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Clocks and Blades

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CHAPTER 5

 

When Katsuki woke up for his morning workout the next day, it took him some time to remember all the events that had occured the previous day. He left his room in his gym clothes and glanced at the door next to his, thinking of who was sleeping in there. He clicked his tongue and went down the stairs. He wasn’t used to feeling this annoyed so early in the morning. It was fine, he decided as he gulped down his breakfast, facing the morning sun that was flowing peacefully through the living room’s window - his favourite spot. He didn’t need to think about any of it, at least not until the other extras woke up.

A ruffled sound coming from the couch behind him attracted his attention, and his head whipped around to see … Uraraka, sitting in her gym clothes and her ugly yellow sweater with a cup of something steaming in her hands, staring at him like a fucking deer in the headlights. Great. Fucking great, he thought as he felt his mood plummet and a deep scowl grew between his brows.

“‘morning” she croaked.

He groaned and turned back to finish his breakfast.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you” she continued behind him as he got up to put his bowl in the dishwasher. “Usually you never notice me in the morning.”

He stopped and turned to look at her.

“What?” he snapped, his voice still hoarse from sleep.

She shrugged. “In the morning, you get up and take your breakfast in front of the window” she pointed at his favourite spot “and then you jog around the campus before coming back to do your exercises in front of our dorm. Usually I wait until you’ve left to start my morning routine outside, and when I hear you come back I stop.”

He all but glared at her, not knowing what was the worst: realising Uraraka had been watching him long enough for her to now his entire fucking morning routine, or that he had never noticed her doing so this far. How long had that been going on?

“And here I thought Grapist was the biggest creep” he groaned, narrowing his eyes. There was something off about her. She looked too tired, had no annoying smile glued to her face, and even her eyes seemed oddly blank - almost dark, with deep bags under them. She wasn’t even looking at him anymore, like he hadn’t just said something - the least she could do was fucking acknowledge him when he took the time to talk to her - she was just staring into nothingness, looking a little bit more gloomy with every passing seconds.

He kept glaring at her for a moment, thinking back to what she had told him yesterday. I need someone to train with, and you’ll need a way to get your head off of things. If anyone had been taking a good look at her right now, they would have said she was the one who seemed needing to get her head off of things. He didn’t really care what was wrong with her, and he knew the moment others were going to arrive, she was going to wipe away any trace of sadness or whatever that was off her face. But right now, she was showing him a side of herself that not many people knew about, and … well he didn’t know exactly how he felt about that, but it reminded him too much of that depressed face Kirishima had pulled last year when Aizawa had announced that they had broken his trust and that he should have fired their asses.

I just promise you, I won’t talk about … the situation.

Goddammit. When had he become such a benevolent nun?

“You better not slow me down” he growled, heading for the exit. When she didn’t follow him, he turned around and found her still sitting on the couch, looking at him like he had spoken fucking Spanish. “Come on, let’s go! We don’t have all morning!” he urged, irked by the fact that she wasn’t already jogging outside. But she still didn’t move, and instead just blurted out a dumb: “What?”

He turned away from her stupidity and walked out of the dorms. He really had no patience and no fucking time for any of it this early in the morning.

“Ah- wait! Bakugou-kun!” He heard her put her mug on the table and stumble and run before catching up with him, and then she was next to him, stretching and walking in silence. With no warning, he started running and left her behind him. From now until he finished his circuit, he didn’t care whether she was keeping up with him or not. Afterwards, they could spare together - or rather she could try to attack him and he could smuggly tell her what was wrong with everything she did. He liked the sound of that.

They ran across the empty campus, while Katsuki enjoyed his favourite moment of the day. During these moments, there was not a soul around him. No one to piss him off or to scold him like a toddler, just Nature at its best - grass covered in dew, sun glowing like golden dust, birds chirping softly. He wasn’t a big fanboy of nature in general - he loved big cities. He just loved quiet mornings. A bird chirped louder than the others, triggering something in his mind.

Someone had screamed during the night. It wasn’t the first time either - he had woken up a few times over the past month or so, after he thought he had heard something, and he had also overheard Kirishima and Ponytail talk about it once. No one really knew who it was, so they didn’t dare to talk about it, not wanting to embarrass or frighten anyone. He stopped and let Uraraka run past him, halting in front of Katsuki with her hands on her hips, cheeks red, panting. She had been much closer to him than he thought, he realised.

“We’re not back at the dorms” she pointed out stupidly, so Katsuki chose to ignore her. As if he only ran from and back to the dorms every fucking morning.

“Did you hear someone scream during the night?”

She glared at him, her face expressionless. “What?” she panted, her tone dry.

“Someone fucking screamed during the night” he snapped. He didn’t like to repeat himself, and he most certainly didn’t like the tone she was using to talk to him. “Did you hear them?”

“Is this why we’re stopping?” She almost looked scandalised that he asked her, like he was wasting her fucking time. “Why do you even care?”

“I don’t!” He was already regretting even talking to her. “Just wish I could tell them go see a fucking shrink and sort their shit out so the rest of us could have at least one decent night of sleep, that’s all.”

She blinked, and then she scoffed, eyeing him from head to toe and back to his head, looking positively disgusted by Katsuki. “I thought we were going to practice in silence, not chat around like middle-schoolers.” Her voice was cold as ice. “ If that’s your idea of a good workout then maybe I was wrong to come to you.” And just like that, she spun around and resumed her running, leaving Katsuki stunned behind her, his mouth hanging open.

What the fucking flying fuck was that?!

He started running after her, anger suddenly igniting his mind and clouding his thoughts, palms sweating in anticipation. He had meant to start slowly and let her warm up, but if she wanted to act wild, then two could play that game.

“Oh you want a good workout? I’ll give you a good workout!” he yelled behind her, launching himself forward, one hand in the air.

She looked back at him, and her face went blank with shock before everything in her brown eyes was replaced with unshakeable determination. She swiftly ducked his easily predictable explosion and got closer to him. Don’t let her approach you , he thought, jumping backwards. But the little shit had improved since their fight last year, and before he knew it she was tearing through his cloud of smoke from above , landing behind him from what he assumed had been a strong backflip. He immediately spun and threw a serie of fast kicks in her direction, but she blocked them all, feeding his frustration and anger. She tried to punch his chest, but she was too slow. He blocked her fist with his left hand, threw it on the side to make her lose her balance and added an explosion with his right palm, amplifying her movement and sending her stumbling backwards.

They both paused, and Katsuki glared at her with a ferocious smile, feeling more alive and awake than ever. Finally, after a whole year he was having the fight he had been expecting. At the time, during the Sport Festival, she had collapsed before she had had time to land a finger on him, and the soft sparring sessions their teachers held afterwards had never managed to fully satisfy him; but now she was resolutely standing on her own two feet, her face sweaty and dusty from his explosion, and the flame in her eyes clearly told him that she wanting nothing more than to kick his ass into the stratosphere. Hot .

“Come at me with all you’ve got, Round Face ” he growled at her, unable to stop himself from grinning “and we’ll see if it’s nearly half enough.”

She pursed her lips on her teeth, infuriated by the both the comment and the old nickname.

“That is” he crouched, ready to jump when she attacked - because she was going to attack - “if you don’t pass out first.”

That did it. She all but snarled at him as she activated her quirk on herself and launched herself forward, faster than he had expected. He jumped out of her way by a hair, and used an explosion to immediately fling himself back at her, grabbing her ankle to throw her into a tree. But she bent herself backwards in a zero gravity bridge, already predicting his next move, and when he tried to hurl her away his own strength turned against him, and the full force of his blow crashed onto his jaw in the form of her thick trainer.

He stumbled backwards and lost his balance, almost slumping flat on his ass. He managed to escape the fall by steadying himself with both his hands on the floor, stunned by the trick she had managed to pull on him - which, he realised, was going to be his downfall. She had already deactivated her quirk and was running towards him before she activated it again. He cursed loudly and let out explosions from both hands to jump back on his feet, bringing them both back before him - but she was already in his face. Grabbing him by the wrists, she brutally pulled his arms wide apart, and-she-fucking-headbutted-him . And just when he thought it wasn’t possible for her to inflict him any more damage, he realised she had succeeded in activating her quirk on him.

“FUCK NO!” he roared at her face, summoning all his strength to fling his arms right back before him and he released an explosion in her stomach that knocked her breath away. The blow pulled them apart, himself smacked to the ground and Uraraka towards the sky, forcing her to let go of his wrists. But he grabbed her arm before she was out of his reach, and this time he made sure she couldn’t pull some weird shit on him when he flung her to the ground flat on her stomach while he was sent upwards.

She let out a pained scream, and he heard her moan a breathless “Release”, her hands joined together and forgetting all about Katsuki, before he fell victoriously from the sky and right on top of her. When she realised what she had just done she immediately tried to get up, but he grabbed her right hand and pulled it behind her back, held her left hand above their heads and kept her fiercely pinned to the ground with the rest of his body. He wasn’t taking any chances with that crazy little monkey.

She growled and twisted and kicked furiously, but Katsuki was unmoving. The blood that was flowing down from his nose dripped into her neck, red drops slowly making their way on her skin. When she finally stopped struggling, she was left panting, the strong movements of her chest rising and lowering Katsuki with them. He kept his stare on her disheveled face, her brown eyes wide with fury as she glared back with her right eye, left cheek against the grass.

An indescribable feeling of triumph and power coursed through his veins, a vicious and merciless grin on his face. I won , he thought, breathing loudly and erratically in her neck. He had found and unleashed a sleeping monster, one that had gone unnoticed by everyone - even himself - and he had fucking won. He gripped her wrists a little bit tighter, and she groaned painfully when it pulled her right arm a little higher in her back.

“What’s that?” he panted close to her ear. “Sorry I couldn't hear you over the deafening sound of your crushing defeat.”

She pursed her lips and showed her teeth like a wild beast, and he felt her breath quicken beneath his chest.

“I. Win.” He lifted up his knees so that they were pressing on her thighs, making sure she had no way of escaping his hold. Sprawled on the floor like a tied down lioness, she was entirely at his mercy - and he loved that. “Say it. I win.”

Uraraka pressed her lips together and scoffed. “I win” she repeated cheekily. She whipped her head around and bit his left arm, making him curse out loud and loosen his grip. She tried to kick him off of her, but he grabbed her left wrist again and pulled it next to her leg, securing his inescapable hold on her.

Katsuki leaned in closer, so close he was a few inches away from her face, red eyes staring into one big brown eye.

“Say. My. Name.” His voice came out low and rough. He didn’t even know what he was saying anymore, but it didn’t matter. His head was so full of so many chaotic and powerful emotions, any mean of release was welcome, and this one seemed as good as any other. She looked at him straight in the eyes, madness swirling in her one brown eye.

“In. Your. Dreams.” she articulated, her voice a ragged rumble that resonated in her entire chest, and across his. Electricity shot through his body, and he let out an incredulous laugh. Anyone else would have given in to his order. But obviously not her. He held her gaze for a long time, slowly cooling down and noticing the curvy shape of her body tightly pressed down against his. What was happening . He scoffed and finally got on his feet, not letting her out of his sight for one second as she quickly stood back up, drinking in the wild beast look she shot at him.

This , was not a rematch” she spat as she dusted her clothes off, shaking blades of grass and leaves. He understood she must have been thinking of the Sport Festival as well. Well, she had ended up on the floor unable to move all over again so the comparison was valid, he thought with a mad grin. “I was not done with you- I am not done with you. I’ll be back right here after school, before curfew, so you’d better show up.”

“Oh I’ll be there, don’t you worry Round cheeks” he replied in a low voice, wiping the blood from his nose and chin.

“Is that the best you can do?” she sneered. “Comments on my face?”

He knew at this instant his smile was growing impossibly hungry - and maybe he was, jacked on adrenaline as he was. He resumed his running and waited until he was passing by her to ask “Who said I was talking about your face?”

He laughed out loud evilly as he burnt into his mind the bewildered and furious expression a gaping Uraraka wore as he left her standing behind him.

------

Katsuki went down the stairs in his uniform, his mood the best it had been since the beginning of his second year so far, despite his bruised nose and swollen cheek. He had replayed every moment of their short fight in his mind, studying how her style had improved, preparing for their rematch in the evening. She had been stalking him for who knows how long, so it was only fair that he watched her carefully later on, when they reached the park he was originally heading for and they both started their own serie of exercises. She had shot him dirty looks and had blushed like crazy whenever her eyes had met his, but that had just made him smile in fierce amusement.

The least he could say was that she had made some amazing progress. Was it due to her work placement with pro hero Ryukyu or the result of her own personal training, he had no fucking clue. She could easily move around in the air, do some weird acrobatic shits all the while ending up exactly in the place and position she wanted to follow with zero gravity kicks and punches. It was like watching an odd version of aerodynamic karate. Back on the ground, she had kept her balance in the weirdest positions, from standing upside down on her forearms with her legs dangling above her head to crouching on one leg, the other one stretched in front of her with her arms and head facing the sky. Her face had been crumpled with focus and the muscles on her arms, shoulders and legs were contracted with the effort.

He had watched her with growing astonishment use her quirk to float stones, boulders, tree trunks, anything she could land her hands onto and keep them all at the same distance above the ground, revolving around her floating self, eyes closed in a focused silence.

She had absolute control over her body, and was perfectly at ease in the air - but so was he, albeit in a different way. His skills definitely matched hers, all he had to do was to make sure she didn’t touch him. Or maybe the opposite, he suddenly thought, eyes wide with a crazy idea. He was used to his explosions propelling him in the air at an incredible speed, but she wasn’t. So what if he let her activate her quirk on him and then give her a taste of his in return? All he had to do was get ready for the speed - and that much he could handle.

I’m the fucking best.

Reality caught up with him when he reached the end of the stairs in the form of a spiky brown-haired teenager, slouching on his chair by the kitchen table, breakfast untouched. The boy kept his gaze on the table, unmoving and silent, as the other extras present around him happily chatted and ran around from the kitchen to the living room, loud as ever. The three other kids were also next to him, but Porcupine was talking with Uniform and Bird face, and Chip and Dale were in a passionate discussion with Four-eyes - no signs of Icyhot or Ponytail - , leaving the boy alone with his thoughts. Katsuki sighed and frowned, suddenly reminded he had to go to the infirmary to get his DNA taken and tested, and headed for the exit. He didn’t want to interact with the boy yet, and wasn’t in the mood for another public display of what his future looked like followed by his goddamn classmates’ comments. Maybe if he ignored the kid he would leave him alone.

“Dad?”

But then again when did anything he wanted really fucking mattered. He side-glanced at the boy and saw him standing a little bit more straight on his chair. Obviously, his neighbours looked up too, and while some greeted Katsuki, most were smart enough to know better than to speak to him in the morning. The boy was wearing his UA uniform instead of the grey clothes he had worn the day before, tie so loose he might just as well have ditched it, trousers not as low as Katsuki but definitely not well held. His chubby cheeks were oddly pale, and he looked anxious and relieved at the same time as he gazed up at Katsuki. His expression became shocked when he saw the purple bruises at the corner of his eyes and the large swollen scratch on his cheek.

“What happened?” he asked, panicked. When Katsuki ignored him, he grabbed his leather school bag and ran towards him. “Wait- Dad wait up.”

Katsuki gritted his teeth and glared at him. “What the fuck did I say about you calling me Dad” he growled menacingly. But the boy seemed simply just immune to his anger. He stayed silent and walked beside him as they headed together towards the exit.

“If you’re gonna barf then stay the hell away from me” he warned as he watched the boy a little bit closer. His lips were slightly white, and he did look like he was going to be sick. He could even glimpse a sheen of sweat on his creased forehead, and his scowl was so deeply set on his face that he wouldn’t be surprised if he heard the whole school had felt provoked by his glare. One of his fist was clenched tightly around something, so tightly his knuckles were white.

“Bakugou-kun!” Four-eyes suddenly appeared before them, his glasses shining with resolute purpose. “The fuck do you want?” snapped back Katsuki, not ready to be attacked by his sense of discipline this early in the morning.

“Not you, the silent one” he replied with a stern serious voice, repositioning his glasses on his nose and turning to the boy who was now trying very hard to shrink his head back into his shoulders like a turtle, glaring intensely at the big square of a class rep before him. “You know very well you are not allowed to leave the dorm without the supervision of one or both class representative. If you break the rules Aizawa-sensei has put in place for you and your three comrades, I will have to immediately report you to the teachers and the police, and UA shall take the appropriate measures to deal with you.” What little bit of colour the boy had left on his face disappeared. Katsuki watched in a stunned silence as Four-eyes reached to the boy’s collar and rearranged his tie, tightening it so much he was certain the boy would start choking. “You must absolutely understand the consequences of your actions, and not only for you. UA might decide to apply their verdict to Ashi- Hana-chan, and to the two young Todoroki as well.” He pulled his collar back down, white fabric covering the red tie. “Do you understand?”

The boy stayed silent, obviously mute with fear but still glowering at his sempai towering him. Four-eyes frowned, not understanding the boy’s distress. “Do you understand?” he repeated more clearly, and when the boy still didn’t answer he leaned towards him as if he was observing a very curious specimen. “Bakugou-kun, I think your child might have some cognitive issues. It would be wise for you to take him to a doctor in the future.”

“Tch.” Katsuki rolled his eyes, trying to remember that he didn’t care , and pushed the boy back towards the sofas. “Fuck off Four-eyes” he snarled at the class-rep “he’s not my child, and he wasn’t going anywhere, he ain’t that stupid. And you, stop coming after me like a fucking puppy” he added in a lower voice to the boy as he led him to the center of the living room. He forced him to sit down on the empty couches while the boy tried to loosen up the tie again, clearly out of breath. “What the hell is wrong with you? You afraid of that dipshit or something? Or did you eat all my chillies again?” His eyes grew wide as the thought crossed his mind and his anger flared up. “I swear if I find that plate empty I will fucking murder you faster than any goddamn villain your sorry ass has ever come across !”

The boy winced and shook his head, passing his free hand through his spiky hair with a short, anxious sigh.

“I don’t like first days, is all” he mumbled, his voice hoarse. When he looked up at him, his red eyes were filled with worry. “Can’t I just walk with you to class? I know where I have to go, you don’t need to take me all the way to my classroom.” His voice was barely more audible than a whisper.

“Do I look like a fucking babysitter to you?” Katsuki growled, arms crossed on his chest. “What’s the big deal anyway? You just follow Four-eyes and the white bastard and do what you usually do when you’re in class.” The boy raised one eyebrow at the nicknames, the ghost of a smile on his thin lips. “Get your shit together.”

The boy took a deep breath and buried his face in his hands, slowly massaging his forehead before letting out a long sigh. Without meaning to, he revealed what he was hiding in his hand and that was now dangling around one of his long fingers: a black keychain, with a thick orange X in the middle ornated with two black dots.

A warm and unexpected feeling spread in Katsuki’s chest. Was the boy using the only keychain he had of him as a charm?

“I know. I know.” The boy slowly let his eyes show, staring into nothingness. “It’s just … I’m not good with people - I don’t like people. Crowds and noise and all that - and now I - uh, I have to meet an entire new class and - they’re all gonna be staring at me, and expecting … stuff , and - it’s too much I … sometimes I just wish the whole world would just … disappear.”

Katsuki narrowed his eyes at him, starting to slowly understand the boy he had in front of him. But the kid shook his head. “I know, it’s a weird thing to say.”

“Why the fuck would that be weird.” The boy raised his eyes at him, anxiety and hope mixing together. “Of course it’s normal to want the world to disappear, do you know how many morons are living in it? Do you think I don’t spend most of my time wishing half of these ones- ” he waved at the happy crowd behind him “- would just vanish into nothingness? I mean look how fucking loud they are!” He turned to glare at them. “I can literally count on my fingers the people I would agree to save if there was an apocalypse right now.” He leaned forward and smacked the boy’s forehead with his palm. “Stop caring about what others think of you. Hell, I know if I did I would probably have killed myself by now. The only thing that matters to me is what I think about myself. The extras you’re gonna be packed with today don’t matter - you’re not even gonna stay in this reality! Why do you care what they might think?”

“How can you be sure we won’t be held up here forever?” the boy asked while rubbing his pink forehead, his voice shaking with uncertainty. It was obviously something that he had been thinking about.

Katsuki snorted loudly. “Because-” Fucking hell, he was really gonna make him say it, wasn’t he. He let out an angry sigh. “Because somehow, wherever you come from, I … am your father. And I’m the fucking best at everything I do.” He flicked the hanging keychain, and the boy watched it dangle from his finger with a surprised look, apparently forgetting he had it. “Clearly, I can tell from this that I’m both an amazing pro hero and also a great fucking Dad, so that means that the moment you disappeared, I’ve started searching for you over there. You think the number two hero would just stay still while his boy just gets captured? I’m probably raiding every fucking house in the country and dispatching forces all over the place to look for you. I’ve probably already figured it all out, and I’m on my way to get you back.”

He liked the sound of that - imagining everything he would be able to do as a top pro hero, the power he would have over the country, the fear he would instill in the villains’ heart, the crowds of worker he would have, ready to obey his every order. Yes, he liked that very much.

He grinned at the boy. “So stop fucking asking yourself stupid questions like ‘what are they going to think about me’ or ‘am I going to get stuck here’ or - I don’t know, do you have any other dumb thoughts that you wanna exorcise right now? I’m fired up, probably won’t talk to you for the rest of the day so spit ‘em out right now” he warned. The boy giggled and shook his head, and his cheeks slowly took a nicer pink shade. “Well good. Now listen to me you little shit. You. Create. Fucking. Stars. I looked it up after your little show yesterday, what you did usually takes hundreds of years to take form, and you did it in a few seconds. You have literally overpowered Nature, so don’t you dare - don’t you fucking dare be afraid of anyone in this goddamn school. They’re all extras, and you’re above them.”

The boy chuckled and lowered his head, but not fast enough to hide his bright red eyes filled with tears. Katsuki stood back up, pretending not to notice and crossed his arms on his chest, not satisfied.

“‘Kay” mumbled the boy. Katsuki narrowed his eyes. “Say it” he ordered.

The boy looked up at him again, not understanding. “What?”

“They’re all extras, and you’re above them. Say it.”

He stared at Katsuki, stunned, and blushed hard. “I …” He looked around him to make sure no one was within earshot, took a deep breath and repeated quietly with a shy smile “They’re all extras, and I - I’m above them.”

Katsuki nodded, feeling oddly proud. “Good. Now go to class, crush ‘em all and stay the hell out of trouble.” He turned around and headed for the exit, his good mood back and his competitiveness quenched. “Wait!” Katsuki looked back at the boy without stopping, raising his eyebrows. “Can we have lunch together?” He scowled at the boy, whose expression was again that annoying mix of worry and hope.

“Who the hell were you planning to eat with, Old man?”