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The Truth About Family

Chapter Text

Katsuki knows there's something wrong with his father.

The man is too sweet towards him like he's trying to win him over, to gain his trust. He works late hours one week and stays home the next. His office is always locked. Sometimes, his mother will look at him with the eyes of a hunted animal, alone and afraid.

Some days, he can trick himself into thinking he's just a sensitive guy who just wants to help. Others, he refuses to leave his room from the paranoia.

When he manifests his quirk, his mother looks at his father with suspicion but doesn't comment. He gets his mothers quirk, with nitroglycerin instead. It isn't until years later, long after developing the missing spark that goes along with his quirk, that he discovers the other side to the coin.

He trains his quirk brutally, and his father lets him be, looking at him with strangled smiles and head pats.

When he tells him he wants to go to UA, he narrows his eyes dangerously at him, then shakes it off and gives him a sharp smile, saying that they could talk about it when he was older. His mom pulls him aside later, warns him not to mention heroes in front of his father.

His father is strange. There's something wrong with him, and it unsettles him. He knows that his eyes will become just like his mothers one day, wild and terrified.

But for now, he sits quietly next to his father, watching him stare at the TV in front of the couch while Katsuki plays with his toy cars. He has his hand on his head, patting his locks of hair, and the boy ignores the chill is his spine while taking in the peacefulness of the morning sun.

His father turns and smiles at him, soft but not quite right. His brown hair is spiky, just like his, and he hates having inherited that from him.

Katsuki gives him a toothy grin that isn't quite real either and hits his blue car with the red one in his hand.

He imagines the blue car is his father.

---

Mitsuki is temperamental, but nothing he can't handle. When his dad isn't home, he spends as much time he can with his mom, cooking or cleaning alongside her, or accompanying her to photo shoots.

The woman isn't gentle, but he doesn't mind. Gentle is his father, and he doesn't like him. Instead, he finds comfort in her loud yelling and the way she pulls him along. When he does something wrong, a slap will usually confirm it for him, as opposed to his father, who goes in circles to confuse him.

He doesn't like Auntie much, her soft demeanor reminiscent of his dad's, but Mom says she's nice whenever they go over, so he trusts her to some extent. Izuku is too much like his pop's, though, down to the T, and he tries his best, but sometimes he just can't be around him for long. His mother understands this, so they leave early when he's reached his breaking point. He starts putting up with it if only to give his mother a break.

Izuku starts to grow on him eventually. He understands him, knows the difference between his tough love and scorching ire. It doesn’t stop the knot in his stomach from forming whenever he asks if he’s okay, or when he gives him hugs and taps him on the shoulder, but he reminds himself that this is how Izuku lives, that he doesn’t know better. That calms him down when his mind manages to convince itself that Izuku is trying to manipulate him.

He does get the feeling his dad doesn't exactly like Izuku though, and that eggs him on. By the time he’s six, three years of repeated contact with Izuku has mellowed him out. He can stand gentle touches again, though not repeatedly, and he’s proud when he doesn’t flinch away from Auntie Inko when she ruffles his hair or hugs him.

She doesn't soothe the pain he feels when his mother powders her face in makeup to hide the bruises or in the nights he hears his mom screaming in her bedroom, stopping occasionally when his father hits her.

---

He hears him one night, when he's seven and on a silent trip for water. He's walking down the stairs when he hears him, voice devoid of his mock mirth. He's talking to someone on the phone, someone important.

“Kurogiri, how is the league?” He says, voice gravelly and deep. He sounds like a different person.

There's a pause, then a sigh.

“No, he's still too young. We aren't getting anything useful out of him in a while. When he's older, perhaps.”

He sounds uncharacteristically firm. The shy, pacifist persona his father has maintained is gone, and it scares him. This isn't his father. Does his mother know about this? About him?

“You know how he is. Vengeful about the death of his master to the point of irrationality,” speaks his dad. “All Might is a fool for thinking I'll hand myself over peacefully.”

That chills him. All Might? Why--

“Well, I must be going. I don't want to wake Mitsuki. I'll check in later. Villainy doesn't sleep, after all.”

---

True to his father's words, he doesn't sleep at all that week.

---

“Mom,” he says blankly, “My hands smell weird.”

He's four, waiting for his quirk to come in. His hands have been extra sweaty lately, and they constantly smell like caramel. Katsuki hates caramel.

His mom smells his hands, wrinkling her nose at the sickly sweet smell.

“Katsuki, did you steal candy from the cupboards again?” she snaps, tone incredulous.

“No, Mom. I wouldn't be telling you if I had.” he bites out. She scoffs.

"Then why do your hands smell like burnt sugar?”

He shrugs, just as confused. His mother rolls her eyes at him, which is code for her thinking, and then stops, as of having realized something. She turns and takes her keys, dragging him to the car despite his protests, eyes growing more panicked by the second.

They drive to the doctors’ office, and his mother demands an appointment. The receptionist leads them to a waiting room and eventually comes back with a doctor in tow. Katsuki is very confused, but his mother is acting more aggressive than usual, which indicates that she's nervous, and he doesn't want to increase her anxiety.

The doctor begins to examine Katsuki, taking a swab of his sweat and handing it over to a nurse. He does his yearly checkup as well, measuring his weight and height.

Two days later, they go back. The doctor says something about results, then tells him he's gotten his quirk.

He explains while his mother latches onto his wrist protectively. When they get home, they tell his father. He nods, a happy smile on his face, and he ruffles his hair, Katsuki trying his best not to flinch. His mom keeps him away from anything hot for the rest of the day, not wanting to spark the nitroglycerin being secreted from his body. The doctor said that although it was a small chance, he still had a chance of developing a sparking method to go with his quirk, taking into account his father's, and Mitsuki spends the rest of the day planning scenarios for that exact outcome.

That night, he wakes to his father holding two fingers to his forehead. He drifts off again when he leaves.

The next day, his palms are sparking. His father is smiling so wide Katsuki is sure his face will crack in two. Mitsuki flinches at the sound of his explosions, but he doesn't notice, too busy admiring his quirk. The teachers fawn over him when he gets to school and multiple students sit with him during lunch. He inches away from them all and ignores the teachers’ praises.

Izuku babbles how cool his quirk is constantly. It's starting to creep him out, but he knows Izuku means well. He's caught on that he doesn't like to be touched, too, so he's doing it less often, which is a blessing in on itself.

For the next week, students from all over, some even in his class are sitting down with him to admire his quirk. They don't let him breathe, and he starts eating lunch outside. His dad is starting to look at him strangely, with a sort of misplaced glee and he doesn't like it.

Then one day, his father sits him down next to him on the couch and pats his head, Mitsuki nowhere in sight. His eyes aren't wrinkled right, and his smile is more of an upward curl instead, brown hair deflated slightly. The sight puts him on edge.

“Your teacher said something interesting the other day,” he starts, and oh no, he's being...blunt. There's no sugar in his words.

There's something wrong.

“Katsuki, do you want to be a hero?”

His father is observing him closely, smile completely gone from his face. The grip he has on his shoulder is tight, clamping him and pinning him to the couch, obstructing any escape routes, and Katsuki doesn't know how to answer. Should he say yes? Or would it be safer to say no? Why does he want to know in the first place?

“I don't know.”

Father leans back, face now eerily blank. He stares at him as if looking into his very soul, and his eyes are empty. He looks dead. Not human.

Katsuki doesn't know if he made the right decision until Father smiles. It's tight, high strung, but it's a smile, and while he hates the fakeness of it, it's the first time he's been comforted by one. The man ruffles his hair and nods.

“Okay.” He says. He hugs him, warm and tight. Katsuki hates it, but just this once, he hugs back anyway. He doesn't want to provoke him any more than he already has.

He let's go, and Katsuki doesn't move as his father stands and walks to his room, slowly and wearily.

He's still sitting there when his mother walks in an hour later, holding the groceries from her weekly shopping. Katsuki doesn't look at her as she walks over, but she cups his face with her hands and pushes his gaze up. There's a strange, vulnerable expression on her face, and he can do nothing but mirror it, exhaustion seeping into his bones as he feels his heart start to calm. Her grip on his face is strong, but not harsh, and it makes him feel safe.

(Years later, he'll forget that moment, pushing away from her soft hands, but for now, he stands and hugs her legs as she sighs and puts her groceries down.)

“You okay, kid?”

Kid. Not brat. He latches on to the softness of it, silently wishing she would call him that more often. A nod is all she gives her.

She scoops him up then, holds him close to her chest as if shielding him, and he clings to her shirt as she carries him to his room and tucks him in. It's warm and tight, and strong, and he reaches for her, this strong pillar holding him up, this boat keeping him afloat. She combs her hand through his hair, kisses him on the forehead, and then holds his hand in hers, a tune humming through the air.

He smiles; his mother sings well. Drifting off, he wonders why she doesn't do it more often.

(He knows why.)

When he wakes up the next day, she's in the kitchen. His father smiles at him, fake. Mom walks out with their breakfast and smiles at him too. Hers is genuine.

He smiles back.

---

Chapter Text

When he’s six, he drinks from Auntie Inko's water glass and breaks every plate in the house when they fly at him. Poor Auntie almost has a heart attack, and Deku comes rushing from his room to check what's going on. Inko pushes him away from the glass and towards her with her quirk and her son stumbles in search of a broom after gawking for a full-blown minute.

Auntie checks over him frantically, running around in search for a first aid kit, and Deku is forced to sit with him when she bans him from going anywhere near the shards littering the floor.

“Oh no, your head!” exclaims the greenette when he sits down and looks at his face. Katsuki wipes his forehead, feeling self-conscious all of a sudden.

He's distinctly aware of the thin drip of blood dripping down his forehead and onto his cheek. He tires ignoring it, biting at Deku to keep quiet, but it's too late. Auntie gasps as she looks at him, now realizing the crimson staining his hair. She grabs his face gently, and he flinches when the tips of her fingers make contact with the gash now splitting his scalp. She rushes away again, running back seconds later with the biggest first aid kit Katsukis’ ever seen.

She bandages his head up as Deku begins to cry and cling to his shoulder. Katsuki lets it slide no matter how much it makes his skin burn, acknowledging this was probably the only way he was going to calm down.

When she's finished, she lays him down on the couch, draping a blanket over him and ignoring his protests. He's starting to feel woozy and wants nothing more than to sleep. Deku goes and sits next to him as he dozes off, eyes slipping closed as the adrenaline wears off.

He wakes up a few hours later to screaming.

“--to the hospital!?”

“I don't know, I panicked! Izuku was trying to sweep up the glass all by himself, and--”

“I don't care what the hell Izuku was doing! I trusted you with my fucking kid and when I come to pick him up, he's like this!?”

“Mitsuki--”

Deku is hiding behind the couch, crying. The glass hasn't been cleaned, fragments laid out on the floor, and now that he thinks about it, his arms sting terribly.

“I didn't--”

“What if he still has glass stuck in his skin or something!? What are you gonna do then!?”

“Calm down, old hag, I'm trying to sleep here.“

She turns around so fast he's surprised her head doesn't snap off. Deku's sobs stutter, turning to him at the sound of his voice, and Auntie gasps.

“Katsuki!”

His mother rushes to him, grabbing his face harshly and looking him over. He flinches and tries to back away, but she holds her hands down. She lets go seconds later in favor of smacking him on the head, aggravating his bandaged wound.

“What the fuck were you doing, you brat! Inko said you broke all her plates!”

"I didn't do anything old woman! Now shut up, I want to sleep!”

The bickering calmed him, if only slightly. Deku crept over to Inko, putting his arms around her as Auntie stared at them in puzzlement, concern starting to color her features. He was thinking more clearly now that he was hearing his mom screaming her head off at him for being stupid and couldn’t help but notice the flinches creeping into Deku’s face when they got particularly loud.

“Calm down, hag, you’re scaring Deku!”

Mitsuki breathed through her nose, trying to calm herself as she turned to the greenettes. Auntie was looking a bit angry now, looking at the blond woman with a strange expression. His best friend was looking at him worriedly like there was something wrong with him. Maybe it had something to do with his appearance?

“Aren’t you going to ask him if he's okay?”

The tone of voice made him stop and take a double take. Auntie’s voice sounded blank, arms holding Izuku close to her chest as she looked at Katsuki's mom expectantly. Mitsuki's face sours and her ire, which had been slightly soothed by his lucidity comes back raging full force.

“Every plate in your apartment just crashed down on top of his head! Of course he's not okay!”

He sighs, coming to the same conclusion his mother was probably going off of. The lack of affection between him and his mother was a sore spot for Auntie, and she had never particularly hidden her dislike for their dynamic, but if tough love made his mother more comfortable around him and distinguished him from his Dad, then he was happy to oblige.

“I know that! But you should at least ask him himself! He's your son!”

An angry Inko was a dangerous Inko. Katsuki quietly began to edge away from the two women, moving to collect his overnight bag. His favorite figuring was in that thing, and he didn't want to lose access to it for the next month.

“What do you want me to do, Inko!? Coddle the kid? Sorry to break it to you--”

Deku's sob silences both of them.

Katsuki stills then turns to look at the boy, watching as he slides off his mother's lap. The green haired boy is looking like someone punched him in the gut, and he gingerly walks up to him, shoulders drooping and innocent green eyes shining with tears.

He can't help but wonder if his own eyes ever shone like that.

“Kacchan?”

The name is voiced softly as if talking to a wounded doe in a big, dark forest. Katsuki tilts his head, the tone confusing him. This whole day has been confusing, honestly. Auntie is looking at both of them now even more worried than before, waiting for Deku's question. Mom is too difficult to read.

"Does-- does Aunt Mitsuki love you?"

He wasn't prepared for that.

It's a loaded question. One that he hopes he knows the answer to because as much as he loves his mother and respects her, he also knows how much of a burden he is to her.

“What kind of question is that!?" He says, and then responds with "Of course she does!"

Deku, seemingly not quelled by his answer, opens his mouth again.

"Then why doesn't she hug you?" He whispers. Innocent. Ignorant.

He doesn't know, his mind echoes.

"She doesn't need to!" He screeches, and his mother flinches back, but he doesn't see, because his head is filling with the way she had recoiled when he had--

"Just because she isn't weak doesn't mean she doesn't love me!"

Deku starts crying harder.

"But my mom gives me kisses and hugs, and she never hits me!"

He doesn't understand.

He doesn't understand.

He doesn't want the hugs or kisses or anything. All he wants is for his mom to never look at him with fear in her eyes ever again.

"I don't want kisses!"

Then more quietly, hatred for his father, for the wounded eyes of his mother and his own burdening existence.

“And I hate hugs.”

He doesn't know what Auntie sees, but her gasp, when he looks back on it, sounds horrified. Deku looks at him like what he just said has uprooted every single conviction the green haired boy had managed to scrounge up and crushed it with an oversized spiked boot.

“What-- why--” the boy tries, but Mitsuki cuts him off.

“Let's go, Katsuki. We need to take you to the hospital.”

She turns to the door, and Katsuki follows. Auntie lets out a strangled breath and reaches for him, despair taking her over her features as if there’s something wrong with him, and he inches away from her grasp.

Then, a single, splintered whisper--

"What about Masaru?"

Mitsuki slams the door harder than necessary and faster than humanly possible and drags him to the car in short, panicked breaths.

They don’t go back ever again.

Katsuki, however unwilling to admit the fact, finds himself missing them.

---

Two weeks later, they move. He isn’t dumb enough to think it’s anyone else's fault but his.

It goes like this: He’s eating lunch Monday morning in his usual spot, Deku sitting far away in a corner, when a plastic fork goes flying towards him, landing on his chest.

The blunt tool falls on the table with a thump, and everyone stares at him in surprise. Then a foam plate hits him on the face.

By the end of the day, everyone is avoiding him, the teacher is frantically calling his mother as every pencil in the room tries to stab him at once, and Katsuki is sporting multiple bruises from the various items hitting him.

When Mom arrives, she takes one look at his black and blue face and unleashes her rage. The teachers don't even get a chance to explain, the poor bastards.

Needless to say, it doesn't go well.

They end up taking him to a quirk specialist after Mitsuki confirms he wasn't injured by any students. The man that greets them is bright and cheery and has the quirk to match it, eyes glowing every time he smiles. Mitsuki explains his quirk and how it works, and after some convincing, they tell him about the plate incident. The man writes it down on a clipboard, looking thoughtful.

“And you said this was directly after you drank from your aunts drink?”

“Yeah.”

Inko isn't his aunt, but he doesn't correct the man, and his mother doesn't either.

"Interesting.”

He chews on his pencil, then gasps as it goes flying and hits Katsuki on the face. The blonde groans.

“Well kiddo, I think you might have a completely new quirk!”

Katsuki blinks, surprised. His mother gapes next to him.

“A what?” his mom voices for him.

“A brand new quirk. You mentioned your aunt has a telekinetic quirk, right? Well, there are these quirks called copy cat quirks that allow their user to copy any quirk, depending on the natural limitations of the quirk.”

"And you think my son might have a copy cat quirk?" States his mother, starting to sound breathless.

"Well, it's certainly a possibility!"

"But my parents can't copy peoples quirks." He rationalizes, annoyed. 

Mitsuki is looking paler by the second, and both Katsuki and the quirk specialist are starting to become concerned.

“How do we know for sure?” says his mom quietly.

“W-- well, we would have to test it out. Is there any side effects you and your husband have regarding your own quirks? Just because he might have a completely different quirk from both of you doesn't mean they're completely unrelated."

Katsuki looks at his mom wearily. Something isn't adding up, he knows, and the prospect is nothing but blood-chilling. Things going on behind the scenes is never a good thing.

His mother whispers something to the specialist, and the man nods worriedly, no doubt picking up on her discomfort. He turns to Katsuki and begins instructing him on different things to try.

This goes on for two hours. He tries touching the man's hand, he tries doing it in a radius of him, he tries vocal cues, hand gestures, everything. 

Nothing.

He's starting to get frustrated. Mitsuki, who had been quietly watching from her seat, finally sighs.

"Dr. Picani," She says, "What about DNA?"

The man stops, then gasps.

"Of course!" He exclaims. He rushes out, then returns with a vial of red liquid. Both he and his mother grimace at the sight.

"Okay, so this is some blood left over for some testing from a previous patient with an amazing analytical quirk a month back. Blood is one of the best sources of DNA in the human body, so see if you can copy it by digesting some. Ah, if it's alright with your mother, of course."

Mitsuki nods, and Katsuki knows he doesn't exactly have a choice. The specialist gives him a tiny sample and Katsuki raises it to his mouth hesitantly.

As soon as he swallows it, the world becomes a thousand times brighter.

“Well, did it work kiddo?”

He nods wordlessly, hand going up to clutch his head as he grimaces. His mind is going faster than he can keep up with, and all of the new information is making his head hurt. The guy laughs, the asshole.

“Yeah, I thought that might happen. Don’t worry, it’s temporary. Comes with the nature of all mental quirks, I’m afraid.”

Katsuki turns to his mother, then quickly looks away when the quirk picks up on the irregular makeup patterns on her face and the bruises hiding underneath. Shielding his eyes, he thinks of possible combos’ with this new quirk alongside his own. The doctor explains the quirk to him, just a simple mental argumentation quirk, and tells him the quirk will probably wear off eventually.

His mother pays for the visit and drags him home as he mutters away, droning on about the chemical composition of his quirk and mathematical angles for his explosions. He doesn’t stop until they get to his house, and the only reason he does is that his father’s waiting for them on the couch. With his new quirk, he can tell all the microscopic expressions forming on his face, and he suddenly finds himself wishing he couldn't. His mother explains his new ability, and the look of absolute joy that overtakes his father's face is sickening. He leaves to his room immediately.

Oh well, he thinks as he lays his bed. The quirk isn’t permanently activated, only when his eyes glow, and it’ll wear off eventually. What’s the worst that could happen?

---

He jinxed it.

It’s been a week since the quirk specialist visit and things are still flying toward him, people are still flinching away from him, and his eyes won’t stop fucking glowing!

On top of that, some kids in his grade had the bright idea to beat him up during recess, screaming at him profanities and claiming his "copycat" quirk villainous. When he goes home, his mom goes absolute berserk, demanding to speak to the principal the next day. Next thing he knows, she’s withdrawing him from the school, his dad is telling him that he’s transferring to another city, and they’re moving. He didn’t even get to say goodbye to Deku, goddamn.

The house they end up moving into is crumby, dirty and run down. Father says it’s temporary, but he doesn’t have any hopes of leaving this place anytime soon. His poor mother is tasked with cleaning the place up while his father goes to his new day at work, and Katsuki spends the rest of the day helping his mom fix it. The analysis and telekinetic quirk are still active, so while they hinder him more than help him most of the time, they do speed up the process a bit.

When they’d moved, his parents had purchased a pair of quirk suppressors for him to hide under his school uniform, stopping the outbursts in school, at least, but he prefers to have them off at home. His dad has been trying to teach him how to use his now various quirks, but most of the time Katsuki’s pettiness gets in the way and his father ends up leaving all their lessons frustrated and what could be interpreted as tired. His mom frowns at him whenever he does it, but Katsuki doesn’t care. 

When his father comes home, he gives them a smile closer to a grimace, pats Katsuki on the head, then heads to his room. His brown hair is messy, his suit is soaked, and Katsuki remembers comically that it was supposed to rain today and his dad didn’t take an umbrella. He has a good laugh about it for a while, his mother scolding him and slapping him on the head constantly, which only eggs him on.

She goes to cook dinner and he follows. They bicker the whole way through, and he decides that today is a good day, if only because he gets to spend time with his mother.

“Hey brat, you’re starting a new school tomorrow.” His mother suddenly says, stopping him in his tracks. The reminder drags his spirits down again; he’s not excited for this new school, but he knows it’s inevitable. Still, what need does his mother have in mentioning it?

“Yeah, I know hag.”

She doesn’t slap him like she usually does, and that puts him slightly on edge.

“Listen here, kid. Anyone bothers you, you tell me, got it?”

He looks at her closely, then nods. This is clearly important to his mother, so he’ll oblige.

“Good. You better not hide it, got it punk?”

Again, he nods. She sighs, then stiffens as the door to her and his fathers' new bedroom opens. Katsuki goes to get the silverware as she sets down their dinner on the table. Father ruffles his hair when he gets to the table, then sits and begins to eat, the two blondes following behind.

 

Chapter Text

His new school sucks.

The place looks like it's going to fall apart any second. He catches a glimpse of the staff as he's walking to his classroom, and they all look like they want to drop dead. To top it all off, he's pretty sure he's lost.

He's been following the numbers on the plaques next to the classroom doors to get to his room, but they cut out and change suddenly for no reason he walks, so it's a pointless endeavor. He's not desperate enough to ask for help, at least not yet, but it's getting really annoying walking around with no direction. Still, the students look like human experiments straight out of a horror movie with how exhausted they all are, and he would like to make it out alive, thanks.

Finally, he turns to a teacher to ask for directions after passing the same entrance for the third time. They don't do much, just list off some turns and shoo him away. He tries to follow the directions but forgets half of them, so he gives up, deciding to wander the halls.

Walking through the hallways, he notices just how many students there are. Which is to say, a lot. Most are smaller kids he's seen around in his neighborhood, including the kid of one of a neighbor who’d tried to introduce themselves when they'd seen them arrive at their new house and decided talking his mom’s ear off would be the best way to do it. His mom slammed the door in the woman's face and ignored the doorbell for the rest of the day.

He sighed. Why did this school have to be so confusing? Classes were about to start in five minutes and he didn't want to be late on his first day.

A tap on his shoulder brought him out of his stupor. He jumped, turning to see a purple haired kid staring at him with lilac eyes. Katsuki raised an eyebrow in question after smoothing out his flinch, brushing off the hand on his shoulder with unnecessary gruffness. The other kid didn’t react, letting his hand fall to his side as he opened his mouth to speak.

“Are you lost?” The kid said, his voice the most monotone sound he'd ever heard. Katsuki scoffed, looking at him wearily. Purple looked dead on his feet.

“And what's it to you?”

The boy’s face soured, distaste warping his face.

“This is the third time you’ve passed me. It’s pathetic and sad, so are you lost? Or just out for a walk?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, then sighed. The boy didn’t look any more suspicious than everyone else here, and as much as he would like to deny it, he wasn’t going to get to class himself. The school was too big, he was too new, and everyone else cared too little. He gave him the slip of paper with his classroom number in defeat.

“Huh,” Purple Hair said as he looked at it. “Lucky, this is my class too. You’re new, right?”

He nodded harshly. The boy rolled his eyes, then turned around and began walking down the hall. Kasuki followed silently, startling when Lilac spoke again.

“Uh, just a heads up, if a kid with pink hair and cat eyes comes up to you and starts hounding you about your quirk or something, just ignore him. Oh, and memorize the exits. We get a lot of villain attacks around here, so learn all the emergency procedures as soon as you can.”

Villain attacks? This neighborhood keeps getting better and better. The kid seems to pick up on this, but says nothing, walking silently to his destination.

Finally, they arrive at a small classroom at the end of one of the halls. Purple opens the door and steps in, not bothering to wait for him. Katsuki decides it doesn’t matter anyway and enters the room.

The whole class instantly turns to him, all chatter dying down at his arrival. The teacher, who's trying to break up a hissy fit between two kids, turns to him when she spots him, then pastes the fakest smile he's ever seen on her face, keeping it there even when one of the kids she's holding back bites her wrist.

“H- Hello!” she exclaims. The kid biting her wrist-- a cyan haired girl with fangs-- let's go and grumbles, pushing away the teacher's hand. The other kid glares at him and stalks off to the back of the class, hands flickering blue. The woman sighs in relief, trying to smooth out her messy hair and wrinkled clothing.

He observes her quietly, not bothering to start the conversation first. Brown hair flops over her left eye as she stares at him, sticking to her lip gloss.

“Um, a- are you our new student?”

He hears Purple snort in the corner of his eye, and he has to agree. This woman is hilariously underqualified for this type of school.

“Bakugou Katsuki,” he says. Adjusting his quirk suppressors under his sleeves, the blonde stares the woman down, watching her squirm.

“Yes! Yes, I know you. Uhh, there's an empty seat just over here-- eek!”

The boy sitting behind her lets out an inhuman screech, probably augmented by some sort of emitter quirk, and she jumps, scrambling the front of the class and towards the doorway. Katsuki puts a hand on his forehead, giving her a deadpan expression.

“Um, over h- here.” she stutters out, walking over to an empty desk that just so happens to be behind Purple Hair himself. Katsuki walks over briskly, trying to avoid as much conflict as possible.

“We're glad to have you here, Bakugou…” She smiles at him tiredly, and he doesn't bother sparing her a second glance. Until she tries to pat him in the head, that is.

He slaps her hand away, giving her a glower to hide his flinch. She lets out a squeak, wincing, then steps back and walks to the front of the class again with her head low, successfully warded off.

She starts taking attendance, calling out names meekly. It becomes clear rather quickly that the students like messing with her nerves because most use their quirks or do weird gestures when she says their titles.

He groans internally, wondering whether she was actually this incompetent or not. After attendance, he learns that her name is Mrs. Mae as she hands out their first assignment. Interestingly, she shudders when she hands one to Purple-hair, who hesitates, then takes the paper quickly, as if trying not to startle her.

The woman looks meek, innocent, but Katsuki is instantly wary of her. She could end up being just like his father, and he doesn't need another one of him in his life.

The class is never quiet. As much as Mrs. Mae tries, no one is particularly intimidated by her shy nature or cowardice. She reminds him of Deku, with his revoltingly soft hugs and gentle voice. The kid behind him throws spitballs at her during all of her lessons, and the cyan-haired girl from earlier screeches whenever the brunette even comes close to scolding her.

Katsuki and Purple hair work right through it all. When lunch comes around, they’re the only ones who have completed the assignment, along with two other students. The brunette collects the papers quietly.

Lunch is just as chaotic, if not more so. He waits for someone to come up to him as he eats the food from his bento, and eventually, someone does. The book he’s reading is knocked out of his grasp, and when he looks up, an angry scowl on his face, there’s a boy standing over him. He’s smirking.

“You’re new, right?” he says sweetly, and Katsuki finds himself wanting to rip out his organs and feed them to the wolves. He has pink hair and golden cat eyes, so the blonde decides to listen to Purple Hair’s advice and ignores him. He reaches for his book, now sprawled on the floor, but discount Kirby kicks it away.

“I asked you a question.” Pinky belts out.

“Fuck off, asshole.” He growls. The boy flinches back, obviously surprised by his use of profanities, and Mrs. Mae gasps from behind him. He reaches for his book again, and this time, Pinky stomps his foot on his hand. Hard.

“Ow! What the fu--”

“Bakugou, was it? Yeah, you shouldn't ignore people, you know. It's rude.” he says, and Katsuki resists the urge to stab him. The smile he’s wearing on his face is mocking, like he’s above Katsuki somehow, and he wants to wipe it off so badly. He’s getting ready to pounce when he hears someone speak.

“Leave him alone, Fukushima. It’s his first day.” he hears from behind him. When he turns, he sees Purple Hair looking at them. Pink hair, who is apparently Fukushima now, growls when he sees him, the smile dropping off his face.

“Go away, Shinsou. No one wants you and your villains’ quirk.”

He raises an eyebrow at the statement, but it can wait. Right now, he has an asshole to ward off and another trying to defend him. He doesn’t want to deal with either. Mrs. Mae cowers in the corner, and it’s obvious that she won’t be doing anything to help him anytime soon. So he decides, fuck it.

He punches Fukushima in the jaw.

---

“What am I going to do with you, Katsuki?”

His mom doesn't even look at him. When he'd punched Fukushima, he must have taken it as a declaration of war or something because the next thing he knew, he was in the principal's office covered in bandaids and bruises. Not that he blamed him, Katsuku would have done the same thing. Still, it would have been nice if Kirby had shown some self-restraint.

When his mother arrived, she didn't last three seconds before her temper exploded. The principal tried to calm her down desperately, but Mom and Fukushima's mother got into a hissy fight that lasting well over an hour. Afterward, she shoved him in their car and drove out of the parking lot at twenty miles per hour, which he was pretty sure was illegal on school grounds.

So now here they are. One contemplating the other, while other contemplates throwing himself off a bridge.

“He was being an asshole.” He says suddenly and bitterly. Mitsuki rolls her eyes.

“Well, at least you didn't let them beat you up like last time.”

Ah, yes, last time, the whole reason they moved. Last time consisted of half baked insults, accusations of villainous activity, and a whole lot of bruises. Maybe the two incidents weren't so different after all.

He sighed, fiddling with the broken cuffs in his hands. The quirk suppressors had taken some irreparable damage in the fight, being rendered useless. Mitsuki had bought an extra pair when the quirk specialist prescribed them, fully aware of her son's brutish tendencies, but the woman didn't think she'd have to use them so soon. Katsuki was a whole fucking league of his own, that was for sure.

“Look, brat, I get it. New school and all, not to mention a coward as a teacher. But you better get your act together, you got it Katsuki?”

He nods tiredly. Mitsuki looks exhausted, and while his temper is still running at full speed, guilt still creeps in to flow along with it. He knows how much his mom has on her plate, after all, especially when dealing with him.

“Mom, why do you stick with dad, if you hate him so much?” He asks, and he can't find it in himself to be remorseful. Without the suppressors, he can see every smear of foundation on his mom's face and the blotchiness on her arms. She flinches, turning furious, but the anger dies down when she turns to look at him.

It's something he wonders constantly. Why does she stick around? He hates this place too, but his mom has always deserved better. Not that he'd ever tell her that, but…

He just wants to know, is all.

She sighs, turning back to the wheel. The light turns green, and she steps in the pedal, starting up the car again. Katsuki can't help but think she's running from something.

“He would never let me leave.”

He blinks, even more confused. Mitsuki refuses to look anywhere but the road, hands white as she grips the steering wheel, and he doesn't ask any more questions.

It makes him think, though. Why she said what she said. He's starting to think that maybe the bullies weren't the complete reason they moved after all.

The rest of the ride is spent in silence.

Chapter Text

---

His seventh birthday is nothing special. Mom buys a cake and lights a few candles. Father gets him a lame toy he'll never use as a gift and gives him a tight hug. It all makes him want to claw his eyes out. Later, Mitsuki takes him out to get ice cream to make up for it.

After the whole fiasco with Fukushima, the teachers around school look out for him when he walks by, watching for any delinquent behavior. He scoffs and rolls his eyes when they look too long, patience wearing thin. After analyzing the other student's behavior further, he realizes they act just as barbaric as him, if not more so. Fukushima glares at him whenever he walks by and tries to trip him when he isn’t looking. It works once or twice, and it always ends with fists flying.

The only one who breaks this pattern is Shinsou, who just sits quietly and does his schoolwork. Katsuki tries to copy him but finds his temper is just too wild. Mitsuki gets him reinforced quirk suppressor cuffs when the school calls her to come to pick him up the third time.

“We can’t keep wasting money on these shits, so you better get your act together, got it Katsuki?” she’d seethed. He’d nodded frantically.

He hates to admit it, but he’s curious about Shinsou. The lilac-haired boy doesn’t draw attention to himself, always turns in his work on time, and tries his best to get good grades. He ignores everyone’s remarks about his supposedly villainous quirk, and sadly, it’s more that Katsuki can say about himself. The others are still trying to rip the information about his quirk out of him and he either tells them to fuck off or punches them.

Their second interaction is two days after his birthday, and it's because Katsuki was an idiot and forgot his pencil again.

Yeah, like hell is he going to ask Mrs. Mae for one. She'll have a heart attack, and everyone else besides Shinsou is off limits simply because they suck at sharing. They're also all Fukushima's lackeys one way or another, be it information or manpower, and he's already severely outnumbered. Showing weakness– even in the form of a forgotten pencil– is not an option.

So, taking a deep breath, he steels himself and taps Shinsou– who sits in front of him– on the shoulder. The response is immediate but subtle. The boy turns his head towards him and raises his brow, clearly suspicious, and Katsuki can't blame him.

“Do you have a pencil?” he asks in the most non-threatening tone he can muster.

“You shouldn't talk to me.” is his response. Katsuki rolls his eyes at this; as if his reputation isn't already ruined. Shinsou tried to stand up for him; one of these days he's going to have to return the favor, no matter what quirk the purple haired boy has.

“I need a pencil and I'm not going to ask anyone else.”

It's Shinsou’s turn to roll his eyes, but he gives him a pencil anyway.

"Thanks.”

He starts to write on the page, copying down the problems on the board but stops when he looks at the expression on Shinsou’s face. He looks shocked.

"What?”

Lilac shakes his head, face pinched.

“It's just-- sorry, it's just that people don't usually thank me.”

He turns back to look at the teacher, who's been lecturing the whole time and pretending not to notice them talking. Readjusting his suppressor bracelets, he sighs.

He's curious now and he hates himself for it. He doesn't know why saying thank you is so important. It's just something you say when someone does something for you, right? There's no value in two little words.

He thinks back to Deku and Auntie Inko, how they would always light up when he thanked them. Was it some form of endearment or something?

Whatever. Shinsou isn't that bad, and he still technically owes him for trying to defend him. Plus, he'd showed him where to go when he was lost. That was also something he had to pay him back for.

Later when lunch lets out, he decides to eat outside. Mrs. Mae doesn't stop him, and he sits down just outside of the entrance. He takes out his bento and is just about to start eating when he hears footsteps behind him.

“It's dangerous to eat outside, you know. Villains could get you.”

He turns and glares at Shinsou.

“You gonna tattle?”

Lilac snorts. He trots over and, to Katsuki’s surprise, sits down next to him.

“I'm not a snitch towards people I like.”

Hmm. Maybe he should say thank you more often. It’ll make him more friends.

They sit in silence for a few moments, eating quietly. Shinsou had taken out his own lunch when he had sat down, and both boys were too enraptured in their food to hold a conversation.

Finally, Katsuki wipes his mouth and turns to Shinsou.

“So, why are you here?”

Shinsou sighed. There were dark circles under his eyes; did he ever sleep?

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. You seem… okay.”

Yeah, they could go with that. Shinsou didn’t look like he had a lot of friends, and it probably wasn’t from a lack of trying. Again, he didn’t know what kind of quirk Shinsou has, but he knew that it was a “villain quirk”, and people don’t usually like those.

“And you look like an insomniac.”

Shinsou finches. Katsuki waits, not knowing if he's crossed a line or not. He'd inherited his bluntness from his mother, who often got flack from others for the exact same thing. Just because he was like her, though, didn’t mean he had her charm. People liked his mother. They definitely didn’t like him.

Lilac looks like he’s mulling something over. Katsuki waits quietly, mimicking patience. Finally, purple-hair sighs then fidgets as he starts to speak again.

“It’s because of my quirk.”

Now, something important to know about Bakugou Katsuki is that he doesn’t like to pry. He finds it rude and hypocritical, considering he himself has lists of secrets under his skin, but there’s something obviously different about Shinsou. The boy looks like he’s waiting for it like he’s about to be punched in the gut and left for dead, and Katsuki doesn’t want to ask. He really doesn’t, because it’s obvious that it’s a sensitive topic, but… well, he thinks it would be better to find out from Shinsou himself, instead of someone else. It’s his quirk, after all.

So he steels himself again, and he opens his mouth.

“And your quirk? What is it?”

Shinsou shrinks then looks him in the eye.

“My quirk is, um, it’s called Brainwash,” he mutters, resolves evaporating as he says the last syllables. Katsuki blinks.

“Okay?” he says because that wasn’t what he was expecting.

“That’s it? Just… okay?”

See, that’s what he doesn’t understand. Shinsou seems like a good student, like a good person overall. The way he was acting… did people really hate him that much because of a simple quirk like Brainwash? Sure, he was a little weary himself, but he knew enough to realize that Shinsou would never use it on someone unwillingly. How stupid can people be? Wait.

“Is that why Mrs. Mae is so scared of you?” he says without thinking. Shinsou startles, then nods and wow . Are you kidding me?

“I mean, I don’t blame her--”

“Stop.” snaps Katsuki. He needs to calm down because he knew this neighborhood was shitty but goddamn.

“Look, if you want me to leave then I can go…”

Okay. Shinsou is nervous. Shinsou is nervous because he thinks Katsuki wants him to leave. Shinsou is nervous Katsuki wants him to leave because of his quirk. Shinso is nervous Katsuki wants him to leave because everyone hates his quirk. ’Everyone’ are also assholes.

“No, idiot, sit down.” he finally seethes, sensing Shinsou inching away.

“Look, Shinsou, was it? I don’t care about your fucking quirk.”

Purple--Hair’s eyes widen, and he stares at Katsuki like he’s grown a second head.

“I’m serious. Now finish your shitty food or go back to class.”

He knows the order is conflicting, considering he just told him to sit down moments prior, but he starts eating from his bento anyway. Shinsou follows a few minutes after, silent.

They don’t say anything else afterward. To Shinsou, the air is awkward. To Katsuki, it’s bitter. He can’t stop thinking back to those bullies, what they said as they beat him into the ground. If Shinsou has had to deal with that ever since he got his quirk, then the kid is stronger than he seems. That, and this society is messed up like hell.

“You have a stain on your jacket,” he tells the boy because it’s what his mother would say. Somehow, like he can already see right through him, Shinsou startles and smiles, nervous but calmer. He grabs a napkin and wipes the stain away, then goes back to his food.

---

As already established, Katsuki didn't appreciate his father's quirk training. Going against both of his parent's wishes, he decides that if the brown-haired fuck up wasn't going to offer any actual guidance, he may as well train on his own.

It isn't hard. The backyard they have isn't exactly stellar, but it gets the job done in the long run, and the neighbors do enough weird shit that it would be relatively easy for Katsuki to get away with a few thumps and explosions without police intervention.

Needless to say, he gets caught by Mitsuki anyway.

Still, she doesn't try to stop him, only asks him to train when she can supervise him. He agrees begrudgingly.

It takes weeks of hard work, a good amount of determination and a lot of persistence, but he eventually gets his telekinetic quirk under control. Still, even taking account of how unpredictable telekinetic quirks are, he has to admit that his abilities are unexpectedly different from Auntie Inko's.

While she could only pull things towards her, he could pull and push. He'd discovered that after a feral dog had attacked him on his way back from school. To add on to the strangeness, despite his young age, he could pull and push from greater distances too. As long as he could see the item, he could move it.

Of course, it all came full circle in the quirks unfortunate side effects.

At first, he had expected headaches, since telekinesis is technically a mental quirk, but instead of migraines, he got pulled muscles. He guessed it was the strain in weight reflecting on his body, but at the same time, he’d pushed their couch every which way multiple times before with only minimal pain. His mother told him to stop straining himself, though, and he had no choice but to listen. He had missed multiple days of school in the hospital already due to his explosion quirk, and he’d fallen asleep in class multiple times. Shinsou would sneak him granola bars occasionally, but other than that, he was usually too rushed to eat breakfast, and the combination of all that strain had him feeling exhausted and grumpy all the time.

After two months of training, Mitsuki decided to let him go to school without his quirk suppressors, and he revels in the freedom. He wore shades to hide the constant glow of his eyes per her request, though he decided it was a small price to pay to get rid of those shitty cuffs.

She didn’t say it, but he could tell Mom was proud of him.

---

He’s seven and three months now, sneaking downstairs to get some water. It’s a restless night, filled with tossing and turning and a persistent inability to stay awake.

He doesn't suspect a thing going down the creaky steps, quiet only for his mother's sake. The house is cold, the rain pattering outside and beating down on the roof, and the air feels ominous like something is waiting, stalling for him.

He hears him before he sees him.

“--rigori, how is the league?”

It's said quietly, calculatingly. No warmth, no smile.

Who the fuck is in their kitchen?

A pause that seems to stretch for hours, then a sigh.

“No, he's still too young. We're not going to get anything useful out of him in a while.”

He peeks into the kitchen, then freezes. His father is leaning on the counter, a burner phone pressed to his ear. Relaxed shoulders, slight smirk, narrowed eyes. The man in the kitchen isn't his father.

“When he's older, perhaps.”

Holding his breath, he activates his analysis quirk.

“You know how he is. Vengeful about the death of his master to the point of irrationality,” he says, bored. “All Might is a fool for thinking I'll hand myself over peacefully.”

All Might, the Symbol of Peace. Gripping the wall, he observes the tone of his supposed father. Layered frustration, bitterness, animosity.

Things start clicking in place. The long absences, their constant steady income, the move. The niceties, the manipulation, the obsession with Katsuki's quirk, the lies.

He knows before his father says it.

"I must be going,” he says.

"Villainy doesn't sleep, after all.”

---

Nothing is ever the same after that.

He avoids his father like the plague, he shys away from the man's affection, he doesn't talk to him. Mitsuki snaps at him, yells and screams and drags Katsuki to him, trying to get him to make amends, but he refuses.

He laughs. He cries. Mitsuki has always told him to hate heroes, and he hates that now he knows why.

He waits at night for his father to come take him away. Waits for the villain living in his home to strike.

He never does.

Does his mother know? He finds he doesn't want to know the answer.

Things are never the same after that.

Chapter Text

The house is quiet now. 

He tiptoes around the hallways, watches the corners and listens for footsteps every night. There's a stillness that he can't avoid, and he gives into it eventually, let's it hold him in it's choking fists.

Masaru is suspicious. Mitsuki is scared.

Katsuki is scared too.

He's waiting, now. Waiting, watching, dreading.

(Katsuki is scared too. He's also angry. )

---

“Katsuki, son, can you come here for a moment?”

Katsuki grits his teeth and doesn’t respond.

It’s been a long two weeks, is the first thought that enters his mind. Avoiding his father had been a lot more difficult than he had originally thought and the strain shows in his obvious hesitation. It’s been a battle of wills and Katsuki’s losing.

Masaru has been relentlessly trying to win back his favor. There’s been an assortment of gifts finding themselves placed at the corner of his desk and on top of his bed over the long two weeks they’ve been fruitlessly enduring. Mitsuki’s been making her nervousness known subtly, silently digging her fingernails into his arm every time one of Masaru’s questions have gone unanswered during dinner.

His poor mother looks more and more terrified every day.

“Katsuki, please.” Masaru coos.

He doesn’t want to answer, but when has it ever been about him? 

“What do you want, old man?” he breathes. There’s silence for a moment, and he relishes every second.

Masaru is still when Katsuki turns to him, like a glass statue. His breaths are almost invisible, like the pull of the wind, and his eyes are like two blunt stones, cold and hard contrasting with the slight smile turning his lips up at the corner.

“Come here, son. Sit next to me, I have to talk to you.”

Sitting next to the man sounds repulsing, is what he immediately thinks, and if he had a choice Katsuki would stand up and leave to the safety to his room, just to be a nuisance. But there’s something dangerous is Masaru’s eyes today, something creeping at the tips of the man's fingers. Mitsuki’s out on a photoshoot and Katsuki can’t afford to test the man’s patience.

Silently and with the caution of a fox he makes his way over to the seat next to Masaru, on the old, ragged couch. The battered piece of furniture tickles the back of his mind, reminiscent of a memory with this exact setup that is continuously fading every day, and Katsuki can’t shake the feeling that something is very, very wrong here.

“Katsuki, what do you think of me?” his dad asks slyly, the mask shadowed over his face bending slightly. It’s a trick question, and the tickle has turned into a strange feeling of deja vu, seeping into his bones slowly and chillingly.

The question itself would be a loaded one, just like the daily question of whether Mitsuki loves him or not. Masaru is looking for an answer he can’t honestly give.

“I think you lie a lot,” he responds. There's no correct answer, and he guesses it’s better than outright stating his hate for the man.

Masaru tilts his head with a strange glint in his eye, and his smirk turns into a grin.

“Why are you avoiding me Katsuki?”

The million-dollar question. He decides not to answer.

A hand is suddenly brushing through his blond hair in soft strokes. His father is looking at him with what is supposed to be a soft look but the wrinkles don’t align right, there's a tenseness in his shoulders and Katsuki wants nothing more than to run away. 

“I hate you.” he spits. He can’t stop the way it bubbles up and burns his throat, like acid. He can’t stop the statement from escaping and he knows he can’t take it back. Not anymore.

Masaru stills.

The grin is gone now, blank paper in its place. The hand in his hair is no longer comforting, not that it ever was.

“...huh.”

A chuckle. Masaru is laughing now, and the illusion of innocence is gone.

“And here I thought I was being subtle.” he murmurs. There's a distant look in his eye that is starting to unsettle the seven-year-old.

“What do you know?”

---

Quiet , his mind screeches. The sound of nails on a chalkboard scrapes his ears.

Shinsou twitches next to him, adrenaline pumping both their veins. They look at each other without moving anything but their eyes.

"C'mon, babes, I came all this way and you won't even show your faces? I'm hurt!"

The woman behind them sneers the words, teasingly dangerous. Mrs. Mae bites down a whimper, he can see her hiding behind the boxes in the corner of the room.

He recognized the villain as soon as he saw her. Echo, debut killed over a hundred civilians. Quirk was copying faces, but it didn't make her any less threatening.

"Come out, babes!"

She also liked to use the word "babes" a lot. Katsuki was definitely judging.

There's a crash against the door after what feels like forever. Black Widow enters the classroom with the loud crushing of wood echoing behind her, and her mask gleams in the sparse glow of the classroom lights, damaged by Echo's rampage. The rest of the class is hiding in the closet, and a kid had barricaded the door.

"Echo," she fumes from under her mask. There's a robotic tone to it, an obvious voice modifier.

The woman just laughs and lunges. 

In the end, the pro's win. The duo take Echo down, and as he looks at them holding her down and handing her over to the police, he's overcome by a strange urge to thank them.

He doesn't.

Shinsou does, though, getting a heroes autograph. His name is Eraserhead, he learns. The man had jumped in through the window and had dealt the last blow.

He ignores the growing light behind Shinsou's eyes and focuses on waiting for his mother.

---

"Brat!"  He hears behind him.

He's been sitting on the couch for hours, silent and shaking. There's tremors wrecking his body and mind. His father really hadn't held back with his threats, had he?

Mitsuki's standing in the doorway, concerned. Her eyes roam over his face, but Katsuki doesn't bother calling her out on it. She's carrying her purse in her hands. Hers are incredibly thin, fragile, delicate. It's rare, but there are no bruises on her arms or face today.

She tries to scoop him up and hold him to her chest.

He refuses.

---

"Where's your lunch?"

Shinsou doesn't move, just lies on the concrete and keeps his eyelids closed.

"Didn't have time to pack it." He says after a long ass pause.

Katsuki snorts. As if.

There's cynicism cementing itself in his stomach, but it won't stop his heart. He hands his half full bento to Shinsou and flicks him in the forehead.

He ignores the tired smile that creeps onto Shinsou's face. There's no prying, no demanding for answers because Katsuki knows what it's like to keep secrets. Shinsou's a little bitch, but he'll tell Katsuki the reason why when he's ready.

"Are we friends?" Shinsou says suddenly.

It's something to consider, but he decides that they fit the definition just fine. They're strange ones, though. Katsuki was pretty sure normal friends didn't call each other "Braindead" and "Explodofuck".

Shinsou was good, though. Katsuki knew he himself wasn't. Not enough for Shinsou's shitty friendship, anyway.

"Yeah, I guess." He finally says. Shinsou doesn't respond for a bit, and when Katsuki looks over to him, he's messing with his hair, thinking.

"Call me Hitoshi."

Katsuki startles, blinking in surprise once his muscles have untensed. The statement, in Katsuki's opinion, had come out of nowhere, and the sheer sincerity hidden underneath Shinsou's signature dry tone was surprising.

"... You sure?"

Shinsou grins, the first real smile he's ever seen on his face.

"I trust you, Bakugou. We've got each others back, right?"

Numbly, but also with a sort of giddiness, Katsuki nods. He lets himself admit it to himself, I never thought we'd make it this far.

It feels nice.

He takes shinsou in, then takes the rest of the world in, with Fukushima and Mitsuki and Masaru and the dread he always feels at the end of the school day, about to begin his walk home, and let's himself soak in it. Shinsou was good, Katsuki was sure of it. Shinsou was good and kind and honest and Katsuki didn't deserve his valuable friendship and time.

Shinsou was more than a friend. He was a brother.

"Call me Katsuki."

Shinsou smiles.

---

There was a time Katsuki honestly loved his father.

Masaru has been perfect. He'd lavished him with gifts, attention, love. There were new toys to play with every week and almost daily outings, just Masaru and him.

A part of Katsuki longs to go back to that time, full of innocent ignorance. The other part of him hates himself for it.

Walking into his house has become a death sentence for him. He turns the doorknob slowly, lets go quietly and steps inside the house.

He's greeted by his mother drinking tea.

Mitsuki looks up when he closes the door, putting her teacup down and gesturing to the seat next to her.

Katsuki rolls his eyes. He complies, though, too tired for his usual antics. Putting his bookbag down next to his chair, he plops down on the seat, relaxing his shoulders. Mistuki purses her lips but doesn't comment, going back to her tea.

"Where's the old man?"

She twitches, then sighs.

"Business trip. Won't be back for at least two weeks."

He nods, biting down his sigh of relief. Having the old man out of the house was always a good thing for them. He refused to think about how bad it was for everyone else.

"Your being a little shit, Katsuki."

The harshness in her tone startles him.

"Your father is far from a good role model, but he provides for you. Be fucking grateful and quit it with the attitude."

Mitsuki's words are fire, but her eyes are cold. 

He bites his tongue. There's retort after retort sprouting up to his lips, but he buries them, drowns them, kills them.

"Okay." He says. 

Mitsuki looks at him, then nods, sitting silently for a few more minutes. She looks contemplative, thinking quietly and calculatively. Katsuki sits silently, waiting for her to speak.

Her eyes start to drown.

"I don't know what he told you," she finally spits. The coldness of her eyes is fighting against a rage in her chest, he knows, and her voice wobbles as she pushes her words out. "I don't know what he fucking told you, but you have to keep your mouth shut."

Her voice cracks at the last syllable, and she doesn't make eye contact. Her hands curl into fists and her posture trembles.

She's trapped. He's trapped. 

They're both trapped.

"Okay." He says, nonchalant and casual. He has no right to be angry at his mother, but his anger has always been insatiable, never quelled or calmed. He bites his tongue and keeps his mouth shut.

She nods. She stands. She leaves.

She takes his soul with her. 

Chapter Text

Katsuki didn't hate All Might.

He'd seen a few interviews, of course. They were played on TV all the time, and he'd taken to watching them when his dad wasn't home to pass the time. Mitsuki never said anything about it, and Masaru never found out, so he'd sit and listen when he'd finished his homework and studying for the day. They provided a light of sorts to the shit show that was his life. 

He knew it was contradictory to his heritage. His old man loathed All Might and everything the hero stood for, but Katsuki had rejected his blood a long time ago. So no, Katsuki didn't hate All Might.

All Might was strange, however.

All Might loved to smile, for one, and while that alone wasn't that big of a deal on its own, it was the way he smiled and how long.

They were always wide, all teeth and no lip. His eyes didn't crease right, and the way he angled his head always left dark shadows on his face. His eye color was never definable in that state, and he was always in that state.

His answers were strange too. They were always so fucking wholesome that they infuriated him. It was always "believe in yourself" or "try your best and you'll succeed" and shit like that. They were annoying as hell.

That wasn't always true, however. 

Sometimes, his smile slipped and became more genuine.

The first time it had, it had been because of a specific question. He'd been asked what he'd thought about quirks, and as soon as it had been asked, Katsuki prepared himself for the sunshine bullshit that was probably coming. Instead, All Might softened. His smile fell slightly, but his eyes folded in a strangely sentimental way, and he answered in a cheery but slightly more enthusiastic tone that before. 

"A quirk is always one's own," he'd said. No matter how similar to one's parents, a quirk will always depend on how you use it! There is no such thing as a villainous quirk!"

And that hit Katsuki hard, in a way. He didn't know why (one day, but not yet) , but it warmed something in his chest and gave him a mild, bright sort of glow. It was a strange emotion he had never felt before.

It was nice.

The second time it happened was regarding a controversial topic.

He'd been asked about his thoughts regarding quirkless people. The reporter had asked it with a snottish tone, obviously biased towards the topic and expecting All Might to shit on quirkless people with her.

He didn't.

Instead, his eyes hardened and his smile tensed. The two locks of hair holding themselves upon his head curled down a bit and his shoulders squared up threateningly, visibly startling the reporter.

He'd said "Quirkless or not, those are still real people, and they should not be treated poorly for their lack of power. They should be treated with respect."

Mitsuki has snorted from her place in the kitchen as Katsuki gawked, not seeing how threatening All Might could look until then.

He'd seen the real All Might in those moments. Not the smiley fuck that he pretended to be. He began to respect him, in a way.

It wasn't often that he spoke up on what he truly believed in, though, and that bothered him. Why didn't he say what he really thought? Why was the man always so secretive? He stopped wondering after a while. Katsuki had his secrets and so did All Might. 

That respect never really went away, though. He still tuned in to watch his battles whenever he could, and he silently cheered when he won. It lost its’ value for others over time, but Katsuki always smiled when the man came out victorious in the end. 

He never forgot that first interview though. Katsuki's quirk bothered him, and while he didn't use it outside of the house, there was always a rush of adrenaline whenever he activated it as if he was doing something bad. Mitsuki never minded it, only when he used it outside of the confines of their home (she even asked him to use it to help her with moving furniture or breaking down complicated government documents for her sometimes), but it grated on Katsuki. He felt like using other people's quirks was wrong.

So that first interview stayed with him.  All Might's sincerity ate at him, and his answer stayed in his thoughts, easing his chest. 

(It would keep him sane when the years blurred together and carved him out. They would keep him alive.)

For now, he pushed them back in his mind and focused on counting steps and silencing tears.

---

Masaru, contrary to his past business trips, doesn't come back until two months later.

In those months, Katsuki watches as his mother slowly rips her hair out as she stresses for his return. She curses at him more, her cooking is extra spicy, and she almost burned down the house after leaving a candle next to the window curtains, something she's always cautious about. He tries to make it easier for her by taking up some chores around the house, picking up a few things in the process. He learns how to use the stove and starts cooking dinner for them too. She doesn't notice, but then again Katsuki hadn't expected her to. 

Masaru returns eventually, though. He comes back Tuesday at midnight, closes the door behind him and walks silently to his office, spending the night on his shitty couch. The sound wakes him up and Katsuki stays awake the rest of the night, knowing exactly who it was.

He greets him when he walks into the kitchen the next morning. Katsuki snarls but keeps his mouth shut. Their talk, while having had taken place two months ago, is still fresh on his mind.

"How was school while I was gone?" Masaru asks, trying to make conversation.

Katsuki rolls his eyes but says nothing. His chest begins to constrict. There's something pressing down on his ribs and if he doesn't lift it it's going to crush him.

"Fine." He says. Mitsuki startles from her place in the kitchen. Her eyes turn to him and widen, but she says nothing, lips staying stubbornly closed.

"Really? That's great! Make any friends?" Masaru says gleefully, eyes glinting. His hands are sitting on his lap; he's sat on the dinner table with a newspaper in front of him. Katsuki wants him to stop talking to him and go away.

"No." He holds back a wheeze. The pressure on his chest is increasing and he resists the urge to claw it open.

"I'm sure you could if you tried. You're a very eccentric kid, Katsuki."

He nods. Mitsuki hasn't moved from her place, staring at him and Masaru and holding her hand over her heart. She had her fingers curled over it like she's going to claw it out too.

"Now, how about you tell me about--"

"Masaru." 

The pressure is gone. Mitsuki is looking at his father with savage eyes, the hand on her chest now curled into a fist.

Masaru looks at her as soon as the last syllable leaves her mouth. Katsuki looks at her from his place on the floor and wills her to be quiet.

"Your breakfast is ready." It's pointed, eyes sinking back to their sullen mode. Masaru stares for a bit, analyzing. Something dangerous enters his posture, something he doesn't bother trying to hide.

"Yes. Of course."

He turns his head to look back at Katsuki. 

There's no glee in his expression anymore.

"Where did you go?" Katsuki asks as if he's not on the kitchen floor gasping for breath.

Masaru smiles. If he looks closely, the tissue behind his ears becomes paler. Like a scar-- a burn.

"Nowhere." He says. He turns to the paper in front of him and begins to read, and Mitsuki turns back to the stove. 

Katsuki inhales, then sits down next to his dad.

(The next day, there's a news report saying All Might was spotted hours before Masaru came home at Kamino, allegedly investigating suspicious activity.

Katsuki ignores it.)

The next day Mitsuki has a new scar on her right palm.

It's jagged, crooked. Katsuki wants to ask, but he doesn't. 

He never forgets, though. The first time she ever stood up for him, the first time she looked at Masaru with angry eyes.

(It was the first time, but it wouldn't be the last.)

---

"Can we go to your house?"

Katsuki freezes. He turns to look at Hitoshi slowly, confused and ready to deny his request.

The purple-haired boy rolls his eyes. Stealing a piece of pork from Katsuki's bento, he stares him down with his violet eyes, daring him to say no.

"You can't come to my house," Katsuki says with a frown.

"We can't go to mine," Hitoshi retorts. "Mom has a meeting with her friends today and she doesn't care if I get this project done or not."

Katsuki grimaces. He knew Hitoshi had begun taking his studies seriously in the past few weeks. He'd be pissed if he failed his assignment.

He can't take Hitoshi home, though. Not when Masaru could see him.

"I'll ask my mom." He says, fully expecting her to say no. Hitoshi nods then snatches Katsuki's bento and scoops the rest of the food into his mouth. Katsuki grimaces, disgusted, but all Hitoshi does is grin smugly.

"Close your fucking mouth, asshole."

He doesn't. He lasts five minutes before ending up in the nurse's office and Katsuki congratulates him for passing the three-minute mark.

---

Mitsuki says yes.

Mitsuki says yes.

He wants to claw his eyes out, but she justifies it by saying she would make sure Masaru was busy and she'd be there to supervise them, which didn't soften the fucking blow, but whatever.

Hitoshi follows him home with a shitty smugness all throughout their walk, and Katsuki barely stops himself from sending him to the ER reminding himself what a hassle it would be to pay for the assholes medical bills.

Mitsuki's waiting by the door when they arrive, the smell of food wafting from the stove. Hitoshi stops in front of her and holds out his hand respectfully.

"It's nice to meet you, ma'am." He says, sounding nervous. Mitsuki raises an eyebrow, then sighs and shakes his hand, looking at the both of them curiously.

"Are you the friend Katsuki wanted to bring over?"

Katsuki glowers, but nods. Hitoshi blinks innocently at him.

"Come in. Dinner is almost ready, you gonna stay until then?" She starts walking back to the stove. Hitoshi just blinks, obviously startled. He starts making a gesture to deny the offer, but Katsuki shuts that shit down real quick.

"Yeah, he's fucking staying."

He grabs Hitsoshi's arm and guides him to the dinner table. It's strange seeing him sitting in Masaru's place, looking so insecure and sinking down in his chair. 

"Let's get this shitty project started."

---

They're halfway done by the time Mitsuki finishes dinner. She adds an extra portion to Hitoshi's plate and shoots him a look. 

"What's your name?" Mitsuki asks Hitoshi. 

"Shinsou Hitoshi, Ma'am," Hitoshi tells her. Mitsuki nods again. She sits down in the last seat available and sets down her own plate to eat.

"How did you and Katsuki meet?"

They establish a conversation. Ew.

They talk for a long while, trading responses, back and forth. They ask him questions too, sometimes, and he responds like always; disgruntled and harsh. Mitsuki tells Hitoshi to ignore his brashness, and he nods a yes, saying he was used to it.

He finally leaves after finishing the last of his homework, both blondes waving from the door. 

"He seems like a good kid," Mitsuki says once they're back inside. "Nothing like your bratty ass."

"Fuck off." He responds. 

Masaru arrives an hour after, but Katsuki doesn't let that bring him down. Mitsuki approved of his friends and that was all that mattered.

---

"Hey 'Suki, what's your quirk?"

Katsuki rolls his eyes at Hitoshi's lack of tact. The boy ignores him, keeping his eyes closed and arms stretched on either side of him. The sun was hidden by a batch of clouds today, and they were both hoping for some rain. 

"Fuck off."

The purple-haired boy sighs. He doesn't move, but he does open his eyes, blinking up at the sky. A ray of sunlight peeks out from under grey clouds, but it's quickly swallowed by another one. He blinks up at it slowly, and Katsuki looks up to try to see what was so interesting. There was nothing.

"I thought we were friends?"

It's not defensive, it's a question. A prod. It's Hitoshi saying "you don't have to if you don't want to."

Katsuki does want to. Out of everyone, Hitoshi's probably the only one who would understand. But Katsuki's quirk is complicated and dangerous . It makes him feel angry when he uses it. It makes him feel ashamed.

Hitoshi doesn't look at him and keeps his eyes on the sky. His mouth is curled upwards, but he isn't smiling.

"Clone," Katsuki says. "I'm going to call it Clone."

He clones people's quirks. It's not temporary. Some can change.

Hitoshi stays silent. Katsuki continues.

"I can clone anyone's quirk as long as I have a DNA sample, but some can change. They mutate. I don't know why."

Hitoshi glances at him now, but he stays lying on the concrete, facing the sky.

"I have to eat the DNA. I have Push and Pull, Analysis, and Nitroglycerin."

Three quirks. Just three. They sit under his ribcage and he feels them thrum, waiting patiently to be used. They don't thrash, they don't demand freedom. They're all kind to him.

Hitoshi sits up, eyes looking at Katsuki's face. He doesn't seem disgusted, there's no outrage or terror. There's just calm.

"That sounds pretty cool, 'Suki."

He says it empathetically. His eye bags are less prominent when he smiles.

It's not, he wants to say. I don't know why but it's not.

Hitoshi already knows that, though. He sits on the front of the school doors hoping for rain and smiling at him. Katsuki nods.

"It's okay." The blonde forces out.

Then Hitoshi leans back, dropping back down on the concrete, and says "I'm gonna be a hero."

Katsuki jolts, then relaxes. It becomes obvious, now, why Hitoshi had become obsessed with his studies. The blond cracks a smile.

"Okay."

Hitoshi snorts.

"Wanna be one with me?"

Katsuki looks at him, holding back hollow laughter.

"Nah."

He turns toward the sky and that's that.

---

Hitoshi asks him a lot of questions about his quirk moving forwards. Katsuki stops being annoyed by them once he realizes he doesn't have the answers in the first place.

"You said it's permanent right? Do you know why they mutate?"

"I don't know."

"Can you use them all at the same time?"

"Haven't tried."

"Why?"

Katsuki stops the process of gulping down his bento to look at him.

"The only way for me to learn stuff about this fucking quirk is to clone more quirks. I don't think anyone would be thrilled to know I can keep a copy of a part of them with me forever."

Hitoshi nods.

"Then clone my quirk."

Katsuki can't stop himself from spitting out a double-take. Hitoshi has that smug expression again, but this time Katsuki doesn't bother being mad about it. There's clearly something else to focus on here.

"What the fuck!?"

"It'll help you figure out why they just mutate, right?"

"I'm not using you to test out my quirk!" This hero stuff must be getting to his head because holy shit.

"'Suki, my quirk is passive. It won't cause you any issues."

He reminds himself that they're only eight. He can't honestly see any kid over eight offering him their quirk.

"No."

---

Hitoshi still hasn't fucking let it go yet.

He pokes and prods, keeping his voice as monotone as ever. It's been a fucking whole ass week and Hitoshi is still whining about it. 

He'd told Mitsuki about the situation. She was startled when she learned he'd willingly told someone about his quirk, but she'd started laughing when he told her what Hitoshi had offered. 

"Then clone it. It'll help, won't it?"

And okay, it really would. Katsuki hadn't realized he had been ignoring his quirk until he tried to tell someone how it worked. He knew the basics, but regular people didn't just know the basics. They knew reaction times, limits, duration times, etc. Katsuki had only trained his quirks enough to be able to get those quirk suppressors off his wrists.

Mitsuki tries to ruffle his hair as he thinks, but he inches back at the last second. Her brow furrows. She says nothing.

"Kid, you need to figure your quirk out. It's part of you."

She tries to quirk a smile, but it falls flat as usual. Still, for a moment he can almost pretend they're normal. Like they don't live in this hellhole every day.

He nods.

The next day, Hitoshi pesters him again and he snaps.

"Fine!" He screams. He grabs Hitoshi's soda and gulps some of it down angrily.

"There! Are you fucking happy?"

Hitoshi just looks at him for a moment, a startled smile forming on his face.

"Is that really how it works?"

Katsuki puts his head in his hands and groans.

Chapter Text

It's obvious the quirk is passive when he tries to activate it for the first time. Katsuki has become more attuned to his quirks as time has passed, so he feels it as soon as it slots itself under his rib cage along with the other three.

They were expecting it to be passive, but they weren't expecting it to be so weak.

"Try again."

Hitoshi's been his guinea pig for the last two hours or so. They'd gone to a nearby park as soon as school had ended, claiming a secluded spot and trying Katsuki's new quirk out. 

"Hitoshi, it's not Brainwash. It doesn't have the same rules as Brainwash because it's not fucking Brainwash ."

The purple-haired boy sighs, looking exhausted, as per usual.

"What is it then?" He asks, frustrated. His tone is starting to slip into an angry one.

He doesn't judge. Hitoshi has been here for hours trying to help him figure this out, but progress wasn't really being made.

Katsuki feels for the quirk again as it hums. It feels gloomy, like Hitoshi, but also numb, like static. It brightens and dims randomly, but in its core, it's dark.

"...Static." He says absentmindedly. The quirk becomes disfigured for a second, then snaps back in place, like a warbly "yeah". 

"What?"

"Static. It feels like static."

Hitoshi blinks, scowl frozen on his face. 

"So like Brainwash?"

"No. It feels like static."

Hitoshi groans. 

Katsuki feels for the quirk again, getting a feel for it, but the connection is shabby at best. All he knows is that it's static, and very blurry, alternating between good and bad feelings. It can be good or bad, it seems to say.

So he turns to Hitoshi. Quietly, calculatingly, he says--

"Static!"

Hitoshi's eyes glaze over. His scowl falls and he lets his arms fall to his eyes, and his facial expression becomes lost.

"Are you okay?" Katsuki asks tentatively. He knows he can't Brainwash people, so Hitoshi must still have some awareness.

"Feel… buzz…"

"Eat your own foot."

Hitoshi fumbles for his foot, but stops after a second, looking confused. He blinks, still holding his leg, but doesn't put it up to his mouth.

"Huh," says Katsuki. He tightens his hold on the quirk for a second, then lets it go. It slides back under his ribcage.

Hitoshi startles, eyes back to normal. He lets go of his foot.

"What the hell just happened?" He asks, puzzled.

"It's mutated." He says like it's not fucking obvious. Hitoshi frowns darkly.

"It's not Brainwash." He says after a moment.

They both think for a second.

"I'm gonna name it Static," Katsuki says finally. Hitoshi nods.

"Why did it mutate, though?"

It's what Katsuki's also wondering. There has to be some connection. Or is it really that random?

The sky is still bright, but Katsuki can tell it's already getting late. He should start getting home soon if he doesn't want issues with his dad.

"We should go." He voices. Hitoshi nods.

"We'll figure it out." The purple-haired boy says. 

They stand and go their separate ways.

---

School, in the time that he's been there, hasn't changed really. At least, that's what he thinks at first.

Eventually, he realizes that's not true. Katsuki watches as his teacher slowly begins to deteriorate.

Mrs. Mae has been more quiet than usual lately. She's a silent woman, calm by nature, but there have been moments…

Katsuki hates it, but he's starting to get worried.

Mrs. Mae was a complicated subject for Katsuki. She was a coward, and she was annoying as fuck, but she did try her best when it came to teaching. She lit up whenever someone asked a question about her lecture, and she was always very gentle, not at all confrontational, and sometimes a breath of very much needed fresh air.

But now, it's as if she's too anxious to do anything. Question about class? She cowers. Beaker of water about to fall on her head? She screams. Ask her for absolutely anything and she acts like you just slapped her on the face.

The class was taking full advantage of this. Quirks were being used left and right, and Discount Kirby had begun rallying the class against her in some sick twisted form of strike.

He comes up to her one day after school. Hitoshi has to leave early, and Katsuki says he has a few questions about the previous day's homework.

He walks back to the classroom. Mae is sitting silently at her desk, scribbling away in her little notebook and biting her lip hard enough to draw blood. Her hair is in its usual disarray, but her clothes have more ruffles than usual. She tried to be professional, at least.

She looks up when he enters, eyes scattered.

"I have a question about the homework." He says. She flinches at the sound, but it melts off her face quickly.

"R-right. Yes. Um, w-what's wrong?"

Her pen has been placed down on the corner of her desk. He watches it roll to the edge, stopping right before the drop. He looks at Mrs. Mae. Really looks at her, at the way she cowers and scares so blatantly and openly.

"They're never going to take you seriously if you don't get your shit together." He says, throwing his excuses down the drain while he's at it.

The woman tenses. Seconds tick by, and Katsuki doesn't change his expression, keeping it stony and blank while she stares. She fiddles with her nails nervously, and he notes the shortness of them as she tries to peel the top of one off.

Finally, she droops. Her hair blankets her face.

"I know." She whispers.

He waits. She doesn't move. She sits silently, hands now placed on her lap.

"Get your shit together. I'm not dealing with you having a mental breakdown during class." He states harshly.

She doesn't move. He compares this woman to his mother, to the way misery follows her around like a fucking shadow. It clouds Mae, but her struggle is gone. There's no life in her anymore.

He compares her to himself. To the silence that follows him around. Katsuki has a fire, however. Katsuki has a fire that only needs oxygen to survive. As long as he's alive, he'll fight.

There's no fire in Mae. There's no spark or sign of life at all.

"Hey."

She hesitates. Her shoulders fall for a second, but in the end, she looks up.

His turn to hesitate. He counts to three and steels himself.

"Get out." He says, not unkindly, but not kindly, either. "Before the door disappears, get the fuck out." She knows what he means, he knows she does.

She looks at him, something strange clouding her gaze, but then she looks away. It's good enough, he thinks. He watches her shudder and heave before turning, ignores the sniffle that begins to leave her nose.

He turns around, and he leaves. 

The next day he gets a perfect score on his homework when they grade it in class. Mae doesn't flinch when Katsuki asks a question about the current mathematical concept they're going over.

 It's not a good thing, though. He can feel it; it's not a good thing at all.

---

His ninth birthday is coming up. 

Mitsuki hasn't made a fuss about it, which is how he knows she's planning something. She goes radio silent when she has something prepared, especially if it's a surprise. 

Hitoshi promises to get him a gift. Katsuki appreciates the sentiment, but he doesn't have high hopes. The purple-haired boy hasn't brought lunch in ages and he looks thinner and thinner every day. The bags under his eyes are drooping now, full-on sacks of skin, and Katsuki tries to ask his mom to pack more food for lunch to share with Hitoshi.

There's a show on All Might tonight, though.

It's the day before his birthday, and he wants to watch that goddamn show more than anything. He doesn't know if Masaru will be home today, though, so he bites the urge down and enters his house like always. When he enters, it's quiet.

He doesn't let his guard down. Having a villain living in the house with you will do that to you.

The kitchen is empty. He checks the laundry room, but his mom isn't there. There's no movement in his father's office, and his parent's bedroom is empty.

"What the hell…" he mutters. The silence shrouding the house us stifling.

The front door flies open.

Katsuki turns and sees his mother storm into the house like the devil is at her heels, carrying a heavy load of groceries. Her face is calmer than usual, stress lines faded from her face, and she sets the groceries down on the dinner table with a loud thump .

"Hag." He greets. She startles.

Mitsuki turns to him, surprised. She sets her purse down as she stares at him.

"Brat. You're home early."

He scoffs. All she does is roll her eyes at his immaturity, turning back to the groceries and beginning to pick out some ingredients from the bags.

"Where's the old man?"

He gets the regular tense shoulders in response like always, but this time Mitsuki gives him a straight answer.

"Staying at work for a few days," she says. "Said he was sorry he couldn't make your birthday."

He grimaces but says nothing. The lie is obvious, such that he doesn't have to point it out, but Mitsuki doesn't seem all too focused on it anyway. She's hiding a smirk under her hand instead.

"Heard they're doing a special edition All Might show tonight. You should tune in." She says, slightly teasing. Her eyes crinkle slightly, and her body language is relaxed. It's a strange sight after all this time.

The spiky-haired boy tries to hide the way his body animates, but Mitsuki's laugh tells him he's failed. Silently, he sits down in front of the TV and turns it on.

There are reruns of old fights All Might has had playing as filler. He watches All Might take on Toxic Chainsaw as Mitsuki turns on the stove and begins making dinner for the both of them.

"Brat, I'm making some curry! How much spice do you want?" She calls from the kitchen thirty minutes in. Katsuki rolls his eyes again while keeping them glued to the screen.

"As much as you can put in it, fucking obviously, Hag!"

She yells at him to have some manners, but all he responds with is a middle finger and a "Fuck off!". She wacks him with a spoon, but gets back to her cooking soon enough, and Katsuki watches All Might destroy Toxic Chainsaw with one last punch to the gut. He cheers silently, and the guy is carted away while the crowd of victims cheers.

Dinners done after two hours, and the TV stays on through dinner. They eat curry, layering on the ghost pepper category, which means Mitsuki's not stressed as much as she usually is, (there was no name for stressed-out curry. It was spicy and scorched his tongue, and Mitsuki only made it when she was pulling out her hair in stress) and finally the show comes on. He finishes his food, washes his plate quickly and then rushes to the couch.

The episode is another interview of sorts, but it's definitely worth the wait. All Might explains some of his signature moves to the camera and shows off his quirk, but it's the rest of the episode where he really shines. He lets his personality slip more in this episode, and Katsuki gobbles it up like he's a kid at a candy store.

Mitsuki makes a teapot of tea and sits down next to him when the show is almost over. She sips from her cup quietly as he watches, observing him. Katsuki pretends not to notice, and sometimes he manages to forget about it, too enraptured in the living legend that is the symbol of peace.

Then she says "Brat, do you want to be a hero?" And he screeches to a halt.

He stops. He freezes. He looks back at her like she's grown a second head.

Her face is worn, a fear simmering in her eyes, and this time it's not of his father. He glances at the jagged scar curling around the back of her hand, with its crooked single tendril.

"I- I don't think so?"

She smiles, but it's not a happy one. It's a smile that mirrors his own, coarse and awry, and it's genuine despite its imperfections.

It's as if she knows something he doesn't.

Mitsuki turns to the TV, a sigh rattling her bones. She looks at All Might as he answers another question from the interviewer, then looks back at him, calculating. This time there's dread on her face. It pollutes her expression.

"Mom?" He questions. She looks closely at his face.

"You're not bad, Katsuki." She finally says. 

He freezes again, but after a second, she continues.

"Your dad ain't fond of heroes. He hates them. Maybe you know why maybe you don't,"

A distant expression settles into her face.

"But you're not a villain, Katsuki. You're… a good kid. And if you ever want to do something else, if you ever want to get out of here…"

She smiles. It's a sad one, and it breaks apart halfway through.

"I won't stop you, okay, kid?"

He stares. Mitsuki just looks into her teacup silently.

He nods. He nods, because he doesn't understand yet, but he does at the same time, and he knows it's important. 

Mitsuki sighs. Her eyes unravel themselves, and the wrinkles on her skin disappear.

"Okay," he says. She nods back, then turns back to the TV. Her hands cradle the teacup in them gently. He looks at her for a second, then he turns away.

How generous of her to pretend that she cares about him, he silently thinks, because the whole of him can't help but imagine what she could have been if she hadn't had him.

---

Mae is completely silent today.

Hitoshi sends Katsuki a worried look after a while, gesturing towards the mute teacher. The class has erupted in chaos multiple times, yet Mae has done nothing to try and stop it.

It's been all filler work today day. There hasn't been any teaching done by her, just silence. The day trots by, and she doesn't utter a single peep.

"She's been like that for the whole day," says Hitoshi during lunch. "It's like she's completely given up."

The boy had given him a keychain with an explosion emoji hanging from it for his birthday, the chain shorter than a dog's hair. The gift had been a surprise but much appreciated, yet it didn't manage to distract them from the obvious elephant in the room.

"Something's up," Katsuki had said. There was something coming, and he was the only one that could feel it in the air as it seeped into his brain. It was starting to drive him insane.

They'd gone back inside after lunch, about to resume lessons, when a crash shakes the building.

"Duck!" Hitoshi yells, crouching down on the floor. The class all follows, students sliding under tables as another crash shakes the walls. Mae lets out a silent whimper from her spot and hides under her podium.

"What the fuck--"

"Shut up, asshole!" The kid behind him whispers. He turns and glares, but stays quiet.

There's a screech from the ceiling, the speaker trying desperately to work. Screaming fills the intercom, and the tumbling of the microphone rings loudly in everyone's ears.

Mae shudders under her podium, tears starting to plip down onto the floor with almost silent splotches. An angry scream sounds from the far side of the building. It stops right in front of his classroom door.

Everything stills for a moment. No one speaks. The screaming stops. For a second, Katsuki can't find it in himself to breathe.

Then the door splinters. A web of fractures spreads from the center, and the door explodes in a flurry of wood chips and some shards from the doorknob.

The man standing in the now empty doorway grins. 

"Well well, look at what I found!"

Everyone is holding their breaths, wide eyes glued to the doorway from their hiding places. Most are already out in the open just from the angle the villain is standing in. They had all been hoping they wouldn't be found.

Luck wasn't on their side today.

The villain looked demented as he stood in the doorway, a crooked smile painting the corners of his disgusting face. He walks in silently, another man guarding the door behind him, presumably an accomplice. The man stops in front of a table and pulls a student out from under it by their shirt, then throws them to the middle of the room.

"Sorry kids, but I need a few hostages, and you guys were too good of an opportunity to pass up." He says gleefully. 

He grabs another kid hiding in the closet. Katsuki has no idea how the kid even got there. The villain rounds them all up slowly and tensely. 

It's strange. He's wasting a lot of time. Wouldn't he want to get this over with as soon as possible to avoid being caught by the heroes?

The man snatches Hitoshi out from the desk next to him. He jerks on instinct, but Hitoshi looks at him and shakes his head no. Katsuki stops silently, gritting his teeth.

He's the second to last one. The villain doesn't spare him a second glance, throwing him with the rest. He grabs the last of his classmates and puts them with the rest.

Then he grins and stops in front of the podium. Silently, he knocks on the desk. His eyes are shining, demented orbs looking down on the wood of the dingy pulpit.

And then, with no other prompting, their teacher slides out from under the piece of furniture. She's crying softly, tears rolling down her face, but she doesn't fight back or run.

And then the villain says--

"--Don't cry, Yori. You know I love you--"

She nods. He puts his hands on her face, cups down to kiss her, and whispers--

"-- it's for your own good, baby."

And as she nods again, heaving another sob, and as the villain kisses her forehead, as she recoils slightly from his touch, Katsuki feels the pieces click into place.

Oh.

---

Mae is lumped in with the rest of them after the villain lets her go.

Her sobs have quieted and she's silent. Both villains guard the door quietly, but one is holding a phone. A third villain had come into the building twenty minutes after the initial attack and was currently talking into a phone with a soft, threatening tone, presumably negotiating with the police for something. Money, probably.

He's ignoring his teacher. It's not that he's angry at her or something, it's just that every time he looks at her it's not her he sees. 

Kids are whispering around him, and he would tell them to shut up, but it's obvious the villains don't care. Hitoshi had crawled up next to him as soon as the villains had looked away from them, too.

Katsuki just can't believe this is happening during his fucking birthday. 

The main villain, the one who had broken the door with presumably his quirk and that was in a relationship (you don't go up to someone and kiss them without some sort of relationship,  okay) with Mae had taken to boarding the windows up. The vents were closed off, too.

Mae lets out a small hiccup, suddenly crying again. Door Breaker snaps around to look at her and she desperately tries to stifle her sob's. Katsuki looks away. 

They had been here for an hour already, he knew. The police had already been informed, the villains were currently making negotiations, and all escape routes were closed. The doorway was being guarded, and even if his classmates could get over themselves and work together for once, they wouldn't be enough to take the man on. They didn't even know what his quirk was and Katsuki was already certain he wouldn't be taken down with just them.

Hitoshi could Brainwash one if them at the most, but his quirk wasn't developed for any more than that. That would leave the rest of them to fight, and that was going to be a problem because they didn't have the manpower to take them down.

So, they were stuck. Great. He hoped the heroes were on their way if nothing else. 

He saw the guy out in the hall turn off his phone and walk away from the classroom. He was probably going to accept their bargaining item. Must have given the police a short ass deadline, if he's getting their stuff now.

"Katsuki, your eyes are glowing."

He jumped. Hitoshi was staring at him when he turned, deadpan as always. His shoulders were tense, though. His eyes had thicker shadows.

Katsuki grumbled quietly, then pulled out some sunglasses from his pocket. He slid them onto his nose, or he would have, but in the next second when he was about to put them on, they were snatched out of his hands.

"What do you think you're doing, kid?"

Shit. It was the door guy.

Mae jerked up when she heard his voice, turning around to face them faster than a fucking owl. Hitoshi tensed even further, shoulders rising from the corner of his vision, but he kept his eyes on the man standing over him.

"I have sensitive eyes, asshole."

Hitoshi elbows him on the side, subtle as fuck . Katsuki holds a wheeze in as he stares up at the villain. He's just now noticed that his eyes are squares instead of circles. They look fucking ridiculous.

"And how do I know if you're telling the truth? For all I know, it could be related to your quirk." He tightens his hold on the sunglasses, grinning dangerously.

And Katsuki stops thinking. He knows he does because the next sentence that comes out of his mouth is not something he would rationally say in this sort of situation, but that stupid grin messes with his head.

Katsuki says, "What if it is?"

The sunglasses shatter in the villains' hands. The man is suddenly reaching for him, Katsuki jerking away from the man's touch. 

"Wait!" Someone screams.

They turn and Mae is standing. She staring. Her hand is outstretched and trying to reach for him. 

The rest of the kids around them shuffle away. As soon as she locks eyes with her partner, Katsuki can tell she realizes her mistake.

"What?" The man growls threateningly. She flinches back, attempting to sit back down. The villain is holding her up by her shirt before she can. 

"What did you say!?" He screams. Mae meeps and whimpers. Her lipstick smudges as she bites her lip.

"I-I'm sorry--"

He throws her so hard the collision between her head and the wall ends with a sickening crack. Her scream cuts off when she hits the drywall.

"You don't talk back to me, bitch! You understand me!?"

She nods dazedly, crying silently. Some students are cringing, others are staring on with horror etched in their faces. Hitoshi's gone pale. Katsuki wants to look away.

"You're nothing! You listen to me!" The villain yells. Mae is full out crying now, sob's wracking her frame and rattling her, fat tears rolling down her face.

Katsuki wants to look away. He can’t.

The villain is still yelling when she lifts her hand in a feeble attempt to soften the man's blows. He’s hitting her, hard punches that leave red welts on her skin. Her hand sparks blue, the little crystals that emerge shining brightly. The villain throws her hand down with a scream of rage, the crystals bleeping out of existence.

“Do you really think your quirk can stop me!? I’ll kill you!”

And suddenly, the villain's hair turns brown and curly, and his eyes turn into chocolate. His face is adorned with a pair of glasses and the smile fits his face perfectly.

And Katsuki doesn't think. And Katsuki doesn't breathe.

His feet move on their own.

He doesn't realize what's happening until the villain is laying face down on the ground, himself standing over him. There's people yelling behind him, and it takes him a moment to realize they're screaming at him, Hitoshi cussing him out loudest of all. A distant part of him recognizes this is the first time he's ever heard Hitoshi curse so much.

And Mae is looking at him like she's never seen him before, and he doesn't know why that makes him want to cry.

"What the fuck--" the villain says angrily, a dazed undertone buzzing under his voice. He tries to get up, but Katsuki slaps his hands down and ignites, two explosions crackling under his palms and scorching the villain.

"What the hell do you think you're doing!?" He hears a student scream behind him. He doesn't have a chance to respond because he's being tackled before he can even turn around to scream at them.

The other villain at the doorway is holding him down, clearly angry. Door Breaker sits up woozily, but he's still conscious enough to furiously glare at him.

He silently wills his class to run.

"What did you do?" The second man asks lowly. Katsuki struggles, trying to get free of his grasp, but the hands pinning him down are too firm.

"Fuck you." He growls. The villain doesn't appreciate it, he can tell, because the next thing he knows his head almost snaps off his neck from the force of the man's blow to his cheek.

The first guy stands up, stomping over to him.

"Let him go." He says. There are scorch marks on his side, singe marks lining his clothes. Snapping gold eyes stare him down.

The accomplice releases him, pushing him down as he does. The first villain glares at him with a rage he's never seen before, and his eyes are crackling with anger, and his hands are starting to glow, splintering the edges of his sleeves.

Katsuki braces himself. Katsuki closes his eyes and gets ready to die.

Then something shatters .

And when he opens his eyes again, Mae is standing over him, a shining, crystalized, smooth piece of material separating the villain from them. She's standing over him, holding her palms up in alignment with the shield, and her hands are trembling and shaking, but her feet are firm.

And the villain goes ballistic.

There's a scream of rage as he smashes his hands down on the barrier, the thing breaking into a thousand pieces, but Mae just makes another one, making them thicker and thicker. There's something creeping into her expression, taking over her face, and she becomes angrier and angrier as it goes on.

The villain tries to go after the other kids after a while, but Mae doesn't let him. She condenses the shield, compressed it, then elongates it all in the span of a few seconds, turning it into a pole, and then crashes it down onto the villains head.

"You fucking bitc--"

She hits him again, hard. Katsuki sees the second villain try to reach for her, and he runs at him, sparking his palms and blowing a big explosion.

"I won't let you hurt anyone else but me!" She screams, hysterical, and students begin to run out of the class. 

The villain finally lands a hit on her, tumbling her to the ground, and he holds up his hands, a red glow emanating from them once again. Mae bares her teeth as Katsuki tumbles down with her, once again pinned by the second villain.

"I'm gonna teach you a lesson--"

"Stop! Why are you doing this!?"

The villain responds without a second thought, and then, he stops.

Katsuki turns, and Hitoshi is standing at the corner of the room, eyes cold and fingers trembling. The second villain screams in rage, the first sign of real emotion Katsuki had seen from him, but he's stopped, suddenly, by a grey scarf wrapping itself around him.

And when he turns, he sees Eraserhead.

Black Widow is standing next to him, silk webbing at her fingertips. She restrains Wallbreaker as soon as she sees him, posture poised and controlled, and through all the adrenaline Katsuki finds space in his brain to acknowledge how effortless it looks.

Eraserhead is restraining the second one with his scarf, hair floating in the air, and when he turns to Katsuki, he says--

"--it's okay, kid. I'm here."

And there, in the corner of the classroom where he lays and as the adrenaline begins to fade from his veins, Katsuki looks up at him and smiles.

---

They leave the building in a daze.

There's a little medical station set up in front of the school, paramedics flitting about. Everyone is given a shock blanket, and Katsuki waits silently for his turn to be questioned by the police. He can see Mae in the corner of his eye with a policeman, confusion in her posture. She's crying slightly, but Katsuki figures it's from the stress.

"Are you okay?"

He turns, and Eraserhead is standing in front of him, goggles hanging from his neck. He looks exhausted and tired, but also genuine.

Katsuki blinks. He'd always known Eraserhead to be a little too invested in the goings of this neighborhood, but he wouldn't have taken the man to be the type to worry about random civilians. Katsuki nods. The man relaxes, shoulders untensing, and suddenly without warning, he sits down next to him, silent and brooding. 

It's silent for a few seconds. They sit quietly, Eraserhead looking up in thought. He looks at him, deadpan, and Katsuki can't help but be reminded of Hitoshi with the way Eraserhead looks, just as tired and tortured by everything.

He sighs. Pulling out a little bottle of eyedrops, he drops one drop on each eye, then turns to him, putting the bottle back in his pocket. 

"I'll start by saying that I'm not telling you this by choice. It's regulation, and it's only because you're a kid that we're not bringing you in. Your friend, too." He begins. Katsuki knows where the conversation is going, and he wants to protest, but as the man had previously said, Eraserhead doesn't really have much of a choice.

"What you did was extremely reckless."

He says it with a dead tone. Katsuki bristles, but waits for him to continue.

"Your classmates haven't been shy in recalling the events, especially your inclusion in them. Attacking the villain was reckless, and very dangerous."

He blinks at him, then sighs.

"Don't do it again."

Katsuki observes him quietly. Eraserhead isn't saying this lightly. He nods. The man considers him for a moment. 

"You did good, kid." he finally says. Katsuki tries to hide his surprise at the statement, but then again, he could tell Eraserhead's heart hadn't been it the warning anyway in the first place.

The hero stands, leaving him sitting on the cold curb of the sidewalk as he waits. He starts to walk away, but before he can, Katsuki asks one last question.

"Mr. Eraserhead, what's it like being a hero?"

He stops. Turning, he looks at him, slightly surprised, then smiles, barely a quirk of the lips.

"Exhausting," He says.

Katsuki frowns, but before he can say anything, Eraserhead speaks again.

"But worth it." he finishes. He stares at him with guarded eyes, but if he looks hard enough, he can see warmth seep into them.

Katsuki ponders that, silent, and Eraserhead turns away. Katsuki stops him again.

"Mr. Eraserhead,"

The man turns his face back towards him, waiting.

"My friend, his name is Shinsou, the one with purple hair, he's a really big fan of yours. Can you tell him he did good too?"

The black-haired man considers him for a moment, calculating. He seems to consider it, then sighs and nods. 

He turns back away from him, and after surveying the area, heads for Hitoshi, who's currently talking to one of the policemen, closer to the pair of ambulances in the far side of the parking lot.

Katsuki smiles. 

He's so caught up in his thoughts for a few seconds that he doesn't notice someone sit down next to him until a hand lands on his shoulder.

He jumps, and when he turns, Mae is there.

Katsuki freezes. She smiles.

A blanket is curled around her shoulders, her hair out of its usual ponytail and settled down on her shoulders. The cardigan she always wears is speckled with red and torn in a few places, and there's a dry drip of blood on her forehead, bruising coloring the side of her face. There's a bandage on the right side of her head, on the place where her head had collided with the wall. She looks tired, the eyebags under her eyes clearly visible. 

Her smile is wobbly, but for the first time ever, it looks real.

He soaks her image up. Katsuki doesn't think he's ever seen that expression on her face; a quiet acceptance, and a sort of peace he can't understand. The edges of her anxious nature still curl around her eyes, but they're subdued, a natural part of her. They settle in the wrinkles of her eyelids, the ones that sprout when one smiles.

"Hey." She whispers. Her smile quirks up.

"Um, hi." He says because he doesn't really know what to say. Her hand is still on her shoulder, and he shoots it a pointed look. She removes it, but this time, there's no stuttering, just acceptance.

She looks scared. It's something that's been ingrained into her expression, and he knows why, now, after meeting Wallbreaker, after watching him crash his fists down onto her fragile form.

She also looks happy. The quiet happy. The genuine happy.

She's staring, wobble clear in her expression. Katsuki waits patiently, which is unlike him. He's had a long day.

"I--" she starts, syllables leaving her mouth awkwardly. She stutters, taking in a breath, then releases it slowly.

Then, she looks him in the eye for the first time, and a determination sets into her face.

"I wanted to say thank you."

He freezes.

It seems like he's doing that a lot today.

"I, I know that you probably don't know what I'm th-thanking you for, but I--"

She takes a deep breath. Her fingers fiddle with her nails and she bites her lip, but she doesn't stop.

"I was scared."

Katsuki's looking at her with wide eyes, blinking up at her with surprise settled into his features as if chiseled into his face. He's speechless.

"I-- he's, he's always been threatening, you know, and he always-- but--

"I was sure that I was going to die. That he was finally going to finish it,"

She hugs herself, shivering as if cold, but she still doesn't stop.

"But then, you-- I--"

She blinks up at him, and there's disbelief in her eyes.

"No one's ever tried to stop him before."

And if that isn't something. Because Katsuki knows that all too well. And he thinks he's starting to understand now, why she's thanking him, so he stays quiet, and he lets her continue.

"It's silly, to be honest. I-- no one, no one's ever stopped him. And so I started to think that maybe no one was stopping him because he was right, and maybe I really was that useless, and maybe I did deserve it."

She smiles, looking upwards towards the sky. There are tears in her eyes, and her smile looks broken.

"But-- but then, you--"

She looks down, and she's really crying now. There are tears rolling down her face, but they're subdued, running freely. They're not fearful anymore.

"Thank you. You-- you made me realize that he really was wrong, after all."

She looks peaceful, and Katsukis never seen her like this before. She looks soft, complete, and her shoulders are lax. Her eyes are no longer dead. Katsuki looks on as she cries, wishing he could cry like that too. He's never cried before.

Mitsuki's never cried before.

He tries to find his voice again, and it stutters to life after a few seconds of searching. He looks away and says--

"My quirk is called clone."

She startles, looking back at him, surprised. 

"It's-- it's not a nice quirk. I can clone a copy of someone's quirk if I ingest their DNA, and I know it sounds scary, but--

"But it's mine, Mrs. Mae, and I hate that I'm scared of it. It's mine. It's my quirk.

"And it's not fucking fair. I don't know why I feel so goddamn scared when I use it. It's mine . It's a part of me and it's mine. " He breathes.

He hates it. The fear that rises in him when he activates one of his quirks, the dread that fills him when he sparks an explosion or pulls something towards him. Everyone always says that quirks are extensions of one's self, and he hates loathing a part of himself.

There's something new bubbling up in his heart, though. After hearing Mae thank him, there's something new filling his chest.

"... Your quirk doesn't define you, little Bakugou." She says gently, as is her personality. Her smile softens as she says it.

Something overtakes him, then. A desire he's always had, the thing that had filled him when he'd watched All Might take down villains on TV and seen Eraserhead dragging thugs out of alleys, Black Widow carrying children out and calming them as they cried, reuniting them with their parents. The feeling that had pushed him to his feet, had made them move on their own, had set his palms on fire and propelled explosions from his palms.

A split second is all it takes.

"I'm going to be a hero." He says. There's a conviction in it, something powerful and determined that overtakes him, settling into his very being. Because if he can't save everyone, in this world, then one would be enough. 

Because he hadn't seen Mae Yori when the villain had beaten her, he hadn't seen brown hair and blue eyes when she'd been thrown onto the wall and had her head smashed on the hard drywall.

Because everywhere, he saw his mother.

He saw her in the fearful gazes of the students in his class, saw her in the starving eyes of Hitoshi and the hunted ones of Mae, saw her in the haunted look Fukushima sometimes let slip through his expression and in the silent, mass truce the neighborhood children had with one another when they walked home after every school day, never leaving a student behind no matter how annoying or hated to walk home by themselves. He saw it in the weary faces of the neighbors when they walked outside their homes, saw it in the exhausted eyes of the policemen who patrolled the neighborhood every day and never went home without finding at least one dead body. He saw it in the worn faces of the social workers and CPS agents who dropped off children in new homes only to pick them up just days later.

And Katsuki would do anything to save her.

His mom. His mom who always looked to damn tired . He would save her no matter what, because, in the end, he realized he didn't have a choice.

He wanted to save his mom.

Mae looks at him, then laughs, a twinkle in the air. She reminds him of a boy with green hair and a woman with emerald eyes.

"I wanted to be a hero too, once." She says, longing, but the smile on her face stays peaceful. Her eyes are alright with something new, a light, a bright one, and a spark enters her irises.

She looks at him closely, and then asks "Do you really want to be a hero?"

Katsuki doesn't think, anymore. He nods.

She blinks at him, a gentle smile on her face. Then, she reaches for her bandages, and when she removes her hands from the white gauze, they're bloody.

She says--

"Here."

And the world--

Stops.

"They always said my quirk was perfect for hero work, you know." She says, smiling.

He says "Are you sure?" But it's muted, shy. Not like him.

Mae laughs again, like a ringing bell.

"You're not bad, Bakugou."

You're not bad, Katsuki.

He reaches his hand out, swiping the red covering her fingertips, and he brings it to his mouth.

When his hands spark blue, when they form a crystal and shine blue with every color in between, blinding and bright, Mae laughs and smiles.

Katsuki feels something new bubble in his chest, and he can finally name it.

It's hope.

---

The next day, school is canceled. 

After a few hours of waiting, Mae, Hitoshi and him had all been carted away to the nearest police station and had been interviewed separately about the day's events. The sun had begun setting when they had all finished, Black Widow and Eraserhead long gone, and they had all been allowed to wait for their respective relatives together.

Mitsuki had been a raging storm when she had arrived to pick him up. The police had ducked out of her way when she'd arrived, recognizing her for her sheer rage aura.

Mae had already left, having been picked up by one of her relatives. She had tried to pat him on the head, but like always, he'd shut that down real quick. She hadn't complained, just smiled, one of the wobbly smiles that only she could pull off. Her sister had been surprised at the expression, but she'd kept her mouth shut.

Hitoshi's mom had arrived right after his. She'd put up the worried mom show almost immediately, but he could tell the police weren't buying it. Still, they let them go like always. They always did.

They had driven home in silence. There had been tremors in Mitsuki's hands all throughout the drive, and she'd driven slowly, as if scared to risk any more misfortune onto them.

When they'd arrived home, she'd pulled him into her arms. She didn't let go for a few minutes, no matter what he did to get her to release him. He gave up after a few tries and just let her hold him, waiting quietly for her to stop shaking. He pointedly ignored the sniffles he heard.

"You never ever do that again, got it, kid?" She'd said once she had released him. He'd nodded, avoiding her eyes. He hadn't run, though. He wasn't a coward.

They'd sat quietly for a few moments, then Mitsuki had risen, heading to the kitchen. When she returned, she was carrying a cake in her right hand and a wrapped box on the other.

Katsuki's eyes widened when she pulled out nine candles and lit them, placing them delicately on the red and black cake.

He'd forgotten it was his birthday, but Mitsuki hadn't.

"Happy birthday, punk." She said fondly. She began to sing.

He wants to cry so badly, but he ignores the tears in his eyes in favor of listening to his mom's voice. You'd think with all the yelling, her voice would be ruined and scratchy, but it sounds like honey, like the real honey that's sweet, the product of hard work and labor.

She smiles at him, but it's shaky, like always. She points to the candles and counts to three.

He blows on them, and they light out. The wisps of smoke waft up, the smell of charcoal overpowering his nose before disappearing into the air.

"Don't lose it." She says when she hands him the gift. He scoffs, mock offended, then rips the paper apart slowly and carefully.

He stops, once he sees what it is.

It's a little figurine, dressed in red, white and blue, with two locks of hair resembling bunny ears on its head, holding a permanent smile. 

It's All Might.

He looks at his mom, looks at the smile curling up on the side of her mouth, her red eyes mirroring his own exactly. He wishes, for a moment, that his hair wasn't slightly curled at the ends, that he didn't have a splash of freckles on his cheeks that clearly weren't hers, that he didn't have a small nose and almond-shaped eyes. Because if he didn't, he'd be just like her. And he'd be perfect because she's perfect. 

He wants to cry.

"I love you, kid." She says, smiling. 

He holds the figurine close, ignoring the part of him that thinks it childish. There's hope in his chest.

He'd made a wish when he'd blown out his candles. He makes a wish to be happy.

---

He wakes up to the smell of sulfur.

His room is dark, moonlight shining down through the small window blinds on his window. It's hot, the heat stifling and sluggish, but the room is still somehow cold.

He doesn't know why he's awake. There's dread pooling in his gut, something that should be familiar to him, but it's different. It's overpowering.

He hears a crackle next to him. 

Kautuki knows who it is. He doesn't want to turn around. 

He turns around anyway.

It's dark, pitch dark, but Katsuki can still make out the face of Masaru smiling, sitting next to his bed. In his hands sits something red, white and blue.

It's suddenly very, very cold.

"Hello, son. Did you have a happy birthday?"

Katsuki sits frozen, eyes wide. He stares at his father's smile as he sits, twirling the All Might figurine in his fingers.

He can't breathe.

"I have to admit, this wasn't something I saw coming. When I came home, I expected to see a few streamers, maybe a half-eaten cake. I didn't expect to find this under my son's pillow."

The figurine does a little spin in his hands. The smile etched in it isn't all that bright anymore.

"I wonder who got it for you, hmm?"

Masaru's smile stretches from one side to another, but it shows no teeth. His eyes are narrowed, curling down. His eyes are dead, but they're also dangerous.

Katsuki finds his voice, but it's silent when he speaks.  

"Where's mom?"

Masaru shakes his head and chuckles. He no longer looks like the doting father he's always pretended to be, no longer like a shy, kind-hearted, just, fake man.

He looks dangerous. Deranged.

He isn't hiding anymore.

"Tell me Katsuki, do you want to be a hero?"

He can't breathe.

Yes. He wants to be a hero. But Masaru already knows that, doesn't he?

He sits with wide eyes as Masaru drops the toy, hearing it hit the ground with a soft thump. Masaru grins.

The door flies open, and there, in the dark, with wide, red eyes, stands Mitsuki. They mirror his own, wide and terrified.

And then a series of things happen at once.

First, she screams. Her eyes widen into wide circles, and she runs towards him.

At the same time, Masaru lunges for him, hand outstretched and glowing red. He's wearing a permanent sneer, the one he always wears, and there are red ripples of light webbing across and up his arm.

Katsuki flinches back, but he watches as the two collide into each other. 

Mitsuki grabs him and throws him back, then stands in front of him, shielding him. She leans down and screams at him to run.

And then--

Masaru is suddenly holding Mitsuki from her hair, dragging her downstairs by the blonde strands sprouting from her scalp, and he's anchored his hand around Katsuki's wrist, taking him too. He's screaming, the shrill sound barely registering in his ears.

He stops in the living room, and when he does, he turns to Katsuki and asks--

"Do you want to be a hero?"

And Katsuki.

Can't.

Breathe.

"Do you!?" He shouts gleefully. His eyes scream that he's running out of time.

Someone is coming for him, and he's running out of time. And Masaru's finally snapped.

 

"Yes."

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

His mom is dying.

There's-- there's blood. It's red and it's bleeding, oozing from her chest. There's a hole in her face, the left side of it. It's curled around her eye and dragged down her neck.

He can't see her anymore. He feels his right cheek light on fire, and he's staring up at a pair of brown eyes, watching as they curl up in a smile while a knife cuts into the right side of his face, white-hot pain following the trail it leaves as it curls around his eye and drags down his neck.

He's crying, but it's not free. It's painful.

He leaves eventually. Leaves him curled around his mother and sobbing, bleeding on the cold tile floor of their living room. He says something before he does.

"You, my son, will never be a hero."

And far away, contrasting the lone figurine left alone on the floor with its permanent smile, a man wearing red, white and blue grins as he stares down All for One, with his white hair and charcoal eyes. They flicker brown for a second, and his nose has glasses perched delicately on it.

He stops smiling when the white-haired man finally carves a hole into him too.

Chapter Text

The day is chilly today.

The marketplace is crowded; the shops lining the streets uniform, yet diverse, aligned to the little brick path lining the way. People flit about, families and couples, and some are even alone, just out to enjoy their evening. Stores if all types ran down the red road.

Along the path, two figures walk together. One is a man, looking late twenties, and the other is a boy, holding the man's hand as they walk down the little lane. They look nothing alike, but from the way the boy gallops and chatters to the brown-haired man leading them, you would think that they were father and son.

"Are you excited for your birthday, champ?" The man says, a melodic tone sounding from his voice. He smiles at the toddler, ruffling his hair.

The boy jumps up, enthusiastic. His little blonde curls bounce up with him, although you couldn't see them right away with the way his hair is styled. From far away, they almost look straight, and the blonde strands look poofy and spiked.

"I'm gonna be four!" He exclaims, holding up four fingers. His father smiles, the expression of joy lighting up his whole face. There's no teeth, just the pulling of the lips.

"Yes, of course, kiddo. You're growing up so fast, Katsuki!"

The boy grins, a smile nothing like his father's. His has teeth and looks natural, curling up his whole face.

"Did you put dinosaurs on my cake, papa? I want the T Rex, he looks cool!"

The father nods, gentle. His affirmation spurs on the little child, sending him into a joyous rant as he jumps back and forth while holding his father's hand. 

"Come now, Katsuki, calm down son. We're almost there!"

The boy groans, but his heart isn't in it. He loves his father too much for that.

They stop in front of a tiny bakery, and with little prompting, the father goes inside, towing the child with him. The bell rings softly to signify their arrival. Groggily, the cashier stands up, looking at them through half-lidded eyes. 

The father smiles and goes up to them. He seems like he's always smiling.

The little boy walks away from his father, towards the display case showing all types of pastries, marveling at the decorative cakes and delicious looking cookies. The man lets him, fondness entering his expression.

"I'm here to pick up a cake, please."

The cashier blinks up at him, eyes narrowed. The girl has bags under her eyes and her apron is covered with flour, stains of frosting and food coloring the piece of worn clothing. 

"Name?" 

"It should be under Bakugou Masaru." He says with a smile.

She types in the lone computer next to her on the desk and makes a sound of affirmation when the name comes up in the registration.

"I'll bring it out, hold on."

The woman turns and enters the back of the store. The brown-haired man waits silently, watching his child from the corner of his eye.

The little boy is admiring a little cake in the corner of the display, a simple one with black frosting and orange highlights. It has a little flower in the center, orange and black with black tips, and the petals sort of look like little explosions. It's adorable, and the child is entranced by it.

"What are you looking at, kiddo?" The father asks, curious.

"It looks pretty, papa! Like explosions!"

He chuckles, amused. Patting the boys' soft curls, he hears him babble about the decor if the cake, a smile transforming the toddler's face. 

The woman with the apron comes out of the back of the store's kitchen holding a small white box, deadpan and grumpy. Setting it down on the counter, she looks at the brown-haired man expectantly, one eyebrow raised.

"One thousand yen, please."

The man pulls out his wallet and begins rummaging through it, the boy going little ways farther and beginning to explore the store. The father pulls out nine hundred yen. So close.

"Ma'am, is there any way to open a tab here?" He says after some hesitation. The woman grimaces, trying to keep her expression neutral. 

"No, sir. You either pay the full amount or you don't get the cake."

The brunet sighs, somehow maintaining his serene expression. He looks at the woman, then at the boy looking out the windows of the bakery. He's distracted, the little tyke oohing at the people walking by, enchanted, and his attention is fully on them.

His attention is away from him.

"Ahh, well, that's quite a pity. It is my son's birthday after all."

The woman freezes as soon as the last syllable leaves his mouth. It's not out of shock or surprise, but rather, her eyes are now blank. Her face has become as blank as paper.

"Give me the cake." He says. She obeys and hands him the box. The man smiles, satisfied, and turns around to call his son.

"Papa?"

He stops. Slowly, he turns, and when he does, the boy is standing next to him.

He's looking at him with wide eyes, but the orbs aren't impressed. His little mouth is curled down, and his eyebrows are slack.

The man startles, looking down at him silently. He waits.

"Katsuki, I have your cake. We should--"

"What did you do to her, Papa?"

He smiles, but it's crooked this time. He's nervous. The blond toddler looks at him and doesn't react, waiting.

"Katsuki, kiddo, let's go. Izuku and his mom are already waiting for us."

The boy blinks, then frowns. He looks confused like there's something that doesn't make sense.

"Papa, pay for the cake."

The man sighs, trying to imitate exasperated fondness, but it falls flat. He leaves the nine hundred yen on the counter, then turns, offering his hand to his son.

"Let's go, Katsuki."

Silently, they walk out of the store side by side. 

The boy turns one last time, back to the store, to the cashier standing blankly at the counter. She jumps, then shakes her head, confused. There's panic in her expression as she looks around for them in the crowd.

The boy turns back forward, and he doesn't look back.

---

It's cold when he wakes up.

 

There's beeping to his side, something pinching his wrist, and a white ceiling above him. The air smells like antiseptic and sickness, and there's something covering his right eye.

He feels calm. It's how he knows something is wrong.

He's alone, is the first thing he realizes. He's in a hospital, the white walls stinging his eyes. The cold air is biting into his skin.

His mom isn't here.

There's no scream of rage that accompanies the thought, no panic or thrashing or anything. He's numb, cold, and drowsy, and he can't see his mom.

She was probably dead.

Slowly, the door on the far side of the room opens. A woman wearing a white coat enters the hospital room. He tries to sit up to meet her but can't.

"Welcome back." She says. There's a clipboard in her hands, a pen hanging off the little metal part. He finds it fascinating. The light is bouncing off the little trinket weirdly, and he can see a person inside it. Oh, wait, that's him. 

"Our records tell us your name is Bakugou Katsuki. Is that your name?"

Bakugou Katsuki. Is that his name? He can't remember. The name feels like water slipping through his fingers. In fact, he can't remember what the lady was saying anymore.

She sighs. Her ponytail swishes from side to side, and her eyes don't bother glancing at him.

"I suppose you're still pretty heavily sedated. Can't answer any questions right now." She mutters. Katsuki just blinks at her, one eye closing and opening. He can't move the other one, it's too stiff. Is it because of the thing covering it? Why does it sting?

He tries to touch it, but his arms are really heavy. The woman sighs as she watches him, eyes as cold as the room he's currently in.

The woman begins to approach him, looking at the source of the beeping quietly and touching his covered eye. She fiddles with the thing pinching his wrist and then flashes something bright into his eyes. 

Finally, she stops, hooking the pen back to the clipboard she's holding. She turns back away towards the door.

Something tickles Katsuki's mind as time goes on. It's a woman with blonde hair and red eyes lying in a pool of something red. Something sharp cutting into his cheek and a man with brown hair transforming into a man with white instead.

"Where's my mom?" He asks. His tongue is heavy, but he doesn't care.

The woman stops, red hair frizzing up at the question. She doesn't answer. Silently, she opens the door and leaves.

It's quiet after that. Katsuki falls asleep to the rhythmic sound of the beeping next to him.

.

.

.

When he wakes up again, his mind is clearer. He remembers too much, remembers a pool of blood and the smell of sulfur, and it makes him gag and throw up all over his sheets.

The person that comes in this time is a woman with brown hair, and she cleans him up without saying a word. She changed the sheets and reminds him how to breathe.

"Where's my mom?" He chokes out. The lady grimaces and stays silent. Her eyes are cold too.

He falls asleep again. It isn't peaceful.

.

.

.

The third time is fuzzy again. There's someone speaking to him, trying to say something, but all he hears is a low buzz in the back of his mind and the chill in the air.

He wants to go back to sleep.

"Where's my mom?" He slurs. He feels dizzy, and he wants to throw up.

There's no answer. He sleeps.

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

"You, my son, will never be a hero."

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

The first time he really wakes up is to the muted pallet of purple and peach.

Hitoshi is sitting next to him, eyes sunken and hollow, and he's holding a little card with two little wildflowers in his hand. He's wearing a small coat with holes in them, and his hair is draped over his eyes like a small blanket. He's slouched over the chair, and his eyes are closed. 

Katsuki feels heavy, like he's sinking into something. His mind is numb, but he doesn't feel dizzy. The room is too bright.

Hitoshi blinks his eyes open, and he freezes. His eyes aren't cold. They're scared.

"Where's my mom?" He says again. Hitoshi doesn't respond.

It's the only thing he can say. It's the only thing cutting through the haze. Where is his mother?

Is she dead? Did he kill her?

Hitoshi blinks, eyes wide and still. The card in his hands shakes, and it's because his fingers are trembling, twitching back and forth. 

"Katsuki." He says, and he begins to cry.

He's not a loud crier. There are tears trekking slowly down his face, but that's it. Katsuki blinks, nausea pooling in his stomach. He feels like going back to sleep, but he has to find his mom.

"She's alive." Says Hitoshi. Katsuki stops.

"Don't lie." He says. He saw the red. He saw the hole in her face. The urge to throw up is getting stronger.

"She is. I promise, she is."

No. He saw it. He saw her dying.

"You're lying."

He throws up. Hitoshi calls a nurse, panicked, but Katsuki doesn't notice.

"Where's my mom?" He asks the nurse. No response.

He falls back asleep. There's never a response.

---

The first real, tangible memory he has of the hospital is when he wakes up to two police officers sitting next to him.

It's dark out, he can tell from the window in the farthest corner of the room. There's soft moonlight seeping through the blinds and he feels very tired.

There are disjointed memories of other times he's woken up, but this one he remembers the most clearly. It was when he met his savior.

The police officers look tired, and their faces are bored, exhausted and beat. One sees he's awake and tells his partner.

"Hi." One says. He's trying to be gentle. Katsuki doesn't respond. He thinks his mustache is silly but says nothing.

They look at one another with frowns on their faces, like they know they won't be able to get anything out of him no matter how much they try. The one on the left looks at him slowly, observing him. 

"We're here to ask you some questions."

Are they detectives? Katsuki decides it doesn't matter. All the police in his neighborhood are trash.

 "We need you to be truthful, kid. Just say the truth and you'll be fine. My partner here has a mind-reading quirk. He'll know you're lying.

That sounds like a nice quirk. It could be really useful.

He says nothing.

The officer sighs. He brings out a little notebook and so does the other, but before they can speak again, the door to his room flies open.

A figure with a black suit and red elbow pads stands in the frame of the door, a silver mask covering their face. Their hair is short and tied up, and there's a utility belt on their waist.

It's Black Widow.

Black Widow is standing in the doorway, mask on and in full out hero gear. Her hair is messy, but she's standing tall.

"I thought I told you to wait for me." She seethes. The voice distortion makes her seem more threatening, but her body language tames down when she catches sight of him.

The officers groan, annoyed. Katsuki's confused. Why is Black Widow here?

She walks in, sitting on the chair farthest from him. Slowly, she pulls off her mask, revealing her pale face. Her hair curls around her cheekbones and her eyes are narrowed.

"This is a police investigation, Widow. You can't be here without a permit."

She glowers, pulling out a paper from one of the pockets in her belt. She hands it to the police officer, paper sticking to her hand slightly. A side effect of her quirk?

Katsuki doesn't know why he's asking so many questions. He remembers a binder of theories and analysis essays of multiple heroes quirks, so thick that at the age he'd found it in his father's office, he hadn't been able to lift it with both hands. He shudders and pushes the memory away.

"Signed by detective Naomasa himself," Widow says smugly, and the detectives tense.

Finally, the second one hands it back, sighing for the millionth time.

"Fine. You're only here to supervise. Do not interfere with our investigation, Black Widow."

She doesn't respond.

The first one turns back to Katsuki, shadowed eyes observing him. He twirls the pen in his hands, and for a second Katsuki sees pale hands holding a smiling figurine instead. He feels nauseous, but he holds it back, hating the feeling of throwing up like something's being forcefully ripped out from his stomach and throat.

The second officer starts with what should be a simple question.

"Now Bakugou, do you remember what happened?"

On the far side of the room, he can hear Widow mutter something under her breath. "Aren't you supposed to start out casual?"

Katsuki blinks. He remembers a lot of things that have happened. He remembers bruised faces and black eyes and smudged make-up and a blank grin and brown melting into white. He remembers a thick binder and waking up in the middle of the night to two fingers pressing into his forehead and a phone call. He remembers long absences and spice, stressed-out food.

He knows that they aren't asking for that though.

If only it could be that simple. He doesn't say yes. Instead, he nods.

He wants to see his mother. Is she dead?

Did Katsuki kill her?

The officer pinches the bridge of his nose.

"Okay. Now, would you mind telling us what happened?"

He knows what happened, but for some reason, he can't say it. The words feel numb in his tongue.

"I don't want to." He says quietly. The detective tightens his hold on his pen. A few feet away, Widow tenses.

"Why not?" The other one asks. He has blond hair, but it's more golden than his mom's. It looks like a lime green. Yucky.

"... He'll come back."

He always did. He was going to come back and finish it. It was suddenly hot again. It smelled like sulfur.

"We can stop him. We just need you to tell us his name, and you never have to see him again."

He blinks. It's really hot. It feels like lava.

"You can't."

He remembers glowing red creeping up skin and plastic melting, remembers a finger curling down and a knife cutting into his cheek. He remembers brown turning into white and straight hair turning into curly, deadlocks. He remembers a man disappearing into thin air, the door closing behind him.

He remembers red.

"You can't." He repeats. 

He had to get his quirk somewhere, he supposes. He got his dad's. Did he take them away from people? Did he kill them and steal their quirks without permission? How many people have had their quirks cloned without even knowing it?

He doesn't want this quirk anymore.

"Why?" The second one asks. His eyes are orange-gold. They're tired.

He remembers a car ride.

"He'd never let me leave."

He's stuck. He's trapped. He can't leave.

His mom is dead.

"Where's my mom?" He asks.

They stay silent. Black Widow looks at him with something sad in her eyes.

"Where's your dad?"

Katsuki blinks. He doesn't have a dad.

"I don't have one," he says.

He doesn't have one. Not anymore.

---

They leave and come back again, and Black Widow is always with them.

They get mad when he doesn't answer their questions. He tries not to imagine them with spiky hair and glasses, tries to ignore their fake smiles and cold eyes. Their eyes are all cold.

Black Widow stays silent throughout all of it, only sending them pointed looks when they get too aggressive. She watches him silently, a deep sadness in her eyes.

It changes when Hitoshi visits again, though.

It was the second time he'd visited. He'd been very quiet, and Katsuki had been mostly nonverbal. Hitoshi hadn't bothered trying to make him feel better, just talked about his day.

"He'll never admit it, but I think Fukushima misses you. He asked about you. Was wondering if you got kidnapped or something."

His eyes are sunken. Katsuki stares on in a haze.

"They told us it was a car accident, you know. Said it happened while driving back from the police station."

Katsuki's face twitches. They didn't know anything, so they made something up. He wasn't surprised.

Hitoshi stays silent, hesitating for a moment. He sighs, the quiet exhale loud in the muted air if his room.

"Mom forgot groceries again. She's been buying all her food from the place down the street. You know, going out with her friends and stuff."

Katsuki stays quiet. He's tired.

Hitoshi smiles, but it falls flat. Katsuki remembers blonde hair and red eyes. 

"I hope you get better soon, Katsu. It's lonely without you."

He stands, quiet footsteps echoing in the room, and with one last glance to him, he turns to the door.

"Where's my mom?"

He can't say anything else today. It's the one thing he can force out of his throat.

Hitoshi's shoulders shake, but he doesn't look back. The door clicks shut behind him, and Katsuki sits in silence.

---

He can hear screaming in the hallway.

It sounds like a woman, and she's very angry. It's loud and furious, and there are rising voices trying to calm her down.

His door is thrown open seconds later. Black Widow stands in the doorway. There are two nurses trying to hold her back, but no police officers or detectives. He wasn't in the mood to answer questions anyway.

She yells at the nurses, says something about regulations and calling a lawyer, and they finally let her go. She matches into the room carrying what he now realizes us a wheelchair, and with delicate fury, she sets it down next to him and rips out his IV drip. 

She holds out a hand. Her eyes are angry.

Katsuki takes it.

The nurses return, flitting around them nervously, but they keep their distance. Black Widow helps him into the little black chair, and even though he doesn't think he needs it, his legs feel too tired to move, so he doesn't complain.

He blinks. They're moving. The two nurses are gone, and Black Widow is rolling him down the hallway silently.

He has to ask.

"Where's my mom?" He whispers. He won't get an answer. 

She stays silent.

Finally, they stop. They're in front of a doorway, the little plaque showing the room number shining above him. A man, another nurse, tries to stop her when she tries to open the door, but her wild eyes pin him down and he relents.

She opens the door. She wheels him in. She holds her hand up to the curtain.

She turns to him and says--

"She's alive."

And then--

She throws the curtains open, hands ripping them aside. And the light is dim. And the room is dark. But there, in the barely furnished room of the hospital, with machines attached to her arms and wires emerging from under her clothing and wearing a mask over her face--

-- is his mother.

---

"She's alive."

He can't breathe.

Behind him, he can hear a sigh and the ruffling of hair and clothing. 

"She's been stable for three days. They didn't want to bring you in for fear she would die and cause detrimental damage to your recovery process."

He looks on with wide eyes. He wants to cry.

His mom is still, small body lying on the cot, her chest rising and falling slowly. Her hair looks grey and matted, and there's a bandage on the left side of her face, mirroring his own. Her skin is pale, her eyes are sunken in, and she's struggling to breathe.

For the first time ever, she looks frail.

"I called bullshit," he hears from behind him.

Then, a quiet whisper.

"I'm sorry, kid."

He's crying, he thinks. There's a whine breaking through his lips. Black Widow rolls him closer, to the side of what could be her deathbed. 

She looks so fragile.

"Is my mom going to die?" He wails quietly. There's so many machines attached to her, so many of them making sounds, a chorus of death. 

Widow hesitates.

"They don't know." She says.

It's okay, he decides. It's not their fault, it's Katsuki's. All because he wanted to be a hero. Because he didn't want to be his father. Masaru has done this to make a statement. He knows it.

They don't speak again.

---

"She has three broken bones, a fractured skull, some heavy blood loss, and a heavy concussion."

Once he'd seen his mother, he'd been overcome with too much emotion. He'd been wheeled back to his room, nausea threatening to show it's ugly face, but he'd held it off and thankfully hadn't thrown up.

The doctor standing in front of his bed was looking at him sorrowfully. Her mouth was pulled down in a tight frown.

"We don't know if she'll wake up, or stay stable. She might have brain damage, and we don't know if she'll go comatose or not. We're waiting right now and hoping she won't get an infection."

He blinks, then nods. He hasn't stopped crying since seeing her, but he's making no sounds. A year is rolling down from his left eye, the other being absorbed by the bandaging on the side of his face.

Black Widow had left an hour ago. He'd been hounding the staff for answers, and now that he'd received them, they didn't make him feel any better.

---

He spends his days in his mother's room, now.

The hospital staff doesn't care as long as he doesn't cause a ruckus. He wears a mask to try to keep the place sanitized and sleeps in the corner. The hospital staff stopped feeding him as soon as his prescribed time in the hospital was over. He was supposed to be in a foster home by now.

They didn't feed him, but if that was the condition to basically living in his mother's hospital room, then so be it.

Hitoshi visits. He brings small snacks for him, granola bars and leftovers. He helps him with missed work and things like that. 

Mae quit. Her sister had forced her to, taking her to live with her family. He was happy for her. It makes him think, though. Where was Katsuki going to live? How was he going to pay for a house if he couldn't work? The doctors weren't optimistic Mitsuki would live in the first place. How would she work?

The CPS wouldn't take him to a good home, he knew. They hadn't been called because the hospital knew too. The hospital staff was neglectful, but they weren't soulless. They gave him a blanket to sleep with and let him stay with his mom. A nurse would sometimes come in to check his bandages.

Black Widow brought him meals from time to time. She never spoke, just handed them off. They only came once a week. She only brought them after asking him if he was hungry, and Katsuki assumed she was still under the assumption that the hospital was feeding him. He didn't complain. The hunger was painful, but he didn't care.

After a while, she switches it to four times, and the portions got larger. She began to catch on.

Two weeks after Mitsuki's stabilization, her heart stops.

It's a bad day for everyone, but especially for Katsuki. He throws up bile in the hospital bathroom, and when that runs out, he dry heaves, seeing red creeping into the corner of his vision, reminding him of a flatline and a brown-haired man. The staff doesn't find him until an hour later sprawled on the floor in the stall, smelling of vomit, and he's so dehydrated and malnourished he has to be put on an IV drip. They start giving him one small portion a day after that.

When he wakes up, they take him to his mom.  She was stable again, but they weren't very hopeful.

Hitoshi consoles him, but he's not sad. As time goes on, he begins to get angry .

---

It's been two more weeks. Mitsuki's been confirmed comatose, and Katsuki doesn't want to talk.

He's been quiet all day. He doesn't know why, because it's not her usual visit day, but Black Widow is here. She's holding a wrapped plate and standing in the doorway with her mask off, a somber expression on her face.

Katsuki doesn't pay her any attention, but she doesn't care. She sits down next to him and places the food on the little desk next to Mitsuki's bedside. 

"Comatose?"

He startles. Black Widow isn't one to talk. Turning slightly, he watches her out of the corner of his eye. She's looking at him somberly.

He hesitates, but nods. He owes her that much, he supposes. Tightening his hold on the blanket around his shoulders, he watches her eyes fall, looking back to the still form of Mitsuki. 

"They said she might not make it." He whispers. It's hoarse.

She snorts, dark humor clear in her eyes. 

"That's what they said about you, kid. You were pretty bad when you got here. They were worried about infection initially, but after figuring out you can sweat nitroglycerin, of all things, they let it go."

He blinks.

"You were the one that found us." He says. It's not a question.

She nods. There's something distant in her eyes.

"Yeah, kid. I found you."

He blinks. 

"Sorry." He says. He looks away.

She looks back at him, a worried expression on her face. Her purple hair frames her face, and her eyes are sunken. 

"It's not your fault." She says quietly, confusion clear in her posture.

He gulps as if swallowing a pill. He would have never thought of holding such a long conversation with a hero. His father had always made his distaste clear.

"He hasn't come back yet." He blurts. Panic laces through his posture, but he sits straight. The nausea starts again and he hates himself for it.

Black Widow startles, looking back at him with surprise. 

"I thought he would have by now. To finish it, make a statement, s-something! But he's not--"

"Breathe, kid."

I'm trying! He wants to scream, but the air won't come into his lungs. He breathes in and out, slowly, and pushes the memories away.

Black Widow observes him quietly as he calms down. She looks thoughtful.

"You're not going to tell me who it was, huh."

He frowns. He feels sick.

She shakes her head, sighing. Her nails are short, yet she still finds a way to chew on them. It seems like a bad habit more than anything else.

"It's okay, kid. I didn't tell either." She finally says, looking sad. He stares.

Somehow, this sounds really personal. He doesn't know what to do with that.

"Just… if you're ever in trouble, tell someone. Let them help you. Trust me, it'll be easier. Healthier."

He looks at her for a moment, then nods. She sounds like she's speaking from experience.

He looks back towards his mother, pensive.

"Do you think she'll wake up?"

Black Widow looks back towards her too.

"I don't know. But if she's anything like you, she will."

He hoped she was. He didn't know what he would do if he was his father all along.

---

He starts going to school as soon as their house is released from police custody. The moment he enters the walls of the school, everyone is looking at him.

The stares follow him through the halls, and when he enters his classroom, pointedly avoiding the new, clean door and the small shards of glass and drywall in the corners of the class, he sits quietly, pretending not to notice Fukushima glaring at him, something like rage emerging from his cat-like eyes. His pink hair is fizzier than usual.

Hitoshi startles when he sees him. Katsuki's still bandaged on his right eye, and he knows people are curious. He doesn't look at anyone. He's silent.

Their new homeroom teacher is an old woman with short, grey hair and tired eyes. She doesn't say much, just gives them their work and moves on. 

Katsuki doesn't want to be here, but something buried beneath a heap of bitterness and anger whispers he can't be a hero with bad grades. He gets frustrated quickly, he's missed a lot after all, but Hitoshi helps him with some of the harder concepts.

He goes back to the hospital after the day is over. His mother is silent.

He's starting to think that's how she's going to stay.

---

He wakes up, and the room is cold.

Moonlight is pouring in through the blinds of the hospital windows, spilling into the room like fairy dust. He'd just removed his bandages a week ago, and the roughness of the scar curling around his eye isn't something he's grown used to yet.

He knows what it stands for, though. It's a statement. It's one he'll never get rid of escape from.

Blinking tiredly, he looks around, confused eyes roaming the room to try and find what awoke him. He blinks languidly when he finds none.

It's strange, for sure. Katsuki isn't a heavy sleeper by any means, but there didn't seem to be any threats in the room. He sighs and adjusts his mouth mask. He won't be getting back to sleep any time soon, he supposed. Maybe he could start on his homework?

He stands, leaving the musty blanket provided by the nurse caring for them both on his temporary bed, a cushioned seat sitting in the farthest corner of the room. Walking to the front, he flips the lights on tiredly, belatedly realizing his uniform is still on. He must have fallen asleep while studying.

He runs a finger down the scar on his face. The mottled skin is smooth but bumpy, and it feels thin. He hates it. It's starkly pale against his skin, and it makes itself known through the bends of distortion in the creases of his skin.

He sighs. Yesterday, his mother's bandages had been removed, revealing the scar tissue on the left side of her face. It was identical to his, down to the curve of the knife and the dragged stalling under the chin. Photocopied, drawn on and pasted. Another statement.

He turns, looking back at his mother's silent slumber. He freezes. And suddenly, the cause of his waking is clear.

Katsuki's red eyes blink, shock and nausea curling in his stomach.

Identical crimson ones blink back.