothing effeminate about him. His cheekbones, the cut of his jaw, the lines of his body, the way he carries himself—he’s a grade-A alpha male and even half-blind great grandmothers can sense it.

He stops at Tanaka’s desk to say something, his eyes having already flicked through the open door of his office and seen Izuku waiting inside. Izuku had done a quick wave which, of course, Katsuki didn’t acknowledge. Izuku fusses with the bento placement but everything is already perfect; even someone with OCD would approve.

Katsuki comes in and shuts the door behind him, effectively cutting off all sounds from the outside. Sensitive information are often discussed inside this room. If his AA needs him, he will knock or use the intercom system.

“Hi, Kacchan!”

Katsuki grunts in reply. He slips off the across-the-body bag, drops it on the floor, and settles down on the couch in a graceless thump. A tired, savoring groan leaves his lips as his body conforms to the couch. It really is comfortable. Izuku feels a twinge of sympathy for him—the day isn’t even half over and he looks ready to fall asleep right then and there from exhaustion.

He doesn’t ask if Izuku was able to call his mom and cancel dinner; he knows Izuku did. He doesn’t ask if Izuku has done all the other tasks he is supposed to do. Nor did Izuku report what he’s done so far. Those are the exact details that Katsuki is paying him to take care of so he doesn’t have to think about it. Katsuki expects his PAs to do things as they are supposed to be done. So far, Izuku seems to be the only one who’d been able to do them perfectly.

Katsuki finally straightens from his slump and reaches for his chopsticks and bento. Izuku takes that as his cue to reach for his as well. Katsuki’s chopsticks is a deceptively simple brownish-black pair. Like all his other things, it’s hand-crafted and expensive—this particular pair of chopsticks took two months to make, with 20 layers of lacquer, each one applied then sanded almost all away, over and over, until you get that perfect elegant finish. Izuku’s is a pair in All Might Silver Age theme.

Izuku hadn’t always eaten with Katsuki. He used to only prepare his meals, set the table for him, then make himself scarce while still being within hollering range should Katsuki need him. He used to use the time Katsuki ate breakfast doing small tasks, like feed Chibiusa and make Katsuki’s bed, then clear the table and wash the dishes when Katsuki took his shower.

One morning, a few months after he started, Katsuki had come out to the breakfast nook, looking his usual sleep-rumpled self, pajama bottoms riding low on his hips. Izuku had sorted and folded Katsuki’s pajama bottoms hundreds of times by then, but he had yet to see if the matching tops even saw any action. They all stay perfectly folded, their 100% Italian silk selves languishing in a drawer. Seeing watches that cost more than his annual rent everyday didn’t even make Izuku blink. But he’d been sorely tempted to liberate the pajama tops a time or two for his own use—surely Kacchan won’t miss what he doesn’t use, right? Right??

Izuku had just been setting the fresh pot of coffee on the table, Katsuki’s meal already laid out.

“Morning, Kacchan.”

He has learned to tone down the exclamation points until at least after Katsuki has had his first cup of coffee. Izuku is not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s usually been awake an hour and half by the time Katsuki comes out for breakfast, and has already had his second, if not third, cup of coffee.

Katsuki frowned at him, worse than usual, making Izuku’s smile falter a bit. He’d only been working for Katsuki a few months and there were still many landmines he wasn’t familiar with.

“I hate people hovering when I eat.”

Which was… fair. Izuku would hate that too. Except he didn’t hover. He left the man to enjoy his breakfast while he did what he could tidying up the penthouse. Before Izuku could scramble for an explanation, an excuse, or drop to his knees and beg for another chance, Katsuki had pulled the rug from under him.

“Grab a plate and sit the fuck down.”

Izuku hurried to comply. He eyed the spread—and not the topless man sitting a few feet away from him. He had learned to keep his eyes averted during pre-breakfast encounters the hard way. Morning wood is a thing—telling Izuku his employer’s cardio-vascular functions are all A-OK—and silk trousers do not leave much to the imagination. But now it had the added dimension of Katsuki sitting there, eating—all pecs, biceps, and sleepy bedroom eyes.

The good thing was that there had been a lot of food to focus on: Katsuki eats like the big man he is. But Izuku had prepared this with Katsuki’s exact nutritional needs in mind. He filled his plate with the barest minimum, making a mental note to increase Katsuki’s lunch portions to compensate. They ate in silence. Izuku nibbled on his coconut oil-almond milk-unsweetened applesauce pancake, confused but grateful for the small meal—he hadn’t had time to eat yet in his rush to get to Katsuki’s place. He usually grabbed a curry or melon bread during one of his errands.

Izuku stuck to drinking water, mostly because he’s already had a cup of coffee at home and another from a vending machine at the train station, but also because he only prepared exactly what Katsuki needed—one cup for during the meal, and another to sip while he pored over the rest of the reports.

Izuku, in between slices of bananas, had wondered how many people in the Greater Tokyo Area would kill to be in his literal seat right then, and briefly toyed with the idea of doing a raffle for it—it would likely solve all his money problems in one fell swoop!—but then wisely remembered his Non-Disclosure Agreement. That, and Katsuki’s explosive fists.

Make sure you bring your own bento later so you don’t piss me off standing around. And grab whatever the fuck you drink when you next do the grocery—milk or tea or whatever,” Katsuki told Izuku over his shoulder, on his way back to the bedroom for his shower.

It had left Izuku open-mouthed, staring at his employer's hard, beautifully ripped, and currently retreating back. Apparently, he’s supposed to join him for two meals a day now. It was a good thing his cooking has already improved considerably.

A week after that, Katsuki showed up for breakfast wearing an old UA shirt, now tight across his chest. Izuku almost dropped the plate of fruits in his shock. He still doesn’t touch the silk pajama tops—Izuku can still dream—but he doesn’t appear for breakfast shirtless anymore. Izuku is both grateful and disappointed.

Lunch that day is gorgeous slices of tuna, so expensive Izuku had to take a deep breath before clicking ‘BUY’. Eggplants as a side dish are generally glazed with miso or seasoned with a soy sauce mixture—both of which Katsuki can’t eat—and Izuku has had to be creative in preparing the vegetable.

Izuku can’t help the moan that leaves him as he savors the tuna practically melting on his tongue. He opens his eyes to see Katsuki looking at him, his chopsticks raised halfway, an odd look on his face.

“Sorry,” Izuku mumbles. But if he ends up embarrassed every time he’s made a fool of himself in front of Katsuki, he’d be forever the shade of a tomato, so he simply shrugs.

He talks to cover his faux pas, but in soft tones, because he can see Katsuki needs the down time. He keeps the conversation slow and undemanding, Katsuki nods or quirks his lips a few times, showing he hasn’t tuned Izuku out yet. He does that sometimes, his mind focused on something—Izuku just trails off when that happens, leaving him to his thoughts. But today, Katsuki seems to want the distraction of Izuku’s mundane prattling. Low-stakes, no-risk, every day topics.

He finishes his bento clean. Katsuki beside him is eating the cookie he made for him this morning. His own bento, double the size of Izuku’s, is also empty.

Izuku looks ruefully down at his tummy. He’s always been thin—scrawny even. Working two, sometimes three jobs, over the years didn’t help. But two good meals a day with Katsuki finally seems to be doing what years of convenience store-bought food haven’t been able to do: fatten Izuku up.

“What?” Katsuki asks.

Izuku looks up at him, smile still rueful. “I think I’m gonna need to buy new clothes at the rate I’m going.” He gestures to his full belly.

Katsuki instead looks him up and down. “You could do the world a favor and burn those clothes.”

Izuku’s cheeks pinken. “Sorry, I’ll try to look more presentable.”

He doesn’t go to any meetings but perhaps Izuku does represent hero Dynamight wherever he goes. He’s always in jeans, but he typically tries to stick to collared shirts, some short-sleeved button-ups. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have that many to rotate and they’re showing the wear of years. Perhaps it really is time to go buy some, he thinks with a cringe at how much that would cost.

Katsuki frowns at that, bordering on a scowl. “I couldn’t care less how you appear. Do the fuck you want. You think I’d be in uniform all the time if I didn’t need to be?” He flicks the edge of Izuku’s collar, the movement making his upturned finger look like a ‘come here’ gesture. “Get your clothes from one of my old man's shops.”

Izuku’s eyes are about to bug out. Bakugou Designs is a hell of an expensive brand. Given the choice, Izuku would rather make rent than buy clothes.

“T’ch. I’m not telling you to get a 10 million yen kimono. They got the Bakushinchi brand. All streetwear. Tell them you work for me and they’ll give you an employee’s discount.”

“But I don’t work for them?” Izuku says, a bit stupidly, now that he thinks about it. “Ahh, you mean, I’m yours.”

Katsuki holds his gaze. He does a slow, audible inhale, his nose flaring. “Yeah, that.” Then he smirks, red eyes lighting up with rare humor. “Go to any branch, tell them…. Tell them you’re mine, and they’ll give you 80 percent discount.”

“Eighty! Really?”

“Sure, why not,” Katsuki says, with a shrug, still amused.

“Oh, wow. That’s really great! I’m gonna go get a few shirts. Thanks, Kacchan!”

Katsuki leans back on the couch, half-turned to face Izuku, red eyes fixed on him. “No problem, nerd. Knock yourself out.”

“Oh, wow,” Izuku repeats, practically bouncing on his seat. He can’t remember the last time he went shopping for himself. Sometimes, working for Bakugou Katsuki really does have its perks.

“Do you need me for anything?” Izuku asks, as he’s packing away the used bento.

Instead of answering, Katsuki gets up from the couch and tosses over a couple of folders he got from a pile on his desk. Izuku is familiar with them. If not the actual content, then a broad idea of what it would be. The folders are beautifully designed things: one bright and colorful, the other luxuriously elegant, all with logos and taglines he’s sure the companies paid someone handsomely to create.

Izuku settles himself on the meeting table. They’re endorsement proposals. The hero agency has a lawyer on retainer for this, to make sure it’s not damaging to the agency’s vision and reputation. They also have a PR team for the whole cadre of heroes under their wing—Dynamight being the brightest star. The PR team sometimes clashes, sometimes joins forces, with the outside marketing agency who represents Katsuki. All this on top of Katsuki’s personal lawyer from a distinguished old firm that’s been in charge of looking after the Bakugou family’s legal concerns for years. Like it or not, pro hero Dynamight is a brand; and he’s one of the biggest names currently out there.

It used to be that proposals were screened before they even got to Katsuki. He likes it that way. It’s Izuku's big mouth that had landed him in this mess over a year ago.

“But if you never see all of them, how do you know they’re not turning down things you’d probably have fun doing? And doing it in your name, too!”

Katsuki scoffed. “What on earth do you think I’d want to do? I wanna get away from all this crap as much as I can.”

Izuku hummed, looking down on his bento. “Remember when we were kids? Crimson Riot went to our school? He was only beginning then, I think he just broke Top 20. But he spent an hour with us, we were all sitting on the gym floor and he answered questions, and that—that was pretty nice. It’s one of my best memories in grade school.”

Katsuki paused, clearly thinking of the same memory. They’d been in third grade, just as school started. Katsuki already had Explosion and was one of the most popular boys in school. Izuku, of course, had always been quirkless.

“You always did like heroes, even back then,” Katsuki said.

Izuku smiled. “I always had you in front of me, Kacchan.” That earned him a startled glance, and it made his smile widen, amused at the reaction—as if Katsuki hadn’t known how much Izuku admired him, even when they were kids. He had never hidden it. “I imagine other kids would love to have you in front of them, too. Don’t you get invites from schools? Uradera was such a nowhere school but even we got some heroes every now and then.”

Katsuki frowned. “Stop by the 10th floor on your way out, Deku. Check with PR on this.”

The PR team’s response... had not been good. Perhaps Izuku could have presented it to Katsuki more diplomatically when they were next alone together. Maybe Izuku could have dealt better with the hapless PR person who had been there that day and was unlucky enough to answer smiling Izuku’s questions. But he had been angry. Furious. Thoroughly offended on behalf of his erstwhile childhood friend and now employer.

Izuku told them, in words so formal and excruciatingly polite there could be no doubt he was insulting them, that they were wrong about pro hero Dynamight, and they should be ashamed for doubting where his heart is when it comes to being a true hero. Then he stomped back up Katsuki’s office, and snapped a question at his then AA, asking whether Katsuki was free to see him. He had looked so fierce, his sunny smile uncharacteristically missing, that the poor AA buzzed him inside without even checking with his boss.

Katsuki looked up when he entered, saw his face, and leaned back on his leather seat. "That bad?" he asked, his jaw already clenching.

Izuku paced the entire time, back and forth in front of Katsuki’s desk, hands slicing through the air before him in agitated gestures as he questioned the intelligence and parentage of everyone involved in the agency’s PR team—some of whom he has met before—and Katsuki’s marketing team—whom Izuku still hasn’t.

“What did they expect you to do? Eat children?!”
“The audacity of people to presume that your lack of patience at their incompetence in any way extends to your treatment of actual, literal kids!”
“So you’re not All Might! Why does that matter? No one else can be All Might! He’s retired and gone! You’re #1 pro hero Dynamight! How are you in any way, shape or form incapable of following the footsteps of the one person I KNOW for a fact you admired since you were FOUR!!”
“So you’re not the Symbol of Peace. Boo-hoo! Kids are HOOLIGANS! They love how vicious and feral you are and how you always WIN!
“Why on earth do they think schools and educators keep asking for you, if they didn’t think you’d do their children any good?? Do they think middle school PE teachers worry about the kind of truthful crap that comes out of your mouth or maybe they’re more concerned about whether you can motivate their students to focus on sports and maybe get scholarships for university??”

It went on for a while. Katsuki didn’t say anything until Izuku ran out of breath, but not quite of things to say. He finally stopped in the middle of the room, huffing, green eyes blazing with righteous fire.

“I take it, they have been getting invites for me to appear in schools?”

“Yes! Dozens and dozens every term! They all turn them down. All sorts of campaigns too! Anti-bullying. Women empowerment. Some farming cooperative that wants you to help them draw attention to a new kind of super beans that will save their industry!”

It suddenly occurred to Izuku that he may have stepped over the line with his boss. Katsuki was just looking at him. “Aren’t you mad?” Izuku asked. He was still on the edge of righteous ire, but calming down.

“You seem angry enough for both of us.”

Izuku flushed. “I hear what your detractors say about hero Dynamight,” he said, as if the person in front of him is different from the #1 hero. Too reckless. Too arrogant. Too concerned about numbers to actually care. “They don’t know you at all.”

Katsuki leaned forward, placing his hands on top of the desk, fingers interlaced together. “And you do?”

Izuku felt something in his stomach roil in mortification but he stood his ground. “I know you more than you think, Kacchan. I'll bet I know you more now than anyone else does.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The following day, there was a hastily arranged meeting between Katsuki and everyone involved in handling his image and likeness. Izuku had come with him. While knowing down to his bones that he was in the right, Izuku had been brought up too well by his mother and opened the meeting by bowing in apology to the agency’s PR team. Or at least, he had begun to. He found himself suddenly hauled upright by the scruff of his shirt and summarily shoved behind an obviously irritated Katsuki. Izuku has received many glares from him over the last two years—that one is still one of the worst he’s ever gotten.

Now, Izuku is charged with going through all requests for Bakugou Katsuki and/or pro hero Dynamight’s presence, be they actual event appearance, or ads, photoshoots or interviews. He’s not privy to the entirety of Katsuki’s work schedule. There are legal issues he cannot resolve on his own. But that’s not what Izuku is being tasked to do. In fact, both the folders in front of him already have a one-page summary from Legal okaying the terms as they are currently written, with notes on how some provisions could be better re-written for Katsuki’s protection.

Izuku is simply there to provide perspective: which of these many demands on Katsuki’s extremely limited, very valuable time is worth pursuing? Completely without meaning to, Izuku has successfully positioned himself as primary custodian of the ‘Bakugou Katsuki, pro hero Dynamight’ brand. Izuku would be very shocked to know how important he has suddenly become. Fortunately, or un-fortunately, for everyone—Izuku thinks he is simply doing his job.

Both endorsement contracts seem fairly straightforward. Both are lucrative, both non-controversial, both would benefit greatly from association with Bakugou Katsuki, and equally elevate his own status. Izuku didn’t particularly care for either company though, so he will leave it to Katsuki to decide—his own schedule permitting.

Izuku looks up from the folders and sees Katsuki standing behind his desk, looking out at the panoramic view of downtown Tokyo. His profile is exquisite. No wonder companies are knocking down his door trying to sign him up.

Izuku silently opens the camera bag he’s seldom without when there’s a chance he’ll see Katsuki, and manages to take a few candid shots before he notices and turns to face him. Izuku checks the display. They’re good. He needs to fix the lighting some but he can work on the raws later and post it on Katsuki’s social media—after he’s vetted it. Action shots are normally not a problem but a photo taken inside his office where sensitive information could be deduced by determined individuals requires stricter screening.

“You take really good photos,” Izuku says, still scrolling through the shots. “But then you already know that. You’re very handsome.”

Even before he was Dynamite, he had already modeled for his parents’ fashion brand. Izuku remembers him modeling even in grade school. It was never a job for him—he was too focused on being a hero—but he had sometimes been cajoled to appear in some photoshoots. The more he scowled at the camera, the better his photographs came out.

When he looks up again, Katsuki has walked over and is standing before him. He holds out his hand for the camera.

“It’s because of the angles,” Katsuki says, surprisingly calm for what has been a busy, stressful day for him. “Cheekbones, jawline, chin, nose. They capture light better, show better contrast than rounded features which bounce light all over. Has nothing to do with being handsome.”

He peers through the viewfinder and takes a picture of Izuku before he realizes what he’s doing.

“Ahh!! Kacchan. Not me, please,” he waves his hands in front of him, preventing more shots to be taken. “Rounded features, you said! I’ll just bounce all the light.”

Katsuki looks down at the display. “Sometimes it’s not about the light at all.”

There’s a polite knock on the door and when it opens, a young pro hero peeks in. He nods at Izuku, who irrepressibly waves back. His eyes flick back to Katsuki. “It’s time.”

Katsuki nods. He hands the camera back. “You better not fucking delete that, Deku. I’ll end you.”

Izuku sighs in resignation and checks it. His hair is impossible as always, but he’s pleasantly surprised at the rest of the photo. He was sitting when Katsuki had taken the shot. It shows him looking up at the camera, a soft, almost absent-minded smile on his lips. His freckles show up clearly on his skin. His eyes are very green.

Maybe he can get a copy of this. He looks happy.

The rest of the day goes much as Izuku planned. More errands for Katsuki, then back to his house to use the penthouse’s secure WIFI for some online shopping and bills payment.

Izuku has access to one of Katsuki’s credit cards, handed to him on his first week on the job.

“How much can I charge on this?” he had asked, which was a perfectly valid question! He didn't want to go over the limit.

Katsuki had just opened a report and was barely paying attention to him. “Why, you plan to buy a car with it?”

Izuku paled. Something about Katsuki’s tone implied, yes, it could be used to purchase a car. Izuku barely made rent most months. If he loses this card or it gets hacked, how would he ever pay it back? Oddly enough, he’d never worried about being tempted to use it. Or that he’d be accused of using it for himself.

In any event, it’s been two years and the credit card now has a specific slot in his wallet and is linked to his work phone. He uses it to pay for groceries and all other household expenses, like utilities, condominium fees, and the cleaning service. Apology flowers to his mom. At the end of each billing cycle, he takes money from one of Katsuki’s bank accounts and pays off the card. The only thing Izuku doesn’t pay is his own salary. Probably Katsuki’s AA is in charge of that.

They were supposed to have dinner at the elder Bakugous’ house tonight. The cancellation means Izuku would have to prepare dinner for Katsuki to eat when he gets home later. But also, it means he could go home earlier than he expected. Which is nice. It’s not easy taking care of Japan’s #1 pro hero.

Izuku is getting ready to leave when the lock on the front door opens. He stands stock still, cautious, his head quickly running through who would have keys to the penthouse. But it’s only Katsuki. He looks exhausted.

“Welcome home, Kacchan,” he says, surprised.

“I’m home,” Katsuki replies in equal surprise. The words sound stilted, like he’s not used to saying them anymore.

That somehow struck Izuku as very sad. He still says the words—even if there’s no one to respond anymore.

“You’re still here?”

“I was just about to leave.” He hefts the yellow backpack over his shoulders, as if to emphasize the point. “I thought you wouldn’t be home until later.”

Katsuki takes off his bag and hands it to Izuku, then sits on the genkan to take off his boots. Izuku hugs the bag to his chest.

“Someone used their brain for a change and we were able to go through the mess sooner than everyone expected. We could have gone to my parent’s house for dinner, after all.”

Izuku checks the time. It’s too late in the evening; they’d get there only to need to return home again. And they probably aren’t ready to receive dinner guests anymore, even if it’s just their son and his minion. But Katsuki is not known for being reasonable.

“Don’t look like that,” he says with a quirk to his lips. “I’m too fucking tired to go and you need to go home.”

“Okay, then,” Izuku says, feeling relieved.

Katsuki takes his bag from Izuku and walks away, past the entryway.

“I left your dinner ready for heating up later. But since you’re already here, it’s still warm, if you wanna eat now!” he calls to the retreating back.

“Did you make enough food for two?” he calls back over his shoulder.

Izuku didn’t. And he really should go home. He needs to be up again for work in 10 hours. Katsuki stops and looks back at him.

Izuku smiles. He drops his yellow backpack on the floor. “You’re big enough. I’m sure you can spare me some food,” he says as he walks towards Katsuki.

He follows him to the kitchen. The food is already laid out but there’s only one place setting on the island. Katsuki opens cabinets and drawers to get out one more. There are vegetables Izuku can easily steam—they won’t take much time—and there’s a melon he had intended to serve for tomorrow, but they can share it now.

There’s more than enough for two.

Chapter Text

Katsuki having a day-off doesn’t mean Izuku has a day off too. Izuku usually has his the day after, and on days when Katsuki is out of town, or even out of the country for work. 

Neither does it mean that Katsuki doesn’t work—only that he doesn’t need to be at the agency before 8am. He still monitors the news and hero bulletins. He’s still on call, and he will—and often does—report for duty when necessary. His agency does try their best to let him have down time though. As does Izuku. 

For Izuku, Katsuki on a day off means he gets to sleep two extra hours. Maybe three, if he’s feeling particularly indulgent. Katsuki doesn’t set his alarm and won‘t get up until his body tells him it’s time. Izuku leaves him the night before with something he can eat when he wakes up—not a full spread; only so he won’t be hungry and can survive until Izuku comes in for a real meal—and for once, Katsuki makes his own coffee. 

Izuku usually comes in around mid-morning. This is so he, too, can rest but also so he won’t inadvertently disturb Katsuki’s rare sleep-in mornings. 

This particular morning, though, Izuku sees a text that makes him smile and happily leave his house earlier than he planned. 

Izuku is early, but he still doesn’t get there first. He waves at the tall, almost skeletal-looking man through the coffee shop window. While everyone else would just smile, nod, or even not acknowledge him at all—like Katsuki—Yagi Toshinori raises a hand and smiles back.

“Good morning, Yagi-san!”

“You are looking very well, Midoriya-shounen.”

Instead of more social platitudes, Izuku looks him up and down, and peers up his shrouded eyes. Bright blue eyes peer back at him from sunken sockets, expression indulgent, allowing the examination.

“You look very well, too, Yagi-san,” Izuku says softly, closing in for a quick hug.

Yagi pats him on the back. “I am doing alright. I’m sorry to always worry you, but thank you.”

Izuku had been a young boy, wandering around the hospital corridors when he first met Yagi Toshinori. He’d made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at a different section of the hospital. There was a man standing outside one of the rooms. Izuku thought he looked cool with his sunglasses on, not a doctor or nurse or sick or any of the usual visitors.  

He came up to the man, looked up and up and up, and said “Hello.”

Izuku had been young enough that the man automatically looked around for a minder he ought to have with him. 

“Hello,” the man said back, when it became obvious Izuku was alone. “You shouldn’t be here. This is a restricted area.”

Izuku frowned at the difficult words. “My name is Midoriya Izuku! What’s yours?”

“Where are your parents?”

Izuku shrugged his skinny shoulders. “Mama is asleep. Papa left.”

The man talked into his hand about a missing child, keeping a wary eye on Izuku. Izuku smiled back. 

The door opened and another man—a doctor this time; Izuku knows the white coats—came out. Izuku peered behind him and got his first glimpse of Yagi. He was sitting up in bed, like Izuku’s mom could do sometimes.  

Izuku was very small and easily slipped around legs and through the door in an instant. Both men yelled “hey!!” but Izuku was already inside.

“Hello!” he tells Yagi. “My name is Midoriya Izuku. What’s yours?” Just like his teacher had taught him.

There was a bit of a commotion after that, more people had arrived and Izuku was beginning to be scared from all the tall people in the room, talking and looking at him. He instinctively edged towards Yagi’s bed, towards the only person in the room seemingly not unhappy with his presence. 

Until Yagi, with a firm, booming voice, took control of the situation. 

“You told me I can now have visitors for short periods. Midoriya-shounen here is my visitor. He can stay.” 

There were mutters of protests.

“I’m sure we can find something to talk about,” Yagi says kindly but firmly. 

“I like heroes,” Izuku offers. “Do you like them too?”

Yagi’s lips twitch. “You can say that. I like many of them quite well.”

“Oh. Well, me and Kacchan, we’re gonna be heroes one day! You wanna see who our favorite is?” Izuku said, all excited. He reached into the pocket of his hoodie, unknowingly making everyone in the room tense up, and pulled out an action figure. It was scruffed and sticky-looking in places but obviously beloved. Its colors were a familiar red-blue-and-yellow. “All Might!”

“Ahh. I see.” 

Yagi smiled at Izuku then, and Izuku had never forgotten how kind and happy he looked, but sad at the same time, like Izuku’s mom would sometimes look when she’s awake enough to watch him play. 

If someone could make sure that Midoriya-shounen’s parents are not frantic with worry, I would like to enjoy a short visit with him. Thank you.”

That seemed to be that because everyone filed out of the room, and Izuku stayed with his new friend, talking about heroes. 

Twenty-odd years later and they’re still talking about them.

“I’m happy you texted me today, Yagi-san. I have a few minutes to spare.” Izuku, of course, cannot disclose his employer’s schedule for security reasons. It never strikes him as odd that the mornings Yagi would sometimes text him, are days when Izuku would most often be free. They never do this often enough for it to be a pattern in any case. He really should make more time to see him. 

“How is your work going with Bakugou-shounen? I see him on TV and he somehow looks more relaxed,” Yagi says, sipping a calming brew of tea. No coffee or milk for him. 

Izuku smiles at the phrasing. Between him calling Katsuki ‘Kacchan’ and Yagi’s ‘Bakugou-shounen’, no one would even think they’re talking about #1 hero Dynamight.

“It’s going well, I think. We’re used to each other now.” Which means Katsuki doesn’t often look murderous anymore and Izuku doesn’t feel the impending threat of death, explosion, or firing more than a few times a month. 

“You seem to be good for each other. He takes care of you, the same time you take care of him.”

Izuku considers that. He thinks of the two meals he is forced to share with Katsuki everyday. He might not have recognized it at the time as the kindness it was, but Izuku is well aware of it now.

“I know his heart means well. Kacchan’s amazing.” 

Katsuki is already awake when Izuku gets to his home. He finds him on the sofa, legs stretched out. On the side table beside him is an empty bowl of what Izuku knows used to have sliced fruits. 

The TV is on, showing an old All Might documentary. It doesn’t seem like Katsuki had been watching and was likely put on for the background noise. Izuku knows for a fact how quiet the penthouse could be when there alone. The place is big, the design tasteful, but the empty rooms echo with silence when you’re not careful.

“Morning, Kacchan!”

Chibiusa, who had been snuggling with Katsuki, looks up at Izuku’s voice. She leaps down from the sofa. Izuku kneels down, and the cat deigns to let him pet her. 

“Traitor,” Katsuki says with no real heat.

Izuku laughs. “Aren’t you the prettiest, prettiest, little bunny rabbit?” he croons to the cat, stroking her soft fur.

Katsuki snorts at that. “I think for a time, she did think she was a rabbit.”

Izuku looks up, a question in his eyes.

Katsuki seems to have woken up in a good enough mood for a conversation. “We had a rabbit in the UA dorms. Technically Kouda’s, but he got everywhere. We found this stray kitten,” he nods to Chibiusa, “in third year. They had the exact same coloring, same soft fur. And she followed Usagi-chan everywhere.”

Izuku is still kneeling on the floor, hand stroking Chibiusa absently, looking up at Katsuki. His heart feels unexpectedly full, his green eyes bright with wonder at this small glimpse of Katsuki’s life between when Izuku knew him as a child, and now, years later, as a hero adult. 

“When we graduated, she somehow ended up with me,” Katsuki finishes.

Izuku wonders how big a fight Katsuki took on to make that happen and stifles a smile. He pushes the cat off his lap and himself up off the floor. “Pancakes okay for brunch, or you want something heavier?”

“Whichever you wanna have,” Katsuki says absently.

“Oh. I already had breakfast. I was with someone,” Izuku says, picking up the empty bowl, “so it’s Kacchan’s choice.”

He waits for Katsuki’s response. “Kacchan?”

“You cooked someone fucking breakfast at your place?” he says, an odd, tight note in his voice. 

“Hmm? No, we met up at this—.” Izuku stops as he suddenly understands what Katsuki meant. “No! We didn’t—he didn’t—oh my god, no! He’s an old friend, old man friend, I haven’t seen in a while and wanted to catch up. I met him outside after I woke up. We stayed half an hour!” 

Izuku can feel his face going red as a tomato, both at being thought of having YAGI!! over at his place long enough to stay for breakfast, and Katsuki being the one doing the thinking.  “Can we not talk about my non-existent love life please and just tell me if pancakes are okay?” he says with a groan, hiding behind his arms.

He feels Katsuki’s hand on his elbow, which is currently by his ear. It’s callused but warm. Izuku peeks over his forearm. 

“Pancakes is fine, Deku. We can have a late lunch together instead.”

“I only had one coffee,” Izuku offers, slowly lowering his arms. And he did only have one cup, intending to sit with Katsuki for another while he had his breakfast.

“Fine. You can have more while I eat.”

“Okay, Kacchan.”

Izuku spends a couple of hours at his usual station at the kitchen island answering fan emails, while Katsuki goes off to do some strength training, opting to use his work-out room instead of the building’s full-sized gym.

Katsuki comes out freshly showered, wearing casual clothes, a white towel draped around his neck to catch drops from his still damp hair. He grabs a drink of water, passing close enough for Izuku to smell his shampoo, reminding him he needs to re-order some.

He opens a new tab on the laptop and clicks on a bookmarked website. Izuku feels Katsuki walk up behind him, a little to the side. He glances up to see him looking down at the open online shop, still gulping down water. 

“You wanna try another scent?” Izuku jokes. Katsuki has been using the same brand and variant for the entire two years he’s been here. It has a nice, pleasant smell. Izuku likes it.

“Yours smell like strawberries.”

Izuku turns his head and sees that Katsuki is just close enough, Izuku’s bar stool just high enough, that Katsuki could probably smell his messy hair. 

“I don’t think you’d wanna try that. It’s a basic drugstore brand,” Izuku says, chuckling at the idea.

Katsuki shrugs one shoulder, easy, lazily, looking at Izuku. “I like strawberries.”

Izuku blinks at that. Because Katsuki does like strawberries. He always opts for it as a flavor, even as a kid, for ice cream or drinks. Izuku himself prefers chocolate. And sugar cinnamon. 

“I got two giant bottles of it when it went on sale. So I’m stuck with it for a few more months.” He tilts his head at Katsuki, trying to gauge his mood. “Do you want me to check if they have a strawberry variant?” It could probably smell nice, too, with his natural sweet-smokey scent.

He looks at Izuku for a while before shaking his head. “Hurry up with that and let’s fucking go.”

“Go where?” Izuku asks, clicking on the ‘BUY’ button to finish the transaction. He doesn’t have anything urgent to do that he can’t reschedule to accommodate Katsuki’s needs.


It seems that 'out’ is the flagship store for Bakushinchi. It’s not the closest they could have driven to, but it is the biggest. 

Katsuki is wearing his ‘inconspicuous’ clothes. Basic jeans, black shirt, a slightly oversized jacket; then a cap and eyeglasses as an attempt to disguise his distinctive hair and well-known features. But Izuku strongly suspects that Katsuki could dress in sackcloth and douse himself in ashes, and he would still turn heads—and not because he’s covered in ash. Perhaps the cap and eyeglasses are enough to hide his identity—with that prominent hero bulk though, Izuku isn’t entirely convinced—but people still stare and bump into things as they walk past them.

Katsuki doesn’t have his face plastered on Bakushinchi’s many posters. That honor goes to a young, up-and-coming actor with a nice smile, and a pretty idol with a huge following. Katsuki’s photos are at the Bakugou Designs stores in other, more exclusive shopping centers. Izuku has seen it of course—Katsuki looks devastating in a tuxedo, glowering at the camera, as if asking why they’re wasting his time when he’s on his way to a special event, with a special someone. It’s very effective. 

They seem to recognize him at the store though, despite (or maybe because of) the bare-effort disguise. Or perhaps they are expected, as the manager herself greets him by name when they walk through the front doors. But why Katsuki would call ahead himself and not ask him to do it, Izuku cannot say. 

“Go shop, nerd!” Katsuki says, shooing him off. He turns to the manager. “Leave him the fuck be, he’ll ask for help if he needs it.” Katsuki then heads to a bench covered in bright red leather upholstery, and fiddles with his phone. Probably checking hero bulletins.

Izuku appreciates the instruction to let him go around by himself. He had been getting nervous at the manager’s fawning, especially since he knew this trip was for him and not Katsuki. 

He goes around the display racks, surreptitiously looking at price tags even as he feels fabrics and checks the graphics. Everything here is great street fashion. Hip; bordering but never quite crossing over to edgy. Izuku isn’t quite sure he can successfully wear any of these without feeling like he’s impersonating someone else, but he feels excited just the same. 

He peeks back at Katsuki; he’s still engrossed on his phone. Izuku moves past the ones prominently displayed and slowly wanders towards the farther edges of the shop. There are tamer selections here. Items that only have a few sizes available.

And then he finds the holy grail. It’s an entire rack of solid-colored shirts. He loves the print in front. The fabric is so soft and comfortable it makes him sigh, thinking of wearing it against his skin. And best of all—they’re half off!! Izuku really hopes they have some in his size.  

“What you got, nerd?”

“Kacchan! Look at these!” Izuku beams.

Katsuki takes the shirt Izuku is flapping in his face by its hanger.  It’s a white, round-necked shirt. In front, in bold black letters, it says ‘T-SHIRT’.

“Are you fucking with me?”

“You—you don’t like it?” Izuku asks, his enthusiasm dimming a little.

“It says ‘T-SHIRT’ on this t-shirt, Deku.” 

“I know!! How clever, right?” Izuku giggles, caught up again in his excitement. “Look!” He spreads out the shirts hanging on the rack to show Katsuki. “This is one says ‘DRESS SHIRT’. This one “RAGLAN SLEEVE SHIRT”, even if it’s just normal sleeved. And this,” he reaches for a black one, “it says ‘TUXEDO’, Kacchan! I can wear it when you wear your actual one. We’ll match!” 

Myriad expressions cross Katsuki’s face, one after the other. Izuku may have seen despair in the red depths at one point, he’s not sure.

“It’s on sale, too,” Izuku says helpfully.

Katsuki looks at the ‘50% OFF’ sign. “If it’s already on mark down, they might not allow the extra discount.” He says it slowly, like feeling the words out in his mouth, testing for weight and response.

“Oh. You think so?” Deku loses all his bounce. He’d be better off getting other items then, to take advantage of the full 80% discount. He softly runs the shirt’s fabric between his fingers. 

“You really like this? In this entire fucking store, this is what you like?” Katsuki asks. 

Izuku lets the fabric go. “It’s alright, Kacchan. It’s a huge store. I’m sure I’ll find other things.” He smiles up at Katsuki. 

“Fuck,” Katsuki breathes out. He sounds pained.

Izuku steps away from the rack, but Katsuki grabs him by the arm. “Deku, wait. Go find your size. I’m gonna talk to the manager. Check their policy or… whatever.”

When Izuku hesitates, Katsuki takes the ‘TUXEDO’ shirt out from the rack and shoves it at Izuku’s chest. “Go.” 

Izuku heads over to the fitting room. He loves it. He opens the stall door to check himself on the full-wall mirror outside. 

Katsuki is there. Izuku happily preens for him in the ‘POLO SHIRT’, feeling all bubbly inside. 

“You are such a dork,” Katsuki says, shaking his head

Izuku laughs. No sense denying the obvious. “Did they say ‘yes’?”

“Hm? Yeah. Sure. Discount on top of the sale price.”

“Alright! I’m gonna get ten shirts.”

“Ten of them? All like that?” Katsuki rubs his temple.

Izuku immediately worries that he’s getting a headache. 

“Mm-hmm. ‘Cause at half off, plus another 80% discount, I can get ten shirts for the price of one regular shirt,” he explains his math, but he’s distracted now, frowning at Katsuki. 

Izuku is the one who touches Katsuki’s arm this time, his green eyes shadowed with concern. “Are you alright? Should we go home?”

“Home, huh?” Katsuki holds his gaze. “Get your shirts first,” he finally says. “And here.” He shoves something at Izuku. “Get this too. The weather’s starting to get cold.”

Izuku clutches at it by instinct. It’s a dark, hunter green jacket. It’s oversized enough that Izuku just knows he’s gonna love it. It’s supple, lovely to touch, and is warmly-lined inside. 

He tries it on. “Kacchan, it’s perfect!”

Katsuki quirks his lips into a wry smile. He looks both resigned but amused. “Not quite. But I’ll take it anyway.” 

Nearly six months ago, Katsuki gave Izuku a bracelet. 

He didn’t ask if Izuku wanted one—he just gave him one. To be more specific, Katsuki asked his agency to make one for Izuku under his hero account. 

It contains a chip of some kind—the technology was never fully explained to Izuku. It tracked his biometrics: pulse, blood pressure, any surge of adrenaline boost; as well as his location. Izuku had originally eyed it with trepidation—what kind of stalker device is this??—but it was explained to him that the device is mostly passive. He isn’t a pro hero they need to keep an eye on. The device is there in case of emergencies. 

Its main use is the small, unobtrusive button on the inside wrist that requires Izuku’s fingerprint to activate. It’s a panic button. Should Izuku ever be in imminent danger of any kind—a villain attack, a mugger, a bad slip down an icy path with no one there to help him—he is to activate the device, and all heroes in the nearby areas will converge on his location. The signal goes directly to the heroes’ emergency bulletin, bypassing switchboards or police channels. 

They were in Katsuki’s office at the time. Izuku had prepared curry. He was fully expecting Katsuki to complain about the spice-level but doctor’s orders are doctor’s orders.

“Leave lunch alone for a sec, Deku. I wanna give you something.”

Izuku dutifully stopped setting up lunch and trotted over to Katsuki by his desk. 

Katsuki opened a square box with the hero agency’s logo on front, and Dynamight’s right under it. Inside rested the bracelet. It was black; two thin strips of braided leather, held together by two discrete metal clips on either side of a Dynamight-logo  clasp. The clips and logo were a warm red-gold shade that looked suitably orange enough to evoke Dynamight’s colors. Izuku didn’t know much about men’s fashion, but its very simplicity screamed ‘expensive’ to him. That and it was from Katsuki, who didn’t own anything cheaply made as far as Izuku could tell. 

Izuku didn’t have much left over from his salary for luxuries, and hero merch definitely counted as luxuries. It didn’t mean he didn’t ache with want down to his soul whenever he saw them—and this particular Dynamight merch made him ache very deep indeed.

Katsuki took his left hand and snapped the bracelet in place. It looked gorgeous. Manly but fashionable and classic all at the same time. Izuku wanted to be buried with it. Katsuki stroked the logo—his own—his thumb big enough that it brushed Izuku’s skin under it. 

“Are you branding me, Kacchan?” Izuku tried to joke. He really wanted the bracelet.

Katsuki’s thumb stopped, right over Izuku’s pulse. “It’s an emergency device. We need to go down to Support after lunch. They’ll calibrate it for you and explain the details.”

“Oh. Do I have to pay for it?”

Katsuki gave him a look that Izuku knew very well: stop asking stupid fucking questions. The whole building was familiar with it. 

They went down to Support on the 8th floor after lunch (Katsuki did complain about the curry; Izuku cheerfully reminded him he’s on a low-spice diet). Izuku’s ID didn’t allow him access to this floor, and he could only go here if accompanied by hero Dynamight or someone equally authorized. Katsuki didn’t stay. He just made sure Izuku got to the right lab and left him there. Someone else would escort him out.

A woman about his age with fascinatingly large glasses assisted him. She scanned Izuku’s fingers for prints—all ten of them, making sure to get all the arches, loops and whorls—and answered his questions while she fiddled with the bracelet.

She explained that the ‘leather’ wasn’t really leather. Izuku could wear it in the shower if he wanted without damaging it. It can’t be cut unless with special tools, and the clasp can’t be unlocked unless with Izuku’s fingerprints. He was encouraged to wear it at all times, but at the very least, whenever he leaves the house. 

“I must say, it’s one of the most beautifully designed we’ve had done. Dynamight has excellent taste.”

“I thought it was standard issue or something.”

“Oh, not at all. There are two basic designs,” she slid her chair back and reached for something. She showed him a black leather band, and a silver chain-link with plate. “If the hero isn’t fussy, their family can get either of these. We can do other colors for those who don’t like black leather or silver. But Dynamight had that designed specially for you. His parents also have theirs, but they look different. His mom’s is super nice, too.”

Izuku was about to stop breathing: he had on his wrist a limited edition Dynamight merch! One of a kind! He tried his best not to hyperventilate.

“Okay,” the support tech continues, oblivious to Izuku’s inner crisis, “I guess I don’t really have to tell you, since you’re in the industry, but you can’t tell people about the device, yeah? As far as the world knows, it’s just a bracelet. It’s effectiveness is lessened if people know you have it. Villains would go straight for it, to stop you from activating the alarm.”

Izuku nodded. That made sense. “What does your bracelet look like?”

The tech lady looked at him funny. “I don’t rate that high.”

“What do you mean?”

“That’s for heroes’ family only. So they can go out there and not worry about the people they love being targeted or ransomed for their cooperation.” 

“But I’m not Dynamight’s family?” Izuku said, confused. 

“Well, we also provide it for VIPs. Very VIPs. Like the prime minister.”

Izuku had to laugh. “I’m not the prime minister.”

“No,” she grinned at him, “you’re something better. You’re Dynamight’s Personal Assistant, over a year running.” 

And Izuku could hardly argue with that. He wasn’t irreplaceable—far from it—but he was important, in his own way. Katsuki would really hate to start from scratch with another PA. It felt nice to have tangible proof of Katsuki’s appreciation—sweet icing on the hefty bonuses he already receives. 

Afterwards, he texted Katsuki. 

[I’m done with Support. Thanks, Kacchan!]

His phone buzzed almost immediately after.

[Stay out of trouble]

For weeks after that, Izuku had scenes playing in his head of him accidentally activating the alarm while shopping, and a dozen heroes appearing to rescue him from overpriced tomatoes. He made sure not to fiddle nervously with the bracelet, keeping his fingers and their prints as far away from the button scanner as he could without cutting his own arm off. 

But as with other things involving his work as Dynamight’s PA, Izuku gets used to it. He seldom, if ever, takes it off. It’s snug on his wrist, and he likes to look down and see Dynamight’s logo. It’s comforting somehow. Like he’s part of a team and won’t be fired unless he makes a really big screw up.

Izuku is not sure why these things keep happening to him, but he certainly never intends it.

There is a popular coffee and bake shop near Katsuki’s building that sells good quality bread. While Izuku himself loves the soft, fluffy goodness of the Japanese bread, his poor, unfortunate employer can only eat the butter-less, milk-less, egg-less variety, and this particular bakery does excellent french bread. The place is upscale—as is the entire neighborhood, really—and the prices are out of Izuku’s budget, but it’s Katsuki’s credit card that would be doing the purchasing so that’s alright.   

Katsuki doesn’t really eat bread much, preferring rice meals. And on the rare days Izuku does serve him some, he usually makes it from scratch. Izuku finds the kneading of dough a soothing exercise, a quiet break from the craziness of the day. Izuku’s right shoulder hurts today though, and the thought of working that dough makes him want to cry. But he already has the meal planned and prepped and so bakery-bought french bread it is. He doubts Katsuki would notice the difference.

Izuku’s shoulder is his own fault. His neighbor has a beautiful Akita named Ryou that Izuku is half in love with and who seems to adore him back, despite that he probably smells of cat because of Chibiusa. Neighbor had a fall recently and hurt his hip, and Izuku has been offering to help walk Ryou whenever he comes home early enough to do so. The dog was particularly energetic last night and Izuku tired from a long day. All things considered, it was not the ideal situation. 

Ryou saw a squirrel; Izuku was not paying attention. The next thing he knew, he was being dragged sideways by a dog almost the same weight he is. Ryou was well-trained enough to heel when told, which Izuku’s shoulder greatly appreciated, but the jolting damage had already been done. Ryou went home squirrel-less but happy; Izuku went home to ice his shoulder.

The bakery is just a few buildings away, and it’s a nice weather today; so after dropping Katsuki off at the agency, Izuku parks the car in the basement and heads out again on foot. Izuku is on his way back, bread-in-eco-bag in hand, when it happens. 

He’s seen the child around before. He’s too young for preschool, and he and his grandma could usually be seen in the landscaped park in the area. The boy is squatting down by the edge of the koi pond, happily feeding the fish. He wasn’t unattended—his grandmother is there, sitting on a bench a few feet away, but she is, unfortunately, too far, her bones too fragile, her reflex too slow to stop it. 

Izuku sees it almost in slow motion: the boy stands up and twists around, babbling something excitedly to his grandmother. But the pond edge is wet; his sneakers slip and he starts to fall back into the water. The pond is artificial and decorative—it’s not that deep. But he is a small boy and even just 3 feet of water is well above his head.   

Izuku doesn’t remember running. Later, he’d be shocked at how much distance he covered in that half second when the child was flailing helplessly, trying to keep his balance. But he manages to grab the child before he falls, tugging him from the edge to safer grounds. Unfortunately, momentum and physics are not on his side and Izuku ends up in the water. 

He comes up drenched, with moss on his hair and lily pads on his shoulder; the water reaching up to his waist. He fervently hopes he didn’t land on any koi when he fell. His eco bag is floating beside him but the bread is now being busily nibbled on by the fish.

The child is bawling—more surprised than hurt—and his grandmother is trying to soothe him. She thanks Izuku profusely, and apologizes even more effusively. He waves it away, neck and cheeks crimson with embarrassment, and tries his best to simultaneously bow and sidle away as fast as politely possible, his sneakers squelching with pond water. 

He walks the few meters to Katsuki’s building. Both security and reception’s eyes bug out at seeing him, but he smiles and waves as if his clothes are not plastered wet against his body and he’s not trailing puddles of water behind him. Izuku enters the private elevator that leads directly to Katsuki’s apartments and spares a thought for the poor person that would now have to clean his mess at the lobby.

His wallet is fat with water but the keycard still works—which is a mercy—and he’s able to operate the elevator. Finger on the scanner opens the elevator door to a tastefully-appointed foyer, separated by a narrow hallway from Katsuki’s main living area. Shoes off, wet contents of his wet pockets on the marble counter. 

Izuku’s phones—the work phone, and his personal one that’s older than most children in grade school—are both dead. He sighs at the unexpected expense but there’s nothing to do for it now. He’ll store them in the rice bin later and hope for the best.

There are four bathrooms in this home where only one man lives. Izuku heads to one of the guest bedrooms, grabs a towel, and strips for a shower. Katsuki wouldn’t mind. The toiletries are the same ones that Katsuki uses, and Izuku appreciates how silky smooth his hair feels after. He picks up his wet clothes and, covered only with a white towel around his hips, he throws them in the washer. 

His shoulder has begun aching again, an off-shoot of reaching for the child earlier. Izuku wonders what to do now. He knows for a fact that Katsuki wouldn’t mind him using the guest bathroom or towels, but Izuku would draw a line at rooting around his employer’s closet for something to wear—his heartfelt yearning for Katsuki’s silk pajama tops notwithstanding. His bag and laptop though, are still in the car where he left them, and his phones are dead. Katsuki might need him for something. 

He’s standing there, undecided what to do, when he hears Katsuki bellowing out his name.

“Deku!! Where the fuck are you?!”

There isn’t exactly panic in Katsuki’s voice but there is definite urgency. Izuku hurries out into the living area, bare feet skidding on the floor. 

“Yes?” he says, heart pounding in surprise and exertion.

Katsuki is in full hero uniform. The urgency Izuku heard in his voice is reflected in his red eyes. He stalks the length of the room to Izuku, raking him up and down with narrowed eyes. 

“What happened to you? Are you hurt anywhere?” 

Katsuki cups Izuku’s face, looks into his eyes, but he’s not meeting Izuku’s gaze, more like checking his pupils for a possible concussion. Sure enough, Katsuki continues his inspection: his fingers pad along Izuku’s scalp, checking for bumps; he runs eyes and hands down the length of Izuku’s arms, and down again his torso. Izuku resists the urge to squirm away as Katsuki’s fingers skim down his very ticklish ribs. To be fair, the inspection runs fairly quickly as Izuku still isn’t wearing anything except for the white towel around his hips. 

Katsuki grabs the edge of the towel, probably intending to rip it off, but Izuku does a death grip of his own and manages to squeak out in time. 

“Wait! I’m not wearing anything under this.”

Katsuki scowls at him but releases the towel. Instead, he grabs Izuku by the arm and turns him around to check his back. Unfortunately, it’s the arm connected to the injured shoulder and Izuku lets out a distressed sound.

“What? What’s wrong?” Katsuki says, immediately stopping. He goes around Izuku instead of turning him back around. 

“Nothing. It’s just a pulled muscle from last night.”

“Last night?” Katsuki frowns down at him. “You’re not injured.”

“Me? No! Just a sore shoulder. What’s going on, Kacchan? Why are you home early?”

Katsuki lets out a long breath. He runs one hand through his hair. Contrary to public speculation about it, he doesn’t wear wax or any kind of hair product—the pale strands naturally spike that way, part and parcel of his explosive nature.

“Your tracker indicated a surge of adrenaline, and everything else that would indicate pain and distress. It wasn’t deemed an emergency—you didn’t activate the alarm, and the tracker showed you were home. They just informed me per protocol, so I called, but you weren’t answering your phone. I even called the building but you didn’t answer when they buzzed. Why the fuck weren’t you answering your fucking phone, Deku? What’s the fucking point of me buying you one if you’re not gonna fucking answer when I fucking call?!” 

Katsuki had started his explanation matter-of-fact, but his tone got more and more aggravated as he spoke. 

“I fell in the pond and it got wet?” Izuku touches Katsuki on the arm, a gentle soothing gesture. It’s belatedly dawning on him that he’d been worried about him. But Katsuki would absolutely flay him alive if he ever mentions it. “I’m sorry, Kacchan. I got soaked, and had mud and moss all over me. I was probably in the shower when they buzzed and didn’t hear.”

Katsuki let out another deep breath. “Dammit, Deku. I told you to keep out of trouble, didn’t I?”

“Sorry, Kacchan.”

“What happened to your shoulder?”

Izuku peers up at Katsuki and decides a little levity would be good to lighten the situation. He smiles. “I was walking the love of my life last night, and he almost pulled my arm off, running after a squirrel.”

It doesn’t exactly go down as he expects. The vein on Katsuki’s temple begins throbbing.

“What?” Katsuki asks through clenched jaws.

“My neighbor’s dog? Ryou? I mentioned him before. It’s a grand love affair. I was walking him but he saw a squirrel and pulled me along with him.” He pauses. Katsuki still seems pissed off. “We didn’t catch the squirrel,” he offers, in case Katsuki was worried about that.

Katsuki looks up at the ceiling. Izuku knows him well enough to realize he’s counting as an anger management technique. And probably praying for patience. 

“I really am okay, Kacchan,” he says gently. “The pond was only waist deep and full of koi.”

“Let me check your shoulder,” Katsuki says, his voice quiet. 

Izuku used to be wary of Katsuki’s silences. The man is explosive practically 24/7 and silence only means you can hear the ticking of the bomb better. But Izuku has learned that Katsuki has quiet moments too. Pensive ones, peaceful ones. Relaxing at home with his cat. Sharing meals. Standing by the window, looking out at the city he protects, thinking ‘all is well under my watch’.

Izuku can’t quite put his finger on Katsuki’s silence now. He’s not angry anymore. He can’t be worried either since Izuku is obviously fine. But it makes Izuku want to keep a gentle hold on Katsuki’s arm, telling him, without voicing it, that he’s really okay and he’s sorry he worried him. 

Izuku wonders how he can tell Katsuki how much he appreciates having someone be concerned about his well-being, if he can’t acknowledge that Katsuki worries about him. 

It’s been such a long time since someone asked Izuku how he’s doing. And he can’t tell him how happy Katsuki has made him. He just stands there, a gentle hand on Katsuki’s arm, hoping he understands how Izuku feels.

“It doesn’t seem broken,” Katsuki pronounces. His big hands had pressed and prodded at Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku had done his best not to wince. “You should still get it x-rayed to be sure.”

This time, Izuku can’t help the grimace. He’s had his fill of hospitals; enough for a lifetime and more besides. He’d rather not go unless it’s a real emergency. A sore joint because of his own stupidity doesn't seem like a good reason to go. 

Katsuki frowns at him. “You’re covered under my insurance, Deku.”

Izuku looks at him in surprise. The cost hadn’t even entered his mind—he just didn’t want to go if he could help it. “It’s fine, Kacchan. I just over-extended it last night, and then again this morning when I reached for that kid. I just need to rest it.”

“What kid?” Katsuki snaps, ignoring everything else Izuku said.

Izuku launches into an explanation of what happened. “He probably would have been fine, even if he had fallen in. I could have fished him out. But he would have taken in water and probably been terrified, the poor thing. And I'd still end up wet anyway.”

Izuku was half-expecting a lecture about letting hero stuff be done by actual licensed heroes, and was readying a witty remark to deflect, but Katsuki doesn’t say anything about it. 

“C’mon.” Katsuki turns and heads to his bedroom, fully expecting Izuku to follow. He does, of course. That’s exactly what it says in Izuku's job description: follow Katsuki.

“If you’re gonna be a stubborn ass about the hospital, let’s at least do something for the pain.” He points to his bed. “Sit.”

Izuku sits, checking first that his towel isn’t damp. Katsuki heads to the en suite bathroom. Izuku knows what’s in there—he’s the one who keeps it stocked—and sure enough, Katsuki comes out with the first aid kit. It’s bigger than most households would have, and there’s another one in the kitchen, too, but then, other households don’t have a pro hero in residence. 

Katsuki takes the Salonpas gel and rubs it on Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku tries not to hiss. 


“I’m not even crying!”

Katsuki gives him a look.

“This time,” Izuku mumbles. 

The gel itself is cool but Katsuki’s hands are warm. Calloused. Strong and firm. Izuku thinks this must be how the people he saves feel: calm and reassured. Like he’s in good hands. 

“Thank you, Kacchan,” he says, rotating his shoulder. Gently. He winces anyway and stops. 

“Dumbass,” Katsuki says with a shake of his head, wiping his hands off with some wet wipes. “You need to keep weight off that and make sure you don’t work it.”

Izuku nods, trying not to think how that would impact his day-to-day: keeping his dominant arm as still as possible. 

He wants to get up, off the bed, and he should get up off the bed, but Katsuki is standing directly in front of him, his much larger body bracketing him where he sits. Izuku debates whether it would be more rude to nudge him away a little with a gentle hand on his arm or maybe hip, or outright ask if he could step away. Maybe if he makes to stand up, Katsuki would step back. 

Izuku opts to bypass the awkwardness of asking and chooses the third option. Except Katsuki doesn’t step back. Now they’re standing chin to forehead and Katsuki is still taking up too much of Izuku’s space.

“Why are you naked?” Katsuki asks, like it’s a question that’s been bothering him for a while, and now needs an answer.

“My clothes are still in the wash.” He blinks up at Katsuki.

“I got a closet full of them.”

“I didn’t want to overstep.”

Katsuki is quiet again, the kind that Izuku can’t quite read. 

“You’re welcome to everything I have, Deku.”

“Oh. Well, thank you. I think I’m gonna take you up on that cause I’m getting chilled like this.” He rubs his hands on opposite arms to prove his point.

That makes Katsuki step away. Finally, Deku’s jittery brain cackles in relief. 

“I didn’t realize you had freckles all over,” Katsuki says, as Izuku moves towards the walk-in closet.

Izuku looks back at him in surprise. “But you must have seen me undressed before?”

“I think I would have remembered that,” Katsuki says slowly, testing his words.

“We’ve had years of PE classes together, Kacchan,” Izuku points out, standing just outside the doorway. “I’ve always had freckles all over.”

“That was— that was a long time ago.” A rueful smile graces his lips. “I’d forgotten about that. You were stupid scrawny.”

The smile fascinates Izuku. ‘Rueful’ is not an emotion usually associated with the explosive Bakugou Katsuki. 

“And you were always the ‘golden boy’,” he says with a smile of his own. Izuku doesn’t mean it in a derogatory way: Katsuki was golden in every memory he had of him—even the not-so-good ones. 

“Go get dressed, Deku,” Katsuki says after another one of his silences. 

Izuku nods, turning back to the closet. Katsuki has come a long way since then, from the front of the class to the front of the hero leaderboard. But Izuku tells himself, quirkless little orphan Deku has come a long way, too. 

Nothing quite screams lack of professionalism like wearing your employer’s silk pajama tops, so with a resigned sigh, Izuku opts for one of Katsuki's many black shirts. They’re basically identical. He uses them for gym and training. They’re fitted on Katsuki, the arm holes barely able to contain his bulging biceps, and hugs his shoulders and chest like a particularly loving girlfriend. On Izuku, there’s enough room for two. 

There is a stack of soft cotton shirts that Izuku could have picked. They’re old and stretchy, the colors muted, the fabric soft as a baby's butt. The graphic tees are from Katsuki’s younger days, in UA or as a newly debuted side-kick. These are the ones he uses for their morning meals. Izuku suspects he still sleeps in just pajama bottoms—the idea of him sleeping nude is not something for contemplation—and just pulls on a cotton shirt to appease Izuku’s sensibilities. It’s to be acknowledged that it's a bit hard to hold a conversation when you’re trying to wake up, and the person across from you is looking anywhere except where you are.

Izuku doesn’t use one of those because it still seems too personal. A soft gray shirt with a faded All Might logo. A black one with an ‘Aji Fry’ logo on front. Another black shirt that confusingly proclaims ‘I’m the Lord Explosion Murder’. They're things Katsuki would have long ago thrown away if they didn't have specific value to him. 

The black gym shirts are things that his sponsors provide for Katsuki. Every few weeks, a new pack arrives to replace the older ones as they wear away. It won’t do for Dynamight to be seen in the gym in less than excellent training outfits. It’s easy for Izuku to pick one, and if Katsuki is bothered that he borrowed it, he won’t miss it should he want to discard it after. 

As for the shorts, Izuku picks another sponsor-provided one. The compression shorts, oddly enough, fit Izuku alright. Katsuki is known for his tiny waist—there are entire blogs dedicated to the wonder that is Dynamight’s waist—and that works well for Izuku’s thin body. What is surprising is that the shorts also fit quite well around his hips, his rump rounding out the material in a nice way. 

Izuku looks at his reflection in the mirror—black shirt and black shorts. That coupled with his freckles and rounded cheeks, he looks like a teenager going through a sporty emo phase. 

He shrugs. He’s decent enough to get to the basement parking at least and retrieve his bag. He can still work while waiting for his own clothes to dry. 

Izuku is honestly surprised when he reaches the living area and sees Katsuki still there. He had presumed Katsuki was driven over by an agency car and had already left to wherever it is he needed to be. 


Katsuki turns around at his question. He takes him in. The smirk is as Izuku expected; the light in his red eyes though, is more amused than derisive. The paparazzi would probably love to get a shot of him like this. Izuku wishes he had the camera—thankfully, still in the car and not sitting wet on the counter.

Izuku doesn’t bother to look down at himself. He knows he looks dorky. “Do you want me to drive you somewhere?” Izuku can drive dressed like this; he can stay in the car and won't need to inflict his dorky wanna-be-emo self on the rest of the population. 

Katsuki doesn’t answer him. Instead his smirk broadens to, dare Izuku say it, an actual smile.

“If my sponsors can only see this.”

Izuku makes a face but it’s half-hearted at best. He’ll take Katsuki in good humor—even at his expense—any day.

“I was sure you’d use the All Might shirt.” Katsuki is in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, a knife and an apple in hand. “You drool every time I wear it.”

“Rude!” Izuku says, laughing, but not denying it. 

“We had it made in third year. It was the anniversary of his debut and we were graduating in a few weeks.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize, I thought it’s regular merch.”

“Nah. Yaoyorozu made it for the class. We had cake and stuff.”


“Mm-hmm.” Katsuki is done peeling the apple, and is now eating it, one slice at a time slice. 

Not that Izuku doesn’t appreciate this unexpected peek at Katsuki’s youth, but it’s the middle of the day and the #1 hero of Japan is in the kitchen, eating an apple.

“Do you want me to drive you anywhere?” he says again, but softly this time, like a gentle reminder of the outside world that Katsuki can choose to ignore if he wants to. Izuku knows how hard Katsuki works. 

Katsuki shakes his head, slicing a small chunk off the apple. “I took myself out of the morning roster. They’ll ping if they really need me.”


“What are you usually up to this time of the day?”

Izuku glaces at the clock. “Preparing your lunch.”

Katsuki holds out the knife blade, an apple slice on top. Izuku blinks at it before taking it, popping it into his mouth on reflex. The sweet apple goodness bursts in his mouth.

“Don’t cook food for the next few days,” Katsuki says. “Your shoulder needs to rest.”

“Alright.” Izuku mentally re-arranges his tasks. There are restaurants he knows that carry food that Katsuki can eat. He can do take out for a few meals, not a big deal. “I’m gonna go down and retrieve my bag from the car.”

That got Katsuki frowning. “Like that?”

Izuku does look down at himself this time. His boxers are still churning around in the wash, true, and the shorts are a bit snug around his butt, but Katsuki’s shirt is long enough on him to cover the essential bits. He looks presentable enough, even if the shirt has a tendency to slide down one shoulder. 

“I think it’s fine. No one’s gonna see me.” The elevator is private. It opens from Katsuki’s foyer straight down to the basement parking where Katsuki’s car is in the first slot nearest the elevator doors. 

Katsuki holds out the last apple slice. Izuku takes it. 

“There’s CCTV. You go call for lunch; I’ll get it. You just need your backpack, yeah?”

“The camera bag, too.”

Izuku trails after him, heading to the foyer, but grabs the duplicate key from its box on the way. Katsuki is frowning down at the wet items on the counter: Izuku’s wallet, two phones, his house key on an All Might charm, and the car key.

“Better bring this one too, just in case that one doesnt work.” 

Katsuki takes the key. “How wet did you get?” he asks, bemused at the waterlogged things. 

“Eh. I touched bottom and skidded around a bit. But the water was above my waist so even when I got up, all that” Izuku waves at his wet stuff, “were still under water.” From the sudden gleam in Katsuki’s eye, Izuku knows he’s gonna make a comment about his height. So he jumped in himself. “I’m not as big as some heroes, but I can assure you, Kacchan, I scared a lot of fish today.”

“A true terror in the koi pond.”

“That’s me!”

“Make sure you get a phone today, Deku. I don’t want you running around and I can’t fucking reach you. Get two, if you want to keep work and private lines.”

Izuku opens his mouth and is immediately cut off.

“It was a fucking accident. I can afford it. So shut up,” Katsuki says without looking at him, stepping into the elevator. “Bring those to Support if you need any data retrieved.”

“Okay, Kacchan! Thanks!” he calls out to the closing doors, truly relieved. He had been planning to suggest a gradual salary deduction to keep the impact on his capacity to pay for his bills at a minimum, but if Katsuki is feeling generous, Izuku won’t be the one to stop him. He’s seen his endorsement contracts: Katsuki can afford to buy his loyal, devoted, hard-working personal assistant whatever he wants!

Heading back to the kitchen, Izuku realizes he can’t call for lunch. He doesn’t have a phone! This division of labor is not well thought out at all.

Lunch gets delivered, Katsuki takes some calls, Izuku answers some emails from Dynamight’s adoring—and let’s face it: mostly thirsty—public. Somewhere along the way, Izuku’s clothes finish their tumbling and he is able to change back into his jeans, ‘T-SHIRT’ shirt, and actually wear underwear—Alleluia!

The clothes are still warm and toasty when he puts them on, which Izuku kinda likes. Katsuki says something under his breath that Izuku doesn’t quite catch and he refuses to repeat. Izuku asks Katsuki if he wants the clothes he borrowed to be separated from the ones he uses, and he gets an irritated look and a ‘don’t be an ass’ which Izuku takes to mean ‘no.’

“Unless you wanna take them home with you?” Katsuki says abruptly, some three minutes later, making Izuku have to think back to what they were talking about before. “My shirt and stuff. Unless you wanna take them home with you?”

Izuku’s face lights up with understanding, then deepens almost immediately to the color of a tomato. He had meant maybe Katsuki wouldn't want to wear the same clothes again—contaminated by Izuku’s nerdiness, as it were—not if Izuku could have it. He waves his hand in embarrassed negation. “No, no, ahh! Thank you, Kacchan. I wouldn’t want to impose.”

Katsuki looks at him. “Suit yourself,” he finally says, looking back down at his phone. 

Izuku somehow feels like he said the wrong thing.

As diversion—he’d been enjoying the calm companionship between them, seated on the kitchen counter doing their own thing, and was loath to spoil it, no matter how inadvertently—Izuku reads aloud some of the emails he’s been responding to. Some are sweet, written by kids and riddled with funny grammar and adorably intrusive questions. They even came with hand drawn art sometimes—full of explosions and defeated  villains.

“Does Dynamight-san eat eggplant? I don’t like them and want to tell my mom I can still be #1 hero even if I don’t eat them.”

Katsuki’s lips quirk at that. 

“I’ll say ‘yes, hero Dynamight eats eggplant! All heroes need to eat them. They’re good for you. But maybe you can ask you mom to try other ways to cook it, and see if you like that better.’” Izuku says out loud as he types. He knows for a fact Katsuki likes eggplant. He attaches a link to a recipe he’s used for Katsuki before.

“Oh, this is a really nice artwork of you, Kacchan!” Izuku exclaims. He turns his laptop around so Katsuki could see. 

Katsuki looks and snorts a laugh. It’s by a 6-year-old, and there is liberal use of orange and green crayons. 

“We used to draw All Might all the time back in preschool,” Izuku says, smiling at the memory.

“Just in pre-school?” Katsuki asks, incredulous.

Izuku laughs. “I graduated from using crayons at least.”

“The old hag still has my drawings in a box somewhere.” Katsuki says, wrinkling his nose, as if unsure if that was a good thing or not. 

“Really?” Izuku says, delighted with the idea. “Maybe I can ask to see them the next time we’re over.”

“Don’t fucking dare, Deku. I’ll end you. Go look at your own drawings!”

Izuku just smiles. He doesn’t think Katsuki would have mentioned it if he really didn’t want him to see. “I don’t think my dad kept any. Maybe my mom would have,” he says, thinking out loud, “but you know what happened.” He shrugs.

Izuku looks at the rest of the emails, feeling Katsuki’s eyes on him and willfully ignoring it. One email in particular makes him blush to the roots of his hair—it at least does a very good job of distracting him.

“You have some very thirsty fans, Kacchan. With time on their hands and a wide vocabulary.”

Katsuki scowls. “Just delete those fucking things.”

Izuku doesn’t. Instead he forwards the email to Legal and Security, where the former will send a strictly worded response about respecting a hero’s right to privacy and possible legal sanctions for violations thereof, and the latter will put the name and details of the sender in its files.

Katsuki is off the hero roster for another hour but his phone pings. Izuku knows that particular sound.

“Should I drive you?”

Katsuki is frowning down on his phone. “No. Faster if I go.”

Izuku nods. He knows Katsuki is strong. He’s the #1 hero in Japan four years running. He’s amazing. But his heart can’t help but pound and stutter in his chest. Dynamight is being called to assist on something when he’s technically not on duty. It has to be huge and needs all hero hands on deck.

It’s a matter of moments for his hero uniform to cover him. Izuku follows him out to the balcony doors. 

“Be safe, Kacchan,” he whispers.

Katsuki looks back at him. He already has his domino mask on, obscuring the look in his eyes.

“Stay out of trouble, Deku.”

And then Katsuki is gone and Izuku is all alone.

Chapter Text

Panic-bracelet issued or not, Izuku isn’t Katsuki’s family.

When Katsuki gets injured in a fight against villains on live TV, Izuku watches it with the rest of Japan. Katsuki goes down, and Izuku feels his own heart shudder to a stop in his chest.

Dynamight’s final blast is enough to crumple the villains’ defenses, and other heroes swoop in to contain them. Izuku would ordinarily have been all goggle-eyed at seeing pro hero Shouto in action, but his eyes are instead focused on the image of Katsuki on the left side of the screen, distinct in his black, green, and orange gear, down on the ground, unmoving.

News producers are used to airing live battles, and the camera is careful not to televise footage of an injured Dynamight. It’s one thing to show pro heroes kicking villain ass—that’s just good ratings; it’s quite another to show a downed hero. If not for the sake of the heroes’ families who are probably watching, then for fear of potential backlash and public outcry for dramatizing a person’s injury, or even death. That, and they don’t want to get on the bad side of working heroes. They want them cordial and accessible for interviews and shots. Heroes are quick to close ranks when they feel the media oversteps their boundaries, and showing a downed hero live on air is one of those things that piss pro heroes off.

None of those things feature in Izuku’s mind, however, as the news feed cuts to focus on other heroes who are not-down-on-the-ground and very definitely not Katsuki. He watches the ticker news scroll slowly past the bottom of the screen informing him of what he already knows (pro hero Dynamight down in a villain attack!) and aggravatingly reticent on what he desperately needs wants to know (is he okay please let him be okay please please please).

His phones are still wrecked. Otherwise, he’d be on it, calling Katsuki’s AA—Tanaka would know what hospital they’d take him to. Izuku doesn’t know if Tanaka is authorized to release that kind of information to him, who’s technically a civilian and a non-family member. In the dim area of his mind that is still working against panic, Izuku has an image of himself coldly telling an information-reticent Tanaka that he better spend the next hour readying his resumé because Izuku will get him fired the moment Katsuki’s awake and lucid enough to listen to Izuku, and they both know that Katsuki would fire him first before he lets Izuku go.

Instead, Izuku fires off an email, hoping real-life Tanaka is more considerate and forthcoming. He informs him that both his phone lines are off; to please have someone contact Katsuki’s parents as they would both likely try to call him, not be able to connect and panic more; and to please tell him which hospital they brought his employer. Izuku waits, staring at his email, refreshing and refreshing the page like it doesn’t have push notifications, willing it to manifest a reply.

Izuku tells himself Tanaka would be busy, coordinating things for pro hero Dynamight, and his lowly PA is not a priority. Less than a minute later, feeling like he’s about to lose his mind, Izuku blindly grabs car keys and jacket, and he’s out the elevator doors.

It usually takes them twenty minutes to get from Katsuki’s penthouse to his hero agency outside of rush hour. It’s lunch time, there’s some traffic on the road. It takes Izuku less than ten minutes to get to the agency. Katsuki can pay for any tickets Izuku may have incurred—he can afford it.

The agency has a basement carpark with a designated slot for Katsuki’s car. Izuku never gets there. He gets flagged by Red Riot just as he reaches the agency building. Izuku stops the car, rolls down the window. He hears Kirishima say “I got him” to his phone like he’d been waiting for him, before the pro hero puts his head down to look at Izuku through the open window—all reassuring smiles and friendly shark teeth.

“Where did they take him?” Izuku begs asks.

In answer, Kirishima opens the door, calmly reaches in to release his seatbelt, and gently but firmly pulls Izuku out of his seat. “I can drive us there.”

Izuku doesn’t argue. He runs to the other side and gets on the passenger seat. He can’t seem to get his seatbelt to work. Kirishima again calmly reaches over and helps him buckle it on.

“They say he needs surgery, but he’s not in a really bad way, okay?” Kirishima tells him, voice calm and soothing.

Izuku nods and keeps on nodding, like one of those bobble-head toys popular when he was a kid. “His parents?”

“Someone already went to get them.”

“Okay,” Izuku replies, knowing that there’s nothing more that the hero beside him—Katsuki’s close friend and colleague, and also worried about him—could possibly tell him at the moment.

After a few blocks travel, something occurs to Izuku and he dredges up a fragment of concern from somewhere. “Are you okay?” he asks. Red Riot was one of the heroes on the scene.

“Me? Yeah. I’m kinda hard to hurt,” he says, smiling.

Izuku nods again.

They reach the hospital, and one of the junior heroes—a young sidekick usually assigned to Red Riot—is waiting for them. Kirishima gets out of the car, the sidekick gets in. Izuku barely registers it being driven away. He’s out the moment the car stopped and is now standing in the middle of the hospital lobby, not sure where to go next.

Kirishima’s broad arm settles on his shoulders. “C’mon. He’s in surgery but there’s a waiting area for us.”

Izuku follows where Kirishima leads. Where he leads is a small room full of pro heroes from different generations but mostly from Katsuki’s class. Izuku knows them all, if not through his work with Katsuki, then because they’re the Who’s Who of Japan pro heroes. A small, dedicated bomb right here, right now, could take out a sizable chunk of the current Top 20.

Izuku sits down in one of the empty chairs by the door, some distance from the grouped heroes. Kirishima leaves him to go to them—all healthy and alive and not currently in surgery.

Izuku sits quietly, his smaller frame swallowed by one of Katsuki’s jackets. He hadn’t been looking when he snagged it, but now he’s grateful for it. It smells like Katsuki. He burrows in it, sinking down in its depths; collar up to his ears, sleeves hanging far below his wrists, almost covering his fingers in their entirety.

Someone hands him a bottle of hot lemon drink from a nearby vending machine—Kaminari, Izuku’s mind supplies sluggishly, pro hero Chargebolt; yet another of Katsuki’s close friends and colleagues. Izuku doesn’t drink it. He holds it between his palms, letting it try its best to seep warmth into the coldness of his hands.

A part of Izuku feels weird sitting here. He feels like he should be running around doing something. That’s his job: to keep Katsuki’s personal life straightened and on an even keel. But without his phone, there’s not much he can do. And while he feels like he should be running errands for the pro heroes in the room with him—he’s the only one of no importance in the room, lower than even the most junior pro hero in attendance—he’s not their PA. His boss is in a surgery room somewhere fighting for his life. So Izuku just sits there. Until the unopened bottle of lemon drink loses its warmth and his hands have no choice but to remain cold.

Some half an hour later, Katsuki’s parents arrive, ushered in by pro hero Uravity. Izuku stands up. Mitsuki heads straight for him and pulls him into a hug. He doesn’t know when he started crying but his cheeks are wet when she wipes them. She’s obviously been crying on the drive over, too, her red eyes puffy and worried. Angry. How very like Katsuki’s. Then it’s Masaru’s turn to pull him into a side hug, briefer than his wife’s had been, but just as consoling.

“I don’t know anything yet. Just that Kacchan’s in surgery,” he tells them, once he’s been released.

This Izuku knows how to handle. This is part of Katsuki’s personal life. He should see to his parent’s needs and comfort. They would have been told the same thing on the way over, but would want an update. Unfortunately, that’s all Izuku has to offer for the moment.

He urges them to sit. “Would you like some coffee?” he asks.

Instead, Mitsuki tugs him down to sit on her other side and holds his hand in hers. Her soft hand warms the crooked fingers of his right hand far better than the bottle of hot lemon drink did.

Coffee still materializes from somewhere. Katsuki’s friends, those who know his parents from outside hero work, amble down their side of the room one by one. They bow, give hugs, shake hands, depending on how close they felt towards Katsuki’s parents. A lot of them would have been young teenagers when they first met Katsuki, and his parents would have watched them grow up with their son. Izuku tries to smile at each one, some of whom smile back having met him before; the others eye him with open curiosity.

Later, coffee makes way to snacks. Izuku refuses—he doesn’t think his stomach can take in any food at the moment. Mitsuki does, too. Masaru bites into his sandwich half-heartedly.

Finally, a relieved but beleaguered-looking doctor in scrubs comes in. His hair is all askew from a recently removed surgical cap. They all stand up. He smiles, tired but triumphant.

Izuku knows he should listen. He needs to know these things—how long will Katsuki take to recover, what medicines will he need to take and what time. These are all his responsibility. For some reason, the relief he feels stuffs his ears with cotton and he feels his legs turn to jelly. He sits back down, despite having been seated for several hours prior, feeling as if his knees won’t support him.

The mood in the room turns congratulatory. People hugging, people patting shoulders and backs. Katsuki is in a recovery room; he’s still under and they can’t see him yet. The room starts to empty—concerned friends and colleagues, slowly filing out, nodding, bowing at Katsuki’s parents, smiling at Izuku. They don’t need to see him tonight; they just needed to know he was okay.

Until there’s no one left except Izuku, Katsuki’s parents, and three other heroes: Kirishima, Uraraka, and Todoroki.

Mind, body, and motor control seem to be returning to normal, back from a shadowy time when Izuku couldn’t focus on anything except Mitsuki’s hand and waiting for that closed door to open. He turns to the elder Bakugous. “I need to go back to Kacchan’s place and grab some of his things. Do you need me to get anything for you on my way?” He presumes they’d want to stay here and wait for their son to wake up.

Izuku is aware enough of his surroundings by now to see the flicker of something in Todoroki’s normally impassive face. Katsuki had told him once before that Todoroki’s ice prince persona is just that—a persona, and while he’s no life of the party, he’s definitely more expressive when among friends.

“I don’t think so, Izu-kun. And all those can wait anyway,” Mitsuki says.

Izuku shakes his head. Now that he knows Katsuki is out of immediate danger, he knows he would feel better if he can do things. Sitting around for another couple of hours seem like torture.

“It’s better I go now before he wakes up,” he says with a smile. “He’s gonna hate wearing a hospital gown.”

Scrapes and bruises, Katsuki has had aplenty in the last two years. The man goes through bandages and Salonpas gel tubes at a concerning rate. But this is the first time Katsuki was injured on hero duty while Izuku has been working for him. He’s never actually seen Katsuki confined and recovering in a hospital before. From the way no one argues with him, he knows he’s right: Katsuki would be a pain in ass patient.

Izuku couldn’t care less; he’s just happy Katsuki’s okay. He can be grumpy all he likes—Izuku can take it.

The three heroes look at each other. They’re old friends who worked together long enough to have a silent conversation in those few seconds.

“I’ll go with you,” Todoroki says.

“Oh, there’s no need—”

“Allow me to insist. There’s nothing to do here but wait until he wakes up anyway.”

Kirishima tosses the car keys, not to Izuku as he expected, but to Todoroki. With a slight bow of his head to Katsuki’s parents, Todoroki herds Izuku out the door. Izuku is beginning to realize that the self-assurance-bordering-on-arrogance and tendency to just do what he believes needs to be done is not something limited to Katsuki. Maybe it’s a required hero trait.

Izuku hurries to follow Todoroki. Unlike Katsuki who walks with ground-eating steps, Todoroki seems to be walking the halls leisurely, and yet Izuku is hurrying to keep up just the same. He heads straight to a particular bank of elevators, bypassing one set that looked exactly the same to Izuku’s eyes.

Izuku peeks at Todoroki beside him—his escort? bodyguard? Katsuki’s bored friend? He’s not entirely certain why he merits the #2 hero’s presence in an errand to get Katsuki’s pajamas. Izuku forgets about the reflective surface of the elevator’s metal doors and, of course, Todoroki catches him looking.

Todoroki turns his head, soft dual-colored hair swaying then settling perfectly back in place, and blinks beautiful mismatched eyes at him. “You look like a man with a question,” he says. Todoroki pushes the button for ‘P2’, selecting the floor without hesitation.

“Ahn, I just wondered. You seem to know exactly where we’re going.”

“We end up in the hospital a lot.”

“Oh,” Izuku says in a very small voice.

Todoroki looks at him again. “We’re used to it. It’s harder on the families.”

The elevator opens and right there is Katsuki’s car.

In a two-towered, multi-storied building with several floors devoted to basement parkings, Todoroki knows where an injured pro hero’s car would be parked. Izuku would have to think about that—how often they have to do this for this to be routine; how seamlessly they had handled him and Katsuki’s parents, getting them where they needed to be; all perfectly orchestrated. He has no doubts now that had he stayed in Katsuki’s penthouse, someone would have come and picked him up. If he had his phone with him, someone would have called, told him where to go and asked, maybe assessed, if he could get there on his own.

But that would have to be at a later date, when Izuku is alone and isn’t feeling as vulnerable about life and mortality as he is at the moment. For now, he has errands to run, a list of things he needs to do, and clothes he needs to pack.

Everything else can wait. Katsuki is safe, and that’s all that really matters.

Todoroki drives. Izuku doesn’t even attempt to ask for the key.

While Izuku would never, ever, in a million years, for any amount of money, wish for Katsuki to sustain enough injuries to require surgery and end up in a hospital, he is nevertheless, in a very distant way, grateful that this is the first time he meets Todoroki Shouto in the flesh. Izuku is effectively distracted, feeling a little numb from previous hours’ stress, yet giddy with relief.

There are many emotions roiling inside him right now that distract him from the fact that the man sitting beside him is pro hero Shouto, Japan’s #2 hero: wielder of both inferno and ice in his tall, very handsome frame. Izuku has no doubt that he would very much have embarrassed himself otherwise.

He knows Todoroki is one of the active pro heroes out there that Katsuki considers a friend—in that fractious, complicated way that Katsuki views the world and the people in it. But unlike Kirishima who works for the same hero agency, or Uraraka who is Katsuki’s frequent sparring partner, he’s never met Todoroki before. Katsuki complains talks about him enough but circumstances or coincidence have made it that Izuku never crossed paths with the #2 hero in the two years that he’s worked for the #1.

And there he sits now: pro hero Shouto, in Katsuki’s ginormously expensive car, driving Izuku around. Sometimes, Izuku wonders at the sudden turn his life had taken when Yagi encouraged he apply for this job. He’s on a real name basis with top pro heroes, he has a panic-button merch bracelet in case of targeted villain attacks, but most bizarre of all: he’s friends with Katsuki again.

He’s seen Dynamight get injured in battle before—as Todoroki said, that happens to them a lot—but they were old acquaintances then, at most. He doubts Katsuki would have remembered him, if they’d met out of context in the street somewhere; or even in-context in a school reunion in their old neighborhood. Childhood friends who hadn’t seen each other in over a decade just means you’re strangers with odd memories of each other wearing pastel blue smocks and cute yellow hats. That and a thousand sunny days hunting for bugs and skipping stones on water.

But now, while Katsuki does pay Izuku to cater to his every whim, he actually cares for the man. Seeing him fall in battle was… hard. Harder than Izuku ever expected.

“You called him ‘Kacchan’,” Todoroki says, breaking into his thoughts.


“Back in the hospital, you called Bakugou ‘Kacchan’.”

“Oh. Yeah, it’s an old habit. We were childhood friends before all this. Classmates from preschool all the way through, until my family had to move away.”

“You got the lucky part then. He was very un-cute in high school.”

Izuku stares at Todoroki. He doesn’t know him well enough to know if he is joking, but he feels the laughter bubble up anyway, born of relief more than anything else.

“He was very cute in preschool,” Izuku agrees, his words still colored with the trail end of a laugh. “All the kids wanted to sit beside him, the teacher had to make a schedule. It was a good way to learn the days of the week. You should ask Aunt Mitsuki for a picture.”

Todoroki slides him a glance before returning his eyes on the road. “Thanks, I’m good.”

Izuku laughs again. He has to remember to tell Katsuki how funny Todoroki is.

“Are we heading straight to his place?” Todoroki asks, navigating through traffic.

Izuku hesitates. He needs to get a phone. It’s become urgent now.

“What is it?”

“There’s something I need in the mall,” he trails off, looking at the uniformed pro hero beside him. There is no way he’d be able to run errands with Todoroki walking behind him. Izuku debates if it would be rude to ask him to wait in the car.

Todoroki names a popular mall that’s on their way. “Will that do?” Todoroki slides him another glance. “Don’t worry about the crowd, They won’t bother us.”

Izuku eyes him with disbelief but settles back down in his seat. He's beginning to see now that it’s humor that makes Todoroki's lips change shape that way; it’s very subtle. If they get accosted by his fans, Izuku can always escape and just meet him back at the car.

When Todoroki parks the car, he turns to Izuku. “Got anything here like a hat?”

Izuku clicks the button to open the glove compartment. There’s always a baseball cap or sunglasses there to hide Katsuki’s distinct features. He hands the cap to Todoroki—but again, he doesn’t know how much that would help. His two-toned hair would still show at the back and he’s wearing his uniform!

But instead, Todoroki fits it on Izuku’s head. “They’ll look at me. What we don’t want is them getting a look at you. You have pretty memorable hair.” He taps the cap’s brim. “This should shade your eyes enough. Shame about the freckles.”

“Keep the jacket on,” Todoroki tells him as they enter the mall. “Stay close, but not too close. They’ll be taking pictures.”

And then a funny thing happens: the quiet, considerate, surprisingly funny guy Izuku has been with for the last half hour disappears, and pro hero Shouto takes his place: the Ice Prince himself. His face becomes this beautiful but cold mask that people sigh over but also warns everyone to keep away. Katsuki is explosive—he snarls and scowls and snaps at everyone. People side-step him, try to keep out of his way, but they’re fascinated with his presence. The more he growls, the more they follow—from a safe distance, of course. Todoroki is the opposite; he’s beautiful. But it’s a cold kind of beauty that cuts and only the bravest of the brave would dare approach. It’s enough that you saw him walk past.

People stop all around them, alerted as to his presence. They take out their phones and take pictures, film him while walking. He pays them no mind. His pace is unhurried but constant, and a path opens before them in the crowded mall, like water parting before a god. It seems that the uniform is the best signal after all: he’s a pro hero on duty—look, but do not hinder.

Izuku half-hurries after, half leads him towards one of the cellphone shops. Izuku deals with a much-distracted salesperson, as Todoroki stands by the shop’s doorway behind him, arms crossed across his chest.

Todoroki is looking out, mismatched eyes scanning the crowd gathering outside the shop, as if searching for a threat, effectively telegraphing ‘I'm a hero at work, don’t bother me’. Pictures of him leaning against the shop’s door jamb would trend on social media that evening—following news that pro hero Dynamight is doing okay, and on his way to recovery; and sparking speculation whether he’s the tech giant’s new brand ambassador!—but the public knows better than to use flash photography against any pro hero. That’s another thing pro heroes stomp down hard on, as it’s a potential danger to them out in the field.

Inside the shop, Izuku is experiencing… technical difficulties. The guy initially attempted to sales talk him into getting certain phone specs but Izuku was in a hurry and didn’t much care. He asked for two units. The problem arose when he tried to pay. The credit card is, of course, in Katsuki’s name. Izuku is not Katsuki. And he could not authenticate the purchase through his phone because his phone is back at the penthouse, still communing with pond moisture, and is the reason for this particular purchase.

Izuku sighs. There are better ways to have handled this. He could have gotten cash first from the bank. He could have purchased this online using his laptop. Izuku is good at this. This is what he does every day for Katsuki. He solves problems and unkinks knotted logistical issues. But obviously, Katsuki’s brush with permanent injury or death has left Izuku functioning at a less than optimal state. All he could think about heading here is that he needs a phone so Katsuki could reach him, should he need him. Stupid.

He turns to go but Todoroki is suddenly by his elbow; the guy assisting Izuku turns an odd shade of milky blue.


“I don’t have the money with me to pay for this, and I can’t use Kacchan’s card. For obvious reasons that I really should have thought of,” Izuku says wryly.

Todoroki reaches into one of his many pockets. “Let me buy it for you.”

“Oh, but Todoroki-san—”

“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure to charge Bakugou for it.” And there it is again: that glimmer of humor, gone as fast as it appeared. “He can owe me.” Big time. Izuku could practically hear the unsaid words

Izuku half laughs, appalled at what Todoroki will probably do but grateful for the intervention. Let the two grown, wealthy men sort this out between them. All he wants is a way for Katsuki to be able to reach him when he’s not there by his bedside.

The drive to Katsuki’s buildings is quiet. It’s obvious Todoroki knows where to go and requires no directions.

He knows where to park, too. Izuku is tempted to ask if his fingerprints would work on the private elevator—he recalls being nervous a few days ago when Katsuki came home earlier than expected and Izuku didn’t know who else it could be who had access to the penthouse.

The biggest surprise comes when they reach the living area. Chibiusa, the unchallenged mistress of this home, snobbier than any royal cat of ancient Egypt, pads over and swirls herself around Todoroki’s ankles.

Todoroki kneels down and scoops the cat to him, snuggling her to his chest.

Izuku makes a mental note to hand Todoroki a lint roller before they leave. Chibiusa’s propensity for shedding and Katsuki’s tendency to wear black means they have a lot of it strategically stored throughout the house.

“You really should have gone home with me, little one, but then some people can’t hear the word ‘no’, can they?” he tells her in a gentle, lilting tone.

“Please don’t steal the cat, Todoroki-san,” Izuku says, forestalling any plans for cat-napping.

“I wouldn’t want to get you in trouble,” he says, almost primly, making Izuku smile as he probably intended. “What can I help with?”

“If you can feed her, I can do the fish. Then I just need to pack a bag for Kacchan.”

Todoroki nods and heads to the kitchen, taking Chibiusa with him. Izuku shrugs; he probably also knows where the cat food and dish bowl are.

On second thought, Izuku decides not to mess with the fish until after he’s talked with Katsuki. It’s the one thing in this whole house that Izuku doesn’t take care of—Katsuki does it himself. One more day of not feeding won’t harm it. He heads to the master’s bedroom instead and starts packing.

On the way out, Izuku’s hand hovers over Katsuki’s jacket that he’d worn earlier. He grabs his own jacket instead.

“What about the other one?” Todoroki asks.

“I don’t think Kacchan’s coming home any day soon, he won’t need it yet.”

Todoroki’s shoulders barely move but he somehow appears to shrug. “Bring it anyway. Better yet, wear it. Bakugou would enjoy the view.”

Izuku laughs; he’s getting used to Todoroki’s brand of humor. “I do look dorky in it.”

“That isn’t what—ahh, I see now.”

“See what?”

Todoroki shakes his head. “It’s not my place to say. But for this, I suggest bring both jackets. You can wear one and carry the other.”

“Good idea.” Izuku pulls his own jacket on and carries Katsuki’s. It sits in his lap through the car ride. When he thinks Todoroki isn’t looking, he hugs it close to his chest and inhales Katsuki’s scent.

Back at the hospital, Izuku felt he needed to be doing something, else he would go crazy with a bad cocktail of worry and relief. But it’s been over an hour now and he can only just stop himself from asking Todoroki to drive faster.

“I wasn’t sure they would tell me where he was taken,” he says, surprising himself. He hadn’t meant to talk about it. “I’m not cleared for a lot of things, and I thought maybe this would be one of them. I know—I know I said Kacchan and I are childhood friends, but that’s just me inflating myself. That was a long time ago, and we weren’t even friends anymore by the time my mom died and I had to move away. I’m not family, I’m barely a friend. He pays me to cook for him, take care of his cat. But when I saw him go down....”

Todoroki doesn’t reply, and Izuku trails off, embarrassed at his own thoughts. On top of his mind-numbing worry about what had happened to Katsuki, was the fear that he wouldn’t be told anything at all. That he’d spend the rest of the day and more, by the TV, waiting for news about Japan’s #1 pro hero like the other 120 million viewers. Helpless, and not able to help.

“We know what we risk when we go out there,” Todoroki finally says, breaking his silence. “We never take it for granted. I don’t know why Bakugou didn’t tell you, but he put your name on a list. People that need to know. In case.”

“I didn’t know. I didn’t want to assume. We’re not family or anything.”

“Not many heroes have families, do you realize that? It’s not a profession conducive to healthy relationships. We choose who we want to be with us; the name isn’t important.”

“I didn’t know. I was so grateful….”

“That list is sacred. You wouldn’t have been allowed on that floor if your name wasn’t on it. And since it was, we’d have moved heaven itself to make it happen. Because we have our own lists too. Midoriya, be in no doubt: Bakugou wants you to be there.”

Yet another thing to be grateful for is that Todoroki is raised well enough to allow Izuku time. The rest of the ride is quiet as Izuku sits beside him and weeps.

In emergencies, if at all possible, injured pro heroes are brought to specific hospitals. They’re usually the large, heavily funded ones, with access to the best doctors, and have the latest in quirk-based healing and medical equipment.

These hospitals have a special wing and floors designated for pro heroes and the people in their lists. Pro heroes get in enough fights and sustain injuries often enough that this arrangement actually comes out practical. Everything in the hospital’s hero wing is reinforced, threaded with alarms and sensors, and built to withstand all but the most dedicated villain attack.

If you want to come after an injured pro hero who’s prone on their back and wearing a hospital gown, you’re better off doing it through subterfuge. Between the heroes stationed on duty, and the hero friends and colleagues you might surprise there on a visit—a full-frontal attack has low probability of succeeding. A quirk that allows you to disguise yourself or perhaps control people, could maybe allow you to get in, near enough that you can try for an assassination. Maybe. If you’re lucky—because everyone’s presence is constantly vetted too.

Izuku finally realizes this as he watches Todoroki press the elevator button. A panel on the wall scans his bulky wrist communicator slash biometric tracker that every pro hero wears—and his prints too, for good measure—before the elevator moves. Izuku had been too worried about Katsuki to notice Kirishima do it, and on the way out, he was too confused at having Todoroki beside him to notice what he was doing. But he certainly notices now.

It’s something very similar to what he does to the private elevator in Katsuki’s home. But instead of a wrist device, he would pull out his wallet so the scanner could read the white, nondescript card that occupies a slot inside—just below Katsuki’s credit card—which allows him to push the button for the penthouse; when it reaches the top, he scans his fingerprints to get the door to open. Izuku had never thought about it before; he presumed it was a standard security feature, and all penthouses in Tokyo with a private elevator functioned the same.

But something about what Todoroki did caused Izuku to experience a vague sense of deja vu—like he’d seen this done before. By someone else. A long time ago.

Todoroki sees him looking and explains. “You can always ask any pro hero to assist you, but your bracelet and fingerprints should also work.”

Todoroki’s words pull Izuku back to the present. He looks down at his bracelet. He thumbs the Dynamight-logo clasp. It seems he doesn’t know a lot of things about it.

Todoroki has received information as to what room Katsuki would be in and they head straight for it. They’d have known where it is, anyway—they can hear Katsuki’s irate tones even in the corridor.

“Why the fuck does he have to go out? And with Half n Half! What’s so important out there?”

“Your pajamas apparently,” is Kirishima’s unbothered reply, just as Todoroki pushes open the room’s door.

Uraraka is gone, only Kirishima and Katsuki’s parents are in the room. But Izuku’s eyes head straight to the man on the bed.

Izuku was 8 when someone asked him who his crush was. They were in the playground during recess, and they were more or less friendly with him, so he knew this wasn’t something meant to make him look silly for being quirkless or because his mother was always sick. But he didn’t understand the question.

“What’s a crush,” he asked, big green eyes looking earnest.

They all giggled, but again it wasn’t the mean kind of laughter, so Izuku joined in.

“You know. Who do you like?”

“From the class.”

“Or the other class!”

“Or maybe from the grade above,” someone whispered.

“But not below,” said another, unironically.

“Ewww. Babies.” And everyone laughed.

Izuku can’t remember their faces anymore, those kids who were sometimes his friends. But he clearly remembers looking at them in utter surprise. Who did Izuku like? That’s the easiest question ever!

“Hi, Kacchan,” he now greets the grown-up version of the boy he’d liked since they were four. Katsuki looks grumpy more than anything. A little pale, maybe. Tired around the eyes. An IV is hooked on one of his wrists. Izuku doesn’t think he’s ever seen him look so good.

It’s a big room, fitting for the #1 pro hero—who’s a combination celebrity and public servant, staking his life on the line for civilians, and could afford the best care and facilities anyway, on his own dime. But it’s still getting crowded with the hospital bed and five visitors.

It’s Masaru, always gracious—to counter wife and son’s aggressiveness, who gives way first. “I’m feeling hungry after all that. I’ll head out to the canteen.”

Izuku pipes up immediately. “Oh, I can go and get you something to eat, Uncle Masaru, so you can stay with Kacchan. How silly of me, we could have stopped for take-out along the way.” They could have and they really should have, so Katsuki’s parents didn’t have to leave his room, but Izuku hadn’t been thinking properly.

Masaru sounds like he chokes but turns it to a laugh instead. “Thank you, Izuku, but I value my life.”

Mitsuki is sitting by Katsuki’s side, on the far side of the room. Masaru touches her on the elbow and urges her up. “But I’m not—.” She slides a look at Katsuki’s face. “Oh, alright. I’ll come with you.”

“I’ll go with you, too,” Kirishima says, “I’m feeling peckish anyway. And don’t worry, Midoriya: food here is good. Almost as good as Lunch Rush’s back in UA.”

The three file out of the room. Todoroki takes Kirishima’s place, leaning on the wall by the foot of bed, with a clear view of the doorway. Izuku drops Katsuki’s duffle bag on one of the chairs and approaches the bed.

“Hi,” he says again.

“You look like shit. Who told you to cry? Your eyes are all red,” Katsuki growls out.

Izuku gives a little laugh, less humor and still an outlet of relief—so much relief. “It’s only now, after I heard you were gonna be okay.”

Katsuki frowns at him. “I’m tough, Deku. You know this.”

Izuku nods. “I do. Kacchan’s amazing.”

“Don’t look down on me.”

“I don’t. I promise, I don’t. I was only worried, that’s all.” Izuku couldn’t help it: his hand crosses the few inches between him and Katsuki, and his fingers entangle themselves on his flimsy hospital gown. “I saw you on TV.”

“I could have taken that villain down. But they snuck one in and—” he turns to Todoroki. “Don’t you have to fill out a report or something?”

“Me? No, it’s not due until tomorrow,” Todoroki says. He peeks at a get-well-soon basket from the hospital and picks a grape. He pops it in his mouth.

Izuku releases his grip on Katsuki’s clothes. He’d almost forgotten Todoroki was there.

“Todoroki-san’s been very helpful tonight. I-I wasn’t at my best and he helped a lot,” Izuku says, trying to defuse the strange tension he can feel in the set of Katsuki’s shoulders. He’s pretty certain Katsuki more than just tolerates Todoroki’s presence, would even go as far as saying considers him a friend. There’s a reason why he’s one of the heroes who stayed behind in the hospital. When Katsuki doesn’t like someone, it’s hard to mistake it.

So Izuku makes an effort and does what he does best: keep Katsuki’s life on even keel.

He turns to Todoroki and bows slightly. “I don’t think I’ve thanked you yet, Todoroki-san. You really saved me tonight.”

“I’m not such a bad hero that I’d let someone in need just flounder,” he replies graciously.

The grinding of Katsuki’s molars are audible from this close to the bed, re-taking Izuku’s attention. “Are you okay?”

“Peachy,” Katsuki growls out, not looking at Izuku.

“Nor am I such a bad friend that I’d drink water from a glass he’d already taken as his, no matter how refreshing the water appears to be,” Todoroki finishes.

Izuku looks between the two pro heroes, engaged in a staring match. “Do you want a sip of water, Kacchan?” he finally chooses to ask.

Focused as he was on Katsuki, Izuku misses Todoroki's smile. The quirk of his lips looks as if he is helpless to stop it. Todoroki ends up shaking his head. “I’ll be outside. I need to make some calls.” He takes another couple of grapes from the basket and leaves the two to their own devices.

The silent encounter between the two heroes, no matter how odd to Izuku, nevertheless had the welcome effect of grounding him. Katsuki is fine and healing. He needs Izuku to keep his head and not cause more problems.

He steps back from the bed’s side and goes instead for the duffel bag. “I brought you comfortable clothes, Kacchan, in case you wanna change.”

Katsuki shakes his head, surprising Izuku, and telling him more than anything that he’s still feeling the brunt of his injuries. “Tomorrow. They’ll be prodding me all night anyway.”

Izuku nods and puts the bag away in the small closet. He needs to talk to someone about Katsuki’s care. What can he eat, when can he eat. What is he not allowed to do, but can get away with; what is he absolutely he-will-tear-his-stitches-and-die not allowed to. Izuku will need to account for Katsuki’s stubbornness, and for that, he needs to know where the line in the sand is.

Katsuki’s parents will be back soon. Izuku can talk to them, or better yet, ask one of the nurses on duty, as he’s sure the older Bakugous were probably not in the best state to listen to doctor’s instructions anyway.

He’s not sure if both his parents would like to stay overnight. There’s a sofa but it’s only a two-seater, and he’s pretty sure one of the armchairs is a pull-out recliner. The best course of action is to ask.

“Will your parents stay the night?”

“Fuck, no,” Katsuki responds immediately. “They know they can’t stay beyond visiting hours.”

“I see.” That makes things simpler then. Izuku has sole choice between the two options. The recliner seat looks more comfortable.

“You go home too, Deku.”

“Oh, but—”

“I’ll be asleep, there’s nothing to do here. If I do need something, the night nurse can assist me. Go home.”

Izuku should go home. Izuku works long hours taking care of Katsuki’s needs but he’s not being paid to work overnights. Quite the contrary, while Katsuki demands a lot from him—from everyone really—he’s never so demanding as to ask you to forgo sleep. Unless perhaps someone’s life is on the line. And that’s not the case here: Katsuki is obviously on the mend, just needs time and rest.

So, really, Izuku should go home.

He thinks of his tiny apartment and his tiny bed, and how he’d never be able to sleep a wink, despite the exhaustion he can already feel creeping in, preoccupied as he would be thinking of how Katsuki’s doing in the hospital, across the other side of the city.

Izuku should go home, but he finds he really doesn’t want to. He grabs his courage and hangs on to Todoroki’s words from earlier.

“I know this is probably beyond my tasks, so you don’t have to pay me!” He waves his hands in front of him, like he could erase the idea of money. “I promise I’ll be quiet and not disturb you, and you can rest. But, Kacchan, I would like to stay.”

He’d stepped forward slowly as he spoke, nearer and nearer the bed, and Izuku finds his fingers once again clutching at Katsuki’s cotton gown.

“Please, Kacchan.”

Katsuki looks at him. Something flickers in the depths of his red eyes, a gentling, a giving in; and Izuku smiles, relieved and beatific, knowing he won. Katsuki closes his eyes. “Do what you want.”

There is a seat on the other side of the bed; the one Mitsuki has vacated. They would be back soon. They would want to fuss over Katsuki before they have to leave for the night. Izuku instead takes another chair, positions it on the other side of the bed and sits there. He won’t have to give this one up when they arrive.

In the last few minutes, Katsuki has gone from eyes closed to fully asleep. Pain and exhaustion line his face, more visible now that he’s not awake to hide it.

Izuku has never had time to love anyone. He’s suffered through too many unthinking boys and girls asking him out on dares or as jokes to even think about it anymore. That was more cruel than the outright taunts. The quirkless boy. The one with the stained, unpressed uniforms, and no bento for lunch. Between money problems and trust issues, Izuku has just let that part of life slide him by. It had never been important before. He’s lonely, sometimes, but he’s certainly not unhappy. He does his best every day—like he promised his mother he would.

He sighs. Would that wishes come true.

He gives in and steals a moment. He reaches out and brushes Katsuki’s hair from his temple. A simple gesture.

The boy Izuku likes is asleep and healing. Tomorrow, he’ll be as explosive and demanding and amazing as ever.

Izuku is happy. This is enough.

Chapter Text

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.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“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.

Katsuki shrugs.

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.