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The Art of Saying You're Sorry

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Bakugou Katsuki has never been an apologetic person.

He's still not, if he's being honest, but he figures if he wants to get anywhere with Deku as a team, then he should probably acknowledge that he's been possibly, maybe, kind of a dick.

Maybe.

He still doesn't think he's been all that bad, but Deku is starting to look hopeful that he's had some kind of revelation about their friendship, while his classmates have started throwing meaningful looks at him and loudly announcing how at fault they are every time they purposely run into each other, and so fine, whatever.

It's all subjective, anyway. If it'll get them to stop apologising to literally everything all day, he'll give Deku what he wants to hear.

He decides this at 3am on a Wednesday morning, and Katsuki has always prided himself on getting shit done.

No time like the present.

"Kacchan?" Deku slurs through the sliver of his open door. "Why are you here at... whatever, early?"

He doesn't even bother to look at the clock, which even Katsuki can see from his vantage point in the hall, the neon green 3:15 hovering clearly in the dark of the room. This lack of alertness annoys him. As does Deku's state of sleepy disarray, hair everywhere and an oversized shirt falling off one shoulder. This side of too-small All Might boxers riding low.

"Wake the fuck up, nerd, you're gonna wanna hear this," Katsuki demands, shoving the door open.

Deku lets the door swing wide, blinking stupidly as the hall light hits his face. "Can this not wait until it's not... whatever, early?"

"Villain attack," Katsuki says dully, watching in real time as Deku perks up; posture straightening and green eyes widening. He cuts it off at the first hint of alarm. "Testing you, no actual villains, you'd be fucking dead if there were though. Awake now?"

"Yes! No? Are there or are there not villains?" Deku says with a look of controlled panic. It disintegrates when Katsuki calls him a gullible idiot; then he just looks pissed. "Don't do that to people, Kacchan."    

Katsuki waves a dismissive hand, "It worked, whatever. Shut up and listen, because I'm only gonna say this once and never fucking again. You bring this shit back up to me later and-"

"They'll never find my body?"

"- I will kill you and write my name in your fucking blood so everyone will know what you forced me into, and I'll say 'officer, I fucking warned him'."

"Okay," Deku says, seemingly less threatened than the situation deserves, but finally awake enough to form full sentences. "I'm listening."

Katsuki squares his shoulders, takes a breath, and realises he's never actually apologised to a single soul in his life about anything.

He has no idea what to say or do. He has no experience with this. He should have practiced first, if only to make the words he can't think of easier to say. He didn't even come up with a plan beforehand; an unforgivable rookie mistake. 

"Uh," he says. "Nothing. Nevermind."

That doesn't seem to go down well.

"Kacchan, it's-" Deku scowls at his clock, "-almost four in the morning and you've given me a heart attack over imaginary villains. You're gonna have to give me something better than nothing after all that lead up."

"No, fuck you, I don't have to give you shit," Katsuki replies almost entirely on reflex.

Deku slams the door in his face.

He guesses that's fair. Infuriating, but fair. He can see where he went wrong here.

Maybe he should begin with flashcards.

 


 

By design, flashcards only work when one has the correct information to start with.

He doesn't think 'it's probably not entirely your fault that you piss me off so much' will fly.

'You could've stopped me if it bothered you so much' is even worse somehow.

In frustration, he writes down trite things like 'sorry' and 'I was wrong' and 'my bad' to get the ball rolling.

He stares at the words in disgust and can't imagine saying them to Deku, of all people. 

Fuck it. He'll find another way to do this.

 


 

"How do you do the fucking thing?" Katsuki asks Kirishima after class.

"How do I do the what now?" Kirishima says, looking at him dumbly.

Katsuki shoves at his shoulder, knocking him into someone's desk, and waits.

For the first time since rest of the class started getting on his case about this, Kirishima does not loudly and meaningfully apologise to the furniture. Right when Katsuki actually wants him to. Typical.

He points to the desk. "Apologise."

Kirishima doesn't take the hint, instead asking, "For what?" And then, "Dude, are you alright?"

"Apologise!" Katsuki seethes, both hands now making jabbing motions towards the offended desk. "How do you - with the - so easily?!"

Kirishima is looking at him like he might have lost his mind, hands slowly raising in a gesture of peace. Katsuki thinks this might be an understandable assumption to make; between Deku being useless and the flashcards he didn't actually get any sleep and he's feeling a little... thready.

The small commotion has drawn the attention of Four-Eyes, over from where he'd been talking to extras A and B. "Is everything okay over here?"

He punctuates the question with a series of weird hand movements. Katsuki looks at his own, stretched out towards the desk, and then at Kirishima's still frozen in the air. He wonders if weird hand movements are contagious.

He shoves his hands into his pockets and grunts. Kirishima slowly lowers his back down to his sides.

"I'm not really sure what just happened but we're... good?" A pause. "Bakugou, buddy, we good?"

"Fine," Katsuki says, turning around to leave this whole clusterfuck of a day behind him.

Plan C it is, then. Whatever plan C is. After sleep.

 


 

Plan C: wait for someone else to say the words, record it, play it back @ Deku

"-sorry you feel that way but-" the recording says, Tokoyami's voice tinny and clipped through the phone speakers.

Katsuki looks between Deku's stunningly trashy red sneakers and his knees. For some reason, he can't quite get his eyes to go any higher as he waits for the response.

"Kacchan," Deku says, in a tone that Katsuki doesn't think he's ever heard before. He looks up, not entirely sure what to expect. Elation? Acceptance? Rejection, maybe?

What he gets is Deku's face, mouth screwed up in a bitter line and highly judgemental in eyebrows.

"Are you trying to be an asshole about this?" He asks.

"Hey, I worked hard to piss Birdface off enough to get that." Which is true; Tokoyami was apparently more chill than Katsuki gave him credit for. It took, in Katsuki's opinion, some master mental manipulation that even Aizawa would be proud of. "Take it or leave it, shitty Deku."

"Oh my god, you are the biggest jerk," Deku says, and leaves.

Katsuki honestly wasn't expecting that.

Whatever. He tried.

 


 

Except no, fuck that little shit. How dare he ignore Katsuki's attempts to find even footing between them.

All Might said they could make the greatest team, and they are going to make the greatest team the world has ever fucking seen in all their pathetic, victimised lives. Katsuki just has to shove his apologies far enough down Deku's dumbass throat that he'll have no other choice but to accept them to make it happen.

He spends the time he usually uses for homework to make a plan. Then he makes three small contingency plans.

He goes to bed confident. He knows what he has to do now.

 


 

His plan is a two-pronged approach.

The thing he'd realised after some thought was that he and Deku have never been good at words. They've always communicated through action, through fists and silent glares.

Fists aren't really an option, considering what he's trying to do, but there are other actions Katsuki can use. This is prong one.

He forcefully teams himself up with Deku in all their practical exercises.

He turns in his seat and maintains direct eye contact when Deku answers a question in class.

He spends a week sitting with Deku and his shitty friends at lunch.

It's torture, and Katsuki hates every second of it. At least three of the cafeteria tables have burn marks on the underside, and he thinks he's developing some kind of tic in the corner of his eye from squinting in the face of Deku's... everything.

Deku, for his part, seems to be communicating a mix of frustration, resignation, and confusion at any given time. This is fine, for now. Katsuki may not have a lot of patience, but even he realises the importance of timing.

 


 

The second prong of his plan is something Katsuki will never, ever admit to under pain of torture and death and, like, awkward touchy-feely bullshit.

He has his middle school yearbook, for reasons he's putting down to letting his mother pack his shit when moving into the dorms.

In it, there is a photo of Deku shyly smiling with a bandage on his cheek and the name 'Midoriya Izuku' underneath. 

Katsuki stares down at it at night and tries really hard to imagine apologising to that face instead of punching it.  

It's about 50/50 so far and it's been giving him some really fucking weird dreams.

He's beginning to rethink prong two.

 


 

In the second week of Operation D(etermination) he decides to see how they're progressing by inviting Deku to his room to study. He doesn't need the help, and he'd prefer to do it alone, but he figures it'd be a good chance to see where he stands now, without the frankly annoying stares of their classmates skewing the results.

Deku eyes him suspiciously, wavering.

"I beat you in the last math test, didn't I?" Katsuki says with a sharp grin. "Can you really afford to say no?" 

Deku's eyes narrow further. "I think you scored lower than me in English, are you sure you don't need me more?"

They're in a standoff. Katsuki silently curses Deku for cornering him into contingency A so soon, but it needs to be done.

"You've never been able to ignore anyone in need, right, Deku?"

Deku seems taken aback. Good; shock might make him more malleable. Cautiously, Deku says, "Stop me if I'm wrong, but are you saying you... need my help?" 

Katsuki can do this. He can. He believes that he believes that he can do this.

"Fucking English is bullshit," he grinds out, to the clear delight of Deku. "Stop looking so fucking happy about it."

"Sorry," Deku says.

It slips it out so effortlessly that Katsuki thinks that Deku should just apologise to himself on his behalf, since he's so fucking good at it.

They manage to get a full hour of English revision into their impromptu study session with only minimal damage to Katsuki's pride, when Deku decides to make it weird.  

"Is that our middle school yearbook?"

It is, laying incriminating on the floor next to Katsuki's bed where he'd left it.

"No." Katsuki says, maybe a little too loudly. "Fucking focus. This is why you're useless at math."

Deku leans over to flip it open, revealing rows of random students in their middle school uniform. "We haven't started math yet," he says distractedly, turning a page. "Why do you-"

Katsuki leans over from the other direction to slam the book closed, not caring the least when he catches Deku's fingers between the covers. "What is the square root of mind your own fucking business?"

"I don't know, Kacchan," Deku says blandly, sucking at his wounded fingers. "You're better at this than I am, why don't you tell me what x and y equal?"

He gestures at the yearbook, and then at Katsuki, and then a wide motion to encompass them sitting together on Katsuki's floor.

He then proceeds to sit there expectantly with his fingers back in his mouth, like he hasn't just put Katsuki on the spot with his stupid, inconvenient observational skills.

This wasn't planned. Katsuki has no contingency to cover this.

"Uh," he says. "Nothing. Negative."

Deku glares at him. "I think that's the wrong answer."

"Tough shit, it's the only one you're gonna get," Katsuki says, turning back to their stack of textbooks. "Let's just get this over with before I decide to pummel you with fists instead of knowledge."

Deku lets it drop, and by the time they move on to calculus they're back into a steady rhythm.

All in all, Katsuki decides to call it a success. He passes his English midterm in the top five and he thinks Deku is starting to look marginally less freaked out whenever Katsuki stares at him in class.

Prong one is moving along smoothly. Prong two can go fuck itself.

 


 

"I really think you should stop messing with Midoriya now," Kirishima says, limping his way over from the training grounds. "Not that it hasn't been bizarrely fascinating to watch, but if you keep going he might actually kill someone."

"So?" Katsuki says, distracted as he watches Deku utterly decimate an entire mock building and the two remaining opponents left in it. For some reason, the teachers had expressly forbidden Katsuki and Deku to be in the same round of one-on-three matches. "What does that have to do with me?"

"Look, all I'm saying is if he loses it, we're all gonna point to you as the cause." Kirishima lowers himself awkwardly to the ground, moving carefully with a steadying hand across his ribs. "Your mind games are fucking him up, man, he came at me seriously."

A second building goes down, toppling into a third.

"He's supposed to, idiot," Katsuki says. "That's the fucking point."

"I give!" Hakagure yells from somewhere within the rubble. "And I think Iida-kun might be unconscious!"

"Nice." Katsuki grins, turning to Kirishima to add: "Also, I'm not doing anything to Deku, the fuck are you talking about?"

Kirishima stares at him in disbelief. "Alright, pretend that's true. If it isn't a new form of psychological torment, what the hell is it?"

Katsuki stares back silently and raises a single, telling shoulder in the form of a confused, half-assed shrug.

"... You honestly have no idea what I'm talking about." Kirishima takes a moment to come to terms with this. " Wow, okay, so the staring and the stalking and the general weirdness? You do realise you're doing these things, right?"

If by weird staring and stalking, Kirishima means Katsuki's reconciliatory overtures, yes. He can't let the misinterpretation of his actions stand, though. "Fuck off with that, I'm doing nothing like that. I'm just-"

He stops. Is this admitting too much?

"You're just what?"

It's fine, right? Kirishima will probably take it as a true man taking responsibility for his actions; he might even help out.

Not that Katsuki needs the help, since his plan is foolproof. But a second opinion could be useful.

"I don't fucking know, trying to make nice with the shitty nerd?"

He doesn't think Kirishima's incredulous reaction is really warranted. Nor is the hysterical laughter that follows.

"Oh boy," he says after he calms down. "Oh, Bakugou, bro. No."

Deku takes this moment to walk back over from the training grounds with an unconscious Iida slung over a shoulder, looking sheepish as Uraraka starts fussing. "I guess I still don't know my own strength," he says. "Sorr-"

"Don't apologise, numbnuts!" Katsuki yells at him. "They were weaker than you, why should you feel bad about it?!"

"Because I'm not an asshole!" Deku yells back, not really noticing as Iida's body slips to the side and only avoids crashing to the ground because Uraraka is there to save him. "I am a human, with things like empathy and common decency!"

"Real fucking bang up job you're doing with that!" Katsuki says, gesturing to where Iida is hovering limply two feet off the ground.

"Iida-kun!" Deku screeches over Uraraka's assurance that she got to him in time.

"This all explains so much," Kirishima says, "and yet not enough. You and me, buddy, we're gonna have an intervention after class."

"Nobody fucking asked for your input," Katsuki says belligerently and starts preparing himself for his own match.

 


 

Katsuki at least remembers to kick the middle school yearbook under his bed before Kirishima bursts through his door.

Who says he doesn't learn from past mistakes.

"Okay," Kirishima says, after they've both gotten comfortable and he's laid out half a convenience stores worth of snacks between them. "You are going to explain to me what it is you're trying to do, and then I am going to explain to you what you are actually doing."

Katsuki rolls his eyes. "I'm not doing anything to Deku."

"I'm pretty sure Midoriya would beg to differ," Kirishima says, pointing a pocky stick in his face. "At the very least, the rest of our class would. Mineta started crying when the team projects were assigned because he's scared of Midoriya now - Midoriya! The light of our class! That ain't right, man, that shouldn't happen."

"So take it up with him," Katsuki says and resists the urge to explode the stick still being waved in his face. "I'm not responsible for whatever crawled up his ass and died." 

"But you are," Kirishima stresses, leaning forward. "You started acting weird and then he started acting weird, and seriously man? The staring? It's making everyone uncomfortable, so I can only imagine how Midoriya feels." He bites the pocky stick in half violently. "Explain."

Katsuki shoves a handful of potato crisps in his mouth and shrugs angrily. A short scuffle and a glimpse of the stupid book under his bed later, and Katsuki does, haltingly and reluctantly, explain.

Kirishima lets out a long breath when he's done.

"Y'know, usually it's refreshing when someone as talented as you fucks up, but this is just, like, really sad. I can't let you go on like this," he says, and then doesn't continue.

Katsuki waits for as long as his patience allows him. This amounts to about ten seconds, and then he's slamming a hand down on the table, "Well?!"

Kirishima shifts uncomfortably. "There's really no good way to put this, but your, uh, attempts so far look a lot like harassment from the outside. And I'm pretty sure Midoriya is looking from the outside, with the rest of us."

Katsuki's whole body twitches with serious intent.

"But! What do I know, right? You've known each other a lot longer, maybe he speaks fluent... whatever this is." Kirishima slumps over and rubs at his eyebrow. When he sits back up, he looks at Katsuki steadily. "Look, I can only comment on what I've seen for the time we've all been in the same class. I don't know what happened before then, and I don't think I really want to know, so. Do you want my honest thoughts about this?"

Katsuki breathes in. Breathes out. Relaxes his fists. He's come this far. "Fuck it, isn't that why you're here?"

Kirishima nods. "I think you should figure out what you're apologising for, and why. I can't tell you what those are, but I think if you're truly sorry, apologising for them shouldn't be so hard."

Damn, but that sounds a lot like an exercise in introspection and actual guilt.

Katsuki was trying to avoid that.

"Whatever," he says, instead of acknowledging that maybe Kirishima has a point. "Mario Kart?"

"I bet you always pick Bowser." Kirishima says, and he's annoyingly right about that too.  

 


 

Prong two is officially unfucking itself, because Katsuki can't think of a better alternative. He'd tried, but no, so he figures if he's going do it he might as well do it properly this time.

He doubles down, staring at the photograph of that stupid face that he's seen countless times over the years in every state and emotion imaginable, both morning and night.

He spends a lot of time looking at the bandage on Deku's cheek, covering the freckles Katsuki knows are there. He starts to notice other things too, like the hint of a bruise peeking out under hair and the singe mark on his collar. 

On a whim one night he flips to his own portrait, his own cocky countenance staring back without a scratch on him. He flips back to Deku and tries to remember back that far; to remember if the bandage was his fault or not. What comes to mind is a pick of instances that suggest that it's a fucking wonder that Deku wasn't in worse shape that day. 

The whole thing sucks as much as he thought it would, but he now boasts a 80/20 success rate and an uncomfortable twinge in his gut.

Progress.

 


 

While prong two is busy giving him indigestion and weird dreams still - which are increasingly becoming way, way more inappropriate given the situation - Katsuki is also dialling back on prong one.

He still doesn't see how him being friendly correlates to whatever is up with Deku, but he can at least admit that, since it was brought to his attention, there is definitely something up with Deku.

Deku has always been nervy and high strung, but this is like, a whole new level of stressed out. Now that Katsuki's actually watching, he can see that. He can't remember Deku being this twitchy and short-tempered since whatever happened during his internship with Nighteye.

He'd told Todoroki to fuck off that morning, when all half-n-half wanted was to know whether he'd proofread his part of the group essay. It was glorious. And worrying. And glorious, because Todoroki's reaction was like he'd been slapped with a wet fish and then forced to deepthroat it.

Katsuki even remembers not to stare for too long.  

Of course, Katsuki backing off just means that Deku notices in his highly aware state and decides to pick up the slack by staring at Katsuki constantly. Every time he looks up, he's met with green eyes studying him like he's a riddle. Katsuki's used to Deku watching him, but this is something else.

He pretends it isn't happening and refuses to admit that it's unnerving as all fucking get out when Kirishima nudges him and whispers, "See? See?!"

So there's something up with Deku. Katsuki would ask what his problem is; be all supportive and shit, like he thinks teammates are suppose to be, but the twinge in his gut only gets worse when he's looking at Deku in person.

The wound under the bandage in middle school is a faint white line in high school, only visible under the right light and if one knows where to look.

Katsuki, unfortunately, could point it out blindfolded and in the dark.

He thinks the uncomfortable twinge might be something along the lines of... regret? Is this what sorry feels like? Because it feels a lot like something he wants to punch until it stops.

Deku's eyes narrow at him calculatingly from his position across the field track. Katsuki ignores the hairs standing on end at his neck and pretends he was hitting a bug and not himself.

Kinda same difference, though, if he thinks about it.

 


 

And then there are the villains. Soft-core, but still inconvenient in the ways that count.

As it turns out, All Might was on to something; he and Deku make an amazing team when they're fighting others and not each other.

He'd begun this whole bullshit endeavour on the assumption that they might be, someday. He doesn't quite expect that they are already when the situation calls for it, on equal footing or not.

Just once, Katsuki would like to have these kinds of grand personal revelations without villains playing a part.

Deku moves left, Katsuki moves right. Katsuki blows one back, and Deku is there finishing the job, landing a solid kick and crashing the villain into the ground. It looks like it hurts. Katsuki grins as he aims a gauntlet at a group of three, and Deku swings around to get a passerby out of range, smiling as he reassures the woman that everything is okay and under control.

"Oi, Deku!" Katsuki yells, pointing up at the clothes lines strung up between buildings. Deku follows his line of sight, and then back down to where Katsuki has corralled a bunch into the far end, nodding in understanding. "On three!" 

Deku crouches low, One for All lighting up trails underneath his hero costume.

Katsuki leaves him to it, repositioning himself with his gauntlets pointed towards the group.

"Three!" They yell in tandem, Deku launching himself up towards the lines and outside of the blast zone. Katsuki pulls the pins on both gauntlets, letting out a large but controlled explosion slightly off centre to the villains huddled against the wire fence. 

It just grazes them and the side of the building; the melting fence isn't so lucky. It doesn't matter though, because Katsuki has their full attention, enough that Deku winding a length of rope around them goes unnoticed until it's too late.

Deku finishes tying off the restraints, looping the ends into a neat bow. The few still conscious immediately start wiggling to free themselves.

"I wouldn't," Deku says. "You are much safer where you are."

Katsuki wordlessly bares his teeth and lets off a few explosions in his palms; all noise and show, but it's enough for the villains to freeze. One starts crying, another starts apologising to his absent mother, promising that he'll never do anything like this again, he really means it this time.

Katsuki thinks that that's all good and well to say, but he should at least have the balls to say it to her face and then actually go through with it, instead of being a constant disappointment. 

And... oh.

Once, just once, he'd like to realise these things without fucking villains drawing really uncomfortable parallels out of him. Katsuki's gonna have to re-evaluate his entire sense of self if this shit keeps up and he's got enough on his plate.

Deku's already looking at him oddly, raising a questioning eyebrow. Katsuki waves him off, saying, "Go call it in, I got 'em."

"Okay, " Deku says slowly, eyes narrowing suspiciously. "Be right back."

Katsuki watches him wander to the other end of the alley, where the first hint of sirens is starting to echo. The police aren't far away, but neither of them will be able to leave until their supervising hero gets on scene. 

He hopes it's sooner rather than later. He really needs to pee, and also Deku is looking like he thinks this would be the perfect time to trap him and start asking questions Katsuki doesn't want to answer yet.

Also that.

 


 

What Katsuki forgets is that Deku has a better sense of restraint than himself. He remains a consummate professional, dealing with the police and the public and their supervisor with saintly patience and smile.

Katsuki watches over the villains until they're taken away, and then just loiters uselessly in the corner, thinking that he'd gotten away with it.  

He should have known better. He should have remembered that Deku's restraint is just a cover for a smart mind and an insidious amount of tenacity.

Deku waits until they're making their way back to the dorms, and then almost casually asks, "What is going on with you lately?"

Katsuki has a brief, vivid daydream about pushing Deku off the curb and running. He doesn't, because he's trying to tamp down on that sort of thing, but the image makes him feel slightly better about the fact that he has nowhere to run because they'll both end up at the same place anyway. 

"I don't know what you're talking about," he says, "and it's none of your shitty business."

Deku hums, clearly not convinced. "I'm not as useless and fragile as you think I am, Kacchan. I don't know why you can't just tell me straight out instead of.. all.. all this."

He makes a motion with his arms to encompass all this before letting them flop back at his sides. He looks like a dejected bird, flapping uselessly on the street. Katsuki is almost convinced that weird hand movements are contagious, and their Class Rep is most definitely to blame.

"You should stop hanging out with Four-Eyes before you hurt yourself," he says, eyes drawn to the map of scars across Deku's hands almost against his will. He can see it now, an errant wave into a wall or street sign being the straw to break Deku's arms for good. "You're gonna hit something and fuck, it's game over for you."

"Oh my god, Kacchan, are you listening to me?" Deku wails. "Are you even listening to yourself? What is this?!"

Katsuki is really sick of people asking him that. Does it really matter what it is, so long as it's an improvement over his previous behaviour? Why can't Deku just shut up and take it, like he took everything else?

"I don't know what you want me to say!" He yells back, his own arms thrown out wide like a fucking albatross ready to take flight, goddamn it. "This is fucking weird for me too! So just shut your mouth and let me figure it out, would you?!"

Deku's mouth snaps shut. He inhales loudly through his nose, and then seems to deflate with the slow exhale. "Fine," he says. "Fine. Come find me when you know what you want from me."

He speeds up, walking on ahead with clear irritation. Katsuki is left behind with the impression that he's missing something.

Katsuki already knows what he wants and it's the opposite of this; Deku should be either beside him or behind him. Never in front of him, impatiently waiting for him to catch up.

 


 

The real kicker of it is that the thing Katsuki feels most sorry for is himself. Which is, he realises, probably not the proper response to have under these circumstances.

But have it he does, and so he spends his Saturday laying about in bed being pathetic.

He'd tried being mad about it at first, that Deku thought he was in any position to question and push at Katsuki before he was ready to give. He'd really given working up some motivational anger a solid go, but it fizzled with the realisation that he had nowhere to direct it at but himself.

In the past, he'd just unleash it on the shitty nerd regardless of whether it was his fault or not, but his newfound retrospect has him admitting that Deku was rarely, if ever, to blame for Katsuki's own actions.

He should probably take responsibility for those.

He should get up, put on some pants, and go tell Deku to his face that Bakugou Katsuki is definitely a dick and that he is sorry, that the mess that is their relationship is all Katsuki's fault, and that he doesn't deserve a second chance, but that he'd like one to prove himself as better and capable of being not a dick.

He should, but he doesn't. 

"I'm the worst," he groans, rolling over.  

 


 

He at least manages to get out of bed before noon on Sunday, but that's as far as he gets.

The yearbook stares at him from its place on the floor. Katsuki finally gives in and burns the stupid thing.

He has achieved peak shitty. He is a sorry ball of regret and he no longer needs the visual reminders or the highly inappropriate dreams they conjure, which have shifted from unpleasant memories to pleasant but imaginary.... scenarios. 

That is just something that he's not ready to deal with yet. He's still having the first fucking crisis.

The pages smoke and curl satisfyingly, and Katsuki watches as it disintegrates in front of him. Problems are so much easier to deal with when he can just set them on fire.

He has the unbidden thought that this kind of thinking is probably how he ended up in this situation in the first place.

He douses the remains in his bathroom sink and tells himself it's to avoid setting off the fire alarms, and not because the thought of Deku going up in flames is now, somehow, upsetting and wrong.

 


 

Katsuki goes to class on Monday with no idea how to act around Deku anymore.

He spends the entire morning feeling eyes drilling into the back of his head, and instead of saying anything, instead of whipping around to demand to know what Deku's deal is, he ducks his head down and pretends it isn't driving him to madness.

Aizawa pairs him with Deku for their afternoon training sessions, because Aizawa is perceptive and also, Katsuki suspects, a low-key sadist.  

He does something he's never done before. He declines the opportunity to punch Deku in his annoying, staring face, blaming a restless stomach.

It's not even a lie, technically.

 


 

To take his mind off the first fucking crisis and all the terrible feelings that come with it, he decides fuck it, he might as well face the second while he's at it.

He doesn't need Deku for that part yet, if at all. And if he can get all of his shit together in one take, then maybe he'll be able to get their Deep and Meaningful over in one single, uncomfortable conversation.

That was his plan. In truth, half an hour of actual thought about it and what it means has him knocking down Kirishima's door and blurting, "I think I fucked up. I think I may be fucked up."

Kirishima drops the manga he was reading on his face as he jerks in surprise. Muffled, he asks, "Is this about Midoriya again?"

"It's always about Deku." Katsuki will deny until his dying day that his voice has an edge of hysteria about it. "That's just it! It's always Deku!"

"Are you having one of your spontaneous and random meltdowns?" Kirishima says, peeking at him from underneath his book. Katsuki doesn't know what kind of image he's presenting right now, but whatever it is, it's enough that Kirishima sits up to look at him seriously. "Dude, Bakugou, what the hell?"

Katsuki manages to garble something intelligible and then sits down when Kirishima calmly tells him to sit down while he makes tea.

"So, what?" Kirishima says, pushing a warm cup into his hands. Katsuki clutches at it like a lifeline. "Did Midoriya reject your advances or something?"

He flinches. Kirishima raises his brows, "Oh shit, really?"

"No!" Katsuki snaps, "That isn't - I haven't... yet. Fuck off, that's not the problem here!"

"So this is a whole new Midoriya problem?" He asks, and then almost to himself: "What is it with you two?"

"It's always Deku." Katsuki says again. "Are you not fucking listening to me? It's always been Deku. About everything."

Kirishima frowns at him over the rim of his mug, squinting as he tries to follow the logic. He clearly fails if the small shake of his head says anything. "Explain."

Katsuki explains.

"Oh." Kirishima says when he's done. "Ooooh, shit, bro. Really?"

"No," Katsuki says flatly. "I just thought I'd give you assholes something to gossip about. Yes, really! Would I be on your floor spilling my guts to you if it wasn't true?!"

He pauses for a second as he lets that sink in through the vast amount of Kirishima's hair product.

He adds, "You better fucking not be talking to people about these little chit-chat's of ours, by the way, or you are dead. Dead."

"Nobody would even believe me if I was," Kirishima says. "Which I'm not. I'm always here for you, Bakugou, buddy. Though I do gotta wonder why you're coming to me with this."

Because Kirishima has proven himself to not be a total idiot. Because his last bit of advice was a bitch to do, but wasn't entirely wrong. Because at this stage, he's alienated the only other person he'd be tempted to have this breakdown at, nevermind that it's about him.

Because Katsuki has had to take a long, hard look at himself lately, and he doesn't trust himself to make the best choice where Deku is involved.

He doesn't say this. What he says is, "Who gives a shit that it's you? Fucking help me out here."

Kirishima looks like he got the gist of it anyway, if the small, pleased smile is anything to go by. Whatever, Katsuki has never claimed to be good at hiding his thoughts.

"You want my honest thoughts on this?" Kirishima asks.

"Regale me, asshole," Katsuki says. "Isn't that why I'm here?"

Kirishima grins.

 


 

"I don't think it's changed much, honestly," Kirishima had said. "You wanted to get closer to Midoriya; now you know you want to get, like, super closer. The end point is basically the same, right?

Kirishima had also mapped out all the ways Katsuki's personal dilemmas corresponded with various shoujo manga plotlines, and said dumb shit like, "be a man and go get your man," with a straight fucking face that Katsuki is blocking from his memory entirely.

But the first part, when put like that, seems like a pretty simple summation for something Katsuki has been tying himself into complex knots over.

Of course, just because it sounds simple doesn't mean it is. But it's also not as hard as Katsuki's been treating it.

The solution is simple: he needs to get over himself and put all his balls in Deku's court.

... In a manner of speaking.

Put the balls of friendship and maybe more in Deku's hands, and let him decide whether to accept them or not. Or something like that.

The key point is, Katsuki is prepared this time and he's always prided himself on getting shit done.  

It's 11pm on a Thursday night, and he figures it's as good a time as any.

 


 

Deku answers his door in a different oversized shirt and the same stupid All Might boxers, looking half asleep and like he's just crawled out of bed.

"It's not even midnight," Katsuki says. "Do you do nothing but fucking sleep?"

"Do you even know what that is?" Deku shoots back, sneaking a hand up his shirt to scratch lazily at his stomach.

Katsuki's brain stalls a little; he hates this newest revelation. He hates it. How is supposed to get anything done when the slightest, most normal move in the world is enough to throw him off.

Deku waves his other hand in front of Katsuki's face, frowning when he jerks slightly. "Did you want something, or are you just here to stare and confuse me again?"

Right. Well, if he's being honest, which is the flavour of the night:

"Both, probably, but I have words and you are going to fucking sit there and listen to them." He pushes his way into the room, turning to stare when Deku doesn't move from the door. "This is happening, and it's happening now. Get with the sitting."

Deku runs a hand through his hair, closes the door behind himself, and sits on the edge of his rumpled bed.

Katsuki stares. He did not think this through.

Deku stares back. "So about those words..?"

"Yes." Katsuki says blankly. He really needs to get a grip on himself. "I have them, and you are going to hear them, and not say a fucking thing until I am done, do you understand me?"

"I'd understand better if you'd just get to the point." Deku scowls. "It's late, Kacchan, haven't we done this before?"  

Yes. But this time, Katsuki is going to follow through with it. And to do that, he needs Deku to just be quiet until he's said his piece. He breaks out long-forgotten contingency C.

".... Please."

Deku blinks, scowl disappearing as his eyebrows shoot up, mouth snapping shut. He nods, once, to show that he's listening and makes a little go on motion with his hand.

Katsuki breathes deep. He can't see that little sliver of a scar in this light, but he knows it's there.

He can do this.

"I've realised that I might be a little bit of an asshole."

Deku really looks like he wants to say something to that. Katsuki decides to barrel right on over whatever it might be; he can already guess.

"Specifically, to you," he continues. "For about as long as I can remember, I think I've treated you like shit and none of it's been, y'know, your fault just because I said you were useless and in the way. That was all just me being a dick and I'm, uh. I'm sorry."

There. He'd done it, the whole spiel looking Deku in the eyes. He feels simultaneously lighter and somehow harried.

Deku just looks poleaxed.

"Can I speak now?" He says faintly. 

"No," Katsuki says. "There's more."

Deku squeaks.

"I did treat you like shit," Katsuki says. "You're not useless. You never have been. But you were quirkless and could still - I mean, anyone else would have given up, and it made me so fucking angry that you just wouldn't stay down, that you still acted like you could do anything, even though -"

He takes a breath. Uses the pause to reorganise his thoughts.

"I'm a coward." He states, because it's true when it comes to Deku. "I was scared that I'd always be losing to you. And the better you got, the more I thought I'd never be able to catch up to you. And - and instead of trying harder, I just tried to kick you down. It was a shitty thing to do, and it hurt us both. You more, obviously, but-" Katsuki sighs, and finishes weakly with, "- think of all the asses we could have kicked together, if I wasn't so busy trying to kick yours. I fucked up, and I'm sorry."   

The silence of the room rings loud. He has no idea of Deku's reaction, his gaze having slid to the side and down somewhere in there, staring intently at a small All Might action figure that he thinks he might have one of, too.

"That," Deku finally croaks, clearing his throat. "That was.. a lot of words."

Katsuki's head snaps up. "That's it? Really?" He growls, and then takes in the sight of Deku hunched over himself protectively, shoulders shaking. ".. Are you crying?"  

"Kacchan," Deku says softly, "this isn't the first time you've made me cry, but it's the first time it's been okay. Just give me a minute. Sit down or something."

Katsuki drops into Deku's desk chair, and waits. It doesn't take all that long for the sniffling to die down, and a quick look at Deku tells him that the other is preparing some kind of, no doubt, disgustingly touching response.

He should probably head that right off.

"There's something else, too," Katsuki mutters. "Unrelated, kind of, but since we're getting it all out there."

Deku looks at him, horrified. "There's still more?"

"Hey, fuck you," Katsuki says. "I did not go through all this thinking just for you to get all overwhelmed and shit. But fine, go on, say what you wanna say and then let me finish."

"You're an asshole, you were right about that," Deku says, but there's no bite to it. He uncurls himself, pulling his legs up to sit comfortably on the bed. "Not that I didn't know it already, though. Is this what you've been so weird about this past month?"

Katsuki nods.

For some reason, Deku looks almost disappointed by this. A quick, blink-and-miss slump of the shoulders.

"That makes.. a lot more sense." He says quietly, before squaring himself back up again. "You've always been a piece of work, Kacchan. It's true you can be a dick, and it's true you've been an awful bastard ever since we were kids. Honestly, I can't believe it's taken you this long to realise it."

Deku's grinning as he says it, so Katsuki flips him off.

"I don't know if you've noticed, Kacchan, but I forgave you for it a long ago." Deku pauses, chewing at his bottom lip. "That's probably my own fault; maybe we wouldn't have gotten so bad if I hadn't let you get away with it."     

That's debatable. "I would've just punched harder, probably."

Deku smiles at him. "Probably. Either way, you've never needed to ask for my forgiveness, but it means a lot that you did."

Katsuki rubs the back of his neck awkwardly, and manages to mutter something to the effect of, "yeah, well, thanks anyway". He isn't sure he even deserves this much, but he's sure as shit not going to question it. He's still here for another reason.

Deku seems to remember this at the same time, leaning forward to say, "So what was the other thing?"

Katsuki has half a mind to just bail, but Deku, sat in his oversized shirt and too-small boxers, compels him to blurt out, "Hypothetically, how much time do you think should be between me punching your face and, like, me kissing it?"   

Deku blinks and splutters, his face shifting into red. "Kacchan, what?!"

"I'm just asking!" Katsuki yells defensively. He thinks his own face is on fire. "Because that is also a thing. That I have realised."

"Oh my god," Deku breathes, dropping his face into his hands. "I thought you were doing the opposite!"

It's Katsuki's turn to blink in confusion. "The opposite of - what?"

Deku groans. "I thought all your weirdness was you trying to let me down gently? Like your really awkward way of saying 'let's be friends'."

"It was my way of saying 'let's be friends', have you not been listening to me at all?" Katsuki says. "What the fuck, Deku?"

"No, I mean, about my, um, feelings," Deku mumbles, eyes looking everywhere but at Katsuki. "I thought you'd noticed and were trying to say, y'know, thanks but no thanks. But then you kept staring at me, and sitting with us at lunch, and I started to think maybe - but then you stopped and - I mean, how else was I supposed to take that recording of Tokoyami-kun?"

Katsuki tries to remember what was on it. He can't, but he remembers the intent enough to say, "I was trying to apologise, idiot!"

"I know that now!" Deku snaps and then groans again, "I yelled at Todoroki-kun because I thought you were fucking with me. I think I made Mineta-kun cry. I need to apologise to so many people."

"Do that later, who fucking cares," Katsuki says, snapping his fingers to get Deku's attention. "Are you saying - ?"

"Yes," Deku huffs, like Katsuki's being slow. "It's always you, Kacchan, how is that even a question."

"Oh." He wasn't expecting that, but maybe he should have; after all, it's always Deku, too. "Fuck. Okay."

They sit in companionable silence for a few minutes as they each digest all the revelations of the night. Deku's clock displays a bright green 12:45 into the dim light, and Katsuki doesn't think anything this many years in the making should be allowed to be resolved in less than two hours, but here they are. On the same page, even, and without a single punch and only minimal tears.

It probably won't last. But that's a problem for future Katsuki, who will no doubt spend a lot of time putting his new grovelling skills to use.  

Finally, he disturbs the silence to ask the one thing he never got an answer to. "So, since we all fucking know what's what now; my mouth, your face?"

"Oh my god, Kacchan." Deku says, face scrunched up unattractively and still pink. "Get out of my room. I need at least the next five hours to deal with tonight and I have to fit sleep in there somewhere."  

Katsuki knows he's not getting any sleep tonight; he doesn't see why Deku should be allowed his. "Rough estimate?"

"Tomorrow!" Deku surges forward to tug Katsuki off his chair and towards the door. "You can kiss me tomorrow, I promise. For now, just get out."

"By tomorrow, you mean later today," Katsuki clarifies.

"Yes," Deku hisses, pushing him the last step over the threshold back into the hall. He hesitates just as he's about to close the door. "Kacchan?"

"Changed your mind?"

Deku rolls his eyes at him, "Just because I accept you as you are, doesn't mean you couldn't stand to be less of a dick. No. But I need you to know that I'm happy, y'know, that you gave us both a chance."

He shifts on his feet, lightning-quick to catch Katsuki on the cheek with a peck, and then slams the door in his face. 

"On the cheek, Deku?" Katsuki yells. "Weak!"

"Goodnight, Kacchan!" Deku yells back, voice high-pitched and muffled.

Katsuki touches his fingertips to the place where Deku had kissed him and thinks it's probably fine to leave for now.

It's not like he can't come back later, after the five hours are up.