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Whipping his friends back into shape turned out to be a lot more challenging than he expected.

Only one came up mostly unscathed. Kirishima kept up his grades but that was because he is a good boy and because Katsuki spent a good portion of their first year smacking the ever loving shit him over his dense head enough with every available object within range to burn into his skull what proper studying techniques were.

The rest of his leeches?

“How the ever loving fuck did you all manage to fuck up this badly in a month?!”

All four of his minions have their heads ducked down from the other side of the table, deliberately avoiding his furious gaze. Shame practically oozes off them, especially Ashido and Kaminari.

Shame that is rightly deserved, given what he’s looking at.

Their latest assignments are spread out in front of him, glaring up at Katsuki with their lowly grades. Katsuki can practically sense the sheer disappointment Aizawa felt while grading those. Rightfully deserved -this is ridiculous !

After all of their hard work, they still somehow managed to slip down by two ranks in the class, landing them at the near bottom. While yes, Kaminari and Ashido fucking suck at most written subjects, Kastuki had hoped he’d managed to somehow instill a smidge of discipline onto them.

Clearly, this didn’t happen.

“I should toss all of you out a window.”

“Alright,” Ashido begins diplomatically with a calm voice but she's sweating and Katsuki can smell the fear from a mile away.  “-before you start hitting us, I must mention we brought you flowers.”

Kirishima, Kaminari and Sero all bob their heads along. Katsuki barely resists the urge to grab his Pimp Cane and smack all of them like it's a game of whack-a-mole. It’s oh so tempting.

He’s mature enough not to resort to physical assault. At least for now, he had the tiniest inkling of a feeling that this might change in the future. Mercy however doesn’t stop him from screaming at them:

“-fucking idiots you can’t manage anything without me can you-”

“Every. Day.” Kaminari stresses, because the useless fuck can only provide commentary.

“-time you could have spent being fucking productive and making sure you don’t become bottom feeding trash-”

Sero turns to Kaminari, ignoring Katsuki completely. “Well, more or less every day. Remember that wednesday?”

“-are you even fucking listening to me?!”

“Oh yeah, the store was closed.” Kaminari agrees, wincing lightly at Katsuki’s screech. “Wait, Kirishima still managed to make a bouquet out of dandelions. So that still counts!” He explains, turning back to Katsuki and smiling proudly like that fucking explained the measly 63.4% he got in his last assignment.

That, somehow, brings Katsuki’s raving to a screeching halt. Dandelions . Did he just say that? As in the terrible, fugly little yellow weeds he has to viciously fight off his lawn every summer while his mother barked out orders from the porch like the bourgeois bitch she is? That horrible plant? 

They brought that to his poor, comatose self?! No wonder he stayed asleep for so fucking long!

“Dandelions?!” He hisses, turning to Kaminari who quickly grows pale. “Why the fuck would you give me dandelions?!”

“Because they’re hardy, angry, yellow and generally a pain in the collective ass of humanity.” Denki sniffs. 

It makes Katsuki contemplate the pros and cons of strangling the bastard.

“Great.” Katsuki hisses instead, mind going back to his reunion with the old man and the hag. He’s starting to see a pattern here that he’s not sure he likes. “Dandelions. I’ll keep that in mind for when I write my will. You’re all off it.”

Kirishima squints at him. 

“That’s not funny, bro.”

“Dandelions.” Katsuki responds instead, stressing the word with an imperious stare.

“You should do that sooner than later.” A voice pipes up from the other side of the near empty common room. 

Katsuki turns his attention to the source, a certain tall purple bastard. Shinsou’s sitting on one of the sofas on the other side of the room, nursing a steaming cup of coffee close to his chest. Katsuki thinks this might be his third one of the day; not alarming, well, not anymore, given that when exams loomed Shinsou would be rarely if ever be seen without one. 

“What do you mean by that?” He asks. Shinsou’s lips quirk up, a ghost of a fox-like smile that bodes nothing good.

“They haggled over your corpse.”

Behind Katsuki, Ashido gasps like she’s been betrayed. “Shinsou!” 

Huh. Interesting. Katsuki turns to the purple bastard, quaking an eyebrow up. “Oh yeah?” He hums, ignoring the splutter from his four minions. “Tell me, who was getting what?”

Behind him, dumb, idiot, brat and dumber start sputtering. “I can’t believe-”

“Denki wanted your console-”

“HEY!”

Katsuki chuckles, turning to a beat red Kaminari. “My console, eh?” He starts, voice full of danger and mirth. Might as well make them squirm, they deserve it.

The other blond shakes his head violently, lifting his hands up like Katsuki is going to leap over the table to throttle him. The dramatic look of betrayal he gives Shinsou is everything.

“Fuck you,” Kaminari turns to Shinsou, whining. “....I said I missed playing on the console, not that I wanted it!”

“Why the fuck didn’t you use it then?” Katsuki points out. “It’s not like I was fucking using it.”

Sero snorts before he can stop himself. Ashido lets out a giggle that is a bit too hysterical, and the look of disappointment Kirishima gives him could make a grandmother cry. Joke’s on him though, Katsuki never met his grandparents.

“Ha, ha.” Kaminari’s laugh is flat and not very impressed by Katsuki’s lack of tact. “Dude, we didn't, it's not the same experience without you breathing down our necks,” he points out. “There’s no fun there!”

Maybe that Stocklom syndrome thing is real-

 “-besides, it’s not like we could even lounge around your room with Midoriya watching us like a hawk!”

What.

Katsuki frowns. “The fuck are you talking about?”

Kaminari rolls his eyes. “He'd get pissy if we moved your stuff around! Kept cleaning up your room while we were in it, too.”

Katsuki feels faint.

“Deku told me you guys cleaned my room.” He says, stomach lurching.

“Technically we did,” Ashido points out, a strange look in her eyes. There’s little to no amusement in her expression anymore, a change so radical that any thought of erupting in rage at this newfound information fled Katsuki’s mind.  “-but only for the first week or so. Then Midoriya took over and I swear he put a sensor in there, because every time we took a step in your room he showed up to make sure we didn’t disturb it.”

“What the fuck.” Katsuki frowns. The urge to gnaw his lower lip isn’t something he allows often, but this time he gives in. “Why would he lie to me?”

“I don't know.” Kirishima shakes his head as he answers, interjecting before Ashido could respond. He frowns, an almost considering look on his face as he tilts his head towards Katsuki. “Maybe you should ask him?”

All four of his friends stare at him, waiting. It makes his stomach twists into knots and his hands feel sweaty and warm, a contrasting sensation next to the cold, cold pit in his chest.

“Fuck,” Katsuki breathes out.  He's already reconsidering the whole waking up thing. “...maybe I should.”

He looks down at the papers spread out in front of him, eyes un-focusing from their contents. 

Why didn’t he tell me that?

It’s not that important, why would he hide it from me…?

Try as he might, he can’t find an answer to that question. It doesn’t infuriate him as much as it should -instead, it dregs up a strange, terrifying feeling that he’s not quite ready to unpack yet. Not here. Not now. Maybe not ever.

Clearly, he doesn’t have a choice to ignore it forever. But now…? 

Katsuki hears himself speak, but his voice sounds odd even to his own ears:

“Let’s get back on track.”

His friends pick up their pens again. They go back to studying, but the once playful air tinged with something awkward and restless.

.

 

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.

Being stuck unable to train fucking sucks ass.

Katsuki watches with ever thinning patience as Kaminari trips over his own two feet like a moron in a attempt to dodge and Shinsou wraps him up in his capture tape like a fucking present -god, he did not what to dwell on that for the sake of his sanity.

At his side, Aizawa lets out a low noise of disappointment. This is the quickest Kaminari got caught for this type of exercise. Not even a full minute. Moron. Katsuki’s certain it was because he got too distracted ogling Shinsou like the idiot he is.

This could all be over really quickly with just a few words but no, they just have to be dancing around each other. The longer he watches Shinsou drag the blonde off their designated training ground, the more he feels annoyed.

“They should stop dancing and suck faces already.” He mutters to himself -remembering in fact whom he’s sitting next to.

Aizawa reaches out and gently bonks him upside the head.

“Don’t say that ever again in my vicinity.”

Oh.

Right.

Aizawa has custody of Shinsou.

Hats off to the poor man. He must be feeling what Katsuki is feeling but so much worse . Katsuki is only a friend to the walking talking bimbo of a blond that is Kaminari Denki; Aizawa is the pseudo father of said bimbo’s victim.

Maybe they are victims of each other at this point. Kaminari gets all doozy when Shinsou is mentioned and that purple bastard has a one track mind when they're in the same room. Their fucking training must have fucking suffered like hell.

Idiots.

He shifts his attention away from the two, scanning the nineteen students spread out across the ample gym, doing their best to take down their opponents. 

Green hair draws his eyes to his far left, where part of the gym had been partially encased in ice. Todoroki and Deku were really going at it, ice constantly rising up alongside roaring flames that were answered with crackling static. Well, they were going all out as much as they could given their small designated area. 

Katsuki figured out early during this lesson why Aizawa was making them fight within an enclosed space all at once. Vast open spaces free of structures to fight in were going to be hard to come by once they graduated and took up jobs as sidekicks and Pro-Heroes. Come to think of it, most of their combat training during their last year were in narrow city-themed, or inside buildings.

As he watches them fight, Deku’s front is turned towards him. Their eyes meet and the other boy beams at him with a confident smile, sparkling green glowing with the inner fires of One for All.

He really looks like a Pro-Hero All Might would be proud of, Katsuki thinks. Something in his chest squirms the longer they maintain eye contact, his attention falling to the shape of Deku’s face so he looks away, down-

… and just as he notices the ice, a distracted Deku promptly loses his footing on said thin patch of near invisible ice and falls over like a marionette with its threads cut. 

Welp. 

There goes the match. 

Katsuki watches him faceplant into the ground with a strangled yelp of surprise, hands flailing. Within a split second Todoroki is on top of him, snapping on the Quirk-cancelling cuffs on his wrists and effectively winning the fight.

He snorts as they stand up, Deku’s head bowed in embarrassed shame. Almost as if hearing him somehow across the gym, Todoroki turns his head towards him and...just rolls his eyes? At Katsuki ?

Eh?

The fuck is wrong with him? 

.

 

.

 

.

Two hours later, Katsuki is minding his own business taking in the fresh air on a campus bench, reading over Deku’s notes when he hears a low cough.

There’s only ever one person on the campus that could make such a low, raspy, almost-dead noise,  so he knows it’s All Might before he ever lifts his eyes off the chicken scratches of a handwriting. Yeah, Deku might have been more careful with these notes -it showed in the stiffer handwriting- but his lopsided, hasty style still shone through enough that Katsuki could identify it easy.

Just like he identifies the man in front of him.

For even as thin, aged and tired as he looked, Katsuki would always see him as Yagi Toshinori, the longest reigning Number One Hero of Japan. Retired or not, he’s still Katsuki’s hero.

“All Might.” He greets with a soft sound.

“Hello, Katsuki.” All Might smiles down at him, the wrinkles around his eyes becoming more pronounced as a result. The sight doesn’t bother Katsuki as much as it once had. “It’s good to see you are well. I’m relieved that you  finally left the infirmary.”

“Recovery Girl’s pretty happy about that.” Katsuki informs him, trying at least somewhat to not sound proud about it. “She practically kicked me out.”

His childhood hero huffs out a small laugh.

“Well, you did give all of us plenty of new grey hairs.” All Might jokes and Katsuki’s eyes stray up to the man’s faded blonde locks. His roots had begun gaining white and grey colors, making his hair look paler, almost ethereal.

It makes him look all the more fragile. 

Old Katsuki from years ago would have grinded his teeth at the sight of such weakness, but he’s come a long way from the stubborn, stupid kid he’d been then. All Might had grown weaker with age, yes. But it was a fact of life -that is what happens when you grow old, especially with a missing stomach and a half a lung. 

The fact All Might survived up until now is a testament to his strength.

If anything he’s healthier now, after having gone to South Korea for a transplant for his missing organs. That had been an operation in and out of itself, with two months spent nervously waiting for the organs to grow in the lab using All Might’s cells, and then the travel and surgery itself. Midoriya hadn’t been allowed to go with him given it was the middle of their second year’s last semester, and neither had Katsuki, but Midoriya Inko had gone with him.

And, quite surprisingly, Endeavor tagged along for security, as per the Commission’s request for added protection. Katsuki still to this day quietly wonders how the ever loving fuck that happened. Or how it went. To this day, Half and Half refuses to say anything about it, but he gets a weird fucking smirk every time it’s brought up.

So much for reconciliation.

Katsuki quickly shakes those thoughts away, focusing on the man in front of him. “What are you doing out here?” 

All Might makes a halfhearted shrugging motion. “I thought about taking a walk.” The elderly man answers amiably. Then, he asks; “You?”

“Had to get out of the dormitories.” Before I commit mass slaughter because of idiot classmates . He doesn’t say that last part -he wants All Might to be somewhat proud of him, damn it.

All Might nods solemnly. “Ah, some fresh air always helps.”

Katsuki agrees with a non committal sound.

“May I sit?”

“Ain't needing my permission, old man.”

All Might laughs at his crass response and sits down. Katsuki pointedly ignores the low groan of relief the elderly hero lets out as he rests on the bench. What he doesn’t ignore though, is the slim black cane All Might rests against the side of his bench, suspiciously right next to Katsuki.

Any time now-

“I see young Yaoyorozou got you a gift.”

Katsuki fights hard the grimace at the amusement in his mentor’s voice. 

“It’s that or staying in bed forever.”

“It can’t be that bad-”

“Trust me,” Katsuki shakes his head, looking at the man in the eye. “It would make even you scream.”

All Might winces, sufficiently chastised. Katsuki doesn’t even need to explain why -they’d had this conversation before. It’s a good thing that during his time as a Pro-Hero, All Might had people with the express job of dressing him up for events. 

God, this man is terrible at color coordination. 

Him and Deku are two peas in a pod.

Any time he chose his own clothes it ended in disaster. Even two, nearly three years later, Katsuki isn’t forgiving him for that dreadful yellow stripe suit he chose to wear for most of their first semester. Whoever made that should have been fired and the suit tossed into the depths of the Miriana Trench.

“How’s your recovery?” All Might’s voice draws him back to the present. Glancing at his mentor, he finds the man looking at a passing flock of sparrows.

“Going as well as expected.” Katsuki grumbles, thinking back at the fact he’s been barred from physical. Shit timing, if only he’d woken up sooner… “Not allowed to do any heavy exercise or participate in training. Fucking sucks.”

“Well, until then I guess I can keep you company!” All Might smiles, a wide thing that reminisces of his smiles as a hero. “I think the proper term is Cane Buddies?”

Katsuki stares, long and incredulous. For all his strengths, All Might is still utterly gauche sometimes it makes his head spin.

“...that sounds so wrong on so many levels, I don't even know how to start.” 

All Might looks far away into the distance like a sailor watching the sea. 

Slowly, he nods.

“...I must agree.”

“Good. Never say that again.”

“Hmm. Coffee?”

“Dear god, yes.”

.

 

.

 

.

They end up going for coffee in the student-run cafe.

Neither of them are stupid enough to suggest and even more so to actually go off campus for this little coffee break. Despite what the Hero Commission likes to say officially, Shigaraki and his goons are still well and active; even if they are scattered across Japan, trying desperately to claw back some of their significance from the old days.

They never quite got the momentum they were looking for after Kamino and their true leader’s capture. In-fighting and battling other factions left them with merger ressources. Good.  Still, they had just enough to fuck up what should have been Katsuki’s last and a bombshell of a semester. 

Just the thought of his situation made Katsuki feel sour.

He hopes Shigaraki is somewhere out there choking on a fucking dick .

Even with the knowledge that the League is greatly weakened though, Katsuki doesn’t dare go out the campus right now. Especially with All Might. Neither of them are in any shape to fight. All Might's days of fighting villains are long over, and despite his best efforts Katsuki’s legs felt like jelly on a good day. Risking off an campus attack for a principle was just asking to get sent back to the infirmary with a Recovery Girl, or not even make it there. 

If it did happen, Katsuki hopes for the latter.

A few students recognize them as they enter the cafe. Katsuki dutifully waits in line while All Might does the habitual waves, smiles and one picture with what looks like an utterly beaming first year high on sugary pastries and hero-worship. The man’s always soft with the students, going out of his way to help where he can.

He’s gotten a lot better at it, Katsuki thinks as he watches All Might talk to the kid, remembering how terribly his first semester with the Pro-Hero had been.

Eventually All Might returns to his side, smoothly subtracting himself from his adoring crowd to add himself to the line just in time for it to be their turn to order. Katsuki orders a matcha latte and a croissant; All Might gets himself some mild tea and a small slice of chiffon cake; he has to gently haggle the wide, teary-eyed second year on the other side of the counter ringing them up not to give him a discount.

After that mess is sorted out, they move to the outside section of the cafe. Katsuki scoped out a place to sit the moment they entered the cafe, so he led All Might to the back of the simple wooden patio to a two-person table under a young, slightly crooked oak tree. 

It’s his preferred hang out spot at the cafe, far enough away from the main section of the patio to have some privacy, but close enough that neither Kirishima or Ashido can complain about Katsuki retreating into a literal corner to escape social interaction. 

Once he sits down and holds his tea in a pair of pale, withered hands, All Might lets out a soft sigh of delight. “This is nice,” he murmurs, blowing gently on the steaming cup before diverting his eyes towards Katsuki. “How are your studies?”

A basic conversation starter, but given what just transpired a few minutes ago, Katsuki’s going to shut up and take it.

“Could be better,” he huffs as he takes a sip of his coffee.

“I heard you’re inadmissible for the physical.”

“You heard right.” Katsuki replies, brows scrunching up as he remembers one of the many conversations he’d had with his main Heroics teacher about the topic. “Aizawa will, and I quote, hang me up by my toes if I try. And then not let me graduate because, as I quote again , keeping me for another year for being ‘inconsiderate about my well-being’ is worth the suffering from dealing with me.”

All Might seems to contemplate that statement for a moment, eyes glinting with amusement. “Sounds like him.” He responds after a long pause.

Katsuki huffs in indignation.

“-as if I’m the one who needs to be reminded about being ‘considerate’ about my wellbeing.” He picks up his croissant and bites into it more harshly than the poor pastry deserves. “..fucking bullshit, that’s what it is.”

Most certainly knowing what, or rather, who Katsuki is talking about given most of said person’s inability to care about himself came from his less than stellar teaching, All Might offers him a sheepish grin.

"Katsuki,” The retired Pro-Hero defends himself with a awkward laugh. “It’s a work in progress.”

Katsuki raises one indignant eyebrow at him. “After nearly three years? No shit.” He says after a pause. “...we need to do better at cracking his skull now, before he actually cracks his fucking skull out there.” 

Can’t be always there to toss myself in between.

Katsuki very wisely -at least in his own opinion- grabs that little voice and furiously smoothers it before anything is said about that.

“I think he’s learned his lesson about recklessness.” All Might interrupts gently, and his soft but firm tone as Katsuki tightening his grip on his coffee mug. “... especially now.”

“...right.” The blond mumbles, anger fading as he recalls Deku’s sullen expression the day he returned from the infirmary.

Fuck.

“He slept in your room.”

Katsuki nearly drops his coffee. He scrambles after the cup with a yelp, barely grabbing it in time. Stunned, he looks up from his saved drink to see All Might looking at him with a resolute expression he’d never seen from the man before.

What ?” He squawks out, voice too dry. 

All Might's eyes glimmer. There's fondness in those bright blues as well as something else, too, that Katsuki can’t quite discern. Not while his brain is rebooting and finishing analyzing what he’s just been told.

“It’s true.”

“He slept,” Katsuki chokes on the words. There’s no need to specify who they were talking about -that is all too clear. “-in my room. What ?”

“I guessed he wouldn’t tell you.”

“I...what the fuck ?” Katsuki snarls, ignoring the odd glances from nearby tables at the commotion.

All Might tilts his head. There’s an innocent look on his face that Katsuki does not like. “Is it a problem?”

“Deku squatting in my room for a month and a half? Fuck yes if he doesn’t say shit!” Katsuki grits his teeth, fighting to give in to the urge to stand up, grab his cane and hunt down Deku until he is reduced to a fine paste. “I’m gonna fucking kill him.”

“Eat your croissant, Katsuki.” All Might interrupts his rant gently, unaffected by the rage oozing off Katsuki. “There’s no need for that.”

Katsuki picks up his croissant and all but viciously rips a chunk out of it. To his credit, All Might’s fond smile doesn’t as much as twitch at the slaughter. 

“The others told me he cleaned my fucking room.” He grits out after swallowing. “Never said anything about sleeping in there.”

“Well, hm, Katsuki, given your reaction-”

“-I get it!”

All Might purses his lip. “He doesn’t want to mess things up with you.”

Katsuki frowns. That’s an odd way to say it… but then again, when has his relationship with Deku ever been not complicated? Katsuki resigned himself to that years ago, to question that again is foolish.

And still… 

“Why me?”

“Sometimes I worry.” All Might murmurs, thoughtful. His eyes narrow slightly, a momentary dullness in them stopping Katsuki from saying anything. He looks almost sad for a moment, and it's not something he’d ever want to be responsible for. “Katsuki, it’s because it is you that he did that. This past month was not easy -especially for him. You were a inch away from death, my boy.”

“He blames himself.”

By the look on All Might’s face, he’d been expecting that.

“Just to begin with.” The elderly man answers, eyes pinning Katsuki’s in place. “You have to understand that this goes beyond just guilt.”

“He’s Deku.” Katsuki tries to defend. “Too emotional.”

It feels hollow even to his own ears.

“Katsuki,” All Might begins, soft and firm in a way he rarely ever spoke. If it wasn’t for those calm, bright blue eyes staring right into him like he knew what he’s thinking, like he sees all what made up Katsuki’s uneasy self, his voice alone would have kept him silent. “He cares about you deeply.”

Katsuki’s throat feels dry.

“More so than you realize.”

 

.

 

.

 

.

He cares about you deeply. More so than you realize. 

The declaration haunts him, even two days later. Try as he might to sink himself into his schoolwork, Katsuki can’t escape those words. Even now in the darkness of his bedroom, he stares up at the ceiling sightlessly, lost to his own thoughts and not, as he would like, to the land of sleep.

What did All Might meant when he said that? Combined with the fact Deku lied about the whole bedroom cleaning thing… and All Might's revelation that the nerd slept in Katsuki’s bed occasionally when he was still in the infirmary, it left holes in what Katsuki thought was their relationship that makes him feel uneasy.

He could ask Deku, he knows.

Pin the bastard to a wall or trap him in a room so his flighty little ass could talk. Part of him is tempted to. But on the other hand, Katsuki knows such a frontal attack would leave him scrambling for what to say; the maelstrom of strange, tight feelings in his chest would inevitably come tumbling out and this would just result into a bigger mess.

No.

If he’s going to face Deku, he’s going to do it with a plan.

Emotions weren’t his fucking thing. He’s man enough to admit it. That is Deku’s ballgame; the idiot is sensitive on a good day and an emotional wreck on a bad one. Simultaneously though, he also has the bad tendency of bottling shit up when it really mattered, and while Katsuki would be an utter hypocrite to criticize him for it, he’s also been dragged to Hound Dog’s office enough times to admit it's not the best coping mechanism.

Nor is throwing things, Katsuki thinks morosely as he watches his alarm clock’s illuminated dial change from 1:03 to 1:04. I’m going to kill that nerd, making me lose sleep over his ass.

Try as he might, sleep eludes him better than Tooru during stealth training. It’s not as bad as after Kamino, which Katsuki is grateful for, but it’s also not pleasant either. Deep down, part of him knows he’s not going to sleep any time soon.

Fuck it.

There’s only one thing he can do right now.

Anything other than laying down, that is.

Katsuki rolls off his bed, the safety and privacy of his dorm room allowing him to flop to the ground ungracefully without a scratch to his dignity. He picks himself up with a wobble, hissing as his limbs protest the sudden shift. Yeah, fuck them all, they better get used to moving again. They had a month and a half of sleep, it’s now time to pick up the backlog. Lazy bastards.

Wobbling to his desk chair, he sits down with a relieved sigh. It’s a frustrating game to pat around in the darkness until he hits the switch for his small desk lamp, suddenly flooding the room in its soft, warm light.

Katsuki only barely fights back a hiss at the sudden light, channeling the pain into grabbing his laptop and angrily opening the device. It takes more time than he’d like for the damn thing to boot up. He practically stabs the password in.

Accessing his desktop, Katsuki taps on the search button and loads up Youtube. 

Finding the right video is easier than he expects. One of the top rated videos that pops up when he writes Bakugo Katsuki Fight draws his attention immediately over the other ones, who seem like clips from news feeds.

Bakugo Nomu Attack [Uncensored Footage]

The name says it all. There’s no clearer than that.

Katsuki hits play.

The video opens up right in the thick of it, on street level view. Screaming reaches Katsuki’s ears, deafened by the sounds of fighting -he hears the faint, characteristic crackle of One for All and his own explosions.

Deku is easy to spot, fighting that huge, oversized Nomu and wrestling it with some effort. He’s grown since his first year, his control over One for All no way near All Might’s but good enough that getting into a physical, close combat fight with him is the last thing anyone should do. Fortunately for Deku this Nomu doesn’t have the brain cells to reach this conclusion, and it fights with all it has as Deku wraps his arms around its waist and all but throws it into the ground hard enough to cause a crater.

Not for the first time, Katsuki whispers a quiet holy shit to himself. 

It’s one thing to know how strong Deku is, it's another to see him use it in combat when he’s only holding back to prevent at least some property damage.

Suddenly, Katsuki frowns as a thought strikes him. Wait, if the video is this far into the fight-

“Oh shut the bloody fuck up!”

Ah,

There it is.

Upon hearing his own voice, Katsuki scans the footage and quickly enough, notices it

The shadow is slinking in between the upturned cars, keeping low to the ground. Katsuki’s eyes narrow.

There it is.

The footage is grainy, but there’s no mistaking the shape of the Nomu’s long snout as it slowly inches towards Deku. It seems like the cameraman noticed it, too -his breath catches, a low cursing sound of alarm rising out of him as the Nomu stops, crouches even lower, preparing to jump- and then it’s off, leaving across the street like a rabbit, jaws wide open and aimed towards a unsuspecting Deku’s back-

People start screaming. Katsuki watches as his past self suddenly rushes into view, using his entire weight to shove Deku out of the way. His friend is bigger than him, so Katsuki’s past self ends up landing right in the path of the incoming Nomu while Deku goes tumbling off to the side with a strangled, confused yelp of his name, utterly oblivious to what is about to happen.

Two things happen within the next second; Deku stumbles and turns around, and the Nomu’s gaping jaw connects with Katsuki’s body.

Even as far away as the camera is, the sickening crunch that echoes through the laptop’s speakers has Katsuki’s heart dropping at the bottom of his stomach.

He watches, numb and quiet, as the Nomu squeezes its jaws tight around his body and without hesitation, starts flailing its head around like a dog shaking a toy. There's nothing comical or funny however in the way Past Katsuki’s body dangles with the wild motions, helpless and limp from shock and pain.

There’s blood. So much damn blood. Katsuki never thought he’d see his dark uniform look more red than black, but it was happening, right there on video. No wonder Aizawa told him the outfit had been ruined-

“KACCHAN-!”

Katsuki tries very, very hard not to react at the loud, utterly heart wrenching scream.

Fuck, it sounded much worse than he remembers. 

It is much worse, now that he can hear it clearly. 

Sounding like it was about to tear Deku’s vocal cords apart from its sheer force, it leaves a very uncomfortable, fluttering feeling in his gut. He feels anxious, part of him wanting to reach out and make sure to this Deku that shit will be alright, but that was stupid because this is a video and it already happened and Deku’s a fucking floor away likely snooring his ass off.

The Nomu raises its head, Katsuki’s past self hanging limp from the jaws of death as it suddenly, violently lurches its body to the side and opens its maws, tossing him away like yesterday’s trash.

Fuck, its a perfect throw. Katsuki’s stomach drops at the way the camera tracks his body sailing through the air, hitting the ground, bouncing twice and then-

 Oh, there’s the wall. Katsuki’s back twinges with the faint memory of the impact. 

Fuck that had hurt.

He's glad he doesn't remember much past the initial attack. All of that must have hurt like a proper bitch. How did he even fucking survive that?

Aizawa was right, without that doctor...

Warmth on his chest startles him, pulling him away from the video. Oh. His hand, which had been on the keyboard previously, now hovered over his chest, tracing the path of scars down his front. Huh. He'd never even noticed that he'd been doing that.

Frowning, he watches the clip continue after his injury. The Nomu’s mouth is dripping blood, a raspy ghost of a scream leaving the disgusting beast as it draws itself on its back legs like a bear. Arms spread out in an arch on either side, as if what little had been left of the human within it rejoiced at its victory.

And Deku?

Katsuki’s seen him angry before. He’s seen him sad, seen him heartbroken, seen him in every possible scenario but in this… 

The camera returned to the fight and… Deku looks off kilter. Trembling. Weak. Like a deer about to kneel over from stress but something else, too. His eyes are wide and almost bulging, face too pale and body too rigid, like his mind can’t comprehend what just occurred.

 Sharp green lightning scorches the pavement around him like a small, condensed storm. Static bounces off his clothes, the sound loud and clear in the video. If Katsuki were standing next to him, he has no doubt he would smell ozone. 

He looks wild.

Feral.

Powerful.

Katsuki watches with an increasingly dry throat as Deku turns to face the two remaining Nomu, shoulders heaving, fists clenched tight. Katsuki’s always been aware of how much Deku grew in strength, more so since that night at the training ground in their first year. He'd kept a sharp eye on Deku's progress, both in school training or just his Quirk mastery. In a way, he’d always had, even when they were little kids. 

When it came to the bastard, he’d always felt competitive.

It rubbed him the wrong way, at first, when Deku started passing him. 

His pride at being the very best at anything he tries is ingrained in his very blood so the first time Deku beat him in a fight fair and square, he completely shut out the idiot for an entire week out of a mixture of shock, horror and betrayal. That time period had been one of the hardest for their healing friendship. Deku was frantic during that week trying to make things right but also… lost, in a way. Like he couldn’t believe he’d finally beat Katsuki in training. 

It took a lot of time, tea and a long talk with All Might for Katsuki to finally sort his own ass out and accept that yeah, Deku plus One for All meant that in all likelihood, the guy would be a real monster that had a fair shot of leaving Katsuki -alongside all of their classmates- in the dust.

As much as it bothered him back then, it doesn’t as much anymore. If anything, he takes it as a challenge now. If he could match All Might's Quirk, one that had grown stronger than when it was with the man, then Katsuki can be very fucking happy. 

… that belief doesn’t stop his mouth from dropping as Deku lunges forward with the furious, beastial roar Katsuki’s ever heard from anyone, the static of All for One’s excess energy reaching a crescendo. 

None of the Nomu don’t stand a chance. Katsuki’s not sure which Deku hits first, for his friend’s body blurs into motion faster than the camera or its owner can keep up. One second, Deku’s standing feet away from the Nomu. 

A moment later following a loud, echoing boom, he’s standing in front of them.

Or rather, where they used to be.

Fist extended upwards into the sky, shoulders heaving. Body shaking, flickering, One for All still lashing out like a wounded beast around him. The moment doesn't last long; Deku's fist drops and he stumbles a step towards the direction Katsuki is hurried. He’s shaking, heaving, eyes wide and face terrifyingly blank like his body had given up on trying to process what it was feeling.

One step turns into two, three, and then the green haired man disappears in a flicker of emerald lightning, zipping across the battlefield to where Katsuki’s bleeding, dying self laid, out of sight and buried into the bowels of a building.

The video stops there.

Katsuki stares at the black screen in the end blankly.

He swallows, all too aware of how quiet the room is, how alone Katsuki himself is. Despite knowing he is alone, that no one can hear him, witness his reaction, he feels raw and vulnerable in a way that feels new and different from before. Not like after Kamino. Close, but not in that same, distressing, desperate way.

Katsuki takes a quiet breath and reaches forward with his left hand, grabbing the mouse.

He clicks the video timeline a few times, frowning as he sets it to pause, tries a couple of times to set it after his defeat and the Nomu’s surprise ascendance into space until finally, he pauses on a frame of the video where Deku is standing in the middle of the devastated street, arms at his side, head turned towards where Katsuki’s body is undoubtedly buried under rubble, just moments after the attack. Even as pixelated as his face is, the crazed, wide-eyed look of disbelief and devastation is clear as day.

It makes the feeling in his stomach grow even worse.

Why does he care so much? A part of Katsuki mutters, uncomfortable and tasting of old memories from their middle school years. He shouldn’t look like that. Not that devastated -not for me .

Why?

Katsuki would like to know.

But, he’s also scared of the answer. They were childhood friends. They’ve known each other practically since they were in diapers.

They’d helped each other a lot.

They’d hurt each other, too… an act that had been, without a doubt in Katsuki’s mind, entirely one sided.

Nearly three years since they’d settled their differences, Katsuki still can’t avoid the ugly, squirming feeling in his stomach at the reminder of just how fucking toxic his attitude towards Deku had been during their childhood. Part of him wants to blame how everyone lifted him up and kissed his feet when his Quirk first manifested. The power of Explosion had been undeniable even then and his teachers, classmates, parents and well, anyone who saw it knew that his career as a Pro-Hero was all but assured. 

In Katsuki’s mind however, using how others fed into his ego as an excuse is just that -an excuse. It had been Katsuki who threw away Deku’s notes, shoved him in the hallways, and wished upon him the worst of things. He’d done that to Deku, entirely on his own, and no amount of apologizing would ever be enough to make up for making Deku’s life utterly hell for a few years.

It’s a surprise Deku can even stand seeing my face.

Frowning, Katsuki turns his attention back on the paused clip. He bites his lower lip.

‘He cares about you deeply.’

The words repeat in his head, full of finality and more. He swallows, staring at Deku’s face in the video, watching the storm of emotion in those familiar green eyes, and finds himself to be rendered mute by the level of intensity in them, of devastation, as if Katsuki’s death was the end of his world.

There’s no mistaking how much he cares.

Katsuki closes the tab.

.

 

.

 

.

 

Sleep eludes him that night. 

The truth doesn't.