Summer break was over and Izuku was surprisingly okay with that. Sophomore year was here and that meant Katsuki was back from Milan. Of course, Izuku wouldn’t see him until tomorrow--Katsuki was still recovering from jet lag--but he could hardly contain himself at the moment.
He understood that it would do him well to have a little control over his emotions, but for Izuku, this was a serious event. Growing up, there weren’t a lot of kids in his neighborhood. And the ones that did live there liked to pick on Izuku for his ratty tennis shoes or second hand clothes. So, he didn’t have an opportunity to make a lot of friends.
But Katsuki had been there. Katsuki was always there. Even when his parents took him abroad for months at a time, he always came back to Izuku with a souvenir from his travels and several sleepovers worth of stories to tell. After three months of separation, Izuku was excited to see him, like he always was.
He glided down the Yuuei hallways, his yellow backpack flopping against his back as he weaved between excited students meeting for the first time since the end of the previous semester. As he walked, he looked for classroom numbers, searching for the telltale 2-A where his homeroom lay. Monoma tossed a paper ball at his head, pulling an eye-roll from Izuku as he passed by.
Near a window overlooking the fountain in the school’s courtyard, Izuku found his classroom. Casually, he opened the sliding door and searched for Todoroki and Iida in the crowd of students. He found them near the seats in the back, talking to someone hiding behind them.
Izuku approached, a bounce in his step as he grinned over at his friends. “Todoroki! Iida!”
Close now, Todoroki and Iida turned to greet him, exposing Katsuki, whose scowling face had softened to something akin to surprise or excitement. Then Izuku ran, his backpack smacking against his back, as he extended his arms for a hug.
Katsuki side-stepped him, leaving Izuku to run face first into a walk and crumple to the floor with a groan. “That’s not fair, Kacchan.” But Katsuki was laughing, and that somehow made up for the dull pain in his cheek. He smiled, getting to his feet and trotting back over to his friend group.
Katsuki had grown taller over the last three months. His skin was darker, a light caramel, and it made his blonde hair and jewel-like eyes seem radiant on its backdrop. Izuku gulped down the knot in his throat. “How was your summer, Kacchan?” he asked, his voice oddly high.
“He was just telling us how he had spent his break touring Italy with the Versace owner’s granddaughter!” Iida shared, watching the two with intrigue.
“Oh! Was it fun?” Izuku looked back up to Katsuki and grinned. “Was she nice?”
He noticed Katsuki clench his jaw and glance up at the ceiling. Then he looked back at them and shrugged. “She was okay. Clingy, though. Wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone.”
“Well, you can’t blame her, Kacchan,” Izuku reminded him. “She probably thought you were the coolest.”
Katsuki quirked a brow and tilted his head to the side with a twitch of his lips. He seemed confused, flattered. “Yeah, maybe. Still a boring, shitty trip, though. Even you losers probably had a better time.”
“I accompanied my father on business trips!” Iida informed them. “Which would have been substantially more fun if he didn’t keep going off to do paperwork with his secretary.”
“Oh yeah!” Todoroki nodded, as though he related to Iida. “My father does that, too. Mother says that’s why we aren’t allowed to go to his work without asking anymore.”
Katsuki glanced over to Izuku, who was looking back with a powerful wince. Katsuki shook his head at him, but Izuku couldn’t let it go. “Hey, uh, Todoroki? Did your mom ever say what they were doing at his work?”
“No, I didn’t think to ask. Why?”
Izuku sucked air through his teeth. He looked up at Katsuki with a weary eyes and Katsuki dropped a hand to his shoulder and squeezed. “Deku, it’s not worth all the fucking man hours in the world.”
“So, Midoriya, how was your summer break?” Iida asked, leaning towards his friend with animated curiosity.
He shrugged. “Oh, y’know, work.”
“What kind of work?”
“Well, during breaks I work at a ramen shop downtown, and-”
“Oh, that’s so fascinating!” Iida clapped his hands together and shook them aggressively. “So you manage a restaurant? That’s such a fine part-time job! It’s a great way to start preparing for real management when you’re older!”
“Um, no, Iida,” Izuku started. Would it be wrong to break his naive understanding? Izuku didn’t want Iida to think his intelligence or worldly-knowledge was lacking--Izuku had to secretly admit it was. “Iida, I’m a busser.”
“Yes, Iida, a busser.”
“That sounds so unique! What kind of work does a ‘busser’ do, exactly? Analytics? Data collection? Human services?”
“Jesus fuck, ” Katsuki snorted. “You guys live under a goddamn rock! A busser cleans tables! How the fuck are you guys even at this school?”
“Wait, wait, wait!” Todoroki chimed in, looking specifically to Izuku as he furrowed his brows. “So, like, you clean up after other people?”
“Uh, yes.” Izuku felt awkward, uncomfortable with how out of place he seemed.
He’d known the guys for awhile now, and he realized their questions were purely out of ignorance to the world, but it made him feel poor and slightly pathetic.
How did he compare with friends who could buy out soccer stadiums to see a private game? Or buy a diamond bigger than his own face?
The bell chimed, signalling for st udents to find their seats. And Todoroki and Iida left with contemplative expressions, as if they were turning the term ‘busser’ over and over in their minds, tasting it on their tongues.
Rich people were weird.
Izuku shook his head, starting for his own desk, when Katsuki grabbed him by his backpack strap and yanked him back. “Deku.”
Izuku looked up at him curiously. “Yeah, Kacchan?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.
Katsuki watched him with calculating, heavy eyes and Izuku felt small beneath their gaze. His friend pursed his lips, shook his head and sighed. “Hey, uh, can I come over after school?”
Izuku grinned. “Of course.”
When the final bell rang, Izuku grabbed his backpack and met Katsuki by his desk. He was bouncing in place, excited to get out of school and spend time with someone he hadn’t seen in months. “Ready?”
Katsuki looked down at his phone and scowled, pinching the bridge of his nose. He swiped across the screen and slipped it into his pocket before looking down at Izuku and nodding. “Let’s go,” he started, making for the door.
Izuku followed on his heels as they walked down the hall, down the stairs and out the Academy’s front doors. They passed the front lawn, where some of the boys talked to the girls from the sister-school to Yuuei. Their building was a block away, and acted as a finishing school for high society girls with names and money to match their good looks and uppity personalities. He caught sight of a familiar red-and-white haired student staring awkwardly at a tall, black haired girl who was taking part in a serious conversation.
It looked like Todoroki had a crush.
Katsuki grabbed him by the arm, tired of waiting for him to pick up the pace. He dragged him out the tall, iron front gate and the high stone walls that separated Yuuei Academy from the public. He dropped Izuku’s hand a block away when Izuku started taking double wide steps to keep up with him.
After that, it was a silent walk until Katsuki’s phone started ringing with a chorus of explosions. It was a corny, childish ringtone, but Izuku found it endearing. Katsuki cancelled the call and shoved it back into his pocket, only for it to ring a second later.
“Maybe you should answer it?”
“No, fuck off.”
“Yeah, no, Kacchan,” he huffed. “Y’know, if that’s your mom, she’s not going to stop calling you. You know she never stops.”
As if on cue, the phone started ringing once more and Katsuki groaned, looking up at the clear blue sky with a dejected expression. As sluggishly as possible, he plucked the phone up from his pocket and clicked the answer button.
Immediately, their corner of the sidewalk was drowned by the sounds of a woman screaming on the other end of the line. Even without the speaker on, Izuku could hear the entire conversation.
“Katsuki Bakugou, why the fuck have you been ignoring my calls! I am your mother and you will treat me with some goddamn respect!”
Katsuki groaned. “Get bent, bitch.”
Izuku could see the light of God stray further and further away as he waited for the silence to break on the other end of the line and for Bakugou Mitsuki to materialize in front of them with a bat in her hand and vengeance on her face. Even thinking of the anger she must be feeling, Izuku stepped back a fraction.
“ YOU GET HOME RIGHT NOW, LITTLE BITCH BOY! YOU WANNA MEET YOUR MAKER SO BAD, THEN I’LL BE HAPPY TO SPEED UP THE FUCKING PROCESS, YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE SHIT!”
“OH, SHUT UP, OLD HAG,” Katsuki snapped. “I WAS IN MY FUCKING CLASSES. SEEMS LIKE A WHOLE FUCKING WASTE OF THAT MONEY YOU COULD BE SPENDING ON DRINKING YOURSELF STUPID!”
“ I AM AN ELEGANT DRUNK, YOU MORON!”
“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU EVEN WANT?”
Izuku heard Mrs. Bakugou breathe on the other end of the line, heated and annoyed. She was trying to gather herself, which Izuku was grateful for, because he knew Katsuki wouldn’t be the one to do it.
“Why aren’t you answering Melissa’s messages? She said she’s been trying to talk to you for days, but you won’t answer.”
“Wait,” Katsuki sighed, stomping off down the street as Izuku followed on his heels. “That bitch fucking told on me?”
“Don’t call her a bitch, you little shit!” Mrs. Bakugou snapped. “And yes, she’s upset you’re not texting her!”
“Because I don’t give a shit! She’s annoying and I couldn’t give a single fuck about talking to her!”
“I’m spending the night at Deku’s, old hag,” he barked in the phone. “So I guess I’ll see you when I goddamn see you!”
He smashed his finger on the ‘end’ button and looked back at Izuku with a flustered expression. He seemed disjointed, upset. Izuku wanted to say something, but when Izuku opened his mouth to speak, Katsuki whipped his head in the other direction and began his trek to Izuku’s apartment.
Izuku supposed he’d leave it at that.
When they arrived at Izuku’s apartment, he opened the door and silently ushered Katsuki into the small, dual-purpose living room. It was small, barely maneuverable for more than four people at a time. The furniture was dated, the kitchenette to the right needed so many repairs that certain cabinets didn’t even have doors, and overall it was embarrassing for Izuku to bring his friends into this miniscule apartment when he knew they had so much grander living arrangements.
The one person he never seemed to worry about, though, was Katsuki.
Katsuki seemed more at home in a room he could cross in a couple long strides, than his luxurious mansion. It made Izuku feel good.
“Mom’s working third-shift tonight! We gotta be quiet,” he warned him, guiding his friend across the carpet and down the cramped hallway to the little bedroom on the right.
The moment he opened the door, Katsuki crossed the threshold and tossed his backpack on the desk chair. Without a second thought, he threw himself onto Izuku’s messy bed. Izuku furrowed his brow at him and closed the bedroom door behind them. “Kacchan, are you okay?”
“Fucking peachy, nerd. So, knock it off with the questions.” His voice was muffled by the blankets beneath him.
“Uh, right, but you seem sort of--I don’t know-- tense? Well, more tense than usual.”
“Deku, I said I’m fine.”
“And who’s Melissa?”
Katsuki’s strangled groan made Izuku jump and jerk his head towards the door. He hoped it hadn’t woken his mom. He didn’t want to disturb her when he knew she needed all the sleep she could get. He looked back to Katsuki, flopping over on the bed so his eyes watched the ceiling in melancholy. He sighed. “She’s the bitch from Milan. Mom and dad made me hang out with her.”
“You really don’t seem to like her.”
Katsuki snorted. “Of course I don’t! She’s too… clingy! The bitch didn’t give me any time to myself! And fucking dragged me to every goddamn museum in Italy! All I wanted was to do my own shit!”
“Maybe she was just excited.”
“I really don’t care what she wanted, Deku,” he snapped. “She’s a selfish bitch. God, unless someone arranges a marriage for her, she’s probably gonna die alone.”
“Kacchan, that’s mean!”
Katsuki huffed, furrowing his brows and looking over to Izuku. “You think I give a shit? ‘S’not like it fucking matters anyways. Just go do your homework and let me sleep.” He rolled onto his side, back facing Izuku.
Izuku rolled his eyes and sighed, not surprised by Katsuki’s behavior. He was jetlagged. Every time he left the country, he’d return in a sour mood for a little less than a week. So, Izuku didn’t take it personally.
He glided over to his desk, dropping his backpack on the tabletop and reached for Katsuki’s so that he could use the chair for himself. It was by pure chance that he glanced over the open flap and noticed a green and orange composition poking out from between textbooks. Izuku quirked his head to the side and bit his lip.
Curiosity gnawed at Izuku’s mind. Knowing he probably shouldn’t, Izuku reached into the bag and pulled it out. He weighed it in his hands, observed the worn cover, and glanced over towards his bed. Katsuki had his back to him, not aware of Izuku rifling through his things. He knew he should stop, put the composition notebook back into his bag before he noticed it in Izuku’s hand, but he just couldn’t.
He bent the book in his hands and watched the pages flash in front of his eyes, watching the tidy characters race across the pages. The next thing he knew, he was at the beginning, reading the first line: The barbarian king perched atop the crimson dragon, rage and fury in his eyes. As the beast roared, his howl a warning to the footsoldiers that surrounded them, throwing spears and heckling the animal. They were beasts to the barbarian, who looked at them like swine gracefully delivered to the slaughter.
Izuku blinked at the page. This was fiction, a story scrawled across the notebook in Katsuki’s tidy penmanship. He watched it in fascination, not focused on the words but the fact that Katsuki held this secret talent.
He flicked his hand across the leaflette, flipping page after page until Katsuki turned to snap at Izuku to keep it down. He saw Izuku’s eyes boring into the telltale green and orange notebook.
It was his.
Izuku was surprised when Katsuki bolted to his desk and yanked the notebook from his hand, glaring down at him with a darting, furious eyes. “What the fuck are you doing?”
Izuku looked up at him and paused, his mouth hanging open but words not coming out. He didn’t know what he could say to make it less obvious that he was sneaking a peek at his friend’s things.
Katsuki seemed to realize that, too, his nostrils flaring and his eyes darting across Izuku’s figure. “Kacchan, you write stories?” Not a good response, but Izuku was in too deep. He’d go with it.
“Maybe it’s none of your goddamn business what I write, huh? You ever think about that?”
Izuku shrugged. “Not really. We’re friends, Kacchan. No secrets. Besides, you looked at my drawings, so letting me read your stories makes us even.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Yes, it does,” Izuku argued, reaching for the notebook and receiving little pushback from his fiery friend. “C’mon, Kacchan. It sounded really good! Just- can’t you let me support you a little bit? Like how you’re supporting me with art?”
Katsuki huffed, staring down at his friend with balled fists and an uncertain, frantic expression. The anger loosened in his features until it was one of quiet contemplation. Izuku looked hopefully at him, using big, green eyes as his trusty lure.
Eventually, Katsuki sighed dramatically and threw his hands in the air, resigned. “You can be so fuckin’ annoying, Deku,” he groaned, turning on the balls of his feet and stomping back to the bed.
Izuku hardly cared, excited to delve into the world Katsuki had created. He followed Katsuki to the mattress, hopping onto the edge as Katsuki rolled against the wall and grabbed a pillow to embrace in his sleep. He looked up at him, brows furrowed. “Why’re you on the bed?”
Izuku flipped to the notebook’s second page, eyes not leaving the first line. “Believe it or not, Kacchan, I live here. This is my bed.”
Katsuki groaned, burying his head in the pillow’s fabric. “But I’m tryin’ to sleep.”
“And I’m trying to read,” Izuku added. “So why don’t you get to that, and let me be.”
Katsuki went silent and Izuku’s attention grew ensnared by the world at his fingertips. His best friend’s tidy letters brought together a world entangled in mischief, magic, and never ending fantasy. The characters--a curious civilian and a barbarian warlord who fought to protect a rare, dying breed of dragon from a technologically advanced kingdom--almost felt real, relatable. As if they’d been crafted from their very selves.
He looked over to Katsuki, sound asleep now. His blond hair lay flat against the pillow, and his hands fisted in the sheets by his side. He grunted in his sleep and Izuku smiled fondly at him.
With a yawn, Izuku dropped the composition notebook to the floor and curled in on himself at the edge of the bed. They only ever slept together at his home, where there wasn’t an excess of bedrooms for them to choose from. Here, they’d always squeeze together in his small twin bed and sleep with the radiating body heat keeping the two of them warm.
It had always embarrassed Izuku that he couldn’t offer the same luxuries as Katsuki could, but he’d be lying if he said that he didn’t enjoy their sleepovers here in his small, cramped room.
In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed them.
He enjoyed anything with Katsuki involved.