It’s good to hear you.
All at once, memories careened into Izuku like a runaway freight train. The call was short… and sweet. Kacchan took all of Izuku’s drunken energy and went with it in a way that spoke even more to his newfound, easy going maturity. It was dizzying—even more so than the pleasant hours-long chat they had only moments ago. The knot of anxiety in his chest was still there, but it had been loosened considerably. Izuku wouldn’t ever call himself confident, but the more he spoke to Kacchan, the more he felt that Kacchan wouldn’t reject him. And if he did… well, at least he’d know either way. He decided that the SoulMeet shoot was too conveniently placed in his path to pass up on it.
He had to tell him then. He had four days to work up the courage to tell Kacchan something he already knew. Somehow, the fact that he knew they were soulmates did nothing to assuage his nerves. It was a lot to take in, no matter what. So much time had gone by, and they didn’t know each other the way they used to. Kacchan had changed so much in their years of estrangement. He’d mellowed and matured. Izuku liked to think he had too, but nagging self-doubt was Izuku’s constant companion over the years.
What if he wasn’t good enough for him? What if Izuku wasn’t mature, or level headed? He never measured up to Kacchan’s high standards when they were kids, and poor first impressions were hard to move past. What if Izuku had missed his moment?
Izuku knew better than to let another moment pass, no matter what his pounding heart was telling him.
Preparation for the shoot was in full swing by the time Izuku pulled himself together enough to make an appearance. It didn’t matter than he was paying people to be there—that some of the people present were among his biggest supporters—he still slunk in late with his head down, looking as nervous and disheveled as he felt. Haruna wouldn’t let him hide for long.
“Nice of you to join us,” she barked from across the room. The photographer stood around her, testing the lighting on set. The shoot was simple enough—bright studio lights and a textured, grey backdrop. Izuku put on a brave face and marched toward the photographer and the set crew to thank them for being there.
The entire time, Izuku felt Haruna’s eyes on the back of his neck like a heat-seeking missile. He chanced a look at her, and she raised her eyebrows—appraising, challenging. He couldn’t tell if it was her usual waiting for an anxious meltdown look, or if it was something more—something knowing. The photographer quickly focused on the task at hand, making sure the lighting was just right. Haruna pounced.
“I didn’t expect you to come today.”
“W-well, I am the face of the company,” he said, trying to summon some bravado to pass off his lame excuse. He very clearly failed, if Haruna’s squinting, smirking face had anything to say about it.
“Right,” she said. “It has nothing to do with the fact that your Soulmate is here.”
“He’s here?” Izuku squawked. He couldn’t help his high pitched, borderline hysterical voice. He was currently a potent cocktail of nerves, self-doubt, and disbelief that he was actually there preparing to be open and honest with Kacchan.
“Not yet. We both know that’s why you showed up, though.” Haruna gave a smug, predatory smile. Izuku fumbled for some kind of response, but Haruna held up a hand. “Calm down, Birdie. Go see you friends. Relax. I’ve got this under control.”
“Oh… um, alright.” Izuku blew out a sigh, desperate to heed her advice. It did little to relieve the tension in his shoulders.
Calm down. Relax.
Izuku turned to head towards the cluster of heroes they hired to be there today. Most of them were picking at the food from the craft service table—some in the complimentary robes they provided, and some in the tasteful briefs they would do the shoot in.
Uraraka opted to skip the robe, and Izuku thought he’d probably do the same if he looked as she did, muscular and sculpted, the Soulmark on her arm on full display.
He sidled up to her, and it wasn’t long before she threw her arms around him.
“You’re here! I’m so excited!” Uraraka said around a big bite of the croissant she nabbed from the food spread. “Tenya is still getting dressed—or undressed, I guess! Do you think I could keep this sports bra? It’s comfy.”
“Let’s just say, I won’t tell anyone if you steal it,” Izuku said, laughing.
“Please, don’t encourage her,” Iida said as he approached them. He was wearing his robe, but hung lazily open, revealing a muscled chest, and his pink Soulmark. He slips an arm around his fiancé’s shoulder, and she leaned into him, ease and comfort clear in her doting expression. Izuku felt a pang of something like loneliness. What if his Soulmate didn’t want that with him? And… what if he did? That was somehow slightly more terrifying to consider.
Izuku started to say something innocuous—maybe to thank them for being there today—but the door flew open over Uraraka’s shoulder. Izuku liked to think that even if he wasn’t waiting for Kacchan to arrive, his eye would’ve been drawn in that direction. He supposed it didn’t really matter, either way.
Their eyes met for a moment, and Izuku would swear everything else stopped. He couldn’t hear Uraraka and Iida’s idle, light hearted chatter. He didn’t notice the staff directing Kacchan to the dressing room. All he was was his Soulmate, standing across the room—so close and so far at the same time. Kacchan looked away, and whatever spell he seemed to cast upon Izuku suddenly broke as he moved toward the changing area the staff directed him to.
He had no idea Uraraka was speaking to him until she smacked his shoulder, giving him a questioning look.
“Um, excuse me. I… have to check on something,” he murmured.
He quickly broke away from them, following Kacchan. He knew himself well enough to know that he couldn’t put this off. He needed to say his piece, no matter the consequences, as soon as possible before he chickened out. Still, he took his time pacing in front of the door, drumming up his courage. It wasn’t until some PA asked him if he was alright that he decided he was being an idiot.
He was the CEO of a mega-succeful company.
He was one of Japan’s most eligible bachelors.
He was Midoriya Izuku, and he deserved to know what his Soulmate felt about him, whether it was good or bad.
He let out a harsh breath, and knocked harshly on the door.
“What?” Kacchan barked from the other side. It wasn’t exactly the the come in he expected, but this was Kacchan, after all. Izuku put a jittery hand on the doorknob and forged on.
“Kacchan, I—“ Izuku started, using all of his frenetic energy to throw himself into the room so that he was dangerously close to him, and abruptly choked at the sight of Ground Zero, in all his chiseled glory, in the briefs he was made to wear for the shoot. Izuku didn’t find the briefs to be particularly obscene until he saw Kacchan in them. Now, he found them to be too tight, too short, and too perfectly stuck to his body. He stood in awe for what felt like an eternity, slack-jawed and surely very obvious in his admiration.
“See something you like, Deku?” Kacchan smirked. He seemed to tighten up, flexing for his audience, though it wasn’t necessary. It did, however, pull Izuku’s attention to green Mark on his rib cage.
He stared at Kacchan’s Soulmark, a mix of awe and trepidation lodging in his chest. He held a hand out, as if to touch it before he thought better of it. He couldn’t touch Kacchan. If he touched his Mark he’d be reminded of the fact that it was on his body, resting atop bone and muscle and golden tanned skin. He wasn’t ready for that, and if the nervous look Kacchan gave him was any indication, he wasn’t ready for that either.
“It looks like the action figures we had when we were kids.”
“I know,” Katsuki said, his voice low and warbling with something like guilt or regret.
“Is it…? It’s me. Your SoulMate, I mean.” The fact that Izuku knew prior to this moment what they were to each other had no bearing whatsoever on his mind. He supposed a small part of him doubted it was real, even with the clear proof emblazoned on his arm since the night of the party. Now, there was little doubt.
“I know,” he said again, like it was the only phrase that came prerecorded in his voice box.
Izuku tore his eyes away from the green silhouette on his SoulMate— his SoulMate, how odd to even think that.
“How long have you known?”
“Since the sludge villain.”
Izuku balked. He knew Kacchan knew about their status as SoulMates long before he did, but he had no idea it went that far back.
“Since… since we were fourteen? Why didn’t you say something?”
Kacchan looked away, clearly disgruntled—maybe shy. To think Kacchan was shy was a reversal of everything a young Izuku knew to be true, but it wasn’t entirely out of the question. Izuku knew from his messages with kingexplosionmurder just how sensitive he was about his SoulMate—about him.
“I was waiting for you to figure it out. I didn’t know you were Markless. I still don’t really know what to make of that.”
“You thought I was avoiding you.” Izuku meant to phrase it as a question, but it didn’t come out that way. He knew it was the truth when he spoke it—he liked to think he would have known that even if he didn’t have insider knowledge. Izuku knew that he was to blame for that, as well. He always tried to keep off Kacchan’s radar after that day, fearing that Kacchan would hate him for daring to help him in a crisis.
“Yeah. But now…” Kacchan paused, his mouth pressed in a tight line. He blew out his cheeks a little, like the words were already coming out of his throat and filling up his mouth but he wanted to stop them. Or maybe just taste them, to weigh their meaning carefully. Something about that thought pulled at Izuku’s heartstrings. It was like seeing the kingexplosionmurder he chatted with on SoulMeet underneath all the layers of confidence that Kacchan projected when they were young. He could see everything in his expression. Kingexplosionmurder and Kacchan were one and the same, but they were also opposing forces he never could’ve put together if someone hadn’t lead him there. Izuku waited for Kacchan to finish his sentence.
“Now, I don’t really care if you’re Markless, or if you even care about SoulMate shit. I don’t have to be your SoulMate if you don’t want that.”
“Kacchan,” Izuku started. He thought of how funny it was that he felt comfortable enough to interrupt Kacchan while he was talking. He’d heard enough, seen enough and read enough to know Kacchan had changed since middle school. He didn’t need the great speech. Kacchan held up a hand to silence him.
“No, just let me get all this shit out while I can. I’m not waiting another thirteen years, Deku, and this is really fucking difficult.” He sighed. A great and terrible sigh that seemed to take all the energy out of him. And then he looked in Izuku’s eyes for the first time since he’d shown him his Mark.
“I just want to get to a place where you’re not scared of me. I want to prove myself to you.”
“Kacchan,” Izuku said again and Kacchan huffed.
“Would you just shut up for a second? I’m trying to do something here!”
Izuku laughed and it was nice to know he could laugh at Kacchan without being beaten down for it. He put his hands on Kacchan’s shoulders to ground him. To ground himself and tether Izuku to Katsuki like it was always supposed to be if they both weren’t so stupid.
“Katsuki,” Izuku tried again to say what was important. Kacchan stopped short at the sound of his given name, and it gave Izuku just enough time to speak, “I’m smolmight.”
“Nerd, would you quit interrupt—! Wait, what?”
“I’m smolmight. And I know you’re kingexplosionmurder.”
Kacchan reels back for a moment, as if he were slapped, and Izuku feared he may have made a mistake in being so blatantly honest. Then again, Kacchan never failed to surprise him—to do the unexpected.
“Then why the fuck did you ghost me, shithead?”
Ah, there’s the Kacchan I remember, he thought, and he couldn’t help the nostalgic smile that spread across his face.
“I didn’t! Well, I kinda did but I was a little freaked out, you know? I had a lot to think about. And then this happened.” Izuku quickly shirked off his jacked and pushed up the sleeve of his shirt up to allow his SoulMark to be on full display. The vibrant orange of it immediately caught Kacchan’s eye. He looked stunned, much like what Izuku imagined he looked like minutes ago when he saw Kacchan’s for the first time. Unlike Izuku though, Kacchan couldn’t stop himself from touching it.
He ran his fingertips lightly over Izuku’s Mark, tracing the edges of the X. Goosebumps prickled on Izuku’s skin and he had no doubt in his mind that Kacchan noticed.
“You’re not Markless,” Kacchan said, his eyes catching onto Izuku’s. He felt like he was on fire under his unwavering, crimson gaze.
“Not since the party,” he admitted.
Izuku shrugged. That was the big question, right? Was it about timing and maturity, like that silly study he read about, or was it just because Izuku and Kacchan have always been something strange, an unexplainable phenomenon? Izuku found that he didn’t really care anymore. He cared about giving himself a chance. He cared about finding the courage to put himself out there in a way he’d never done before. It was terrifying to consider, but Izuku decided he was worth it. Izuku deserved this, no matter who his Soulmate was.
And… well, his Soulmate seemed worth it too. Who had ever captivated him so fully? Who had ever enthralled him, pushed him, and frustrated him more than Kacchan?
“I don’t know that it matters, really. I’d like to get to know you again, Kacchan. Not as smolmight and kingexplosionmurder, but as us.”
“As friends?” Kacchan asked, but there was another underlying question there, clear as if he’d spoken it aloud. As Soulmates?
Izuku could feel it. Maybe there was something to all this bond stuff because he felt a thread of hope and confusion and trepidation between them, adding to his own emotion.
“As the people we are now. We can start there.” Izuku felt like he was holding his breath. A small part of him was waiting for Kacchan to rebuke him, to push him away. Maybe Kacchan felt that, too, because he reached across the space between them—a space that used to feel like an endless chasm. It was so small now, but reaching across it was still monumental. When Kacchan grabbed his hand, it felt right and safe and like all the times Izuku had ever felt wrong in his own skin suddenly vanished. It was jarring to take comfort in something as simple as Kacchan’s fingers grazing across his palm. He couldn’t remember a time when his touch brought ease. Izuku chases the feeling, locking his Soulmate’s tentative fingers in his own for just a moment, before relinquishing his hand again.
“Yeah… that—that sounds nice.”
Before Izuku could think of anything to say, the photographer screamed for Ground Zero, and a veritable storm of assistants swept Kacchan away to the set.
“Did you talk?” Haruna asked when he sidled up to her. She seemed entirely focused on the photographs of Kacchan that appeared on the monitor in real time. Izuku wasn’t sure how she managed to multitask like that. The planes of his Soulmate’s body were incredibly distracting.
“Ah, yeah. A little,” he mumbled, trying very hard not to stare open-mouthed at the photos of Kacchan. He looked delectable, posing as if were a professional underwear model. Calvin Klein, eat your heart out. At exactly the wrong moment, Haruna’s eyes cut to him.
“You’re blushing like you just discovered porn for the first time.”
The PA working the monitor guffawed, and Izuku silently prayed to any sympathetic gods out there to strike him down so he wouldn’t have to deal with his embarrassment.
“Eyes on your work, pal,” Haruna griped, and the assistant immediately put his head down and got back to work. She turned to Izuku again, scrutinizing him in a way that made him feel like a child.
“The makeup team is still here. Bakugo doesn’t have to do this shoot alone, you know.”
“If you think I’m going to put on those little briefs and stand next to him, you’re delusional.”
They may be Soulmates but that doesn’t change the fact that Izuku is skinny and pudgey in all the wrong places. He couldn’t hold a candle to Kacchan’s physique. Izuku’s fledgling confidence—this new self-worth he’d found in the last month—couldn’t handle something like that. Absently, he pondered the gym membership he cancelled because he never went, full of chagrin and minute regret.
“He’s ass over teakettle for you, Birdie. Wouldn’t matter what you look like.”
“I’m… not ready for that. We’ve barely even talked about…” He gestured lamely to his arm, to the covered Mark that seemed to hum every time he looked at his Soulmate.
“Suit yourself. Don’t think I won’t put you in front of a camera as soon as he’s gone, though.”
“I’m not giving you a choice, so you should probably go do some sit ups.”
Izuku grimaced when the PA laughed again.
Are you sure you want to delete your profile?
This cannot be undone.
[X] Yes No
ONE YEAR LATER
“I’m Ground Zero and this is my soulmark. It’s green because he’s green. His eyes are green and they kinda just go on forever. It’s shaped like All Might because why the hell not? All Might is cool. We both looked up to All Might when we were kids. Still do. I won’t tell you his name because it’s none of your damn business, but I’ll tell you that he’s not a pro hero and that I call him Deku. We’ve known each other since we were brats in diapers. We grew up together and then we grew apart. It gets...complicated from there, but it all worked out eventually. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s mine.”
“Your damn editors made me sound like a total sap.” Kacchan quickly changed the channel to the news. He seemed to hate the SoulMeet ads, always searching for the remote the second it came on the screen. They were in Kacchan’s apartment that night. They still lived separately from each other. It didn’t make sense to rush in to things, no matter how they felt. Still, some nights it was harder to say goodbye, so they just… didn’t. Those nights seemed to be occurring more frequently as time went on.
“You’re the one who said all that!”
“Yeah, well… it was for a good cause.” Kacchan’s ears went pink and Izuku dropped the discussion. In the last six months, Kacchan had said way sappier stuff to him, and every time his ears got so red they’d looked like they might burst into flame. Izuku smiled at his SoulMate from his spot on the couch.
“What are you smiling at, nerd? You know how much publicity this is gonna saddle me with? Not to mention you if they find out who you are.”
“Kacchan, everyone already knows about us.”
“Hah? How the fuck?”
“Honestly, do you ever go on the internet?”
“Why the hell would I do that?”
Izuku shook his head at his oblivious partner. He pulled his laptop off the coffee table and started it up. He typed Ground Zero SoulMate into the search bar and immediately the screen filled up with candid pictures of them on various outings. Izuku remembered when each picture was taken. They could be sorted into “not a date-dates” and “date-dates.”
They’d decided to take their relationship slowly, to get to know each other again before they decided what they wanted from each other. It only took a few “not a date-dates” to realize they were more than just platonic SoulMates. Some of the pictures were really nice (and some were just plain funny), and Izuku even saved a few of them on his computer. He clicked on one of his favorites so Kacchan could get a closer look. It was during their first “date-date.”
They’d gone for some ice cream after catching a movie. Kacchan had a cold mask on to hide his face, and Izuku wore an All Might baseball cap. He felt like he was going undercover whenever they left their respective apartments together, but they never flew under the radar. The picture showed Izuku whacking Kacchan with his ice cream cone when he was being an asshole to a kid that asked for his autograph. There was pink strawberry ice cream all over Kacchan’s neck and in his hair and Izuku had a look that was one-part remorse and two-parts righteous indignation. That was the last time Kacchan ever said no to an autograph.
“You’ve gotta be shitting me,” Kacchan said, deadpan.
“You really didn’t know? Haven’t you seen the ads?”
“Duh. We just fuckin watched it, Deku.”
“If we weren’t currently in your house I’d ask you if you actually lived under a rock.” Izuku rolled his eyes and typed in the search bar again. soulmeet deku.
The WuTube videos that popped up in response were Katsuki’s final cut and Izuku’s final cut. After Kacchan and Izuku worked out their decade long differences, Haruna forced him to be part of the shoot. She talked a mile a minute about publicity and popularity and how a reveal like that would break the internet. He didn’t really believe anything like that would happen, but the result spoke for itself. SoulMeet was doing just fine, and they’d raised a respectable amount of money for charity. Izuku pressed play on the video. It was exactly like everyone else’s. The grey backdrop, everything cast in black and white except the brilliant orange of his Mark.
“I’m Midoriya Izuku and I invented SoulMeet. This is my Mark and… well, it’s pretty obvious to anyone with eyes who my SoulMate is, but I’ve always called him Kacchan. Until very recently, I was Markless. I hadn’t seen my childhood friend in about a decade, and then one night...BOOM! It just appeared. Kacchan and I have always been a little weird, so I guess it makes sense that the way we found out we’re SoulMates would be a little backwards too. Whatever the case, it worked out in the end.”
The video ended on a candid picture Haruna had managed to snap while they were both on set. Kacchan in the black briefs all the heroes wore for the shoot, and Izuku in a rumpled dress shirt and slacks, like he’d just come from a full day at the office (he hadn’t, he just always looked a mess naturally), a styrofoam cup of coffee in each hand. Kacchan had just grabbed one of the coffees. The picture showed the moment the cup traded hands and they both wore soft, small smiles. The SoulMeet logo and slogan was overlayed on the image before it faded to black.
Kacchan was silent for a full minute while staring into the screen.
Kacchan slapped the laptop shut and tackled him, his hero-honed speed and reflexes on full display. Kacchan loomed above him, caging him in his arms.
“I love you, you stupid nerd,” he said, his voice husky and honeyed all at once. Izuku knew Kacchan loved him. He felt the words in stolen glances and intertwined fingers and the soft cadence of his voice when they talked about things that mattered, but nothing compared to hearing the words point blank.
“I love you too, Katsuki. You big sap.” Izuku smiled when Kacchan rolled his eyes and grunted before he finally kissed him.
And all at once, Izuku knew they’d end up there eventually, even if he was still Markless. Some things were inevitable.