Izuku walks into the gym, rubbing his eyes and suppressing a yawn. It’s still early in the morning, the sun barely peeking out over the horizon. It’s way too early for any normal human being to be awake, but if Izuku wants to get in a decent workout before his shift, then he doesn’t usually have a choice. Ochako grumbles about it, when he stays over at her place, but the muscles slowly starting to re-form on his biceps means that it’s all worth it.
Izuku stores his stuff in the lockers, grabbing his water bottle and music and heading out onto the gym floor. He stopped working out for so long; between finishing up college and moving to a new city he didn’t really have time for a while. But now that he’s gotten back into going to the gym on a regular basis, he remembers how much he missed it.
He starts up his usual workout playlist, heading to the treadmill for some cardio. He usually does a cardio warmup before moving into some strength training, sometimes breaking the monotony with some full-cardio days. He always preferred strength training, but cardio can be meditative, sometimes.
After a 10 minute jog, Izuku steps off the treadmill, turning towards the free-weights. He was planning to do an upper-body workout today, and try to get his bicep curl limit up a little higher.
He was not planning on locking eyes with a tall, blonde, intimidating-looking man sitting on his usual bench.
Izuku’s eyes widen, hurriedly taking a sip of water to hide his surprise. There’s never too many people around this early, and he has definitely never seen this man before. Izuku can’t help but stare; his upper body is very toned, the muscles prominent enough to be seen through the tank top he’s wearing. But his waist is slim, and the shorts he’s wearing reveal similarly muscular, yet slender legs. He looks about Izuku’s age—so early-to-mid twenties—with red eyes and spiky blond hair that hangs down over his eyes. He looks away from Izuku after a moment, going back to his workout, which awards Izuku a view of said back muscles flexing prominently.
What Izuku wouldn’t give for his body to look like that.
But… Why is he nervous? He’s never seen this man before in his life; he has no reason to be nervous. But suddenly it’s like his whole body is tingling, and not for any workout-related reasons. His heart is beating significantly faster, and he finds himself staring at the man for longer than he planned to.
What is he feeling right now? Why does this man’s sheer presence make him want to turn tail and run?
Probably just his stature. Yeah, that’s it. He definitely looks intimidating; he looks like he could pick Izuku up with one hand if he really wanted to. He’s one of those men who knows his way around a gym like the back of his hand, and the look in his eyes definitely seemed kind of mean.
Izuku takes another sip of water, rubbing at the back of his neck to distract from the awkward moment. Intimidating. That’s it.
He keeps to the other end of the gym, not wanting to disturb the other man. But all through his workout, those red eyes linger in the back of his mind.
He doesn’t see the blond guy the next two times he finds himself at the gym. He still feels weird about it; was the guy creeped out by Izuku staring at him? Did he think Izuku was weird?
He’s nervous again both times he steps foot in the gym, only relaxing when he sees that Blond Guy isn’t here. It’s that same heart-pounding tension that he noticed the first time, only dissipating when he gets fully into his workout.
Izuku almost manages to forget about it when he enters the gym a week later. He tries to go at least three times a week, and even though Ochako has been saying he should take it easy, he’s been significantly happier since settling into a regular workout routine. Weird nerves or not.
Izuku’s not expecting to see Blond Guy back today. He came in the evening as opposed to his usual morning workout; most guys at this gym tend to stick to one time.
But there he is, racking more weight than Izuku’s seen anyone around here use in a long time.
And immediately there’s that same tension in the pit of Izuku’s stomach again, those nerves coming right back to the surface of his mind.
He hasn’t even talked to the guy yet. His sheer physical presence is just that imposing.
Izuku swallows, determined to ignore the man and go back to his workout. He doesn’t have to talk to him, right? It’s a big gym. There’s room for both of them.
Maybe he’s being a little unfair. He’s probably nice; most people that he’s met since he moved here are. And Ochako is always telling him to be more open to meeting people, isn’t she? Maybe he should…
He’s so absorbed in his own thoughts that he doesn’t register someone tapping his shoulder. He’s been sitting on the leg press for a little while now; going through his usual set, and he doesn’t register the touch at first.
It’s not until the light tap on his shoulder comes a second time that he jumps sky high, letting out a high-pitched squeak as he takes one of his ear buds out.
Oh. Oh no. It is not Izuku’s lucky day.
Blond Guy is standing over the leg press, staring at Izuku with an unreadable expression. He’s even taller up close, towering over Izuku by at least a head. His brow is furrowed, the corners of his lip tilted downward.
Yup. Definitely… intimidating. His heart is racing again, his stomach fluttering uncomfortably.
“Oi,” Blond Guy says, raising an eyebrow. “You still using this? Mind if I work in?”
Even his voice is intimidating; it’s low, gruff and gravely, and somehow that makes Izuku’s heart race even more. What the hell is wrong with him? He doesn’t usually get this nervous around people. It’s only happened a few times, but never this intense, this quickly.
Blond Guy is still waiting for him to say something, and Izuku hurriedly stands up. “Oh! Um… Yeah, I’ve got a couple more sets.” He tries to will his voice not to shake, but it comes out slightly wobbly anyway. Blond Guy gives him a look, but Izuku could swear his expression softens slightly.
Izuku scampers down the aisle, grabbing a wipe from the dispenser and hurriedly wiping down the machine. No reason to give Intimidating Blondie reason to yell at him with that gruff tone, right?
“Uh, here. Lemme just—You can work in with me, if you want?”
Blond Guy stares at him for a moment, before his lip curls upwards in a tiny smirk. Izuku doesn’t know why, but it relaxes him slightly. “Thanks. Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle ya’.”
Blond Guy takes a seat on the machine, and Izuku tries not to let his surprise show when he changes the weight to a much higher level. Intimidating. His stomach flutters again.
But… He said he was sorry. He actually started a conversation. Most people at the gym never do that. That means he’s… probably nice, right?
He takes a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart. Just talk to him. He’s just a person, idiot. “It’s okay,” Izuku mumbles, as Blond Guy starts his set. “I’m just not really used to people talking to me.” Especially not people like you.
Izuku watches Blond Guy do ten reps, seemingly without breaking a sweat. Wow. He takes a sip of his own water bottle as he finishes, before turning back to Izuku with a raised eyebrow. “Loner type, huh? Me too,” he says, shrugging.
Izuku swaps onto the machine, reracking the weight and feeling Blond Guy’s eyes on him as he does. He’s still a little nervous, but so far Blond Guy hasn’t told him to get lost yet… That must be a good sign.
“I usually like to work out by myself, yeah,” Izuku admits. “Helps me clear my head.”
“Same here,” Blond Guy replies, watching as Izuku starts his set.
Izuku can’t help but glance over at him every so often. It’s distracting from the reps, and when he notices Blond Guy watching him with an intense expression, he feels the fluttering inside his chest relax slightly. What he initially took for aggression was really just… intensity. More than Izuku’s used to seeing from anyone . Still intimidating, but it doesn’t really make Izuku want to run away the way it did when he first saw him.
He’s feeling a bit braver about initiating conversation, now that he’s heard Blond Guy speak more than a few words. “I’ve never seen you here before,” Izuku offers, as he finishes his usual eight reps. “I’ve been coming here a while, but you don’t look familiar.”
Blond Guy shrugs, running a hand through his spiky hair. “Just moved here. Used to live across town, but my best friend’s roommate moved out and he needed someone to split the rent.”
“Oh,” Izuku says, nodding thoughtfully. If he’s new, then I guess that explains the back off look that he was giving the rest of the gym the first few times he was here. New gyms can be intimidating for anyone, even for men as imposing as this guy. “Well, this gym is pretty great. I’ve been coming here for a couple years now, and I’ve never had a bad experience.”
Blond Guy raises an eyebrow at him, his mouth curling into a tiny smirk. It’s a much better look on him than that intimidating glare, and Izuku finds himself smiling in turn. “You always talk this much when you work out?”
Oh. Well, Izuku thought he was nice. He—Wait. Blond Guy is smiling wider now. Is he making fun of me?
Izuku pouts as he gets up to let Blond Guy on the leg press. “‘Scuse me for trying to be nice to the new guy,” he mutters. Somehow, even with that cocky smirk on his face, Blond Guy doesn’t really seem mad.
Sure enough, Blond Guy laughs. “Fair enough.” He seems to think for a moment, before he clears his throat, sticking out his hand. “Katsuki. Katsuki Bakugo.”
Izuku smiles. So he is nice, after all. “Izuku Midoriya,” he says, shaking his hand and marveling at his grip strength.
Blond Guy nods, watching him with that intense stare before checking his phone. “What does the rest of your set look like?” he asks. His voice seems less sure, now, in contrast to his initial intimidating pose. Izuku didn’t think this guy could even get nervous, until now. He glances around the gym, running a hand through his hair again. “I was gonna do some deadlifts after this, and I… Well, I could use a spotter, if you’re up for it.”
Izuku’s smile grows. What the hell was he so nervous about? Blond– Bakugo seemed so aggressive at first, but after actually talking to him, he’s actually pretty normal. Friendly, even. A little rough around the edges, sure, but he seems to have a sense of humor at the very least, and he’s willing to say more than two words to him. That’s more than most people Izuku has met around here.
And hell, Izuku’s always been friendly to a fault, even if he’s still a little nervous around this guy. If he’s asking for a workout buddy, Izuku’s happy to oblige. “Sure!” he says, nodding. “I was actually planning on doing deadlifts today, too. I can move it up in my set, if you’d be okay spotting me too?”
Bakugo’s smirk softens into a real smile as he nods, and Izuku feels the world get a little brighter. He made a friend. It’s been ages since he actually met any new friends. Sure, he’s got Shoto and Tenya and Tsu and Toshi, and Ochako obviously, but other than that, his social circle is relatively small.
There’s probably room for a slightly abrasive blond gym rat who can press half of Izuku’s body weight with his legs.
They wind up talking for a long time, blending the rest of their sets so they can work out together. It’s a lot of fun; Izuku’s so excited that he forgets about the nervous emotions he felt when he first saw him.
Izuku learns that Bakugo’s best friend’s name is Eijiro, that he went to college in Tokyo, and he sometimes plays the drums in his spare time. He learns that Katsuki’s only a year or so older than him, and that, despite having perfected a glare that could scare anyone away if he really put his mind to it, he’s really nice underneath. Sure, he makes fun of Izuku almost constantly, goading him to try and lift more weight and rolling his eyes at Izuku’s All Might-themed water bottle, but lo and behold, it turns out that Bakugo’s just as much of a nerd as Izuku is.
Izuku can’t help but be drawn into his orbit, to roll his eyes when Bakugo scoffs at him and mutters, “C’mon, nerd, you can do better than that. Put your damn back into it.” Bakugo’s surprisingly easy to talk to; sometimes Izuku gets so anxious around new people, and part of him wonders what makes Bakugo different.
But at the end of his workout, he leaves the gym with a new contact in his phone, and a new living, breathing friend. He almost kicks himself for being nervous in the first place; if he chickened out and let Bakugo’s intimidating glare do its job, he would have never learned that they both have the same favorite All Might movie.
He tells Shoto about Bakugo almost immediately, and Shoto simply sends him a smiley-face emoji, telling him he’s happy for him and warning him not to skip breakfast again like an idiot.
He’ll have to introduce Bakugo to his friends, when he gets the chance. Or… Wait. Izuku is getting ahead of himself, isn’t he? They only just met, and they didn’t do anything except go to the gym together. That doesn’t really count as friend status yet, does it?
But he wants them to be friends. Bakugo seems like such a good guy, nothing like his initial first impression. And hell, maybe he can give Izuku some workout tips, at the very least.
Izuku expects to wait a long time to see Bakugo again. He has no idea what his job is, or what his workout schedule is like, so he really shouldn’t expect to see him, and yet somehow the thought of not seeing Bakugo the next time he goes to the gym is intensely disappointing.
He can’t help the smile that spreads across his face when he gets a text two days later, asking him when he’ll be back at the gym. It’s phrased differently, the words reading hey, you comin’ to work out tomorrow? Those twig arms of yours need work, nerd. It seems mean, on the face of it, but Izuku feels like he has a good read on his new friend already. Bakugo’s actually asking him to hang out, framing it as a challenge the same way he did when they worked out the first time.
So Izuku texts him back, telling him the time he’d be there. And yet, somehow, he’s still pleasantly surprised to see Bakugo waiting for him by the free-weights, giving him that cocky smirk and urging him to try and lift more than him.
The next few weeks continue like this. Izuku goes to the gym in between work and dates with Ochako and hangouts with his friends, and Baku-Katsuki helps him up his weight limit in-between the two of them getting to know each other. Izuku learns a few more bits and pieces of Katsuki’s life, and winds up sharing even more of his own. He even offers to introduce Katsuki to his friends; they would really like him, once they actually got to know him. Katsuki doesn’t really seem like the type to make friends easily, so Izuku wants to make sure that he knows there are good people around here. He used to live on the other side of the city until a few weeks ago.
Katsuki is really funny. That’s something Izuku wouldn’t have predicted. He’s a little mean, a little rude, but he makes Izuku laugh even when he’s making him lift so much weight that Izuku thinks he might die. He’s never laughed while lifting weights before.
They text each other, too. Izuku sends Katsuki memes, and they trade workout tips back and forth, and in-between all that, Izuku finds out that Katsuki has a cat named Dynamight—that’s a weird name for a cat, Katsuki. The fuck you mean it’s weird, nerd? I’m not letting you meet her now—and that he works for a company that builds software for scientific research firms.
Katsuki goes from “random gym acquaintance” to “very good friend” in no time flat.
He still gets nervous around him every so often, when Katsuki’s in a particularly bad mood and that scowl is back on his face, or when he’s lifting a lot of weight and his arms flex. He’s still slightly intimidating, even after they’ve become pretty good friends. But then again, Katsuki just seems to have that effect on people, sometimes. It’s a part of who he is, and Izuku’s never been the type to try and change his friends.
Izuku is really glad he met him. It’s been ages since he found a friend that he clicked with so quickly.
About a month after he first met Katsuki, Izuku trudges into the gym with messy hair, bags under his eyes, and a deep frown on his face.
He knows he looks like a wreck. He… didn’t wind up sleeping much last night. He should have; he and Katsuki planned on an early morning workout today, Izuku working on arms and chest, and Katsuki working on his core. But now Izuku has half a mind to turn around and go straight home.
Thing is… Ochako broke up with him last night.
He can’t really say he didn’t see it coming, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt when she gave him that sympathetic look and told him, look, Izuku, you’re a good guy, but I don’t think this is going to work out. I’m just not feeling it anymore. I’m really sorry. It’s not you, okay? You didn’t do anything wrong.
He can’t blame her. She deserves to be happy, and if she wasn’t happy with him, then he can’t be mad. She was honest with him, and she at least tried to let him down easily.
Still… He really liked her. She was really great. Kind, funny, pretty, and someone he could have fun with without caring about keeping up appearances. She liked him and all his weird, nerdy, quirky self.
She just… Didn’t like him enough.
So, Izuku trudges into the gym, because he promised Katsuki he’d be there and he hates disappointing his friends. But he feels like shit, and he can’t stop thinking about what he did wrong, whether he should have been better or done something different, and why the hell he wasn’t enough.
It’s not the end of the world. He’ll get over it. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt now. Why wasn’t he enough?
“Oi. Nerd.” Katsuki is standing by the lockers, leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his chest. Against all odds, it makes Izuku perk up ever so slightly. “You’re late.”
Wait… was he? Izuku glances down at his phone in surprise, and with a jolt, he realizes he was supposed to be here ten minutes ago. “Ah… Shit. Sorry.”
Katsuki cocks his head, his eyes narrowing as he looks Izuku over. Izuku tries to school his face into something resembling a neutral expression, but the two of them have been hanging out so much lately that apparently Katsuki can see right through him. “What’s wrong with you?”
Izuku sighs, his face falling again. Dammit. He doesn’t want to talk about this. He doesn’t want to think about how he got dumped and how he’s not good enough and how much he wants to just crawl back into bed and go to sleep.
“Nothing. I’m good.”
Katsuki, predictably, doesn’t take his word for it, moving away from the wall and stepping closer to him. He’s still giving Izuku that scrutinizing look, like he’s trying to x-ray vision his way directly into Izuku’s brain. “You sure?”
Izuku swallows, giving his best attempt at a smile. “Yeah. Don’t worry about it.”
His voice definitely doesn’t sound convincing, but thankfully Katsuki doesn’t push. He just shrugs his shoulders, before grabbing the front of Izuku’s shirt and all but dragging him towards the main gym. He’s so forceful sometimes, and weirdly enough the small slice of familiarity makes Izuku smile. “Fine. C’mon, nerd. You made me wait and now all the good benches are filling up.”
Their workout is significantly quieter than normal.
Izuku isn’t chatting as much as he usually does. Normally the two of them fall into a routine fairly easily. Izuku usually tells Katsuki about how the job search is going; he is employed, but his boss is an ass, and he’s going to combust if he doesn’t find a new one soon. Katsuki often talks about Dynamight and how she tried to destroy his and Eijiro’s apartment this week, or recounts some weird shenanigans his friend Denki had gotten into over the weekend. They chat about movies or life or anything in-between, to try and distract from the exhaustion.
But now, there’s only quiet as they work out, broken by the occasional muted mumbling by Izuku and or quiet question from Katsuki. Izuku can tell that Katsuki wants to ask, but while they’re wrapped up in the weights, he doesn’t push. Izuku’s grateful; he doesn’t really know how to explain this. Sure, they’re friends by now, real friends, but… Would Katsuki really want to hear about his dumb relationship problems? All his insecurity? Katsuki would probably think he’s hopeless. He’s always seemed like the kind of guy that this stuff comes effortlessly to, and Izuku is just… Izuku.
Maybe Katsuki will ditch him too, someday soon.
It’s not until after they finish their workout, when the two of them sit on the locker room bench nursing their respective water bottles, that Katsuki gives Izuku another hard look. “Alright, moron. Spill it.”
Izuku freezes, staring at him with wide eyes. “What?”
“You’ve been moping all morning. Usually you have sunshine pouring out your ass, but today you’re all… sad. It’s weird.”
Izuku’s eyes go pathetically wide. He… what? “I what?” That’s about all his brain can manage.
But then his face falls, as he thinks about what’s actually wrong. “It’s dumb,” he mumbles, after a moment. Katsuki just stares at him, looking unimpressed. “It’s not important.”
Katsuki scoffs. “Clearly it’s not nothing if it’s bumming you out like this.” His face twists into his usual scowl, but somehow he looks more sad than angry, now. “Thought we were friends, or whatever. You can tell me if ya’ want.”
Almost against his will, Izuku feels his bottom lip trembling. Katsuki sounds so sincere, almost the same as Hitoshi did when Izuku called him last night. It makes Izuku look away from his face, his cheeks burning with all the embarrassment and shame and hurt that he thought he got out of his system last night.
Katsuki just waits, watching him with a wary look. There’s really no getting out of this, is there?
Izuku sighs, hanging his head and stubbornly trying not to cry. He accepted this, really he did, but… He’s always been an easy crier, and it’s all still so fresh. “My girlfriend dumped me last night,” he says. The words come out all in a rush, like somehow if he says them faster that will make it easier. “She just… I kinda had a feeling it would happen for a little while, but she said—”
Izuku swallows, still looking anywhere but at Katsuki’s face. It feels wrong to be mopey and insecure in front of him like this. Katsuki has always seemed effortlessly good at anything he tried.
He sighs again. Katsuki won’t leave him alone until he tells him everything; Izuku knows that. “She said she wasn’t feeling it anymore. That she just… didn’t like me that way. And that’s fine. She deserves to be happy and it will be fine, but…”
“It still stings,” Katsuki supplies, when Izuku’s voice dies down. Izuku is still staring at the floor, but he hears shuffling like Katsuki is getting up, before he sees him sit down next to him on the bench. “That shit’s never easy to hear. I’m really sorry.”
Izuku looks up at him then, and he’s greeted with a surprisingly soft smile. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen Katsuki make that face before. His expressions aren’t usually that open.
Izuku sighs. “Thanks. It’ll be okay. I’m just…”
“You’re allowed to be upset,” Katsuki says, his brow furrowing. “Getting dumped sucks.”
“Yeah.” Izuku runs a hand through his hair, sniffling quietly.
“You only mentioned her a couple times, but you always seemed happy when you did. It’s alright to be bummed about it.” Katsuki bumps his shoulder. “Heard the same shit so many times from guys I’ve dated. It’s never anyone’s fault, usually, but it’s fuckin’ shitty when it happens.”
Izuku frowns. “It shouldn’t feel like it’s my fault, but… it does. Is that weird?”
“Only cuz you’re a dumbass, nerd,” Katsuki says, flicking his forehead. “You’re fuckin’ great. Even if you are a nerdy little weirdo, you’re funny, and you work hard, and you’re not terrible to hang out with. Anyone’d be lucky to have you.”
That one makes Izuku laugh, in spite of it all. Katsuki has this unique way of making compliments sound like insults. But even so, when he says something, he means it; he’s not the type to beat around the bush or mince words. Izuku really appreciates that Katsuki doesn’t bullshit him, about workouts or life.
“Thanks, Katsuki,” he says, feeling his lip curl upwards in a small smile despite how sad he is. But a moment later he glances up, his eyes widening as he realizes what Katsuki said. “Wait… Guys?”
Katsuki shrugs. “Yeah. I’m gay.”
“Oh,” Izuku says, blinking in surprise. “Okay.”
Katsuki raises an eyebrow, his expression turning wary. “Problem?”
“Wh—No! Not at all! I didn’t mean—” Izuku shakes his head, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. “I’m just surprised. Wasn’t expecting that.”
Katsuki shrugs again, cracking his neck. Did he make things awkward?
Izuku gives Katsuki a small smile. “Thanks for telling me, though! I’m glad you, um. Trust me, y’know?”
“Whatever, nerd.” But Katsuki’s smiling again, and it makes some of the tension in Izuku’s body ease.
“But seriously,” he continues, turning towards Izuku and giving him a serious look. “Don’t feel like it’s your fault. Breakups suck, and it’s gonna feel like shit for a while, but you’ll be okay. You’ll find someone else to annoy with your damn near constant sunshine-ness.”
Izuku chuckles again. “You keep saying that,” he mumbles. “The sunshine thing.”
“Have you met you? It’s fuckin’ true. You’re too damn happy at fuck-all-o’clock in the morning. Especially for someone working out at ungodly hours.”
“You work out with me,” Izuku points out.
“Yeah, and you make it damn hard to be grumpy with that grin on your face.”
They’re both laughing now, and Izuku can’t help but marvel at that fact. He felt like complete shit when he came into the gym this morning, wondering what went wrong and how he was going to get over it, but now…
Now he’s sitting here laughing, and actually feeling a little bit lighter.
Katsuki is a really good friend.
Izuku just stares, for a moment, not really knowing what to say. As the laughter dies down, the sadness settles in again, and his head tilts down towards the floor.
There’s silence for a minute or two. And then Katsuki nudges him again, before getting up and jerking his head for Izuku to come with him. “C’mon, idiot,” he says, his voice quiet. “Ei told me about this decent breakfast spot not too far from here. Good food is usually a nice distraction after a shitty breakup. I’ll treat ya’.”
“What?” Izuku looks up at him with wide eyes. “You don’t have to, Katsuki, really. I’m fine—I mean, I’ll be okay, I should just go home and…”
“You are not going home and drowning your sorrows in ice cream and All Might reruns, nerd. I know you. You’re gonna eat a real damn meal for once, and you can bitch about your ex as much as you want.”
Izuku winces. “I shouldn’t…”
“You should. Does wonders for me.” Katsuki smirks, letting out a tiny heh , before his face turns serious again. “Seriously. Don’t worry about it. Call it an IOU for the protein shake you bought me last week.”
“That was a shake, not a meal!”
“So? You want breakfast or not, idiot?”
Izuku just stares at him, blinking rapidly with his mouth opening like a goldfish. He stands up slowly, but even as he meets Katsuki’s eyes, he frowns again. “You really don’t have to. I’m a big kid, I can handle it.”
Katsuki rolls his eyes, grabbing the front of Izuku’s shirt and all-but dragging him out of the gym. “Sure you can. But you don’t have to, moron. ‘S what friends are for, or whatever, isn’t it?” Katsuki turns back to him as he leads them out the front door, still holding onto Izuku’s shirt like he’s worried he’s going to bolt if he lets go. “Besides,” he mutters, glaring at him. “You’ve gotta eat real meals in the mornings, dumbass. Don’t think I don’t remember you saying you skip lunch after a workout sometimes.”
Katsuki remembers that? Izuku doesn’t even remember that.
Somehow, the fact that he’s being so nice makes Izuku tear up again. Sure, Shoto and Hitoshi both stayed on the phone with him for a long time last night, and promised to come over this weekend, but those are his best friends. He didn’t expect Katsuki to be willing to do this for him. To spend time with him just to cheer him up.
And if Izuku’s being honest, he really wasn’t looking forward to the idea of going home to an empty apartment, curling up in bed and crying with mediocre tv playing in the background.
So, he lets himself be pulled along until Katsuki is satisfied that he won’t bolt, before falling into step beside him. He’s still upset; even after that little heart-to-heart in the locker room, his sad little insecure brain is going nuts, imagining everything that could have been different between him and Ochako and everything he may have done wrong.
He’s yanked out of his thoughts by a light smack on the back of his head. “Oi. Stop it, nerd. Be mopey with food in front of you—It feels better.”
Izuku smiles, as Katsuki stops in front of a small restaurant and practically shoves him inside. That forceful brand of affection isn’t something he thought he would appreciate at first, but after knowing Katsuki this long, he’s come to accept that it’s just… part of who he is. He’s gotten used to it. But even so, he never expected for them to become close enough that Katsuki would randomly decide to take him out for breakfast, just because he wants to.
Izuku follows him through the open door, wondering what the hell he ever did to deserve a friendship like this.
The next few months are surprisingly not as painful as Izuku expected.
Getting dumped sucks. No two ways about it. It sucks, just like Katsuki said. And he would be lying if he said he didn’t like Ochako, that he didn’t hope for a future with her. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t hurt, that he didn’t spend sleepless nights wondering if things would have been different if he did something differently.
But eventually… things start to hurt less. They were together for around six months; Izuki expected that it would take a lot longer to start to feel okay again. He was prepared for it to hurt for a long time, to spend months moping around as he went to work and went through the motions until he felt like getting back on the dating horse.
So many of his other relationships ended like that. Izuku always feels the hurt a little strongly, and usually it takes a while for him to stop being sad.
But this time around, his friends seem to have something to say about that. More specifically, Katsuki seems to have something to say about that.
Sure, Shoto and Toshi and Tsu and Tenya are all great. They have group hangouts with him whenever they can, and they let him whine about Ochako and bemoan the fact that he’ll never get a girl to love him back while he ploughs himself with ice cream and the occasional drink or two.
Shoto even has sleepovers with him, a leftover relic from when they were kids that has now apparently been brought back. Izuku doesn’t really mind; he always loved doing that when they were children. Toshi provides his usual brand of support, letting Izuku spend plenty of time with his three cats. Tenya and Tsu give Izuku a steady stream of advice that,while a little overwhelming sometimes, is definitely appreciated.
Katsuki though… Katsuki is different.
Katsuki provides support like no one else he’s ever met. It’s not positive affirmation. At least, not really. It’s more like… aggressive affirmation, in the best way possible. Katsuki accompanies him to the gym whenever they get time, although they’re both a little busier with work this time of year, so workouts become less frequent. But even when they’re not being gym partners together, Katsuki texts him more, reminding him to eat and sleep and take care of himself or I’ll come over there and kick your ass, nerd.
It’s kind of nice to have someone checking in on him so often, making sure he knows that other people care. Even if Katsuki rolls his eyes every time Izuku tells him that, muttering that that’s the bare minimum, dumbass, don’t thank me just for being a decent person.
They start hanging out outside the gym more and more. They meet for dinner or lunch occasionally, or just spend time together without gym equipment in the way. Izuku gets to meet Eijiro two months after his break-up, and Dynamight takes to him immediately, much to Katuski’s chagrin.
He’s not really pissed about it, though, if the tiny smirk on his face when Katsuki snaps a picture of Dynamight on Izuku’s lap is any indication. Izuku meets some of Katsuki’s other friends at various points too. Turns out Katsuki and Eijiro’s college friend group all live around here too, and Katsuki brings Izuku over to hang out with Denki, Hanta, Kyoka and Mina. They’re a fun group, and Izuku leaves with a whole new batch of friends to call whenever he thinks about wallowing. Katsuki meets Izuku’s friends at some point too, and even though he and Shoto bicker all the time, Izuku can tell that they all like him.
Before long, he’s really okay. It sucked, for a little while, just like Katsuki said it would, but as much as he liked Ochako, he’s happy that he won’t be stuck in a relationship with someone who didn’t like him back. It would have been awful for both of them in the long term.
Izuku heals, and he keeps going, and pretty soon, three months have gone by. And he’s happy; he keeps seeing his new friends and his old friends, and before long, seeing Ochako’s social media posts about her new boyfriend doesn’t even affect him. He’s over it.
Four months after the breakup is when life starts to get weird.
Izuku starts to notice little things, tiny changes that start popping up slowly but surely as his relationship with Ochako gets further and further into the past. He still hangs out with Katsuki all the time, but the more time he spends with him, the more he starts to feel… strange.
Those nerves that Izuku felt at the start of their relationship suddenly come back. More and more, Izuku finds himself watching Katsuki with this strange, nervous energy coursing through his whole body, and he doesn’t know why. He’s known Katsuki for ages now; surely he can’t still find him intimidating, can he? Nothing about Katsuki has changed; there’s no reason for Izuku to be nervous around him now that they’re real friends instead of just gym partners. It’s stupid for him to feel this way.
As time goes on, Izuku starts staring at Katsuki more and more, watching him as he lifts, or jogs on the treadmill, or just walks down the street as they’re hanging out. He watches his face and his arms and his broad chest and long legs, and for some reason his face turns a violent shade of red whenever Katsuki smiles. He notices himself staring, more than he probably should be, but he can’t help it. The more he hangs out with Katstuki, the more the fluttering in his stomach increases, and the more he feels something he’s never felt before.
At least, not for another man.
Izuku always thought he was straight. He’s only dated women, only liked women, for as long as he can remember, and he never really gave any thought to having romantic feelings for anyone else. He was happy with that. He’s a straight guy, and he likes women; he has for his entire life. So… this nervous feeling he gets whenever Katsuki looks at him with those intense eyes and defined jawline of his is just… a fluke. Right?
It’s not until they’re walking to the train one morning that it really whacks Izuku in the face. Katsuki is by his side, gym bag slung over one shoulder as he grumbles about his co-worker screwing up the code he wrote for the third time this week.
Katsuki turns his head, and suddenly Izuku can’t think about anything except the sunlight hitting his face at just the right angle. It’s a single thought, flashing through his head like a bolt of lightning.
You’re beautiful and I want to kiss you until it hurts.
It makes Izuku go rigid all over, and thankfully the two of them make it to their respective stops before he really starts to panic. Did he really just think that? About a guy? He’s never had that thought about a guy before. And about someone who very quickly became his best friend?
Oh god. Izuku can’t be thinking like this. Suddenly it’s all crystal clear; the nerves and adrenaline that course through his body whenever he hangs out with Katsuki… it’s exactly the same feelings he gets whenever he looks at a pretty girl. He just never realized it before now, because it’s never happened around a guy before.
What is wrong with him? Why did he have to make things weird?
To make matters worse, it’s like once realizes what these feelings are, he can’t stop feeling them. They crop up at the worst moments. When he’s in the shower or working or making dinner or settling in to go to sleep, suddenly all he can think about is those strong, muscular arms wrapped around him at night. Katsuki’s lips on his, attached to his forehead and cheeks as they watch movies on Izuku’s couch. And other… more adult thoughts that he would have never, never in a million years entertained the idea of having about a guy.
And… more than that, it’s Katsuki. He loves their friendship, treasures it just as much as his relationships with Shoto, Tsu, Tenya, and Hitoshi. It means the world to him, and if Katsuki finds out that he’s having these thoughts… What the hell is he going to think?
Sure, Katsuki’s gay, but that doesn’t mean he would entertain the thought of being with Izuku of all people. Why would he? Katsuki could have anyone he wants. And he has done; Katsuki’s been on a few dates since they’ve known each other. He even told Izuku about them, and now that tightness in Izuku’s gut during those morning workouts suddenly makes sense. He had been jealous. Because he likes Katsuki. Romantically.
Katsuki is one of his best friends, and he had to go and ruin it by having all these weird, scary thoughts and feelings and urges that he doesn’t know how to fucking process.
“Freaked out” would be an understatement of how Izuku feels.
He needs help. He needs help right now. He’s not… He’s not opposed to these feelings per se. Not really, at least. He knows this stuff isn’t a choice. He can’t help it if he really does… like men. It feels strange even to think that thought, to put it out into the mental ether, but the more he thinks about Katsuki and everything he’s feeling at the moment, the more he realizes there’s no other explanation for it all.
He blows Katsuki off for an entire week. Izuku just can’t face him yet. Not now, after he was smacked in the back of the head with all the things he feels for Katsuki and what all of that means. He doesn’t meet him at the gym like usual, and he can tell that Katsuki doesn’t buy his excuses, but he doesn’t push.
He’s really scared. He’s scared of all the shit he wants and all the things Katsuki might say when he finds out about what he wants. He’s scared of what happens if Katsuki doesn’t like what he hears.
Izuku needs help. He can’t process all this on his own.
Three days after Izuku first faces the possibility that he really does like Katsuki, he dials Hitoshi’s number with shaky hands.
It takes a few minutes for the call to connect, and Izuku’s heart is pounding the entire time. “Izuku? What’s up?” He sounds tired, like he just woke up.
Izuku doesn’t answer for a moment. He takes a couple of deep breaths, trying to stave off the panic for long enough to figure out how the hell he’s supposed to explain this. Hitoshi is bi; if anyone would understand, he would, but… What he heck is he supposed to say?
He’s silent for long enough that Hitoshi tries again. “Izuku? You there? Is something wrong?”
Izuku swallows. “Are you busy?” he manages to choke out, his voice coming out at a higher pitch than normal.
“Not really. Did you need something?”
“I—I don’t—“ He still has no idea what to fucking say.
Hitoshi’s voice changes, the words sounding more urgent. “What’s wrong? You sound like you’re panicking.”
He lets out a nervous laugh. His own body feels outside of his control right now. “I… Can you come over?” The words come out in a rush, leaving him in one breath like he can’t get them out fast enough. “I really need to talk to you and I can’t… It’s not an on-the-phone conversation.”
Hitoshi is silent for a moment. And then, “Are you okay?”
“Just—please? I’ll explain when you get here. But I really just… need to talk.”
“Alright. I’ll be there in 15. Try to breathe, okay? Whatever it is, it’ll be fine.”
Izuku hopes so. Izuku really hopes so.
Hitoshi shows up at his apartment in record time, and Izuku can’t help but smile when he sees that he brought one of the cats with him. Plus snacks.
“You sounded really upset,” he supplies, when Izuku gives him a grateful smile. Princess—the cat—wastes no time when Toshi puts her down, running into Izuku’s lap and curling up like she was born there. Izuku scratches her head, smiling underneath the blanket he’s wrapped in.
Histoshi takes a seat, and Izuku feels his lungs constricting again as he thinks about what to say. He still has no clue how he’s supposed to explain why he suddenly likes a guy—or at least, thinks he does—after thinking he was straight for twenty-odd years.
After a few minutes, Hitoshi clears his throat. “What’s going on?”
Izuku swallows down the lump in his throat, his head drooping as he watches Princess snuggle a little further into the blankets. He doesn’t know why he’s so scared to tell Hitoshi all this, but actually saying it out loud makes it real, suddenly.
Finally, Izuku manages to find his voice. “How… How did you know you were… bi?”
Hitoshi’s sharp intake of breath makes Izuku wince. He shouldn’t be so scared about this, but he’s so nervous, and he can’t help the way his anxiety spikes. He’s always been a little more insecure than most. What if he thinks… Something bad?
There’s silence for a few moments, before Izuku feels the couch dip next to him. He can’t help but tense suddenly, anxiety spiking again even though it shouldn’t. Hitoshi’s been through this. It shouldn’t feel weird to talk about this with him, but it does anyway.
“I don’t know, really,” Hitoshi says, his voice quiet. “I was a lot younger when I figured it out, but you knew that already.” Yeah. Hitoshi has told him that before. “I guess at some point I realized that I looked at guys and girls the same way, y’know? I felt the same things.”
Izuku is silent, but when he looks up, there’s a tiny smile on Hitoshi’s face. Izuku didn’t really know what he was expecting when he called Hitoshi over here, but that smile makes him relax a bit. What he says makes sense, and it so closely mirrors everything that Izuku’s come to realize over the past couple of weeks. It makes Izuku feel a little bit better; at least what he’s feeling doesn’t sound totally out of left field.
Hitoshi bumps his shoulder. “Wanna tell me what this is about?”
From the look on his face, Hitoshi already has an idea. But he lets Izuku gather his thoughts, waiting silently for him to speak. Izuku still feels strange preparing to say this out loud to another living, breathing person, but if he doesn’t, then he made Hitoshi come over here for nothing.
“I… I think I have. R-romantic, um. Feelings. For…”
“For a guy?” Hitoshi supplies, when Izuku’s voice falters.
Izuku hesitates, but after a moment, he slowly nods his head. “I’ve been, um. Thinking. And doing some… r-research. And I—I think so.”
Hitoshi’s smile gets bigger, and he nudges Izuku’s shoulder again. “Okay. Hey. That’s not a bad thing,” he says, keeping his voice soft. It washes over Izuku like warm water; he didn’t know he was waiting for someone to tell him that until someone said it. “It’s okay. Can’t help how you feel, right?”
“I know,” Izuku says. “I’ve just been… scared.”
“Because you immediately went into crisis mode the way you do for literally everything.” Hitoshi rolls his eyes. “I know you.”
It makes Izuku laugh, as he scratches behind Princess’ ears again. “Yeah. But it’s just… I’ve never—I always thought I was straight. I’ve never had these kinds of feelings for a guy before. And I’m 23… Is that normal?”
Hitoshi shrugs. “Everybody’s different. ‘Normal’ doesn’t really mean much. Some people have more of a preference one way or the other, or take a while to figure it out. But whatever you’re feeling… It's all okay. It isn’t something to be afraid of.”
Izuku cringes. “I know. It’s just… strange.”
“It’s new. It’s not something that’s ever happened before, right? It’s alright to be freaked out. I was too, the first time I had a crush on a boy.”
Izuku feels the tension draining from his whole body. He should have known Hitoshi would get it. He can’t help but wonder why he was so afraid in the first place. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s it.” He frowns. “I’m sorry.” Suddenly, he feels kind of stupid for getting so worked up about it. Hitoshi makes it all sound so simple. But then again, he’s been out for years.
“Don’t be sorry, you idiot. You were scared. Not knowing how you feel is scary. That’s a normal reaction.” Hitoshi hesitates, before reaching over to wrap an arm around Izuku’s back. “Seriously. It’s not anything to be ashamed of, but you’re not a homophobic dick and you knew that already.”
Izuku laughs, and Hitoshi squeezes him. “There he is,” Hitoshi says, smile getting bigger for a minute. But his expression turns serious after a moment. “Look, for real. Everybody processes this stuff in different ways. You’re not a bad person for being scared or weirded out or anything. Changes like this are hard.” Hitoshi leans forward until he can meet Izuku’s eyes. “Does he make you happy?”
Izuku sucks in a breath, thinking about all the times he and Katsuki have had together over the past few months. From workouts to lunches to just everyday hangouts and everything in between. He thinks about how badly he wants to curl up in Katsuki’s arms, how he laughs more than he ever has when he’s with him, and how much he misses him whenever he’s not around.
“Yeah,” Izuku says, in a small voice. But he’s smiling, his face heating up as he finally lets himself think past all the anxiety and questions and uncertainty over the past few weeks and actually focus on the good feelings. Maybe finally saying it all out loud to someone else was what he needed to put it into perspective. “Yeah, he does.”
Hitoshi claps him on the back. “Good. Focus on that instead of everything else.”
Izuku perks up even more, getting a little lost in his own thoughts for a moment. He’s always been a little hesitant about relationships, always afraid to fall too fast or too hard and get hurt in the process. He’s always needed a little push before he actually tells the object of his affection how he feels.
But of course, the minute he thinks about actually telling Katsuki about all this, he’s back to square one. What if Katsuki doesn’t actually like him back? It’ll destroy him, and it makes Izuku’s insides clench painfully all over again.
Hitoshi frowns again. “I know that look. What are you thinking?”
“What… What do I do?” Izuku’s heart beats faster suddenly. “I’ve never been good at telling girls how I feel, and now I’m—What if he doesn’t like me? What if it ruins our friendship? What if he… I don’t know, really, but what if it’s weird?”
Hitoshi stares at him for a long moment. So long that Izuku worries what he’s going to say. Hitoshi is a lot like Katsuki in some ways; he’s also slightly aggressive in his support. That intense look makes Izuku worry.
Finally, Hitoshi runs a hand through his hair, moving to rub Izuku’s back comfortingly. “Don’t get mad, but… This is about Katsuki, isn’t it?”
Izuku freezes, his face paling. And apparently that’s all the confirmation Hitoshi needs, because he smiles again, holding out his hands in a gesture of surrender. “How did you—” Izuku only knew recently, how the hell did Hitoshi see it?
“Hey, breathe man, it’s okay.”
“How did you know? I didn’t even know until like, a week or so ago. If that.”
Hitoshi gives him another small smile. “Once you said you had feelings for a guy… There’s really only one person that could be. You talk about him the same way you used to talk about Ochako. And you mention him constantly. And you always have this look on your face when you do, like you’re just overly happy.”
Izuku cringes again. “Am I that obvious?” And then he panics. “Oh god, what if he knows? What if he gets freaked out, or stops talking to me, or—”
Hitoshi grabs his shoulders. “Okay, Izuku, deep breaths. C’mon.”
When Izuku feels noticeably calmer, Hitoshi smiles again. “Well, alright. Practical thing first. He’s gay, right? That means you have a chance, at least.”
Izuku groans. “Yeah, but…”
“But what? You guys hang out together all the time. Is it so outside the realm of possibility that he might like you back?”
“Maybe,” Izuku mumbles, giving a tiny shrug of his shoulders. “Katsuki is… He’s amazing. He’s funny and talented and smart and… pretty, and I’m… me.”
Hitoshi glares at him. “That is bullshit and you know it.”
Now he really sounds like Katsuki.
“Well, okay,” Hitoshi amends. “Katsuki is great. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t thought about getting with him. But you’re great, too. Katsuki himself has said that multiple times.”
“...Yeah, I guess.” Izuku blushes.
“You won’t know unless you talk to him.”
“Wh—I can’t tell him!” Izuku startles so violently that Princess nearly vacates her perch on his lap. He hesitantly rubs her back until she calms down, settling until she’s comfortable again. “What if he thinks it’s weird that I like him? We’ve been friends for so long, and I really don’t want to lose him, and… What if he stops talking to me? What if it ruins our friendship?”
“Then he’s a dick, and he isn’t worth it, and I will personally hit him for you.”
Izuku winces. Hitoshi would, too. He’s done it before.
He sighs, running a hand through his hair and feeling his eyes well up almost against his will. He can’t help it; he likes Katsuki a lot, but he hates the thought of losing him entirely even more.
“What if he says no?”
Hitoshi’s face falls. Izuku sniffles, wiping at his suddenly watery eyes to stop the tears from falling.
“Look,” Hitoshi says. “I won’t lie and say that isn’t a possibility, but… Even if he says no, you two have been friends—close friends—for a while now. You’ll be able to work it out. It’ll hurt, obviously, but you won’t know unless you tell him how you feel.”
Izuku is silent, and Hitoshi takes it as an opportunity to continue. “I don’t know Katsuki as well as you, but I don’t think he’s the kind of person who would let your whole friendship collapse over this.”
Deep down, Izuku knows that too, but he’s so polluted by insecurity right now that his rational brain isn’t getting that point across too well. He knows Katsuki wouldn’t abandon him over this, but if he does say no… Izuku doesn’t know what he’ll do.
He hesitates, before opening his mouth again. “Do you… What do you think? Do I even have a chance? What do I…” What do I tell him?
“Just be honest with him. Tell him how you feel, from the heart. Which is hard, especially with how much you care about him, but you’ve always been good at that in the past. And I can’t speak for him, but… from what I’ve seen of you two, I really think you might have a shot.”
Izuku sucks in a breath. “You… I… Really?”
Hitoshi nods. “Talk to him. Tell him what he means to you. And if he says no, I promise we can eat all the ice cream and watch all the dorky movies you want.”
Izuku laughs, even though his heart is still pounding. With every relationship he’s ever had, confessing was always the hardest part. “Thanks,” he says, leaning into Hitoshi’s shoulder.
Hitoshi wraps an arm around him again. “And hey. I’m proud of you. Coming to terms with this kind of thing isn’t always easy.”
Izuku gives him a wry smile. “Guess we’re in the same club now, right?”
“I’ll save you a seat at the council meeting,” Hitoshi says, laughing. “I’m glad you told me.”
Izuku’s smile grows, and he feels a little lighter after getting it all off his chest. He was so nervous about letting someone else know, even if that someone is also bisexual, but now that he has, he feels silly for even worrying about it in the first place. Everything he read said there was no wrong way to come out, but…
“Thanks for… helping me,” Izuku says, leaning further until his head rests on Hitoshi’s shoulder.
“Don’t mention it. Feeling better?”
Izuku nods, and Princess chooses that moment to stretch out across his legs, before she reaches up and rests her paws in the middle of his chest.
Even the cat supports him, it seems. Izuku can’t help but laugh.
They spend the rest of the afternoon just talking. Izuku has questions that a Google search didn’t really answer for him, or that he didn’t even want to type into a search engine in the first place. He hesitates, mumbling that Hitoshi doesn’t have to answer if he doesn’t want to, but Hitoshi is happy to help.
Izuku is grateful for it. Because the thought of asking Katsuki some of this is… more than a little intimidating.
By the end of the evening, Izuku knows a lot more about himself, and has at least somewhat of a game plan for talking to Katsuki. It was a cathartic conversation, and Izuku is so tired by the end of it that he crawls into bed and falls asleep earlier than he ever has before.
The thought of actually telling Katsuki any of this is scary to say the least, but at least he’s not as uncertain about how he feels, now.
Izuku meets up with Katsuki again two days later.
Things are a little… tense between them, but for the most part, it’s all normal. Izuku can tell that Katsuki wants to ask what happened, but he doesn’t push, at least not yet. Izuku is tempted to just blurt it all out right there on the gym floor, but he wants to at least try and get a little of their equilibrium back before getting his heart broken.
Katsuki seems… subdued. He isn’t talking as much, and he doesn’t smile as often. Izuku feels a little bad for keeping him on edge like this, but he needs to get at least somewhat of a handle on his own thoughts before even approaching that conversation.
He lets it marinate over the weekend. He spends a lot of time tossing and turning in bed, imagining all the different ways the confession might go, both good and bad. He imagines all the things Katsuki might say, all the ways he might react. Some of them make him want to call Katsuki right now and pour all his stupid feelings out over the phone. Others make Izuku want to move to the other side of the world and never go back.
Dammit, he feels like a teenager all over again.
But after a few more days, and a forceful phone call from Hitoshi, Izuku wakes up on a Thursday morning ready to confess. He’s still worried, but everything he feels is only getting stronger by the day, and the longer he holds it in, the more he feels as if he’s going to burst.
They meet up at the gym, and Katsuki looks just as gorgeous as ever. Izuku doesn’t feel scared by that thought anymore; in fact he can’t help but steal glances at Katsuki during their workout, scanning his face and watching for the little upward curve of his lip whenever he does a particularly good set. It makes Izuku smile too, so much so that he almost forgets to be nervous.
The nerves come back later, when they’re walking to Katsuki’s car. Katsuki offered to drive him to the train, as he’s going straight to work after this.
Izuku feels his hands shaking, and he tries very hard to calm down. He practiced what he was going to say. He even went so far as to rehearse it in the mirror like some fifteen year old kid. But suddenly it’s all flying away on the wind, leaving Izuku empty and devoid of words.
Katsuki is opening the door to his car, and he doesn’t seem to notice that Izuku has stopped a few feet away. Tell him. Just do it, come on—
“I—Ihavetotellyousomething.” The words come out as a high-pitched squeak, and Izuku can feel his face heating up.
Katsuki turns back to him, raising an eyebrow like he was expecting this all along. Izuku doesn’t know if that makes him feel better or worse. “Is it about why you’ve been acting so damn weird lately?”
Leave it to Katsuki to get straight to the point. “I... Um... Yeah.” Izuku folds his arms across his chest, suddenly feeling his whole body shake. “Please don’t get mad.”
Katsuki’s eyebrow climbs even higher, but he doesn’t look any angrier than his usual characteristic irritableness. It’s oddly comforting, weirdly enough.
“Well?” Katsuki asks. “Spit it out, Deku.”
Izuku freezes. Wha… “What did you just call me?” Why would he… Is this whole thing just doomed from the start?
Kastuki laughs. “You’re actin’ like an idiot. You can read your name as Deku, right? ‘S what I call you in my head every time you start acting like a moron.”
Izuku just stares at him, feeling the nerves crescendo even higher. Katsuki seems to realize that something is wrong, because a moment later he steps closer, rubbing the back of his neck and watching Izuku intently. “Uh—That was meant to be… Not mean. It’s not a bad thing. I give everybody nicknames in my head. Always have. Ei’s been Shitty Hair for about ten years now.”
It makes Izuku relax a fraction, but not by much. “Right,” he mumbles, his arms tightening around himself. Part of him is secretly thrilled that Katsuki gave him a nickname, but the rest of him is still so worried that this is going to change everything between them.
“Hey, seriously, what’s goin’ on? Did I do something? You’ve been acting weird for a little while now… Is everything okay?”
There’s real concern on Katsuki’s face, like he cares. It’s the same look from their talk in the locker room after Izuku and Ochako broke up, the same look Katsuki always gets whenever Izuku is upset about something.
It makes Izuku let out a tiny groan, tilting his head back as he takes a deep breath. He has to tell him, even if it means that he’s about to get his heart broken in a big way.
“I… I…” He groans again, and it’s a frustrated one, this time. Just get it over with.
“I think I… I mean I’ve been thinking for a while now, and I’ve been having these thoughts and questioning a lot about myself and everything, and I—” He’s rambling, but he has a habit of dissolving into word-vomit when he’s nervous. It’s the easiest way for him to talk about things that make him anxious, and before long the words come tumbling out of Izuku’s mouth.
“I like you. Like… Not just as a friend. I mean I do—you are my friend, but I’ve been thinking and I just—I really like you. Like, want to date you. And I thought I was straight my whole life, but apparently I’m not because I met you and I wanted that with you when I’ve never even thought that stuff about a guy before. But I can’t stop thinking about you, and you’re just… You’re amazing, and it was just a lot to process but I really like you. And it’s okay if you don’t like me, but I just really wanted you to know. Oh man I should stop talking, I should really—”
Katsuki is standing much closer now, staring at him with wide eyes. His voice is quiet, and for a moment Izuku’s heart drops to the pit of his stomach as his eyes start to water. It’s the longest stretch of silence Izuku has ever experienced, even though it only lasts around thirty seconds.
But then Katsuki smiles, and Izuku feels as if he can breathe again.
“You—Holy shit.” Katsuki runs a hand through his hair, laughing as he does. “Oh man. You… You’re bi.”
Izuku nods, hesitantly. “Yeah.”
“And you like me. Romantically.”
“...Yeah.” What is he—
“Dammit, I thought I didn’t have a chance,” Katsuki says, smile growing until he’s sporting that feral smirk Izuku loves so much. “I kinda had a feeling—I mean, I caught you staring at my ass a few times, but I just thought… Holy shit. You like me. This is awesome.”
Izuku practically stops breathing. “You mean…”
Katsuki steps closer, reaching forward to pry one of Izuku’s arms away from his chest. He pulls it towards him until he can twine their fingers together, and Izuku feels his lips spreading into a wide grin almost against his will. His heart pounds against his chest, because if this means what he thinks it does, then everything might be about to get a whole lot better.
“I like you too, you giant idiot. What the hell were you so nervous about?” Izuku can see pink spreading across Katsuki’s cheeks. He’s blushing. Blushing! Izuku didn’t think he would ever be able to make Katsuki blush. “I’ve liked you for a while now. Thought you were straight, and I was happy just being your friend, so I didn’t push it, but…”
Katsuki’s smile softens, and he tucks his chin in in a move so cute that Izuku might die. That expression is so much prettier than any smile he’s ever seen on Katsuki’s face before, and Izuku hesitantly squeezes his hand.
“Kacchan?” Izuku asks. Katsuki looks up at him with wide eyes, the pink on his cheeks turning a violent shade of red. Izuku’s own blush rises to match, and he lets out a tiny eep as he realizes what he just said.
“What did you call me?”
“I—Um—I kinda… Gave you a nickname in my head, too? If that’s okay.” It was a recent addition, but it came to Izuku in a stray thought soon after his talk with Hitoshi, and it stuck. If Katsuki doesn’t like it, though, he’s more than happy to find an alternative.
“No… It’s good. It’s fine. ‘S cute.” Katsuki’s blush gets deeper, if possible, and he looks so flustered and happy and adorable like this that Izuku can’t help but reach for his other hand.
“Kacchan,” Izuku says, trying the name out on his tongue again. “You really like me?”
Katsuki rolls his eyes. “Yeah, moron. You and that dumb pretty smile and near-infinite bank of nerdy wisdom and those thighs that could probably crush my head.” There’s a mischievous glint in Katsuki’s eye that makes Izuku’s eyes widen drastically. “You can, if you want. I wouldn’t mind.”
Izuku squeaks, spluttering as he (regrettably) lets go of Katsuki’s hands to hide his face. Katsuki slugs him in the arm, but when Izuku peeks out from between his fingers, that soft smile Izuku likes so much is back on his face.
God, he feels like he’s floating. He’s dated people in the past, sure. They were short-term relationships that didn’t last very long, and a couple of longer ones here and there. But he doesn’t remember it ever feeling like this before.
“Would you… Um…” Izuku hesitates, somehow still nervous despite Katsuki admitting that he likes him back. Fuck, Katsuki Bakugo actually likes him back. “Do you want…”
Katsuki notices how nervous he is, and his smile turns mischievous again. “Come on, Deku,” he says, chuckling softly. “Ask me properly.”
Deku. The word is a rough one, but it sounds smooth and sweet on Katsuki’s lips. Izuku takes a deep breath, focusing on the look in Katsuki’s eyes.
“Go out with me?” Somehow, he manages to keep his voice steady, even though his eyes are starting to water and a wobbly smile is breaking out across his face. “It doesn’t have to be fancy. We can do whatever you want, but… Go out with me. On a date.”
Katsuki’s answering grin burns like fire. It makes Izuku feel like he could deadlift the entire gym.
He would try, if Katsuki asked him to.
“Yeah, nerd,” Katsuki says, grabbing Izuku’s hand again. “Let’s go on a fuckin’ date.”