As always, it starts with a villain attack.
They’d been out on field, and there hadn’t seemed to be much thought behind the action — nothing but adrenaline, instinct, driving his every move, when Deku had dropped a heavy hand to the back of Katsuki’s neck, urging him to get down, Kacchan! sending Katsuki to the ground with nothing but raw strength.
And he’d gone down, beneath the protective cover of Deku’s body, too surprised to fight back. At first.
But then, the panic settled in.
He remembers it, all too clearly, even after all this time, the feeling of the villain with the patchwork skin and his scalding touch. The hand that had gripped the back of his neck, tight, right next to the low, threatening whisper of, no problem.
He remembers cold. Darkness. The feeling of being pulled backwards into the black abyss of the portal, and —
All Might, emaciated, feeble.
The symbol of peace, fallen.
“Kacchan — Kacchan!” he hears. Back then, and now.
Blinking to, gasping for breath, he sees nothing but the ground beneath him. The next instant, he registers Deku’s voice — the hand curled around the back of his neck. His vision goes white, fear gripping his chest, and he doesn’t think.
He can't breathe.
“Kacchan, what’s wrong? Are you hurt — ”
Pushing himself off the ground, Katsuki dislodges Deku’s weight, sending an explosion crackling through the air.
He doesn’t know if it hits the mark. Because the next moment, all he registers is — darkness. This, too, is all too similar to the warp villain’s quirk to be any sort of comfort.
He wakes up in the infirmary.
When he sits up, Deku is, unsurprisingly, seated at his bedside, having dozed off in the discomfort of the visitor’s chair.
Katsuki tries for a scowl. A glance to the clock tells him classes are over by now. He’s been unconscious for a good couple of hours — what a waste of goddamn time.
He reaches out to shake Deku’s shoulder.
“Go back to the dorms, dumbass,” he says, as Deku blinks into awareness.
Immediately, his eyes water at the sight of Katsuki sitting up, hands hovering out uselessly, too afraid to touch. “Kacchan,” he babbles, and Katsuki can hear the stream of apologies even before the idiot speaks them. “Kacchan, are you okay? I don’t know what happened, Recovery Girl says you’re not injured, but it was something I did, wasn’t it? I’m so sorry, I don’t know what it was, but I’ll never do it again — ”
“Shut up,” Katsuki grinds out, exasperated. “You didn’t do anything.”
“But I did,” Deku protests. “Or you wouldn’t have passed out like that.”
“It was the villain’s quirk, dumbass. Quit taking responsibility for everything when it has nothing to do with you.”
“But… the villain didn’t touch you,” Deku whispers, eyes sharp and scrutinizing in that infuriating way of his. Katsuki’s scowl deepens. “I made sure of it.”
“And you were watching me the whole fucking time we were fighting?” Without waiting for a response, Katsuki powers on. “The villain made me pass out, not you. Quit being full of yourself.”
Deku purses his lips and hands Katsuki the glass of water at his bedside before he can even reach for it. He doesn’t say anything more, even though he clearly wants to — the damn nerd.
He’ll have to be more careful, if he doesn’t want him to find out.
That the damage the villains had left on him had been more than surface-deep, and that Katsuki is so fucking weak that it still eats him alive.
He’ll have to deal with this on his own, and fast.
He notices the way Deku watches him. He’s known the guy for too long not to. He pretends he doesn’t.
The others notice soon enough. Deku isn’t at all subtle, about any damn thing, least of all about anything to do with Katsuki.
“Hey, did you and Midoriya get into a fight again?” Sero asks under his breath.
Katsuki looks over his shoulder, and sure enough, Deku is gazing between Katsuki and his lunch, looking like he can’t decide which he’d like to deal with first. “Mind your own business, Elbows.”
“It’s Sero,” he complains, but Katsuki isn’t listening.
Deku keeps watching him.
Katsuki finds that, lately, despite himself, he’s been watching Deku just as often.
He should’ve fucking known. All the signs have been there — blaring, red and vibrant — right in his fucking face, pointing to the fact that Deku has been planning something. Something to do with Katsuki. He’s become too complacent as of late, to leave it unchecked.
Because the fucker has gotten Kirishima involved now, of all people.
“Bakugou!” the redhead yells, barreling over across the training field.
Katsuki glares at his approach, bracing himself for the heavy weight of an arm over his shoulders, but nothing — no amount of warning signs at all could have prepared him for the clasp of a hand over the back of his neck.
His reflexes are quick, but they aren’t quick enough. The moment the appendage meets his nape, Katsuki sends an explosion in the fucker’s face, seething with some horrifying mixture of terror and rage.
Kirishima hardens in time to avoid any damage, but it’s already been done. There’s no way he could've miss the way Katsuki’s breath hitches with fear — the instinctive way he flinches and shies away from the touch. As much as Kirishima can pretend otherwise, he’s annoyingly perceptive.
Ignoring the surprised calls of his name, Katsuki storms away, as fast as his shaking legs will take him, before the questions can come.
And out of corner of his eyes, he sees — him.
Deku, watching, gaze sharp and stinging.
Nosy goddamn asshole.
He should've fucking known. It's impossible to hide anything from Deku.
Katsuki, feeling the pin-prickle of tears budding at the corners of his eyes, grits his teeth and beckons with a jerk of his head for him to follow.
Deku does, after a moment, eyes downcast in shame at being found out. But Katsuki is beyond feeling remorse at this point.
As soon as they’re alone, away from prying eyes in the confines of the locker room, Katsuki folds his arms across his chest, willing them not to shake. Forces his thoughts away from the feeling of fingers creeping around his neck —
“I’m sorry, Kacchan,” Deku murmurs, not meeting his eyes. “But I had to make sure.”
“Alright, so now you know,” Katsuki spits. “What’ll it take for you to keep your mouth shut? Money? Should I grovel on my fucking knees?”
“Wh — I’m not going to tell anyone!” Deku exclaims, eyes wide as saucers. It looks like remorse. But it also looks like pity. Katsuki clenches his fists, tight, digging his nails into his palms to ground himself. “That’s not — I’m not going to tell anyone if you don’t want me to, Kacchan. But this isn’t — ”
“What the hell is this, Deku? You snuck around behind my back, dragging Kirishima into this, too, for what? I don’t need your pity, shithead, and I sure as fuck don’t need his, either.”
“This isn’t pity!” Deku shouts, voice reverberating into the empty space around them. “I just… I had to make sure. So I didn’t do that again and hurt you by accident!”
“That’s fucking pity, asshole! I don’t need you to walk on goddamn eggshells around me!”
“It’s not pity! How many times do I have to tell you that I care about you? This isn’t something I can just look away from and ignore!”
“Why the hell not, huh?” Katsuki asks scathingly. “You’re always sticking your nose into business that has nothing to do with you — ”
“I care about you, and this has everything to do with me! I did that to you, the other day. You could’ve gotten hurt.” Deku’s eyes are tremulous and wide and so fucking familiar, it makes Katsuki sick to his stomach. “I shouldn’t have asked Kirishima to do that, and I’m sorry, but I had to know if it was just me, or if it was — ”
“And now you know,” Katsuki interjects, voice breaking around the syllables. “Now you know that I’m a fucking mess, and it’s not just you, it’s everything. I can’t fucking stand having anyone touch me there. Are you happy now, you piece of shit?”
“I don’t get how this can still be a surprise to you, but seeing you hurt doesn’t make me happy at all,” Deku says, voice sounding abruptly tired. “Kacchan, I didn’t do this so I could laugh at you, or make fun of you, or — or anything like that. I just want to help.”
Katsuki sits down heavily on one of the benches, resting his forehead in his hands. It’s incredibly draining — exhausting — arguing with Deku. It always is. “You’ve done enough.”
He can hear Deku approach him carefully. Slowly. He stops just within arm’s reach. “Is it just the back of your neck, or…?”
“Yeah,” Katsuki says shortly. It doesn’t fucking matter anymore. Even if Deku knows his debilitating weakness, as aggravating as he can be, he knows the fucker won’t use it to his advantage. He won't write it in his notebook, like he does with every other damn thing, and he won’t use it. Not something like this.
“It’s only when someone touches you there with their hand, right? If it were something else…” He trails off, into a stream of incoherent murmurs.
Katsuki raises his head abruptly, meeting Deku’s gaze with a burning glare. “Quit treating this like some fucking science experiment. I’m not going to sit here and answer your twenty damn questions.”
“I’m not,” Deku protests. He looks like he wants to say more, but ultimately decides against it, opting instead to sit on the bench next to Katsuki, leaving enough space between them that it’s not too oppressing. Nonetheless, Katsuki feels the urge to shift away and increase that little distance between them. “Can I…?”
Katsuki catches his wrist as it creeps forward. “No,” he grits out through the rising panic.
“But I’m in front of you,” Deku says, all-too logically, given the situation. “If you can see it’s me doing it, and not — not that villain, it should be okay, right?”
“It’s not okay, because I don’t want you to fucking touch me,” Katsuki spits, releasing Deku’s arm aside, gaze lingering on the scars, searching for any sort of distraction. Absently, he wonders if they were the price of containing the power of One For All, or if Deku’s just stupidly reckless like that. All Might doesn’t have scars like these.
He only has one. A deep one, a wretched scarring in his side that had left him weakened. Vulnerable. Skeletal.
A ghost of his former self.
Fuck. He wants to stop thinking.
“This isn’t okay,” Deku whispers, wrenching him back to the present. “You have to tell someone. If you won’t let me help, at least tell Kirishima, or Aizawa-sensei — ”
The panic surges again, and Katsuki stifles it by sheer force of will. “If you tell anyone, I’ll fucking kill you.”
“But — ”
“I can deal with it on my own,” Katsuki snarls. And he’s been doing spectacularly, so far. “It’s fucking nothing. I’ll get over it, because that’s what heroes do.”
“Kacchan,” Deku says, softly, disapproving. “Heroes can get PTSD, too. Anyone can.”
“Who said this was PTSD?” Katsuki snaps.
“Then what is it? What would you call this?” Deku challenges in return.
“What are you, my goddamn therapist?” When Deku merely levels him a long, measured look, Katsuki makes a noise of frustration and turns away. He can’t stand this condescending fuckwad. That much hasn’t changed. “I said I’ll get over it.” And he doesn’t know if he says it for himself, or Deku.
All he knows is that no one is convinced, least of all him.
“Let me help you,” Deku murmurs, gentle. Coaxing. “Please.”
“What can you fucking do about this?” Katsuki demands. “This isn’t something you can just smash through with your fists, dumbass.”
“I know, but… just let me try something, okay? Please?” Deku makes an effort to meet his gaze again, but Katsuki stubbornly keeps his own locked on his shoes. “If you don’t like it, you can tell me to stop. Push me away, if you need to.”
“What…” Katsuki falters, when Deku raises himself up on one knee, hand outstretched again, and he swallows. He forces back the nervousness, because this is Deku. The guy he’s known since he was in diapers. The guy who’d ran after him, with both arms broken — the one who’d tried the hardest to reach him despite that. There’s nothing to fear from him, and yet — “Stop. T… Tell me what you’re going to do, or I’ll blow your fucking face off.”
Deku pauses, retracting his hand, and Katsuki tries not to feel relieved. Tries not to follow the movement with his eyes. “I read up on it, once. Something called exposure therapy.”
“You’re not my fucking therapist, Deku,” Katsuki says again, growing irritated.
“Just listen for a second,” Deku insists. “If you get used to the feeling again and associate it with good things, it could negate all the bad memories. It wouldn’t bother you anymore if you got used to it. At least, that’s my theory…” He seems to lose confidence the more he speaks.
Katsuki’s brow ticks. “You’re telling me to get used to you touching my neck?”
“It might work,” Deku mutters. “We don’t have to do this, I can think of something else — ”
“No,” Katsuki cuts in, sighing loudly. He hasn’t been dealing with it. He hasn’t been trying. If Deku thinks this might work, chances are it really fucking might. He doesn’t have much to lose, at this point. Any and all of his dignity has been crushed a thousand times over in front of Deku, who’s seen him at both his highest and his lowest. “Just do it.”
“A… Are you sure?”
“Fuck — You’re the one who suggested it and now you’re the one second-guessing things?”
“It’s just, I don’t want this to be uncomfortable for you. I can think of something else, this was probably a bad idea to start with, I don’t know if this will actually make things worse, or — ”
“God,” Katsuki groans, exasperated. “Stop fucking mumbling and just touch me, you idiot. It’s fine, alright?” Then, under his breath, he adds, “You’re a shithead, but it's not like I can't trust you.”
Katsuki looks away when Deku’s stupid fucking eyes go all watery. Like the admission had been something monumental — something groundbreaking. All Katsuki had said was something they both already know. As much as they can get on each other’s last nerve, that foundation of trust is… it’s not something that breaks easily. It’s always been there, and it’ll probably always be there. They'll always be on the same side.
Deku’s an idiot if he doesn’t know that much.
“Kacchan,” Deku says, and when Katsuki looks up, he’s squaring his shoulders. Like he’s psyching himself up, just for something as mundane as a touch. The guy breaks his own arms in battle without batting an eye, but a simple touch has him cowed. It could almost be laughable, if Katsuki weren’t equally, if not more, terrified. “You should keep your eyes on me.”
“I know that. Just hurry up,” Katsuki says, even though he kind of wishes Deku would do the opposite.
That scarred hand comes up once more, hesitantly coming to a rest at Katsuki’s shoulder, who jolts beneath the touch, before the weight lifts.
And Katsuki fights the urge to squeeze his eyes shut. Breathes through the tightening in his throat, the panic that has his heart hammering in his chest, so loud he’s sure Deku can feel it, as his fingers brush over the back of his neck before wrapping right around.
Katsuki lowers his head, breathing through his nose, and for a moment, it’s fine. It’s okay. It’s just Deku, and himself, sitting in their shitty school change room. It’s just Deku’s hand, light and unassuming against his skin.
Then the breath leaves him in a rush, and it feels like he’s suffocating again. And it’s not him and Deku, not anymore. He’s back at the training camp, and that hand — he hadn’t asked for it. He can’t fight it.
“Let go,” he gasps out, clutching at the front of his shirt.
Deku releases him quickly, frantic questions of are you okay’s and I’m sorry’s babbling from his lips.
Katsuki can’t answer, even if he’d wanted to.
But soon enough, the hand comes back to the nape of his neck, though this time, instead of leaving it there, Deku pets at him in what appears to be an attempt at reassurance.
He feels the urge to brush it aside. Demand for his space. But for one reason another, a reason that has nothing to do with the black spots dancing in his vision, he does neither. The touch, while it hadn’t been welcome initially, is somehow becoming grounding.
Katsuki lets it happen as he catches his breath.
“Is this okay?” Deku asks quietly.
“Shut up,” Katsuki says, and he does. But his hand doesn’t stop petting at Katsuki’s neck, like he’s a damn cat or something, and Katsuki doesn’t do a thing about this either.
He doesn’t think too hard about why.
Doesn't think too much about anything, besides the soft caress of Deku's scarred fingers against his skin, careful and soothing.
“Hey, Shitty Nerd,” Katsuki says, cornering Deku on their way to class the next day. “Yesterday never happened. Got it?”
Deku smiles, playing at oblivious. “What never happened?”
Katsuki rolls his eyes, mildly appeased, and storms off.
They end up walking to class together, Deku, infuriatingly, falling into step next to him.
But before they head inside, Deku slows his pace and glances at him in askance — a silence question for permission — and Katsuki doesn’t permit him. But he doesn't deny him either.
Deku rests his hand at the back of Katsuki’s neck, the weight still unfamiliar but somehow not as daunting as it could be, and Katsuki swallows. Goes still all over. The hand pets him there once, twice, before letting go entirely.
Deku’s smiling again, that goddamn disarming smile, and Katsuki pushes past him into their classroom with a scowl.
He can’t fucking sleep. Kicking away his blankets, Katsuki glares up at the ceiling.
It’s not fucking fair. It’s not fucking fair, that the villains could take away Katsuki’s one escape from them, even to this day. Sleep never used to be a challenge for Katsuki, but nowadays, on bad nights, the nightmares make closing his eyes a chore.
Katsuki slips out of bed and makes his way downstairs, in search of a glass of water. He’s in the midst of scratching absently at his stomach, distracted by the dryness in his mouth that he only notices Deku’s presence sitting in the darkness of the common room, his face lit up by only his phone screen, when the idiot glances up first.
“Kacchan,” he whispers. He glances to his screen, then back up to Katsuki’s glare. “It’s really late. Why are you awake?”
“None of your business, you damn hypocrite,” Katsuki says. But after a moment, he forgoes the water to tread closer. Deku watches him, but doesn’t make any move to comment, even when Katsuki stops before him with his hands at his hips. “What the hell are you doing sitting in the dark like a fucking creep?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” Deku admits, locking his phone. “I thought I’d come down here and clear my head.”
Katsuki stews on this for a while, pursing his lips. Then, he throws himself bodily onto the space next to him on the couch. Deku doesn’t seem to notice the way their elbows brush. “I knew something shitty woke me up. You think so damn loud, Deku.”
Deku laughs lightly. “You’re on the fourth floor.”
“Yeah. That’s how fucking loud you are,” Katsuki says.
And they sit there, in the darkness of the common room, about a few centimeters between them, but miles apart. Somehow, the quiet is companionable. More than it has been in many years. Katsuki knows he’s responsible for the rift between them, and he knows even more that it can’t only be Deku who attempts to mend it.
“Hey,” he says, after a while, and Deku turns to him in question, but Katsuki refuses to look his way. “Touch me again.”
“I… What? Kacchan, d-did you just — ”
Katsuki feels hot, all the way up to his ears. Even so, he forces the words out. “You heard me.”
“Yes, but um — right now? Are you sure? Didn’t you have a nightmare…?”
Katsuki narrows his eyes. “How did you know about that?”
When he deigns to look up from beneath his bangs, Deku looks mildly ashamed, scratching idly at his cheek. “Lucky guess?”
“Fucking weirdo,” Katsuki grumbles, but decides to leave it be. Deku knows everything about him, more than he knows about himself. Sometimes, it’s perturbing — sometimes, it’s impressive. Most times, it’s irritating. “I can’t stop thinking about it. That day," he confesses. "It’s always that fucking guy with the stitches. Fucking hate it.”
Deku presses his lips together, tight. Like he’s pissed. At what, Katsuki can’t fathom. “Will it help if I touch you?”
Katsuki presses the heels of his palms to his eyes in exhaustion. “Hell if I know. Do it if you want, or don’t. If you don’t want to. I don’t care.”
And nothing happens, for several moments, but Katsuki hadn’t been lying — Deku thinks loud. He knows the guy’s head is running a mile a minute. He gives him about another two, before he looks up with a glare.
Deku is staring back, hand outstretched, guilt on his face like he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have.
“Can I…” he starts.
Katsuki tugs him in by the wrist, closer, in answer. Beyond that, he simply holds still.
Deku swallows, and, showing more hesitation than he has the previous times, he touches his fingers to Katsuki’s neck.
Katsuki fights back the initial response to jerk away — the way his hands itch with the urge to explode. To do something, anything other than lean into the touch like he wants it.
Except, that’s exactly what he does.
Katsuki pushes just slightly, into Deku’s hand, urging him silently that if he’s going to touch him, he should do it fucking properly. Eventually, Deku obliges, curling his fingers into the soft hairs at Katsuki’s nape, and rubbing his thumb into his skin.
In the dark, Katsuki feels every bump of the scars on Deku’s hand, so different yet so alike, to the hand that had held onto him that day. In the dark, everything feels so much more — heightened. His nerves are like live wires. Electric.
Katsuki must feel incredibly tense, but Deku isn’t one to give up. He keeps up his ministrations, and Katsuki hears the silent urge as well — the one telling him to relax. To trust.
His breathing is uneven. Surely Deku must hear it. It’s too fucking quiet.
Deku lets go abruptly, and Katsuki freezes up in alarm. The lack of touch is as shocking as the touch itself.
“Ah, sorry,” he says, with a wobbly smile. “I was just thinking, we could make this more comfortable for you. If you, um, lie on me…?” When Katsuki merely stares him down, he’s quick to rectify with frantic waves of his hands, “Y-You don’t have to! Um, actually, just forget I said anything!”
Deku squirms, unable to meet his eyes. “U-Um…”
“What? Like this?” Katsuki asks, flopping sideways so that his weight rests heavily onto Deku’s side, head tilted onto his shoulder. Despite it all, he smirks to himself when he feels Deku flail a bit under the proximity.
“Err, I was thinking more along the lines of lying down…”
“Hm,” Katsuki says, and it’s not much of an answer, he knows. Instead, in demonstration of his understanding, he pushes Deku down by the shoulders until he’s flat on his back on the couch. Deku’s phone falls to the carpet with a thud, but neither of them pay it any mind.
Gazing down at Deku’s red face, hearing the cautious whispered exclamation of, “Kacchan! What are you doing?” wash over him, Katsuki wonders if the lack of sleep is getting to him, that he thinks Deku looks almost-attractive like this. Exhilarating, when he considers that Deku could fight this, easily, if he really wanted to. But he doesn't.
He crawls over him, taking Deku’s wrist and guiding it over to the back of his neck. “This what you were thinking about, you pervert?” he asks, gloating.
But he’d forgotten that this isn’t middle school Deku anymore. This Deku, who has the power of All Might, who isn’t about to take anything lying down, pulls Katsuki in closer, in a way that could almost be described as rough.
Katsuki, too surprised to do anything else, can only stare, as Deku — the little shit — smile and everything, holds him in place and says, “This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s a bit more convenient.”
Katsuki scowls, and he has half a mind to shove off of him, having lost his footing in the situation all too quickly, but Deku is pushing himself up into a sitting position, leaving Katsuki with nothing to do but follow suit. He scoots backwards a little, resting his back against the cushions, tugging Katsuki with him.
The hand, he only notices after they’re upright, remains steadfastly cradling the back of his neck.
Heat rushes up to his face, and he wonders just how the hell things had turned around so quickly, leaving him the one flustered and confused.
“This is a lot more comfortable. I could probably fall asleep like this,” Deku remarks, and Katsuki stills. Shudders. Deku's gaze is uncharacteristically heavy-lidded, entirely contradictory to his lighthearted tone. The hand around his neck gives a gentle squeeze — a minuscule tightening of his grip that makes Katsuki lose his breath all over again. “Is this okay for you, Kacchan?”
It’s now that Katsuki’s conviction resurfaces, and the anger returns with a vengeance. He becomes abruptly, incredibly aware of their positions — of how he’s practically straddling Deku’s lap, and how Deku’s stupid hand feels hot and scalding against his skin, in none of the bad ways and all of the good —
'Okay'? This is everything but fucking 'okay' — cocky piece of shit.
The mortified explosion that punctuates the thought, in Katsuki's opinion, for once is incredibly warranted.
No one else seems to think so.
“Our precious school budget is always being spent on getting us new furniture,” Kaminari bemoans. “Think about the arcades, the awesome upgrades to the training field we could’ve gotten instead, you idiot!”
Katsuki throws a pillow at him in response, which, only incidentally, catches on fire.
“This is exactly what I’m talking about!” Kaminari screeches as he dodges the projectile.
It becomes a little like a habit, Deku’s lingering touches and Katsuki, absentmindedly, unthinkingly, leaning into them a little too much.
It becomes a problem.
Sometimes, it happens in passing. They’re sitting in the common room on movie night, with Deku pressed up close to him, and halfway through, Deku brings his arm to the back of the couch. Five minutes later, hyperaware of Deku’s presence, Katsuki feels the briefest skim of Deku’s fingers at his neck. He doesn’t move a muscle — forces himself to focus on the movie. Writes it off as an practised accident. Only, it lingers a fraction too long to be convincing.
Other times, it lasts longer. A little too long. They’re going through a math problem during break, and really, Deku should have more fucking awareness of where they are and who could be watching, because it’s broad daylight. He should have more goddamn tact than to hold onto the back of Katsuki’s neck as he’s talking through the steps to solving question thirteen, too distracted to protest the action until it’s too late.
Naturally, people start to notice.
“Why does Midoriya do that?” he hears Jirou mutter one day.
“Do what?” Todoroki asks.
“You know.” The asshole makes a vague gesture with her hands, entirely unaware that Katsuki is watching the exchange from across the room. “The neck thing. He’s always touching Bakugou’s neck.”
“Oh,” Todoroki says, and when he looks up, glances over to Katsuki’s seat, their gazes meet. Katsuki mentally wills him through a vicious glare not to say anything stupid, but it’s futile. Todoroki blocks out whatever telepathic connection Katsuki is attempting to establish and states, “Maybe because Bakugou likes it.”
This utter blockhead. Katsuki is going to kill him.
He doesn't like Deku's touches. On a good day, Katsuki might admit that he tolerates it at a bare minimum, but liking the warmth of Deku's palm against his skin — liking the grounding feeling of just being in his presence? Preposterous. Unthinkable.
Yet, after some thorough introspection... not entirely untrue.
So, yeah. Katsuki might have a fucking problem.
Theoretically, the clearest, most rational solution to the growing dilemma at hand is to tell Deku to stop.
But part of the problem lies in the fact that maybe, just maybe, Katsuki really doesn't want him to.
That he craves the unconventional intimacy, in the same way he craves victory. And more than occasionally, spicy food.
That going back to spitting curses at Deku every time he came too close only seems more and more unappealing.
Fuck it. Why stop now?
They’ve gotten this far. The touches don’t scare him anymore, and Deku hasn’t shown one way or another that he wants this to end, either.
“Kacchan, what — ” Deku says, not even looking up from his novel as he approaches. “Oh.”
Deku looks lost, with an armful of Katsuki, his book discarded aside.
“I lost my page.” And the protest is half-hearted, adorned with a mournful pout.
“Shut up,” Katsuki says. “Touch me.”
“So needy, Kacchan,” Deku chides, and Katsuki doesn’t bother refuting. He's always thrived under attention — Deku's attention, especially. Besides, they both know Deku is just as bad, aching to get his hands on Katsuki at every opportunity.
The hand curls around the back of his neck, solid, warm, safe. Katsuki ducks his head and welcomes it.
“What is this?” Deku murmurs, the third time Katsuki forces his way into Deku’s room, into his arms and his embrace. “Kacchan, please tell me if I’m reading too much into it, but — ”
“Idiot,” Katsuki berates, voice muffled as he buries his face into Deku’s throat. “You think I’d let just anyone do this to me?”
“You make it sound like I’m doing something bad,” Deku says mildly, arm coming up to hold him closer, leaning into Katsuki's hair.
“I’m letting you touch me. Isn’t that answer enough?”
“I’d like if you said it. So I can make sure. I know you’ll hate it if I have to try and figure it out myself — ”
“I like you.” The hand on his neck stills briefly. Katsuki lifts his head to meet his gaze, willing himself not to back down. Wills the blush away from his cheeks. “You dense fuck.”
Deku cups Katsuki's cheek with his free hand, a pleased hum under his breath even as he remarks, “That's not very romantic.”
Ignoring the comment, Katsuki demands, “Tell me you like me too, stupid Deku.”
“So needy.” Deku laughs when Katsuki gives him a glare. Then his voice goes all gentle in ways that makes Katsuki’s insides turn to mush. “I think this was obvious, but I like you too, Kacchan. I have for a long time. Forever, really.”
“Stu-pid,” Katsuki reiterates. “Liking someone like me. Do you have no self-preservation instincts?”
“I’ve been told I can be pretty reckless,” Deku admits cheerfully.
“Stupid, brave idiot.”
“… Kacchan, can I kiss you?”
“Really fucking brave,” Katsuki breathes. “Check your damn notebook if you can't figure out if that was a yes or no — ”
Deku catches on, to no one's surprise. Quickly, much to Katsuki's pleasure.
Their lips meet, and this, just like Deku’s gentle smiles and his fond calls of Kacchan, makes Katsuki feel at home — safe. Loved.
He wonders if it had ever truly been about the touches at all.