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Katsuki has always been an independent child.

Mitsuki is well aware of this. Even in nursery school he was an aggressively self-sufficient little bastard, insisting on walking himself to school and packing his own lunches. He hates to rely on other people. That’s just the way Katsuki is.

Most of the time it makes her proud. Her kid is never going to want for anything. He is always going to manage to pummel what he needs out of the world, one way or another.

But sometimes…sometimes it makes her feel just a bit sad. It’s an inevitable kind of sad. She’s a mother after all, and part of that is watching Katsuki grow into someone who doesn’t need her anymore. As usual, her child is far ahead of the curve.


 

Mitsuki’s not really sure when it begins. The whole thing probably starts somewhere far from her prying eyes and ears, but for Mitsuki, in particular, it begins like this:

“Hey, Hag.”

She glances up from the design document she is working on, turning in her seat to give her son a reproachful look. They’ve been calling each other brat and Hag since Katsuki was in nursery school. Mitsuki doesn’t remember who started using which name first, but she reserves the right to give her son shit when he’s being a little terror, which is almost always nowadays.

“What is it brat?”

Katsuki’s hands are deep in his pockets, not unusual, but she can see the fabric move as his fists clench and unclench. That is unusual, and a bad sign. It means he’s uncomfortable, anxious about something or on the edge of an explosion.

He glares at her for a moment, then his eyes slide from hers and settle somewhere to her lower right. He grinds his teeth as he struggles to spit out whatever it is he needs to say, clearly unhappy.

“I need your credit card.”

That causes her eyebrows to shoot up. She tries to school her expression back down into something more neutral but it is too late. Katsuki has seen it.

“Nevermind, fuck it.”

He turns, stalking towards the door.

“Hey hold the hell up ya’ brat.” She says, getting up and catching him by the elbow.

Katsuki stops when she touches him but he is rigid. She can hear his teeth grinding again. The tips of his ears are turning red.

“Why do you need my credit card?” She asks, softer this time. She keeps her hand on his elbow but she isn’t grabbing him anymore, just touching him. He’s wearing a tank top even though the AC is cranked up to high in their home. With quirks like theirs, keeping cool in the summer is a necessity. None of them want to be leaving their particular brand of sweat everywhere since it’s a bitch to clean and in Katsuki’s case it’s explosive.

Despite that, her son has always been susceptible to the cold. He’s the type of kid who starts to bundle up once the weather dips below 25 C.

The skin of his arm is cool to the touch. Mitsuki wants to tell him to put on a jacket or something, but she doesn’t. She waits.

After a minute the stiffness bleeds from his shoulders.

“I gotta buy tickets to the water park.” He grunts, finally. “I got the money to pay for them but I don’t wanna deal with the stupid line to buy ‘em so I wanted to get em online.” He rustles around in his pocket, tugging out a wad of bills and shoving them towards her.

Mitsuki takes the money, smoothing it out. Tickets are expensive, especially during the hotter months. He must have been saving up for a long time to get this much money. “What do you need tickets to the water park for?”

“I wanna go to the fucking water park. Why else do you think I would want tickets, Hag?” Katsuki snaps, shoulders hunching all over again.

Mitsuki sighs and turns back to her desk, digging her wallet out of her purse and handing him her Visa.

“Here brat. How many tickets do you need?”

Katsuki isn’t looking at her again. He’s glaring holes into the wall beside her.

“Two.”

Oh.

She doesn’t ask who he’s going to take with him. If she does it’s more than likely he’ll just toss her credit card back at her and stomp off to be moody in his room. That won’t help either of them.

“Okay, you got money to pay for food when you’re there?”

“Course I do, Hag.” He’s defensive, offended that she’d think he wasn’t good enough to pay for his own meals.

“You got enough money to pay for two people to eat?”

“Ugh! Yes! Can I go?” He’s pinching the card so hard that the knuckles of his thumb and forefinger are going white.

“Yeah, yeah, bring it back when you’re done paying for your tickets ya’ brat.”

She turns back to her work, twirling her stylis between her fingers. Behind her, she hears Katsuki shift, stomp towards the door and then say, “Thanks.”

Mitsuki cannot help the warmth the blooms in her chest, or the smile that spreads across her face. “Anytime, kid.”


 

Mitsuki thinks about the type of girl she might be. There must be something special about her if she managed to get Katsuki to pull his head out of his own ass long enough to notice her, much less get her to agree to go on a date with him.

Perhaps, hopefully, it is the refined-looking girl with the huge ponytail. Mitsuki’s seen her on the news a few times and she always seems cool and collected. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, one that could maybe devise a way to keep Katsuki in line.

She’s got a useful quirk too, and she clearly knows how to use it. Stuff like that is important to Katsuki, it gains his respect faster than anything else.

Realistically, it’s probably one of the spitfires who made it into the final round with him during his first year Sports Festival. Maybe it’s the girl who faced down Katsuki during the tournament, an iron core hidden beneath a soft baby-face. She was brave, and her meteor shower attack had damn near taken Katsuki off his feet. A girl like that could probably tame Katsuki’s awful temper. Or it might be the bubbly pink-skinned kid with the killer right hook. That one had definitely had enough energy to deal with her son.

A girl like that would be able to make Katsuki smile, Mitsuki thinks warmly, maybe even laugh. Her son needs to laugh more. He’s already getting wrinkles from all the frowning he does and she can’t remember the last time she’s heard him so much as a chuckle.

Yeah, a girl like that would be good.


 

There is a boy at the door.

He’s got cherry red hair that is definitely a dye job, and he is dressed like a sports clown.

He’s wearing a t-shirt with nothing but a red D on it, which Mitsuki hates, flame pattern board shorts, which Mitsuki wants to burn, and green crocs that match the hideous visor he’s got on. The visor is printed to look like a frog, with a little tongue sticking out of a little mouth on the bill, and a pair of googly eyes attached to the strap. They rest below a pair of red horns that are definitely constructed with the liberal use of hair gel.

All in all the kid looks fucking awful.

It makes her toes curl against the wood of her floor. All she wants to do is drag him into her work room and make him change. Underneath his absolutely hideous ensemble is so much potential. He’s got a sweet face and a set of warm red eyes that would absolutely shine if he wore the right colors.

Her dissatisfaction with his outfit must be showing on her face because he has started to sweat, red eyes darting around nervously. “Uhm…is this the B-Bakugou house?” He stutters, taking a step back.

Mitsuki is about to answer him when she hears someone thumping down the stairs.

“Shitty Hair?” Katsuki says, a little too loud and a little too shrill. She and the kid both wince. “What the fuck are you doing here? I told you to meet me at the station!”

The boy is shrinking. He looks down at his hideous clown boy shoes and attempts to sink into the earth. “I uh, w-well I got coffee.” He says weakly, holding up a cardboard drink carrier and a paper bag with a donut printed on the side of it. There are two drinks in the carrier. One is a blended, frozen, sugary looking affair with whipped cream and sprinkles on it, and the other is a plain cup. “Cafe latte-almond milk” is written on the side in neat handwriting.

This kid knows Katsuki is lactose intolerant.

“And your house is on the way to the station anyway.” He continues, still looking at his shoes. “And I figured it was kinda silly to walk past and go there and wait for you cuz your coffee would get cold. Sorry, I didn’t know that you didn’t…want me to come here.”

Her son huffs an angry, exasperated sounding breath and pushes past her.

He’s wearing swim trunks and a shirt she’s never seen before. It’s black and very tight. She can see a strip of his lower belly peek out whenever he moves. The redhead kid can see it too. He stares at it, throat bobbing as he swallows.

Mitsuki wonders if she should tell Katsuki to change.

“It’s fine Shitty Hair. I don’t care.”

His ears are red again. So is the back of his neck.

He grabs the coffee, muttering something that sounds a little like thanks before he starts walking towards the street. “C'mon, let’s get on the fuckin road.”

The boy looks between Katsuki and Mitsuki before spluttering an embarrassed sounding. “W-wait.”

“What the fuck is it Shitty Hair?” Katsuki demands, turning to glare at him.

The kid looks back at the ground, then up at Katsuki. “Aren’t you gonna…y'know.” He jerks his head back a bit, motioning towards her. “Introduce me to your mom.”

And then Mitsuki understands. Not a girl then. Her fault for assuming she supposes.

It’s a bit baffling, to think that out of all the people he could settle on, Katsuki has decided this kid will be the recipient of his affections. But if this is Katsuki’s choice she’ll support it. The boy has earnest eyes. He looks like someone who will hold Katsuki’s hand.

Katsuki growls and stomps back. “Shitty Hair, Hag. Hag, Shitty Hair.”

“Kirishima.” The boy interjects, giving Katsuki a look. “Kirishima Eijirou, I’m uh, K-Katsuki’s classmate. Nice to meet you Miss Bakugou.”

Mitsuki recognizes that name. She finally recognizes the child it’s attached to as well. This is the kid who kept Katsuki on the ropes for a good stretch during the Sports Festival. He’s different without his quirk cutting hard lines and ridges across his face. He’s all soft-edged and round and cute looking, even if he does dress like his outfit was put together by a three-year-old.

When he bows to her, he nearly spills his own drink.

Mitsuki is certain her grin is threatening to split her face in half. This kid is kinda funny, and she will never be able to stop giving Katsuki shit for dating a boy who wears crocs.

“Nice to meet you Eijirou. You two have fun!” She waves at them as they leave, watching Katsuki drag the boy by his arm towards their front gate.

When they are gone she leans back into their home and shouts. “Masaru! Katsuki has a boyfriend!” And listens gleefully to the soft sound of her husband sighing from the other room.


 

When Katsuki gets home that night he refuses to speak to her, stomping up the stairs to his room and slamming the door behind him. It’s not particularly new behavior but it makes her a bit nervous. They’ve been gone since that morning. That’s a long time to spend with Katsuki, and an even longer time for Katsuki to go on tolerating crowds without exploding.

She wants to ask about it, but she knows if she does she will just get her son’s usual scowl and a demand for her to mind her own business.

Thankfully, Mitsuki knows how to play this game.

She knocks on his door an hour later.

“Laundry!” She says cheerfully, hefting a basket of baggy pants and skull t-shirts up on her hip. They’re not folded, Katsuki is a big enough kid he can do that for himself, but they’re clean and warm and they smell faintly of detergent.

It takes him a minute but Katsuki opens the door.

Laundry is a high-value currency in their home since all of their quirks are sweat-based. Mitsuki’s isn’t so bad to deal with but Masaru and Katsuki have to have their clothes treated with a neutralizing agent before they can get anywhere near the heat and friction of their washer and dryer.

Katsuki knows this and absolutely hates doing his own laundry because of the wait time and the cloying chemical smell of the neutralizer. It gives him a headache if he’s stuck smelling it too long, so laundry is the only chore in the house Katsuki is willing to have done for him.

He eyes the basket warily. “..Thanks…” He says, reaching to take it.

When he pulls on it Mitsuki doesn’t let go. “So that boy seemed nice. Kiriyama Enjin was it?”

Katsuki’s careful expression folds into a frown. Heat is already rising on his cheeks and he glares at the laundry. “His stupid name is Kirishima E-Eijirou.” Katsuki grunts it all out in a hurry, but Mitsuki doesn’t miss how he stumbles over the kid’s given name, or how his cheeks darken almost immediately once he’s said it.

“Ah.” She says, loosening her hold on the basket but not fully letting it go. “Did you two have fun today?”

Katsuki snorts. “As much fun as you can have in a park full of screaming idiots, yeah.” He’s still embarrassed but there’s a pleased-sounding lilt to his voice. Good.

Mitsuki let’s go of the basket, allowing Katsuki to take its full weight. “Well you tell him he’s welcome over any time then.”

Katsuki is looking at her. He’s trying to keep his face neutral or displeased but she can see something close to a grin twitching up the corner of his mouth. “Okay, whatever Hag. Thanks for the clothes.”

He kicks the door closed behind him and Mitsuki heads back down the stairs to gush to Masaru.

“He’s smitten.” She sing-songs, draping herself precariously across his lap. “Our crappy kid is totally screwed.”

“Careful.” Masaru scolds, placing his hand at the small of her back to steady her. “Are you sure? I’m happy if he is, but 'smitten’ doesn’t sound very much like Katsuki.”

“Trust me ya’ old geezer.” She teases, throwing an arm over his shoulder and using it to tug herself closer so she can press her mouth to the warm plain of his cheek. “A mother knows these things. Katsuki has a crush.”

Masaru hums, clearly amused. “I see…I hope it goes well then, for Katsuki.”

“Me too. I hope that kid comes over again at least, so I can get him to try on something that’s not completely hideous.”

“Mitsuki…”

“You didn’t see him Masaru.” She says, gesturing wildly with her free arm. “The colors and the stupid hat and the crocs.”


 

Mitsuki does see Kirishima Eijirou again, though it’s not under optimal makeover conditions.

It is a brisk Sunday morning. Mitsuki is still recovering from her last commission. She’d been up since three going over the details of it again and again, making sure each outfit was perfect before sending it out. It’s close to noon and she’s just managed to drag herself out of bed. Katsuki and his red-headed paramour are downstairs arguing about pancakes.

Mitsuki doesn’t mean to start spying but neither of them notices as she pads down the stairs towards the kitchen, too caught up in whatever dumb fight they are having.

“Apple pancakes are so good dude! They’re like having a flat apple pie, but for breakfast!”

“One, that sounds fucking disgusting Shitty Hair. Two, blueberry pancakes are way better. Three, I’m making fucking blueberry pancakes.”

“Bakugoooou.” The red-head whines, poking at Katsuki’s side. “You said! You specifically said I can ask for whatever I want for breakfast.”

“I said I’d cook whatever you want as long as it’s not fucking stupid.” Katsuki snaps, swatting at his hand. “These are fucking stupid.”

They have their backs turned to her, both of them bent over a laptop which Katsuki is motioning towards emphatically. Mitsuki cranes her head and sees a video open, showing a pair of hands dipping apple rings into batter.

“Blueberries are too sour man, I don’t like 'em.”

“Put fucking syrup on them then!”

The Kirishima kid turns to fully face her son, giving Mitsuki a view of his profile. His lip is sticking out and his eyes are big and puppyish.

Katsuki glares at the whole thing for a moment, hands twitching.

He grunts and grabs an apple from the bowl of fruit they keep on the counter. “Fine! Be a fucking baby Shitty Hair.”

He slams the cutting board down hard enough to rattle the plates on their drying rack and starts peeling the apple in short, angry strokes.

Kirishima grins, revealing rows of unnaturally sharp teeth. He watches Katsuki for a moment, his expression undeniably fond, then he sidles over to her son. “Yeah, but I’m your baby right?”

There’s a lot of bravado there. His voice is confident but the hands he brings up to hover nervously over Katsuki’s waist are shaking.

Maybe Mitsuki should intervene. Katsuki has gone quiet and still, staring into the basin of their sink, his hand twisting around the handle of the apple peeler. Eventually, he huffs and lets his head fall back against the kid’s shoulder. He uses one elbow to nudge the kid’s hands closer to his waist.

“Yeah.” He says, voice devoid of its usual bite. “You’re my big shitty baby with big shitty hair.”

The kid is beaming, and he moves so he is pressed against her son’s back, his arms winding around him. “You like my hair.” He says, far more confident than before.

“S'not bad.” Katsuki muses, and he tilts his head towards Kirishima’s.

Mitsuki stomps down the stairs as loudly as possible, punctuating her movements with a cartoonishly wide yawn and a stretch. When she gets into the kitchen proper Katsuki is still hunched over the sink, peeling an apple with measured movements, and Kirishima is on the other side of the kitchen pretending to be engrossed in the video playing on the laptop. They are both red down to their shoulders. Mitsuki wonders if Katsuki has always worn his heart so obviously on his sleeve or if she is only noticing now how easy it is to embarrass her son.

“Oooh pancakes.” She says, giving them both a pat on the back as she walks towards the fridge. “I sure hope you’re making some for me.”

“No way, Hag.”

“Of course Ms. Bakugou!”

They both speak at the same time and Mitsuki watches them exchange a series of meaningful looks (Kirishima) and scowls (Katsuki), while she pours herself a glass of orange juice. Eventually, Katsuki tosses the peeler into the sink with an angry grunt and stomps back to the cutting board. “Fine, whatever, pancakes for everyone. Pancakes for the whole goddamn world.”

The redhead smiles and Mitsuki take this opportunity to ruffle her son’s hair and give him a sloppy, embarrassing kiss on the cheek. He bristles immediately but he doesn’t try to make her stop. When she’s done he scrubs angrily at his face with one hand. “Go away already, Hag!” He snaps.

Mitsuki decides it’s enough torture for now. She retreats back to her bedroom. That red-head kid ain’t bad at all. She thinks, sipping her orange juice. Hopefully, he sticks around.


 

He does.

Mitsuki decides Eijirou is good for Katsuki, and beyond that, he is good in general. He doesn’t change Katsuki. He does not convince him to be much kinder or softer or more understanding. Katsuki still curses like a sailor and spits venom when he is angry. He is still fiercely prideful and competitive and at times even cruel.

But he does make Katsuki happy, in his own way, and that is good enough for Mitsuki.

The red-head becomes a regular fixture at their house. It seems all he wants to do for his summer is hang out with Katsuki. That’s fine by her. Katsuki isn’t a very social creature, and she’s pretty sure he hasn’t had a real friend since he decided to be the world’s most massive brat and burn the bridge between him and Izuku Midoriya in nursery school.

He had followers for a while, shitty little delinquents who Katsuki let stick around because they spent most of their time stroking his swollen ego. But, after he was attacked at the end of middle school they stopped coming around. Mitsuki figures Katsuki finally outgrew them.

Since then Katsuki’s has spent his summers doing nothing but training from dawn until dusk, leaving the forest behind their house a mess of broken trees and charred craters. Walking back there always makes Mitsuki’s throat feel painfully tight.

This summer he still spends most of his time training, but now he’s got someone to notice when he’s pushing himself too hard. Kirishima Eijirou isn’t afraid to drag Katsuki back inside when he thinks he’s been overworking himself. He lectures Katsuki about compound fractures and the importance of break days and he makes him drink a whole bottle of water before and after working out so he doesn’t get dehydrated. Katsuki grumbles about it on principle, but he lets Eijirou drag him towards the couch regardless.

They watch a lot of Netflix together. Eijirou is a big fan of anything action and Katsuki seems to be a big fan of flopping on top of him while he oohs and aahs at whatever is on screen.

Sometimes, when they both think that Mitsuki is too busy in the kitchen to be watching, Eijirou will duck down so his face is up against Katsuki’s and give him a kiss, lightning fast.

It never fails to make them both turn embarrassingly bright shades of red.


 

School starts up again. It means Katsuki’s got somewhere to put all the restless energy he’s been building up over the summer but it also means Eijirou is around much less. It’s a double-edged sword, and Mitsuki thinks they’ve gotten the sharper edge. They’re both in their third year which means they split days between classes and internships. It doesn’t leave them a lot of time to spend together.

She can tell Katsuki misses him. He’s quieter when he gets home, and he’s more attached to his phone than ever. Sometimes she will catch him staring at the screen, fingers running along the battered red case. He’ll type something out very quickly, and then she’ll see his shoulders rise and fall in a heavy sigh as he closes his phone before sending whatever he’s written.

It’s a little pathetic, but Katsuki has never been very good at reaching out. She hopes for his sake that he gets better.


 

“Hey, Hag.”

Mitsuki glances up from the green onion she is chopping. Katsuki is behind her at the other end of the counter, breaking up bundles of thin, white enoki mushrooms. His face is smooth.

“Yes?”

They’re doing sukiyaki tonight. Mitsuki asked Katsuki earlier if he wanted to invite over Eijirou but he’d just shaken his head, refusing to look up at her.

His expression is the same now as it was then. It’s a look she’s seen a lot during the past week, pensive, sad. It’s all wrong on his face.

Mitsuki steels herself for whatever is to come. Whatever has been bothering him, Katsuki is finally ready to talk about it. She is going to listen.

“You were the first person Pops ever dated right?”

Not where she expected this conversation to go. Mitsuki shrugs, turning back to the green onions. “According to him, I am.” She replies, rocking her knife across the cutting board. “He always tells me I’m the best first love he could ever ask for.”

She hazards a glance over her shoulder. Katsuki usually hates to hear about her and Masaru. It turns his face an ugly shade of red and makes him rant about things being too mushy and gross in this house. This time, he just looks serious, twisting a single enoki stalk between his fingers.

“You ever date anybody in high school?”

Mitsuki hums, looking away lest her son catch her staring. “A few people here and there. This girl Tsubaki for awhile, and a couple of guys on the swim team before that. Those guys weren’t really dating though. I was just fooling around with them.”

Katsuki makes a sound of derision behind her. “Gross…But this Tsubaki chick. She was different?”

Mitsuki nods. “I thought she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Smart too, we were always fighting for the top rank in class.”

“You liked her more than dad?”

“I wouldn’t say that. I loved her a lot, but I loved her differently than I love your father. Love changes when you get older. It stops dropping the floor out from under you all the time.”

Katsuki snorts. He’s quiet for awhile, long enough that Mitsuki is glancing back at him again. His head is low and his hand is curled into a fist on the edge of the counter.

“Why’d you guys break up?”

So this is what has been bothering her son all week.

It makes sense. Katsuki has always been deeply insecure about losing, and Kirishima Eijirou isn’t some title he can keep with brute force. He’s a person that Katsuki has chosen to let into the tightly guarded circle of his heart, and now he is a person that Katsuki can’t defend against if he chooses to hurt him.

“We just…drifted I guess.” Mitsuki says, thinking back to the melancholy lead up to their split. “She wanted to go to school in another prefecture and I didn’t. Neither of us was ready to do long distance. And she didn’t really care about art or anything like that so we didn’t have a lot to talk about once I got into styling.”

She’d been devastated during those last few weeks. They hadn’t fought, Tsubaki wasn’t the fighting type, but what they did was worse in Mitsuki’s opinion. It had been endless hours of trying to drag out something they both knew was ready to die. Their final date had been a miserable, tense thing, both of them desperately searching for each other for the girl they used to love.

She had cried when it was over, and Mitsuki’s still not sure if they were tears of sadness or relief.

“Did it hurt, when you broke up?” His voice is quiet. He sounds so young.

It is a toxic combination he’s gotten, her intensity and Masaru’s intelligence. It means that he falls in love like she does, but that he’s smart enough to realize love cannot last. Mitsuki wonders how she would have ever made it through high school being the way her son is, with his heart tied to the moment at hand but his head already three steps ahead of it.

“Katsuki.” She says, setting down the knife and turning to face him. “Come here.”

At first he hesitates, his spine rigid. Mitsuki thinks he will pull away. Then his head is buried in her chest and his hands are balled in tight fists by his side.

“I don’t want to break up with him.” Katsuki says into her shirt.

“Then don’t, Kiddo.” Mitsuki says, bringing one hand up to run through his hair. He’s let it grow out longer than usual, probably on prompting from Eijirou since he seems to like playing with her son’s hair at every opportunity. “You don’t break up with someone until you want to or you know you have to.”

“But what’s the point if-if it’s just gonna end up the same anyway? If we’re just gonna blow up or drift apart or whatever.” Katsuki is growling now, upset, angry. “It’s so fucking stupid! Why do people even do this shit to themselves if they know that it’s gonna-”

“Katsuki.” Mitsuki says. “Would you rather you’d never done any of it at all?”

“…No.” He deflates all at once, arms going limp and shoulders hunching.

“Good.” Mitsuki cards her hands through his hair, working gently at a tangle near his neck. “I think Eijirou would be pretty sad if he knew you were so afraid of breaking up with him that you wanted to forget about him entirely.”

“Shut up Hag. I hate you.” He says, but he burrows his head further into her chest.

Mitsuki hums. “Love isn’t about being the bravest or the strongest y'know.”

Katsuki grunts. He’s frustrated. Those are the things he’s good at it. Without them, he’s lost

“It’s about caring enough about someone to let them hurt you, but trusting them enough to know they won’t.”

“Sounds fucking terrible.”

“A little. But mostly it’s nice, warm. He’s special right? So it feels good when he makes you feel special too.”

He doesn’t say anything, but he nods. The wet nub of his nose drags at her shirt. Usually, Mitsuki would mind but she’ll make an exception for him, just this once.

Mitsuki smiles. “And he’d never hurt you on purpose?”

Katsuki is silent for a long, painful moment. It puts Mitsuki on edge, wondering if she’s put her trust in Kirishima Eijirou too quickly if maybe he hasn’t been handling her son’s heart with the care she thought he would. But he finally shakes his head, sighing. “No. That idiot’s way too stupid to ever do something like that.”

He pulls away from her, scrubbing at his face with the sleeve of his shirt. Mitsuki dutifully ignores the the redness of his eyes and the sticky tear tracks on his cheeks.

“Sometimes he’ll start cryin’ if he thinks he’s being too rough when we spar. What kinda an idiot starts cryin’ and apologizing in the middle of a fight?”

“The good kind,” Mitsuki says.

Katsuki just keeps scrubbing at his face. Mitsuki passes him the paper towels and he rips one off and blows his nose into it with a loud, ugly honk.

Mitsuki hums and looks up at the ceiling. “I don’t regret Tsubaki. She was good to me. Even if it hurt a little at the end, I’m happy that I met her.”

Katsuki doesn’t reply right away. Eventually, she turns back to her cutting board. She listens as he shuffles back to his own spot on the counter and starts chopping something. The soft clack of his knife fills the room.

Mitsuki has started in on the onions when Katsuki speaks, “We got a lotta shit here.”

“We do.”

“Probably can’t eat all of it with just the three of us. 'Especially since Dad’s a little baby who can’t have more than one bowl.”

She snorts. “Don’t be mean to your father just because he’s got a small little infant stomach. You wanna invite someone over to help us eat all this food, Brat?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, and she can hear the smile in his voice. Such a rare, precious thing, that. “I do.”


 

A few hours later, Mitsuki is sitting at the table letting Masaru run his thumb in slow circles over the back of her hand. Across from them, Katsuki and Eijirou fight over the last of the meat in the pot. Eijirou is using a cleverly constructed offense that involves quite a bit of pouting and using his big red puppy-dog eyes to his advantage, and Katsuki is doing his best to defend by just not looking at the kid’s face.

Maybe, Mitsuki thinks, they can make it work. She turns her hand so her palm is pressed flat against Masaru’s and laces their fingers together. It not realistic, she knows that. First loves burn hot and fast, they’re not something that is meant to last.

Eijirou scorches his mouth on a piece of meat he’s managed to snatch without Katsuki seeing. He makes high, distressed little noises and bounces in place, eyes watering. His hands flap at his face as if fanning his closed mouth will make the food inside cooler.

Katsuki watches him and dissolves into a fit of giggles that has him hiding his own face in his hands. His shoulders shake as he laughs and laughs.

If there is anybody suited to beating the odds, it’s her kid. Mitsuki thinks, watching the meat drop from Eijirou’s open mouth as he gapes. There’s something close to awe there. When Katsuki falls out of his chair the expression breaks into something softer and unbearably sweet.

If anyone can do it, it’s Katsuki, and if anyone can love him enough to make it worth it, it’s probably this soft little idiot sitting across from her and staring at her son like he hung the moon.

Mitsuki stands, taking her bowl with her and tugging Masaru up with her free hand. “We’re going to bed, clean up when you’re done okay?”

Masaru, bless his heart, starts to protest. He’s probably concerned since Eijirou is a guest and an important one, and he doesn’t want to saddle the boy with cleaning up for their whole meal. But he’s smart enough to fall silent at the look Mitsuki gives him, and let her usher him out of the room.


 

Eijirou is there the next morning, trailing behind Katsuki while he gets eggs and rice ready for breakfast. He’s wearing one of Katsuki’s old shirts and his hair is finally free of those awful spikes he usually keeps it in. It falls loose around his face, and when Katsuki isn’t looking he ducks his head and presses a closed mouth little kiss against Katsuki’s cheek.

Katsuki smashes the egg he’s holding between his hands and he turns to splutter something at Eijirou. His cheeks are pink and Eijirou pokes at one and smiles with all of his teeth.

Mitsuki tiptoes back up the stairs before they see her.

Masaru is half-awake when she slides back into bed. He mumbles something groggily and throws one arm over her, settling his face against her shoulder. His mustache tickles as he starts to snore again in low little huffs.

Mitsuki lets warmth swell inside her, fill her chest and expand her ribs. Right now, she is so damn happy. It’s hard to even put it into words.

She closes her eyes and lets Masaru’s snoring and the muffled sound of two boys bickering in the kitchen lull her back to sleep.

The End.